Tuesday, 21 December 2010

2 day Sample Tour Starting & Ending in the Craigellachie/Aberlour area.

Hopefully you’ll be well rested and have had a good full Scottish breakfast. I always recommend that you do this to fortify yourself for the day ahead. You’ll then be ready for your first day out and your visit to The Aberlour distillery, which is at a set time of 10.00 am. I find that in my experience it is much better to do a morning tour as this frees up the rest of the day and saves us having to ‘clock watch’ all day. By the time you do the production tour it will be nearer 11:30/12noon before you are doing the tasting - so not too early.

Telford Bridge Craigellachie

 I would collect you from your accommodation at 09.30am. This is enough time to get to the distillery for 10.00am. If you wanted to tour around the area a little and get your bearings prior to the distillery tour then we would start a little earlier at 9.00am.

The tour at Aberlour is 2 hours long but more often than not it takes more like 2-1/2 hours, depending on how many people fill a bottle from the cask. Remember this is the one of  very few distillery tours in Scotland that has this opportunity. At £65 (payable at the distillery) it is a great deal for a signal cask strength. You aren’t expected to buy one and they don’t push it at all but it is the only way to get a bottle like this. You can’t even buy it at the distillery shop - only on the tour! The tour includes a 15-20 minute talk on the history of the distillery and whisky making.

Then the production tour through the distillery and you end up in Warehouse No1 where you’ll get six drams to nose & taste: New spirit, 10y, 16y Sherry cask strength, 16y Bourbon cask strength, 16y and the A'bunadh.  Also the opportunity as I said to fill a bottle from the Sherry or Bourbon casks at £65 - well worth it and very exclusive. There is a maximum of 16 people max per tour and only two tours a day, so very small and sometimes it can be less than 16 if you’re lucky at certain times of the year.

Ballindalloch Castle
You may fancy a spot of lunch at a nearby pub, then afterwards we could travel around some of the more 'off the beaten track' distilleries locations. Or possibly if the weather isn’t so good maybe we could pay a visit to a castle that has been lived in by the same family since 1546.
OR if you are feeling up to it and the weather is favourable we could travel up to the Dufftown area and take in a ruined castle which has been abandoned for over 280 years. This involves a wee walk which makes for great views, weather permitting. Arriving back in Craigellachie at 17:00-17:30.

Day 2
Today a visit to the Speyside Cooperage where you'll see the Coopers at work refurbishing casks and learn how important this industry is to the area. Afterwards we can go to The Macallan distillery for 11am "Precious Tour" This tour is for the avid Macallan fan - no more than 10 people on the tour. The approximately 1 ½ hour tour covers the full production process, a visit to a traditional warehouse with its exhibition about oak and its importance to the maturation process, with the opportunity to nose a rare Macallan from a wonderful cask filled in 1970s. The tour concludes with a nosing & tasting in the sampling room where you will enjoy 5 different classic Macallans,

Macallan Sample Room
including the ‘Fine Oak’ range and new spirit! It can take a couple of hours to do the full tour with tastings. After the tour we could have a leisurely tour around my childhood haunts at the Macallan estate.

Time for lunch!
We could travel up to the remote Glenlivet area and perhaps have lunch at a country house hotel en route in Archiestown. If you appreciate good food and wine in a lovely atmosphere then this is that place, Alan & Jane are the owners.

The Archiestown Hotel
River Spey at Macallan

As I said Glenlivet is in a more remote area of Speyside with lots of walks to do and will tick a lot of your boxes: scenic, castle, peoples history and of course whisky.
I know this area very well and often hike to the more remote parts; if you can spare the time I think you’d really enjoy this part of Speyside. There are some shorter walks we can do if you can’t spend the time that would be needed to venture further into the glens.

If you’re a real whisky fan you might like the following idea for touring around the local area passing many distilleries along the way. Now the problem is that most distilleries aren’t open for visitors! Out of fifty six or so Speyside distilleries, only about a third of them are regularly open for visitors. So getting a taste or a look around inside isn’t possible. As we travel around I’ll stop at some of the distilleries locations and whilst we admire the outside I can tell you a bit about the history of the distillery and of course we can talk about what it produces!
Whisky Shop Dufftown


If you want to buy some whisky to take or send home, at the end of our day or days out we'll call in at my local ‘independent whisky shop’. They have one of the largest selections of Whisky that you'll find anywhere and Mike will be there to help you choose and answer any questions that I’ve not answered already.  If this is something you would like to do please let me know in advance so I can incorporate a visit into your itinerary.

Glenlivet on The Livet

Passing through the lovely scenery that Speyside has to offer, there are many routes we can take. Some of which include side glens such as Avon side, stopping as and when you feel like to admire various sights along the way. We would aim to arrive back at your accommodation at approximately 17:30-18:00.
You may feel that you want to extend the day a little, as some people find that when they are actually here they feel they would like to make the most of their short time in the area. I can let you know any extra cost on the day if you decide you wanted to do this.

The Convals above Craigellachie
Estimated Costs for the 2 days.
Collect you from Craigellachie trip based on the above.   
My total time estimated 18 hours and my mileage 130 miles. Spread over two days.  
  • Estimated cost for the 2 days will be £650 for the trip whether there are 2 or up to maximum of 6 people.
  • Add £75 per person to include the 2 distilleries and tastings, The Speyside Cooperage and the castle.
My estimates are accurate and I’ve allowed a fair amount of time and mileage to cover over the 2 days. The difference in the final cost may be the fact that we may take longer or shorter in both time & mileage depending on any changes you decide to make to the above on the day.
We must also keep in mind that the fuel costs in the UK could well go up more than I’ve estimated for 2012. I will of course let you know as time goes on, if there are any changes to mileage costs etc.
It can be very easy to clock up the country miles in Speyside but I can assure you time passes too quickly when everything is new to you. I’ve allowed 130 miles for the vehicle in total although you wont be travelling quite that many tour miles, probably around 90 tour miles over the two days. We will stop as much as possible en-route to look at anything you want and take pictures of course.