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Bigrab’s Whisky Recommendation -Edradour

DSCF2828This isn’t so much a recommendation for a particular whisky (althoughI have recommended one) but rather for a distillery. Edradour started life as a farm distillery. There were many of these in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the highlands, many of them initially illegal. Edradour is the last one of these still in production. It is the smallest distillery in Scotland producing only fifteen casks of whisky each week. The stills are the smallest permitted under rules introduced as far back as 1823 and still in force. A minimum legal size was introduced in an attempt to try to erradicate the smaller portable illegal stills. Under the same act and for the same reason highland distilleries were given breaks so that they could compete on equal terms with the more industrial lowland whisky producers. What is now the Edradour distillery came into being on the back of these changes in 1825.

The distillery is situated in the hills above the Perthshire town of Pitlochry and is relatively unchanged from what it would have been like in the early days. Much of the equipment if not original, dates back to the nineteenth century.

Wife and family having dropped me off at the distillery went to peruse the shops in Pitlochry as I went on the tour. I’ve been on a few distillery tours now but this one was one of the most interesting with the history of the equipment being only part of the charm. Their newest piece of equipment is a spirit cooler installed in 1933!

Apparently one of the most successful times for highland distilleries was the period of USA prohibition in the 1920’s. Most of Edradour’s output was exported at that time and the story goes that the majority ended up in the hands of the Mafia. It is believed the distillery was actually owned by the mob by proxy for a time.

Today Edradour is a great example of a small distillery playing to its strengths. One of the co-owners Andrew Symington actually takes his turn at serving in the distillery shop. He was there on the day I visited and was very approachable.

The tour itself was FREE! and included a dram of Edradour ten year old. If you look behind Frank, our tour guide, in the picture below you’ll see the brass spirit safe. Every distillery has one of these where all the spirit produced flows through. Only Customs and Excise have the key. The safe at Edradour dates from 1885

Before (and after!) the tour there is an opportunity to sample some fresh coffee and a dram or two in the superb visitor centre. I tried both the rum and Madeira finish drams (excellent) and had a coffee too.

Then it was off to the shop where I purchased a cask strength sherry finish ten year old. Only 500ml and over £40 but well presented and I can recommend the product!

I found these tasting notes at la Maison du Whisky

“The colour is coppery with orange glints. The nose is marked by grilled nuts, liquorice and malted barley hints.
The well balanced palate reveals citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit) and fresh fruits (peach). It goes on on dry fruits (nose, grapes)
The finish comes back on grilled malted barley.”

I wouldn’t disagree with much of that! (he says knowledgeably) but I would recommend a touch of water with this one! (nearly 60% alcohol after all!)

Afterwards Sue and the kids came to pick me up. By that time the dog needed a walk so I elected to walk Sally back through the forest path to Pitlochry and meet the family there.

Click on any picture to enlarge.

Probably my most enjoyable distillery tour yet and a great scenic walk of about 25 minutes to finish it off.

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Queens View

Back refreshed after a couple of weeks in glorious Perthshire. We packed a lot into the holiday and I’ll be sharing bits and pieces over the coming days. First though one of my inevitable holiday snaps:

Queens View, Loch Tummel Perthshire

Queens View, Loch Tummel Perthshire

This is Queens View at Loch Tummel, a few miles from where we were based.The main hill in the picture is Schiehallion and if you follow its slope down to the right, you can just make out the hills of Glencoe.

This is widely regarded as one of the finest views in Scotland.

There is some doubt, though perhaps only a little as to how the name Queens View (or Queen’s View if you prefer) came about.  Some hold the notion that the Queen referred to is Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce, others that Mary Queen of Scots visited there. However this account from visitrannoch.com perhaps has more provenance.

Still impressive - even on a dull day!

Still impressive - even on a dull day!

“Victoria certainly visited it in 1866, when travelling privately, “incognita” as she so correctly puts it. Her Journal for Wednesday 3rd October tells of a long drive she took from Dunkeld. by Dalguise and Aberfeldy to Kenmore, in time for lunch by Loch Tay at 1:30 p.m. They went on by Fortingall and past Coshieville, up the very steep hill, and on to “a dreary wild moor, passing below Schiehallion one of the high hills – and at the summit of the road came to a small loch, called Ceannairdiche. Soon after this we turned down the hill again into woods and came to Tummel Bridge, where we changed horses. Here were a few, but very few people who I think from what Brown and Grant said recognised us, but behaved extremely well, and did not come near. This was at twenty minutes to four. We then turned as it were homewards, but had to make a good long circuit, and drove along the side of Loch Tummel, high above the loch, through birch wood, which grows along the hills much the same as about Birkhall. It is only three miles long. Here it was again very clear and bright. At the end of the loch, on a highish point called after me ‘The Queen’s View’ – though I had not been there in 1844 – we got out and took tea. But this was a long and unsuccessful business; the fire would not burn, and the kettle would not boil. At length Brown ran off to a cottage and returned after some little while with a can full of hot water, but it was no longer boiling when it arrived, and the tea was not good. Then all had to be packed, and it made us very late. It was fast growing dark. We passed Alleine (now Queen’s View Hotel). . . and then at about half past six, changed horses at the Bridge of Garry near, or rather in the midst of, the Pass of Killiecrankie; but from the lateness of the hour and the dullness of the evening – for it was raining we could see hardly anything.

“We went through Pitlochry, where we were recognised, but got through quietly enough, and reached Ballinluig, where the Duchess’s horses were put on, at a little before half-past seven. Here the lamps were lit, and the good people had put two candles in each window! They offered to bring ‘Athole Brose’ which we however declined. The people pressed round the carriage, and one man brought out a bull’s-eye lantern which he turned on me. But Brown..,” Needless to say, John Brown intervened, and protected the Queen from the vulgar people of Ballinluig. If the vantage point was known as “Queen’s View” before Victoria’s visit, perhaps it had been admired by Mary Queen of Scots. She had certainly visited the Atholl area on great hunting expeditions, and there are various legends about harps and harp-strings
which, though perhaps not totally authentic, might still have a basis of truth. In any case, the Queen’s view well deserves its regal title.”