Billy and Euan did a lovely job with the day's tour. Dalwhinnie was underwhelming but apparently everyone goes there when coming from Edinburgh because it's on the way. In retrospect I might have skipped the stop and tried to spend more time somewhere else?
Not that Dalwhinnie was bad per se, but there's so many choices with more interesting expressions. Tomatin in particular had just won a bunch of awards in San Francisco World Spirits Competition as well as at IWSC, so they clearly warranted a stop. As a distillery whose nearby village used to literally house the distillery employees in the old days-- and the village is still standing-- it was quite cool to see. They may not be the largest, but with a capacity of up to 12 million litres per year (currently about 1 million litres actual production) they were still impressive. Unlike some other distilleries, they got into barrel construction and actually let you get a serious look into some of the warehouses. Add in some barrels with clear tops to let you see the losses due to evaporation (angels' share) and a giant cutaway window into some a milling machine, and it was a level of detail I very much appreciated.
The scotch was pretty good too, with a decent amount of time spent on how to properly appreciate whisky and its legs, nose, palate, and finish. Spent some extra time here sampling Tomatin 14, Cu Bocan Creation #3, and Cu Bocan Creation #4, not just the standard tastings (Cu Bocan, Tomatin 12, Tomatin Legacy). Honestly probably should have tried the 18 too, but as someone is not normally too into peat, the peatiness of the Cu Bocan Creation line was too intriguing to pass up.
Bit of a drive up to Glen Ord after. Another large operation capable of 12 million litres per year, Glen Ord used to produce mostly for export. Their scotch selection was not as interesting to me, but to see the differences (and similarities!) in the production process was still fun. Less of a look at the barrels and whatnot here, but their mash tuns had windows which was kind of cool, and their pot stills were arranged in a very showy row, backlit by massive windows. Sadly the afternoon tour was quite busy and the tasting as a result felt more like a herd of cattle, rather than an appreciative experience.