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An Adventure in Whisky Making: From PJs to Pumps!

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

If you've ever taken a distillery tour or chatted with the incredible whisky heroes behind the scenes, this one's for you. Join me as I share my hilarious and geeky journey of becoming part of a whisky-making team for a day at the Ballindalloch Distillery in the heart of Speyside, Scotland.


A Day to Remember:

Picture this: a small, charming malt whisky distillery, lovingly converted from an old farm steading by the Macpherson-Grant family, owners of the stunning Ballindalloch Estate. They produce 100,000 litres a year (a drop in the whisky ocean compared with their neighbour Glenlivet who are making 20 million litres.) Ballindalloch Distillery opened its doors in 2011, offering tours and allowing visitors to fill and buy their own casks. My colleague Fraser and I were fortunate enough to get an opportunity to spend a day getting our hands dirty and helping them make some whisky!


Ballandalloch Distillery Speyside whisky Single malt Scotch whisky Scotch whisky production Whisky distillation process Speyside distilleries Whisky tasting experience Scottish whisky heritage Speyside whisky tours Ballandalloch estate Whisky maturation process Cask strength whisky Speyside whisky brands Whisky enthusiasts Ballandalloch Distillery history
Happy chaps with the legend that is Davey

Reporting for Duty:

After a late-night whisky session, Fraser and I stumbled into the distillery at an ungodly hour (if you can call 8 am ungodly!), trying to wake up from our drams-induced haze. We met Colin Poppy, the distillery manager, who laid out the plan for the day. Though we had visited many distilleries before during our long careers as whisky ambassadors, making whisky with the team was an entirely new experience for us.


From Stills to Mash Tuns:

We kicked off our whisky adventure in the still house, where Ian, an ex-William Grant & Sons expert, guided us through the ins and outs of the stills. With fruity ester-y notes filling the air, we helped fill the spirit still and discovered Colin's secret fruity technique of preloading the still the night before. Next, we moved to the mashing stage, which Ballindalloch keeps refreshingly simple. No on-site malting, but they source single-estate barley from their fields. Davey, originally from Orkney with a hilarious knack for storytelling, shared tales from his Highland Park and Scapa days while we got hands-on with the micro-scale mashing process.


Ups and Downs at the Washbacks and Warehouse:

After a delicious lunch at the neighbouring Lagmore Cafe (which is included in the whisky-making day), we returned to the distillery, ready for more action. Davey and Colin put us to work in the washbacks, manually pitching yeast and agitating the mixture with brooms. Let's just say it was a workout that made us appreciate the boys' stamina! But the real challenge came when we entered the warehouse. Fraser and I thought we had it all figured out. However, we fumbled when faced with the stainless-steel holding tank and its quirky petrol pump handle. Upon trying to fill the casks clumsy moments ensued, filling the air with the sweet scent of new make spirit. Whisky-making careers? Maybe not for us!


Ballandalloch Distillery Speyside whisky Single malt Scotch whisky Scotch whisky production Whisky distillation process Speyside distilleries Whisky tasting experience Scottish whisky heritage Speyside whisky tours Ballandalloch estate Whisky maturation process Cask strength whisky Speyside whisky brands Whisky enthusiasts Ballandalloch Distillery history
Before the spillage disaster of filling the cask

The Finale: Drams and Dreams:

With our soaked casks tucked away in the tiny warehouse, it was time for a well-deserved reward. In the tasting room, Colin treated us to some spectacular drams from casks in the days when they owned Cragganmore Distillery. It was the perfect way to end a whisky geek's dream day.




Conclusion:

Planning a Speyside adventure? Don't miss the chance to book a day at Ballindalloch Distillery, where you'll get a behind-the-scenes peek into some whisky-making magic. You'll laugh, spill, and gain a deep appreciation for the hardworking lads like Ian, Davey, and Colin, who dedicate their lives to producing Scotland's liquid gold.


So, raise a dram and toast to their dedication. Cheers, chaps, and thanks for having us on this unforgettable whisky adventure!




For more information on how CopperCairn can create the perfect whisky experience for you, contact us at info@coppercairn.com

Slainte,

Mitch

Ballandalloch Distillery Speyside whisky Single malt Scotch whisky Scotch whisky production Whisky distillation process Speyside distilleries Whisky tasting experience Scottish whisky heritage Speyside whisky tours Ballandalloch estate Whisky maturation process Cask strength whisky Speyside whisky brands Whisky enthusiasts Ballandalloch Distillery history
The Ballindalloch Distillery

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