Today was a bit wet at the Auchentoshan Festival at the Distillery just outside Glasgow but was still a great day out.
So my good friend Kinor and I braved the conditions and traveled by train to Dalmuir before being shuttled to the distillery on the provided minibus which was the beginning of the friendly and really great experience we had there.
On arrival we decided that as we had got there nice and early and it was still quite quiet that we would do the tour first, that was a great idea as not only did we pretty much get a personal service but we had the time to nosey about and ask loads of questions. On the way round we stopped and chatted to each of the vistor guides and they were all enthusiastic, full of humour and information.
I even asked about how drinkable the liquid was in the wash tuns to which i was rewarded with a small plastic cup of warm beer scooped directly from the wash tun, surprisingly it was actually very sweet and malty, and pretty drinkable.
My good friend Kinor during the tour
We then finished the tour and popped into the beer tent for a pint of lager that has been finished in Auchentoshan casks for 3 months, this was really nice and had a lot of the bourbon cask characteristics of whisky in the lager, very nice although i'm not a huge lager drinker.
From there we had a wander over to the Cooperage display and watched the demonstration of a cask being put together in the old fashioned way. It's a real shame that technology has meant a 90% reduction in the number of coopers over the last 30 years but a good sign to see that Jim, the Cooper we talked to today, had 2 apprentice coopers working for him in the cooperage, so hopefully this wont end up a dying trade.
After a venison burger and a walk to the main marquee we had a chat with more of the visitor reps whilst sampling the Auchentoshan 12, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Bowmore 12 and Bowmore 15. The guys (and gals) were all happy to chat about the whisky and their experiences working in the industry.
In the Main Marquee
It was beginning to get a bit busier so we had a wee nosey back down to the visitors centre and we decided to do one of the masterclasses, with the next one up being the "Whisky and the Environment" one. This i really enjoyed as i'm a bit of a geek about facts and figures and information like that and it's good to see that Morrison Bowmore and the SWA overall are really taking environmental issues seriously. The big interesting one is that if the new thing they are about to switch on at Auchentoshan comes off they will be using the spent fluids from the stills along with some wonderful bugs to create methane and using that to power the distillery. If their calculations are correct that would not only be enough to power the distillery but also to feed some back into the general system, a great thing in my opinion.
The masterclass was accompanied by a Glen Garioch 12yr, Bowmore 12yr and Auchentoshan 12yr and a good dose of humour.
We then realised the weather was now awful as we wandered around again and had some of the Auchentoshan Festival 2012 Ale again finished in Auchentoshan casks and very nice before more burgers (they were awesome).
A look around the Whisky and Art tent was very interesting and then another trip to the visitors centre to purchase my 1 of 200 numbered and signed bottles of Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 Festival edition (I got bottle 65) and to have a wee dram of Auchentoshan Coopers Reserve, this is a Travel Retail only bottling that i'd wanted to try, but being honest the nose was amazing but i found the palette quite rough in comparison to the rest of the Auchentoshan range and actually a little disappointing, think i'll stick to the Heartwood and Springwood when travelling.
One last look around and then onto the minibus back to Dalmuir station before we felt flooded by the rain meant we missed some of the bands including Skerryvore but it really wasnt the best of weather to be standing watching bands.
Overall a great experience with brilliant, informative and enthusiastic staff and only slightly ruined by the weather. If the weather had been dry and sunny i'd probably only be getting kicked out the gates now.