Sunday, 23 October 2016


The northern parts of Scotland are beautiful. After visiting the Orkneys and the north-east with all its distilleries we could find and visit, we managed to move some of them forward on our schedule one day and find ourselves with a whole day to spare and do some coastal sightseeing. Or... we decide to get in the car once more and have a three hours drive to, literally, the other side of the country. Starting on the east coast, over ominous looking mountain ranges, passing many withered lochs, through lush fields of gorse and heather-covered bogs holding ruins and castles, we leisurely drove to the Isle of Skye. There and back again, falling through the Fiddler's door at the end of a long, tiring day for a refreshing dram and hot meal. We have hinted at this day already in our Epic Scotland Road Trip Diary, and now we have some more pictures of the trip on our Facebook page, including our visit to the Talisker distillery of which you can read a little more about next week, on these pages.

SlĂ inte Mhath
Thomas & Ansgar

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The cigar smoking stag - the Dalmore distillery

For our next distillery stop in Scotland, we decided to do a re-visit of a distillery we already briefly stopped at in 2012. At that visit, we only snapped some pictures from the exterior of the distillery and made a brief stop at the distillery shop This time, we had contacted the distillery beforehand and booked a tour at the distillery of the proud, cigar smoking stag. Coming down from the North of the Highlands along the A9, the signs pointing towards the Dalmore distillery are hard to miss, and before you know it you will find yourself in between the warehouses amongst the stacks of empty casks, passing the defunct but characteristic petrol pump, overviewing the Cromarty Firth with its low tides and occasional oil rig obstructing your view.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Deflowered - again

IJmuiden. City at the edge of the globe - when you’re shortsighted and don’t know there is a whole world beyond that small pond we like to call the North Sea. Roads end, fish in all shapes and sizes are brought ashore and a large steel industry covers the city in a thick layer of smoke. Once you have found out there is a harbour docking a ferry crossing the North Sea to Newcastle and drive towards the whisky-Mecca of the world: Scotland, you may understand why we have a preset destination in our sat-nav. At a four hours drive from Newcastle, you can already be more than halfway to the Speyside region or have stretched your legs and sipped a dram at Loch Fyne Whisky in Inveraray. Four hours. That is about the time it took us to drive from what we call home to IJmuiden, what should have been far less than one hour, according to said sat-nav. A narrow-minded drawbridge (yes, some Dutch highways are equipped with those) decided not to close anymore, blocking the (somewhat im-)patiently waiting traffic for long stretches. Illegally turning cars, people backing up on the emergency lanes or taking off-road tracks, getting angry at each other about nothing, honking and shouting, while the roaring plane engines from the nearby Schiphol airport were coming in close over our heads giving it all a zombie-apocalyptic feeling. For a short while, the Dutch world looked to have gone mad over a stuck drawbridge. A good thing our car closes from the inside, we had enough petrol in the tank to leave the engine running, set the airco at a comfortable temperature and have the radio blaring our favourite tunes. Imagine all of this, and then, you have to pee. A lot...

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Men of Tain - the Glenmorangie Distillery

It is really hard to miss the Glenmorangie distillery when you are driving the A9 from either direction, through the purple haze of heather and yellow gorse covered side of the road, hiding the flocks of sheep on the slanting hills on one side and the waves, broken on the rocks in the Dornoch Firth on the other. Coming from the Balblair distillery, following the railroad tracks on our left hand side, we had a whole ten minutes or so to enjoy these vistas before we already were with our destination. We had packed a small lunch, because we knew beforehand that at either distillery, there is no cafe of coffeeshop to enjoy some home-cooked cock-a-leekie soup, chutney cheddar sandwich, cup of tea or grandmother’s carrot cake. A shame really, certainly for the distillery creating the best selling whisky in the UK. From the car park we have a great view at the distillery below showing all its different sized and shaped buildings old and new, meticulously patchworked together on the rolling hills, to tell their story pursuing whisky perfection.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Vintages Timed to Perfection - Balblair Distillery

The North-east of Scotland is beautiful. On top, we visited the Orkney islands with their stubborn climate and two beautiful distilleries of Scapa and Highland Park, we drove through the rugged landscapes between Wolfburn in Thurso, the Dunnet Bay distillery around the corner and the Pulteney distillery in Wick, and followed the hilly coastal route down the A9 to stretch our legs at the Laidhay tea room in Dunbeath on a stones throw from the Clynelish distillery. We knew they were closed for tours because of a large reconstruction and expansion at the moment of our visit, but we managed to get a quick look around at the closed Brora distillery next door. Amongst a modest selection of disused equipment, the stills are still there to be seen, and for whisky geeks as ourselves, this sure was a treat. Our next stop was to be the Dornoch Castle Hotel, where we were in for another treat; a delicious meal, two nights of good rest and a bar stocked with mouthwatering, often old and rare whiskies, of which some appeared to be not often seen Broras. Ah, well, when in Rome...