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Of all the distilleries that sadly closed in the eighties, Coleburn is one of the least lamented. This is probably to do with a comparative lack of bottlings in relation to many of its deceased brethren. Many people also declare a dislike of the make but this seems an odd statement as you would have to go far out of your way to try a variety of expressions from this obscure distillery. Personally I have tried some very fine Coleburns and I would thank anyone who offered me one.

Founded: 1897
Closed: 1985
Water Source: The Glen Burn
Stills: 2 Wash 2 Spirit
Owners: Diageo

1962-1985: A Slow Death.

Coleburn was modernised in 1962 with steam heating in the stills and shell condensers. A few years later in 1968 the onsite maltings were decommissioned as well. There are only two bottlings from this time that I know of, a G&M 1965 17yo and a Cadenheads 1968 17yo. Both are excellent examples of old school highland whisky and should be jumped upon if you see one. Coleburn also seemed to defy chemical logic and remain a fairly old school distillate even up to its demise in 1985. Some of the best examples have been casks from the early 1980s, particularly examples by The Whisky Agency and Mackillop's Choice. The only official example is a 1979 21yo in the Rare Malts series, this is a great introduction to Coleburn if you get the chance, oily, sooty, herbaceous, dry and a little medicinal, it showcases Coleburns more typical characters. The best examples are full-bodied, oily, waxy, and mineral-laden old style drams with often something quite smoky and borderline peaty in the background.

It seems unlikely that there will be many more Coleburns bottled in the coming years. If the current rate of bottlings is maintained it will ultimately end up as one of the least represented distilleries. This is a great shame because if you taste around a little bit you will find a difficult yet quietly charming distillate that truly belongs to a lost era.