Liz and Paul were chatting to Andrew at Edradour Distillery, a few drams to hand.
Andrew its good meeting you again. Can I ask very briefly why you bought Edradour and what (then) were your plans?
I bought Edradour back in 1988, I had the Signature brand at that time but my goal was to have my own distillery. I was heavily into wines at the time, then I developed my taste for whisky and thought “I can do something with this!”. I started with one cask (Signature, a 1968 Glenlivet 20 year old, it just started from there!
Last time we chatted you mentioned new ideas and new developments to the distillery, can you enlarge on this?
I am planning on a new warehouse for 15,000 casks, to double my production to around 30,000 litres annually, two new stills (Forsyths) at exactly the same spec as I have now, so large plans ahead and in progress.
The new stills, how much extra production will you obtain from these?
As mentioned, aiming for 30,000 litres of Edradour and Ballechin – which both Liz and Paul sampled at the interview, a peaty dram but not a peat to scare off non peaty lovers, Liz accepted it happily and she doesnee like peat.
Last time here, I bought the Fairy Flag whisky, it is all gone now by the way. Will this be an on – going expression?
Yes but not a large output, it is proving very popular. Are you discontinuing any ranges? The straight from the cask bottlings currently, will be replaced by fully wine matured from the cask, a new exciting range.
Can you tell us what number of other distillers casks you have? and type?
The oldest cask I have is a 1959 North British, with half the cask remaining, I have a Bowmore 71, 71 , an Inchmurrin @ 64.2% abv, many as you know Paul, but these are a few.
Edradour is well known for trying new ideas and new finishes, Can you tell me what new whisky’s you are planning?
Some packaging will change, a nice Madeira 100%, virgin oak, Chateau la Tour, the best way to describe what is new and up and coming, is to visit the distillery.
Why do you think people are curious in your brands? What makes you stand out from the pack? They seem to like our labels, the colours and boxes/packaging. We do offer many styles.
If pushed what is the next best whisky making country after Scotland?
I like Bourbons from USA.
Do you obtain casks from “Bourbon land”? Yes, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, but also Speyside Cooperage etc, quite a wide selection.
Would you say there is an age that any good whisky has to be bottled? In other words, is there a cut off point (in your view) where a whisky HAS to be bottled ?
It all depends on the cask, as a guide maybe, sherry 30 – 40 years if no cask problems.
Does winning a gold medal really help sales of a whisky?
For me, no. It is a medal for this, a medal for that, it is a question of “whose turn is it next”. I do not go into all the medal winning hype – as Paul agrees entirely!
Can I ask, day to day, what is your role/s at the distillery?
My time is split over the whole process – as you can see by my dirty jeans! I still roll casks, I oversee many parts of the day to day running of the distillery, but I also have a good team.
Finally, how do you relax after a hard week?
Standard procedure, a large dram (or two) followed by a couple of glasses of wine.
During our chat with Andrew he introduced a few drams to sample, a superb smooth 21 year old sherry Edradour (£325 approx), we both wanted more. A 14 year old sherry Edradour, to be honest, almost as good and less than half the cost, again – we both emptied the glass, the newly introduced Ballechin peat finish, even Liz liked this! We knew we had taken up much of Andrew’s valuable time, the interview went well, but we also chatted on many other whisky related things, it was like sharing a few drams and time out with a pal, so relaxed.
We didn’t even notice our Swedish guests were looking for us after their tour, Andrew took a phone call (mobile) from his wife asking where we were, she sent them along and they all shared more drams at the bar, met Andrew, who – by the way, walked everyone back to the car, a nice touch.
Andrew Symington is a Master of the Quaich