I am not normally a spirits drinker and on the odd occasion when I do indulge, whisky would be well down the pecking order in my choice of preferred tipple. However, when I attended a (Scottish) friend's stag weekend in Edinburgh and he asked us to go to the Scotch Whisky Experience, it seemed churlish to refuse. In the end I was glad I did. Although I am never going to be a huge fan it was a fascinating experience and great fun in the company of some very dear friends. I have to say that going to the pub beforehand is probably not the best preparation for visiting the place, take it from me!
We turned up at our appointed time and were greeted by a very pleasant young lady who took us first to a large room with quite honestly the largest collection of Scotch whisky I have ever seen. The image doesn't really do it justice. There is every conceivable type of Scotch here in the most amazing display of bottles many of which, it was explained, are unique. When one of the more mercenary of our party enquired what the collection was worth, we were told that it is literally priceless as so much of it could never be replace. I believe it is insured for several millions of pound. After the guide had fielded all our questions, we were then taken upstairs into the rather grand room you can see in another of the images and seated round a large table.
Our whisky expert then appeared and was somewhat of a surprise. She spoke with a slightly odd accent and she explained that she was originally not from Scotland (Czech or Slovak, if memory serves) but she had been living in Edinburgh for many years. Whatever her birthplace may have been, she certainly knew her stuff.
We each had four glasses of whisky at our places so I was somewhat intrigued when the first thing we were asked to do was sniff the contents of certain small vials and write down what we thought the smell was. This was done to show us the importance of the nose in appreciating whisky and to assist us in recognising the different regions where it is produced as they all have subtle differences.
Having stimulated our olfactory senses, the lady then proceeded to give us a very interesting talk on the history of whisky making, the different regions and just about anything else you would ever wish to know about Uisge Beatha which is Scots Gallic meaning "Water of Life".
During the talk we were encouraged to drink the various samples in front of us. When I was growing up in Northern Ireland, I had been led to believe that it was some sort of sacrilege to put anything in whisky. I was always taught that the correct answer to the question, "What do you take in your whisky?" was, "Another one please". However, it appears I may have been misinformed as the expert asked us to sip each one, then add a small drop of water and then even more water to see how the flavour changed, as well as the strength obviously. It certainly was a bit of an eye opener.
The time passed quickly and with much good humour and all too soon it was time to go and visit the extremely well-stocked gift shop and make our slightly merry way to our next destination. If you like a drink, this is a great place to visit and for a whisky drinker it must besome sort of Mecca.
A great experience.
There are so many different brands of whiskey on the market it is unbelievable. Trying to choose one to take home will blow your mind, you'll need a drink. Just as well they have promotional tasters. Still can't make up your mind? Oh well, move on to the next shop for another taster.
When visiting Scotland it is hard to miss out of one of the many old whiskey distilleries that are located - more or less - all over the land!
I visited The Glenturret Distillery from 1775 which is a distillery with great traditions.
After a tour around the distillery we were to taste the whiskey - I must admitt (no matter how interesting I had found the guidedtour) that I didnt like the whiskey - not even with a lot of water in it! - But even IF not liking whiskey it is still worth a visit...
Experience the history and mystery of scotch whisky.
Close to the castle you will find the Scotch Whisky Experince. After a taste of whisky, you can go inside. The making of whisky is explained in various exhibitions. At the end of the tour there is also a fun barrelride. In a whiskey barrel you will ride through 300 years of history.
Visit the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre
A voyage of discovery through the centuries brings to life the history, mystery and magic of the spirit of Scotland. An entertaining and informative experience for all the family. A tour of whisky making (available in 8 languages) with a FREE tasting for adults & balloons for children. Pre-booked groups may enjoy tutored tastings/blending competitions. Unassisted full wheelchair access.