Wow! Great to be back in Scotland again … after a rainy bus ride from Edinburgh airport to Glasgow that took twice as long. We later learned that the Celtics were playing Milan and Glasgow was packed with football fans. For those that must know the game was tied 4 goals all.
Craigton Bottling Plant – Jonathan, Cindy & Kevan
Day 1 and Cindy and I were up and early heading to Craigton bottling. Not until we had sampled the full Scottish Breakfast available at the Hilton Glasgow complete with haggis which Cindy worked on and a lovely bowl of creamy porridge covered in fresh cream and a healthy portion of Ballantines Scotch Whisky. Definitely a first for me. A big thanks to Rachel who picked us up and along with Kevan gave us the grand tour of the Craigton plant and helped to nail down some of the finer details in bottling so many wee 50ml bottles for the second edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar.
We spent some quality time cuddling old barrels in the Craigton warehouse – there were some decidedly yummy looking casks (no we didn’t try any).
Suffice to say that the bottling and packaging for this years calendar is in good hands with Kevan and Rachel.
Right, time for us to go source some whisky!
Picked up by Iain from A.D. Rattray we were whisked out to the “Scotch Whisky Experience” in Maybole, Ayrshire which is an interactive whisky experience and shop front for A.D. Rattray independent bottlers. Without giving anything away we looked at and tasted some mighty fine drams while scarfing down delicious sandwiches and cake.
The Scotch Whisky Experience – Maybole
A.D. Rattray, as a lot of you already know, was my first foray into the world of single cask Scotch and it’s wonderful to still be working with them almost a decade later. Nick, Francis, Iain and the rest of the team poured on the hospitality and after some fierce negotiations a suitable list of whiskies was agreed upon and our journey to completing this years list had begun.
“After some fierce negotiations a suitable list of whiskies was agreed upon and our journey to completing this years list had begun.”
Time for some serious whisky drinking with our host Iain in all of his favorite Glasgow haunts. First stop was Stravaigin for a pint and dinner to get some fortification in place for the whisky to come.
“All I can say is this is a must for your next visit to Glasgow as the food is sensational.”
Off to the Ubiquitous Chip which is legendary in Glasgow for our first dram of the evening. Bruichladdich Bere Barley was just the ticket to get our palates off to a good start. Not wanting us to miss anything we were then off to The World Famous Bon Accord which is one of the best whisky bars in Glasgow. It was great meeting owner Paul and the team and we were even ushered behind the bar for an impromptu photo shoot. First dram on the bar was an A.D. Rattray Glen Grant 20 Year Old bottled exclusively for the Bon Accord. Yummo!
We got to learn all about the ringing of the bell initially warning us of the impending last call then ushering in the last call and eventually telling us to get the heck out! While all this bell tolling went on we still had time for another dram and I chose a proprietary bottling of Glen Deveron (MacDuff) as I had never tried it before. Always great to try new whiskies.
By this stage Iain had split the scene to get a late cab ride home and Cindy and I were fortunately within walking distance of the hotel.
What a great first day in Scotland and our first in Glasgow.
“Ahem….. remember as you read this that Cindy and I were fully engaged in dedicated field work and whisky sourcing. Any resemblance to a “vacation” or fun junket is purely coincidental.”
Day 2 and we were once again escorted by Iain and his fabulous fiance, Zoe, who firstly took us out to the Southernmost Highland Distillery Glengoyne. Literally sitting on the Highland side of the road that divides the Highlands and the Lowlands the whisky is distilled on the Highland Side and then moved to the warehouses to age in the lowlands. Fun stuff.
A very pretty distillery, Glengoyne has an exceptional visitors center and tour which really shows in an easily understandable way the impact of casks and aging. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Glasgow to make the trip to Glengoyne. During the tour we did of course get a chance to try some whisky and the Glengoyne 12 Year Old was a nice easy dram to get started with.
“Back to Iain’s for some ridiculously good cheeses and a cleansing ale to round out an amazing time with the good folk at A.D. Rattray.”
More whisky to be tasted though, and so it was that Cindy and I closed out our Glasgow experience with firstly a visit to the un-named pub … seriously, it has no name! … where I broke protocol being that it was the best Bourbon bar in the city and had a Sazerac Rye.
(Later we found out it’s name is Chinaskis)
“This spot is brilliant with it’s candle lit tables and cozy but buzzing atmosphere.”
One last visit to the World Famous Bon Accord which just happened to be on our way back to the hotel. Couldn’t have planned it any better. It was here that Cindy had her first ever full dram of whisky ordering the Auchentoshan Three Wood. After my visit to Glengoyne earlier in the day, I just had to try something older from them and so had a dram of the Glengoyne 21yo in hand when Cindy and I toasted the success of the first leg of our 4 supplier journey.
On to Edinburgh for the next installment of Calendar Whisky Sourcing 101.