ISSUE ELEVEN | FREE
WHISKY ROAD TRIP Visiting the North Coast 500â€™s twenty distilleries is an epic journey
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Firstly, an apology for our extended and enforced absence, but blimey it feels good to be back. You only realise how much you miss shooting the breeze about whisky and spirits when that privilege is taken away from you by forces outwith your control. Anyway, while it goes without saying that we’ve missed you as much as we hope you’ve missed us, we haven’t been idle over lockdown, shutdown and breakdown. The whisky industry has marched confidently forwards in 2020, and as well as lots of taking stock there has been a phenomenal amount of investment in building new distilleries and updating old distilleries. There’s also been a huge focus on new expressions and innovations, and we cover plenty of both in this issue. Whether it’s features on the joy of independent bottlers, the remarkable resurgence of the New Zealand whisky industry, or more
mundane pleasures such as festive cocktails recipes, I like to think there’s a lot to read in this, the eleventh issue of Cask & Still. So wrap up warm, savour your drams new and old, and let’s look forward to a 2021 that’s full of cheer, friends and, of course, whisky. Sláinte!
EDITOR Richard Bath
ON THE COVER: The NC500 awaits
GERALDINE COATES Geraldine looks at how gin distillers are embracing the concept of ‘terroir’ – provenance, locally grown ingredients, local history and even carbon neutral production – to create a compelling story to accompany great spirits.
BROOKE MAGNANTI If you think of tequila as little more than the rocket-fuel for wild nights out, think again. Brooke explains why there’s much more to this under-rated spirit than meets the eye, and examines the art of Margarita making.
4 | Whatâ€™s inside
12 THE HIGH ROAD We head off on the ultimate whisky road trip along the North Coast 500
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S NOV 2020 ISSUE ELEVEN @caskandstillmag
DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Creative: Grant Dickie Production: Andrew Balahura Rachel Morrell
06 NEWS Remember, you heard it here first...
38 A BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO PEAT
08 BAR SNAPS A
40 ONCE UPON A WHISKY Behind every
luxurious whisky paradise in New Zealand
10 ME AND MY DRAM Singer-songwriter
KT Tunstall joins us for a dram round the campfire
20 THE RANT Johanne McInnis isn’t happy about gender inequality in the whisky business
22 BOTTLING IT ALL UP Blair Bowman sings
the praises of independent bottlers round the country
28 SIX OF THE BEST Mixologist Jack Jamieson gives us his best Festive season cocktail recipes
30 SOUTHERN STAR We look at New Zealand’s booming whisky scene
37 WHISKY BY NUMBERS The
stats that underline whisky’s economic importance
dram there’s a story to tell
47 CONNOISSEURS SELECTION 68 BACK TO NATURE Carbon neutral
gins are all the rage just now, as Geraldine Coates discovers.
74 GLASS HALF FULL Edinburgh-based
Chris Gillan is helping military veterans with his Heroes Vodka campaign
76 SPIRIT LEVEL
Brooke Magnanti reckons there’s more to tequila than meets the eye
79 OVER A BARREL TRADITIONAL
German tipples are taking Scotland’s beer scene by storm
82 WORLD OF WHISKY The whisky
Chief Sub-Editor: Rosie Morton Staff Writers: Kenny Smith, Morag Bootland, Stephanie Abbot Contributing Editor: Blair Bowman Contributors: Dr Brooke Magnanti, Federica Stefani, Geraldine Coates, Johanne McInnis, Peter Ranscombe, Javin Chia Email: editor@caskandstill magazine.co.uk
ADVERTISING Sales Director: Brian Cameron Ad sales: John Boyle
PUBLISHING Publisher: Alister Bennett, Fettes Park, 496 Ferry Road, Edinburgh EH5 2DL. Tel: 0131 551 1000
Published by Wyvex Media Ltd. While Cask & Still is prepared to consider unsolicited articles, transparencies and artwork, it only accepts such material on the strict understanding that it incurs no liability for its safe custody or return. The views and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of Wyvex Media Ltd.
scene in Singapore is going from strength to strength
6 | News feed
CHASING WATERFALLS Bladnoch Distillery near Newton Stewart has unveiled its ‘Waterfall Collection’. Each year, master distiller Nick Savage will bottle some of the whisky from the collection and then transfer five-year project, the remaining portion of whisky will have been finished in five casks. The spirit has spent its first year in a mix of bourbon and sherry barrels and has now been transferred into oloroso sherry puncheons for year two of the project. ‘The Waterfall Collection gives us the opportunity to develop a whisky in a very fluid way,’ said Savage. ‘Each year, we will decide the cask types for the next stage of the waterfall maturation, but only when we fully understand how our whisky has evolved and matured in the previous year.’ bladnoch.com
the rest into a different cask. By the end of the
OLD SCOTCH REVIVED
Thirty casks of single malt made using historic recipes are being sold at a special online auction. Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh chose two ancient barley varieties: Chevallier, used from the 1820s to the 1900s by distilleries such as Bonnington, Croftanrigh and Yardheads; and Plumage Archer used by many Edinburgh distilleries from the early 1900s like Dean and Glen Sciennes. The distillery then used oldstyle brewer’s yeasts to ferment the barleys. Fifteen oloroso sherry hogsheads and another 15 Spanish oak pedro ximenez sherry hogsheads were filled. The casks are being sold by Aberdeenshire-based online auctioneer Whisky Hammer. holyrooddistillery.co.uk
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DODDIE TOASTS CASH
A VERTICAL TASTING
Construction work is underway at Scotland’s
Rugby legend Doddie Weir is toasting the success
first ‘vertical’ distillery. Port of Leith’s site sits
of an online whisky auction that raised more than
next to the Royal Yacht Britannia. The £12
£50,000 for his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
million distillery – which is due to open in
The auction, organised by The Whisky Shop,
2022 – will include a top floor double-height
marked one of 2020’s largest donations to
whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle,
the charity. Jill Douglas, the foundation’s chief executive, said: ‘We have just celebrated our third anniversary and are pleased to report we have
two copper stills, and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year. The project
committed £5.8 million into MND Research and a
is the brainchild of co-founders
further £1 million towards supporting people with
Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling.
motor neurone disease.’ myname5doddie.co.uk
Cask and Still Magazine | 7
MAGGIE’S TOMATIN SELLS OUT
money for the Maggie’s Highlands cancer care centre in Inverness.
ARBIKIE HIGHLAND RYE 1794
Single grain Scotch whisky 48% ABV, RRP £130.
Arbikie, the Scotch whisky distillery based on a farm in Angus, is following up the release of two limited edition rye whiskies with 1794, its signature single grain Scotch, matured in virgin oak casks.
Tomatin has sold all 40 bottles of the single malt it blended to raise The distillery brought together archive samples of whiskies matured in a broad selection of barrels – ranging from bourbon, oloroso, and moscatel through to refilled American and European oak casks – ranging in age from 11 to 36 years old. The bottles were sold through its website and at the distillery’s visitors’ centre. More than £11,000 was raised for the charity through an online auction, taking Tomatin’s total donations to Maggie’s to £50,000 since 2018. tomatin.com
GLENGOYNE 50 YEAR OLD Lowland single malt whisky 55.8% ABV, RRP £22,500
Only 150 decanters of Glengoyne’s oldest whisky have been filled. A burst of spicy oak is followed by molasses, treacle and liquorice. The finish is long, going through savoury characteristics into black pepper.
ISLE OF RAASAY INAUGURAL RELEASE Single malt Scotch whisky 52% ABV, RRP £99
The first single malt to be produced legally on the Isle of Raasay. Matured in first-fill Tennessee whiskey casks and finished in first-fill Bordeaux red wine casks. Elegant, lightly peated, with rich dark fruit flavours.
MACKMYRA MOMENT KÖRSBÄRSRÖK Swedish single malt whisky 43% ABV, RRP £99.
The latest addition to Swedish distiller Mackmyra’s ‘Moment’ series is made with a smoky spirit matured in a mix of ex-bourbon casks and casks saturated with cherry wine, which give the whisky a fruity sweetness with a clear hint of cherry.
DALMORE HAS DESIGNS ON V&A The Dalmore has signed a four-year partnership deal with
the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in Dundee to help nurture designers in Scotland. The collaboration will help to support both masters and their protégés. The whisky brand and the museum are also commissioning a film that will celebrate the importance of design in Scotland. A bottle of The Dalmore 60-Year-Old 180th Anniversary single malt whisky is being sold at a silent auction to raise money for the project. thedalmore.com
WEE SMOKY IS A BIG HIT
The first batch of a whisky that was ‘made for people who don’t like whisky’ has sold out in just four days. Creator Rory Gammell has promised that more of his Wee Smoky single grain Scotch whisky will be available soon after the initial run of 400 bottles was snapped up. Gammell aged his whisky – which was distilled in Edinburgh, most likely at the North British distillery in Gorgie – in casks that had previously held malt whisky from Islay, which have given Wee Smoky its peated flavour. weesmoky.com
8 | Whisky bars of the world
THE JEFFERSON, NEW ZEALAND Hidden away in the basement of Fort Laneâ€™s Imperial Building, this Auckland speakeasy has fast become one of the nationâ€™s premium whisky and bourbon destinations. With 600 bottles lit up behind the bar, it will take you a fair few visits to work your way through this extraordinary collection. thejefferson.co.nz
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10 | Me and my dram
Me & my
When did you first try whisky? I was in my mid-twenties when I worked in Luvians in St Andrews. At Luvians I had a chance to taste some amazing wine and whisky and hone my own palate for what I liked. I completely fell in love with the craftsmanship of whisky making. A beautiful metaphor for me is that whisky is like Scottish accents. I grew up in St Andrews and got a job when I was 17 in Dundee and I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. I lived 15 miles away. Then I’d go to Glasgow and wonder, ‘Why do you keep saying “but”?’ Then I’d go to Kirkcaldy and wonder ‘What does “barry” mean?’ Scotland is incredible – you can literally go ﬁve or ten miles and people are using a completely different phrase book. That’s how whiskies taste to me – they are individual, recognisable ﬂavours that are very different from each other but are geographically not that far apart.
Cask & Still sits down for a dram with one of Scotland’s premier singer-songwriters KT Tunstall
Interview by Rosie Morton
one day and Talisker had sent me a Fylde – which is an amazing guitar luthier – custom-built acoustic guitar made out of Talisker whisky barrels. It’s one of my most prized possessions. I play with it all the time. It’s currently being shipped to LA from London. It’s a beautiful instrument. Absolutely one of a kind. I have got a really lovely bottle of Talisker upstairs which was actually a gift from a fan which is a 25 year old and I haven’t opened it yet. Glenrothes is also one of my favourite whiskies. It’s funny because Glenrothes isn’t a particularly romantic place – it’s pretty industrial. So it was really interesting seeing the distillery manage to use the name to such great effect and it’s a really enjoyable whisky. It’s deﬁnitely up there as one of my favourites.
A few buds, a few drams and staring into the fire – it’s just perfection
Does whisky make you feel at home when you’re touring? One of the ﬁrst things I did when I bought my house was I bought a little bar area. There’s always going to be a bottle of Talisker there because of my love of the Isle of Skye. Macallan is a really beautiful whisky as well. If someone has never tried single malt, giving them a taste of Macallan is a very good way to start. The Macallan Distillery is unbelievable – it’s a whole new level of dedication. It’s an incredible piece of architecture.
What’s your favourite dram? Talisker would be my favourite. It was my favourite whisky before I’d even been to Skye. I opened the door to my ﬂat
What’s the best way to enjoy a dram? By a campﬁre. No doubt. You’ve got to be outside, under the stars with a bunch of friends, preferably when it’s a bit chilly so you can wear a nice poncho or a blanket. That is absolute bliss for me. A few buds, a few drams and staring into the ﬁre. It’s just perfection. Preferably with someone else playing guitar. Do you know what, put the guitar away, let’s just have a chat. Favourite place to enjoy a dram? I really enjoyed when we were making my album Drastic Fantastic – we did a really cool ﬁlming session called ‘All You Need Is Mud’, and it was all about Glastonbury and The Outsider Festival. Alex James from Blur let us go and record on his farm and we all had this brilliant jam session around
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the campﬁre which got ﬁlmed and recorded. That was a great night. Most unusual whisky in your collection? I’ve been really interested in checking out Japanese whiskies. I’m a massive fan of Japan and I’ve been there a number of times now. Every time I go I feel like I’m learning more. The Hibiki is the one that I really like. It’s very interesting because the geography of Japan is actually quite similar to Scotland. It’s quite wet and mountaineous and green and there’s a lot of coast. Japanese whisky is performing extremely well up against the Scottish malts.
Do you have a nip of whisky before a concert? Never. My memory is so bad – give me any alcohol before a gig and you will get two verses the same and I’ll forget the chorus. Honestly, the shortterm memory cannot handle such behaviour. I used to have a bottle of single malt on the rider, and it just said ‘Single Malt, Not Blended’. We built up a pretty good bar on the bus. I think those days are gone now, and in the past they shall remain. Do you have a favourite whisky bar in Scotland? I really love a nice hotel bar. I’m not a massive fan of noisy pubs – I much
prefer an old man’s pub. The two pubs in Edinburgh I always like going to are The Blue Blazer, because they don’t play any music – basically I’m such a music snob that unless it’s my playlist I don’t want to listen to it – and The Jolly Judge. I used to live on the Royal Mile. I managed to get a rooftop ﬂat – it was very jammy – and down a little hidden alleyway was the Jolly Judge which was really quiet and I loved it. If I’m travelling, Hotel du Vin has an amazing whisky collection and it’s a slightly different vibe from going to the pub. You’re not going to have the TV going on in the background, and you can actually have a nice vintage experience of drinking whisky.
12 | The NC500 road trip
high road The North Coast 500 is the road trip of a lifetime, but why not improve upon perfection by visiting the many distilleries along its 516 miles? Written by Federica Stefani
A road less travelled: The Bealach Na Ba, which links the Applecross peninsula to Lochcarron and is part of the NC500, is arguably Scotlandâ€™s most stunning road.
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or generations of adventurous Scots, the road that loops around the top of the country has always been one of our brightest hidden gems. A week-long driving nirvana of cruising along winding, empty roads, the journey constitutes a rite of passage for many Scots. Where the Americans have Route 66 and the road trip myth invented by beatnik author Jack Kerouac in the Beat Generation bible On The Road, the Scots have their very own touring tradition. Thomas Pennant’s 1769 best-seller A Tour In Scotland was the first guide to showcase the charms of an excursion around Caledonia, while Johnson and Boswell’s writings on the same subject, published in the 1780s, made meandering around Scotland insanely fashionable. When it comes to Scottish road trips, the mainland’s most epic route is also its most northerly. Starting at Inverness, the 516 miles of automotive heaven known as the North Coast 500 includes some of the most incredible scenery not just in Britain or Europe, but in the world. The odyssey begins when you cross the Kessock Bridge and travel across the Black Isle before traversing the Dornoch Bridge and cruising up the east coast’s straight and empty highway to the famous but unlovely John O’Groats. From there the tour leads you along Scotland’s wild northern coast, which is characterised by the barren moonscapes of Caithness until the landscape suddenly morphs into the rich verdant lushness of Sutherland. Once you hit Durness, the gateway to Cape Wrath, you turn sharply southwards and progress slows on single-track roads punctuated by passing places and populated by sheep. There’s a slew of memorable pitstops and mini diversions – Kinlochbervie, Scourie, Kylesku, Lochinver – before you hit Ullapool, then you pass through the natural glories of Torridon and Applecross before
taking the most Instagrammable and unforgettable road in the world, the Bealach na Bà, dropping down to Lochcarron and beginning the final leg of the trip back to Inverness. But since 2015 a journey whose joy lay partly in its isolated splendour has been transformed. Repackaged and marketed to within an inch of its life, the scenery along the North Coast 500 (or NC500 for short) is little changed apart from now being widely acknowledged as one the best coastal driving routes in the world. As a result it has become rapidly busier, with traffic increasing by up to 200% before Covid temporarily emptied the roads. As the tourists come back, the sort of themed tours which had become all the rage will presumably resume. Some visitors came looking for wildlife such as ospreys, golden eagles, sea eagles, Scottish wildcats, whales, orcas, seals, capercaillie and pine marten; others love the castles which dot the coast, starting with the Duke of Sutherland’s fairytale edifice, Dunrobin. The tweedie types toured the north while fishing the Helmsdale, Naver and Oykel, stalking the deer and shooting the grouse; there are also munros, mountain bike paths and golf courses in abundance. But there will be other tourists who come for Scotland’s greatest export, its Uisge Beatha. The boozy road trip sounds like a tautology, but it has a noble lineage, mainly thanks to beloved Scottish author Iain Banks. His travelogue Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram saw him set a precedent by criss-crossing the country in his fleet of classic cars – he owned two Porches, a 3.8-litre Jaguar MkII, a 5-litre BMW M5 and a souped-up Land Rover Defender – touring distilleries and reporting back on what he found. The Highlands have always been a hive of distilling activity, and within barely an hour of Inverness you’ll have passed Glen Ord, Dalmore, Glen Wyvis, Teaninich, Ben Wyvis, Invergordon, Touvadie, Balblair, Glenmorangie, Dornoch, Clynelish and Brora. Yet these days there are many more distilleries than there were when Banks undertook his odyssey in 2003, and not all of them are making whisky. From Tain to Badachro via Dunnet Head and Ullapool, there are seven gin distilleries along the NC500, several artisan breweries and the wonderful rums produced from the North Point Distillery near Thurso. So, while observing the drink-drive laws, buckle up for a boozy tour of the North Coast 500 – 516 glorious miles in search of the finest liquid with which to wet your whistle.
