It’s exactly two years ago today that Eden Mill distillery filled it’s first cask with new make spirit. I along with my good friend Nick went to visit the distillery a few months ago to find out how things have been progressing. We were met by John who sneaked us inside the very small still room that wasn’t operating that day before being taken round the whole site by Callum. The Distiller Scott Ferguson unfortunately wasn’t around.
The Eden Mill distillery sits on the same grounds as a previous distillery called Seggie [info], owned by the Haig family. it produced spirit for 50 years between 1810 to 1860 until William Haig decided the site would be better served as a paper mill. Despite a change of ownership in the 1960’s, it continued to operate as a paper mill from 1872 right up until 2008 when it then lay dormant for a few years until St. Andrews University bought it with the intention of turning it into a biomass facility.
Meanwhile, Eden Mill founder Paul Miller set up a brewery on the site in 2012. Two years later three alembic stills were installed, one for producing gin and two [a pair I imagine] for whisky. Eden Mill are planning to double their size and capacity in the next few years. Much of that expansion will be centred around the visitors centre and storage facilities whilst the emphasis on small output, small batch, craft production will remain firm. Whilst whisky production will increase only marginally, their main [craft & revenue] focus will be on beer & gin LINK.
They currently use four different local grain types for the malted barley for their bottled, canned, keg and barrelled beers and consequently their spirit – Golden Promise [pale], brown, chocolate and dark crystal malt.
The provenance and character of their beers is undoubtedly driving the flavour profile of the distillate for their whisky. Their new make spirit from pale malt [golden promise] is sweet and neutral. It’ll need some good casks to encourage the complexities but the spirit certainly holds it’s own flavour identity. The one year old spirit was good, very good indeed – tasty and ready to drink as is. I’ll be reviewing all three versions they had available at the time, soon enough.
Sustainability and self reliance is key at Eden Mill. As well as their locally sourced barley, hops and botanicals, they even have their own labelling machine [£10,000] and bottling station [£35000]. It’s grain to bottle in one room. They use the services of an independent canning service for their [canned] beer from a local guy that turns up every week with his mobile canning van. It’s not all mod cons though, as you can see from the beautiful botanical basket [below], propped up precariously by a piece of two-by-four.
There are 20 workers on site and 20 in administration. Everyone that works at Eden Mill [on the production side] is encouraged to experience/work on all parts of the production process, from forklifting the grain into the grist bins to manning the shop. Inclusivity for staff and for visitors is very much welcomed. They even have a distilling and crafting course for enthusiasts similar to that offered by Strathearn.
- Once filled, the mash tun is turned manually. This process takes only an hour before hot plants are added [hops and the like]. The whole lot is then heated for another hour before the wort passes through a sweet little heat exchanger – I just called a heat exchanger sweet!
- Distillation time is 12 hours
- For the bourbon-beer, finishing time is 70 days in bourbon casks.
- For the whisky-beer, finishing is 100 days in Laphroaig & Ardbeg casks.
- In the summer of 2016, Eden Mill were producing 200-220 litres of spirit a week – that’s somewhere between one barrel or hogshead depending on the level of gin production at the time.
Happy Birthday Eden Mill spirit – only one more year to go until you’re whisky!