Day 77 of #vanlife

Pitlochry and a visit to a distillery

So today I was rather excited to engage in another first … a visit to a distillery. I have to admit I was rather crestfallen (what a lovely word don’t you think?) to discover that my favorite whisky – Aberlour – didn’t have any tours available at the moment. The best we could do was to get a quick picture of the welcome to Aberlour sign on the outskirts of the village.

Catherine did some research for me (she does love to research 🙂 ) and happened upon Edradour, Scotland’s smallest distillery but that too wasn’t doing tours! Doh! However, as luck would have it, the Blair Athol distillery is a five-minute stagger, I mean walk, from the caravan park we arrived at today in Pitlochry!. So at 2pm today, I visited the home of … Bells Whisky.*

*Sorry but I just can’t get excited about blended whiskys, especially not Bells or that other infamous turkey (OK Famous Grouse). To be honest, my favourite blend is Grants, because I do like an occasional Whisky ginger** and the Grants whisky has a very distinctive taste compared to that of other blends. It comes down to the barley that they use … but I won’t bore you with the details – you can check that out here if you are that interested.

**or Irish Buck as it’s sometimes called – not kidding there – even a whisky cocktail named after me!

Pitlochry … pretty but busy

So Pitclochry was interesting in a number of ways. It’s probably the first of the towns that we have visited that appears to be very tourist-centric. There were people from all over the globe wearing kilts* So Pitlochry is a lovely town, but it is mainly full of coffee shops, Bed and Breakfasts, and what I call “tat” shops, but to which Catherine commented, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a house where we could store all these nice things?” Not knowing whether she was taking the piss or not, I replied, “We do have a house – it’s just small and on wheels!” That killed that conversation!

*OK to be honest these “kilts” are what I would call tourist kilts … tartan teatowels formed into a skirt to make tourists think they are appearing to be Scottish! It’s a wonderful stroke of marketing genius that these shops selling kilts can sell these “skirts” to the tourists. More power to them. I wonder if they have also sold them a narrative as well … “Och aya this was the tartan worn by Will-I-Am Wallace and Bonny Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden”** It does make me smile.

**To all you Scottish Nationalists and Scottish history geeks, I know I have mixed up the dates, events and names … I know he wasn’t called Will-I-Am Wallace – duh … that’s the joke … jeez … chill people, this is a reflective comedy blog, not a historically factual blog!

So we passed the morning in Pitlochry and Catherine managed to replace her lightweight foldaway mac that has been killed by the Scottish rain – (another post to follow) and I managed to get myself a puncture repair kit to hopefully fix the lilo which unfortunately hasn’t yet been repaired … I’m now onto iteration 5 with this repair kit!

Blair Athol Distillery

Well, I really enjoyed my adventure this afternoon* – and nobody tried to make me drink a Bells Whisky – relief! Instead, I enjoyed an 11-year-old cask strength Blair Athol, and a 12-year-old and 23-year-old of the same distillery. I also tried a few others that I will save for another post and the fact that the bar in the Distillery is made from the still at the Clynelish distillery which was in operation from 1957 until 2017. I would instead like to focus on some other details.

*It was a great tour and I learned some new things about the process of distilling. For instance, I won’t be able to hide a still from Catherine in our back garden when we find a place to settle. I will need to be upfront! My scrumpy making last year was interesting and engaging, this is altogether a new level and will need Catherine’s full support, especially as the stills themselves cost half a million quid!!!

I had the good fortune to meet fellow newbie #vanlife people TJ and Laura. They were on the whisky tasting with me. I love how coincidences work and how the law of attraction brings like-minded souls together.

TJ and Laura kindly posing at the bar in the Mash Tun Bar in the Blair Athol Distillery

TJ is from Montana, USA and loves his whisky and, like me, is an Aberlour fan. In fact, he trumped me by telling me of an Aberlour I had no idea about (A’bunadh Alba)! Love it! What really made me smile was when I discovered that Laura was from Lanark, our next stop on our journey!!! The funny part was when I said to them “I have a good friend (Jim) we will be meeting up with when we are in Lanark – he is from a place called Wishaw”, “Wishaw!” TJ exclaimed, “I don’t believe it!”, as he and Laura looked at each other. “You have to go to the Artesan in Wishaw” he tells me. “It has like 3000 whiskies which you can never find in any other bar”! I couldn’t believe it. It’s hilarious and I can’t wait to share it with my mate Jim, and tell him someone (from the USA) recommended that I visit Wishaw … he will no doubt find that hilarious as no bugger would ever consider stepping foot inside Wishaw unless it was to visit the local Aldi!!

Anyways, 10 tastings later and I had to bid my new friends farewell as I suspected Catherine might be wondering where I was.* Indeed she was and had just texted me asking “are you ok”? In fairness, that was after two and a half hours and she knows what I’m like … best to check now and make sure he hasn’t settled in for the night where whisky is concerned!

*The tour was advertised as 75minutes long, but i “had to” check out some whiskies I had never heard of, like the Mortlach 12 and 16-year-old in the distillery bar afterwards!!. One has to seriously commit to one’s art if one is to be taken seriously as an artiste!!!!

1 thought on “Day 77 of #vanlife”

  1. Hi Def don’t go to Wishaw for any reason… it’s got to be one of the worst places on earth.. I won’t bore you with ‘why’ unless you want to waste some of your life🤣. Btw.. it was a little place called Wiston, South of Lanark I came from!) I worked with the whisky industry in my early days ( Seagrams and Hiram Walker).. but that’s for another day. Distilleries still amaze me and I, like you, could spend many a happy hour ( lifetime!) in them. However, they can be dangerous places… I knew a chap once who fell into a Vat full of whisky and almost drowned… had to get out three times to go to the loo!!!! One of the best stories was back in the 70’s, the Japanese got permission to take pictures of Stathisla-Glenlivet distillery ( it’s where Seagrams started life!) and then constructed an identical distillery in Japan ( named a village Scotland – so they could say it was produced in Scotland!). However, the whisky was rubbish…. Had to explain that the key ingredient is the Scottish water which really pissed them off! Started to import water from Scotland at an exorbitant price and today Japanese whisky is pretty good!!! Anyway, keep posting – they are amazing reads! J


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