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Issue 8 - Where small is very beautiful (Edradour)

Whisky Magazine Issue 8
February 2000

 

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Where small is very beautiful (Edradour)

History lives at Edradour, the world's smallest Scotch whisky distillery, where traditional whisky-making methods remain unchanged to this day. Jane Slade describes the pleasures on offer when she slipped back in time

The Black Spout waterfall is the only natural barrier that stops the wild salmon leaping up to Edradour (pronounced as in ‘sour'), an idyllic, quintessentially Scottish haven buried deep in the southern Highlands.

But while the salmon may not make it, whisky lovers are more fortunate and there is no better place, especially for the novice, to learn about the traditional ways of creating the golden nectar. To find your way to this unique enclave, you must drive north of Edinburgh for about an hour. Then at the village of Pitlochry, home to the Bell's and Blair Athol distilleries, take a sharp right up the winding road that leads to an unpretentious collection of small whitewashed buildings.

This is Edradour, the world's smallest Scotch whisky distillery. It was back in 1825 when a group of local farmers, known as the founding fathers of Edradour, established their distilling co-operative – or rather made it legal. These men were among the pioneers of Highland malt distilling. Initially they had been in the business of making whisky for themselves as it was something they could do with the excess barley they produced. Then unwittingly they became part of turning a cottage industry into a global enterprise.

But the story of Edradour remains unique because, some 175 years on, the distilling methods remain unchanged – living history for all those who have the chance to witness it. Since 1986 Edradour's annual whisky production has been 90,000 litres (600 gallons),...

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