D is for Distillery!
Dancing - Deep Sea World - Diving
One of the main things I've noticed with this alphabet dating, is that we've become tourists in our own home. It's given us the excuse to visit local attractions that we probably wouldn't have bothered with otherwise, and that would have been a real shame.
For our "D" date we wittled it down to Deep Sea World or a distillery tour. Being down by Queensferry, Deep Sea World would have meant a 6 hour round trip and probably an overnight stay. To save some pennies we opted to search for our nearest distillery instead - turns out it was only 40 minutes away in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire!
Booking into the 3pm tour gave us the rest of the day to enjoy first. It turned out to be a beautiful day, with our car telling us it was 19 degrees Celsius at one point! After a 5k run by the beach in the morning we hopped in the car and headed inland to Formartines for lunch.
We got there just in time to miss the queues! The menu had changed since our last visit and I wanted to order just about everything. Gordon chose the venison burger with awesome homemade chips, and I opted for a delicious pulled pork and sweet potato hash, in a flavoursome BBQ style sauce, which I mopped up with a tasty flatbread that was almost like naan!
The forest walks at Formartines gave us the perfect opportunity to walk off our lunch in the sunshine. We played pooh sticks on the bridge and wandered around the lake, keeping an eye out for fairie houses hidden in the trees. Finally we spotted this little one complete with tartan bunting!
Making our way to Old Meldrum, we found ourselves with a little time left to kill. Just enough time to find the local Aladdin's cave of sweet treats and Portsoy ice cream! We hung out like teenagers on a random wall, chilling in the sunshine with a couple of scoops each - boring chocolate and mint choc chip for him, Scottish tablet and Snickers flavours for me. Highly recommend both!
Finally it was tour o'clock! Glen Garioch (say "Geery") is located on Distillery Road, funnily enough. Although I've drove right past it all these years without even knowing it existed. Our guide tells us even some Meldrum locals don't realise it's there so that makes me feel a little better!
We took the £7.50 Founders Tour, which included a guided tour of the distillery and warehouse, and a nip of Glen Garioch's award winning Founders Reserve whiskey to finish! Our guide was warm and welcoming, full of knowledge, good craic and a pleasure to speak to.
We learned about the entire process of making a Highland single malt. From the malting and mashing of the barley and the process of the copper stills, right through to the uncasking of the bourbon and sherry barrels it's aged in. It was interesting to hear about the history of the distillery, it's various stages and owners over the years, with a few fun facts thrown in. Did you know the man who discovered the link between malaria and mosquitos was from Old Meldrum, and related to the Manson's who originally owned Glen Garioch?!
Finally - the moment we'd all been waiting for! A tray of whiskey glasses welcomed us back to the visitor centre for the final stage of our distillery experience. Our guide talked us through the range of whiskies crafted at Glen Garioch, introducing us to the Founders Reserve we'd be sampling. As designated driver, my nip was bottled to enjoy later which I thought was a nice touch! I've been on a distillery tour before where it was basically tough luck if you brought the car.
Let's not pretend I know a thing about whiskey. I'd love to say I was impressed by my taster but it's just not for me! Despite their best efforts, the tasting notes and guidance were wasted on me. Gordon on the other hand fully enjoyed the experience, appreciating the peat free vanilla and citrus flavours. He scored the spare glass that had been accidently poured, and went on to buy a bottle of the 12 year old malt for later.
My lack of whiskey appreciation didn't spoil our visit at all. I'd still recommend a visit if you're ever in the area, but next time we're going to a gin distillery - and he's driving!