That weekend I was faced with a proper challenge: how to entertain a visitor from Brazil in Scotland’s North-east, mid-February… I’ve come up with a couple of options within a 90min drive from Aberdeen (the City attractions exhausted by this point) but all looked bleak – mainly due to the weather but also the slow, non-touristy season.
Then, the obvious hit me: isn’t whisky one of our main global exports?! My visitor jumped onto the idea eagerly.
But alas, whether it’s the remnants of Covid or simply the sign of the times, the distillery tour options were severely limited (it may also have something to do with trying to book for the same day…). My guest said that no tour was needed and a simple walkabout would do.
If you’ve been to the glorious Moray land, you won’t be surprised that I headed for Craigellachie first. Here came the first disappointment of the day: Macallan’s is no longer open to casual visitors and all arrivals – even the gift shop ones – need to be pre-booked. This being Saturday lunchtime I was not surprised they had no availability until the following day; we had to turn around without even a glimpse of the architectural wonder.
Despite this blip, I continued with my original plan and headed for Glenfiddich next. The car park was eerily quiet on arrival, but we promptly discovered the air was far from calm, pierced by the wailing of a siren originating somewhere around the stills’ area. We were about to cross the road towards the complex when we spotted a man in a yellow safety vest running in our direction: the distillery was currently closed for safety reasons, awaiting the arrival of a fire engine; no, this was not a drill. We were advised to best wait in the car.
Feeling cursed, I suggested the coffee; but two minutes later I was reminded Dufftown’s pickings on that front were slim. We walked past The Glassworks to try the only other coffee place suggested by Apple Maps.
In all fairness, The Coffee Pot didn’t make a good first impression: devoid of any atmospheric decor, with staff not rushing to accommodate you, or smile for that matter… But at this point we needed a brew and a minute to strategise.
You enter the cafe on one side, greeted by an empty ice cream fridge and a pastry case with carb-heavy tray bakes of little appeal to weight watchers – here we were told to wait for our table to be cleared in the mysterious room next door. Two minutes later we crossed over and took our allocated table which could have hosted 8 of us at ease. Ordering just 2 coffees felt inappropriate, but at least I upped my companion’s Americano with a mocha.
I had no expectations at all, but when the mug arrived, I felt a pang of ease. There was something about the texture of the drink that didn’t feel me with dread, which was a good sign. I took a sip – and couldn’t help a blissful smile spread over my face.
The brew was virtually perfect. It was thick and creamy, with punchy sweetness that was not overwhelming; no bitterness or burnt sensations, and the temperature was spot on: just right to indulge a sip or two but still hot enough to have you pace yourself, and savour. What a revelation!
On exit I spotted only a tub of Cadbury’s milk cocoa powder, so it wasn’t about the chocolate selection; since I usually find Cadbury’s too sweet in any form, it’s hats down for hitting the taste balance just right on my mocha.
It had to end on a bit of a reality check though – the bill for that came up to £6.80… maybe we paid a premium for the legroom?
So, all in all, I cannot fault the coffee at the Pot; but (for a change) the thing that pulls its marks down is the fact – on this occasion – I did not want to sit there any longer than necessary. Maybe bad timing?
It served the purpose though as by the time we left, the fire threat at Glenfiddich had blown over, which allowed me to present my guest with a bit more Scottish hospitality, on a day when they saw snow for the first time ever.
A successful excursion overall, I reckon!
Mocha: tbc, c. £3.60-3.80
A fantastic coffee that is much warmer than the venues’ service or atmosphere…!
To quote a classic: “Welcome to Scotland”…?
To learn more about the Glasshouse, visit their website here.