A quick 90 minute drive from Glasgow or Edinburgh sits the picturesque town of Pitlochry, home to the tiny Edradour distillery. The hour and a half trip is well worth it, and the distillery itself is quaint and charming, at the end of a single lane country road through a beautiful little town. Their whisky is also wonderful (and pretty difficult to procure). If you’re in one of Scotland’s major cities and only have time to visit one distillery, we’d unconditionally recommend Edradour. We had one overriding regret about our trip to Edradour: we should have bought more whisky!!!
We got to Edradour late in the day, just before closing, and were happy to learn that there was still a tour (3pm). We went late November and to our disappointment, the vaunted tasting room was closed. Happily, the owner’s wife chatted with us and asked an attendant to open up the tasting room after finding out about our Signatory-fandom.
Before it was distilling its own spirits, Edradour started as an independent bottler named Signatory, which it still carries. Our local liquor store K&L carries a select number of Signatory bottlings, which we have enjoyed immensely. But at the Edradour tasting room – the Signatory lineup was immense and beyond expectations. There were dozens of bottlings, some from closed distilleries, many that were ancient casks, and a full range of interesting and exotic cask finishes. Prices per dram for many whiskies were not inexpensive, but where the hell else are you going to be able to taste 40 year old Bunnahabhain bottlings!? (and at cask strength, to boot…)
The distillery staff were a mix of friendly Germans and Scotsmen, and after a few drams, we started our tour. Our first stop was the main tasting room and distillery where we went through a, mercifully, quick propaganda video. I couldn’t tell you anything about the video, other than that it was short and the production values weren’t bad. If you’ve never seen one of these you’ll learn about how single malt Scotches like Edradour’s are made from malted barley, yeast and water. Edradour’s water comes from a local place where there’s water. After the video we got to try Edradour’s core range, including their 10 year old whisky and their peated Ballechin whisky. Both were excellent and very different.
After the propaganda video we walked through the brisk cold to the yards, passing by the window where the operating distillery was discharging hot steaming spent mash. Everything about Edradour is adorable, down to the mash-discharging, which is one of the few parts of their distillation process that involves robots.
The distillery grounds are built around a bubbling brook. Our tour guide informed us that before the distillery opened, there was a terrible landslide that wiped out many of the buildings, but fortunately the area has recovered.
Once you reach the stillhouse, it becomes quickly apparent the relative small size of Edradour (run just by two production men currently and producing only 18 casks every week). The stillhouse features only two of the smallest pot stills in Scotland: one at 2,200 liters and the bigger one at 4,200 liters. Unlike other distilleries, most processes remain manual. Barley malting is not done on-site.
After visiting the small stillhouse we made our way over to the warehouse. The warehouse is impressive – and they were also building another one across the creek (!). It not only houses the Edradour and Signatory lines, but also serves as the home to hundreds of casks of every type (sherry, bourbon, wine, and more) from many of Scotland’s most famous distilleries. Some of the casks were 30+ years vintage.
After the tour, we were returned to the gift shop to purchase. We ended up picking up a few interesting cask finished Ballechin whiskies, including rum and port cask expressions. I absolutely love the port finish, and it was one of my favorite bottles that we purchased from Scotland. The rum-finished whisky was likewise delicious (reviews forthcoming) and aged in casks from Caroni, a closed distillery on Trinidad.
This tiny gem of a distillery can’t be missed. If you’re in either Edinburgh or Glasgow you owe it to yourself to visit. Especially if their tasting room is open.
Nov to 12 April
Monday to Friday, 10AM to 4:30 PM, closed Sat & Sun
15 April to November
Monday to Saturday, 10AM to 5PM, last tour starts at 4PM
Only required for groups of 8+