Culture

A Visit To The Spiritual Home Of Whisky Should Be On Your Edinburgh Itinerary

Less than an hour’s drive from the Scottish capital is something really special.

Less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, on the edge of a slightly run-down little village, is something really special. It’s been called a pilgrimage that any whisky-lover should make, and if you like your history with a side of something stronger, this is the place for you.

But it’s not just for the connoisseurs. There’s plenty here for whisky-novices, history-buffs, and people who like to get creative, too.

Lindores Abbey Distillery is a new Scotch Whisky distillery at the place where Scotch Whisky was reportedly first distilled hundreds of years ago.

Seamlessly blending ancient and modern, Lindores Abbey Distillery is an unassuming building on rolling green farmland not far from the river. Built next to the ruins of the 900-year-old Lindores Abbey, the new distillery occupies a 500-year-old converted farmhouse and stables that were in active use until 2016.

Now, horses have been replaced by creative displays about the history and manufacture of Scotch Whisky.

Lindores Abbey Distillery

The abbey itself has long been recognised as the spiritual home of Scotch Whisky. The earliest written record of whisky comes from Lindores, in a tax record dated 1494. Exactly when and where Scotch Whisky was first distilled isn’t properly known, but it could have been at Lindores Abbey. It would make sense – the monks who lived and worked there were known for agriculture and innovation.

Today, the abbey is in ruins, but in its day, it played host to Kings and Queens, including Mary, Queen of Scots. Even the legendary William Wallace is known to have visited the abbey after a successful battle in 1298.

Wandering the peaceful, grassy ruins, it’s easy to see what a sanctuary the abbey must have been for battle-weary soldiers and scheming royalty alike. It’s tranquil, beautiful, and delightfully steeped in history.

Now, the new distillery in the farmhouse next to the ruins is bringing back the ancient traditions of Lindores.

Scotch Whisky distillation began this year, and tours demonstrating the whole process are on offer. Since Scotch needs to mature for no less than three years and one day (the Scotch Whisky Association are very strict about that), the local whisky won’t be available to sample or purchase until at least 2020. But, in the meantime, there’s other things to occupy visitors.

Whisky takes its name from the Latin aqua vitae, “the water of life”, and probably started out as a spirit flavoured with local wild herbs, fruits and flowers. To continue that tradition, there’s a new apothecary where anyone feeling creative can get hands-on and craft their own version. The distillery provides the alcohol and the flavourings, you provide the inventiveness and the hard work, guided by an expert mixologist.

In the sumptuously decorated space, it’s easy to pretend you’re one of the ancient monks creating your own speciality brew – though shaved heads aren’t a requirement! You get to keep your mix to take home with you, too.

Lindores Abbey Distillery opens for visitors this weekend, on October 6, 2017. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday for tours as well as Whisky and Champagne Afternoon Tea. Bookings are required – see the website for details.

How To Get There

  • Fly into Edinburgh Airport
  • Drive 71km (about 55 minutes) north, via M90
  • Lindores Abbey Distillery, Abbey Road, Newburgh, Cupar

Martina Donkers travelled as a guest of Visit Britain.

Check out Qantas flights to Edinburgh.

 

(All images courtesy of Lindores Abbey Distillery)