I just returned from a trip to Glasgow and had the opportunity to visit a distillery nearby. What a wonderful experience! I have read much about the process of making whisky, but it is really special to see it all in action. They take you right through the distillery where the whisky is being made everyday. It's wonderful to experience all of the smells that are characteristic to each stage of the process. The yeasty bread smell of the fermentation room, the sweet alcohol smell of the mash tun, the almost winelike smell of the spirit safe. The only thing that I would have liked more is if we could have seen inside the warehouse where the spirit is aged. Due to tax restrictions though the spirit must be kept under lock and key as soon as the distillation begins all the way through to bottling. Seing everything from spring to cask was really great, and seeing the land around the distillery really gave me a sense of how the smells and tastes of the land permeate the spirit. I don't think that I can emphasize enough how enjoyable a dram of whisky is when it is enjoyed at the distillery. Since Melissa did not have any whisky I got to have two drams :).
Glengoyne is a highland distillery, although their whisky is distilled in the highlands and aged across the street in the lowlands. Since there is no peat in the region it is not used to halt the malting of the barley, instead hot air is used. This means that there is no smokyness to the whisky at all. The only flavour of note arises from the aging process, which is done in casks that were previously used to age sherry. These casks are used 3 or 4 times to age the whisky before they have given all they can give. I bought a bottle of the 10 yo Glengoyne single malt. It is very light in colour as it is young. The nose does not reveal much at first although it smells very sweet from afar. To me I think I almost smell a fruity fig aroma. I found the whisky to be quite smooth, with a very slight attack. The flavor of the sherry dominates the palette. On the whole this is a very enjoyable malt that means so much more to me having been to the distillery. One day I think that I would like to do a tour across Scotland of all sorts of distilleries, but Glengoyne was wonderfully accessible by bus right from city centre Glasgow. It only cost us £4.25 to get there and £4.50 for the tour. What a deal!