Glen Garioch and Tolquhon Castle

We have had another terrific day today. I almost feel a bit bad that I have so many terrific days and I hope that I’m not rubbing it in too much by writing about them on my blog all the time. There’s something so fun about writing about my experiences. It’s kind of a way of re-living the adventure.

I have Thursdays off and Daniel has been home all week with chicken pox (he’s not at all ill though) and Elizabeth woke up in the night with a sore ear so we decided to keep her home as well. We booked another car-club car – a hybrid this time – and took off for Glen Garioch distillery and Tolquhon Castle.

We’ve been to a couple of whiskey distilleries now but this is the first time we’ve been able to go on a tour and it was wonderful. Whiskey production is far more complicated than I thought. How did they ever figure it all out? Following the process from milling of grain all the way through to storage in barrels was fascinating and the smells along the way, splendid.

Glen Garioch is not pronounced as you would expect. They pronounce it Glen Gerry. It’s one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and the most eastern distillery. It’s also only 30 minutes from Aberdeen by car.

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I took this next photo because of the dog in it. Apparently dogs were very important for distilleries in those days. The grain they kept here (grain is stored elsewhere now so I think it’s less of a problem) attracted rats and they kept cats to deal with the rats but the cats left headless corpses lying around. The dogs finished off the task. I love the Doric on the photo too.

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These next photos are of the distillation process iself:

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Lots of barrels of whiskey:

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I got to have a go at popping the bung in the whiskey barrel by pounding either side of it with this hammer. Only I accidentally hit the cork at one point and wedged it in further – yes, very clumsy of me I know – so it never actually popped out. Ben had a go after me and managed to do it. You have to slam down quite firmly.

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I didn’t taste any this time as I was driving but Dad and Ben did and both enjoyed it very much. You can bottle your own while you’re there too. The staff were so friendly and knowledgable and I thought it was a bonus to be able to take the kids. Most distilleries don’t allow children.

Then we went to Tolquhon Castle which is not very far from Glen Garioch. This whole area of Aberdeenshire looks to be an incredibly productive farming region with field upon field of barley, rapeseed, and maybe oats and wheat too as well as the usual sheep and cows.

Tolquhon Castle is one of the lesser-known castles and not so popular with tourists but we all absolutely loved it. Perhaps we loved it because there was hardly anyone there? But it’s also a very beautiful castle, apparently built for aesthetics (in the 16th century) rather than as a fortress. It was also run-down enough not to have to worry about the kids trashing it – they ran freely from room to room playing hide and seek – but not so much a ruin that you couldn’t imagine how all the rooms looked once before and how the inhabitants might have lived.

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They must have been really short in the 16th century:

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