Malt of the Moment
Ladyburn was an extremely short-lived Lowland distillery situated within the William Grant & Sons Girvan complex, which remains in production today providing grain content for its owners. Unfortunately for Ladyburn,...
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Ladyburn was an extremely short-lived Lowland distillery situated within the William Grant & Sons Girvan complex, which remains in production today providing grain content for its owners. Unfortunately for Ladyburn, its existence was a mere 9 years in total making it one of the rarest single malt whiskies of recent times.
Whilst the Girvan complex came online in 1963, Ladyburn was not established until 1966 with the arrival of two sets of two pot stills on site. The aim was to provide malt content for its blends and having a distillery alongside its main grain producer made sense economically. It also allowed the master blender to have immediate access to maturing stock and enabled a constant supply. This model of a distillery within a distillery was seen at other large sites such as Dumbarton, which played host to the rarely seen Inverleven single malt.
The trend eventually died out in the late 1970's and early 80's as production became more efficient, regimented and the rise of road haulage as the preferred method of transportation. There was also a significant fall in whisky demand during this period, which ultimately resulted in a cull of distilleries. For the owners, distilleries such as Ladyburn only served a single purpose and if the demand was no longer there, then distillery was no longer viable. Although the official reason was the desired expansion of the Girvan plant, which has been undermined with the establishment of the Ailsa Bay distillery on the same site in 2007.
Unlike many other distilleries within a distillery, Ladyburn was a fully-fledged operation with the complete set of equipment to be an independent producer including a mashtun, washbacks and underbacks and its malt coming from Glenfiddich. The majority of its output was destined for the Grant’s blends making single malt releases virtually unheard of, however as with most things whisky related you can depend on the independent sector to offer an alternative. Thus, it is the case with Signatory being a bottler of Ladyburn but under the alias Rare Ayrshire. Given the lack of malt distilleries in the county of Ayrshire, it’s only a matter of elimination to reach its source. A pointless gesture but the Grant company does have a strong heritage of protecting its brands and distilleries; even if they no longer exist.
These single cask releases demonstrate an assured if slightly safe blended malt with flavours of vanilla, pencil shavings and an oily presence, backed up by lemon, apples and melon. A decent single malt whisky but as with many closed or lost distilleries, nothing to warrant its continued existence. William Grant & Sons has in recent years begun to harness their inventory of closed distilleries. Ladyburn has appeared solely as a limited bottling, but in 2014 they launched the Rare Cask Reserve range. The concept was a blended Scotch whisky made up from a trio of lost distilleries comprising of the Dumbarton grain, Inverleven single malt and of course Ladyburn. Arriving with an age statement, but unfortunately no details regarding the percentage of the blend for each representative distillery, the Ghosted Reserve as it’s also known, is arguably the most affordable way to experience a taste of Ladyburn. Albeit sadly, as part of a blended Scotch.