ISSUE THREE | FREE
THE WHISKEY PROFESSOR Take a journey into bourbon with comic genius Bernie Lubbers
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Standing in the crystal-clear water of the Dee, just up the river from the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, with my hip flask in my jacket pocket and a fishing rod in my hand, I mused about the many uses for whisky. At the beginning of every season it’s traditional to pour a dram into the river to bless it and bring luck. I and my fishing companion had just enough Springbank Green 12-year-old left from the night before to make a wish. Inevitably it didn’t come true, and no salmon were harmed in the making of our two-day expedition. Scotland’s national drink is woven into the fabric of our world in such a wide variety of ways that we often barely notice it. This issue is testament to the way in which whisky seeps in to our lives, whether in Scotland or in farther flung lands. We have an artist who paints extraordinary images from the water of life, a cook who flavours her food with it and novellists who use it
for inspiration and plotlines. Whisky, it seems, infuses our very existence. If I doubted that, I looked at my bedside table this morning and was brought up with a start. The book I’m reading is a racy little thriller by Denzil Meyrick called Whisky From Small Glasses and I hadn’t even clocked the connection. Slàinte!
EDITOR Richard Bath
PRUE LEITH The original goddess of the kitchen is also a fan of the amber stuff and was happy to muse over her love affair with whisky and Scotland for this issue of Cask & Still. She fishes, she cooks, she quaffs – Prue, you are a legend.
BERNIE LUBBERS Part-time stand-up comedian and bluegrass musician, the Kentucky native is a full-time evangelist for bourbon’s life-enhancing properties. He’s smooth, garrulous and engaging, just like a good nip of Heaven’s Hill.
4 | Whatâ€™s inside
ISSUE 12 24 32
Cover lines 32 THE WHISKEY PROFESSOR
Bernie Lubbers is a bluegrass musician, stand-up comedian and bourbon ambassador
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S MAY 2016 ISSUE THREE cask and still
DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Creative Director: Mark Duncan Photographer: Angus Blackburn
40 NO GO ZONE The
Remember, you heard it here first...
story of the whisky salesman who is allergic to booze
08 BAR SNAPS
42 IT WORKS FOR ME
The Flatiron Room in Manhattan, New York
It’s high time we splashed a dram or two into our food
10 ME AND MY DRAM
48 THE BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO INVESTING IN WHISKY
Cookery writer and journalist Prue Leith shares her love of whisky
12 NEATLY DONE
Carne Griffiths creates fine works of art in whisky and ink
22 THE RANT
Why Johanne McInnes is sick of whisky marketing
24 FLIGHTS OF FANCY The Scots authors who have enjoyed writing about a wee dram almost as much as drinking one
30 SIX OF THE BEST Bourbon-based cocktails from Orchid in Aberdeen
39 BOURBON BY NUMBERS The latest facts and figures
50 WHISKY HERO
Cooper Attila Peter is master of this age-old craft
53 CONNOISSEUR’S SELECTION Our experts choose their top drams
76 A GAME OF SCHNAPPS Dr Brooke
Magnanti – blogger Belle de Jour – on the joy of schnapps
78 OVER A BARREL
Brewing Cask & Still’s own beer at Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen
80 WHISKY EVENTS GUIDE 82 WHISKY IN AUSTRALIA with
Staff Writers: Morag Bootland, Susan Windram, Kirsty Smyth Contributing Editor: Blair Bowman Contributors: Dr Brooke Magnanti, Stuart Kelly, Rachel McCormack, Johanne McInnis Email: editor@caskandstill magazine.co.uk
ADVERTISING Sales Director: Brian Cameron Special Projects Manager: Janice Johnston Sales assistants: Mikaela MacKinnon, Katie Hogg
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.
Nathan de Tienne, blogger and state manager of the Malt Whisky Society
6 | News feed
S In a first for the Scotch whisky industry, British company Finlay & Co will work with oak wood from casks used to age Glenmorangie Original for ten years to create unique wooden-framed sunglasses. Designed and handcrafted in Britain, from Glenmorangie’s own American white oak casks, the sunglasses cost £300 from finlayandco.com. Each pair will be designed to display its unique grain and natural finish, then numbered, with an option to be personally engraved for each customer.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Glenwyvis Distillery Community Benefit Society, based in the Highland town of Dingwall, is realising its long-held ambition to create Scotland’s first community-owned craft whisky distillery. Glenwyvis has launched a community share offer to raise more than £1.5m of investment to build the 100% green-energy powered distillery on a farm above the town. Whisky has been made in the area for centuries and inspiration has been taken from former distilleries: Ferintosh, Ben Wyvis and Glenskiach. The project will bring whisky production back to Dingwall, some 90 years after the last of the town’s distilleries closed. www.glenwyvis.com
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Politician, which grounded off Eriskay 75 years
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ago, have been discovered at the National
role of Master Blender for
Trust for Scotland’s Canna House. It was
The Famous Grouse, taking
thought only eight whisky bottles remained,
over from Gordon Motion.
but it seems this does not include the Canna
Kirsteen became Master Blender for Cutty Sark
examples. In 2013, two bottles sold for over
at the age of just 33 and will now become one
£12,000, although there are no plans to sell
of the few people allowed to share the secret
the whisky. The bottles are pictured with a
of the unique blend of whiskies that combine
Jamaican bank note from the wreck.
to make The Famous Grouse.
Two bottles of whisky recovered from the SS
Kirsteen Campbell has
Cask and Still Magazine | 7
RARE WHISKY SHINES
The market for rare whisky in 2015 significantly outperformed many other well-established asset classes, including wine and gold, according to figures published by whisky analyst, broker and investment experts Rare Whisky 101. In a record year for the rare
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This new edition comes in a blue bottle encased in a wooden cradle. Spicy notes combine with creamy vanilla hues for a long balanced finish.
The Real Mary King’s Close will be launching The Perfect Blend, a whisky tasting experience in
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The character is rich and round, soft and fruity, with charred oak on the nose and a slightly smoky finish.
partnership with Royal Mile Whiskies to celebrate whisky month this May. A unique whisky tasting experience, combining history and whisky, the tour will take guests back in time as they uncover Edinburgh’s incredible hidden history whilst getting to grips with the national drink. www.realmarykingsclose.com
Planning permission has been
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granted for the first ever legal distillery on the Isle of Raasay. The conversion of Victorian Borodale House to create a distillery with visitor centre and luxury accommodation by R&B Distillers will get underway this year. It is hoped that the distillery will go into production in early 2017. www.rbdistillers.com
8 | Whisky bars of the world
THE FLATIRON ROOM, MANHATTAN, NYC Forget the pounding music of trendy nightclubs, this is a place for whisky enthusiasts to enjoy a dram from the most extensive list on the East Coast in a comfortable and beautiful environment. www.theflatironroom.com
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10 | Me and my dram
Image: Pru Leith.
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Me & my
What made you become a whisky drinker? When I was a child all Scottish whisky was exported from Leith. I was very proud of the fact that it said Leith on every Scotch whisky bottle. I managed to fool my friends in South Africa, telling them I had something to do with all the Scotch whisky in the world. My father used to drink VAT 69, which was a blend. He used to like peaty whiskies like Laphroaig and Isle of Skye whiskies, which I didn’t like. Favourite whisky? The first whisky I got into was a Speyside and that’s still the whisky I tend to like. I like it to be milder, not peaty. I think Macallan is the best in the world. It’s very clean, it’s not at all peaty and it’s as smooth as silk with this brilliant burn. I adore it. I do like most malt whiskies, although I have been known to do the unforgivable and put a slug of water in it. You like to add a mixer then? After dinner I drink it neat. Late at night you’re not really desperate for a drink, because you’ve probably had wine and everything else. You drink it because it’s mellow and gentle – you’re doing it for the flavour and the feel. I’ll sip it in tiny little sips and take
Restaurateur, caterer, cookery writer, journalist and television presenter Prue Leith shares her whisky ramblings Interview by Susan Windram
a long time over it. But if I feel like I need a drink, then I’ll water it down. No ice, room temperature. When do you drink whisky? I never drink on my own – it must be some puritan Scots background in me – but John and I often have a whisky together, and I’ll bring it out for good friends after dinner. I hide it from my children though. My son, who’s forty, likes a whisky too. He enjoys what I enjoy so I tend to hide the whisky when he’s around – there’s nothing like young people emptying your booze cupboard!
I drink whisky at night for the flavour and feel – I’ll sip it in tiny sips and take a long time over it The best time for a dram? My favourite time for drinking a blend, not a malt, would be 6pm after an exhausting day. Normally I’ll have a glass of wine at 7, but if I’ve really had a hard day, John and I will look at each other and say, ‘whisky?’ The other time is after dinner with friends.
What whisky do you drink with friends? Well, I have a famous bottle of whisky – I once caught the first and biggest fish of the year on a Norwegian river called the Aa, and they gave me a bottle of whisky with a picture of a fisherman on the front. Underneath it said, ‘First fish on the river, 25lbs’ or something. I was immensely proud of this bottle, but of course we drank it, so now I top it up with Famous Grouse. I’m unashamedly egotistical about my fishing, so when friends come I pour the whisky out of that. It’s beginning to look a bit tattered now. One day I’ll forget I’ve emptied it and some helpful cleaner or someone will throw it away and I’ll be very sad. Do you have a favourite watering hole? Where I live in Stow on the Wold there’s a lovely old-fashioned pub called The Queen’s Head. It sells craft beers and is always full of locals standing round drinking whisky; I really like it there. Recently, John and I went to the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh – I just had a water because I knew I had to keep going all day, but that’s the sort of place I’d love to sit and savour a whisky. It’s so beautiful and it’s got a lovely atmosphere.
12 | Carne Griffiths
DONE Fine artist Carne Griffith is taking the art world by storm with his signature style and striking images created using intricate layers of whisky and ink Written by Susan Windram
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Pictured: Carneâ€™s exclusive selfportrait for Cask & Still magazine.
14 | Carne Griffiths
Right: The Red Flower.
There’s many an artist who will have imbibed a dram or two to help their creative juices ﬂow. What is less common than an artist drinking the alcohol, however, is the sight of one sloshing it all over his work. But that’s the exact process developed by one innovative ﬁne artist who creates his masterpieces using the amber nectar of Scotland. Born from a love of drawing and the journey of creating an image on the page, Carne Griﬃths’ signature style is as striking as it is unique. Portraiture and fantasy combine in images which explore both human and ﬂoral forms, ﬁguratively and in an abstract sense. And whisky plays an integral part. ‘The nice thing about working with whisky is that when you take the lid off the bottle the whole smell becomes a part of the work. It becomes a bit ritual like, so the aroma does seep into the work a little,’ explains the 43-year-old. ‘But I don’t use good whiskies, single malts – perish the thought! I’m using blends; I’ve got a bottle of Claymore on the go at the moment.’ Working with calligraphy ink, graphite and a range of liquids – with tea, brandy and vodka joining whisky in the equipment cupboard – Carne starts off with a sketch, then throws liquids over it and ‘allows things to happen’.
‘Alcohol increases the unpredictability of where paint will dry and how it will dry. Combining the inks with the alcohol and tea makes things more random,’ he explains. ‘I work on stretched paper and if I have a big pool of tea on a sketch, then pour whisky into the middle of the tea, that disperses the tea. It pushes the colour away, spreads the colour aside and therefore as it’s drying the intensity of the colour is in a different place.’ His work is often an emotional response to forms and situations encountered in daily life, with everyday images recorded in a dream-like sense onto the page, where physical boundaries cease to exist. Carne’s work takes us on a journey of escapism; often focusing on scenes of awe and wonderment, they offer a sense of abandonment to the artist and to the viewer an invitation to share and explore this inner realm.
