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Issue 146 - Bladnoch once more

Whisky Magazine Issue 146
September 2017


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Bladnoch once more

What do yoghurt and whisky have in common? Our man finds out as Lowland survivor Bladnoch celebrates its 200th year

One notable feature of the Scotch whisky scene in recent years has been the resurgence of the previously unloved Lowland category of single malt whisky production. From a low of two, the number of Lowland malt distilleries has now risen to 11, with several more in the pipeline. However, for most observers, the best news on the Lowland front has been the revival of Bladnoch in the far south-west corner of Galloway. Bladnoch is, in fact, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, and thanks to the major investment of new owner, Australian businessman David Prior, it is able to celebrate in style. Prior has sunk a total of around £25 million into the purchase and restoration of Bladnoch Distillery, having earned himself $80 million from the sale of his five:am organic yoghurt business in 2014.

In terms of location, Bladnoch stands on the banks of the River Bladnoch, some 50 miles west of Dumfries, and a mile from the bibliophiles' mecca of Wigtown – Scotland's officially designated ‘National Book Town.' It was established as a farm distillery in 1817 by brothers John and Thomas McClelland, gaining its first licence in 1825. It subsequently changed hands several times and experienced a number of periods of closure, being owned by the Belfast distiller Dunville & Co, who operated it until 1937, though there were several periods of inactivity during those economically troubled inter-war years.

Whisky-making recommenced in 1956 under the auspices of AB Grant & Co, and ...

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