There are very few things that impress me these days, in fact here is a list of things I am not bothered about:
- Undercooked Toast – Why bother putting it in the toaster if you don’t intend to see it through to golden brown?
- Electronic Timetables on Bus Stops – They never tell then truth and just how long is Due?
- Artistanal Anything – Adding a meaningless word to the front of something, doesn’t make your product more impressive or worth while.
- Jaffa Cakes – They aren’t cakes, they aren’t biscuits and they don’t even taste nice. My opinion is that they should get in the sea.
To quote the fountain of wisdom that is Shania Twain, “That don’t impress a me much”.
However barrel coopering is impressive. It’s a skill that has remained largely unchanged for centuries and yet it is an integral part of creating the spirit that you and I love so much. So when we went to Speyside, a visit to Speyside Cooperage was at the very top of my to do list.
Click on the photos to see them enlarged and read more about them, then click anywhere on the page to carry on.
We paid for the full VIP tour, which seemed expensive at £30 per person, but we were all convinced that it was money well spent. First you are treated to a beautiful 4D film with sounds, smells and changes of temperature, which fills in all the background to the process and some of the history of the cooperage.
Then you are kitted out in high vis and safety wear, to protect you from the workings of the cooperage. Then we were taken on to the cooperage floor, where you are taken through the process. We saw barrels arriving, being broken down, being restaved, being recharred and then being finished. Each part of the process was fascinating, revealing and impressive. The smells, which cannot be communicated by my very poor photography skills, were incredible. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, passionate and had worked for many years on the cooperage floor, so it was fascinating to hear him discuss all the hidden aspects of the process.
After you leave the floor, you are treated to a nice cup of tea, some obligatory shortbread and dram of the cooperages own local bottling. After much fruitless discussion about which distillery the dram was taken from, we left, throughly impressed.
For access to a timeless incredible skill, lovely staff, great aromas and a fantastic experience, we would give the tour 10/10.
For more information and to book a tour, head to: http://www.speysidecooperage.co.uk/tours.php (and mention us!)