Scotland: Day 7

I woke up to Julie working out in the hotel room but quickly rested my eyes some more. This girl could not fall asleep, too much thinking about what to do once I'm back in the states. What to pack when, how to pack everything before my parents help me to move, so on and so forth. We started the day with the breakfast buffet at the hotel. It was tasty but they didn't have any scones unfortunately. And then we hit the road for Glasgow with a planned stop on the the way.

We hit up Glengoyne Distillery for a whiskey tour which was great, I would highly recommend it! It's a family owned business in the Highlands (well on the border with the lowlands because the maturation happens in the lowlands across the street).

The tour started with a drum of their 13 year old whiskey which wasn't all that bad, I actually enjoyed it. I also learned that single malt whiskey means it's made from one type of grain (aka malted barley) rather than a blend of corn, rye, whatever that can be made into alcohol. This is also where I learned more about how any clear liquor forms the basis of whiskey, vodka and gin. The difference is what happens after the distillation process.

There are five steps to whiskey making.

1. Malting. Basically growing malted barley and then letting it sleep in cold water to germinate a bit to release the sugars. Then it's dried and ground into finer bits.

2. Mashing. Let heat do its thing on the ground up barley. Water is added three times with an increase in temperature each time to make sure all of the sugar is utilized from the grain.

3. Fermentation. Add some yeast and let them do their thing with the natural sugar. Glengoyne does this in Oregon Oak (or cedar...I can't remember) since the branches don't grow until high off the ground so you can have a barrel without notches which dry out over time and shrink causing holes in the barrel.

4. Distillation. The fermented alcohol (at this point similar to 8% beer) is distilled once into "low wine" to become about 25% alcohol. Then it's distilled a second and third time into 75% alcohol. The top and bottom are filtered off since they aren't the highest quality but saved to continue to be filtered and distilled with future batches.

5. Maturation. The alcohol is stored for a minimum of 3 years in different barrels. American Bourbon barrels are the cheapest (80 pounds per barrel) and Spanish Sherry Oak are the most expensive (800 pounds per barrel). There are also refill barrels which have been used previously. The barrels are used for a maximum of three batches before you lose the desired flavor.

The longer the alcohol ages the more flavor you get but also the more alcohol evaporates. Younger whiskeys are a combination of American oak, European oak, and refill casks whereas more expensive and older whiskeys are primarily European casks. The age on the bottle (I.e. 12 years) means that there is nothing younger in that bottle but it likely contains older whiskeys as well.

After the tour (and doing a bit of shopping) we hit the road for Glasgow. We were able to meet up with Liv to put our stuff in her apartment before venturing to the city.

First stop were the botanical gardens which were very cool and a nice oasis from the busking city.

Then we wandered a bit to find a cafe since this girl needed a snack (aka scone) and some water since I'm wicked dehydrated. The cafe was a French spot so the scone wasn't served with clotted cream...wicked bummer.

Afterwards we walked to the Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum. Jules and I aren't usually museum people, but I enjoyed learned about the history of the Merchant City.

We hadn't heard from Liv so we ventured to a Gin bar that we found called beGIN. Turns out this wasn't even the gin bar Olivia had wanted to take us to! How many gin bars are there?! The waiter was supremely helpful and found me a Scottish gin similar to Isle of Harris with a relaxed taste made with seaweed. It was served with Mediterranean Fever Tree tonic and was so good! I will definitely be trying to find this at the airport!!

Olivia picked us up and we headed to dinner with her two friends at Paesano. This place does wood fired pizza very well. I had one with tomato sauce, mozzarella, fennel sausage, mushroom, and eggplant. It was so tasty. I ate almost every last bite. The crust was so thin yet so doughy. Please note these were individual sized pizzas and even if they weren't that's okay too.

We walked home and got to reminiscing like old friends do over more gin and tonic. We talked of old times and caught up on new times. It was so great to all be together again. I'm so proud of Olivia working so hard in vet school and living on her own in Scotland. She's unbelievable.

Last day in Scotland tomorrow! Stay tuned.