Speyside 2


Every time I come up to Scotland’s Speyside, I wonder to myself why I don’t come up more often. From the smell of the air to the scenery, the people and the escape it allows me, it still does feel like a mini-Canada, just with nine hours less flying time.

My most recent trip up has brought me during my favourite season, which further accentuates my love for the region. Autumn – with its crisp mornings, misty evenings, and bountiful colours in the countryside – has long been my season of choice. The smell of woodsmoke begins once again to drift through the damp air, the promise of cosy evenings by the fire makes me unbelievably excited.

This latest journey is, however, a most odd one – with the news filled with repeated reports on the state of the Scottish referendum, I feel saddened to think that this may be my last trip up here when we’re all one nation. As a Canadian, with a Welsh name and heritage, who lives in London but spends a lot of time in Scotland, I’m all for the blending together of backgrounds. But, equally, I feel unqualified to have an opinion on the subject, caring more for people’s happiness – if a split will make the Scottish people happier (or, for that matter, if staying within the UK will do) then that is the most important thing.

Alfie the dog at The Craigellachie Hotel

Alfie the dog at The Craigellachie Hotel

I’ve been lucky enough on this trip to stay at the beautifully remodelled Craigellachie Hotel – a review of this famous whisky-filled lodging will follow on the site later in the year but it is, most definitely, a place that will only help you fall further in love with this beautiful region.

As Scotland’s most prosperous whisky-making region, Speyside offers so much to whisky lovers. And so, with that in mind, I wanted to pass on my notes of a cracking Glenfiddich that I’ve tried recently.

The Glenfiddich Explorer’s Edition launched this summer as an intriguing marketing technique to encourage lovers of the iconic brand to come to Speyside to visit the distillery: the only way to get a hold of a 200ml bottle of this whisky matured in ex-bourbon, American oak casks is to sign up to the Glenfiddich Explorers online club, download a certificate and present it in person at the distillery. The whisky, itself, is free so long as you make the trek up. The sign-up is now closed, but I expect there will be a lot of you out there who have signed up who are curious to know just what it’s like before you’re able to make it to Dufftown.

For me, the 52.5% ABV whisky is a delight – certainly one of the smoothest whiskies I’ve had at that strength all year and a real testament to the skills behind the team at Glenfiddich.

A trip to Speyside is always a worthwhile one, in my book, so even if you didn’t manage to sign up in time for the Glenfiddich release, there are hundreds of other whiskies from dozens of other distilleries – many of which have been written about here on Miss Whisky – that are absolutely worth exploring.

Glenfiddich Explorer’s Edition: 52.5%:

(c): Straw

(n): Delicate fruits: white peaches and pink apples. Then buttery apricots, soft plums, marzipan and flower stems. It’s subtle but layered – take time with this one and it delivers dividends.

(p): Much bigger than one would expect from nose: banana chips and stewed yellow fruits (apricots, nectarines and mango). Then lots of apple blossoms and green pears. A hint of dry smoke – nothing major but gives it great structure.

(f): Cereal boxes: wheat and cardboard.

An absolutely cracking dram – brilliant structure, great flavours, shy but slowly revealing nose, bigger palate than anticipating. All the things I look for in a good whisky. A trip to the distillery to get a hold of this will not be a wasted one. You’d never guess the strength on this one. A drinkable, and slightly dangerous, dram.