14 | The NC500 road trip
Clockwise from left: Glen Ord’s copper stills; Glen Ord exterior; Glenmorangie was established in 1843; hard at work in GlenWyvis; GlenWyvis’ modern exterior.
Glen Ord The beauty of this route is well documented, but words cannot do such unfathomably breath-taking views justice as you head north-west from Inverness towards the Black Isle and our ﬁrst whisky destination – Diageo’s Glen Ord Distillery. Drifting over the Kessock Bridge and looking back onto the Beauly and Moray Firths, it truly is heaven on earth. The distillery, nestled in Muir of Ord and founded in 1838 by local laird Thomas Mackenzie, is the last remaining single malt distillery on the Black Isle. Interestingly, it the distillery claims to be one of only three in Scotland to be totally self-suﬃcient in terms of its malted barley production (Roseisle and Springbank complete the trio), and today produces malt for Diageo’s Teaninich and Clynelish, Talisker, and occasionally makes heavily peated malt for Islay. Since the launch of its signature spirit, which has become known for its aroma of
freshly cut grass, all three methods of malting barley have been used at Glen Ord, including original ﬂoor maltings, Saladin boxes and drum maltings. A wonderful museum is part of the visitor experience at Glen Ord Distillery, and from the outside you can see the distillery’s beautiful stills peeking through the windows. Although it has been sold under a multitude of names over its long-standing history, Diageo have branded this whisky Singleton of Glen Ord, and it is rarely sold in Europe. (The company have set their sights ﬁrmly on the ever-growing Asian whisky market, so be sure to stock up in the shop while you’re there). The founder’s legacy lives on today: Luceo non uro (I shine, I do not burn) is the motto for both Clan Mackenzie and Glen Ord Distillery, and this is has been ingrained in the whisky’s character by ensuring the spirit is distilled slowly and with great care.
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GlenWyvis Just a 20-minute drive northwards is a new, innovative kid on the block, GlenWyvis, and it is leading the way for whisky’s clean, green, eco-friendly future. Tucked away in a majestic setting in Ben Wyvis, it was established just ﬁve years ago by local farmer John Mckenzie who hoped to unite the local community by reviving Dingwall’s lost whisky heritage (its last distillery closed in 1926, a fact John overheard when taking some Russian visitors on a tour in his helicopter). After a hugely successful crowdfunding drive, GlenWyvis became the world’s ﬁrst community-owned distillery and is entirely powered by renewable energies including wind, solar, hydro and chip biomass heating systems. ‘Our engagement with the local community is vital,’ says Michael Fraser, business development manager. Grateful to have received such a wonderful response from residents, he says that they ‘want the community to beneﬁt from the distillery’s success’ and that their ‘proﬁts go back to the local community. We started doing that by employing local companies to build the distillery.’ Production began in 2018 – their spirit should reach oﬃcial ‘whisky’ status next year – and they are currently working on their GoodWill gin. Inspired by the surrounding landscape and striving to protect it for future generations, we wait in anticipation for GlenWyvis’ next steps.
have ‘water jackets’ round their necks to cool the spirit and cause reﬂux, adding to the whisky’s distinct character. Glenmorangie Since 1843, Glenmorangie Distillery has enjoyed a reputation that has spread far beyond the conﬁnes of home in the sleepy town of Tain, along the Dornoch Firth. Known for its elegance and style, the distillery uses the tallest stills in Scotland to achieve a unique, quality dram. The very essence of Glenmorangie’s style in recent years is likely to have been inﬂuenced by none other than French luxury brands company Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy who bought the family-owned business in 2004. Much of Glenmorangie’s distinct style does, of course, pre-date LVMH, and the brand’s logo is inspired by a Pictish carving on nearby Hilton of Cadboll. This has even
GlenWyvis is entirely powered by renewable energies
Dalmore Heading along the Cromarty Firth (be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins playing in the currents) Dalmore Distillery appears on the horizon near Alness – and it couldn’t be more of a contrast to our ﬁrst two pitstops. A luxurious brand that enjoys beach views, it has set the standard in multi-cask maturation for over 150 years and is owned by Whyte & Mackay. Crafting whisky on the shores of the Cromarty Firth, it is a spectacularly beautiful destination in springtime when the surrounding ﬂora is in full bloom. Producing one of the ﬁrst single malts, Dalmore played a crucial part in the exports industry in the late-1800s. By 1917, however, production halted as the Royal Navy took over the warehouses and turned them into munitions factories. An explosion in one of the warehouses in 1920 meant the distillery was barely operational after the war. It was only in the 2000s that the brand was given an overhaul and earned the prestigious reputation it now enjoys. Dalmore’s four wash stills are ﬂat-topped, and the spirit stills
16 | The NC500 road trip
Clockwise from top left: It’s all in the detail at Glenmorangie; Balblair; Federica reaches Dornoch; Dornoch’s liquid gold; Glenmorangie’s impressive stills.
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been etched onto a glass window which sits proudly within the stillhouse. ‘Supporting the local community is really important to us,’ says Andy MacDonald, distillery manager. ‘We employ local workforces in the distillery as well as indirectly, and our barley comes from farmers in the area. As part of the LVMH group we host a “Journée Particulière”, a weekend where we open our doors to the local community. Last time we had 2,000 people visiting in two days.’ Balblair Seldom will you ﬁnd a distillery in a more romantic setting. Sitting in the shadow of Struie Hill near the banks of the Dornoch Firth, Balblair is Scotland’s fourth oldest distillery, founded in 1790 by John Ross – though the buildings we see today were built in the 1870s by John’s son Andrew. The visitor centre opened in 2011, and the distillery featured just a year later in Ken Loach’s seminal ﬁlm ‘The Angel’s Share’. Since the launch of the NC500 in 2015, Balblair has been at the heart of rising footfall. ‘We saw a huge difference right away,’ says distillery manager John MacDonald. ‘We are seeing people from all over the world. ‘Working here is brilliant,’ he adds. ‘The distillery employees are all from within a 10-mile radius from the distillery, and even today four out of six operators have the same surname, Ross, despite not being directly related.’ In 1894, Balblair left the Ross family and was bought by wine merchant Alexander Cowan from Inverness, but by 1911 the old Victorian warehouses were used as army barracks when Cowan went bankrupt. During the Second World War, the distillery was home to the Norwegian Army.
Dornoch Just a hop, skip and jump up the coast is the charming town of Dornoch – home to brothers Simon and Philip Thompson’s Dornoch Distillery which is a hotbed for traditional practices. For around 20 years, their family has owned Dornoch Castle, which is now a luxurious hotel and houses an incredible whisky bar with rare drams adorning every inch of the shelves. With their shared passion for single malt Scotch earning them a reputation as one of the best whisky hotels in the world, Simon and Philip launched the distillery in 2016 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. It is housed in the town’s 135-year-old ﬁre station and
Brora and Clynelish Driving on to Sutherland’s rugged coastline and dramatic scenery is a gift all on its own, but knowing what whisky delights lay ahead make the drive to Brora even more exciting. Brora has long been an epicentre for whisky production, and is known for producing an oily, smoky single malt, reﬂecting the surrounding land’s mineral characteristics. It is said that the Clynemilton burn – the distillery’s water supply – contains particles of gold, allowing distillers to put a unique twist on the term ‘liquid gold’. The distillery, now known as Brora, started off life in 1819 when it was founded by the Marquis of Stafford, the Duke of Sutherland, and was originally known as Clynelish. After a series of changes throughout its lifetime, the present-day distillery was built in 1967/68 close to the original Clynelish Distillery. The industrial, white buildings of the distillery stand out against the green hills of Brora, and the spirit stills are larger than the wash still – a trait that is unique to this distillery.
Seldom will you find a distillery in a more romantic setting now has the capacity to produce 20,000 litres of spirit a year. It may be the smallest distillery in Scotland, but this very fact enables them to focus intently on experimental batches, ensuring each drop of their whisky and gin meets their exacting standards. Their equipment is tightly packed into a laboratory-esque room, including two gas-ﬁred pot stills, a pot column still, wooden washbacks and a mashtun. ‘The mission is to bring back techniques which have fallen out of favour for more cost-effective ones and revive the intense, fruity ﬂavours of the time,’ says assistant distiller Euan Christie. As well as whisky, Dornoch Distillery produces a ﬂagship gin, Thompson Bros, which has already won gold and silver medals in the 2019 World Gin Awards.
Old Pulteney A jaw-dropping coastal drive takes you to an impressive wind turbine farm near Wick, right on the northern tip of Scotland, which marks the place of our penultimate pitstop – the home of the ‘maritime malt’, Old Pulteney. Set in an historic building that is woven into the town’s heritage, Old Pulteney’s warehouses are completely exposed to the North Sea and stand in an area reknowned for its ﬁshing history. These strong maritime links are reﬂected throughout the distillery’s interiors. ‘The distillery grew up with the town, and seasonal workers
18 | The NC500 road trip
Clockwise from left: Old Pulteney whisky is known for its distinctive oily drams; Old Pulteney’s warehouse is exposed to the elements; Federica at Wolfburn; it’s a tough old job, but someone’s got to do it.
would alternate between ﬁshing and jobs in the distillery, which would normally happen during the coldest months,’ says distillery manager Malcolm Waring, who has been living in Wick for over ﬁfty years and grew up nearby. ‘It hasn’t changed much over the years. If you look at Alfred Barnards’ drawings of the distillery in 1885, it looks almost identical.’ Pulteney has a cosy feel to it and prides itself on its award-winning range of whiskies, from single malts to limited edition releases, each deﬁned by the distillery’s lively coastal location. The end result is an oily, meaty and sulphury yet fruity dram – an aspect which is then enhanced in maturation. It pairs perfectly with seafood. Wolfburn Mainland Scotland’s northernmost distillery, Wolfburn, is based near Thurso, just a few miles south of John O’Groats. Driving up to the entrance, visitors are welcomed by a resident ‘guard’, a metal wolf that sits just outside. This nifty, compact distillery was established by two former Royal Navy marines who acquired the land upon which the old Wolfburn Distillery stood. Finding that they could use the same historic water source, they set about reinstating the region’s spirit heritage. Starting with a completely blank slate, it
is quite incredible that the pair have already produced an unpeated dram that has set tongues wagging. The ﬁrst cask was ﬁlled in January 2013, and the whisky has light, fruity notes with an interesting character. Aside from enjoying a glassful of amber nectar, it boasts one of the most spectacular backdrops along the journey. With white sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs, as well as an abundance of wildlife to enjoy, you’ll have a hard time tearing yourself away from this beautiful part of the world. We crossed over to Dunnet Head lighthouse – the northernmost point on mainland Scotland and next to the distillery which makes Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka – to end our journey, but yours needn’t end there. Heading back down the north west coast offers an altogether different experience, with Ullapool’s rocky shores, Torridon’s wild and unruly mountainscapes and Applecross’ spectacular sunsets. It’s time to hit the road – those drams won’t taste themselves. Slàinte Mhaith.
Angus Dundee.indd 19
20 | The Rant
grinning and bearing it Has the recent furore over the smuttiness in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible sparked the industry’s belated #MeToo moment? Written by Johanne McInnis
n case you didn’t hear, September 2020 was the month #MeToo shook the mighty whisky oak tree and expelled an archaic dirty little acorn unto the ground for all to see. #MeToo started as a light shone on the sexual abuse women experienced, especially by men in powerful positions, but has since morphed into a global movement calling out harassment and marginalisation as well. What does that have to do with whisky? Lots actually. May I present: Act 1, the antagonist appears: 17 September, the almighty God of all things whisky, Jim Murray, announces the best whisky of the world. He who claims to singlehandedly taste and score 1,250 whiskies a year. If we remove weekends, holidays, book signings/appearances, and the fact that the Bible is printed in October – he’s tasting a minimum of 20 whiskies a day. Well that explains some of the drunken immature hoodlum descriptors he’s been using. (Whispers quietly at first in the background that the self-proclaimed whisky
#MeToo has morphed into a global movement calling out harassment and marginalisation
Cask and Still Magazine | 21
Left: Jim Murray promoting his book at Canadian Club Cocktails event (Pic: Shawn Goldberg / Shutterstock.com).
guru is just as sexist in person. The voices get louder as the stage fades to black.) Stage left – Rich and passive aggressive older brothers (the industry) enter: The large rotund mega-corporations who pour billions of dollars into the machine that keeps turning out the nectar we love so much watch in anticipation and fingers crossed as God – which is surely how Murray perceives himself, with his Bible as his word – comes out of his self-imposed isolation all pale and unshaven, clutching his fedora and announcing his gift to the people of the world: ‘Whisky of the year!’ Quickly the big wigs speed dial their marketing agencies to start Instagramming or printing the new labels showing off the bestowment of the most powerful award. The audience sees cash register signs in their eyes as they scroll adverts for summer residences in the south of France, toasting the accountants and bumping fists to ‘We are the champions’. Pictures emerge of thousands of whisky patrons scrambling to purchase said bottle before the stocks are emptied faster than the Covid Tesco Toilet Paper Fiasco of March 2020 flash on the big screen. The brothers boast and outwardly proclaim: ‘See – we hire thousands of women to work in every aspect of the field: distiller, blender, marketer, tour guide, brand ambassador, manager and brokers…’ but continue to turn a blind eye to Murray’s words: ‘This whisky celebrates maltiness in the same way a sex addict revels in a threesome’. Lastly, we see them fumbling and blatantly failing to promote women in a positive and non-objectified way through severely outdated 1960’s marketing strategies. After a short intermission, Act 2 begins as the catalyst erupts: A journalist by the name of Becky Paskin who, five days later, tweets one simple question: ‘Why does the whisky industry still hold Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible in such high regard when his tasting notes are so sexist and vulgar?’ And boom – over the loudspeakers we hear: ‘I’ve experienced this type of language … We don’t support people like this … We will no longer be stocking that in our shops.’ This, of course, leads to the inevitable question to the brothers: are you going to
defend your whisky sisters or just stand there? The answer comes swiftly, first from the Scotch Whisky Association then many others – ‘Sexism and objectification of women have no place in our industry’ – as a smiling woman walks across the stage holding a sign over her head that reads ‘Launch of a Diversity & Inclusion Charter’. Hands shoot up in unison as we see people clambering to get on the bandwagon. In a year from now when the Whisky Bible announces the next chosen one, who still has that hand up? Cue the hero music! The lights turn to the audience. What part are you playing? Are you the ‘come on, sex sells dear get over it’ guy? Maybe you are the stand quietly behind the numpty spouting off degrading things to the brand ambassador pouring at the whisky show, gal? Or are you are the protagonist using your voice, influence or wallet by standing beside the wives, sisters and daughters who now make up more than 50% of the whisky workforce? Final act: Thousands of people from all walks of life standing on stage with small white lights illuminating their faces: ‘It’s time,’ they say in unison. Fade to black. Standing ovation! But seriously, we are all part of this story and we should be demanding better – not just from Mr. Murray but the industry, event organisers and ourselves. Here is where we begin to focus on dignity and respect for all the people making, talking about or selling you that bottle of whisky. And yes, I know some people like Jim Murray will never change so to them l share one piece of advice and ironically it’s one of his own quotes: ‘For people to really enjoy whisky of whatever type, they simply have to let go of the past and learn to swim.’ Here’s hoping he and all his Luddite followers own a life preserver. Get ready to sink or swim.
