This has been a surreal year to say the least. With all Speyside whisky distilleries closing to visitors and focusing on whisky production has meant Speyside Whisky tours have not been an option. Now we hopefully get towards the end of the tunnel it’s nice to see a glimmer of normality returning. Several distilleries are now offering reduced tours and tastings with social distancing and health and safety being paramount.
During this time, we’ve kept a finger on the pulse and lately we’ve been out and about finding options for where to eat during a day’s whisky distillery or sightseeing touring. Grabbing a sandwich ‘on the go’ may not be one of the better options and taking the time to savour a decent dram with some good food is one way to make the day even more memorable.
What better way is there to spend an hour or so relaxing in a comfortable place with more whiskies than you can throw a stick at as well as enjoying some really delicious food, each complimenting the other. Tough question? Then look no further than the Seven Stills in Dufftown, an historic pub, lounge and bistro. The Seven Stills is the Whisky Capital’s oldest and longest running Scottish Inn and a historically listed building, built over 150 years ago it has been a mainstay in the town for much of it’s history.
Acquired by Patrick and Rose in 2016 it has undergone a sympathetic transformation into a rather charming place to while away an hour or so (it takes almost that long to read the whisky menu). Although both Rose and Patrick hail form further afield they have embraced the ways of the locals, offering a warm and hospitable welcome along with a willingness to share their love of all things culinary.
Patrick hailing from Burgundy has brought his knowledge and experience of France and combines it with the best of Scottish cuisine to create dishes to savour. Menus change on a regular basis so it’s difficult to give a sense of what available on any given day. When we visited the ‘go to’ dish for the majority of our party was the seafood platter. A dish that was stunning, both visually as well as in flavour. A selection of seafood all sourced from some of Scotland’s finest, hot smoked salmon, locally caught langoustine, chef’s monkfish terrine, the list goes on.That and a wonderful bowl on Portsoy Crab soup to start with set us up for the evening.
All of this is pretty fantastic but add to that a whisky menu that stands at 300+ drams then you have a combination made in heaven. Some whiskies on the menu went out of production years ago but somehow Rose has managed to source a bottle or 3. With many Distillers Editions (usually only available from the distillery) as well as the likes of a 34YO Rare Vintage Dallas Dhu the menu offers a very eclectic choice of whiskies. Distilleries such as Imperial at Carron (Demolished in 2013), Glenugie (Closed in 1983 and once Scotland’s most easterly Distillery), Inverleven (a beautiful lowland dram but alas the distillery close in 1991) Convalmore (Mothballed in 1985. The buildings still clearly visible from the road into Dufftown, but the stills and ancillary equipment, all long gone). These are a few of the more unusual drams that stand out if you’re a fan of lost distilleries.
If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite there’s the better known distillery brands and some with a twist, little known expressions, distillery managers choice, etc. A wee peek at the menus and these wonderful drams are just a small sample of what’s available. Longrow 18YO Limited Edition (fewer than 100 casks a year), Bruichladdich 24YO Black Art, Edradour 15YO Fairy Flag, the list just goes on. For the Flora & Fauna fans there’s pretty much every one of the 26 available. The list just goes on and on and on…..It’s difficult trying to put into words the whole experience, from the minute you walk through the door and are greeted with a warm welcome to the delicious food and the amazing whiskies. The whole experience is one that we’ll remember for a long time.
SimplySpeyside Tours has a lot more to share and we’ll keep you up to date with things. However we appreciate your time taken to read this blog, and please watch out for further blogs about our adventures.