Our last full day in Glasgow was the first rainy day of our trip, but we didn’t mind at all since we had an outing planned. Last year Jan read about an excellently reviewed Scotch called Auchentoshan and
|Jan at the Auchentoshan sign in Clydebank|
It was one of those happy chances when everything worked out to create something special. After a 35-minute bus ride (42 stops) in the top of a double-decker, we reached the last stop of the route in Clydebank. The driver asked if we were going to “get some Scotch” and happily pointed out the white distillery buildings just a ten-minute walk away.
|Cute Highland Cows|
We passed our first Highland cows on the way (they live next to the distillery and get to eat the barley mash left over after fementation! We got in on a tour led by our great guide Kieran that was interesting and thorough, and we found the process fascinating. Auchentoshan (“Akken-tosh-un” which in Gaelic means “corner of the field”) is Scotland’s only triple distilled whisky. They told us that doesn’t make it any better, but it does make it unique!
|This is the mashing room--after the barley is hot-air roasted it's ground and mashed in here.|
|The tun room -- these are backwash tubs made of Oregon pine. Water and liquid yeast is added and the resulting "beer" is 8% alcohol and smells terrific!|
Most Scotch whisky is distilled twice and ends up around 50-60% alcohol. Auchentoshan goes into the first copper distillation still at 8%. After the first distillation it is at 18%, after the second it's at 54%, and when it comes out of the final still it is at 81%, higher than any other in Scotland. It’s watered down to about 70% before it’s casked for maturation.Most of the whisky is stored in bourbon barrels from the U.S. Some is casked in sherry barrels from Europe, and a small amount is stored in red wine barrels from France.
|The smallest of the storage rooms. Barrels are used three times and then sold as planters or decorations!|
|First time use barrels have plain ends, second time use is yellow and third use is black.|
I’m not a whisky drinker although I love the IDEA of it and even the smell. But at the end of the tour
|This is exactly the kind Jan has at home.|
|Kieran posed with us after the taste-testing.|
|These adorable tin Auchentoshan mugs were our souvenirs. I managed to snag a set of four!|
Back in the city we climbed the steep slope up from the River Clyde’s level and found a restaurantwe’d heard of called “Where the Monkey Sleeps.” It’s a very small sandwich shop specializing in paninis and bagel sandwich creations. Once again the menu was light-hearted and irreverent. I had a “Wytchfynder” bagel and Jan had a “Beef of the Beast.” The atmosphere was very coffeehouse unchic, with several small rooms full of worn sofas and book nooks and people eating in groups. A total hoot—and excellent food!
|Amazing lunch menu|
|In our little lunch room -- you can see how worn the couch was. Such ambience!|
After lunch we wandered the pedestrian shopping again and took the last hour of our stay to visit The Lighthouse—an arts center in a building designed by Glasgow’s home-grown world-class architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh designed many buildings in Glasgow and around the world, back in the late 1800s. He was a modernist at the time, his designs mostly straight and stark and functional, and not everyone loved him. Now, however, he’s highly celebrated in his home city. A bonus for going up the 130+ steps of the tall building was the proverbial bird's eye view of Glasgow!
|Above one of the churches Mackintosh designed--and several of his clean-line chairs.|
|A balcony with a view!|
|The spiral staircase leading to the top of the Lighthouse|
We weren’t as sad leaving Glasgow for two reasons—we get to return once our hike and trip to Inverness is done and spend one more morning. We also knew that we were on our way to start a great adventure and meet up with wonderful friends we met on our last big hike in England. We were blessed to connect with Joy Miller and Andy Chisnall in 2012 and even more blessed to have remained in touch via Facebook for five years. To our delight (and honor) Andy and Joy who are even more accomplished and avid hikers than we are, drove four hours from Liverpool to join us in Scotland for a night and walk the first day of The West Highland Way with us.
When they knocked on our hotel door in Milngavie (more on THAT name later!) there were squeals and excited hugs and even some disbelieving tears. We picked up talking as if we’d seen each other the day before. It was a true joyful reunion.
|Andy, Jan, Me and Joy!!|
We ate fish and chips and drank good beer and cider at the Burnbrae pub, and had a hard time saying goodnight even though it was going to be mere hours until we started our walk. It was a wonderful night and we are so thankful for these wonderful people who are in our life! Tomorrow the adventure begins! Eight days hiking in Scotland.