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Underrated Whisky Distilleries: 7 Scotland’s Hidden Gems

whisky distillery | whiskylifestyle

September 1, 2023

This distilleries deserve more credit for their incredible whisky!

If you think Scotland’s whisky scene is all about famous names like Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Laphroaig, you’re in for a delightful surprise. Scotland is home to some of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries, but there are also many great distilleries that are underrated You might have heard of them before, but we think they deserve more attention!

These underrated whisky distilleries are like the shy introvert at a party – not flashy but packed with surprises. Hence, let’s meet them all!

 Here are 7 underrated Scotch whisky distilleries that you should check out.

Torabhaig

When you think of whisky on the Isle of Skye, Talisker is probably the first distillery that comes to mind. But there’s a new kid on the block, and he’s here to make a name for himself.

Torabhaig Distillery is the second distillery on Skye, and it’s located in the heart of the island’s rugged beauty. The distillery is housed in a converted former farm, and its production is overseen by a team of passionate whisky makers.

Torabhaig Distillery
Torabhaig Distillery – Picture from Torabhaig Distillery

Torabhaig Distillery is producing a single malt whisky that is both traditional and innovative. The whisky is made using a traditional wooden washback and two copper stills, but the distillery is also experimenting with different peating levels and cask finishes.

The result is a whisky that is both complex and delicious. It’s a whisky that is sure to please both whisky lovers and newcomers alike.

We were particularly surprised with Torabhaig Allt Gleann, a whisky released in 2022 and distilled in 2018. That would make this, at best, a 4-year-old whisky. Despite its young age, this spirit has a crisp minerally profile that makes you appreciate the character of the distillery rather than the cask. So yes, if you were also wondering if young whiskies are any good…here’s your answer!

Benromach 

Benromach is a Speyside distillery with a storied past. It was founded in 1898, but its production was intermittent for many years. In 1983, the distillery was closed due to an industry-wide surplus.

In 1994, Benromach was purchased by Gordon & MacPhail, who set about restoring the distillery to its former glory. They rebuilt the stills, installed new equipment, and began producing whisky again in 1997.

Benromach Distillery
Benromach Distillery – Picture from visitscotland.com

Apparently, the new make from Benromach is surprisingly similar to the whisky produced under the past DCL’s ownership. This is one of the mysteries of Scotch whisky, and it adds weight to the belief that a distillery’s microclimate can influence the character of the spirit.

Benromach Distillery is a peatead’s Speyside dream. Their whiskies range from lightly peated to heavily peated, but they always maintain a light, fruity character. It’s like a Speyside whisky that’s been kissed by Islay. To be honest, this particular characteristic secured this distillery a place in our “underrated whisky distillery” list. I mean, why aren’t we talking more about this amazing combination?

Aultmore

If you follow us on Instagram (follow us if you don’t! @mynameiswhisky_official) you should already know why we put Aultmore on this list.

Aultmore distillery is the unsung hero of the Dewar’s blended Scotch whisky. While its big brother Aberfeldy gets all the attention, Aultmore is the real star of the show. So much so that when Bacardi was in talks of acquiring Dewar’s from Diageo, it is very telling that they were willing to walk away from the deal if Aultmore wasn’t included.

Aultmore Distillery
Aultmore Distillery – Picture from whisky.com

Blenders love Aultmore for its top-class quality, but single malt drinkers have been sleeping on this distillery for far too long.

In 2014, Aultmore was relaunched as part of The Last Great Malts of Scotland campaign. This gave whisky lovers a chance to finally discover what they had been missing. Aultmore now has a high-quality core range of 12, 18, and 21-year-old expressions, but it is still regularly overlooked by whisky enthusiasts. Maybe it’s time for Aultmore to get the recognition it deserves.

Knockdhu

Knockdhu Distillery is a hidden gem in the world of Scotch whisky. It’s located just outside of the Speyside whisky region, and it releases single malts under the brand name anCnoc. The current master distiller, Gordon Bruce, is committed to sustainability and has reduced the distillery’s energy consumption by 35% over the last 10 years. This is a significant achievement, and it shows that sustainability and quality can go hand-in-hand.

