Travel Report

2nd club trip to Scotland

March 23. - 28. 2011
Prestwick, Gourock, Edinburgh,
Speyside, Inverness, Skye, Mull, Iona, Oban Argyll

Theme: "Scotland in a Nutshell"

day 0 , day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5

day 2: From Edinburgh via Forth Bridge to the Highlands of Scotland. Through the Speyside to Inverness.

Friday, March 25th, 2011. Edinburgh is the Scotlands capital - its head. But Scotlands heart - this is in the Highlands (My heart's in the highlands - wherever I go) [Robert Burns] ! and this will be todays destination:

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer -
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North
The birth place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forrests and wild-hanging woods;
Farwell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart's in the Highlands, whereever I go. 

Forth Bridges

To be able to fulfill our intensive program for today, and despite our yesterdays "Edinburgh-by-night" event, we get up very early. We meet at the 3rd floor of the Edinburgh Pirie Hotel.

It's a typical Edinburgh city hotel: Pictures of the Pirie Hotel stairs. Looking downstairs, you may be dizzy. Unfortunately only continental breakfast is served - Konrad likes it. There's a buffet which is refilled frrom time to time. several types of Coffee and tee are available. The best coffee comes from the coffee machine. Several juices are there, too.
we check out, pack our luggage into the car and: take off. Jens finds the way out of Edinburgh without any problems. Red lights are not almost his thing but nothing happens.

Driving along the A90 we approach our first destination: The FORTH BRIDGES over the Firth of Forth. Therefor we turn shortly before the bridges right to South Queensferry and Jens finds the parking place from where one can get the best photos with both bridges.

Especially Ralf deeply impressed by the monumental steel colosses. We take a movie with an oncoming train on the bridge and a lot of photos of both bridges. What a great moment ! Unfortunately the weather is getting a little bit hazy.

We drive through the hight pylones of the Forth Road Bridge. (<) near Perth we change from the M90 to the A9, the "Highland Road". The weather gets clearer and we enjoy the view over the hills around Perth. (>)

After having lots of impressions of the bridges we enter the car and drive back uphill to the A90 and then go via the Forth Road Bridge. The height above the water is immense. The big ships down at the Firth of Forth look like toys.

The central highlands and Dalwhinnie Distillery

The A9 rises in height above sea level. Nearby some nice properties.
North of Dunkeld we see the first brae of the highlands. At the Pass of Killiecrankie we could smell the highland air for the first time. How we missed it !

A drivers photo: Jens driving. Driving on the left is pure fun, but it also needs concentration, too.

From time to time we have great view into several glens of the Cairngorm Mountains . what an exciting scenery.

Partly the A9 is built motorway like. A9: Dual Carriageway. This is the section of the road where one can pass the slow lorries that are struggling northbound.

here we climb the highest Point of our today's journey: We pass the Highland Region border at the Pass of Drumochter. .

It is only a short way from the A9 exit to the first houses of Dalwhinnie village.
Die Distillery befindet sich am nördlichen Ende des Dorfes, etwas außerhalb.
Right behind the Pass we leave the A9. The road sigh to Dalwhinie shows thge way to our next destination: We want to have a short beak at Dalwhinnie Distillery.
Our second Single Malt Distillery on our journey - this is the way in: the access road to Dalwhinnie Distillery.

At the Distillerys main building. Behind this wall there are the Pot Stills. is there a noise ? Something to watch ?

A quick jump out of the car - it is quite cold here at this height. On our way to the visitor centre. at least the weather is dry.

The Visitor Centre building.

Then we can enter the house. At the Visitor Centre Jens has has short but very kind talks with the ladies there. The result is that we all have a good WEE DRAM, despite not taking part at a guided tour. We leave our club sticker at the visitors book. And we get to know that the A9 is closed north of Dalwhinnie because of road works. Jens decides to take the minor road via Laggan.
The central building of DALWHINNIE DISTILLERY in its full beauty.

Die The sign at the Visitor Centre shows: We have to wait for some minutes - the distillery opens at 11 a.m..
Back outside of the visitor centre, we look around a little bit: We find these casks at the back rear door of the Visitor Centre.

A landmark of the distillery: The condensers are outside of the still room.

Remarkable: The distilleries smoking area, kind of bus stop with a lot of fire drenchers.

This is a working place: This lady on top of the condensers apparently enjoys the great landscape scenery here.

We leave Dalwhinnie Distillery on the minor road A889 to Laggan and have great views over Dalwhinnie Distillery to the snowbound Cairngorm Mountains. And by the way we drive around the A9 queuing.

