I was recently down in Greenock for a few days, and being in the area, it would have been rude not to pop into the Auchentoshan distillery for a little visit. And being the great boyfriend that I am I dragged the girlfriend along for a tour – secretly hoping that one day I would eventually make a whisky drinker out of her – so we jumped into the car and began the short drive to the distillery. As we crossed the Erskine Bridge my heart began to race, I felt like a kid on the way to the sweetshop, and after a few minutes more we reached our destination, the Auchentoshan distillery.
Now unfortunately I was the designated driver for the day – woe is me – so we chose to just do the standard tour. We had about 15 minutes before our tour would be starting so we had a wander round the shop, having a look at the range and admiring the £5,000 50yo Auchentoshan, wouldn’t mind trying some of that!
Our tour guide for the day would be Brian, who had only recently started taking the tours about 2 weeks previous. He explained all the health and safety stuff and informed us that we would be allowed to take pictures during the tour. This was great to hear, most distilleries don’t allow you to take pictures because of the ‘explosive atmosphere’ as a result of all the alcohol in the air, what a load of crap! After introductions and rules etc. we headed into the distillery, me skipping along like an idiot, eager to see production.
It became apparent fairly quickly that Brain was pretty new to doing the tours but he still did a great job, he was very funny and personable and made the tour very enjoyable. As I already knew the process pretty well I drifted to and fro between listening to Brian and my own wee world, just taking in the sights and the smells of the distillery. He was able to answer most of my questions, and what he wasn’t able to he asked his colleagues when we got back to the centre, which I was very grateful for.
After the still house we headed across to the warehouse, where hundreds of casks of whisky were just peacefully waiting until the day they would be cracked open. The smells and the atmosphere in there was incredible, there’s nothing quite like it, if you’ve been round a distillery before then you’ll know what I mean. Luckily there were a few others on the tour who had lots questions about the warehouse and production, so we got to linger there amongst the casks for longer than we would have. Such a glorious place to be!
After the tour we headed up to the bar where we got to sample a few whiskies from the range, by this I of course mean I nosed the whisky while my partner enjoyed it, rubbing in the fact that I couldn’t try anything – including the American Oak, which I’ve previously reviewed – Auchentoshan American Oak. As well as this we got a small sample of their distillery exclusive bottling, which as soon as I nosed it I knew it was coming home with me! It was cask #934, filled in 2004, and was a first fill Olorosso Butt, a true sherry monster at a whopping 59.6% ABV, which I hope to review soon.
Bottle wrapped up to keep it safe on the journey we headed to the car for the drive home, heart heavy that it had come to an end. Thank you again to all the staff at Auchentoshan for their hospitality, especially to Brian for taking us round, and hope to see you all again in the future. Until next time…