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Scotland – Dundee and its environs.

Smallest legal distillery in Scotland.

Smallest legal distillery in Scotland.

After leaving the Scottish Highlands – less the crap posted at the post office, we headed south toward Dundee – our first stop being Pitlochry, home of Scotland’s smallest (legal) distillery.

This was actually our second distillery of the trip, the first being a gigantic factory-esque facility in Muir of Ord – Glen Ord. This is where the Singleton of Glen Ord is made – but, other than the factory outlet, it isn’t sold outside of Southeast Asia. The company that owns it, owns 12 distilleries in Scotland and markets specific brands in specific regions so as to not cannibalize company sales.

Edradour Aging

Barrels of Edradour — one year into aging for this barrel.

Edradour, on the other hand, is proud of the fact that they make less whisky in a year than other distilleries (e.g. Glen Ord) make in a week. It’s in a picturesque valley and trades on its “smallness” – to the extent that there were at least three gigantic buses in its parking lot with group tours going on. Glen Ord, at least when we were there, had a lot fewer visitors despite its much greater output.

Happily the two tours complemented each other. The Glen Ord tour was comprehensive and discussed many of the technical aspects of making whisky – like the fact that whisky has only three ingredients (water, barley, and yeast). Had I not learned all of this from Glen Ord, then the tour at Edradour would not have made any sense at all – it was much more disjointed (we started in the aging warehouses and ended at the distillery, where Glen Ord went in production to aging order), but captured much more nuance.

That said, at Glen Ord we were informed that due to customs regulations (e.g. the UK government), we were not allowed to take photographs of the facilities. Nothing of the kind was announced at Edradour and people were snap happy. And, ultimately, I ended up not buying any Singleton of Glen Ord, but spending a fair amount at the Edradour gift shop.

Once we left Edradour, we set up camp at the Premier Inn Dundee North. A few words about this location: the front desk staff was incredibly helpful and kind. While the Inn itself was nothing worth remarking upon, I would happily stay there again because of the front desk staff alone. When the water in the shower refused to turn itself off, we were moved to another room without hesitation. The staff answered questions and gave us information that certainly helped maximize our time in the Dundee area.

On the other hand, whatever you do, do not eat dinner at the adjoining Weaver’s Mill restaurant. Maybe eat breakfast if you’re not looking to drive anywhere first thing in the morning, but make sure you finish by 10:00 on Sunday when breakfast is over because everything is put away by 10:05. What struck me the most about Weaver’s Mill, beyond how bad the food was, was how busy it was. Think of it as a shitty Applebee’s, with similarly strange customers. We ate dinner there the first night because neither of us wanted to drive anywhere. In retrospect we should have walked to the adjacent KFC or McDonald’s.

St.Andrew's Castle

St.Andrew’s Castle – We did not pay to go in and look at its museum or the ruins more closely.

Leaving the accommodation aside, we did a number of things in the Dundee region, including visiting St. Andrew’s. I have to confess that after reading Lonely Planet’s information on St. Andrew’s, I wasn’t sure why we were going there, as there seemed to be nothing there. It turns out I was pretty much right. We ate breakfast in a café, looked at the ruins of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, looked at the ruins of St. Andrew’s Castle, and got in our car and left. Total time, less than two hours.

St. Andrew's Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is pretty ruined.

St. Andrew's Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Cathedral has graffiti!

St. Andrew's Cathedral

The view when walking through the former front door of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

We also toured a castle, visited Pictavia as well as a couple of Dundee museums. The highlight of the Dundee museum scene is the Jute museum, which tracks Dundee’s rise to riches on the Jute trade, and its subsequent downfall. The museum was surprisingly engaging and we spent a good solid two hours in it, learning about the factory owners and the factory workers. It was rather inclusive in its presentation including information from the perspective of the women who ended up becoming the breadwinners in Dundee households. Although it was jute, the factory echoed and complimented what we’d learned about the wool industry in the Shetlands.

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