Through the Speyside. Tormore and Cragganmore

The way along the the A889 takes us through a really exciting scenery. The Laggan Coffee Shop is unfortunately closed at this season. Shortly behind the coffee shop we turn to the right. This is the A86, the connection road between the A9 in the ease and Spean Bridge in the Great Glen. We go through the still sleeping village of Newtonmore. Near Kingussie we enter the A9 and after Aviemore we turn to the right onto the A95, the Speyside Road. A short photo stop at the Spey Bridge near Grantown on Spey, where we see THE Whisky river itself for the first time on this trip.

The view up the glen to spey spring direction. The Spey spring is at the Dalwhinnie plateau.

What a great feeling ! At the source of our beloved drink ! The road sign at the Spey Bridge shows very familiar names. Pay attention to the Whisky Trail advice and that the roundabout is clockwise.

And here it is: the river SPEY with the Spey Bridge.
Going down the valey along the river Spey shortly behind the village Duiar, the prominent building of TORMORE DISTILLERY appears. One won't believe that this impressing victorian building has been built in 1958 by Sir Albert Richardson.

... and the swimming pool like cooling bassins in the park.

And you won't believe that this is an industrial building with these very nice Park and Gardens of the distillery<, and chimes on the roof...

...especially if a sunny spell appears.
Remark: the even at this season very lovely surrounding of the Spey Valley near Tormore...
Going on some miles there's the small road to Cragganmore. As we have some time left we immediately decide to have a short visit at this distillery. The gate is blocked by a lorry: It is "Silent Season" there at CRAGGANMORE DISTILLERY , that means no production at the moment but repairs are in progress.

Silent Season is something special. Jens' discovery urge is awaks at once. Darf man trotzdem rein ?

The very friendly but not coordinated with the distillery management spoken visit invitation by a plumber is appreciated and so we can take photos ! This is not allowed every day.
And this is how the distillery looks like during its Silent Season: Instead the master distillers copper plumbers and other craftsmen (top left) are doing their job here. Everything will be cleaned and the pot stills are open (top centre) and - in rare cases like this one - a pot still has to be replaced. This pot still has been installed even now. (top right) .
This is a pot still door in detail (bottom left), and this is a view into an open pot still (bottom right) . All these are things that are usually not allowed to be photographed.
And as we have bee invited this friendly, we take the opportunity and take some photos of the Cragganmore Spirit Safe .

Shortly after that a not so kindly lady of the distillery staff asks us to leave the building immediately and not to take any photos at all. We hide our photo devices and head to the cat at the parking place.
As we leave Cragganmore, our car behaves mysterious: All windows go down by themselves and as there is a small rain cloud above us its getting wet and windy inside the car. On the rear seats the jackets and hats are on. Closing the windows will be re-adjusted immediately: all windows go down again after another 10 metres ! Very mysterious ! And then we learn: "THIS IS THE WATCHER ! " Remeber: Edinburgh, The Vaults, Jens took a small stone from the vault of the watcher. And now we have it !


The spook is over after passing Ballindalloch Castle & Gardens - genauso as unprepared as it began. Some more mile on the A95 we see our next destination: Distillery. Jens is happy to see the flags at the access road to the Glenfarclas Distillery again. Glenfarclas means "Glen of the green gras".

Quickly we passed the small road to the distilleries Visitor Center (above) and park the car at the parking place. We are nearly alone here.
The "used furniture", a pot still the isN#t used any longer (below) stands there in front of the distillery.
We are at the distillerys visitor center 5 minutes before appointed time. Jens appointed a special guided tour through the distillery and they already wait for us.
The tour starts at the barley mill and the stone separator. (left) The woman who takes us through the distillery is very kind and competent.
We are impressed by the huge Mash Tun (right)

Also as huge as the mash tun - here we see only the uppermost part - are the 12 Washbacks of Glenfarclas .

Then we come to the sanctuary of the distillery: The Pot Stills of Glenfarclas Distillery. In front of them there is the Spirit Safe.

Important: the Glenfarclas Spirit Safe.

A view inside of this giant bowl that is currently empty because it is cleaned.

One of the wash backs are opened and we can smell the aroma inside. Wow - a massive alcoholic beer like aroma. You get drunk even from smelling !

At this point our guide enthuses a little bit: These pot stills count to the nicest ones at all.

here they try to support the process with modern technology. The temperature control . Nevertheless the making of Single Malt Whisky still is Mystery with this lot of parameters.

