Starting at the beginning is usually the best place to start, right? When I enrolled in Whisky School, I thought the first lesson was to prepare the barley for malting, because that is how you start the process, right? Yes, but… that is not how it fits into the production cycle. The school as to operate around the distillery, and not the other way around.
So it is on day three that we transferred the barley from the floor to the kiln to be dried. This was the lesson I had been waiting for since we arrived. I was nominated to light the fire for the kiln, as I acquired good fire lighting skills from my days in Scouting. The malted barley we were preparing was for distilling a Springbank. This meant that the fire would have peat burning in it. I appreciate a nice peaty single malt, so it was extra special to be able to light the fire, and get the first hand smell of the burning peat!
Me lighting the fire -> http://twitpic.com/cr1q7o
Each day at Springbank is a new adventure for us, we get to learn something new about distillery operations every time we report for duty. On the docket today was steeping the barley, transferring whisky to the casks, warehousing the newly filled casks, turning the malted barley into a mash, and observing the finer points of being in the still house.
Today was the first full day to wear my work boots. Normally I only need to wear them a few hours at a time for work, so this would be a new experience for me. Happy to say I pulled this one off! Yay for orthopedic footwear!
I was asked by those who marveled at their size, “Just how big are they?” Turns out, for my EU friends, I am a 46, for my British friends I am an 11, and back home in Canada, I am a 12.
Now you know 🙂
The boots -> http://twitpic.com/cqt73v
I traveled with my friend Doug to attend Whisky School in Campbeltown, Scotland at the Springbank distillery. Not only is this trip about the about the destination, it is also about the journey. Campbeltown is located on the west coast of Scotland, on the Kintyre peninsula.
There are two other classmates, one from Sweden and one from France, they share a mutual interest in sipping fine single malts too.
As part of our introduction to the distillery, we did our health and safety walk, toured the facility and learned where all the Fire Exits were, and where to NOT hit your head on low overhangs! We were split into two groups. Doug and I were dispatched to the malting floor where Kerry and Norman taught us to turn the malted barley with a machine that resembles a lawn mower. After we prepped the six tonnes of barley, the next stage of our education was working in the warehouse. We were surrounded by a sea of casks. We drew samples from various casks, and filtered it into bottles that would be sold at the gift shop. Our other duties on the day included transferring some casks around the warehouse.
As great as the experience of being at Springbank was, I must admit that my other goal for being here was to take a drive past High Park Farm, Paul McCartney’s farmhouse! It was like a dream come true!