ISSUE TWELVE | FREE
THE CASK SCAM Special investigation: Lured by promises of unrealistic profits, whisky cask investors are in serious danger of losing large amounts of money
Cask & Still Magazine | 3 @caskandstillmag
ON THE COVER: The threat of cask investment scams
To celebrate reaching a dozen issues over six years, we have a corker of an investigation for true whisky aficionados. Our commissioning editor Blair Bowman, who himself is often asked to source rare casks of whisky on behalf of buyers from around the world, has become increasingly alarmed by what he sees as whisky’s Wild West. This is a land where casks – which can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand pounds to millions – are sold in a pressurecooker sales environment by companies who have only just set up and whose background is unknown in the famously tight-knit world of whisky where everyone knows everyone, and deals are still done on a handshake. These slick newcomers are often promising quite astonishing returns, which are of an eyebrow-raising magnitude – the figure
often quoted is 582% over ten years. In fact, some are even guaranteeing what appear to be unfeasibly huge returns. Our premise is that if something looks too good to be true, then it’s time to take a step back. So that is the background to Blair’s investigation. What he found staggered even us. We hope you enjoy this genuinely important cautionary tale.
EDITOR Richard Bath
DAVY BALLANTYNE This 6ft 4in goliath has raised money for charity by walking up Ben Nevis in chains and dragging an anvil up a mountain. Now he’s carrying a 50-litre cask around his home Isle of Arran. Buckle up for an extraordinary journey.
JAMES COSMO This storied Scottish actor has been in everything from Braveheart and The Chronicles of Narnia to Trainspotting and Game of Thrones – but nothing gives him more pleasure than sitting down with a treasured dram.
4 | What’s inside
Cover line 12 FOOL’S GOLD Blair Bowman has major
concerns that investors may be scammed when buying high-end casks
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S JUNE 2021 ISSUE TWELVE @caskandstillmag
DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Design: Grant Dickie Shannon Burton Production: Andrew Balahura Rachel Morrell
06 NEWS Remember,
you heard it here first...
42 A BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO BARLEY
08 BAR SNAPS Sit
44 CASK STRENGTH
back and relax with a dram at Poland’s Dom Whisky, a bar with terrific drams
10 ME AND MY DRAM Silver screen
legend James Cosmo joins us for a dram by the river
18 THE RANT Johanne McInnis tackles the issues surrounding ‘FOMO’ 22 MOUTHFUL OF SOUTH Incredible
distilleries in southern Scotland are waiting to be explored
34 SIX OF THE BEST Edinburgh’s The
Herringbone gives us their best cocktail recipes
36 ¡SALUD! We look at the ever-growing whisky scene in Spain
41 WHISKY BY NUMBERS
The stats that underline whisky’s economic importance
Davy Ballantyne circumnavigates Arran with a cask on his back
50 THE OAK HONEY EXPERIENCE Israel-
based Nisnas Industries revolutionise whisky tasting with oak tumblers
53 CONNOISSEURS SELECTION 72 CIRCLING THE WAGONS It’s high time
we came to the rescue of quality gin producers
78 SPIRIT LEVEL As far as Brooke Magnanti is concerned, apple brandy is a glassful of nostalgia to be lovingly savoured 81 OVER A BARREL TRADITIONAL Low alcohol and alcohol-free beers are no longer a taboo subject
82 WORLD OF WHISKY Sweden’s
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, Moa Katarina Nilsson Email: editor@caskandstill magazine.co.uk
ADVERTISING Business Development Executive: 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.
whisky scene is gaining significant momentum
6 | News feed
A HIGHLAND REVAMP
Diageo’s £185 million investment into tourism in Scotland has seen a huge revamp of the Clynelish Distillery’s visitor experience, which it is dubbing Johnnie Walker’s Highland Home. multi-sensory experience with secret rooms and hidden keys, each unlocking elements of the whisky’s unique story, as well as revealing stories of the local people, landscape and culture. The distillery is located in the Sutherland town of Brora on the famous North Coast 500 scenic route. Celebrating the completion of the whisky attraction’s multi-million-pound redevelopment and the return of domestic travel, Scottish endurance athlete Mark Beaumont officially opened Clynelish. malts.com/en-row/distilleries/clynelish
It has been reimagined into an interactive,
Littlemill Testament, the oldest expression from the distillery to be released to date, has been launched as a limited edition of 250 bottles. The liquid for the release has been taken from a single distillation date, on 4 October 1976. It is contained in a luxury decanter which incorporates treasured remnants of the original distillery manager’s house. These pieces, which date back to 1772, include reclaimed glass, slate, wood and stone sourced from the roof, windows, walls and floors of the building, allowing Littlemill collectors to possess their very own piece of history. Each cabinet comes complete with a dress stopper made from the sandstone taken from the remains. littlemilldistillery.com
FOLLOW US FOR ALL THE LATEST NEWS:
OVER THE ASKING
BEN’S IN POST
Northumbrian distillery Ad Gefrin has appointed
Sotheby’s first American whiskey auction, The
Ben Murphy (left) as head distiller. He will guide Ad
Thoroughbred Collection, was completely sold out,
Gefrin towards producing the first Northumbrian
totalling an impressive $965,813 — three times the
English single malt whisky. A graduate of Heriot-
overall pre-sale estimate. Featuring more than 250
Watt University’s Brewing and Distilling School in
lots of the rarest American Bourbon and Ryes ever
Edinburgh, Ben’s whisky journey has taken him
produced, the auction also marked the first single-
from Rock Town Distillery in Arkansas, USA,
owner spirits sale in the US, which was accrued over decades by an anonymous private collector. The top lot was a LeNell Red Hook Rye 24 Year Old Barrel, which doubled its pre-sale high estimate, selling for $43,750. sothebys.com
to Berentsens Brygghus in Egersund, Norway. Most recently, he was head distiller at Poetic License Distillery in Sunderland. adgefrin.co.uk
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GREEN FOR GO AT GLEN GARIOCH
Suntory in Glen Garioch’s distillery in Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire.
ABERFELDY 15 YEARS OLD
A significant £6 million investment is being made by owners Beam The renovation will see the distillery return to more traditional production processes, while also introducing new cutting-edge
technology for direct-fired distillation. The planned
Highland single malt whisky, 43% ABV, RRP £55.
changes will also reduce the distillery’s carbon
Finished in French wine casks from Pomerol, Bordeaux, it initially spent 15 years in a combination of Bourbon re-fill and re-char casks before maturing for four to five months.
footprint. Work began last year and various stages are expected to be completed over the course of 2021. The cornerstone of this transformation will be the reintroduction of
Islay single malt whisky, 46% ABV, RRP £100.
floor maltings as well as
Created for Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt (Fèis Ìle), Ardbeg Scorch has been matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks. The aromas of soot and smoke go with the flavour of grilled fare and black liquorice mingles with medicinal lozenge.
fired heating to the wash
Lowland single malt Scotch whisky, 46.7% ABV, RRP £49.
Bladnoch has released Vinaya. It pays homage to the original founders of the distillery. The expression also boasts a unique pair of cask types, ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, a combination never before released by the historic distillery.
Blended malt Scotch whisky, 41% ABV, RRP £15.99.
With hints of smoked sea salt, beach bonfires and caramelised sugar, Lidl’s new dram is inspired by Scottish folklore – the Abrachan is a mythical beast who roamed the country. The new Highlands & Speyside blended whisky joins Lidl’s awardwinning range.
the installation of directstill – traditional methods still used by only a handful of whisky distilleries. To find out more visit: glengarioch.com
WHISKY PODCAST CHAT
A new monthly podcast series from anCnoc whisky is set to lift the lid on the passion, process and personalities that go into making some of the world’s most expertly crafted products. Knock Tales Whisky Podcast with Gordon Bruce hears the Knockdhu Distillery manager fire up the microphone from his distillery desk in Knock, Aberdeenshire on the first #WhiskyWednesday of every month, chatting to a different guest in each episode. ancnoc.com/knock-tales/podcast
A NEW RECORD FOR BOWMORE
A Bowmore Archive Cabinet has sold for £409,000 at Sotheby’s Rare Whisky & Moutai Live sale in Hong Kong. This was a new landmark price for Bowmore at auction. The cabinet was designed by John Galvin and inspired by the Bowmore distillery. It also included a rare full collection of Black Bowmore. All proceeds raised from the auction will go direct to the Islay Development Initiative (IDI) to ensure a lasting legacy at the home of the Bowmore distillery. Find out more at bowmore.com
8 | Whisky bars of the world
DOM WHISKY, POLAND Based in the laid-back beach resort of Jastrzebia Góra on the Baltic Sea, this bar opened in 2009 and has over 2,000 bottles including classic, limited edition, and old and rare whiskies from across the world. It is the organiser of the first and largest Polish whisky festival, Festiwal Whisky Jastrzebia Góra, welcoming 7,000 guests each August. domwhisky.pl/en/
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10 | Me and my dram
Me & my
From a tipple on the riverbank to sharing a dram with fellow co-stars, silver screen actor James Cosmo finds whisky a comforting taste of home Interview by Rosie Morton
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When did you first try whisky? When I was about eight. My grandmother used to have a liqueur called Atholl Brose, which is basically oatmeal, honey, cream and whisky. The Earl of Atholl claimed it as his liqueur. My gran had a stone bottle of this Atholl Brose and I suppose it was only 10%-20% whisky, but I used to sneak in and have a little sip of that. I really enjoyed it, although it confused my elderly grandmother that the Atholl Brose was evaporating at an extraordinary rate. When did you really start to enjoy whisky? Probably in my thirties. I liked beer and I came to wine very late as well, but I loved my Guinness. I think they would like it if younger people switched over to whisky instead of vodka, but it is a more mature palate that enjoys whisky. What is it you love so much about whisky nowadays? It’s almost an emotional thing. It’s very comforting to sit down with a dram after work if it’s been a long day. It’s giving your head a little stroke: ‘Just relax and taste this.’ It’s Scottish and it reminds me of home. It’s part of my culture. It makes me feel centred and secure. How do you drink your whisky? Just with a little teaspoon of water in it. Ice is ﬁne – but I’d never ask for that.
What’s the most unusual bottle you have ever owned? I’ve got a bottle of whisky that I was presented with within a box about 30 years ago, and it’s still in that box. It was blended many, many years ago. It’s a 25 Year Old Smith’s Glenlivet. I did taste a Welsh whisky, Penderyn, when I was doing His Dark Materials – we ﬁlmed that down in Swansea. I was very impressed by it.
It’s giving your head a little stroke: ‘Just relax and taste this’
Where’s your favourite place to enjoy a dram? On the side of a river after landing a salmon. But in my case that would be such a rare occasion I’d almost be teetotal. So I would say the Boisdale restaurant in Belgravia which is owned and run by my great friend Ranald Macdonald. He has the most magniﬁcent selection of whiskies and they provide a wonderful atmosphere. I’m sure you could probably have a couple of different drams every day for a year from Ranald’s place. I’m certainly not an aﬁcionado of whisky – I don’t have that reﬁned a palate. I would think it unlikely that after a couple I could identify a whisky or wine. What’s your favourite dram? We had a whisky day at Annandale Distillery down in the Borders and had a fantastic day there. They produced a blend called Outlaw King and I was very impressed. I was very pleased that this small independent distillery was chosen. They’ve made a fantastic start to their business. It’s
great to see independent distillers pushing at that market, while so many are owned by huge multi-nationals. In any sort of business, when they start off small and they’re trying to get a corner of the market, that’s when they’re much more inventive and their enthusiasm is evident. It’s great to support people like that because they’re the people that will bring real change. They have to be different.
Have you ever persuaded your fellow actors to get into whisky? The main problem was getting them off the whisky! When you’re on a ﬁlm set it’s very business-like nowadays. The industry has changed so much that the social side of ﬁlm-making has all but disappeared. It’s very antiseptic now. People are more likely to go back and go to the gym before they go to bed, rather than say, ‘I’ll see you in the bar for a quick dram’. But that’s just the way things change.
What was it like being in ‘Whisky Galore!’? That was great fun. It was a remake of the iconic ﬁlm, although it was an excellent movie. I still like looking at the original because where they ﬁlmed it, on Barra, they’ve got all these extras that you can just tell are the real thing. Those wonderful old faces that you just wouldn’t get nowadays. It’s lovely to look back on that. The whole story of the SS Politician is just amazing. Eddie Izzard and I would share a dram after ﬁlming. Round a campfire after a day of fishing, who would you want to share a dram with? I would have liked to have sat down with Robert Burns and Abraham Lincoln – they’d have had a lot to talk about because Burns was Lincoln’s favourite poet. He carried a book of Burns’ poetry most places in his coat pocket. And my father.
12 | Cask investment scam
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Increased cask valuations aren’t everything – there is now alarming potential that investors will be caught out by highly organised scammers Written by Blair Bowman
train crash is waiting to happen in the world of whisky cask investments. With moribund stock exchanges and negative interest rates fuelling a boom in alternative investments, whisky cask investment has experienced explosive growth, but has also attracted a whole slew of slick new brokers keen to sell casks to the growing number of enthusiastic investors. Yet even the most cursory investigation of these new cask brokers reveals a succession of red ﬂags. As cask valuations have sky-rocketed over the past year, I’ve become increasingly concerned by a market that appears to be out of control and in which the potential for investors to be ripped off is alarmingly high. THE FABLED 582% Many fancy social media adverts claim that whisky
can offer returns of up to 582% over ten years. This ﬁgure has its basis in a reputable report by Knight Frank Luxury Investments Index collated by the knowledgeable team at Rare Whisky 101, who explicitly link this ﬁgure to an index tracking 100 bottles of the most desirable and rare Scotch whiskies. Unfortunately the 582% ﬁgure is being regurgitated by cask investment companies to suggest such returns are on offer for those investing in casks from distilleries rather than incredibly rare bottles. While maturing casks are typically increasing in value, I’m not aware of any coming close to 582%. Also, signiﬁcant growth in the value of casks is only possible if bought at a competitive price, while many of the newcomers are offering casks at inﬂated prices which make a proﬁt unlikely and a stratospheric increase of 582% almost impossible. Remember the golden rule – if something seems too good to be true...
