Edradour Distillery Visit December 2008

Edradour Distillery Visit December 2008

After an evening of fun and frolics at Pitlochry’s Atholl Palace Hotel and a hearty Highland breakfast, we guys Dougie Bell Alan Blackhall and I (Dougie the Whisky Boy) set off to walk to the smallest distillery in Scotland, namely The Edradour, situated about one mile away on the other side of Spout Wood.

It was a beautiful sunny and bright winters morning, of we set with some gusto! Till I almost landed on my backside after slipping on the first crusted snow which was all rutted from many previous walkers, we settled for a slow plod. Thereafter, holding onto anything solid as we steadily climbed, we held onto trees, bushes, fences and each other on one or two occasions.

Alan, not so much of an outdoor man looked like ‘Bambi’ on the ice which caused Dougie Bell and I to giggle quite a bit. But plod on we did and soon the whisky distillery came into view gleaming white in the bright morning sunshine and blending into the surrounding snow covered hills.

We joined with other visitors for the distillery tour, our guide took us first into a small brick shed for an audio-visual presentation of the distillery process. It was at this point we were all given a taste of their 10 year old Edradour or the  crème liqueur, both Dougie Bell and I welcomed the warmth and taste on this cold and frosty day.But Alan opted for the creme liqueur.

Our guide then took us up to the mash and still house (as all processes are  within the one building) which seemed to me to be not much bigger than a four in a block terraced house, everything inside there had a ‘time stood still’ look and feel about it.

The wooden mash tun, one could see was old, but very well preserved for all its years of production, with the heady aromas coming from within that ‘rocked you on your heels’, if you put your nose in just a little too far. (speaking from experience of course ‘phew’) The guide informed us all that the mash tun contains ground down malted barley (grist) and fresh spring water from the Moulin Moor, which is then heated to a temperature of 70 degrees c . this takes several hours and the resulting liquid (wort) is drained off and pumped to the ancient and only remaining one of its kind, a Morton Refrigerator, cooling the wort by simply passing it over vanes which have water from the local burn flowing through them resulting in the temperature being lowered to 20 degrees c.

The next stage of the process sees the wort pumped into the pine wash backs (none of your modern stainless steel stuff in here). This is when brewers yeast is mixed in and left for the next two and a half days or so to convert the wort into wash with an abv of approx 8.5%. This wash is then heated by steam coils to a temperature of 88 degrees c at which stage the alcohol vapourises and rises up the neck stretching high up high through the wall and out to the cooling coils immersed in the burn outside, then coming back in at about 23% abv and is then called ‘low wines’. These are then passed into an even smaller ‘spirit still’ where it goes through the same process of heating/cooling but this time coming back with an abv of 69%. The liquid then enters the ‘spirit safe’ which sits down in the corner, all polished glass and brass. This is where the distiller secretes his cut known as the ‘ heart of the run’. The beginning and the end of each flow being returned with the next batch to be distilled once again.

The ‘heart’ is then pumped to the filling store where it is watered down to cask strength before going into warehouse and left to mature in oak casks for a minimum of ten years.

This complete process being carried out by the manager Mr. John Reid and his only two assistants, by hand and using equipment that was installed at least 160 years ago which produces the sum total of 12 cask per week.

After the tour it was into the shop for a wander around. The well stocked shelves were carrying a large range of different expressions of Edradour as well as lots of other Whiskies sold mainly under the Signatory label. (can Edradour be owned by them?)

We then spotted a refreshments room and peeked in, not only teas,coffees and snack but a tasting bar too with a Whisky menu and very reasonable prices which we perused while acquiring advise from the well informed and knowledgeable barmaid. We all made our selections and inhaled and sipped each others drams savouring each and every one. It was then decided it may be too dangerous to have too many drams because of the perilous return journey.

I cant wait to bring Jim up here so he can see for himself this piece of Whisky history in action and to do some proper tastings for us to publish on the Whisky Boys site.

If this little article gives you the idea to go and visit this great wee distillery, remember to tell them that the Whisky Boys sent you.

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