Another revival of a long, lost distillery by the peerless Lost Distillery Company. This time round, it’s Stratheden Distillery. This was a distillery that operated for nearly 100 years in the Fife town of Auchtermuchty. During this time the company remained entirely family owned, by three generations of the Bonthrone family, named by whisky writer Brian Townsend as a “malting, brewing and distilling dynasty”. Indeed, Alexander Bonthrone who founded the distillery in 1829, worked as its manager for nearly 60 years, well into his later 80s.Subsequent generations of the family expanded the business, whilst taking an active hand in local and national policy decisions that could affect the whisky industry. To this day, the town of Auchtermuchty is divided by a man-made channel that funnels water from the nearby Lovers Pool towards the site of the distillery – a perhaps, curious, piece of civic planning.
Notably, Stratheden was known to have used the hardier strain of barley, called Bere. Bere was a low yield cereal, which produced different levels of sugar, making malting and distilling difficult. Yet, the grain imparts a unique flavour to the eventual product. The Bonthrones had a history of baking as well as distilling, therefore probably had access to some very interesting yeast strains. Stratheden was also a peated malt, with Alfred Barnard noting that peat was brought from Orkney to the fuel the distillery. This knowledge is crucial for the Lost Distillery Company, who operate a 10 step process to recreating the flavours of these lost whiskies, focusing on: era, locality, water, water, barley, yeast, peat, mash tun, wash back, still and wood. This allows them to identify distilleries and spirit today that they can use to recreate these long lost drams.
On the nose, this whisky has wonderful aromas of dense fruit cake, with madeira wine, apples and pears, scorched oak, croissants, tobacco smoke and slight sweet peat. The palate brings a chewy sweetness, with a little pepper, salt, some woodspice, a touch of peat, more pastry and more of those fresh green apples. The finish is warming and sweet, with a lingering woodspice and sweet wine note. An outstanding blended malt, that restores a long lost whisky to its former glory. This whisky is bottled at 46% ABV without either chill filtration or coloration.
More can be found on Stratheden and the Lost Distillery Company here.