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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Teeling Distillery, Dublin, Ireland

My first distillery visit of 2016 coincided with Teeling's first birthday, this new distillery (one of many springing up in Ireland)  had been open about 1 year and 2 days. The site is a short, damp, walk from Dublin city center and is very impressive and includes a fantastic little cafe, gift shop, extensive tasting bar and well run and efficient tour.  You definately get the sense that the whole distillery was designed as a Dublin city tourist attraction first and a distillery second.   With no maturation on site (due to old Dublin bylaws, following a fire in the past, all whisky is matured away from the distillery) the tour is quite short and content clearly targeted at the tourist rather than the whiskey fanatic.   Due to their young age all their current stocks and bottlings are from stock produced by the Teeling family when they owned and operated Cooley Distillery.

There are multiple options for tastings at end of tour ranging from the basic line to cocktails to the more expensive single malt tasting that I opted for.  At 30 Euros for tour and tasting I don't think I have ever paid more for a distillery tour, except when I signed up for the rather expensive Magnus Eunson tour at Highland park which was at $100+ depending on exchange rate, but to be fair it did include a 40 year Highland Park. Like most Irish whiskey the tour is smooth, approachable and easy to consume... and I enjoyed it but perhaps would leave some wanting a little more.

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Loch Ewe, Aultbea, Scotland

Loch Ewe, Aultbea, Scotland Don't bother looking for this one in your standard guidebooks or whisky books.  It won't be there.   This is quite literally a distillery built in a garage at the back of a hotel.  The owner of the Drumchork Lodge Hotel exploited a loophole in UK law (now closed) which requires stills be 1800L or more to get approval for 120 L still and makes his own spirit.  He even allows you to come to his garage and make your own spirit (remember it is only called whisky if it stays in oak cask for 3 years).  You can read more on his website (http://www.lochewedistillery.co.uk) but I can tell you it was simply amazing to see everything done on this small scale by hand, including lighting the gas under the alembic styles stills to fermenting the wash in a wheelie bin (yes a wheelie bin) and maturation in small wooden casks .  The small size accelerates maturation to where it is quite drinkable in a matter of weeks – they usually bottle at around 6 weeks.  What Loch Ewe produces is probably the closest thing to traditional Uisge Beatha you can buy today (including the new make spirits that some distilleries sell).  The hotel by the way is a great, remote spot in Wester Ross and as you might expect the bar is very well stocked with Loch Ewe and lots of other whiskies.  Well worth the trip and one day I will be going back to make my own batch of whisky in a wheelie bin.
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