There’s still life at Annandale
April 25, 2013 § 6 Comments
My visit to Annandale Distillery last year seemed to suggest that production would start in late 2012 … all being well. As the summer progressed things did not quite go according to plan as the scheduled works continued. The Victorian brickwork foundations of the original distillery had to be preserved in some way, the rear wall of the main distillery building was found to be in a state of near collapse, massive water ingress on the other side of the building was discovered which was permeating down through the site to the lower levels and manager Malcolm Rennie broke his leg when he fell through rotten flooring in the old maltings. Owners David and Teresa must have wondered what could possible happen next. One thing was inevitable … their bank balance was a lot less than they had expected.
All of these setbacks could have put an end to this exciting project had less resolute people been involved but on returning on the 18th April I found that all of the above had been fixed although Malcolm was finding it difficult to remain standing on the same spot for any length of time.
I was visiting primarily to meet up with whisky author and photographer Ian Macilwain (Bottled History) who had supplied photographs for a whisky book I had published on Glenglassaugh Distillery and who had kindly agreed to work with me and Brian Townsend (author of Scotch Missed: The Lost Distilleries of Scotland) on a new project called The Crafts and Skills of Whisky in which some of the practices currently on display at Annandale would feature. Ian was on site most of the week and I had arrived just after the stills had been moved onto their plinths in the narrow stillhouse and prior to the condensers being lowered by boom crane onto the east side of the stillhouse. David wore a broad smile as he could now see that the buildings were beginning to resemble a distillery proper.
He had the good grace to open the top security door (which was drilled and bolted) to the stillhouse to allow us access to take some pictures. The copper stills (2 spirit, 1 wash) newly arrived from Forsyths were in place and only needing to be rotated until ready to be plumbed in.
The stills are a tight fit in anyone’s language but this space was where they had to be so it is a masterfully economic arrangement which will allow viewing from the mash house next door. The malting floors too are renewed and looking magnificent and with the Victorian foundations to be a centrepiece for visitors, the distillery offices will now be built in a curved structure that will back on to the distillery burn. Completion? David is more comfortable with the prospect of the stills running later this year and he has also bought adjoining nature woodland to enable visitors to ramble and picnic when they visit the distillery.
It was a brief but informative visit and I was thrilled with how things had come on. When I first visited Annandale in 1987, there was little or no hope of it ever coming back to life. It is genuinely moving to see the transformation. This week, the washbacks arrive and Ian has returned to cover their installation.
I can’t wait for my next visit.