No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to a distillery and therefore I was happy to learn that my tour group was stopping at a most unusual place, Edradour Distillery where single malt Scotch whisky (UK spelling!) is made the old-fashioned way. I’ll admit that I know very little about Scotch so it was most helpful to have a docent-led tour. We began with an orientation…and some samples!
Being a newbie to Scotch, I’m pleased to report that Single Malt Scotch is pretty good!
Let’s see if I can remember anything about how one makes Scotch. It comes from barley. We visited the Malt Barn and sampled a bit of the barley after it had been dried. That drying process looks back-breaking. First, the men add water to the grain, then spread out the mixture on a drying floor and carefully tend it by hand. Heat will build up if the mixture simply dries on the floor. Turning is essential. Once the barley is ready, it goes to the masher.
Our group zigzagged up and down through the building tracing the whisky-making process. We were above the mash tun so that we could actually see the barley. This process converts the starches in the grain to sugars for fermentation. I think yeast figures into it somewhere along the line.
Fermenting, which we could smell as we walked by, takes place in huge vats located behind me as I took the above photo. This process takes a couple days after which the alcohol content builds up and the mixture is ready for the next step, the still!
Here the alcohol is separated from the water. That’s about all I can say. I think the process lost me somewhere along the line.
I do know that Edradour prides itself on being a small old-time distillery. They do things by hand and that takes men with skill and dedication. In the photo below, this mash tun is monitored by hand. In addition, consider the barley on the drying floor and how it is turned by hand, using shovels, rather than modern equipment.
Ultimately the Scotch will end up in oak barrels and begin the aging process. It will age for ten years or more. Of course, we went to see these casks where the Edradour name is there for all to see.
I haven’t done justice to this marvelous place. I hope you get a chance to visit for yourself. It’s such a lovely farm. In addition, the nearby town of Pitlochry is handy for lunch before you get a bit of refreshment at the distillery! Of course, you may wish to purchase a gift to take home as well. One last image, so that you can see what a pretty place it is, even on a rainy day.
To see more images from Edradour, please click here.