The McClelland brothers built their distillery on the banks of the River Bladnoch in Wigtown, Galloway and it quickly built a reputation for quality whisky and grew to a peak of having six washbacks with 230,000 litres being produced each year. The ownership stayed in the McClelland family for generations until it was sold in 1911 to Dunville & Co.
Around this time, the Lowlands whisky industry went into decline with several other distilleries falling by the wayside and Bladnoch suffered too, with only one year of production between 1926 and 1937 when Dunville & Co went into liquidation and the distillery closed. Two of its stills were sold and the future looked bleak until 1956 when new owners reopened Bladnoch.
However, its troubles weren’t over and in 1993 the distillery was sold again but this time under the condition that no distilling would take place there, with its new owner aiming to convert it into a guest house. Fortunately, they changed their minds and received permission to start producing whisky again in 2000, with a further takeover in 2015 seeing current owner David Prior buying Bladnoch and conducting an extensive refurbishment and relaunch.
The relaunch came with the unveiling of three new expressions, the no age statement Samsara, the 15-year-old Adela and the 25-year-old Talia. Prior’s ambitions for the distillery were clear with the opening of a Visitor Centre and the arrival of former master distiller at The Macallan, Nick Savage, a real coup for the Queen of the Lowlands as it seeks to regain its crown and start an exciting new era.
While it has had a chequered and varied history, Bladnoch’s single malts generally have a sweet, grassy, fruity flavour from the ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks that it is usually matured in.