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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Dallas Dhu, Forres, Scotland

This is not a working distillery, but an old distillery now maintained as a whisky distilling museum by Historic Scotland, that used to produce the Dallas Dhu single malt.  It is quite frankly not a very good concept for a museum, considering the scotch whisky industry is booming, new distilleries are opening all the time and this one is in the heart of Speyside, where there are dozens of working distilleries with visitor centers, many with longer histories than Dallas Dhu and probably all with better known brands, that all produce whisky in the same way.  So why would you go and walk around a dead one that used to produce a whisky no-one has ever heard of?  The fantastic little Benromach is in the same town (and closer to the main road) so just go there.  Morbid curiosity meant that one day we did find ourselves driving to Forres to see it and we found it closed with a sign in the office window saying "out to lunch".  I couldn't agree more.  

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Barton 1792, Kentucky, USA

My fourth stop of the day (but this distillery, like Buffalo Trace, is owned by Sazerac and is not on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail) and if the Jim Beam experience lowered my expectations regarding the asthetic qualities of bourbon distilleries, then Barton 1792 sent them crashing through the floor.  This was a whiskey factory and industrial site, pretty it aint.  Still I really like the 1792 Ridgemont Reserve so this is still worth seeing as it goes some considerable way to dispel the Scottish distllery myths about the location, water and overall "terroir" magically contributing to the wonderful spirit.  1792 is a great product... and it is made in slightly run down, red brick factory in the middle of Bardstown.  I also learned that the 1792 date is a bit misleading, it has nothing to do with the distillery, but was chosen because it was the year that Kentucky became a commonwealth of the United States (well played Sazerac Marketing Department).  My tour was a little surreal, they are not in production now so our first stop was the obligatory bottling hall where we got to see (and hear) Taaka vodka filling.  Vodka on a bourbon tour?  Our guide seemed to have carte blanche to wander the site and so we did, rather aimlessly, looking at warehouses full of Magaritaville mixers and Cluny blended scotch as well as loaders, boiler houses and weigh bridges with the same level of enthusiasm as the stills or warehouses themselves.  This was a tour that desperately needed some structure and editing.... even I was bored by the end.  Simply put they need a story... what are they trying to tell the visitor?  Jim Beam talked about their family heritage, Maker's focussed on their brands, Heaven Hill told the overall bourbon story.  Sazaerac... come up with a story and then build a tour.  The highlight was without doubt the samples at the end, one I had never even seen before but will definately look for, Very Old Barton, and of course the excellent, high rye content, 1792. Just before I left I was, of course, offered a chocolate and I realized I had just been to my first Kentucky distillery that DIDN"T have a Beam connection.
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