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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Henry Schmidt's Illegal Still Site, Texas, USA

OK, I admit this is stretch but I did visit it as it is just a few miles from Houston in what is now a wildlife park in Dickinson, Texas.    Of course before posting this entry I did some very thorough research.  By "thorough" I mean I typed three of four versions of "Schmidt+stills+Dickinson"  into Google but I got less hits than Donald Sterling's www.onlineguidetoracerelations.com webpage.  All I could find was information on the sign which says the site "was used by Henry Schmidt in the 1920s and destroyed by Hurricane Carla".  At end of day I can still say it may not be the worst distillery  visit I ever made (Tobermory; I have not forgotten you and NEVER will).  Also my daughter really enjoyed this trip a lot more than others as it had turtles and camels as well.  You never see those at Glenfiddich.  Not unless you hit the samples a little too hard.

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Loch Ewe, Aultbea, Scotland

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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