Interview: Glengoyne Distillery

As March is all about breweries and distilleries in The Year of Food and Drink, who better than the lovely folk at Glengoyne Distillery to talk to us about all things whisky?  Located in idyllic surroundings just 14 miles north of Glasgow, Glengoyne is home to the slowest distillation process in Scotland and is a wonderful place to take a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the production of whisky.

We asked Stuart Hendry, Brand Heritage & Commercial Manager at Glengoyne, about some of the distillery’s most popular tours, the highlights of a visit to Glengoyne and why a distillery tour should be on your list of things to do during a self-catering holiday in Scotland.

Glengoyne is described as ‘a distillery like no other’.  What makes it such a special distillery?

All Scottish distilleries are unique in some way or other.  In Glengoyne’s case, there are several factors that make us stand out.  We distil more slowly than any other; the spirit trickles through our Stills and Spirit Safe.  We don’t boil, we simmer.  The longer the spirit is in contact with hot copper, the sweeter and fruitier it becomes.  We take similar care when it comes to maturation.  For me though, the defining characteristic is the people here.  We are like a community, we all just “get on”.  I believe that a massive part of that is a shared pride in what we do.  It is a wonderful feeling to be quite convinced that nobody does it better.  It puts a spring in our step.

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

What are some of the highlights of a visit to Glengoyne?

We are on a mission to entertain and educate; they go hand in hand.  Fun is great, but we need substance.  Likewise, knowledge is all very well, but people don’t come on holiday to be lectured to!  We have a range of visit options, including a few that you will not find at any other distillery.  We take things a stage further.  Visits range from an informative 45 minute tour to an all day Masterclass.  Regardless of which option people take, the common theme should be enjoyment.  If people leave happy they are far more likely to remember our name the next time they are purchasing Single Malt Whisky.

Richard Grindall said of Glengoyne in The Spirit of Whisky: ‘There can be no better place on earth to sit and take a glass of malt whisky’.  What makes the location so idyllic?

We are rather lucky in this respect.  From my office as I type this I can see Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.  Glengoyne is a classic, whitewashed distillery with a pagoda roof.  It is always well looked after.  In the summer our flowers are a sight to behold.  Glengoyne nestles into the foot of Dumgoyne Hill.  Rainfall on Dumgoyne feeds into the Distillery Burn, which tumbles over a 30 foot waterfall into the distillery.  That is the sight that greets visitors when they arrive for dram at the start of their visit.

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Can you tell us about one of your most popular tours?

We are getting great feedback about our newly launched Malt Master tour.  This is an in depth look at how different casks affect our spirit during maturation.  Guests taste five very different single cask Glengoynes, then use them to create their own recipe full strength Glengoyne 17 Year Old Single Malt, which is bottled for them to take away.  This is a behind-the-scenes, hands-on look at what happens in between distillation and bottling.

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

We are particularly intrigued by your Whisky and Chocolate Matching session!  What can visitors expect from this experience?

Whisky actually goes really well with a whole range of food.  Arguably the two finest things to have with a great Single Malt are mature cheeses and cocoa-rich chocolate.  In this session, we match Glengoyne 15 Year Old and 21 Year Old with four different chocolates created by Nucoco with help from our Distillery Tasting Panel.  The results are amazing.  The equation seems to be Glengoyne + Nucoco = much sipping + nibbling + smiling + nodding.

Glengoyne is located near the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.  Do you have any tips for visitors to the area?

Duncryne Hill, at the village of Gartocharn is well worth a look.  Known locally as the Dumpling, is a tiny hill of less than 500 feet.  However the very short ascent gives a reward out of all proportion to the effort, revealing a fantastic view of Loch Lomond, dotted with its many islands and backed by the great mountains of the Southern Highlands.  The late, great Scottish naturalist and broadcaster Tom Weir climbed it on a daily basis throughout his life.  It will take you 45 minutes up and down, or longer if you linger on top with the Glengoyne bottle you will have purchased from us on the way.

This month is all about breweries and distilleries in Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.  Why should a distillery tour be on visitors’ must-do lists?

Whisky is a wonderful thing.  It is part science, part alchemy.  The history of whisky is deep and wide – all distilleries have their tale to tell.  Go and see a distillery, they are smashing places.

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Photo credit Glengoyne Distillery

Can you describe Glengoyne whisky in three words?

Rich, fruity, complex.


Images courtesy of Glengoyne Distillery ©.  For news and updates from Glengoyne, follow @Glengoyne on Twitter or find Glengoyne on Facebook.

If this interview has inspired you to explore the area, take a look at our accommodation in and around Glasgow.


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