Built in 2005, Daftmill is the most beautiful distillery I have seen to date! Set within the beautiful Fife countryside, up a long winding road sits a distillery adjoined to the working farm that it belongs to.
Although I was initially lost, my TomTom led me to an Old Folk’s home where a kindly man fixing a drain in his pyjamas cheerily affirmed that ‘it happens all the time’ and he gave me more accurate directions to the distillery.
The distillery occupies the farm’s old oat meal mill and grain sheds, an old date stone suggests at least parts of the buildings have existed since 1809. The distillery sources its water from a local spring which also provides the farm’s own drinking water
The distillery is owned by Francis Cuthbert, whose family have occupied the farm for six generations, and it was Francis who warmly received me for a tour.
We began in the room which was originally a kiln but now stores the grist from the farms own barley, interestingly Daftmill supply Macallan with their barley too which will give some indication as to the quality in store for their own single malt. Then moving to the Tun room that contains the Mash Tun, a room last occupied around the 1940s, Francis and I shared a wee chat and this is where I gained an insight into how Francis manages a Farm and the Whisky distillery – simply if he doesn’t make Whisky then it just means there is less in the warehouse but if he doesn’t feed his cow, the cow dies so the farm is very much the priority!
Daftmill has two elegant stills both small by industry standards but built to allow a lot of copper contact to create a light and clean spirit and support the distillery’s goal to create a supreme Lowland malt. A particular point of interest in the distillery is the Spirit Safe where Francis alone manages the draw of spirit from the stills with a series of valves, gauges and dials. A beautiful and refreshing feature of Daftmill is the lack of computer technology and Francis’s own use of books of collaboration tables and tools like dip tape and measuring sticks to understand his Whisky. Another aspect of the distillery’s craftsmanship is the fact that only local tradesmen and components were used in the creation of the distillery.
The Daftmill warehouse is a cool, calm space filled to the brim with casks, so it’s no wonder he concentrates on the cows mentioned previously. The spider-webs between the casks illustrate the lack of wind meaning the temperature is stable; ideal of aging Whisky. Francis kindly removed a bung from a nine year old bourbon cask and a sherry cask and using Valinch extracted the Whisky, pouring them somehow into two tactically placed Glencairn glasses. The cool Whisky was divine, the bourbon had lovely light clean gold, and on the palate were those lowland malt fruity flavours with a taste of cereal and sweetness. The Sherry dram had lovely cherries and Christmas pudding on the palate, deep, rich and smooth, gorgeous!
The distillery has not released any whisky yet although I would be under the impression that a release will be soon…
You can follow a tour through Daftmill with Charlie McLean on Youtube, it’s not changed that much.