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Glengoyne Warehouse 1 | Barrels and Bottles | Abbey Whisky Online

Friday Focus - Glengoyne Distillery & Storytelling Tour

We recently spent a memorable Friday afternoon in the company of Gordon Dallas, Whisky Experiential Ambassador at Glengoyne Distillery as he guided us on a fascinating, walking and storytelling tour.

Glengoyne Distillery sits on the former site of Burnfoot Farm in the shadow of the Campsie Fells to the north of Glasgow. Similarly, to Lindores Abbey Distillery in the east, Glengoyne is a distillery that straddles the whisky boundary between the Highland and Lowland regions. In fact, Glengoyne produces Highland Single Malt Whisky which is then matured in the lowlands (across the road in the distillery warehouses).

Glengoyne Tasting Glass | Abbey Whisky Online

THE GLENGOYNE STORY

Gordon welcomes us in the boardroom of the distillery house, where each of us is presented with a Glengoyne tasting glass to sample some drams he says he's 'hidden along the way'. Gordon begins with an introduction to Glengoyne, taking us back to where it all began. His sharp wit and exuberant character instantly puts us at ease as he serves up long whisky cocktails by way of an appetiser. It's clear we're in for an entertaining afternoon.

He begins... In 1820, George Connell began secretly distilling at Burnfoot Farm. During this era, illegal distillation was commonplace in Scotland, particularly in this area, where hidden glens and access to water sources were in abundance. The Illicit Distillation (Scotland) Act was introduced in 1822 bringing with it harsher punishments for producing, supplying and even drinking whisky.

Gordon the leads us outside to the distillery water source, the Glengoyne Burn which flows down Dumgoyne Hill, cascading over a beautiful waterfall into the grounds of the distillery, where it's utilised in the production of the whisky before flowing onwards into Loch Lomond. Standing here, tucked into the hillside you can easily see why secret distilling was so tempting for farmers and how they got away with it. From behind a makeshift bar near the the waterfall, Gordon produces another batch of drams and a costume, similar to that worn by whisky smuggling women transporting illegal spirit from the countryside into the cities and ports. Gordon explains (as i willingly model the outfit) that women were used frequently as they were able to hide gallons of the stuff beneath their long skirts and clothing and more likely to evade detection. 

Gordon walks and talks us through a history of Glengoyne from its illicit beginnings, through its tumultuous changes, to the present day. As we tour the grounds and buildings, he recounts many a tale, often accompanied by a prop or two, some dressing up, a lot of banter and always a dram.

Dressing up with Gordon Dallas | Glengoyne Walking & Story Telling Tour | Abbey Whisky Online

The storytelling tour gives a fascinating insight into the history of Glengoyne. From the family dynasties at the heart of its founding, survival and ultimately its successes, The Lang Brothers, The Robertsons (now the Edrington Group) and Ian Macleod Distillers, to the characters such as Founder George Connell, Distillery Managers Cochrane Cartwright and William McGeachie and Exciseman John Tedder, all contributors to the story of Glengoyne over the past 200 years.

TEA BREAK

What's refreshing about this tour is that it's extremely informative in a really informal way. Gordon's clear knowledge and passion for the subject matter allows him to improvise and take us in whichever direction he or the audience wishes. His thirst for knowledge is apparent and he's clearly a real driving force in seeking out information about the people behind Glengoyne and its past including some very early images. Gordon began his career at Glengoyne as a tour guide, however his talent, quick wit and depth of knowledge saw him take his story of Glengoyne and its whisky on the road to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, following another successful 3 week run back in 2018.

Creating the Teapot Dram at Glengoyne Distillery | Abbey Whisky Online

'THE GLENGOYNE WAY'

The opportunity to view less visited parts of the distillery such as the Old Maltings and the room where Glengoyne's Teapot Dram originated, gives us a real feel for the workings of the distillery, both past and present.  Glengoyne call their whisky 'Unhurried' and believe that time is key to their distinctive style. Longer time spent in the stills with prolonged copper contact helps to produce complex fruit flavours. Glengoyne uses only air dried barley which further promotes these characteristics, avoiding the influence of peat smoke often found in Highland Single Malts.

Glengoyne Warehouse No 1 | Abbey Whisky Online

Glengoyne's range of whisky is extensive, from the core offering of 10, 12 and 18 year old single malts to the fine and rare collection including some of their oldest and most exceptional whiskies with impressive and iconic age statements, 21, 25, 30 & 50 years old and an incredible 53 year old released for the Chinese and Travel Retail market. 

WILDLIFE & WETLANDS 

Proud of their rich history, Glengoyne also look to the future and strive to be as sustainable as possible. Blessed with such a beautiful, natural location they are keen to limit the distillery's impact on this environment as much as possible. They rely on 100% renewable electricity to power the distillery and all spent lees following the distillation process is treated in the distillery's wetlands, where it is purified naturally in reed beds allowing it to be fed back into the burn afterwards. This process cuts the distilleries waste down by 25% and the wetlands provide home to a diverse range of birds, insects and other wildlife. Glengoyne is in partnership with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust to help safeguard such environments for wildlife. Glengoyne is Gaelic for Glen of the Wild Geese afterall and certainly living up to its name.  They've also worked extremely hard to move towards using 100% recyclable and locally sourced packaging as well as incentivising customers to go without boxes when purchasing their whisky and re-using wherever possible.

Wetlands at Glengoyne Distillery | Abbey Whisky Online 

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Glengoyne and highly recommend experiencing the tour in person to fully appreciate Gordon's storytelling skills and depth of knowledge. As is so often the case, it's the people behind the whisky that truly give its character and Glengoyne certainly has character in abundance.

Slàinte

Em x

 

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