14 | Cask investment scam
GUARANTEED RETURN ON INVESTMENT Incredibly, some whisky companies are offering ‘guaranteed’ returns on investment that are many multiples of the returns available through conventional investments. One company is offering the rare and limited opportunity to buy into a guaranteed 5 or 10 year bond. An investment of £10,000, they promise, will yield a ‘guaranteed return’ of 9.5% growth (a UK Government 10 year bond currently yields around 0.84%). In year 10 they guarantee to return £25,000. These adverts generally originate from territories where it would be diﬃcult, if not impossible, to pursue a legal remedy for mis-sold investments. Ask yourself this: if this investment really were guaranteed, why isn’t every pension fund, institutional investor and sovereign fund in the world getting in line? THE AUSTRALIAN WINE INDEX The most alarming fact I unearthed about some of the cask investment newcomers – especially those spending big on advertising and producing expensive glossy brochures – is the identity of their company directors. Back in the 2000s many of these company directors worked for or were involved with the Australian Wine Index (AWI) and other similar companies based in Singapore. There have been numerous legal cases and class action lawsuits against companies involved in this scam after thousands of investors lost millions of dollars in wine investments that they could not sell, from which there was no exit, or in which the wine never existed. A 2016 article from the Singapore Business Times reported that ‘some 8,700 people
are estimated to have invested up to $160m [£87m] in three of ﬁve ﬁrms that have received investor complaints’. The AWI scam used the same high pressure selling techniques and improbable promises of huge returns on investment currently being used by some whisky cask investment companies. Investors were persuaded to commit large sums on ﬁne wines at 6080% over market value on the promise of inﬂated and guaranteed returns. Most investors were then scammed a second time. A supposed auction was due to happen in Shanghai where investors could sell their wine but only
Unfortunately Nant were selling casks that simply did not exist
if they bought more bottles to make up larger lots. The auction never happened. AWI was then sold to another company, The Bottled Wealth, but customers’ new account numbers didn’t match previous records, clients couldn’t get through on the phone, emails bounced, and ﬁnally the CEO went AWOL. The modus operandi of some whisky companies is the same as those wine companies that went south: you don’t get to see the cask and you don’t get to taste the cask. The pitfalls of this approach became apparent in Tasmania
in 2017, when the Nant Whisky Group sold £11m worth of whisky casks to investors who put in £13,500 each on the promise of guaranteed annual returns plus a guaranteed buy-back in four years at almost £20,000. Unfortunately Nant were selling casks that simply did not exist. The links between some whisky cask investment schemes and the Australian Wine Index are deeply worrying. The same promises of big returns on investment draw in investors, who are asked for a large initial investment (several of these companies insist on a minimum of six casks). There’s the same subsequent pressure to add more casks to their portfolio; the same inﬂated prices for casks. Again, due diligence is key. If you are told that the original distillery will buy back their cask, ring the distillery to check. If the company says they can sell your cask on the open market, check what other brokers are asking for the same or similar casks. If told you can simply bottle the cask, remember that you’ll be lumped with duty and VAT that may cost as much as the cask itself (if you can legally sell the whisky, which is only possible if brokers hold the correct alcohol license). COMPANIES HOUSE Companies House is your friend when investing in casks. I’ve found countless anomalies in these companies and the people running them. One classic is the company directors who conveniently switch between having middle names or not having middle names, thus appearing as a separate director when you do a search. Some directors have multiple business trading names and registered companies, often registered overseas. I have also found directors who have been struck off Companies House,
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or companies which have failed, whose swift name change has made it harder to track down information about the company’s history. It is easy to get sucked into a bit of a rabbit hole while doing due diligence on these companies but I’d strongly encourage you to do this before parting with a penny. If anything seems a bit odd, or unusual, just walk away. If you want an example of how some unscrupulous businessmen work, I would encourage you to read Bill Linnane’s excellent blog (www.tripledistilled.blog) about one such company based in Ireland. DELIVERY ORDER OR NO DELIVERY ORDER Owning casks is a highly regulated process in which strict penalties from HMRC is an ever present risk. However, the laws were not written to stop private citizens purchasing duty suspended goods as alternative investments, while they also fall outside the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority. So ingenious charlatans can make grand claims about returns on investment with impunity. One of the simplest sleights of hand concerns the ‘Delivery Order’ (DO), a paper document which records transfer of ownership. The seller issues the DO, which is signed and counter signed by the new owner and then sent to the warehouse where the cask is lying. This is how the whisky industry tracks cask ownership transfers, and while it’s old fashioned it works, and also allows HMRC to track the ownership of casks during a warehouse audit. However, the new cask investment companies instead issue a buyer with a ‘certiﬁcate of ownership’, which means the cask sits on the account of the investment company which holds the DO. But without having the DO in your name you cannot instruct the warehouse to do anything to your cask. It’s like buying a car but instead of having the V5 certiﬁcate which proves ownership, you have a fancy IOU. Several of these companies insist on this method of business and also have clear clauses in their purchase agreements that state that they will not do anything with your cask without
16 | Cask investment scam
your prior agreement. But I have never met a warehouse keeper who would accept a company issued invoice or certiﬁcate of ownership. My big concern is that if these middlemen cask investment companies go bust and you don’t have a DO, it is much harder to establish that the cask belongs to you, not the company, which is what happened with AWI. When the Nant scam unravelled, some casks had multiple owners with competing certiﬁcates of ownership. The absence of a DO can mean that some unfortunate customers have found that the insured value of their cask is signiﬁcantly less than what they paid for it. If the cask stays in a warehouse and is resold multiple times for increasingly large sums, yet the warehouse keeper is unaware because they’ve not seen a DO, the insured value of the cask is limited to its replacement at a true market value, not the inﬂated price it was purchased at. One of the reasons some companies offer free storage for the ﬁrst few years is because they cannot move the cask for one of a variety of reasons. So they tel sell free storage and insurance as a beneﬁt when in reality, they don’t have the mechanics in place to correctly move the cask. There are several arcane but important details which can be used to bamboozle potential investors. One is companies boasting about having a Warehouse and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations (WOWGR), even when most people or companies trading in casks are required to have an HMRC issued WOWGR certiﬁcate as part of due diligence between traders of goods in warehouses. Another is companies (erroneously) claiming that cask sales are free of capital gains tax. The regulations are further exacerbated by there being different regulations if you or the cask broking company are non-UK resident, at which stage you or they need to appoint a Duty Representative. NON-EXISTENT (OR YET TO BE BUILT) DISTILLERIES Beware cask sellers offering the chance to buy casks from distilleries that haven’t been built yet.
There has been a sharp rise in cask brokers oﬀering eye-wateringly expensive casks that may actually never get ﬁlled
Several new distilleries have raised funds by pre-selling casks, but there has been a sharp rise in cask brokers offering eye-wateringly expensive casks that may actually never get ﬁlled if they don’t manage to build the distillery as planned. Again, the risk of an out-and-out scam is high: in 2011, 2,000 investors paid £4m for casks of Grandtully Single Malt from a start-up distillery which turned out to be non-existent. WHAT NEXT? My biggest concern is that the new cask investment companies simply disappear with investors’ money when the reality dawns that what looked like a sure thing is anything but, and that customers can’t exit, and can’t oﬄoad un-sexy casks from the handful of unspectacular distilleries which appear to be supplying the lionshare of these cask investment companies. If that happens, the bottom will fall as the market is ﬂooded with basic reﬁll casks, and the whole sector will suffer the sort of reputational cataclysm that befell Australian wine casks following their series of frauds. If there is to be a crash, it may not be next week, next month or next year, but with casks generally laid down for 5 or 10 years, it will be within the next decade as people realise that the cask(s) they have patiently waited
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to bottle or to sell is worth a fraction of what they were promised. And that’s if they are lucky: if they are unlucky the company that sold them the cask is long gone, their paperwork insuﬃcient to prove ownership, or even to identify the cask. I hope you can see how this is all building up to be a recipe for disaster but I do not wish this to be all doom and gloom. I am purely coming at this from a position where I can see the train hurtling down the track, the charlatans will be long gone and it will be those of us who are genuinely passionate and committed to the whisky industry that will be left to pick up the pieces. If it comes, the tsunami would deluge the good as well as the bad. There are many new distilleries offering fantastic cask-owning packages Holyrood Distillery, Raasay Distillery and Lindores Abbey Distillery spring to mind, but there are many more – yet their business model could be adversely affected. I have spoken to several owners of small distilleries who have sold casks early in their life, and most are now regretting it thanks to their concerns at the overheated nature of what they believe is a cask investment bubble. Such is the possible reputational risk from having their casks seen to be
changing hands for unrealistic sums that several distilleries are quietly spending considerable time trying to buy back as many casks as possible so that they can control the way their own brand is marketed. That said, I know that there is no greater thrill in life for a true whisky aﬁcianado than owning your own cask so I fully understand the impulse. But if you are a customer there are some really important rules to follow: do your due diligence, never take promises at face value, and always deal with reputable companies that are recommended by distilleries or whose longevity speaks for itself. While I have concentrated on those businesses which cause me concern, there are many good people operating in the business of whisky cask investment (full disclosure: I run my own boutique cask brokerage business specialising in the higher end of the market and focusing on very old and rare casks that are either bought by trade customers, such as independent bottlers, or high net worth individuals who are looking to own a single cask for a private bottling rather than seeking to make a return on their investment). I’ve detailed some companies who I would recommend. One of them is Rare Whisky 101, for whom Andy Simpson has three fundamental pieces of advice that will help avoid some of the most egregious pitfalls: If you are buying a mature cask get a sample; if you are buying a mature cask get a regauge (this tells you the remaining ABV and volume of liquid remaining in the cask); if you are buying new make spirit or mature whisky, get a Delivery Order. HMRC could also address this problem were they to clear up the legislation surrounding cask sales to private individuals by insisting that all cask owners must receive a DO. Yes, this might cause headaches for warehouse keepers and some legitimate cask brokering businesses, but it would go a long way to addressing a worrying situation. And make no mistake, I am very worried indeed.
18 | The Rant
If you break out in a cold sweat at the prospect of not acquiring a limited edition bottling, you might just be suffering from FOMO Written by Johanne McInnis
ear Rant Rover: This whole COVID-19 situation has further exacerbated my need to purchase unicorn or limited release whiskies that I love to hoard and admire. I have not been to a whisky shop, festival or distillery in almost 12 months. I am losing my mind and hair! What can I do to stop feeling this way? Signed: FOMO whisky lover in Mÿnsterville,
You are not losing your mind my dear friend, FOMO seems to be running rampant
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Dear FOMO whisky lover, You are not alone. It’s a predicament hundreds of thousands of whisky drinkers seem to be experiencing at the moment. The answer is complicated but I’m hoping you’ll ﬁnd some helpful insight. For our lovely readers let’s start by explaining what FOMO means. Since I’m also self-isolating and not able to research at my local but closed library, I relied on the good ol’ google machine to help me formulate a reply for you. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is the social anxiety stemming from a belief everyone else is getting something except the FOMO sufferer. It leaves the person feeling out of the loop, jealous or furious in some cases. Add to that the way in which social media bombards users with an endless 24-hour stream of activities or opportunities and you end up with FOMO. It is no surprise to this Rant Rover that the term was ﬁrst concocted, errr I mean scientiﬁcally identiﬁed, in 1996 by a marketing strategist named Dr. Dan Herman, author of Brand Management. It was popularised in 2004 by a group of Harvard business students whining about what social ladder rung the other students at Harvard were entitled to perch upon instead of themselves. So what is troubling you? Is your ﬁsh stick sandwich sitting in a knot in your stomach because you didn’t hear about the special masterclass open to the best 12 patrons on Facebook or are you slamming your laptop shut every time you didn’t even hear about the once in a lifetime virtual tasting? If so, there is indeed a very bad case of FOMO taking place in your life. Maybe this will help: many studies that I could ﬁnd (only two really, but that seemed like a good number) suggest that people suffering from FOMO lose track of their long-term goals and begin to struggle with their own self-perceptions. They experience an overwhelming sense of deprivation which in turn leads to an excessive need to
compete with peers further propagating boredom, loneliness and more anxiety to try harder to be in the know. And is it just me or has the pandemic intensiﬁed online advertising and marketing campaigns? The causes of FOMO vary but in your case it seems to be related to your need to keep up with the Joneses – and by that I mean, the other millions of whisky imbibers around the globe. I looked you up on Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook as well as a few whisky-related apps. I’m speculating at this point, but it certainly looks like you’ve been very busy posting pictures and reviews (mostly bad) about your recent experiences trying to acquire whisky bottles or spots on virtual tastings. Your 58 twitter posts in upper caps telling people that Càirdeas was utter rubbish because the Laphroaig website crashed at 12:05am seemed a little harsh I think, but again I’m not here to judge just help. The number of people complaining about how they were not able to purchase the one missing bottle from the 26 limited edition Highland Park Viking series has quadrupled since this pandemic started. And I saw a lottery on Instagram for a chance to buy one of the 10,000 Ardbeg Committee bottlings of a $400 whisky that was named after a Sixties psychedelic era? Honestly, even I felt a bit anxious after Facebook reminded me for the 124th time that the Easter edition of Big Peat (he is utterly adorable with the bunny ears and cotton tail) was going on sale at 2am on Good Friday. So no, you are not losing your mind my dear friend, FOMO seems to be running rampant thanks to marketing and advertising schemes that are bombarding us around the clock during the crazy times we live in. Life is too short to be roped into fearing that you are missing out on the next limited edition release of anything really. So, here is my advice: • Turn off your social media, and unsubscribe from all distillery/marketing/advertising emails. • Go sit in your garden, put your feet up and pour a dram. • There will always be whisky so stop and enjoy what’s inside the bottle instead of wasting time listening to people selling you stuff you don’t need. Or • Switch to vodka. Sincerely, Rant Rover PS – There is nothing you can do about losing your hair, but trust me on the whisky!
JOIN OUR CLUB & HELP SHAPE OUR SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISK Y WHISK Y for SHARING
SAY HELLO TO BILLY
JOIN OUR FOUNDERS CLUB
Crafting innovative spirits for everyone who likes a tipple sits at the very heart of everything we do at Crafty Distillery.
Billy&Co is proudly named after our founder’s late father, William James Taylor. Billy was quite a character. As well as building our distillery, he knew what was truly important in a great dram. Smooth, rich and balanced enough to be appreciated by all. He inspired us to create this very special Single Malt Scotch Whisky. One that can be loved and shared by everyone. Here’s to you Billy.
Come with us on our journey to develop an exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky. As a ‘Founder’ you’ll help us to refine our signature distilling formula. This foundation will allow us to create a unique whisky that offers a new level of quality, aroma and taste in years to come.
As we set out on our Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky adventure, we have one simple mission in mind. To create an innovative spirit that’s packed with character. Billy&Co is destined to be a very special Lowland Single Malt Whisky. One that respects the traditions of our beloved national drink. Yet also raises the bar in terms of taste and smoothness. It’s a whisky that’ll be crafted with your help. You see we want to let you share in its development. To shape the character of this truly unique Single Malt. And also enjoy some tasty tipples along the way.
Like Billy, we believe good whisky should bring people together. That’s why we want you to join us. As an exclusive Billy&Co Founders Club member you’ll share in the tasting, testing and development of the whisky. With our innovation and your insights we can make history together. And craft a Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky that delivers big on mouth feel, richness and complexity.
