We have visited a total of three distilleries in Scotland, each with its own charm.
First, we visited the Dallas Dhu distillery. This is a historic distillery that is no longer in operation. The distillery is very beautifully renovated. You get a good overview of the whole production process from the delivery of the pure barley until the storage of the filled barrels. For the inspection you get an audio guide in nearly all common languages and so you can move in your own speed in exhibition with it. The explanations for the individual steps are good and easy to understand. As the distillery does not produce any more, you can also take photos everywhere. In distilleries that are in operation any kind of electronic devices are strictly forbidden due to the high alcohol content in the air. This also applies to cameras. If you hand in the audio guides after the tour, there is a small whisky sample in the “tasting room”.
The second distillery leads us to Tain. With Glenmorangie we visited a larger distillery that is still producing. Here everything is a bit more commercial. The guided tours start at a fixed time, take place every half hour in the high season and are only offered in English language.
The fact that the distillery is still in operation gives you a very good insight into the production processes. Glenmorangie does not malt the barley itself; they get it malted and delivered dried. You can also have a look into the Wash Backs and take a nose full of the scent. The alcohol mist bites the nose quite strongly. In the hall with the 8 Wash Stills and 8 Spirit Stills it gets quite hot. After the inspection of a warehouse we go to the tasting room where we enjoy a whisky together with the group.
I visited the third distillery due to a recommendation of a work colleague. In my opinion, this was also the best tour. Blair Atholl is a small distillery with a total of 4 active stills (2 washes and 2 spirit stills). The tour is only offered in English. The groups are smaller than at Glenmorangie and guided tours only take place every hour. As with all active distilleries, children under the age of 8 have no access to the productive areas due to the alcohol content in the air.
Balir Atholl also receives the finished malted and dried barley like Glenmorangie. Blair Atholl – like Gelenmorangie too- does not use smoky barley. Nevertheless, the whiskey has a very delicate peat taste. The creek that supplies the water for the whiskey comes directly from the Highlands. The water is only filtered and otherwise not further processed. Since the water runs through the peaty soils, the whiskey gets its subtle peat taste. Altogether Blair Atholl only fills about 2% of the production as single malt whiskey. The rest is sold to other distilleries and used for blended whiskey. The whiskey is mainly found in the region of Pitlochry. As the Blair Atholl has no export permit, it is rather rare to find it abroad.
After the sightseeing, it goes also to the tasting room where we can take a dram of the noble drop.