Alcohol increases the unpredictability of where paint will dry and how it will dry
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16 | Carne Griffiths
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h s o l s ust j o t d I ten round. I a a l l e t a i t u i q n i k wor ic way t chao
Pictured: Carne Griffiths working on a new piece.
Originally trained as a gold wire embroidery designer, a genre he worked in for 12 years, Carne opened his ﬁne art studio ﬁve years ago. ‘When I started out on my own, I wanted to produce a year’s worth of work to see what it would look like, and I also wanted to have control over the whole process,’ he explains. ‘I thought that as a ﬁne artist I’d be able to work from start to ﬁnish on everything, and would have the freedom to take the work in whatever direction I wanted to go. ‘When I initially graduated from college the work I produced was using similar materials to those I’m using now. I draw with Parker fountain pens, normal writing pens. I never had particularly good handwriting, but I always used to like other people’s handwriting and I liked the fountain pen. I found them quite interesting to draw with. When I left the embroidery job and started drawing again, I went back to drawing with a fountain pen straight away.’ It was around this time that Carne started experimenting with teas and alcohol. ‘Because
This anarchic approach seems at odds with the detailed precision in much of Carne’s work. ‘The drawings are quite detailed and that’s what comes after. So once it’s at that stage, it’s very much like a watercolour and I come back with a fountain pen and draw again over the top. ‘It’s a repeating process. So I’ll draw over the top for a while, then sometimes I’ll decide to throw more liquid over it and sometimes it will just wash away an hour’s-worth of work, but it’ll create something different. I think it’s that kind of layering process that makes the work look quite complex. There’s several layers going on and then the pen work on top of the piece gives you the detail at the end.’ Carne regularly undertakes commissions for portraits and has a number currently on the go as well as creating work for himself. ‘The portrait
Below: The Tempest.
fountain pen ink is water soluble I’d paint over the top of the drawing in clear water and I’d allow the ink to blend. I’d use it to create shadows and darker areas in my work. Then I was sitting drinking a glass of brandy one night and ended up just dunking the brush in, waving it over the page and thinking, “I’ll see what happens with that.” It took off from there, experimenting with teas and realising the different effects that alcohol could have.’ Specific combinations of alcoholic liquid can also be used for special effects. ‘So when things are very nearly dry and you pour whisky over it, it has a bleaching effect on the inks,’ Carne says. But he doesn’t use it as purposefully as that. ‘I tend to just slosh it all around,’ he admits. ‘I work in quite a chaotic way. I like the accidents, they’re always the nice bits.’
18 | Carne Griffiths
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20 | Carne Griffiths ART AND WHISKY
Pictured: Carne uses a range of spirits to disperse the ink.
AN CNOC AND PATRICK GRANT
The fashion designer drew inspiration from the single malt’s heritage to produce a limited edition label design. ancnoc.com
GLENFIDDICH’S ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE Artists from all over the world are brought together to create original art inspired by the historic setting. glenfiddich.com
BALLANTINE’S AND INSA
Leading ‘GIF-ITI’ artist INSA created a range of 12 totally unique limited edition bottles that when photographed together, created an animated GIF. ballantines.com
side has really picked up recently and I’ve also had a number of commercial commissions,’ he says. ‘I did a portrait of the American actor Jesse Eisenburg which the New York Observer used on the cover of the newspaper, and I’ve started doing more commercial projects like that.’ When he’s not undertaking commissions, Carne sells his work through various galleries around the country. At the moment, however, he’s spending a lot of time in his studio experimenting with new pieces, including working in oils.
‘It is quite a departure for me, because my work is quite spontaneous – the works in inks and alcohol happen on the page very fast. But I’ve been wanting to spend time on a body of work that’s a bit more meditative, that I can take time over, and oils by their very nature slow you down, they stop me from racing ahead,’ he says. ‘I’m trying to ﬁnd a good way to balance everything in the studio – ink on paper, but at the same time canvas and oils in the background.’ For more information see www.carnegriﬃths.com
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22 | The Rant
BULLSHIT MARKETING... Breaking up is hard to do, but it was time for this girl to walk away when she finally got tired of the empty promises from whisky’s snake oil salesmen Written by Johanne McInnis
think it’s time we break off our relationship. Let me be clear from the get go that it is you and not me. I realise that now. In the beginning when I was young and very impressionable I really thought you were cool, a little badass and really funny. I mean after all when you told me your package was small batch, special release – you know, unique, different from all the others – I fully believed you. We are all adults here and of course we know that size matters, right? But then you started to get a little strange, which don’t get me wrong, can be interesting. Everybody wants to walk on the wild side a little so when you told me that whisky can be aged faster in an insulated chamber by emitting high intensity sound waves through a wand that resembles something out a Harry Potter movie, I was naively excited and bragged to all my friends how avant-garde and innovative you were. Those who’ve been through this before saw the warning signs but I refused to listen or believe that you were like all the rest. I defended you, stating how you were passionate, believed in yourself and when push came to shove you were doing your job like great marketing is supposed to.
By now, we were together for ﬁve years and although I occasionally got to see the nasty side of you, I ﬁgured that was normal and we were in it for the long haul. Sometimes you simply have to take the good, the bad and the ugly therefore I learned to bite the inside of my cheek with all your embellishments, exaggerations and all the little white lies. As your partner, I started making excuses for you, stating that it wasn’t your fault. It was a sign of the times – you were under a lot of pressure and it’s a dog eat dog world. I comforted you when you thought the world was ganging up on you. I really took pity and without realising it, I became your enabler. That’s when you really started to go downhill. I watched as you evolved into the laughing stock at all the parties and releases. I cringed at every ‘next great idea’. If anyone said anything to you, you lost all composure and would defend even the dumbest of your ideas. Nothing made sense and yet, I stayed... in misery and desperation mostly as I didn’t know what to believe anymore or how to help you out of your stupor. You seemed to be caught up in the perfect storm and there was nothing I could do. It didn’t help that people told me you were outright lying to me but if I asked any questions you would reply with: ‘Honestly Johanne, E150a is just used to create a consistent product, nobody leaves sherry or port in the
I defended you, stating how you were passionate, believed in yourself and when push came to shove you were doing your job
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BULLSHIT OR BRILLIANCE?
casks before the whisky is added, women really do love pink whisky and seriously there is a huge demand for whisky poured over women’s breasts before it’s bottled.’ The best of course was the time you told me about the whisky glass engineered to work in zero gravity. ‘My whisky marketing friend,’ I said with as much patience as I could muster, ‘who exactly is going to buy this?’ You looked me straight in the eye and replied: ‘Honestly Johanne, this glass heralds in a new era of open source space design and an innovative landmark for the future of whisky.’ I was gobsmacked. You
Pictured: ‘Drink this and you’ll live forever – honest you will.’
sounded brainwashed. The spell was broken – I stopped believing you and started to look for a way out of this very dysfunctional relationship. The ﬁnal straw came when you decided that whisky should be atomized and inhaled directly into the lungs and bloodstream. You pleaded with me, ‘but look, it bypasses the liver, you won’t get a hangover. Honestly, you get to feel the effects of the whisky much quicker and therefore it makes you a more responsible imbiber.’ It’s at that point that I realised that I, and no one else, can save you from yourself. You have become reckless and, as is apparent to everyone, out of control. Our friends no longer come over and we don’t get invited to any great parties anymore. I tried holding on, I even staged an intervention but the reality is, you can’t help those who won’t acknowledge they have a problem. So, this is it. It’s over. I am truly sorry but I have to break clean and leave. I left two boxes of your things at your mum’s house. I’m not going to change my mind. We are really through. I’ve changed the locks and don’t try to contact me because I blocked you on email, texting and yes even Twitter. I should have listened to my friends long ago. Maybe I’m hopeful that this letter will be the kick in the pants you need to change, get help or ﬂy straight again because my fear is that you won’t and you’ll simply continue spiralling into this horrible direction. If that’s the case, I fully expect that many of us will be attending your funeral in a few years. And nobody wants that... Honestly. Sincerely,
Johanne 022-023_CS03.indd 23
ARDBEG HAAR Ardbeg’s haar machine creates a single malt mist – using a process called hydrodynamic cavitation – which is then inhaled.
JOHNNIE WALKER MOUSTACHE WAX John Walker, a moustache bearer himself, would surely have approved of whisky waxes to smooth stray facial hair while enhancing the taste of your drink.
BALLANTINE’S SPACE GLASS Designed by the Open Space Agency to work under conditions of zero gravity. Earth dwellers might like the beautiful design and the warming element of the rounded base.
24 | Whisky in Literature
Over the centuries, from Burns to the late Iain Banks, writers have poured their heart and soul into an appreciation of whisky Written by Stuart Kelly
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Whisky has been, to misquote Homer Simpson, the inspiration for and ruin of many a Scottish writer. Robert Burns, of course, set the tone in his panegyrical Scotch Drink: O Whisky! soul o’ plays an’ pranks! Accept a Bardie’s humble thanks! When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks Are my poor verses! Thou comes – they rattle i’ their ranks At ither’s arses! Burns also begins a very particular kind of whisky story with his tale of that ‘blethering, blustering, drunken blellum’, Tam o’ Shanter; a tale in which whisky is both a spur to courage and a lure to devilry. As Burns notes, just before Tam witnesses the Witches’ Sabbath at Kirk-Alloway: Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi’ tippenny [ale], we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquebae we’ll face the devil!
26 | Whisky in Literature
Pictured: Sir Walter Scott, left, and Robert Burns were both fans of a dram.
This tradition was continued by none other than Charles Dickens. Chapter 49 of The Pickwick Papers is the story of the Bagman’s Uncle, a ghost story set in Leith and Edinburgh, in which the Uncle is on his annual Scottish sojourn. After a ‘slight lunch’ of ‘a bushel of oysters, a dozen or so of bottled ale, and a noggin or two of whiskey’, he heads on to dinner and supper, which, as his nephew notes, ‘requires a pretty strong head’. But the Uncle can apparently ‘see the Dundee people out, any day, and walk home afterwards without staggering’. So, he goes on to dinner – ‘kippered salmon, Finnan haddocks, and a lamb’s head a haggis’ and ‘I don’t quite recollect how many tumblers of whiskey’ – staying until he is ‘the only man visible above mahogany’. He does get home, eventually, unscathed, but not before an encounter with a carriage dating from the early 18th century. John Buchan clearly believed in the fortifying effects of whisky. In The Thirty-Nine Steps, when Hannay realises he has to go into hiding for three weeks, he formulates his plan and then when ‘the rays of morning light were beginning to creep through the shutters… breakfasted off a whisky-and-soda and some biscuits’. It is unlikely the current government’s notes for espionage agents recommends such a repast. A whisky-fuelled encounter with the
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Whisky made MacDiarmid’s work more emetic than oratorical unearthly takes on a more philosophical hue in Hugh MacDiarmid’s most celebrated poem, A Drunk Man Looks At The Thistle. Encompassing revolutionary politics and sexual liberation, a detestation of ersatz Scottish culture and a plea for cultural renewal, as well as moments of sublime lyricism, it is the masterpiece of 20th century Scottish poetry. The narrator links whisky and inspiration in the opening section, directly addressing Burns: Rabbie, wad’st thou were here - the warld hath need, And Scotland mair sae, o the likes o thee! The whisky that aince moved your lyre’s become A laxative for aa loquacity. More than one critic has suggested that whisky made MacDiarmid’s work more emetic than oratorical, but when he describes its effects as to ‘mak Heaven and Hell and whiles mell baith’ he is also describing his own mixter-maxter method. Sir Walter Scott clearly liked a dram, given that when he had to leave his Castle Street house because of the financial crash, he transferred 432 bottles of whisky to his cellars at Abbotsford. At the Theatrical Fund dinner, where he dramatically revealed that all along he had been ‘The Author of Waverley’, he apologised for having written novels about England, France, and the Holy Land for so long. Giving the toast to the nation, he made his oath on the national drink. ‘He would now give “Scotland, the land of Cakes”. He would give every river, every loch, every hill, from Tweed to Johnnie Groat’s house – every lass in her cottage and countess in her castle – and may her sons stand by her, as their fathers did before them; and he who would not drink a bumper to his toast, may he never drink whisky more!’ It is odd to hear Robert Louis Stevenson, the
Cask and Still Magazine | 29 WHISKY QUOTES BY FAMOUS AUTHORS
‘Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough’ Mark Twain
‘Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whisky makes it go round twice as fast’ Compton Mackenzie Above: An artifact from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr.
