A century ago, Scotland was brimming with local distilleries cranking out small-batch whiskys with distinct characteristics—some peaty, others briny, a few with a distinct sherry influence. These were “craft” spirits long before the term became trendy. Over time, however, nearly half of them, about 100 in all, were forced to close due to war, temperance movements, or sometimes straight-up bad luck. The rest of Europe suffered a similar fate, with some great brands just disappearing. But now a few of the best are coming back. In Scotland, Lost Distilling Company scoured government archives for tasting notes and faded labels to recreate seven whiskys, including Stratheden, which has an almost Madeira-like kick, and Lossit, once the biggest producer on Islay (both above). There are others: Mackinlay reengineered a 100-year-old version after finding a bottle that sailed to Antarctica with Ernest Shackleton, and the Whiskey Barons Collection just released two whiskeys (as we spell it in America) once popular in pre-Prohibition times. In other words, here’s to the old stuff.
Below, three of the best new retro whiskeys.