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Glenmorangie NAS Artisan Cask(46%,OB)
Yellow. light clear.  Slow legs, very flowrish.  Venella.  A little bit fruit.  Robust.  Woddy.  Young.  very balance.  light body.  finish short.  Score: 84.

Tullibardine 1988 (46%, OB, miniature)
Yellow brown.  Nutty Grass.  Mild but robust in month.  Flowrish.  very woody.  Dry finish.  Score: 74.

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Taste some of the new Bruichladdich bottles and working process samples at the cognac house.

Bruichladdich Rock NAS (46%, OB, Banyus Finish)
This is an Banyus Cask(Grenache).finish.  Created to go with rocks(ice) for the young generation.  I didn't have ice cube in the shop.  But we use a little bit ice water and yes taste better.  Reminds me 20yo 2en Edition immediately.  Quite sweet ann easy.  Finish long.  Score: 80

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July 19, 2005  Edinburgh

Our original plan was to go our as early as we can.  But it seems everybody was quite tired, we didn’t get out until 10:30.  We took the sightseeing bus around the city and left at the Edinburgh Castle before noon for the 1 o’clock canon firing.  It is said to be a tradition for the sailors to check the time.  Edinburgh Castle is full of tourists.  We looks around for a while, the kids are happy but do not really interested at the museum inside. 

 

 

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Left this small quiet town.  Not too far away is the Scotland’s highest distillery, Dalwhinnie.  Right entering the distillery, my wife asked me what’s for the two large oak cask outside the still house.  It looks very similar like the mash tun but it can’t be.  I have a guess of some water tank.  Close, but wrong, it’s actually the worm tub again, acting as a condenser.  Our guide showed us through the distillery quick, but quite covers all the question.  I was very stupid to asked the question when I found they are using liquid yeast like Glenfiddich.  I asked why are they choose liquid yeast when most distillery use powder forms.  The guide answered interesting: they choose liquid because they found it’s performs better, and NO most distilleries use liquid because all Diageo distilleries use liquid.  How stupid I am!  And I found out most of the distilleries I visited are not under Diageo, that the reason.  Because Diageo is too big and do not really promote their single malt distilleries.  I was also very surprise to learn that Dalwhinnie only has one set of stills.  The guide also mentioned that when encountered the high temperature like last week., the worm tub does not works very well, they have to slow down the distilling process and kept pumping water inside the worm tub.  But generally speaking, it works well most of the time as being the highest distillery in Scotland, the temperature is quite low most of the time.  I personally not quite convince about the statement.  I think it would be interesting to compare the summer spirit to winter one, but could never being able to find the answer.  Another interesting finding: there is a Classical Mat map put on the wall of the warehouse we visited at the end.  The Dalwhinnie bottle on it is the Centenary bottling (1983/1998), I later found from it cost 300 pounds!  The free dram:

 

 

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It is finally time to head south.  Since we have nothing to do for Sunday morning.  We let the children play at the nearby grass ground for a while, a lovely sunny day.  We stopped by the Ballindalloch Castle on the way to Glenlivet.  Ballindalloch Castle has been one the TV for several times.  It’s more like a big mention and I must say they are very rich.  The kids actually like their fancy toy truck better then the tour in the house. 

 

We stopped at the beautiful Livet side to take some pictures about an old bridge.  The Glenlivet does not open until 11:00 on Sunday morning.  The distillery has some highland cows and some cute ducklings, a plus for traveling with family like me.  The tour is short and very basic.  Our tour guide does not talk too much and knows very little.  I found a set of stills outside slight different then most of the sets inside.  She was very honest to say she didn’t even notice about it.  Our trip ends in the visit of the modern racked warehouse.  Quite a surprise as almost every distillery tried to show dunnage warehouse to visitors.  It is even surprise when I saw several 1962 and 1968 casks there.  The guide said it will be bottled later this year.  Common, give me a break.  I just heard the 1964 is the oldest Glenlivet so far.  Are you going to say the same words again within one year?  But generally speaking, a nice short one for a tired person like me.

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Don’t get it wrong, I didn’t go for the distillery tour all day.  We went to Tomintoul for the annual Highland Game.  It is actually not too far from Craigellachie to Tomintoul.  However, what we didn’t realize is that the Highland Game start from one o’clock in the afternoon.  We arrived Tomintoul at 10:00.  It was very quite and we don’t see any musle men on the streets.  After consult with an old man.  We realize that the “pipe band” will march along the main streets and have the performance on the town center square.  It is very exciting when we see the band march in.  It is a pity that I knows very little about the tradition.  The only thing I know is that Tomintoul is probably the oldest town to hold the Highland Game in Scotland.  And that is also the reason they’ll have a large pipe band to start every year. 

