Heute am 20.12.2020 ist es so weit: Bei Lindores Abbey gibt es jetzt Whisky! Denn vor drei Jahren wurden die ersten Fässer mit New Make gefüllt und nun ist das offiziell WHISKY. Aus diesem Grund habe ich Andrew (Drew) McKenzie Smith und Gary Haggart ein paar Fragen gestellt, unter anderem welche Auswirkungen vor allem 2020 auf die Distillerie hatte und ein wenig Hintergrundinformationen zum „Inaugural Release“ – also der ersten Abfüllung. Hier findest Du ihre Antworten.
Fakten im Überblick
- Lindores Abbey – erster Whisky Schottlands 1494
Bereits 1494 wurde auf einem Steuerbeleg (Exchequer Roll) der Bruder John Cor, ein Mönch der Lindores Abbey, vermerkt. Er sollte für König James IV Aqua Vitae herstellen. Das sind die ältesten schriftlichen Aufzeichnungen, die auf die Herstellung von Whisky verweisen. Mehr Details: Lindores Abbey Distillery – hier wurde der erste Whisky gebrannt. In diesem Artikel gibt es auch Hintergrundinformationen zur 1494 Preservation Society (Clubmitgliedschaft).
- Bau der neuen Destillerie – Eröffnung: 05.10.2017
Die Vorarbeiten gehen deutlich weiter zurück, aber 2017 wird die Destillerie gebaut und am 05.10.2017 eröffnet. Ich darf mich bereits auf der Baustelle umsehen – meine erste „Hard Hat Tour“.
- Mein Besuch 2018: Besuch der Lindores Abbey Distillery mit allen Details zur Destillerie und der Produktion.
- Mehr Informationen direkt auf der Webseite: lindoresabbeydistillery.com
Rückblick und Ausblick – Lindores Abbey
Ich verfolge die Arbeiten bei Lindores schon seit vielen Jahren und war daher schon sehr früh mit Drew in Kontakt. Das Grundstück der ehemaligen Lindores Abbey (Abtei) ist schon seit langem im Besitz von Drews Familie. Es stehen auch noch einige Überreste (Mauern). Eingebettet in diesem historischen Umfeld findet sich die Lindores Abbey Distillery im passenden Stil. Gary ist Distillery Manager und hat den Aufbau der Lindores Abbey Distillery (zusammen mit Dr. Jim Swan) von Anfang an begleitet. Der erste WHISKY von Lindores Abbey war für mich der Anlass die beiden um einen Rückblick und einen Ausblick zu bitten, den ich jetzt hier mit Dir teilen möchte.
Ich habe die Fragen auf englisch gestellt und werde sowohl die Fragen wie auch die Antworten unübersetzt und unverfälscht lassen. Aber zu allererst:
HERZLICHEN GLÜCKWUNSCH! CONGRATULATIONS!
2020 – a hard year for most of us
Reflecting on 2020, how was the year for you?
Drew: „This has been a big year for us in many ways, pre-covid our tour and event bookings were excellent and would have financed full production but that obviously fell off a cliff, however we have proved to be very resilient to the down turn and through a lot of hard work by the team we have weathered the storm and in many ways emerged stronger and are looking forward to 2021 and launching our whisky.“
How did the pandemic influence your production?
Drew: „WE have been very lucky in many ways through the pandemic in that the layout of the building has meant we could completely separate the two parts of the building (Distillery/Visitor Centre) so that enabled us to pretty much seal off the distillery buildings and keep the team safe. We scaled back production a little to ensure all team members were socially distanced but they adapted really well and continued filling casks throughout the lockdown and beyond.„
How did the experience change for your visitors?
Drew: „The Visitor centre was much more tricky as a great many of our visitors last year were from Spain and that ceased as soon as the pandemic hit and we then decided to alter our tours to adapt to the new rules, so we made videos of all the different aspects of Lindores, the history, the Aqua vitae and the whole distilling and maturation process with myself focussing on the history and AV then Gary talking visitors through the whole production process before Elliot (our cask custodian) then talks about the maturation policy so this all worked very well though I’m sure we all got sick of the sound of our own voices!„
Did you find a „safe“ way to restart visitor tours next year?
