You’d be forgiven for asking what the current deal with Eden Mill is. As far back as May 2018, the Fife distillery revealed plans for a new distillery and shortly afterwards shut down production on its original site. From my calculations, that’s 22 months and counting without production recommencing. The timing was particularly awkward, as Eden Mill had just released their first single malt whisky to the public and I was fortunate enough to open up the extremely sought after special edition as part of the 2019 Fife Festival tasting.
I’ve often compared a distillery to that of a football, footba’ or soccer team – depending on where you live. It’s all about form and momentum. You can look back over time and see the impact of any tactical changes at the distillery, whether that’s interference from master blenders or changes in the production regime. New signings can play a role and signify a change in direction. The ultimate goal is to have a successful team and intangible elements such as confidence and momentum come into the equation.
Confidence that things are going well and everything will be ok. The importance of momentum with a new whisky and spotlight on your brand mustn’t be overlooked. For instance, take Deanston or even those young English whippersnappers at Bimber. For years no one wanted to know about Deanston until a new ‘head coach’ arrived on the scene and transformed the output of the distillery. And at Bimber, those early years and decisions around pricing had Adam (a recent convert) debating what the future held for the London distillery.
Even closer to home, here at Malt, these intangibles and decisions play a role. We’re open about our statistics and our continuing growth in popularity or infamy; depending on your perspective. Mark struts the side-lines in his managerial tweed apparel outfit, while I’m more of the tracksuit kind and like to get stuck in. We field a team of international recruits and there are no rules or finely tuned tactics. We’re very much the red-Brazil of the whisky world and happy to be so.
But I am acutely aware that momentum is a thing. You’ll see it over at Waterford right now, that has been building up for several years, to their big moment later in 2020 (hopefully, not affected by that virus, *sadly it was), with their Countryfile themed videos and influencer actions. Now, it’s almost time for the whisky to win onlookers over and set the distillery on its path. Imagine for a moment if Waterford decided to shut its doors and move site shortly afterwards. That momentum would drift away. I’d expect the team would be able – given their finances – to assume a 2nd site or renovations and maintain existing production until that switch was needed: as we’ve seen at Macallan. But for a smaller fledgeling distillery that also caters for beer and gin amongst its portfolio, such resources might not be to hand.
This can put a distillery in limbo. Momentum is one aspect, but then you have to consider existing products and future maturation. The refurbishment at Clynelish was such a concern for Diageo that it adapted and utilised the existing distillery of Dailuaine to plug the gap. For Eden Mill, which is a small distillery compared to all of the aforementioned names, they only have a certain amount of stock. Each new release or existing product takes away from that. The longer that the move takes to complete, the larger the hole in their maturing inventory becomes.
Let’s hope that things gain traction and the new distillery is up and running as soon as possible. For now, the distillery recently released their 2019 Edition, which is limited to 4000 units and bottled at 46.5% strength. This comes in the standard size bottling and a dinky 20cl offering, which I approve of. A moment as well for the actual packaging; we’ve highlighted the need for a more sustainable approach in our Kininvie review, but I must a say the artwork here is a lovely thing and comes from a local artist, Hilke MacIntyre. You can purchase this release directly from Eden Mill for either £79 or £25 depending on your preference. The whisky is made up of various casks with oloroso and PX hogsheads and American bourbon barrels featuring. I was kindly given a sample of this release by Eden Mill to review.
Eden Mill 2019 Single Malt – review
Colour: 8 carat gold.
On the nose: bursting with fruity sweetness, orange zest, apricots, vanilla, tobacco, tangerines and fig rolls. There’s a touch of smoke and freshly baked cinnamon rolls as well.
In the mouth: much softer on the palate with oranges, marzipan, cranberries and a slightly oily nature. Cranberries, leathery in parts with apples and a little cherry. There are walnuts, chocolate and a zesty finish.
Let me say, I’m impressed with the blending on display here. This is a solid offering, which isn’t dominated by aggressive sherry that we have seen recently with Strathearn. Instead, there are enjoyable moments despite the limitations of youth.
I would have scored this a 6 happily if it wasn’t for the price. While I like the artwork on display, you’re still paying almost £80 for a very young whisky. I applaud the 20cl option to try and expand the potential market for this release, as most of us aren’t going to pay such an amount to open and drink a bottle. And that’s an issue right now in whisky, as young distilleries think they can charge almost £100 for their young product and often in 50cl sizes as well.
As a consumer, I can quite happily purchase an Ardmore or another unfashionable distillery for £40-£50, which is double in age and offers a more wholesome experience. The novelty factor of a new distillery goes after the inaugural release. Thereafter, you have to ensure you have the product and are asking a fair price, hence the score drops to…
Links within this article are for your convenience only. Lead image kindly provided by Eden Mill.