As I arranged my weeks holiday up in speyside ( the home of malt whisky) I had decided to visit a few distilleries not usually open to the public other than by appointment. My visits were booked and one place remained, how would I decide which distillery would get the last place, well that decision was easily made as I did a live Twitter tasting with AnCnoc whisky.. I contacted Gordon Bruce the distillery manager and a quick response came agreeing to the time and day I wanted. So today was the day I was to visit, as I drove up the heavens opened, and boy did they open.. typical..
As I approached the offices I was greeted by Gordon himself, we quickly stepped inside out of the pouring rain, had a quick chat before we braved the Scottish rain to look round the distillery. Although the distillery is not open to the public generally, Gordon tells me that he hopes within a year or so there just might be a visitor centre, and I for one hope so too… So the first stop was the old kiln, like most, the distillery once had thier own maltings but alas no longer, the kiln is still in place though and has been turned into a small attraction and is the first thing you see. We then moved on and once you enter the mash room you see the lovely impressive copper topped mash tun.. A lovely touch. The mash tun is running on a 8 hour mash with 5.1 tons of grist being used for each fill.. The distillery is running on a 7 day production and is producing a capacity of 1.8-1.9 million ltrs a year.
The fermentation time is around 66-68 hours in total with 6 wooden wash backs in use and 2 extra vessels..
As we walked into the still room which is the home of one spirit still ( 16000ltr ) and one wash still ( 11700ltr ) we met with Ian who is another long serving worker in this industry with 25 years service under his belt, he again was very enthusiastic about his job and was full of pride, Gordon also sang his praises which was nice to hear.. We then went outside to look at the cooling system where one big difference was the condenser which sat horizontal rather than vertical. Once we chatted about this and the effects of running as green as possible, and doing everything they can to reduce thier carbon footprint we headed into one of the dunnage warehouses, currently onsite there are 3 dunnage and 1 racked warehouse holding around 6,000 casks that are all earmarked for single malt production.
Nowcame the important part.. Tasting the finished product, I have to admit I was looking forward to this as I know AnCnoc do produce some great tasting whisky, Gordon did not let me down, he even poured me a dram from one of his own bottles, a 1975 AnCnoc, which of course was fantastic, also poured was the 18, cutter ( peated expression) a single barrel 1978 sherry butt, a 9yo single barrel bourbon cask… And of course all these were NCF and natural colour, the 75 and 78 were both stunning in very different ways, and the 9yo was pretty special too.. Alas the time came for me to leave which always comes too soon ( well for me at least ) hopefully I will be able to get back and see the new visitor centre ( if it goes the go ahead ) ..
I would just like to thank Gordon for his time and generosity, he really made this tour special and is a very interesting chap to talk with, his enthusiasm is second to none and this shows in this distillery.. Also my thanks go to the AnCnoc Twitter team for putting me in touch..