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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

IV30 8SJ, Elgin


Stewart, in the warehouse where Ben Riach's whiskeys are aged

Stewart, in the warehouse where BenRiach's whiskeys are aged

Dear ——–,

Bryan really wanted to visit a Scotch whiskey distillery; I was just going along. But it turned out to be totally fascinating. Leah (she of the aviation cocktail post) hooked us up with a private tour of the BenRiach Distillery, near the town of Elgin. Bryan prefers the cleaner Speyside malts, rather than the salty, smoky, peaty whiskeys of the western islands. Stewart at BenRiach obligingly took us around, dipping buckets into mash tuns to let us taste the warm barley fermenting in sugar water and showing us the copper stills where the alcohol is evaporated and condensed again. (Apparently, the copper leaches out some of the toxins in the fermented barley mixture. That made me think of the copper bracelets that some people wear. Same effect?) He even took us to the warehouse where they’re experimenting with aging the whiskey in a variety of barrels that used to hold other alcohols (madeira, port, Jack Daniels, etc.). He popped open the cork on an old bourbon barrel, drew us a dram of well-aged scotch and offered us a taste in a wee glass. Very smooth. Even I thought it was delicious.


Author: postmarkhere

I'm a journalist based in Los Angeles who has always said that writing postcards for a living would be a dream job. The posts -- short enough to fit on an actual postcard -- chronicle recent travels near and far. I could blab on about being inspired by epistolary novels, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" pieces, but I'll just say that I'm aiming to give you a sense of flavor of a place without boring you to death. Wish you were here!

2 thoughts on “IV30 8SJ, Elgin

  1. I’m so glad you had fun! I’ve still never been to a whisky distillery, but it sounds as interesting as I’d imagine. I love those barrel tastings.

  2. BenRiach really had a fun, young energy to it. maybe that was just Stewart, the manager. or maybe it was just contrasted against a different “vibe” at GlenDronach. in any case, we were really happy to take a smaller private tour that was a bit unstructured. a lot of the bigger, better known distilleries have these big deal tours that cost $ and you go around in big groups. it was great to ask all kinds of dumb questions in a private group.

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