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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

GlenDronach, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

I visited the GlenDronach distillery with my father in October 2009 and unfortunately their visitors center was closed due to flooding, so they waived the usual $5 charge for tours.  The tour included their old floor maltings (though they no longer use them) and an explaination of their rather complicated history, which includes yet another Grant family and William Teacher and Sons that of course produces the Teacher's Highland Cream blend.  The most recent chapter was the acquisition by the same company that owns the Ben Riach distillery and the distillery shop carried malts from both distilleries.  Unlike nearly all distilleries today, GlenDronach matures it's whisky exclusively in sherry casks (no bourbon casks here).  At the end of the tour we tasted the 12 year old Original and I bought a bottle of the 15 year old Revival. 

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Stitzel-Weller, Kentucky, USA

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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