Edradour is Scotland's smallest single malt whisky distillery and produces just 90,000 litres of whisky each year. It is located in the central Highlands, close to the town of Pitlochry, and is owned by the independent bottling company Signatory Vintage, who took control in 2002. The name of Edradour is thought to derive from the Gaelic 'Edred dobhar' meaning 'the stream of King Edred'.
Edradour is housed in its original farm buildings and little has changed since it was founded in 1825. Everything at Edradour is small with all the distilling equipment (a mash tun, two washbacks and a pair of oddly shaped stills) crammed into one room. All processes use traditional methods with no automation and much of the equipment is made from wood. The pair of stills are also the smallest size permitted for commercial distilling by the Customs & Excise department.
The picturesque farm buildings and the 'smallest' tag help the distillery to be one of Scotland's most visited, attracting approximately 100,000 tourists per year. The single malt core range is small and based around this 10 years old, with more limited expressions also available as cask strength or with experimental cask finishes. Edradour has a cult following around the world and many say that you either love it or hate it.
The colour is a dull gold and the nose is pungent, with a combination of dried fruits (think of sultanas), some sweetness (imagine slightly burnt caramel) and nuts (especially almonds). There is also a slightly odd aroma that took us ages to try and pin down - the closest we got was match heads that have just been struck. On the palate, this feels thick and oily (almost syrupy) with some interesting elements coming together. There is a sort of malty, grainy yeastiness that gives a creamy flavour and feel, with the dried fruits, nuttiness and sweetness from the nose (a bit more like honey this time) battling with a pronounced smokiness. This has a similar sulphuric quality as the match heads but is more prominent than on the nose and more reminiscent of coal burning. The finish is long with the coal smoke fading away to give dried fruits again and a touch of woody spice (think of nutmeg).
Edradour 10 years old is a very interesting whisky. It has a slightly odd mixture of characteristics that suggest maturation in both bourbon and sherry casks at some point and the feeling is that they are conflicting with each other. The result is a whisky that is unique but that doesn't seem at ease with itself or quite correctly balanced in some way. We have not previously tried anything like Edradour and its uniqueness must come from the care taken to make it and the small size of the stills and batches of whisky produced. A bottle will cost £30-35 from specialist whisky retailers or through Signatory Vintage.