Another l’il ‘distiller-that-could’ story for ya. Bladnoch was at one time a Diageo holding. In 1993, during the same downturn that saw the loss of Rosebank, Balmenach and Pittyvaich, the distillery was boarded up and had a handful of mothballs rolled into the stillroom. Most equipment was peeled out and for all intents and purposes this seemed the end of the line.
Surprisingly, about a year later the distillery was snatched from the hands of oblivion by an Irish gent named Raymond Armstrong. The arrangement between Diageo to Armstrong was a conditional one however. The terms included the proviso that the distillery was no longer to be used for the production of whisky. Fast forward a few years and much local petitioning to 2000, when the spirit began to flow at Bladnoch once more. Three years (and a day) later, Armstrong was able to claim an end to the gestation period and release his first whisky composed of entirely post-distillery-reopening-stock.
The market currently sees a mix (albeit sparse)of young ‘Armstrong Bladnoch’ and older ‘Diageo Bladnoch’. The interesting thing is that, unlike in most distillery handovers, the Bladnoch transition included no stores of slumbering barrels, effectively leaving the team with a blank slate and no old stocks to support revenue generation. What this means is that new and young Bladnoch releases are courtesy of Armstrong, anything beyond those years (13 and older, I’d say), was produced under a different lord and outside the influence of the current management.
As hinted at above, this is just a wee operation. Capacity of about a quarter million litres, and to be honest with you…I don’t even believe they are flowing that. (Please correct me if I am wrong, as I know there are a couple of Bladnoch fans who visit here).
Anyway…we’re rooting for Bladnoch and hoping to see a bit more hit the shops ’round these parts, as we scarce find bottles on Canadian shores.
Hopefully this changes soon.
In the meantime…a lovely independent offering from the SMWS here to discuss. A neat older one (aged 20 years) from the days before Raymond took over…
Nose: Paint. A healthy ghost of pipe tobacco and smokiness. Herbal and grassy. Peach, orange and lemon pith. Pie crust. Soft white fruits. Cream Of Wheat porridge with sugar. Sugar cookie dough…or maybe shortbread cookie dough.
Palate: Pie…not sure what kind, but sorta tart and fruity. Spice. Syrupy with some apple. Just a smidgeon of orange ju-jube. Oak and grass as it narrows and fades. Gorgeous palate, even better than the nose.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt