The other day I was lucky enough to be invited to a trade visit to Lindores Abbey!
The day started off really well when we got picked up in Edinburgh and served aquavitae hot toddies and chocolate croissants in the van. It definitely set the mood for a great day ahead.
After the approximately 1h long drive we arrived at Lindores Abbey and the rain made us quickly run in to the building.
Immediately when you arrive you can see that it’s a stunning distillery in a scenic location. The hills and field that surround the buildings are complemented with the old ruins of the abbey. When you step through the doors Gregorian chanting music provides a storytelling atmosphere and the rooms around you are all designed to honor the history of the location.
The Lindores Abbey Apothecary
We started in the apothecary which was such a lovely room that made it feel like we could’ve stepped back in time with all its wooden cupboards with different herbs and ingredients.
We started off getting an introduction by Murray when he informed us about the interesting history of aquavitae and whisky which is related to Lindores Abbey. They actually found the oldest written reference to scotch whisky at the abbey in the exchequer rolls, written by Friar John Cor in 1494. We also got to sample their aquavitae and hear about the rest of the distillery’s history.
After tasting a properly nice aquavitae flavoured with different herbs and raisins to mention a few components, we were provided with glass measures, different distillates and instructions about how to make our own aquavitae.
All the distillate that we used were made on site where they had experimented with maceration times for different flavours to be able to distill a spirit with that specific flavour.
I chose raspberry and coriander for my aquavitae and focused on a fruit and herbaceous forward spirit base.
To get the measures right in our small sample we wrote down the different parts we used so we could upscale and bled together our own 20cl spirit.
Here she is: my sassy aquavitae with a primarily herbacous and sweet base, topped with raspberry and coriander distillate.
Lindores Abbey Distillery Tour
Next on the schedule was a tour of the distillery. Our guide for the day was Lindores Brand Ambasador Murray. Here he is showing us a depiction of what the abbey might have looked like in its day. Now there’s a distillery on that same site as where the first written reference was found and they have also found remains of a site where they believe distilling took place in the abbey. Lindores Abbey will have spirit ready to be called whisky in December 2020, so it will be exciting to see what their whisky will be like when they eventually bottle and release something. They are also experimenting with maturing their aqua vitae so I’m also very curious about that!
Lindores Abbey will produce a Lowland whisky, since it is being made 3m away from being classed as a highland whisky.
We also had a look around the rest of the distillery and had a look at the wooden washbacks and curious stills. Murray pointed to different details that were ideas of the late Jim Swan who had been working with the distillery when it was setting up. Unfortunately he passed away a few weeks before the opening, but his spirit still lives on.
One of the things that Jim wanted for the distillery was one wash still and twin spirit stills to imitate the character of a taller still with more copper contact.
Just before lunch we also got to have a look at the warehouse they have on site which was full of a lot of different casks in different sizes. Some casks I’d never seen before and we found our they were wine fermenting vessels. It will definitely be interesting to see what Lindores will release in a few years, considering all the interesting casks and plans that they currently have.
Always such a nice atmosphere and smell in warehouses. Cold and full of earthy, oaky and spirity scents.
It is such a waiting game and I’m so curious to see what this distillery will do in the future.
We also got the chance to nose the bunghole of a not yet filled red wine cask which smelled absolutely amazing. Sweet and vibrant !
When we then went back in for lunch it was sunny and nice again – the weather has been so confusing this week as its so quickly going from stormy to nice.
The Legacy Bar
We had lunch at the Legacy bar, next doors to the stillhouse.
Lentil soup and fresh bread is such a good distillery lunch – warming and it tasted SO good!
Along with lunch we also got to try four cask samples of the spirit that’s not yet ready quite yet to be called whisky.
It was Bourbon, Oloroso, Bordeaux STR Wine and Port cask matured spirits that all had a lot of flavour and character.
Since we were in the company of some really skilled bartenders from Edinburgh, they were kind enough to mix together three lovely cocktails made with Lindores Abbey aqua vitae. My favourite was the absinteroux, aquavitae and prosecco one!
Such a lovely day and I can highly recommend visiting Lindores Abbey Distillery if you want a great distillery visit where you can learn about the rich history of whisky and the abbey, get the chance to blend your own aquavitae and experience a distillery with whisky in the making.