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Issue 38 - Edinburgh's old haunt is in fine spirit (Glenkinchie)

Whisky Magazine Issue 38
April 2004


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Edinburgh's old haunt is in fine spirit (Glenkinchie)

Ian Buxton braves the ghosts and investigates the roots of lowland malt Glenkinchie

It's hard to believe that just 15 miles from Edinburgh Castle you can find a real live distillery.

I left the city behind and seemed to move to a more timeless place as I passed through the rolling East Lothian countryside.

Just out of the little village of Pencaitland, virtually hidden in a fold in the land, I found Glenkinchie. It likes to style itself ‘the Edinburgh malt' but – as we shall see – it has its very own virtues.

This, of course, is that rarest of beasts – a Lowland malt. Misunderstood; for too long unloved and often damned with faint praise (a “ladies malt” seems a favourite, if particularly patronising, description)

Lowland malts are now finding favour amongst more discerning drinkers for their subtle charms and beguiling personality.

I spent a considerable time discussing a variety of spirits at Glenkinchie. These, however, were of a particularly elusive and evanescent nature and quite impossible to bottle. I am referring, of course, to the various shadowy apparitions said to haunt this fine old distillery.

Manager Charlie Smith, a no-nonsense engineer, reckons there are three ghosts at the distillery – though I counted four.

It's perhaps not surprising that Glenkinchie is home to some restless wraiths. Scotland's Lowland distilleries, after an all too brief flowering in the late Victorian era, soon fell on hard times and most have now closed.

Few will open their doors again, but Glenkinchie at least is in safe hands.

Now one of the si...

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