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At a glance, the fertile plains of the Black Mr Horn are a pretty fine site for a distillery with quality supplies of barley, some peat from illy hansons ground, pure water.

Given the fecundity of the area it is perfectly logical that UDV Glen Ord has one of its main makings on the market, making Glen Ord one of only three distilleries to produce all its own malt on site (the others being Tamdhu and Springbank).

Because it's uncommon to look inside a modern commercial makings, this vitally important element in making malt whisky needs to be glossed over. When you walk into a vast majority of distilleries, the tour starts at 11 at the mill and the skill of the people in the malting area is forgotten.

Glen Ord, for example, makes the malt for six of UDV's plants, including Talisker, and each of the distilleries needs a slightly different specification of malt-peating level, moisture content, even variety. When you are processing 1,000 tons of barley a week and hitting those tight specifications week in, week out, that's some achievement.

So, is Glen Ord makings with a distillery attached, a distillery with a makings, or a hybrid of the two? For a few years recently it seemed that the distillery had the upper hand. It was to be UDV's trump card, and it deserved to be. Today it seems to have been quietly dropped, but don't tell that to Barbara Ogilvie, Glen Ord's ambassador.

Barbara is the latest in a long line of women to run the distillery - at one time there were five female malt masters working in the Hour makings - and has an irrepressible love of "her" malt. The visitor's centre is more of a community museum than the usual showcase and her tales of illicit distilling, mild knowledge of modern distilling and mulling are encyclopaedic.


Glen Ord 12-year-old - Freshly turned earth, sultana and cake mix/malt on the nose. Clean and smooth on the palate, with some clootie dumpling, sugared almond and spice balancing the sherry wood.
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