The new world of whisky has the upmost respect for the history of whisky and our next distillery has been on a 15-year mission to recapture some of the history surrounding one of the oldest distilleries on record. We venture back to Scotland and discover the rebirth of whisky from Lindores Abbey Distillery; a very modern whisky-making approach on an ancient site!
The birth place of whisky is often disputed; however, if you search for the first recorded distillation of Scotch whisky, you will find an Exchequer Roll dated 1494 that states: “To Brother John Cor (a Lindores Monk), 8 bolls of malt (that would create about 350 litres of spirit), wherewith to make aqua vitae for the King (James IV).” The water of life, or Aqua Vitae, originates from Latin and was the term given to distilled alcohol. In Gaelic this translates to uisge beatha, which was then shortened to uisge and was eventually pronounced as whisky.
Patience and Passion
A young Drew Mackenzie Smith was researching the history of Lindores Abbey, which has been in the family for over 100 years, when he was inspired by a line on page 127 of the book by the late Michael Jackson ‘Scotland and its Whiskies’ that stated “Lindores Abbey… for the whisky lover it is a pilgrimage.” This sparked a passion for the recreation of a Distillery at Lindores and set Drew and his wife on a 15-year mission of commitment, patient planning, industry engagement and encouragement to secure funding, build the new distillery and start distilling on this ancient site. In 2021, their patience and passion was rewarded with the first release of whisky, helping to re-open the history books for Lindores Abbey and whisky production.
The Ancient Site
Archeological studies and digs, working with organic architects and using locally sourced materials allowed Drew and Helen to maximize the treasures offered by this ancient site, providing a modern finish to the attractive traditional features and curious geometry of the existing farm buildings. The Stillroom, one of the most beautiful in the industry, sees three copper pot stills overlooking the old Abbey ruins through a very modern wall of frameless glass. The Cloister links the stillroom to the visitors centre and provides a function room that is steeped in history, and there is also the shop, refectory and Legacy Bar that all maximize the use of this traditional three-sided steading.
A Malt of Remarkable Character
Learning from the great distilleries, both within Scotland and those further afield in the new world of whisky, the ambition of the Distillery Manager (Gary Haggart) was to create “a single malt which can mature early yet with great potential to age.” Using locally sourced barley, a seriously long fermentation time, and the unusual sister spirit stills (Poppy & Gee, named after Drew & Helen’s daughters) that provide additional copper contact to enhance and refine the wonderful flavours of their award-winning new make spirit. This spirit was awarded the best in Scotland by the World Whiskies Awards 2020, acknowledging their focus on producing the best products to pay homage to the history of Lindores, and creating a fantastic base spirit for the future.
A Particular Process
A fermentation time of 114 hours was found to add tropical fruitiness to the spirit.
The wash was stopped at the first sign of frothing, then let to rest before bringing heat back in.
They ran the spirit really slowly during the cut on the spirit stills, and cut high at around 75% and came down to 66%, which produced notes of caramel, butterscotch and sweet fruits.
A carefully selected range of Bourbon Barrels, Wine Barriques and Sherry Butts are used to further enhance the spirit during the maturation process. Hopes and expectations were fulfilled with the final spirit being complex, robust and interesting.
New Make Spirit - First released in 2018, the award winning spirit provides a full range of flavours, including nuts, fruit, sweet, and spice. Essential for anyone wanting to understand the complete story from the spiritual home of Scotch whisky.
Aqua Vitae - A multi award-winning botanical spirit that is handcrafted using their new make spirit that is infused with locally sourced spices, dried fruits, and green herbs. This all produces a harmony of flavours.
Lindores Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV (1494) - Released in 2021, this re-entered Lindores in to the history books as a whisky producer. A natural colour and non-chill-filtered, this whisky provides notes of mellow vanilla, dried fruits, citrus and spice. There was also a Commemorative Release to mark the momentous occasion.
The Casks of Lindores Bourbon Edition - A limited release that uses Old Forester Bourbon barrels to mature their new make spirit. Bottled at a higher ABV than the core release, there are flavours of vanilla, orchard fruits, oak and peppery spice.
Lindores Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV (1494)
Modern techniques being used on this ancient site have put Lindores back on the map as a whisky distillery, finally rewarding the patience and passion of Drew and Helen. The first release is a whisky of remarkable character for its age, with their dedicated focus on the process, producing notes of sweet pear drops and toffee apples. Over 500 years wait, but well worth it!
The Casks of Lindores Bourbon Edition
A Limited-Edition release from Lindores, sees them maturing their award-winning New Make spirit in Old Forrester Bourbon casks, which after 3-years of maturation really highlights the impact of the bourbon casks on the spirit. Bottled at a higher ABV than their core release, this edition provides flavours of vanilla, orchard fruits, oak and peppery spice... Slainte Mhath!
You can find more information about Lindores Abbey Distillery; take a deeper dive in to the long history of the ancient site and find more information about their wonderful range of spirits by purchasing one of their full-size bottles and scanning the QR code or visiting them at https://www.lindoresabbeydistillery.com