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Cask & Still Magazine | 3 cask and still
As I read my colleague Blair Bowman’s paean to drinking cultures and drinking games around the world, my mind went back to those aimless days of studentry, when games of Cardinal Puff, Think While You Drink, Fuzzy Duck and Never Have I Ever were rites of passage for freshers. These days I would never countenance such a pointless waste of good whisky or beer (or the ensuing hangover) but it is good to know that we are not the only nation in the world that goes in for such foolishness. I was also interested to read about the imbibing habit of our greatest sovereign, Queen Victoria. It seems our second longestserving monarch was quite partial to a dram or five, and revelled in those moments when life at Balmoral became a bit more liquid. The final piece in this issue that I’d heartily recommend to you is our investigation into the Wild West of gin, as we call the burgeoning sector made up of a slew of small-batch Scottish
artisan gin distillers. The problem is that some gins are not in any meaningful sense Scottish, yet are energetically marketing themselves as such, leaving consumers confused and misled. It goes without saying that we’d love to hear what you think about the magazine, so get in touch!
EDITOR Richard Bath
GREGOR FISHER The star of Rab C Nesbitt, Para Handy and Whisky Galore!, the Glaswegian actor reflects on how he took his first nip, why the French love a dram, and how his father loved his job – as an over-excited exciseman on Islay!
MIKE MCGINTY The general manager of Edinburgh’s Voyage of Buck bar recently won the inaugural International Patron Perfectionist competition, effectively the world cocktail-making championships. He shares six whisky cocktails with us.
4 | What’s inside
Cover line 12 ALIEN DRINKING CULTURES
Every country has its own drinking games, while downing a dram – or the local tipple – varies wildly depending on where in the world you happen to be
Cover images - anna42f & Dimonika/Shutterstock
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APR 2017 ISSUE FIVE cask and still
DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Creatives Heddy Forrest, Amanda Richardson
06 WHISKY NEWS 08 BAR SNAPS
Black Rock in London
10 ME AND MY DRAM
Gregor Fisher talks whisky galore
18 THE RANT
Have sky-rocketing whisky prices finally reached their peak?
20 DRAMER QUEEN
Wood and casks
42 WHISKY HERO
Bryan Davis has invented a whisky time machine
45 CONNOISSEUR’S SELECTION Our
experts choose their favourite tipples
60 THE GREAT GIN SCANDAL
Queen Victoria’s littleknown love of whisky
What makes a gin truly Scottish?
26 SIX OF THE BEST
66 GIN NEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Whisky cocktails by Mike McGinty at The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh
28 SCANDI SPIRIT
The rise and rise of the Swedish whisky industry
35 WHISKY BY NUMBERS Figures on whisky in Sweden
36 WHISKY GURU Ernie Button found art at the bottom of a whisky glass
40 A BLUFFERS GUIDE TO...
72 BOURBON IS IN MY SOUL Dr Brooke
Magnanti has a history with bourbon
75 OVER A BARREL Pouring the perfect pint
77 BEER NEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 80 WHISKY EVENTS 82 WHISKY IN GERMANY with
Photographer: Angus Blackburn Staff Writers: Morag Bootland, Hermione Lister-Kaye Contributing Editor: Blair Bowman Contributors: Charles MacLean Dr Brooke Magnanti, David Austin, Ruth A. Symes 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.
voluntary whisky ambassador Gavin Ryan
6 | News feed
The first purpose built single malt whisky distillery to be constructed in Edinburgh in over a century is planned for a site in Leith’s port district beside Ocean Terminal Shopping years since the idea was first conceived by two life-long friends from Edinburgh, the site of the new distillery has now been confirmed. A planning application is underway and Threesixty Architecture have been appointed to design the building. Founded by Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher, who grew up together in the capital, the distillery will bring a distinctive, new approach to Scotch whisky production by focusing on fermentation, a key part of the
Centre and The Royal Yacht Britannia. Four
production process that is rarely highlighted to consumers. Progress can be followed at www.leithdistillery.com
WHISKY, WHISKY EVERYWHERE
Whisky Galore!, a remake of the film based on the novel of the same name by Compton Mackenzie, will hit the big screen on 5 May. The film stars Gregor Fisher (read more about his favourite whiskies on page 10), Eddie Izzard, James Cosmo, Kevin Guthrie, Ellie Kendrick, Naomi Battrick and Sean Biggerstaff. The much loved original black and white film directed by Alexander Mackendrick followed the real life events of 1941 when the S.S. Politician was shipwrecked in the Outer Hebrides leading to a hilarious battle as the wily islanders on nearby Eriskay tried to salvage the huge cargo of whisky on board, enraging the British authorities.
FOLLOW US FOR ALL THE LATEST NEWS:
FROM BRAZIL WITH LOVE The man who brought together the world’s
largest collection of Scotch whisky has been reunited with his bottles for the first time in
A set of six crystal decanters holding the
almost a decade. Claive Vidiz – who sold
rarest of The Macallan’s single malts, aged
his collection to Diageo for an undisclosed
from 50-65 years, sold at Sotheby’s in
sum 10 years ago – returned to Scotland
Hong Kong for US$993,000 (just under
this week from his home in Brazil. The
£800,000). Proceeds from the sale of the world’s only complete Lalique Legacy Collection, which is housed in a unique natural ebony cabinet, will be donated to Hong Kong and Asian charities.
visit is the first time Vidiz has been back to Scotland since the bottles were officially installed at The Scotch Whisky Experience in April 2009.
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NEW EXPRESSIONS TOMATIN WOOD
From the Five Virtues Series, 46% ABV, RRP £49.99. Five Virtues draws inspiration from nature’s elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – and is packaged in collaboration with the artist Eva Ullrich. Wood is aged in French, American and Hungarian oak.
BLACK BULL BULLET
Black Bull Scotch whisky will return to the British GT Motor racing grid with Garage 59 and the McLaren 570S GT4 for a second successive season. The new car, numbered 100 to promote Black Bull’s 100 proof Scotch, will be driven by Scottish duo Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty.
Non chill-filtered Single Malt, 48% ABV, RRP £450. Aged in traditional oak with tasting notes including ripe pear and soft red apples, entwined with sticky honey, vanilla fudge and spiced ginger cake. Long in the finish with pepper and vanilla.
SPIRIT OF THE OPERA GLENMORANGIE PRIDE 1974
Highland Single Malt, 52% ABV, RRP £7,200. The distillery’s oldest, rarest and most prized expression yet. Just 503 crystal decanters are available to buy. Soft mouthfeel with plenty of toffee, molasses, cream, clove and aniseed.
TAMDHU 50 YEAR OLD
Single malt cask strength whisky, 55.6% ABV, RRP £16,000. Tamdhu’s oldest ever bottling and there’s only 100 available worldwide. Cloves, liquorice, espresso and baked apples on the palate. Presented in an oak and silver cannister.
The Glasgow Distillery Company has announced a unique musical collaboration with Scottish indie band Admiral Fallow and opera company NOISE. The distillery has unveiled plans to create an opera set against the backdrop of their city site. The opera – composed by Gareth Williams (306, Dawn, Hirda, The Sloans Project) – is based loosely on the theme of distilling. It is scheduled to premiere in summer 2018 and aims to attract an audience of indie music fans and opera aficionados.
COOPER TROUPERS Family-owned distiller William
Grant & Sons has pledged its commitment to continuing traditional skills with plans to recruit two new apprentice coopers for its Girvan Distillery this year. The promise comes after the first two apprentice coopers in 24 years, Stewart Millarvie and Fraser Henderson, passed their Trade Test in February 2017.
8 | Whisky bars of the world
BLACK ROCK, 9 CHRISTOPHER STREET, LONDON This subterranean bar in Londonâ€™s trendy Shoreditch has taken cocktail hour to another level with a 185-year-old oak tree-trunk table with two channels down the centre containing 17 litres of aged whisky cocktail, which is then deposited straight to your glass from a tap. www.blackrock.bar
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10 | Me and my dram
Image: Gregor Fishar at the whisky bar in รran Mรณr, Glasgow.
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Me & my
National treasure and former Rab C Nesbitt and Para Handy actor, Gregor Fisher shares his thoughts on the water of life Interview by Morag Bootland
Do you remember the first time you drank whisky? Yes, my mother was never what you would call a big drinker, but she always enjoyed a whisky and lemonade and would make me one too. That was the tipple of the time. It would be made with something very ordinary, like a co-operative blend and she would say ‘I’ve put quite a lot of lemonade in it son’ and then she would woof hers. She also swore by a hot toddy, the first appearance of a drip on the nose and she would be out with one. So that was my first sample. I didn’t really care for it much. It tastes horrible when you’re a child, doesn’t it?
of the whisky that I’m offered by my lovely next door neighbours in France is from Islay and it’s usually pretty heavily peated. I have to admit that it’s a bit on the strong side for my tastes, but I still drink it. My father was an excise man on Islay. In fact when I was on the plane back to Scotland I was reading the in-flight magazine and
What’s your favourite dram? I’m a kind of mild mannered man, so anything from Speyside, and I’m particularly partial to a Macallan. I suppose I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I don’t have a large capacity for drink nowadays to be honest, but I’m very happy to have a quick dram before or after my supper.
