Distillery planned for historic birthplace of ScotchBy Becky Paskin
Scotch whisky distilling is set to return to its “spiritual home” as plans for a £5 million redevelopment of Lindores Abbey in Fife in to a whisky distillery and visitor centre have been unveiled.
The whisky-distilling roots of Lindores Abbey, situated in Newburgh on the north coast of Fife, can be traced back to 1494 when details of the malt duty paid by Friar John Cor was logged in the Exchequer Roll – the first written evidence of whisky distillation in Scotland.
Now under the ownership of the Mckenzie Smith family, Lindores Abbey, which is currently nothing more than ruins, is to be brought back to life as a distillery and visitor centre to put the landmark “once again on the map as the spiritual home of Scotch whisky”.
Andrew McKenzie Smith, whose family bought Lindores Abbey in 1913, said: “It is a privilege to be the custodian of such a historic property and in our centenary year it is tremendously exciting to be embarking on this project, where we can once more produce Scotch whisky at Lindores.”
He added that the family is seeking additional funding from “suitable partners” to get involved in the project.
“As anyone who has ever been involved in such a project will realise, the figures involved could seem a little daunting, however the potential rewards are very impressive.”
Scotland-based designers Bell Ingram have been commissioned to manage the project, following a detailed feasibility study conducted by Historic Scotland and The Fife Economic Development team.
“Lindores Abbey is recorded as being the first place whisky was distilled in Scotland over 500 years ago and so it makes perfect sense to create a distillery here, using the water from the Holy Burn and malting barley from the family fields, much as the original monks would have done all those years ago,” said Bell Ingram Design director Iain Cram.
“The original steading stone walls on the land will play a significant part in the construction as we’ll use part of this structure to make the visitor centre which will hopefully encourage locals and tourists to find out more about the whole distillation process.
“However, there was never a fully functional distillery on the site like we see nowadays with copper stills, which is what we wish to create here. It will attract people from across the world as well as create jobs and give a great boost to the local area.”
McKenzie Smith has also enlisted whisky expert Jim Swan to distil what will eventually be a light, fruity Lowland malt, which is projected to reach shelves by 2018.
According to the Exchequer Roll, which is held in the Scottish National Archives in Edinburgh, Friar John Cor was ordered by King James IV to use “eight bols of malt” to make “aqua vitae” – which would have equated to around 1,500 bottles of whisky.
However the Abbey was destroyed by John Knox and his supporters in 1559, leaving the remains of Lindores Abbey to fall into disrepair.