Our brand new experience ‘Tasting Tales’ has launched and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Our Senior Guide, Peter has written up a few words to let you know all about the experience and how the idea came about!
It has been an exciting year for The Scotch Whisky Experience for many reasons, but one of the most obvious is the building itself. The long-term plan for it’s renovation has now been completed with the opening of several function spaces below our Amber Restaurant. Most excitingly for us on the guiding team is the new, splendidly furnished Stillhouse Suite. Perfect for intimate groups, this beautiful room, somewhere between a Victorian parlour and a Highland lodge, is now ready for guests to enjoy.
When you get a job at The Scotch Whisky Experience, within the first month of your employment you are invited to take part in The Scotch Whisky Training School, a day-long industry-accredited training course in the sales and expertise of Scotch whisky. It is one of the most fondly remembered training days for most. Indeed, for many of us, it was our first proper insight into the world of whisky production, tasting, marketing, and history. It represents the combined knowledge, expertise, and experience we offer as an attraction in one hefty bill; from that day’s itinerary, all of our other tour experiences are in some way derived.
Therefore, it made sense to think back to Whisky School when creating a brand new tour experience, to be housed in the new Stillhouse Suite. What had we enjoyed there that our other tour experiences did not specifically focus on? Two things in particular stood out: history, and food.
Scotch whisky is truly blessed with an incredible story, from the large, all-encompassing movements of industrial triumph and decline, to the personal, fascinating, and bizarre titbits of history that each individual distillery can boast as it’s heritage. This is a country of great storytellers, with a wealth of great tales. Spend time with a dram at any one of our bars, and you might hear a few of them. However, there was no one tour experience dedicated to this vocation, and so it made sense to put our new, cosy venue to good use. Taking cues from our training, and conducting some of our own new research, we set about developing the template for a new storytelling experience.
The other theme that was chosen for this new experience is that of food-pairing. For the staff here, one of the most memorable moments of Whisky School was at the climax of the guided tasting when little wedges of smoked Applewood cheddar were brought out to be paired with an Islay single malt. Indeed, when newbies finish the course, one of the first questions they often get asked is, “what did you think of the cheese?” A good food pairing can uplift the whole experience of drinking whisky, highlighting the flavours of both individually, or combining the two into something brand new. Scotland’s rich produce, from smoked salmon to dark chocolate, have their own fascinating heritages. All these aspects joined together and Tasting Tales was created: an intimate surrounding, a raconteur, and a selection of fine Scottish morsels paired with fine malt Scotch whisky.
To tell the truth, we on the guiding team are genuinely very excited for this new tour. All of us at some point have done this kind of thing in our own homes, for our friends, because it’s a fantastic way to ease otherwise cautious drinkers into the world of Scotch whisky. Some of us on the team are avid foodies. Indeed, two of us (myself included), are history graduates, so having the opportunity to put our own passions into this experience has been deeply rewarding.
The training has been in both parts rewarding and pleasurable. Part of the challenge has been the historical research, the reading, and the remembering, and then in another way, it’s been a challenge not to end up talking for three hours about all we’ve learnt. The Scotch whisky industry is brimming with intriguing stories, and the difficulty is often not letting yourself follow the yarn all the way to Islay itself. But, having done some pilot sessions now, we are incredibly happy with how it’s all come together, and we look forward to sharing whisky and words with those of you who come to visit us.
You can book onto Tasting Tales now – each one-hour session will include four single malt Scotch whisky drams. Alongside these exquisite whiskies you will receive beautifully prepared food tasters. Chosen specifically from Scotland’s rich and diverse larder, each food match will complement and enhance the different malts. If that wasn’t enough, our highly trained and knowledgeable team will tell you tales from the distilleries as well as more about the Scotch whisky culture as a whole. You can take this time to ask any Scotch related questions that have been on your mind or learn a little more about the specific whiskies.
Tasting Tales runs Friday to Sunday at 2.30pm & 4.30pm.
Scotch whisky, food and storytelling – the perfect blend!