I had such a great time at WhiskyFest! It was my first time after long hearing from my father what a great event it was. Best moment aside from tasting all the great whiskys and meeting their ambassadors? Meeting Tom Bulleit.
After visiting five distilleries, we finally made it to chilly Dalwhinnie. Just like many of the distilleries, they seemed to take a no thrills, down-to-earth approach to the tour. It’ll be your luck what you get to see in each distillery based on timing. For instance, we saw different fermentation stages and smelled the differences of each at Glenkinchie, then we saw the working kiln and malt floor at Balvenie, and all the empty machinery and vats at Macallan which was on summer holiday. What was different about Dalwhinnie is they had the actual cattle feed that was produced from the draft (the leftovers from the original mash tun) instead of just talking about it, containers of wort and wash side by side for you to smell, and a great display of the liquid from within a cask as it was aged in different ways (sherry versus oak, etc). I love the attention to detail to the pieces that filled in all the blanks.
The real kicker aside from the great hospitality is the chocolate tasting. The distillery sources chocolates from a famous chocolatier in Scotland (the same who apparently did the Royal Wedding…?).
We had Glenkinchie from the lowlands paired with a lemongrass, Dalwhinnie paired with a plain chocolate truffle, Craggenmore paired with ginger, talisker with black pepper and raspberry, Oban with Assam tea and cardamom, and finally Lagavulin with cloves and cinnamon. ALL WERE FANTASTIC.