Ballindalloch Distillery was Scotland’s first single estate distillery. It stands on the estate of the Ballindalloch Castle of the Macpherson-Grant family in the heart of the Speyside. It was built in 2014 and proudly and rightly calls itself a “hands on” distillery. The history of the family, which the 23rd generation calls the estate their home, can be traced back to 1546! The distillery does not have a public visitor center, but tours and even all-day whisky internships can be booked with advance notice. During a visit, it quickly becomes clear that the focus here is not on quick money, but on an exclusive and quality-oriented approach. In the model of the British nobility, the most important of the Scottish whisky virtues are honored here: patience.
What does Ballindalloch whisky taste like?The Ballindalloch distillery is holding back with the early release of New Make and Young Malts. Therefore we have not yet been able to form our own picture of the future single malts. The plan is to produce a non-smoky but robust and meaningful Speyside malt. We’ll have to wait a few more years for Ballindalloch’s first whisky. Because the distillery has committed itself to wait at least eight years to fill its liquid gold. We can look forward to the time after 2022. Those who are lucky enough to visit the distillery will be “put off” at the end of the tour by tasting old, stunning Cragganmore whiskies from the family’s own stocks.
How is Ballindalloch whisky produced?The distillery’s “hands-on” approach runs through all areas of production. The distillery could also simply be called a “farm distillery”, since it obtains its barley from its own fields on the estate. The production works without a computer and is currently being produced in a five-day week in one-shift operation. Most Scottish distilleries work in a multi-shift system in order to get as much as possible out of the limited production capacity of the pot still combustion process. The spent grains, the remains from the mashing process, are fed to the castle’s award-winning Aberdeen Angus Cattle herd.
There are 5 pine wood washbacks, each filled with 5,000 liters per fermentation process. Thanks to the weekend break, the proofing times are a mixture of 72 and 113 hours. As with many small quality distilleries, the yeast is left with a lot of time.
The distillation is started on a lantern-shaped wash still with a capacity of 5000 liters and a large constriction at the shoulder area. The Spirit Still with a capacity of 3,600 liters has a classic onion shape with a light ball. This so-called reflux ball increases the reflux during distillation, which increases the copper contact. It is worth noting the use of “worm tubs”, a traditional cooling system that uses a spiral copper tube in a water bath to condense the alcohol vapor. This method can only be found in a few distilleries because its yield is lower than that of the modern tube condenser. Ballindalloch hopes this will result in a more robust and aromatic brand. The neighboring distillery Cragganmore, for example, also works with this cooling system. The distillery currently produces 100,000 liters a year.
The history of the Macpherson-Grant family can be traced back to the 16th century when the Ballindalloch Castle was built in 1546, which is still the family’s residence today.
In the 1820s, a distillery called Delnashaugh was established near the current distillery on the estate. It was headed by Baronet Sir George Macpherson-Grant, who later became a co-founder of the nearby Cragganmore Distillery. Sir George also had good relationships with Robert Hay, a key figure in the founding of the Glenfarclas Distillery, and was involved in the construction of the Speyside Distillery in Kingussie. In any case, the family does not lack whisky history.
Until 1965 the family had shares in Cragganmore which they finally sold to Distillers Company Limited (DCL). The Macpherson-Grant family returns to the whisky industry after around 50 years with a tradition-oriented approach.
The old farm buildings near the golf area on the estate were to be used for a new purpose and so Guy Macpherson-Grant began in 2011 to convert the buildings into a distillery. Local companies were largely commissioned. The former manager of Talisker Charly Smith was won over to the project as a master distiller, manager and competent consultant. The distillery has been in production since 2014 and was inaugurated in 2015 by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.
|Name||Pronounced||AKA||Region||Country of Origin|
|Status||Active||Whisky Type||Website||Tours Available|
|Active||2014 - Present||Malt||Ballindalloch||Tour Link|
|Manager||Distiller||Blender||Owned by||Parent Group|
|Colin Poppy||Guy Macpherson-Grant|
Can I tour Ballindalloch?
No, unfortunately Ballindalloch distillery is not open to the public for tours