Edradour. Expanding and won't be the smallest distillery for much longer!
Edradour, the claimed to fame “smallest distillery in Scotland”. This definitely is no longer! Apparently people are really liking their single malts and I actually witnessed the construction of a new large building on site to keep up with this demand. It of course wasn’t actually the smallest anymore due to the craft distillery movement, but it really is an epic distillery and layout that many people dream of visiting. The distillery has been through the hands of a couple owners over the years like most distilleries, but since 2002 it has been owned by an independent bottler named Andrew Symington. His bottling company is Signatory Vintage. Ever since I arrived in Scotland these private bottling companies are everywhere. You don’t hear much about them in the states, but I learned quite a bit about this unique industry during this tour.
I won’t go into great detail about the independent bottlers, but I feel it is important to touch on it since it is a decent part of the industry. These private bottlers can be confusing for people new to the world of whisky. Many times the names of distilleries and brands you have heard of are now in different bottles with other logos on them. Different age statements than you are used to, different pricing etc. Not only are these for collectors and whisky enthusiasts, but they are also a way for distillers to sell excess casks that don’t fit their flavor profile, excess inventory etc. It is a win-win for both parties apparently. An independent bottler will buy already aging casks to age further or new make spirit directly from the distillery. It is now up to the bottler to decide how long it ages and when to release it. Clearly though, the independent bottler needs some sort of clientele and market environment they already work within and exist within to sell these unique bottles. Check it out…
Either way, it is great for a bottler like this to buy a distillery, because he already owns half of the process for getting it to market. Back to Edradour information. It is very safe to say that they are significantly smaller than most major brands. They produce about 130,000 liters of pure alcohol per year, where as Glenfiddich produces that in about three days. They currently export to about 35 countries and work the stills 5 days a week. They still use traditional outside, worm tube condensers and that water comes right from the stream that runs through the site. Ultimately the actual production process happens in one room. They have two Oregon pine washbacks, one mash-tun and two stills. The stills are quite small as well.
In regards to product and casks they use all different kinds of wine barrels and bourbon barrels. On site they hold 6,000 casks in the traditional style, three rows high. Not only will you find Edradour single malt resting here, but also a lot of the Signatory Vintage casks as well. Although Edradour used to be mainly used to make spirit and support the blend House of Lords it is now just for their single malts. They currently have multiple unique bottling's, but their main brands are “Edradour Single Malt 10 Year”, Caledonia 12 Year” and “Ballechin”. All with unique bottlings and different age statements within the range. I tried the 10 year and the Ballechin. The Ballechin is actually peated. Highland brands like Edradour typically aren’t peated, but they wanted to jump on the bandwagon (and will admit it). They wanted it to have a different name to not give it a highland expectation.
Edradour Single Malt 10 Year
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Honey, peach, peach cobbler, kit-kat bar!
Palate: Peach, Oily, smooth, coco, lingers of aged wood, bark chips.
Ballechin 10 Year
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Peat, with lemon lime zest, smells stoney, peppermint
Palate: Smoke hits, with light pepper, cedar, apples. A softer peat than I have ever smelled.
It was very difficult to not walk away with some of the cool vintage signatory bottles, but I have to restrain myself or else my trip will get cut short! I did however get to speak further with my tour guide who was actually from Australia. We talked a bit about ourselves and we both shared an interest in eventually opening up our own whisky bars to continue educating people about the world of whisky. I actually am getting a drink with her in Perth this weekend. Cheers to brainstorming!
Here is a picture of actual frothing and bubbling of the yeast doing it's work in the washback..
Next up is Blair Athol…