As a member you’ll enjoy: - 17x5cl unique new make spirit samples, sent out in six separate boxes. - Beautifully printed membership confirmation - The chance to buy our first Single Malt Whisky bottlings and cask releases. - A whole range of exclusive member offers and benefits. Limited to 695 members - £189 TO JOIN TODAY PLEASE VISIT: www.craftydistillery.com/billyandco
Cask and Still Magazine | 21
ounded in 2017 by owner Graham Taylor, Crafty Distillery has earned a reputation for delivering big on quality and taste. Their distillery was built to craft products that celebrate the region and live up to Scotland’s innovative spirit, which is why their ‘lightning bolt’ logo stands for their inspiration and is shaped like a map of Scotland. Current holder of the ‘Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year’ from the Scottish Gin Awards 2020, their is no sign of them slowing down, as this year marks the beginning of their exciting new Single Malt Scotch Whisky journey. The distillery holds a huge appeal for visitors, and is consistently rated as a five star venue and experience. Built by the founder’s late father Billy in 2017, it utilises a very simple and modern design. Clad in local Larch wood from the forest and featuring an impressive five-metre long tree bar, the large glass areas reward you with stunning views to the Galloway hills. Nestled on the edge of Newton Stewart, their distillery also offers up two highly commended tours to choose from. Tour & Taste – learn how they make their award-winning Hills &
Harbour Gin and other spirits. You’ll also get to see their new whisky stills and hear all about their plans. The tour finishes with three tasty perfect serves of their spirits. You can sit back and enjoy the drinks and views in their tasting room or covered outside seating area. They have a well stocked shop if you simply wish to pop in for a bottle or some other local food and drink products. Gin Escape – a unique day out with one of their team, you get to help them forage for two botanicals that make their Hills & Harbour Gin. You’ll take a stroll into the Galloway Forest Park to hand-pick some Noble Fire needles and visit a stunning beach to harvest some Bladderwrack Seaweed. You end the half-day experience with a tour of the distillery, some cocktail making made with the day’s foraged botanicals and then enjoy some tasty local produce. As for their Single Malt Scotch Whisky plans, Crafty Distillery have an innovative new approach that offers whisky fans the chance to play a meaningful role in the actual development of the whisky. Their Billy&Co Founders Club offers members the chance to taste and
share their views on 17 unique new make spirit samples. As each round is complete the feedback goes forward to dialling in the next round until they get to the final sample. Number 17 will be a product of hundreds of hours of research, analysis, distilling, nosing and tasting done by hundreds of people. ‘We strongly believe that good Single Malt Scotch Whisky helps bring people together. So for us, it’s crucial that we can also bring whisky fans along on that journey of discovery,’ said Graham Taylor, MD of Crafty Distillery. ‘We have a reputation for innovation and for inviting our customers into our process, as this gives us valuable insight to help carve out world-class spirits made with the people, for the people. Ultimately our Founders Club members will help us uncover a formula for Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky production that delivers on the traditions of what Scotch Whisky deserves to be, but also takes it to another level of regionality, quality and taste.’ For more information please visit: www.craftydistillery.com
22 | Southern Scotland distilleries
There’s something stirring down south, in the gentle hills of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway
Loving your work: The wooden washbacks at Annandale Distillery.
Cask and Still Magazine | 23 >>>
When it comes to tasty tipples, distilleries in Southern Scotland have spirits aplenty that can rival those of their northern counterparts Written by Morag Bootland
hen we think of the whisky-producing regions of Scotland our minds have a tendency to wander on a northerly trajectory, inevitably alighting on the windswept shores of Islay, the snow-capped mountains of the Highlands or the lush, fertile ﬁelds of Speyside. But there’s something stirring down south, in the gentle hills of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, and it’s well worth further investigation. Malts from the Lowland region are often thought to be characterised by their mellow, fruity ﬂavour, but there’s much debate as to whether this is how whisky from the
borderlands would traditionally have tasted. With peatbogs aplenty in the area there are those who believe that the ﬂavour proﬁle of whisky from the deep south may well have had more in common with an Islay dram. For almost two centuries the Scottish Borders was bereft of whisky distilleries. The last single malt distillery in the region – in the town of Kelso – shut its doors in 1837. There are few historical records of whisky distillation in the Borders with most of the focus falling on the textile industry that made the region famous. Hawick and its mills were at the heart of this woolly success story, with big brands
24 | Southern Scotland distilleries
The Scottish Borders
It’s a mystery as to why it has taken so long for whisky production to take oﬀ in this region
Dumfries & Galloway Crafty Distillery
Born in the Borders Tait Brothers The Borders Distillery
Ninefold Distillery / Oro Distillery Annandale Distillery
Cask and Still Magazine | 25
like Pringle and Lyle & Scott taking advantage of the excellent wool produced locally in the mild, damp climate. There was also lots of beautifully soft water from the River Teviot to drive the mills and easy access to markets in England and further aﬁeld. Some believe that it was too damp to grow the correct barley, but that remains conjecture. But assets like the soft water that made the Borders a successful cashmere and tweed manufacturing region should also have made it the ideal place for making whisky. It’s a bit of a mystery why it has taken quite so long for whisky production to begin to take off here, but leading the charge is The Borders Distillery which has occupied the site of the former Hawick Urban Electrical Company since 2018. The building was always a landmark in the town of Hawick and has been sympathetically renovated to create a visitor centre with much period charm. While the single malt is still a couple of years away there’s Puﬃng Billy Vodka, Kerr’s Gin and some blended whiskies in production. The Kelso Gin Company and Lilliard Gin at Born in the Borders near
Jedburgh are two to try for G&T fans. But if you’ve had your ﬁll of gin and fancy something a little different, Tait Brothers in Melrose are currently crowdfunding, with plans to create a fully-licensed facility which will include an ‘experimentation studio’, bar and tasting room that will serve as a brand home for their Valentian Vermouth. Heading west, Dumfries and Galloway has a more illustrious past in whisky production. Until the early 1900s there were distilleries at Glen Tarras and Langholm, and the region is home to Scotland’s southernmost distillery. Bladnoch, near Newton Stewart, was founded in 1817 and despite periods of inactivity in the 1930s and 40s and again in the 1990s, at its peak in the 1800s the distillery had six washbacks and produced around 230,000 litres of alcohol each year. Bladnoch still has six washbacks, but their annual distilling capacity is now 1.5 million litres. Another major whisky player in the region is the Annandale Distillery. The dream of Professor David Thomson, who grew up locally, it was built on the site of a former Johnnie Walker Distillery which closed its doors in 1918. Its stills sprang to life in 2014 and the distillery now produces a range of peated and unpeated single malts.
Clockwise from top left: Distilleries aplenty in the south; Annandale’s Man O’ Words; Oro Distillery at night; Oro’s still; ready for tasting at Bladnoch, [credit: Christopher Jeney Photography]; Bladnoch Distillery [credit: Christopher Jeney Photography]; Annandale Distillery; Annandale casks.
26 | Southern Scotland distilleries
Clockwise from top left: Ninefold Pure Single Rum; Ninefold Distillery; Crafty Distillery; view from tasting room at Crafty Distillery.
Recently the distillery introduced a unique way for Annandale fans to buy cask whisky. Individuals or small groups can buy a 1/15th share in one of three ten-cask portfolios. These ten casks are all different types and sizes including ex-bourbon barrels, ex-sherry hogsheads and ex-rum casks, but all will be matured into single cask, single malt Scotch. Starting this Autumn, and for the next 10 years, Annandale will bottle a pre-selected cask from the portfolio and share the total yield of bottles equally amongst the 15 portfolio shareholders. But there’s more to the south-west than whisky. Dr Kit Carruthers has been producing rum in converted outbuildings on an estate near Lockerbie for the last two years. Kit is happy to admit that Ninefold Distillery was borne from a decision of the head, rather than the heart. ‘When I started thinking about setting up, four years ago, the gin market was already saturated and I really didn’t want to compete. I had no experience in the drinks industry but I loved the ethos of small distilleries and craft breweries and wanted to make use of some of the old buildings on my family estate.’
Taking a year to strip out and convert an old castle byre into a rum distillery, Kit has now been producing his own spirit and rum for two years and now offers tours. With an unaged white rum and a spiced rum in his portfolio, Kit has plans for future cask releases and assures me that barrel-aged rum is in the pipeline. Yet further west there’s award-winning gin to be found, as well as a pretty cool visitor centre at Crafty Distillery near Newton Stewart. Their Hills and Harbour gin is produced using the distillery’s own base spirit, made from local wheat. Local botanicals like noble ﬁr and bladderwrack seaweed make this a real taste of Dumfries and Galloway. Named after the founder’s late father William James Taylor, who built the distillery, Crafty’s Billy & Co whisky is currently in development and their Founder’s Club lets fans be involved in tasting, testing and developing this Lowland single malt. In the pretty village of Dalton is Oro Distillery, where they’ve produced gin since 2018. They have added a white rum to their portfolio, there’s also a vodka in the post, there are tours and tastings to book and a cocktail bar in which to sample their wares. There is no doubt that distilling is making a very welcome return to the far south of Scotland and with more visitor centres springing up all over the place this can only buoy the popularity of whisky and other spirits from the borderlands. An increase in tourism to the area is long overdue, so for anyone who has yet to explore this beautiful part of Scotland, which has so much to offer, there has never been a better time.
Cask and Still Magazine | 27
starts here SSDA ADVERTORIAL
hisky distilleries are just one of the many draws to the South of Scotland. Whether you venture here for the day, the weekend or maybe even longer, you’ll never run out of things to do. Or savour. Such indulgence is not too far away either. The South is just a short trip from Glasgow, Carlisle, Edinburgh and Newcastle. And our countryside is as enticing as our distilleries. Wide open spaces, historical landmarks and rolling hills will help you escape the crowds and experience something unique. So, if local produce, adventure and natural splendour are what you’re after, then the South of Scotland is where they start.
There are so many attractions in the South of Scotland, and they don’t all come in a glass. In fact, the best and easiest way to explore this wonderful part of Scotland is to download the Scotland Starts Here app. Adventure, excitement, mouth-watering local produce – they all start right here. Scan here to download the ‘Scotland Starts Here’ app.
THE WATER OF LIFE
Find out more at
SCOTL AN D STARTSHERE.C OM
THE FIRST DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND
“...we have a truly world class distillery in our midst...” Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021
To Glasgow and Edinburgh A74(M)
TOURS & TASTINGS Enjoy a guided tour at our beautiful, working distillery. Learn about our unique distillation process and experience the true spirit of Annandale. We offer a range of different tours. Our Classic Tour runs every hour, on-the-hour. Booking is desirable but not essential.
At the Maltings Coffee Shop, we serve the best Our Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, Scottish food, created by our Michelin-experienced Man O’ Sword and Man O’ Words, are inspired by chefs as well as a wide range of beverages. local Scottish icons Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns, You can also visit THE GLOBE INN, Dumfries, respectively. Rascally Liquor is our exceptional Burns’ favourite Howff, for special whiskies, fine New Make Spirit. You can buy all these, and more, at our dining and historic tours. Distillery Shop along with a range of gifts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO BOOK A TOUR OR A TABLE: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Call: +44(0)1461 207817 www.annandaledistillery.com Annandale Distillery, Northfield, Annan, DG12 5LL, Scotland 028_C&S06.indd 28
Cask and Still Magazine | 29
ow there are two ways of buying cask whisky from Annandale Distillery: ‘Private Cask Ownership’ is the traditional method where private individuals, families or friendship groups purchase a whole cask and allow it to mature for 10 years or so before bottling. Although this is a very popular route to cask ownership, it doesn’t suit everybody. Recently, Annandale Distillery introduced ‘Cask Portfolios’, a unique and entirely new approach to cask ownership, where individuals (or small groups) buy a 1/15th share in a ten-cask Portfolio. Each Portfolio comprises casks of different types and sizes (e.g. ex-bourbon barrels, exsherry hogsheads, ex-rum casks, etc.), at different stages of maturity. All ten casks are ﬁlled with Annandale’s newmake malt spirit which matures into our highly acclaimed Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Starting in the Autumn of 2021, and every successive Autumn for a total of 10 years, Annandale Distillery will bottle a pre-selected cask from the Cask Portfolio and share the total yield of bottles equally amongst the 15
Portfolio Shareholders. Depending on the exact volume of each cask, Portfolio Shareholders should anticipate between 14 - 20 bottles (70cl) of cask strength, non-chill ﬁltered Single Malt Scotch Whisky per annum. There are three Cask Portfolios to choose from: the ‘Donald Peated Portfolio’, named after George Donald who founded Annandale Distillery in 1836, the ‘Gardner Unpeated Portfolio’ which recognises John Sykes Gardner who modernised the distillery in the late 19th century and the ‘Walker Peated & Unpeated Portfolio’, comprising ﬁve peated and
ﬁve unpeated casks, which celebrates the world’s most famous whisky family who owned Annandale Distillery at the turn of the 20th century. A distinctive and beautifully scripted certiﬁcate accompanies every Portfolio Share. Find out more about Annandale’s ‘Cask Portfolios’, the unique way of owning or gifting bespoke bottles of Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky, by visiting www.
annandaledistillery.com or contacting us via email@example.com
HAWICK, SCOTLAND – 01450 374 330 – thebordersdistillery.com RE-OPENING 1st JUNE Take a day trip to the Borders and enjoy a fascinating tour of our distillery – an award-winning conversion of Hawick’s former electrical works, situated on the banks of the River Teviot. You’ll be shown around by members of our distilling team, and you’ll finish your tour with a tasting in the distillery bar.
DISTILLERY TOURS – GIFT SHOP – TASTINGS The Borders Distillery in Hawick is the first Single Malt distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837.
The Directors have released 1,837 whisky casks for private ownership. Filled on a date of the owner’s choosing, each individually numbered cask is stored under bond and bottled when the owner wishes. Owners may personalise their whisky, choosing to mature their spirit in one of five different cask types. Each cask costs £1,995 and includes 10 years of warehousing, insurance, and bottling. For full details, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Borders Distillery.indd 30
Cask and Still Magazine | 31
he Borders Distillery opened in Hawick in 2018 – the first Scotch Whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837. We make a range of spirits whilst also laying down stock for the future release of our Single Malt. After a strange old year in 2020, we can’t wait to welcome visitors back for tours when we re-open on 1st June. Hawick is just over an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, through some beautiful scenery, and a visit to the distillery makes a great day trip for any whisky enthusiast. We offer regular tours, taking in our airy Mashhouse and Stillhouse, and finishing up with a dram in the distillery bar. Unlike at many distilleries, photos and video are allowed throughout the tour. We don’t have any dedicated tour guides, instead you are shown around by the people who actually make the spirit, providing a unique insight to our production process. We use locally-grown Scottish Borders barley, all grown on 11 farms lying within 30 miles of the distillery, and an underground lake beneath the site provides pure clean water as an ingredient. The lake’s water takes between 50 and 70 years to filter down from the hills through the rock. Even if it never rained again (unlikely in the Borders!) the lake contains enough water to last the distillery for thousands of years. And then right outside our front door, the fast-flowing River Teviot provides a sustainable source of cold water for cooling – an essential element in the distilling process.
As well as a tour, whisky fans may be interested in our 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. While our casks of future Single Malt slowly mature, we make two blended whiskies, Clan Fraser – a traditional blended Scotch, and Lower East Side – a contemporary blended malt. Beyond whisky, we also redistill our own New Make in a Carterhead still to make 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 rounded texture which pairs brilliantly with the bitterness of tonic water. As for our vodka, it goes through a totally 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 is never filtered as a liquid. Puffing Billy is the only vodka in the world made this way, and we think it’s magic – really rich and creamy. If you’d like to visit the distillery, the latest details of tour times are available on our website at thebordersdistillery.com, or you can give us a call on 01450 374 330
32 | Advertorial
stablished in 1817, Bladnoch Distillery is the oldest working Scotch Whisky distillery in the Lowlands. Known by many as the ‘Queen of the Lowlands’, Bladnoch Distillery hand crafts the ﬁnest whiskies using only local ingredients such as the pristine water from the River Bladnoch that ﬂows alongside the historic estate. Bladnoch Distillery welcomes travellers and locals to their 204 year old distillery for guided tours, a range of
tastings and a light meal at the Melba Cafe. Their range of award-winning single malts, including some visitor centre exclusive releases, are available from the Bladnoch gift shop open Tuesday-Saturday.
