Ozzy Osbourne, Eminem, Alanis Morissette and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth are just a few who call themselves fans of Glengoyne Scotch Whisky.
If you, too, are one of those Scotch geeks that swears by having a wee drink every now and again, you may have already made the pilgrimage to the motherland. Chances are you’ve visited at least a few of Scotland’s 100 plus whiskey distilleries and know that if the snifter in front of you smells of peat and salt air it comes from the isle of Islay, if it’s uber sweet it’s probably from Speyside and if there’s fruit and smoke, it’s likely a single malt from the Highlands.
Now, thanks to the Glengoyne Distillery near Loch Lomond in the Scottish Highlands, 15 minutes north of Glasgow, you can extend your whisky education even further. This prestigious distillery invites whisky pilgrims in for one of six classes in learning how to blend scotch. They call it “getting inside the barrel.”
The two-hour Master Blender class teaches stillman wannabe’s how to create their own blend. Not only will you sample award-winning 17-year-old Single Highland Malts and visit the bonded warehouses, but you’ll go home with your own self-made 100 ml bottle.
Or if you’re ready for your Ph.D., sign up for the Masterclass which includes nearly a whole day of whisky tasting, touring, talks and personalized blending. In this class, you’ll leave with a 200 ml bottle of your own making, a personalized bottle of 10-year-old Single Highland malt, a certificate and a cellar book.
In both classes, you’ll visit the Sample Room with its walls lined with whiskies at different stages of maturation, the Club Room that was designed by the hip Glascow design firm Timorous Beasties (known for its surreal and provocate textiles and wallpapers, the firm got its name from the Robert Burns poem, To a Mouse) and the Board Room, all of which used to be the Manager’s House.
Although it started long before (when distilleries where illegal and hid in secret coves of the Highlands), Glengoyne Distillery has officially been making Scotch whisky since 1833. It’s just down the road from the 15th-century Duntreath Castle with its medival stocks and dungeons, near the area where Scotland’s own Robin Hood (Rob Roy) valiantly fought the British aristocracy.
Often considered “the most scenic distillery in Scotland,” Glengoyne gathers its water from a 60-foot waterfall gliding down from the Campie Hills.
But watch out. Bill McDowell was a news editor at The Glasgow Herald when he first signed on for a masterclass. He fell so “head over heels” with the whisky, the distillery and the folks who make it, that he ditched his prestigious new job and signed on to become a Glengoyne stillman.
If you don’t want to make the drive down scenic A81, Glengoyne graciously offers its own helipad. If you’re just interested in a simple wee tasting tour, offered every hour on the hour, you can simply show up. But if you want to take either class, it’s imperative to call ahead for reservations.
Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne, Near Killearn, Glasgow G63 9LB t.+44 (0)1360 550 254.