Where do you drink whisky? I live in France now and the French are all mad for whisky. When you go to le supermarche three quarters of the aisle is devoted to it, then there’s the odd bottle of vodka and gin and just a tiny space for Cognac. Almost all
Most of the whisky that I’m offered in France is from Islay and it’s usually pretty
there was a picture of me in a piece on the Edinburgh Film Festival. I flicked over the page and there was a piece about Islay and a photograph of the former excise man’s house, which is now a bed and breakfast. Is that weird, or is that weird? How do you like to drink your whisky? Just with a wee sensation of water. I know some people would disagree with that, some like it half and half
and that’s good for them. In France it’s always got to be straight up. I suppose if you’re drinking cask strength you need water or the enamel on your teeth would melt. I don’t understand that cask thing, it’s all nonsense. Where is the best place you’ve ever had a dram? I think it was in Langholm, in the beer tent after the common riding. I didn’t have the balls to wear tights under my riding gear. I just wore my Y-fronts and they dug in and made my bum incredibly sore while I was bobbing up and down on my big armchair ride. I’m not an elegant rider. I think the taste of the dram, the pain relief it provided and knowing that I didn’t need to get back on the horse all combined to make it seem like the nectar of the gods. Whisky Galore is about to hit the big screens, did you do much drinking while you were filming? No, it’s a thing you don’t do very much when you’ve got to learn a lot of lines and there’s lots of cameras involved. It’s all coloured water. But as the film is all about the lack of whisky there wasn’t much opportunity to drink anyway.
12 | Culture shock
As our writer found on his travels, from mizuwari in Tokyo to condensed milk mixers in Costa Rica, every nation has its own alien drinking culture Written by: Blair Bowman Illustrated by: Miro Bersi
lmost every culture in the world has their own particular or unusual alcohol-related drinking etiquette or practise that, to a foreigner, seems completely bizarre or alien. Furthermore each culture has their own drinking games associated with their national drink, which is usually some form of distilled spirit. For the record, I would like to state that I do not endorse drinking to excess, I am merely interested in alcohol cultures and etiquettes in an anthropological sense. In my travels I have experienced local spirits and seen how the locals take their whisky, both of which can be real eye openers. For anyone who has visited China and experienced the seemingly never
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Pictured: Our writer Blair found the drinking culture in China particularly fierce.
E ach culture
has a drinking game associated with the national drink
14 | Culture shock
ending ‘gambei’-ing of baijiu, their national hooch, then I sympathise with you. The word for ‘cheers’ in Chinese (Mandarin) is ‘gambei’, which literally means ‘clean glass’, so when you say cheers you have to clean your glass, and show that you have emptied the cup of baijiu. Several years ago I spent nine months in Shanghai, during which time I had my fair share of baijiu. Often the only foreigner at the dinner table, I was, on many occasions, regarded as the ‘guest of honour’. This meant that every single guest at the table would want to ‘cheers’ or ‘gambei’ with me. Custom seems to dictate that you should toast each of your fellow diners separately. Baijiu, pronounced ‘bye-joe’, is one of the biggest selling spirits in the world. As China’s national spirit, it is often referred to as ‘Chinese firewater’. This fiery spirit is clear and usually distilled from fermented sorghum. At between 40%-60% abv, baijiu resembles vodka in strength. During my time in China I witnessed a popular drinking game in a restaurant (and I’m happy to say I did not partake) in which the participants would take a shot, or ‘gambei’, of baijiu. Next, they would crawl underneath the table, then immediately get back up into their seat. This would be repeated several times until the participants would start bashing their heads on the underside of the table or struggle to get back into their seat, therefore losing the game. The winner was the last person able to get back into their seat. Russia has a fearsome drinks culture which was perfectly encapsulated on a recent episode of the television programme Travel Man: 48 Hours in… when host Richard Ayoade took part in a very unusual practice. After a few breakfast shots of vodka, Ayoade then had to sniff a slice of fresh bread. The idea is that when you can
The idea is that when you can no longer smell the bread you stop drinking 20/04/2017 15:51:39
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no longer smell the bread you stop drinking. According to his Russian guide, you will not be too drunk if you stop drinking when you can no longer smell the bread. I’m not entirely convinced... In the same way that each culture has its own drinking etiquettes, national spirit and drinking games, it seems each culture also has its own preferred way of enjoying Scotch whisky. Each preference has much to do with climate, local palates and tastes. In Brazil, for example, long glasses of whisky, ice and coconut water are the way to go. It was no doubt enjoyed by Olympians and spectators alike during the Rio Olympics. On the other side of the South American continent, Costa Rica has some very unusual tastes. I’ll never forget the first time I visited a Costa Rican bar and saw shelves upon shelves of canned condensed milk. These are used for mixing with whisky – a can of condensed milk is poured into a long glass that already contains lots of ice and whisky (think Bailey’s but without the coffee flavour). It wasn’t my cup of tea, as it is very sweet and sickly, but the locals seem to love their whisky this way. For any whisky lover, once you’ve explored Scotland, the next nearest thing to an ultimate experience is Japan. If you get a chance to go, you should not only try as many Japanese whiskies as possible, but also experience ‘mizuwari’ and ‘highball’ whisky, which are served in tiny whisky bars full of Japanese businessmen. A ‘highball’ is simply whisky, with lots of large ice cubes and a glug of soda water. The idea of the drink is not to dilute, but to make the whisky sparkling and fresh tasting. This, I predict, will be the drink of choice during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – you heard it here first! ‘Mizuwari’ (pronounced ‘mi-zu-wah-ri’), on the other hand, requires a bit more skill. In
16 | Culture shock
WORLDWIDE DRINKING GAMES Japanese ‘mizuwari’ literally means ‘mixed with water’ and that’s what it is – whisky, ice and water. But it’s not as simple as that. To make an authentic ‘mizuwari’ you must:
Napkin, Beer, Cigarette – South Korea This is a simple concept where a napkin is placed over a beer mug, and a coin is placed on top. Players take it in turns to burn holes in the napkin with their cigarettes, and whoever’s burn causes the coin to fall in has to drink the ash-filled beer.
Dizzy Bat – USA The player chugs a beer while everyone else counts how long it takes them. They then must place one end of a baseball bat on the ground, and touch their forehead to the other. The player must spin around the bat, for the amount of time taken to drink the beer. If that wasn’t brutal enough, the player is then thrown the can or cup of beer, and if they do not successfully bat it, must spin three times and try to hit it
Tiger Has Come – Russia This game is traditionally played at a table with vodka. Each player is allocated a shot glass, and places a bet on the table between rounds. When the game leader randomly shouts ‘Tiger has come’, everyone gets under the table with their shot and after the leader says the ‘Tiger has gone’ everyone resumes their seats. The winner of the money is the last person who can physically stand up from under the table.
Chicken Head Vietnam All that’s needed for this game is a chicken head, a bowl, and a plate. The chicken head is placed under a bowl on a plate. The plate is spun, and the bowl lifted, and whichever player the chicken head is pointing at must finish their drink.
Jomswikinger – Germany Two blindfolded players keep one hand on a chest while holding a sack filled with salted fish (the game has Viking origins). Player one says player two’s name, to which he responds ‘yes’, then player one asks ‘can I hit you with my sack’ to which player two responds ‘yes’. Using only this vocal cue, player one has one chance to hit player two, who may attempt to dodge. The first player to land three hits wins, the loser drinks.
Goon of Fortune – Australia In this game, a ‘goon’ refers to a container of wine (or other alcohol). A goon is attached to a rotating clothes line with players surrounding it. The goon is then spun, and whoever it lands nearest at the end of its cycle takes a mouthful. The game ends when everyone is too drunk to spin.
1) Fill a long glass with ice. 2) Fill it with one measure of whisky and then stir 13 and a half times. 3) Add more ice. 4) Fill with 2 measures of still mineral water. 5) Now stir 3 and a half times. 6) Drink. You may think all this counting and stirring is a bit over the top, however, it is understood that stirring precisely this number of times creates the optimum amount of chilling and the least amount of dilution. It is quite like the rituals surrounding tea ceremonies. But regardless of how many times you stir, this is a very enjoyable long drink on a hot day. Across Europe and the US whisky is consumed with mixers like Coca-Cola. I can say, from personal experience, that nothing beats sipping a Cutty Sark and Lemonade in the Spanish sunshine.. You may be screaming at the page ‘never mix whisky!’ and I too used to believe that one could never drink whisky with ice, let alone a mixer. That was a long time ago and these days I am very much an advocate for drinking whisky however the hell you want – if you’ve paid for it don’t let anyone else tell you how to drink it. If you are reluctant to try then why not give it a go with a simple blend and graduate on to single malts once you’ve found your taste for them. In a famous nightclub on the Bund in Shanghai I saw a young Chinese man, on his own, with a large glass of iced green tea in one hand and a nearly empty bottle of Macallan 30 year old in the other. Smiling like a loon, he was clearly loving life but, most of all, loving mixing his expensive Scotch with traditional green tea – nothing was going to stop him. At this moment I realised you can add anything you want to whisky; as with everyone’s national spirit, the most important thing is that you’re enjoying it. PS: Please remember to drink responsibly!
