If you’re a regular in Edinburgh you’ll have seen the Rabbie’s Tour Buses departing and arriving to and from all over Scotland. They’re quite recognisable as they are all compact 16 seaters, some of the latest ones have the panaromic views, even better to see the stunning scenery.
When I was invited to road test (excuse the pun) a Rabbie’s Tour, I saw it as an opportunity to increase my knowledge in an area that I’m not very knowledgable in – Malt Whisky.
I have been trying to love whisky and have done a few tastings now, including one with Balvenie, but I must admit it’s still a struggle. Would a whole day immersing myself in the ‘Water Of Life’ help me discover a whisky I loved?
Rabbie’s Tours leave from Rabbie’s Cafe on Waterloo Place, here you can grab breakfast, water, and snacks for the journey. I was booked onto the Discover Malt Whisky Tour which would take in no less than two distillery tours!
I boarded the Mercedes bus which was very comfortable complete with leather seats and we were soon out of Edinburgh and passing Stirling Castle on our way to Glengoyne Distillery.
Glengoyne Distillery has been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1833 at Dumgoyne. Glengoyne is unique in producing Highland single malt whisky matured in the Lowlands, this is because the distillery is considered to be in the Highlands on one side of the road, while the warehouses where they mature the whisky is on the other.
Walter was our tour guide for the morning – at each distillery you can choose to have a single or double tasting which are around £8.60/£11. I decided if I was going to discover the love, it would need to be a double. Our first tasting was the ten year old Glengoyne, and there it was, a whisky I actually liked! It was sweet and easy to drink, and tasted like some of the liquors I enjoy. Following the tasting we were taken around the distillery, where we saw the complete whisky tasting process, after a little drama where someone fainted (she was fine after a bit of air) we were able to see some of the oldest barrels – including a 1972 which will make a 50yr old which will retail at about £20k a bottle – just in case you’re in the market!
The tour culminated in the shop (the second tasting takes place here and is the 18yr old) where I was keen to buy some Glengoyne products, especially as it was now my official whisky of choice – in the bag: a bottle of 10yr old Glengoyne, Glengoyne Whisky Fudge, and Seville Orange Marmalade, with, you’ve guessed it, Glengoyne!
After a couple of drams I was pleased that our next stop was lunch. Our tour guide had selected a spot beside Loch Lomond, and while it was a bit touristy, the food was very good.
Our second tour of the day was at the Deanston Distillery, it’s a younger distillery housed in an old cotton mill.
Deanston features a traditional open topped Mash Tun (most have tops nowadays) and traditional copper tanks where the ‘spirit’ is turned into whisky (pictured at the top)
Down in the cellar we were able to see whisky in its maturing phase and here a demonstration of why older whisky costs more, apart from the time it takes to mature, whisky barrels will lose 2% of its contents each year – this is known as the ‘Angel’s Share’ – this means that a ten year aged whisky will have lost around 20% of its contents leaving only 80% to bottle and sell, a barrel we saw that was close to 40 years had only around a quarter of its content left!
I couldn’t resist buying a cheeky bottle as a gift in the shop, after my second tasting of course!
I had a great day on the tour and met some lovely people, I wouldn’t hesitate to go on another tour or recommend to anyone visiting Scotland. I feel I got a good insight into the production of whisky in Scotland, lots of interesting facts, and chance to shop for goodies to take home. A good day’s work!
Foodinburgh Card holders get 10% off the Discover Malt Whisky Tour