The Speyside Cooperage is on most of the “must see” lists for the Speyside region. Since the cooperage was walking distance from our hotel and we arrived a bit early, we were able to walk over and tour the distillery the afternoon we arrived.
The beginning of the tour is self-guided: visitors walk along a corridor lined with displays that contain a lot of information about how barrels are made, and the history of the Speyside Cooperage. After viewing all the displays, you watch a short video and then head up a flight of stairs to an enclosed balcony that overlooks the cooperage floor, “where all the magic happens.” At this point, guides are with you and ready to answer any questions you might have, and further explain the action you’re witnessing below.
The absolute coolest bit of the whole tour, though, was at the end, where visitors get to try and put together their own mini demonstration cask:
Eugene raced another tourist to see who could build their cast the fastest. I took pictures. Let’s just say I was afraid to humiliate myself in the attempt. (Really we wanted to buy a couple of these to take home, but they’re not available for sale. It’s too bad; we were told that a lot of people ask, but it’s too expensive to make them for sale. What a shame!)