The oldest distillery in Scotland, the original excise license dates back to 1494 when King James IV commissioned the monks of Lindores Abbey to turn 8 bolls of malt into ‘Aqua Vitae’. The modern story of Lindores starts in 1913 when Lindores Abbey Farm was bought by current owner Drew McKenzie Smith’s grandfather.
The remains of Lindores Abbey sits adjacent the farm steading that was converted to create the modern distillery. The ‘Church by the Water’, was founded in 1191 by David Earl of Huntingdon, on land overlooking the Estuary of the River Tay, given to him by his brother King William I. It is said that William Wallace even took refuge here after his victory over the English at the nearby Battle of Black Earnside. The weary, battle-tired troop stopped to drink from the Holy Burn, a strand of water running near to the Abbey before they entered.
Distilling was taking place on this site at least as early as 1494, although it was most probably happening long before that. The earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky (or Aqua Vitae, as it was then known), which appears in the Exchequer Roll that year names Brother John Cor, who was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls of malt into what would now be measured as around 400 bottles of whisky.
After a break of over 500 years in 2017 new copper stills were brought into commission and spirit started flowing once again at Lindores Abbey. The first Single Malt release is fast approaching after ageing in Oloroso Sherry Cask, Barrique Cask and American Bourbon Hogshead which will give Lindores a unique, nutty and fruity finish.
Like his father before him, owner Drew along with his wife Helen now hold the title of ‘Custodian of Lindores’. “We like to think we are continuing where the Tironensian Monks of Lindores left off. They were a hardworking and inclusive Order who brought their horticultural expertise from Thiron in France over to us here in Scotland. We will be using locally grown barley for our whisky and fruit from our trees just as they did, to ensure we, all of us, as Custodians of Lindores Abbey, secure its future for the next 500 years.. at least!”