Day Twenty-eight: Whisky and Wandering

Since Irv had had to miss his special tasting out at the Glengoyne Distillery the other day, we decided we would take another stab at it. We had already sussed out how to get out there by bus, so trekked up to Buchanan bus station and hopped on the B10 out to Balfron. It was an interesting trip through part of Glasgow we hadn't seen, and on out into the countryside. At one point I wasn't sure we would make it, because it had rained quite heavily in parts of the city the night before and some of the roads were flooded with at least a foot of water. Not sure how the bus got through without stalling! We passed through some smaller towns and villages - a very beautiful drive of about an hour.

 We arrived at Glengoyne just in time for our 12:00 tour, which started out with a "wee dram" of their 10 year old product. Our lovely guide Niamh (pronounced "Neeve") took us through the stages of whisky-making, from the soaking of the barley, or malting, so that the barley sprouts, which changes the starch into sugar. Next comes the drying of the barley using hot air, followed by the grinding of the grain. The next step is to add water to the ground barley to dissolve the sugars, which is done in a huge vat called a "mash tun". They repeat this three times, then add the yeast to turn the sugar into alcohol. This is followed by the distillation, which is done in huge copper pot stills. The "wort", as it is called at this point, is heated up in a large pot still so that it evaporates the alcohol, which goes into essentially a condensation tube, where it is then piped over to two smaller stills and gets distilled a second time. After the first distillation the alcohol content is 25%, but after the second one it is 75%. It then goes through the whisky "safe" where they check the alcohol content. After that, it is piped (under the road) from the distillery over to the storage facility where it is put into casks. The casks they use are used sherry casks from Spain and some used bourbon casks from the US. It is this aging in these used barrels that gives the whisky its colour and flavour. They have a display of forty bottles, from the first bottle which is the clear liquid that comes from the distillation process, right through to the last caramel coloured bottle, the 40 year old single malt. Each bottle has less and less whisky, due to evaporation in the cask. The evaporated part is called the "angels' share"!! A note of interest - I have been spelling 'whisky' with no 'e' as is proper in Scotland, as opposed to Ireland where it is spelled "whiskEy"!! at the end of the tour, they gave you a wee dram of the 18 year old, which Irv says is pretty heavenly. They give you a choice of having the dram or taking your share in a little bottle, in case you are the DD. Well, I wasn’t driving, but since I am not partial to whisky (heresy, I know, in these parts), I opted for the little bottle, so that Irv could have an extra wee dram!!

 Back on the B10 to return to Glasgow, with a stop for a little treat at a coffee shop in Buchanan Galleries, then a stroll around town to see a little more. Came across a couple more murals - Rogue One's playful kittens on Sauchiehall Street, and the Musician, which he did with Art Pistol. Went back to show Irv the ones in the viaduct under the train station that I had seen on my tour. Fortunately today there was no lorry parked in front, so I got a better shot of them. Then we just wandered admiring all the old buildings here. The only thing is that you have to remember to look UP because the street level are all modern shops with glitzy store fronts. But the upper levels are absolutely stunning and every one is different! I love the juxtaposition of the old with the new here!

 On our wandering, we found a good pub to come back to for dinner, so we headed back tomthe flat to get our stuff organized for our departure early tomorrow. Once we'd done that, we headed back out to the Drum and Monkey and enjoyed our last meal in Scotland. I tried a national dish called Stovies,,which is basically a stew dish, served with oatcakes, which were not my fav.

 Back to the flat for our last sleep in the UK!🙁🙁