whisky

Traveling Savage filling a barrel between two condensers

Delilah was gone. A man came into the office, hoisted her, and carried her off to his truck with a grin on his face. I watched, aghast, as Tony waved him goodbye from the doorway. The truck rumbled over the speed bumps while Delilah sat cold, alone, and forlorn in the pick-up bed, gleaming in the morning February sun. Strathearn didn’t need Delilah anymore, so they sold her.

This is not a tale of human trafficking. I’m referring to Delilah the still, half of a matched pair of 100-liter copper stills. The other half, appropriately named Samson, remained in the stillhouse for small-batch gin runs. We’d be doing one of those today. Read more...

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Tears from copper at Strathearn distillery

Ah, the first day of school. The excitement, the anxiety, the hangover?

Surprisingly, both Jeff and I were fairly chipper as we shuffled out of the apartment on that partly sunny Monday morning and drove toward Strathearn distillery. The Murray was a good friend, though he was half the man he used to be.

The gents at Strathearn were kind to us by providing a late 9:30am start time, and after passing through the town of Crieff and the farms of Perthshire’s bread basket we arrived right on time. The distillery’s HQ… Read more...

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Loch Earn on a February evening

I’ve been to north of 40 distilleries in Scotland and nearly gained a degree in the theory and process behind making single malt Scotch whisky. Perhaps it was inevitable that I would contract an overpowering desire to put that knowledge into practice, to see if I could make whisky like the passionate wonder-workers manning stills across Alba. This past February and March I engineered an opportunity to do just that while working at a distillery for a full week. I had arranged the trip with the Strathearn Distillery guys, who I had met just a few months prior in November, and my good friend Jeff, a purveyor of fine drams who works as a professional brewer here in Madison, Wisconsin. Read more...

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Edradour Distillery, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland

It seems only appropriate that Distillery Month on Traveling Savage was interrupted by a trip to Scotland where I worked at a distillery, but I’m back this week with a distillery that has long been near and dear to my heart: Edradour Distillery. Nestled in the hills of above Pitlochry in Perthshire, Edradour is among the first distilleries I ever visited in Scotland. I was struck then by its beauty, history, and indefatigable adherence to tradition. Places like Benromach, Kilchoman, and Strathearn all provide insight into the old ways of uisge beatha, but perhaps Edradour, as the smallest traditional farm distillery in Scotland, combines the various processes and stories of yesteryear into the most attractive and approachable package. Read more...

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Whisky School at Strathearn Distillery, Perthshire, Scotland

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley. So spaketh Robert Burns, and the words are as true today as they were in 1785 when he wrote them. I had intended to write a dispatch from Comrie last week, in the middle of my stint at the Strathearn Distillery whisky school, but I had not anticipated the intensity of the experience nor the frequency with which drinks were consumed in the evenings. One might say I had forgotten what a bro trip was like — the last one was my first trip to Europe back in 2003 — and I hope you will forgive my absence here last week. In my defense, I was active most days on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’re curious what the trip was like in photos, check out those streams. Read more...

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