Lots of warehouses are here. This is the door of Warehouse No. 4 (right) .
Another view iover the warehouses to the local mountain, BenRiach (below)
Outside the still house we pass the incredble mass of warehouses around the yard.

A view from the bar into the Club room which has been taken from a ship of the british marine.

At the parking place we see a Landmark Press service car. Landmark press is a print company that produces flyers and the very nice "Welcome to..." brochures. We can take some with us and the driver says we should send a mail note - then we could get some more.

After studying the making of Glenfarclas single malt, here we get convinced with the quality of the result having a Wee Dram of Glenfarclas at this bar, where Jens has been this often before.

Outside again the Pot Still at the meadow says hello again.

Through the lower Speyside: Aberlour, Walkers, Telford Bridge, the Cooperage and Baxters of Fochabers

Next stop at the next village along the A95: At the beginning of Aberlour on Spey there is the the Aberlour Distillery entry. Ralf has to step outside the car to take some photos.

Cool is also this extremely long gate at the distillery entrance. Going on another mile we have the next destination at this incredible journey:

A short view into the back yard of Aberlour Distillery .

1 Yard Walker Shortbread Fingers ...
The paradise of all crumble monsters is at the other end of the village: WALKERS SHORTBREAD company.. There might be no other place yhere you can buy such a lot of best cookies...

... and as it is this nice: 1 Yard Walker Shortbread Fingers. We buy the here available cookie crash. First class Walkers Fingers in a bag for an incredible good price..
Going on further 2 miles - the Spey valley opens a little bit and again we have to stop the car: here where the main road crosses the river Spey we have the next highlight:

Left of the main road bridge in its full beauty: The TELFORD BRIDGE. As its name says: designed by Thomas Telford.

Wieder mal ein Blick auf die Road signs near Telford Bridge, that make one Scotland sick...

Without any doubt: This road crosses the river Spey ...

This is a bridge detail. Especiall Ralf is deeply impressed about this construction.

The Cooperage yard. ...

The casks arrive here, parted into staves....
Today we have one place of interest after the other: 4 miles away from the Craigellachie crossroad in Dufftown direction on the A941 we arrive at the SPEYSIDE COOPERAGE.. Especially interesting for Besonders interessant für Konrad, who is going to become our clubs Single Malt cask specialist.

At the rear fence to be seen: incredible hills of whisky casks.
Again we are 5 minutes too late for the lates guided cooperage tour of today and at the shop they tell us that there's no way to do anything for us. At this moment Heise watches a very official looking man. Jens is called immediately and then he uses all of his charme in his talks. The resukt was that we were allowed to enter the visitors gallery - and we don't have to pay any fee. So we have the opportunity to take these photos about how they work at the Cooperage (above) . We are happy.

This is the right place: At a small exhibition at the visitors gallery cask types for whisky maturation are described.

Back at the main road at Craigellachie, our way goes through the whisky village Rothes, that owns 5 distilleries and with this is only little behind the neighbour Dufftown.

In former times they offered guided tours through the production halls. This is long ago - what a pitty ! But the marmelade is still one of the best ones at all.

This lot of sights at one place make one hungry. Thius is why Jens drives the car to BAXTERS of Fochabers , best know for their super-mega-thick pancakes. Together with the worlds best industrial made strawberry marmelade this is a must have ! Wir are happy to be right here and to have a delicious meal together with a good tea. Simply great !!!

Last location of today is the GLENDRUIDH HOUSE Hotel in Inverness, where Michael and Christine are still waiting for us. A very warm welcome at the bar activate our last energy reserves and so we have really nice talks. The Glendruidh is our club partner hotel and the place where it all began with the whisky clubs - but this is a completely different story...

Exhausted with impressions we arrive at the B&B. Ralf and Jens are looking forward to a good final beer. These artful photos of a Stil live with Draugt Bitter are made.
if you sum up the pictures of this day: An incredible program that we did today: from Edinburgh via the Forth-Bridges to the Highlands, along the A9 to Dalwhinnie, going down the Speyside with its lots of distilleries, the guided tour at Glenfarclas, Telford Bridge, Speyside Cooperage and finally Baxters of Fochabers and the Glendruidh House in Inverness. An unbelievable day comes to its end.

(C) Single Malt Whisky Club Sachsen e.V.- Report: Jens Burkhardt; Photos and Films: Jens Burkhardt, Konrad Rosenbaum, Heike and Ralf Schuster
Usage of the material not permitted except there is a written permission by the club, by the author or by the photographers.

day 0 , day 1 , day 2 , day 3 , day 4 , day 5