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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Bowmore, Islay, Scotland

Probably my favorite distillery tour and experience to date. I visited in July 2010 and after a couple of days touring Islay’s distilleries Tammy and Eleanor had seen enough and let me go alone, with a plan to meet in the tasting room at end of the tour. It turned out it was the last tour of the day and I was the only person who signed up, so it felt like I had the entire place to myself and my guide was happy to indulge every question I had, and without larger group I could indulge myself in the minutia of the place. Effectively it was a private tour of Bowmore, and the notes I took that day show that being alone had liberated my inner “whisky anorak” who normally stays safely hidden in the group tours. Not only was the tour perfect, but the subsequent tasting in a great room overlooking the Loch was well organized, fun, informative and innovative (they gave food samples like coconut, chocolate and raisins to help match tastes in the whisky). We tried a range of whiskies from their parent company, Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and of course Bowmore. Perhaps with it being the last tour of the day they were also generous with pours and allowed us to retry samples while giving our daughter sweets and juice to keep her happy as well. Personally I fell in love with the rich, highly sherried Bowmore Darkest 15 year old that afternoon, and while it has never tasted quite as good as it did that perfect day in the distillery, it is still a 4 star whisky for me and my “go to” Bowmore.

If you go to Islay and only do one tour (which would not be a great idea in itself, stay and do more) I would say do this one and I can only hope you have same great experience I did.

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Dartmoor Distillery, Devon, England

Dartmoor Distillery, Devon, England

Ahhh… the internet! A quick glance at the excellent Dartmoor distillery website and you might think this is a fully functioning distillery in a part of England I know well as I grew up in Devon. In recent years I had often thought Dartmoor would make an excellent home for distillery, a sort of Scotland-Lite without the desire for independence with clotted cream teas instead of haggis and shortbread. However a short drive from my sister’s home to the old town hall building in Bovey Tracy reveals that this is still very much a work progress and as the attached photo shows not even a sign on the wall.  If it was not for a little copper visible through a first floor window you would not even know this was a distillery. Still something to look forward to on another trip.

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