Thursday, 24 October 2013

Speyside #2 - lost and reborn

On the road between Ballindalloch, I like it how signs point you to airts and pairts with 'distillery' names such as Benrinnes, Dailuaine, Knockando and Glenallachie. All seem to be closed to visitors though unless you manage to get lucky during the Speyside Whisky fest.

They once were neighbours.
It doesn't stop you from distillery spotting though. And maybe this is the difference between whisky and train aficionados - getting into a distillery, sniffing the mash tuns, viewing the stills and sampling from the cask in a cold dank warehouse must be the equivalent of driving your own steam engine instead of just watching it from the concrete.

We take the road to Dailuaine/ Carron and are soon rewarded by the sight of Dailuaine's warehouses. The product of this distillery that I've tasted has so far been pretty good. Not least the recent offering from Whiskybroker. It's certainly a busy place though even though the industrial appearance of the plant leads one to figure that the 'green meadow' or dail uaine (da-il oo-ine-ye) lies outwith the distillery boundaries.

We follow the steam from Dailuaine further down the glen to find it hanging over the Site Formerly Known as Imperial. Memories of a Gordon&MacPhail 13yo sherry cask Imperial come flooding back. Beautiful stuff, Unfortunately, the status of Imperial went from 'mothballed' to 'demolished' in January of this year.
What remains of Imperial

The dunnage warehouses still stand and perhaps that's a fitting testament to a famous auld whisky. However, a new distillery is rising from the soil. What will it be called? No-one seems to know but one or two locals claim that 'Glen Carron' could be a good bet.

Rising from the ashes - Glen Carron?
One long gone whisky with the parent distillery - buildings at least - still intact is Parkmore. Taking the road from Dufftown past Glenfiddich and Balvenie Castle you soon spot the revived Speyside Railway track parallel to the road. The pagodas of Parkmore stick up from the glen below. Visually, it is a living tourist brochure. Though departed distilleries understandably pull at the heartstrings of many it seems as if Parkmore's product was so poorly regarded that the remaining casks of it were smashed when the distillery ceased distilling. As Whisky Dufftown puts it:
Built in 1894, Parkmore has been silent since 1931 because of problems with its water source. Although the maltings were in use until the late 1960's and the warehouses are still in use today. Parkmore's whisky is no longer available - it is reputed that all the casks remaining in the distillery were smashed when it closed.
Parkmore's postcard view
Fleeting visits are paid to Cragganmore and Strathisla as well though time doesn't allow for tours to be undertaken. Craggamore has a few people in already but the welcoming ladies on duty still offer us a dram anyway. Strathisla is a graveyard with one bored guy staffing the visitor centre. Despite the lack of interest from the public and our interest in products and tours, we don't get offered a sniff. It's a PR win for Cragganmore.

Fortunately, memories of a stingy Strathisla are erased by the following days tour of Balvenie...

#1 Speyside Virginity Lost

No comments: