Over the Hills and Through the Woods to Glenkinchie Distillery

by Keith Savage · 10 comments


Glenkinchie Distillery

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Follow the trail until you come to a road, then look for a tall chimney. These were the instructions Alistair, an ex-Royal Navy submariner, gave me as we parted ways at the old railway path on the outskirts of Pencaitland. I trudged down the muddy trail, keeping my head bent into the erratic winds and brief, icy showers and wondered when I’d see a road. The things I do for whisky.

He must have felt sorry for me.

Earlier, in the small town of Pencaitland, I had asked the bus driver if it was the right stop for Glenkinchie Distillery, uncertainty plain in my voice. Alistair, then an unknown senior stepping off the bus, shared a gap-toothed grin with me, proclaimed his “local” status, and offered to show me a shortcut to the distillery. I had been planning to take a taxi, but you don’t turn down offered help – especially from a friendly local. A taxi would cost me £15-20, he said, and by his logic that made Britain the worst country in the world. I’m an agreeable lad so I hopped off the bus and hurried to keep pace with Alistair’s jaunty gait.

Whisky? No no, Alistair was more of a rum man. Caught a taste for the stuff in the ports of the world: Samoa, the Philippines, Australia. Once he’d gotten lost in Hawaii until some American servicemen helped him back to his sub. Rum. I shivered, mostly because I detest rum but also because the weather, the old seadog exclaimed, was positively Baltic. It was a term I’d hear repeatedly on my three weeks in Edinburgh, and it was accurate. Today especially.

Alistair pointed out his home and deflected my exhortations that he go there as we continued off road to an elevated path. The old railway. Follow the path until you come to a road, then look for a tall chimney. When you’re done, come back the same way and you’ll be fine. He shook my hand, waved, and turned his silver head back the way we’d come. The directions were noticeably lacking in distances. I hurried down the path fearing the cost of the taxi ride might have been justified.

Will I find the distillery? Go to the next page!

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PatriciaNo Gravatar April 18, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Great post. My boyfriend and I are heading to Edinburgh in a month and trying to decide if we should include Glenkinchie.

You gave some directions for walking there, but were those from the station? If not, could you tell us the shortcut from that starting point? Thanks for the help!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 18, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I think it’s a worthy stop as a day-trip. Take the bus from Princes Street in Edinburgh to Pencaitland. Check the times though, since that bus might not run very frequently/every day. I got in the center of Pencaitland, which was just a minor crossroads. I asked the bus driver how to get to the distillery and a nice old guy on the bus offered to show me the way. Stroke of luck really.

He took me about a mile to an old railroad that was now a walking path, but I don’t recall the streets! Here’s what I suggest: email the distillery and ask for walking directions from the center of Pencaitland (they’ll suggest you take a cab but it’s NOT worth it). Failing that, just ask the bus driver when you get off. Or someone on the bus. People are invariably nice and helpful. Good luck!

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Jools StoneNo Gravatar March 29, 2011 at 8:14 PM

I think I can see the rictus grin on those sleet splattered, wind ruddied Wisconsin cheeks from here, cheers!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 30, 2011 at 7:38 AM

I can’t help but grin when in the proximity of a Scottish distillery. 🙂

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PatNo Gravatar March 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed your article, both for the mysterious journey and the knowledge imparted– but mostly for the sumptuous descriptions of each. Thank you! I had to look up dram. Am I right that 8 drams equal an ounce?

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 29, 2011 at 9:01 AM

A dram in terms of whisky is between 25 and 35ml, or .85 to 1.2 oz. Basically, a dram is roughly equal to an ounce.

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EricaNo Gravatar March 29, 2011 at 4:28 AM

I really wish I liked whiskey. 🙁

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 29, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I don’t like whiskey either, but I do love whisky. 😉 A minor, but important, distinction.

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KenNo Gravatar March 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Great post, Keith. So many distilleries and expressions, so little time. Me for cask strength, too. I think I’ll have to try the Glenkinchie tho the cask strength is not available here, sadly.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

The cask strength is only available at the distillery. Apparently they kept aside some of the Distiller’s Edition over the years and decided to do a limited bottling of cask strength whisky. I think they should make it a regular.

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