Whisky Magazine Issue 105
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Dave Broom finds out what we have been missing from Oldmeldrum
Less than an hour from Aberdeen and I'm in a different environment, one which fits around the age-old rhythms of agriculture, one where the roads are happy to meander rather than hurtle in straight lines. You don't so much arrive at Oldmeldrum as sneak up on it, wondering quite where your destination is located before the road spits you straight at a still house, before a right-angled bend takes you up the side of thick-walled maltings. Quite how there haven't been more trucks parked next to the spirit still in beyond me.
From that first, startling, moment, Glen Garioch seems to say: ‘What kept you? Look at me. Look at my size, my heft, my age. I've been here forever,' which when you ponder on it for a little while is pretty much the same story for its whisky. This is a single malt which has been available, but you were always somehow surprised to find it in front of you. It's us who have been slow on the uptake though, not the distillery.
After all, this is a place where whisky has been made since 1798 and there's belief in some quarters that it's even older, conceivably the oldest distillery in Scotland.
The fact it is on the roadside means that there's no hint of the illicit hanging around it. The site was, it is said, a former tannery and then a brewery before being converted to whisky-making 213 years ago. Like I said, what kept you?
Like most old distilleries, its history has been inextricably bound up with blends, in particular Vat 69 whose creator, William ...