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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Tullibardine, Blackford, Scotland

On vacation in Scotland but your wife and family don't want to visit a distillery? Well located halfway between Perth and Stirling on the busy A9, near the famous Gleneagles Hotel and within easy reach of Edinburgh and Glasgow is Tullibardine.   This is the perfect distillery location because of the large Baxter's store next door.  Baxter's is a Scottish store with food, wine, Scottish goods and more than enough other stuff to keep wives, daughters or anyone not interested in whisky busy, while you slip away for 45 minutes to tour a great little distillery and taste a dram or two.  An interesting place with a long history as a brewery going all the way back to 1488 before being converted to a distillery by the famous (and apparently locally infamous) William Delme Evans, who also built the Isle of Jura distillery.  Another claim to fame is that they have same water source as Britain's largest bottled water supplier, Highland Spring, which is bottled in Blackford as well.  Most of the spirit is taken for blending and maturation elsewhere but there is a small warehouse on site and they tend to release Tullibardine single malts by vintage rather than by age statement, and various vintages are available to sample at end of tour.  It is also one of the few distilleries that sells their new make spirit.

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Mount Gay Rum, Barbados

Mount Gay Rum, Barbados

OK so it’s not a whisky distillery (in fact the visitors center wasn’t even in the actual distillery) but there were plenty of similarities with whisky production. Tammy and I visited Mount Gay in Bridgetown, Barbados in October 2011. Mount Gay claims to be the oldest rum distillery in the world with deeds going back to 1703. The visitors center is in the bottling and blending plant near the harbour (handy for export). In a process similar to Scotch whisky production, the spirit is produced at their distillery in the north of the island near the sugar cane production. The by product of sugar production, molasses, is fermented and then distilled into rum. Interestingly some of the distillation is done in a continuous Coffey still, the same way that grain whisky is distilled, and some goes through a double distillation process in pot stills, ie the same as malt whisky. The different distillates are then matured in ex-bourbon casks from Kentucky (another similarity with scotch and other whisky) and then, when the maturation process is deemed complete, the two different distillates are finally blended and bottled. At the end of the short tour and video we were given samples of their three main products, Mount Gay Eclipse (43% ABV), Mount Gay Eclipse Black (50% ABV) and Mount Gay Extra Old (43% ABV – I think). While not quite what I expected (no actual distilling etc) it was still worth the visit, very generous samples at end of tour and a party atmosphere throughout, I think even the people working in the gift shop has been sampling the goods, perhaps the tradition of dramming is alive and well in Barbados. This tour was all about drinking and buying rum and we obliged on both counts and left with a bottle of Eclipse Black.

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