I started my 2 day adventure in Aberfeldy – North of Edinburgh. We checked in to a lovely hotel called the Townhouse and got ready for 2 days of activities that showed us a side of Scotland we would never have seen from the road.
The first thing to note when you are going on an adventure – is READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. It was a bit of a struggle to find a shop selling swimming costumes in October in Scotland to go under my wetsuit – but we made it and we were ready to go by 9.30am.
Now just so you understand the context, I am not a very sporty or adventurous person so the idea of white water rafting scared the poo out of me. But Chris our guide was so good that he was able to tailor the adventure for your adventurous scale. It absolutely amazed me that white water rafting could be fun and not scary. Of course Chris can flip the raft for those groups who want a little more action.
We saw the most amazing views of Scottish country side from the river Tay
And we had a lot of fun going over the rapids.
Well that definitely earned us a whisky or 2, so after lunch we went to Dewars for a connoisseurs tour of the distillery.
Did you know that all whisky have the same three ingredients? Water, Yeast and Malted Barley – the difference in flavour comes from the length of maturation and the different casks used. We walked through the distillery and learned the 6 step process for making whisky:-
Step 1 MALTING
The Barley is steeped in water for 2-3 days and orginally it was laid out on the floor and turned over. This is called Malting.After 4-5 days the barley starts to crack open and after 7 days the germination is complete – the barley is full of simple sugars. To stop it growing any further it is dried out using a kiln and the dried barley is now known as Malt.
This is the milling stage where the Malt is turned into Grist
Step 3 MASHING
Hot water is used to extraxt the sugar from the Mash making a sweet liquid known as Wort (really weird names that I had never heard of before!). The waste product from this stage of the process is used as animal feed.
Step 4 FERMENTATION
35.5k litres of Wort is mixed with yeast in giant vessels called washbacks. Heat is caused by the yeast and turns the sugar to alcohol. The fermentation takes 70 hours and results in a liquid 6-8% ABV called Wash. Fun fact – the wash vessels used to be cleaned by a man climbing inside to hose down the vessels – now it is steam cleaned.
Step 5 DISTILLATION
The Wash is heated up through the spirit stills . The liquid is brought to the boil, the vapour rises and hits the water condensers and turns back into alcohol. As the spirit vapour passes through the stills it interacts with the copper and the flavour changes. The first pass results in a liquid known as le petit vin 20-24% alcohol. The liquid is distilled 3 times and the operator known as the Stillman controls the temperature at which the liquid is separated .
Step 6 MATURATION
The spirit can’t be called Scotch until it has been matured in an Oak casks for at least 3 years and 1 day. In Aberfeldy the casks used for this had previously contained either sherry or bourbon. The longer it lays in the cask , the more that evaporates – and this is known as the Angels share.
We were then treated to a taste straight out of the barrel and for the connoisseurs tour we headed back upstairs to taste the blends and single malts. Another fun fact – blends were originally made to make the whiskys more palatable and use up to 40 different whisky.
Another beautiful day in Scotland – I have heard that the weather can be grey and rainy – we didn’t see any of that. We had to double up the wetsuits for a morning of canyoning. OK this is definitely a little higher on the adventure scale for me (to be honest I volunteered to take the photos!) 😊
The water was beautiful and after the first jump they didn’t feel the cold (or so I am told). Aivars was our guide and he was amazing. He instilled confidence in all of us and led us calmly through the canyon. It was a mixture of scrambling alongside the river over boulders and jumping into deep pools finishing with a small waterfall. This is definitely something I would never have found on my own.
We finished with River bugging. This is a sort of white water rafting that you do in an individual raft. I donned my wetsuit after lunch and joined our small group. The four of us with 2 guides (Aivars and Johannes) who helped guide us down the river Tummel through 4 different rapids.
We started in the Coronation Pool – Down the first section to – The Narrows – then – Zig Zag – We then paddled down the river to Surfs Up (a small drop down the left of the river) – then 500m or so of Follow the Leader before we got to the penultimate rapid before the falls which they called – Rollercoaster/Rainbow Unicorn Ride – finishing with a drop off the – Lynn of Tummel – into Loch Faskally.
Definitely #a day to remember!