Scotch Whisky Delight: Our Glen Garioch Distillery Tour Experience

There are a lot of people who consider Scotch Whisky one of the great pleasures in life. While housesitting in the UK, we were incredibly lucky to catch up with some friends from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. They treated us to an amazing Glen Garioch Distillery Tour, which was a great way to catch up with friends from long ago!

A bottle of Glen Garioch whisky

First, let’s get the pronunciation right. It’s Glen “Geeery”. Bonus point if you can get a tiny little “ch”, or “hch”, sound at the end of the “geery”

The Aberdeenshire Connection

While housesitting in the UK last summer, we made a special effort to find housesits in Scotland.

Personal Connection

Those who know us, will know that I, Christine, actually went to high school at what was then the American School in Aberdeen. I lived there in the mid to late 1980s, when I was just a young innocent.

Prior to last year, we had been unable to get back to Aberdeen after we were married in 1996! My parents moved back to Bergen, Norway after I left high school, and a whole lot of the kids I went to school with disappeared back to the USA or other corners of the globe. I’ve always dreamed of going back. I wanted to see my teenage home with an adult’s eyes, to show John my high school, and to visit Scottish friends that I had kept in touch with all this time.

So I arranged our sits in Scotland so that we could meet up with my good friend George (who I had not seen in person for 30+ years) and his wife Pamela. What do you do when you introduce spouses to decades old friends who haven’t seen each other in half a lifetime? You go taste some whisky!

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Glen Garioch’s Location

My friend, George, now lives in the country side of Aberdeenshire. He decided to treat us to a tour at his local distillery, Glen Garioch.

Whisky has two very important ingredients: barley and water. The distillery has been at its very specific location since 1797 for two very good reasons:

1. It’s got the barley! The valley (glen) is known as the granary of Aberdeenshire because of its very fertile land.

A barley field
A field of barley

2. There were also lots of natural springs in the area, including the current Silent Spring, which was discovered in 1972. The silent spring is what’s being used now in the distillery.

So we took a taxi from our BnB in Aberdeen to meet George and Pamela in the granary of Aberdeenshire: Oldmeldrum. There were lots of hugs, introductions, giggles, and not-quite-awkward conversations in the local pub before we headed around the corner to the easternmost scotch whisky distillery in the world. We had such a great whisky tasting experience!

Ready for our Glen Garioch distillery tour

The Distillery Tour

Our friends had booked us in for a private tour and tasting at Glen Garioch. When we arrived at the gift shop, we were ushered through to the distillery and into the malting room.

I am hopeless at remembering all the technical details about distilling. There’s a lot of grains, a lot of heating, boiling, making of alcohol, that sort of thing. There are copper instruments, hot things, and lots of very clear alcohol going around the place. People with measuring devices. That sort of thing.

Distillery equipment

And trust me, we got a very good and comprehensive tour of the whole process. John was understanding everything – but didn’t take notes ha ha.

What did stick in my mind was this: WHISKY IS ALL CLEAR UNTIL IT GETS AGED IN THE BARREL! That’s right! That beautiful honey color comes from the barrels! Other than that, I only have the photos to show you what the distilling process is like. Then we moved on to the exciting part!

The Tasting Experience

The tasting portion of the distillery tour takes place in the bothy. A bothy is a small hut or cabin to be used for sheltering from the elements. This particular bothy is a brick building on the grounds of Glen Garioch Distillery, and a particularly intimate place to sit and enjoy a wee tasting dram or two.

Pouring whisky in tasting glasses

I don’t think two tasting experiences here are ever the same, but they are all based on three special bottles of whisky on our Glen Garioch distillery tour. Our lovely guide, an Englishman from Carlisle, NEARLY Scotland, went through the tasting profiles and casks of each one.

Glen Garioch whisky tasting glass

We were given lovely whisky tasting glasses, glasses of water with droppers, and a lovely comfortable seat to settle in for the tasting. Why water droppers? Well, you get to taste whisky neat. They helpfully provide a water dropper so you can add as much water mixer as you’d like. Not everyone is into tasting their whisky without a little dilution!

We got to taste:

  • The 1999 Highland Wine Cask Matured
  • The Renaissance 3rd chapter – aged 17 years – (in a four part story)
  • The Renaissance 4th chapter – aged 18 years – (in a four part story)
Glen Garioch distillery tour and tasting

Full disclosure: I am not a whisky drinker. The lighter my spirits, the more likely I am to love them. In other words, I’m a vodka girl. But I really appreciated whisky on this tasting. Especially because the taste differences to look out for because of barrel choices was really apparent. It was really interesting to see how alcohol is the undressed mannequin, and the taste all comes from what clothes the mannequin wore for a decade or two.

As a non-whisky lover, I left with a warm glow around my heart.

We full-time travel around the world through travel exchange using platforms like TrustedHousesitters. This lets us arrange accommodation in exchange for pet and home care. You do not have to commit to full-time to enjoy this way of travel. Many sitters use the platform to arrange for their yearly vacation.

A Tasting Souvenir

Since we loved the experience – who wouldn’t three drams in? – we stopped by the gift shop on our way out.

As you know, we are full-time housesitters who have all our belongings in a suitcase each. What do you buy in a gift shop? As house sitters, there are a few things we always look for as soon as we arrive. A good kitchen knife, and a good evening drink glass. We no longer look for a good nightcap glass. We pour a little something over a few cubes of ice in our new favorite Glen Garioch glasses.

The crystal glasses come with us everywhere. And every time I have a drink in this glass from Glen Garioch, I think of George and Pamela. Cheers!

The bothy

How to Experience Glen Garioch Yourself

Not everyone finds themselves in Aberdeen on a daily basis with a chance to pop over to Oldmeldrum for a lovely Glen Garioch distillery tour. Aberdeen and the highlands, however, might fit on a lot of Visit Scotland itineraries.

Day Trips from Aberdeen

You can arrange a day trip tour from Aberdeen:

  1. There are day trips from Aberdeen
  2. Contact the Distillery directly
  3. If you can’t get near enough to Glen Garioch, there are so many whisky tours to do: TripAdvisor has a great list of tours

If you are not arranging your accommodation through TrustedHousesitters, we recommend checking for great rates on a range of accommodation options.


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