18 | The Rant
THE ROOF... The price of Scotch has reached an all-time high, but how long will consumers accept the constantly climbing – and now eye-watering – cost of their favourite dram? Written by Blair Bowman
n the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget it was announced that there would be no freeze to the duty paid on spirits, meaning that the amount of tax on a standard bottle of blended whisky now accounts for around 80% of the retail price. As if the depredations of the taxation system are not sufficiently unfair on whisky consumers, the general selling price of whisky has been sky rocketing for the past five years and shows absolutely no signs whatsoever of stopping. Gone are the days where you could easily lay your hands on a well-aged, well-regarded single malt for less than £25. Even so-called ‘entry-level’ single malts are now coming in at £35-£45 – if you’re lucky. So why the huge price hike? The answer is, as ever, demand, which is higher than it has been in a long time for whisky. That isn’t to say that there is a shortage because the industry has moved to increase production, just that the global thirst for whisky – and especially blue-riband single malts – is inexorably pushing up prices. To give you a greater idea of how sharply prices have been rising, let’s look at the price of a couple of expressions of Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Using www.waybackmachine.org (a tool that allows you to look at old versions of websites) I’ve been able to get pricing going back to 2009 from The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt. I’ve taken the average price from both websites. In 2009, you could get a standard sized 70cl
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bottle of Glenfiddich 12 year old for £24.95, but today that same bottle will cost you £32.95. This is an increase in price of slightly over 30% in eight years, several times the cost of inflation. Even more astounding is the price increase of the Macallan 10 year old. In 2010 you could get a standard sized 70cl bottle of Macallan 10 year old Fine Oak for £18.95. Today, this will cost you £70.45, an eye-watering 271% increase in seven years. These are just two examples of what is happening across the board, particularly in regard to non-age statement whiskies. Of all the price hikes this is the one consumers find most confusing – why are they now paying so much for ageless whisky when we have been conditioned for decades that the age of whisky is the key driver explaining the price premium placed on it. The most outrageous price inflation, however, has come at the top end of the market, the so called ‘super-premium’ whiskies where it seems that each year another zero is added to the price tag for no discernible reason other than that greedy distilleries believe a bull market in whisky can bear it. This is a relatively new phenomenon which was kicked off in earnest by Dalmore, who in 2010 were the first to release a whisky with a six-figure price tag. Many in the industry thought that a whisky of super expense would never sell, but the 65 year old Dalmore Trinitas – which cost over £100,000 a bottle – flew off the shelves. Every other distillery either quickly rushed to produce a product for the super-rich for whom the horrific price tag of a ‘super-premium’ whisky is the whole point of the purchase, or wished it had. The auction market, or secondary market, has seen prices shoot up at levels that are surely unsustainable. Flipping, where you buy a newly released
The most outrageous price inflation is with ‘super-premium’ whiskies, where another zero is added to the price for no discernible reason
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MOST EXPENSIVE WORLD WHISKIES
whisky in order to sell it on an auction site for an inﬂated price, is rife and is another factor driving the original retail price up as distillers would prefer to be the ones making money rather than the guys selling it on auction a day after it is released. A good example of this dynamic is the case of Bowmore ‘Devil’s Cask’. The ﬁrst release had a retail price of around £80 and due to the hype sold out very quickly. Bowmore then released a second edition at roughly the same price point, which sold out even faster than the ﬁrst edition. However, bottles from Batch 1 and Batch 2 were now selling on auction sites for £200-£500 a bottle, so when Bowmore released the third, and ﬁnal, expression Batch 3, the price was hiked up to £190 in order to increase the distillery’s proﬁt and discourage ﬂipping. Regardless, at the ‘super-premium’ end of the auction market records are being broken constantly. In 2014 a decanter of Macallan M, a non-age statement whisky, sold for £380,000. This is the most ever paid for a single bottle of whisky at auction. In April 2017, a new record for the most expensive single lot at auction was set when the Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection, a set of six bottles aged between 50-65 years old, sold for a staggering £795,742,
Pictured: Has Scotch whisky now reached its pricing ceiling?
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smashing the estimate of £200,000-£400,000. However, while I understand that rarity comes with a price and that Scotch whisky is highly revered as a super-premium luxury product, there is some evidence that we’re in danger of the market rejecting the industry’s habit of huge price inﬂation, particularly now that China’s outlawing of gifting to or from state oﬃcials has hit the top end of the market so hard. One distiller I spoke to recently tried to sell its swanky new ‘super-premium’ no-aged whisky at £20,000 a bottle rather than the £10,000 its research suggested it could get, only to ﬁnd that it could only sell half of the 70 bottles produced. The result of their greed is plummeting values at auction and a compromised brand; their next product will surely have to be heavily discounted if it is to sell. The effects of predatory pricing aren’t only being felt at the top end of the market, with the rampant price inﬂation also being replicated at the bottom end, with the result that customers are now moving to other brown spirits, such as aged rums, which can be purchased at much more sensible prices. In Brazil, premium gins are supplanting whisky. If the industry isn’t careful, it will realise too late that the penalty for taking your customers for granted is, well, no customers…
YAMAZAKI 50YO This Japanese whisky was released by Suntory in 2005 priced at £7,400. When a bottle was auctioned in Hong Kong in October 2016 it sold for £100,000, making it the most expensive standard bottle ever to be sold at auction.
AMRUT GREEDY ANGELS CHAIRMAN’S RESERVE This 12yo limited edition release carried a price tag of £780 on its release last year, making it the oldest and most expensive Indian whisky ever.
2016 MICHTER’S CELEBRATION SOUR MASH 256 bottles of this American whisky were released last year with a price tag of almost £4,000. The bottle has 18-carat gold on the stopper and label.
20 | Queen Victoriaâ€™s love of whisky
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Queen Victoria’s love of Scotland is well documented, but along with this affection came a thirst for the country’s national drink which some found less than amusing Written by Ruth A Symes
n Saturday 13 September 1873, Queen Victoria took a carriage ride in the neighbourhood of Inverlochy Castle near Fort William. She was accosted by a ‘very respectable and stoutlooking old Highlander’ who proffered a small silver ‘quagh’ or quaich containing whisky. Once he had explained that the Queen’s beloved (and now long deceased) husband Albert had once drunk from the cup in 1847, the Queen felt she could ‘hardly refuse’ and her tasting of the whisky apparently ‘delighted’ the
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small group of people who were standing around. But despite her reticence, Queen Victoria usually needed little encouragement to drain a quaich. From her earliest visits to Balmoral, she developed a real taste for whisky, especially after she and Prince Albert visited the nearby Lochnagar Brewery in 1848. The place had been built by John Begg in 1845, after two previous attempts to build a distillery nearby had met disaster, one burning to the ground shortly before completion. Queen Victoria wrote in her journal that it had been a memorable visit, with the warmth of the malt no doubt adding a rosy hue to the panorama.
22 | Queen Victoria’s love of whisky
‘In the afternoon we drove with the three children and Miss Hildyard, getting out at Crathie and walking a little way up the hill to [the] Whiskey Distillery, which we looked at and then down to the carriage again, driving some miles on the road to Invercould. The whole way, the scenery was magniﬁcent and the lights upon the hills, and woods with the setting sun, beautiful.’ The Queen bestowed a royal warrant on the distillery that year – an honour which meant that the whiskies produced there could, from that point onwards, incorporate the word ‘Royal’ into their names. And Victoria’s favourite tipple in the years to come, it is said, was one of the distillery’s own – ‘Begg’s Best.’ The Queen was frequently presented with whisky by her tenants as she made short excursions around her Balmoral estate. On 5 October 1865, for example, she recorded that she had ridden out with ‘Baby [her youngest child Princess Beatrice] and Janie E. to the new little Shiel,’ near Lochnagar. This was a hunting lodge, newly-built for the Queen and yet to be furnished. Victoria was delighted when, ‘Planks were got together to make a seat and table for us, and the ﬁre was lit and tea made. ‘She went on to explain that as this was the ﬁrst ‘ﬁre kindling’ in the new house the occasion was marked by drinking a little whisky which was then also ‘sent round’ to the gillies who had presumably accompanied the royal party on their trek to the Shiel. On another occasion (9 October 1865), whisky was found necessary to countermand the awful Scottish weather. The royal party arrived at Loch Ordie after a two-and-a-half-hour trek in the pouring rain. The Queen recorded in her journal that it was dark and they were ‘dripping wet’. They ‘went into a Lodge and had tea and whiskey, and Lenchen [Princess Helena] had to have herself dried, she was so wet’. Another favourite stopping-off point for the royals was the so-called ‘Mr Fergusson’s Inn’ on the high road at the Brig o’Turk, which, Victoria wrote, ‘is the very poorest sort of Highland cottage’ Here lived Mrs Ferguson, a person who
CS05 Victoria and whisky.indd 22
The Queen drank whisky more publicly while carrying out royal duties seemed to hold a particular fascination for the Queen. She was ‘an enormously fat woman, a character who is quite rich and well-dressed, but will not leave the place in which she has lived all her life, selling whisky’. On a visit on 6 September 1869, this lady ‘was brought out and seemed delighted to see’ the Queen, shaking her ‘twice by the hand’. Victoria recorded that Mrs Ferguson was ‘very unwieldy and lame and walks with a crutch’, and though the royal party ‘only stopped a moment and then hurried home’, there is a real sense that this rather well-to-do whisky-selling lady impressed the Queen quite deeply. At other times, the Queen drank whisky more publicly whilst carrying out royal duties. When laying a stone as part of a Cairn on the Balmoral estate on 11 October 1852, for example, she recorded: ‘I placed a stone ﬁrst, then Albert, the children each according to their ages, the Ladies and Gentlemen, and then everybody present came with a stone in their hand, which they placed. Mc Kay played and whiskey was served round to all. The cairn took I am sure an hour to build up and while it was going on, some cheery reels were danced. It was a gay pretty sight. May God bless this place.’ And again on 8 September 1857, when Victoria and Albert opened a new bridge at the Linn of Dee, whisky was brought into play. ‘We started in Highland state (Albert in Royal Stewart Kilt, andc. — and I and the girls in do [ditto] skirts) with the girls, ladies, and gentlemen, for the Lynn of Dee, to open the new bridge there, in front of which a Triumphal Arch was erected. Ld
Cask and Still Magazine | 23 >>>
The Queen with John Brown, the gillie at Balmoral Estate.
