Lindores Abbey New Make Spirit 63.5% 20cl
Lindores Abbey is a Tironesian monastery built in the late 12th century on the edge of Newburgh, Fife. It’s claimed that the first written reference to whisky being produced in Scotland relates to the abbey, as the Exchequer Rolls of 1494 list that, by order of King James the 4th, ‘eight bols of malt’ be presented to the monk Friar John Cor to produce ‘aqua vitae. It’s thought that Friar Cor resided at Lindores and it is more than likely distilling of some form was taking place well before this date, and as such the Abbey has become known as the ‘spiritual home of Scotch whisky’.
Now a ruin, the grounds and a neighbouring farm became to be owned by the MacKenzie Smith family, who held the title of ‘Custodians of Lindores’. Drew MacKenzie Smith and his wife had long wanted to build a distillery to honour the historical links to whisky in their grounds, and excavation began in 2013. However, archaeological investigations delayed full construction until 2016, with a visitor centre opening in October 2017 and distillation commencing in December.
The water for whisky production is taken from a borehole near the distillery, meaning the water used is from the same source as would have been used at the Abbey. Barley is sourced from the Fife region, and in June 2019 to local farms have supplied Concerto barley from fields that would have been Abbey lands.
Whilst most new whisky distilleries have produced a gin to provide an ongoing revenue stream while spirit was maturing in cask, Lindores Abbey instead released an Aqua Vitae, based on recipes found at the abbey. Whereas originally this would have been a new make spirit infused with herbs found in the local area, Lindores Abbey Aqua Vitae uses a blend of herbs and spices including Douglas Fir and sweet cicely, along with a maceration of dried fruits.
The distillery has one wash still and 2 spirit stills which are dubbed ‘sister’ stills – this allows for experimentation with differing cuts to produce a variety of flavour profiles. Maturation also takes place with an array of cask types, with a combination of ex-Bourbon casks, STR (or Shaved, Roasted and Recharred) wine barrels and Oloroso Sherry butts being used for the first release.
I have been fortunate enough to taste new make spirit directly from one of the stills during a team meeting while working for G&M a few years ago. What impressed me at the time was the rich fruity notes coupled a noticeably thick texture on the mouthfeel. Now admittedly, this was still warm and we were in a really good mood, but trying the New Make again during a recent online tasting event alongside sales manager Murray I remained enamoured with the complexity that provides the base for an excellent range of whiskies. Put good stuff in, get good stuff out as the saying goes!
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