The process of making Uisge beatha, the "water of life" hasn't changed over the centuries. The distilleries go to great lengths to ensure that their production methods remain the same, as the slightest variation could alter the taste . This can be caused by the shape of the still, the type of cask used and the location.
Approximately half (50) of Scotland's single malt distilleries are found in the Moray area and the 70 mile trip around the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail visits seven working distilleries and a cooperage. A celebration of Whisky takes place each May, the Spirit of Speyside festival. It covers whisky, food, music and entertainment, and distilleries throughout the area arrange special tastings, tours and events.
Whisky is vital to the economy of the area and to Scotland as a whole. We hope you will be inspired to visit a distillery or two and experience the subtle variations in the taste of Scotland's national drink.
Dalwhinnie distillery is only 20 minutes away from Glengarry and is the highest distillery in Scotland. Its name is Gaelic for "meeting place". It is an area renowned in the past for whisky smuggling, as the village stands at the junction of old cattle-droving routes from the west and north down to the central Lowlands. The distillery was opened in 1897 and it produces a bright gold, very aromatic, dry, faintly phenolic, lightly peaty whisky. Its whisky has traditionally been an important component of the Buchanan blends and it represents the Highlands in united Distillers "Classic Malts" range.
Strathisla is the oldest distillery in the North of Scotland and has a dry, fruity, oaky malt flavour. The water from a nearby spring was used by the Dominican monks in the 13th century to brew beer and this same water has been used in the distillation of whisky since around 1786. Strathisla began its life as a farm distillery but has taken its present shape from the 1820s onwards. It was acquired by Chivas Regal in 1950 and is now the showpiece distillery for that blend.
The Glenlivet comes from the most famous whisky-making Glen in Scotland.and the small river Livet which flows into the Spey. The distillery is the highest in the glen and until recently was known as Braes of Glenlivet and it produces a honeyish, zesty whisky. Glenlivet has historical origins from the days when Highlanders were permitted to distil only on a domestic scale - at that time this relatively remote glen was a famous nest of illicit distillation. After legalization in 1824, the spirit from Glenlivet was in great demand by the merchants from the cities to the south. Only one distillery in the area is permitted to call itself The Glenlivet and this is the one that was the first to become legal. It now has an international reputation. The Glenlivet and other distilleries were acquired in 1977 by the North American company Seagram and The Glenlivet has become the biggest-selling single malt in the American market.
Drumguish is produced by the Speyside Distillery Company and is one of the newest distilleries in Scotland. Its first spirit was produced in 1991 and it has an oily, nutty, lightly peaty flavour. George Christie the owner had planned its opening for three or four decades. The distillery is near Kingussie where the tiny river Tromie flows into the highest reaches of the Spey. The company name is taken not only from its location, but also from a distillery that operated in Kingussie between 1895 and 1910 called Speyside.
Glenfarclas Distillery has been a family owned business since 1865 - J. & G. Grant - and is situated near to the village of Marypark. It is about a mile from the river Spey to Glenfarclas *"Valley of the Green Grass" and the water used by the distillery flows from the hills which rise towards Ben Rinnes. Barley is also grown in the surrounding area. Some of the buildings date back to 1865 and the reception room has panelling from an ocean liner. However, the stills are the biggest in Speyside.
The Glenfarcals whiskies are best known to connoisseurs having big, complex, malty, sherryish flavours.
Cardhu Distillery was rebuilt in 1872 by one of the key figures in the industry of the time Elizabeth Cumming - the distillery was already at least 50 years old at that time. A member of the Cumming family has, in more recent years, had a role in the introduction of the present Cardhu as the first widely available single malt. Cardhu is situated on a hillside near to the River Spey. Cardhu is known for its light, smooth, sweetish, delicate flavour.
Hints for whisky lovers.
Bottles should be stored upright, away from direct light or extremes of temperature. After 3 or 4 years, whisky in a bottle that is less than half-full can oxidize and begin to disintegrate.
The aroma of whisky is heightened in a copita or snifter, rather than a tumbler and the smallest drop of water will heighten the bouquet.
Whisky, even with the addition of water, is a stong drink, but the combination of whisky and food can work well. Chefs throughout the world use a variety of whiskies in their recipes from sushi to scallops, Aberdeen Angus to quail. It is also a fantastic addition to any creamy dessert. A London restaurant presented oysters with the lightly peaty local Dalwhinnie; something to try on your return home.
To finish off a meal there is the after-dinner cigar and what more natural partner than a smoky whisky or richer malt.
As with any food or wine, the choice is yours, whisky will either complement or contrast your choice. Enjoy.
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