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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Dartmoor Distillery, Devon, England

Ahhh… the internet! A quick glance at the excellent Dartmoor distillery website and you might think this is a fully functioning distillery in a part of England I know well as I grew up in Devon. In recent years I had often thought Dartmoor would make an excellent home for distillery, a sort of Scotland-Lite without the desire for independence with clotted cream teas instead of haggis and shortbread. However a short drive from my sister’s home to the old town hall building in Bovey Tracy reveals that this is still very much a work progress and as the attached photo shows not even a sign on the wall.  If it was not for a little copper visible through a first floor window you would not even know this was a distillery. Still something to look forward to on another trip.

More in this category: « Anchorage Distillery, Alaska, USA

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Macallan, Speyside, Scotland

Macallan, Speyside, Scotland The Macallan is the distillery in Craigellachie where many of the myths espoused by other distilleries come to die.   It is a place of contrast and contradiction and I loved it. 

The distillery visitor's center is small and it is a place for whisky lovers to pay homage, not for the tourists.  No café or other family facilities, people come here to see the whisky being made and to buy from a very wide range of products available including many that cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.  The tour is very informative and goes into great depth into some of the areas of whisky production that others skirt over, particularly barley varietals (Macallan favours the less popular Golden Promise) and wood.  In fact they have an entire wood exhibit.  I don't mean the exhibit was made of wood, but a detailed exhibit on the types of wood used in their range and even goes in the detailed biochemistry of oak to explain the impact on the taste and aromas of their whisky. 

But what strikes you walking around the site is the industrial nature of the site.  This is not your quaint, Victorian, artisan, highland distillery, this is first and foremost a whisky factory with huge modern warehouses looming over you on the hill behind the distillery like the dark satanic mills of the famous hymn Jerusalem.  They use different mash tuns, different styles of wash backs (some steel, some wooden) and they even have two different still houses on the site with some still direct heated while others are steam heated.  All the sorts of variations in process that many other distilleries claim to reject and say would greatly affect the nature of final spirit seem less important to Macallan who produce a single malt, The Macallan 18 year old, sometimes called the Rolls Royce of Whisky (admittedly usually by them), and many consider one of the best single malts in the world.

Interestingly, despite being now reported as the second largest global brand of single malt whisky in sales, behind the Glenfiddich and ahead of Glenlivet, the success and globalization of brand Macallan does not seem to generate the angst and backlash Glenfiddich occasionally does within certain parts of the whisky community.  Discuss.

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