We had an inkling that a VIP visit might be in the offing when one of the officials from the Castle of Mey popped into the distillery to buy whisky for the royal residence. When the security team came a day or two later, we started to get our hopes up… And then the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness (Lord Thurso) called to confirm!
Cue, a seriously urgent sprucing up of the distillery. True, it was scheduled for this summer anyway, but it’s not every day that the future king pays us a visit, so we twisted the arms of various suppliers and contractors, and accelerated the work schedule accordingly. Old lacquer was stripped from the stills, then the raw copper polished until it gleamed – and a fresh coat of lacquer rapidly applied. Walls, stairways, walkways and handrails were painted, and brass and copper fittings and pipes were polished until the whole place was spotless.
The visit itself was a ton of fun. HRH arrived with a plethora of assistants and security personnel, all of whom were quickly pushed aside as he mingled with distillery staff and visitors alike. The inimitable Charlie Ross conducted a tour of the stillroom, then it was up to the warehouses and a tasting. Morven was a definite favourite, with HRH proclaiming a love of all things peated. Following a dram… or two… or three… it was off to the bottling hall, where he was presented with a specially engraved bottle, which he filled himself (there’s a first time for everything!). All in all a huge success, and much more laid back than expected. Here’s hoping to more visits in the future!