Dalwhinnie. This is another one of Diageo’s remotely located distilleries. This one has a unique location. It is right in the heart, middle, of Scotland. It was pouring rain and we learned very quickly from the tour guide that Dalwhinnie is not only the highest distillery in Scotland, but also one of the coldest. Dalwhinnie sits at 358 meters above sea level and their average recorded temperature was 6 degrees Celsius, deeming it the coldest place in Scotland. Dalwhinnie in Gaelic means “the meeting place”. I really like this phrase. It was founded in this location in 1897 due to the local railroad, great spring water and access to peat bogs. They also just recently had their 25th anniversary for their visitor center.
I had a lovely tour Guide, Isobel and then was introduced to another senior member at the visitor center, Jane. Both of them were amazing at answering my questions. I also learned that Diageo encourages all of their employees to sit for their GCD (General Certificate in Distillation) through the Institute of Brewing and Distillation (IBD). This is an amazing opportunity that even tour guides can take advantage of this program! Hopefully Jane, who sat for it, can give me some tips for when I take my exam in October.
Their mash tun was all stainless steel and is located in the old malting floor room, so you can see the beautiful high ceiling with the pagoda. They run two mashings a day and run them for 8 hours. The wort is then cooled to 18 degrees Celsius for the yeast to be added. There are six wooden wash backs and each fermentation period runs around 60 hours. Their washbacks are not made out of Oregon pine though, like many are. They are made out of Siberian larch. The stills weren’t too significant. No bulge and not too tall. This meant they only had one spirit safe as well. This leads to capacity that sits currently right around 1.4 million liters of new make per year. On site there are currently 5,000 casks. Although, because it is so cold they do seem to have a lower percentage of angel share! They give a small percentage of their production to blends like Buchanan’s, but most of their production is for their single malts.
Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold- only produced in the months of October-March as to be made in the “bitter cold”. Meant to be served chilled or directly from the freezer.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Apple, pear, honeysuckle.
Palate: Fruits, slight peat at the end.
Not as sweet and terrible as I thought it would be!
Dalwhinnie Limited Edition/Distillery Only Bottling. Only 6,000 bottles and has been in American and European Refill casks.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Ripe peach, oak spice, pear, grapefruit, lavender.
Palate: Juicy peach, coconut smoothness, berries and coco.
I also wanted to make note that Charles Doig is credited as having a huge part in the design of the Dalwhinnie Distillery. He is also quite famous in the whisky world in general due to his pagoda designs. You cannot miss them all around Scotland and almost all distilleries. Although they are not needed any longer since malting isn’t done on site, it is definitely iconic of the Scottish whisky trail. Here is Charles Doig’s story: https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/whisky-heroes/7007/whisky-heroes-charles-doig/
Overall I think the Winter’s Gold would be great for a nice August, hot summer day for my friends back in the states!
Up next is Strathisla..