A Seminar and Tasting of Lindores Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV (1494)

Lindores Abbey Distillery location (Map courtesy Google Maps)
Lindores Abbey Distillery location (Map courtesy Google Maps)

Whisky has a long history in Scotland.  Part of that history is related to the Lindores Abbey located north of Edinburgh and just east of Perth.  The Abbey was established in 1191 by Benedictine monks.  This is the officially recognized site of the first recorded distillation of Scotch Whisky in 1494 which appears in the Exchequer Roll of that year.  Friar John Cor, one of the monks was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls (1024 gallons) of malt into Aqua Vitae, which we know now as whisky.  The abbey was sacked by John Knox the leader of the country’s Reformation and fell into ruins. John Knox was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Tim Foster Leads Us Through the Seminar

A picture of Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith from the presentation
A picture of Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith from the presentation

Skip forward to the present to Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith current owners of the property that includes the ruins of the Abbey, who learned of the history of the ruins and that these ruins should be a pilgrimage for every whisky lover according to the late writer Michael Jackson in his “Scotland and its whiskies” book.  The land had been in the family for three generations.  Once they learned about the Abbey and its history to whisky they decided to re-create a distillery at Lindores.  They are classified as a Lowland Distillery but note that they are at the border between the Lowland and Highland distilleries.  It took 15 years of planning and work to get to the building of the distillery, 2017 the first distillation, and now in 2021, the first aged whisky available for sale to the public. It was this week that I and a small group of other whisky lovers had a zoom meeting with Tim Foster, Export Sales Manager, from the Lindores Abbey Distillery.  He started off with the history of the Abbey as I’ve outlined above then went into the components of their distillery and what makes it distinct from other distilleries.  The whisky is named “Lindores Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV (1494)” and comes in a 700 ml bottle.  

The Distillation Process

The spirit still on the left and wash stills on the right from the presentation
The spirit stills on the left and wash stills on the right from the presentation

They use local barley to make the malt for their whisky. The distillery uses a long 3-5 day fermentation which creates fruity esters for the whisky.  They have one wash still (where the yeast is added to the wort to start distillation) and use two, spirit stills, where the fermented liquid is heated as a vapour and then condensed back to a liquid. What is unique with their process is using two, spirit stills.  Usually, one is used.  The two spirit stills are named Poppy and Gee after Drew and Helen’s two daughters. With two spirit stills they are getting slightly different flavours in the whisky.  The distilled whiskies are not kept separate in the process.  There is no additional blending (e.g. 60%from one still and 40% from another still).  The spirit stills have condensation arms that are quite steep so that heavier oils from the distillation can drain to give them more fruit and oily texture to the whisky.  The stills are made of copper which gives a more refined spirit, cleaner and pure. Once the whisky has been distilled it is matured in a selection of bourbon barrels (65%), red wine barriques (20%), and Oloroso sherry butts (15%).

The current whisky that is being released was first distilled on December 17, 2017, so on December 17, 2021, this year, the whisky will be four years old.  That is still young for many whiskies but this whisky can be enjoyed young.  Tim mentioned that over time the whiskies will have a bit longer ageing and there will be whiskies released that have an age stated on the bottle.  

Tasting the Whisky

We then had a chance to try a dram of the Lindores Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV (1494) in my Glencairn glass and it did not disappoint.  I tried it first on its own, neat, and then with a few drops of spring water (no chlorine) to see how it would affect the aromas and flavours of the whisky.  Yes, you can add water to whisky!

A dram of Lindores Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV to taste
A dram of Lindores Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky MCDXCIV to taste

The whisky has lots of character.  I picked up sweet butterscotch, vanilla, and berry fruits, and later some chocolate aromas in the glass. It has a medium body, is dry with a thicker round mouthfeel.  Quite peppery with cut apple flavour for me. A long length finishing with hazelnut flavour for me.  How did adding a few drops of water affect this whisky? The aromas became lighter in intensity.  I could more easily get vanilla and berry aromas, butterscotch, but also some candied citrus.  The whisky had a lighter body, softer and less peppery.  Same long length and silky texture.  Cut apples and berries on the palate. Nutty and chocolate on the finish.  Tim noted that people do note that some whiskies have a chocolate hazelnut bar note to them, which I picked up.  He also mentioned that the pepperiness is more like a Szechuan pepper, and I have to agree with him.  This whisky is top quality, with lots of flavour, and is even better in my opinion with a few drops of water to open up the aromas and flavours.

This whisky will be arriving in BC and Alberta in February or March 2022.  The price in BC will be around $90-95.  Keep your eyes peeled in your BC Liquor store, or private shops in BC and Alberta.


Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.