closest thing Scotland has to a decadent writer, sounding so prim, but his account of Hogmanay in his Edinburgh Picturesque Notes is slightly purse-lipped. ‘There are an inﬁnity of visits to be paid; all the world is in the street, except the daintier classes; the sacramental greeting is heard upon all sides; Auld Lang Syne is much in people’s mouths; and whisky and shortbread are staple articles of consumption. ‘From an early hour a stranger will be impressed by the number of drunken men; and by afternoon drunkenness has spread to the women. With some classes of society, it is as much a matter of duty to drink hard on New Year’s Day as to go to church on Sunday. Many carry a whisky bottle in their pocket, which they will press with embarrassing effusion on a perfect stranger.’ Indeed, in the 19th century, whisky occurred more frequently in temperance literature, such
as novelisations of the Burke and Hare case, than as an amber infusion of the Muse. Anecdotes abound about contemporary writers and whisky – the only non-ﬁction book by the late Iain Banks was a wonderful whisky guide, Raw Spirit, and Sydney Goodsir Smith purportedly began each day decanting a bottle of whisky into various glasses and placing them around his ﬂat, so as to never be an arm’s reach away from one. But one of the most delightful tales features an almost unknown 19th century writer, James Ruickbie of Hawick. He wrote frequently about whisky and in his poem To The Carriers of Hawick he recommends how whisky will ‘moistify your middle’ and protect you in any encounter with either Merlin or the Devil. He clearly had read his Tam o’ Shanter, but he may have had an ulterior motive as well as admiring and imitating Burns – he was the landlord of the Harrow Inn on Hawick High Street.
‘Whisky is liquid sunshine’ George Bernard Shaw
‘The light music of whiskey falling into a glass — an agreeable interlude’ James Joyce
30 | Bourbon Cocktails
Feel like mixing it up? Six bourbon classics to tempt your tastebuds
25ml Woodford Reserve
25ml Rittenhouse Rye
25ml Lemon juice
25ml Dolin Dry Vermouth
NEW YORK SOUR 50ml Four Roses 25ml Lemon
METHOD: Measure the Campari,
Rittenhouse Rye and Dolin
2 dashes Angostura bitters
METHOD: Add the Chartreuse,
Dry Vermouth to a shaker. Stir
Woodford Reserve and Maraschino
thoroughly, then pour into a
to a shaker. Pour in the lemon juice,
tumbler over a large block of ice.
METHOD: Add all ingredients to
shake and double strain into a
a shaker, shake and strain over
cubed ice then top with port.
Cask and Still Magazine | 31
MOTHER KNOWS BEST
25ml Chivas 12
25ml Muscatel Sherry
20ml Amarone Reduction
3 Mint Leaves
METHOD: Pour the Makers Mark,
25ml Fig Syrup
10ml Sugar Syrup
Fino Sherry and Muscatel Sherry
20ml Apple Juice
into a shaker and stir them all
together. Then strain the cocktail
METHOD: Measure the Chivas,
25ml Makers Mark 25ml Fino Sherry
into a coupette glass and garnish
Maraschino and Amarone into a
METHOD: Add all ingredients to
shaker, then add the lemon juice
a shaker, shake and strain over
and fig syrup. Shake well and
cubed ice then top with ginger ale.
double strain into a snifter glass.
Garnish with a mint sprig and
Garnish with dehydrated fig.
with orange peel.
Orchid Aberdeen created six recipes for bourbon-based cocktails, consisting of three classics and three created by Orchid staff. www.orchidaberdeen.com
32 | Bourbon
Pictured: Bernieâ€™s tattoo speaks volumes about his love of Bourbon.
Cask and Still Magazine | 33 >>>
PROFESSOR Part-time stand-up comedian, bluegrass musician and full-time son of Kentucky, American icon Bernie Lubbers is the public face of bourbon Stateside Interview by Blair Bowman
ernie Lubbers ain’t yer dog-gone usual global whiskey ambassador. There’s none of the usual dry, technical chitchat from this larger-than-life son of Kentucky. Instead, what you get from the Heaven Hill frontman affectionately known as ‘The Whiskey Professor’, is an evangelical engagement with the spirit of that all-American drink, bourbon. A former stand-up comedian and talented bluegrass musician, Lubbers’ memorably entertaining passion for American whiskeys – and especially for his brands Heaven Hill, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig and Old Fitzgerald – have made him a legendary figure in the world of bourbon. Here’s what this chatty American dude told Cask & Still about his enduring love affair with The Whisky That Won The Wild West...
34 | Bourbon
What made you a whiskey drinker? The whiskey industry came to me. It was never something I thought of getting into. One year I attended the ‘Hobnobber’s Ball’ in Louisville, Kentucky and lots of the bourbon industry were in attendance. There was a whiskey tasting as part of the event and I remember thinking to myself that it was a really cool industry. Soon after, they started to invite me along to other events to do stand-up comedy for them. My original career was as a stand-up comedian. I would also close my set with a toast to my father who drank a quart of whiskey every day. He lived to be 94 years old. One time when I was doing this toast to my father, a bourbon ambassador said to order his brand of bourbon for the toast and after this a job opened up at Jim Beam for events and promotions so I jumped at it.
How did you get where you are today? A brand guy I knew in Kentucky told me that these promo jobs with distilleries come and go, and may only end up being for a year. So I said to myself I need to make myself valuable so they keep me. This was in 2005, when bourbon was not in a boom like it is today. There were a lot of people who did not know much about bourbon. Being a comedian I noticed that brand presentations were normally quite dull and
boring. I got one of the distillers to tell me all about the laws of bourbon and I started researching more about this and then started teaching this in my presentations. At the time this was very innovative. Legal and technical aspects of bourbon were not normally mentioned in brand presentations back then. In 2006 or 2007 small batch style bottlings and premium bottlings were really starting to drive growth. I kind of made my mark on it with my informative and fun presentations and that’s what got me to where I am today.
What does your role involve? I had seven years at Jim Beam then three and half years ago I became Global Brand Ambassador of Heaven Hill. It was tough to leave Jim Beam. This was around the time when Suntory bought over Jim Beam so there were a lot of internal changes going on. My role involves ambassadorial work for all of Heaven Hill’s brands.
How did your nickname of ‘The Whiskey Professor’ come about? Since I wasn’t a Master Distiller, I felt that I needed to find a title that would fit me as an educator and ‘Whiskey Professor’ looked pretty good on business cards.
Cask and Still Magazine | 35 >>>
Left to right: Bernie was a stand-up comedian and musician; he closed his sets with a toast to his father; bourbon inspired tattoo; at a tasting in Warsaw.
You are involved in music as well, and even produce a show that combines bourbon with Bluegrass music – how did you find a way to combine your two passions? You can’t get more ‘Kentucky’ than Bluegrass music. I’d played the guitar since college and music is something I’d always wanted to do. After meeting the very talented Bluegrass musician Hickory Vaught I wanted to ﬁnd a way to combine his music with one of my tastings. Our show called ‘Bourbon and Bluegrass’ starts with music from the 1700s as we taste unaged whiskey. Then we slowly progress through the history of bourbon, next tasting mellow corn whiskey as the music moves through the times too. It’s really a tasting combining the history of bourbon with the history of bluegrass music. We rehearsed and reﬁned our performance for over a year before it became a show. We both have such busy schedules though so it’s diﬃcult for us to do shows together but we have created a solo version that I can do on my own. It is a wonderful way to realise my dream of being a
‘WHISKY ROFESSOR’ LOOKED P
PRETTY GOOD ON BUSINESS CARDS
Bluegrass musician and representing Kentucky authentically.
Tell me about the family dynasties involved in the Kentucky bourbon industry and about their feuds There are loads of families. The Beam family’s distillery was set up by Jacob Beam in 1795 and is now run by eighth generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe III, Jim Beam’s great-grandson. Jim Beam gets its name from James Beauregard Beam, known as Jim, who rebuilt the family business after prohibition. Heaven Hill was set up in 1935 and is
STAY BONDED. A SINGLE DISTILLERY PRODUCT, FROM A SINGLE SEASON OF DISTILLATION, AGED FOR A MINIMUM OF 4 YEARS IN A GOVERNMENT-SUPERVISED WAREHOUSE AND BOTTLED AT 50% ABV
W W W. M A R U S S I A B E V E R A G E S. C O. U K
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INSPIRED BY BOURBON...
INNIS & GUNN BOURBON DARK ALE
This dark ale has been brewed in small batches and then matured in hand-selected, firstfill bourbon casks to give it its rich, rounded character.
Pictured: Barrel-chested Bernie in a basement bulging with beautiful bourbon.
still managed by the Shapira family and sixth generation Master Distiller, Parker Beam. Parker’s grandfather’s brother was James Beauregard Beam. Parker Beam’s son Craig works alongside his father, just as Parker worked alongside his father Earl before taking over the reins at the company. Much the same sort of scenario operates at Maker’s Mark, which was established in 1954 by William ‘Bill’ Samuels Sr. Production was overseen by his son Bill Samuels Jr until 2011 when his son, Rob took over. So you can see that there are a lot of families but really the bourbon industry is just one big family. There haven’t been a whole lot of feuds during the history either. When times are good it’s pretty easy to be friendly competitors because you are selling every drop of whiskey you’ve got. In 1996, there was a terrible ﬁre at Heaven Hill when lightning set ﬁre to a warehouse made of tin and wood. Combined with winds of 70mph, the ﬁre spread quickly. Seven warehouses and the distillery itself were burnt to the ground. Different distilleries all called
Heaven Hill to try and help them out. Heaven Hill bought whiskey from here and there and contracted out production to rival distilleries during the reconstruction. I think this is a great example of how the bourbon family looks out for each other.
What would you say to someone who has never tried bourbon whiskey before? Well, trying bourbon is different for every person. It is deﬁnitely an acquired taste, just like any spirit. But bourbon has a fantastic history and heritage. It is a very American spirit. George Washington gave his soldiers rations of it – just as the British gave the sailors in their navy rations of rum. Bourbon helped build America. People got paid with whisky as a bonus for doing dangerous work, such as building dams and bridges. You cannot separate the history of America from the history of whiskey. People fall in love with it because it has a romantic story.
Kentucky style Teriyaki sauce with Kentucky bourbon, sweetened with Kentucky sorghum, and flavoured with ginger and garlic.
BOURBON MARSHMALLOWS A delicious treat made from cane sugar, Makers Mark Straight Bourbon whiskey, kosher gelatin, vanilla extract, sugar and cream of tartar.
