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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Royal Lochnagar, Balmoral, Scotland

The only distillery today on Deeside, this is real hidden gem of distillery and whisky, almost like a terrorist sleeper cell quietly going about its daily business while waiting for its moment to strike.  This is a place I visited on several occasions as a car trip down Deeside to Ballater, Balmoral and on up to Braemar was one of the "must do" things for visitors to Aberdeen.    We have had family picnic's on the beautiful lawn out front and I toured the distillery at least twice (at $8 not the cheapest tour but at least you get credit on any purchase).  Like many of the smaller, picturesque distilleries rather than build new warehouses, stock is often matured offsite (in this case in Glen Lossie) and at end of the tour a beautiful dram of their Distiller's Edition which is finished in Muscat cask.

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Strathisla, Keith, Scotland

Strathisla, Keith, Scotland This is the malt at the heart of the Chivas Regal blends and much of the tour is focused on that.  Unsually for a whisky tour they gave us a dram of Chivas 12 year old at the beginning while we waited for the tour to start (but as they charged over $10 to take this tour and they have no cafe or other facilities it seemed like the least they could do).  They also have some interesting old Chivas memorabelia on display as well.  ( The original Chivas grocery store in Aberdeen is now a Chinese restaurant called Sam's on King Street and by all accounts if you ask them they will take you into the back to look at some of the old Chivas Bros fixtures and fittings).  The site is attractive and photogenic with a nice waterwheel feature and next door to Strathisla is the old Glen Keith distillery which they told us will re-open in 2 years time (see my blog "Return of the Dinosaurs?").  I made a note on the tour that apparently just one man runs the whole distillery such is the level of automation now, which might make at least 15 men in Tain quite nervous.  We finished the tour with samples of Chivas blend 18 year old and Strathilsa 12 year old single malt.  I find the Strahisla single malt, like the distillery itself, doesn't really stand out (maybe why it is used in blends) although I always get some banana notes when I taste it.  I sometimes get those same notes in the Chivas Regal blends although part of me wonders if that is just power of suggestion, would I taste banana if I didn't know Strathisla was in the blend? 
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