We found the elusive cat! New
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Long Cane, Wheelchair, Powerchair
Visiting distilleries is always a bit hit and miss as you don't know what sort of experience you may have if you're a wheelchair user. We rocked up, parked the car, made ourselves known and the magic began! Not at all what you might expect and such an immersive experience to excite the senses. One to be revisited as once is simply not enough.
Transport & Parking
We arrived by car as the distillery is situated just on the outskirts of the village of Brora in the Highlands. Following the brown coloured tourist signs in the village we soon found the distillery nestling below the nearby hills. The large, white looking building with the copper stills could be seen well before anything else so we knew what to aim for. The roadsigns directed us into the entrance road and we soon spotted the big blue 'wheelchair logo' sign that pointed toward the accessible parking. We followed the road up the hill, admiring the Johnnie Walker figure in his bright yellow coat as we drove. Two accessible parking bays, neatly marked out, invited us to park and stop a while.
Getting out of the car we walked and wheeled across to explore the brightly coloured statue of the striding man. It was great to be able to get up close and take the compulsory selfie. The striding man was set in the pathway which was made of gravel set in resin. A wonderful surface to be able to wheel over; one of the best types of path. Whilst we looked at our new found yellow clad friend we notice that hiding under the nearby tree was an elusive cat. We would find out more about this later on in our tour. We ventured back to the main entrance where a couple of steps led to the door and I took the wheelchair ramp which led gently up from the side of the entrance. Going inside we were welcomed by the staff and having booked our tour in advance they knew we were coming. Always a good idea if you're a wheelchair user as they can arrange a couple of tweaks to the tour to offer you a great experience. We had a quick look around the shop and it's array of interesting things. I took the lift up to the first floor, the lift was one of those box style lifts and perfectly adequate for my needs. Arriving at the upper level we went in to the bar area and met our tour host. After a quick explanation of what we could expect the tour started. We were gathered in a foyer area and started to learn of the history of the distillery. When the time came to move on to our next point, the magic started. Without spoiling too much of the surprise a bookcase in the wall opened and we were taken in to the next room. I was guided to a wheelchair accessible spot around the massive wooden table. What happened next is something of a secret, to preserve the surprise, but felt quite magical and immersive. After all, there aren't many tables I have seen the come alive with drawers rising in front of you and popping open. The experience was a masterclass in story telling as well as being one of the most immersive and inclusive that we have encountered on our many travels. Our host was fabulously creative in incorporating audio description for my visually impaired pal. We could follow everything, see everything and felt part of everything thanks to Valerie's storytelling. From here the tour divided, with some going to the production area which has ladders and gantries to navigate. We took the accessible tour and enjoyed hearing more about production as we sat overlooking the still house. We were in the bar area and enjoyed hearing more about whisky making as well as being able to see a video of Valerie's production tour. We felt as though we were on the tour with her. Our host, Daisy, added to the story and as items were being mentioned and shown to our tour companions, she offered us the same items such as a lump of peat or some barley. This worked amazingly well for us and we felt very connected to the tour; albeit we were doing it remotely. At the appointed time each of our tour groups came together in the bar and we all sat around the tasting table to enjoy sampling the delights of what Clynelish is all about. Overall a fabulous experience and we had many a story to take away which is the important bit for us!
There are several toilets adjacent to the bar foyer. A large accessible toilet is located at the end of the corridor. Plenty of space and great to see nice fittings just like all the other loos.
We met Daisy, Valerie and a lady serving at the bar whose name we forgot (sorry) ... Everyone was welcoming, friendly and keen to make every visitors' visit an experience. Both Daisy and Valerie were fabulous story tellers and we will remember our visit because of that. We loved our time at the distillery and the icing on the cake was the opportunity to sit in the bar and enjoy the fabulous views out toward the sea.