Travel Reference
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'That could be it, Banksie,' Dave says. 'Maybe it's a giant mutant seagull which flew
down all the way from Dounreay just to target your car. Do you want to open the car up
now so I can put my bag in, or should I just break in via this faulty rear quarter light?'
'I think the stuff's glowing,' I tell him, plipping the car open. 'Do you think it's glow-
ing?'
'No. But you'd better get it to a car wash; that seagull shit can damage paint.'
'Oh, for fuck's sake!'
Dave dumps his bag on the back seat and looks at me warily. 'You're not going to get
tetchy, are you?'
' No !'
After all this nonsense - and a visit to Safeway's car wash which still doesn't entirely re-
move all traces of the radioactive seagull dump - arriving at the Glen Ord distillery just
outside Muir of Ord comes as a particular relief and feels like a return to normality. Dave
and I do the tour.
Glen Ord isn't a very architecturally attractive distillery - it's abruptly close to the
road and dominated by the massive maltings buildings right next door - but it has a good
tour with helpful guides and the way the place is laid out helps make the whole pro-
cess particularly clear. Ord uses barley grown locally on the Black Isle. (Confusingly,
the Black Isle is not an island, but rather the fertile peninsula north of Inverness lying
between the Beauly/Moray Firths to the south and the Cromarty Firth to the north.)
The maltings provides the barley for other Diageo-owned distilleries in the area and
for Talisker, on Skye, though this receives malt with five times the peatiness compared to
Ord itself. The peat comes from Drumossie Moor, south of Inverness and the water from
the romantically entitled Loch of Smoke (mainly fed by spring water) and Loch of Birds
(mainly rain water). Ord is another 95 per cent blend, 5 per cent single-malt whisky, but
the latter - most commonly available as a 12-year-old, which is what I buy, presented
in an attractively different roughly square-section bottle - is well worth a taste; malty,
lightly but distinctly peated and richly sherried. It's one of the sweetest expressions I've
tasted, without being cloying. A very pleasant surprise.
Ord is one of those whiskies which has changed a fair bit over the years, and in his
astoundingly comprehensive Complete Book of Whisky , the patently extremely know-
ledgeable Jim Murray reckons they've ruined a distinctively earthy dram which was very
much of its region to make just another sherried one which could have come from almost
anywhere. I can't comment directly, but it would be a shame if this was true, no matter
how pleasant and drinkable Ord is. Anyway, if you want to try out some of the older ex-
pressions look out for bottles labelled Glenordie, Ordie or even just Ord; this is one of
those distilleries which has been a little confused about its identity over the years.
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