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Edradour and The Mafia
Edradour Distillery was founded in 1825 by a cooperative of local farmers led by Alexander Forbes. Originally titled Glenforres, the distillery was moved to its current site in 1834 and renamed Edradour, meaning “the land between two rivers”. For many years it was one of the smallest distilleries in the country but for one so small it has made something of an impact.
In 1933, Edradour was purchased by William Whiteley, the man behind the blended Scotch brand “King’s Ransom”. Whiteley was a shrewd businessman and, prior to his acquisition of Edradrour, he struck up a healthy working relationship during prohibition in the US with none other than Frank Costello. Costello was the mafia boss nicknamed ‘Prime Minister of the Underworld’, head of the Luciano crime family and inspiration for The Godfather. Costello provided the supply route for Whiteley’s brands and made it his duty as “sales representative” to ensure bars were well stocked.
William Whiteley decided to retire in 1938 and his business (including Edradour) was bought over by American bootlegger Irving Haim, a known associate of Costello. Inevitably, questions were asked regarding Costello’s involvement in this acquisition and in 1950 he was grilled by the US senate about his financial affairs, including any link to Whiteley whisky brands. Costello stated that while he tried to buy the Whiteley Company, he was unsuccessful and it went instead to Haim. The small matter of Costello’s Alliance Distributors company being awarded the exclusive distribution rights for Whiteley brands in the US was, I’m sure, a complete coincidence…
Ownership of the distillery changed hands first in 1976 when it was sold by the descendants of Irving Haim to an American / Australian consortium and then again in 2002 when it was bought by Signatory Vintage Ltd who have since released a large variety of different expressions and established a Visitor Centre that opens April to October.
The standard Edradour 10 year old malt is bottled at 40%.
Smell: Vanilla and Honey, some Floral notes, some Citrus and even a touch of Sherry.
Taste: Surprisingly weighty on the palate for such a low abv, there’s notes of Caramel and Toffee, Biscuit, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Orange and Baked Apples.
Thoughts: This certainly isn’t the best offering from Edradour but it’s an affordable introduction to an interesting wee distillery. Edradour does well in sherry casks and you can feel their presence here, though it is by no means a sherry bomb. It makes for a surprisingly complex whisky, given its low price. I find Edradour rather fascinating and this is probably the best way to start getting to know it.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.