Bladnoch started in 1817 and remains today one of Scotland’s last lowland distilleries. It is actually the most southerly distillery in Scotland. The distillery was bought and sold several times over the 20th century, spending long periods lying idle in between. Finally, Guinness UDV (now Diageo) sold it to Raymond Armstrong from Northern Ireland in 1994. The deal brokered was that Bladnoch would never produce whisky again but Diageo relented in 2000 and the distillery is now allowed to produce 250,000 bottles a year. Unlikely as it now seems, Armstrong planned to redevelop the buildings for housing. But the whisky gods were not to be so easily distracted and, after some time, Armstrong began to understand the cultural importance of his new baby and what the distillery meant to the local community. So he determined to start distilling again. Armstrong commenced the resurrection and in December 2000 the first distillation was made. The distillery is equipped with a stainless steel semi-lauter mash tun, six washbacks made of 0regon pine (of which only three are in use) and one pair of stills. Due to the increase in production costs (barley, casks and fuel), the owners took a decision in 2009 to cease production for the time being. According to Armstrong, the intention is to start distilling again during 2012. Of the 11 warehouses on site, Bladnoch uses only one for its own purposes while the others are rented to other distilleries. The latter is also an important contribution to finances of the business. Nearly 50,000 casks from other companies are stored at Bladnoch. The distillery is coming of age, producing its own malts to put alongside older stock bought in by proprietor Raymond Armstrong. In the process, it is also restoring pride in a remote region of the Lowlands, in the deep south-western corner of Scotland. All the signs are encouraging, and there has been a nice mix of malts, some peated, some not, but all distinctive and impressive. Bladnoch is the southernmost working distillery in Scotland. It takes its water from the river Bladnoch, which flows into the Solway Firth, which forms the border with England.

bladnoch whisky

Until four years ago, all official bottling came from the previous owner’s production. These included 13 to 19 year olds but, in spring of 2010, a couple of 20 year olds were also released. In 2008 the first release from stock distilled under the current ownership appeared. Three 6 year old cask strengths were released – a bourbon matured, a sherry matured and one lightly peated from a bourbon barrel. All these have since appeared in older versions with a 70 year old lightly peated and sherry matured, as well as a 17 year old sherry matured being released in spring/summer 2012. The range has mostly been about single casks bottled but the first step to a core range was made in 2011, when Distiller’s Choice with no age statement, bottled at 46%, was launched. This was followed up in 2012 with a Peated Distiller’s Choice. The whisky is recognizable with its pale straw colour. It smells of sweet barley and cereal, fruits and a bit of smoke. The whisky is light in taste but mouth-coating. Loads of vanilla and delicate peat smoke.

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