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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Loch Ewe, Aultbea, Scotland

Don't bother looking for this one in your standard guidebooks or whisky books.  It won't be there.   This is quite literally a distillery built in a garage at the back of a hotel.  The owner of the Drumchork Lodge Hotel exploited a loophole in UK law (now closed) which requires stills be 1800L or more to get approval for 120 L still and makes his own spirit.  He even allows you to come to his garage and make your own spirit (remember it is only called whisky if it stays in oak cask for 3 years).  You can read more on his website (http://www.lochewedistillery.co.uk) but I can tell you it was simply amazing to see everything done on this small scale by hand, including lighting the gas under the alembic styles stills to fermenting the wash in a wheelie bin (yes a wheelie bin) and maturation in small wooden casks .  The small size accelerates maturation to where it is quite drinkable in a matter of weeks – they usually bottle at around 6 weeks.  What Loch Ewe produces is probably the closest thing to traditional Uisge Beatha you can buy today (including the new make spirits that some distilleries sell).  The hotel by the way is a great, remote spot in Wester Ross and as you might expect the bar is very well stocked with Loch Ewe and lots of other whiskies.  Well worth the trip and one day I will be going back to make my own batch of whisky in a wheelie bin.

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The Kyoto Distillery (Virtual Tour), Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Distillery (Virtual Tour), Kyoto, Japan

This was my fourth Virtual Distillery Tour (VDT#4) and my first ever Japanese distillery tour of any kind. The Kyoto Distillery makes a unique, or so they claim, Japanese Dry Gin I have never seen or tried called Ki No Bi (insert you own Star Wars joke here….).

I found the virtual technology a little confusing and clunky but in effect it allows you guide yourself through the laboratory, bottling room and distillery and will share some basic info if you click on certain points like still size and water source…. but nothing super-geeky. On the website there is also a series of videos, mostly product promotions, but a 3:15 min Youtube video that tells you a little more about the name Ki No Bi, shows distillery construction, shares some facts about the locally sourced botanicals used and even shows some production. All in all, when you take the combination of virtual tour and the video, you end up with probably the most informative VDT so far and as an added bonus there a few Distillery Bingo words like "locally sourced", "famed fushimi water" and “artisinal” thrown in the video as well.  Overall I would say it is like the Tokyo Metro system, very good but tricky to navigate.

https://kyotodistillery.jp/en-GB/virtualdistillerytour/

What is this:  https://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/894-distillery-tours-from-my-couch-1

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