Travel Notes from Scotland
There’s travel for work - and travel for play. But often, when working in the booze biz, they tend to overlap. Recently our esteemed Redwood City Assistant Store Manager, Cameron Price, spent his vacation in Bonnie Scotland. And while his trip was for pleasure, the lines tend to blur when you love and sell Scotch at the same time, so Cameron focused much of his trip around visiting Single Malt distilleries.
Scotland isn’t your typical destination in February. It can be bitter cold - but the crowds are minimal, and heck, it’s always warm inside a whisky bar. Cameron and his wife spent a blustery six days in Edinburgh and Glasgow tasting their way through Scotland in a glass. Below are some of his notes that he brought back, which we can all earmark for our next trip.
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and historic places in Europe. The city is perfect for sightseeing and is packed with fun bars, young people and extremely beautiful architecture. But, if you’re looking Scotch in striking distance of an urban center, Glasgow is the place to be. Not only are several urban distilleries being built and operated, but the famous Auchentoshan and Glengoyne distilleries are within striking distance of city center. A quick drive and you’re able to experience some of Scotland’s finest malt.
Auchentoshan, meaning 'corner of the field', specializes in triple distillation and smaller production. They are located in the Lowlands regions, just a quick hop outside of Glasgow. For Sherry cask lovers, a good introduction to their portfolio is the “Three Wood” which spends 6-8 years in Bourbon casks and is then finished for 2 years in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez butts. The resulting malt displays a nutty, Christmas cake spice draped over the soft fruity malt that Auchentoshan is known for, behind it all a freshness and twinge of vanilla from the ex-bourbon cask.
Glengoyne, 'Valley of the Geese', touts the idea of a slower and more delicate distillation, producing malts with softer less punchy aromas than Auchentoshan’s shorter fermentation. The result is very nicely layered malt brimming with complexity. If you pick up a bottle, you’ll notice their slogan: 'Unhurried Since 1833.’ All their spirits are the standard double distillation and are meticulously matured in the finest sherry butts.
Fun fact, Glengoyne is the most southern Highlands Whisky. They literally straddle the line with the malt spirit distilled on the north side of the road that delineates the Highlands from the Lowlands and their casks being matured south of the road in the Lowlands. A good starting point to get into Glengoyne would their 10-year-old, which happens to be the youngest spirit they produce. The 10 year is light and sprightly with fresh cereal notes and a tinge of dry grass or bright fruit.
Upgrade to the 15 and the sherry influence becomes more obvious. If you're feeling lucky the 21 Year represents one of the best values in Scotch on our shelves today. For an even bigger and richer Oloroso cask matured style and one of the true legends of Scotland, jump to the magical 25-year-old. While, it’s not cheap by any measure, no other malt matured fully in sherry and bottled without coloring or chill-filtration comes close in the age/price range.
Both of these houses do not use peat, so freshness and delicacy is the name of the game, if you're looking for smoke, look elsewhere.
- Notes from Cameron Price