At a 5 way crossroads at the centre of the Aberdeenshire village of Oldmeldrum sits Glen Garioch distillery.
And that is exactly where this distillery likes to be, right at the heart of the village. It has been a feature in the village since 1797 after it was founded by two local brothers, John & Alexander Manson. Originally weavers, specialising in the exportation of woollen gloves, they soon became farmers too and with so much local barley at their disposal it was only natural that they became distillers.
Things have moved on a bit since 1797 mind you. The Manson’s family involvement finally ended in 1884 and after changing hands on several occasions it is now owned by the industry giant Beam Suntory (who also own Ardmore, Bowmore and Auchentoshan) but that doesn’t mean that Scotlands most easterly distillery has forgotten it’s roots, as I found out recently after being invited to spend a little time at the distillery.
The ‘Legends of the Garioch’ experience starts at the modern visitor centre before heading out to follow the footsteps of the founding brothers and their descendants. The first stop is for a ‘fly cup’ with a morning dram combined with a buttery and a big dollop of a Glen Garioch infused marmalade, both sourced from local producers.
The tour then follows on with stops at several local points of interest, the Manson brothers original farm, the viewpoint at the Oldmeldrum Quarry (which overlooks the distillery water source) as well as a visit to John Manson’s final resting place at the quiet and tranquil Bourtie Kirk.
Each stop showcases a local sourced product, be it strawberries or sweets, paired with an expression from the Glen Garioch range. Garioch is locally pronounced as ‘Geerie’. The tour actively promotes Doric, with expressions lining the walls of the distillery and even including translation cards so that visitors can learn and appreciate the local dialect.
After one last stop for a comprehensive tour of the distillery itself, our tour concludes at nearby Meldrum House Hotel where drams are served in the Cave Bar alongside a wonderful lunch, again featuring the best that the local region has to offer. I have been sworn to secrecy regarding the lunch so as not to spoil the surprise for others taking the tour.
Find more info on tours of Glen Garioch on their website
**This was an organised Press Trip, however the opinions in the article are mine and neither Beam Suntory, Meldrum House or their associated PR companies have had any input or creative control in this article**
You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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