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Dalwhinnie

Many late Victorian distilleries were bravely sited; "madly located" Dalwhinnie, one of the highest of all distilleries - at 1073 feet - and now home to the Classic Malts’ delicate and smoky 15 year old Highland malt, was no exception.

"Why on earth, you may think," continued the writer of this memorable epithet, "would anybody choose to build a distillery in this desolate, wind-sliced, rain-lashed patch of Highland wilderness?"
A good reason, certainly, was that it was close to the geographic center of the Highlands and so enjoyed easy access to the reliable link to market offered by the new Highland Railway. This helped the distillery to survive its often fragile beginnings, just as surely as Dalwhinnie's setting had earlier helped the village itself to gain an importance beyond its size.
The Gaelic word from which the name Dalwhinnie comes is Dail-coinneeamh, also spelt Dail-Chuinnidh, which translates as "plain of meetings." Here, on these high windswept pastures between the Grampian and Monadhliath mountain ranges, 18th Century cattle drovers would pause on their journey south, over the Drumochter pass to the great trysts or cattle markets of Crieff and Falkirk. Where it can, Dalwhinnie retains the old ways. Traditional wood is still used for its washbacks, for example. Just two copper stills, as there have always been, send the alcohol into the lye pipes on its way to the stillman.
He skilfully separates the "foreshots" and "feints" before allowing the purest middle part of the distillation to reach the oak casks in which Dalwhinnie will rest on its way to maturity.
Increasingly rare wooden worm-tubs, a landmark outside the distillery as distinctive as its pagoda roofs, help this remain a spirit of real character. Old hands will say that the slow deliberate condensation, which takes place in a copper worm, can't be matched in more modern condensing vessels. Perhaps it gives Dalwhinnie that little extra body?
As well as being a fine distillery, Dalwhinnie also has the distinction of being an official weather station, with one of the lowest recorded average temperatures in Great Britain.

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