Glenfiddich: Distillery Visit

Speyside along with the Isle of Jura is a hotbed of whisky distilleries and when visiting this area of Dufftown in Scotland, one name stands out; Glenfiddich. Why? Well, this family owned business has stayed true to its roots and from its inception has looked beyond Scotland for custom. Do I need to mention their quality 12, 15 and 18 year ranges which are all attractively priced? No, I didn't think so. Shall we begin?
The tour is free, one of the few remaining distilleries that don't charge visitors for walking around and generally taking up their time. Being a freebie its fantastic, although compared to some tours the detail is missing and you're almost flushed through the environments in industrial fashion. Our guide was friendly, but I felt detailed questions would have been a struggle. As it's a huge tourist draw I would recommend booking in advance to guarantee your slot. It's not as busy as the Talisker distillery where you can literally wait for hours, but when in Speyside with all these distilleries it pays big dividends to be organised and on time.
The duty free warehouse number 1, there are over 40!
The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes a slick opening movie in a theatre that caters for most foreign languages - sadly a bit of a rarity on the tours I've experienced. After the film you are guided through the various steps of Glenfiddich including the 24 washbacks and an epic room with the stills radiant with heat. A word of advice is if you have a camera then take it, as apart from being on the ground level within the still room you are free to take photographs anywhere. Again, a novelty on most tours and the gantry area overlooking the stills is a great photo opportunity. Sadly I had a camera phone, the N8 takes better photos than most cameras but it had to remain switched off for the tour; lesson learned.
After the stills you're taken in the first warehouse, with a great moment walking through the stacked barrels to a prepared area. I really wanted to spend more time here, as it was fantastic to savour the atmosphere and aromas. Instead a brief chat about the casks before moving what for many visitors is the main event... tasting.
For a free tour you'd expect the end to offer just the bog standard single malt. Instead Glenfiddich offer tastings of their 3 main drams; the 12, 15 and 18 year editions. Hopefully others can appreciate the range of flavours and the value, as Glenfiddich is well priced and the nearby distillery shop, well stocked. The decor in the visiting area is clean, with modern art trimmings from Glenfiddich's sponsorship. Rare bottles are also on display and apparently the ladies toilets are some of the most impressive in the country. 
A friend in the industry claims that the Glenfiddich distillery is run around tourism with deliveries being out of visitor hours and other activities relegated to such hours. It is a wonderful setting and a slick operation, perhaps a little too refined and mainstream for my taste but a great starting point. There's also a great cafe that can entertain those who don't wish to go out on tour, but it's free so why not? I'd also recommend the theatre of pouring your own bottle in the visitor shop, for £59.99 you're getting a great cask strength whisky, wonderful packaging and a memorable experience. The other party members took great interest in the process of preparing your own bottle; great fun. As ever my photographs are available here for your information. Sadly limited this time, but I do have other tours to write about! 

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