CS05 Victoria and whisky.indd 23
24 | Queen Victoria’s love of whisky
Brown would encourage Victoria to swig with the epithet: ‘don’t stay thirsty!’ Fife and Mr Broke received us, and walked near the carriage, Pipers playing, and the road lined with Duff men. On the bridge we drank to its prosperity in whiskey.’ In spite of her own drinking proclivities, the Queen was characteristically ‘not amused’ by inebriation in the lower orders. In Dublin on 29 August 1861 she complained about an unruly alcohol-fuelled mob. ‘Immense crowd in the streets, which were in several places decorated with flags, and there was great cheering and shrieking, many dirty ragged people, running along near the carriage decidedly somewhat the worse for whisky,’ she wrote in her diary. But some observers were equally unimpressed with the Queen’s own increasing passion for whisky drinking. Her very close and somewhat peculiar relationship with ghillie John Brown in the 1860s and 1870s was, it has been suggested, conducted through an alcoholic haze. According to a recent biography of the Queen (A. N. Wilson, Victoria: A Life, 2014) , Brown would encourage Victoria to swig more, employing the frequent epithet: ‘don’t stay thirsty!’ As a result there were rumours in the 1870’s that the Queen’s handwriting – and, worse still, her judgment – were becoming impaired. In 1874, a good Templar Lodge near Sheffield (a temperance group) even ‘resolved to send the Queen a memorial [a petition] advising on the impropriety of her Majesty regaling with Whisky the Highlanders at Balmoral’ (York
CS05 Victoria and whisky.indd 24
Herald, 26 September 1874). Whether the Queen ever received this missive, or indeed responded to it, remains a matter for conjecture. Alcohol, in fact, continued to fortify Victoria right into her old age. When she was away from her royal residences in places where whisky was difficult or impossible to obtain, she always ensured that she had a plentiful supply. On 22 March 1888, The Dundee Courier, amongst other papers, reported under the heading ‘Her Majesty and Her Whisky’ that, on her forthcoming visit to Florence, ‘a whole trainload of luggage has preceded the Sovereign who also takes her own wines as well as her own whiskey’. For Victoria whisky was not simply a pleasant pick-me-up or pre-dinner drink. An intelligent and well-informed monarch, she understood that sales of whisky were potentially very important to the British economy as a source of tax revenue. In the 1891 budget, it was proposed that an extra duty on whisky be imposed, with the funds generated being used to pay the police force, to enable County Councils to buy up unnecessary drink licenses and to top up monies raised by local rates in England, Scotland and Ireland. In her journals she commented: ‘Scotchmen and Irishmen objected to the increase on whiskey and some members to the proposal to buy licenses, but the general feeling expressed was favourable to all the proposals. The resolution to impose 6d duty on whiskey was carried, as were also other formal ones.’ It’s possible that a malt was Victoria’s last drink. During her final illness in the winter of 1900-1901 she wrote that her physician, Sir Francis Laking, had advised that he thought that, in time, she should ‘get over this unpleasant dislike for food and squeamishness, as well as the great discomfort I suffer from’. Laking had apparently recommended that she took ‘a little milk and whiskey’ several times a day.’ No doubt the advice went down very well.
PAGE 22 - The Keasbury-Gordon Photograph Archive / Alamy, PAGE 25 - GL Archive/Alamy
Left: This Punch cartoon was a barely disguised sideswipe at Queen Victoria’s well-known penchant for a dram or three.
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26 | Whisky Cocktails
Feel like mixing it up? Six of the best whisky cocktails to wet your whistle
PERFECT ALDO FINZI
HOT PEPPER DAISY
35ml Jack Daniels;
37.5ml Bulleit Rye;
Glenmorangie; 12.5ml fresh lemon
20ml Celeriac & borage-infused
juice; 5ml Tia Maria; 20ml sage &
vermouth; 5ml Fernet; 5ml Patrรณn
25ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice;
grape cordial; 25ml egg white (1 egg)
XO; dash walnut bitters
20ml Bacon and pineapple syrup;
METHOD: Add all ingredients to
METHOD: Stir all ingredients
shaker and dry shake (without ice)
over a large cube of ice to dilute
METHOD: Shake all ingredients
to aerate the egg. Add ice and
to desired strength. Strain into a
with cubed ice. Strain into a chilled
shake again to mix well. Double
chilled coupette glass and garnish
coupette glass and garnish with a
strain into a chilled glass.
with a borage flower.
slice of beef jerky.
1 pinch Chipotle peppers
Cask and Still Magazine | 27
THE SUN ALSO RISES
LA NOUVELLE EVE
25ml Balvenie Caribbean Cask;
20ml Woodford Rye;
25ml Glenfiddich 12yr;
25ml Allspice syrup;
20ml Hennessey VS;
25ml Cocchi Amaro;
12.5ml Fresh squeezed lemon juice;
25ml Cold brew coffee;
12.5ml Punt a Mes;
20ml Rosehip cordial;
3 dashes Xocolatl Mole Bitters;
3 Dashes Peychaud Bitters
50ml Cold brew black tea
METHOD: Stir all ingredients in
METHOD: Shake all ingredients
a mixing glass with a large block
well with ice to mix. Double strain
a large block of ice until diluted
of ice until diluted to desired
into a tall Hiball glass over cubed
to desired strength. Strain into a
strength. Strain into a glass
ice. Garnish with a slice of dried
coffee percolator. Serve poured
medicine bottle and serve pouring
into a rocks glass, garnish with
into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish
with a slice of dried lemon.
5ml Sugar syrup METHOD: Stir all ingredients with
Our cocktails were made by Mike McGinty, general manager of The Voyage of Buck, Edinburgh, who won the inaugural International Patrón Perfectionist competition – effectively the cocktail world championships – in Mexico in January. www.thevoyageofbuckedinburgh.co.uk
28 | Whisky in Sweden
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Sweden has recently become one of Scotch’s ten top markets, and now also produces its own whiskies. Charles MacLean asks Swedish whisky guru Ingvar Ronde why his countrymen have taken so enthusiastically to uisge beatha Written by Charles MacLean
nvar Ronde’s Malt Whisky Yearbook is essential reading for anyone interested in malt whisky. Now in its tenth year, it provides what it says on the cover: an annual update of ‘the facts, the people, the news, the stories’. I have known Ingvar since 2007. When I met him recently I asked him about the success of whisky in Sweden, which is among the top ten markets for Scotch as well as having its own burgeoning whisky industry. WHEN DID SWEDES BECOME KEEN ON WHISKY? First, we have to realise that Sweden is traditionally part of the aquavit and vodka drinking cluster of European countries, although there is evidence of Scotch whisky being sold in Sweden from the early 19th century.
30 | Whisky in Sweden
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that whisky became fashionable in the larger cities, where well-off people would enjoy it mixed with tonic and sometimes spiced up with lemon and sugar. In the 1960s, many Swedes were captivated by British TV shows where the characters would often pour a dram after coming home from work. At the same time, Swedes started travelling abroad and often brought home a bottle of Chivas Regal. The love of Scotch grew and when the interest in Scotch single malt spread like a wildﬁre around the world, the Swedes were among the ﬁrst to catch on. In Sweden, if you share the same interest – whether in cars, stamps or whisky – there is a tradition of organising clubs where you can get together with like-minded people. This has helped to develop interest in whisky hugely. Today there are around 400 such clubs, with a total of 14,000 members around the country.
Below: Ingvar Ronde with Robert Fleming from Tomintoul. Right: BOX Distillery.
Scotch spread like wildfire and the Swedes were among the first to catch on WHICH WHISKIES ARE MOST POPULAR? When I travel in Scotland, I am always asked the same question: ‘What is it with you Swedes and peated whisky? You seem to be obsessed with it!’ It is true that many Swedes (and also people from the rest of Scandinavia) love the smoky whiskies – perhaps it has something to do with our northern climate, or our love of ﬂavourful food like pickled herring. But this love of peat is conﬁned to the more experienced 10% of consumers. The majority of drinkers prefer a smooth whisky which is light in style: two of the most popular whiskies here are Canadian, while Irish whiskey is also very popular. In relation to Scotch, The Famous Grouse and Bell’s are the top blends, while Glen Grant and Laphroaig are the leading malts. Very contrasting ﬂavours. WHAT ABOUT SWEDISH WHISKY? If we disregard an early attempt to produce whisky in the 1960s, Swedish whisky started with the foundation of Mackmyra Distillery in 1999. The idea was conceived when a group of friends from university got together on a ski trip and found that they shared an interest in whisky. So, rather than originating
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400 There are around 400 whisky clubs in Sweden
To date, only four Swedish distilleries are releasing widely available whiskies
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Cask and Still Magazine | 33
Enthusiasm and love of whisky came first, followed by the business model from a clear business model, it was the love of the product that ignited the process. This rather unusual way of starting a business can also be seen in several subsequent distillery foundations: enthusiasm and love of whisky came ﬁrst, followed by the business model. IS THERE A DISTINCT SWEDISH STYLE OF WHISKY? Many people say there is, but to me Swedish whisky reminds me a lot of Scotch, and the production methods that are used mostly reﬂect those in Scotland. Having said that, you can detect certain unusual notes in some whiskies that are probably derived from using Swedish oak, or adding plants like juniper or kelp to the peat ﬁre when malting the barley. HOW HAS SWEDISH WHISKY BEEN RECEIVED IN THE HOME MARKET? AND OVERSEAS? To date, only four distilleries are releasing widely available whiskies – Mackmyra, Box, Smögen and Hven. With few exceptions, their products have been well received by enthusiasts, some of them selling out in seconds. On the other hand, the majority of Swedish consumers still seem to prefer the classic Scotch brands. So far, Swedish whiskies have only become available in selected European, North American and Asian markets. We are still talking small volumes but the reaction from the experienced drinkers seems to indicate that they are recognising Swedish whisky as high quality spirit, although sometimes a bit youthful in style. We have to remember that the vast majority of Swedish whisky on the market is still around five years old.
