Saturday, 29th April
After a very busy schedule yesterday, it was again a little bit early this morning. But a good breakfast always helps, and we were ready for Spirit of Speyside Festival 2017 – day 3! So on to the first event of the day and I was looking forward to it. We were going to create our own blend!
Blend whisky in the Style of Chivas Regal
Arriving at the picturesque Strathisla Distillery, I could not resist to take some pictures. Built in 1786 it is the oldest distillery in the Highlands and probably the most beautiful distillery in Scotland. The Chivas brothers bought the distillery in 1950 to ensure the whisky for Chivas Regal. Nowadays the Strathisla Distillery is the home of Chivas Regal. So no better place to actually create a blend.
Brand Ambassador Lauren Mustard and Blender Calum Fraser welcomed us in the beautiful Chivas Gallery. And after a short introduction about the heritage of Chivas Regal and the story of the two brothers, who founded the company, we tasted the Chivas Regal 12 year old. Followed by the 12 year old Strathisla, a grain whisky and 3 other single malts, referred to as fresh fruit/floral, rich fruit and smoke. These whiskies were also used to create our blend.
Quite a difficult task, I found out later … but super fun to do! Fortunately, Calum helped me on the right track, after I had blended a way too sweet whisky. Apparently 5% more grain works well to make it less sweet. My final blend result contained 15% grain, 10% smoke, 20% rich fruit and 35% fresh fruit / floral. And is it any good I hear you ask? Well…. I doubt that, although it has a good nose; fruity and earthy tones, with a gentle lingering smoke in the background. 🙂
Still thinking about how difficult blending really is, we were already on our way to our next stop: The Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie, the largest independent cooperage in the UK. There was held a Guinness world record attempt for the fastest time to build a 190 litre barrel. The cooperage celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and also the 25th anniversary of their visitor centre. And to mark both anniversaries, visitor centre manager Gill Reid had organised this event.
Guinness World Record Attempt at the Speyside Cooperage
Four highly skilled coopers were up for the challenge – Calum Lawson, Kyle Cooper, David McKenzie and Brent Bowie. The minimum time to achieve the record was 7 minutes and 30 seceonds and the cask had to undergo an industry standard testing to ensure it is water tight.
Unfortunately, just too late to see the actual attempt, we could just catch a glimpse of the winner. It was cooper David McKenzie who secured the record with the fantastic time of 3 minutes and 3 seconds! This makes him the new and also the first Guinness World Record title holder. Quite an achievement. But also for the other three men as they all managed to finish under the 4 minutes.
Leaving the cooperage behind, it was onwards to Glenfiddich for a great lunch at the Maltbarn. I always enjoy eating here, as the food is excellent. After that it was already time to say goodbye to the rest of our team. A nice group of people with whom I spent the last couple of days with. They were heading home, while I continued my whisky adventures.
To round off the day, I headed to the Tormore 4 headquarters. It was time to enjoy some great drams in good company, and sharing stories about our adventures at the festival. All this ended around a campfire overlooking the beautiful surroundings of the Speyside countryside. It became a memorable evening, one that I will remember for a long time. A perfect end to another beautiful day at the Spirit of Speyside Festival!