Paul's personal views on distilleries he has visited - in no particular order ... These are his own very personal views, you may not agree, but, och well, they are his!    MORE TO FOLLOW SOON.

PULTENEY; visited in February 2013, on my trip north - see my report in angels bolg, Paul's trip north in February. Deborah took me on a personally guided tour, gave me all the info and lowdowns, even gave me a cup of tea! I think she felt sorry for me, I was soaking wet and it was snowing outside with real high winds. I even got a lift back to my hotel, fantastic girls here, going back soon.

DALMORE; visited in February 2013, had a great time there. Shelly took me on a private tour, my eye popping experience started as we reached the still room. Every still is a different shape and size, some quite unique! And aye, the stillman who sits in mission control is hilarious, had a great time chatting with him, came away with a wee set of test tube samples, superb!

WOLFBURN; visited in February 2013, same tour as above, a brand new distillery, on a small scale, see write up in Ernie's reports on home page. It sits in Thurso and is now the most northern distillery on the Scottish mainland. Shane showed me around and we had a good chat, see my report in angels bolg, Paul's trip north in February.  All credit to the owners and staff for bringing this distillery alive, its no got a visitor centre, but I was told we could bring wee tours in, excellent!

KNOCKDHU; 9/10 The knock hill is known to locals as anCnoc, this comes from the Gaelic black hill. Transformed by the weather, the heathers and other vegetation appear black due to the natural shadows on the hill. A traditional cast iron mash tun is used in the mashing process although not as efficient as its modern counterparts it is similar to what was first used. I had a really superb tour here with distillery manager Gordon, my guest had 6 drams, myself; driving could only sniff!

OBAN; 7/10 my home town so can I really slam it?  Well no, its a Diageo place, the tour is not brilliant to be honest, it's good, interesting, but I do feel you get a similar tour at many Diageo distilleries.  However, I love the drink, it is on my top ten list of single malts.  Situated within spittin distance of the bay, looking to another favourite of mine, Mull.  Now there's a different distillery; TOBERMORY. 7/10 Very nice location, right next to a pub I like, a small distillery, an island one with a decent tour, I really am no struck on the normal drams, but really do like the special bottle 15 year old. Burn Stewart owned.

BEN RIACH; 9.5/10 one of my favourites on Speyside, a warts an all distillery, doesn't pull punches and not designed for happy tourists on a whisky sightsee. Stewart is the manager and a friend, as a Mull person he is special, we have an understanding we two, both Mull people, though I am no born there, I am a McLean and love the island and people there, I go so many times, its a second home. Anyhow, a closed to the public distillery which I love, we do take tours in here and its well worth it.

GLENFIDDICH; one for the tourists, their general tours are good but a wee bit showreel stuff, a very clean and tidy distillery.  BUT, we normally do the special tours and they are brilliant.  The all day tour of Glenfiddich and Balvenie is just stunning.  Another grand man is Bert, the head guide there, he does a great tour. A good shop and easy to park.  You will see many tourists there and indeed, special tour people coming for the longer, more intense tours.  Good one. 8/10

BOWMORE; another clean and tidy place, I do like this one, a superb tasting room looking over the water, great staff and a good taste at the end.  hand turned barley floor, one of the few. Liz and myself stayed here and loved it, to wake up to the smells waftin in through the windows is outstanding! 8/10

GLENLIVET; what can I say about this one; been here so often and now its been enlarged, they get even more tourists.  Both good for tourists and whisky lovers. Some good displays here, great shop, good food and drinks.  I am a Guardian here and have my key for upstairs, which I do use. I also took a 3 day whisky course here with Iain, that was excellent and I learned a lot.  Ok bit touristy but its worth a tour here. 8/10

ROYAL LOCHNAGAR; another Diageo, this is one I like a lot.  Its near the German Queen's place I know, but, well, if you can sidetrack that castle and just go to the distillery, great! Its got a good tour, a nice shop, a very good tasting room and the tour is different from other Diageo's, its no computer run, that's the thing I like and that's what makes it different and likable to me. 8/10

