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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Dallas Dhu, Forres, Scotland

This is not a working distillery, but an old distillery now maintained as a whisky distilling museum by Historic Scotland, that used to produce the Dallas Dhu single malt.  It is quite frankly not a very good concept for a museum, considering the scotch whisky industry is booming, new distilleries are opening all the time and this one is in the heart of Speyside, where there are dozens of working distilleries with visitor centers, many with longer histories than Dallas Dhu and probably all with better known brands, that all produce whisky in the same way.  So why would you go and walk around a dead one that used to produce a whisky no-one has ever heard of?  The fantastic little Benromach is in the same town (and closer to the main road) so just go there.  Morbid curiosity meant that one day we did find ourselves driving to Forres to see it and we found it closed with a sign in the office window saying "out to lunch".  I couldn't agree more.  

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Jim Beam, Kentucky, USA

Jim Beam, Kentucky, USA My first major US distillery and the first stop I made on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in May 2012.  To call this a distillery visit is a bit misleading... as the official name is the Jim Beam Heritage Tour and you don't get to see any of the actual working distillery (except for one warehouse).  Instead the focus is on the Beam family distilling history (which begins with Jacob Beam.... not Jim) and and also learn about their product range.  This is not the artisanal style of distillery I have been used to seeing in Scotland, this is a major whisky factory wth over 475 employees (thats about 450 more men than you find in Tain and 472 more than Benromach).  I learned that 95% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky and 50% of that is made by Jim Beam.   Their range is a bit of a mixed bag for me... I like Jim Beam Black (but not the standard White label), I like Booker's but not Baker's and I love Knob Creek but don't like Basil Hayden.  All of these Beam brands are made at this facility and interestingly all made with the usual suspects of corn, rye and malted barley... not a wheated bourbon in the range.  Highlight of tour was probably learning our guide was 8th generation Beam family and seeing the pride and passion in her for bourbon (and she was cute which also helped).  The tour was free and included a short video and samples of Jim Beam Black and Baker's small batch bourbon (and a sample of choclate to try with the Baker's... a recurring theme on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail).  The facility is currently undergoing an upgrade with a new store and a cafe and will in the future the tour will include the actual distillery.... so I will have to come back and revisit when that is complete and hopefully get the same guide.
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