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Issue 9 - Bladnoch's bold revival

Whisky Magazine Issue 9
April 2000

 

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Bladnoch's bold revival

Gavin Smith retraces the resurrection of Scotland's most southerly distillery, and discovers why it is being directed by an Irishman.

It's a sad fact that de-commisioned distilleries, like old fighters, seldom make comebacks, and the last two decades of the 20th century were not kind to Scotland's whisky-making facilities. Overall output was reduced, ‘rationalisation' took place, and plants were mothballed, converted, or even demolished. It has therefore been a particular pleasure to see two historic distilleries coaxed back to life.

Benromach on Speyside is operating once more under the auspices of Gordon & MacPhail (see Whisky Magazine Issue 4), while in the opposite corner of Scotland, spirit is again flowing at Scotland's most southerly distillery of Bladnoch, situated on the Machars peninsula in deepest Galloway, just 30 miles as the sober crow flies from the coast of Northern Ireland.

While Gordon & MacPhail has an impeccable whisky lineage, dating back more than a century, the architect of Bladnoch's rebirth is Raymond Armstrong, an affable, energetic Ulsterman whose background is as a surveyor with the Northern Irish civil service, and latterly as proprietor of his own successful construction company in Banbridge, County Down.

Armstrong has a long-standing interest in whisky, and a penchant for the elusive Irish brands of Redbreast and Green Spot. When his arm is twisted, he is also known to take the odd ball of ‘Bush', even while in Lowland Scotch country!

Armstrong has absorbed a great deal of information about whisky-making from a variety of sources, most significantly from Dr Alan Ruther...

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