I recently paid a little visit to what is very possibly the most quaint and picturesque distillery in Scotland, Edradour. The small cluster of white washed buildings with the Edradour burn running between them is just such a lovely place to visit, especially on the gloriously sunny day that it was. It feels so old fashioned and traditional that you can’t help but smile when you visit.
I was once again joined by my girlfriend, and I again was the designated driver – a theme seems to be developing here – She seems to be getting a pretty good deal out of things, I’m starting to get worried for my whisky collection… As we wound our way through the hills above Pitlochry it felt more like we were on holiday than in the heart of Scotland, as a Scot I would describe that day an absolute ‘scorcher’! We arrived at the distillery about 10 minutes before the next tour was going out so we got our tickets and had a little wander about before it began.
Our guide for the day was Heather, and she was very funny. We first went up to the old Maltings for a taste of the whisky – great way to start – where we were given a sample of either the Edradour 10yo or their whisky liqueur, as well as a try of their Ballechin, the peated version. We were shown a short video while we enjoyed out tastes as Heather went round and talked about the whiskies. We were also given a bag for our nosing glasses as we got to take it home which was a nice bonus. After this we were told about the malting’s and shown the old kiln.
From there they took us up to the warehouse – an interesting way to take a tour; malting, maturation, then production, but I wasn’t complaining. On the way up to the warehouse we passed some construction works, which is where they are working on their expansion/second distillery, which was interesting to see. This, when complete, should double their production capacity and add significantly to their maturation capabilities. As a whisky lover nothing beats the atmosphere of being in a dunnage warehouse, it’s just incredible. I also noted several casks from other distilleries, Signatory (Edradour’s owners) being an independent bottler it was to be expected, including a cask from Mortlach filled in 1991, which I was half tempted to attempt rolling out to the car.
After wandering amongst the casks for a time we then headed into the production area, or rather squeezed in, I always knew Edradour was tiny, but I didn’t expect that I would be able to take their entire production home in the back seat of my car! Their pot stills are very beautifully shaped the wash still being of a plain design and the spirit a boil-ball, both cooled by worm tubs. It was really good seeing the worm tubs in action.
Another curiosity was seeing their Morton refrigeration unit, which is used for cooling the wort prior to filling the washback’s for fermentation. Installed in 1934 it is the last one remaining in the whisky industry today and it was a real privilege to see. They have two washback’s on site, both made from Douglas fir, which we passed after the distillation. The tour was good, thorough and informative, if not a bit disjointed, but that is mainly due to the layout of the distillery.
Heather did a great job, especially considering the size of the tour we were on in the tiny distillery. Once back at the shop she talked a bit more about the range and the Signatory bottlings. I already knew I was going to get some of the Ballechin, and was very tempted by several of the Signatory bottlings, including a 20yo Imperial. I managed to restrain myself however and just left with the one bottle – which my partner actually treated me to, she’s awfully nice – the Ballechin 10yo, which I hope to review soon.
Thanks again to Heather and all the staff at Edradour for a great day out, and wish you all the best. I’m sure I will be back in the future for another visit…and maybe that bottle of Imperial!