Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ah'll tak' the geek road...

Courtesy of www.dramming.com

Merriam-Webster defines the word geek as: “A person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity.” We know we are not the typical consumer and thousands from around the world proudly will tell you we belong to that whisky geek category. Talk to any of us and you will quickly discover that we possess a huge collection of books, publications, glassware, samples, t-shirts, hats and of course many bottles of whisky that are all kept in a designated space of our homes. Geeks know the latest on process, distilleries & distillers, authors/personalities and of course whiskies to the point of what some would think might be: Obsession. 
Courtesy: Franck Debernardi (@LaCaveDeCobalt)
Guaranteed that if several congregate together they will share bottle photos faster than proud parents with pictures of toothless firstborns! We speak geekery; exude geekness and regularly pilgrim to whisky’s hallowed grounds. So as a newbie what do you do when you realize the twentieth introductory distillery tour left you thinking…that's it, what else? I'll tell you what you do: You join the ranks of geekdom because we are here to welcome you with open arms!  

In Scotland alone, there are close to 100 active distilleries so if you want to immerse yourself in the grain to glass process then Tomatin is one of the best I would recommend. It is situated at the heart of the Highlands just south of Inverness on the eastern edge of the breathtaking Cairngorms mountain range. There are several tours available but if you want the ultimate distillery experience than the Single Cask Experience (30£) is aimed at people that want a bit more from their tours. It's an in-depth journey like no other distillery does. How about the chance to stand inside a mash tun? Yes, you read correctly... inside. 
A few "geeks" I know...

After you get to see the place you will also experience a tutored nosing & tasting of five different/exclusive single cask expressions. Did you get that: Not the usual whiskies you will find at every shop but FIVE exclusive single cask whiskies. Think you are done now, of course not! The visitor centre is a must see because it truly caters to the male or female whisky geek by including an excellent tasting bar, bottle your own cask strength offerings, casks, clothing as well as an extensive range of interesting and various gifts for the whisky enthusiast. I advise that you call in advance to book as this is easily a three hour experience not to be missed. 

Where to next Lassie? Well, let's go west whisky geeks and head to Tyndrum as one million visitors per year cannot be wrong. The Green Welly Stop features a highly educated customer focused staff that will help you find gems within their eclectic selection and excellent array of whisky miniatures from days gone by. You will not find the likes of a 1968 Glenrothes mini for just over 10 quid in many shops today nor will you walk away so happily satisfied having discovered one of the best kept whisky secrets on the west coast of Scotland. It’s worth the drive! 

You don't have much time and are only sticking to the bigger cities on your trip to Scotland? Well by golly geeks are covered there as well. You will get no argument from me that there are fantastic pubs everywhere but walk into the Bon Accord in Glasgow and it feels like home for whisky enthusiasts. Family run for almost 15 years, it has repeatedly won 35 consecutive awards from top customer care to best whisky pub and there is a reason for that. You might be a customer when you walk through the door but you will leave a friend. Paul has treated every single person that I have recommended a visit to with nothing but the best service and friendship and I have all the photos to prove it.  

The Bon Accord Bar - Drooool
You will be greeted by Paul or his sone standing in front of their selection of 400 quality drams. Both are passionate whisky enthusiasts themselves so let them navigate you through some pretty rare and once in a lifetime drams! My first time there I said to my friend Steffen, sure I'll go for an hour or so. We were there for 4 hours!! Fantastic drams, geekery to its finest and friendships. What more could you want? There is a saying that goes 'People make Glasgow' and if that’s the case then I will tell you that Paul & his patrons make geek dramming. 

Still in Glasgow, this one is a rare and special visit that you should try. Although they do not have a visitor center or dedicated staff, it might be possible to meet the passionate people behind the brilliant whiskies by visiting the Douglas Laing tasting room. That's if you are a huge fan or want to branch out into the world of independent bottlings of course. 

I will stress this is the exception and not the rule. 

It can be an opportunity afforded occasionally but it's by appointment and availability only so please contact them well in advance of your trip. 

Only visiting Edinburgh? It too has countless whisky attractions that will be packed with curious people but Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop is for the true whisky geek. Inexplicably drawn like a magnet past the tourist traps of the Royal Mile you will find yourself standing in front of what seems like a small and unassuming shop.
Ye small whisky shop
When you walk in the door; however, you will know you have reached the whisky mecca so please be patient and polite as you wait because these guys are the Einstein’s of the geekdom. By the time you are done you will have spent an hour of guided tasting through a plethora of the best un-chill filtered and natural colored whiskies in the world. If you are looking to buy something rare and different and are a truly a dedicated whisky geek there is no chance you can walk away empty handed so make room in your suitcase. This is truly the epitome of whisky finds and you will leave many other whisky geeks feeling quite jealous! 

But wait a minute Lassie, I don't think I saw any of these in my Scotland tourism brochure? To which I will say, oh good you noticed. Word gets around on its own and you see, geeks prefer the road less travelled because the majority of us know it's by digging in the coal that you find the diamonds. But, don't take my word on it go ahead and ask as many whisky geeks as you can. 

We all have our stories of the gems we have found over the years and we will gladly share them with you. As a matter of fact, once you start finding yours, be kind to the #whiskyfabric and share them with us as well. If you do decide to try out even one of the places I mentioned just tell them Whisky Lassie sent you, they will know who you mean and probably tell you a good story or at least give you a good laugh. 

Of course I'm a bugs bunny geek too ;)
Whisky geeks are awesome and where we end up is as well. Here's to the road less traveled, may it be as great of an experience for you as it has been for me thus far...

Geeky Lassie out!

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