Passionate About Whisky
Scottish Field “Whisky Bar of the Year” Winners for 2013 & 2014
Award winning whisky bar with over 700 whiskies. Restaurant offering Scottish food made from the best regional ingredients. Whisky tastings and food matching arranged. Kilkerran Road, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28 6JL Tel: 01586 552133 email@example.com
Shipping around the world from The Malt Wisky Capital of The World
1 Fife Street, Dufftown, Scotland, AB55 4AL firstname.lastname@example.org 01340 821 097
THE BOW BAR
Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Bow Bar has 310 whiskies to choose from and 8 real ales from across the UK. Independent whisky bottlers are well represented and up to 40 international bottle beers can be found here. Food is limited to lunch only including Steak Pies or Haggis Pies. Winner of: ‘Whisky Pub of the Year’ 2012, Dram Whisky Bar of the Year’ 2014. 80 West Bow, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 226 7667 email: email@example.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 39
Impress your friends with these facts and figures
95% Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, crafting 95% of the world’s supply
Bourbon is a £2.1 billion industry in Kentucky
170% Bourbon production has increased 170% since 1999
Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, as declared by Congress in 1964
There are one million more barrels of bourbon ageing in Kentucky than there are people living in the entire state
15,400 The bourbon industry in Kentucky generates 15,400 jobs
Bourbon must be made with a minimum of 51% corn
The freshfrom-the-still version of bourbon is a harsh, clear grain spirit known as white dog
40 | Alcohol allergy
Pictured: Bob Philip can look at whisky, but better not touch it.
Cask and Still Magazine | 41
A Scottish whisky salesman who can’t drink alcohol? You’re having a laugh
hen Bob Philip tells me the Tomatin 30-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky sent him to heaven, he could be talking literally. Despite working in winery and fine food supplier Buzzard’s Valley’s shop for eight years, buying and selling whisky and gin, Fraserburgh-born Bob, 75, is totally allergic to alcohol. ‘I went to India in 1962, aged 22, to be a tea estate engineer. It was a very hard-drinking environment,’ Bob explains. Bouts of lingering illness began to plague him and couldn’t be diagnosed. ‘On a trip back to Scotland I went to see my doctor and he sent me to Aberdeen Hospital’s Tropical Diseases Unit. They took samples and when I went back they said, “We’ve got good news and bad news,” so I said, “What’s the good news?” “We know what’s wrong with you.” ‘So I’m thinking the bad news must be that I’m dying of some rare tropical disease, but they said, “Naw, naw laddie, it’s much worse than that – you’re totally allergic to alcohol.” The diagnosis was a turning point – ‘I just stopped drinking. Stopped dead’ – and instead of returning to India, Bob went
to Glasgow University, to do a degree in Production Engineering and Management, before working in the engineering industry in the UK, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Some years after his return to the UK in 2003, Bob met his second wife, who convinced him he could work in the drinks industry despite his allergy and suggested the job at Buzzard’s Valley, close to where the couple live. ‘All of the customers know I don’t drink alcohol,’ he explains. Relying on judging whisky by distillery and smell, rather than taste, Bob is often asked for advice. ‘I don’t have the ability to tell you it’s this, that and the next thing, but I can say the exceptional, the very good, the little bit lighter, the easier ones for those getting into it.’ Bob had an out of body experience during a visit to Tomatin distillery. ‘They gave me the Glencairn tasting glass. I sniffed it and literally I was frozen for three minutes. I was up in heaven looking down at my body and when I came out of this, they said, “For God’s sake Bob, what the hell are you doing? We thought you were dead!” I said, “I was, I’ve been up there. He doesn’t want me and they’ve sent me back.” That was the Tomatin 30-year-old,’ he laughs.
42 | Cooking with whisky
There may be historical reasons why whisky doesn’t pop up in everyday Scottish recipes – but now is the time to deliver a dish made with a dram or two Written by Rachel McCormack
or a couple of years now I’ve received various recipes from my friend Stosie Madsie, chef patron at The Parkers Arms in Lancashire. Often her recipes call for ‘a little flutter of calvados if you have it’. After about the sixth one, I asked her why she used calvados so often in her recipes. ‘My mother is from Normandy, home of all calvados production, so that’s just what we do,’ she said. I then took a look through my many old Spanish recipes and realised how often they called for a half or a full glass of brandy in stews, roasts and desserts. There are all kinds of varied dishes from every corner of Spain with some really old 18th and 19th century recipes instructing the reader to use wine or brandy interchangeably, depending on what was
available in the house. If that’s what the Normans and the Spanish do, surely Scotland, with its glorious national drink, should have an even stronger and longer tradition of cooking with whisky? When you look at old Scottish cookbooks you will see dishes with claret, brandy or sweet sherry in them. You rarely, if at all, find whisky. The greatest Scottish cookbook of the early 20th century was F Marian McNeill’s The Scots Kitchen and it only has one recipe with whisky. Her
Cask and Still Magazine | 43 >>>
44 | Cooking with whisky
Cask and Still Magazine | 45 >>>
Scots Trifle has sherry and brandy in it, and her Cranachan, the Scottish dessert that nowadays oozes whisky, has nothing but oatmeal, cream, sugar and an unspecified flavouring. Cranachan with no whisky. Think about that for a moment. The great folklorist, widely celebrated for her writings on Scottish food, was also an internationalist, patriot and founding member of the Scottish Nationalist Party – a woman who should have a national day in Scotland, and yet even F Marian McNeill puts sherry and brandy in her trifle, not whisky. Scotland, what were you thinking? Before you shake your head at the ancestors and their daftness in passing up the chance to enhance their dishes with a glorious dram, you need to consider the different cultural and historical factors at play. The Union of the crowns of Scotland and England meant an immediate increase in the tax on malt, which saw the beginning of the end of whisky as a cottage industry. Taxes on malt and later on whisky continued to increase, and whisky became less and less affordable for ordinary people. During the 19th century, when places like Spain and France were developing cottage industries and co-ops for wine making and brandy distilling, Scotland’s whisky industry was already far larger and more industrial in scale. This meant that bottles had to be purchased rather than made and were also incredibly expensive. The chances of developing a tradition of adding whisky to cooking in the same way the Normans did with calvados and the Spanish did with brandy, just wasn’t going to happen. If you do want to try a historical recipe with whisky, this is the only one from The Scot’s Kitchen. It is a dish made to celebrate
Cranachan with no whisky. Think about that for a moment Opposite page: Adding a dram to both sweet and savoury dishes at Gamefield in Crieff.
the end of the harvest, and doesn’t deal with minor questions like weights and measures. It does, however, tell you that it’s a dish for the unmarried young. Should you wish to find some unmarried young and make it for them, then do please let me know if they liked it. I personally have never tried it as it sounds rather vile. Ale-Crowdie or Meal-And-Ale (A special dish at the Kirn or Harvest Home) Ale, treacle, oatmeal, whisky A large earthenware pot or milk-bowl is filled with ale and treacle is added to sweeten it. Then oatmeal is stirred in until there is sufficient consistency, and finally whisky in such a quantity as is desired. The dish is prepared on the morning of the festival to allow the meal time to be completely absorbed. It is served up at the end of the feast. A ring is always put into the mixture and whoever gets it first will be the first to be married. Not exactly inspiring, is it? Fortunately in the past few years a number of chefs in Scotland have moved beyond meal-and-ale, and even beyond cranachan and whisky sauce for haggis, and you’ll frequently find whisky, often with named bottles, added to savoury and sweet dishes in restaurants all over Scotland. However it is we home cooks who should really be using whisky. With all the different styles available to us nowadays a bit of whisky in our food can be such a great addition and would be a fantastic tradition to start. Whisky adds a depth of flavour that moves your cooking up a notch. Your family and friends will not quite know what culinary magic you have conjured, as your food has a little extra taste of something that they can’t quite figure out.
BRANDY GIN VODKA RUM
TEQUILA CIGARS REGULAR TASTINGS IN-STORE
Also visit our new Wine and Beer Shop on 105 West Nile Street, G1 25D
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Over-looking the picturesque and world famous Spey Valley, the Dowans Hotel is a family-run establishment which focuses on friendly, passionate and professional service, great local and seasonal produce from Scotland’s bountiful larder, fabulous whiskies from home and abroad all served in a lovingly rejuvenated Baronial mansion. The Dowans has become a destination of choice in its own right to both local and international clientele as a part of the larger Speyside offer.
The Dowans Hotel, Dowans Road, Aberlour, AB38 9LS 01340 871488 @TheDowansHotel /TheDowansHotel
THE GRILL 213
A real historic pub with a unique welcome
One of Aberdeen’s oldest and most famous bars, with an internationally renowned whisky collection. Centrally located, close to the Theatre, Aberdeen Music Hall and many restaurants. Opening Hours Monday-Thursday 10.00am-midnight Fridays & Satrdays 10.00am-1.00am Sunday 12.30pm-midnight The Grill • 213 Union Street • Aberdeen • Scotland • AB11 6BA Tel: 01224 573530 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cask and Still Magazine | 47
Empty the onions out into a bowl and then turn the heat up and add the pork chops to the pot for about two minutes on each side to brown then turn the heat off. Get an oven proof dish (you can use the same one that has been on the heat) and put half of the onions in the dish, then add the pork and lastly the rest of the onions. Pour the wine over the onions then put into the oven (you don’t need a lid) for 45 mins. Remove and serve.
Cherry fool Serves four (or two very greedy people)
Look at your whisky collection (as an avid Cask & Still reader I know you have one) and imagine the taste of your favourite malts in some steamed mussels. Now imagine another one adding a base note to a beef and onion stew, and yet another in a cream or custard dessert. It’s a good idea, isn’t it? We really could, indeed should, start a new tradition of cooking with whisky in homes all over the nation. So go on, put a wee nip in your food, your country needs you to. Here are two recipes to get you started:
Majorcan pork & onions Serves four INGREDIENTS 4 large pork chops 1kg onions Few slices of sobreassada or chorizo Olive oil 30ml of an Islay malt 1 glass of red wine Salt (1/2 teaspoon) Marjoram (1/2 teaspoon) Method: Preheat the oven to 180°c. Peel and slice the onions in fine strips lengthways. Drizzle olive oil in a pot under a medium heat, and then add chopped sobreassada or chorizo and the onions. After about five minutes, add the whisky and really stir it into the onion mixture, scraping the bottom to pick up any stuck onion or chorizo. Turn the heat right down, adding marjoram. Let the onions sweat for another 15 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
INGREDIENTS 2 eggs 200ml double cream 30g of white sugar 2 tablespoons of pitted cherries (the ones in syrup in a tin are fine) 30ml Glenkinchie or another light, medium-sweet malt. (I have also used the Japanse Hibiki harmony to great effect in this dish) Method: This is best made either the day before or first thing in the morning if you want to eat it the same day. Crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly whip them with a fork until they are mixed before adding the cream, the sugar, the cherries and then the whisky. Get a pan that the bowl can fit into without touching the bottom, quarter fill it with water and heat it until it is simmering. Turn the heat right down and place the bowl on top. Stir the fool mix frequently and gently (don’t break the cherries) until it thickens, but make sure it doesn’t boil as the egg will curdle. It should take just a bit more than five minutes. Pour the fool into serving cups/glasses, leave them to cool, then put them in the fridge and serve when completely cold. A friend of mine who is a great fan of Nordic food insists that some powdered liquorice is delicious on top of this. You could add that, or some flaked almonds or shortbread crumbs just before serving.
48 | A bluffer’s guide to...
Right: Purchasing the right bottle can pay dividends.
A BLUFFER ’S GUI D E TO..