22 | Independent bottlers
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IT ALL UP
If youâ€™re searching for a unique dram, look no further â€“ independent bottlers are the place to start Written by Blair Bowman
24 | Independent bottlers
ndependent bottlers come in all shapes and sizes these days and this is giving whisky consumers the opportunity to access more unusual releases and single cask expressions than ever before. In their simplest form an independent bottler is a company that does not own a distillery but purchases casks directly from distilleries or brokers, either as new ﬁllings of new make spirit or of mature stocks. Then it’s over to them to decide how and when to release these casks that they have acquired. They may choose to create their own blends or blended malts, or may simply bottle their casks at natural cask strength as a single cask release. The unique thing about independent bottlers is that they can choose exactly when they want to bottle the casks. Big brand whiskies usually have nice round numbers in their line up – for example, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 25 years old and so on. However, an independent bottler might have a cask that they feel is better at 11 or 13 years old. Or perhaps could beneﬁt from being ﬁnished in a wine cask. Essentially, they call the shots and these are usually driven by ﬂavour and transparency. Frankly, that ticks all the boxes for whisky aﬁcionados. The other beneﬁt for consumers is that the whiskies are usually much more affordable than they are at the distillery itself. So called ‘Own Bottlings’ (a whisky bottled by the distillery itself) can charge a premium as it is direct from the source and comes with the brand, IP, and heritage that comes with that distillery. However, independently bottled whiskies don’t typically command such high prices for the equivalent age statement or cask type. Generally speaking they bottle at full cask strength
INDEPENDENT BOTTLERS CAN CHOOSE EXACTLY WHEN THEY WANT TO BOTTLE THE CASKS
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Below l-r: Douglas Laing’s Scallywag; Fred and Cara from Douglas Laing.
and are natural in colour and non-chill ﬁltered. Again, this is not always the case with Own Bottlings from distilleries, who typically adjust to bottling strength and may chill-ﬁlter or colour adjust. So independent bottlers really give you the chance to taste the whisky in its purest form. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society have been doing this since the 1980s and offer their bottlings to society members, making it more exclusive. Many of the more well-known independent bottlers now actually own a distillery as part of their portfolio. Gordon & Macphail based in Elgin, for instance, are celebrating their 125th anniversary this year and also own Benromach Distillery and have plans for a second distillery in the Cairngorms National Park. Douglas Laing, a Glasgow-based independent bottlers founded in 1948, purchased Strathearn Distillery in 2019 and also has plans to build a new distillery in Glasgow. Hunter Laing & Co, founded in 2013, from the same Laing dynasty, also threw its hat into the ring by building Islay’s ninth distillery at Ardnahoe which started production in early 2019. Adelphi Selection, which can trace its origins back to the 1820s, opened Ardnamurchan Distillery in 2014. Meanwhile Wemyss Malts from Edinburgh, which was founded in 2005, opened Kingsbarns Distillery in 2014. In more recent years we have seen an exciting
26 | Independent bottlers
Clockwise from top: Whisky Baron warehouse; ready for bottling; The Whisky Baron Renaissance; Augmented Reality is accessed through an app.
new wave of independent bottlers popping up all around the world. Many of them are just singleperson operations, while others are full blown operations with brand ambassadors and sales reps trying to corner certain markets. The challenge and the nature of single cask whiskies, which most of these independent bottlers specialise in, is that they are always limited to how many whiskies they can get out of the single cask when they bottle it. Depending on the size of the cask and the amount of angels’ share during maturation, the yield could be 150 to 300 bottles or anywhere in between. If it was a leaking cask it could be even less. They could increase the yield by reducing the ABV, but many choose not to do this and leave it at natural cask strength. The single cask is unique, even if it is from a parcel of similar casks. So when they’re gone, they’re gone, and they will never truly be replicated again. This, for me, is the really exciting thing about tasting single cask whiskies.
WHEN THEY’RE GONE, THEY’RE GONE It is interesting to see the packaging and label choices of these new independent bottlers too. Some of them are keeping things very simple by bottling with the most basic labels and bottles in order to pass the savings on to the customer and keep the price low. Some have gone for a more luxury look to align with the older and rarer whiskies they are bottling, such as the releases from the Last Drop Distillers. Others have chosen to go creative by commissioning beautiful artwork or quirky (see Boutique-y Whisky Company) labels to capture consumers’ attention. Others have opted for more of a traditional feel, while some have gone very contemporary, with bold typefaces and minimalist modern labels and bottles. The Whisky Baron has gone one step further by incorporating Augmented Reality information – which is accessed through an app when you point your phone at the bottle.
Cask and Still Magazine | 27
The really exciting thing about independently bottled whisky is that it is always evolving, and each month new releases are bottled and snapped up. So you have to be quick and sometimes you have to accept it is a bit of a gamble when buying it. However, you should be reassured of the track record of a bottler – they would not want to lose customers or damage their reputation by bottling a dud cask. There are some really clever and innovative releases too. For example, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solera Series’ is bottling five different single casks, all sherry butts from 2011, in three parts. They bottled a third of the casks in 2019, the next third will be bottled in 2021, and the
remaining liquid in the casks will be bottled in 2023. The idea is that you get to be part of the journey and see how the whisky matures between each bottling. There is something to suit all budgets and tastes in the world of independently bottled whiskies. Try not to be swayed by the name on the label or what you think that whisky tastes like as you will often find that a single cask whisky is different from the whisky you usually get in Official Bottlings from that distillery. My advice? Set off on an exploration led by flavour. And if you find a single cask bottling you like, buy as many as you can because it is unique, can never be replicated and will go extinct once all the bottles have been opened.
Above: Whisky Illuminati’s Solaria Series is being released in three stages.
IF YOU FIND A BOTTLING YOU LIKE, MAKE SURE YOU BUY AS MANY AS YOU CAN
28 | Festive cocktails
From candy cane cocktails to boozy hot lattes, why not try your hand at Glasgow mixologist Jack Jamiesonâ€™s indulgent Christmas tipples
NINEAPPLESÂ & SAGE MOJITO
BOOZY EGGNOG LATTE
SERVE IN: Highball
SERVE IN: Mug
50ml Cut Smoked Rum
50ml Ninefold White rum,
50ml Cut Spiced Rum
20ml Nectar syrup*
40ml By The Dutch Advocaat
15ml Smoked Fig
50ml fresh pineapple juice
30ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
Date & Ras el Hanout syrup*
20ml fresh lime juice
6 sage leaves
150ml coconut milk
*SYRUP: 300g smoked figs
1 tbsp hot chocolate mix
100g medjool dates
300g demerara sugar
SERVE IN: Coupe
30ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
*SYRUP: 500g caster sugar 300g dried apricots
1 star anise, 1/2 cinnamon stick & 1 tsp
METHOD: Fill mug with hot water to
of grains of paradise
1 tbsp passion berries
heat. Pour the coconut milk and hot
1 tbsp bee pollen
chocolate mix into a pot and heat.
Discard the water, add the rest of the
METHOD: Dice the figs, add to a
ingredients and stir together.
tray, seal and smoke with cherrywood
METHOD: Combine syrup ingredients
Fill with the coconut hot chocolate
chips for 45 seconds. Add the sugar,
and simmer for 20 mins. Infuse
and top with whipped cream.
dates, figs & water to a pot and
overnight then strain. Cut a lime into
Grate over some nutmeg or tonka
simmer for 20 mins. Add the spices
6 and add 2 segments to the shaker.
bean to serve.
as it cools and leave for an hour.
Add the rest of the ingredients and
Remove spices and leave to infuse
muddle to combine. Leave for 10 mins.
overnight. Shake all ingredients with
Remove sage, fill shaker with ice and
ice and strain into a coupe.
shake. Strain into glass. Fill with ice.
Cask and Still Magazine | 29
I SLEIGH SERVE IN: Coupe
SERVE IN: Highball
60ml Boë Violet Gin
SERVE IN: Coupe
40ml cranberry juice 60ml Fercullen 10YO Single Grain
20ml lime juice
60ml Didsbury Strawberry & Sicilian
20ml candy cane syrup
20ml Coole Swan Irish cream
20ml pineapple syrup
20ml christmas orgeat*
20ml lemon juice
20ml lime juice 30ml hibiscus tea
30ml Chambord SYRUP: 100g peppermint candy canes; 10 butterfly-pea flowers; 250g
caster sugar; 10cm fir tree cuttings;
125g caster sugar; 75g egg whites;
2 cups roast chestnuts
2 tbsp water
1/2 cinnamon stick
MERINGUE: 50g violet sugar; 75g
PINEAPPLE SYRUP: 300g sugar;
1 cup sugar and 1 cup water
caster sugar; 75g egg whites; 30ml
300ml T2 Merry Berry Meringue tea;
1 cup cranberries
METHOD: Cut crosses into the
METHOD: For the meringue, boil the
METHOD: For the syrup, combine
chestnuts and roast for 20 mins.
sugars and tea until it reaches 116°C.
the sugar and pineapple in a tub, seal
Peel and pulse in a blender. Add the
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.
and shake. Leave for a day. Strain off
sugar and water to a pot and bring
Drizzle the syrup into the whipped
the liquid and top up with the T2 tea.
to a boil. Boil for 3 mins then add the
egg whites while mixing. Whip until
For the meringue, dissolve the
cranberries and chestnuts. Simmer
bowl soft to touch.
sugar in the water. Bring to a boil
for 25 mins. Add the cinnamon stick
For the syrup, combine all ingredients
while whipping the egg whites to
as it cools and leave for an hour. Add
except the tree cuttings and stir until
soft peaks. When the syrup reaches
the cognac. Add all ingredients to a
dissolved. Remove from the heat,
116°C, drizzle into egg whites while
shaker filled with ice and shake for 30
add tree cuttings and leave to cool.
whipping. Whip until bowl is cool.
seconds. Strain into a highball and fill
Remove cuttings after 3 hours.
Shake all drink ingredients with ice
with crushed ice. Pour in the hibiscus
Shake all drink ingredients together,
and pipe the Italian meringue on top.
tea. Top with more crushed ice.
pipe over violet italian meringue.
Brown the meringue with a blowtorch.
You can find more of Jack’s concoctions on Instagram @scottishmixology and can purchase all the ingredients via www.amazon.co.uk/shop/scottishmixology. Our personal favourite? The Figgy Pudding: ‘If an espresso martini and a Christmas pudding were to have a baby, this would be it,’ says Jack.
30 | Whisky in New Zealand
From having no distilleries for 100 years, New Zealand has seen an explosion of production and a vibrant whisky scene Written by Blair Bowman
Cask and Still Magazine | 31 >>>
iven that New Zealand was settled very heavily by Scots – especially the south island which was a home-from-home dominated by Scottish immigrants – it comes as absolutely no surprise that the Land of the Long White Cloud (as its indigenous people, the Maori, call it) has a long connection to whisky. New Zealand’s whisky story dates back to the early Scots pioneers who brought their passion for whisky and enterprise to the islands. The settlement of New Zealand by the Pakeha, particularly by the Scots, started in earnest after the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and various Maori chiefs, which brought New Zealand into the British Empire. The formal production of the Water of Life started soon afterwards, with the ﬁrst licenced distillery, The Crown Distillery in Auckland, opening in 1866, followed soon after by the New Zealand Distillery in Dunedin (Gaelic for ‘Edinburgh’), which opened in 1867. The catalyst for the opening of both of these distilleries was the New Zealand government’s decision to cut the duty for locally made spirit in half. However, when duties later rose again, both distilleries went out of business. The Crown
Distillery was only in production for three years and the New Zealand Distillery closed in 1873 after only six years. What followed was a lengthy period of no whisky making in New Zealand. It would be over 100 years before another distillery opened in New Zealand, the drought being broken when the Willowbank Distillery in Dunedin opened in 1969 and continued production right through to the 1990s. The tale of the Willowbank Distillery’s demise is a sad episode. The problems started in the 1980s when the distillery was sold to Seagram’s of Canada, who in turn sold the distillery to Fosters, the Australian brewers, in 1997. Soon after Fosters decided to strip out the stills and send them to Fiji for making rum, mothballed the distillery and put up the remaining stock of casks for sale. However, the loss of their only indigenous whisky distillery was not a prospect many Kiwis were prepared to take lying down. A group of investors saw an opportunity and formed a new business, the New Zealand Whisky Company, purchasing some of the remaining 400 casks from the now mothballed Willowbank Distillery. The new company now had 80,000 litres
New Zealand’s whisky story dates back to the early Scots pioneers
32 | Whisky in New Zealand
of whisky, which were either earmarked for further maturation or re-racking. Over the years since they have been releasing these casks for bottling, and while they are a bit harder to get hold of these days, if you can ﬁnd a cask you would ﬁnd that the whisky is of a very high quality indeed. Another company called Thomson Whisky also managed to secure some of the old Willowbank casks at the same time as the NZWC and have since been drip-feeding some interesting releases onto the market, including whisky ﬁnished in New Zealand red wine casks. But knowing that their reserves of old Willowbank casks would run out eventually, Thomson Whisky took the decision to open their own distillery. In 2014, they opened their distillery in Riverhead, about 15 miles north west of Auckland. It is a relatively small operation, with everything done manually, including hand-rousing the mash. One of their award-winning products uses barley that has been smoked using the dense local Manuaka wood, while other releases have used peat from New Zealand’s south island.
While Thomson Whisky are the trailblazers, they are by no means the only whisky producer in New Zealand. A handful of other new small distilleries have set up across the country, including the Puhoi Organic Distillery, who are making various types of 100% organic spirits, including whisky, at their solar-powered distillery north of Auckland. In the world of New Zealand whisky, small is generally beautiful. Workshops Whisky Distillery in Christchurch is another similarly bijou operation, who released their ﬁrst threeyear-old single malt whisky in 2016. Much the same size, and with similar timelines, the Lammermoor Distillery in Otago are another small distillery, but they also have a USP in that they grow their own grain and are a completely ﬁeld-to-bottle distillery. They also say proudly that they have been distilling illegally since 1863, although the new farm distillery only formally laid down its ﬁrst spirit in 2016. The daddy of New Zealand distillers is an outﬁt of suﬃcient size that they have been making waves across the UK recently. The Cardrona Distillery in Otago on New Zealand’s south island is set amid the gorgeous
Clockwise from below: Cardrona whisky; Whisky Galore’s The Howff; Talk in the shop; Cardrona distillery.
Cask and Still Magazine | 33
countryside which provided a backdrop to the Lord of The Rings ﬁlming, and has since seen the area become an increasingly expensive place to live, with wealthy foreigners buying up estates in the area. The Cardrona Distillery opened in 2015 and although they have been distilling whisky using a set of Forsyths Copper Pot Stills, they have also made huge strides with their awardwinning gin and vodka. Indeed, their gin is so popular in New Zealand that they have 20% of the premium gin market share. Their whisky has recently ‘come of age’, meaning it is now three-years-old and legally allowed to be sold as whisky (New Zealand have similar regulations to Scotland). A special release to mark this milestone of Cardrona’s ﬁrst single malt whisky, which is called ‘Just Hatched’, has been bottled and is available to purchase in the UK through drinks specialists. Matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, it is bottled in smaller sized 35cl bottles, has an ABV of 64.4% and has notes of honey, vanilla, fresh cut ﬂowers and hints of spice. It shows great promise for what is to come from this distillery, which is deﬁnitely one to keep an eye on for future releases. Cardrona are leading the charge to put New Zealand back on the world whisky map. Due to the large diaspora of Scots who emigrated to Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century, Austalasia was the largest export
market for Scotch whisky until 1938, and while the amount of whisky being sent to the other side of the world has declined, the mother country is still sending out its whisky expertise. In New Zealand’s case the most obvious example of Scottish inﬂuence is the Whisky Galore shop in Christchurch on the south island. It is owned by Michael Fraser Milne, from Keith on Speyside, who moved to Christchurch in 1992 and noticed a gap in the market. The company can trace its origins back to Scotland and Michael’s great-uncle who founded the limited company in 1946. The Whisky Galore business specialises in importing and distributing the ﬁnest Scottish and world whiskies to New Zealand. Michael and his team, which includes several members of his family, are the go-to whisky specialists in New Zealand. So much so that when a distillery in Scotland releases a new limited edition or small batch release they will get the exclusive allocation for that part of the world. This has led to the amusing situation where buyers are desperate to get their hands on a release and the only place to buy it is from Michael in Christchurch, leading to a situation where bottles which are yet to arrive in New Zealand and are still on a container on a ship headed to New Zealand, will arrive in Auckland only to immediately be shipped back to buyers in the UK or Europe. The Whisky Galore team host DramFest, the largest whisky festival of its kind in New Zealand, which is held biennially. The two-day event draws large crowds and attracts some of the top names in whisky to host masterclasses for Kiwi whisky fanatics, which is why it is highly regarded as one of the best whisky festivals in the world. So whether it’s New Zealand’s indigenous whisky culture, their appreciation of Scotch or the vibrancy of the whisky festival culture, there has never been a more exciting time for whisky in New Zealand.
