Sunday, 11 April 2010

Bladnoch - whisky of the Gall-Gael

Bladnoch is the most southerly of the Lowland malts. Its home of Galloway is the land of the foreigner-Gael which makes reference to the Norse-Gaelic population that used to reside here. Non-Scots still make up a sizable percentage of the population. One in particular has made a notable contribution to maintaining local traditions in the form of whisky distilling.

Irishman Ray Armstrong first considered buying the mothballed distillery with a view of turning the site into a housing development. The distillery was previously owned by United Distillers who were later subsumed by the not always benevolent Diageo. UD wanted the distillery closed due to perceived unprofitability but at the same time were reluctant to allow someone else to operate the business in competition. Eventually in 2000, 6 years after purchasing the distillery, UD allowed Armstrong to start distilling whisky again.

UD also left behind 11 large warehouses which are currently used to mature casks for the likes of Arran and Loch Lomond. As production of Bladnoch currently seems to be limited to two months of the year, renting out the space in these aircraft hangers is a valuable source of income.

Bladnoch still have old stock from the UD days which is bottled as 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds. The 19yo sherry cask was our favourite over the bourbon. There are already a number of bottlings from the new era at 8yo, some at 46% and some at cask strength. There's also a peated 8yo at CS which marries the smoke and slight oily feel to more typical Lowland flavours. If it was a choice between this and the Benromach Peat Smoke, Bladnoch would take it. Pick of the bunch though is the Distiller's Choice - a very smooth and tasty 3 year old bottled at 46%. Unbelievably smooth for the age.
Bladnoch also offer a range of their own independent bottlings at CS. These are available to anyone willing to join their forum. Compared to the prices offered at SMWS, Bladnoch are very reasonable. A case in point being a delicious 25yo Caol Ila at 54.3% at £44. SMWS had a price tag almost double this a on a similarly aged Caol Ila recently. Also offered to forum members are the likes of Benriach, Glenburgie and Linkwood as well as some single grain offerings from Cambus and Invergordon.

So, get enrolled on the forum then get yourself down to the oft-neglected Wigtownshire, sample and buy.

Bladnoch Distillery, Bladnoch, Wigtown. Scotland. DG8 9AB

Btw... Royal Mile Whiskies have an interesting piece on their own visit to Bladnoch.

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