Investing in whisky
Learn where to put your money when it comes to purchasing the water of life
There has been a slew of eye-catching
shouldn’t be hoarded or purely purchased as a
headlines in the investment and financial
trophy item; on the other you have the people
press recently, informing readers that whisky
who buy so-called ‘investment grade scotch’
is currently outperforming stocks, shares and even gold. For now, at least, the plain old ‘water of life’ has become the investment of choice for high net worth individuals. With interest rates historically low, investing in whisky remains a more enjoyable and profitable investment than an ISA. This has led to a new surge of headlines proclaiming that the world’s supply of rare and old whiskies is about to run out, which has been the cue for a lot of mixed feelings among whisky aficionados. On the one side you have the argument that whisky is made to be enjoyed and
I N VESTI N G I N WHI S KY REMAI N S A MORE ENJOYABLE AND PROFI TABLE I N VESTMENT THAN AN I S A
(IGS) simply to make a return on their investment. Some investors are just looking for a quick buck and will ‘flip’ their purchases for a fast return, while others will quite happily hold on to bottles for years before deciding to sell. A good starting point for the novice whisky investor is to buy two bottles: one to drink and one to hold onto. This way, you’ll have at least tasted and enjoyed the whisky, rather than wait for it to gather dust. Also, if you feel like it or if the price drops, you can just open the second bottle. Here are some other key considerations that wannabe whisky speculators should bear in mind when thinking about investing:
Cask and Still Magazine | 49
BUY IT WHEN IT IS FIRST RELEASED
YOU DON’T NEED BIG BUDGETS TO MAKE A RETURN
By buying the whisky when it is first released
You don’t need to be buying whiskies with four,
you have the optimum chance of getting the
five or even six-figure price tags. It is possible
best profits out of your investment. If you
to make a good return on investment for
are buying on the secondary market, you will
whiskies that cost less than £100.
probably be paying a premium for the bottle
DO YOUR RESEARCH
and it may go down in value.
Don’t panic buy anything that is a new release
BUY DISCONTINUED BOTTLINGS
or buy cases of standard bottlings, or you’ll be
Something that is no longer available will be
waiting a very long time to make any money
more valuable. Alternatively, look for older
back. Use websites like www.RareWhisky101.
versions of current expressions. The odd
com to research current and previous prices
retailer may still have some old stock, with the old branding/labelling for example, and you could grab a bargain. However, most reputable retailers will be very clued up on this sort of thing and bump up the price in this situation.
BRAND NAMES ARE IMPORTANT This is definitely worth paying attention to. Some distilleries, for various reasons, don’t do well in terms of investment, while others do exceedingly well. Look out for special releases or limited editions from the following: The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Dalmore,
I T I S POSSI B LE TO MAKE A GOOD RETURN ON I N VESTMENT FOR WHI S KI E S THAT COST LESS THAN £1 0 0
paid at auction. Scour whisky auction websites to get an idea of what is popular.
BE AWARE OF COUNTERFEIT OR FAKE WHISKIES Check the fill level is high up and that the original foil on the cap is not broken. Reputable whisky auction sites will scrutinise each bottle before listing as part of an auction. Auctioneers like Bonhams or McTear’s may allow you to view bottles before the auction.
STORAGE IS IMPORTANT
Balvenie, Highland Park, Springbank, Ardbeg
Make sure you store all your whiskies at a constant
and Lagavulin. Furthermore, anything from a
room temperature and in an upright position.
‘closed’ or ‘silent’ distillery is inherently more
Storing them on their side, like wine, can cause the
valuable as it can never be replicated.
cork to break up and damage the whisky.
CAPITAL GAINS TAX MAY APPLY
(the more limited the better)
Don’t forget that if you are getting serious
The more exclusive and limited the better.
about whisky investment, then Capital Gains
With whisky, the fewer bottles there are in
Tax could apply. Whisky is treated as a ‘chattel’
circulation the rarer the bottle becomes, ergo
(personal possession), and the rules and
more valuable. In an ideal situation a limited
regulations surrounding Capital Gains Tax are
edition will sell out when released and some will
complex. Get an accountant or tax advisor to
be opened. Over time fewer bottles will exist
assist you if you are unsure, especially if you
and the scarcity factor will push the price up.
are selling bottles for over £6,000.
50 | Whisky Hero
attilathe hungarian Cooper Attila Peter left Budapest for Speyside where the art of barrel-making has barely changed in centuries Written by Lynn O’Rourke
n a digital world where method and model change so fast it can make your head spin, there are still pockets of industry where age-old tradition is revered. Cooperage is the ancient craft of barrel making with a history dating back more than 2,000 years – the Romans used wooden barrels to replace breakable pots – an artform that has changed very little over the centuries. One of the chief specialist trades in the Middle Ages, the name cooper is thought to have come from the Latin word cupa, meaning vat. According to the National Cooperage Federation, at the end of December 2015 there were 167 coopers and 42 apprentices working in Scotland. Attila Peter, originally from south west Hungary, is one of those keeping the old tradition alive here. A second-generation cooper, he has been working at the Speyside Cooperage, Craigellachie, for 10 years. ‘I learned the trade in Hungary,’ he says. ‘I got my certiﬁcation in 1987 and I worked as a cooper in a wine bottling factory in Budapest for four years. Then I joined the army and worked in construction. I found this job on the internet. I had never been to Scotland.’ It was seeing his father work that sparked the young Attila’s interest. ‘When I was 13, my dad started
coopering in Hungary and I just loved working with wood. I was 15 when I learned the craft.’ In Scotland, an apprenticeship takes four years with those starting out learning from an experienced cooper. ‘In Hungary, it is slightly different,’ Attila says. ‘We have trade schools and apprentices go there for three or four years.’ It isn’t simply a case of learning what goes where, however. ‘You have to understand the wood,’ Attila explains.
I found this job on the internet. I had never been to Scotland ‘You have to know how it is affected by heat, because we use steam over here. We use steam to bend the staves [the pieces of oak that give the barrel its shape]. They have to learn how long to toast the cask because over-toasting means the wood will become brittle, breaking more easily. The most diﬃcult thing is shaping the staves properly.’ Modern methods have crept in over the years, but haven’t changed the basic principles. ‘A few things have
been introduced,’ Attila says, ‘but how the staves are shaped, how the cask is pulled together and how we hold it, is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years old. Machines have been designed to make our job easier, but basically we do the same things.’ To make a cask takes around four hours, with casks used more than once. ‘The lifetime for the wood is about 5060 years,’ Attila explains. ‘So if the single malt stays in the cast about 10 years, they could ﬁll that cask up at least three or four times.’ Good whisky depends on the barley, the technology and how the whisky is distilled, Attila says. ‘And mostly it depends on the cask, how they use the cask and how long they use the cask.’ And when the heat and smoke subside, and the heavy work is done, is a dram the way to round off a day? ‘I don’t drink a lot of whisky, especially the commercial stuff, but I would drink a single malt,’ Attila says in an appreciative tone. ‘I like Aberlour A’bunadh, Aberlour 16-year-old, and Glendronach. Scapa 16-year-old is a really nice whisky too.’ One art form that perfectly shapes another. Opposite: Cooper Attila Peter works through the stages of creating a cask – an art form unchanged in centuries.
Cask and Still Magazine | 51
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Cask and Still Magazine | 53 >>>
s â€™ r u e s s i nno
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 17-page guide to what the real experts drink
54 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Islay Michael MacKenzie
bottles from a refill hogshead, with no chill filtration and no colouring.
NOSE: Opens with a bonfire and charred oak, mingled with ripe, dark fruits, cocoa and spices.
and burnt brown sugar.
One of 324
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
PALATE: Initially sweet, developing to a gently
As a third-generation distiller who previously worked with Guinness and Diageo, Michael is always ready to share his whisky knowledge and recommendations with visitors to Celtic Spirits.
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
OLD PARTICULAR BOWMORE 15 YEAR 110 48.4% OLD
OWNER, MACKENZIES’ CELTIC SPIRITS,
THE OLD MALT CASK CAOL ILA AGED 17 YEARS
peated malt with notes of soft leather, dark chocolate
sweet with peat, sea salt,
FINISH: Long with a smoked meat and dark toffee
iodine and rubber.
style. This rises to stewed fruits as cocoa notes
PALATE: Earthy and leafy with
peat, iodine and seaweed. FINISH: Long and dry with peat, smoke and oak.
KILCHOMAN MACHIR BAY 39.50
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
This distillery began production in June 2005 and was the first to be built on
Ewan McIlwraith OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY www.robertsonsof pitlochry.co.uk
Ewan took over the running of Robertsons of Pitlochry in January 2013. His extensive background in drinks retail has led him to discover some top-class Islay whiskies, but none finer than these three.
Islay in 124 years. NOSE: Soft cooked fruits with strong peaty aromas. PALATE: Soft mixed fruits and vanilla. An intense sweetness. FINISH: A classic Islay malt, which shows the benefit of the additional ageing. A long and lingering finish.
Cask and Still Magazine | 55
CAOL ILA 12 YEAR OLD 41.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
A less understood whisky from Islay, but one for the peat fans. Definitely one to try if you haven’t already. NOSE: Subtle, sweet, a hint of lemon sharpness, light phenols and smoke cured meats. Peaty but with no smoke at this stage. PALATE: Sweet, refined smoke with a saline hint. Smooth and long. Complex and powerful, yet majestic, with a balancing oiliness. FINISH: The sweet smokiness comes to the fore again. Crisp and delicious. Medium length with slight pepper and spice notes. Really tasty and leaves you wanting more.
THE MACPHAIL’S COLLECTION BUNNAHABHAIN 8 YEAR OLD HEAVILY PEATED 31.99
SELECTED BY EWAN
CARN MOR CELEBRATION OF THE CASK BOWMORE 24 YEAR OLD CASK NO 616 216
SELECTED BY EWAN
This is new to my stable and it is certainly a thoroughbred. A single cask with only 160 bottles. Another outstanding whisky from Morrison & Mackay. NOSE: Amazing! Deep fruit, oak, subtle spices, ginger and a hint of bonfire that is tantalising. PALATE: The aromas continue into the taste. Subtle honey opens up to share the light spice again. Then the waves lap at your toes and soft coastal notes arrive.
This is a fantastic example of a younger heavily peated Bunnahabhain. Matured in refill sherry butts. NOSE: Subtle smoke, damp earth, sweet raisins and pears developing into salty meat – inviting you to dive in with the promise of more to come. PALATE: Sweet and intense with fruit dumplings, raisins and sultanas, brambles and peat. A touch of water sweetens the taste. FINISH: Medium length, with the rich fruits lingering with smoke. It delivers more than is expected.
This is a stunning whisky. FINISH: Mature and long, with salty peat, marmalade oranges and oak.
56 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Speyside Robin Russell
PROPRIETOR, ROBBIE’S WHISKY MERCHANTS, AYR
Robbie’s Whisky Merchants is a familyrun business located in the seaside town of Ayr, fiercely proud of its independent status and the personal service offered to customers as a result. Fine character and great whisky since 1984.
GLENFARCLAS 15 YEAR OLD
GLENDRONACH 18 YEAR OLD ‘ALLARDICE’ 72
SELECTED BY ROBIN
SELECTED BY ROBIN
Glenfarclas is a true star
If you are a sherry fan then you will love
of the whisky world. Most
this dram, which is named after the
definitely one of my top ten
distillery’s founder and has been
matured in 100 per cent oloroso
NOSE: Notes of light peat combine
with rich fruit cake and sherry.
NOSE: Sweet with fudge
PALATE: Full-bodied and complex
and fruit compote aromas.
with dates, walnuts, orange peel and a
PALATE: Smooth with
stewed winter fruits,
FINISH: Long lasting and reminding me
toasted walnuts and
of Christmas cake that can be enjoyed all
FINISH: Long and spicy with a hint of marzipan.
GLENGLASSAUGH 30 YEAR OLD 215
A wonderful, 30-year-old expression from Glenglassaugh.
OWNER & MANAGER,
It is thoroughly rich and enticing.
INVERURIE WHISKY SHOP
NOSE: An abundance of
Mike started life in whisky at a local hotel, setting up a whisky bar for restaurant users before running his own pub for nearly ten years. He then moved into off-sales and has recently opened the Inverurie Whisky Shop.
SELECTED BY ROBIN
tropical fruits, including pineapple, peach, banana, dried fruits and creamy toffee. PALATE: Sweet and soft with similar fruity notes, as well as chocolate, toffee, sherry and freshly ground coffee. FINISH: Warm, soft and gently spiced.
