One of the biggest disadvantages of being a whisky blogger is that for the vast majority of people it isn't a full time career and as such when invites to events and press trips come up, inevitibly they are difficult for many to attend.
Despite the fact i work with whisky all day, getting time off for a trip can be a matter of timing and good luck and thats exactly what happened when i was invited to spend a couple of days 'Up North' visiting Glenglassaugh and Benriach distilleries.
It all starts easily enough with 07:33am train from Edinburgh's Haymarket station, before a 2.5 hour train journey to Aberdeen then a 1.5 hour car Journey to the small fishing, and marble, village of Portsoy.... and then the fun begins.
There were one or two familiar faces on this trip including Barry from The Whisky Philes and Billy from The Whisky Exchange along with a Plethora of Journalists from national and international press.
We first got changed into the brightest waterproofs i think i have ever worn, but they fit me, which for someone my size is a treat, before we made our way onto a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) for a tour along the Aberdeenshire coastline, enjoying views of such beaties as the Bow and Fiddle rock formations (below)
This boat trip was accompanied by interesting facts and information about the minerality and lush nature of the coastline and some of the details about why the coastline is formed in this way and the benefits it has to the very mineral rich (around 70 Mineral parts per million) water used as the source water for Glenglassaugh.
The coastline here really is lush with greens, browns and rock greys, and there is a truly spectacular elemental beauty of it, plus being on the boat in the middle of the sea really does make you feel insignificant in this world
Next came a new experience, and probably a one off, for me as we had a whisky tasting whilst floating on the water in Sandend Bay with Rachel doing a great job leading the rest of us in a gospel of whisky. Truly one of the best whisky tasting experiences i've ever had.
We then returned to dry land, arriving by beach to the distillery, before a spot of lunch in the distilleries visitors centre. A beautiful little spot with a selection of some amazing vintages that many distilleries would cry out for, along with a visitors book, thats worth checking out, with entried dating back to the early 1960s (check out the fabulous writing skills)
The distillery tour, with both Rachel Barrie and Distillery Manager Alan McConnochie, was in depth, fun and relaxed, happy to look in detail at some things and answer technical questions, along with being happy to have a little fun and jibe at each other, and some of the Journalists.
A quick tasting of the Glenglassaugh Core Range of whiskies outside the distillery, overlooking the beach, was a gentle and welcome break, the drams really are better than i remember, and i will be reviewing the full core range properly soon to add to the site, along with a number of other limited releases.
The warehouse element came next, with a bit of time spent in Warehouse No 1, where we were treated to a few cask samples, the one which made me sile most being the 1975 cask, distilled 16/08/1975 (when i was a mear 23 days old) then finished since 2014 in a Madeira wine cask, definitely dram of the day; and not just for me, and when some of the others were from 1973 and 1967 you will understand that it really was pretty special.
After the warehouse and distillery tour we wandered down the short distance to the beach for a BBQ and tasting, featuring the new Glenglassaugh wood finish series (more on those soon, but they really are great). The food, which was incredible, was served up by the awesome team at Good Highland Food who really did push out the boat.
It was a jam packed, and busy day, featuring some new experiences, some great company and some exceptional drams. Thanks again to Glenglassaugh for the opportunity to come on this trip and look out for the next installment of this from Day 2.