Glenkinchie. Diageo's blend house down in Edinburgh.
Glenkinchie. This place is pretty much a loner. They are only 25 minutes outside of Edinburgh and Diageo probably lets them do their own thing. They are of course classified as a “Lowland” whisky and don’t have any real competition in the Edinburgh area. With that being said, they were purchased by Scottish Malt Distillers Group which after a significant amount of mergers, would eventually mean Diageo owns them. We know for sure they of course have their single malt, but they also are a big part of the Johnnie Walker blend.
Only about 8% of all production annually goes to Glenkinchie single malts. There are 10 active employees who work Monday through Friday with the weekends off. The visitor center sits on top of what used to be the malting floor and you can see that a few of the buildings had been resurfaced from a fire in the late 1800’s. There are three warehouses on site and the rest of the new make spirit is taken away to be aged somewhere else in Scotland and used for blending.
They did have some interesting equipment on site. The mashtun was shiny, sparkly, stainless steel. It looked like it was quite new. For washbacks they have 6 Oregon Pine in total, which isn’t a lot. The fermentation period runs quite a long time at 88 hours long after using 167 liters of liquid yeast per washback. This is one of the longest fermentation periods I have heard and this may help contribute to the fact that Glenkinchie is very light and floral. There is just one pair of wash and spirit stills. The lyne arm was quite steep and apparently the wash still is one of the largest pot stills in the world. The lyne arm is shaped as it is to help with reflux. Worm tubs are still used to condense the alcohol vapors back into liquid, making them one of the last working distilleries to use this method. Edradour was another one. They run their heads off of the spirit still for about 20 minutes and the hearts will usually run about 2 hours.
The tour guide did claim to us that the methanol they get from the heads can be sold to perfume companies. I am not sure if this is true and if so how it is done. Would be a cool business plan if possible though. Casking and bottling is done offsite, but apparently they get quite a few of their bourbon barrels from Buillet in the US. Diageo owns Buillet Bourbon/Rye. I was able to try quite a few of their bottlings and here are my tasting notes:
Glenkinchie 12 (also called the breakfast dram)
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Apples, slight honey, floral, apple juice.
Palate: Green apple, cereal, oatmeal and some dirt.
Glenkinchie Distillery Bottling Only
Holly’ Tasting Note..
Nose: Smoked apple, cinnamon, raisin, charred oak.
Palate: Chai apple spice, nutmeg, spice oak finish and tangy.
Up Next is Dalwhinnie..