Last week, Story joined a group of intrepid explorers from across western Europe, and Diageo, on a journey to visit three of Scotland’s most exciting single malt whisky distilleries: Cardhu, Talisker and Glen Ord.
First stop was Cardhu (translates to ‘Black Rock’ in Gaelic), the most picturesque of the three distilleries, surrounded by stunning views of the Scottish highlands and Ben Rinnes. Based near Archiestown in Speyside, the distillery was set up by John Cumming in 1824, and was mainly run by his wife, Helen Cumming, who used to sell bottles of whisky to passers-by through the window of their farmhouse!
Cardhu Brand Ambassador, Donald, kindly took us on an informative and interesting tour of the distillery which culminated in a tasting of Cardhu new make spirit (‘the heart’), Cardhu 12 Year Old (aroma: almonds and citric notes; taste: deliciously long finish, fruity with hints of white pepper), Cardhu 15 Year Old (aroma: honeydew melon, pear and honey; taste: buttery and a hint of toffee) and Cardhu Special Cask Reserve (aroma: dried fruit; taste: spicy, balanced yet complex).
We stayed at the spectacular Drummiur Castle in Speyside where we enjoyed a three-course meal, which included a delicious black pudding starter, haddock risotto and a selection of local cheeses. We were even let loose in the whisky library and enjoyed drams of Port Ellen and Talisker 18 Year Old before bed.
The next day, we were transported to the Isle of Skye by helicopters! The weather was fantastic (bright blue skies with not a single cloud in the sky – something the locals had not seen for a while, we were incredibly lucky!) – and we had the most wonderful views of the Highlands and part of Loch Ness; it truly was amazing.
Once at the Isle of Skye, we were treated to a tour of the Talisker distillery and enjoyed a tasting of their range of whiskies. Talisker 18 Year Old and Talisker 32 Year Old were the outright favourites. Talisker’s distillery is just by the sea and is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. Founded in 1830, Talisker was the favourite whisky of poet Robert Louis Stevenson, who put it on the map in his poem ‘The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad’, when he wrote, ‘the king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay or Glenlivet.’
Talisker is inextricably bound with its location, so with this in mind, the team organised a boat tour of Skye. Dressed in fetching orange and blue outfits to protect us from the elements, we sped around part of the island which gave us the opportunity to admire the breathtaking landscape. We even spotted dolphins, seals and a minke whale!
The next day, we travelled to Glen Ord distillery and tasted Singleton’s global range of single malt whiskies, and were shown around the distillery by manager Kirsty. Based on the edge of Black Isle, the distillery includes a towering maltings – one of three that Diageo owns in Scotland.
And so our trip came to an end, and we reluctantly boarded our flight from Aberdeen, each resolving to return to this magical part of the world as soon as we can.