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Issue 88 - The lost legion

Whisky Magazine Issue 88
June 2010


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The lost legion

Gavin D. Smith looks at the Perthshire region.

Perthshire is well endowed in terms of working distilleries, with six currently in operation. Historically, however, it is estimated that distilling has taken place on some 140 sites in the Scottish county, and the remains of some can still be located. Indeed, Whisky Magazine contributor Ian Buxton owns the relatively intact remains of Tomdachoille distillery, one and a half miles from Pitlochry, and active from 1816 until 1878.

Today, the much-visited Edradour is the last active, smallscale Perthshire distillery designed to provide an outlet for barley grown by local farmers, Indeed, Edradour was founded by a ‘cooperative' of farmers around 1825, but three other, similar distilleries survived into the 20th century Of these, the first to be established was Ballechin, created near the hamlet of Ballinluig, and beside what is now the A827 road to Aberfeldy. Ballechin was constructed in 1810 by members of the farming fraternity, being operated by relatives of the founders until 1875, when Robertson and Sons took over.

Ballechin turned out a modest 18,000 gallons of spirit per year at peak production, and following Alfred Barnard's visit during 1886, he wrote of “two antiquated Pot Stills, a Wash Still, holding 753 gallons, and a Low Wines and Feints Still, holding 660 gallons. The Worm Tub is the most ancient we have seen, a regular smuggler's worm, laid in a vessel fed from the overflow of the burn.” Robertson & Sons maintained production at Ballechin until 1910, and th...

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