Monday, December 07, 2009
Lowland Single Malt Whisky
A first! Dr. Whisky has not yet featured a dram from Bladnoch distillery. Well after 370 Malt Missions, it's about fricking time. And appropriate premiere for the distillery as this release is the oldest edition made wholly of spirit produced by the current owners.
Bladnoch had a rocky century since being founded in 1817 by Thomas and John McLelland. Production ceased in 1905, operated intermittently between 1911 and 1937, dismantled in 1941, reopened in the 1950s, came under the ownership of InverHouse distillers in teh 1970s, sold to Arthur Bell & Sons in 1983 and eventually Guiness and United Distillers (the artist eventually known as Diageo) and was mothballed in 1993.
In 1994, Irish developer Raymond Armstrong purchased the distillery buildings (initally as holiday homes for his brother and their wives). Realising the importance of the distillery to the local economy and heritage, Armstrong became determined to get Bladnoch up and running as a distillery again. By December 2000, spirit once again flowed from Scotland's southernmost stills.
Bladnoch is one of the few distilleries that sells casks outside of the industry, ie. to you and your buddies. They are currently filling in to fresh ex-bourbon barrels using their highly peated make (18-22ppm). Click HERE for more info.
On his Bladnoch 8yo post, HERE, Ralfy seems to suggest that the "intrinsic quality" of the spirit is affected by marketing budgets of large companies. Because of this, he says, he favours smaller independent distillers. While I probably agree with his conclusion, I don't follow this logic. Nonethless, I do enjoy following his reviews wherever his rationale rollercoaster takes me. But to suggest that the guys making the liquid at Bladnoch are easier to connect with ("they view you as CUSTOMERS rather than CONSUMERS" paraphrase) than the staff at Glenmorangie or Glenfiddich or Glendullan is a sweeping generalisation and doesn't take into consideration that Bladnoch was operating as a tourist site/museum for years before it went back into production in 2000. That being said, his statement is based in a romantic idealism that is seemingly getting chipped away at more and more every day. The whisky world needs more of Ralfy's rants, Richard Paterson's shameless enthusiasm, and generally more respect rather than the laptop pundits' platitudes about the how the whisky industry is failing us this time, that time, and next time. But I suppose like a new girlfriend, the more we learn about her the more we take her for granted.
Don't know where that came from but there it is. Let's taste!
Fresh, new makey punch. Lemons, grapefruit, balanced with honey, vanilla, and orchard fruits.
Citric bitterness at first, new make barley sweetness, honey, slight oakiness, pear and apples.
Simple, clean, youthful and a good representation of a lowland style.
Malt Mission #371
Malt Mission #373
Malt Mission #374
Malt Mission #375
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