Cardrona are leading the charge to put New Zealand back on the world whisky map
Add a touch of Cardrona Magic
aster Distiller and qualified Maltster, Sarah Elsom, is passionate about crafting Whisky. Sarah knows that great Whisky begins with great ingredients - distillerâ€™s barley, pure Cardrona water, quality yeast. With this foundation Sarah builds Cardronaâ€™s character through every quirk and nuance of the distillery. From the milling ratio, mashing temperatures, length of fermentation, the shapes and size of the bespoke copper pot stills and the speed of distillation, Sarah crafts every element together to create the magic of Cardrona Single Malt Whisky. Last ever bottling of the award winning Just Hatched Solera Single Malt Whisky now available, taking its place in collectors' archives. Growing Wings now available in the UK. Gonzalez Byass Oloroso Sherry Single Cask Release, aged 5 years and 1 day. Limited stock.
w w w.c a rd ronad ist i l ler y.c om
Cardrona Distillery.indd 34
Cask and Still Magazine | 35
ew Zealand craftswoman Desiree Whitaker decided in 2011 to pursue her dream of making a New Zealand single malt whisky that would stand tall on the international stage. The very best equipment has been sourced from the four corners of the earth, to make exquisitely hand-crafted Single Malt Whisky, Gin, Single Malt Vodka and Liqueurs. Cardrona does not cut corners. From the barley varietal, the grind of the mill and the size of the mash tun to the temperature of the Cardrona Valley alpine water, every step of the process is integral to forming the character of the spirit and has been meticulously thought out. The distillery has designed its craft process around the deep single malt traditions, starting from scratch with rich malted barley to create a genuine artisan premium spirit, a rarity in the spirits industry. ‘Every distillery has a unique and identifiable character,’ says Desiree, ‘and Cardrona’s character is extraordinary. A whisky’s character is a result of the distillery itself. Every nuance, every small decision and design moment builds the character that altogether is recognisable as a specific whisky. Whisky is like a fine oil painting, built up layer upon layer upon layer. With whisky the character starts with the water, the malt variety, and the grind of the mill. It is then added to with the mash tun design, the yeast, and construction of the washbacks. Finally, the character is cemented with length
of ferment, the shape of the copper pot stills, and finally the specific cut points at the spirit safe. A great whisky requires great ingredients, equipment, and, above all, experience.’ Desiree attributes Cardrona’s success to Master Distiller, Sarah Elsom, whose small team of distillers is dedicated to crafting an extraordinary dram. ‘Their attention to detail and quality is the secret behind Cardrona’s excellence,’ she says. Sarah’s team captures the distillery’s character. Then the spirit is laid to mature in seasoned oak casks, again sourced from the best producers in the world. Ex-Oloroso sherry butts from the South of Spain, ex-Bourbon barrels from Kentucky, and ex-Pinot noir casks from Central Otago, New Zealand. The spirit is aged into whisky and then carefully selected and married together, or, on occasion, released as a single cask expression. ‘The character is magnificent,’ says Desiree. A weighted creamy spirit on the palate offering notes of honey, vanilla and spice, and then a layering of the seasoned oak, bringing nuances of roasted stone fruit, and buttered almonds. All of Cardrona’s bottlings are released at cask strength, which is a signature of this iconic distillery. Available from all good bottle stores and www.cardronadistillery.com/en-gb/ Contact the team to discuss stocking this exquisite range firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour the award winning Our single malts are our Lochranza Distillery signatures; they are theon unique taste of Arran. the Isle of Arran and The list of ingredients all our range single discover thefornew malt whiskies is the same - itâ€™s mostly of Arran Single Malts. malted barley, and the purest water in
Scotland. Yet thanks to skill, wood and time each expression has its own Forand thecharm. full range of unique personality different tours available, including Tastings Experience the taste Tutored of Arran and and Whisky & Chocolate shop whisky online. Explore our please visit: range of singlepairings malts, liqueurs, limited editions and blends now. arranwhisky.com arranwhisky.com @arranwhisky @arranwhisky
ScottishFieldSeptA4.indd 1 1 Isle of ArranScottishFieldSeptA4.indd Distillers.indd 26 Isle of Arran Distillers.indd 26
12/09/2019 13:03 10:20:36 12/09/2019 13:03 10/10/2019 10:20:36 10/10/2019
The Taste of Scotlandâ€Ś SCOTCH AND WORLD
Champagne, Wines, Spirits, Liqueurs, Havana Cigars, Collectables, Rarities, Limited Editions, Gift Vouchers robbieswhiskymerchants.com
+44 (0) 1292 262135 email@example.com
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Please contact us for further information on hours of opening
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Cask and Still Magazine | 37
Whisky by numbers Impress your friends with these facts and figures
£4 . 9 BILLION Scotch whisky exports are worth £4.9 billion pa
More than 10,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch whisky industry in Scotland...
...7,000 of these jobs are in rural areas providing vital employment and investment to communities across the Highlands and Islands
£5,500,000,000 The Scotch Whisky industry provides £5.5bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy each year
Some 22 million casks lie maturing in warehouses in Scotland just waiting to be discovered Around 90% of barley requirements of the industry are sourced in Scotland
There are currently 133 operating Scotch whisky distilleries across Scotland
There are 2.2 million visits to Scotch whisky distilleries a year, making the industry the third most popular tourist attraction in Scotland 42 bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped from Scotland to 175 markets around the world each second, totalling over 1.3 billion a year
Source: Scotch Whisky Association figures from 2020. www.scotch-whisky.org.uk
38 | A bluffer’s guide to...
Written by: Federica Stefani
A BLUFFER ’S GUIDE TO..
There’s more to peat than just intense smokiness – it tells the story of our land’s rich history
hether it’s rolling waves at the seaside or a cosy
WHAT IS PEAT? Peat bogs are formed by decomposing
wood burning stove, the heady scents of peat
wetland vegetation such as roots and low-
tantalise the senses. And yet this intense aroma
growing plants like peat moss (sphagnum) and
divides even the greatest whisky aficionados, and can – in the
heather. Heavy rainfall and a lack of drainage
eyes of consumers – make or break an exceptional dram.
cause a constant waterlogging effect, while
This raw material has played a part in the whisky industry for
a lack of oxygen – on top of the acidity of the
centuries, and many island distilleries have incorporated it into
environment – leads to a slow decomposition of
their making process to adopt its signature smoky notes. But
there is more to peat than just its rich charcoal character.
Over time, old layers are crushed under newly formed layers, creating an organic mass underground. This process requires time – it takes a thousand years to create just a onemetre layer of peat. So patience really is a virtue. Where the land is rich in peat – the Scottish islands, Northern Highlands and Ireland are prime examples – locals have started using it as an alternative to coal or wood, by cutting out slices of peat and drying it for use as domestic fuel.
PEAT AND WHISKY Peat was introduced to whisky production in the early 18th century, first of all to fire the stills (a practice that eventually died out) and secondly to dry the germinating barley. To create hot air and smoke in the kiln, the peat is lit. A peat fire releases phenols, a group of chemical compounds, which then adhere to
Cask and Still Magazine | 39
the moist grains and give them their signature
consistent in flavour. However, the PPM at
that stage does not reflect the intensity in the final product: from mashing to maturation,
Interestingly, the peat is never fully on fire in the whisky production process as lower
the production process will see a loss of – or a
temperatures release a more aromatic smoke.
change in – phenols in the spirit. A whisky can start off with 40PPM measured
Peat taken from a deeper layer (black peat) will be less aromatic but more carbonic, hence
in the barley and end up in the bottle at 10PPM.
makes a better combustible, whereas younger
This is a controversial subject among industry
peat is more desirable for its flavour.
leaders – most of the distilleries use the malted barley’s PPM as a reference, but others argue this
SPIRIT OF PLACE
isn’t a clear enough indication of the strength of the smoky flavours in the purchased product.
One of the most fascinating aspects about peat is that it is an integral part of the land’s
TO PEAT OR NOT TO PEAT?
history, and as such is strongly linked to the
Peat is not the only fuel used in the whisky
notion of ‘terroir’. The flavour that peat gives to
industry, in fact many distilleries prefer to use
the whisky is entirely dependent on a number of factors, including its density and composition, which is an immediate reflection of the ecosystem from which it originated. This is why peat cut from different areas can produce very different drams. If located near the coast, it is likely to be composed of marine organic matter, giving the whisky notes of iodine and seaweed which are particularly associated with Islay whiskies such as the heavily peated Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg from the island’s south coast. On the other hand, the
Peat cut from different areas can produce very different drams
anthracite, oil and gas to avoid peated smoky notes altogether. Something to note is that ‘peaty’ and ‘smoky’ are two separate notes, and don’t always go hand in hand. The first presents earthy, musty, grassy or iodine notes, whereas the latter is more ashy, incense and bonfire in flavour. A popular way to add smokiness to a dram is by using casks formerly containing peaty whisky, or by charring the wood. There are other innovative ways of adding
inland peat used in Highland or Speyside peated
smokiness though, as seen in Iceland. Eimverk
whiskies has an earthy, woody character owing
Distillery created an expression of their young spirit
to the surrounding trees and greenery.
Floki using dried sheep dung – a traditional source of heat in the country. Alternative perhaps, but
MEASURING THE FIRE Not unlike hot sauce, there are various
certainly sustainable. Meanwhile on the other side of the world in New
degrees of smokiness in whisky, ranging from
Zealand at Thomson Distillery, a young whisky was
an explosive bonfire to a mild lingering smoke
produced by drying the malt with Manuka Wood.
in the back of your mouth. This intensity is
In the US, Maine Craft Distilling used local dried
commonly measured in Parts Per Million (PPM)
seaweed to produce their expression Fifty Stone
which refers to the whisky’s phenolic content.
Single Malt, and Two James Spirits in Detroit have
PPM is generally measured in the malted
used casks previously holding smoky Lapsang
barley, and distillers can request a specific
Souchong tea to create their Johnny Smoking Gun
phenolic content to help keep their product
40 | Whisky Hero
Once upon a whisky A DRAM FUL OF TALES
Telling the unique tales behind every dram, Once Upon A Whisky founder Camilo Gรณmez Pinto is carving a path of his own in whisky tourism Written by Federica Stefani
Above: Camilo launched his whisky touring business in 2017. Right: He seeks to share his passion for quality drams with the world.
Cask and Still Magazine | 41 >>>
ehind every dram there’s a story to tell, and Once Upon A Whisky founder Camilo Gómez Pinto is keen to show that even non-whisky drinkers can appreciate the narrative behind each drop of liquid gold. With the firm belief that whisky tastes infinitely better when you understand its backstory, Camilo is a rising star of Scotland’s whisky tourism industry – and he’s encouraging a new wave of interest in the sector. Taking visitors from all over the world to well-known whisky spots and unveiling hidden whisky gems, he believes that whisky tours ought to give insight into the spirit’s history and modern-day incarnation, as well as the staple knowledge of its production processes. Currently working between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Camilo moved to the Dear Green Place from Bogota to study business administration before launching his company in 2017. ‘There are so many things in a bottle of whisky,’ explains Camilo. ‘It’s not just the liquid. There is a world of culture in it. I am trying to enhance the whisky culture in Glasgow and Edinburgh by telling people how amazing the whisky world is, and how it can be related to things such as music, films, places, food and cocktails. ‘We focus on
curious and quirky facts and pop culture, and try to show people how to enjoy whisky in a different way. Our mission is to connect people, cultures and whisky.’ Formerly a brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons – an innovative family-owned distiller and distributor – Camilo’s project has gained significant momentum since May 2017, and he has developed new concepts and partnerships to share his passion for the water of life. ‘When I finished my studies in Colombia,’ he explains, ‘I wasn’t happy with being the traditional business guy in an office from 9 to 5. I wanted to do something different. So I went to New York and studied mixology and cocktails, and then worked in marketing before I switched fully to the drinks industry. ‘I wanted to go abroad and I came to Scotland to do an MBA and, while I was here, I saw the opportunity to create a company in the industry I love. Although it sounds like quite a simple idea, cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh didn’t offer much in terms of whisky tourism – no one was offering tours taking people to the best whisky spots, or to bars and restaurants with a story to tell, so I seized the opportunity.’ To add to his series of whisky tours, Camilo started branching into events focusing on whisky and food pairings, some of which have showcased some highly unusual dishes – gourmet doughnuts, sushi and Peruvian food are just some of the highlights that have appeared on the menu. ‘It feels good when you can see the reaction of surprise,’ says Camilo, who loves introducing people to new experiences. ‘I always try to surprise people – on the tours with stories and, for our special events, it’s all about flavours and bringing combinations that people would have never thought of. ‘Being from Colombia, I feel like I have a different approach to whisky in comparison to Scots and people who grew up with it. Sometimes whisky is taken for granted, but not being from a whisky country, the industry has always enthused me and I am incredibly proud to be part of an industry I am passionate about.’ Camilo’s right-hand man and tour ambassador for Once Upon A
Camilo is a rising star of Scotlands whisky tourism industry
Discovered BY OUR Malt Master STEPHANIE MACLEOD. Hand-filled by you. Having slumbered through 40 years of history, our newest, oldest release can now be purchased exclusively through Dewarâ€™s Aberfeldy Distillery, and can be hand-filled, labelled and wax dipped in our historic warehouse. Discover Aberfeldy 40 and browse the entire range on our website. Please enjoy our whiskies responsibly
Cask and Still Magazine | 43
Whisky, Samuel Shackleton, delivers many of the tours, and his experience in the hospitality industry in some of the best whisky and cocktail bars in Scotland has stood him in good stead. Together Camilo and Samuel have established strong partnerships with other touring companies, as well as with VisitScotland, and have even put together tailor-made experiences for corporate clients such as Polestar Interactive, CitizenM Hotels, The University of Glasgow, People Make Glasgow, and Scapa Fest. With business taking off, Camilo spends much of his time jet-setting round the world to represent Scottish whisky culture. In March 2020, they launched a brand new tour with Glasgow’s Red Bus Bistro – which
offers gourmet grub on bus tours – where guests can enjoy drams paired with Scottish tapas while being chauffeured to a distillery and bar. More projects are on the horizon for Camilo, who has set his sights on longer trips round Scotland to allow them to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the hills and glens. ‘I would also like to build up an online shop where people can find educational material about whisky,’ he says. ‘Ultimately, my dream is to see Once Upon a Whisky recognised as one of the top providers of whisky education and tourism, and to keep on travelling, learning and educating.’
Above: Once Upon A Whisky tours are about sharing the inherent tales behind each and every dram.
