The Preservation Society wants to see Lindores Abbey flourish again as a site for research, learning, brewing, distilling, horticulture, and even beekeeping. By reviving so many of the ancient crafts and traditions that were practised here centuries ago, we hope to see the site returned to its former glory.
In 2017, spirit started flowing once again from copper stills at Lindores Abbey. We try to learn as much as we can from the great Scottish distillers around us, both past and present. We are looking forward to bringing a very modern whisky-making approach to this ancient site.
We have built a Single Malt distillery in the grounds of the former Abbey, and will reinstate the heritage orchards and extensive gardens which were first introduced here by the Tironensian monks following their arrival in the 12th Century.
The archaeology at the distillery is on-going with the many pieces of pottery currently being cleaned, and it’s especially interesting that a lot of the pieces are French, dating back to the mid-13thC. We hope to be able to do further archaeological digs in the future, as the initial trenches produced such exciting indications of life at the monastery.
You can help us to further continue this work by becoming a member of Lindores Abbey Distillery. A part of every membership is donated to the Preservation Society to help us preserve and continue the traditions that were established here over 500 years ago.
Be Part of the Plans
Archaeology at Lindores
Throughout the build of the distillery we had to do a great deal of archaeological work to ensure that we were not going disrupt anything under the soil. A very thorough dig took place and we were delighted that for the first time in over 500 years we had a far greater understanding of the layout of the Abbey as we uncovered several walls that no one knew existed. The findings were meticulously recorded, and we filled in the trenches with sand to preserve the walls for a further 500 years.
The oldest whisky still in the world?
Once we had finished the initial dig we still needed to create a SUDs pond, and very soon after we broke ground we discovered what on first sight looked like a well as it had water in it, but once it was cleaned out we could see it was a clay lined bowl 4 foot across and 3 ft deep. The archaeologists present at the dig confirmed that the structure’s features are characteristic of traditional kiln stills of the medieval era, and that the residue found within is certainly in keeping with brewing and distilling practices of the time. Could this be the oldest whisky still in the world? We certainly hope so. You can read more about this structure HERE
Both our onsite Archaeologist and visiting archaeologists have all said that all the archaeological features and environmental deposits uncovered at Lindores are commensurate with light industrial activity and indicate burning, heating, drains and water management. Such remains are associated with a whole host of medieval activities and in the context of an outer monastic precinct (where the remains were found), they could indicate distilling, as well as a brewhouse, baking, smithing, washing or a whole host of cooking or processing activities. Without further exploration we cannot definitively say what was being distilled and why but the well-known 1494 reference certainly indicates that distilling was being practised at Lindores on a semi-industrial scale.
All of this tantalising evidence makes us want to continue to unearth the secrets of Lindores with further archaeological exploration, as we feel sure that the ancient ruins have more stories to tell!
To read more about the years of research into the history of Lindores, Friar John cor and aqua vitae as well as the archaeological exploration that has taken place at Lindores see below.Learn more
New Traditions for a New Era
As well as restoring so many ancient practices, we are also hoping to start some traditions of our own.
After an absence of over 500 years, in 2018 we introduced Bee’s back to Lindores Abbey with 6 hives being set up by the Holy Burn. We will use the honey in varied ways, one possibly being in our Aqua Vitae. Our chief beekeeper is Charley Clark, who is only seventeen but has already picked up extensive knowledge and is a now a member of the Fife bee-keeping association and the work she is carrying out here is forming part of her baccalaureate studies. Charley has a blog for anyone keen to follow the progress of project ‘Bee’.
Tim, our Apothecary, is always experimenting with many of the wild flowers and herbs that grow around the Abbey and we hope to produce drinks and cordials from these in the years to come.
The Bear Burning
On the hill overlooking our stillhouse, you will see a bear holding a ragged staff, burnt into the ground.
It is a depiction of the stone statue that was taken from the Abbot’s lodgings at the Abbey at the time of the Reformation. This statue can now be found above the door of the Bear Tavern in Newburgh.
Each year we burn this outline into the ground to remind ourselves of the importance of our past and to toast the coming year’s distillate.Take Part