Visit www.bladnoch.com for more details
DISCOVER THE HOME OF BLADNOCH WHISKY VISITOR CENTRE & MELBA CAFE IS OPEN TUESDAY - SATURDAY T: 01988 402605 E: BOOKINGS@BLADNOCH.COM BLADNOCH DISTILLERY, WIGTOWN DG8 9AB
Cask and Still Magazine | 33
inefold Distillery is an artisanal Scottish rum distillery based in an old cattle byre on Dormont Estate, Dumfries & Galloway, and the only rum distillery in the South of Scotland. Using sugar cane molasses, owner and distiller Dr. Kit Carruthers ferments, pot distils and bottles rum from scratch in small batches. The distillery also lays down casks of rum for future barrel matured releases. The distillery’s award-winning unaged rum, Ninefold Pure Single Rum, was their ﬁrst release in 2019. With a buttery mouthfeel and notes of butterscotch, caramel,
Pure single Scottish rum
vanilla and citrus, this can be enjoyed over ice or as the delicious base for classic rum cocktails. Dormont Spiced, released in 2021, uses Pure Single Rum as the base, layered and balanced with nutmeg, allspice and a dash of aniseed. A little golden syrup sweetens the whole ensemble. The distillery is now offering guided tours, sampling and cocktails. Head to NinefoldDistillery.com for more information.
The South of Scotland’s only rum distillery
Artisanal Scottish rums, made from scratch in Dumfries & Galloway Guided tours available. For more information, and to shop for rum: Scottish spiced rum
34 | Herringbone cocktails
From sweet strawberries to fresh elderflower and mint, The Herringbone Bar & Restaurant has you covered for those all-important summer cocktails
ALL HOPPED UP
SERVE IN: Coupe
SERVE IN: Crystal Rocks
35ml Honeysuckle infused AquaRiva
35ml Azacca hop infused Pampero
25ml Tanqueray Gin
15ml Giffard, Banane du Brésil
25ml Herringbone Seasonal Sweet
30ml Fresh lime juice
15ml Giffard, Caribbean Pineapple
15ml Agave nectar
30ml Fresh lime juice
25ml Strawberry Campari
SERVE IN: Crystal Rocks
15ml Simple Syrup 15ml Aquafaba (instead of egg white)
GARNISH: Lemon balm & half a fresh strawberry
GARNISH: Dried hops METHOD: Add all ingredients. Dry shake, then shake with ice and
GARNISH: Banana leaf & flowers METHOD: Add all ingredients. Churn with crushed ice. METHOD: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir and strain over block ice.
Cask and Still Magazine | 35
LIFE’S A BEACH
SERVE IN: Rocks Glass
SERVE IN: Highball
50ml Dark rum
50ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
50ml Tanqueray Gin
50ml Coconut milk
30ml Fresh squeezed orange juice
25ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Honey
20ml Ginger cordial
20ml Elderflower cordial
SERVE IN: Highball
50ml Fresh pineapple juice
GARNISH: Orange twist METHOD: Add all ingredients. Shake and strain over cubed ice.
4-6 Mint leaves
GARNISH: Pineapple fronds
GARNISH: Mint sprig and flower
METHOD: Add all ingredients. Shake and strain over cubed ice.
METHOD: Add all ingredients. Churn with crushed ice. Top with soda.
All cocktails are vegan (Aquafaba is used instead of egg white)
The Herringbone has two independent watering holes – one by the sea in North Berwick, the other in Edinburgh’s Goldenacre. They sell local craft beers, top wines, and make stunning cocktails in-house. Find out more at www.theherringbone.co.uk, or on Instagram @herringbone_northberwick / @herringbone_goldenacre. North Berwick: 01620 890 501 / Goldenacre: 0131 552 3292
36 | Whisky in Spain
! D U L A S ¡
Cask and Still Magazine | 37 >>>
After experiencing first-hand Barcelona’s unique whisky scene, Blair Bowman believes the Spaniards’ booming spirits market will be one to watch in the coming years
Written by Blair Bowman
pain has always had a strong affinity for Scotch whisky. Records show that blended Scotch was being regularly exported to Spain in the 1800s. By the early 1900s several blends, including Haig’s and Teachers, were popular across Spain, with Haig’s holding warrants to supply the King of Spain. By 1999 Spain was the number one market in the world by value for Scotch whisky, with exports worth £300m. In 2019, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, Spain was the sixth largest global market by value, with exports worth over £180m. In Europe, Spain is the second highest export market by volume. In September 2020, the SWA co-signed an agreement with the Spanish Civil Guard to add additional protection to Scotch whisky in this important export market. In 2020, exports to Spain reduced significantly, with a drop of 40% by value and 26% by volume, presumably as a result of both Covid and Brexit. However, things were very different during Franco’s dictatorship, when Scotch whisky was very hard to come by. In a Whisky Magazine
article from 2001, Tom Bruce-Gardyne explains that ‘Under Franco, it was imported under strict quotas to stock only the most exclusive bars and clubs’. During the Franco era whisky was so hard to acquire and the import taxes were so steep that an entrepreneur, Nicomedes García Gomez, who noticed this opportunity, built an independent distillery in Spain. In the 1950s he made several trips to Scotland to study the traditional whisky making process. Destilerías y Crianzas, also known as DYC (¡qué divertido!), was established in 1959 as a business to produce whisky when it was difficult to procure Scotch whisky during the Franco era. Over 60 years later, it is still the biggest selling whisky in Spain. Located an hour or so north of Madrid in Segovia, the site includes both a malt distillery and a grain distillery, allowing them to produce a blended whisky at one site – a similar setup to the one at Loch Lomond Distillery. In fact, in the 1970s the company acquired the now demolished Lochside Distillery in Montrose, as it was an imported component contributing to the DYC blend at the time.
In 2019, Spain was the sixth largest global whisky market by value, with exports worth over £180m
! 036-039_C&S06.indd 37
38 | Whisky in Spain
Nowadays, the DYC distillery is owned by Beam Suntory. It is signiﬁcant in size and even has its own maltings. The grain distillery produces eight million litres of alcohol per annum and the malt distillery has the capacity for around two million. As well as a few non-age statement blends they have a few age statement blends, and in recent years have also introduced aged single malts and a blended malt. For a long time DYC was the only malt whisky distillery in Spain. However, in recent years there has been a boom of new Spanish whiskies being made. They are emerging in relatively small quantities from microdistilleries that had already been making other spirits such as gin, vodka, rum and liquor. In 2001, Destilerías Liber was established south of Granada. The founders chose the location due to the quality of the water from the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. The distillery is located at 750 metres and beneﬁts from a unique dry micro climate. In winter the temperatures inside the warehouse drop to 5ºC and in the summer they can be as high as 25ºC. This vast difference in temperature during maturation creates a lot of interaction between the wood and the maturing spirit. According to the Spanish Whisky Club, who bottle single cask whiskies from Destilerías Liber, the unusual climate means that the maturing spirit maintains its ﬁlling strength ABV, as equal parts water and alcohol evaporate. They mature all their whisky in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks – ex-bodega casks from Jerez – as opposed to casks seasoned with Pedro Ximénez. Another interesting addition on the Spanish whisky scene is the Basque Moonshiners Distillery. Their Agot Single Malt Basque Whisky won the Best Spanish Single Malt award at the 2020 World Whisky Awards. It is made from barley grown in
Navarre in the Basque region of Spain. It is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-Spanish Rioja casks for three years. You may be surprised to learn that La Palma, in the Canary islands, is home to a single malt. Destilerías Aldea is predominantly a rum producer but they also produce El Drago whiskey, named after the dragon tree which grows on the island. Interestingly, they chose to style their products with the ‘e’ spelling of whiskey. Madrid also has its own whisky distillery. The Destilería Santamanía has been producing gin and vodka for many years but in early 2019
You may be surprised to learn that La Palma is home to a single malt
Clockwise from top left: Destilerías y Crianzas; DYC 15 Year Old; Basque Moonshiners still; bottled gold; AGOT range from Basque Moonshiners; DYC Doble Roble; Bikkun by Basque Moonshiners; DYC Distillery, Bodega.
Cask and Still Magazine | 39
introduced two single malt whiskies to their range called Mentidero. These are made from 100% Spanish malt and interestingly they are triple distilled and bottled as single cask releases. They are matured in a combination of Spanish rioja tempranillo wine and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. It’s interesting to watch the emergence of these new malt whisky distilleries in Spain. However, there are several other Spanish whisky brands available on the market that are blended whiskies that may, or may not, contain bulk imported Scotch whisky. It is similar to the practise in other parts of the world where bulk Scotch whisky, typically grain, is blended with some locally-made single malt before being bottled. I lived in Barcelona for a year as part of my studies and spent many evenings with friends enjoying ‘Jota Beh’ (J&B) or Cutty Sark, or occasionally DYC, with lemonade on warm evenings by the beach bars and roof terraces in the Eixample district of the city. In classic Spanish style, after ordering a whisky and mixer, the waiter or waitress would bring a tall thin glass ﬁlled to the brim with ice to your table along with a bottle of the house whisky. They would then free-pour whisky into
the glass until you gave them a nod to stop. The price of the drink was the same no matter how much whisky was in the glass when they stopped pouring. A top tip from me is to be a bit frugal on the ﬁrst round of drinks and nod quite early on. Typically you’ll get a more generous pour on your next round of drinks. If you are seen to be taking advantage of the free pour on the ﬁrst round they will make sure to pour less on your next round of drinks. Due to our draconian licensing system in Scotland this would never be allowed to happen here. However, I do wonder if this generosity of whisky pouring and whisky’s versatility to match different mixers, resulting in a perfectly refreshing cold drink in the heat of the Spanish sun, is part of the reason both Scotch whisky and Spanish whisky are so popular in Spain.
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Cask and Still Magazine | 41
Whisky by numbers Impress your friends with these facts and figures
There are currently 134 operating Scotch whisky distilleries across Scotland
36 bottles (70cl at 40% ABV) of Scotch whisky are shipped from Scotland to 166 markets around the world each second, totalling over 1.14 billion a year (down from 42 bottles per second)
Laid end to end, those bottles would stretch about 342,000km – which is 90% of the distance to the moon
£3 . 8 BILLION Scotch whisky exports are worth £3.8 billion pa (down from £4.9bn)
In 2019, Scotch Whisky accounted for 75% of Scottish food and drink exports,
21% of all UK food and drink exports and 1.4% of all UK goods exports
To be classified as a Scotch whisky, the spirit must have been matured within oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years
Source: Scotch Whisky Association figures from 2020. www.scotch-whisky.org.uk
42 | A bluffer’s guide to...
Written by: Federica Stefani
A BLUFFER ’S GUIDE TO..
Whisky is made with only three ingredients – barley, water and yeast
f you have ever paid a visit to a distillery, you will have heard
FROM LAND TO DRAM?
the above mantra at the start of your tour. There is one pillar of
In order to produce whisky, barley must first
this magic triad which is the fundamental brick of the production
be malted, a process that breaks the starch
process, and when combined with the other two ingredients will
contained in the grains down into soluble sugars.
transform and interact: let me introduce you to all things barley.
Once fermented, these will turn into alcohol.
immersed and removed from warm water for
The Scotch Whisky Association is crystal clear in its regulation that
several days, a process known as steeping.
malted barley is the only grain that can be used to produce single malt
This increases the overall moisture of the grains
Scotch whisky. This is designed to protect the traditional method of
to about 46%. The grains are then placed in a
production. But how did this tradition come into being?
warm and moist environment, spread out and
A member of the grass family, barley – or hordeum vulgare – was one of the first plants to be domesticated by man, with its use probably originating from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, eventually
To achieve this, the grains are cyclically
periodically turned to avoid heat concentration and suffocation from CO2. This creates an artificial ‘spring’, triggering
spreading around the world. In Scotland, barley has been the dominant
germination and allowing the grain to produce
crop for centuries, as it adapted better to the challenging growing
fuel to support its growth. It does this by
conditions. The wide availability of this grain, together with the possibility
producing enzymes (mainly alpha and beta-
of using the sugars contained in it to produce alcohol, and the fact that
amylase) that will start converting the starch and
it is easier to mill and process for brewing and distilling than other grains,
proteins into soluble sugars.
meant that it was an ideal crop to produce alcoholic beverages. Whisky distilleries in Scotland can use other cereals such as wheat,
When the roots are roughly as long as the grain, germination must be halted before the
rye and corn (oats were used back in the day as well), but the product
plant consumes the sugars which it has created.
will have to be named single grain – or blend, if mixed with products from
The ‘green barley’ is kilned, or dried with hot air,
so that it is kept at its optimal point, with as high a level of soluble sugars as possible and with some enzymes left to break them down further during the following mashing phase. To make it simpler for distillers to extract sugars through hot water, the barley is milled, turning it into a coarse flour called grist. This is formed by husks, medium grits and a fine flour.
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The ratio of each of these parts is vital to make
Over the decades, whisky producers have
the extraction of fermentable sugars efficient.
sought out and bred new strains to make
It can change from one distillery to another, but
production more efficient and more resistant to
generally, it’s around 20% husks, 70% grits and
disease. Of over 5,000 barley varieties, only a
10% fine flour. Hot water is then added to the
handful are used in the industry, and there is a
grist in the mashing stage, which allows the
high turnaround of strains as they are replaced
creation of a very sugary liquid which will then
by improved versions.
be fermented and turned into spirit.
The most widely used in the whisky industry at present are Concerto, Optic, Belgravia, and
Propino. Laureate and Odyssey are used too,
Scotch whisky is produced mainly using spring
if less widely, as well as Golden Promise, which
barley with a high content of starch – allowing
is one of the strains that has been around for
for higher yields. Low nitrogen levels are
longer than most.
also desirable as this indicates less protein
Some distillers now believe that flavour has
and a higher starch content (meaning more
been sacrificed to yield. Distilleries including
fermentable sugars). Two-row barley varieties
Holyrood, Glenmorangie and Dornoch are
are preferred as they are more easily malted and
experimenting with older varieties, like Plumage
have a lower protein content than six-row barley. In the past, distillers would use crops from surrounding farmlands, and the two industries lived in happy symbiosis. Brewers and distillers gave their draff by-product to farmers to feed the cattle (which still happens today). Due to high demand, whisky producers started to outsource barley production, which is now grown and malted in Scotland, England and parts of Europe. Maltsters prepare the barley according
of over 5,000 barley varieties, only a handful are used in the whisky industry
Archer and Maris Otter, which were popular in the past. Some have even delved into ancient varieties such as bere barley, a heritage crop which has been revived by Arran Distillery, Springbank and, more recently, Bruichladdich. The argument in favour of these strains is that, while more difficult to work with and presenting very much lower yields, they can provide the spirit with richer and more complex layers of flavour. Another interesting trend in recent years is
to the indications given by the distillery,
the focus on sustainability. A growing number
particularly in terms of variety and peating.
of distilleries, like Benromach, Deanston and
In recent years an increasing number of
Bruichladdich, have shifted to organically produced
distillers are trying to bring back local barley
barley in certain expressions, while others, such
production. Distilleries such as Bruichladdich
as Nc’nean and Dornoch, now make organic
and Kilchoman are using barley grown on Islay
barley central to their ethos and production.
in order to explore the concept of terroir and its
Where this evolution is heading we can’t be
applicability to whisky. Terroir is a hotly debated
sure, however the attention is steering towards
subject with one school of thought believing that
experiments with this fundamental tenet of whisky
the provenance of barley has little or no impact
making, with two research centres in the pipeline
on the flavour of whisky. But a growing number
to enhance research in this field. One of these,
of distillers, particularly among the new wave of
the International Barley Hub, will have a focussed
small and independent producers, are advocating
research area on flavour and sustainability.
provenance as an important factor impacting on
All things point to a bright and fascinating
flavour and in creating a whisky that reflects the
future, with more interesting additions to the
land it comes from.
whisky flavour profile.
