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Whiskey Tour - Strathisla Distillery

For my profession, I find that I am extremely lucky to be able to call myself a salesman of some of the world's finest brands of spirits and liqueurs. It's one thing to care about what it is you sell, may it be a service, smartphone, shoes, food, but to actually LOVE what you sell (and I do love my booze) is an entirely different thing.

It is in this spirit that I, along with my officemates, was very fortunate to have been sent on an educational trip to Scotland, where our beloved scotch whiskey brands are produced.


Chivas Warehouse

* On the road, we passed by warehouses full of Chivas Regal, definitely my preferred blended scotch due to its sweetness and smooth finish as compared with other scotch brands. It was surreal to realize that a bottle of scotch that I will enjoy years from now, is currently in one of these warehouses. 


Strathisla Distillery

* The iconic and elegant twin-pagoda roof of Strathisla Distillery. Renowned as one of the more picturesque distilleries in all of Scotland.


Strathisla Distillery

* The writer excited about this photo op! A homecoming indeed.


Strathisla Distillery

* Built in 1786, Strathisla Distillery is the oldest continuously operating distillery in all of Scotland.


Strathisla Distillery

* As Chivas Regal is a blended scotch (which means that it is a mixture of different single-malt whiskeys)Strathisla Single-malt has the distinction of being the main blend within Chivas. Thus, this distillery is known as the "spiritual home" of Chivas Regal.


Scotch ingredients

* Taking the grand tour of how whiskey is made, we were shown the basic ingredient to all the scotch in the distillery: barley; other sources of whiskey include wheat, corn and rye. Malt is produced when barley is wet, allowing the sugar within to change chemically.


Malt Mill

* This classic-looking malt mill, grinds the malt until it becomes a substance known as grist.


Mash Turn

* The grist is then mixed with hot water in the Mash Turn and is in turn transformed into a substance called wort.


Washback

* It is here that the fermentation starts, as yeast is added to the wort and everything is stored in traditional wooden storages called washbacks.


Washback

* It is the addition of the yeast to the wort that produces the alcohol. We were able to sneak a peek at the interior of one of the washbacks showing us the bubbling substance inside. The smell here is just tremendous! Though some might get overwhelmed by this, I absolutely loved it.


Scotch Fermentation

* The result of the fermentation process is a product loved and known the world-over, beer. Where whiskey production differs; however, is that the product (beer) continues on to another process: distillation.


Distillation Scotch

Distillation is the process of cooking the beer until the alcohol evaporates up the still and into another still where it cools and turns back into liquid. This process is repeated once more to come up with the desired alcohol level.

Pictured here is the Spirit Safe, which is used to check the current flowing spirit's level of purity and is essential in certifying this run's quality.


Distillation Scotch

* The legendary stills of Strathisla, where every drop of Chivas that I have ever enjoyed came from. What stories these guys could tell!


Master Blender Colin Scott

* The highlight of this tour was meeting the Master Blender of Chivas Brothers, Colin Scott, who personally welcomed us into the warehouse for the final step of the scotch-making process, aging.


Scotch Aging

* To have the right to bear the name of scotch whiskey, the product has to be aged in casks for at least 3 years. It is from this process that the whiskey derives its color, added flavor and aroma as it absorbs all of these from the wooden cask. That is why generally, the longer the whiskey has been maturing in the casks, the darker its color and the earthier its taste.


Royal Salute Vault

* At the far end of the cask warehouse is the museum and showcase known as the Vault.


Royal Salute Vault

* The mythical Royal Salute scotch, the leading super premium scotch brand in the world, is prominently displayed with it's 21 to 50 year old variants!


Royal Salute Vault

* Aged for a minimum of 21 years, Royal Salute was launched to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. This scotch certainly fetches a premium price not just because of its age but also since for every year scotch ages in a cask, it loses about 2% of its volume due to evaporation. This loss is called the "angel's share."


Royal Salute Vault

* Of course I had to have a picture taken with the Master Blender!


Scotch Casks

* One can definitely smell the "angel's share" in the room. The smell of prestige and premium scotch is unmistakable. 

Scotch Tasting

* After the tour of the distillery, our group was ushered into the boardroom for a tasting session of the various products made here.


Scotch Tasting

* We sampled a glass each of Chivas 12, Chivas 18Chivas Brothers Blend and Strathisla 12. Add those to the glasses of Royal Salute 21 and 38 that I had back in the Vault, and you can say I was pretty buzzed!


Scotch Tasting

Welcome drinks for everyone featuring various scotch cocktails. Most of us though, prefer our scotch on the rocks.


Strathisla Distillery

* Taking advantage of the extended summer day time (it was around 9pm at this point), I took the opportunity to have a picture in front of the distillery. Picturesque indeed!


Scotch Tasting

* Chivas Brothers, led by the charismatic Heritage DirectorPeter Prentice, welcomed us to this specially prepared dinner in our honor. Complete with free-flowing Chivas, a magician and some operatic singers, the glass of Chivas Regal 25 that I immensely appreciated was the perfect way to cap off the night.

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