Convalmore (Pronounced: CON-val-more)
57°27'15.53"N, 3° 7'8.11"W
Balvenie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich, Mortlach
Closed (in 1985)
2 Wash, 2 Spirit (as wel as a column still until 1916)
None - Convalmore was closed in 1985
William Grant & Sons (although Diageo owns the 'brand')
Dufftown, Banffshire, AB55 4BD, Scotland, UK
No - except for a 28yo release by Diageo from 2005
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
1) Convalmore is one of the few malt whisky distilleries in Scotland that at one time also produced a 'silent malt'.
That's the name for malt whisky that was distilled in a column still instead of the more commonly used pot stills.
The owners decided to begin the experiment after the fire of October 29th, 1909, which practically demolished the distillery. The column still at Convalmore had a production capacity of 2273 litres of alcohol per hour. This experiment with a column still for continuous distillation of spirit lasted until 1916, after which pot still distillation was resumed.
2) Two other distilleries that experimented with the production of a silent malt whisky were Glentauchers (also a Speyside distillery) and the Lochruan distillery in Campbeltown that closed down in the 1920's.
3) The distillation equipment of the Convalmore distillery has now been removed, but the old buildings are still involved in the production of malt whisky; they are being used as warehouses for William Grant & Sons.
4) Convalmore was the 4th distillery to be established in Dufftown. It was part of the 'Seven Stills of Dufftown'.
The others were Balvenie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich, Mortlach and the now defunct Parkmore distillery.
5) The malt whisky that was distilled at Convalmore was used mainly for blending purposes. In the past, the spirit from the pot stills at Convalmore were part of the "Black & White" and "Lowrie's" blends.
Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57,9%, OB, 3900 Bts.)
Nose: Fruity start like toilet freshener. Hint of clay? Liqueurish start, then more chemical quickly. Diesel?
Taste: Hey, a surprising pinch of peat on the palate in between the sherry and fruits.
Lots of improvement with time. Its score stuck at 84 points after my second try in the MM Awards 2006.
Score: 86 points - this one finally made it to silver after round 3 and a lot of time; 86 points.
My rating for this whisky would have gone to 87 or 88 points if the finish hadn't been so harsh.
Convalmore-Glenlivet 26yo 1977/2003 (46%, Cadenhead's, Sherry)
Nose: Sweet & creamy. Something grainy. Paint thinner. Hint of smoke. Developing spices and organics.
Taste: Subtle fruits, growing stronger. Gooseberries? Orange skins? Cointreau? Interesting profile.
Score: 85 points - the 'quality' in the Cadenhead's range can be dodgy in some cases, but this is great.
Convalmore 15yo 1983 (43%, Chieftain's Choice, Bottled +/- 1998, 70cl)
Nose: Full & balanced. Sweet. Fruity start. Chemical coconut. Slightly sherried complexity with malty undertones.
Taste: Soft start; fruity sweetness. Sherry. Toffee. Very smooth, but drier and a little 'winey' in the finish.
Score: 80 points - making this an affordable way to get acquainted with whisky from an obscure distillery.
Convalmore 1981/1998 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice)
Nose: Sweetish. Apple? It's not terribly expressive but seems to have more spirit than some other CC's.
Taste: A touch of peat! Liquorice. That's a nice surprise! Fruitier en woodier later on. Very nice.
Score: 76 points - the palate was quite convincing at just 40% but the nose didn't back it up.
Convalmore 16yo 1981/1997 (43%, Ultimate, Oak casks #89/604/107, Bottle #89, 70cl)
Nose: Transparant. Citrus & apple. Subtle sweetness beneath the surface. Very 'fishy' after fifteen minutes.
Taste: Dusty start. Very sherried & winey in the center; strong fruity episodes. Woody, slightly bitter finish.
Score: 75 points - which makes it a bit of a disappointment; but then again it didn't cost much.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Convalmore Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Convalmore page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the dozens of Convalmore expressions that have been released in the past. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
The Convalmore distillery was located in the heart of Speyside,
between the Glenfiddich & Craigellachie distilleries. It was founded
in 1893 or 1894 by the Convalmore-Glenlivet Distillery Co. Ltd. and
was one of the few whisky distilleries in the area that was NOT
designed by Charles Doig. Instead, local architect Donald Mackay
drew up the plans for Convalmore. If Google is not mistaken, this
was the only Scotch whisky distillery that was designed by Donald.
According to the records, whisky production at Convalmore started
in February 1894. One decade later, in March 1904, the distillery
was purchased by W. & P. Lowrie & Co. Ltd. for the measly sum
of £6000.- The new owners didn't get to enjoy their distillery for
very long; they encountered financial problems one year later.
2003 - The 'Rare Malts' series
was released by United Distillers, the owners of Convalmore at the time.
So, the Convalmore 24yo 1978/2003 (59.4%, UD Rare Malts) can be considered an official bottling. I wasn't crazy about it, but most other malt maniacs scored it in the upper 80's. So, it could have won silver at the MM Awards.
2005 - There's usually not a lot of news on distilleries that were closed in the 1980's, but after releasing a UDRM bottling in 2003 Diageo now released a 'regular' official bottling. I liked the design of the label and packaging a lot. The whisky wasn't half bad either; the average score on the Malt Maniacs Monitor ended up in the upper 80's.
W. & P. Lowrie & Co. Ltd. was bought by James Buchanan.
James Buchanan used to be an important client of the Lowrie company. After the transfer
of ownership, the Convalmore distillery was owned by James Buchanan & Co. Ltd. This
company had to rebuild the distillery after a devastating fire in 1909. They must have felt
adventurous, because they experimented with continuous distillation of malt spirit - also
known as a 'silent malt' - for a while. This special column still was removed again in 1916.
One decade later, in 1925, Convalmore
was sold by James Buchanan & Co. Ltd.
to Distillers Company Limited (DCL); one
of the predecessors of Diageo. The sale
marked the beginning of four centuries
of relative peace and quiet for Convalmore.
The first significant changes after the 2nd
world war came in 1962 when the direct
coal firing of the stills was replaced by
(indirect) steam heating. I imagine this
change in the whisky production meant
that Convalmore became a tad greener.
In 1964 the number of pot stills
was expanded from two to four,
so that Convalmore continued with 2 wash stills and 2 spirit stills.
By the time those new stills were getting old (pot stills have a life
span of 20 to 30 years on average, they slowly dissolve in whisky)
there was no point in replacing them; Convalmore was mothballed
in 1985. This makes the investments of the 1970's look a little bit
silly; the bonded warehouses were expanded and they even built
a dark-grains plant and a new mash house. In a way this proves
that the crisis that hit the whisky world in the early 1980's was
not foreseen by large parts of the whisky industry.
The ownership of the old distillery buildings and the surrounding
site transferred from United Distillers to William Grant & Sons in
1990. Apparently they had no intention of using the distillery for
the production of malt whisky, because the distillation equipment
has since been removed. The old buildings of the Convalmore
distillery are now used for the storage and maturation of casks
of Glenfiddich and Balvenie malt whisky.
It's highly unlikely that Convalmore distillery will ever produce whisky again.
Based on my fairly limited research so far, that's a real shame... By the end of the noughties I had sampled seven
different expressions of Convalmore and all of them scored above average. That's not bad at all for a distillery that
produced a malt whisky that was intended mainly for blending - not for being bottled as a single malt whisky.
Is the distillery or