GLENGLASSAUGH; a one off privately owned distillery, Stuart and Ronnie have shown me around here, its a grand distillery, on the up regarding the whisky and very progressive. Casks for sale, small but good shop and tours are very good and informative, love it! 9/10

ARDBEG; Another very tidy distillery, spick and span, very clean and sharp, good shop and restaurant. Good tour and I love the produce from here.  I would say one of the more remote of the Islay distilleries, along the road to Kildalton Kirk.  On a nice summers day its spectacular. 7/10

TOMATIN; a highland distillery no far south from Inverness on the main A9. A very different one to visit, great shop, friendly staff and a very good tour. Have been here a few times and each time I see something different. Its a wee bit of a sprawling place and aye, you can see the guys working here rolling casks and moving them about, it makes for a more interesting visit to see something different. 7/10

ABERFELDY; also known as Dewar's world of whisky. Another local distillery to me, I like this one a lot, superb staff, a good movie to start, a museum then the tour. The extra long tours are excellent. Lovely setting and very scenic, we have lots of tours here pose for photos in and outside, its a favourite. 7/10

EDRADOUR; the sign says "the smallest distillery in Scotland", well, sorry Andrew (in the picture, the owner) no any more you're not. It is a very scenic distillery up in the hills above Pitlochry, good 40 minute tour, lots of different whiskies in the good shop. Staff are good, I have my own favourites of course. Andrew has plans and there are lots of things happening here, new warehouse, his own bottling plant, its a good one to see. 8/10

GLEN GARIOCH; pronounced Glen Gare - ree, a different one to visit, the staff are superb and friendly (I got a nice cup of tea while my group went round, a chat and many smiles). Still with many features other distilleries have lost, its a hands on tour, not at all touristy, which is one reason why I like it. far out though, near Old Meldrum near Aberdeen.  7/10

HIGHLAND PARK is one of only a few distilleries where they turn the malt by hand. 20% of this malt comes from Orkney. Its a great wee place a very good visit, good shop and staff, I do like to tour this one, no matter how often I go, mainly I must say with tour groups and no so many whisky experts on tour.  I like the drams they make, I have the latest St Magnus - its stunning. 8/10.  MORE

BLAIR ATHOLL is one of Diageo's distilleries, also known as Bells. Located in Pitlochry main street, easy to find and park, a decent tour, but we always try for the special tours, as we have more dedicated whisky lovers here than tourists on our own mcleanscotland tours.  Good shop, museum of sorts and on the level, which helps some old fogies like myself! 6/10

BRUICHLADDICH Two whiskies are made here, with the water comes from the hills behind the distillery - the Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte bottles. I did like the place, another to definitely visit, its a small concern and not multi ownership type or part of a crowd, that's why I like it.  Staff are brilliant, great shop - grand T shirts and the whisky is excellent. 8/10  My only downer; they send out too many whiskies each year, too many bottles to choose from.

BUNNAHABHAIN "Mouth of the river" in Gaelic, or as Liz and myself like to say - bunny heaven.  On a cold and wet day here we strayed into this distillery, we both said at the same time "it looks like a prison", well with the courtyard high walls with bars on them, it did remind us of prison - now there's a story waiting to get out! Liz's favourite distillery and dram from Islay (she has trouble with the Gaelic, so calls it bunny heaven), so that's worth the trip then, she is so demanding. 8/10 Recently returned (Sept 2012) with a group tour, boy were we treated well! great seafood and deserts, drams and wine, on that rainy day visit I gave it 10/10

CAOL ILA; whisky is good, another Diageo, it will be closed from June 2011 for refurb and increasing the size of output, for 6 months. Visited and had a good tour, large as you would expect, nice staff. Far end of the isle near the ferry at Port Askaig, now there's a strange place if ever there was one, step back in time, we were looking for Dr Who when there. 6/10

ST MAGDALENE, LITTLEMILL & ROSEBANK have strayed to all of these closed or "gone" distilleries with my friend Tim, from Moscow. He is a whisky fiend and likes to see where distilleries "were", so we drove around car parks, housing complexes and canals looking and taking pictures. A real whisky man!