For more information about Once Upon A Whisky visit their website: onceuponawhisky.co.uk
The Borders Distillery in Hawick is the first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837. The Directors have released 1,837 casks of Single Malt for private ownership. Filled on a date of the ownerâ€™s choosing, each individually numbered cask is stored under bond and bottled when the owner wishes. Each cask costs ÂŁ1,995
Visit thebordersdistillery.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Three Stills1.indd 44
Cask and Still Magazine | 45
THE THREE STILLS
he Borders Distillery opened in Hawick in 2018 – the first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837. Situated on the banks of the River Teviot in an award-winning conversion of the former Edwardian electrical works, the distillery currently sells a range of spirits whilst also laying stock down for the future release of a Single Malt. The distillery offers regular tours of the impressive building, taking in the airy Fermentation Hall and Stillhouse. There are no dedicated tour guides, instead you are shown around by the people who actually make the spirit, providing unique insight to the production process. Unlike at many distilleries, photography and video are allowed throughout the tour. Hawick is only an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, and a visit to the distillery makes for a great day trip for any whisky enthusiast. Whisky fans should also take note of the distillery’s 1837 Private Cask scheme, which sees 1,837 whisky casks released for private ownership at a price of £1,995. Filled on a date of the owner’s choosing, in a cask type selected from a range of options, each individually numbered cask is stored under bond and bottled when the owner wishes. Cask owners are granted access to a specially-commissioned app, allowing them to monitor the development of their cask, tracking the progress of the flavour profile as the spirit matures.
There are five different cask types available under the scheme, all carefully selected to complement the fresh orchard fruits character of the distillery’s New Make Spirit. The choice of cask types includes ex-Bourbon (First Fill or Refill), ex-Rye, ex-Rum, ex-Red Wine, and ex-Douro Red Wine. More information on the 1837 scheme can be obtained by emailing email@example.com or by calling the distillery on 01450 374 330. While the Single Malt slowly matures for a future release, the distillery produces two blends, Clan Fraser – a traditional blended Scotch, and Lower East Side – a contemporary blended malt. Beyond whisky, the distillery redistills its own New Make in a Carterhead still to create Kerr’s Gin and Puffing Billy Steam Vodka. The redistillation of New Make creates two distinctive products, each carrying a noticeable character of malted barley through into the final spirit. The barley lends Kerr’s Gin a full and rounded texture which works particularly well with the dry bitterness of tonic water. As for the vodka, it goes through a unique production process: regular filtration would strip away the flavour and mouthfeel of the barley, so instead the spirit is steamed through charcoal inside the still itself and never filtered as a liquid. Puffing Billy is a rarity – a vodka which actually tastes of something – and is well worth seeking out.
For that that special special gift... gift... For GORDON & MACPHAIL RETAIL SHOP GORDON MACPHAIL SHOP 58-60 SOUTH&STREET, ELGIN, RETAIL SCOTLAND IV30 1JX
58-60 SOUTH STREET, SCOTLAND IV30 1JX T | + 44(0)1343 545110 ELGIN, E | firstname.lastname@example.org T | + 44(0)1343 545110 E | email@example.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 47 >>>
s â€™ r u e s s i o n on
N O I T EC
L E S Befuddled by the dizzying range of
drinks on offer? Feel the fog of confusion lift with our 16-page guide to what the real experts drink
48 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
SPEYSIDE FUMARE 44.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
Launched in the latter half of 2016, this is Speyside Distillery’s first ever peated whisky. NOSE: Fumare is Latin for ‘smoky’ and this whisky lives up to that title. The nose is
Ewan c M Ilwraith
lightly peated and has a sweet herbal nose.
OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY
robertsonsofpitlochry. co.uk Ewan bought Robertsons of Pitlochry in 2013, an awardwinning whisky shop and tasting room. Robertsons have their own range of Single Cask whiskies and a gin. A warm welcome is always on offer and friendly advice readily available at Robertsons of Pitlochry.
PALATE: Oily with roasted nuts, toffee apples and a light rolling peat. The sweetness comes through as fruit
SELECTED BY JAMES
One of my favourites from Speyside,
FINISH: Oily, good length and
still family owned and a wonderful mix of old and new - well worth a visit.
slightly salty. Bonfire notes. Quite a light whisky with the
NOSE: There is a real intensity of dates, figs and
benefit of lovely light peat.
candied peel, sweet sherry and an earthiness too. PALATE: Where to start! The fruit notes on the nose combine here and become like Christmas cake in a glass. FINISH: Complex, long, powerful something to really savour savour.
GLENALLACHIE 9YO RYE CASK FINISH 52.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
A beautiful 9YO Single Malt from GlenAllachie’s Wood Finish series.
DIRECTOR, WILDCAT SPIRITS
wildcatspirits.co.uk James is a business mentor advising companies on export and brand building and is also a Taste and Business Judge on various competitions.
NOSE: Sweet honey and cinnamon, sweet orange and rich treacle notes, a slightly spiced note from the Rye cask. PALATE: Fantastic rich, sweet notes of honey, butterscotch, treacle with orange zest and ginger. Spice from the Rye cask finishes the taste. FINISH: A good long finish with hints of spice and nutmeg. The punchy Rye casks give this whisky its delicious finish.
Cask and Still Magazine | 49 >>>
TAMDHU 12YO 42
SELECTED BY JAMES
A wonderful whisky from a resurrected Victorian distillery on the side of a disused railway track. All the whiskies are matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and this is a fantastic example. NOSE: Barley sugar boiled sweets to the fore with a touch of toasted oak, cinnamon and mint. PALATE: Wonderful depth of flavours of baked banana, pain au raisin, stewed plums and sherry oak. FINISH: Amazingly long with a mix of oak spice, dried apricots and the slightest hint of peat.
COPPER DOG, NAS 30
SELECTED BY JAMES
Single malts from eight Speyside distilleries have been bottled together for the Craigellachie Hotel. This highlights the wonderful art of blending. NOSE: Hints of toffee apple and pear drops with a touch of citrus and vanilla. PALATE: Rich and soft with baked toffee apple, soft citrus fruit, vanilla fudge and subtle hints of wood spice. FINISH: The flavours slowly combine with a layered finish of
TOMINTOUL TLÀTH 29.95
toffee and spice.
SELECTED BY EWAN
This expression is the same easy-going Speyside whisky as Tomintoul’s classics, and is matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. NOSE: Tlàth means ‘gentle’ and this dram marries this concept with everything that is Speyside. Vanilla, toffee and light citrus notes. PALATE: Vanilla from the bourbon cask, oak spice, light and creamy. Very gentle with a suggestion of nutmeg. FINISH: Light oak spice, vanilla with a medium length and easy, smooth finish. Great value and an easy drinking dram.
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KILCHOMAN SANAIG 54.99
JAMES EADIE CAOL ILA 11 YEAR OLD PALO CORTADO 2020 RELEASE
The more heavily sherried of the two core
releases from Islay’s farmhouse
James Eadie’s recent releases single
distillery it is a cracking and complex dram.
cask releases are building a reputation
NOSE: Sweet smoke (like burning incense) mingles
for exceptional quality and this Palo
with cinder toffee, sultanas and heather honey.
Cortado cask finish only enhances this.
PALATE: A meaty dram - BBQ Chinese ribs straight
NOSE: Smoke is delicate, like a distant
from the smoker. The smoke is earthier, but balance by
bonfire with a touch of chocolate and
dried plum fruitiness.
FINISH: The smoke dies down as you get dark chocolate
PALATE: It’s a sherry cask, Jim, but not
covered ginger and peppery spice.
as we know it! Lighter and brighter than most oloroso cask - Pata Negra ham, salty smoked almonds and figs. FINISH: That same gentle smoke, raisins but with an almost menthol note.
OCTOMORE 10YO 2020 RELEASE 160
Octomore, come for the dizzyingly high PPM, stay for the surprising complexity & nuance. NOSE: The rich earthy peat unsurprisingly dominates, but there is also plenty of apricots in honey and some malty cereal. PALATE: A pear tartlet sprinkled with sea salt, spikes of white pepper, milk chocolate and a lingering wood smoke. FINISH: Saltiness and maltiness mingle, spicy oak and dark chocolate give way to a long earthy smoke to finish.
Archie M cDiarmid
MANAGER, LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS
Luvians opened its St Andrews store in 1996 and has been at the forefront of promoting craft beer, wines and spirits in Fife ever since. Archie runs the shop’s constantly evolving list, which includes a broad selection of whiskies. Here he picks some of his favourites....
52 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
ARDNAMURCHAN AD/09.20:01 50
SELECTED BY DARREN
This particular expression will be hard to find now but it’s worth keeping an eye out for it. A mix of peated and unpeated malt, matured in both bourbon and sherry casks. NOSE: Initially it has farmyard, turfy and light peat aromas some dusty old hessian cloth, soft oak, bruised orchard fruits and chocolate limes all add to its complexity complexity. PALATE: Gentle on the palate before enveloping it with rich and sweet, yet smoky and spicy flavours. Chocolate, toffee, spiced raisins, all-spice and smoky barbecue sauce. FINISH: Both savoury and sweet on the finish and a subtle smokiness carries it along just nicely, a very pleasant dram for a cold winter evening.
DALWHINNIE 30YO 1989 2020 SPECIAL RELEASE 550
SELECTED BY DARREN
This is the second year in a row that Dalwhinnie have released a 30YO expression, certainly a rarity at this old age and interests both collector and connoisseur alike. NOSE: Heather and floral notes to begin with and then it’s candied sweet with hard boiled sweeties, fizzy cola bottles and jelly babies. babies PALATE: Quite punchy at full strength with some acidity and the maturity of the oak to the fore. There’s spearmint, grassy and pine needle notes and orange zest. FINISH: Has a sweetness on the finish and a lingering aniseed spice keeps it lengthy and warming.
CONNOISSEURS CHOICE DALMORE 2005 14YO 94.26
SELECTED BY DAVID
From Gordon & Macphail, one of the best leading, family run independent bottlers. Connoisseurs Choice was created by whisky visionary Mr George Urquhart, the range has featured more than 2,000 bottles from almost 100 distilleries. NOSE: Burst of citrus gives way to sweet honey and tropical fruit. PALATE: Delicious sweet flavours of toffee, honey and milk chocolate with hints of banana and grapefruit. The strength of this spirit really shows but has an incredible balance. FINISH: A rich medium full bodied finish.
Cask and Still Magazine | 53 >>>
NC’NEAN ORGANIC SINGLE MALT 49
SELECTED BY DAVID
Not only is the whisky certified organic, using organic Scottish barley but the distillery is powered by renewable energy and their bottles are made from 100% recycled glass, it must be Scotland’s most environmentally friendly whisky. NOSE: It’s grassy with pine needles and a saline or light seaweed note then opens to tropical
fruits, kiwi, pineapple, juicy pears, pear drops and marshmallow.
NATIONAL RETAIL MANAGER, THE WHISKY SHOP
PALATE: light and fruity, grassy and minerally, it has flavours of sweet crisp apple, it’s malty and with
a salty tang. FINISH: cereals, fresh barely, rye bread. - A distillery
The Whisky Shop is the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK. The website enables the company to meet an even greater global demand for Scotch whiskies. Darren is a senior judge on the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.
to keep an eye on for sure.
FETTERCAIRN 22 YEAR OLD 200
‘Purity is a rare thing,’ exclaim this famous Highland distillery, and the newly launched Fettercairn 22 year old aims to live up to the mantra. NOSE: The nose has banana, citrus fruit and plum, combined with raisin, fig and ginger bread. PALATE: Spiced pear, caramelised orange and coffee on the palate, tempered by liquorice. FINISH: Morello cherry, plum and treacle in the finish.
WOLFBURN NORTHLAND 46
SELECTED BY DAVID
From Scotland’s northernmost mainland distillery. Built only a few meters away from the ruins of the 19th-century distillery from which it takes its name. NOSE: Fresh maltiness, nutty and vanilla with hints of smoke. PALATE: Sweet and smoky. Chocolate nut and spice with a subtle earthy peatiness. FINISH: A medium finish full of rich flavours.
SALES ASSISTANT, THE CARNEGIE WHISKY CELLARS AT DORNOCH
thecarnegiecourt house.co.uk/ whisky-cellars
David joined The Carnegie Whisky Cellars in summer 2017, having always had a keen interest in the drinks industry. He has since grown his knowledge of both whisky and gin. These are three of his current favourites.
54 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
BLACK BOTTLE 10 YEAR OLD 25.99
SELECTED BY ROBIN
The first new release from Black Bottle in almost 20 years, the Black Bottle 10 Year Old stays true to the brand’s perfectly blended history. Matured in American Oak casks, this smoky blend keeps Islay at the heart of the brand, with its peated yet sweet character. NOSE: Fresh and floral with freshly sawn oak aromas. Spicy with hints of smoke. PALATE: Silky, mellow and fruity with balanced smoky/
DEWAR’S 12 YEAR OLD BLENDED SCOTCH 36.00
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
Perfectly balanced single malts and grain whiskies provide a soft, gentle and easy sipping blend. A direct descendant of the signature Blended Scotch Whisky introduced over a century ago. NOSE: Green orchard fruits followed by some barley sweetness, vanilla, subtly light chocolate, later roasted almonds, and Crème brûlée. PALATE: Strikingly smooth. Caramel, charred oak and a whisper of smoke. Spice, white chocolate, and raisins follow. FINISH: Short and smoky. Citrus, malt and dried pears. Great balance with a soft mouthfeel.
peaty flavours then sweet oak and heather honey. FINISH: Soft, elegantly spicy, nutmeg, pepper and a gentle lingering smokiness.
CUTTY SARK PROHIBITION COMPASS BOX ROGUES’ BANQUET 185
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
SELECTED BY ROBIN
This Cutty Sark was released 80 years after the end of the era it’s named after. A ‘small batch’ blend of the finest
A limited edition whisky
single malts and top-quality grain
from Compass Box, Rogues’
whiskies. Hand-selected American
Banquet is a blend of a refill
Sherry oak casks give subtle signature
hogshead, a recharred barrel,
flavours of vanilla and spice, whilst the
recharred hogsheads and grain
overall flavours and finish are extremely
whisky matured in a first-fill
smooth and thrillingly complex.
bourbon barrel. NOSE: Softened tropical fruits, stem ginger and pastry
NOSE: Complex layers of soft ripe citrus fruits, dipped in fresh honey and
cream. Pineapple, papaya and vanilla custard.
dusted with fragrant spices.
PALATE: Bananas, plums and peaches continue with
PALATE: Creamy mouth-coating
this rather tropical whisky. Oak and spices become
richness, hints of toffee with mouth-
more prevalent on the palate.
wateringly playful peppery notes.
FINISH: Fragrant yet full-bodied, it has a long and
FINISH: The finish is long, syrupy and
Cask and Still Magazine | 55 >>>
SUTCLIFFE & SON THE EXCEPTIONAL BLEND 85.00
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
Willie Phillips and Don Sutcliffe have combined their extensive experience in the drinks industry - with Sutcliffe having worked in the spirits industry for 35 years, whilst Phillips was managing director of The Macallan between 1978 and 1996 to pull off this truly exceptional blended malt. NOSE: Notes of honeyed raisin cake on the nose, followed by brandy butter, orange peel and candied sweets. PALATE: Tangerine, dark cherry and aniseed on the palate. Great texture and very nutty. Elegant and complex. FINISH: A lingering finish of sherry, raspberry and spice. Lots of dark chocolate and nuttiness coming from the oloroso casks.
Robin Russell OWNER, ROBBIE’S DRAMS WHISKY MERCHANTS, AYR
Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Robin selects some of his favourite bottles of blended whiskies on the market.
SELECTED BY ROBIN
A new Blended Malt from MacDuff International, producers of the famous Islay Mist Blended Whisky which has always been one of our favourite blends. Waterproof is a sherry-influenced malt whisky from a handful of top distilleries, batch bottled at higher than normal strength. The name and looks are inspired by ‘Water’ and ‘Strength’ (Proof) and by the Scottish inventor of the much-needed raincoat (the Mac), Charles Macintosh. NOSE: Fresh and fruity with a subtle oakiness. PALATE: A delicious combination of sherry sweetness and dried fruit. FINISH: Well balanced and long lasting.
Douglas Wood OWNER, WOODWINTERS WINES AND WHISKIES, BRIDGE OF ALLAN
With shops in Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh, WoodWinters was born from owner Douglas’ desire to share the magic of great wine – not the mystery. The same can be said for whisky, as Douglas talks us through his all-time favourite blended whiskies.
