Do you remember how you felt when you were eleven and you had to leave Disneyland? That's today. This week has been so productive for the K&L team, and we wrapped things up with a great visit to one of the few distileries that we can actually buy whisky from (heck yeah) and the surprise of the trip. The day started by visiting George Grant at Glenfarclas, then running into the sweetest lady of the trip at the Diageo-owned distillery Benrinnes for a peek behind the iron curtain that none of us had every experienced.
Glenfarclas has been family owned since the beginning, which happens to be the venerable year of 1845. This means three big things to us: they've figured out how to make whisky, they have A LOT OF IT (we'll talk about just how much in a second) and because they aren't answering to corporate headquarters so they can actually sell it to us. We love working with them, last year's 1970 and 1979 K&L casks were two of my absolute favorites. Wanting to repeat the magic of those casks we walked in and ask George or something "old". "How about 1954 boys? Only 1500 pounds a bottle" Well not that old."Oh you lads meant American, old not Scottish old " It seems that us rebels in the Colonies have something of a different idea of old. The picture of the old bottle was a the pre-Prohibition distillery release for America!
After a cup of tea and some catching up, we headed out into the 5° C rain to search the warehouses for of casks young and not-so-old malt for the shop. Glenfarclas makes one style of whisky: big, rich, chewy, sherry aged and delicious. Find what you're good at and stick with it. For you Macallan and Glendronach drinkers out there, we found some pretty amazing casks to bring home. Nothing official yet, but we are pretty darn excited.
Now on to a pleasant surprise and a life lesson all wrapped up into one distillery visit that we never saw coming in a million years. Smile and be polite. Simple, duh, but all too uncommon these days. On our way out of town, just ahead of the posse, we decided to stop by the Diageo-owned distillery Benrinnes. Now, Diageo's doors are notoriously closed to visitors, especially without an appointment (think dropping in on the Death Star and asking to poke around).
Since we were in the neighborhood we said what the heck. It couldn't hurt to ask, and at the very least, we would invoke the "right to roam" and get a picture of the front. As we pulled up, David OG hopped out and went into the office to offer salutations and a smile. Out he came grinning from ear to ear saying that a very polite woman named Polly said to wait five minutes so she could scare somebody up to show us around. Turns out there was no one around, so she cut her lunch short to give us the 5 cent tour.
The tour of the Benrinnes was not the most informative, didn't end with us drinking old Scotch right out of the barrel, in fact it was the shortest one of the whole trip. Yet, it was hands down the best tour I've been on. Polly is a red headed Scottish woman who is rather pregnant, lamenting the fact that she can't drink Scotch for a whole nine months, and was the friendliest person we'd run across. "You guys were just so polite and excited to be here. We just had a bunch of tourist come up and demand to be shown around, I just sent them packing." Her best line was when she couldn't remember the name for the mash tun, "This has been happening a lot lately, I've got baby brain!" A lesson in just being a nice person to other people. We couldn't have scripted it better.
That is all she wrote for Scotland, almost. Now we have to go back through the 30 or so samples we have left to taste in the hotel room, and make the final decisions on what to bring back. That is by far enough of my rambling. Off to France on a 6:45am flight. Off to a cave in Burgundy to taste more Scotch (crazy story, can't wait to tell you about it) and then off on the hunt to find brandy. More soon.