day four: Speyside

when christin learned to drive on the other side of the road. and car.

I’ve never been a brown liquor drinker. I thought drinking Makers on the rocks, or Macallans neat was insanely posh (look at me, picking up the lingo). Try as I might, I just can’t palate it. With that being said, I love distilleries and learning how different types of alcohol are made. Basically, I love the education (if you’ve not picked up on this, I’m a bit nerdy). The only distillery I’ve even been to is Jack Daniels in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I surprised Justin today by telling him that Jack Daniels, among all the wineries and breweries I’ve visited in my life, was my favorite. The sampling bit at the end of the tour is a different story. This is what happens when I drink brown liquor: I shudder and look like I’m having a *bit* of a spazz. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. 

And here I am in the Scotch Whiskey capital of the world.  I told myself before this trip, that if I can’t find a scotch I like in Scotland, I’ll give it five years and try again (super adult-like, right?). So while planning this trip (ya know, two weeks ago), I saw a distillery in the guide book I grabbed from the library that mentioned Balvenie Distillery. Without dropping too much knowledge on y’all, Balvenie is one of seven distilleries left that still malts their barley in house. If you want to nerd our in true Christin fashion, click here.  They take you on the malt floor and all up in their cooperage and around the stills. After all, it is a three hour tour that concludes with a really nice tasting. 

Our tour consisted of seven of us. A Canadian couple, three men from Germany and us. I asked about a 30 questions throughout the tour. Not kidding. Everything from why they use a single barley, where they harvest their peat and how much they pay for American oak vs. sherry casks. ::UPDATE I just asked Justin how many questions he surmised I asked, and he said easily 100 😬🙈:: Luckily, no one on the tour looked at me like I was an idiot (trust me, I was checking). After a three hour, in-depth tour (probably longer than average because of yours truly with the scotch inquisition...), we ended up in an old barn to taste straight out of three casks. How do you manage that, you ask? Oh easy, you just pour some cask strength scotch in your hand and slurp it up, ya know, like a cat. Preferably, like a cat who likes scotch. 

If that wasn't enough of a taste, there was a sit down, fancy pants tasting of SIX Balvenie scotches. The moment of truth, will I shudder like I'm choking down lighter fluid??

Short answer: yes. 

I will say that learning more about about the scotch brought a whole new level of understanding and appreciation. If you dumb it down, scotch is essentially beer that chills in bourbon, wine, or sherry barrels for a long ass time.

So since I'm not an aficionado of scotch, I gave the majority of mine to Justin. Thus in turn, cornering myself to drive. This would have been *slightly* less of an issue if we had the rental car we requested: a tiny Ford hatchback. Lucky us, we got an upgrade...a freaking Mercedes SUV.  Normally that would be ah-mazing, but driving on tiny ass roads does not lend well to an oversized vehicle. Insert Christin who has never driven on the right side of the road and the left side of the car. I kept Justin on the curb. Kinda literally. I felt I stood a better chance with that than with the oncoming 18-wheelers delivering barley to the local distilleries on my right. 

But we survived to tour another distillery! While I was excited about the knowledge at Balvenie, Justin was excited about the actual scotch at Macallans. The tour was way more commercial, and I only smelled the scotch this round (not adding any hazards to my driving challenge). Plot twist, Justin liked Balvenie better. Knowledge for the win 

Tomorrow takes us west, to the coast (get ready to swoon over those crags)!