56 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
AILSA BAY RELEASE 1.2
BLADNOCH 11 YEAR OLD 64.99
Ailsa Bay Release 1.2
A cracking new expression from this
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
revitalised Lowland Distillery. This limited
is the second release from
2020 release was filled into ex-
William Grant & Sons lowland
distillery. This whisky has been
NOSE: Delicate floral with
scientifically distilled at 022
notes of honey, refreshing
parts ‘peat’ and 019 parts ‘sweet’,
citrus and cut grass.
then micro-matured to a precise balance of oaky sweetness and
PALATE: Floral Parma Violets
with fresh cut apples and hints of wood spice.
NOSE: Fresh wood smoke with
FINISH: Sweet mouth coating
notes of smouldering damp heather
leading to a refreshing finish.
and extinguished bonfire. Following the smoke is a wave of oaky sweetness and vanilla oak with candied peel. PALATE: Beautifully balanced peat and rich vanilla oakiness, this second batch has maintained the same intriguing flavour meandering between smoke, fruit and creamy toffee. The extra maturation period has developed deeper toasty oak notes with every sip. FINISH: An intriguing balance of oaky sweetness and peaty dryness.
KINGSBARNS DREAM TO DRAM 44.99
Kingsbarns Dream to Dram Single Malt 1st Release was distilled in 2015 and bottled in 2018 from whisky in two types of cask and then married together. First fill ex-bourbon barrels and shaved, toasted and re-charred barriques. NOSE: The nose opens with banana foam sweets, tinned pineapple syrup and summer berries. There is a slight herbal edge to it. PALATE: Soft toffee, custard pastry and redcurrants. FINISH: Ginger syrup.
OWNER, ROBBIE’S DRAMS WHISKY MERCHANTS, AYR
Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Robin selects some of his favourite bottles of Lowland whisky on the market.
Cask and Still Magazine | 57 >>>
ARDBEG SINGLE CASK 8 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT 499
This single cask has been bottled exclusively for Ardbeg Embassies. Distilled under the supervision of Dr Bill Lumsden on 22 August 2011. Wholly matured for 8 years in a Côte-Rôtie barrique, a famous Rhône wine.
TOMINTOUL 30 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT 499
This 30 Year Old Tomintoul Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been specially selected
NOSE: Deep, pungent and salty, with medicinal notes,
by Master Distiller, Robert
dark chocolate, brambly fruit and the tiniest hint of vanilla.
Fleming, to commemorate
PALATE: The mouthfeel is full and rounded. The primary flavour is bold and savoury, with deep peat smoke, curious rubbery notes, and the suggestion of smoked cocoa powder. There is a soft oiliness throughout, with crunchy oak tannins and a touch of clove and nutmeg. FINISH: The aftertaste lingers with salted peanuts, dark chocolate cream and a touch of coal.
his 30th anniversary as custodian of Tomintoul Distillery, which began on 30 April 1990. Matured for twenty years in a Bourbon cask and ten years in an Oloroso Sherry butt, which yielded just 481 bottles, the
THE CARDRONA SINGLE MALT
‘GROWING WINGS’ SPECIAL RELEASE 125
Cardrona’s highly anticipated release of their second progress report expression ‘Growing Wings’ is marked with an exclusive bottling of Cardrona’s first distillery cask, #101. A limited quantity is available in the UK. NOSE: Decadently rich with fat sticky raisins coated in Cardrona’s signature
First Edition is a rare and exceptional release. NOSE: Bramble and red cherry fruit notes mingled with toasted brioche and amoretti biscuit. PALATE: Layers of cherry Bakewell, dark fruits, and marzipan followed by clove and pink peppercorn spices. FINISH: Warming and toasty with soft nougat and dried cranberry leading into peppery wood spices.
borage flower honey and cream. PALATE: Spice followed by rich sweetness. Very warming on the palate. Rich buttery characters. FINISH: Roasted vegetables and a ginger kick.
OWNER, ROBBIE’S DRAMS WHISKY MERCHANTS, AYR
Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a familyrun business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Robin selects some of his favourite bottles of investment whisky on the market.
58 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
Worldwide CARDRONA SINGLE MALT ‘JUST HATCHED’ - SPECIAL RELEASE DRAMFEST 2020 74.99
Marking the five-year anniversary of the first spirit laid down at Cardrona, the ‘Growing Wings’ release cask strength whisky is aged in a single Oloroso sherry butt. NOSE: Bamboo shoots, with a touch of leatheriness, and hint of sultanas. PALATE: Toffee, vanilla, caramel, burst of citrus toward the back palate. FINISH: Little hint of pomegranate, cooked apple.
THOMSON ‘SPIRIT OF KABAL’ SINGLE CASK SINGLE MALT $179 NZD / £94.67
A single cask from Thomson Whisky bottled exclusively for Eight Pm. This is the first ever
THOMSON FIVE YEAR OLD WHISKY SINGLE CASK RELEASE $159 NZD / £84.05
single cask bottled by Thomson Whisky at Cask Strength at Ash Parmar Request. NOSE: Rich and oily on the nose with sweetness of ripe mango, followed by gentle oak and spice. PALATE: Solid dose of spice up front followed by rich sweetness. A hint of smoke. FINISH: Long finish with gentle smoke and spice.
OWNER OF EIGHTPM.CO.NZ A PREMIUM WHISKY ONLINE STORE
Very first 5 Year Old Single Malt released by Thomson Whisky, this cask has been carefully selected to share, just in time for Christmas. NOSE: Light delicate sweet characters, rich honey followed by vanilla, sweet barley on the nose with a little spice. PALATE: Rich sweetness with light oak and spice, hints of tropical fruit character. FINISH: Lovely sweetness lingers with gentle spice.
Ash has been a liquor retailer for over 16 years, and started up eightpm.co.nz, a Premium Whisky Online Store, three years ago. He runs regular whisky tastings throughout the country. Their range is continually growing with exciting new Kiwi releases available.
Cask and Still Magazine | 59 >>>
1792 BOTTLED IN BOND 49
GEORGE DICKEL 2011 8YO SINGLE CASK
The 1792 whisky is made at Barton Distillery in the heart of
Heretics this is a unique
bourbon country, Kentucky, and for me this expression will make your perfect
chance to taste some Tennessee whisky, this one is limited to only 251 bottles.
Christmas Old Fashioned.
NOSE: Mint toffee, tinned
NOSE: Honeycomb with
peaches and foam banana
chocolate, sweet rolling
sweets developing aromas of
tobacco, vanilla and nutmeg. Over time it reveals some burnt orange, fresh berries, cherry and floral notes.
Bottled by Heroes &
honey and eucalyptus. PALATE: Silky smooth on the palate rising to a warming spice, iodine with smoke, then settles to fresh cereals,
PALATE: Rich and spicy to start with
popcorn, pecan and sweet syrup.
honeyed cereals, biscuit and cranberry. A
FINISH: It dries nicely on the finish
touch of water teases out some liquorice and coffee.
with charcoal ash, Earl Grey tea and wood spice.
FINISH: Toffee, wood spice and warming white pepper alongside cherry bitters and a touch of coconut.
MAKER’S MARK CASK STRENGTH 75
Only available in the UK since earlier this year and much anticipated, alongside Maker’s Private Cask Select this is a chance to try Maker’s at full strength. NOSE: Fruity aromas, (juicy fruit chewing gum), silky sweet with treacle and liquorice then over time, orange liqueur and Christmas Pudding. PALATE: At full strength the spirit takes hold of the palate then tails off to reveal subtle leafy and pine notes, smoked nuts and some fresh mint. FINISH: A warming spicy finish which lingers long with some mint, coconut, a touch of mixed herb and even a hint of fresh cucumber.
NATIONAL RETAIL MANAGER, THE WHISKY SHOP
The Whisky Shop is the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK. The website enables the company to meet an even greater global demand for Scotch whiskies. Darren is a senior judge on the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.
AWAR D WINNING HAND-CRAFTED SPIRITS FROM THE ARTISAN SPEYSIDE DISTILLERY
Speyside Distillery THE ART OF DISTILLING
BUY ONLINE www.speysidedistillers.co.uk UNIQUE 15% DISCOUNT CODE: CASK15 01479 810126 firstname.lastname@example.org @speythesnug
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IWC SCOTTISH MERCHANT OF THE YEAR 8 TIME WINNER
We have an incredibly enjoyable selection of whiskies we’d love to introduce to you plus over 2000 wines, beers and spirits from around the world. UK and Europe wide delivery.
Bridge of Allan · Edinburgh Stirling · Inverness · London woodwinters.com
www.mashtun-aberlour.com www.mashtun-aberlour.com www.mashtun-aberlour.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 61
RECCHIA BARDOLINO 2019, VENETO, ITALY 10
From Lake Garda, this light red is the perfect match for turkey and lighter vegetarian dishes. NOSE: Beautiful floral cherry nose with hints of redcurrants, rose petal and raspberries. PALATE: The palate is low tannin with the floral notes coming through alongside fresh cranberries. FINISH: . Beautiful bright finish, cleansing with lingering strawberry and red fruits.
BODEGAS ALCENO SAUVIGNON BLANC 2019 8.50
It is unusual to have Sauvignon Blanc coming from Spain, however the dry warm climate in Jumilla is ideal. NOSE: Highly aromatic on the nose, lots of passion fruit and mango. PALATE: Palate continues with the fruit salad effect – between Sancerre and Marlborough Sauvignon. FINISH: Finishing long and clean with a refreshing acidity, and only 12% alcohol.
CANTINA GOCCIA NODO 2012 26
Umbria is a hidden gem in Italy nestled next to its famous cousin Tuscany. Aged for 2 years in cask and 6 in bottle, it’s long and lingering. A beauty. NOSE: Well structured and balanced with good acidity and dry grippy tannins. Strong notes of bitter cherries and violets. PALATE: The palate shows the aged development of a good Barolo, with mature red fruits and a touch of tar and roses. FINISH: A lingering and savoury finish.
OWNER, WOODWINTERS WINES AND WHISKIES, BRIDGE OF ALLAN
With shops in Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh, WoodWinters was born from owner Douglas’ desire to share the magic of great wine – not the mystery. Douglas talks us through his favourites from across the globe.
62 | Scottish Whisky Awards
Liquid gold After hunting high and low for exquisite new expressions, the best drams of 2020 were revealed at the annual Scottish Whisky Awards
he Scottish Whisky Awards is a comprehensive year-round programme which assesses Scotch whisky producers for success in business performance and their ability to produce fantastic Scotch. It has been created by the same team behind the Scottish Beer Awards and Scottish Gin Awards programmes, and involves the work of over 40 judges, a year-round delivery team of 12 people and this year the assessment of 155 whisky products from 38 different distilleries. Working with international sensory management experts, Cara Technology, organisers have devised a comprehensive tasting regime which assesses Scotch across a range of measures. In 2020 event restrictions prevented the live tasting event from going ahead so tasting was carried out in sessions by live Zoom calls hosted by sensory experts, and judges were asked to record their marks on sensory assessment software. The results are created by ranking products based on their highest average marks. The best products and businesses progress to the ďŹ nals and in the taste competition only the top three products are presented with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
The business competition involves the detailed assessment of written entries which detail how whisky businesses are addressing whisky production in that year. This includes areas such as sustainability, community contribution, marketing, branding and product launch success. The ultimate award in the competition, Whisky Distillery of the Year, is presented to the business which is ranked best for its achievements overall. Its business marks are added to marks gained in the taste competition to create the ultimate winner for the year. In 2020 Glasgow Distillery were the only contender in Whisky Distillery of the Year to win two Gold medals and performed well in the business judging, therefore collected the ultimate award of the night. There are many whisky competitions worldwide, but the Scottish Whisky Awards is the only competition which assesses only Scotch from all of Scotland. The competition gives Scotch producers valuable marketing assistance in selling Scotch internationally while promoting and preserving Scotlandâ€™s enviable reputation, history and heritage as the worldâ€™s leading whisky nation.
