No trip to Edinburgh should be complete without a visit to the World’s largest Whisky collection at The Scotch Whisky Experience.
A close friend recently received a gift certificate to attend a Master Class at the World famous Scotch Whisky Experience. Well I couldn’t let him go by himself, so I treated myself to an overnight stay in Edinburgh and join him on the tour.
Our tour was an early start. My alarm went off at 8am for a 10am tour… and was promptly turned straight back off. The thought of whisky at 8am is not too appealing, so I admit I was lacking in motivation and slightly concerned about the aftermath of last nights session in the Balmoral’s Scotch Whisky bar.
Once I had confirmed there was no detectable hangover I threw open the curtains to the glorious view of Edinburgh castle. It’s amazing that something I have seen so many times can still take my breath away and stir up such feelings of national pride.
From the Hilton we walked up the south side of the castle and onto the Royal Mile. It’s safe to say – it was baltic! (slang – freezing cold). Just before hitting the esplanade we found the entrance to The Scotch Whisky Experience. I have walked up this street so many times without noticing it was even there. I didn’t realise what I was missing!
As we went in and handed over our Masterclass tickets we were greeted by our experienced guide. The gentleman that we hoped would turn us in to nosing experts!
Before the class began we were treated to an incredible experience. Our guide took us on a tour of the world’s largest Scotch Whisky collection which is kept in a stunning glass display vault, holding a few thousand bottles.
The room was dark and atmospheric with black marble floors and black casing on each wall that was fronted with huge panels of glass. Behind the glass were hundreds of bottles in an array of colours – glowing under the soft light. Bottles in all shapes, sizes, colours, ages and brands that would water the mouth of any whisky enthusiast.
We listened intently as we were told the story of how the collection came to be in the hands of The Scotch Whisky Experience. I was actually fascinated to learn that this stunning collection of 3,384 bottles was built over the course of 35 years by Brazilian Claive Vidiz.
The now famous collection began with just six bottles: a Glenlivit (12 year old), Glenmorangie (10 year old), Lagavulin (12 year old), Laphroaig (10 year old), Macallan (12 year old) and a Strathisla (12 year old).
The Collection was purchased by Diageo in 2006 and it was brought home to Scotland. A commitment was made to preserve the collection and the passion with which it was collected and to share it with an international audience.
“We have an expression in Brazil – ‘the good son returns home’ – and in my view the collection is back with its family now” – Claive Vidiz
The huge collection dates back over 100 years. The oldest bottle is James Buchanan’s, which has been dated back to 1897. The second oldest being a Dewar’s which dates back to 1904.
After our tour of the ‘vault’ we proceeded upstairs to a beautiful room where we would take our Master Class. Our learning began with a brief history of Scotch Whisky, from its early beginnings straight through to the modern day and what the future holds for the Scottish Whisky industry.
Next we were asked to take a short scent test to see how our noses reacted to different smells. There were 10 miniature bottles placed in front of us, each containing a cotton ball that had been soaked in various scents. So how did I, a whisky enthusiast fair? Not quite as well as I would have hoped. My finishing score – 6/20. I’ll need to brush up for next time!
The tastings were up next and I was looking forward to drowning my sorrows after failing the nosing test. We tasted a variety of excellent whiskies, which included; Girvan, William Lawson, Glenfarclas and Laphroaig.
I’ve never been a big fan of Laphroaig, which is strange because I’m a big fan of Islay whiskies – but after a suggestion to add a splash of water to this Laphroaig Quarter Cask I decided I changed my mind. The flavour completely changed, so much so my first stop on the way home was to hit the shops for a little bottle to take home…. you know, just to make sure.
From the four different whiskies we tried, I was a big fan of the William Lawson 13 year old. I had never tried any of the William Lawson whiskies before so it was a nice surprise to find something new I enjoyed.
With that the Master Class was complete and the taste buds awake. There was just time for a quick look around the shop before heading down The Royal Mile to the Albanach Bar for a few drams before heading home.
The entire experience was very hugely enjoyable and I would highly recommend a visit for any whisky enthusiast.
I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!