SWEDISH DISTILLERIES B Mackmyra Svensk Whisky (est. 1999; output 150,000 litres per annum). The best-known Swedish malt comes in two styles: one fruity and elegant, the other smoked over juniper wood and bog moss. Single casks are selected by the Master Blender, Angela D’Orazio, as well as seasonal expressions. Spirit of Hven (est. 2007; output 15,000 litres per annum). Hven is an island in the Baltic. Owner Henric Molin is a chemist and uses his tiny distillery as a laboratory in which to explore flavour. His whiskies were all limited releases until 2015. Box Destilleri (est. 2010; output 100,000 litres per annum). Located in a former 19th century box factory (hence the name), Box releases both peated and unpeated styles. The first uses Swedish malt, the second Belgian malt dried over Islay peat. Roger Melander, the distillery manager, seeks a light style of spirit. Smögen Whisky (est. 2010; output 35,000 litres per annum). The brainchild of lawyer and whisky enthusiast Pär Caldenby, Smögen explores different cask types and levels of peating to produce limited releases in different styles.
WHAT OF THE FUTURE? I’m sure there is a bright future for some Swedish distilleries, especially those run by people with a deep knowledge of whisky making. They all put quality ﬁrst, and are not prepared to take any short cuts to achieve their goals. Others will, I’m afraid, realise that the capital needed to endure the ﬁrst diﬃcult three or four years of production exceeds any budget or plan they’ve made – a few have already closed. But this is no different from whisky production in other countries. The diﬃculties for most new whisky makers arise when they move from their home market and have to face a world with huge competition from well-established companies. The key to success here, apart from a top quality product, is distribution. If Swedish producers can ally with distributors who are able to make their products visible and available, then I think Swedish whisky will have a solid reputation on the world market in ten years time.
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DISTILLED ON THE INVIGORATING SHORES OF SANDEND BAY Exposed to the North Sea air, our award-winning* Glenglassaugh Single Malt Scotch Whisky slowly matures in the coastal warehouses of our distillery, re-awakened in 2008 after more than 20 years of silence.
EXPERIENCE FULLY, DRINK RESPONSIBLY © 2017 Glenglassaugh is a registered trademark, all rights reserved. *Category winning products in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2015 & 2016
Cask and Still Magazine | 35
whisky by numbers Impress your friends with these facts and figures on Swedish whisky
KR Sweden pays the highest tax rate on alcohol of any EU member
The legal drinking age in Swedish bars is 18, but you must be 20 to buy alcohol in shops
£27 MILLION In 2015 Scotland exported almost 1.9 million litres of whisky to Sweden, with a value of almost £27 million
2008 The first regular bottled whisky in Sweden, The First Edition, was launched in 2008 by Mackmyra distillery
Single malts make up 52% of all Scotch imports to Sweden
BOX distillery in Adalen, Sweden is the most northerly distillery in the world
ADALEN Sweden’s four hundred whisky clubs have around 14,000 members
36 | Whisky guru
Cask and Still Magazine | 37
Beautiful SCIENCE Ten years ago amateur photographer Ernie Button found something beautiful at the bottom of an empty whisky glass
Written by Hermione Lister-Kaye
t happened completely by accident. One morning, as amateur photographer Ernie Button carried two drained whisky glasses to the dishwasher after they had been left out overnight after an evening dram, he noticed something in the bottom of the glass. ‘When I held a glass up to the light there were these fine, delicate lines in the bottom,’ says Ernie, from Phoenix, Arizona. ‘Later I took it into the studio to see whether I could capture it effectively on camera – that is how it all began.’ That was over a decade ago and since then Ernie has photographed hundreds of different whiskies in this way. ‘At first I used only white lighting to illuminate these patterns, but they came out very dull,’ says Ernie. ‘However, photographing them under coloured lights really brought the images to life.’ When Ernie attempted this technique on other alcohols, it did not work. ‘I did some crude experiments on un-aged whiskies and other spirits and nothing was visible to the naked eye,’ explains Ernie. ‘It was then that I realised this phenomenon is completely unique to cask aged whiskies.’
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80 West Bow, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 226 7667 www.thebowbar.co.uk
Cask and Still Magazine | 39
The explanation for this intricate patterning is that when a whisky is aged in a cask, it absorbs organic elements from the wood. When a glass is drained, the remaining whisky residue evaporates very quickly due to its high alcohol content and what is left behind is this organic matter. When other fluids dry, particles are pushed to the edge and will form a ring, whereas an aged whisky dries leaving an even coating across the surface of the glass. A Speyside whisky drinker himself, Ernie has looked for patterns between different whiskies and whiskies from different regions of Scotland. ‘There was a point in the early days of the project when I thought Islay whiskies were a bit more temperamental and harder to produce, however there are so many other variables, such as the time of year, quantity of liquid in the glass and imperfections in the glass itself, it is very hard to spot a correlation – but I think not,’ says Ernie. ‘Every glass is slightly different, even if it is the same whisky – a little like a snowflake.’
Upon his discovery, Ernie contacted Princeton University’s Complex Fluids Group who, on further experimentation and comparison, confirmed that aged whisky is in fact unique in its consistent coating. This could possibly be a very significant discovery for the paint and 3D modelling industries for whom the whole premise is to create a product which will coat evenly. ‘It has been a very interesting project, the fact that a seemingly clear liquid can leave these lines and patterns in the bottom of a glass with such regularity is fascinating,’ says Ernie. ‘I really owe this project to my wife and her father as they are the whisky drinkers in the family and got me into it,’ he says.
40 | A bluffer’s guide to...
Written by: Blair Bowman
A BLUFFER ’S GUI D E TO..
Wood & casks
Do you know your butt from your hogshead? It is often said that it is the ‘wood that makes
it can legally be called whisky. So that’s not
the whisky’ but there is so much more to it
too complicated – let’s move on to where it
than that. In certain quarters it is said that around 70 per cent of the final flavour of the whisky comes from the cask. There are strict rules governing the way whisky casks are used to mature whisky. There are lots of different types of casks that whisky can be matured in, and these are often described on the label of the whisky. For example, you may have heard of hogsheads, sherry butts or quarter casks. In the relevant legislation (Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009), it is specified that Scotch whisky must be matured in oak casks that are
SCOTCH WHI S KY MUST BE MATURED I N OAK CASKS THAT ARE NO LARGER THAN 700 LI T RES I N SI Z E
starts to get a bit more interesting. There are two main species of oak used to mature whisky, although some distilleries are experimenting with other oak species. The most common are quercus robur and quercus alba. These are often referred to as European oak (q. robur) and American oak (q. alba). European oak has traditionally been used to make sherry casks, while by law American oak must be used to mature bourbon and can only be used once. For us canny Scots, this means that there is a good steady supply of ex-bourbon casks to mature Scotch whisky in.
no larger than 700 litres in size and that the
It is said that over 90 per cent of all the casks
spirit must be matured for three years before
maturing in Scotland are ex-bourbon casks.
Cask and Still Magazine | 41
CASK SIZE When it comes to whisky maturation, cask size really matters. GORDA (700 LITRES) A huge cask, typically used for marrying different whiskies but occasionally used to mature whisky. MADEIRA DRUM (650 LITRES) Short, fat and wide barrel used in the Madeira wine industry. Occasionally used to ‘finish’ whisky. PORT PIPE (650 LITRES) Tall and thin. Used to mature Port wine but also used for ‘finishing’ in the whisky industry. BUTT (500 LITRES) Tall and narrow, with a tapered shape. Butts are used in the sherry industry in Spain. Butts are the common type of sherry cask used in the whisky industry. PUNCHEON (500 LITRES) Either short and fat or narrow and tapered, like the sherry butt, puncheons are typically used by the rum and sherry industries but are also used to ‘finish’ whiskies.
FILL ME UP
BARRIQUE (300 LITRES) Very common in the wine industry. They are held together with wooden strips, rather than the metal hoops you usually see. Used for ‘wine finish’ whiskies. HOGSHEAD (225 LITRES) Typically a hogshead is ‘re-made’ in Scotland by coopers who are effectively enlarging a standard barrel (see below). They are by far and away the most widely used cask for maturing whisky. BARREL (200 LITRES) Barrels are made in the USA from American oak (q. alba). US laws dictate that they can not be reused once the bourbon has been bottled. QUARTER CASK (50 LITRES) As it sounds, a quarter of the size of a standard barrel. The small size increases the contact between the spirit and the wood, thus encouraging a more rapid maturation. BLOOD TUB (40 LITRES) Originally designed to be carried on horseback. They are most commonly used in the brewing industry but occasionally used to mature special editions of whisky.
Confusingly, most sherry casks used in
Do you know your first fill from your rejuvenated cask? With each subsequent re-fill the cask will impart less character from the initial contents (sherry/bourbon etc). One analogy is that it is like reusing a tea bag to make several cups of tea. With each cup the tea bag will give off less flavour. FIRST FILL The first time the cask has been used to mature whisky. For example, if a fresh sherry cask, straight from Spain, was filled with new make spirit it would be first fill. SECOND FILL The second time a cask has been used to mature whisky. So if the same cask described above was emptied and bottled and then refilled with new make spirit this would be its second filling. THIRD FILL Third fill, as described above but the third time. REJUVENATED CASK An exhausted cask that has undergone a ‘dechar, re-char’. This is where the inside of the cask is scraped away, to expose ‘fresh’ wood. It is then re-charred, to impart more flavour from the wood into the new make spirit.
whisky drinkers, oak casks represent the ideal
Scotland to mature whisky are made from
recepticle in which to mature whisky.
European oak and have been ‘seasoned’ with
Going back even further, crofters would
sherry for a short period before being sent to
turn their surplus barley crop into spirit. They
Scotland. Today, the sherry industry prefers to
would use it to trade with, drink themselves
use American oak in the production of sherry
or they would store any surplus in whatever
and it is very hard to extract these American
barrels they had available. These barrels could
oak sherry butts from bodegas.
have previously contained anything from
You may wonder why it is that oak is the chosen wood? Well, if we go back a couple of hundred years barrels were the cardboard boxes of their day. These wooden receptacles were usually made of oak because it produces durable and watertight casks. In Scotland, oak trees are not particularly common, although there was an abundance of casks that formerly held a variety of different things. For
OVER 90 PER CENT OF ALL CASKS MATURI N G I N SCOTLAND ARE EX-BOURBON
herring to butter or nails. No one knows exactly when it happened but at some point someone probably discovered an old cask at the back of a shed that had been left to sit longer than usual, and realised that the once fiery, rough tasting spirit now tasted much more mellow and flavourful, and thus whisky maturation was discovered.
