Scotch may be as old as the hills, but that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t evolving. Throughout history, the whisky market has seen ups and downs, with a constant flow between boom and burst. And recently, it has been experiencing some good times, with a renewed interest in scotch drinking. With that, new distilleries have opened all over Scotland. So we’ve brought together some of the newest and most exciting distilleries to keep an eye on.
Annandale is on the site of a distillery previously opened in 1830 and owned by John Walker & Sons. It later shut down in 1918. The original distillery has been restored after a $13 million investment. Today it’s owned by husband and wife David Thompson and Teresa Church.
The couple plans to release two expressions, Man O’Sword, inspired by famous Scottish warrior and king Robert I (a.k.a. Robert the Bruce), and Man O’Words, inspired by famous bard Robert Burns. These expressions will be available in 2018. Annandale is a promising distillery because of its history as well as the ambition it took to breathe life back into the old buildings. The first barrel of Man O’Sword has reportedly already been bought for $1.25 million.
Wolfburn, as well as having an awesome name, is the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland. It is based just outside Thurso and is the first distillery to be situated there in 150 years. Wolfburn gets its name from a distillery that once stood in the same spot in the 19th century and that was named after a nearby water source.
The distillery released its first expression in 2016, Northland, aged only three years, the legal minimum for any scotch. It has no age statement, is non-chill-filtered and is matured in former Islay quarter casks for a high smoky note. With a fermentation time of 75 hours and slow distillation, this is a wonderfully sweet and malty expression. For having such a young maturation time, this is an impressive malt. Wolfburn also has Aurora, a sherried single-malt scotch matured in American oak and Spanish oloroso sherry casks. It will be interesting to see what else Wolfburn comes up with in the years to come.
The Isle of Harris Distillery is one of the most exciting developments in the scotch industry in recent times. With an investment of $13 million from private and public donors, the distillery has been promoted as having the potential to open up a new whisky region in Scotland. Based in Tarbet, it’s the second-ever distillery to be built in the Outer Hebrides. Although the building is not yet completed, there are already plans for the first expression, The Hearach.
Gartbreck is set to become Islay’s ninth distillery and definitely does things differently. It’s bringing whisky back to its roots, with stills heated over a live flame, Oregon pine washbacks, worm tubs and slow distillation. While building was supposed to begin in 2015, it has yet to get started, but hopefully it won’t be long until there’s a ninth distillery on Islay.
Glengyle, based in Campbeltown, already has a rich history behind it. It was founded in 1872 by William Mitchell, the son of Archibald Mitchell, who started Springbank Distillery and J&A Mitchell Co. J&A Mitchell continues today, still in Mitchell family hands, and Glengyle is its latest addition. The family sold Glengyle in the early 20th century but bought it back in 2000. Known for its annual release from the Work in Progress range, Glengyle experiments with various cask types, including rum and sherry, and releases only 9,000 bottles at a time. It has recently expanded to include its first age-statement expression in the much-celebrated Kilkerran 12 Year Old.