BEN NEVIS have been here a few times with tourists mainly, though a few good experts along the way have been with us. Set on the side of Fort William under the mountain of the same name, big hairy coos in the paddock to pat before taking the tour. Again, the longer more in depth is the best here, but good. A good stop when touring along the great glen. 6/10

DUNCAN TAYLOR; SHOP have been here so many times now, I never get tired of doing so, a superb shop with everything you need for a good whisky, bottles from around the world, fill your own from the cask, presents and gifts all catered for, superb staff who know everything they have and happy to give suggestions and info on any bottle, miniature or full size, great! 10/10

LAGAVULIN; Diageo owned, in my own view the best thing about this one is where it is, locked between Ardbeg and Laphroaig, superb views out to sea, whitewashed building as you may expect. Well, maybe one more thing good, I like the whisky! Nice taste room 8/10. Revisited Sept 2012, ok tour, one measly dram at the end.

AUCHENTOSHAN the closest distillery to Glasgow, on the Dumbarton road, a nice tour to be had here, my favourite dram is the 18 year old, or 3 woods. Good shop, relaxing and tours. The only Scottish distillery to triple distil, go and see why they do it is my suggestion. 7/10

DALWHINNIE the highest above sea level in Scotland, at the end of the Loch Laggan road where it meets the A9 going to Inverness. A Diageo one again, so you do tend to get the same patter and jokes from the guides as many others in their stable, a shame. Decent shop and good tour here. 6/10 Try the taster drams platters.

GLENROTHES another December visit in that heavy snow. Again we were the only mad fools to be there but we had a good nosey around the place, its big! very scenic in the summer.  Go see out trip on this page. Rothes has a few other distilleries, we went to see where Cappaerdonich used to be, just a pile of rubble when we were there, a shame. 7/10

JACK DANIELS did a tour here a few years back, was most surprised you cannee have a nip in here, how the hell can you make whiskey in a dry county? But they do! A decent enough tour and a huge shop, a store more like, but no drinks. I told them what I thought of that, nicely, and said its no the way we do it at home, fell on deaf ears. Not keen on their drams though 6/10

DALLAS DHU  The distillery closed in 1983 and today is owned and run as a visitor whisky museum by Historic Scotland. A state owned distillery! Aye its a museum and in my view, worth a visit, no whisky is produced, its now closed for that, but a good trip and a shop. 6/10

FAMOUS GROUSE; otherwise known as Glenturret. A good tourist tour available here, a wee bit too Disney for me, to much jumpin on floors, bangin casks etc but saying that, the scratch and sniff card is a great idea. Very good restaurant here, good bar and shop. We do take tours here but no so much the hard core whisky lovers as general tourists. 7/10  I would say this is a distillery with maybe more photos taken of the big bird than any other?

LOCH LOMOND; a closed to the public distillery, when I took a tour here I was flabergasted, a malt distillery with grain right next door, under the same roof! Gavin Durnin (Sales Director) took us around this distillery, the stills use towers/columns for 4 stills and is really unusual, the SWA call them Lomond towers but we were assured they are not. A really good tour here of everywhere, distillery, cooperage, warehouse etc with a cup of tea!!!

GLENMORANGIE; far north but worth the trip, its a nice tour they do and a good taste, with options for extra tastings.  Decent distillery tour and a nice location, good views here in the land of the Picts.  Been here many times as its a well known dram and the tourists (how I make my living) like to see it. 7/10 Easy to get to from Inverness and there are many more distilleries on this route.