42 | Whisky Hero
dreaming A flamboyant American scientist and inventor is changing the face of whisky, one innovation at a time... Written by Blair Bowman
o distiller in the world is the capacity to enhance or reduce certain redeﬁning whisky like Bryan ﬂavour compounds in the spirit. For example, Davis. Part showman, wacky if you wanted to increase the fruitiness of a scientist and razor-sharp whisky by 5-10%, the Lost Spirits Company businessman, the largertechnology could do this. Likewise, they than-life Californian is in the process of could tone down certain ﬂavour compounds. changing the world of distilling forever. Nor is he ﬁnished there; Davis has dozens of Davis founded The Lost Spirits Company experiments going on at any one time. in 2010 and since then it has become famous As well as his successful spirit-aging for its radical and innovative approach to company he also runs a standalone distillery in distillation. An inventor and distiller, Davis Los Angeles which is open to the public and has invented a process that rapidly speeds which he describes as ‘the Jurassic Park up the aging process of spirits by forcing of Whisky’. In this remarkable building the spirit into the wood of the cask visitors can experience what Davis calls to produce what he refers to as ‘time his molecular-gastronomy approach to machine whiskies’. distilling. Davis wants to be distilling’s It’s a revolutionary technique answer to The Fat Duck or Noma; which has been reﬁned over several he says his customers can expect to years and which can now make the have a distilling experience on a par equivalent of a 20-year-old whisky or with dining at a Michelin-starred ﬁne rum in as little as six days. In an age dining restaurant. where there is a supposed shortage of But it’s not just about the taste. aged stock it is easy to see why this is Davis is a showman who serves up a so ground-breaking. Davis predicts real sensory experience for visitors. that in 20 years’ time most of us For instance, bits of his distillery will be drinking whiskies that tour are conducted in total Davis are just a week old but which darkness, while at other times taste like they have been visitors have to board a boat if can make matured for 20 years. they want to access certain a 20-year-old This is just the parts of the distillery. It’s a start for Davis. His long way from Speyside, whisky in 6 days technology also has in every sense.
Cask and Still Magazine | 43
Image: Davis’s revolutionary technique forces spirit into the cask’s wood, producing what he calls ‘time machine whiskies’. ©NIC COURY
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Unit 1, 15 Pitreavie Court, Dunfermline, Scotland KY11 8UU
Cask and Still Magazine | 45 >>>
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
46 | Connoisseurâ€™s Selection
TAMDHU BATCH STRENGTH #002 51.95
MANAGER, THE CARNEGIE WHISKY CELLARS AT DORNOCH
www.thecarnegiecourthouse.co.uk/ whisky-cellars Michael has worked for ten years in the industry in the Lowlands, heading north last year to manage the new Carnegie Whisky Cellars in Dornoch Michael highlights his favourite Speyside whiskies.
SELECTED BY MIKE
This is a full on cask
INCHGOWER 20 YEAR OLD 77.95
strength sherry cask whisky that hits all the
spots. This is the second
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
batch and it is just as
Inchgower has an unusually short fermentation time of around 50 hours, which creates nutty character in their spirit. NOSE: Cinnamon sticks with nutmeg and candy cane sweetness leads to gentle strawberries and cream. PALATE: Brazil nuts with lingering sweetness, lots of ripe fruits with a spicy undertone. FINISH: Medium finish
good as the first which is a sign of real class. NOSE: The nose starts with cracked pepper encrusted raisins and chocolate orange coated with salted caramel. PALATE: The palate is brandy soaked raisins and sultanas. Rum and raisin chocolate. FINISH: Lots of long lingering tingling spice with chocolate tangerines.
with roasted almonds, gently ginger tones and freshly baked apple crumble.
LINKWOOD 25 106
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
A hidden gem amongst the Diageo family, easier to find as an independent bottling rather than
OWNER, THE WHISKY SHOP DUFFTOWN
www.whiskyshopdufftown.com 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.
official. A great value dram. NOSE: Floral notes lead to a sweet sherry influence. This sweetness carries throughout this whisky, with lovely gentle spices and toasted malt. PALATE: Dark chocolate with orange peel. Spices begin to emerge and lead to butter cream. Sweet peppers barbequed over oak smoke as it ends. FINISH: Spicy sherry oak develops into Dundee cake and continues to develop through a super long finish. An exceptional dram.
Cask and Still Magazine | 47
MANNOCHMORE 25 YEARS OLD 275
SELECTED BY MIKE
One of the 2016 special releases and it is amazing that there are still bottles of this complex thinking person’s dram. It’s not cheap but it is great for a special occasion dram but don’t add water. NOSE: Almond slices on hot fruit cake on an oak table on a warm day. Then blackcurrant, dark rum and bounty bars. A nose to get lost in. PALATE: Chewy, spicy and all things nice. Warm mulled spiced rum and caramel latte. FINISH: Long, long warm fruit cake and wood shavings.
GLEN MORAY CLASSIC SHERRY CASK FINISH 28.95
SELECTED BY MIKE
This is a really nice any time whisky to
BENROMACH 10 YEAR OLD 34.95
support a conversation with friends
SELECTED BY MICHAEL
and has enough complexity to keep
A great introduction to peat and
you going to the end of the bottle.
sherry finishing. Matured eight
What’s more, Glen Moray are lowering
years in bourbon barrels, one year
the price of their Classic range –
in fino with the final year in oloroso.
unheard of! NOSE: The nose starts soft
NOSE: Enticing peat with sweet Christmas cake, hints of stewed
and mellow. Juicy tropical
fruits and strawberry jam.
fruit cocktail develops.
PALATE: Peat to start with which
PALATE: The taste is all about gooey, creamy apricot tarts with a background sherry note. FINISH: The finish is warmingly mellow and long. Yum!
fades to gentle warming spices, toffee apples, raisins and subtle vanilla towards the end. FINISH: A long, lingering finish with layers of peat, spices and sweet vanilla notes.
48 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Lowland GORDON AND MACPHAIL BLADNOCH 1993 107
DOUGLAS LAING OLD PARTICULAR AUCHENTOSHAN 18 YEAR OLD
A wonderful independent
A beautiful single cask Auchentoshan bottled
bottling of Bladnoch by
by Douglas Laing. Matured for 18 years in a
Gordon and Macphail.
virgin oak hogshead cask.
Matured in refill sherry hogsheads.
NOSE: Very fresh and tropical, with candied
NOSE: Light and floral, delicate
sweetness, crushed pineapple and peaches.
green fruit with a malty edge.
PALATE: Juicy and sweet, with more tropical
PALATE: Peppery with crisp
fruit coming through. Oily with a touch of
green apples and sweet fudge
FINISH: Medium to long with the sweetness
FINISH: Medium to long,
fading to a drier oak finish.
hints of dark chocolate and hazelnuts.
GLENKINCHIE 2004 DISTILLERS EDITION 55.99
An amontillado sherry cask finish from a classic Lowland distillery. NOSE: Initial delicate floral and fruited notes lead to sweeter sherry and orange marmalade. PALATE: Light spice, chewy toffee apples and sweet barley. FINISH: A soft finish with more sweet barley and subtle pepper spice.
Nick Sullivan OWNER & MANAGER,
ABERDEEN WHISKY SHOP
Nick oversees the smooth running of The Aberdeen Whisky Shop on the west end of the city’s Union Street. His top three Lowland picks can be found among an enormous range of whiskies, including several highly collectable bottles.
Cask and Still Magazine | 49
Islay LAPHROAIG LORE 89.75
Laphroaig Lore, the richest
A heavily peated Islay single malt from Ian
ever Laphroaig. Lore, means
the passing of a skill or tradition
NOSE: The flavour is fresh, fruity and
through word of mouth. A heavily
immense, with notes of sherry, iodine, coffee
peated whisky matured in exLaphroaig barrels along with some fully
and sea salt all fighting for first place.
sherry matured casks.
PALATE: Peaty smoke, ashy charcoal, seaweed, grapefruit zest, honey, vanilla
NOSE: Rich and smoky with seaside minerals
and dried fruit.
and a hint of ash and bitter chocolate drops.
FINISH: Cocoa, honey, peaty charcoal
Vanilla follows with oily chestnuts and a hint
smoke, salty seaweed and a slight
of fudge. A drop of water adds a creamy
clotted cream note with fruit appearing in the form of unripe citrus in a flan glaze on the nose. PALATE: Richly peaty with a spicy chilli bite on the palate. FINISH: Short, dry finish and a long sweet aftertaste finish.
BOWMORE DARKEST 15 YO 64.99
This Bowmore has a beautiful burnt sienna dark colour and is finished in a sherry cask. NOSE: On the nose dark chocolate and raisin aromas compliment the classic Bowmore smokiness. PALATE: Wonderful cedar wood and rich treacle toffee flavours. FINISH: The finish is robust and warming with a hint of sherry tannin.
RETAIL SALES MANAGER, GORDON & MACPHAIL, ELGIN
Responsible for running Elginâ€™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.
