WHISKY DISTILLERIES

SCOTCH WHISKY - TRULY A SPIRIT OF PLACE

Scotch whisky. It may not be quite as old as the hills that hid the early producers, the highlanders, from the soldiers and the excisemen, but this most aromatic and complex of spirits has a very long, romantic, and sometimes stormy history. While the grain may have changed over the centuries, and the manufacturing process grown more sophisticated, at heart whisky remains the product of natural, local ingredients which undergo an almost magical alchemy in a long-necked copper still. And the exciseman in Whitehall still levies his punishing taxes!

The uninitiated, driving through Scotland on holiday, might be forgiven for thinking they had strayed into an Eastern film set, such is the impact of one’s first sight of the ‘pagoda’, the pyramidal tower that is the top of the kiln. In the lowlands, the highlands and islands, and especially in Speyside, these tell-tale landmarks tell the visitor they have arrived at a distillery, a manufacturing plant like no other.

Just as there is no such thing as a bad malt whisky, so each distillery has something unique to offer; landscape, a story, a water source, a take on hospitality. Glenmorangie used to claim that an accidental dent in one of its stills gave rise to the flavour! What follows then is a brief guide to just some of Scotland’s distilleries, where the welcome is as warm as a dram by the fire on a mid-winter’s night.

Written by our Whisky enthusiast Gordon Coxhill – Vintage Acquisitions

  • All
  • Campbletown
  • Islands
  • Islay
  • Lowland
  • Speyside
  • The Highlands

A secretary of Harper’s Weekly Gazette, he visited every working distillery in Great Britain and Ireland between 1885-87, including 129 in Scotland.

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Shakespeare does not record whether Macbeth was a devotee of the local whisky, but his descendants almost certainly were.

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Shortly after the first spirit flowed from the new stills by the banks of the River Lossie in Elgin, on 13th September, 1897, much of it was encased in casks which had once held Sicilian Marsala wine; a truly innovative experiment for the time.

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Anybody making the pilgrimage to the village of Bunnahabhain, by the Margadale Spring on the Sound of Islay at the north-east tip of the island…

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The name James Fleming is still revered in the Strathspey village of Aberlour, some 12 miles south of Elgin.

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Just imagine. If the bottom had not fallen out of the flax dressing business – removing the straw from the fibres of the linseed plant in readiness for turning it into linen…

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A coronation is naturally likely to bring on a bit of nerves. So a young King James 1V of Scotland can hardly be blamed for stopping off for a beer at the brewery at Blackford, Perthshire, on the way to his crowning in 1488.

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What’s in a name? An awful lot when the name is The! Back in 1824, George Smith caused something of a rumpus among his peers when he obtained the first legal licence to distil spirits at Castleton of Blairfindy in the River Livet valley.

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A tour to some of Scotland’s distilleries happily introduces you to some of the most stunning, dramatic scenery in the world; straths and wild moors, lochs and rugged mountains.

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Edradour got big by being small. A glance at the photograph of the distillery near Pitlochry in the heart of Perthshire confirms that it started life as a farm.

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If it is true that Glenfiddich is the name most often brought to mind by those with only a passing interest in whisky, thanks to its ubiquitous presence on supermarket and pub shelves, that would surely please founder William Grant.

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At the foot of Ben Rinnes at Ballindalloch, Speyside, lies an area known as Valley of the Green Grassland. Only in the Gaelic does it take on great significance; Glenfarclas.

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The whisky from the Moray Firth fishing port of Macduff has suffered an identity crisis in the past because bottlings were released at various times under the name Macduff, The Deveron or Glen Deveron. Today, look out for the latter.

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Located near Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Bladnoch is not only a prime example of Scotland’s Lowland Malt, it is the industry’s most southerly distillery.

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Ever dreamt of being the Laird of your own Scottish estate? Become a Friend of Laphroaig and you are rewarded with a lifetime lease on a square foot of land adjacent to the distillery’s Kilbride Stream.

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The name of the distillery painted in stark, tall letters on pristine, white-washed walls, numbered casks sit by the waterside to be imbued with some unnamed essence of the ocean…

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Located on the south bank of the silvery River Tay, into which the whisky’s water source, the Pitilie Burn, continues to flow as it has done for hundreds of years

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As the oldest distillers on the Isle of Islay – founded in 1779 – Bowmore is surely entitled to speak with some authority.

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The opening of a £140 million state-of-the-art distillery and visitor centre that made the shortlist for the Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture.

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Brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill finally founded a distillery in 1830 at Carbost on the west coast of the Isle of Skye.

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Almost 20 years later Glenmorangie (it rhymes with orangey) joined the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy company.

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Cardhu was an early entrant into the Visitor Centre field among distilleries, but sadly, in common with all others, it is closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Isle of Jura single malt whisky was finally re-established in 1963 and it has not looked back since, steadily garnering both reputation and following.

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The whisky is matured in American and European oak in which Oloroso sherry has previously resided for two years.

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Even down to the packaging, there is something distinctly clean and clear about the Isle of Arran single malt.

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Whisky Cask Investment Guide

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    I’m a whisky lover and always have been, and with a few friends we meet once a month and sample different drams. I came across Vintage Acquisitions in the Sunday Times and are now in the process of setting up a meeting to have the investment opportunity explained. Watch this space.
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