The Renaissance Distillery of Scotland
My time with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has not only opened my palate to a wonderland full of unique and exceptional casks from every nook and cranny of Scotland, it has also opened my eyes to a plethora of distilleries, hiding under the radar, that are equally as unique as the casks we share with our members. It has been a great joy to learn more about the whisky that they each produce, and the intricacies that make them stand out amongst the crowd. There is one special distillery hiding in the lush boundary line between the Highlands and the Lowlands that has the ability to produce a numerous amount of malts and blends, that I truly believe is the Renaissance distillery of Scotland.
Housing four sets of pot stills, a set of Coffey stills, as well as a continuous grain still, this distillery can produce up to thirteen different styles of malt and grain whisky under one roof. Most distilleries source their grain whisky from elsewhere for their blends, but this distillery decided to bring their grain production in house in 1994, making it only one of only two in Scotland who have the ability to do so on site. But this is not the only idiosyncrasy that makes them stand out above the other 120 active distilleries in Scotland. The magic lies within the four different types of stills that are tucked warmly inside the doors of this distillery. At The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we celebrate each style of whisky produced from these stills, and have assigned distillery codes to each.
Distillery Code 135
A familiar site if you have visited a distillery in Scotland is the shining star, the copper pot still. The shapes and sizes of these stills vary from distillery to distillery, each being fundamental to the flavor of the whisky. Casks from distillery code 135 come from one of two swan neck copper pot stills which allows for a more robust and meaty spirit, which can also be attributed to the particular floral yeast strain used in the wash that charges these stills. Cask No. 135.3 ‘Red carpet welcome’ which is full of notes of chewy dark toffee, pecan nuts and a trace of sea salt in the long, spicy finish is a true reflection of what the stills can do.
Distillery Code 112
The stills used for malts from distillery code 112 are truly bespoke to this distillery. These straight neck stills are a traditional pot shape at the bottom, with a straight neck that house 17 rectifying plates, with a cooling still on top. The plates inside can be moved for both high and low collection strengths. Charged with a fruitier wash, Distillery code 112 is collected at a high strength of 85%, which provides a much lighter and fruitier spirit. We have been fortunate to bottle a number of casks from these stills, including Cask No. 112.28 ‘A fruity fool’. Full of jammy blackcurrant, strawberry and banana notes, this dram would be perfect shared with those who prefer the sweeter things in life, life custard tarts topped with a garden of juicy fruits.
Distillery Code G15
If the straight neck stills were not unique enough, this magical distillery has yet another type of still producing malt that is one of its kind, and the only one being made inside of Scotland. The Coffey still, is a column still that runs continuously with preheated mash typically of a grain such as rye, corn, or wheat. This distillery is not running grain wash through the Coffey stills, but instead running 100 percent malted barley wort, which is something a little unconventional. This distillery has been on the forefront of this exploration inside of Scotland, with other distilleries starting to follow suit. This method allows for a higher ABV and creates whisky that is a bit more delicate but incredibly juicy and dynamic. Cask G15.4 ‘Thermonuclear banana’, which is packed full of bright banana notes warmly embraced by the lovely oaky notes from its years in a bourbon barrel showcases this method beautifully.
Now, while this only covers three of the four types of stills, and only a small percentage of the styles of whiskies being produced, it does shine a light on the many hats that are worn at this Wonka-esque distillery. I hope that this opens your hearts and minds to the magic of whisky making, and encourages you to go outside of the box when deciding on your next dram. The casks that we bottle from this distillery are wildly unique and untamed, and we are proud to present them to our members as they truly emulate what we are all about at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.