Glendronach. a wee bit out of the way, but well worth the trip, its a good range of tours available here, good shop and taste at the end. Have friends working for this company and we get updates on new bottlings etc. I must say they do a grand dram specially the 18 year old, not often I get my hands on an 18 year old!

Springbank. a great tour had here, excellent staff, very interesting tour and boy what a tasting session afterwards at Cadenhead! As we left the distillery happy we arrived into the tasting room andhad an even better time here, and some good shopping time well spent.

Wolfburn - Thurso, Scottish Highalnds. Great wee distillery, arrived in my battered car - a write off, came off the road in deep snow blizzard and packed ice, en route to Wick, but thats another story!

Strathearn A tiny micro distillery near Perth. It would fit in your front room! Had a great first, second and third visit here, also a good wee interview to read.

 

ABERLOUR; another favourite of mine, nicely located and only a couple of tours per day, but they last, they are good and great drams afterwards! Small shop but good things inside.  Staff are good too. For people looking for something to do before or after this tour, try the church over the road, a piece of history, extensive graveyard and the river at the bottom of the hill.  There is also a woodland walk at the side of the distillery. 9/10

TOMINTOUL; on the Glenlivet estate, a rare find and a great tour we had by Manager Tom. Unusual as the stills are exact copies of eachother, cannee mind another distillery like this. A rare old dram they produce also, well a few actually. Owned by Angus Dundee Distillers, this was a pleasure to see and am very grateful to Tom. Our tour was in the close down time, there were wee lids here and there, maintenance going on, but this just made it a better tour. Not only that it was very educational by Tom and we soaked it in, can I just add; the drams were perfect! Specially the Ballantruan. 9/10.

GLENGOYNE; no far from Glasgow, a good tour here, nice distillery, weird; car park is in the lowlands, while distillery is in the highlands!  From April 2011 the shop has been made and larger, you can buy a cask here and some of our clients have done.  Its a nice place to visit and tour, good for both whisky tourists and whisky freaks! Buy a cask! 8/10 The staff are great, shop is still underway, wait for it!

CARDHU; another Diageo, this one I like, a wee bit out of the way but worth the drive from Dufftown or Craigellachie.  Good shop and I enjoy the tour here, its just a wee bit different for a Diageo, take my advice, do your best to visit. 8/10

GLENFARCLAS;   I love coming here, great tour, super friendly staff and a superb location. Good shop and even better tasting room, some of their drams are on the 9/10 level - what more can I say?  Go see it.  9/10 for the tour and shop. The older the dram here, the better, try the 105 range. Almost got stuck in snow here in December, hmmm...

BENROMACH; a really nice tour here, not the biggest or most well known, but a great wee place and a great tour to be had, I like this one a lot, good shop too, friendly staff and an all round good visit. No far from Elgin and on the way to Speyside, I do encourage you all to try this one. 8/10

JAMESONS IRELAND; Dublin, very touristy and smart, you get a grand selection of drams after your tour, a good distillery tour is given here. You can also get special tours, which I have taken, they are what's worth going here for, they are superb and the staff, as you would expect in Dublin, are hilarious. 9/10

MIDLETON; Midleton near Cork; Jamesons. A really good tour taken here, although wee bit disappointed that we only saw the museum side of things, no catual distilling seen. Though there is a great deal to see including the huge pot still!  8/10

TULLAMORE; another museum, but had a very good VIP tour with drams, the new place is really grand, plans afoot to build a distillery on site, so far, just museum and visitor centre. 9/10 for the museum.

SLANE CASTLE; aye, went here also, good tour of the castle, sampled drams! They are planning to build their own distillery on site, cannee wait, due to being let down by Cooley, as were others.

 

BUSHMILLS IRELAND; Bushmills near Coleraine. Niall took us around this distillery on a private tour, both Liz and myself were impressed with this tour, the distillery and staff as a whole. They are really impressive, an excellent tasting room, food and drink and grand shop, we didnee want to leave actually, many thanks to Niall for arranging this private tour "at the drop of a hat". 8.5/10 Its now Diageo.

