In February, before the launch of their latest limited release, the wonderful folk at Lochlea Distillery hosted some of the Geraldo's staff for a distillery tour and tasting. Shepherded by Alison and our Whisky Ambassador, James, our two apprentices, Ryan and Isla, got a rare behind-the-scenes experience! Read on to learn about their day and what makes Lochlea's process unique.
Business Development Manager Patrick Dupuy led the tour, which began, like their whisky, in the fields:
"Patrick took us to the fields where James, Alison, Isla, and I trudged along the muddy tractor trails to see where barley was grown. He explained that they have to keep an eye on the condition of the soil and the unpredictable weather of the west coast so there is a vigilant system to monitor the fields. This is why most of the industry's barley is grown on the eastern coast due to less rainfall and sandy soil conditions." – Ryan.
From the fields, the group sheltered from the chilly February day in the main barn to see how they store the barley before it's sent away for malting. This is part of the process Lochlea is keen to bring on-site as part of their future development.
"As we stepped in, the barn was just completely filled with their barley, loose, which had been picked from on-site." – Isla.
After seeing the raw material, it was time for our intrepid crew to venture into the heart of the distillery and see how the water of life is made. In the mashing room, they were greeted by a warm scent of cereal and yeast, which some (Ryan) loved more than others! Patrick guided them through the intricate journey the malted, mashed barley takes through Washbacks and Potstills to create the pure spirit that can be casked and matured.
The penultimate stop on the tour was the cask warehouse, where each of the four were lucky enough to fill a cask of their own before the real fun began: the tasting! The team tried the first four of Lochlea's limited-release malts that echo the cycle of the farming calendar: Sowing, Harvest, Fallow and Ploughing.
"Before this, I wasn't particularly fond of the taste of whisky, although I appreciated how people would like it. After tasting a couple of drams and experiencing different cask types and how they dramatically change the colour and taste, I was surprised when I tried the Fallow Edition that's aged in sherry casks and enjoyed the taste!" – Isla.
It was an educational and enjoyable trip for all, and the team came back bursting with ideas and infected by the Lochlea team's passion for their craft.
"The passion and expertise shown by Patrick and the team at Lochlea earmark them as one to watch in the lowlands region. Though small in size, they have great potential and a great team to work on those stills and tractors!" – Ryan.
We're excited to work with Lochlea as they continue to grow and expand their offering. To learn more, pop in any time for a chat with Ryan or Isla, or drop by this coming Saturday (6th May 2023) to try some of the drams yourself and learn more from Patrick.