44 | Davy Ballantyne
Totalling a distance of 70 miles, he completed this mammoth trek in just 16 days, raising £20,000
Cask and Still Magazine | 45 >>>
Circumnavigating the Isle of Arran with a 50-kilo cask on his back, Davy Ballantyne proved persistence always prevails Written by Sandy Munro
love an adventure story. Even better, tales of real-life thrill seekers intent on pushing the physical and mental boundaries of mankind. Dragging a 120-kilo anvil up Goatfell, the highest mountain on Arran? Why not. How about tying 60 kilos of chains round your neck then scaling Ben Nevis? Sure. Such outlandish ordeals seem ﬁt for the saints and martyrs, but for Davy Ballantyne, head groundsman at Lagg Distillery on Arran, these challenges were just the warm-up for his gruelling trial in summer last year. Affectionately known as Big Davy, he set off from a boathouse in Kilmory on Arran with a whopping 50-kilo cask strapped to his back with the intention of circumnavigating the entire island to raise money for the Samaritans during the coronavirus pandemic. Totalling a distance of 70 miles, he completed this mammoth trek in just 16 days, raising around £20,000 for the welfare charity. ‘All three of the challenges were meant to be for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,’ explains Davy, whose daughter suffers from type-one diabetes. ‘But because Covid came along, you could see everyone was struggling, even in this small community. It just didn’t sit right with me to ask for money for a charity that’s more personal to me, so I thought I’d do this one for the Samaritans.’ Crucial to Davy’s preparation, he trained for the Barrel Challenge with a 50-kilo rucksack full of sand. At 6ft 4in one might think his stature an advantage. It wasn’t long, however, before he discovered a fatal ﬂaw in his plan. ‘The problem was that a rucksack is tight and ﬁts your body,’ says Davy. ‘But when you put the
46 | Davy Ballantyne 8 9 10
ISLE OF ARRAN 14
16 Start/ Finish
Cask and Still Magazine | 47
Left: It took Davy 16 days to walk round Arran’s coastline. Above: Arran’s tricky terrain made the hike even more gruelling. Top right: Blood, sweat and tears went into Davy’s incredible Ben Nevis Chain Challenge. Bottom right: Dragging a 120kg anvil up Goatfell, the highest mountain on the Isle of Arran at 2,867ft.
barrel on, it’s only a tiny bit connecting with your back and the weight is really far away from you. With that distance, the weight sticks out and feels more like 80 kilos. If I tried to stand up straight, it would just pull me straight back.’ Undeterred, Davy pressed on, leaving from the treacherous Black Caves and working his way clockwise round the island with his friend Fraser Aitchison by his side to document the journey and offer encouraging words in particularly testing times. ‘Fraser and I have been pals for years,’ says Davy. ‘He’s been with me through the three challenges. He knows to leave me alone and let me be in my own wee world. But he’s quite good at just saying every now and again, “Are you okay?” and there’s a genuine concern in his voice.’ Clambering over twelve-foot-high boulders for the ﬁrst few miles, then trudging through all manner of marsh land, soil and gravel beaches, it was harder than even Davy had anticipated. ‘I knew it would be diﬃcult because I know the island and I know the terrain. By the end of the ﬁrst day I was in tatters. From there on, it’s
just your mental strength. You’ve got to blank the pain out. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s what it feels like. Nothing else exists around you, except what you’re doing. It is quite a strange sensation.’ Sustaining several injuries – including a torn calf muscle, ﬁve inﬂamed vertebrae, and countless cleg and tick bites – Davy’s focus was not on the beautiful scenery, the waves lapping up the pearly shores, or the birds cheeping merrily about him; instead his steely-eyed gaze remained ﬁrmly on each and every step. ‘You’re just looking one metre in front of you all the time,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t hear anything at all. It was a strange sensation to walk with that amount of concentration. There were some bits where I thought, “If I fall here, I’ll be seriously hurt”.’ True to Big Davy’s tradition, all but one day was completed in a kilt. (Thanks to the ferocious clegs and legions of ticks in Laggan, a pair of trousers was required to traipse through the knee-high ferns). For all their trials and tribulations, a moment of calm was enjoyed at the end of each day when Davy and Fraser would sit down for a breather and a well-deserved dram. ‘I must
There were some bits where I thought, ‘If I fall here, I’ll be seriously hurt’
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Cask and Still Magazine | 49
Photography: Fraser Aitchison
Clockwise from top left: Standing up straight wasn’t an option; battling tricky terrain; the boathouse in Kildonan was Davy’s start and finish line; problem solving at every turn.
admit, there was more than one dram when we ﬁnished. One or two bottles, more like.’ Though the majority of the journey was completed in isolation, the pair did meet a couple of interesting characters along the way. Kilts caked in mud, as they rounded Brodick Beach they bumped into a lady – a retired master kiltmaker, no less – who offered to make them both made-to-measure kilts to replace their well-worn plaids. ‘She wouldn’t take a penny for it,’ says Davy. ‘They are all handmade, with no sewing machine. They are absolutely beautiful.’ Having had time to decompress after his epic feat, Davy explains that he has found his three challenges rather cathartic, proving ideal opportunities to regain a sense of perspective. ‘I love being outdoors at any time, but when you’re struggling that much, negative thoughts are the last thing you need. You just need to think positive. It clears your mind completely. ‘A surprising element of the whole thing is that I’ve now come to a point where I’ve got rid of all the negative thoughts I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve all got regrets or bad feelings that we hold onto; but they’re completely gone now. That’s been fantastic.’ Davy has another challenge in the works, the details for which he is keeping close to his chest. ‘I’m a wee bit superstitious,’ he laughs. ‘Like with the other challenges, I won’t tell anybody until a week or two before in case I put a jinx on it. Fraser knows, and my wife knows. But nobody else. It keeps the suspense going.’ Whatever his next challenge may be, I daresay a wee dram of Arran malt won’t go amiss at the ﬁnishing line. If this epic cask strength adventure is anything to go by, this remarkable kilt-clad Scot is one to watch as we enter the summer months.
50 | Whisky Hero
The Oak Honey EXPERIENCE
Revolutionising whisky tasting, Israel-based duo Yossi and Max have launched a unique Oak Honey Whisky tumbler which enhances flavour Written by Morag Bootland
rom humble beginnings creating bike projects for children in a cave in Israel (yes they started production in an actual cave just south of Haifa), friends Yossi and Max, or Nisnas Industries, have expanded their business and amongst other things now create some truly beautiful whisky tumblers. Crafted from a single piece of American white oak and enriched with a specially designed wax which is infused with honey, each Oak Honey Whisky tumbler is a unique work of art. Not only is it pleasant to hold and lovely to look at, but thanks to the natural flavours
of the oak and the addition of the wax it is designed not only to be a receptacle, but also to enhance the flavour and aroma of the spirit that lies within. Yossi and Max became friends while working in a bike shop and although they never really set out to make whisky tumblers, their penchant for a Kickstarter campaign, combined with Yossi’s community development skills and Max’s industrial design background, meant making things just came naturally. Yossi and Max enjoyed drinking whisky before they came up with the idea for the tumbler – citing Yamazaki and their closest
Clockwise from above: Oak Honey Whisky tumblers; finding the perfect tumbler shape; Max (left) and Yossi (right); the tumblers have an internal hourglass shape; Max and Yossi started their business in a cave; the aroma and flavour of whisky is enhanced by the tumblers.
Cask and Still Magazine | 51
neighbouring distillery Milk and Honey as particular favourites – but as they’ve grown their business they’ve honed their skills as technicians and chemists, so being good at crafting tumblers has been prioritised above tasting whisky. ‘The idea for the whisky tumbler was to make something that feels really good in your hand and provides an experience that’s totally different to anything that has existed before,’ Yossi tells me. ‘It is a worldwide sensation and people love it. We’ve learned to make it better over time and it’s been a real labour of love for us. Oak isn’t really an easy material to make a tumbler from, but we are now onto our third version and it’s the best yet.’ The tumblers were Yossi and Max’s 2014/15 Kickstarter campaign and before they began manufacturing, they held a taste test with all of their backers from around the world. ‘We had people in Germany, Italy, the US and the UK, and we all sat down to figure out what tasted best. We had made a wax to seal the tumbler and to enable people to care for it. We made changes to the wax based on the taste test.’
Unlike drinking from a glass, the oak whisky tumbler is not designed to be neutral in the drinking experience. It brings an extra element of aroma and flavour to the whisky. Sourcing the ideal piece of wood to produce the perfect tumbler is key in Yossi’s eyes. ‘It is absolutely essential that it is made from one piece of American white oak. There are people who make tumblers by glueing two pieces of wood together, but that’s a big no-no for us.’ The tumbler has an internal hour-glass shape, a design that allows the expansion of aromas as you drink and externally its shape is borrowed from a more traditional glass tumbler. The tumblers are carved on computerised lathes and Nisnas made around 12,000 units last year, which are exported mainly to the US, through their partners Uncommon Goods, but also to Europe, Japan and Australia. Yossi and Max have recently started production on a matching oak decanter which you can find and order along with the tumblers at www.nisnasindustries.com.
The oak tumbler brings an extra element of aroma and flavour
It has the reputation of being the best whisky glass ever manufactured! Josh Hauger - United States - Utilities
Cask and Still Magazine | 53 >>>
s ’ 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 14-page guide to what the real experts drink
54 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
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 investment whisky on the market.
LOCH LOMOND 20 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY THE OPEN COURSE COLLECTION - ROYAL ST GEORGE’S EDITION SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
The latest edition of The Open Course Collection from Loch Lomond Whiskies. Darren Clarke has been working with Loch Lomond Whiskies Master Blender Michael Henry to create the Open Course Collection Royal St George’s, a 20-yearold single malt. Michael’s choice of casks, specially commissioned English Virgin Oak, brings out fruit character created by the innovative stills at the Loch Lomond Distillery. NOSE: Spiced apple, elderflower and vanilla. PALATE: Opens with a caramel sweetness, green apple and honeydew
KILCHOMAN LOCH GORM 2021
SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Loch Gorm, exclusively sherry matured limited edition has been a feature of the Kilchoman range since 2012. The 2021 edition is made up of 24 Oloroso sherry butts filled in 2011 and 2012. NOSE: Macerated lemons, buttery shortbread and Moroccan spices give way to rich sherry notes and faint notes of peat smoke. PALATE: Cloves, dark chocolate and juicy prunes with waves of roasted almonds, sultanas, nougat and peat ember. FINISH: Herbaceous, earthy and maritime with liquorice, leather and a distinctly dry sherry-soaked finish.
melon, then toasted oak, clove and spice. FINISH: A dry, lingering finish of lime citrus, cumin and ginger.
ARRAN 23 YEAR OLD - DRUMADOON POINT - THE EXPLORERS SERIES SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Release Four has been maturing for the last 23 years in ex-Sherry Puncheons sourced at a respected small producer in Jerez. The resulting whisky captures the impressive and dramatic scenery of Arran. NOSE: Sweet apple with an underlying maltiness – a classic expression of well-aged Arran. Sweet notes, think apple strudel. Rich and nutty in the background. PALATE: An initial wave of sweetness followed by spice; spiced apple, cocoa powder and star anise. Dark chocolate and raisins also start to develop. FINISH: A long and warming finish. A dram that will leave you wanting to pour another.
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TOMATIN - 2008 - THE FRENCH COLLECTION MONBAZILLAC CASKS - LIMITED EDITION SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
The Monbazillac Edition 1 of 4 The French Collection exhibits the unique influence imparted by different types of French wine and spirit casks in an exceptional showcase. The whisky, distilled in 2008, was laid down in traditional Scotch whisky oak casks prior to being moved into Monbazillac, Sauternes, Rivesaltes and Cognac casks for its final maturation, resulting in a magnificent collection. NOSE: This whisky’s aroma dances between notes of dark, maple syrup and intense espresso, balanced with cinnamon baked apples. PALATE: There is a sweet cereal flavour combined with sweet milk chocolate and honeycomb ahead of subtle spices and emerging nutty flavours. FINISH: Rich with walnut and maple syrup.
GLEN SCOTIA VICTORIANA CASK STRENGTH
SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Glen Scotia Victoriana is a modern interpretation of a
GLENFARCLAS 185TH ANNIVERSARY - LIMITED EDITION SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Released to celebrate 185 years of legal
classic Victorian style Campbeltown malt. The Glen
distilling. This wonderful Glenfarclas is the
Scotia Victoriana is married together in small batches
result of two years’ work by Distillery Manager
and finished in deep charred oak casks, non-chill
Callum Fraser, who carefully selected 35 of
filtered and bottled at 54.2%.
the distilleries finest casks spread over six
NOSE: An elegant nose with hints of oak driving the bouquet. Interesting crème brulee notes leading to generous caramelised fruits and finally polished oak. PALATE: Sweet and concentrated start with some jammy blackcurrant fruitiness. A big mid palate. Typical tightening towards the back palate. Becomes more austere with water. FINISH: Clean and initially sweet. Then green bean, with cocoa characteristic.
decades before marrying them together to create this Speyside masterpiece. The result is a whisky with old, rich, sherried flavours that still remain fresh and vibrant on the palate. An unmistakable Glenfarclas showing a depth of sweetness, spiciness and fruitiness. NOSE: Fresh notes of Bramley apple, sour cherry and raisins. PALATE: Sweeter French vanilla, caramel and custard. FINISH: Rich and rewarding.
56 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
c Matthew 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.
PUFFING BILLY STEAM VODKA VODKA
Made at the Borders Distillery from malted barley. The vodka is named
GORDON & MACPHAIL ‘DISTILLERY LABELS’ STRATHISLA 2008 SINGLE MALT
Gordon & MacPhail are reassuringly traditional. This family owned firm have been steeped in whisky for over 125 years. Their bottlings often have an unhurried feel to them, where whisky and wood have been allowed to come together in harmony leaving their whiskies very well balanced. This single malt from Strathisla is a wonderful example of their craft. NOSE: Plums and soft spice, leads onto some warming, gentle sherry notes of raisins and figs.
after their special steam powered still. The still has a carter head, which is a special chamber on the lyne arm that can contain botanicals or in this case charcoal. NOSE: Creamy with orange, toffee and caramel notes. PALATE: The palate is smooth, creamy and oily with some very clean crème brûlée notes. FINISH: A lovely textured and rich vodka.
PALATE: The palate is soft, oily and round. Plums and spice lead on to gentle warming spice and some soft sherry notes. FINISH: The finish is long and mellow. As the flavours mellow, the dried fruit notes appear with figs and raisins lingering. A lovely dram.
