Invergordon distillery was founded fairly recently, between
1959 and 1961 by the company Invergordon Distillers Ltd.
This company became part of Whyte & MacKay in 1993.
Unlike most other (grain) whisky distilleries, Invergordon is not owned by
a member of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). That's not the only
exception; Invergordon is also the only grain whisky distillery that's not
located in (or at least very close to) the Lowlands. Instead, the distillery
can be found in the Northern Highlands, near Dalmore.
Nowadays they manage to produce 40,000,000 litres
of alcohol per year at the Invergordon grain distillery.
For a relatively short period of time (between 1965 and 1977),
the Ben Wyvis malt whisky distillery was located at the same address.
The name of the nearby Wyvis Lodge is one of the remnants of those days.
There was some trade and shipping of peat, timber, lime and coal.
The town of Invergordon offered a ferry service to ‘The Black Isle’ and
there were two hemp factories offering work for 70 people.
There was a castle as well, which has been occupied since the 1200s.
The town was originally known as An Rudha, which means ‘the point’
or ‘the Ness’ in Gaelic. The town was renamed to ‘Invergordon’ by Sir
William Gordon, a local landowner in the early eighteenth century.
The nearby estate was known as Inverbreakie - which is Gaelic for
‘the mouth of the Breakie’ - which was probably the old name of the
stream which flows into the Cromartly Firth at Rosskeen Bridge.
The water required for whisky production is sourced from Loch Glass,
a large lake located about 20 kilometres inland. The entire area around
the town of Invergordon used to be swampy, so there was only limited
economic activity. There was “a village of some size upon the Ness of
Invergordon on a dry heath beach, where vessels of 100 tons burden
could lie with safety most seasons of the year and load or unload their
cargoes close to the shore.”.
When they started out in 1961, Invergordon used just a single column still
for its operations. The distillery operated for two years with just that one still,
but two more stills were added in 1963. Another column still was installed in
1978 - but this one was much larger than the old ones. Invergordon’s new
Coffey still was used for the production of neutral spirit.
The old ferry service to and from Invergordon was a testament to the entrepreneurship of the local Scotsmen.
The fee was considerable for the time, but the ferry could shave 25 kilometres off of a trip between Inverness and
the north of Scotland - a day’s travel before trains and steam boats made travel (slightly) more convenient.
Invergordon 40yo 1964/2005 (48.1%, Dewar Rattray, C#57633, 105 Bts.)
Nose: Starts with sweetness and an acetone attack. Faint tropical fruits. Not much development.
Taste: Chewing gum balls. Hot centre. Strong tannins. Dry, tannic, medium long finish. Bitter.
It has an incredibly peppery twist in the finish - like Absolut Pepper Vodka of the 1980's.
Score: 74 points - but some other malt maniacs scored it in the 90's.
I’ve taken the liberty to digress a little because there’s not much to tell about the grain whisky.
So, I’ll wrap up this profile with some tasting notes for Invergordon’s product;
Invergordon 38yo 1965/2004 (51.6%, Peerless, Cask #15537, 254 bottles)
Nose: Big, sweet and polished in the nose. Furniture polish, flattening out. Faint organics.
Glue and spices. It takes a few minutes to open up, but when it does it's extremely pleasant.
Taste: Very sweet and fruity - quite marvelous, actually. Pineapple? Rum? Coconut? Overproof Malibu!
I was thinking of a score in the 90's, but this hasn't quite enough 'staying power'. Some unique features though.
Score: 89 points - the nose takes a while, but the palate is magnificent. Lovely!
Invergordon 1964/2005 (??%, Adelphi, Cask #57637)
Nose: Flat and 'blendy start. Developing sweetness. Coconut. Ah, this opens up nicely.
Weird oriental spices. Vietnamese egg rolls? Organics. Development; blink and you'll miss it.
A lovely fresh fruit cake sweetness. Raspberries. Coconut? Metallic. This is brilliant!
Taste: Very, very sweet, flattening out quickly. Fruity - imitation fruit. Pleasant, though.
After a few minutes chewy tannins on the palate. This one makes a great comeback.
Score: 90 points - after a fairly weak start it kept on developing and improving. Needs time.