Not the highlight of the visit to Scotland, but certainly one of my favorite stops, was to a distillery.  Yes, the place where they make that precious amber liquid called Scotch by most of us… and merely whisky by the Scots themselves.

We found a distillery offering tours southeast of Edinburgh (which, for some reason i never understood, is pronounced ‘Edinboro’ by the locals).  The Glenkinchie distillery has been in business a couple hundred years and offered us a true education about the Scotch making business.

Thinking we’d get some cheesy little video and see some handbuilt models of the process, we were pleasantly surprised to actually walk through the distillery, seeing all steps of the process on the way.  Including, as seen in this picture, the yeast vats… and our guide opened the lid on them.  Get too close to them and you could get knocked on your ass by the fumes!

There are some eleventy-seven different brands of Scotch, each with it’s own unique taste.  That taste is affected by the water of the region, the amount of peat used in drying… or smoking… the malt barley, the size and shape of the copper stills, and finally, by the casks used to ‘mature’ it*.  

As to that latter, the casks are of oak or poplar or other hardy woods** which by themselves add a certain flavoring to the Scotch.  What was surprising to me was that they (well, Glenkinchie, anyway… can’t speak for the others) only use casks already used elsewhere.  For example, the casks Jack Daniels uses for their whiskey maturation are used only once… then sold off to folks like Glenkinchie.  Glenkinchie also uses casks previously holding sherry wine.  Each of these ‘pre-soaked’ casks, then impart a hint of that flavor to the Glenkinchie whisky… for 10 or 12 years (less or more years and the Scotch just doesn’t taste ‘right’).

And, of course, my favorite part of the tour was the tasting room.  Ahhh… it did indeed make this man’s eyes water and mouth drool.  They, of course, first offered us tastes of their own brand.  But, for the purpose of ‘education’ (and who can deny themselves a good lesson now and again?), they also offered quite a variety of other brands from other parts of Scotland so that we could taste the differences.  One brand, for example, uses lots of peat in the smoking process and, to me, smelled like something you’d burn in a kerosene heater rather than drink.  I’ve heard it’s an ‘acquired taste’.  I think i’ll let someone else do that acquisition.

Unfortunately for me, i was the designated driver (the Girl Child having lost her license during an unfortunate pickpocket experience in Istanbul).  i didn’t let that stop me from having three… or was it seven?… samples of Scotch before leaving.

And with a wistful farewell (and a hope to return), we say goodbye to Glenkinchie Distillery.


*There are quite a few folks at work i’d like to put in a cask so they’d actually mature.

**hehehe…i said ‘wood’

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8 Responses to “Scotch”

  1. azahar Says:

    “Get too close to them and you could get knocked on your ass by the fumes!”

    Bonus! Scotch tasting and free drycleaning.

  2. Dolce Says:


  3. daisyfae Says:

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………… (dolce and i are practicing our “monosyllabic mush comment meme”)

  4. kyknoord Says:

    I wonder why Glenkinchie don’t split the difference and go for 11 years?

  5. Mandy de Waal Says:

    “How much wood, would a wood chuck chuck….?”

    I once went to one of those whiskey things. Unlike wine tasting there are absolutely no spittoons. Which is, of course, wonderful. Wine drinking people. Absolutely crazy. Everyone knows it’s swallow, not spit.

  6. silverstar98121 Says:

    I couldn’t get into the Scotch thing back when I drank. I was more of a wine person, or a margarita/pina colada drinker. Maybe I got into that peaty stuff because the one time I tasted it, it smelled and tasted like fuel oil. My mother, on the other hand, owned an inch of land in the county where Jack Daniels was made. Actually, she probably would have owned more than that if all the money she spent on it was translated to land.
    I kind of miss wine, but don’t dare to drink with my meds. And I know a winery in Washington State that has no spittoons in the tasting room. Ice wine, $10 a glass, and worth every penny. Memories, like the falling of the years…..

  7. thegnukid Says:

    az – they should have let us taste before sniffing the barrels… wouldn’t have cared n the least, then…

    dolce – well, four of them were ‘Yummmm’… the other three were merely ‘mmmmm’…

    daisyfae – Ahhhhhh….

    kyk – this way, they can sell both brands… and charge extra for the 12 year old… besides, i think they’ve been at this a year or two and have figured out the best aging.

    Mandy – [wicked grin] you are my kind of woman!

    silverstar – wait…you pay $10 a glass? wow… our Scotch tasting was part of the $10 tour fee… but, you gotta like Scotch over wine (i like both!).

  8. Gina Says:

    I bet that was so interesting.

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