Visiting Glenkinchie Distillery

Team training here at the Scotch Whisky Experience wouldn’t be complete without a distillery visit. We’re lucky enough to have Diageo’s Glenkinchie distillery less than an hour from Edinburgh city centre, and we asked Senior Visitor Assistant Ian Clement to talk us through our most recent visit, earlier this summer.

Entrance sign for Glenkinchie distillery

“For any Scotch whisky fan visiting Scotland for the first time, visiting a distillery is a “must do” on the list. Thankfully, here in Edinburgh, there is one that is very close by and that is of course, Glenkinchie.

Glenkinchie is name that is very familiar with a lot of people, thanks to it being one of Diageo’s original “Classic Six” malts and it represents one of the best examples of a Lowland whisky. It’s also easy to get to by car or by a shuttle bus that leaves from the centre of Edinburgh, provided by the distillery and included in the tour ticket price. The journey takes around 40 minutes.

Once you arrive, you are greeted by a pretty and picturesque scene: it’s safe to say that Glenkinchie is a beautiful and quaint looking distillery and it sets the scene for the rest of the tour.

Picturesque - Glenkinchie distillery is in a beautiful spot

To start, you have roughly 20 minutes in the museum before you spend some time going through the production areas of the distillery itself. The museum itself is very impressive as it has an example of an illicit still, a replica still safe for you to play around with and large scale model of the distillery, going through all the different production stages that help to make single malt Scotch whisky. There’s also a variety of displays and videos that introduce you to the rest of the full Classic Malt collection.

You are then met with your guide who then spends the next half an hour guiding you through the distillery itself and explaining in depth into how Glenkinchie is made. We started off , of course, with the malting and where the distillery’s malted barley comes from. In the past, like most distilleries Glenkinchie had their own floor maltings but that is no longer the case (in fact, their old floor maltings are now the museum where we started our tour). We were given a nosing glass with some of the malted barley that is used at Glenkinchie to smell and another nosing glass with malted barley from Lagavulin (another classic malt from Islay which is of course, heavily peated) to compare the aromas.  Straight away, there is a noticeable difference and it was interesting to see how the peating of the barley has an impact on the final flavour of the whisky.

You then move on to the processes of milling, mashing and fermentation whilst being shown Glenkinchie’s Lauter mash tuns and wooden washbacks. The most impressive part of the tour though is certainly Glenkinchie’s two copper pot stills which just happen to be the biggest on mainland Scotland, and which stand out as a highlight of the tour. After that it was time for a quick view of their earth floor dunnage warehouse before sampling some of the final product, Glenkinchie 12 years old, at the bar, alongside many other whiskies from Diageo’s distilleries for comparison.

Team photo

Glenkinchie offers a fantastic tour for any whisky aficionado but it also caters towards any amateurs who wish to know more about Scotch whisky. Even if you are simply visiting a distillery because it ticks off something on your “to do” list when in Scotland, you might come out enjoying Scotch whisky more than you thought you would, which is something everyone here at the Scotch Whisky Experience loves to see!”

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Find out more about the Classic Malts selection, and about booking a distillery tour at Glenkinchie here.

Only in the city for a short break? Come and find us at the Scotch Whisky Experience! Take a whisky tour here in Edinburgh and explore the different whisky producing regions of Scotland from the comfort of our central location.

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