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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Stitzel-Weller, Kentucky, USA

There is no tour here and in fact the distillery has been closed since 1992, although the warehouses and office are still used by one of Diageo’s brands, Bulleit, and it seems it may re-open in some fashion (at least as a vistor center if not a working distillery) in the future.  Located near the Louisville airport I paid a visit (to be precise I stood outside and took photos) because if you like bourbon the chances are you like the Van Winkle line (now made at Buffalo Trace) and this is their spiritual home.  Opened after prohibition in 1935 and acquired by Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle (you couldn't make that name up if you tried) it produced wheated bourbons like Old Fitzgerald, that name is painted on the brick chimney still standing in the grounds of the S-W distillery and which is now made by Heaven Hill, and the W L Weller line after which the distillery is named, and is also now made at Buffalo Trace.  I had the pleasure to meet Preston Van Winkle at WhiskyLive London in 2010 and wheated bourbon, specifically Maker's Mark (which uses same recipe as Julian Pappy Van Winkle used) was my entry into bourbon, just as Ardbeg Blasda was my entry into Islay whisky.  So this was somewhere I needed to see, my bourbon ground zero if you like, and a fitting last stop as I completed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in May 2012.  Perhaps I will be able to come back soon and step inside when it opens as the Diageo or Bulliet Bourbon Center.  The good news is of course it was free to stand outside and there was no bottling hall visit to endure! 

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Royal Lochnagar, Balmoral, Scotland

Royal Lochnagar, Balmoral, Scotland The only distillery today on Deeside, this is real hidden gem of distillery and whisky, almost like a terrorist sleeper cell quietly going about its daily business while waiting for its moment to strike.  This is a place I visited on several occasions as a car trip down Deeside to Ballater, Balmoral and on up to Braemar was one of the "must do" things for visitors to Aberdeen.    We have had family picnic's on the beautiful lawn out front and I toured the distillery at least twice (at $8 not the cheapest tour but at least you get credit on any purchase).  Like many of the smaller, picturesque distilleries rather than build new warehouses, stock is often matured offsite (in this case in Glen Lossie) and at end of the tour a beautiful dram of their Distiller's Edition which is finished in Muscat cask.
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