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January 2016
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The Speyside, on the road of whiskey ...

The Balvenie, Speyside. Une Balade dans la campagne Ecossaise PLUME VOYAGE janvier 2016. @plumevoyagemagazine © DR

This northern region is to Scotland what’s Bordeaux is to France: the “Golden Rectangle”, of whiskey here. With nearly 60 distilleries in less than 60 km2, here is what to perfect your culture and variety. Because according to the type of houses and selected casks, the “eau-de-vie de château” has different characteristics and this is what makes the exercise fascinating. A tip though: the country has undertaken a policy of struggle against severe alcoholism therefore not to take risks on the road, two visits may be enough. Start in the morning with a prestigious house like The Balvenie, located in Dufftown, then finish after lunch by a more confidential distillery, as Benromach, at the north end and less than ten minutes of your next hotel night.
The Balvenie – same house than Glenfiddich but with a production of single malts reduced by half – is interesting for several reasons: it is one of the 10 distilleries producing malt using traditional methods and it is especially the only one to have its own cooperage. With 7 full-time coopers, 16 barrels are coming out every day, with two typical characteristics: US drums (wood that comes from Kentucky), whiskeys that give a golden color and vanilla aromas; Spanish drums, causing more mahogany tones and fruity notes. A famous cellar master throughout Scotland, with 57 years of housing: David Steward. The bottle to bring back? 21 years old PortWood Finish.

Benromach … we must go back on the north coast to find the smallest Speyside distillery. After the village of Forres, whose sublime stone houses are among the best preserved of Scotland. Closed for 15 years, this house repurchased in 1993 has been producing a fine collection of single malts, cold unfiltered and without caramel. The classic: the 10 years-old, herbaceous and fruity. The bottle to bring back? The Peat Smoke which, as its name suggests, offers a version of peat (perfect as a liqueur).

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