Although their stories vary, the spirits from the distilleries we write about in this issue, are now the object of interest to the most demanding whisky collectors. These extremely rare bottlings reach prices well above other single malts from many distilleries closed years ago. Today we will introduce the story of probably the oldest Scottish distillery, although there will also be stories about other, already forgotten facilities where golden liquor was produced.
If rumours are to be believed, Littlemill is the oldest whisky distillery in the world. Located in the Scottish town of Bowling, the Littlemill distillery officially began production in 1772. However, there are assumptions that whisky was distilled there much earlier. Like in most distilleries in the Lowlands, they used the triple distillation method, which was discontinued only in 1931. It was then that it was decided to install new distillers of unusual design, whose structure resembled the distillation devices for grain whisky. As a result, whisky aging was supposed to progress much faster, thus increasing the supply of ready-for-sale alcohol. Littlemill distillers were last used in 1994. Shortly after the distillery was taken over by the Loch Lomond Distillery Company, the buildings were consumed by a fire that definitely ended the history of the Bowling’s distillery. There are still 8 and 12-year-old Littlemill singles in circulation, distinguished by their intense, floral note. Although in trace amounts, the distillery also produced two other malts - the highly peaty Dumbuck and the slightly peaty Dunglas.
Lochindaal distillery, located in the Islay region in the heart of Port Charlotte, was founded in 1829 by Colin Campbell. Although it was he who made the effort to create a distillery, Lochindaal changed hands for the first time only after two years. Over the years, there were as many as 11 different owners. After almost 100 years from the start of production, the distillery was taken over by Distillers Company Limited, who finally decided to close it. However, this was not an unjustified decision. The beginning of the 20th century can be described as an extremely difficult time for the whisky industry. Scotland suffered from overproduction, and prohibition was introduced in the United States, ultimately contributing to the collapse of the global whisky market. After the end of production, the distillery buildings were used in various ways. Until the beginning of the 1990s, the local dairy used them as storage facilities. Today, the old Lochindaal distillery houses a hostel and residential buildings. Some of the remaining ones were taken over by the Bruichladdich distillery.
Established in 1966 by William Grant and Sons Ltd. Ladyburn, like the described predecessor, was not a separate distillery, but only a new part of an already existing complex – Girvan. The Maltese single malt Ladyburn and Girvan were connected not only by the place, but also by the fact that both were used in the production of the well-known Grant's blend. Only 10 years later, Ladyburn malt production was suspended, possibly making this distillery the shortest-running distillery in Scottish history. It is an exceptionally short period of production that has made Ladyburn's single malt attractive to many collectors of golden liquor. Interestingly, some of the bottlings from this distillery are not decorated with the Ladyburn label at all. Liquors under the Ayshire brand were also released on the market, named after the region in which the Girvan complex was located. Unlike Balvenie or Glenfiddich, also owned by William Grant and Sons Ltd., Ladyburn single malt is extremely difficult to find on the market today. This extremely rare whisky has been officially bottled only twice. The independent bottlings are by no means more numerous. Their prices now exceed £ 2,500. Ladyburn whisky is characterized by the presence of citrus and floral notes and a contrasting expressive ending.
The history of the Kinclaith Distillery dates back to the late 1950s. However, the exact year of the construction of the distillery, which was to be only a part of the Strathclyde complex, built in Glasgow by the American company Schenley, is unknown. Its intriguing-sounding name comes from two Gaeleite words for "head" and "shake." Single malt produced in the Kinclaith Distillery in its heyday was almost entirely used to produce Long John blended whisky. However, it didn't last long. After nearly 20 years of operation, the distillery was closed. The reason was the increased demand for grain wines, which were also distilled at the Strathclyde complex. Although this decision was made relatively recently, Kinclaith bottlings are not very common. No official brand spill has been released on the market, and the independent ones are considered very rare. Of course, this is reflected in their value, which has been increasing successively since the distillery was closed in 1975. Today, the prices of single malt Kinclaith oscillate around 1000-2000 pounds. Its characteristic features are remarkable lightness and perceptible fresh, fruity flavour notes.
Author: Magdalena Łuksza
This article was published in the Whisky Magazine in June 2016
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