Pencaitland, Scotland: Lowlands Region
Glenkinchie is one of the three whisky distilleries featured in our photobook on the Lowland distilleries!
The main word that comes to mind when I think about the East Lothian countryside is gentle. It’s also, to me, a good word to describe Glenkinchie whisky.
Glenkinchie Distillery is situated in a glen of the Kinchie Burn (ooh, see what they did there to get the name?!), a tributary of the River Tyne which runs through the neighbouring picturesque village of Pencaitland in the heart of East Lothian countryside. The distillery is situated about 15 miles south-east of Edinburgh, so it’s a wonderful choice for a day trip if you’re visiting Scotland’s capital city.
Visiting the home of The Edinburgh Malt also gives you a good chance to sample one of the few remaining Lowland whiskies. Indeed, Glenkinchie forms the Lowland’s contribution to Diageo’s Classic Malts, six individual malts chosen as excellent examples of their particular region.
The whisky produced here is distinctively Lowland in style – light and fresh, with a hint of sweetness. Yet Glenkinchie’s offerings are also drier in nature than the other Lowland Distilleries. This is largely as a result of the slightly chalky characteristic of the water used, which comes from the Lammermuir Hills to the south of the distillery.
A tour of Glenkinchie is always interesting and fun. Having done it three times (that’s what happens when you live a couple of barley fields away from the distillery!), I can highly recommend it! Before the tour commences, there is time to wander around the museum and exhibition area, which provides a good overview of the history of whisky in Scotland and at Glenkinchie. I have always been fascinated by the model of a distillery on display here, and consequently spent most of my time enthralled by it. It was built in 1924 by the firm of Basset-Lowke (renowned for building steam engines) for the Empire Exhibition held in London that year. The model has been beautifully restored and looked after.
The museum section at Glenkinchie is housed on what used to be the distillery’s own malting floors. The company stopped producing its own malt in 1969, roughly at the same time that Bairds Malt set up their malting plant about a mile away (just on the other side of Pencaitland). Ironically, Glenkinchie didn’t immediately make use of the maltings right on their doorstep, obtaining their malted barley from somewhere up north instead. Thankfully, this has recently changed, and Glenkinchie’s barley is now truly local!
The tour also allows you to see Glenkinchie’s gorgeous copper stills, among the largest in the industry. Between them, these babies produce 3.5 million litres annually!
At the end of the tour, you are given the opportunity to taste-test some of this output – the Glenkinchie 12 Year Old. If you ask nicely, the guide will even allow you to sample some of the many other whiskies behind the bar too. They won’t let you run amok, but they are generous. Don’t be shy – take advantage of their generosity, but don’t abuse it. Maintain some decorum.
Besides, after the tasting is done, you can purchase to your heart’s content in the shop. Or at least till your credit card finally gets declined. The shop sells a wide range of whiskies, and their prices are very reasonable. If you use the £5.00 discount that you get (for doing the tour), prices are even better.
General Tasting Notes
12 Year Old
The 12 Year Old replaced the original standard Glenkinchie offering (the 10 Year Old). It is reminiscent of the 10 Year Old, but richer and fuller.
This special edition whisky has spent some of its time in Amontillado sherry casks. It is therefore a bit sweeter than the 12 Year Old, but not cloyingly so.
After reading all about the Glenkinchie distillery, we bet you’re curious to taste their whisky – click here to buy a bottle of Glenkinchie now!
Distillery Contact Information
Address: Pencaitland, East Lothian, EH34 5ET
Tel: +44 (0)1875 34 2004
Fax: +44 (0)1875 34 2007
Tours: Tours occur throughout the day. The distillery’s opening hours vary according to the time of the year:
January to Easter: Monday to Friday, 12 noon – 4pm.
April to October: Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Sunday, 12 noon – 5pm.
November to December: Monday to Friday, 12 noon – 4pm. (Closed from 23rd December to 5th January inclusive.)
Tours cost £5.00 per person, but this gets you a £5.00 discount if you purchase whisky from the shop afterwards.
Looking for information on some more distilleries? Click here to return from Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery to the Distilleries page.