Developing a taste for town’s tipple

19-09-2013. Picture Michael Gillen. LINLITHGOW. West Port Hotel. Tomas Karlson from Sweden, has the largest collection of St Magdalene's distillery Scotch Whisky.
19-09-2013. Picture Michael Gillen. LINLITHGOW. West Port Hotel. Tomas Karlson from Sweden, has the largest collection of St Magdalene's distillery Scotch Whisky.
0
Have your say

The man with the world’s 
largest collection of St Magdalene’s whisky visited its town of origin last week on one of his annual pilgrimages.

Tomas Karlsson has been 
collecting bottles from Linlithgow’s long-closed distillery for the past 15 years and his passion for the local water of life hasn’t waned.

Tomas (56) said: “I have been collecting whisky for 20 years but I thought it tasted awful when I first tried it. I didn’t like it at all! I used to drink beer and that’s what I preferred when I was younger.

“I began collecting one 
bottle from each of the lost distilleries in Scotland. This came to about 50-60 bottles. Then I started tasting them.

“I really enjoyed the St Magdalene’s whisky. It was 
very rare and I thought the name was very beautiful.”

Although Tomas’ collection
now stands at around 170 
different bottles, any copies that he obtains are opened, given the right occasion.

Tomas, a train driver based in Gothenberg, Sweden, added: “It’s made for drinking. I don’t have a favourite - whisky tastes different each time.

“Although I think the 60s are the best - the older the better.”

Tomas travels to Scotland every year and enjoys visiting the royal burgh.

He said: “Linlithgow is a nice, small town but no one knows about the distillery - the town should make more of it.

“St Magdalene’s is not your typical Lowland whisky - it’s not easy, there’s a high complexity and smoke that is unusual in a Lowland whisky.”

St Magdalene’s stopped 
production in 1983, and the most prized of Tomas’ 
collection is an 1891 bottle that cost £3500. But Tomas has no plans to stop collecting as he knows around 25 bottles have eluded him.

He said: “This is my pension
fund. I have insured the 
collection for millions of krona and one day I’ll sell it on.”

Tomas is also keen to find the ‘White Lady’ spirit of St Magdalene’s Distillery, the 
80-85 per cent alcohol 
produced at the start of the 
distilling process.