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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Wild Turkey, Kentucky, USA

Confession time, I did not take the distillery tour.  This was my sixth and final stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and I did go to the Visitor Center and get my KBT passport stamped and completed, but I arrived around 1pm and the next tour was not until 2:30pm.  However the nice people at the distillery suggested I watch a video they use at start of tour and join the tasting when the 12:30 tour got back.  As there was no tour for another 90 minutes and no cafe or similar where I could eat lunch, I accepted their offer.  The video was the "usual fare" with father and son Jimmy and Eddie Russell taking the viewer on a virtual tour of the distillery stage by stage, however before the video finished the tour group came back and the tasting began.  Wild Turkey had the best choice of any distillery I visited on the KBT, and we were invited to choose  two samples from the full range of bourbon and rye whiskies, standard and premium brands.  I chose one of my favorites, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the Russell Reserve Rye.   They also sold a nice range of mini bottles (I bought the Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed and their American Honey liqueur) in their gift shop.

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Speyside Cooperage, Speyside, Scotland

Speyside Cooperage, Speyside, Scotland OK - I admit this is isn't a distillery.  I would argue if you had toured distilleries fifty years ago then the cooperage would no doubt have been a part of the tour as most distilleries would have had their own cooper.  Today few distilleries have full time coopers (Glenfiddich and Midleton are the only two I am aware of) and so it is places like the Speyside Cooperage that carry on those traditions. So if you are interested in whisky and in Speyside then this is somewhere you have to visit, because I think it is fair to say that the quality of cask has probably just as much, if not more, impact on the final product than the new make spirit that comes off the still (at Macallan they suggest the final flavor can be attributed, approximately, 30% to the spirit and 70% to the wood).   At the Speyside cooperage you can watch the coopers build casks and a video explains the history of this craft.  All in all a great whisky related experience and definately worth the detour. 
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