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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

The Glenlivet, Speyside, Scotland

If Glenfiddich is now the heavyweight champion of Speyside and in many ways the father of the modern industry, then The Glenlivet certainly deserves an honorable mention and perhaps should be considered the grandfather.  When the 1823 Excise Act was passed one of the first to apply for a license was George Smith of Glenlivet, and in 1824 The Glenlivet was born.   It was such a popular and presumably good whisky that soon many regional distillers were using the name Glenlivet on their whisky as a sign of quality.  So many whiskies in fact claimed to be Glenlivet that it became known as the longest glen in Scotland.   In the end it went to court in 1880 (when Glenfiddich was still a twinkle in the eye of William Grant) but it only resulted in a partial victory for the Smith family, and some whiskies continued to use the name in part, and today you can still see old bottles or marketing material that refer to "Craigellachie-Glenlivet" and other similar hyphenated names.  Anyway this is one of the "must visit" distilleries, considering it is the third most popular single malt in the world, and one of the increasingly few that still offers free tours and samples (at least they did in April 2010).  They have a great visitor center, which was rebuilt in 2009, with a café, shop and nice tastings including their 12 and 18 year old expressions and the 100% bourbon cask matured Nadurra.  

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Glengoyne, Dumgoyne, Scotland

Glengoyne, Dumgoyne, Scotland

If the Mayans were correct, the world was going to end on December 21st 2012. I decided that if that was going to be my last day I was going to spend a little time that day at a distillery. Glengoyne has a picture perfect setting with a waterfall outside the very nice visitor center. They offer a variety of tours (based on the tasting at the end) and allowed our daughter to come along as well.   Overall I thought tour was good, a short video at the beginning along with a dram of Glengoyne 12 year old and a well stocked shop, (but they did charge us for the tour). One observation was that they use one wash still with two spirit stills, rather than the usual wash still and spirit still pair. However what was most interesting to me was that they were very proud of fact they are technically a Highland distillery and even pointed out that the road that runs outside the distillery is the boundary between the highlands and lowlands. If they were on other side of road they would be a lowland distillery. I have stated before that I don’t think it would be a bad thing for them to style themselves as a lowland distillery, as today they are just another Highland distillery, but they obviously feel differently. But the thing is, and I think it is quite a thing, that they mature their whisky across the road; technically in the lowlands. Most people suggest maturation accounts for around 60% - 70% of taste of final product and Glengoyne mature their spirit in the lowlands! So you could argue the final product is more lowland than highland.

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