Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Smallest Distillery in Scotland

After I graduated from the University of Edinburgh, my parents came over to Scotland for a visit. It was an action-packed three-week trip, as I was determined to show them as much as possible of this small yet rugged country. On our way back to Auld Reekie from the Highlands, we stopped at the quaint town of Pitlochry. We made good time coming back through Aviemore and Dalnaspidal along the A9 so we decided to make a pit stop in Pitlochry for lunch and a tramp around town. I had been to Pitlochry before, to see Blair Castle, but it wasn't until this second visit that I realised Edradour was just outside of town. While I had heard of Edradour, and seen it in most of the whisky shops along the Royal Mile, I didn't know much about it and had not even tried it before. We were so pleased that we stumbled upon it during this road trip because the distillery offers an intimate tour, produces a surprisingly diverse range of spirits, and operates an exceptional tasting room.

There are two things about Edradour that are noteworthy when considering single malt, Scottish whisky. First, it is the smallest distillery in the country. Edradour is operated by two people and barely produces enough product (twelve casks per week) to be considered a legal distillery by the British government. Second, they produce an excessive number of specialty spirits that are finished in various wine casks. Edradour, and their brand of uber-peaty drams Ballechin, create whiskies finished in Port, Burgundy, Chardonnay, Sauternes, Bordeaux, Moscatel, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, and Oloroso casks. Oh ya, they have also released malts using Rum and Tokay barrels. Excessive, right? 

I find it impressive and laudable that they experiment with so many flavours and finishes, but I disliked most of the oddballs that we tried that afternoon in Pitlochry. I found that the white wine barrels in particular imbued the scotch with a flaccid sweetness that clashed with the earthy,  honeyed characteristics of the untainted whisky. In my opinion, the alcohol being used to finish a single malt must be bold and complimentary, which is a difficult task because scotch whisky is such a distinctive drink. I think that the Port, Sherry, and Oloroso casks work to emphasise certain elements of the Edradour (specifically, the murky Almond Roca flavours found in standard Edradour 10 Year) rather than complicating it by adding new notes and features.

BC Liquor Stores do carry Edradour, which I am very happy about, but they only ever have two or three varieties. They always have the standard 10 Year, and they often have a standard cask strength, but it is hard to find one of the Ballechin releases or one of the weird finishes. One of my absolute favourite things to drink on this planet is Edradour's Port Cask Matured whisky. This particular whisky is not just finished in port's matured for several years in those syrupy, sage casks. I just drooled on my keyboard.

Keywords: "Alex Dawkins", "Edradour Scotch", "BC Liquor Stores", "Vancouver events"

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great! And with time sliding to the right side of noon, i'm feeling quite keen to try and obtain some of this. A very tempting review ABCD.