Recently on Twitter I expressed my disappointment with the Lowland category in the latest Whisky Magazine awards. The winner by default was Glenkinchie which seemed to be the sole entry. I’m not a huge fan of the Diageo distillery, yes moving to a 12 year age statement from the original 10 year has helped but not hugely. The malt remains very benign and somewhat lacking in character although its setting is very picturesque.
As I was reminded at the time there are several possible entrants in the Lowland category on their way and surely we’ll see Bladnoch back soon enough. New distilleries are being built and casks laid down for the 3 year minimum; soon there will be an influx of Lowlanders. However sometimes you forget what is in your backyard and that brings us to the beautiful Fife farm distillery Daftmill.
Since 2005 the distillery has been laying down casks and waiting for the spirit to mature and meet the high expectations of its owner and distiller who is searching for a light, floral malt. It’s impressive stuff but I’ll come to that later instead lets take a look around Daftmill.
This is a stunning location, a polar opposite from the windswept coastal environment of Islay, set on a working farm which has been owned by the family since 1984 but they have been tenants here for far longer. A short drive off one of the main local roads, Daftmill is well hidden and as you proceed down the single track road your expectations grow as does the sense of isolation and time standing still.
The converted old mill now plays host to a new produce and way of working. Apart from the stills themselves the family were keen to have local tradesmen involved in the creation of the distillery and this was achieved within a 5 mile radius. The location of the distillery provides an abundant natural supply of water and the other core ingredient is very much home grown. Daftmill uses its own barley with around a ton required for each mash and has enough remaining (partially as the distillery only in production 3 days per week) to sell elsewhere. The quality of the Daftmill barley has been recognised by other distilleries.
The phrase is ‘perfectly formed’ and a refreshing change to the industrial and computerised distilleries that form the norm nowadays. Where else would you see a ton of malt divided into 10 wheelie bins for transportation?