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North Port Brechin was another casualty of the 1980's 'whisky loch'. However, unlike so many other distilleries closed around this time, it is not generally missed. This is odd because it is a very fine malt, a face showcased by several excellent bottlings. Nor was it nearly as inconsistent or 'eccentric' as some other notable closed distilleries (looking at you Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn). So it seems strange that many people often forget it even exists, let alone that it was closed. As shame but then he whisky industry is full of 'shames' after the 1980s.
North Port/Brechin Distillery
Stills: 1 Wash 1 Spirit
Water Source: Loch Lee
1960s-1983: A Lonely Highlander
The earliest bottlings of North Port come from Cadenhead's and Samaroli. The Cadenhead's was a stunning 15 yo from 1964 with full on old style wax, paper, oil, peat, crystalised fruits, coastal notes and wild flowers. The Samaroli was a 1966 also at 15 years of age and is perhaps even better than the Cadenhead's. The Samaroli is an aromatic masterpiece of balance, concentration and old style complexity. The flavours are similar to the Cadenhead's but with maybe a little more concentration and intensity. There is also a worthwhile aged North Port 1966 35yo from Douglas Laing, it is quite extracted but otherwise beautifully oily, resinous and full of old style coastal waxiness, very recommendable.
Bottlings from the seventies and early eighties are not quite as majestic as those few from the sixties but they are still old style, oily, flowery, mineraled and often beautiful examples of a lost style of distillate. Bottlings can be a little hit or miss from this era but there are still great ones to be had. Two 1981s by Duncan Taylor are both excellent, big, long and uncompromising old whiskies. Similarly excellent, if a little more austere and extreme, are the official 28yo 1977 launched in 2005 and a spectacularly ballsy 1974 14yo G&M for Intertrade. This was big oily, rieslingesque, petroly, peppery, minty and full of white fruits and light floral accents, it is also mighty powerful at 66.2% alcohol.
Bottlings of North Port have not dried up completely just yet and we may well yet see a few more excellent drams bottled. However, inevitably expressions will dry up and prices will slowly rise. Due to its apparent lack of fans, now seems like a good time to get into North Port and try a few examples, it is a good opportunity to try one of these old style highland malt whiskies that, sadly, are no longer made in Scotland.