The Lost Distillery: Auchnagie, Stratheden & Gerston Whisky

The Lost Distillery is a name that evokes the romance of times past with a dose of nostalgia for the olden times.

In the last 100 years, several distilleries have closed down in Scotland due to several reasons including world wars, loss of demand and resources. In 1925, 124 Scottish distilleries were in existence whereas four years later, only 84 remained, closing at the rate of one per month.

The Lost Distillery Company is built on the premise of researching some of these old distilleries to recreate how their whiskies would taste if they were made today. The concept is reminiscent of the remake of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, recreated by master blender Richard Paterson after bottles of the 1907 Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt was discovered in February 2007 from arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s epic journey.

The Lost Distillery Auchnagie, Stratheden & Gerston Whisky
Auchnagie, Stratheden & Gerston

Speaking at a consumer masterclass held at Jekyll and Hyde in Darlinghurst, James France of Vanguard Luxury Brands introduced the brand and presented a brief history. It takes 6 months to research a distillery, he explained. Old log books are consulted and ten elements are studied to replicate what the whiskies would have tasted like – era, locality, water, barley, peat, mash tun, wash back, the type of still and oak– all elements used to draw up a flavour wheel.

About The Lost Distillery Whiskies

The Lost Distillery whiskies are blended malts, all made from barley but a blend of several single malt whiskies. The malts are sourced from existing distilleries under an agreement of anonymity.

Three expressions are available in Australia, Auchnagie and Gerston from the Highlands and Stratheden from the Lowlands. Each expression in the range is available in the Deluxe and Vintage versions.

The average age of the Deluxe whiskies is 15 years while the Vintage ranges from 15 to 38 years. All whiskies are non-chill filtered with no added colour and are bottled at 46% ABV. The black bottles and label design and colour are also a representation of the way they were made at the time.

While in-depth history of each of the distilleries is not in scope of this article, the website offers extensive information, along with artists’ illustrations that would be of interest to history buffs.

Lost Distillery Auchnagie Blended Malt Whisky Deluxe

Auchnagie was a distillery located on a small farm in Perthshire in the Highlands of Scotland, with John Dewar & Sons were the latest owners. It existed between 1812 and 1911 and closed down due to being technologically outdated.

The whisky has a pale gold colour and exhibits viscosity on the glass. On the nose, it’s slightly sweet with a hint of smoke and peat notes. Sweet and fruity with pears and apples on the palate, there is also slight peat, marked spice, dry cereal notes and a medium length finish. The fruity notes open up with the addition of a few drops of water. Overall, it is a pleasant sipping dram.

Lost Distillery Stratheden Blended Malt Whisky Deluxe

Stratheden comes from Fife in the Lowlands and it was in existence from 1829 to 1926. Alexander Bonthrone established the distillery and was one of Scotland’s oldest distillers, operating the stills until he was almost 90 years old. His family had been brewing beer since the 1600s.

Water was star ingredient of the whisky, along with Orkney barley which is used by Highland Park, and a small still.

Gold in colour, the whisky display some viscosity on the glass. On the nose, sweet honey notes are prominent along with some dried apricot and a hint of smoke. Sweet, honeyed and warming, the palate is slightly chewy with oaky spice and a punchy pepper kick on the medium to long finish. Overall, it is a fine sipping dram with a rich mouthfeel, one with which to end the night.

Lost Distillery Gerston Blended Malt Whisky Deluxe

Gerston distillery was located in Caithness in the Northern Highlands from 1796 to 1882. Two versions of the distillery existed and were known as Gerston One and Gerston Two.

Gerston One was a family-owned and operated at a small farm-house scale, yet it supplied customers as far as Brazil and India and remained in operation for over 80 years. The distillery had its own yeast which it kept alive between distillations, much like sourdough starters in bread making. Gerston Two was an industrial scale distillery, technologically advanced with a tenfold capacity of the former yet it lasted a little over two decades.

Gold in colour, the whisky exhibits marked peaty notes and iodine reminiscent of Islay whiskies. Medicinal peat is prominent on the palate with apricot, pepper oak along with smoke. Complex, long and lingering, it has the longest finish of all the three and makes a fine sipping dram for fans of peated whiskies.

The Lost Distillery Vintage Series

The Lost Distillery Auchnagie, Stratheden & Gerston Whisky
Gerston and Stratheden Vintage

The Lost Distillery Vintage series consists of aged whiskies which are made to a favour profile of how they would taste if they were aged.. The Deluxe range is aged for approximately 15 years while the Vintage ranges from 15 to 38 years. This series was not officially on taste.

Stratheden Vintage exhibits a lot of fruit andsome spice on the nose. On the palate, it is fruity, honeyed and sweet, with more pronounced peat than the Deluxe. A long and lingering finish gives a balance of peat and fruit with honey at the backbone, yet not one element overpowers the other. Although it is bottled at the same ABV as the Deluxe (46%), it tasted of a higher percentage of alcohol.

Gerston Vintage has a pronounced nose prickle, as if it had a higher ABV. The peat is gentle on nose, much less than the Deluxe version. On the palate, the flavour is much more amplified and again the ABV feels higher. A long an lingering smoky finish makes it a delicious dram and the favourite amongst lovers of peated malts.

The Lost Distillery Auchnagie, Stratheden & Gerston Whisky
James France, Vanguard Luxury Brands

You can find the Lost Distillery whiskies at Sydney bars such as The Baxter Inn, Hotel Centennial in Woollahra, Assembly Bar, Brooklyn Social, The Corner House, China Doll Restaurant and specialist boutique retailers. Retail price is around $150 AUD for the Deluxe and around $450 AUD for the Vintage series.

The Lost Distillery whisky tasting was held at Jekyll and Hyde in Darlinghurst on Wednesday 20 August 2014.

The Lost Distillery

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.

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