 

 

We had a quite lunch at the famous local restaurant “the clock tower”, very delicious ground beef burger.  Then, the kids go with my wife to see the Game, while I stopped at the Whisky Castle for some quick shopping.  The shop owner Mike and Cathy were also in the Feis Ile 2004.  He brought back the Ardbeg Feis Ile bottle.  I was very happy to see that one as I left earlier last year and can’t get it.  We chat a little bit and he was very kind to have everyone in the shop to try this nice Port Ellen.

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With the help of our Mr. Glanfarclas, Luc Timmermans, we had a VIP tour in Glenfarclas with George Grant, the sixth generation of the family.  George picked us up at ten o’clock.  We thought we can go somewhere else but it is obvious that we were too tired and we woke up too late to do anything else but only the delicious breakfast. (Note: you can’t miss the delicious smoked fish, only for breakfast.)  George is quite a nice young man, a little bit shy, but showed us great hospitality.  I was quite surprise to know he actually lived in Hong Kong for two years to help expend the far eastern business.  And the great news that he’ll get married with a Chinese girl, Stephanie, within two weeks.  (Congratulations, George!   

Hope you like the wedding gift I sent after I came back home.)

 

 

 

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I promised Kirsty of Duncan Tayler to visit their store this morning.  Huntly is far then I thought.  I didn’t meet Kirsty as she is sick and has to stay at home.  Hope she’ll get well soon.  Nathalie is taking care of the store as I walk in, she just met Serge in the Vinexpo.  I found out the price here is about 50% cheaper than in Taiwan, too bad I don’t have room for these bottles, can only take some miniatures with me.  Didn’t hear any news this time.  Nathalie took a picture for us and post on their website.  We then had quite a good time in the Huntly Castle.  The castle is quite old but you can climb up to see most of the main structure.  The kids kept asking me why there is no prince and princes in the castle?  Umm, very hard question for me.

 

 

Our appointment at the Macallan is 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  As I mentioned the visit to Paul and Martine on Monday. They arranged the visit to be free and left me a bottle of 12yo Fine Oak and a Macallan watch.  That’s really a surprise to me.  It is quite a pity that Macallan is in maintenance and can’t get inside.  However, we still being able to have a sneak view outside the still house.  The coppersmith is changing part of a still.  The still is truly quite small no wonder they have to decrease the bottling as I have no idea how they can meet the huge demand in Taiwan, not too mention all over the world.  One thing quite nice in Macallan is that you’ll be able to see the Golden Promise barley right after you drive in.  It’s quite a view as I can already see some crops on it.  The tour contains a vertical tasting. And the VIP tasting room is just besides the Master’s tasting room.  You can see Master Bob working inside while we are doing the tasting.  Poor Bob, but it’s quite unique experience.

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I decided to take the kids to see the dolphin.  But before we drive out, we stopped by the Johnson’s Cashmere.  The factory offers free tour to show you the process of making cashmere product, and it is much more fun for the kids then the distillery tours.  The shops also provide quality product with discount.  The beautiful Elgan cathedral just locate next to the factory.  Worth to stop by.  We then went to the Moray Firth Wildlife Center, which is just at the Spey Bay, where the spey river reach the sea.  I didn’t expect this wild life center that wild.  I though there were at least something easily to be seen.  Lucky I brought two binoculars with me and I am still a birdwatcher after all.  It is a quite nice spot for birdwatchers and according to the notes in the center, they also records dolphins almost everyday, but not yet this morning.  We didn’t have the chance to see the dolphin for our short stay, but the kids quite enjoyed the activity in the small center and they saw an osprey and see gulls when we are searching the dolphins.  The road then lead us to Keith, where I finally saw Strathisla.

 

 

Strathisla looks just like the pictures but seems to be much smaller but more beautiful.  It is not the working season but they still offers tour to go through the whole process.  My personal guide, Mathew, is doing a summer job here.  He explained in detail and answers most of my question.  Later I found out that his mother also works in Macallan as a tour guide for quite a long time.  No wonder he is very familiar with this job.  Strathisla’s stills are to small to believe.  The mash tun is the old fashion one just like the Bruichladdich’s but with a cover.  The ceiling in the sill house is wooden like a farm house and the still has almost reach the roof..  The warehouse is just for demonstration purpose and contains more Chivas Brothers then single malt..  I don’t know if it is for real, because I saw the Chivas 100 cask, Chivas 50yo , Chivas 38 yo ects.  But as far as I know, they have all been bottled.  So, what’s left here is really a mystery.  (Or maybe what’s already bottled is a mystery? Or maybe the limited bottles are not limited?)  The tour should began with a free Chivas 12yo and ends with Chivas 18yo.  But I asked to change the Chivas 18yo to Strathisla 12yo.  I also noticed that there were some cask strength bottles, which can only be bought at the distilleries, already opened in the tasting room.  But I guess it is only for the VIPs and certainly I am not one of them.

