When you manage to pull yourself away from the glorious greens of the Old Course, you should probably take a moment to pay your respects to one of Scotland’s other great traditions – the distilling and drinking of whisky.
Here in St Andrews, there are plenty of distilleries on our doorstep that you can take a trip to. Many of these offer the chance to take a tour, where you can learn more about the whisky distilling process and, of course, get the chance to taste the end product.
These are a few of the whisky distilleries in and not far from St Andrews that you can get to between your hours spent on the links:
Pay tribute to the spiritual home of whisky at Lindores Abbey Distillery
Step back centuries, right to the dawn of whisky distilling, with a visit to Lindores Abbey Distillery. Considered the spiritual home of Scotch whisky, the golden spirit has been distilled at Lindores since at least 1494 and likely even earlier. Lindores can make such a boast as there’s written evidence of this fact: Brother John Cor, a monk from Lindores Abbey, wrote in the Exchequer Roll of 1494 that King James IV had commissioned Lindores to turn 8 bolls of malt into ‘Aqua Vitae’, as Scotch whisky was then known. Although whisky has not been continuously distilled at Lindores since the fifteenth century, you’ll be glad to know that the copper stills have been filled once again with water from the very same borehole that the monks of the 1400s used to meet King James IV’s order.
Lindores also offers aqua vitae, which differs from the whisky we know today. Aqua vitae is distilled in pot stills before being infused with a blend of spices and herbs, including cleavers, lemon verbena, Douglas fir and sweet cicely. All of these ingredients are grown in the grounds of Lindores.
And the history at Lindores isn’t just about whisky, the Abbey has a real place in many tales of Scotland’s past. Lindores Abbey was a meeting place for Knights and friends of Robert the Bruce, it was a place Scottish princes and kings toured to, and it gave shelter as some of the earliest Acts of Parliament were signed.
Learn more by taking a tour at Lindores. You can choose either a Distillery Tour or a more expansive Apothecary Tour, where you can sample aqua vitae, the drink of kings, for yourself. The team at Lindores strongly recommend you call ahead to book your tour. The Abbey is 20 miles outside of St Andrews.
Get more than just whisky at Eden Mill Distillery
Based on the site of the former Seggie brewery, owned and run by the well-known whisky-distilling Haig family who first experimented with grain whisky in the nineteenth century, Eden Mill offers more than just whisky. As Scotland’s first single site distillery and brewery, the team at Eden Mill are proud to produce whisky, gin and beer on their site. Eden Mill only took up position on the Eden Estuary in 2012, but their experimental wood ageing and distilling techniques have seen great success, and already they’re growing into a new site in Guardbridge (just next door to their current premises). As they source their ingredients locally, a sip of an Eden Mill whisky is a real taste of Scotland.
Given the variety of spirits and alcohols bottled on site, Eden Mill is a great option to visit if your palate is interested in more than whisky as these alcohol aficionados can also teach you about the craft and passion that goes into distilling gin and brewing beer.
As of the start of 2019, the usual tour offered by Eden Mill isn’t available as they’re busy moving between sites, but they do expect it to be up and running again at their new premises in the summer. In the meantime, they are offering tasting sessions at The Gatehouse from March onwards, so you can still get a taste of what’s being created on the doorstep of the Old Course.
Eden Mill St Andrews is less than five miles away from the links at St Andrews.
Travel into the Highlands to taste Glencadam Whisky
Travel further afield into the Highlands and you’ll find the only distillery in Angus County, home to Glencadam Whisky. Having mastered the dual crafts of distilling and patience, Glencadam offers Single Malt Whiskies that have been aged from 10 to 25 years. Made from just three ingredients – malted barley, Highland spring water, and yeast – all Glencadam whiskies are bottled at 46% volume, which prevents the finished product from looking cloudy when cooled. The smooth, caramel colour of the final product is all natural.
Whisky has been distilled at Glencadam since 1825. Many different owners and distillers have passed through in this time, each looking to bring their own vision of how to distil the best whisky to life. The art of whisky was put to one side during World War One and World War Two, however, as the warehouses became barracks for soldiers - you can still see evidence of the time the soldiers spent there near No. 2 Warehouse today. After another brief pause in distilling in the year 2000, the distillery changed hands once again, leading to the creation of the premium Single Malt you can purchase from Glencadam today.
If you want to visit Glencadam Distillery, you must call ahead to arrange an appointment.
Be one of the first to sample Single Malt from Kingsbarns Distillery
Another young distillery with a connection to the famous Haig’s brand is Kingsbarns Distillery. Brother and sister William and Isabella Wemyss launched their single malt Scotch whisky in 2014, distilling their new offering on familial Wemyss land that had historically been used by Haig’s.
Kingsbarns Distillery use Fife grown barley and water from an aquifer 100m below the distillery, filling 33 oak casks a week. The whisky must mature for 3 years and a day before it can be called Single Malt Whisky, so the first drams of Kingsbarns have not long matured; take a tour of this distillery and you’ll be one of the first to have a taste of what Kingsbarns describes as a ‘light, fresh and elegantly dry’ whisky.
Kingsbarns offers three types of whisky tour based upon the amount of time you want to spend there (and the amount of whisky you want to sample). All of their tours include a visit to their stunning nineteenth-century, Gothic-style ‘Doocot’ (that’s Scots for dovecot), where casks of Kingsbarns Single Malt are left to rest and mature. Kingsbarns Distillery is only a 5 minute drive away from Kingsbarns course.