Bladnoch – Queen o’ The Lowlands


There are so many excellent distilleries these days, it is impossible to keep completely up to date with them all.   I am familiar with most and have tasted their whisky at some time but occasionally one of these pops more significantly into my awareness.

Bladnoch is the most recent  to do so.  A friend gave me a dram of the 11 year old.  It was a very good dram but had an intriguing  sulphuric or  butyric note. This type of note originates in the fermentation and is carried into the spirit but faded fast to leave an excellent whisky, or could it be something else? More of this later. The same week I received an email promoting the distillery to coincide with Burns Night.

I always do something around Burns night so offered to compose a poem.  Bladnoch kindly sent me a generous sample pack.  Accordingly due to current advertising regulations I must state this blog is an ‘advert’ for which I was not paid but did receive these rather lovely samples.  Nevertheless I always tell it as it is so first the poem and then the tasting notes:



Mark Rannoch – Brand Ambassador for Bladnoch reciting my poem  brilliantly.  Lookout for him on series 6 of Outlander.


Rabbie Burns Ode tae Bladnoch Distillery

In yonder land where thistles grow,

and heather blooms in a purple glow,

We gather ’round on Burns night bright,

Tae toast the Bard wi’ pure delight.

Had he lived twa decades mair,

Bladnoch’s tale he’d surely share,

A dram sae rich, a golden cheer,

Twa centuries legacy we hold sae dear.

Wi Vinaya, in gratitude a toast we raise,

In bourbon and sherry’s sweet embrace,

Notes o’ apple, floral grass,

And hints o’ chocolate as moments pass.

Gold medal winning, a tribute rare, Nae chill filtration, o’ nature’s hue,

In Lowlands’ realm where thistles sway, We honour Burns wi’ a ancient bru.

 Liora, wi’its hue sae fair,

Lit by the light, Rabbie’s old Meg would dare,

Guiding her way through misty night,

Tae find her hame by Bladnoch’s light.

Bourbon and new oak, a dance profound,

Fresh-cut apples on caramel ground,

Peppery spices, oak sae bold,

A symphony in a glass, a story told.

Samsara, the rebirth in fiery cask,

Lang fermented, spirits bask,

In bourbon and red wine’s sweet embrace,

A journey o’ flavours, a timeless grace.

Vanilla and citrus on the nose,

fudge and floral grass, a tale unfolds,

A serious usquebaugh, ancient and refined,

frae copper stills, pine washbacks, a legacy enshrined.

The maist southerly o’ Scotland’s pride,

Queen o’ the Lowlands, in barley’s stride,

 A toast tae thee, oor National poet,

Bard o’ Jock Thompson’s bairns, we a know it.

On Burns night, wi’ drams in hand,

We celebrate the Lowlands’ grand,

Davie Prior’s muses three, a golden flight,

In Rabbie’s style, a joyous night.

Slàinte Mhath,

a guid nicht tae ye a.


And now the tasing notes:  I am biased in favour of non-chill filtered natural coloured whisky so. Bladnoch has a head start. I tasted these with my son and neighbour both experienced tasters.

Bladnoch Vinaya 46.7%

Matured in  1st fill Bourbon and 1st fill Sherry casks

Nose: citrus bourbon  biscuit grassy green apple

Palate:  pear great mouthfeel biscuit pastry vanilla major dates honeycomb

We were particularly struck by the mouthfeel and freshness of this dram which I would put down to the long chain fatty acids preserved by not chill filtering and the well selected ABV.

The bottle shape adds to the shelf appeal.

All three of us enjoyed this whisky, a lot  and at £50 it is good value.

Blanch Liora 52.2%,

Bourbon and New Oak casks

Nose: Perfumed dusty old books green apples pears cherries coconut almonds honeycomb barley sugar

Palate:Butterscotch custard creams vanilla

Much more sophisticated lovely. The extra abv gave this dram a welcome boost, again perfectly chosen.  The extra complexity and flavour raised this to a higher level.

This was for all three of us our favourite of the night.  Its £70 price tag was again well priced.

Bladnoch Samsara 46.7%

Bourbon and red wine cask, full bodied and flavoursome

Nose: grassy limes with a cereal note

Palate: lemon cream biscuits, salted caramel, popcorn, ginger Edinburgh rock and citrus, vanilla cedar honey and cinnamon complex and multi layered.

The most striking aspect was the strong slightly tart lime and bitter lemon and grapefruit notes balancing smooth, sweet creamy biscuit notes.  And there it was again that intriguing  vaguely butyic, a buttery sulphur note.   Don’t get me wrong it is a note that I enjoy often found in whisky condensed in Worm Tubs, but Bladnoch’s worm tubs are ancient history now.    My conclusion is that it is not Butryic acid, it must just be a fermentation feature.  Bladnoch had many fermentation trials with both short and longer fermentations but due to demand they have now shortened fermentation to 60 hours which for me produces an excellent complex spirit with this lovely note.

For those who love this style this will be worth the £80 asking price for something different.  We should welcome whisky that offers an interesting combination with some depth.  Undoubtedly a quality whisky.

I am delighted to have rediscovered Bladnoch, I look forward to the future where I believe, these exceptional spirits will mature as they age in quality casks to provide something very special  by 15 years of age onwards.

Finally many thanks again to Bladnoch for these excellent generous samples.