I have always been a fan of the process. Its always nice to make time to do something right. Whether its making fresh coffee rather than just an instant, having a proper wet shave with soap and a brush or sitting down to write with pen and paper as I am doing just now. Being shown around Ballindalloch Distillery earlier this month with Head Distiller Colin Poppy certainly reminds me of this ethos. Ive been to many distilleries, some old and some new. Looking round, no matter how they spin it they are ‘whisky factories’
Ballindalloch may be new, and fitted with everything the modern distiller requires (other than a computer to run it, thats Colins job) but they are taking their time, enjoying, experimenting and getting the process right. Don’t get me wrong, this is still in essence a whisky factory, but with a much more relaxed, enjoyable and experimental attitude. Its about as hands on as it gets for the staff.
They run 1 mash a day and are in no rush or have a production quota. Its done when its done and what they produce is what they produce. Each of the 100+ valves is hand operated at just the right moment to maintain complete control over the distillation process, even if it does make for a spot of running around for the distillers…
They are in no hurry to release their first bottling either. The plan is to wait until 8 years matured, test it and if its ready they will release it. Otherwise they are happy to wait until they deem it ready. Colin is already confident that its showing enough character and promise to be released at 8.
Ballindalloch states they are Scotland’s first single estate distillery. Each of the ingredients is sourced from the estate on which it is situated and even the estates barley is kept entirely separate from other batches at the local maltings to ensure this.
The warehouse is filling up nicely and there are plans in place to start building another one on site very soon. The visitor centre is spacious, relaxed and comforable and I would definitely recommend that you visit.
Time it right and you will be getting involved with making the spirit cut, adding the yeast or perhaps filling a barrel. Tours are strictly by appointment only, further information and contact details can be found on the distilleries website.
Thanks again to Colin, Brian and the rest of the staff at Ballindalloch for extending the invitation and for taking the time to show me round.