Cask and Still Magazine | 63 >>>
SCOTTISH WHISKY DISTILLERY OF THE YEAR
EXCELLENCE IN BRANDING SPONSORED BY WOLFFE
SPONSORED BY BRUCE STEVENSON INSURANCE BROKERS
WEMYSS VINTAGE MALTS
GLASGOW DISTILLERY, THE GLASGOW DISTILLERY COMPANY
Eden Mill St. Andrews
GlenAllachie Distillery, The GlenAllachie Distillers Co
Glasgow 1770, Glasgow Distillery Company
Ardbeg Distillery, The Glenmorangie Company
Isle of Arran Distillers
The Scalasaig Island Hopper, Colonsay Beverages Cù Bòcan Single Malt, The Tomatin Distillery Co
The GlenAllachie Distillers Co Malt Riot, Glasgow Distillery Company Tobermory Distillery, Distell International
PRODUCT LAUNCH OF THE YEAR
BRAND EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY RANKIN BROTHERS & SONS
ISLE OF RAASAY DISTILLERY, R&B DISTILLERS FINALISTS: Bunnahabhain Distillery, Distell International Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, John Dewar & Sons Loch Lomond Whiskies, Loch Lomond Group
TOURISM DESTINATION OF THE YEAR
GLEN SCOTIA MALTS FESTIVAL, LOCH LOMOND GROUP FINALISTS: Glasgow Distillery 1770 Triple Distilled Release No.1, Glasgow Distillery Company Glasgow Distillery 1770 Peated Release No.1., Glasgow Distillery Company
SPONSORED BY MICHAEL LAIRD ARCHITECTS
THE CLYDESIDE DISTILLERY, MORRISON GLASGOW DISTILLERS FINALISTS: Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, John Dewar & Sons Glen Scotia Distillery, Loch Lomond Group The GlenAllachie Distillery, The GlenAllachie Distillers Co
64 | Scottish Whisky Awards
COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY BAIRDS MALT
TASTE CATEGORIES SINGLE MALT - NO AGE STATEMENT
SPONSORED BY BRUNI ERBEN
H G O L D AW
H S AW I LV E R
Loch Lomond Group
W BRONZE A
Deeside Distillery Highland Park Distell International
INDEPENDENT BOTTLER OF THE YEAR
FINALISTS: 2019 Release Single Malt; Eden Mill Distillery Ardbeg An Oa; Ardbeg Distillery
Ardbeg Blaaack; Ardbeg Distillery Ardbeg Committee Release 2020; Ardbeg Distillery
NORTH STAR SPIRITS
Ardbeg Corryvreckan; Ardbeg Distillery Ardbeg Supernova; Ardbeg Distillery Ardbeg Uigeadail; Ardbeg Distillery
Arran Barrel Reserve; Lochranza Distillery
Douglas Laing & Co
Auchentoshan Three Wood; Auchentoshan Distillery
Bunnahabhain Stiùreadair; Bunnahabhain Distillery
Hannah Whisky Merchants
Chaos; North Star Spirits
John Crabbie & Co
Crabbie’s Yardhead; John Crabbie & Co Cù Bòcan Creation #1; Tomatin Distillery Deanston Virgin Oak; Deanston Distillery Dream to Dram; Kingsbarns Distillery Glasgow 1770 - The Original; Glasgow Distillery Glen Moray Elgin Classic; Glen Moray Distillery
EXCELLENCE IN SUSTAINABILITY SPONSORED BY SCOTLAND FOOD AND DRINK
ARBIKIE DISTILLERY FINALISTS: Diageo Tomatin Distillery
GLASGOW 1770 - PEATED RELEASE NO.1.; Glasgow Distillery
Glen Moray Elgin Classic Cabernet Cask Finish; Glen Moray Distillery Glen Moray Elgin Classic Peated; Glen Moray Distillery Glen Moray Elgin Classic Port Cask Finish; Glen Moray Distillery Glen Scotia Double Cask; Glen Scotia Distillery
ARDBEG BLAAACK COMMITTEE RELEASE; Ardbeg Distillery
Glen Scotia Victoriana; Glen Scotia Distillery Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or; Glenmorangie Distillery Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake; Glenmorangie Distillery Glenmorangie Signet; Glenmorangie Distillery Highland Park Orkney Rowing Club; Highland Park
LAPHROAIG PX (GTR); Laphroaig Distillery
Highland Park Scottish Ballet 50; Highland Park Laphroaig Quarter Cask; Laphroaig Distillery Laphroaig Select; Laphroaig Distillery Loch Lomond Classic; Loch Lomond Distillery
Cask and Still Magazine | 65 >>>
SINGLE MALT UNDER 12 YEAR OLD SPONSORED BY MUNTONS
ARDBEG 10 YEAR OLD; Ardbeg Distillery
SINGLE MALT 12 YEAR OLD SPONSORED BY COOPER SOFTWARE AND IFS
ARRAN 10 YEAR OLD; Isle of Arran Distillers TC
H G O L D AW
LEDAIG 10 YEAR OLD; Tobermory Distillery FINALISTS: Ardbeg Wee Beastie; Ardbeg Distillery Benromach 10 Year Old; Benromach Distillery Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2009 Batch 4; Benromach Distillery Crabbie 8 Year Old; John Crabbie & Co Glen Moray Fired Oak 10 Year Old; Glen Moray Distillery Glenmorangie Original; Glenmorangie Distillery Laphroaig 10 Year Old; Laphroaig Distillery Loch Lomond 10 Year Old; Loch Lomond Distillery The GlenAllachie Wood Finish Batch 2 - 9 Year Old Rye Wood Finish; GlenAllachie Distillery
SINGLE MALT 13-16 YEAR OLD SPONSORED BY COOPER SOFTWARE AND IFS
GLENMORANGIE QUINTA RUBAN; Glenmorangie Distillery SILVER O
H G O L D AW
HIGHLAND PARK SALTIRE EDITION 2; Highland Park BRONZE
GLEN SCOTIA CAMPBELTOWN MALTS FESTIVAL 2020; Glen Scotia Distillery FINALISTS: Aberfeldy 16 Year Old; Aberfeldy Distillery Aberfeldy Madeira Cask 16 Year Old; Aberfeldy Distillery Benromach 15 Year Old; Benromach Distillery Bowmore 15 Year Old GTR; Bowmore Distillery Bowmore 15 Year Old; Bowmore Distillery Crabbie 15 Year Old; John Crabbie & Co Craigellachie 13 Year Old; Craigellachie Distillery Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 15 Year Old; Glen Moray Distillery Glen Scotia 15 Year Old; Glen Scotia Distillery
H G O L D AW
DEANSTON 12 YEAR OLD; Deanston Distillery SILVER
GLENMORANGIE LASANTA; Glenmorangie Distillery BRONZE
THE DEVERON 12 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY; Macduff Distillery FINALISTS: Aultmore 12 Year Old; Aultmore Distillery Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old; Bunnahabhain Distillery Crabbie 12 Year Old; John Crabbie & Co Glenmorangie The Accord; Glenmorangie Distillery Highland Park Ness of Brodgarâ€™s Legacy 12 Year Old; Highland Park Inchmoan 12 Year Old; Loch Lomond Distillery Inchmurrin 12 Year Old; Loch Lomond Distillery Loch Lomond 12 Year Old; Loch Lomond Distillery Royal Brackla 12 Year Old; Royal Brackla Distillery Tobermory 12 Year Old; Tobermory Distillery Tomatin 12 Year Old; Tomatin Distillery
Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate; Glenmorangie Distillery Glenmorangie The Elementa; Glenmorangie Distillery Glenmorangie The Tribute; Glenmorangie Distillery The GlenAllachie 15 Year Old; GlenAllachie Distillery
66 | Scottish Whisky Awards
SINGLE MALT 17-20 YEAR OLD SPONSORED BY CASK & STILL MAGAZINE
SINGLE MALT 21 YEAR OLD AND OVER SPONSORED BY WEATHERALL
BUNNAHABHAIN 25 YEAR OLD; Bunnahabhain Distillery
H G O L D AW
H G O L D AW
GLENMORANGIE GRAND VINTAGE 1995; Glenmorangie Distillery
TOMATIN 18 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY; Tomatin Distillery
FINALISTS: Aberfeldy 21 Year Old; Aberfeldy Distillery Aberfeldy Madeira Cask 21 Year Old; Aberfeldy Distillery Aultmore 21 Year Old; Aultmore Distillery
Bowmore 25 Year Old; Bowmore Distillery
CRAIGELLACHIE 17 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY; Craigellachie Distillery
GLENMORANGIE 19 YEAR OLD; Glenmorangie Distillery
Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 21 Year Old; Glen Moray Distillery Glen Scotia 25 Year Old; Glen Scotia Distillery Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1996; Glenmorangie Distillery
BLENDED MALT – UNDER 12 YEAR OLD SPONSORED BY CARA TECHNOLOGY
Ardbeg 19 Year Old 2020 Edition; Ardbeg Distillery
Bowmore 18 Year Old; Bowmore Distillery Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old; Bunnahabhain Distillery Deanston 18 Year Old; Deanston Distillery Glen Moray Elgin Heritage 18 Year Old; Glen Moray Distillery
MALT RIOT; Glasgow Distillery C
Aultmore 18 Year Old; Aultmore Distillery
ROYAL BRACKLA 21 YEAR OLD; Royal Brackla Distillery BRONZE
H G O L D AW
CLYDEBUILT COPPERSMITH; Ardgowan Distillery BRONZE
PEAT CHIMNEY; Wemyss Vintage Malts
Glen Scotia 18 Year Old; Glen Scotia Distillery
Glenmorangie 18 Year Old; Glenmorangie Distillery
Big Peat; Douglas Laing & Co
Ledaig 18 Year Old; Tobermory Distillery
Nectar Grove Batch Strength; Wemyss Vintage Malts Scallywag; Douglas Laing & Co
Royal Brackla 18 Year Old; Royal Brackla Distillery The Deveron 18 Year Old; Macduff Distillery
Spice King; Wemyss Vintage Malts The Hive; Wemyss Vintage Malts The Scalasaig – Maiden Voyage; Colonsay Beverages Waterproof; Macduff International
Cask and Still Magazine | 67
BLENDED MALT 12 YEAR OLD AND OVER
SPECIALITY OR SINGLE CASK WHISKY
H S AW I LV E R
SIRIUS; North Star Spirits SILVER
VELVET FIG AGED 25 YEARS; Wemyss Vintage Malts BRONZE
H G O L D AW
H S AW I LV E R
W BRONZE A
TOMINTOUL 2005 WITH FIRST-FILL AMONTILLADO SHERRY FINISH #19A; Hannah Whisky Merchants SILVER
CRABBIE 40 YEAR OLD SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT; John Crabbie & Co BRONZE
MacNair’s Lum Reek 12 Year Old; GlenAllachie Distillery
GREATDRAMS BLENDED CASK SERIES BATCH 03; GreatDrams Ventures
MacNair’s Lum Reek 21 Year Old; GlenAllachie Distillery
W BRONZE A
H G O L D AW
SPONSORED BY CLOSE BROTHERS BREWERY RENTALS
SPONSORED BY HALEWOOD
TOMATIN DECADES II; The Tomatin Distillery
29.269 - It rubs the lotion on its skin; The Scotch Malt Whisky Society 37.127 - Coconut curry down the Douro valley; The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Arbikie Highland Rye 4 Year Old; Arbikie Distillery Crabbie 30 Year Old; John Crabbie & Co Hip Flask Series No. 15; Eden Mill Distillery Isle of Jura 1992 #1857; Hannah Whisky Merchants
FOR MORE INFORMATION To find out more about the awards, the sponsors or the winners visit the Scottish Whisky Awards website. scottishwhiskyawards.org.uk/swa
Knockdhu 8 Year Old; GreatDrams Ventures Lochindaal 2009 Bourbon Barrel Cask #59; Hannah Whisky Merchants Longmorn; North Star Spirits Robert Graham’s Dancing Stag Selection 2005 Tomintoul; Robert Graham
68 | Homegrown gin
Spearheaded by a coterie of innovative producers, ties to the land â€“ such as provenance, locally grown ingredients and even carbon neutral spirit â€“ are all the rage in the gin world Written by Geraldine Coates
Cask and Still Magazine | 69 >>>
he National Trust for Scotland’s announcement of the launch of a new gin to celebrate the success of the efforts to regenerate the Cairngorm’s ancient pine forests leads to the intriguing idea that, if it were an art movement, gin appears to have accelerated from the Renaissance to Romanticism in record time. The Romantics, an early nineteenth century grouping that included people as diverse as Wordsworth and the painter Caspar David Friedrich, were inspired by nature in its wildest and most sublime forms. Increasingly we see gin producers following the same path, going beyond ideas of provenance into an ethos where the unique character of their surroundings is reﬂected in the liquid. Three distilleries that embody this philosophy spring to mind – Hepple Spirits in Northumberland, The Arbikie Distillery in the north east of Scotland and the Isle of Harris Distillery on Harris. A pioneer of back to nature distilling, Hepple Spirits is a collaboration between chef Valentine Warner, drinks guru Nick Strangeway, drinks developer Cairbry Hill, landowner Walter Riddell and distiller Chris Garden. It’s made in a purpose built distillery on the Hepple Estate
adjoining the Northumberland National Park, one of the wildest and most remote parts of the UK. ‘Everything is about the juniper here which should be obvious for gin but often isn’t nowadays,’ Nick tells me. ‘We use three different types – Italian juniper, Macedonian juniper and green juniper grown locally. The local juniper is very important. It’s one of the wildest plants in the UK and it grows very well up here because of our isolation and lack of pollution. It has a particular character and we’ve even developed a high pressure CO2 extraction process to embed its unique ﬂavours. The resulting distillates are then blended. ‘Many bushes on this estate are 300 to 400 years old and we’ve got to the stage where we know each one individually, they’ve even got names. We know every stage of their natural cycles, how the weather affects growing conditions, when is the best time to harvest. The same is true of the other botanicals that grow here like Douglas ﬁr, bog myrtle and lovage.’ Above left: Juniper berries. Above right: The National Trust for Scotland’s new Pinewood Conservation Gin.
70 | Homegrown gin
There is something magical about this intimate relationship between maker and the land that produces the raw materials for his products, and the Hepple team see themselves as akin to a small vineyard where the owner is responsible for every stage of production. That idea went a step further last summer with the release of an experimental bottling, Miriam, named after a particularly venerable juniper bush whose berries and needles were made into a gin that was then rested in barrels made from the tree’s wood. The Hepple Estate is situated in a designated Site of Special Interest because of the diversity and importance of its flora and fauna and to ensure the sustainability of juniper here in the future a thousand new bushes have now been planted. The whole 4,000-acre estate has also just embarked on a rewilding process, which will essentially allow the land and its wildlife to restore and manage itself. ‘This very deep connection with the landscape here makes us care more about the finished product and have respect for what has gone into it,’ says Nick. This passion for the bounty of nature is the driving force behind distilling at Arbikie on the east coast of Angus, the brainchild of the three Stirling brothers whose family have farmed here since the 1660s. The Arbikie distillery makes two gins – AK’s Gin and Kirsty’s Gin – as well as whisky and vodka. It’s a complete field-to-glass operation based on distilling the best of what the land offers in the unique environment surrounding the distillery. Hence the grain and potato crop strains have been selected for flavour not yield and are grown in conditions that are as far away from mechanised farming as you can get, with crop rotation and regenerative farming replacing the use of chemical fertilisers. ‘We have a single estate ethos and are aiming to be completely self sufficient in what goes into our products,’ explains John Stirling. ‘Botanicals such as kelp, carline thistle root and blaeberries are harvested locally and bees have been reintroduced to the farm so that we have our own honey. ‘Eventually we will be able to grow 100% of our botanicals here, even the exotic ones, in grow tunnels where the temperature can get up to well over 40 degrees. We’ve planted a lot of juniper although it’s slow growing and will take time before we can harvest the berries. For us it’s about
sustainability and preserving this particular ecosystem for future generations. We see ourselves as custodians of this land.’ Last year Arbikie launched the first ever carbon neutral gin, Nàdar. Meaning ‘nature’ in Gaelic, Nàdar is made from peas and is based on the research undertaken by head distiller Kirsty Black exploring the potential of legumes as an environmentally sustainable crop to the brewing and distilling industries. Going forward the peas will now be grown at Arbikie. It’s worth remembering that whilst this focus on the supremacy of the natural cycles of the land seems quite new and radical, it is actually a return to the earliest traditions of commercial distilling when, all over Europe, distilling was a cottage industry – the ideal way to make the most of surplus crops during the bleak winter months. And it accords perfectly with the consumer-led desire to understand the provenance of their food and drink. Right at the other end of the country it’s the sea that has been the inspiration for another distillery. A major objective of Anderson Blackwell, the founder of Isle of Harris Distillery, was to produce spirits that would somehow embody the ethos of the land and people of this remote outpost of the Western Isles. When the recipe for their gin was being developed many locally-grown botanical ingredients were put under the microscope. The eureka moment came when an ethno-botanist who was also a wild swimmer suggested sea kelp, a form of seaweed that grows profusely in underground forests in Harris waters. Sea kelp had been commercially exploited by local people for centuries as a foodstuff and natural fertiliser so its use was deeply embedded in the history of the island. Sea kelp, with its slight sweetness and umami type flavours, combined beautifully with the other more conventional botanicals to create a real sense of place for what has turned out to be a multi-award-winning gin. It is hand harvested by a local diver solely between the months of January and April to ensure minimum disruption to the other forms of sea life surrounding the island. Although I have always loathed the term ‘craft distilling’ to describe ‘small batch’ or ‘artisan’ type production, it’s easy to see we will soon need a new word to illustrate the way these distillers produce next level spirits in a way that reflects their sense of place. ‘Mindful distilling’ anyone?
THere is something magical about this intimate relationship between maker and the land
Cask and Still Magazine | 71
Clockwise from top: The men behind Hepple Gin (Credit: Sue Todd Photography); Arbikie farm; sugar kelp diver Lewis MacKenzie; the Isle of Harris distillery; Kirsty Black and Graeme Walker with NĂ dar Gin.
72 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
PORTOBELLO ROAD OLD TOM 37.50
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
This is another wonderful release from Portobello Road, a very traditional style that is designed for old fashioned cocktails. NOSE: This is a big Old Tom, full and
Matthew c M Fadyen
intense. Loads of cinnamon and other spices backed by citrus and a hint of apples. Then in the background a touch of malt. PALATE: Dry and full bodied, loads of sweet spice dominates along with juniper and some apple pie notes.
CO-OWNER, THE GOOD SPIRITS CO., GLASGOW
FINISH: Lingering sweetness and punchy juniper.
Matt can usually be found at the helm of The Good Spirits Company on Glasgow’s Bath Street, hosting monthly whisky, gin and cocktail tastings.
BADACHRO GIN 36.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
Badachro Gin is a reflection of the pure air, water and land that defines the north west Highlands. NOSE: A lovely fresh nose to this gin. Juniper leads then bog myrtle opens up leading to floral and herbal notes. PALATE: Hints of coconut from the gorse blossom, with further bog mytle and a hint of elderflower and a suggestion of lavender. FINISH: Fresh, lightly sweet with lavender and a hint of citrus and very slight peppery. note.
CRAG AND TAIL GIN 38
Ewan c M Ilwraith
OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY
robertsonsofpitlochry. co.uk Ewan bought Robertsons of Pitlochry in 2013 and has forged a reputation as an award-winning whisky shop and tasting room. They have their own range of Single Cask whiskies and a gin. A warm welcome is always on offer and is friendly advice readily available.
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
A lovely, easy going gin. Everything is nicely balanced and rounded. A perfect gin for any time of day. NOSE: The nose is citrusy and floral with some light fruity watermelon notes. PALATE: The palate is soft with light creamy notes, some pithy lemon and floral notes. FINISH: Refreshing and clean.
Cask and Still Magazine | 73
SEVEN CROFTS FISHERMANâ€™S STRENGTH GIN 46.50
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
A big bold release from Seven Crofts, this has been a firm staff favourite since it arrived. NOSE: Intense and herbaceous. This gin has an earthiness, some citrus notes and is backed up by some floral notes. PALATE: Intense and balanced with herbaceous notes, earthiness and those floral notes again. FINISH: A long, warm finish from juniper, pepper and coriander.
BADVO GIN 39.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
A sweet, herbaceous gin made with 100%
hand-foraged Scottish botanicals.