Cask and Still Magazine | 57
GORDON & MACPHAIL SPEYMALT FROM THE MACALLAN DISTILLERY 1997 55.75
SELECTED BY MIKE
This is a fantastic bottling with a 17-year-old old school MacAllan inside for under £60. NOSE: Obvious sherry notes make way for orchard fruits. A hint of oak draws you in for a taste. PALATE: Initially spices, but with a smooth, velvety fruitiness. The oak offered on the nose has vanished, but you do not miss it. FINISH: The oak is back just off the swallow, washed down by a wonderfully malty and lingering finish.
CÀRN C À MÒR STRICLTY LIMITED BRAES OF GLENLIVET 25 YEAR OLD 96.70
SELECTED BY MIKE
A limited edition bottling from Morrison & MacKay. Aged in Hogshead casks, it was bottled in 2014 from two casks. NOSE: A hint of mint followed by a banoffee note. A wee drop of water releases pear drop sweeteners. PALATE: The mint lingers and is
THE BENRIACH SHERRY WOOD 38.49
SELECTED BY MIKE
A 12-year-old single malt from the oh-so-versatile Benriach Distillery. It is created using whiskies from Pedro Ximinez and oloroso casks. NOSE: A dark chocolate blast with coffee notes. Not as fruity as you would expect, but this comes with water. PALATE: Smooth, chocolate, dried
enveloped with fruit salad flavours and a creamy
fruits and a lively, tingling spice on the
smooth mouthfeel. Excellent!
tongue. An oily mouthfeel, which wraps the
FINISH: Mouth-wateringly fruity – moreishly long
flavours around your gums.
FINISH: Long and almost clingy! It stays with you, making you think that you have just finished a bar of Belgian dark chocolate. So sweet.
A feast of Scotland at Arisaig Bar & Restaurant T.B. WATSON LTD
15 English Street, Dumfries, DG1 2BU Tel/Fax: 01387 256 601 e: email@example.com
WWW.DRAMBUSTERS.COM • Over 750 whiskies and hundreds of other spirits available both on line and in store • Fast & friendly service with competitive pricing • Dedicated whisky club with regular tastings, trips and special offers • Personalised wines & spirits with corporate bespoke service available
• Gin & Rum tastings held regularly • Corporate whisky tastings available on request
Over 105 years of experience
Arisaig is a contemporary Scottish restaurant and bar in Glasgow’s vibrant Merchant Square. Scotland’s fantastic natural produce is at the heart of our menus. We have an amazing collection of Scottish malt whisky. Comprising old favourites, independent bottlings and some rare gems, Arisaig’s Scotch collection repays in-depth exploration. Our knowledgeable staff are happy to help diners navigate it.
Come and see us. We promise a warm, Scottish welcome.
+44 (0)141 553 1010 firstname.lastname@example.org 1 Merchant Square, Candleriggs, Glasgow G1 1LE www.arisaigrestaurant.co.uk
• Fine Whiskies, Wines & World Beers • Wholesale • Private Events • Whisky Broking & Investment 42-46 ATHOLL ROAD, PITLOCHRY PH16 5BX Tel: 01796 472011
Cask and Still Magazine | 59
TAMDHU 10 YEAR OLD 30.95
Always highly scored by me and a bestseller in the shop. This is a great sherry cask whisky in a stunning bottle. NOSE: Toffee and raisins at the start, which become more floral with warm vanilla. PALATE: Medium sweet. Orange or mandarin liqueur, with loads of raisins and sherry oak. A twang of peat and cherry menthol cough sweets. FINISH: Brandy-soaked fruit cake.
CARDHU 18 YEAR OLD 78.95
This is an all-round whisky with a bit of everything and so elegantly put
BALVENIE 15 YEAR OLD SINGLE BARREL SHERRY CASK 85.95
The sky is the limit in this category so this might be a surprise choice. Out of 34 Speyside whiskies tasted blind, this is the one I scored the highest. NOSE: Deep, dark chocolate fruit cake and sugar coated raisins with a good splash of wellmatured rum – and, of course, loads of sherry. PALATE: Cognac-soaked dark chocolate chip muffins topped with icing sugar. FINISH: Sweet and spicy sherry oak with wood spice.
OWNER, THE WHISKY SHOP DUFFTOWN
together. It is also a great distillery to visit. NOSE: Sweet peppered pineapple chunks, cherries, raisins and toffee come through initially, with a rock salt edge. Then orange peel. So many layers. All subtle and elegant. PALATE: Lots of fruit. A tropical, creamy orange with spicy dried fruit. Nicely oily. Notes of leather and coconut develop with a milk chocolate topping. FINISH: The finish is gently warming and spicy – an ‘ahhhh’ moment.
Based in the heart of Speyside, The Whisky Shop Dufftown offers an exceptional selection of over 600 whiskies. Owner Mike Lord takes us on a tasting tour of his three favourite Speyside whiskies.
60 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Highland GLENCADAM 10 YEAR OLD 35
ANCNOC 16 YEAR OLD
SELECTED BY CHRIS
Mothballed in 2000 and reopened in 2003, this is the first Glencadam bottling using the current owners’ distillate. NOSE: Creamy and buttery with a touch of lemon and some grassy notes.
SELECTED BY CHRIS
Distilled at Knockdhu Distillery, this whisky is matured exclusively in American oak
PALATE: Very well balanced. More
lemon zest, heaps of vanilla and a
NOSE: Fresh orchard apples with light
slight peppery quality.
honey notes. A lovely barley sweetness.
FINISH: Long and smooth with fresh
PALATE: Crisp and oaky with a lot of citrus
peaches and a sweet maltiness. A
fruit, which moves to delicious toffee.
FINISH: A medium length finish with more citrus and a hint of sweet cereal.
BALBLAIR 1990 (SECOND RELEASE) 105
SELECTED BY CHRIS
After 21 years in ex-bourbon casks, this whisky spent the final two years in oloroso sherry butts. NOSE: Sweet and spicy with a generous helping of chocolate raisins and some honey. PALATE: Full bodied with molasses and more dark chocolate. Raisins and cherries follow with a hint of honey. FINISH: Quite long with cinnamon, dark chocolate and sweet red fruits.
Cask and Still Magazine | 61
GLENGOYNE 10 YEAR OLD 29.99
SELECTED BY LINDA
Distilled in the Highlands, matured in the Lowlands, Glengoyne is produced using airdried barley with no peat content whatsoever. NOSE: Sweet with toffee aromas and herbal,
grassy hints. PALATE: Nutty with Granny Smith
SENIOR SALES AT WM CADENHEAD, CAMPBELTOWN
apples and a smooth, slightly sherryish note. FINISH: Sweet and soft with
a creamy toffee feel.
Chris started his whisky career at The Whisky Shop, working there for two and a half years, before joining the staff at WM Cadenhead on Edinburgh’s Canongate. Here, he talks us through his top three Highland whiskies...
TOMATIN 1996, 17 YEAR OLD, GORDON & MACPHAIL 77.50
SELECTED BY LINDA
Part of the Connoisseurs Choice range from Gordon & MacPhail,
CARN MOR CELEBRATION OF THE CASK, BLAIR ATHOL 1989 24 YEAR OLD, CASK #6463 150
SELECTED BY LINDA
Matured in bourbon Hogshead by Morrison &
this whisky has been matured in
Mackay, this release has
first-fill bourbon barrels.
NOSE: Vanilla with white stone
NOSE: Rich and honeyed
fruits (apricots and peaches)
with ripe peaches and
and a blueberry note. Hints of
apricots. There is also an
spearmint and honey are present
unusual petrol character
to this whisky.
PALATE: This is sweet and spicy
PALATE: Soft and
with ripe bananas, red berries and
mature with bags of oak,
highlighting the rich toffee
FINISH: Creamy with milk chocolate
and ripe tropical fruits.
and a hint of smoke.
FINISH: Full and malty.
GENERAL MANAGER, ROBERT GRAHAM 1874, GLASGOW www.robertgraham1874.com
Linda joined the team at Robert Graham 1874 in 2007, managing the West George Street store, helping to launch the brand’s website and building up a customer base that spans Alaska to New Caledonia.
Highlander Inn at the epicentre of the ‘Malt Whisky Universe’
Popular throughout the year with local SpeysidePopular residents and international visitors. throughout the year with local Speyside With more than 400 different, and interesting and international visitors. whiskies, includingresidents a large number of Single Cask Malt whiskies, and real ales & lagers on draft. With more than 300 different, and interesting whiskies, Bar lunches and dinners are available every day from 12 noon till a 1:45pm 5:30 to 9:00pm, including largeandnumber of Single Cask Malt whiskies, food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm.
and real ales & lagers on draft. www.whiskyinn.com 01340881446 email@example.com Bar lunches and dinners are available every day from 10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR 12 noon till 2:00pm and 5:30 to 9:00pm, food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm.
PLEASE VIEW OUR WEBSITE TO SEE DETAILS ON OUR
at the epicentre of the ‘Malt Whisky Universe’ WINTER WHISKY DEAL & OUR FESTIVE MENUS.
Popular throughout the year with local Speyside residents and international visitors. With more than 400 different, and interesting For over 30 years Glencairn Crystal has supplied quality personalised whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask engraved glassware to clients, large & small, from all over the world. Malt whiskies,is and real ales & lagers on draft. Our services & reputation unsurpassed. Bar lunches and dinners are available every day from 12 noon till 1:45pm and 5:30 to 9:00pm, WWW.GLENCAIRN.CO.UK food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm. WWW.WHISKYGLASS.COM
01340881446 firstname.lastname@example.org www.whiskyinn.com 01340881446 email@example.com 10Banffshire Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR 10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, AB38 9SR
Cask and Still Magazine | 63
GLENKINCHIE DISTILLERS EDITION 64.99
AUCHENTOSHAN 12 YEAR OLD
After a decade in a refill
cask, this whisky is
Scotland’s only distillery to triple
matured in a specifically
distil all year round. Auchentoshan
chosen amontillado sherry
produces a light, delicate malt
that is popular with novices and
NOSE: Sweet and
fruity with sherry and
NOSE: Candied orange peel,
strawberries. A suggestion
currants soaked in sherry with
of Roses dark chocolates that
cinnamon sticks and a slight
are fresh from the tin.
nuttiness. Damp oak follows.
PALATE: Initially sweet, high
PALATE: Cinnamon and
quality sherry gracefully moves
nutmeg tickle the tongue then
to velvety maraschino cherry. The
butterscotch and stewed prunes
initial sweetness gives way to
come through with a touch of
dry, spicy cinnamon.
FINISH: Very long, dry and oaky.
FINISH: Drying oak and sweet
Very faint peppery notes add
sherry go back and forth, lingering
spice, but are softened by
very late caramel, cigars and espresso coffee.
ROSEBANK 21 YEAR OLD 500
Closing its doors back in 1993, Rosebank was described as ‘the finest example of a Lowland malt’ by the late whisky expert Michael Jackson. NOSE: A light floral bouquet. Sweet with vanilla and honey. Icing sugar, lemons, oranges and jelly babies in paper bags. PALATE: Grassy with drier oak notes, more citrus and lemon oils. Some light, sweet lemon juice and pineapple. FINISH: Flowers, grass and citrus. Drying out with pencil shavings and old oak. It develops a drier, lengthy finish.
SHOP MANAGER, WHISKI SHOP, EDINBURGH
Mark has been at the Whiski Shop for the past few years, nurturing a love of whisky that borders on obsession. Here, Mark shares his favourite Lowland whiskies...
