Remember when you were just a young kid and your parents told you you were going to the seaside or for an ice cream or whatever seemed like a treat, you got all giddy and just could not stand still for even a second.. Well that’s me now when I know I’m heading off to a distillery, especially if that distillery just happens to be Auchentoshan. This story is about one of those visits.. The trip has been planned for months, money saved, and I have done this tour a thousand times in my head. We set off on the 5 hour journey, well ok it was a bit longer as we stopped at Bladnoch on the way, well I should say we diverted to Bladnoch as it probably added another couple of hours into the journey and I honestly did not know that ADRattray had a shop between Bladnoch and Auchentoshan. Who planned this trip..?
Ok so once we were in touching distance, the Erskine bridge to be precise, I’m now getting pretty excited, I already have a few bottles of my favourite tipple nestled in the back of the car but I know there is a lot more to come. The smell of the mash tun, the 3 stills and that place I now call heaven.. The warehouse, my favourite place on the site ( OK the bar is pretty close ) what’s worse is we have to pass the distillery to get to it, it is like a major tease, up and over the bridge, foot hard down on the pedal, hands sweaty, wife holding on for her life, tyres squealing.. Ok maybe a little over the top but I’m sure you know what I mean.
We pull into the entrance and it is like coming home, I know the place so well, already into double figures, we drive down into the car park, and that’s it I’m here.. Straight into the visitor centre, and as usual a very warm welcome from Wendy and her team, a few new faces but friendly.. Anyway we started the tour. Due to time I only did the standard tour but it is always a good tour, very good fun, not over serious and the guide catered to us rather than it being the typical strict type, as we walked and listened I just kind off drifted off into my own little world, the smells, the noise it is all so infectious, those of you who visit distillerys know exactly what I mean. The best part of the tour was approaching fast.. The warehouse, numbers punched in, door opens ( I bet you know who was at the front ) as we go in the lovely guide starts to tell us about the barrels but I’m just pinned to the glass window, licking it incase the vapours have tainted the glass ( OK I’m not really licking it.. Honest) then.. The gate is opened and we get to walk with the casks, and I can even touch them…. Excited is not the word, I really am like a little kid, I’m sure the other two people on our tour thought I was escaped from a home or on day release.
The guide was so good as I knew we should not have had quite as long as we did but I needed pictures, hundreds of pictures, as we walked over to the bar to get our free tipple the guide and I chatted about the distillery, I was so impressed with her knowledge, I know she was only there between university terms but she knew her stuff. In the bar we were treated to the threewood and the lovely 18 and 21yo..
Is this the end… O no, I now had to go bottle my own, not to be greedy but one bottle is never enough, casks on offer were a 1996 and a 1999, both bourbon and both coming home with me, I bottled one of each while my daughters bottled one of each for me a great memory of the visit. I do hope I won’t be away for too long..
I must remember to forget something in order to re visit on way back from speyside… Thanks to everyone at Auchentoshan for the great visit and friendly atmosphere..
Bottles brought home from the distillery will remind me of this visit for many years to come.. The 2 bottles my daughters bottled will be handed down to them, in order to remind them ( as if they could ever forget, for different reasons to me ) ..