Whisky Magazine Issue 41
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It takes some getting to but Scotland's most southern distillery is worth the effort. Even when it's silenced
After driving for some hours, I decided that the quickest way to get to Bladnoch is probably to fly to Belfast, hire a car, take the ferry back to Stranraer and potter along to the distillery – from which you'll deduce that Bladnoch isn't the sort of place you find by accident.
Yet that's what owner Raymond Armstrong will have you believe happened to him. Looking for a holiday house, so the story goes, he stumbled across the distillery and, finding it closed, snapped it up. Now, given that Raymond hails from the Emerald Isle, there might just be a touch of the blarney in there – though the guide will point out his holiday home as you tour round this most traditional of Lowland distilleries, so the story must be true.
So, where is this remarkable place exactly? Well, Bladnoch is Scotland's most southerly distillery, just a mile or so outside Wigtown, Scotland's answer to Hay-on-Wye. Find Dumfries on the map, go west, and if you hit the Irish Sea you've gone too far. This is a largely overlooked part of Scotland, a jumping off point for travellers heading for the Stranraer ferry, despite its considerable charms and ancient history.
Irish monks brought Christianity here, through the monastery at nearby Whithorn, so it's not too fanciful to imagine that distilling came with them. However, Bladnoch traces its history back only as far as 1818, when it was owned by the McClellands, a local farming family. By 1911, it was an Irish concern though it continued to change hands ri...