As Scots and adopted Scots around the world gather to celebrate Burns Night, there’ll be an extra special dram to choose from as Lochlea Distillery releases their first bottling.
Lochlea is a new distillery located in southern Scotland, and on the very same farm that was both home and workplace of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns between 1777-1784.
Each 25th January, the life and cultural contributions of Rabbie Burns are celebrated with song, food and whisky – usually a combination of readings of Burns’ literary works, followed by a serving of Scotland’s national dish – haggis, neeps and tatties.
This 25th January, and 245 years after Burns arrived at Lochea Farm, Lochlea Distillery will be releasing its first bottling using Laureate barley grown on Lochlea, and toll malted by Bairds Malt.
The first release is a special moment for the distillery, and for Bairds, as we have partnered with Lochlea to toll malt the barley grown in the fields surrounding the farm, those same fields that where Rabbie Burns was likely growing barley 245 years ago.
Whisky features heavily in Burns’ writing, and in his work. When he died in 1794, he was working as a Customs and Excise tax officer in Dumfries – no doubt seeing plenty of income from Scotland’s distilleries! It was still to be another 27 years before the Bairds brothers began malting at the Great Canal Brewery in 1823.
While much of Burns’ life has been written into folklore, his writings have made clear his appreciation for whisky, and the operations at Lochlea will be something we’re sure he would have approved of. As Burns wrote in 1786: “Freedom and whisky gang thegither!” (freedom and whisky go together).
The Toll Malting arrangement between Lochlea and Bairds would be of special interest to Burns’ pursuit of freedom, providing some of the most flexible and sustainable arrangements possible, with all water and barley sourced from the same farm where distillation and maturation takes place.
Freedom aND WHISKY GANG THEGITHERrobert ‘rabbie’ burns, The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer, 1786
Lochlea Distillery’s commercial manager, David Ferguson, said: “We’ve been quietly distilling, casking and maturing our liquid since 2018, and this is the first chance people will have to try Lochlea whisky.”
The barley from Lochlea has been toll malted at Bairds’ Pencaitland maltings, an arrangement that was especially important to the vision behind Lochlea’s original plans. Since joining the Bairds team in 2020, Graham Manson has been working alongside many of our toll malting customers as Bairds Distilling Customer Manager. “Providing a toll malt service to customers allows them to produce a spirit with incredible provenance,” says Graham. “Being able to partner with Bairds allows our customers to keep the end whisky as local as possible, with barley being sown, grown, and harvested within the same immediate locale as to where the distillation and maturation take place.
Bairds’ toll malting capabilities allow for barley to be taken into our maltings and malted to a customer’s specification before being delivered back to the customer, ready for distillation. All barley goes through the same thorough inspection as each of our other barley intakes, but is segregated to allow for full traceability through the maltings.
As a distiller with over 30 years experience, Graham is on hand to help both existing and new distilling clients looking to explore the full range of malt options available to explore.
“Toll malting is a fantastic way for a distillery to maintain the local aspect of their story as much as possible,” says Graham. “We recognise that increasingly, our customers want to explore the options available to them, and as an essential part of the supply chain it’s something we’re excited to do. The expansions at our maltings in Arbroath and Inverness will extend our capabilities further, either through larger harvest intakes or for smaller craft maltings at our refurbished Inverness plant.”
For more information on our toll malting process, you can visit our toll malting page here, or get in touch using the form below.