The Scotch Whisky industry is that of a marvel, home to one of the most respected and illustrious of products worldwide. With once over 200 distilleries operating in Scotland, what happened to all these great losses to the whisky world?
It has been over 500 years, since distilling ingrained itself in Scotland’s rugged landscape and over 200 since it became an organised industry. As the industry booms, it is hard to believe that it once was on the brink of collapse.
Over the decades, history has witnessed the closure of many distilleries in Scotland, each one a loss to the wonder of the whisky world. Global conflict, economic downturn and prohibition can all be considered contributing factors to these distilleries falling by the wayside. Perhaps the most infamous swathe of closures occurred in the 1980s, a result of the economic downturn in the previous decade and the prevailing demand for blended whisky.
There is currently still stock available from almost 50 lost distilleries, with prices increasing on every new release. Luckily, we are still able to enjoy their legacy, but for how long? With dwindling supplies these bottles are only likely to become rarer in years to come. The limited nature of these bottles combined with their reputation for exceptional quality has led to their desirability sky-rocketing.
ICONIC CLOSED DISTILLERIES...
Rosebank Distillery – Once sitting proudly aside Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie, this distillery was mothballed in 1993 as it was deemed financially unviable to make necessary upgrades to the distillery. Touted as the finest example of Lowland whisky, bottlings of Rosebank are still available on the market, however, growing increasingly scarce.
Port Ellen - A renowned Islay distillery which closed in 1983 - the lost jewel in Islay’s crown. Despite being relatively unsung when in operation, since closing its reputation has exploded, with their whiskies considered as some of the most valuable in the world. Diageo have released an official bottling of Port Ellen as part of their special release series over the past 17 years, but as stocks get thinner on the ground, it is definitely an investment to think about.
Brora - Brora distillery closed in 1983 and ceded its original name – Clynelish – to the new distillery built just across the road from it. Brora produced the most peaty malt of the Highlands, nicknamed ‘The Lagavulin of the North’. It is still possible to find Brora malt, however, given the short period of time that Brora existed, the demand is certainly increasing at the moment, particularly for the bottles distilled in the early 1970’s.
Our monthly whisky auctions regularly feature superb examples from Scotland’s loved but lost distilleries. As stocks from this endangered species list start to dwindle, hunt them down whilst you still can!