50 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Highland DEVERON 12YO 37.49
SELECTED BY EWAN
Distilled at the MacDuff Distillery in Banff. Currently owned by Bacardi and in the charge of John Dewar & sons. NOSE: Sweet and creamy with a suggestion of nuts. Toffee notes and a hint of green apple and ginger. PALATE: Cereal, creamy, malty and sweet. A hint of butterscotch and salted spice. Well balanced. FINISH: Soft and gently, wood and oak
GLENMORANGIE BACALTA PRIVATE EDITION 85
SELECTED BY EWAN
Bacalta is Gaelic for ‘baked’. Initially in bourbon casks and finished in Malmsey Madeira Wine casks. NOSE: Stone fruits, apricots and honey. Digestive biscuits, white chocolate and a very subtle acidic and balsamic taste. PALATE: Complex in taste; creamy toffee, rich ‘baked’ fruits, honey pear and a hint of marzipan. FINISH: Rich caramel, creamy fudge, citrus and pear notes. A subtle hint of menthol and a medium finish.
with a touch of vanilla and more salted spice.
TOMATIN 18YO 77.95
SELECTED BY EWAN
A wonderful expression from Tomatin Distillery, established in 1897. Finished in Spanish oloroso sherry butts. Natural colour, non-chill filtered. NOSE: Warm, rich sherry notes with a hint of vanilla and honey. A very subtle spice sneaks a peak. PALATE: Warm, rich and soft. Vanilla, spices, touches of dark chocolate, orange and oats. FINISH: Long and slightly drying with hints of spice and pepper.
Cask and Still Magazine | 51
STRONACHIE 10 YO 35
SELECTED BY EUAN
This is a fruit bomb of a whisky if ever there was one! Distilled at Benrinnes and bottled by independent bottling company A. D. Rattray. NOSE: Pears, mangos, bananas
and butterscotch. PALATE: Mellow with pepper spice, more tropical fruits and honey. FINISH: Wonderfully well-
OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY
balanced and long.
www.robertsonsofpitlochry. 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 whiskies, but none finer than these Highland drams.
GLENDRONACH 18 69
LEDAIG 1996 VINTAGE 95
SELECTED BY EUAN
SELECTED BY EUAN
If you like your whisky matured
A peated whisky from Tobermory
in first fill oloroso casks then
bottled in 2015. Finished in
look no further. Glendronach 18
oloroso casks for that perfect
is a luxuriously indulgent dram.
balance of peat and sherry.
NOSE: Rich sherry notes,
NOSE: Peat, iodine and a
cooked fruits, cherries and caramel. PALATE: Dry and spicy with almonds, chocolate and espresso. FINISH: Dark chocolate and coffee coat the mouth endlessly.
coastal freshness. PALATE: Big notes of lemon and limes, salt, Cuban cigars and smoked fish. FINISH: Salty with distant bonfire smoke.
OWNER, OBAN WHISKY AND FINE WINES
Owner of Oban Whisky and Fine Wines and Whiskyfix. com, Euan has been passionate about single malt whisky ever since he visited Islay as a teenager. Here are his picks of the best Highland drams.
52 | Connoisseur’s Selection
ISLE OF SKYE 8 YEAR OLD 18.99
Blended and created by the owners of Tamdhu, Ian Macleod create a lovely and, dare I say it, ‘entry-level’ whisky which is matured to the old recognised age for many malt whiskies.
OLD PERTH BLENDED MALT 27
SELECTED BY CRAIG
NOSE: A sit round the campfire style, with
willow the wisp threads of peat on the nose.
SELECTED BY CHRIS
PALATE: Easy drinking – creamy and spicy.
What makes Old Perth Blended Malt
Works well as a pre-dinner whisky.
of a superior quality to a typical
FINISH: Definite oak with an almost
‘blended Scotch whisky’ is the use of
only malt whiskies in the blend. NOSE: Barley malt and hints of spice alongside candy floss and toffee apples. PALATE: A rich flavoured and malty dram revealing banoffe pie, buttery caramel and runny honey balanced elegantly with a mature oakiness. FINISH: A finish of soft oak and vanilla candy merges with a lingering and warming spice.
YULA CHAPTER II 125
SELECTED BY CRAIG
Whilst presentation shouldn’t sell whiskies, the spirit within should. However, this delivers on both counts. Only 900 bottles of Yula Chapter II exist. NOSE: The nose is very complex, with whiffs of peat smoke that can transport you to a cosy bothy on the side of a Scottish mountainside. PALATE: Definite campfire, with charred oak wood, and BBQ cooked food. Heavy but smooth heading into the finish. FINISH: Butterscotch sweet drops, hard candy and cough sweets are all prominent on the finish.
Cask and Still Magazine | 53
COMPASS BOX HEDONISM 65
SELECTED BY CHRIS
A thrilling combination of eight to 15-year-old grain whiskies from Cambus and Cameron Bridge distilleries with the majority of the spirit coming from first fill American oak. NOSE: Subtle yet rich with cocoa butter, white chocolate, oak vanilla and mandarin orange. PALATE: Get in on the palate and you discover a fullness and roundness with richly textured flavours of vanilla cream, coconut and toffee. FINISH: The finish lingers perfectly and extremely gently. Chapeau to Compass box for this epic creation.
SCALLYWAG CASK STRENGTH BATCH #2 49.99
WHISKY BUYER, THE GREEN WELLY STOP, TYNDRUM
www.thegreenwellystop. co.uk Starting back in 2007, Craig’s love for whisky has grown from creating content on the business website, to having the responsibility of choosing whisky for The Green Welly Stop’s own releases online and in the shop.
SELECTED BY CRAIG
This Speyside blend consists of Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes amongst others. NOSE: Orange marmalade and dare I say it – mead. PALATE: Apple crumble and cinnamon covered custard with prominent vanilla flavours. FINISH: Popcorn caked in dark chocolate, with a luscious and long fruity end.
CAMPBELTOWN LOCH 21YO 80
SELECTED BY CHRIS
What a cracking release, this is from Springbank – with a makeup of 60 per cent Springbank malt and 40 per cent Girvan grain. Seek it out! NOSE: A multi-layered nose with apricot, orange peel, Christmas pudding, brandy butter and a touch of smoke. PALATE: Even more complex on the palate with soft flavours of orange, sweet, spiced dried fruit, toffee and chocolate. FINISH: Pleasingly dry and crisp on the finish with incredible length. Pour yourself another one
CHRIS LOCKETT, OWNER AT LOCKETT BROS
www.lockettbros.co.uk Chris opened wine and whisky merchants Lockett Bros in North Berwick in 2004 after returning from his travels through Australia and New Zealand, sampling the best of the grape along the way. With a wide selection of vodka, gin and whisky to boot.
Albannach Einnseanair Ltd TM TM TM
T: 01236 897210 E: email@example.com
Shuttle Shuttle Bus Bus from Edinburgh from Edinburgh Shuttle Bus
Industrial/Commercial Refrigeration Engineers Service, Maintenances, Installation & Repair Supply & install all Refrigeration Equipment
Glenkinchie operates daily minibus Glenkinchie operates operates daily daily minibus minibus Glenkinchie services from Edinburgh. services services from from Edinburgh. Edinburgh. Glenkinchie operates daily£22.00 minibus Transport and Tour from Transport andfrom TourEdinburgh. from £22.00 £22.00 services Transport and Tour from Call the distillery now on Call the distillery now on Transport and Tour from £22.00 Call the342 distillery 01875 012 tonow book.on Glenkinchie operates daily minibus 01875 342 342 012 to book. book. 01875 012 to
from Edinburgh Shuttle Bus from Edinburgh
25 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE WHISKY TRADE
services from Edinburgh. Call the distillery now on 01875 342 012 to book. Transport and Tour from £22.00 Home
of the Edinburgh Malt. Enjoy our exceptional exhibition with its renowned model distillery, followed by a guided tour through our production area and the observation room inside our warehouse to experience ‘the angels’ share’, JANUARY - FEBRUARY finishing in our tasting JANUARY -- FEBRUARY JANUARY FEBRUARY Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm JANUARY - FEBRUARY room for a dram. Mon -- Sun: 10am Last Mon tour: Sun:3pm 10am -- 4pm 4pm
Call the distillery now on 01875 342 012 to book.
Shuttle Bus Shuttle from Bus Edinburgh from Edinburgh Glenkinchie operates daily minibus
servicesdaily fromminibus Edinburgh. Glenkinchie operates services from Edinburgh. Transport and Tour from £22.00
Transport and Tour £22.00 Call thefrom distillery now on 01875 342 012 to book.
Call the distillery now on 01875 342 012 to book.
