Bladnoch is Scotland's most southerly whisky distillery. It is located in the lowlands region, close to the town of Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway. The distillery stands on the banks of the River Bladnoch and is also one of Scotland's smallest with a current production capacity of just 100,000 litres per year. Bladnoch was founded in 1817 and has had a chequered history, especially during the 20th century when it suffered significant periods of closure between 1905-1911, 1937-1956 and most recently 1993-2000. A variety of market reasons have contributed to these closures but the main one is the remote location of the distillery.
Bladnoch has been owned by some real industry heavyweights during its history and it is currently one of the few distilleries to be independently owned in Scotland. The current owner is Raymond Armstrong, who rescued the distillery from extinction in 1995. Due to a legal wrangle, he could not restart distilling until 2000 and since then he has been producing whisky but with restrictions in place. The range of Bladnoch whisky on the market is a bit messy with some being released by previous owners Diageo (in their Flora & Fauna range), some by independent bottling companies as well as the relatively new range released by Armstrong's company. These whiskies are bottled at 6 years of age and they have experimented with different cask finishes and also made the first ever peated Bladnoch.
This release is from the Glasgow based independent bottling company Douglas Laing & Co and forms part of their Old Malt Cask range. This range consists of single casks bottlings at 50% ABV and this is one of just 295 bottles and costs roughly £60. The colour is a pale lemon yellow and the nose is light and fresh. The predominant aroma is that of grass (think of dried grass or hay though) with some subtle sweet vanilla, honey and cereal notes coming through. On the palate, this is again light with initial sweet, almost sugary, vanilla and toffee elements giving way to the grassiness, honey and cereal grains from the nose. There is also a zingy zesty note (think of lemon zest) and an interesting hint of something floral (reminding me most of honeysuckle flowers). The overall effect is refreshing and palate cleansing. The finish switches direction by being quite bitter (that dried grass again) and drying in the mouth. This is accompanied by an alcoholic fiery burn (imagine peppercorns or chilli) but this is not really a negative as it balances the sweetness experienced earlier well. A touch of water nullified this but also flattened out the whole dram. Perfect and refreshing for a hot day ... if we ever get one soon.