remaining active Lowland distilleries, one of the smallest in terms of output (though this is due to contracts, rather than physical capacity) - that make it a very interesting place.
|© Bladnoch Distillery|
The distillery was closed in 1993, seemingly for good, during one of DCL/Diageo's periodic rash of closures of their stock of malt whisky distilleries. However, the distillery was once again saved by the Irish, this time in the form of Raymond and Colin Armstrong, who purchased the shuttered distillery as a holiday home. Though their original contract stipulated that the property would never again be used for distilling, they were able to finagle a renegotiation that allowed them to start up distilling again in 2000. However, there was a clause that they would not produce more than 100,000 liters of spirit a year, despite the distillery cranking out 1.3 million liters a year during the 1980s.
One of the most interesting features of the distillery is their whisky school, which lets amateur's learn how to operate a distillery over the course of a few days. I really wish I could do this myself, though it does tend to be a bit on the pricey side. Even if I won't get to do more than take a tour, I'm really looking forward to visiting the distillery this summer during my tour of SW Scotland.
In an effort to get to know the distillery from afar, I trekked to the Highland Stillhouse to try an old bottling of their pre-closure whisky.
Nose: rich honied malt, lightly fruity (berries, grape, banana, raisins), floral (roses, violets), vanilla, almost undetectable oak, bubblegum. After adding a few drops of water, a lot more vanilla comes out, the floral and malt notes merge, it becomes creamier, and the sherry influence is more clear.
Taste: honey vanilla malt and light sherry influence throughout, a burst of grape near the front, floral tangy oak with a lot of creaminess mid-palate, then big black pepper near the back. After dilution, the flavors become more integrated/less distinct, but the sherry becomes more apparent with a bit of sourness and strawberries at the back.
Finish: malty, milk chocolate, light oak, grape, black pepper, a touch of salt?
Despite being bottled at 40% and probably having sat open for years, this whisky was full of flavor. This is exactly what I want a Lowland whisky to be - fresh and malty, a bit fruity and floral, with just enough oak influence to keep it in balance. I could drink this for ages, but sadly one dram will have to do. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for more Bladnochs, if this one is any representation of what the distillery can do.