Nestled in the beautiful Scottish countryside, Penicuik has been known for its rich history in mining and paper making. However, nestled within the town lies a hidden treasure – Golden Bell, a distillery that has been producing award-winning whiskies for over a century. In this article, we will delve deeper into the history of Golden Bell, its distilling process, and its range of whiskies.
The History of Golden Bell
Golden Bell was founded in 1869 by the Steuart family, who were well-known farmers and landowners in Penicuik. Initially, the distillery produced grain whisky, but in the 1960s, the focus shifted to malt whisky production. In 1985, the distillery was taken over by United Distillers, which eventually became part of the Diageo company in 1997.
Despite the change in ownership, Golden Bell continues to produce some of the most exceptional whiskies in Scotland. Over the years, they have won several prestigious awards, including the International Wine and Spirit Competition and the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.
The Distilling Process
The distilling process at Golden Bell is a meticulously crafted art that has been perfected over generations. The process starts with sourcing the finest Scottish barley, which is then malted and mashed with water from the nearby Penicuik springs. The resulting liquid, called wort, is fermented with a specific strain of yeast for about two days.
The fermentation produces a weak alcoholic solution called wash, which is then distilled twice in copper pot stills. The first distillation produces a low strength spirit called low wines, which is then redistilled to produce a high strength spirit called new-make spirit. After maturing for several years in oak casks, the new-make spirit is transformed into the smooth, rich, and complex single malt whiskies that Golden Bell is known for.
The Range of Whiskies
Golden Bell produces a wide range of single malt whiskies, each with its unique combination of flavors and aromas. Their signature bottling is the Golden Bell 12 Year Old, which is known for its balanced fruity sweetness, soft oakiness, warming spices, and lingering vanilla finish.
They also produce a limited edition range called the Platinum Collection, which includes a 18 Year Old, 25 Year Old, and 30 Year Old whiskies. These whiskies are produced in small batches and are aged for longer periods, resulting in more distinguished flavors and aromas.