64 | Connoisseur’s Selection
DEWARS 12 YEAR OLD 30
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
A lovely, soft and easy-drinking dram that has depth and complexity if you spend time with it. NOSE: Tinned pears, pancakes and light pouring honey, followed by fresh citrus fruits and a soft nutty wood character. PALATE: Initially quite light in the mouth. But given a bit of time, it opens up with flavours of brioche, crème brûlée, hazelnuts and woody brown spice. FINISH: Lingering sweet cereal and macerated red
COMPASS BOX THE LOST BLEND 80
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
A combination of two Highlanders and a peaty Islay single malt. NOSE: Evocative aromas
BALLANTINES 17 YEAR OLD
of old-fashioned sweet shops, warm summer
charcoaled sausages and sweet dipping sauce.
A major award-winner. A must-try
if you haven’t already, if only just to see what the fuss is about.
chewy, textural and multilayered. There is a definite coastal character, which gels wonderfully with cream soda and sweet malt flavours. FINISH: Long, smoky, sweet and delicious.
SELECTED BY DOUGLAS
NOSE: Creamy and peppery with some noticeable spice. Buttered crumpets with spiced rhubarb jam and a hint of peat smoke. PALATE: A beautifully balanced combination of fleshy ripe orchard fruits marrying with an exotic mélange of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and drying woody tones. FINISH: Creamy toffee, fudge and spiced nuts.
Cask and Still Magazine | 65
BLACK BOTTLE 22.25
SELECTED BY MARK
A great traditional blended whisky with a new bottle design. NOSE: Fresh and floral. PALATE: Spicy hints
of smoke. FINISH: A soft, elegant
OWNER, WOODWINTERS WINES AND WHISKIES, BRIDGE OF ALLAN
finish and a gentle reminder of the Islay smokiness.
www.woodwinters.com With shops in Bridge of Allan and Edinburgh, WoodWinters was born from owner Douglas’ desire to share the magic of great wine – not the mystery. The same can be said for whisky, as Douglas talks us through his favourite blends.
JOHNNIE WALKER GOLD RESERVE BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY 51.75
SELECTED BY MARK
A really well-balanced blend from the house of Johnnie Walker. This is something to crack open with friends on a summer’s evening and pass around whilst the sun goes down.
MACKINLAY’S BLENDED MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
NOSE: Fudge notes, drying sherry, dried prunes, vanilla and heather honey,
light. Walker smoke and
SELECTED BY MARK
A recreation of the
whisky that was taken
to Antarctica in 1907.
Reproduced by the ‘Master’ Richard Paterson, you will
Quite waxy with
be tasting history in a glass.
honey and vanilla coming through.
NOSE: A sweet biscuit nose
with a complex array of fruit
finishes more on the heavier side of things with sticky fruits and faint wood smoke.
– pear, grapes and marmalade orange. PALATE: A hint of almond and the lightest note of smoke. A slight saltiness. FINISH: A faint medicinal note on the finish.
RETAIL SALES MANAGER, GORDON & MACPHAIL, ELGIN
Responsible for running Elgin’s flagship whisky shop, Mark selects the G&M Retail Exclusive range, organises Spirit of Speyside tastings and judges for the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.
66 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Worldwide TOGOUCHI BLENDED 12 YEAR OLD 65.99
This premium Japanese blend has been matured in oak barrels with
REDBREAST 15 YEAR OLD 69.99
the final blend containing a high percentage of peated single
A very tasty and well-aged single pot still Irish
NOSE: Citrussy with balanced
NOSE: Tropical fruit, spicy and rich, with honey and
smoky notes leading to green orchard fruit.
banana cake. PALATE: Beautiful creamy texture, with creme brûlée, orange and hints of black pepper.
PALATE: Delicate peat, oak, pepper spice and
FINISH: Drying on the finish, a little more pepper and subtle toffee notes – a belter of a dram.
green apples. FINISH: Gentle and smooth with citrus and subtle notes of vanilla.
BREIZH BRETON BLENDED WHISKY 36.99
A 50 per cent grain, 50 per cent malt blend from the Warenghem Distillery in Bretagne, France. NOSE: Delicate with soft, floral notes. These are followed by a touch of vanilla and malt. PALATE: Very approachable and soft, with vanilla, caramel and cereal notes. FINISH: A little oak, pepper spice and vanilla. The finish is soft, smooth and very balanced.
Nick Sullivan OWNER & MANAGER,
THE ABERDEEN WHISKY SHOP
Nick oversees the smooth running of The Aberdeen Whisky Shop at the west end of the city’s Union Street. His top three worldwide drams can be found among an enormous range of whiskies, including several collectable bottles.
Cask and Still Magazine | 67
Bourbon JEFFERSON’S 10 YEAR OLD STRAIGHT RYE 50
HUDSON FOUR GRAIN BOURBON 40
Produced by Tuthilltown Distillery in New York. Typically when producing a bourbon, the distiller would make a decision whether to add rye for a spicy kick, or wheat for sweetness to the corn and malted barley in the grain bill. Here, they use all four.
Sourced from Canada and bottled by Jefferson’s – a company who have made a name for themselves by sourcing some excellent whiskey. NOSE: Floral, fruity and earthy, this has a lovely concentration. PALATE: Soft and round, with a lovely fennel herbal note. FINISH: Long with a touch of spearmint on the finish.
NOSE: Intense and rich, with spice and a hint of emulsion paint. PALATE: Smooth and rich, with warming spice, cinnamon and cloves. FINISH: Surprisingly easy to drink. Smooth and intense. Lovely.
1792 RIDGEMONT RESERVE 44
Produced at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Kentucky, which takes its name from the year the state was founded, this bourbon is from the Buffalo Trace stable. NOSE: Light and focused, with subtly fruit and spice notes. PALATE: Smooth and complex. A lovely spicy finish. FINISH: Long, elegant and complex. A very impressive bourbon, with the finish going on and on.
Matt McFadyen CO-FOUNDER, 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 – but for this issue, he has turned his attention to bourbon...
68 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Liqueurs HEATHER CREAM LIQUEUR 16.99
Made from fresh double cream and single malt whisky from Balblair. SERVE: A smooth after dinner drink that is best served on the rocks.
Angela Costello MANAGER, J.A. MACKAY, THURSO
EDINBURGH GIN’S RHUBARB & GINGER LIQUEUR
A Scottish whisky liqueur that is flavoured with honey and sloe berries. SERVE: Gaelic for dream, Bruadar is best served over ice.
A warming liqueur that captures the intense ginger spice and sweetness of rhubarb. SERVE: Over ice or in a glass of bubbly.
J.A. Mackay is a family-run licensed grocer shop in Thurso, established for more than 40 years, with an extensive range of malt whisky, liqueurs and spirits. Shop manager Angela puts forward her top three recommended Scottish liqueurs...
Cask and Still Magazine | 69
HIGHLAND PARK ICE 17 YEAR OLD 195
From Highland Park’s new limited release range, this one comes in a wooden case shaped like a mountain. The cut glass bottle looks glacier-like. NOSE: Up-front, vivid aromas of cool, fresh pineapple and mango sorbet give way to silvery shards of smoke and the frosty kick of root ginger. PALATE: Powerful yet smooth – misty peat smoke intertwines with vanilla seeds. FINISH: A beautifully balanced finish with lingering woodiness and spices.
SPRINGBANK GREEN 13 YEAR OLD 60-100
This edition follows on from Springbank’s 2014 release of the 14 year old green edition. An excellent dram for collecting and drinking. NOSE: Sweet cereal notes are accompanied with raisins, butter, apple crumble, kiwi fruit and Turkish delight. PALATE: Fruity with raisins and orange zest to the fore. Marzipan, vanilla and soft sherry notes are also present. FINISH: Long, medium dry with classic Springbank sweet and salty notes, along with hints of bung cloth and fig rolls.
ARRAN SMUGGLERS’ SERIES VOLUME 1 – THE ILLICT STILLS £160+
The second release in The Smugglers’ Series from Isle of Arran Distillers will be released later this year. The first release is presented in a book style packaging. NOSE: Subtle peat and a distant hint of fire. PALATE: Juicy plums spiced with pepper. Wood smoke of freshly sawn pine. FINISH: Dried apricots, then salt, before gentle smoky and tangy notes.
Cameron McCann OWNER, STIRLING WHISKY SHOP
Stirling Whisky Shop can be found within the Highland Hotel, en route to Stirling Castle. With a vast selection of whisky and gins, plus much more, Cameron and his knowledgeable staff will help you find that perfect dram.
By test the best Scotlandâ€™s Oldest Independent Bottler Whisky, Gin, Rum & Cognac Individually selected casks non chill-filtered and natural colour
172 Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh EH8 8BN
Tel: 0131 556 5864
Linnmhor House, Strathpeffer IV14 9BP Tel: 01997 420072 Mob: 07850532433 www.celticspirits.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Cask and Still Magazine | 71
Beers BREWDOG VAGABOND GLUTEN FREE PALE ALE 2.10
Demand for gluten-free beer is rising steadily as more people adopt celiac-friendly diets, ruling out most traditional brews. Many ‘free from’ efforts are bland and lack body, but not this cracking pale ale. It is loaded with piney US hops, matched to a caramel malty body. It is a great beer first and foremost, that just happens to be gluten-free.
MAGIC ROCK SALTY KISS GOOSEBERRY GOSE 2.80
Three of the hottest trends in modern beer wrapped up in one tasty package – bright, bold and brilliant labels, craft cans and sour beers. Gose is a tart, herbal and refreshing style originally from Leipzig, but has been given a British twist with the addition of gooseberries, rosehips and sea buckthorn. It has a lip-smacking, fruity citrus hit that is ideal for a picnic on the first warm day of the Scottish summer.
MANAGER, LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS www.luvians.com
TEMPEST DOUBLE SHUCK IMPERIAL OYSTER STOUT 4.95
While stout and oysters is a classic food pairing, Tempest has taken it to the next level to create one of the most complex beers on our shelves. Using the shells and meat from over 200 fresh Lindesfarne oysters adds a wonderfully silky mouthfeel and punches up the intensity of the roasted, chocolatey malts, while keeping a fresh mineral finish – making it alarmingly easy drinking for an 11 per cent beer.
Luvians opened its St Andrews store in 1996 and has been at the forefront of promoting craft beer in Fife ever since. Archie runs the shop’s constantly evolving list, which saw almost 3,000 different beers come through the doors last year alone.
72 | Connoisseurâ€™s Selection
Other spirits FRAISER BLENDED SCOTTISH WHISKY LIQUEUR 30
SELECTED BY BRIAN
Fraiser Liqueur is a unique blend of premium Scotch whisky with an infusion of wild strawberries. NOSE: Wild strawberry and vanilla notes combined with distinctive Scotch whisky are pleasant to the nose.
DARK MATTER SPICED RUM 35
SELECTED BY BRIAN
PALATE: On the palate the wild strawberry is accompanied by hints of cinnamon and almonds. FINISH: A rich and smooth finish. This is a truly distinctive and delicious liqueur.
Dark Matter is the product of the first and only rum distillery in Scotland. NOSE: Peppercorn and ginger are apparent on the nose with a slight sweetness. Unusual but enticing. PALATE: More peppercorn, ginger and sweetness accompanied by the distinctive taste of cloves and a little chilli spice engulf the palate. FINISH: A profound and intense finish that leaves the mouth watering and the tongue tingling.
EDINBURGH SEASIDE GIN 35
SELECTED BY BRIAN
A limited edition, this Edinburgh Seaside Gin uses botanicals including seaweed and scurvy grass, which are all sourced from the Edinburgh coastline. NOSE: You can tell this is a gin like no other. There are subtle but pleasant notes of seaweed and an overall freshness. PALATE: The palate is unmistakably rich in seaside minerals. These are perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the ground ivy. FINISH: A long and refreshing finish which leaves you reminiscing about sunny days. Seaside in a bottle.
