Face to face with Andrew Symington

If you go to Pitlochry to visit Edradour – one of Scotland’s most charming distilleries – and you want to meet the owner, Andrew Symington, don’t bother looking for him in his office, you’re far more likely to find him in the warehouse or outside loading or moving barrels by the dozen. After founding Signatory Vintage in 1988, Andrew has dedicated over half his life to whisky. Despite being more used to talking about malt than himself, he agreed to spend an hour with us at the distillery’s bar to talk about his career before returning to the warehouse.

“I bought my first cask in 1988 [...] It was during this period that we met La Maison du Whisky, who became our first importer! That’s when our relationship began and 30 years later it’s still going strong!

Andrew Symington,
owner of Edradour distillery and founder of Signatory Vintage

What is, in your opinion, the best whisky ever bottled by Signatory Vintage?

We’ve bottled so many wonderful whiskies, it would be almost impossible to choose one in particular… I am proud to see so many Signatory Vintage bottlings getting top marks from WhiskyFun and Whisky Base! Our Springback 1969 40 Year Old, which was bottled in 2009, was number one in Whisky Base’s Top 100 for a few years even! Almost 10 years later, it’s still number 5 in the ranking! For me, it’s an incredible whisky but not the best. We have had, for example, a superb Macallan 1965 sherry cask, a legendary dark sherry Ardbeg 1967, and an incredibly good Laphroaig 1966, as well as more original expressions like a Glenugie 1966, an extraordinary Clynelish 1965, and a fabulous Glenlochie 1963… there are so many!

It is increasingly difficult for bottlers to get access to the warehouses of major distilleries. What do you think the future of independent bottling holds in store?

We’ve been watching the situation evolve for a few years now. That’s why I wanted to have my own production unit and bought Edradour in 2002. Luckily, we still have good relationships with distilleries, which means we can get some great casks. We still have a lot of stock and some great sherry casks in maturation. Nonetheless, we know all that could change. 20 years ago, who would have thought it would become impossible to buy a Macallan cask? All independent bottlers are facing the same problem today. The stocks from closed distilleries are almost empty, so we can’t offer such a rich and varied collection as we could before. Even though Signatory Vintage still represents 60% of our turnover, versus 40% for Edradour, the gap is closing and it will probably be the other way round in the future, which will give us more independence.

What can we expect from you in the next thirty years?

I think that’s probably a question for my kids! But I would hope they will continue to improve the quality of our whiskies year after year, and maintain our good relationship with La Maison du Whisky!

EDRADOUR 10 yo 2008

Highland Single Malt – 57.9%, 70cl
Single Cask #8 – First Fill Sherry Butt
Limited Edition of 515 bottles
LMDW Exclusive

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BALLECHIN 10 yo 2008

Highland Single Malt – 60%, 70cl
Single Cask #186 – Refill Sherry Butt
Limited Edition of 703 bottles
LMDW Exclusive

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We still have good relationships with distilleries, which means we can get some great casks

Andrew Symington,
owner of Edradour distillery and founder of Signatory Vintage

BENRINNES 20 yo 1997
sherry hogshead

Speyside Single Malt – 55%, 70cl
Single Cask #9734 – Sherry Hogshead
Limited Edition of 239 bottles
LMDW Exclusive

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