Whisky Magazine Issue 28
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Ian Buxton provides a rare insight into a Lowland distillery not currently open to the public – Auchentoshan
If, in the words of that great old Scottish air, you take the high road to the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, then you'll be able to look down upon Auchentoshan as you go. Just before the Erskine Bridge, as the A82 leaves Clydebank on the outskirts of Glasgow, you'll glimpse the distillery on your left behind a high security fence, bordered by a housing estate and the local cemetery. Not, it must be agreed, the most auspicious setting for this somewhat underrated Lowland single malt, but the Old Kilpatrick Hills can be seen just beyond the road.
To take a step back, it's worth considering the Lowland malts as a category. There was once a thriving distilling industry in Scotland's Lowlands, based on the rich farmland and supplying a loyal local population. But times and fashions changed, the Lowland style fell out of favour; distilleries were closed and their buildings redeveloped.
Now only three Lowland distilleries remain in operation: Bladnoch, Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan. Whilst Bladnoch is hard to find as a single malt, Glenkinchie has had the good fortune to be selected for Diageo's Classic Malts collection, and so its future would seem secure.
That leaves Auchentoshan – a survivor and in some ways one of the most interesting distilleries in Scotland and certainly deserving of greater exposure. The distillery can be firmly dated to 1823, though the company's history suggests that it may be synonymous with the Duntocher distillery, recorded as operational in ...