Perhaps the most nomadic pot stills in the UK. Inverleven was a malt distillery secreted amidst the complexities of the Dumbarton grain complex in the Lowlands, just a hop, skip and a jump from both Glasgow and the Highlands ‘border’. It fell silent in depressive early ’80s, was mothballed in 1985, and finally decommissioned for good in 1991.
When the clever (and frugal!) folks at Bruichladdich learned of the distillery’s pending demolition, they sent a team – spearheaded by engineering specialist extraordinaire, Duncan MacGillivray – to loot the distillery of anything worth taking. That turned out to be nearly everything. Including the both wash and spirit stills, along with an old Lomond still. It took a canny sense of what was and wasn’t possible (in fact, they knocked out a wall to get at the goods!), but in the end, Team Teal made off like ruddy bandits. The Lomond is now pumping out the Botanist gin. The wash still ended up sitting courtyard, behind the iconic ‘Laddie barrels, as nothing more than decorative display. The spirit still went into storage.
After the Remy takeover of Bruichladdich, and subsequent ousting of (re)founder Mark Reynier, the stills eventually made their way over to Ireland, where they are now bubbling away the beer and low wine at Mark’s latest endeavor: Waterford.
Whew. Moving on.
I don’t know much about The Bottlers (or TB, as they’re also known), but if you check ’em out on Whiskybase, they have a heck of a run of bottlings, almost all scoring very high. And some incredibly cool distilleries too.
And Inverleven itself? Well…the malt is scarce, though not unattainable. I’ve only ever tasted two or three, myself, but they were good. And I will hunt more.
53.2% abv. Distilled in 1967, bottled in 1997.
Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.
Nose: Spicy and citric. Slightly stew-y. Salty pastry dough. Some salted dark chocolate. A vague smokiness woven throughout. Notes of orange and orange juice. And a decently robust malt profile.
Palate: Hot and a little sharper than expected. Smoky and carrying a bit of a rubber note. Almost…but maybe not quite…acrid. Strong orange zest. Dark chocolate. Something like Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. And…for my Canuck friends…sour cream Timbits.
Finish: Smoky, with that stew note again. Toasted oak. Fruit skins with some dryness.
Thoughts: No gamechanger, but a very cool dram nevertheless.