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Glenfiddich sent a driver to pick me up at 9:30 from the hotel.  This nice lady (sorry I forget to write down her name) often takes different people to the distillery.  She particular like our fellow Mania Martin Noute.  She also mentioned that the famous Michael Jackson is a nice fellow, very kind and interesting.  We had some quite pleasant talk along the way.  She is also an Islay fan, and particular interested at my Bruichladdich Academy experience.  My tour start at the VIP rooms , which has all of the core range product of William Grant and Sons.  My guide Kyla(?, a strange name if my memory was right, an old lady.) Let me sit down and relax to enjoy some tea.  We had some basic talk and then enjoyed my first dram of

 

 

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Our plan today was to arrived Edinburgh before 2:00 to meet the other Taiwanese to go clay pigeon shooting..  I forget if I mentioned earlier that my trip is partially sponsored by Caldbecks Taiwan, a join venture of William Grant & Son and Bacard.  I should meet other people in the industry to “enjoy” three days of luxury tour.  However, I got the call from Jamie, Glenfiddich brand manger of Taiwan, saying that they didn’t leave Taiwan as most of the guests are scared of the London bombing on July 7th and she feel sorry about it but she has arrange the accommodation and the distillery tour for me.  As I don’t have the clay shooting in the afternoon, I changed my plan immediately and head north.

 

 

My first stop today was Tomatin.  Tomatin’s tour doesn’t get too much positive point on the reviews.  However, I personally think it still worth a short stop because of the friendly tour guild and visitor center workers.  The tour is free and starts in a well organized video film, the most interesting part in the video is it kept saying Tomatin sold quite well in Gorden &Maphfeil and in Royal Miles Whisky, as if they are afraid visitors take Tomatin as an un-famous single malt.  I was quite surprised to learn that Tomatin is the biggest Single Malt distillery in terms of production volumes.  Our tour does not go through the working process but we can at least see the stills in a distance, though not being able to take pictures.  After a short but detailed explanation, we move to a traditional dunnage warehouse, specially prepared for the visitors, where you can sit on several 1965 Tomatin casks  for pictures and then smell it.  Oh! It smell so good.  Our guide said they intend to let it matured for a couple of years more and see if they can stand until 50 years old.  I was also very surprised to learn that Tomatin mainly use Sherry Cask to mature.  I quite doubt it as it has such high production volume and it is not possible to get all those sherry casks.  Another surprised was the fact the Tomatin said it was lightly peated but I can hardly feel it.  The tour guide said they also have some heavily peated ones but in a very small portion.  Then the kids are happy as they bought the highland cow toys while we enjoy our wee dram of

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Our main activity today is “A Day out with Thomas”.  Aviemore s a famous to be a  ski town as well as the home of the steam engine.  The railroad is operated by the Strathspey Railway from March to October by using Steam and Diesel Engine.  It starts from Aviemore to Boat of Garden to Broomhill.  As this year is the 60 anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine, “A day go out the Thomas and his friend” are held all over UK.   The most exciting one is the one in Avimore as the original steam engine will be painted as the real Thomas.  My kids are the real fans of Thomas the Tank Engine.  My wife found the news earlier by chance as she was surfing on the internet trying to find a good hotel between Elgin and Edinburgh.  We were so excited that we book the tickets immediately. 

 

 

Though the first train leave Avimore was 10:30, as we have nothing to do, we left the hotel almost right after the breakfast.  It was quite a surprise when we entered the platform by 9:30 to take Diesel and Edwin to see the shads as well as lots different tank engines.  The REAL Thomas, (oops, sorry!  the FAKE maniacal Thomas!), arrived in the station by 10:20.  I have to admit that I am as excited as my kids when I saw the smiling face moving slowing to me.  The kids just can’t wait and get on board immediately.  As the train move towards Boat of Garden, Sir Steinfenson walk along the train and say hello to every one.  The journey only last for 20 minuets and we have to change to Daisy to Broomhill. Broomhill was at nowhere but was famous as the shooting station for a BBC film, Monarch of the Glen.  They also have Percy stay by the platform for photos.  The kids took the train back and forth until 3:00 and we head back to the hotel and jump to the swimming pool directly. 

