Insight Q&A: Blair Athol
At the gateway to the Highlands, Blair Athol is one of Scotland's oldest distilleries - and a guest favorite
Whisky is one of Scotland's delights - and most CIE Tours trips to Scotland feature a whisky distillery visit. One of our most popular attractions, Blair Athol Distillery has been making whisky for over 200 years. We spoke to Agata Grant, the Brand Home Lead Guide at Blair Athol about what makes a tour of the Scottish distillery so special. She even gave us a cocktail recipe so we can conjure up some of the magic of Scotland as we dream of visiting!
Blair Athol is located in the town of Pitlochry, at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands – it’s a place that people love to visit. What makes that region of Scotland so appealing?
Pitlochry is a Victorian spa town and is one of the most beautiful and vibrant places to visit. Situated in the heart of Scotland with real hospitality, clear sparkling air, beautiful scenery, rich clan history, brilliant food and even better whisky, plenty of space and lots to see and do. Pitlochry is primarily a holiday destination, which caters for the holiday makers all year round in its own special way.
Tell us a little bit about the distillery. What makes the distillery and/or the whisky special?
The distillery was established in 1798 which makes us one of the oldest and still producing distilleries in Scotland. 99.7% of our yearly production will be send away to blenders incl Johnnie Walker, Bells or J&B which will include our single malt in their complex blends. Only the remaining 0.3% of our yearly production will be bottled as a single malt Blair Athol. As a result, Blair Athol single malt is quite an exclusive whisky, not widely available to purchase.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The favourite part of our job is meeting a variety of people from all over world and being able to share our passion for Blair Athol with them, knowing they will all take away a small piece of our distillery back home with them.
What does a CIE Tours guest experience on a visit to Blair Athol?
CIE Tours guest will experience true Scottish hospitality, wrapped in stories about our distillery. It’s a journey for all the senses. First, they will be guided through a production area where will be exposed to sweet aromas of malted barley and spicy, nutty notes of distilled spirit. They will experience the coolness of our warehouse as well as the heat of our Still House. CIE Tours guests will To finish the journey, CIE Tours guests will sample out single malt
Is there anything guests find surprising about the distillery?
Currently, there are over 130 distilleries in Scotland. To see what makes Blair Athol stand out from the rest of them, you will simply need to visit and discover it by yourself 😉
What does it mean to you to be able to introduce people to Blair Athol and this element of Scottish tradition?
Scottish whisky is among the world’s most popular spirits. Today, it is enjoyed in 175 countries worldwide. Every second, 42 bottles of Scottish whisky are shipped from Scotland across the globe. To introduce visitors to Scottish whisky and its history is a privilege. It makes us proud to be able to show exactly how our ancestors have created ‘the water of life’ and how it changed over the centuries.
What is your favorite way to drink whisky?
There’s no one way of enjoying whisky, it all depends on the day and mood I’m in. On a cold winter day I’ll enjoy a hot toddy- with a slice of orange, honey, cinnamon sticks and a dram of Blair Athol of course! On a warm, sunny day, I’ll reach for a whisky cocktail. One of my favourite ones at the moment is the Sour Otter- fresh, frothy and delicious! (I’ve included the recipe below).
50ml Blair Athol 12 year old
20 ml fresh lemon Juice
20 ml simple syrup
1 egg white
Dash of Angostura (13.5% abv)
Fill shaker with cubed ice
Add all ingredients (except egg white)
Add egg whites
Shake really hard
Pour into chilled coupe or ice filled rocks glass
Garnish with Angostura on egg foam and cherry/lemon twist
Visit Blair Athol Distillery for a tour and a taste of their famous whisky on many of our Scottish tours, including Taste of Scotland, Scottish and Irish Dream, and Scottish Isles & Glens. See the links below to the entire list and start your planning!