Distillery revives historic birthplace of whisky
LINDORES: Abbey had first recorded drop of ‘water of life’ in 1494
The historic birthplace of Scottish whisky has been revived after more than 500 years.
Crime writer Ian Rankin cut the ribbon on the £7 million new distillery and visitor centre at Lindores Abbey, near Newburgh.
In 1494, the abbey entered the history books with the first recorded drop of “aqua vitae”, or water of life. Friar John Cor paid duty on eight bolls of malt to make whisky for King James IV.
And now the water of life is set to flow at Lindores again.
Drew McKenzie Smith and his wife Helen, custodians of Lindores Abbey, took the wraps off the new centre in a ceremony yesterday hosted by Mr Rankin who, as well as giving the world Rebus, is something of a whisky enthusiast.
The Cardenden-born writer said: “This is an extraordinary building and extraordinary project.”
Rankin said he developed a love of whisky when he joined an American friend on a distillery tour of Scotland.
“It was the first time I really got the taste for whisky, malt whisky in particular,” he said. “But the one thing which was missing then – and I think Lindores Abbey is going to help with – is something I came across in France: Terroir.
“It’s this beautiful French word which is used by wine-makers. It tells you that the wine is not just a drink. It tells you it’s a philosophy, it’s a feeling and it’s connected to the land, the people and history.
“It’s something we’ve not done much of with Scottish manufacturing in general, but this wonderful building and the story that it tells, lends itself to that notion of terroir.”
Mr McKenzie Smith said: “Twenty years ago, when I first read the earliest written reference to Scotch whisky distillation in Scotland, it changed my life and gave me the purpose and ambition to preserve Lindores Abbey for generations to come.
“The late, great whisky writer Michael Jackson wrote of Lindores Abbey: ‘For the whisky lover, it is a pilgrimage.’
“So we are honoured today to share our vision for the future and the awardwinning Lindores Abbey single malt which will safeguard this tranquil site of historic significance.”
Around 150,000 litres of spirit are expected to be produced each year using Fife barley. It will be stored in bourbon barrels from Kentucky.
Author Ian Rankin enjoys a dram with abbey custodian Drew McKenzie Smith.