Sip It Don’t Flip It: Lost Distilleries

Mar 27, 2020

As whisky lovers go deeper into their passion for the liquid, many find themselves exploring the world of lost distilleries, especially within Scotch Whisky, iconic names pop up in conversations and are gazed at from afar, intriguingly encased behind protective cabinets in bars and stores. Unreachable, and unattainable, these alluring mystery bottlings appeal to aspiring fans like some kind of mythical whisky Shangri-La. Attention is grabbed, but then a sinking realisation kicks in at the cost and challenge to attain these.

Some will hypothesize, some will seek out a dram in a bar or festival, and others will take to locations, read in books to wander ruins and ponder if a mystery will reveal itself like a whisky archaeologist.

Lossit Distillery Remains

Lossit Distillery was one of the longest surviving 19th-century farm-scale distilleries on Islay. When it closed in 1867, the distillery was gutted and the stills were buried in the property’s driveway.

In late-2017, big brands announced plans to re-open some iconic distilleries like Port Ellen, Brora & Rosebank. This, driven by fan thirst, has sparked the fire of conversation – how they will compare to previous tastes and pricing for collectors’ investments?

Collectors can be a curious breed in themselves, as not all are whisky drinkers, some don’t even like the taste but are drawn to the old bottles, designs, history or simply speculating. Many true fans don’t have the means, and others who just enjoy collecting like fine wine or art do have the means.

In the world of whisky buying, there’s the drinker, collector & investor. What matters most to you? Live in the moment, buy one to drink, one to sell or is it keep something for a rainy day?

Over 5 years before the 2017 announcements, we undertook our own journey. Initial research in 2009/10, formalised in 2012, a plan was hatched. We took a different view to simply trying to reopen a distillery, what if we explored a group of distilleries that couldn’t be re-opened and provide an experience accessible to all?

Towiemore Distillery Workers

Towiemore Distillery Workers c. 1930. Although it produced an excellent, light and sweet Highland style whisky, popular both as a pure malt and for blending, Towiemore Distillery’s opening coincided almost exactly to the point the industry was swept into disaster, entering a malaise that was not to cease until long after its closure in 1931.

Long before brands like Macallan hired a full archivist, we took a risk as a young, small company to invest in this area. Although much of the research is completed now, we still consult with archivists to this day.

Our vision was to academically research the DNA of each distillery and pay homage with Single Malts today. What started with the affordable Classic Selection, moved to teen-aged malts in the Archivist Selection and then the twenty-something Vintage Selection.

The Lost Distillery Company Classic Selection

The Lost Distillery Company Classic Selection

Popularity has grown over the years and we are now in 40 markets globally. The decision of large brands to invest heavily in this area has validated our pioneering approach. In the coming years, we will see from the big brands some teasing releases and resurgence of lost distilleries. How affordable they’ll prove to be, we’ll need to wait and see.

However, in the meantime our plan remains unique, to pay homage to renowned distilleries with forgotten legacies, supplying folks who enjoy the allure without breaking the bank and to those who enjoy sipping their whisky.

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Slàinte Mhath