After finishing our drinks, we went to the - empty but still impressive - malting floors and got a look around inside the kiln. Last time we were in this kiln it was smoking ferociously, and it was a nice alternative to see the insides without the choking hot air. About 15% of the used malt at the Balvenie is malted on these maltfloors and in this kiln, the remainder of the malt is bought from commercial maltsters. The old, mainly wooden equipment on the malting area looks and feels like you are inside a working museum, but this ends when you enter the mashing area.
Inside the mash-house are similar sized pair of mashtuns as we had seen at the Glenfiddich distillery, but made from stainless steel. Two mashtuns, although only one of them is solely used to make the mash for the Balvenie, the other mashtun is used for Kininvie - the little sister just down the road, who shares the buildings for mashing and fermenting with the Balvenie. Every machine is clearly labelled for either the one or the other distillery.
In the fermenting rooms, there were again - just as with Glenfiddich 24 washbacks. Fourteen have been reserved for the Balvenie wash, and ten are reserved for the Kininvie wash. The wash for Kininvie is pumped to the (separated and tucked away in the woods) stillhouse of the Kininvie distillery, where the wash for the Balvenie is kept in-house and is distilled in the rather large wash (five) and spirit (six) stills. The wash stills are not accessible during the tour, because they are in another room entirely as they keep the spirit stills.
|Photo: Martijn Krolis|
|Dalek attack deflected|
by a fearless duo
Most Speyside distilleries - including some of the large distilleries of Diageo and Pernod Ricard, buy their casks from the Speyside cooperage or have their own off-site cooperage elsewhere in Scotland. It is great to see the Grant family is willing to spend time and money to keep also the craft alive, keeping in mind they have complete control of their complete wood-management in this way. After we had deflected an attack of the Daleks, we went back into the Landrover and went to the illustrious Warehouse 24, where we got a sniff of the share intended for the Angels, and a look at the replacement for the acclaimed Tun 1401; Tun 1509 - a large tun, that seemed quilted together from smaller pieces of different types of casks.
|The 1974 cask|
When locking up the distillery after us, Katya trusted the keys of the shop (and Warehouse 24) to some big idiot, so the whole group could take a seat at the already prepared table, where we got to taste a whole range of Balvenie niceties, including said the 40yo cask sample. After we all had signed the big book for customs and excise, it was time to hit the little shop, and after that, the tour sadly had come to an end. As we mentioned before on day 1, someone had left an e-book at the airport. An unfortunate other person had made a habit of it to leave a small rucksack (his wife had lent him) behind at almost every opportunity he got. This time, no exception, and lucky for him, Katya was still closing the shop when he arrived back at the visitor's reception.
|The big idiot with the keys|
photo: Jos Richie
The Balvenie was our first choice when it came to organizing this trip one and a half years ago. You could well say, the whole programme was built around it, and once again, we were not disappointed...
More photos of this visit can be found on our Facebook page
Explorations of before lunch can be found here