please take a seat on that dusty pew over beside the fire and make yourselves comfortable. Prepare
for an uttermost journey, one noisome in its splendour and yet leprous in its
gander. A relentless journey, one full of mystery and danger that would test the willpower and fortitude of any man.
begins, as all things must, with a Fellowship and the forging of greatness. Specifically, a group of four
individuals brought together in unison by their love of whisky and an
unhealthy fixation on the legendary realm of The Tormore. Each participant
brings his own qualities to the group and this tale. The silver tongued soothsayer,
adorned in Tweed majesty, Mark, hailing from the rolling Dales of Shire. Far
removed from the everyday chatter of warfare and magic, his skills nevertheless
mean few doors and locks remain unopened.
must have a rogue and uncontrollable force and this Tormore set is no
different. From the outer realms of humanity heralds Dave, a force of nature
armed with ferocious intelligence and thirst for confrontation, ale and grog.
He will be found mostly in the hamlet of Bree, specifically within the
establishment known as the Prancing Pony Inn. Even more precisely, cowering beneath the
crooked feasting table whilst being lambasted by the foul Sandyman the miller.
surrounds us all, as it does for our merry band, loitering in Helms Deep and spreading outwards. This madness has touched many
including Jason, our third Fellowship member. Formerly a Nazgul, cast out by
Sauron for being too evil and cheeky. He lurks amidst the fringes and outskirts
of the group, riding his fearsome chariot into the unknown. Then there is the
wise element of this Fellowship, the even keel needed to sail across Arda and
keep all things harmonious, Thranduil-like in his statue and knowledge.
Cautious by nature, Andy, quietly directs this group and displays the patience
of a saint to guide us through the dangers of Fangorn Forest and beyond into
and slain orcs, our small band of warriors navigated across the Misty Mountains to reach the relatively peaceful plains of the Shire of Speyside. Our Fellowship
sets up base camp, in the ruins of Pelennor Fields that has become engulfed by
mother nature; decreeing the work of Onodrim in the passing centuries. Now a
bountiful landscape, offering an abundance of barley, the scars of war have
long decayed giving new life to the region. From this vantage point, the
Fellowship are armed with knowledge thanks to an ancient map created by Pery,
an Ainur, who helped create this wonderful environment and documented all
by local produce and Mark’s endless provisions of firewater, our Fellowship
begins its descent towards the Shire of Macallan. Before its relatively safety,
there is the decaying labyrinth to successfully transverse. Perched high above
Macallan-Shire, these ancient buildings harbour many delights and dangers; huge
statuesque replicas of Barad-dur. Their purpose has been lost to time but even
to this day magic resides within. Tall enough to block out the sunlight, wide enough to smother your complete vision, each
construction is identical, meaning many travellers have become lost forever
within their grasp.
approach this time breach in complete surety. Stepping out from the coomb, in
state of imperviousness. Ghostly voices of the past call out from the shadows,
enticing our band with promises of merriment and wealth. Darkness shrouds this
layer and relics of the fallen crunch beneath their feet. This labyrinth stops
no age statements, time itself no longer matters only the journey into its
depths. Some may lose
their humanity and principles within this maze but the Fellowship remains true
and returns to the ground. One last door opens and the soothsayer steps out
into a blinding sunlight to be faced with a magical sight. Before him the green
splendour of the Macallan-shire and its natural beauty. The monstrous sound of an
army of Orc workers – busy bees – dominates the audio waves, as they happily
scour the rolling hills; planting seeds, harvesting and scurrying in unison to
complete the next ultimate project; the new Macallan distillery. A friendly bunch,
our Fellowship steps forth and descends towards the centre of this outpost.
our Macallan Estate tour is a fitting end to our Spirit of Speyside 2017
coverage. As the spectre grows on the estate, Gondolin-like, of a new vision
and future for the Macallan distillery, it was arguably a rare opportunity to
walk amongst the original distillery buildings and warehouses, before the
landscape is changed forever. For a moment in this unique point in time we were
visitors to the Undying lands, trapped between reality and the future. Currently,
this new concept remains off-limits to visitors yet its completion is only a
formality, and then a new experience awaits travellers and our Fellowship one
day. Base camp is promptly established and a trio of our band discuss events with the travelling
Viking warrior, Markvardsen, whilst Jason opts to walk the perimeter, waiting for the Macallan-shire Estate Tour to commence.
In essence this
festival tour was very much the standard Macallan option for its first few chapters before the real adventure would commence across the later half of the text. Our guide arrived in ornate style and
unleashed an atmosphere of positivity and harmony across the room; bringing
delight to everyone she conversed with and onlookers. An ethereal and Galabriel-like quality
surrounds Nicola Rise, the Macallan brand ambassador for foreign lands beyond
the Shire. What initially promised to be a Disney-like tour with photo
opportunities somehow won over our battle hardened and dram scarred entourage.
was joined by travellers from far and wide on this experience including those
from Germania. One individual was dicing with the tolerance of the group with
elaborate and ultimately meaningless questions. These riddles had no purpose
other than to underline some self-importance or agenda. Another of the Germania
number was a wizard with optical illusions; Peter would amaze us all with his
trickery around the Easter Elchies House and generosity.
At times the
current Macallan fortification is a soulless enterprise. Human presence has
been replaced by machinery and computerisation. By the stills everything seems
automated and functional. The new make spirit passes us by in a series of tubes
that jet off into other realms. It is beside these impressive copper beasts
that Nicola introduces us the Macallan-shire new make spirit. It compares well
to our previous firewater, with properties of apple, sherbet and pears meeting almost
unanimous praise from the group. It is a solid start and casts away any baleful
circumnavigate the courtyard between both Macallan still rooms, on what is
turning out to be a picturesque Speyside Shire afternoon. Here we meet a
solitary employee – someone of great importance – who controls the flow of
spirit. We follow its path into the darker realms of the wood display. This
building, encased in its propaganda for all things tree-like is where upon a
previous expedition, a Fellowship member, became lost within its endless array
of staves and casks. Thankfully the shining light of the Riske guides us
through these dangers with the promise of more of this Macallan-shire spirit
and these cask strength samples are well received.
Our band takes
refuge in a nearby warehouse, where vessels patiently await the next stage of
their voyage. It is here that the Rare Cask is generously poured to our weary
travellers to much aplomb. Nicola it seems has deep pockets where all manner of
whisky delights reside and there are more treasures to come as we step out into
the daylight. The next destination is on the banks of the rapid and relentless
River Spey. We make good time, through the warehousing and production
buildings, bolstered by tales from our guide and chatter from the Fellowship
about previous battles.
Down beside the
water settling on its banks, the true beauty of the Spey and its nature becomes apparent. Towering behind our group is
picturesque splendour of the Macallan-shire, which rises up the hillside, beyond the Shire with the ominous presence of the labyrinth. It is on the shoreline
that we partake in the ritual sharing of the Macallan 18-year-old Fine Oak,
that Jason has yet to commit to parchment. This is a moment for reflection as
we gaze upon locals trying to snare beasts from the Spey, whilst Dave finds
homely comfort in a nearby medieval stock.
Our epic voyage
is almost at an end but now it feels as if our Fellowship has expanded with new
recruits and additional grog to bolster our fortitude. Nicola reels in this playful
band and redirects us towards basecamp and the promise of more delights.
The Fellowship of Tormore extends its thank yous to Nicola, The Macallan, Pery and the Spirit of Speyside Festival team for a fantastic and enlightening weekend.
'Someone else always has to carry on the story'.
Labels: #dram17, distillery tour, featured, macallan, spirit of speyside