Islay DramVenture Training – Glenkinchie 28/03/2016
So since we will be doing an awful lot of cycling on our magical trip round Islay drinking whisky, we thought it might be an idea to do some ‘training’ for it and we thought it would be best to make it goal specific…a big cycle with a wee dram in between!
Little did we know that this would actually turn out to be a lesson in how to replace a bike tube and repair a puncture instead!
So, the plan was that I would cycle from my place at Murrayfield in Edinburgh along Princes Street and down to Leith to meet fellow DramVenturer, G, before we made the 16 mile cycle from his place out to the Glenkinchie Distillery in Pencaitland.
Edinburgh has a fantastic cycle network that means you can travel great distances across the city without being on a main road, which is great. There’s loads of good info on these routes here.
The route we took was on the cycle paths down to Portobello promenade then through Musselburgh briefly before we were back on the number one cycle path pretty much all the way to Pencaitland.
…there were lots of them. 5 in total, 4 for G and 1 for me.
Needless to say, we’re now like a finely tuned Formula 1 pit stop team when it comes to sorting out punctures. All character building etc!
That brings me to my next point…if you are cycling the number 1 cycle route out to Glenkinchie then I’d strongly advise that road bike tyres simply won’t cut it on these paths. Most are fairly decent but there’s a large portion which is quite rough and give your tyres a good old going over.
Overall, it’s not the hardest route to cycle but there are a few steep hills to tackle and as always, the wind will be in your face when going up them (I can’t say that for sure but it’s certainly how cycling works for me – whichever way I point, the wind blows right in my face!), so remember to bring some food with you as there’s no café at the distillery.
On arrival at Glenkinchie, we couldn’t actually find an area to secure our bikes in the sign posted bit, but we were probably just being lazy and not looking properly! There’s large wooden fences near the car park and that did us nicely.
As we are both members of the Friends of the Classic Malts, we used our passes to gain free entry and we were also given a voucher for money off a bottle in the shop. We then took the time to look round the fantastic ‘museum’ that includes a great model of all the different areas of a working distillery. This alone makes the visit worthwhile. We did have a long think about having a go on the distilleries old pennyfarthing bike but thought better of it for our own safety (how on earth did folk ride them things?!).
Since we have both been to numerous different distilleries, including this one before, we went straight for a tasting and were met by ‘Bill’ one of the staff there to take us through it. I’ll just say now that we couldn’t have asked for a better guy to take us through a wee tasting…he was knowledgeable, friendly yet not falsely so, and overall a great laugh with some good stories to tell.
We started with the Glenkinchie 12 year old, which I thought was great but it didn’t set my pants on fire if I’m honest. I got a hint of smoke in this one and it had a medium finish so I certainly wasn’t complaining. Would I buy a bottle? Aye, probably would actually. Cheapest I can see this online is around the £35 mark so I’d say that was good value for money. I’d probably recommend this to anyone wanting to get started drinking whisky.
Next up was the Lagavulin distillers edition…now this stuff is the business. I have a very peaty/smoky whisky palate so this is right up my street. I’m not going to go too much into this one as I’m hoping this will be one of our ‘malts of the month’ soon so we’ll do a full review on it soon. This comes in at around the £70 per bottle mark and it’s worth every penny in my opinion!
Last up was another cracker…Caol Illa Moch. This for me, is up there with the best of the non-age statement drams out there. This was the first time I had tried this and it was brilliant. As I’m sure you’ll figure out, I’m not the greatest at describing the tastes in whisky, so the best way I can describe this is all the best bits of the standard Caol Ila 12 expression with a slightly softer feel to it. I could drink this all day long. We’re looking at around the £40 region for this one…again…well worth the money.
Overall, this was a great wee half hour tasting that was made all the better for Bill’s chat and banter. Glenkinchie was well represented by him and the rest of the staff. A very warm welcome, friendly service throughout and with free entry and drams via the Friends of the Classic Malts, well worth the cycle out there.