COOLEY'S - visit here in July 2011, a closed to the public distillery as yet, though plans are in hand to "open" it up. They make single malt, blends and grain here! Its a grand tour I had with Raymond, who has been there over 20 years, and it shows. No a pretty distillery but thats ok, its what I like to see; a real working distillery for the product, no for the tourist, a really good day and drams; tasted approx 7 drams at the pub, och aye, Eddie gave us a bottle each to take away, good man so he is! 10/10

KILBEGGAN - a visit here in July 2011 - what can I say? Ive never been to a distillery like this ever! The museum was excellent, seeing old cog wheels turning, throwing water along, so much history here, its a superb tour. Then to the "new" bit where they actually make the stuff, a good tour again and boy, what a small still.  I am taking tours again to both of these distilleries next year and cannee wait to go back, loved both of them and I urge you to sample their award winning whiskey's. 10/10

STRATHISLA; ahhh!  This one is the one I think is the poshest, its like a 5 star hotel inside, the waiting lounge where you have a dram is so comfy, the tour is excellent, the end library room for another dram is comfy too, the shop is good, toilets clean and outside it is a picture, complete with water wheel. A favourite with tourists and whisky lovers who take the extended tour, I have been here so many times, never get tired of it. 8/10

GLEN MORAY; pronounced Murray. Good shop, good food and refreshments, excellent tour. Arranged a tour here specially at 8am for a guest, extensive tour with the manager and many drams.  I like this place, near Elgin and easy to get to beyond all the houses that surround it.  My suggestion; go see for yourself. The product is no bad either! 8/10

THE SPEYSIDE COOPERAGE;  not a distillery, but so closely related, cannee have whisky without a cask! I have been so many times and still find it interesting, to see the coopers making and repairing casks is unbelievable and well worth stopping at on any whisky tour.  10/10

DAFT MILL DISTILLERY is housed in restored stone farm buildings and has been traditionally designed. The distillery uses home grown barley of the highest quality, nothing is wasted in the process as spent grains, “draff”, is fed to cattle on the farm, effluent produced is used as a fertiliser and hot water is pumped into the farm’s duck pond, which ensures that the surface does not freeze over during the winter. I love this place, its wee and Francis does a superb tour. 10/10

LAPHROAIG; another clean and tidy place, love the entrance the first thing you see is comfy couches! A good museum/guide is here to wander around, a great distillery tour and dram with great staff, what more could you want?  Down in the south near Ardbeg this one. Thats Liz behind the counter, I still couldnee get freebies!  I did like this, the tours, the drinks, the staff and the place 8/10

JURA; the stills are very tall and it is a much lighter alcohol which goes over the top creating a lighter whisky, a long way to go to get there and a most expensive wee ferry - £18 return trip for our car! Something needs done about that. saying that, I do like all their drams and a decent distillery.  Just a shame about the ferry, all the people of Jura are nice, wonder what they think? Willie gave a superb tasting session 9/10

KILCHOMAN; Distillery, what can I say without being rude?  I didn't like it, or the staff, or the place - in the middle of a stables and a farm. Gift shop is really a craft shop and, to end the misery, I don't like the whisky.  Liz and myself where there at least ten minutes before anyone spoke to us! Even then getting a smile was like pullin teeth. The newcomer to Islay has a lot to do. Our Canadian group owns a cask here, they were not even allowed to see it, even with months prior warning!!! 3/10

GLENKINCHIE; Pentcaitland, in East Lothian, a Lowland distillery again a Diageo one. South of Edinburgh, it does tend to get more tourist visitors than experts, but its always good to see the lowlands. A good tour and visitor centre, friendly helpful staff. 6/10

 

 

DEANSTON; Near Doune, I like this one, no computers, nice friendly staff, good tour, nice location, nice building too, once a cotton mill, owned by Burn Stewart. Its near Doune castle, where Monty Python filmed, so you would expect lots of tourists, no not really, I would say its a hidden gem. 7/10 Just been again' 112.12.12 a new visitor centre, see our blog for report

 

ARRAN distillery. och we picked the wrong day to go, road was being repaired which left us a shorter visit, however a very nice locations, very scenic. Nice compact distillery ideal for tourists but power whisky people may need the VIP tour which we had no time for. John took us aboot and he was good, a stillman with enthusiasm. Well worth a visit if over there.

