I admit it, I like a good single malt whisky – and we were clearly at a place that has a lot of these. Specifically we went to
The Scotch Whisky Experience. This included a “barrel ride” through the process of how whisky is made, a tour of the largest single Whisky collection in the world and a tasting of the wonderful elixir called Whisky.
The Whisky Experience (WE) is a several story building on the
Royal Mile just before the forecourt of the Castle. We opted for the Gold Tour that included the basic tour, with one tasting, and an additional four regional single malt tasting flight in the lounge. On top of that we also get a one-year membership in the Scotch Whisky Appreciation Society (not sure I will be able to use any of the benefits but fun to have anyway).
The ride doesn’t compare to anything Disney might do, but it was at least clever in its presentation of how whisky is made with an interesting narrative. Having some idea of the process it was a refresher not anything new. After the ride we went into the Sense of Scotland room where a very enthusiastic guide – John, explained the history of where whisky is made. The video included visuals of all the areas of Scotland, the types of country and a general overview of the climates of Scotland. Clearly the video was done during the spring or summer, nothing like the weather in those areas in early December.
From there, we entered into the tasting room. After a brief introduction, we were given the option of tasting a Scotch from one of the six regions of the Country. I chose a taste from Islay and Janeen choose a Lowland pour. Before actually tasting the golden beverage we were taken into the magnificent Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection room.
This room holds over 3,000 bottles of UNOPENED Scotch Whisky that Diageo collected over the years – living in South America! Seems he liked the stuff so much he didn’t open any of the collection. It was purchased for an undisclosed amount about 10 years ago and is now part of the WE collection. It is with this backdrop of bottles that the guide explained how to smell and properly taste a whisky – a lot like drinking wines actually. Now we tasted our whisky.
After general tasting we end up in the “bar” where we were served our additional flight of four whiskies.
A nice culmination of the tour. The exit being, of course, through the gift shop we looked at a number of different bottles available, took a few pictures and left to grab some lunch downstairs in the Amber Restaurant.
When we were here in 2014 we didn’t take the tour but did have lunch in the Amber Restaurant and had a whisky or two at the bar. Our lunch was nice – local fare and filling. From the restaurant, we went to the Bar to look through and taste a few whiskies.
The “book” is divided into regions listing everything they have available. There are more than 350 different bottles to choose from! Impossible to get through more than a couple at a time really but an effort was made to try something different. Our educational take away from all this was the true nature of “blended” whiskey.
True, there are some blended single malts, but a true blended wart is made from a grain other than malt, then a small portion of a compatible flavor single malt is added to make the blend (the decision to start blending other grain whiskey was to compete with Irish and American whiskeys, perhaps?). Generally, blended whiskey is considered less “harsh” than the single malt that was distilled in the 19th century.
There are a LOT more blended whiskeys then there are single malt bottled every year.
While at the bar I mentioned a cocktail made with Dalmore that I quite enjoy. The barkeep said they had one too – called Thyme Well Spent. Naturally I had to try it and it was quite delicious, a great end to our meal and tasting.
So, having finished with the Whisky Experience we went out to the street, bought Janeen a cashmere sweater and caught a taxi home.