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Not too surprise that we wake up at 4:30, and has to wait until 7:30 for breakfast.  Lucky that we had some cereal for the children.  We start to rent a car today at Thrifty.  It is a VW Passat Estate.  Thrifty offers a very good price over the internet and we actually get an up-grade as we reserved a smaller Renalt Laguna Estate.  And it’s a very new car, has only runs for 1,500 milage.  Driving on left is not really a problem to me, as I have the same experience in Australia.  However, it is very important to have a partner help you with the map.  My wife is very good at it and she checked with the e-map even before we left home. 

 

 

Our first stop is the Aberfeldy, with is also the home for Dewar’s world of whisky.  We choose this place to be the first stop not only because it’s on the way up to the highland, but also most tour books, not only whisky ones, mentioned that it is quite a good place for family visit.  The tour start as a self guided tour in the Dewar’s World of Whisky.  It is more like an educational museum, contents lot’s of information about Dewar’s history as well as whisky knowledge.  It also contains quite a lot interactive computer games to play with.  My daughter had quite some fun but the little one feel quite boring inside.  I found most interesting to play on the computer to create your own blend.  As a peat freak, I can’t help but put lot’s of Islay Malt in my blends and not too surprise to get a comments saying that this blend is too smoky to drink.  There were also some other stuff like interactive quiz and some of the questions are very difficult. 

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Arrived London in the early morning.  No chance to see the Duty Free Shops, but the shop near the domestic flight offers some good single malt like Lagavulin 12yo 2004 edition, Talisker 1991 Double Mature, Glenfiddich “Caoran Reserve”, BTW, BA offers Caoran Reserve at discount price on air.  Our flight to Edinburgh delays for 30 mins.  But should has nothing to do with the bomb in London one day earlier.  I didn’t hear anybody discuss it while waiting, though BBC is doing life in the same time as one day earlier at the bombing areas.  Our hotel in Edinburgh is Holiday Inn, just next to the Edinburgh Zoo.  Our plan is to visit the zoo in the afternoon.  

Edinburgh Zoo is quite famous as it’s well organized for family visit.  This zoo is quite different from the one I’ve visited, very ROYAL I’d say. My kids were quite excited to see the famous penguin parade.  But I was a little bit disappointed as I thought all the penguins will come out but only 8 were out for a 100 meter walk.  

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Leaving from Taipei, nothing new in the Duty Free Shop. Arrive Hong Kong on time, still lot’s shops open, still nothing new. But the Laphroaig 30 only sell at HK$1,950. I think that’s quite a good deal. Worth to compare with the old version. Filght to London is a Boeing 747-400, full of people. I have to say British Airway offers quite good food. Quite a surprise to me.

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Last update before I left for Speyside.

Macallan 1974/2003 (50.9%, Scott's selection)

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Macallan 1974/2003 (50.9%, Scott's Selection)
Sample from 仕元, Golden, very fruity and flowrish. Orange. Hint of Vanilla. Cherry? Still very typical Macallan. Nice Papate. Finished long. Easy and Straight. Score: 87

Macallan 15yo 1984 (43%, OB)
Sample from Johannes, Brown. Sherry. Sweet. mint toffee. Warm a litle bit caramel hot in throught. Bitter finish. Scorel: 80 Macallan 18yo 1979/1997 Gran Recerva (40%, OB, 700ml bottle)Taste again, getting better each time. This is a good example that some single malt sitll need time to breath. Score: 90.

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Sample A:
Yellow. Venella, fruity. creaming, must be Sherry Cask. Sweet. First guess: Speyside, Glenburgie, 18yo 46%, Sherry cask. But could be Springbank. Score: 87.

Sample B:
Light yellow, Grassy. Peaty. Iodine. flowerish, with some tropical fruit. Peat. very littel nut. First Guess: Islay, Bowmore, 10yo, 57%, Bourbon Cask. Score: 83.

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Auchentoshan 12yo (40%, OB)

Very few people know that this bottle is actually not common in Europe.  Color: light brown.  Got this sample in Open House.  Nose: Straw, Malty.  Quite nice.  Fruity and hint of nut.  Again, very high standard Auchentoshan.  But I just don’t like the palate.  Quite Oil.   Finished long.  Even more malty feel after adding wate.  Score: 81.

 

 

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Serendipity NAS (40%,
OB , vatting of Ardbeg and Glen Moray)

Golden yellow.  Very fruity.  Citrus, nutty.  Some sulfer earth feel. Cake?  Very lightly peated.  Even more nutty when tasting.  Seems like about 12yo, maybe 15yo.  Finished dry.  And not bad.  Adding water got orange feel.  And quite nice.  Score:77.  General speaking not bad.  But something I don’t like in it.

 

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