Knockdhu Distillery
Knockdhu Distillery – Picture from Whisky.com

This distillery is a breath of fresh air in the world of Scotch whisky. While other distilleries are increasingly relying on automation, Knockdhu is still committed to traditional methods. This hands-on approach results in a single malt that is vibrant and alive, with a unique sulphurous character. 

Knockdhu’s new make spirit is sulphury due to a little reflux during distillation and the use of worm tubs as condensers. This gives the whisky a distinctive flavour that some love and others find polarizing. But there’s no denying that Knockdhu whisky is complex and interesting.

Glengyle

Glengyle is a tiny distillery in Campbeltown, the smallest whisky region of Scotland. Despite its small dimensions, this distillery managed to save the Campbelltown region as an official Scotch Whisky Region. 

The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) was going to absorb Campbeltown into the larger Highlands whisky region, but Glengyle distillery said, “Hold my peated barley.”

Glengyle Distillery
Glengyle Distillery – Picture from Whisky.com

Glengyle Distillery was founded in 2004, specifically to prevent Campbeltown from losing its status as a whisky region. The SWA requires a minimum of three distilleries in a region to maintain its status, and Glengyle distillery brought the total number of distilleries in Campbeltown up to three. And so, Campbeltown was saved from becoming just another footnote in whisky history. 

But Glengyle is more than just a technicality. It’s also a great whisky distillery.

Its 12-year-old single malt is one of the best entry-level whiskies in the industry. But note this: when you are out and about looking for this single malt, keep in mind that the whisky made at Glengyle is named Kilkerran.

Highland Park

Highland Park Distillery is one of the northernmost distilleries in Scotland (so it’s a hidden gem quite literally!!) Perched atop a cliff on Orkney Island, it offers stunning views that will take your breath away. The maritime climate, along with the locally grown barley and the influence of the peat, contribute to the distinctive flavours of Highland Park whisky. 

Highland Park Distillery
Highland Park Distillery – Picture from highlandparkwhisky.com

This distillery has been growing in popularity recently, probably thanks in part to the beautiful visitor centre in the Orkney Islands. But we want to talk more about it.

Highland Park whisky is known for its complex flavours, which are a result of the unique combination of factors that go into its production. The maritime climate gives the whisky a salty tang, while the locally grown barley adds a touch of sweetness. The peat smoke adds a smoky flavour, but it’s not overpowering.

The result is a whisky that is both complex and delicious. It’s the perfect whisky to enjoy on a cold winter night, or better, to sip on after a long day of exploring the Orkney Islands.

Tamdhu

Tamdhu Distillery is a hidden gem in the Speyside whisky region. It’s been around for over 170 years, but it’s still not as well-known as some of its neighbours. That’s a shame because Tamdhu makes some amazing whisky.

Situated at Knockando in the center of the Speyside the Tamdhu Distillery survived difficult economic ups and downs. This is due to the status of Tamdhu Whisky as a key component in the Blends of the Highland Distillers for years. Since 2011 the distillery belongs to Ian Macleod Distillers who meanwhile started a revival of the brand and relaunched the Single Malt Tamdhu successfully.

Tamdhu Distillery
Tamdhu Distillery – Picture from Tamdhu.com

The Tamdhu Single Malt Whisky is made with water from the Tamdhu spring, which is said to be some of the purest water in Scotland. The whisky is then matured in sherry casks, which gives it a rich flavour profile with notes of caramel, apple, vanilla, almonds, dark chocolate, citrus, and dried fruits.

The Tamdhu 10 years old is a sweet and smooth entry-level Speysider that’s perfect for beginners and experienced whisky drinkers alike.

For those who are looking for something a little more special, Tamdhu also offers a Batch Strength whisky. This whisky is bottled at cask strength, which means it hasn’t been watered down. This results in a whisky with a richer flavour and a smoother finish.

In conclusion

We’ve introduced you to some of our favourite underrated whisky distilleries in Scotland, but we know there are plenty more out there. So, let’s hear from you! What other distillery do you think is flying under the radar? Tag us on Instagram or Facebook and let us know!

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