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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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Glenmorangie, Tain, Scotland

Glenmorangie, Tain, Scotland I was a little underwhelmed by the visitor's center here when I visited in May 2011, as it is Scotland's most popular single malt and one of my favorite whiskies of all time is a madeira cask finished Glenmorangie I had high expectations .  There was also a charge to take the tour, but you could get that credited if you bought a bottle.   The key feature of this distillery (and presumably it's whisky) are the tallest stills in Scotland (and they are tall) and the still house is very impressive and has to be seen.  It has been likened by others to a cathedral of distilling and I certainly get that analogy.  They also spent a good deal of time explaining Glenmorangie's current wood and maturation policy (and they no longer produce the madeira cask finish).    Compared to some of the other major brands such as Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet (and even Glenmorangie's sister distillery Ardbeg) I was left a little underwhelmed by the visitor experience but I understand that since my trip it has been revamped so perhaps it is better now.  Good.  I left with a bottle of the Quinta Ruban expression so I did get the cost of tour credited (and a nice key ring as well).
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