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Glenlivet Distillery

Campbell Sunbeam

Glenfiddich before visit

After Dave Spence misfire caused spark!

Saved by the local fire brigade

Train takes the strain

Dave finds the prize at Tomatin. A years supply of the amber nectar, if he shares with a few friends!
Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Highland Car Club Tour of the Stills  - 15 April 2017
Report  Dave Spence Photos -
Mag Campbell, Highland Car Club (Facebook)

25 cars and crews gathered at Fairways Leisure, Inverness on a cold blustery overcast morning for the start of the Highland Car Club’s third running of their one day tour, this time entitled the “Tour of the Stills”, the name giving a clue to some of the locations we would be visiting along the way.

As usual an excellent mix of vehicles had signed up for the event, ranging from a ’52 Healey 100S to various modern sports cars with a variety of cars from the ‘50’s onwards in between, including an interesting single-seater, 3-wheeled kit car based on Renault mechanicals but for all the world looking like cut down a pre-war Auto-Union or Mercedes race car (but with 3 wheels!!)

An interesting departure this year (an idea used in the CCHMSC Galloway Gallop last year and unashamedly pinched off Jim Paterson!) was a quiz that required the crews to name all the distilleries they passed en route, just to ensure they had kept to the correct route. The standard of awards at the end of the event would depend on the number of correct answers.

After the usual crew briefing by Mark Forbes, Clerk of the Course, the crews headed off from 1001 onwards towards Culloden Moor, Croy and Cawdor, and thereafter the first Distillery of the day, the Royal Brackla. Passing quickly by (hopefully – a bit early yet) they turned right down the A939 towards Grantown on Spey crossing Dava Moor. By this time the sun had shown its face and some of the hardier soft-top crews decided to get some fresh air. It wouldn’t stay like that all day though unfortunately.

From Grantown crews headed north east on the A95, very quickly turning off on a small “white” loop to pick up the Balmenach distillery on the way. Then at Cromdale we crossed the Spey and took the scenic B9102 route for a short while rejoining the A95 at Advie where we turned left, just in time to pass the superb Tormore Distillery on the right.

From there after Bridge of Avon we took another “white” loop passing Glenfarclas and back to the A95. After a quick left – right at Marypark, crews came back on to the B9102 via Knockando and Archiestown passing more distilleries along the way. A left on to the A941 took us to Rothes where we didn’t actually pass the entrance to any distilleries although there are two in that town.

After Rothes it was back into the country on the B9105, B9103 and A95, passing a few more on the way. Just before Keith there was a sneaky little white road which avoided the town, and which a few crews missed! This took  us on to the B9104 travelling alongside the privately owned Keith and Dufftown Railway. Just before Dufftown we turned right on to another white loop via the wonderful sounding village of Maggieknockater then left on to the A95 and Craigellachie where we turned left again passing the Speyside Cooperage to end up at our lunch halt at Glenfiddich Distllery visitor centre. Car parking facilities were excellent and it was great to see all our cars lined up in the sunshine.

Lunch facilities were excellent and the staff were anticipating our arrival. Unfortunately, having just sat down to lunch, the fire alarm sounded and we did exactly what you are supposed to do in a crisis – sat there and looked at each other expecting the alarm to stop…. Which it didn’t. We were herded outside to a safe area by members of staff. Some of our number, deciding this might be their last meal ever grabbed their food and took it with them. The local Fire Brigade were very quickly on the scene and presumably decided there was nothing wrong and we were eventually allowed to resume our lunch …. Great excitement!

Leaving the lunch halt we headed into Dufftown and a left then right via the Mortlach Distillery took us on to the B9009 through Glen Rinnes. We then looped left and right via a couple of tricky whites to pass right through the middle of the Glenlivet Distillery (couldn’t miss this one!) then on to the B9136 through scenic Strath Avon to join the A939 west of Tomintoul.

From there we headed towards Grantown again but turned off left towards Nethy Bridge, Boat of Garten and Carrbridge. On the home stretch now but any more distilleries?? Answer – yes, the final one of the day picked up by turning left at the top of the Slochd Summit on the A9 and diverting through Tomatin with its huge distillery.

Up the A9 towards Inverness then going left on the B851 and B861 took us back to the finish at Fairways.

A superb carvery meal was served up by Fairways and the presentation of awards was made by Mark Forbes and Fiona Munro. Gold awards for getting all 17 distilleries correct were received by a fair number of crews, but there were a notable number of Silvers. Nobody had gone far enough off route to get a lowly Bronze though.

The general opinion seemed to be that the Tour of the Stills was a great success, many never having been on some of the roads used before despite living in the area for years.

So what next year? Tour of the …….? HCC are open to suggestions.

Updated 20 April 2017