LE VERGER FRENCH TERROIR LIQUEUR LIQUEUR
From Calvados producer Père Magloire, who has been producing Calvados for 200 years. This liqueur has a base of Calvados Pays d’Auge blended with vine peaches from Provence, cherries from South-East Orchards, fresh apple juice from Normandy and cinnamon. Try served over ice or topped with your favourite fizz, also great in cocktails. NOSE: The nose has ripe peaches and pear notes. PALATE: The palate is medium sweet with peaches, pears and green apple notes. FINISH: The finish is long, fresh and very moreish.
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ASKIVAL BOTANICAL RUM BOTANICAL RUM
Askival is a new rum, and was created after the founders sailed past the Isle of Rum. Currently they buy in 5-year-old rum from the Caribbean with plans to start producing their own rum on the island. They then macerate the rum on the island with botanicals inspired by their surroundings. They have foraged kelp which they roast, and use spruce and meadowsweet. The resulting rum is greater than the sum of its parts. NOSE: Tropical notes of pineapple then roasted coffee and some herbal notes. PALATE: Tropical again with creamy roasted pineapple, subtle notes of wintergreen, white coffee and lingering toffee notes. FINISH: The finish is balanced and long. Fading slowly with toasty notes.
AMARO NONINO EMPIRICAL SPIRITS ‘THE PLUM, I SUPPOSE’ SPIRIT
Demand for these classic
bitter Italian liqueurs has
The brainchild of two ex-chefs from Copenhagen’s Noma
exploded over the last few
restaurant, driven by a passion for flavour they have
years, delicious served over
gone about distilling the most remarkable
ice with a wedge of orange or in
spirits that taste like nothing else. They
cocktails. Amaro Nonino is a great place
produce challenging, complex spirits. Hard
to start exploring this wonderful category.
to categorise but they draw on fermentation principles from the Far East along with the most modern techniques available. Distilled from plum kernels and marigold kombucha. NOSE: The nose has plum kernels, reminiscent of fruity marzipan. PALATE: The palate is dry and light with that plum marzipan flavour amplified by the sharp acidity of the floral kombucha. FINISH: The finish is bright and clean, a
NOSE: Warming spiced orange notes, with a zesty note appearing as you nose further. PALATE: Sweet, with orange, subtle cocoa notes, then earthy bitterness building on the palate. FINISH: Zesty and intense, the finish is broad and long. The bitterness lingers and slowly builds creating a wonderful balance with the initial sweetness.
really fascinating spirit.
58 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
Darren Leitch 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. DALMORE 12YO SHERRY CASK RESERVE SINGLE MALT
A new 12-year-old expression from Dalmore with more influence on the use of Sherry Casks selected by their main man Richard Patterson. NOSE: Really juicy and fruity aromas kick this one off. There’s raspberry jam, blueberry, bubble gum and treacle toffee alongside the classic orange marmalade character found throughout the Dalmore ranges. PALATE: Flavours carry on the orange theme, with a twist of slightly burnt orange peel, crystallised sugar and Turkish apple tea, dark fruits like plum and black grape and a touch of salted liquorice add to its complex flavour.
LOCH LOMOND 14YO
FINISH: The finish has lots of sherry character pouring
through it with a touch of
floral or rose notes. Rich
A new addition to the
and lingers for a good while.
Loch Lomond range, fitting
BENRIACH THE TWELVE 12YO SINGLE MALT
A new look for the Benriach range with new labelling, new packaging and each proudly carrying the name of Rachel Barrie, Master Blender. This 12-year-old is fast becoming a new go-to Speysider for me. NOSE: Aromas are plentiful and complex with sweet syrupy and fruit cocktail notes to start with, leading to honey, toffee and a touch of cocoa and mint. PALATE: Flavours are rich with a toffee sweetness – think toffee apple. There is also cherry and citrus, then a touch of honey. There is a dryness to it, influenced by the cask types which include ex-sherry and ex-port barrels. FINISH: The finish has that dryness to it which for me makes this
in nicely between their previously released 12 and 18-year-old expressions. NOSE: Aromas of creamy toffee, chocolate milk and a touch floral. A slight dryness, almost powdery. With a touch of water the chocolate aromas intensify. PALATE: It has flavours which you expect in a much older whisky. Peach, almond, cardamon and honeycomb. Adding water increases oak flavours. FINISH: A teasing oak on the finish and some floral notes emerge. It’s mellow and delicate, a bit short but certainly cherished.
the perfect aperitif. Perfect oak and some stone fruits.
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ARDNAMURCHAN AD/04:21 PAUL LAUNOIS (NON AGED) SINGLE MALT
Another new limited expression from Ardnamurchan, one of the newer distilleries and certainly a very exciting one to keep track of.
GULLIVER 47 (NON-AGE STATEMENT) 59
A whisky reviving the family connection to 18th-century
NOSE: The aromas in this one
spirit merchant Samuel
are initially sweet, creamy fudge,
Gulliver, claimed to be
vanilla sponge cake with cream,
the inspirational figure
fluffy and fresh like a French Patisserie. Influenced by maturation in French wine casks this character is quite nicely linked. PALATE: Flavours are very ‘busy’ with lots going on and benefits from a touch of water to reduce the alcohol strength. There is vibrancy similar to fizzy sweets and citrus, there’s a zing of ginger, and a freshness like doughy bread or pastries. FINISH: The finish gets a lot sweeter as the wine casks start to influence things. It is candied and fruity though it becomes a little dry with a burst of floral flavours. This is going to be hard to find now, but it is a unique expression indeed.
of Jonathan Swift’s title character in Gulliver’s Travels. NOSE: This whisky, produced for Gullivers by the English Whisky Company opens with aromas which are sweet with chocolate, smoky and with an antiseptic/medicinal quality, there’s also tobacco and some herbal and gingery notes. PALATE: Flavours continue on that sweetish theme with plenty of vanilla from its maturation in quality bourbon casks, it dries to reveal a lot of lovely peat smoke and the slightly higher ABV of 47% adds a little heat and spice. FINISH: The finish is quite dry and quite herbal with a fresh mint, it remains sweet but now it’s sweet smoke and a touch of coal dust.
KILCHOMAN PX SHERRY CASK SINGLE MALT - NO AGE STATEMENT
The latest limited release from Islay’s small farm distillery Kilchoman. Limited to 12,000 bottles and a combination of whisky fully matured in Pedro Ximinez and some finished in Pedro Ximenez barrels. NOSE: Aromas begin with a big hit of Islay peat and smoke. There is a sticky sweetness in there too with treacle fudge, coal tar and charcoal embers from a beach barbecue. PALATE: Flavours are big, rich and spicy. There’s dark chocolate, a touch of chilli chocolate, shortbread sweetness and there are touches of smoky ash. FINISH: The finish brings the smokiness to the fore, a lovely rich and creamy mocha coffee makes an appearance and that spice lingers. This is a great drop from this family-run Islay distillery.
60 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
c Ewan M Ilwraith OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY
Ewan bought Robertsons of Pitlochry in 2013, an award-winning 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.
TOMINTOUL CIGAR MALT
NC’NEAN BATCH 4
SINGLE MALT SPEYSIDE WHISKY
ORGANIC SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
NO AGE STATEMENT
NO AGE STATEMENT
Created by Master Distiller, Robert Fleming.
Established in 2013 with its first
He chose a combination of Tomintoul single malts from specially selected vintages, which he carefully balanced with some rare peated Tomintoul single malt. Each of these parcels have been either matured or finished in handselected Oloroso sherry butts from Andalucia, Spain. Designed to enjoy with a cigar.
distillation in 2017, Nc’Nean was set up by Annabel Thomas. The mission of the distillery was to be sustainable, use organic Scottish barley and a bottle made from 100% recycled glass. The whisky is matured in a combination of
NOSE: Rich, sweet, dried fruits and
red wine and American whiskey
spice. A hint of peat smoke and a
pecan and maple pastry. PALATE: Smooth, Werther’s Originals and chocolate raisins, soft spice and
NOSE: Lemon and apricot, a touch of oak. PALATE: Sweet malt, citrus, spice,
gentle rolling wood smoke.
some tropical fruit.
FINISH: Soft spice and
FINISH: Warm peach and spice with a
oak, another bite of the
good length, slightly drying.
pastry, lingering and smooth.
KINGSBARNS DREAM TO DRAM
LOWLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY NO AGE STATEMENT
From the first idea in 2009 to the first distillation in 2014, Kingsbarns Distillery is now owned by the Weymss family but originally was the idea of ex-golf caddie Douglas Clement. Dream to dram was matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks from Heaven Hill Kentucky distillery and first-fill STR barriques (STR means shaved, toasted and re-charred). NOSE: Tropical fruit esters, new make spirit character. Strong influence from the bourbon cask and my favourite crème brûlée and vanilla. PALATE: Rich and creamy with a pronounced but short pepper influence. Digestive biscuit and caramel latte. FINISH: Long and warming with vanilla and nutmeg.
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SINGLE MALT DISTILLER STRATHEARN DISTILLERY CASK #003 (INDEPENDENT BOTTLING)
KILCHOMAN 100% ISLAY 2020 RELEASE 10TH EDITION SINGLE FARM SINGLE MALT ISLAY SCOTCH MALT WHISKY 9 YEAR OLD
HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
3 YEARS & 11 MONTHS OLD
2007, 2009 & 2010. The barley was malted on site and peated,
LIMITED RELEASE OF JUST 71 BOTTLES 51.95
Distilled from Optic and Publican barley grown at the distillery in using local peat before being matured and bottled on the farm. This 10th edition was matured using 39 bourbon barrels and 2
oloroso sherry butts for a minimum of 9 years.
This is an ‘Exclusive’ release from The Single Malt Distiller in collaboration
NOSE: Cut grass and straw, lemon and lime with light peat
with Robertsons of Pitlochry. Cask
003 was the third cask produced
PALATE: Peat smoke, white chocolate with vanilla and nutmeg.
at Strathearn distillery and the first
FINISH: Lingering smoke and sweet vanilla with good
made from Virgin French Oak. Cask
003 was charred but the cooperage used a different scale and compared to most whisky barrels, it would be considered as heavy toast. NOSE: Toasted spice, vanilla and woody notes with rum soaked raisins. PALATE: Rich spice, pepper and vanilla. Roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate. FINISH: Warming, rich and creamy with cinnamon and a good length.
ISLAY SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY NO AGE STATEMENT
Distilled to celebrate the 13-year career of Micky Heads as Distillery Manager. This whisky was matured in only ex-rye casks and is a wonderful expression and cacophony of flavours. This whisky is incredible. As an Ardbeg fan I couldn’t wait to try this and was certainly not disappointed. NOSE: Wonderful esters of pear and smoked banana. Rye bread and soft peat smoke. Slight salinity balanced with a touch of vanilla. Surprisingly gentle for an Ardbeg. PALATE: Creamy with sweet banana, a veil of subtle ash and a hint of melon. A nod to the rye casks but not in a harsh way. FINISH: Crème pâtissière, soft sea spray, wafting peat smoke, long and very moreish with the slightest suggestion of spearmint right at the very end.
Be a part of this year’s
SCOTTISH FIELD WHISKY AWARDS Book your spot at our 21st Whisky Awards ceremony to find out the top drams of the year.
Each ticket includes: • Glass of Prosecco on arrival. • Three-course meal at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh. • Half bottle of wine per person. • A Scottish Field Whisky Awards Magazine and whisky miniatures. • The chance to sample 2021’s winning whiskies at tasting stations (with the winning whiskies ranging in price from £40 to £700). 29 October 2021 6pm arrival - 11pm close Dress code: Smart casual
Ticket prices INDIVIDUAL TICKET £80 + VAT
TABLE OF 10 £750 + VAT
Payment options: pay in full or in two or three monthly installments Full payment due no later than 31 August 2021
to purchase tickets visit: beautifultickets.com/events/scottish-field-whiskyawards-21st-anniversary *You must be 18 or over to attend the event.
For more information contact email@example.com SPONSORED BY
Ticket sale FP Ad.indd 62
DRINKS SPONSORED BY
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Emili Fusaro 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. Emili runs the shop’s constantly evolving list, which includes a broad selection of whiskies. Here she picks some of her favourites... CAMERONBRIDGE 22-YEAR-OLD LUVIANS BOTTLING WITH JAMES EADIE, 70CL SINGLE GRAIN WHISKY
This is James Eadie Ltd’s first ever Single Grain Cask Finish, selected and bottled for Luvians, the family-run whisky specialists in the Kingdom of Fife, home of Cameronbridge Distillery. This whisky is bottled at cask strength, natural colour and without chill-filtration. Limited bottling of just 275 bottles. NOSE: All the classic sweet elements you would expect from a single grain, but more polished and precise than you often find. PALATE: On the palate, there’s Manuka honey, cinder toffee and candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate. FINISH: There’s a touch of ginger spiciness at the finish to offset the sweetness.
INNER BAY BREWERY CITRINE GOLDEN ALE, 500ML SCOTTISH CRAFT BEER
Made by a female brewer, originally
BEINN AN TURC LEGBITER , 50CL NAVY STENGTH GIN
Gold medal winner of the Navy Stength category at the Scottish Gin Awards 2020, the delicacy of this gin belies its 57% and fearsome moniker. Named after the sword of the Kintyre Legend, Magnus Barelegs, who claimed the peninsula as his own by dragging his boat across the land. NOSE: Beautiful floral and delicate spiced
from New Zealand, in the heart of Fife, all her beers are unfiltered, naturally conditioned and vegan friendly. Citrine is the perfect beer for our long summer evenings, and best friends with Fife’s fabulous offerings of fish and chips. NOSE: Sunshine! Delicate lemon and just a hint of honeysuckle. PALATE: Light and refreshing on the palate with lemon zest
notes on the nose, telling of the hibiscus
and grapefruit tones.
flowers and pink peppercorns used in
FINISH: Lingering citrus on
the finish, balanced by an
PALATE: The palate has sweet tones and
elegant bitter note.
more floral influences. FINISH: A pleasingly dry and lingering spiced finish.
64 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
Jen Laird CO-OWNER, THE GRAIL, DOUNE
Jen began her career in whisky when she got a job at Deanston Distillery as a tour guide. She was already a whisky fan but this allowed her love for the spirit to grow. She worked in a few local whisky shops before opening The Grail and then Callander Drinks Company. She’s a total peat head – the stronger the better.
LITTLE BROWN DOG SPIRITS LTD - LITEN BRUN HUND - MACKMYRA SINGLE MALT
A Swedish whisky by an Aberdeenshire independent bottler. This is the second release from their single cask series and
RUM BOTHY SPICED SPICED RUM
Made by Kim and her all-female team in a bothy in Angus using saffron grown in the Angus glens. Softly spiced and syrupy sweet. It just tastes like luxury. Lovely neat or mixed with ginger ale or cloudy apple juice. Very moreish.
only the fourth time Mackmyra have
NOSE: Light spice and sweet orange.
worked with an independent bottler.
PALATE: Golden syrup, strawberry millions and Terry’s
Who knew maturing in virgin American oak casks for 12 years, 50 metres underground in an iron ore mine made for such a fruity dram? Only a few bottles are left so be quick, but look out for future releases too. NOSE: Vanilla, caramel chocolate and spice. PALATE: Vanilla, butter scotch, bourbon, peaches, pineapple, tangy fruits, brown sugar. FINISH: A long lasting finish with treacle, ginger and cocoa powder.