NOSE: A bold gin with herbal and fresh cut
SELECTED BY EWAN
Made in celebration of Scottish nature, with wild, fresh botanicals, harvested by hand. NOSE: A very fresh nose to this gin which comes from the very clean botanical list, simply juniper and rosehip. PALATE: Juniper, pine notes and the sweetness
grass notes. Quite heavy but with a sweet note to It. PALATE: The sweetness of nettle and hints of spice from the wild mint give this gin a deep and intriguing flavour. FINISH: Rich and full with apple and rowanberry on the finish, best served with Fevertree and a slice of citrus.
of rosehip make this a really light and refreshing gin. FINISH: A refined and fresh finish, best served with a twist of orange, squeezed to releases the oils.
74 | Vodka
After experiencing first-hand the incredible support of UK Armed Forces’ charities, Edinburgh-based military veteran Chris Gillan created a unique vodka to give back to those who served their country Written by Rosie Morton
peaking with Chris Gillan, an Edinburgh-based military veteran, was easily one of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had in 2020. After joining the Royal Air Force aged just 22 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Chris set off on a journey that would see him work in the RAF Police, train as a firefighter to tackle the UK fire strikes of 2002-03, live through 179 rocket attacks from the militia in Iraq, and ultimately serve in Afghanistan alongside the SAS. It wasn’t until he sustained an injury when training the Afghan Police that he was forced to end his long-standing career. ‘Unfortunately, at the same time, a house I had purchased sustained substantial flood damage and the recession kicked in, so by the time I left the military I was in financial ruin and homeless,’ explains Chris. ‘I asked for support from the charities and that’s when the RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and provided me with the basics to help rebuild my life.’
Cask and Still Magazine | 75
Bottom: Chris Gillan, military veteran and founder of Heroes Drinks Company.
With this first-hand experience, Chris was determined to give back and promote awareness of the incredible work undertaken by the RAF Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, so launched the Heroes Drinks Company – a not-forprofit organisation dedicated to employing injured veterans and pledging donations from sales of his Heroes Vodka. Currently Chris contracts a still to make the spirit, taking it up to 96.4% before diluting it to 40% ABV with Scottish water. He pledges a minimum of 20% of all profits to the three UK Armed Forces’ charities. ‘Our long-term plans are to build our own distillery,’ explains Chris. ‘This year has delayed that process, but our ambition is to raise enough funds to buy a farm and have veterans working on both the farm and the distillery, with a view to building temporary accommodation for veterans that are at risk of being homeless, or who are homeless. ‘We can then take them on board for a 12-month programme. It’s ambitious. But everything starts with an idea.’ Chris already has work placement programmes in place that provide veterans that are struggling with physical or psychological injuries with hands-on experience, and they have already proven an invaluable lifeline to many. ‘Seeing individuals thrive and then come back saying, “Thanks, you really helped me” – that’s rewarding,’ says Chris. ‘We’ve had individuals whose lives have been transformed by working with us.’ In addition to aiding veterans, Heroes Vodka has, in fact, already earned its stripes on an international stage and has seen off
substantial competition in blind taste tests, winning a gold award in the International Wine and Spirits Competition, as well as the Edinburgh Prestige Award for Vodka Producer of the Year 2020, and Lux Life Magazine’s 2019 Spirits Producer of the Year. Chris was also awarded the title Entrepreneur of the Year at the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards. ‘Heroes Vodka makes a great cocktail because it’s so smooth. My personal favourite is to keep it simple with a double measure of Heroes Vodka, a little bit of Sprite and a slice of orange peel. ‘We also did a Christmas cocktail called Festive Indulgence, and that is by far one of my favourite cocktails with any spirit.’ With one spirit under his belt, Chris has set his sights on a new spiced rum project which he hopes to launch in the coming weeks. As we wait in anticipation for the final product, we will be raising a glass of Festive Indulgence this Christmas to the true heroes like Chris.
We’ve had individuals whose lives have been transformed by working with us
HEROES FESTIVE INDULGENCE
40ml Heroes Vodka 15ml Apricot Brandy 15ml Chocolate Orange Liqueur 20ml Single Cream 20ml Whole Milk
Grated Chocolate Orange, Orange Peel (for zest)
Shake all the ingredients together vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker and sieve into a coupe glass. For the garnish, grate a chocolate orange over the top and squeeze an orange peel over the glass to release the zest. Enjoy!
76 | Spirit Level
bring on the
Though frequently branded a cheap shot for a night on the tiles, there is much more to Tequila than meets the eye, says Brooke Magnanti
Cask and Still Magazine | 77 WORTH A LOOK
CALLE 23 BLANCO
or many people, the ﬁrst time they have tequila is cheap shots with salt and lime. You know, the sort of night out that usually leads to being sick behind the bins and feeling like a Mexican delivery truck ran you down the next day. For a signiﬁcant number of those, that’s also the last time they have tequila, and swear off the stuff forever, give or take a Margarita while on beachy holidays. They’re missing out. It’s a tragedy but an understandable one. Combine early, unpleasant drinking experiences with a confusing set of designations and types, and most people elect to stick with what they know. What’s the difference between Mezcal and Tequila? (Region and agave type.) What makes a Blanco different from a Reposado (Ageing, really: think of it as the difference between a new make spirit and one that’s been in the cask a while.) To those in the know, tequila is not only one of the most elegant spirits, but also one that has remained relatively affordable in the arms race of premium branding. Even mixtos (agave cut with other neutral spirits) have joined the craft phenomenon, with aged offerings from Sauza, such as their Commemorativo. This bad boy is aged in oak for three
years, earning it the designation of Añejo. With the wood imparting a rich vanilla to the aroma, this ain’t your dad’s supermarket Cuervo and bears more than a little resemblance to certain Speyside offerings. Who would have thunk it, a mixto that is actually giftable and won’t break the bank either. Once your eyes are opened to the exciting variety of Tequilas now more widely available, the logical next step is Mezcal. Unfortunate associations with tourist traps and bottles containing worms aside, many are actually made for sipping, and the peat-like punch of the smoked agave that is absent from Tequila provides a welcome dimension to the heart of the Mexican plant. Where I live now in the US Southwest even the humble and ubiquitous Margarita is a ﬁne art. Out with the oversweetened pre-made mixers and in with the craft bottled additions, or better yet, fresh lime and lemon juice with a dash of Triple Sec. One cocktail bar infuses the glass with the smoke of local sage ﬁrst, heightening the tequila punch; another smokes the salt on the rim, reminiscent of a campﬁre barbecue. Sip one of these from a crystal coupe while you watch the sun set past the Jemez Mountains and I promise any bad recollections of unpleasant shot-ﬁlled nights will be wiped clean away. And there is, as always, a Scottish connection. Since 2017 UWA Tequila, an Aberdeen ﬁrm, import genuine blue agave spirits aged in Speyside malt whisky casks shipped over to Mexico. Sound like an odd match-up? Perhaps not so much as it seems at ﬁrst glance: Tequila had the chops to compete with whisky on the palate, making this an evolution that ﬁts nicely into the premium spirits market. So why not revisit Tequila the next time you pick up a bottle?
An un-aged 100% agave tequila blanco, made with blue agave from Los Altos de Jalisco. It is medium-bodied, with citrus and herbaceous notes, with apple and pear flavours.
UWA REPOSADO TEQUILA
This agave reposado Tequila has notes of honeysuckle and creamy vanilla glaze with white pepper spice. It was aged using Speyside whisky casks.
Hand-crafted in small batches using steam-cooked Tequilana Weber Agave from fields near Guadalajara. It is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, then for another 12 months in American oak barrels.
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n Cask and Still Magazine | 79
BARREL Germans have shared their brewing expertise around the world – including here in Scotland Written by Peter Ranscombe
tep inside any noisy hall in Munich during Oktoberfest and there’s no mistaking the connection between Germany and beer. The French have their wines, the Russians have their vodkas and we Scots have our whiskies. Yet few countries are as closely associated with a single drink as Germany and beer – it consumes more than anywhere else in Europe, around 8.5 billion litres a year, compared with the UK’s 4.9 billion litres. At the heart of Germany’s love affair with beer is the ‘Reinheitsgebot’, the purity law introduced in 1516 by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria, who decreed that only hops, barley and water could be used to make the drink – with yeast making a later appearance. There are echoes of that German purity law in our own Scotch whisky regulations – simplicity, purity, replicability. And just as we taught the Japanese to make whisky – a little too well, perhaps – the Germans also didn’t keep their beer making traditions to themselves. It may be known as ‘the Mediterranean beer’, but there’s a distinct Germanic feel to Estrella Damm, the full-bodied lager from Barcelona and, whisper it, one of my all-time favourite foreign beers. It’s made in the Strasburg style and was created by August Kuentzmann Damm, who may have a very German-sounding name but was actually
‘Few countries are as closely associated with a single drink as Germany and beer’
born in Alsace, when it was part of France. Damm ﬂed from Alsace with his wife, Melanie, and his cousin, Joseph, during the Franco-Prussian War, and settled in Barcelona, where he opened his brewery in 1876. Estrella Damm still follows strictly his recipe – malted barley, rice and hops. In Glasgow, Petra Wetzel likes to keep things simple too; she founded her West Brewery in 2006 and in 2019 began selling her shares to her workers or ‘Westies’ as they’re better known. Wetzel arrived in Scotland on a school exchange trip near Stirling and came back in 1994 to study at the University of Glasgow – and hasn’t left since. She makes her beers according to that German purity law, including St Mungo, her maiden lager, brewed in the Helles style. Her range has expanded over the years and now includes: Heidi-Weisse, a ‘hefeweizen’ or wheat beer; a dunkel dark lager called DRK; and ‘Feierabend’, a hoppy pilsner. Wetzel isn’t the only German to have made a mark on Scotland’s brewing scene. At the other end of the M8, Michael Hopert founded Loanhead-based Top Out Brewery in 2013 and was joined in 2017 by Andi Scheib. They cite American, Belgian and Scottish brewing traditions alongside their Germanic inﬂuences, and that smorgasbord of traits is clear to see, with stand-out brews including: Altbier, a lager-IPA hybrid; The Cone, a west coast – of the US – IPA; and a Yucatan honey wheat beer.
80 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
ANCHOR BREWING CHRISTMAS ALE 2020 (SPICED BROWN ALE) 3.35
SELECTED BY ANNA
Now in its 46th year this seasonal release from one of America’s oldest craft breweries is always highly anticipated. NOSE: Noses like a pretty classic strong brown ale, with chocolate and coffee, with a touch of pine resin sneaking through. PALATE: Those Christmas spices are far more apparent here, but still richly indulgent with lots of chocolate and marshmallow. FINISH: Some lovely sweet biscuit notes mingle with the spice, like a gingernut/hob-nob hybrid.
AMUNDSEN DESSERT IN A CAN HAZELNUT PRALINE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES (FLAVOURED STOUT) 7.65
SELECTED BY ANNA
Why bother with a flaming Christmas pudding when you can have your boozy dessert in canned beer form? NOSE: Like sticking your face in a box of the Purple Quality Street. There’s a really nice Amaretto cherry note too. PALATE: Thick, oily, and sweet, even when chilled down. A hint of tangy bitterness keeps it fresh on the back palate. FINISH: Vanilla ice cream covered in caramalised hazelnuts drizzled in chocolate sauce. It’s not subtle, but it is amazing.
THE KERNEL ‘BIÈRE DE SAISON DAMSON 2020’ 5.10
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
The Kernel were one of the first wave of Craft Brewers to really cause a stir. They continue to be one of the best and most innovative breweries in the UK. You will regret only buying one. NOSE: Tart red fruit, with a fresh funky nose. PALATE: The damsons add a tart and invigorating flavour to this fresh and fruity beer. FINISH: Acidic and pithy finish.
Cask and Still Magazine | 81
BLACK ISLE BREWERY ‘COCO VAN PORTER’ 4.00
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
A lovely dark beer for a cold night. The coconut transports you to warmer climes. NOSE: The nose is rich with roasted notes alongside coconut and vanilla. PALATE: Medium bodied with a nice balance between the dark malts and coconut and vanilla. FINISH: Sweet vanilla with rich, sumptuous decadence.
ST ANDREWS BREWING CO YIPPIE IPA 2.90
SELECTED BY ANNA
If Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then Yippie IPA from local legends St Andrews Brewing Company definitely counts as a Christmas beer. NOSE: A halfway house between traditional and modern IPA,
BEER & SPIRITS BUYER AT LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS
luvians.com Anna has handled all the beer buying at Luvians since 2018, but more recently has been bringing in more delicious finds in the world of spirits, including these cracking craft gins...
the malty roundness balances out the pineapple and apricot notes. PALATE: A finely tuned IPA with the fruitiness of the hops balancing their bitterness, a rounded, but still clean mouthfeel. FINISH: Less dramatic than dropping Hans Gruber out the window, but no less satisfying.
TEMPEST ‘DOUBLE HELIX IMPERIAL RYE IPA’ 5.90
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
This is a brilliant beer, adding rye to a popular style has elevated this excellent beer to another level. NOSE: Piney hops combine with herbal notes and juicy tropical fruit, like mango and a touch of tart citrus. PALATE: Full bodied and viscous, this has fruit and bitterness combined with a lovely spice character from the rye. FINISH: Lingering fruit character with pleasant bitterness.
Matthew c M Fadyen
CO-OWNER, THE GOOD SPIRITS CO., GLASGOW
Matt can usually be found at the helm of The Good Spirits Company on Glasgow’s Bath Street, hosting monthly whisky, gin and cocktail tastings.
82 | Whisky in Singapore
The distilling culture is still quite young, but in the last couple of years many small distilleries have opened – mainly for gin production – so there is plenty of hope for the future of Singaporean distilling. There are many challenges to overcome though: we don’t grow any barley, and we don’t have a huge amount of water or access to oak or sherry casks. It’s actually a bit of a fool’s errand, but why shouldn’t we dare to dream?
The mind behind the first whisky distilled in Singapore, Javin Chia, takes us through one of the world’s fastest growing whisky spots in Asia The whisky scene is booming in Singapore, and it has been one of the world’s fastest growing markets in the last few years. That doesn’t mean that all our whisky is drunk in Singapore though: despite being a small country, we have become one of the most important distribution hubs for South-East Asia. It started as a fairly simple market with blended whisky being the most popular product. There is an established wine culture in Singapore which attracts lots of local enthusiasts, and whisky has followed suit in recent years – we now have some fantastic whisky bars and plenty of whisky aficionados. There are prominent specialist bars such as The Auld Alliance, The Quaich Bar, The Single Cask, The Wall, La Maison Du Whisky and The Swan Song, some of which are also independent bottlers that stock crazy rare bottlings. In terms of festivals, the largest one is Whisky Live, and there’s a new one that was supposed to be launching this year called Whisky Journey. The number of local bloggers and Facebook pages appears to have grown incredibly too.
As for myself, I used to work in the brewing industry and have always been passionate about craft beer and spirits, hence why I came to Edinburgh to study Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. I started getting into whisky, which is a lot more affordable in Scotland than in Singapore, so I was able to try more unusual drams. I also worked at the Scotch Whisky Experience, and have since moved to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Last summer I had the opportunity to work at Brass Lion Distillery in Singapore. It was founded by Jamie Koh and was the second distillery to open in the country. It’s a young distillery that mainly produces gin, so I created some new recipe ideas for them. After pitching the idea of doing a whisky, we collaborated with General Brewing Co – a craft brewery in Singapore that has the equipment to create the all-important wash. I worked with head brewer Daryl Yeap to do the mashing and fermentation, using Maris Otter barley and Brewer’s Yeast, and then brought the wash to Brass Lion for distillation. They have a hybrid still from Germany which combines a pot and a column still – which is usually used for gin – but we switched to the pot still for our whisky. On 14 September, we produced the first legally distilled whisky in Singapore and filled our very first cask. Just a few months in, it’s maturing fast in Singapore’s hot weather. We’ll probably see the results in a couple of years. My dream would be to become the Singaporean version of Masataka Taketsuru and bring my knowledge of Scottish distillation back to Singapore to help the local whisky scene grow.
Glencairn Crystal.indd 83
The Machrie.indd 84
CASK & STILL MAGAZINE
WHISKY ROAD TRIP Visiting the North Coast 500’s twenty distilleries is an epic journey, BOTTLING IT ALL UP Blair Bowman sings the praises o...
Published on Dec 11, 2020
WHISKY ROAD TRIP Visiting the North Coast 500’s twenty distilleries is an epic journey, BOTTLING IT ALL UP Blair Bowman sings the praises o...