ISLAY FERRY, KENNACRAIG  I thought I would just let you know about  this ferry. No shop, no food and drink apart from a machine and really, you need either sit in the car or wander about taking in the views, which on a good day are great! Come on Calmac, get real put in a decent waiting room like Oban has

CLYNELISH; visited in February 2013, on my trip north - see my report in angels bolg, Paul's trip north in February. Claire guided me and chatted on all aspects of tours etc, on my next visit with a group, we can book in and also visit the Brora distillery, many thanks Claire. A very scenic location up there in Brora, we take tours up here to visit many distilleries.

Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Maybe a bit biased here being a McLean, it's my island after all! Taken this tour several times, always good, much depends on who else is on the tour - same with every distillery really. Small one this but nevertheless a good one. I find the 10 year old Tob quite ordinary really, love the 15 year old though and I do like the Ledaig (lee chig).Apart from that, its a grand location and right next to a great pub, owned by Neil of Isle of Mull Blended Whisky fame, go in for some grub and a dram! I keep saying its great and they have great shop, but I never get a polo shirt handed to me, typical Maclean's

TALISKER Distillery, Carbost, Skye. At the moment, the only one on the island, though plans are afoot for one near Sleat. Diageo strikes again, but I do like this one, perfect location and a decent tour. Robert Louis Stevenson regarded Talisker as 'the king of drinks'. er aye well, wouldnee go that far Rabbie, but its a good dram right enough, worth the trek to visit. 7/10

MACALLAN Distillery, near Craigellachie. Big, big place with new warehousing recently come online. A good tour here, small shop, no food/drinks. My suggestion is, go visit, do the tour then go into Craigellachie for some food at the Highlander Inn. 7/10

GLEN GRANT I like this one, huge still outside, great shop, nice layout, big stills, warehouse is good, a great tour we had, Tim and myself were there in December 2010, in heavy snow as you can see, we were the only two people mad enough to be there, apart from the two workers, one of whom showed us around, an extra special tour we really appreciated. I have been here in summer, somehow, even the garden didnee make it better than this December visit. 8/10

DUFFTOWN Aye, been in here too, a huge place run by two guys. Diageo of course and closed to the public. Tim and myself had a tour here one evening, its not in the slightest bit neat and tidy, its a working distillery not meant to be taken on a tour, but we did. It was really interesting, we had a great tour many thanks to the lads there, thanks! 8/10

CRAGGANMORE Ballindalloch, another Diageo, a strange one this, spread out and much walking to do, up a wee road and through the village, the shop is ok as is the tour. The Single Malt is the most complex of the Speyside Malts. It is in limited supply as it is one of Speyside's smaller distilleries It's unique flat topped spirit stills and traditional wooden worm-tubs, shows off Cragganmore's complexity. A really nice wee lass named Claire took us around, her family are all whisky workers going back to her great grand dad. 7/10

TULLIBARDINE; Another private distillery, excellent drams and they try hard to produce many options and expressions. Good for a tour, even better for the longer more in depth tours.  Not far from where I live, maybe the closest, 20 minutes away. Good shop and sells more than drams.  Baxters is next door who sell hundreds of different whiskies and I have been known to wander in here between tours. Tullibardine is happily sponsoring one of our curling events in 2011, so plenty of people from around the world will get a chance to visit and taste. 8/10

Paul; "I have been to several other distilleries with groups etc, but I do not tour every one, sometimes hangin aboot outside keeping my driver company. Next time I shall go in and do my report.