Chocolate Orange, thick and luxurious. FINISH: Silky smooth.
CRAG & TAIL – SCOTTISH GIN
Made by our friends Gregor and Ramone in Angus this is a good classic G&T type gin with a twist. The key botanicals they have used are watermelon, to give a crisp, fresh, juiciness as well as citrus and elderflower. Absolutely perfect for a warm summery day. NOSE: Juniper and fresh citrus and a hint of sweetness. PALATE: Piney juniper, zesty citrus and syrupy elderflower with a hint of earthy, warming spice. FINISH: Hint of sweetness and a violet, floral note.
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Rachel Grant CO-OWNER, THE GRAIL, DOUNE
Rachel met Jen when she got a job at Deanston Distillery as a tour guide. She wasn’t a whisky fan prior to this but discovered a passion for it while being up close to the magical process. She worked in a few whisky shops before opening The Grail and then Callander Drinks Company. She gravitates towards unpeated, coastal drams.
KILTY – SCOTTISH GIN GIN
Locally made in Dunblane by Richard who did a live distillation on Zoom for us one evening during lockdown. He has used locally hand foraged rowanberries, citrus, coriander and a generous helping of pink peppercorns along with a number of other botanicals. Perfect served with ice, tonic and pink grapefruit, before dinner with olives and other nibbles. NOSE: Initially juniper followed by floral notes and pepper. PALATE: Creamy mouthfeel and full flavoured, strong juniper and aromatic spice but very fresh at the same time. FINISH: Clean, fresh and peppery.
PORT OF LEITH PORT PORT
Port of Leith Distillery are planning to make whisky in the coming years so thought in the meantime they would bottle some of the ports and sherries they will be using to season the casks they’ll be maturing their whisky in. This port from Martha’s Family Estate (who have been producing since 1727) has been matured for 6 to 8 years. NOSE: Dark fruits, blackcurrant, caramel and chocolate. PALATE: Baked plum, red fruit, juicy and rich. FINISH: Dates and walnut.
GLENTURRET 10-YEAR-OLD PEAT SMOKED
Since the distillery has been bought by Lalique Crystal, Glenturret have revamped their range and our customers are loving it, as are we. Peated spirit is true to their history and this new bottling is something a bit different. A lightly peated, toasty, warming dram. NOSE: Malt, vanilla and gentle, wispy peat smoke. PALATE: Toffee popcorn and toasted bagels, light citrus and smoke. FINISH: Toasted oak and sweet smoke with a hint of spice.
66 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
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 mystery. Douglas talks us through his favourites from across the globe.
GLENALLACHIE 12YO SAUTERNES WINE CASK FINISH
Stone fruit flavours deriving from 2 years finishing in Sauternes Barriques made from French Oak, with a medium level of toasting. NOSE: Peaches, apricots and grapefruit, with hints of cinnamon and almonds. PALATE: Heather honey, treacle and pineapple, with
ADELPHI’S GLENBORRODALE 11 YEARS OLD BATCH 8 BLENDED MALT
A sherry cask matured blended malt (from unnamed distilleries) bottled by the excellent folk at Adelphi distillery. NOSE: Orange blossom and almonds panheated with honey and cinnamon. PALATE: Cotton candy, creamy toffee, warm Weetabix and a suggestion of sweet smoke. FINISH: Salted caramel and floral honey.
peaches, sweet grapefruit and cinnamon. FINISH: Long-lasting, creamy and warming with grapefruit and a slight nuttiness.
KILCHOMAN LOCH GORM 2021 RELEASE SINGLE MALT
Loch Gorm is an annual release of fully ex-sherry cask matured Kilchoman. NOSE: Fruity and spicy, with an understated peat. PALATE: Deep and richly flavoured, combining sherry flavours with peat and cloves. FINISH: Well balanced with a lingering sweetness and long finish.
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OJO DE DIOS MEZCAL MEZCAL
The agave for their Espadin mezcal is sustainably farmed in their estate in the region of San Luis del Rio, harvested at full maturation (aged 7-8 years) then the process begins by cooking the hearts of the agave plant for up to 10 days (depending on weather conditions) in an underground oven using only local oak wood. The cooked hearts are then crushed with a tahona pulled by Chicharito, the estate donkey. The agave fibers and juices are then naturally fermented on small pine wood containers using local indigenous airborne bacteria. Finally it is double distilled in 250-litre copper pot stills. NOSE: Subtle floral notes, white grapes with a hint of spice and subtle tones of new leather and sweet smoke. PALATE: Delicate dried apricots and plums give way to a rich mouthfeel of toasted pineapple and umeshu notes. FINISH: A long dry finish, black tea & sweet smoke with a creamy, silky cashew
combined with fresh tobacco leaves.
DON Q DOUBLE WOOD RUM VERMOUTH CASK FINISH VERMOUTH
Very interesting rum from Puerto Rico. A blend of rums aged between 5 and 8 years in American white oak, then a further 6 weeks finishing in 600-litre Mancino Vecchio vermouth casks. NOSE: Vanilla and honey notes emerge initially with support from dried spices such as cinnamon and darker elements from chocolate caramels. There’s a whiff of bitter herbs underneath too. PALATE: White grapes, seedless raisins and bright molasses form the core of the
KINRARA DISTILLERY ARTISTS EDITION GIN
Illustrated by Scottish artist Kat Baxter, ‘Freya’ is depicted using orange peel, juniper, coriander and Scottish heather, all used to distill this Highland gin. Heather is sourced from their own estate, as well as blaeberrys, hawthorn berries, orange peel and lemon thyme. NOSE: Fresh forest flavours of juniper and spicy notes of coriander. PALATE: Rich dark berries, sweet candied orange, vanilla and subtle hints of heather. FINISH: Woody and herbal.
palate from which ripe orange and cloves add depth. FINISH: A little exotic fruit and a lasting herbaceous tone linger.
68 | Connoisseurs’ Selection
OWNER OF EIGHTPM.CO.NZ A PREMIUM WHISKY ONLINE STORE
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 promotes whiskies with regular whisky tastings, both online and offline. Their range is continually growing with exciting new Kiwi releases available. THOMSON LOCAL FOLK & SMOKE SECOND RELEASE SINGLE MALT WHISKY 700ML SINGLE MALT
NZ$155 / £79
This second Release of Local Folk & Smoke is aged in a French Oak exPinot Noir NZ red wine cask. 168 Bottle Release. Malted with Manuka Smoke malt, grown in New Zealand. NOSE: Beautiful notes of manuka wood followed by caramel and oak. It opens up slowly to present sweeter notes with a drop of water. PALATE: Soft caramelised fruit, prunes, and coastal salt notes. A wave of stewed fruit reduction, building to a mild smoke and savoury mid palate. An oily and slightly smoky finish. FINISH: Light smoky characters lingering with caramel sweetness and rich oily mouth feel.
THE CARDRONA GROWING WINGS SOLERA SINGLE MALT WHISKY 375ML SINGLE MALT
NZ$153 / £75
Growing Wings is a natural, cask strength celebration of five years in oak. Growing Wings Solera is a marriage of select exOloroso Sherry butts and ex-bourbon barrels brought together. NOSE: Outstanding honey and vanilla followed by orange peel and oak notes. This has come along nicely vs its younger release at 3yo. At 5yo it is still very high in ABV and a few drops of water helps calm it down, allowing more sweetness to come through. PALATE: It is very oily and rich on the palate. Definitely needs water to help open it up because of the very high ABV. Once it settles it gives lovely sweeter notes of toffee. FINISH: It lingers on the palate, but reminds you of its youthfulness with sharp edges.
1919 DISTILLING KIRIKIRIROA RELEASE NEW ZEALAND WHISKY 500ML MALT WHISKY
NZ$159 / £81
Kirikiriroa release is a reflection of New Zealand’s soil, climate and geographical location at the bottom of the world, along with the influences and profiles created by the custom made still. It’s a unique balanced expression of grains and red wine cask. NOSE: Oak, jam, raisins, caramelised fig and ripe stone fruit. PALATE: Vanilla, toasted oak, chocolate, cinnamon and baked berries. FINISH: Viscous and balanced with a hint of baking spices from the oak and ripe figs.
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ardrona Distillery is nestled in the beautiful Cardrona Valley, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. All Cardrona spirits are made from grain to glass on site at Cardrona Distillery starting with just three ingredients: pure Cardrona Alpine water, malted barley, and distillers yeast. Creating the ﬁnest spirits with pure alpine water sourced from the heart of Mount Cardrona, and locally foraged seasonal ingredients to produce an unparalleled signature taste. Every aspect of Cardrona’s products is of the highest quality, from the pure Cardrona Valley Alpine water, the rich malted barley and the foraged ingredients to the handpicked oak casks from Spain, America and Central Otago. The very best equipment has been sourced from the four corners of the earth, to make great hand-crafted Single Malt Whisky, Gin, Vodka and limited edition Liqueurs.
Led by Desiree Whitaker, the exquisite range produced at the Cardrona Distillery is the result of many years of study, planning and research. Desiree learned her craft from some of the world’s masters and has shaped the very character that is Cardrona Distillery. ‘A great whisky is like a ﬁne piece of art – it is built in layers, each one adding more colour and texture than the one before. But a masterpiece isn’t something you can make with a click of the ﬁngers. It takes time, patience, and years of waiting,’ says Desiree. The Cardrona Distillery range of single malt spirits are available on www.cardronadistillery.com/en-gb/ and from all good bottle shops and online stockists of quality spirits. If you’re interested in stocking the range please contact Georgia Clappison - georgia@ cardronadistillery.com
Discovered BY OUR Malt Master STEPHANIE MACLEOD. Hand-filled AT THE DISTILLERY by you Our newest, oldest, whisky release has been slumbering in oak casks whilst 40 years have passed by. Recently discovered and now released in three single cask expressions. Cask #5029 is now on sale.
Exclusively available via Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, you can hand-fill, label and wax dip your own bottle at the distillery, or let us do the hard work for you.
Please enjoy our whiskies responsibly
Aberfeldy40-245mmHx200mmW.indd 1 070_C&S06.indd 70
11/06/2021 13:44 11/06/2021 14:06:08
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irst planned in 1896 by the sons of John Dewar, Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery is the only Scotch whisky distillery built by the Dewar family. Dewar’s was already a highly successful brand of blended whisky, renowned for its quality, and the company needed more single malt whisky to use in its blend. The Dewar family’s pursuit of whisky perfection continues to this day, and we still produce whisky in a way that they would recognise instantly. In common with most Scotch whisky distilleries, malted Scottish barley to make the whisky is brought to site, with the old Malting House now home to our beautiful Whisky Lounge and Cafe. Due to vastly increased demand, we now mature our spirit elsewhere in Scotland, meaning our former filling station and warehouse have escaped modernisation and serve as a highly atmospheric tour area and home to our Cask Tasting. This is the ideal backdrop to explain how Dewar’s premium blends are ‘double-aged’, with a secondary resting in oak barrels once the blend is created. The costly process gives an extra smoothness to the final whisky. The creation of the distinctive Aberfeldy spirit all takes place onsite, with our extra long fermentation in larch washbacks, and distillation in our tall pot stills overlooking the rolling Perthshire hills. These processes create the honeyed richness for which Aberfeldy whisky is renowned. Now popular in its own right as a single malt, Aberfeldy still makes up the heart of the Dewar’s blend, contributing its heather honey flavour to America’s best selling Scotch whisky.
Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery is now open for pre-booked experiences. Make the most of your visit to one of the most acclaimed visitor attractions Perthshire has to offer. As well as guided distillery tours, a visit to Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery offers the opportunity to relax in our Whisky Lounge and cafe. Chat to the team about our whisky and purchase a dram or tasting flight from the fully licensed bar. Our cafe serves freshly prepared lunches using the finest local produce including soup, thick fill sandwiches and afternoon tea. The distillery shop showcases the full range from John Dewar & Sons Fine Whisky Emporium, along with our exclusive single cask ‘fill your own’ bottle. Reserve your experience now at www.dewars.com
72 | Gin
Hence the proliferation of novelty gins with swirly gold bits and possibly even fairy lights
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ircling agons W It’s high time someone came to the rescue of quality gin producers competing in a market saturated with spirits which are not all that they claim to be Written by Geraldine Coates
ou wouldn’t think that gin, the spirit that, in the immortal words of Lord Kinross, ‘rose from the gutter to become the respectable companion of civilized man’, would need much protection. But you would be wrong. One of the downsides of the great gin renaissance and indeed, perhaps an unavoidable aspect of any revival, is that the seeds of its own destruction appear at the exact same rate as cynical opportunists jump on a fast moving bandwagon. There are now over 400 distilleries in the UK, many of them purely making gin and other white spirits whilst a few make gin while they wait for their new make whisky to mature. That’s a lot of new entrants to the market and one of the main problems that gin faces currently is the pushing of boundaries so that newcomers can create a point of difference that will make their gin stand out.
Hence the proliferation of novelty gins with swirly golden bits, bubblegum flavours and, God knows, possibly even fairy lights. Novelty gins aren’t the only problem. There are rules that govern gin production which are designed to protect the category. Trade bodies in the UK, working with the EU spirits regulation authority, produced the first ever legal definition of gin. As a result of their efforts, an EU directive of 2008 lays out the legal definitions of the different styles of gin: London Dry, Distilled and plain old Gin (the cheap stuff). The regulations specify such things as the type and style of still that should be used and the nature of the botanicals and the amount of sugar that can be added in great detail. What they boil down to, for the purposes of this article, is that any bottle of gin that is marketed as such must have a minimum alcohol content of 37.5% ABV and must ‘taste
74 | Gin
Let the games begin: Anything below 37.5% ABV is not classed as a real gin.
