The Edinburgh whisky
Glenkinchie is the nearest distillery to Scotland’s capital and is known as the “Edinburgh Malt”. I was visiting on a cycling day trip that began with a train from Edinburgh Waverley to Musselburgh. The six minute journey makes Musselburgh an ideal commuter town close to the city with the added attraction of the seaside. This popularity is obvious as the first segment of my route passed extensive modern housing estates. The mostly identical buildings are distinguished only by the model of car in the drive and type of plants in the garden. The route took me onto the pathways by the River Esk that are popular with local dog walkers. I was amused by the variety of canine names being shouted out- “Honey”, “Sasha” and “Fuzzy.”
My bicycle was the only one in the distillery car park which made me feel a little conspicuous. This is mainly a driving destination, a place to come for a half-day from Edinburgh, so it was unsurprising that the other visitors watched me with interest. However, the tour guide was used to seeing cyclists and told me, "once we had this guy who cycled to every distillery in Scotland. I think Glenkinchie was the last one he came to".
There is something magical about a distillery tour. You are entering a secret world of sweet and earthy aromas, heat and copper machinery. You are seeing a process that has little changed in over 150 years.
"Glenkinchie is known as the breakfast whisky," the guide smiled. "This is because it has a lighter character and is easier to drink than other malts." The very idea of drinking whisky for breakfast could only be Scottish! I could not imagine having it with my cornflakes, but somebody somewhere must have done this to bring about this nickname.
The tasting room is kitted out with a bar where I was encouraged to sample and compare whiskies from each region. It was tempting to stay in that dark and warm room instead of going back out into the cold, but I restricted myself to one glass so that I could be safely in charge of my bicycle.