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Glentauchers was founded in 1897, one of a spate of new distilleries built during the late 19th century whisky boom. Founder W.P. Lowrie partnered with Glasgow-based whisky trader and blender James Buchanan to establish his new distillery at Tauchers Farm, four miles west of Keith, a location chosen for its proximity to both rail and road. Boasting its own railway siding, the distillery was well connected with the south and got off to a good start but the early 19th century proved difficult for many in the industry and Lowrie found himself on the precipice of bankruptcy within five years. Unwilling to see his investment wasted, Buchanan came to the rescue, acquiring Lowrie’s share and ensuring the survival of Glentauchers.
The distillery was originally designed by Keith-based architect John Alcock, who worked under the direction of Charles Doig, the man responsible for the pagoda design that still crowns many a distillery today. In 1915 however, Buchanan merged with Dewar’s and Glentauchers was soon undergoing renovations to bring it up to the required standard. Both mash house and floor maltings were completely rebuilt.
The newly formed Buchanan-Dewars lasted a mere decade before merging with the Distillers Company Limited, later becoming part of Scottish Malt Distillers, a forerunner of the mighty Diageo.
Despite further expansion in the 1960’s, Glentauchers was one of many distilleries to close in the mid 80’s and all remained silent until Caledonian Malt Whisky Distillers, a subsidiary of Allied Domecq, bought the site in 1989. Within three years the stills were flowing once more and today the distillery resides under Allied’s Chivas stable. Substantial investment has seen further modernisation and the grounds now boast warehousing capacity for some 6000 casks with the remainder of new make spirit sent to mature at Chivas’ central warehousing complex.
Though it has featured in blends like Ballantine’s, Teacher’s and Chivas Regal, single malt bottlings of Glentauchers are relatively rare. Prior to the bottling of a 15 year old in the year 2000, the spirit was most commonly available from Gordon & MacPhail, one of Scotland’s oldest and foremost independent bottlers. Single cask and small batch versions have become a little more commonplace in recent years however, and it is one such expression from Morrison & MacKay that I have acquired here.
Smell: Orange liqueur. Marmalade. Treacle. Ginger snaps. Raisins. Toffee. Nice malty note. Oak too.
Taste: Raisins, currants, sultanas… ginger and cinnamon. Milk chocolate. Oak. Caramel. Orange creams.
Value for Money: The Càrn Mòr range has always included a selection of affordable offerings but in all honesty I’ve found their cheaper expressions to be a little pedestrian in the past. Since the label got a bit of a rebranding however, the range seems to have become more interesting with a but more variation in the casks being used. I generally prefer not to buy whisky without sampling it first, but at £52 this seemed worth the gamble and I can’t say I’ve been left disappointed with my stab in the dark.
The first dram out the bottle is rarely the best one and that certainly proved to be the case here. The whisky wasn’t unpleasant in any way, just a little closed. Water and time can work wonders though and it soon began to unveil itself. Thus far I’ve found subsequent drams to require a similar splash of water in order to get the best out of the whisky but it does seem to be improving with each pour. Not quite a sherry bomb, but the prominent sherry influence and comfortable drinking strength make this a very pleasant dram for a reasonable price.
Visit the Càrn Mòr website here.
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