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Growing up and living in the cultural mecca of San Francisco, and having a wife who makes palatable, refined wine as a hobby. I’m drawn to the travel destination that also produce a delectable spirit.
In early November I embarked on the one hour Easy Jet flight from London Gatwick to Edinburgh to make my first visit to Scotland, and finally live the dream of my first sojourn to the Whiskey Trail, and taste the amber “nectar of the gods,” in its native land, the destination that had eluded me in a life of travel.
Barrels of Liquid Gold
Everyone has a favorite food, wine, or spirit. Mine just happens to be a fine single malt whiskey, and one of my favorites is The Macallan. Having only 6 days in Scotland forced me to get my priorities straight. I clearly could not see the whole of Scotland in a few days, and knowing that Scotland consists of four scotch whiskey producing regions: The Lowlands, Islay, the Highlands, and Speyside, I could only travel to one area. I chose to visit the Speyside region as here I would experience many of the flavors I enjoy in a refined single malt which can be found in the terrain in the Speyside region. I wanted to experience first-hand the scents and flavors of the region, and learn more about the whiskey’s citrus, vanilla, dried fruits, apple, spices and what makes Macallen’s so flavorful. The greatest concentration of Single Malt Scotch Whiskey distilleries can be found in the Speyside region of Scotland.
Macallan Distillery Tour
High on a hill overlooking the river Spey in Craigellachie, just outside of Abelour, with magnificent views of Ben Rinnes, lies my main reason for my Scotland sojourn, ‘The Macallan.’ Yes, this trip was about Scotch whiskey , the essence of life, a fine single malt. The area, between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen, sweeps from granite mountains down to fertile countryside and is universally acknowledged as the heartland of malt whiskey distillation. Speyside Single Malts are noted in general for their elegance and complexity, and often a refined smokiness. The question would be, would I get to visit any whiskey houses, after all, I was arriving at the Whiskey Trail after October and many of the distilleries are closed for the winter months. As good fortune would prevail, The Macallan is open all year long.
The Macallan House, Easter Elchies
I learned that the Macallen Estate and Easter Elchies House was built in 1700. Today, the Macallan Estate covers 370 acres, compromising of land to grow their own barely. The Macallan and pasture is also home to sheep and cattle , and the mown grassland attracts many species of birds. The river Spey, one of Scotland’s most famous salmon rivers, borders the Estate to the south and south-east. The scale and diversity of the Estate is unique among distilleries and is managed in harmony with the beautiful landscape. The Macallan Estate lies in an area of great natural beauty and is farmed sensitively in harmony with the environment. 95 acres are sown in March with The Macallan Estate’s Minstrel barley (a variety exclusive to The Macallan is harvested in late August / early September for malting. The Estate farmland is very fertile, with light, alluvial soils, ideal for barley growing. A single acre will produce nearly two and a half tons of Minstrel barley, which will yield about 1,800 bottles of The Macallan.
Manicured Grass on the grounds of The Macallan Distillery
Macallan’s was not bottled as a single malt until the late 1970’s and is now recognized worldwide as one of the finest and most sought after whiskies in the world. Much of this liquid gold is matured in sherry casks from Jerez, Spain, although more recently The Macallan also uses other casks as well. Macallan uses the smallest spirit stills on the Speyside. Today Macallan is the third largest selling Scotch single malt whiskey only behind Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Macallen can be found primarily in 12 and 18 year old bottles, but also can be found in 10 years, and the rare and most expensive 25 year old, and even a 30 year old.
The Final Product Proudly Displayed
The commitment and craftsmanship of the Macallan Masters has been a labor of love producing whiskey perfection for two centuries. So, it would be on an overcast November day that I would visit “liquid heaven.”
About the Author: Nick Kontis – Travel Expert and Founder of the World Travel List
Nick Kontis started out as a world traveler at an early age traveling back and forth between California and Greece every summer. But it was a backpacking trip around the world at age 24 that proved to be a life changing experience. After traveling by car, train, , plane, bike and, boat around the world, it would be this trip of a lifetime that would lead to a life as a travel entrepreneur and world traveler. Nick has been on both radio and television. Featured on Arthur Frommer’s television show, and referred by Lonely Planet writers. Frequently mentioned as the “father of around the world airfares.” Arthur Frommer once said, “If Jules Verne were alive today he would use Nick to go around the world in 80 days.” Nick and his various travel companies have sent over 10,000 people taking their dream trip through airfare discounts of as much as 50% off the airlines published fares. Now Nick promotes travel through his World Travel List and ‘Trip Rambler’ by World Travel List. Having traveled to over 80 countries Nick hopes to inspire others to travel the world