Andy Gem­mell’s Drinks Cab­i­net

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Ncn’ean dis­tillery Drimnin, by Locha­line, Morvern

His­tory: The Drimnin Es­tate over­looks Tober­mory and The Sound of Mull be­tween the In­ner Hebridean is­land of Mull and main­land Scot­land. This truly stun­ning lo­ca­tion is owned by Derek and Louise Lewis, who along with daugh­ter Annabel Thomas, a whisky en­thu­si­ast, had a dream of build­ing a dis­tillery on their es­tate back in 2010. Over the next four years they set up their com­pany and re­ceived fund­ing to turn their dream into a re­al­ity. In 2014 for­mer Carls­berg UK boss Benet Slay joined them as chair­man and the cre­ation of the dis­tillery within one of their for­mer farm build­ings started in April 2016. Spirit fi­nally started to flow through its stills in April of 2017. The whisky: Work­ing with the late great Dr Jim Swan when de­sign­ing the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the dis­till­ing equip­ment, they are striv­ing to be ex­per­i­men­tal with the whisky they pro­duce.

Longer mash­ing process, slower fer­men­ta­tion and un­usual lamp­shaped stills mean they are go­ing to be push­ing the bound­aries of whisky, giv­ing the cat­e­gory new and ex­cit­ing brands.

The brands: Un­usu­ally there is no sign of a gin from this dis­tillery, which is com­mon prac­tice among new dis­til­leries un­til their whisky is ready. They have, how­ever, given 60 peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase their own bar­rel from the dis­tillery. Prices start at £3,000 and will give you around

300 bot­tles when it is ready.

Geek alert: This is not one of Scot­land’s big­gest dis­til­leries by a long way. If you com­pare it to Glen­fid­dich or Ma­callan who pro­duce well over 16 mil­lion litres of pure al­co­hol be­tween them ev­ery year, here they aim to get around 100,000 litres from their stills. They have plans to re­lease their first whisky in 2020, which may seem early, but I am sure they have in­vested in the best casks they could get their hands on, in or­der to make it ready for this date.

Why visit?

This might not be the eas­i­est dis­tillery to visit but if you are in any way in­ter­ested in whisky or just vis­it­ing one of the most stun­ning parts of Scot­land then it’s worth the ef­fort. The dis­tillery is open dur­ing the week with tours in the morn­ing and af­ter­noon. You need to phone ahead here to book a tour. If you find your­self in Tober­mory over sum­mer then there is a wa­ter taxi which can take you here once a week. The ap­proach to whisky here is re­fresh­ing. You can even get a cock­tail af­ter your tour if you are not into neat whisky.

In­ter­est­ing fact: The name Ncn’ean (an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of Neach­neo­hain) comes from Scots Gaelic folk­lore. Ncn’ean was a witch queen, a fierce hunter and pro­tec­tor of na­ture, who was also known as the “Queen of the Spir­its”, which fits in per­fectly to this es­tab­lish­ment’s story and ethos of claim­ing to be Scot­land’s first or­ganic dis­tillery. The dis­tillery has been set up to use only green elec­tric­ity that is gen­er­ated on the es­tate from a hydro-river scheme, and also re-uses waste heat through the ware­house. The by-prod­ucts of the dis­til­la­tion process will also be used as feed and fer­tiliser for the es­tate.

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