by Gavin D Smith
Distillery construction is in the news right now, with Diageo's giant Roseisle plant on track to start production in the New Year and plans well advanced for new distilleries at Huntly in Aberdeenshire and Port Charlotte on Islay. The ranks of recently-opened distilleries include Islay's Kilchoman and Glengyle in Campbeltown, but one that has almost slipped beneath the radar is Daftmill, the first new Lowland distillery to be created since William Grant's Girvan facility in 1963. It is currently one of five Lowland malt whisky distilleries in operation, along with Auchentoshan, Bladnoch, Glenkinchie and Ailsa Bay.
No visitor tour/facilities, but guided tours may be possible by prior arrangement only.
The Cuthbert family farms and quarries on a substantial scale near the historic Fife town of Cupar, and in 2003 they decided to convert an unused mill and adjacent farm buildings into a 'boutique' distillery due to a longstanding interest in whisky. Brothers Ian and Francis Cuthbert, along with Ian's son John, run the distillery, which fills an average of one cask per day when the plant is in production.
Stills were commissioned from leading coppersmiths Forsyth's of Rothes, on Speyside, but all other equipment and specialist skills were sourced as close to home as possible. The first spirit ran from the Daftmill stills on 16 December 2005, and 14,000 litres were distilled during the first year of operation.
One pair of stills. Wash still capacity - 3,000 litres, spirit still capacity 2,000 litres. Annual distillery capacity 65,000 litres. The malt is unpeated and made from barley grown on the Cuthberts' own land. Principally ex-Bourbon casks from Heaven Hill in Kentucky are used for maturation, along with a small number of ex-Sherry casks.
The new spirit is biscuity, slightly smoky, with a 'Weetabix' nose and floral, fruity characteristics. Francis Cuthbert says “We want to produce a typical Lowland whisky, something like Rosebank or St Magdalene.”
Daftmill single malt whisky is unlikely to be bottled before 2015.