Cask and Still Magazine | 73
BROCKMAN’S INTENSELY SMOOTH GIN 29
SELECTED BY SHANNON
An intensely smooth spirit that is exceptionally easy to drink. It is full of complex flavours which can be enjoyed either neat over ice or with tonic. NOSE: There are strong berry notes such as blueberry and blackberry. There is also a clean and refreshing influence of citrus. PALATE: The gin is light on the palate, yet full of flavours such as orange peel. It is intensely smooth. FINISH: There is a long and full-bodied finish to the gin. It sits very nicely on the palate.
MARTELL CORDON BLEU EXTRA OLD COGNAC 93
DIRECTOR, T. B. WATSON, DUMFRIES
www.drambusters.com T. B. Watson Ltd. has been trading in Dumfries since 1909, and now runs The Drambusters website and whisky club, with over 300 members. Company director Brian, a Keeper of the Quaich, takes us on a tasting tour of his favourite spirits…
SELECTED BY SHANNON
This excellent cognac has obtained its complexity and rich flavours from the end maturation in fine-grained oak barrels. NOSE: There are dried fruit notes of lemon and orange with cinnamon and roasted almonds. PALATE: The cognac is full-bodied on the palate and is extremely smooth. It is round with very light notes of sweetness. FINISH: There is a sustained length of finish with light fruit and spice notes on the palate. The finish is very elegant.
CIROC SNAP FROST VODKA 33.75
SELECTED BY SHANNON
This premium vodka is distilled five times, ensuring the exceptional smoothness. NOSE: The vodka is full of fresh fruit notes and citrus aromas. It is also very refined. PALATE: Exceptionally smooth on the palate. There are very light notes of sweetness. The grape flavour bursts through and is dominant throughout. FINISH: Very clean. There are lingering notes of crisp freshness and grape.
Shannon Laird ONLINE SALES CONTROLLER, THE SPIRIT EMBASSY
Beginning her career in whisky in 2013 with the role of administrator for The Spirit Embassy’s e-commerce side, Shannon has grown up with the company, taking on a lot more responsibility and expanding her knowledge of spirits and whisky.
74 | Directory REFRIGERATION
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RETAILER /maltwhiskyagency @mwagencyltd @mwagencyltd
For that special gift... We have a wide selection of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, many of which are very old and extremely rare. Not forgetting our fine selection of wines, indulgent hand finished chocolates, personalised Champagne and much more.
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Cask and Still Magazine | 75
NEW LOOK FOR COOPER’S CHOICE
The Vintage Malt Whisky Company has announced the relaunch of its Cooper’s Choice single cask range, available in the UK from April 2016. The new packaging, and selected bottlings from some of Scotland’s finest distilleries, have been well received, despite only being available for a few months. Cooper’s Choice is distributed in the UK by Marussia Beverages. www.vintagemaltwhisky.com
MUSA ABERDEEN HOSTS SMWS DINNERS Musa Aberdeen has announced plans to host dinners in partnership with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS). The bar, restaurant and live music venue, housed in a former church, will hold the whisky-paired dinners on Thursday 16 June and Thursday 29 September. For more information on the events and how to book your place, visit www.musaaberdeen.com.
EVAN WILLIAMS BOTTLED-IN-BOND COMES TO THE UK
Marussia Beverages has introduced a new whiskey to the UK market. Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond joins not only the rest of the Evan Williams family here in the UK, but also completes Marussia Beverages’ Bottled-In-Bond set: Bourbon, Rye and Corn. These, as the law demands, are all bottled at 50 per cent ABV and show remarkable balance at this strength. www.marussiabeverages.co.uk
76 | Spirit Level
a game of
schnapps Spirits lover Dr Brooke Magnanti – aka blogger Belle de Jour – reckons it’s high time to deal with the bad image of this fruit-infused spirit
Above: Dr Brooke Magnanti enjoys a long fruity schnapps.
Cask and Still Magazine | 77 WORTH A LOOK
BERENTZEN JOHANNIS BEERE
German blackcurrant schnapps
chnapps has not had the easiest revival in the fashionable stakes. Ask anyone what they associate it with and perhaps they will recall 1970s apres-ski style, all pine-clad lodges and ﬂuffy socks. Or maybe, for the younger set, the 1990s and early 2000s’ craze for pitchers of cocktails – when it was near impossible to get out of a student bar without slipping on a spilled slick of sickly liquid. A gold-ﬂecked bottle, perhaps, that tastes distinctly of cough medicine? Or maybe they consider it a grandmother’s drink, alongside sherry, the sort of thing sipped politely at Christmas while exchanging gifts. And if that is the case, then I think it’s high time schnapps had a reassessment. I have to come clean here: schnapps is a drink I associate with my mother’s mother. But then again, she is not your average gran – she has been known to happily down bowls of chicha beer in the rainforests of Ecuador, sieving out the lumps of corn between her teeth. But her central European roots made traditional fruit schnapps a staple in the household and its refreshing, warming qualities are always appreciated, regardless of whether it is in or out of style. At its simplest, schnapps is the fruity alternative to gin’s botanical punch: crystal-clear fruit brandies, and in particular those distilled from plums, are popular across southern Germany and its bordering countries. Apricot and pear, apple and cherry each contribute their own delicate ﬂavourings to gorgeous spirits. If this sounds a little too
uncomplicated for palates accustomed to the tang of juniper or the burn of peat, then it’s long past time you gave these spirits a second look. In fact, I would bet, right now, you’re as likely as not to have a bottle of schnapps lingering unloved at the back of your drinks cupboard. As we hurtle out of spring, headlong into summer, why not balance potent, fragrant peach schnapps with tart, fresh, real lemonade for a long drink? We always keep six-packs of Pellegrino limonata to hand, simply because it improves all that it comes into contact with. Or lighten up your schnapps spritz-style with Prosecco, soda and a splash of bitters. Speaking of Prosecco, schnapps gives a new twist on the Bellini when used in place of peach puree. Not for your average brunch of course – this packs a sly punch that is not for beginners. In January, I visited my gran, who is knocking on her centenary year, in New York. The woman whose schnapps-fuelled holidays were legendary until well into her eighties, is somewhat the worse for wear these days; it took her a bit of time to recognise me and she didn’t remember my husband at all. But when we cracked open the bottle of homemade Himbeergeist – the schnapps variant made with rectiﬁed spirits and wild, uncooked Highland raspberries – it was as if the decades had fallen away. We had it with nothing but ice, in plastic cups, but my goodness, one taste and she was the sparkling centre of attention, telling us stories of old family adventures we had never heard before. If spirits are the elixir that connects human ritual to memory, then schnapps surely deserves a place in that pantheon. A simple pleasure perhaps, but isn’t that what all of the very ﬁnest pleasures are?
Ripe blackcurrants combined with distilled wheat spirit – serve on the rocks or part of a cocktail.
Herb & spice infused schnapps Over 40 spices, herbs and their roots, fruits and their peels, flowers, aniseed, bitter orange and white turmeric blend to produce a smooth, warming taste.
BERENTZEN TRADITIONS KORN
Double-distilled German schnapps Made with maize to the traditional ‘Korn’ legislation, so not in the fruity style, this is Germany’s most popular schnapps.
78 | Craft brewing
BARREL The birth of Cask & Still’s very own Ginga Ninja beer at Stewart Brewing’s Craft Beer Kitchen Written by Morag Bootland
hen Stewart Brewing in Loanhead near Edinburgh asked the Cask & Still team if we would like to brew our very own beer in their Craft Beer Kitchen it really got our creative juices flowing. What kind of beer would we make, what would go in it, what would we call it and how would we package it? All was to be revealed at Stewart’s state-of-the-art brewery, the first in Scotland to offer the experience of making a beer from scratch. The knowledgeable Jonny guided us through the process while plying us with some of Stewart’s best brews. The resulting wheat beer with ginger and lime is a joy to behold (and imbibe). You too can brew 40 or 80 litres of your own personal beer with colleagues or friends from £185. stewartbrewing.co.uk
Cask and Still Magazine | 79
Main Picture: Mark Duncan, Morag Bootland, Jonny Wilson, Maddie Smith and Richard Bath toast brewing success in the Stewart Brewingâ€™s Craft Beer Kitchen.
80 | Whisky events guide
May might be Whisky Month, but there are events galore to enjoy all year round
Stirling Whisky Festival 7 MAY In its fifth year, the festival will once again promise a great range of whiskies, rare malts and locally sourced food to ensure a fantastic day out. www.spiritofstirlingwhiskyfestival.co.uk World Whisky Day 21 MAY A global celebration of whisky. The world whisky day website is packed with events taking place all over the world so that you can find out whatâ€™s going on near you. www.worldwhiskyday.com Feis Ile â€“ The Islay Festival of Malt and Music 20-28 MAY Take a trip to the Southern Hebrides and experience traditional music, ceilidhs, Gaelic lessons, golf, bowling and, of course, whisky tastings and distillery open days. www.islayfestival.com Mhor Festival 28-29 MAY Whisky sampling and food pairing along with foraging, music and plenty of family fun at Monachyle Mhor Hotel in Balquhidder. www.mhor.net
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Whisky Stramash 28-29 MAY Challenging traditional ideas of whisky drinking, with madcap boutique experiences and installations to entertain and educate visitors at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh. www.thewhiskystramash.com Whisky An’ A’ That 4 JUNE The Ayr Whisky Festival is organised by Robbie’s Drams and showcases a mix of exhibitors and distillers from all over the country. www.robbieswhiskymerchants.com Edinburgh Juniper Festival 10–12 JUNE Celebrating World Gin Day at Summerhall in Edinburgh. An array of gins will be available, with plenty to sample and enjoy. www.summerhall.co.uk Whisky Fringe 12-14 AUGUST Royal Mile Whiskies’ celebration of our national drink, featuring 26 exhibitors and 200 whiskies to sample at Mansfield Traquair in Edinburgh. www.royalmilewhiskies.com BOWFEST 2016 10-11 SEPTEMBER The Best of the West Festival is a great place to discover your favourite West Coast malt in the whisky and gin marquee at Inveraray Castle on the banks of Loch Fyne. www.bowfest.co.uk Drambusters Whisky Festival 26 NOVEMBER Whisky sampling and lots more at Easterbrook Hall, The Crichton, Dumfries. There will also be rums, gins and liqueurs, shops and a golden dram competition. www.drambusters.com
82 | Whisky in Australia
I work for an importer who brings whisky into Australia and I run a whisky blog called SquidgyAsh the Whisky Fiend. In short, I live, breathe and sleep whisky. My wife has joked that she’s heard me running masterclasses in my sleep.
Blogger Nathan De Tienne is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society state manager for Western Australia Whisky has grown in leaps and bounds during the last four years or so here in Australia. There are now dozens of brands and bottlers, and half a dozen new whisky clubs forming in the country.
The group, Dram Full, was started in Singapore by friends of mine. At the time, there weren’t any serious whisky clubs in Australia, so we started a Dram Full Australia chapter. I’d thought at best we’d get 300-400 members, but Dram Full Perth has 1,600 members and we have chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart. For years I thought whisky just tasted like whisky. It wasn’t until I needed my wisdom teeth removed that I discovered otherwise. I was working in the US and couldn’t afford to have them out, but I could afford bourbon. I self-medicated for two months. One night, I got the biggest hit of vanilla – it was the Knob Creek Single Barrel coming through. My eyes opened and I started to explore the vast world of whisky. I could never claim just one distillery or even country type as my favourite whisky, but I have soft spots in my heart for Glenﬁddich, Buffalo Trace, Talisker, Starward, Adelphi, Glenrothes, Laphroaig and Gordon & MacPhail. I love the ﬂavours and complexity of whisky. No matter what folk think, there will be a whisky to their liking. Whisky brings people together. Most of the best moments of my life were enjoyed over a dram or two. Good whisky becomes brilliant whisky when friends and family are involved.
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We talk to 'The Whisky Professor' Bernie Lubbers plus Prue Leith tells us about her favourite dram