It’s all too easy for whisky geeks to get bogged down by the technical aspects of a distillery. Fermentation times, lyne arm inclinations, spirit cut points – all interesting – but sometimes a distraction from what’s right under our noses. Whisky tourism makes a considerable contribution to local economies (sometimes with perceived detrimental effects), and whilst its growth is certainly being spearheaded by an ever increasing fan base of whisky enthusiasts, the raw number of tourists (nearly 2 million each year) to Scottish distilleries reveals an allure that’s beyond our immediate community. People simply like pretty little things.
Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but, whether it be sweeping views, raw rugged coasts or historical buildings nestled, and nurtured over time, within their local surroundings, there’s something rather entrancing about many distilleries. For me, the attraction is far beyond perfectly cut lawns, waterwheels and well-organised carparks (though those are certainly helpful) – it’s about a sense of cultural place. Take Bunnahabhain for instance – never one to appear on the list of Scotland’s most beautiful distilleries, I nevertheless find it pretty all the same – its Victoria workhouse charm harks back to its original founding, whilst exploring deeper provides a visual insight into how it’s been forced to adapt to the needs of the 21st Century.
But, I’m perhaps a little odd in that regard – to most people, pretty distilleries offer some combination of cleanness, sharpness, tweeness or just great views. Scotland has no shortage of these. Pitlochy, north of Edinburgh is a perfect location for whisky tourism – outside of the hustle and bustle of the city and nestled alongside the river Tummel. Indeed, Blair Athol (another good-looking distillery) has been Diageo’s busiest visitor centre for several years – many more people, outside of malt circles will know of either Lagavulin or Talisker – but those sites are just not that easy to get to as a tourist. Location, location, location.
This week, The Dramble will be focussing each day on a different aspect of Edradour – which is also located in Pitlochy. The distillery is highly picturesque and draws a considerable number of tourists each year. Indeed, in researching this week’s content, I was surprised by how many whisky fans I spoke to who’s first ever distillery visit was Edradour. The combination of location, unusual (and varied) production methods – which we’ll talk about later this week, and striking attractiveness mean that despite it being slightly off the beaten path of the A9, it still manages to draw several hundred thousand visitors each year.
For Edradour, this facet seems fundamental important to the distillery’s operation – it’s relatively tiny size (though no longer the smallest distillery in Scotland) results in a very small spirit output – enough for fans and visitors, but not much more. The whisky tourism to the site provides a much needed additional source of income that the liquid stocks cannot currently provide on volume alone. Pretty things have more uses than just being eye-candy.
Edradour’s entry level bottle the 10 year old is aged in a combination of Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks. Whilst being only 40% ABV, its somewhat surprisingly delivered sans chill filtered and with natural colour. It’s available from the distillery’s online shop for £36.75.
Nose: The sherry influence is upfront – blackberries (Ribena) and brown sugars, but with a large vein of mustiness – rancio, dirty oiliness, even as far as sweaty socks – this lifts after time in the glass to reveal a rather vegetal underbelly – leaf mulch, bracken, damp soils alongside vanilla and toffee apples.
Taste: On the thin side, but with more mouthfeel than most 40%ers – a viscous mix of tart hedgerow berries, blackcurrants and soured plums. Less clammy than the nose – but still as sherry-focussed. Toasted barley, caster sugars, ginger and nutmeg are introduced through the development, which moves steadily towards both sourness and bitterness.
Finish: Medium with clove spiced apples and dried berry fruit.
Edradour 10 year old excels in two departments – mouthfeel at 40% ABV (more than most) and depth of flavour at 10 years of age (more than a fair few). It is however to me something of a curate’s egg - the heavy, oily distillate has more than hint of jock strap on the nose, which whilst diminished over time is just something I don’t tend to go for. Your mileage many vary. There’s more character here than in many other OB 10 year old expressions, but the composition is somewhat unusual and possibly a bit marmite. But, regardless, there’s nothing here that’s run of the mill, bland or soulless.
But don't take our word for it..
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