Exploring the Malt Whisky Trail

cardhu

This adventure was part of a press trip with The Malt Whisky Trail.

I feel so happy and grateful that I get to explore new places as a part of my job. When I got asked if I wanted to head up to Speyside to explore the Malt Whisky Trail I immediately wanted to go.

The Malt Whisky Trail is a partnership of nine whisky destination, all located in Speyside, and the trail allows a journey of not just whisky but so many other things that the region has to offer. If you are looking to visit Scotland or Speyside I’d definitely recommend checking them out as they have so many recommendations as well as information about the things you can do.

My journey started by taking the train from Edinburgh up to Elgin, with a quick change in Aberdeen before heading straight to Glenfiddich Distillery.

Glenfiddich Distillery

This was my second visit to Glenfiddich distillery! You can read more about my first visit here. I enjoyed this visit more than my previous one – much thanks to our brilliant tour guide Matt who was one of the best your guides I’ve ever had. The tour was a little bit different to last time, some things due to ensuring safety after covid but also since they now have their new still house. The still house is impressive since the stills are lined up on either side of the room, as you can see here below. Photos are allowed in most places, but in the stillroom you need to stand in a particular place and in the warehouse you can only take photos from outside the building. I also enjoyed an afternoon tea in their lounge after the tour which was brilliant. They had even incorporated Glenfiddich and Balvenie whiskies in to some of the food items! Instead of tea I had a whisky tasting of the 12, 15, 18 and Grand Cru. Usually the 18 is my favourite but this time it was the 15 that really caught my attention. The Grand Cru is also an interesting expression and I got a wee sip of the Grand Couronne which is the new expression of the same range which I enjoyed even more – cognac cask maturation is something I’ve really liked lately!

Another thing that was a highlight for me are the old photos that you get to see at the start of the tour – everything from old workers, to advertisements and documents which are all so fascinating.

The Craigellachie Hotel + The Quaich Bar

During my three days up north I stayed at The Craigellachie Hotel, which I’ve never stayed at before. The rooms were lovely and just enough decorating to make it feel Scottish, but slightly contemporary. The highlight of the hotel is by far the dog Buddy who resides in reception and came out to say hi every time I arrived and departed from the building. The breakfast is served in their Copper Dog restaurant in the morning and consists of a menu of items ordered a la carte and a table of continental breakfast items. The beds are big and really comfortable.

During my last night I also got the opportunity to do a private tasting in The Quaich Bar and had a great time trying The Copper Dog (the house blended malt), an exclusive Glenfarclas that was bottled specifically for the bar, The Macallan 18 and The Glenlivet 14 (a Taiwanese exclusive).

Dinner at The Station Hotel

On my first day I enjoyed a dinner at The Station Hotel in Rothes. I had some lobster ravioli to start followed by this steak and then I was way to full for dessert. As a snack before the starter I also tried their pork puffs which were slightly similar to salty prawn crackers. The waitress told me that they use local ingredients and the chefs always work to try and use as much of the meat or produce that the restaurant takes in: hence the pork puffs which are made from hydrated pig skin. To drink I tried a Glen Grant strawberry cocktail and a Windswept wizen bier which is brewed in the Speyside area. Speyside doesn’t just have distilleries and whisky but plenty of good food and drink as well as other things like locally made textiles and yarn.

Glen Moray Distillery

I’ve actually been to Glen Moray before but that time we only had the opportunity to see the shop and the café so I’ve been to come back to see the rest of the distillery for ages.

I got the wonderful opportunity to meet and be shown around by Iain Allan who is the Global Brand Ambassador for the distillery. He is is from Elgin where the distillery is located and really knows all things Glen Moray.

It’s a really interesting distillery that experiments a lot with different cask types and definitely one to visit if you want to see an impressive dunnage warehouse. It’s my favourite part of a tour – the warehouse just has such lovely scents and the silence inside makes it seem unreal that some casks rest for such a long time in the same place.

We also had some lunch in the café – some lovely tomato soup and a scone with jam and butter – before doing a tasting of the 12, 15, 18, Rhum Agricole, new Barolo expression and 2004 Chenin Blanc. I absolutely loved the Chenin Blanc because it had a slightly weird character where fruits met sulphur in a wonderful balance.

Cardhu Distillery

Cardhu has recently undergone a change of appearance – just like Glenkinchie Distillery – but because they are in silent season right now they weren’t doing any tours. It’s always a good idea to check with the distilleries before going if you are keen to do a tour, because when it is silent season many distilleries will take the opportunity to do some construction or reworks which means visitors aren’t allowed in the production areas. I was excited just to have a peak at it because I have never been before. And after my visit I am even more keen to come back and explore it further. During my visit I got to see their introductory film which introduced Cardhu’s fascinating history. I must admit that I cried a little bit during the film as it made me feel quite emotional. Someone needs to do a movie or write a fictional book about Helen Cummings, who has an important role in the history of the distillery.

Following the film I had a tasting with the lovely Natasha. She was so knowledgable as well as friendly and the highlight of the whole visit! I tried the Cardhu 12, Distillery Exclusive, Hand-fill Distillery Exclusive as well as Johnnie Walker Black Label before also getting to try a highball and two of their cocktails. The highball was one of the best I’ve tried so can highly recommend the spiced orange ginger ale highball – but also the El-fizz-abeth or Black Rock as they all tasted great in my opinion.

I really had a great time when exploring the trail and I’ve met so many lovely people along the way – and one highly unimpressed coo…

If you want to read more about my whisky adventures and other distillery visits: click here!

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AUTHOR

Moa Nilsson

Adventurous Swede with a fondness for castles, snow and vintagesque experiences.

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