Inchgower was built in 1871 by Alexander Wilson & Company to replace the Tochineal distillery. The original equipment from Tochineal was even used in the establishment of the site.
|Information about the Distillery|
2 x 12,500 l
2 x 7,236 l
6 x 40,500 l
|Average Tasting Notes||Calculated from 12|
Official bottlings released from the Speyside distillery of Inchgower are few and far between, making them an extremely valuable addition to any collection. There are only three official bottlings for buyers to choose from, which consist of the 14 year old bottling that was released as part of the Flora & Fauna range, and the 'Rare Malts Collection' bottlings, which have included a 22 year old and a 27 year old.
In comparison, independent bottlings are quite plentiful. Bottlings have been performed by Hunter Laing, Gordon & MacPhail, as well as Douglas Laing. There is a strong variety of age and vintage among the independent bottlings, making the process of choosing a single bottle even more difficult.
One of the reasons for the scarce amount of official bottlings from Inchgower distillery is that the vast majority of the single malt produced at the site is used in blending. Only 1% of the spirit distilled at the site is actually sold as single malt. The Bell's family owned the distillery for a significant portion of time and as a result Inchgower became an important component in the Bell's blends, as well as Johnnie Walker and the White Horse Blends.
The water used in the production of Inchgower is drawn from a burn in the nearby Menduff Hills, which lay to the south of the town of Buckie, where the distillery is located. Because Inchgower draws its water from this source, the spirit is technically classed as a 'Lower Speyside Malt'. The distillery has a production capacity of almost 3 million litres.
The Pot Stills
Inchgower is powered by four pot stills: two wash, two spirit. All of the stills have a 'pear' shape, with extremely wide spherical lids and tall, conical necks. The flat top of the still results in a slightly higher degree of reflux, as the progress of the vapours is not as gradual and progressive than it is with the necks of the more common 'Spsyside'-style still. The wash stills have a capacity of 12'500 litres, while the spirit stills sit at a slightly smaller capacity of 7'200 litres.
Inchgower has a history of being a fairly self-sufficient distillery. The site even housed it's own cooperage, which was pretty unique. The distillery used to use it's own floor maltings, but nowadays it sources its malt from a Diageo-owned malting facility in Burghead, 20 miles to the west of Buckie. The malt that is used is unpeated.
Despite the fact that it is a fairly small-scale distillery, Inchgower has a pretty impressive warehouse facility. It boasts 13 dunnage and racked on-site warehouses, which can house up to 60'000 casks. The distillery uses a combination of sherry and American oak casks, although sherry is used more often than American oak. Interestingly, the majority if the spirit housed in these warehouses isn't actually Inchgower single malt. The facilities serve as a storage space for many other distilleries, which is fairly unusual.
Inchgower was built in 1871 by Alexander Wilson & Company to replace the Tochineal distillery. The original equipment from Tochineal was even used in the establishment of the site. Production launched the same year and continued successfully until the business began to encounter difficulties, eventually having to liquidate in 1936, when Alexander Wilson & Company filed for bankruptcy. Inchgower Town Council bought the distillery from the Company, who then sold it on to Arthur Bell & Sons.
Arthur Bell & Sons made a series of modernizations to Inchgower, including increasing the number of stills from two to four, doubling the level of capacity and bringing it to it's modern ability. In 1985, Arthur Bell & Sons was taken over by Guinness, who were then merged with United Distillers and Vintners in 1987. Diageo, the whisky industry giant, eventually bought Guinness, therefore acquiring Inchgower. In 2006 Diageo closed Inchgower for a year in order to launch a major refurbishment. One of the most significant changes was the installation of a so-called 'closed yeast pitching system' that added yeast to the wash automatically. This innovation gives an added degree of control over the style of the whisky, but is less 'traditional'.
As the distillery has moved into the twenty-first century, it has continued to go from strength to strength. In 2004 it released a 27 year old bottling from 1976, which was received with great critical acclaim. Hopefully the rest of this century will continue to bring such great releases.
Sadly not – the site is closed to the public.