predominantly of juniper’. These regulations will continue to apply post Brexit, yet they often don’t cover the products that are now causing concern because these were barely thought of twelve years ago. Who, for example, could have predicted the current explosion of ﬂavoured gins? In themselves, of course, ﬂavoured gins have been a boon to the category, attracting many people who never saw themselves as gin drinkers and giving distillers more options for their portfolios. Flavoured and fruit gins have a long history and a glance at the price lists of many nineteenth century gin distillers shows that they included a vast range of ﬂavoured gins, most of which, apart from sloe gin, have slowly disappeared from the shelves. But when modern day producers market, say, a pink strawberry-ﬂavoured gin bottled at 27% ABV as ‘gin’ they are misleading the public and devaluing the category because most consumers don’t know enough to be aware that this is most emphatically ‘not gin’. Call it a gin liqueur by all means and make sure that the wording is prominent on the labelling, or bottle it above 37.5% ABV and the issue is resolved if it meets the legal criteria for
RY & RHUB BER AR W RA
Cask and Still Magazine | 75
ALC O H O L FREE
additional ﬂavourings and sugar. Then there’s the controversy around the labelling of zero alcohol and no-alcohol spirits labelled as ‘gin’ which break the law in numerous ways. The ﬁght back began in 2018 when the concerns of the industry were made public, initially through the ‘Call Time on Fake Gin’ campaign spearheaded by Haymans Gin, whose family links with gin distilling go back to the founder of Beefeater Gin. In September 2018 Haymans hosted a day long debate attended by the great and good of the gin world centred on how best to protect the reputation and quality of legally produced gin. The regulations, how to enforce them, and the importance of education not just of consumers and the ontrade but also of newbies entering an unfamiliar market, were given signiﬁcant airtime. A number of initiatives were to be taken forward by a committee who would meet regularly. I caught up with James Hayman recently to ask him what, if any, progress has been made, especially given that the whole of 2020 was taken up with even more crucial matters for the drinks industry. ‘The situation has not been resolved by any means but we’re much more optimistic than we were when we launched
the campaign,’ he told me. ‘New entrants to the market have become more mindful about the fact that if it says gin on the label it must be gin. The regulations are there and one of the real successes of the campaign has been a new awareness of the importance of enforcing them.’ Certainly in terms of enforcement great strides have been made. The fact is that anyone can report breaches of the regulations to the Trading Standards Authority who are, by law, obliged to investigate. But what was missing was a category champion with the responsibility of protecting the interests of the distillers who play by the rules. Step forward The Gin Guild, an industry body that has expanded to take on brands selling non-compliant, non-gin products. Recent successes have included a prelegal action notice to the Pentone family’s Red Storm and Ocean Storm products, both of which are branded as gin despite being only 29% ABV. The Guild is also working closely Who could have with various local trading standards predicted the bodies to prevent zero and no alcohol drinks from using the word ‘gin’ on current explosion their labelling or marketing. As Nicholas of ﬂavoured gins? Cook, head of the Gin Guild explains: ‘Our aim is to stop this form of abuse, which of late, due to the success and interest in the gin category, is growing. This is a matter of consumer as well as industry protection.’ More ways to tackle the problem will no doubt ﬁrm up as the world returns to normal in the months ahead. One of the really interesting ideas was the creation of a type of Red Tractor quality assurance scheme that individual distillers could sign up to as conﬁrmation that their products conformed to the regulations. Personally, I think including a quality mark as part of the protection of gin is an excellent idea. Sad to say there are a lot of poor quality gins out there, many of them heavily branded as ‘Scottish Gin’ as inexperienced distillers co-opt Scotland’s global and historic reputation for distilling excellence. It’s not just that some of them are poor quality, it’s the double whammy that many of them are not even made in Scotland. Consumers are ﬁckle and gin’s current popularity has been hardearned but is by no means set in stone. A recent Waitrose report on drinks trends for 2021 highlighted the increasing popularity of ﬂavoured vodka. Some of us remember the impact vodka had in the last gin identity crisis. Be afraid.
76 | Under the spotlight
Under the spotlight Keeping you up-to-date on all things whisky...
LUVIAN’S BOTTLE SHOP
PIPER WHISKY BAR
Purveyors of fine wines, whiskies and food in St Andrews and Cupar. Visit our website for info on tastings, events and more. Tel: 01334 654 820 (Cupar) Tel: 01334 477 752 (St Andrews) www.luvians.com
We’re proud to stock whisky from every Scottish distillery with over 250 malts to try. Our whisky professionals are also on hand to answer questions and let you sample some magical malts. Please get in touch to book private bespoke whisky tastings. We have a great selection of spirits, including an enviable collection of gin, Scottish and continental lagers and beer. Tel: 0141 552 1740 www.thepiperbar.com
WOODWINTERS WoodWinters emerged from our desire to share the outstanding and diverse drinks that we had experienced on our travels. Our aim is to connect with like-minded whisky drinkers and let them taste and buy the whisky that we had come to adore. Check the website for upcoming online tastings. Tel: 01786 469 624 www.woodwinters.com
THE GLENTURRET SINGLE MALT By Hand & Heart Since 1763. An exciting new range of six releases from The Glenturret, Scotland’s Oldest Working Distillery, the home of handcrafted whisky distilling since 1763. Today, The Glenturret brings together the hardwon wisdom of past distillers with the imagination of contemporary master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno. Tel: 01764 656 565 www.theglenturret.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 77
ROBBIE’S DRAMS Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is an independently run family business, owned and operated by the Russell family and situated in the Scottish seaside town of Ayr. Each member of staff is knowledgeable and passionate about the trade and in an era in which corporate ownership is king, we are fiercely proud of the service offered to our customers as a result. With hundreds of whiskies in store and online you can find monthly special offers, collectors’ items, limited edition bottlings, closed and silent distillery bottlings, our own range of single cask bottlings and everything in between. Tel: 01292 262 135, robbies whiskymerchants.com
J. L. GILL WHISKY SHOP
ANGELS’ SHARE GLASS Angels’ Share Glass have teamed up with US brand RAGPROPER to offer this modern flask made from glass and stylishly covered in either a leather or silicone wrap. The glass is made to resist a fall and the wrap provides extra protection. The flask pictured above features dark brown leather. It’s rich and stylish with a high-end feel. The easy pour window makes filling your flask a breeze. Tel: 01786 835 005 www.angelsshareglass.com
Find high quality Scottish food and drink at J. L. Gill in Crieff, where the shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with whiskies, gins, wines, and a selection from the best Scottish tea blenders and coffee roasters. J. L. Gill recreates the atmosphere of a traditional family shop for a unique shopping experience. Tel: 01764 653 011 www.scottishproduce.co.uk
THE GOOD SPIRITS CO. We are a specialist drinks retailer based in Glasgow. We have three branches, two in the city centre and one in the West End. Most of what we stock is available to buy on our website.We work with scores of suppliers to track down hard to find bottles, and are always looking for new and interesting products to sell. This summer, we’re bringing the tasting to you with our range of Zoom tastings as well. Visit our website to find out more. Tel: 0141 258 8427 www.thegoodspiritsco.com
SPEYSIDE DISTILLERS Why not treat yourself to this award-winning, hand-crafted single malt from Speyside Distillery? All available to purchase at The Snug. Order online or call. Tel: 01479 810 126 www.thesnugspeyside distillery.co.uk
78 | Spirit Level
The Big apple A glassful of nostalgia, apple brandy is to be savoured with your nearest and dearest, and Brooke Magnanti suggests a few cocktails to try at home
Cask and Still Magazine | 79
y mother’s mother was a small woman of Austrian Jewish stock, curvy and curly-haired. As a girl she was very popular with the boys; plenty of others besides the World War II pilot who captured her heart had vied for it. We had the photos to prove it. She had a way in the kitchen, and knew her liquors too. She loved brandy, as many do. Loved it? She made it! There was the bathtub gin of course, but in autumn, when the apple trees of Western New York State hang heavy with fruit and small town churches lay out ﬁelds of frost-hardened pumpkins for Halloween fundraising, it is cider season. Gallons of unpasteurized, unﬁltered apple juice from varieties like Winesap and Ashmeads’ Kernel are sold at every store and stall. From these, the natural yeasts conveyed to the juice from the apple skins will make a ready hard cider in a few days. (If you want to do it Grandma Levy style, leaving it outside with a loosened lid by the kitchen steps will do.) And from that, the real gold: applejack, or apple brandy, can be distilled. Is it illegal and probably dangerous? Absolutely. But my grandmother who left us just last year at the ripe age of 95, her cheeks still round and pink as apples, did not care. The winters upstate are diamond hard and icy, and the snow so high you might have to leave the house one morning by the ﬁrst ﬂoor window. You need a drink to stand up to that, preferably one you stocked up when autumn was
WORTH A LOOK
still gold and russet and full of fruit. You need a brandy. Many was the Sunday night, visiting her cosy house in Utica, watching gentle dramas on television and feeding the open ﬁre, that the bottle was offered around. Like so many grandmothers she had a display shelf in the dining room with knick-knacks from every state she had visited; except, instead of it being teacups or thimbles or little pewter bells it was shot glasses. Watching the ﬁre or watching Michael Landon in a covered wagon, brandy was always the perfect match. Grandma Levy passed last spring. She always said she would die at 95 but I didn’t believe her. The last time I saw her we’d snuck plastic cups and fruit liqueur into the care home where dementia demanded she stay. We brought the raspberry schnapps; she had a small hidden bottle of brandy. She had already forgotten my face and my husband’s name but she still laughed like a teenage girl sneaking drinks. I never thought a global pandemic would stop me being at her side when she went and was buried, no funeral, in a military cemetery on Long Island next to the love of her life. We are left with a tin of sepia photos with this brilliant girl in a nurse’s uniform holding hands of boys going to war whose names we will never know. For those less likely to want to chance their eyesight or an explosion making their own, brandy, which is any distillate of fruit wine, is far more than something you buy in 20ml bottles to sprinkle over the Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday. You could go full glam with a giant snifter and sheepskin rugs, but why not take it even more old school in a cocktail? Knock up an Old Fashioned for a hint of tangy orange or a Sidecar for its sweeter younger sibling. A Brandy Alexander for those missing the overﬂowing Christmas boxes, made with cognac and crème de cacao, and altogether more sophisticated than leftover Celebrations anyway. And toast Dorothy Mae if you are so inclined – I know I will.
STRATHEARN CIDER BRANDY
Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire was the first Scottish distillery to produce their own cider apple brandy, in collaboration with Thistly Cross Cider. Matured in French oak casks.
COPPER & KINGS’ FLOODWALL APPLE BRANDY Great for cocktails. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels and 250-L Oloroso sherry casks from Spain, it has notes of apple, vanilla and cinnamon.
BLACK DIRT’S APPLE JACK
Aged a minimum of four years in new charred American oak barrels, this apple brandy is a little richer and more powerful than others on the market. It has notes of vanilla, cinnamon and caramelised apple.
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n Cask and Still Magazine | 81
BARREL Once treated as a taboo by beer experts, low alcohol and alcohol-free options are now coming to the fore Written by Peter Ranscombe
t’s a scene that will strike a chord with so many beer fans. It’s Tuesday night, it’s been a long day at work, and you’re hankering after a beer, but you’ve promised yourself you’re going to wait for the weekend. You’ve also promised yourself a fuzz-free head for that Wednesday morning video call. And you’ve promised yourself you’re going to ﬁt into those jeans. Step forward alcohol-free beers. Once a dirty phrase whispered at the bar to avoid embarrassment, lighter brews have suddenly gone mainstream. Wind the clock back to the Eighties and Nineties and the choices were lacklustre to say the least. Even drafting in Billy Connolly to record TV adverts wasn’t enough to win sceptics over to Guinness’ Kaliber, which enjoyed a near monopoly in most pubs until the arrival of Beck’s Blue. Fast forward to today and Scotland’s brewers are leading the charge with exciting low-alcohol brews that actually taste like beer. From Jump Ship Brewing’s Yardarm lager and Flying Colours pale ale through to Harviestoun’s Wheesht ruby ale, their creations come in a spectrum of styles. Part of the problem with low-alcohol beers of the past – and those from some bigger producers today – was the way in which they were made. Industrial techniques like ‘vacuum distillation’, in which the alcohol is boiled off, and ‘reverse osmosis’, where the alcohol is sieved using a ﬁne mesh membrane, remove the booze from ‘normal’ beers, but also much of the ﬂavour and body. Instead, today’s generation of craft brewers are
‘Once a dirty phrase whispered at the bar, lighter brews have suddenly gone mainstream’
using brewing techniques to create lighter recipes. They’re using different grains to control how much sugar goes into fermentation. They’re using different yeasts to control how much of that sugar gets turned into alcohol. And they’re controlling the temperature of the mash and fermentation so that the ﬂavours form, but without the alcohol. Some brewers add maltodextrin to give a rounder texture, while others choose lactose, like Bristol Beer Factory’s excellent Clear Head IPA, which supports mental health charity Talk Club. Grains like oats and wheat play a part in a beer’s body too, while getting the carbonation right can be a challenge – no one wants their creation to taste like ﬁzzy pop. That’s not to say all industrial processes are evil; the 0.5% reverse osmosis version of Adnams’ Ghost Ship is a remarkably satisfying creation that gives the original a run for its money. I’m keen to try the Southwold brewery’s 0.5% Sole Star too, which instead opts for a modiﬁed recipe. A word to the wise on labelling: European rules allow beers with 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) and lower to be labelled as ‘alcohol free’, while UK Government guidelines lowered that limit to 0.05%, introducing the ‘de-alcoholised beer’ moniker for anything between the two levels. As we’ve seen, there’s often now no alcohol there in the ﬁrst place to be ‘de-alcoholised’ – it’s time for ministers to adopt the 0.5% deﬁnition to avoid confusion. After all, as Sonja Mitchell from Jump Ship points out, 0.5% is the same level of alcohol as you’d ﬁnd in a ripe banana. I know which one I’d prefer as my Tuesday night tipple.
82 | Whisky in Sweden
The whisky scene in Sweden is fascinating. There are so many distilleries – a lot more than people think. There’s Mackmyra, for instance, which is the world’s tallest distillery and the oldest one in Sweden. Meanwhile we have younger distilleries like Hven and High Coast Distillery (formerly Box). They are really good at making peated whisky. I am also very excited about the new Agitator Distillery: they are doing interesting things with casks and grains – plus, they happen to be very close to where my parents live. I can’t wait to visit them.
Let’s dive into the Swedish whisky world guided by blogger and whisky expert Moa Katarina Nilsson, AKA the Swedish Whisky Girl I grew up in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm, but at 16 I moved to the capital and began my studies at a dance school there. When I was 19, I went abroad and eventually moved to Edinburgh to study and become a professional dancer. This is where I met my boyfriend, and it was him who introduced me to whisky – but at first, I didn’t like it at all. It took me a while to find a whisky that I really liked: it was an Ardbeg 10 Year Old. It made me think of hikes we used to do at home when we lit a bonfire, and ate marshmallows and sausages. The flavours in the dram reminded me of those times. I always had an interest in flavours, and had previously taken a university course on wine, so getting into whisky came quite naturally to me. After I graduated, I started working as a tour guide for the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, and shortly after I started documenting what I was trying and learning on my Swedish Whisky Girl blog. I also worked as event coordinator at The Vaults for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and am now focussing on building my own business.
What I really like is that these distillers are not trying to just copy Scotch: what they make is a Swedish whisky and they draw from Swedish traditions in terms of flavours, ingredients and methods to produce a unique spirit. As far as the Swedish whisky scene is concerned, it is still male-dominated. Many people love whisky but they tend to be older men, and when younger people drink it, it is usually as a coming-of-age ritual – a moment they share with their whisky-loving fathers. Lately, more women in their 40s and 50s have been drinking whisky, with whisky clubs playing a crucial role in introducing them to drams. You don’t see many young people drinking whisky though, and although things are changing, the process is slow. Whisky is not our national drink, and on special occasions people often toast with Akvavit instead. What makes things more complicated is that alcohol in Sweden is only sold in state-owned shops, so you won’t find spirits in supermarkets, making whisky less accessible. It could be argued that Swedish whisky is more popular abroad than in Sweden itself – specialist bars in Sweden generally have a bigger selection of Scotch as it has a better reputation than Swedish whisky. But things are changing, slowly but surely. There is a promising cocktail movement on the go, and with this growing popularity whisky will hopefully attract a more diverse audience too.
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FOOL’S GOLD Blair Bowman has major concerns that investors may be scammed when buying high-end casks MOUTHFUL OF SOUTH Incredible distilleri...
Published on Jun 23, 2021
FOOL’S GOLD Blair Bowman has major concerns that investors may be scammed when buying high-end casks MOUTHFUL OF SOUTH Incredible distilleri...