A new distillery (Daftmill, in Fife) has started distilling but has not yet brought a single malt to market. Daftmill could legally start bottling a single malt (or supplying blenders) at any time, because its first batches have now been in cask for more than three years. Three years is the legal minimum pre-bottling aging period for a product labelled Scotch Whisky, although single malts this young are usually only marketed in countries such as Italy. It is not known whether Daftmill are supplying malt to producers of blended whisky or vatted malts, but this is likely (the majority of most distilleries’ production is sold this way).
Traditionally Lowland Single Malts are triple distilled (though this has not been true of all of them), often giving them a lighter taste.
Whisky for blending
The region embraces the mainland of Scotland south of the Central Belt (a line drawn between the Forth and Loch Lomond). There was a time, in the 1850s, when every town of any size in the Lowlands had its distillery, to supply the English market as well as local demands. For the style of Lowland whisky is much lighter than Highland, with little or no peating, and this had much broader appeal. By the 1880s almost the entire production of the Lowland distilleries went for blending: today, it is possible (and more cost effective) to create Highland malts with a light character to suit the requirements of blenders.
Fragrant yet reserved
Auchentoshan Distillery is on the northern edge of Glasgow and was founded in 1800. It has a light, cereal nose with a lemony tinge and a clean, dry finish. Glenkinchie Distillery is situated at Pencaitland, just outside Edinburgh. Its product is an excellent representative of the style of Lowland malt whiskies: fragrant yet reserved, with a clean, fresh flavor and a dry, gingery finish.
Rosebank was generally considered to be the best Lowland malt.
It seems to be a characteristic of Lowlands that they can take very long maturation without becoming woody: St.Magdalene 1965 is wonderful (although the distillery in Linlithgow was turned into flats in 1983).
Lowland Malts’ Characteristics
Lowlands typically have a dry finish, which makes them excellent aperitifs. The dryness comes from the malt itself, not from peat (Lowlands tend to use unpeated malt), and this also lends a certain sweet fruitiness to the flavour and mouthfeel. Their aromatic intensity is low, and tends to be grassy or herbal, with grainy and floral notes. It used to be said that they leant a brandy-like flavour to a blended whisky.
The Sad Demise
In 1974, there were fourteen Lowland malts available to blenders:
Auchmtoshan, Auchtermuchty (closed 1926), Auchtertool (closed 1927), Bankier (closed 1928), Bladnoch (closed 1993), Glenkinchic, Inverleven (closed 1991), Kinclaith (closed 1992), Ladyburn, Littlemill (closed 1993), Provanmill (closed 1929), Rosebank (closed 1993) and St Magdalene (closed 1983).
Glengoyne, on Loch Lomond, is also listed as a Lowland, although its current owners prefer to call it a Highland.