Monday, May 31, 2010

Scotland Part Two - Auchentoshan

The night before Dan and I went to Auchentoshan we got curry take away.

Now I have what they call an "iron stomach." I can count on one hand the number of times I've been sick from food from anywhere. Wouldn't you know, this instance uses up that hand. I love curry, all curries. But when I woke up the next morning I wasn't feeling right at all. It was as though I was on a boat in high tide, even though the ground was stable. But I pressed on. Stirling palace might be closed for renovations, the cool jail might not be open for another week, but damned if I was going to miss an opportunity like getting a personal distillery tour with the Master Distiller.

I had met Jeremy Stephens at a Distiller's event in NYC in the winter, where we had a long conversation about light and dark spirits and flavors and aromas that can trick the brain. Specifically about how certain mezcals can smell like peaty scotch. He wrote me an email a few days later complimenting my spirits knowledge (blushes) and said he'd be glad to show me around the distillery if I ever came to Scotland. Well, Dan, as it turns out, had just done a week-long internship there and became very friendly with him. So it all worked out that he would show us around. He gave us a lot of his time that day and despite my queasiness, it was a fantastic visit for which I am forever grateful to both of them. Especially after subsequent distillery tours that were not nearly as personalized or in depth.

Auchentoshan is triple-distilled for smoothness.

So psyched I managed to snap this shot of the mash just as the blades were approaching!

Barrels in the warehouse...

Getting to bang the crap out of a barrel to force the cork out so we could taste some yummy vintage juice. It wasn't easy...

Took a few more tries (plus I was weakened by my stomach bug or whatever), but success!

Jeremy used a "thief" so we could try some Scotch juice.

Mmmmmm. Scotch juice! Cheers!

But the BEST part? Jeremy took us into the Blending Room where there was an entire cabinet filled with samples of rare and vintage casks dating back to the 60s.

And then he just let me have free reign to pull and pour samples! Jeremy, you are the coolest!

Really? Anything I want? WHAT stomach bug?

I quickly got comfortable.

Dan with "The Precious."

A lineup of what all we sampled. Don't worry, just a small nip of each.

Dan and I agreed these were our two favorites of the bunch: Vintage 1974 from refill sherry cask and 1965 from refill bourbon cask.

We carried a glass into the conference room and after a short presentation about the triple distillation method, it was time to head back to Glasgow and then Edinburgh. By the time I made it home, I was so wiped from holding it together for this excursion that I stayed in that night, despite having all of Edinburgh for the taking, and slept for 10 hours. Well, that definitely wiped out whatever residual jetlag I might have had. I woke up the next day pumped and ready to take on the town!

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