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Auchroisk Distillery
Picture: Auchroisk
Location: Mulben, Banffshire
Roads: On the B9103 Keith to Rothes road.
Phone: 01542-885000

The story goes that because someone stumbled across the well on the side of a steep ravine some time during the 1960s, the company decided to build the distillery. Perhaps that compresses events just a smidgen but good water is so important if you want to make good whisky, particularly if it flows at 2,000 gallons per hour. The company was Justerini & Brooks, owners of one of the world’s top-selling blended Scotch brands, and they used water samples from the spring to run a test-distillation at their Glen Spey distillery at Rothes. Based on the results, J & B bought the well and the surrounding land, built a little stone hive with a lockable door over it and started planning.

Auchroisk (pronounced ‘Ah-thrusk’) was built to produce blending whisky for the J & B brand. The water was clear and soft, the malt lightly peated and the stills high in profile to produce the light, sweet estery spirit needed for the J & B house style. After eight years the first vintage was assessed and the company’s best noses decided that Auchroisk was also an excellent single whisky – something that was a bonus and which, even if hoped for, could never have been planned. Thus the Singleton of Auchroisk came to be introduced ( a single malt is an unblended malt whisky from a single distillery.)

Picture: Awards for Auchroisk
The distillery has won architectural awards for its design, and triphies for its whisky.
Auchroisk was completed in 1975, a fresh and attractive complex of dark roofs and white-harled walls with enough variation to its Lego-brick buildings to lighten the visual impact of their overall bulk. In addition to its function as a distillery, Auchroisk is an assembly point for all the other Highland distilleries’ malts that are used in J & B. They are vatted together according to the ‘recipe’ (secret, of course) and tankered off to the group’s blending centre near Glasgow where they meet up with the Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown and grain whiskies of different ages that comprise the final blend of over 40 whiskies. This returns to cask for a period of marrying before going on to be bottled.

A steam engine, of the type formerly used in Highland distilleries to provide power for the machinery, stands in the entrance hall. It used to be the main such unit at Strathmill distillery. As already mentioned, the stills are high-necked to produce a light, elegant spirit. The lyne-arms at the very top of the stills where the vapours are funnelled over are horizontal, a detail that probably gives a final tweak to the particularity of Auchroisk’s whisky. There are four pairs of stills. The spring that was found in such dramatic fashion and from which Auchroisk is made is called Dorie’s Well.

The Whisky

The Singleton of Auchroisk is medium in weight but offers an elegant range of fruit, malt, smoke and herb flavours. It has a fine mellow texture and generous, smooth length. The variegation of the whisky is definite but lightly drawn and to use too much sherrywood would swamp this pleasant complexity. As a result it is largely ex-Bourbon wood in which Auchroisk is matured, with a sherry finish grafted on by a certain proportion of each batch spending the final one or two years in dry oloroso sherry casks. The prevailing ages of each vintage since the first in 1986 has been 10 to 12 years and there is also an independent bottling of 12-year-old. Auchroisk is used in the various J & B blends. Source of water

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Text Copyright © Gordon Brown 1993
Used by UISGE! with permission by the publisher and the copyright owner.