Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian, EH34 5ET, 01875 342004. Diageo. http://www.discovering-distilleries.com/glenkinchie/
APPEARANCE AND LOCATION: *** With the Lammermuir Hills in pale blue haze in the background and its spartan red brick construction, Glenkinchie is certainly a smart distillery. On the way in, however, I could only smell hot tarmac, not processing barley!
‘Exhibition Only Tour’: £3, including a £5 discount voucher against a 70 cl bottle of single malt whisky. Wander around the maps, plough coulters and video screens of the exhibition area in the former maltings before casting an admiring eye over the James Risk scale-model distillery. A complimentary dram of the very approachable Glenkinchie 12-year-old is provided.
‘Glenkinchie Tour’: £6, fully redeemable against a 70 cl single malt purchase. The standard tour does not appear, from the specification on the Discovering Distilleries website, to deviate at all from that which I took in April, and consequently I can still recommend it. The exhibition and model distillery are self-guided, and you arrive at the ‘holding area’, with display cases and a touch-screen centre console permitting you to sample some of Diageo’s multi-media marketing if that takes your fancy. A tour of the distillery is capped off with a dram of the 12-year-old and one other malt from their exdeedingly well-appointed bar.
‘Taste of Scotland Tour’: £10, with the £5-off discount voucher included. This is described as the standard tour with ‘additional drams giving you a flavour of Scotland’. I have a feeling these may well be the same cohort that is on offer as part of the Group Tours (see below).
‘Group Tours’: [20 persons plus] £5, plus the £5 voucher. The standard tour is available with four drams awaiting each member of the group treated to four of Diageo’s malts from across Scotland. My money would be on Talisker, Oban and Cragganmore, in addition to Glenkinchie, but that is an unofficial guess. ‘Tailor made tours are available on request’, it says, and enquiries ought to be directed to Mary Colgan or Rhona Paisley via the visitor centre number (above).
DISTILLERY-EXCLUSIVE BOTTLING: ‘Double’ matured in Amontillado-treated American oak, 59.3% ABV, £65.
My Tour – 12/04/2010.
THE RUNNING COMMENTARY: **
THE PROCESS AND EQUIPMENT: *
Notes: There is a fabulous exhibition of whisky-making and -history in the converted maltings. The highlight is a complete scale model of a distillery by James Risk which shows each stage of the process in exquisite detail. No warehouse, though!
GENEROSITY: * (I wheedled three drams out of my time at Glenkinchie.)
VALUE FOR MONEY: *
SCORE: 5/10 *s
COMMENTS: A very good distillery to tour for the beginner and access is excellent. Perhaps it is laid out as it is to continue on more naturally from the Classic Malts marketing which is prevalent in the place: straightforward and precise. There were new elements and means of delivery from my last visit, which was nice although not a great deal I didn’t already know. The staff are very friendly and accommodating, however. Our tour guide was Austrian, who had much of the easy Scottish charm about her, nevertheless, and seemed impressed with my endeavour. The Glenkinchie tasting room, being part of Diageo, means that it has a huge variety of malts for the visitor to choose and compare against. I had a Blair Athol and the Distiller’s Edition Glenkinchie in addition to the 12-year-old. I left fully confident about why I’m doing this; more I could not have asked for from the first of a whole heap of distilleries.