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5 New Distilleries for the Experienced Whisky Drinker

Ardnahoe Distillery is yet to release its first whisky….we’re all holding our breath.

We’re all rather spoiled when it comes to distilleries, aren’t we? With over 140 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland, there is plenty for the avid drinker to choose from. If you are an experienced drinker looking for something new, then there are many new distilleries in Scotland looking to make their mark.

A few of the examples that I’ve listed below are releasing some of the strongest core range bottles. These are in conjunction with some very different styles of experimental whiskies, be they cask orientations or something a little mad in the distilling processes. 

These are certainly distilleries to pay attention to if you think you’ve had and tried everything before. Here are five new whisky distilleries for the experienced drinker. 

Ardnamurchan 

Ardnamurchan Distillery is a relatively new distillery in Scotland. A bottle of Ardnamurchan AD, one of the popular releases, can be seen in the foreground.

Owned by The Adelphi Bottling Company, Ardnamurchan was always going to be a really strong product from the get-go. As an indie bottler, Adelphi has always made some very classic and very challenging bottles within the world of whisky. Challenging in the sense of flavour orientations more than anything, but it’s always had a fun side to it. 

The distillery produces 500,000 litres of alcohol per year and a contrasting style of peated and unpeated single malt distillate, coming in at around the 30/35ppm mark before it’s been distilled. 

Opened in 2014, with their first release being picked up with huge demand during COVID, Ardnamurchan have always been on the precipice of putting whisky out there that appeals to the regular drinker, and the more experimental ones. 

Their Sherry Cask, Rum Cask, Grand Cru Wine Cask (Paul Lanois), heavily peated single barrels, unpeated single barrels, exceptional ex-bourbon casks release – it has all been rather stunning and extremely transparent with their cask selections and vintages of their whiskies. 

You will have to scan the QR code on the back of the bottles to get the in-depth details, and with the whiskies being a combination of their own peated and unpeated barley, you get the best of both worlds when it comes to Scotch. This place is brilliant. 

Lagg 

Dividing the Isle of Arran in half, albeit invisibly, is the highland line: a geographical division that separates the Highlands and Lowlands. With Arran now having two distilleries on one island, Lochranza is their Highland style, and what a good job it does of that, too! 

Lagg is now the Lowland style, allowing the Lowlands to add another feather to its cap as the area of Scotland with some of the most exciting growth and development in the whisky industry. 

Producing 750,000 litres of whisky and having its first still run occur in March 2019, Lagg has already become a firm favourite of peated whisky drinkers. It is also worth stating that all peated distillation now takes place at The Lagg distillery; Lochranza is now fully focused on an unpeated style of whisky. 

Having bought and opened the inaugural release, I found that it had a lot of depth and intensity for a whisky of four years old. It was a little expensive, but given the flipper market on new releases, I don’t blame distilleries for setting a higher price. We’re all at the whim of secondary sellers rather than distilleries. 

A shining light in peated whisky was their Corriecravie release that I was lent to review in 2023. That whisky is a possible Islay killer, and it’s going to be a standard release. Heavily peated, with a sherry finish that tasted more like full maturation, it was deep, brooding, meaty, sweet and smoky. 

If you like peat then I would put all eyes on this distillery for your drinking needs, because you won’t be disappointed. 

Daftmill 

Some of you may be pulling a silly face at this article for saying Daftmill, but in all honesty, I’ve never bought and drank a bad one, and it is one of the reasons I’m paying so much attention to Lowland whisky now. 

Daftmill has already solidified itself as a huge player in the international whisky game, despite only producing 65,000 litres of whisky per year. When not running an actual farm, the owners and distillers only distil twice per year, filling around 100 casks to age rather gracefully in their warehouses. 

This functioning farm element will always take dominance over the distilling aspect, but it is a distillery that produces all of its own barley, supplies other distilleries with barley and has led the way with the lowlands renaissance of whisky.

Now some of you might be sitting there saying, ‘It only became popular because it tastes like Rosebank and St. Magdalene’ – that may be true, but outside of proving to be some of the best delicate whisky in Scotland, Daftmill will still always be in demand due to low production but with great quality. 

I very much trust the folks of Ian MacLeod to do a fantastic job with Rosebank. However, due to it being reopened, there will always be the comparison of old vs new with Rosebank. Daftmill doesn’t appear to be going to face that problem anytime soon. 

Torabhaig 

As soon as we heard rumblings of a new distillery in the Isle of Skye, things got very exciting. Then we got to try the inaugural release and things got even better! Then we got the second standard release of the Allt Gleann, and my word, things just keep looking up for Torabhaig

Owned by Mossburn Distillers, who are also owners of The Reivers Distillery in the Scottish borders, and the Kaikyo Distillery in Japan. Mossburn is more famous for a range of indie bottled single malts, as well as some experimental and regular blended malt releases from across Scotland. 

Producing 500,000 litres of whisky per year, Torabhaig are much smaller than their Diageo counterparts, but they’re already winning over hearts and minds. 

I like Talisker. It is good whisky, but they do need to step up the game with so much younger competition now. 

Peating their whiskies to about 70ppm+ before distillation, Torabhaig possibly have the most transparent label in the industry. The labels state the whisky’s vintages, how many casks have produced the batch, the ppm rating after distillation (can more distilleries please do this), as well as the classics of ‘natural colour’ and ‘non-chillfiltered’. They even tell what yeast they’ve used in the batch. All the information you could ever want! 

The final fun part of Torabhaing’s arsenal is The JourneyMan’s Drams. This allows distillers to create a one-off type of distillate every month that showcases something very experimental (different yeast strains or shorter fermentations) typically. But this again is another reason that we should all be paying attention to them because chances are that this will all get released.

Ardnahoe 

With their first-ever release hoping to come out this summer, Hunter Laing is sweating away to get this distillery to where it needs to be for this inaugural party time! 

Producing around 1,000,000 litres of whisky per year, 80% of it is aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, the other 20% in ex-sherry, and with PPM levels varying from 4-50, Ardnahoe was the first new distillery on Islay since Kilchoman in 2005. 

Ardnahoe is still the new kid on the block on Islay but just think about that for a second. A brand new Islay release, the first of a new distillery. I’m unsure if I can say this or not, but I will. I’ve tried it and it’s rather delicious! 

Keep an eye out for its launch, make sure you open it, and make sure you let them know if you like it or not. Feedback is so important for the first releases of whisky.

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