Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tales from Scotland, Part 1 - A Visit to Aberlour

The past few years have been good to my passport. I have had some wonderful opportunities to travel to places that have always ranked high on my wish list. And well what do you know, there was a bit of work to be done in the British Isles this year! So a few days ago, I packed my bags, hopped onto my first Dreamliner to London and chugged my way up to Aberdeen through the amazingly beautiful Scottish countryside. And the agenda was really quite simple – try one of my favourite tipples at source.
With only two days to spend in that part of the world (which I realised was painfully short to even scratch the surface of a true Scottish experience) I had to make a choice of the places that I could go to. The oil city of Aberdeen, in the eastern Highlands, is just on the fringes of the Speyside area. I quickly realised that getting around the area on a Sunday is painfully difficult. Well most distilleries are too lazy to work on a Sunday. And then the few who do stay open are next to impossible to get to unless you drive up to them yourself. Public transport on weekends is minimal and cabs cost a bomb to get around. I managed to get day return tickets to Elgin from Aberdeen. Elgin and Keith are probably the best places to get to if you want to make a trip into Speyside. Of the few distilleries that stay open on Sundays, my pick was the Aberlour. The ride into the area is a very scenic one with some of the biggest names in the malt business popping up along the drive. Reminded me of home and my childhood trips into the tea belt in upper Assam. Pristine.
Once you get to the town of Aberlour and to the distillery that is located on the banks of the small stream called ‘Lour’ that meets (Aber) the river Spey a few hundred meters away and hence the name. It’s a small distillery and you’d think that they might not be making much. But guess again. It infact is one of the top 10 malt brands in the world today. 
 The Lour
 A View of the Distillery
 A tasting of the variants

The tour of the distillery is much like any other – the process in whisky making don’t differ – but what often makes up for the experience are the stories that surround the brand and Scotland is steeped in such local folklore. At the end of the experience you also get to bottle your own duty paid bottle of Aberlour if you like. And it is quite an attraction here as the whisky you get to bottle here is one that the distillery doesn’t sell commercially.
Later that evening I caught up with local lad, Adam Elmigirab – producer of Dr. Elmigirab’s range of bitters (and fine ones that too!), and a good friend. I’ll leave the next part of the story for my next blog. I still nurse the effects of that night as I type this. Sneak peak – never take on a Scotsman on a drinking spree. Regret will be an understatement. Period.
 Rohan Jelkie

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