Linkwood is a distillery in the Speyside region of Scotland. Dating from 1821, it is one of two distilleries in the town of Elgin.
Linkwood is owned by Diageo. Most of the spirit produced at the distillery is used to make blended Scotch whisky.
Linkwood produces a grassy, malty spirit with lots of fruity notes.
The distillery has a production capacity of around 5.5 million litres per year.
For a time there were two distilleries, operating side by side. They were known as Linkwood A and Linkwood B. Spirit from the two sites was vatted together before being filled into casks.
The original site closed in 1995. For a time, it was used to run experiments on copper contact and the effects of worm tubs. The old still house has since been demolished.
Fermentation takes between 65 and 120 hours. Longer fermentation helps to produce lots of fruity esters in the wash.
Linkwood is fitted with three wash stills and three spirit stills of a pear-shaped design. Unusually, the spirit stills are larger than the wash stills. Their enlarged size increases copper contact in the spirit run, removing unwanted notes from the final spirit.
Linkwood is matured in a selection of ex-bourbon whiskey casks and refill sherry butts. There is space for 2,000 casks at the distillery, the rest is matured elsewhere.
Linkwood is used in blends like Johnnie Walker and White Horse. The only regularly available single malt bottling is the 12-year-old release in Flora & Fauna collection. Rare and limited edition bottlings have been released by independent bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail.
Linkwood was established by Peter Brown in 1821. Brown owned the Linkwood Estate and viewed the distillery as a means of turning barley grown on his land into income. Whisky wasn’t officially produced until the Excise Act of 1823 made it cheaper to buy a license. Production began in 1825.
When Peter passed away, the distillery was taken over by his son. William Brown would expand by demolishing a part of the site and rebuilding.
When William passed away in 1898, his family established the Linkwood-Glenlivet company. In 1902, a man named Innes Cameron joined the firm. Within a few years, he had taken complete control. Cameron ran Linkwood until his death in 1832, at which point the distillery was bought by DCL (now Diageo).
The Second World War brought a temporary closure as the country faced barley shortages. It reopened in 1945 under the watchful eye of Roderick MacKenzie.
MacKenzie was an interesting character. He was a Gaelic speaker from Wester Ross and a deeply suspicious man. He insisted that everything in the still house, right down to the cobwebs, be left untouched for fear that any change would alter the character of the spirit.
A second distillery was constructed in 1971. Dubbed Linkwood B, it ran alongside the original distillery until the mid-'90s. When the original was demolished, the stills were relocated to Linkwood B, which now serves as the main stillhouse for the site.
Linkwood’s spirit is highly reputed. A 1925 blending list ranks it among the top 12 whiskies for blending purposes. As a result, official bottlings are rare, though independently bottled single cask malts are quite common.