The first distilleryvisit of our 2016 whiskytrip was a visit to the Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry. This distillery isn’t known for a big range of official bottlings however Peter and I both have a bottle of Blair Athol whisky in our collection. Both were independently bottled and both are beautiful. These bottles got us interested in the visit in the first place.
We hop on the Stagecoach bus to travel from Perth to Pitlochry. As we don’t know exactly at which busstop we have to get off, we ask the busdriver to help us with that. He doesn’t have a clue. As we enter Pitlochry we understand why. There’s a big sign that says Bell’s with just a small mention of the Blair Athol distillery underneath it. Stop the bus! We’ve reached our destination!
Walking from the busstop to the visitor centre we pass the warehouses and a lovely smell of maturing spirit gives us a warm and welcome feeling. We’re planned in for the next tour with six other people coming from Scotland, Switserland and even China.
Reinier is our (German) tourguide and he walks us through the process of whiskymaking. We get to see the mashtun and the stainless steel washbacks. We walk through the still room with four impressive stills. Two 13000 litres wash stills and two 12000 litres spirit stills produce a total of 3 milion litres of pure alcohol every year. 0nly 0,3% ends up to be bottled as the official 12yo Blair Athol bottling. The rest becomes part of the Diageo blends Bell’s and Johnnie Walker. Some casks are sold to independent bottlers as well.
We leave the still room and walk towards the warehouses. We cross the distillery’s watersource, the Allt Dour Burn, before we enter the warehouse. A very well organised storage of whiskycasks of different ages. Reinier tells us how complete rows of casks are selected to be used in the blends. He points at a row with 17yo Blair Athol. These casks will be used for Johnnie Walker’s Gold label when they reach the age of 18yo.
(As Always) The tour ends in the whiskyshop. We get to taste the official 12yo Blair Athol whisky and it’s possible to buy an 18yo distillery only bottling. We’re tempted but we have another visit planned for the day. We both do buy a Blair Athol Glencairn glass as a souvenir. We thank our guide and leave the distillery. A very nice first stop on this trip!