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Glenfiddich

No photo can communicate the scale of this site. It is preposterously huge. However, walking around the well-tended grounds with the hills all around, it is quite charming.

No photo can communicate the scale of this site. It is preposterously huge. However, walking around the well-tended grounds with the hills all around, it is quite charming.

Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire, AB55 4DH, 01340 820373. William Grant & Sons. www.glenfiddich.com

APPEARANCE AND LOCATION:      ****      As distilleries go, they don’t come much bigger than Glenfiddich. Its like looking out on a city of warehousing when observing in the Craigellachie direction. However, the buildings of the main plant are utterly beautiful with perfectly-pointed stonework, pristine paint and those charming squat pagoda heads. The visitor centre and the restaurant are housed within the buildings originally built by William Grant and his stone mason in 1886. The surroundings hills are certainly large, too, but gentle. Sitting on a picnic bench outside the brand centre on the Sunday as I waited for 12 o’clock and opening time, the smell of the malt bins, the wort and the mash blown about and blended by the Dufftown breezes was too perfect for words.

TOURS PROVIDED:

‘Standard Tour’: FREE. See ‘My Tour’ below.

‘Connoisseur Tour’: £20. More in-depth, lasting 2 and a half hours. There are four Glenfiddichs to nose as well as the new make. You get taken to Warehouse 8 to investigate the famous Solera Vat.

DISTILLERY-EXCLUSIVE BOTTLINGS:      A bottle-your-own facility in the distillery shop. At present [02/02/11] it is 15yo and a vatting from various different cask types in the one barrel, £70.

My Tour – 25/04/2010

THE RUNNING COMMENTARY:      ***

THE PROCESS AND EQUIPMENT:      **

Notes:      Despite its size, the owners wish to keep the distillery as traditional as possible. Very few computers are used and all of the 20 or so washbacks are wooden. A really interesting quirk is in the stillhouse. There are three different-shaped stills: a wash still and two alternative spirit stills, an accident of circumstance which dates back to when William Grant first built the distillery. With very little money he could not buy all of his stills the same shape. The warehouse tour is utterly marvellous and as we shuffled in the rain began, pattering on the slate roof and heightening the romantic atmosphere so much I forgot I had to walk back to my B&B in it.

GENEROSITY:      ** (Three drams, the 12YO, 15YO and the 18YO.)

VALUE FOR MONEY:      **

SCORE:      9/10 *s

A lot of fuss has been made about this dram. I would like to come back and do the Connoisseur tour because in my head I get the sense that Glenfiddich ages very well. Living proof here.

A lot of fuss has been made about this dram. I would like to come back and do the Connoisseur tour because in my head I get the sense that Glenfiddich ages very well. Living proof here.

COMMENT:      I arrived at 11.30am on the Sunday, too early. I read the paper on a picnic table outside the brand centre and was enchanted by how the smell fluctuated between stored malt, sweet wort and fruity mash, all blown about on the breeze around the town and its gentle surrounding mountains. As 12 noon approached, the floodgates of tourists opened. For the introductory (and very professional) film in the ‘Theatre’ there were more than 30 people. For the tour we were split into three parties (two standard, one for the Connnoisseur tour) and all of us were taken round at once. That should intimate the scale of the place. If that doesn’t, how about their using 90 tonnes of malt a day, their 24 washbacks and the 140 million litres of spirit maturing on-site. Fergus is our guide and he is unflappable. The whole experience is tremendously professional, with an emphasis on the traditional: wooden washbacks and long fermentation time. Computerisation is kept to a minimum, too. Into Warehouse #1 and what an adorable place. At one end is a video about coopering, accompanied by an excellent explanation and at the other are casks to nose: find the Sherry cask. I thought I’d be good at this but I got it wrong! They confused me by the age of the cask I picked: a 36-year-old Bourbon. The other two were an 18-year-old of the same wood and a 20-year-old Sherry. I must have had an off day. Rain pattered on the roof, making for a very atmospheric experience. The three drams at the end were a huge bonus, all served in Glencairn glasses. The shop is a must-see, with lots of Balvenie, too. My favourite was the cafe, where I had soup, a sandwich and a scone – all delish. In the same part (the malt store for the old distillery building), there is a bar with many Glenfiddichs to try. I would recommend this as a first tour, and then spend the extra money visiting Aberlour. With only 6 miles between them, it sounds like the perfect day to me.

I like to see a bit of pure wild water flowing to a distillery. The reason I discovered this view was because water started falling from the sky and I ducked under a piece of masonry beneath the shop.

I like to see a bit of pure wild water flowing to a distillery. The reason I discovered this view was because water started falling from the sky and I ducked under a piece of masonry beneath the shop.

« Strathisla – Cardhu »

Author:
saxon
Date:
May 4, 2010 um 8:13 pm
Category:
The Tours
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2 Comments »

  1. Andy

    Don’t forget the best toilet facilities of any distillery I have seen!!

    #1 Comment vom 19. June 2010 um 1:46 pm

  2. saxon

    Such comments are most welcome: the whole experience is important, after all!

    I would second Andy’s recommendation. Glenturret’s are rather snazzy, too.

    #2 Comment vom 20. June 2010 um 3:46 pm

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