Ballindalloch is a small artisan whisky distillery in the heart of Scotland's Speyside region. It has been proclaimed as 'Scotland's first single estate distillery', sitting within the grounds of Ballindalloch Castle. It was also one of the first in the recent new wave of craft single malt distilleries that have appeared within the last decade. Despite this, we are still waiting for the inaugural release as the owners vowed to wait at least eight years before bottling any spirit. That wait is almost over.
Ballindalloch is said to produce a light, delicate and fruity style of Speyside single malt.
No single malt has been released from the distillery to date with the inaugural bottling expected in 2022. Over 4,000 barrels have been filled since production began in 2014. The main cask types being used are first-fill and re-fill bourbon barrels and hogsheads, plus first-fill sherry butts.
All barley used in production is grown on the Ballindalloch Castle estate and the water comes from the nearby Garline Springs. The distillery is equipped with a one tonne mash tun complete with a copper dome. This feeds four wooden washbacks, which are made of Oregon pine. They operate for five days per week and run one mash per day. Four of these follow a very long fermentation of 140 hours, while the fifth is shorter at 92 hours. This helps to encourage fruity esters in the wash.
Two stills produce the spirit - the 5,000 litre wash still for first distillation and 3,600 litre spirit still for the second. Both are connected to worm tub condensers. This traditional piece of apparatus is rarely seen in Scotland today. Coiled copper pipes from the stills are submerged in cold water and condense the alcohol vapour back to a liquid. The coil looks like a worm, hence the name.
Ballindalloch was founded in 2012 by the Macpherson-Grant family, the owners of nearby Ballindalloch Castle, headed by Guy Macpherson-Grant. He is the 23rd generation of the family to reside at the castle, which was built in 1546. Their plan saw them convert old 19th-century buildings at Lagmore Farm on their estate into a fully working micro distillery. The buildings were renovated with the aim to be as traditional yet as eco-friendly as possible.
The family's distilling heritage includes ownership of the nearby Cragganmore for a significant time. In fact, it was Sir George Macpherson-Grant that leased part of the castle estate to distiller John Smith in 1869 to allow the building of Cragganmore.
Production started in late 2014. However, Ballindalloch was officially opened by a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay - Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall - during a visit in 2015.
Ballindalloch is easily accessible and sits on the A95 - the main road between Aberlour and Grantown-on-Spey. Visitors can tour the distillery by appointment only. They also offer The Art of Whisky Making. This experience involves spending a day with the distillery team and taking part in all aspects of production from mashing to warehousing.