Drew: „When the rules were tightened even more it became impossible to run it any viable way so currently we are closed but we very much hope in the New Year to be able to take small group bookings for private tours and then gradually (Hopefully March/April) things will return to ‘normal’ , we are lucky in that we have a great deal of space in the buildings and also outside in the Abbey ruins so people can enjoy a visit whilst still being socially distanced, its great that the distillery has kept going but the place is vibrant when we have the steady team of whisky ‘pilgrims’ coming to visit and the really exciting thing is that in 2021 we will be able to serve them ‘Lindores’ as part of their tour.„
I remember when we first met while the distillery was under construction. How have the last three years been for you personally, Gary? Did everything work as expected?
Gary: „The last 3 years have actually flown by, I thought it would be a long journey but here we are on the dawn of a new single malt scotch whisky at Lindores, for Drew I am sure it feels longer, he has been on this journey longer than any of us, yes, it all worked but we were slightly and sadly advantageous that we were able to shape our own path, so in some respects it was sad to have the passing of Dr Swan but on the flip side , we had to learn to stand on our own two feet and forge our own purpose.„
What were your biggest challenges?
Gary: „Biggest challenge, without doubt is us living up to expectation’s, its now time to walk the walk, the talking is over, very soon our whisky will be in the hands of others and they will without doubt let us know what they think, I do like the fact though that we have let people know we are here but I think our approach has been a little below the radar and its now time for us to gain some height and show ourselves!„
1494 – Inaugural Release
The Inaugural Release will only be available for the members of the 1494 Preservation Society. What can you tell us about the release coming soon?
Drew: „Our tasting panel have created a fantastic spirit for this very special bottling, and it will look great too, it is a thank you to our ‘1494’ members who by joining the ‘Preservation Society’ have helped us in our early stages, there will only be 1494 bottles and each member will receive their individually numbered bottles. We understand that many people may not want to open them so each member will either have a dram with us when they visit or if they can’t visit we will send one out to them, the spirit is far too good not to be tasted but I also understand that there are a lot of collectors out there and this bottle would be the start of their ‘Lindores’ collection as they will have the opportunity to buy their own numbered bottle each time we release a limited run.„
Which casks did you use and how will the bottles be filled regarding strength?
Gary: „The first bottling will not be far away. It will be a combination of casks, each complementing each other and all of them having a tie to Lindores. I am not going to give you an exclusive here with what the casks are but as I said it’s a combination, the abv will be 46+%, it will be non-chill filtered and there will be no colour added either, it will be brought down to the strength that we feels suits the spirit and left alone!„
Will there be another chance to get hold of a bottle?
Drew: „The very first release from Lindores will be our ‘1494’ members bottling, the memberships are selling very fast as I think people are really buying into the fact that this will be the only way to get a bottle but also they have the knowledge that they are genuinely helping preserve the spiritual home of Scotch whisky through the ‘Preservation Society’ they also get to plant a tree, have their name on a plaque in the Legacy bar as well as the first opportunity to buy future bottlings but I like to think that when they visit they will be able to see where some of their money is going as we open up the Abbey ruins and start planting the orchards next year.„
When will there be an official release for everybody (not only club members) to try?
Drew: „As for our first general release that is highly likely to be mid 2021, one of Jim Swans remits was to help shape our stills and process to give us an early maturing spirit and with Gary and his team shaping and adapting that process to suit our house style we have created a fantastic spirit and we very much look forward to sharing it with the whisky world but I always said we wouldn’t release anything until we feel it’s ready but the signs are very good indeed!„
Casks and Experiments
When I had my „Hart Hat Tour“, you showed me the heated warehouse. What happened to that?
Gary: „We decided not to proceed with the heated warehouse as there was a lot of factors that worked against us, so we removed it but the positive from that is we have a fully racked warehouse that now allows us to keep all past, present and future private casks onsite.„
I have seen a lot of different casks types during my visit of Lindores Abbey. Which cask types did you fill so far?
Gary: „We have been very fortunate that we have been allowed within a certain boundary to fill a lot of different casks, palo cortado, calvados, pineau de charentes, Australian shiraz, Australian apera, historic oloroso, banyuls, rivesalts, muscat, sauternes, monbazillac, 4 to 5 different bourbons, manzanilla, amontillado, muscatel de sebutal. There is not much we haven’t filled into. It will be good to get an early indication of what is happening, we have filled also into ex-islay peated casks, which is working very well!„
I can’t wait to come back and try your whisky. Fingers crossed that next year will be better than this year. Thank you Drew and Gary for your time and the information spent.