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Adelphi Distillery – the story
Founded in 1826, the Adelphi Distillery is now Scotland’s most acclaimed
independent bottler of single casks of rare malt whisky. Under new ownership,
Adelphi continues to bottle straight from the finest casks without colouring or
Remaining completely independent, Adelphi is able to offer bottlings from an
extensive range of distilleries with Charles Maclean chairing the highly
experienced nosing team in the pursuit of excellence.
Adelphi was established by the Gray brothers, Charles and David, in 1826 on what
had been a two-acre orchard. It stood just south of the Clyde's Victoria Bridge
on the northern edge of the Gorbals.
The Gray family operated the distillery throughout its existence, but around
1880 its ownership was acquired by Messrs A. Walker and Co, who already owned
two big distilleries in Liverpool and Limerick respectively. Walkers injected
new capital and expanded the works to include a large Coffey still to make grain
spirit. In 1886, the Coffey still and four pot stills were all in full
production, with an annual output of 516,000 gallons. It had ten 16,000 gallon
washbacks, with two more under construction. Three wash charges held 45,000
gallons in all, the wash stills 6,000 gallons each and the spirit stills 4,500
gallons each. It had six steam engines - the largest massive brute of 80 horse
power - and six boilers ranging in size up to 28 by nine feet in diameter. The
whole was dominated by huge circular chimney with a flared top.
Unlikely as it seems Adelphi was one of the first victims of Edwardian
rationalisation after the late-Victorian boom. It was bought by DCL in 1902 and
between then and 1907 distilling ceased. Its history since then is vague, but
the distillery buildings were not in fact demolished until 1968-70, with the
chimney coming down in 1971. The bonded warehouses stayed in use for many years,
though they too are now gone and indeed Inverkip Street itself is no more. -
extract from Brian Townsend's 'Scotch Missed - The Lost Distilleries of
Scotland' published in 1993.
In 1993, the great-grandson of Archibald Walker, Jamie, revived the Adelphi name
as an independent bottler. Jamie was determined not to sacrifice quality for
volume, and he was equally adamant that this should be continued when he sold
the company in 2004.
Keith Falconer and his neighbour in Argyll, Donald Houston, had approached Jamie
on a recommendation, to buy a hogshead of whisky. In fact, they were so
impressed that they ended up buying the whole company. After 25 years of working
as a chartered accountant and fund manager, Keith was looking for a more
entrepreneurial kind of challenge. Donald, like Keith, had backed off from
fulltime involvement in his global engineering business, and was equally excited
to be involved in the whisky trade.
The new team has been rounded off by Alex Bruce and Liz Macdonald. Whisky is in
Alex’s blood. His mother, an Usher, is a direct descendant of Andrew Usher who
is credited with pioneering blended whisky, and his father, Lord Elgin, is a
patron and former Grand Master of the Keepers of the Quaich. Alex was also made
a Keeper of the Quaich in 2006. He has trained with Remy Martin and J&B, and
latterly headed up a new office for Friarwood Fine Wines in Scotland. Liz is
former P.A. to the Beatles, and has joined Adelphi as Company Secretary.
Remaining completely independent, Adelphi is able to select its single malt
whiskies from as many distilleries as possible. Adelphi will only put its name
to an outstanding whisky.
Adelphi bottles single malt Scotch whiskies from only the very best single casks
available. No two casks mature their contents the same, and with only 100-700
bottles produced from one cask, Adelphi single malt bottlings are both rare and
highly sought after.
Adelphi believes that only the very best single cask, single malt whiskies are
good enough to be bottled on their own. With the help of whisky guru Charles
MacLean it selects a mere 4% of those that are offered.
Single malt Scotch whisky is normally reduced to 40% vol. on the bottling line
and, as a result, has to be chill-filtered to maintain its clarity. Adelphi,
however, only bottles at natural strength. This enables the whisky to remain
clear without being chill-filtered and allows the customer to unlock the true
flavours by adding water in the glass, rather than losing them on the bottling
line. Adelphi will only bottle single malt whiskies matured in either ex-bourbon
or ex-sherry casks. These are known to be the best vessels for Scotch whisky.
Adelphi will never attempt to finish a whisky in any other wood, as this will
mask the intrinsic flavours of the spirit. Adelphi never adds colour to its
single malt whiskies, and, with the use of minimalist labelling, allows the
natural warmth of the whisky to project from the bottle.
In addition, Adelphi selects and bottles single cask single malts for private
individuals and corporations, and makes its highly acclaimed Private Stock
Blended Scotch Whisky available for bespoke labelling. Unique whiskies, with
unique labels, available to the discerning customer.
Adelphi Whiskies are sold at la Casa del Habano Hamburg.