18 Aug Edradour Distillery – Almost The Smallest
Poor little Edradour Distillery. For years they positioned themselves as ‘the smallest’ in Scotland, and while they are still very wee, Strathearn Distillery recently stole the title. Amusingly, Strathern’s website says ‘probably Scotlands smallest distillery’.
While it may no longer be the smallest, Edradour Distillery is certainly one of the loveliest AND it’s very well set up for touring. The distillery shop is HUGE! Edradour Distillery is owned by independent bottling company Signatory Vintage and the shop carries a superb range of whisky, from Edradour and Signatory’s stock. It’s worth a visit just to see what’s on offer.
Edradour Distillery History
When Alfred Barnard visited Edradour Distillery around 1885-86, he noted a Barley Barn, Malt House and Mill all in the same building, a Mash Tun of 1000 gallons / 4500 litres and four Washbacks capable of holding the same. The wash still had a capacity of 740 gallons (3,364 litres), and the spirit/ low-wines still 420 gallons (1,909 litres). Annual output was 6,600 gallons (30,000 litres).
He notes that the stream running through the middle of the distillery is ‘one of the most rampant and brawling streams in the district’ with ‘water power sufficient to drive several water wheels’. The water wheels were used to power the distillery until Edradore had electricity installed in 1947.
The malt barn/maltings closed down in the 1970s and instead the malted barley arrives in huge bags, delivered from the maltsters. The building has been a visitors’ centre sine 1986 – the distillery tour starts in here with a video and whisky tasting.
The water from the burn (stream) is now used only for cooling purposes, such as in the worm tubs. Water used to produce the whisky is from a spring four miles north of the distillery.
Edradour branded whisky is matured predominantly in first-fill Oloroso Sherry Butts which hold around 500 bulk litres, or 315 litres of alcohol. Ballechin whisky is aged mostly in ex-bourbon barrels which hold 200 bulk litres and refill sherry butts (which have been used for one cycle to make Edradour whisky). Ex-wine casks are often used for finishing (enhancing the final taste and colour) for a period of 6 months to 2 years in addition to the initial time spent in the original cask.
Edradour fills on average 12 casks per week, but this varies depending on what they’re filling – it’s only seven if they’re filling sherry butts, (but!) they can fill up to 19 ex-bourbon casks.
Where Is Edradour Distillery
Edradour Distillery is 2.7 miles / 4.5 km from Pitlochry (56.7021886,-3.699581). I’ve seen a few comments online about it being hard to find – it isn’t well signed, but if you get yourself onto the unnamed road Edradour Distillery is located on, you can’t miss it! You may wonder if you’re on a private driveway as most of the road is a tree-lined narrow laneway (if you’re coming from the South).
Stagecoach East Scotland runs buses from Pitlochry to East Haugh, 1.1 miles / 1.8 km walk from the distillery.
If you are staying in Pitlochry, and the weather is in your favour, then a walk along the laneways to/from the distillery would be a day well spent.
Edradour Distillery Tours and Bookings
Edradour Distillery runs tours hourly up from 10 am until 4 pm, April to October, and 10 am til 3pm the rest of the year. They are NOT open Sundays. Children under 12 years old are not permitted on tours or in the shop.
Tickets are £12.00 for adults and £6.00 for children aged 12 – 17 years.
Bookings are essential for groups of 8 or more, but I would highly recommend you book in advance regardless of your number. Edradour is TINY. Until recently, it held the title of smallest distillery in Scotland. They have an excellent set-up for visitors but are quickly overrun – at the time of my visit there were three coaches in the car park, but thankfully they were just leaving!! Avoid disappointment or a long wait and book your spot in advance. Else, go around noon – 1 pm or so, as the coach tourists tend to be off elsewhere having lunch, but there are no guarantees unless you book.
Bookings via firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful Visitor Information
Photos are allowed throughout the distillery. Edradour is one of my favourite distilleries to photograph due to its contrasting colour scheme and beautiful old equipment.
There is a small bar on site where visitors wait for the tour. Book your tour tickets at the distillery shop (near the main entrance).
Edradour Distillery is tiny, but it does have quite a large parking area.
What Else Is Nearby
The closest town to Edradour Distillery is Pitlochry.
We stayed at an AirBnB 45 minutes drive away in Glen Lyon – just past Aberfeldy. Glen Lyon is a superb part of Scotland, and our single room bothy with kitchen and ensuite bathroom was perfect for two. The same host also rents out the house next door which is suitable for families or those wanting more space.
Edradour Distillery Whisky
Edradour 10yo comes in chill filtered and un-chill filtered versions. The un-chill filtered Edradour 10yo whisky is a tad more expensive, but it’s also 46% A.B.V (vs 40% A.B.V for the chill filtered) and should pack a lot more flavour for not being chill-filtered.
Aimed at the Asia export market, chill filtering gets rid of a lot of the oiliness in whisky, which means it won’t go cloudy if you add ice, but in my opinion, it takes out much of the flavour too.
Ralfy notes below that the Edradour 2003 release needs to sit for a while (20 mins) with a bit of water to ‘open’ properly. The Edradour 2003 10yo is not readily available anymore, but the Edradour 2006 10yo is available in bottlings from 2016 and 2017.
Edradour Distillery Photo Gallery
References & Further Reading
- Alfred Barnard, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, 2008 Edition, first published in 1887 by Harpers Weekly Gazette