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Edradour Distillery
Picture: Edradour
Click to see large map in separate window   Location: Pitlochry, Perthshire
Roads: On A924 2 miles from Pitlochry
Hours: 9.30am - 5pm, Mon - Sat; Sun.12.00 - 5.00pm Nov - Feb, shop only Group bookings by appointment, max 50
Reception centre and shop
Phone: 01796-472095   Fax: 01796 472002
Homepage: www.edradour.com

Text from The Whisky Trails, Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993:

This is the smallest distillery in Scotland. The setting is absolutely idyllic and its appearance makes it almost good enough to eat. With its brightly painted miniature vats, its picket fences and the pert burn tumbling down the middle of the grounds it is like something from the film Brigadoon. In fact Edradour was the main location setting in a television drama called King’s Royal, which told the story of a Scottish distilling family.

But it is a working distillery and the production staff was increased by 50 per cent not so long ago – there are now three of them. It is the last example of the Perthshire farm-distilleries and the old-fashioned equipment has been retained as much as possible. The Morton refrigerator used for cooling the wort (see glossary) is the last in the industry. The scale of operation is such that Edradour may be genuinely regarded as a hand-crafted malt whisky.

Picture: Mash-tuns at Edradour
The pituresque mash-tuns from Scotland´s smallest distillery.
This is distilling in miniature. Edradour’s stills are the smallest legally permissable; any smaller, the Excise’s thinking goes, and they become easily concealable in bushes, hayricks or peat-sheds. It takes those three members of staff a year to produce what a standard Speyside distillery can distil in a week. A week’s work at Edradour yields about 12 casks of spirit at 70% vol.

The distillery first appears in records in 1837 but the owners believe it dates from 1825. There are indications of a mill nearby that goes back even earlier, probably a bona fide operation that also covertly catered for the local ‘black pots’ as the small, unlicensed stills were called. The distillery was named Glenforres for a while. The water runs over granite through peat and the barley is locally produced.

Production methods are practically unchanged since 1825. There is one pair of stills – there certainly would not be room for any more. The spirit condenses in worm-tubs cooled by the distillery burn. When Excisemen found illicit stills in the past, the first piece of equipment they destroyed was the worm because the hollow, spiral shape was so difficult to make and replace.

During Prohibition in the US, the owner of the distillery, William Whiteley, supplied whisky to the smugglers running alcohol into the cities. Whiteley had specially toughened square bottles designed for the rough treatment consignments usually received, torpedoes carrying 40-gallon loads of Scotch were fired on to Long Island beaches at night from ex-Navy torpedo boats and cases of his House of Lords brand were taken into New York under tons of smelly rubbish in barges. Home deliveries were even made, usually by limousine or hearse. Neighbours must have witnessed many a puzzlingly joyful bereavement in those days.

The Whisky
Text from The Whisky Trails, Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993:

Edradour is a sherry-style Highland malt and is aged exclusively in ex-oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain. The aroma is rich in smoke and fruit with a spicy-sweet, almond/walnut flavour. The sherry tones are quiet but the texture is quite big and weighty. The official issue is 10 years old with variable strength. Sparing, almost nominal, amounts of Edradour go into House of Lords and Clan Campbell blends.

Source of water
Springs on Mhoulin Moor
Of interest
Text from The Whisky Trails, Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993:

• Blair Castle is up the road near the feudal village of Blair Atholl and is the seat of the Dukes of Atholl. Parts of the castle date from the 1200s, Cromwell blew it up in the 1600s and it was the last castle on British soil to be besieged. The Duke is the only person in the UK permitted to have a private army, the Atholl Highlanders. Blair Castle is the gathering place for members of the Keepers of the Quaich, the worldwide society of personalities, businessmen and writers who honour the heritage of Scotch whisky.

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