Towiemore is a distillery that charts the fortunes of the industry as a whole, being one of the “whisky boom” distilleries that later suffered in the global spirits downturn. Founded in 1897 just outside Dufftown in Speyside, Towiemore distillery seemed to have everything it needed to succeed. It was built on a flatland full of fertile soil, ideal for the growing of barley, alongside the Towie Burn stream (an exclusive water source for the distillery) and close to rail links. The distillery was considered to be a “very perfect place” and have “admirable organization and ample capacity” whilst featuring “well-considered technical equipment”. Yet the Pattison’s crisis of 1899 brought the industry to its knees. Towiemore was sold, but survived, and indeed, began to flourish, with Peter Dawson taking over. Dawson’s whisky received the monarch’s seal, was taken by the Prince of Wales on the maiden voyage of HMS Indomitable and was chosen by Scott of the Antarctic for his South Pole journey. Yet the First World War took a heavy toll, and by 1930 the distillery had closed, the equipment requisitioned for Dalwhinnie distillery!
What makes Towiemore whisky different? For one thing, it was an alkaline whisky, whilst most others were slightly acidic. This was because the Towie Burn filtered through a lime seam before reaching the distillery. Yet this sometimes caused the whisky to fizz when added to blends– ending up with it being rejected by blending companies, which would seal the distilleries demise. The distillery used bere barley, giving a sweet, creamy quality to the finished product. The whisky was slightly peated, and Towiemore maintained its own floor maltings, certainly making for a unique flavour. The mashing process was slow, producing a very sweet wort. Towiemore was mostly matured in Sherry casks, producing a richly flavoured spirit. The final spirit was creamy, rich with vanilla and cereal sweetness, a slight heather honey note and citrus zest.
The Lost Distillery Company have a 10-step process when recreating these lost drams, focusing on: era, locality, water, barley, yeast, peat, mash tun, wash back, still, and wood. They’ve done a fantastic job here, recreating a wonderful whisky. On the nose, this dram has notes of sherried fruit, almonds, toffee, vanilla, slight peat, heather flowers and toasted malt. The palate brings a bright cereal sweetness and citrus zest, with a thick, oily mouthfeel and intense sherried oak. The finish is long and lingering with rich sherried spice. A cracking dram, all the better for being bottled at 46% ABV without colouration or chill filtration. A real piece of whisky history!
More can be found on Towiemore and the Lost Distillery Company here.