Lindores Abbey Distillery - Gastro Obscura

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Lindores Abbey Distillery

Newburgh, Scotland

One of the youngest whisky distilleries in Scotland may also be the country’s oldest. 

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For centuries, Lindores Abbey stood in ruins without receiving much attention. For most of the 20th century, the farm was owned by Drew Mackenzie Smith. Mr. Smith remembers how one day, in 2001, an “shambolic chap in a linen suit” came and asked his father to look around the ruins of the Abbey. And then, in six months, a book arrived in the post: Scotland and Its Whiskies by Michael Jackson (not the Michael Jackson, but rather an acclaimed whisky writer).

This book referred to Lindores Abbey as a pilgrimage for a whisky lover, as the earliest written account of Scotch whisky refers to Lindores Abbey. The reference comes from the Exchequer Roll and dates back to 1494. According to the document, a monk named John Cor was commissioned by King James IV to turn eigh bolls of malt into Aqua Vitae (Latin for Water of Life, or, in other words, a fancy term for a strong alcoholic beverage or medieval Scotch whiskey). And it can only be assumed that Aqua Vitae had been produced on-site much earlier.

The reference in the book gave the long-needed impetus to take advantage of the site’s history and produce whiskey once again. Five centuries after the original mention, the distillery opened its doors. The current distillery’s image is largely based on its historical roots. For example, to maintain the aura of the monastery, the barrels are manufactured from the oaks growing near an old monastery in the small village of Thiron-Gardais, some 80 kilometers south of Paris.

Visitors are invited to take a tour of the distillery and see for themselves how the past merges with the present. The guides will tell you about the history of the place, show state-of-the-art equipment used for whisky production, and allow you to indulge in some tastings of Lindores Abbey whiskey and its Aqua Vitae (the owners now use this term for alcohol that has not yet matured to be technically called whisky). However, the main emphasis is still on the quality of whiskey, as the owners are really careful not to turn this place into a “Whiskey Disneyland”.

Lindores Abbey itself has seen many significant historical personalities and events. Founded in 1191, the wealthy abbey not only accommodated such monarchs as David II, Edward I of England, and Robert the Bruce but also Scotland’s greatest national hero, William Wallace.

Know Before You Go

Lindores Abbey Distillery is located within a few hundred meters from the town of Newburgh, a 20-minute drive from Perth, a 1-hour drive from Edinburgh, and a little over an hour's drive from Glasgow. The distillery is open to visitors seven days a week from April to October and from Wednesday to Sunday from November to March, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Distillery Tours are available at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. To book a tour or tasting experience, visit the website. Standard tours cost £15 for adults and £5 for children.

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July 10, 2024

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