Visiting The GlenDronach Distillery

door | november 2, 2020

The 15yo Revival was the first whisky we tasted from this distillery. We were both really impressed by it. This first impression has resulted in some very nice GlenDronach bottles in both our collections. On our very first Scotland trip GlenDronach had to be one of the distilleries to visit.

It’s fridaymorning and the Stagecoach takes us from Elgin to Huntley. We’re supposed to arrive at the distillery at 10AM but due to traffic we’re a bit delayed. We grab a taxi in Huntley and soon we arrive in Forgue. Lovely to see the beautiful distillery buildings in the Scottish landscape. We enter the visitor centre and we’re welcomed by Karen, our tourguide. After a few words of welcome the tour starts.

The tour starts at the old malting floor. It hasn’t been in use since 1996 but it still is in it’s original state. Some old tools, an old wheelbarrow and a pair of old safety shoes make it look like a museum. A small walk through the courtyard takes us to the old kiln. This also hasn’t been in use since 1996. It’s the last room to take pictures in untill we get back to the visitor centre. For safety reasons it’s prohibited to take pictures near the stills.

The next step in the productionprocess is milling the dried barley. The tour takes us past the old maltmill. It was made in 1913 and it used to run on energy out of the running water of the Dronach Burn. This small river practically flows through the distillery plant and it used to be the watersource for making the whisky as well.

The mill produces the grist in a specially required ratio. The grist is then transported into the mashtun to be mixed with water. Three washing steps at different temperatures (64°C, 86°C and 94°C) make sure all the barley sugar is dissolved. The wort is then collected and cooled in the underback before it’s transported into one of the Oregon pine washbacks. Here the yeast is added and the fermentation takes place. The wash eventually has an ABV of 8% and is ready to be distilled.

In the still room we see four beautiful stills. Two washstills on the ends and two spiritstills between them. The wash is distilled in the washstills, creating the low wines. The low wines (ABV approximately 25%) then is distilled in the spiritstills to produce a spirit with an ABV of 68%. It’s too bad we’re there on a friday morning. Production is brought down for the weekend so there’s no distilling going on. We do get to see how the underback is cleaned and we’re allowed to have a look inside the stills.

After this very nice tour by our guide Karen it’s time to go back to the visitor centre. It’s time to taste some whisky’s!

At first we taste some whisky’s from GlenDronachs’ core range. Of course we had tasted the 12yo Original and the 15yo Revival before and also the 18yo Allardice was no stranger to us. The 21yo Parliament was the one we had never tasted before. Lovely dram, as expected… Then it’s time to taste the manager’s cask. Distilled in 1994 and matured in sherry puncheon cask #3200, this cask was specially selected by distillery manager Alan McConnochie. Visitors can handfill a bottle out of this cask and after tasting it both Jeroen and I decided to fill a bottle or two. While filling the bottles Alan walks in and he decides to help us close and seal the bottles. There’s also time for an “official handover” from the manager to us. A very nice ending of a fantastic visit.

Some very good reasons to visit the GlenDronach Distillery:

  • It’s a beautiful site in a lovely landscape.
  • It has a very rich history
  • The people who work there know what they’re doing and love doing it

And of course…

  • They make fantastic products!

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