Daftmill is a family owned single malt Scotch whisky distillery in the Lowlands of Scotland. It is a farm distillery that grows its own barley. Whisky is produced when there is a break in other farm work. The first ever bottling of Daftmill was released in 2018. Since then there has been two new releases each year.
Daftmill is a Lowland single malt with a malty, fruity character. It is commonly matured in ex-bourbon casks from Heaven Hill distillery which give the spirit notes of vanilla and toffee. Sometimes an ex-sherry cask will be used to give additional layers of dried fruits.
Daftmill farm grows barley and rears a herd of beef cattle. Around 10% of the barley harvest goes to the distilling operation. The leftovers of whisky production go back into the farm. Grain residue known as draff is fed to the cattle while leftover liquids known as Pot Ale and Spent Lees are used to fertilise the fields.
The distillery works in harmony with the farm. In the Spring season, the family is busy planting the year’s crops but a lull in activity during the Summer allows them to make whisky before turning their attention to the harvest. The quiet winter season allows for a second production run. Spirit is produced for a total of six months in the year with a maximum output of just 20,000 litres.
The spirit’s character is influenced by the distillation regime. The distiller allows spirit to flow from the still for just five minutes before they start to collect the heart of the run. This is known as a high cut point and the result is a light, fruity spirit of 72 - 74% abv. It is then diluted to 63% before being casked and left to mature until deemed ready for bottling. The youngest release so far has been 11 years old.
The Cuthbert family bought Daftmill Farm in 1984. The unusual name comes from the Daft Burn that crosses the estate. At certain points the water seems to flow uphill, hence the name daft.
The family are sixth generation farmers with a long history of trading in malted barley. In 2003 brothers Francis and Ian came up with the idea of converting their old mill building into a distillery. A planning application was submitted and a distilling license finally received on St Andrews Day of 2005. The first distillation run took place on the 16th December that year.
The brothers were keen to use local Fife tradesmen wherever possible. Their pot stills and mashtun were supplied by Forsyths of Rothes but all other equipment and work was sourced within five miles of the distillery.
The Cuthbert brothers showed impressive patience with their spirit. Whenever they were questioned about the potential release of their whisky they would simply answer “when it’s ready”. Finally in 2017 it was announced that a partnership had been formed with wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, who would handle global distribution of the Daftmill single malt. The first bottling was a 2005 vintage released in June of 2018. All subsequent bottlings have carried a 2006 vintage or later.
The distillery’s seasonal cycle has translated to their release schedule with summer and winter editions produced each year. Due to low availability and high demand, Daftmill bottlings tend to command a high price and are often sold using a ballot system.