Eek! Where has the last 6 weeks gone?! The festival kicks of here in Edinburgh tomorrow so my heid will be down with the usual full-on fervour August brings. Sigh.
A quick resume of past tastings:-
The Dewars vertical went well with the old and new blends and 12yo Aberfeldys finding a pleasing almost 50-50 split in which one was best. The 21yo official bottling stole my heart however the 16yo took the popular vote.
Staying with Dewars:-
I can highly recommend this:- Whisky on Water https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/scotch-egg-club-presents-whisky-on-water
I've hosted a few similar excursions so when I was in the 'audience' last night it was interesting to see it from a 'punter's' perspective. I knew the relaxed passage passed parks and blossoming gardens was an enjoyable aspect of the trip but I didn't fully appreciate just how pleasant the gentle journey is.
The hosts are on top of their game with Jamie from Solid Liquids very experienced in such things while Craig Johnston has a unique perspective having worked with the likes of Glenkinchie the SMWS, Bruichladdich and has just returned from managing a distillery in Tasmania. The combination of his wit and production/history wisdom is a real joy.
The drams are all from the Dewars so a nice combination of styles from their distilleries as well as their main blend. The tone is light with some quality nibbles and games to break up the chat. The ticket also includes some offers at Royal Mile Whiskies and Akva bar which is handy for a post-cruise pint.
The walking tour (which had to be essentially a private party to stay on side of the licensing laws) was likewise a success but perhaps not as good as the first one due to the weather and the route/quality of sites. We started at Lochrin basin (where the barge sails from) the Haigs had an early and significant distillery there but not sign of it remains. We had a taste of a 1970s bottled Haig to mark the spot - we all agreed the unique style was a winner. A stroll through the Meadows took us to the site of Borroughloch brewery which remains pretty intact and is converted to residences. Here we had a distillery only Glenkinchie which was fine but nothing too special. After this we visit the location of Sciennes distillery which was owned by the Ushers that are broadly credited with creating the first brands of blends. Most - or even all of the site was cleared a few decades ago for functional looking flats, it is hard to prove that some buildings that certainly look like they date to the period of the distillery actually are at all related. Here we had a rather splendid 20yo 46% Glen Grant from Edinburgh Whisky Ltd. Next we stopped at the site on the proposed new distillery - The Engine Shed. So named as it was just such a thing servicing trains when the area was a depot next to Ushers vast maturation and malting site which again has all but been cleared for development. We had the dram of the day here - a 28yo Caledonian grain from Whisky Broker. Finally we strolled down to behind the Holyrood Palace where clearly a malting floor and pagoda still stand. Currently used as a workshop for Historic Scotland what we are seeing was last used by St. Ann's brewery which was converted from the Croft-an-righ distillery. Here we enjoyed another Edinburgh Whisky Ltd bottling - their Surgeon's Ball peaty vatted malt at 46% which I fancy has some Ardmore in it - currently my dram of choice at home. A video review of the walking tour and Dewars tasting has recently been posted on the Jolly Toper Facebook page if you're interested.
The next tasting will be at the National Trust for Scotland site Culross Palace in Fife, an amazing example of 16th/17th/18th century life, so fortunately saved from destruction in the 1930. Tickets from The NTS website.