Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bucket List: MacAllan Distillery and Highland Coos

Almost as soon as I had written yesterday’s Bucket List Post, my friend Jilllian and Kasey invited me along for a tour of the MacAllan Distillery. Even though I had a haircut scheduled, I decided my hair could stay long and unruly for one more day in order to knock an item off of the newly penned list. Especially since our friend Nary had just been to MacAllan and had seen some Highland Cows on the grounds. Favorite whisky and long-haired cows? That’s two items off the list already!  I am really on a roll with this whole Bucket List thing.  
We started our morning at Gadie’s café for some scrumptious scones, hot cocoa, and tea. The lovely café is attached to a store called Touched By Scotland which is full of items all made in Scotland. I could have dropped quite  a few LBS in the shop, but since we were in Jillian’s vehicle, I decided it wasn’t the right time to splurge on a vanity set.
I did take the opportunity to spoil my dogs with peanut butter treats, but the rest of the items I had my eye on will have to wait for another time.
After the scones and shopping we made our way towards the Malt Whiskey trail, stopping to see Craigellachie Bridge along the way.
It’s position along the River Spey and the fact that its flanked by wheat fields and surrounded by mountains, makes it a particularly picturesque detour.
We took our time, trying to see the lovely structure from every possible angle.
Once we each took 127 pictures, we decided it was time to switch our photography subject from bridges to coos.  For the past 4 months I have been keeping my eyes peeled for these infamous bovines.
The only two times I have spotted them before, it wasn’t a convenient time to pull over and take snapshots, so I’ve been hankering to spend some quality time observing them. We got to the distillery about an hour before our tour started so we felt no rush and made sure to get our fill of these cuties.
Kasey remarked that they looked like Longhorns, and I agree. The University of Texas should look into officially changing their mascot to these more photogenic longhorns, though I doubt the long haired highland coos would fair very well in the Texas heat. 
After each taking 127 pictures, we showed up at the MacAllan vistor center to take a tour of the whisky making process. This was my third distillery and I continue to be amazed by a few things: 1) How different each distillery is. 2) How complicated it is to make Scotch Whisky. 3) How tipsy I get off of the tasting samples at the end of the tour.  
My dad is a big MacAllan fan and has steered me towards this brand each time I ask his advice for getting Jon a whisky gift.
Though Glenfiddich is a bit more popular stateside, my dad claims that MacAllan is the best because it’s ‘what the Scots drink’.  It’s my favorite of the big names since it’s less peaty than the whisky from Western Scotland. This is because the Highland distilleries use coal to heat their alcohol which makes the whisky sweeter and more delicate, while the Western shires use peat which lends the spirit a smokier yuckier flavor. (p.s. Spell check totally let the word 'yuckier' slide. I had no idea that was an actual word. I would have guessed the correct grammar in this case would be 'more yucky'.)
Here are some other random facts about whisky: 
Triple cask means that the whisky is a blend of spirits which have been aged in three separate Oak casks, all of which have been recycled from other distilling industries: 1 bourbon cask from America, 1 sherry cask from America, and 1 sherry Cask from Spain.  Once the whisky is aged to perfection in 10+ years, they’ll mix the three barrels together to form a Triple Cask Highland Single Malt.
Single Malt means that the whisky has been made entirely at one distillery from pure barley.
Whisky from Scotland is spelled differently from Whiskey made anywhere else. To have the distinction of being “Scotch” Whisky, the spirit must be aged in an Oak barrel in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years, and must contain at least a 40% Alcohol level.
Now, don’t you feel educated? Why don’t you reward yourself with a wee dram of MacAllan?
Don't mind if I do.
Mmmmm… I can see why the Scots perfected this particular brand of alcohol since it really does the trick of warming you up on a chilly day. Of course, while we were tasting our wee drams, the sun came out in all its glory and we were blessed with a spectacular view over the MacAllan estate.

It was another magical day in bonnie Scotland, and two more items crossed off of the bucket list!
 Whisky Tasting at MacAllan Distillery
Photographing Highland Cows


  1. Is it just me or do those cows remind you of The Beatles?

  2. That is Keith and David's fav whisky! Hope you enjoyed your tour... I might be able to convince Keith to visit Scotland now that I know that distillery is so close to you :)

  3. Boy do I wish I had this post a week ago.. I picked up a bottle of Scotch for a 50th bday present for a very special person. I asked for assistance from the clerk and was given rave reviews on Lagavulin 16yrs... it has that peaty flavor that you spoke of and we find it impossible to sip :( I now have a very expensive bar decor and will be looking into MacAllan... sounds more like what I wanted.

  4. I love bridges! What an incredible view