Our first stop was the Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK, where the majority of the whisky casks used at the Speyside Distilleries are made or repaired. They still use traditional methods and tools and when you visit you can see the coopers in action.
To become a cooper you start a 4 year apprenticeship at 16 years of age and upon completion you receive a certificate that is recognized around the world. This is definitely a respected profession as it does not look easy. A seasoned cooper can average 30 casks a day and they don't get paid until the cask is complete and has passed all the air tight tests.
|This guy has been building casks for 30+ years!|
I highly recommend making this a stop if you're visiting a Speyside distillery. There is a cute little cafe with furniture made from retired whisky casks.
And after (or before) you visit the cooperage you must make a stop at Craigellachie bridge. It's just beautiful and you can often see an angler fishing in the River Spey (this is the river the Speyside distilleries get the water for their whisky).
Our next stop was an actual distillery! I chose The Glenlivet since I hadn't been yet and I had heard good things. Definitely the best tasting whisky I've had but I was overall disappointed in the tour. No brief history, no pictures inside and you have to pick the whisky you taste instead of getting a tasting/comparison of 3 different years. Of course I was the only one really disappointed since I had a few other tours to compare it too, Mom, Dad and Ryan enjoyed it and the whisky was smooth and I guess that's all that really matters!