In early of August 2014, while working on some images for a client, I had the thought of pursuing a personal project of my own:
To visit & photograph the single-malt whisky distilleries in and around the local area, and see them within the landscape that surrounds them.
Initially, this will encompass the distilleries relatively close-by, but gradually I hope to include others from further afield around Scotland. Now, not all distilleries are accessible, or even clearly visible from public vantage points, but the countryside around these places is some of the most beautiful in Scotland, and I will endeavour to do the best I can.
If you have any queries or would like any of the images, then please contact me.
Please scroll down to view, and click the pictures to see them in a light-box format:
The first distillery here is Glenfarclas, in Ballindalloch, Speyside. Still owned by the Grant family, the distillery here has the largest 'stills' in use in the Highlands, and 6 of them, although only 4 are normally used at any one time.
Next is the Strathisla Distillery in Keith, which is the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. A quick and interesting fact I learned on the tour here is that the River Isla that runs next to the distillery buildings, was originally the dividing line, or border, between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland in this area, and the distillery was sited on the lowland side by its founder due to the taxes being lower on that side!
The Glenlivet Distillery is located quite near the Glenfarclas Distillery mentioned above, both sited around Ballindalloch in Moray. The Glenlivet is the largest selling single malt in the USA, and 2nd largest globally, producing almost 6 million proof litres annually.
The Tormore Distillery was next on the route, and shown below, it is a striking building. Located about 1km from the River Spey, the distillery draws its water from the Achvochkie Burn.
Towards the end of August, I was out in Royal Deeside touring around with my camera in the car, when I found myself literally in the most Royal area of Royal Deeside... Right next to Balmoral Castle!
I took a couple of side-roads as I'd heard there was a distillery located just next to the Royal estate, called Royal Lochnagar Distillery, and I wanted to see if I could find an angle for a shot of the buildings. The weather was very stormy this day, but in between the thunder and heavy rain showers, there were small moments of calm. I got the picture (below) after venturing up a track past the distillery, skirting a field, and waiting for a break in the rain and cloud cover to get a shot with some 'mood'.
This weekend past (7th Sept), despite the pretty terrible weather here in Aberdeen, I went for a visit to the most easterly distillery in Scotland: Glen Garioch Distillery, at Oldmeldrum, just north of Aberdeen. As the rain was basically torrential, I didn't end up with any exterior shots of this charming distillery, but have instead captured a few from the interior, as I made my way around the distillery on the tour. (Note: Glen Garioch is pronounced 'Glen Geery').
The image below shows the inside of one of the 'mash tuns' where the water and barley mix is ground together to extract the sugars from the fermenting barley into a wash.
The next image shows a small display of the bottles currently used by the distillery for their varieties of whisky, in front of two of the large 'stills' at the distillery (there is a third hidden at the back as well).
This was a fun trip to a smaller scale distillery, with an interesting tour, great staff, and quite different from the much larger scale operations of brands like The Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet, and is definitely recommended for a visit especially as it is so near to Aberdeen.
Recently, while up near Keith in Moray, I took a run to Craigellachie, to go past The Macallan Distillery. This extremely well known whisky has gone from strength to strength on the principals of its founder of simply being the best quality possible. Started in 1824, by a local farmer, Mr A Reid, the distillery has changed hands a few times over the years to its current owners, The Edrington Group.
The following photograph shows some of the 16 original and traditional 'dunnage' style warehouses in use at The Macallan distillery site.
This was an nice visit to a very historic and famous distillery, and it is definitely recommended. The location and countryside surroundings are beautiful, there are even Highland cattle grazing on the estate, and with several more distilleries nearby, there are options to make numerous visits in this area for a real 'taste' of whisky country.
Saturday the 20th September.
Seeing the weather lift from the previous couple of days mist and drizzle, I decided to head out and try to visit another couple of distilleries. I was intending on visiting the GlenDronach distillery at Forgue, by Huntly, and then heading over past Huntly to Dufftown, and on to the Rothes area. As it happened I was held up on the road, and missed my aimed-for tour time.
So, I decided to make for Keith and visit the Strathisla Distillery again (1st visit above), but this time take the tour!
Here are a couple of images from the tour, which was excellent, fun, and informative.
Following on from the Strathisla visit, I had a quick bite to eat, while deciding where to go next and if I had time to make it to Rothes and then back to GlenDronach for the last tour of their day at 3pm. The decision was no. So I headed back to catch the 2pm tour at GlenDronach, as I knew it would be around 45mins to an hour.
The GlenDronach distillery, located as I mentioned before at Forgue, just east of Huntly, was founded in 1826, by local farmer James Allardice, who began by distilling whisky illegally and transporting it to Edinburgh, before obtaining a licence in later years and going legit. GlenDronach, which means 'Valley of the Brambles', sits astride the Dronach Burn, but uses this water only for cooling the condensers in the distilling process. The water used for the whisky is drawn from a couple of deep wells sunk a mile or two away and piped to the site.
So, here are some images from my visit to this charming distillery, which makes a wonderful dram!
This distillery was well worth the visit(s) and round-trip to see.
The tour was great fun and informative, plus we even got to see a couple of areas not normally open for tours as this was a day in-between distilling. Some entertaining stories about the distillery and its workers from our guide, who himself has worked there around 40 years, completed the experience. The tasting afterwards, proved what a gem of a whisky this is, with a wide selection of varieties available.
With a busy end of year, and holidays over Christmas and New Year, I've not had too much chance to get out to other distilleries recently. However, that will change now that we are into 2015!
There will some new updates and new visits coming soon with hopefully some great new pictures.
January 24th, 2015
I was all set to make a trip to another distillery (not saying where yet) in the local area, but the weather decided not to be cooperative, and on top of that it turned out the visitor centre is closed at this time of year! I shall endeavour to make another trip there soon though to get some external shots.
It's been a long time..... and a lot has gone on in the past year!
However, none of that matters here, and it's back to distilleries at last!
The most recent visit, was to Dewars Distillery in Aberfeldy, Perthshire which is a very historic distillery. My wife and I enjoyed the tour immensely and the excellent visitor centre was welcoming, warm, and full of interesting things!
This world famous Highland Single Malt has been produced at the Aberfeldy Distillery since 1898 and the visitor centre is located in one of the original buildings. A refurbishment there has been undertaken with the utmost care, retaining many of the traditional features of this historical building.
A stunning and dramatic 'stave tunnel' installation, made from oak casks, leads visitors from the heritage centre to the hosting area and a new hand-crafted glass light feature has been created with hand-blown glass droplets fashioned after whisky droplets. There is also the feature archive wall, which showcases vintage memorabilia, signs and advertising campaigns from throughout Dewar's history, and is really fascinating especially when viewed in conjunction with the accompanying audio presentation.
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