And learn also about the barrels they mature the whisky in. 90% of Scotch barrels are first used in the US to make bourbon, and the other 10% are used first to make sherry. So they're all nommy and flavoury. Then sometimes they set them on fire for a little bit for a more caramelly taste, then put in the WHISKY. Because they're not airtight, the whisky breathes and matures... and evaporates. You lose 2% in 3 years, or 40% in 30 years. They say this evaporated whisky is for the angels.
Then you go and watch a video about all the different whisky regions, and a tour guide comes and talks about them all. And you get four little jars to represent the four main regions: Speyside, Islay, Highlands and Lowlands. Each jar contains some of the smells that you might find in each region's whisky. Lowlands is biscuity and vanilla-ish. Speyside is fruity, like pears. Highlands is sweet like heather and honey. Islay (which is a teeny island off the West Coast of Scotland) is smoky and peaty and by far MY FAVOURITE. So once you've picked your favourite, they pour you a glass of it and teach you how to taste it. There are five steps:
1. First you look at the colour. If it is a pale gold it was matured in a bourbon barrel. If it is darker it was a sherry barrel.
It all sounds very wankerish, but it was excellent fun. Then we went into this room which houses the biggest collection of whiskys in the world (this photo is only a fraction, it was impossible to photograph as it went round many corners):
This was my favourite: Inebriated Newt.
And then there was ANOTHER room with rare bottlings and wacky cases. Each one of these chess pieces is a small bottle of whisky - all together it makes up the volume of a normal sized bottle. The idea is every time you take an opponant's piece, you get to drink the contents.
We got to keep our special whisky nosing glasses, and then we were shown into the shop where we could buy the nommy whiskys for our VERY OWN.