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12° Nicosia,
15 July, 2024
 
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Best whisky in the world? Hold my glass!

Join me on a spirited tour through Glengoyne Distillery, the slowest stills in Scotland!

Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides

"Glengoyne is the best whisky in the world," Arthur declared with the kind of confidence that made me think he might be onto something. "We have the slowest stills in Scotland."

Up until now, that didn't mean much to me. I thought of myself as a bit of a whisky enthusiast, but I never really understood the intricacies of whisky making until I was invited to Edinburgh with a group of journalists to write about it. Little did I know, it would turn out to be one of the most entertaining learning experiences of my life.

Our first stop was Glengoyne, a picturesque distillery just north of Glasgow in the wetlands. The sun was shining, the clouds were playing nice, and the weather was just right. We were greeted by Arthur, a beloved Glengoyne ambassador dressed in tartan plaid pants, looking every bit the part of our whisky guide.

The Glengoyne Distillery in the Highlands of Scotland

After Arthur's grand proclamation, I couldn't resist a bit of mischief. "Really, Arthur? I thought Irish whiskey was the best." His face went redder than a ripe tomato, and I quickly backtracked, telling him not to have a heart attack. The last thing I wanted was to be responsible for taking down our guide before the tour even began! Thankfully, Arthur had a sense of humor, and we became fast friends. I, the most inquisitive of the bunch, bombarded him with questions. He patiently promised to answer them all if I could just wait my turn.

Behind the distillery, there's a charming little river that Glengoyne uses to make their whisky. Arthur explained that the riverbed is filled with lava rocks, which give Glengoyne its unique taste. "What happens if the water runs out?" I asked, only half-joking. Arthur, ever the dramatic, replied, "Well, Glengoyne will no longer exist." A bit of an exaggeration, but his passion was contagious.

Glengoyne has been crafting single malt whisky since 1833 at Dumgoyne, north of Glasgow. After the historical tour, I learned that while the process of making whisky isn't rocket science—you need your stills, vats, and a master blender like Arthur—the real challenge lies in patience. Apparently, Glengoyne boasts the slowest stills in Scotland, meaning it allows the spirit to develop Glengoyne's signature smoothness and complexity. The flavor of the whisky comes from barrels that have previously held either port wine, giving the whisky a dark color and fruity taste, or bourbon, and sometimes other spirits. The master blender's job is to decide the mix, a role that seems to require a blend of artistry and wizardry.

The slowest stills in Scotland

These age-old methods are based on recipes handed down through generations. The taste of the whisky is influenced by the water, quality of the malt, distillation process, and the barrel it ages in. Glengoyne produces only about 1.3 million bottles a year, making it quite exclusive and relatively small for distillery standards.

Eventually, we were led to a room where the real fun began: tasting and creating our own blends. This was the part I had been looking forward to the most. Arthur explained that our task was to taste each whisky and create our own blend using the various whiskies laid out before us. The goal was to use measurements of each whisky to concoct a blend that suited our tastes.

Needless to say, this was an absolute blast. I discovered so much about the distinct tastes and flavors of each whisky. With a bit of trial and error, plenty of laughter, and maybe a slight buzz from all the whisky we had already tasted, I finally created my own unique blend, which I proudly named Shemaine's Blended Single Malt Whisky. It was a day I would never forget and one of the best experiences of my life.

But I spoke too soon, because the adventure wasn't over yet. The next day, we were headed to the the Rosebank Distillery on the banks of the Forth & Clyde River. This distillery, originally built in 1840, had been meticulously rebuilt and is set to open on June 7th. We were treated to a wonderful private tour, which is a story for another day. Stay tuned!

The author and a tartan-clad Arthur, the treasured ambassador of Glengoyne Distillery

See more pictures of the Glengoyne Distillery and Arthur below:

Barrels containing aged Glengoyne whisky

 

The tasting room, probably the best part of the tour

Arthur explaining the history of Glengoyne distillery and the art of whisky making

These barrels, previously used for storing wine or bourbon, are sent to whisky distilleries to be filled with whisky. As a result, the whisky absorbs a fruity, rich port wine flavor or a hint of bourbon, depending on the master blender's selection.

The water from the highliands used to make Glengoyne

 

 **Glengoyne is distributed in Cyprus by Vassos Eliades Ltd. and can be purchased at major stores where spirits are sold. #varietyofexperience @variety_of_experience.

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