Balblair Distillery, Edderton, Ross-shire.
FROM Brora to Tain is a Sabbath day’s journey. The train crawled lazily along giving us ample opportunity to see the country; we were not sorry for this as the whole district was new to us, and the scenery in some parts most interesting and beautiful. We found a very comfortable hotel at Tain, which we made our headquarters for a couple of days. The town is a royal burgh, and is remarkably clean in appearance. It contains some handsome modern buildings and the court-house is really an elegant structure. Contiguous, and in striking contrast to the latter building, is an ancient tower, surmounted by a conical spire, which forms a conspicuous feature in the landscape.
The next morning we drove from our hotel, a distance of six miles, to the Balblair Distillery. It is situated about a mile from the station and a quarter of a mile from Dornoch Firth. We should have travelled by railway, but the trains are so infrequent that it was impossible to make use of them. Our route lay mostly through a fine agricultural district, and we had a good view of the sea nearly the whole way.
The Distillery was founded in the year 1790, and in the early part of the century was very small and old fashioned. About fifteen years since, Messrs. Ross & Son enlarged the works, removing the Maltings, Mashing, and Distilling Buildings higher up the slope of the hill, in order to get the benefit of gravitation in working the Distillery, and the old buildings at the bottom of the hill were then converted into Bonded Warehouses.
The barley is shovelled from the Maltings into the Kiln, and when dried is delivered to the Mill below in the same manner. After it is ground, the grist descends direct into the Mash-Tun, from whence the worts run into the Wash Backs, all by gravitation; the natural fall of the ground, having been so utilized that no pumps are necessary. The Wash runs into the Wash-Charger which commands the Stills and the Spirit descends in like manner to the Vat in the Spirit Store. As the internal arrangements and vessels are like the other Distilleries in the district, it is not worth while to recapitulate them.
All the streams in the district of Edderton are considered suitable for distilling purposes. There is also an inexhaustible supply of peat close by, Edderton being known as the “Parish of Peats.” In former days the whole neighbourhood abounded in smuggling bothies, and was the scene of many a struggle between the revenue officers and smugglers.
The Whisky manufactured by Messrs. A. Ross and Son, is Pure Highland Malt, and the annual output is 50,000 gallons, which is sold principally in Glasgow, Leith and Aberdeen.