It’s that time of year again and this year I have been invited to a Burn’s night supper in a few weeks time. The friends I will be visiting are not great whisky drinkers, preferring fortified wines or Cognacs but they are willing to forego a blended whisky in favour of a single malt. I told them to leave the choice to me to bring along something they might find more in tune with their palates.
Highland malts enjoy a unique depth of flavour and quality that’s the result of a fine blend of altitude and mountain water. For many connoisseurs, with its exquisitely smooth and creamy texture, with just the merest whisper of smokiness, Edradour is truly the jewel in the Highland crown.
Edradour (from the Scottish Gaelic:’Eadar Dhà Dhobhar’, meaning ‘between two rivers’) distillery is classified as a Highland single malt whisky distillery based in Pitlochry, Perthshire.
The distillery is one of the most picturesque, given that it is comprised of a cluster of lime-washed and red painted farmstead buildings nestling in a pocket glen in the Southern Highland hills above Pitlocchry.
The distillery lies directly at the small Edradour burn. Some of the distillery buildings are located on the other side of the water and can only be reached via a bridge.
The pot stills, the mash tun, the fermenters and the malt mill are all packed into one tiny building with a second building due to come on line in September 2017.
The output of the two pot stills is only about 125,000 litres per year, about the amount that a typical Speyside distillery would produce in a week.
The water used in the distillation process originates from the Ben Vrackie Springs.
Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co. Ltd.
Phone: +44 (0)1796 47 2095
(Litres of pure alcohol per annum)
|125,000 litres||Visitor Centre|
Yes, see website for details.
When the distillery was built in 1825, the whisky produced was originally called Glenforres and subsequently changed its name to Edradour around a decade later. It operated as a farmers’ cooperative in conjunction with several other Perthshire farm distilleries until it was formalised in 1841 as John MacGlashan & Company. In the 1920s, after being acquired by William Whiteley & Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the American distiller J.G. Turney & Sons, it took on the name Glenforres-Glenlivet, to produce malt for several of its blended whiskies including its ‘King’s Ransom’ and ‘House of Lords’ labels.
In 1982 Edradour was acquired by Campbell Distilleries a subsidiary of the Pernod Ricard company before being sold on to Andrew Symington’s Signatory company in 2002, after Edradour was deemed surplus to requirements, when the parent company acquired Seagram’s extensive whisky operations.
Since purchasing the distillery in 2002, Symington concentrated Edradour’s focus, almost solely, on producing single malts, many of them matured entirely or finished in a variety of interesting casks.
Edradour experimented with a heavily peated single malt, named ‘Discovery’, which went on to be called Ballechin. This is one of the most heavily peated malts produced outside Islay, with phenol levels of approximately 50ppm (parts per million), launching it in 2006. A new bottling of Ballechin has been and will be released every year, each time finished in casks made from different woods, once it has reached full maturity after ten years.
All of the bottling is done at the distillery.
Three stillmen are devoted to hand-craft Edradour without any mechanised processes, just as it was over 150 years ago, using skills and time-honoured methods of whisky making, handed down through generations. They only use unpeated malt for their Edradour whisky.
It takes the man-power of these three men, whose expertise, keen eye, nose and palate and overall attention to detail produces one of the most exceptionally singular malt whiskies in the world.
As they oversee most of the production processes, when the distilled spirit emerges at the end of fermentation, it is subjected to their discerning judgement, founded on knowledge acquired as a result of years of experience, and from their individual jealously guarded professional wisdom handed down to them from generation to generation.
Another key element in producing the finest whisky is the manner in which it is aged.
Only the finest, hand-selected oak casks are used for maceration to ensure that the whisky is as consistent as possible.
During this ageing process the whisky is regularly monitored with the same hands-on care and attention that it took to produce it.
Three stillmen achieve just six weekly mashes, each producing 480 gallons of wort which yields 150 gallons of spirit. This weekly output of a mere seven butts is just sufficient to fill 12 casks, making Edradour single malt a rare pleasure for a fortunate few.
The Edradour distillery has a huge amount of distillery bottlings – maybe the most diverse range of whiskies in the world.
The whiskies are sorted by series: ‘The Classic Range‘, ‘The Cask Strength Series‘, ‘The Wine Finishes‘ and ‘The Wine Matured’. These are joined by the range of peated ‘Ballechin‘ whiskies.
The Edradour core portfolio includes :
- Edradour 10 Year Old, (40% ABV)
- Edradour 12 Year Old,
- Edradour Fairy Flag Aged 15 Years, (46%ABV)
- Edradour 10 Year Old Unchillfiltered, (46%ABV)
- Caledonia 12 Year Old, (46% ABV),
- Ballechin 10 Year Old (46%ABV)
- Straight From The Cask Edradour 10 Year Old (59.9%ABV)
- Madeira Cask Finish 15 Year Old (55.7%ABV)
- Straight From The Cask Barolo Finish (57.4%ABV)
- Straight From The Cask Burgundy Finish (58.5%ABV)
- Straight From The Cask Marsala Finish (57.5%ABV)
- Cask Strength 14 Year Old Spanish Oloroso (Sherry cask maturation) (54.5%ABV)
- Cask Strength 10 Year Old Bourbon (Bourbon Cask Matured) (60.2%ABV)
- Cask Strength 21 Year Old Oloroso (Sherry matured for 21 years solely in a first fill Oloroso Sherry Butt) (58%ABV)
- Cask Strength 22 Year Old Sauternes (finished in the finest of Sauternes wine casks)
- Cask Strength 26 Year Old Pedro Ximinez (47.8% ABV) Sauternes Cask Matured (46%ABV)
- Ballechin Manzanilla Sherry Cask Matured 11 Year Old (56.1%)
and others, see website for more information
My Personal Choice
Edradour 10 Year Old, (40% ABV)
|Quite complex aroma. Exceptionally fruity with sherried sweetness and an alluring hint of vanilla.|
|Taste||Seductively smooth yet earthy, with hints of vanilla or toffee, similar to nut brittle. Its dark, dried fruits help to provide a profound, mature sweetness of sherry.|
|A clean finish generally, fruity with a touch of vanilla, like a good fruitcake with unctuous custard.|
Edradour is a unique, single Highland malt whisky, if you haven’t given it a try yet, I urge you to do so particularly if strong peaty tastes have put you off single malts in the past.
- Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016, Murray, J, 2015, Dram good books Limited, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK.
- Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ronde I, 9th Revised edition, 2013, MagDig Media Limited, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, UK.
- 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die, Buxton, I, 2010, Hachette Scotland, London, UK