Home of the Edinburgh Home of of the the Edinburgh Edinburgh Home Malt. Enjoy ourEdinburgh Home of the Malt. Enjoy our Malt. Enjoy our exceptional exhibition Mon tour: - Sun:3pm 10am - 4pm Malt. Enjoy our Last Last 3pm exceptional exhibition exceptional exhibition We have a wide selection of single malt Scotch whiskies, many Last tour: tour: 3pm with its renowned model exceptional exhibition MARCH - OCTOBER with its its renowned renowned model model MARCH OCTOBER with MARCH OCTOBER distillery, Mon - Sun:---10am - 5pm with itsfollowed renownedby model are very old and extremely rare. MARCH OCTOBER Home of the Edinburgh JANUARY - FEBRUARY distillery, followed by Mon Sun: 10am 5pm Last tour: 4pm followed byby Mon -- Sun: 10am---5pm 5pm distillery, followed Mon Sun: 10am adistillery, guided through Mon - Sun: 10am 4pm Malt. Enjoy our tour Last tour: tour: 4pm 4pm a guided guided tour through Last Please note: We will be unable to offer Last tour:Last 3pm tour: 4pm a tour through aproduction guided tour through our area and exceptional exhibition NOVEMBER Please note: We will be unable totooffer tours of the distillery in January due our Please note: willunable be unable to offer ourour production area and Please note: We We will be to offer GORDON & MACPHAIL RETAIL SHOP NOVEMBER our production production areaand and tours ofmaintenance the distillery inprogramme, January due to our annual however with itsthe renowned modelarea observation room NOVEMBER NOVEMBER & tours of the distillery in January due to our tours of the distillery in January due to our MARCH - DECEMBER OCTOBER annual maintenance programme, however please call to book one of ourhowever special options the observation room & DECEMBER 58-60 SOUTH STREET, ELGIN, SCOTLAND IV30 1JX annual maintenance programme, annual maintenance programme, however the observation room DECEMBER thefollowed observation &&10am DECEMBER Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm distillery, by room Mon - 5pm inside our warehouse to - Sun: please call to book one ofspecial our special options for January (Manager’s Tasting, Warehouse please call to book one of our options please call to book one of our special options Mon -- Sun: Sun: 10am---4pm 4pm inside our warehouse toto tour:Last Mon Sun:3pm 10am for January (Manager’s Tasting, Warehouse Last 4pm tour: T | + 44(0)1343 545110 E | firstname.lastname@example.org WhiskyTasting, & Food Matching) inside our warehouse Mon 10am 4pm forExperience, January (Manager’s Warehouse inside our warehouse to a guided tour through for January (Manager’s Tasting, Warehouse experience ‘the angels’ Experience, Whisky & Food Matching) Last tour: 3pm Experience, Whisky & Food Matching) Last tour: tour: 3pm Experience, Whisky & Food Matching) Last 3pm Please note: We will be unable to offer experience angels’ experience ‘the angels’ our production area‘the and experience ‘the angels’ WWW.GORDONANDMACPHAIL.COM NOVEMBER share’, finishing in our tours of the distillery in January due to our Pencaitland, Tranent, share’, finishing our share’, finishing ininour our annual maintenance programme, however the observation room & DECEMBER share’, finishing in tasting room for a dram. Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET please call to book one of our special options East Lothian EH34 5ET tasting room dram. Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm tasting room for a adram. dram. Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET inside our warehouse tofor Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ETWarehouse for January (Manager’s Tasting, WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/GORDONMACPHAILRETAILSHOP tasting room for a 01875 342012 Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET experience ‘the angels’ share’, finishing in our tasting room for a dram. 216W x216W 303HxGLK.indd 1 303H GLK.indd 1
x 303H GLK.indd 1 Home of the Edinburgh JANUARY -216W FEBRUARY 216W x 303H GLK.indd 1 Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm Malt. Enjoy our Last -tour: 3pm Home of exceptional the Edinburgh JANUARY FEBRUARY exhibition Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm Malt. Enjoy our with its renowned model 216W x 303H GLK.indd 1 MARCH OCTOBER Last tour: 3pm exceptional exhibition distillery, followed by Mon - Sun: 10am - 5pm Last tour: 4pm with its renowned model a guided tour through MARCH - OCTOBER distillery,our followed by area and Mon - Sun: 10am - 5pm production NOVEMBER a guided tour through roomLast tour: 4pm the observation
For that special gift...
Last tour: 3pm 01875 342012 342012 01875 01875 342012 Experience, Whisky & Food Matching) email@example.com 01875 342012 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET 01875 342012 firstname.lastname@example.org
18/11/2016 18/11/2016 15:56 15:56
18/11/2016 15:56 18/11/2016 15:56
Please note: We will be unable to offer tours of the distillery in January due to our annual maintenance programme, however please call to book one of our special options
at the epicentre of the ‘Malt Whisky Universe’ & DECEMBER
note: We will be unable to offer Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm Please our production and inside area our warehouse to for January (Manager’s NOVEMBER tours of the distillery in January due Tasting, to our Warehouse Experience, Whisky & however Food Matching) Last tour: 3pm annual maintenance programme, the observation room & DECEMBER experience ‘the angels’ please call to book one of our special options Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm inside ourshare’, warehouse to in our finishing for January (Manager’s Tasting, Warehouse Experience, Whisky & Food Matching) Last tour: 3pm experience ‘the angels’ tasting room for a dram.
Popular throughout the year with local Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET Speyside residents Pencaitland, and international visitors. 01875 342012 email@example.com Pencaitland, Tranent, East Lothian EH34 5ET With more than 400 different, and interesting 01875 342012 whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask firstname.lastname@example.org Malt whiskies, and real ales & lagers on draft. Bar lunches and dinners are available every day from 12 noon till 1:45pm and 5:30 to 9:00pm, food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm.
We have 8 comfortable en-suite rooms available.
share’, finishing in our tasting room for a dram.
Popular throughout the year with local Speyside residents and international visitors.
216W x 303H GLK.indd 1
216W x 303H GLK.indd 1
With more than 300 different and interesting whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask Malt whiskies, www.whiskyinn.com 01340881446 email@example.com and real ales & Aberlour, lagersBanffshire on draft. 10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, AB38 9SR
Bar lunches and dinners are available every day from 12 noon till 2:00pm and 5:30 to 9:00pm, food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm.
f the ‘Malt Whisky Universe’
cal al visitors. nteresting of Single Cask rs on draft. ble every day to 9:00pm, n till 9:00pm.
Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s vibrant West End, Usquabae Whisky Bar offers an unrivalled selection of Scotch whisky in an elegant and relaxed setting. With over 400 whiskies, our collection contains a dram to suit every palate. Our a la carte menu reflects the natural quality and variety of Scotland’s larder, with each dish carefully crafted and prepared to the highest standard by our team of dedicated chefs. We also offer tutored whisky tastings, a great selection of local craft beers and sumptuous afternoon tea!
10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR
01340881446 firstname.lastname@example.org 01340881446 email@example.com
www.whiskyinn.com igellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR
20% off our ‘Tour of Scotland’ Whisky Flight (normally £20) for all Cask & Still readers. Quote CS2017 (Reservations are required for tastings)
2-4 Hope Street, Edinburgh EH2 4DB 0131 290 2284 www.usquabae.co.uk
Cask and Still Magazine | 55
Islands LEDAIG 2008 SIGNATORY THE UNCHILLFILTERED COLLECTION
RAASAY WHILE WE WAIT 58
This malt has been aged in ex-red wine casks from
Tuscany and has plenty of character and complexity.
This is a truly delicious dram. Although
This single malt meets
still fairly young, it offers a lot of fantastic
my definition of an every
flavours from sea salt, peat and smoke to vanilla
day and every occasion
sweetness. This will appeal to every palate.
dram, with its wonderful
NOSE: Iodine, delicate peat smoke, sea spray and buttered
NOSE: Gentle smoke
PALATE: More peat smoke, smoked meats, custard creams and
notes with light fruits
FINISH: Long lasting and warming
with a delicate earthiness to it.
some peat smoke (distant campfire), a little sea breeze and wonderful dry fruit sweetness.
HIGHLAND PARK FIRE
FINISH: Long lasting
and warming with a persistent peat note.
This is the newest edition to the Valhalla range from Highland Park Distillery. This edition was named ‘Fire’ after the Realm of Fire that lies north of Valhalla according to Norsk mythology. NOSE: Vibrant and aromatic with red fruits, vanilla and a hint of dark chocolate. PALATE: Light smoke with zesty fruits and creamy vanilla sweetness
tongue-tickling spice. FINISH: Medium length and moreish.
CO-OWNER, JEFFREY ST WHISKY & TOBACCO, EDINBURGH
Joanna co-owns Jeffrey St Whisky & Tobacco in Edinburgh – an independent purveyor of the finest beer, whisky and tobacco. Joanna and her team also offer regular whisky tastings for customers.
56 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Worldwide KILBEGGAN 8 YEAR OLD SINGLE GRAIN 28.50
Irish whiskey is a rapidly developing category, but Irish single grain is still quite unusual to see. Kilbeggan is distilled from white corn at Cooley
Distillery. NOSE: Vanilla, cream and bonbons. PALATE: Oily, white chocolate and gentle oak spice. FINISH: Lingering vanilla icecream and a hint of cinnamon.
This excellent Indian whisky was distilled from a combination of Indian barley and peated Scottish barley. NOSE: Gentle peat, soft spices and fresh and rich summer fruit. PALATE: Richness continues: coffee, chocolate and berry fruits with a background of smoke. FINISH: Barley sweetness followed by rounded smoke.
THOMAS H. HANDY SAZERAC RYE WHISKEY 130
This is arguably the stand-out whiskey from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection. This six-year-old rye whiskey is non-chill filtered and cask strength. NOSE: Musty, ripe fruits, mustard and strawberries. PALATE: Rich and decadent: forest honey, Christmas cookies and black pepper. FINISH: Spicy notes continue but are eventually lightened by fresh mint.
SALES AT WM CADENHEAD, EDINBURGH
Josh joined the Cadenhead’s team last year. He has worked in the whisky industry for two years and is particularly enjoying access to many interesting and unusual single cask bottlings.
Cask and Still Magazine | 57
Bourbon FEW RYE 54.99
Named for Frances Elizabeth Willard – a temperance campaigner
MAKER’S MARK 46 34.99
who hailed from the FEW distillery’s
The first new recipe under the iconic red wax seal for 50 years, it was well worth the wait. NOSE: Deep, rich caramel comes across like a thick smear of dulce de leche on granary toast. PALATE: Despite the chunky ABV, the ‘46’ start is very creamy before giving way to oodles of sweet spice and baked apple – think Dutch apple pie. FINISH: The spice dies down to give an intense, creamy sweetness – like your last spoonful of creme brûlée.
home town of Evanston, Illinois. NOSE: Super fruity for a rye, it has fresh plums, apples and pears with just a touch of spice to finish. PALATE: The big hit of corn comes through giving a lovely buttered popcorn richness, alongside dried peel, citrus and spiced apple. FINISH: Long and luxuriant, with the classic rye spiciness, tart tatin and marmalade. Perfect for making a Manhattan.
BUFFALO TRACE 25.99
A classic Kentucky straight, Buffalo Trace is my favourite everyday drinking bourbon and with over 500 prizes and trophies to its name, I’m clearly in good company. NOSE: A big initial hint of vanilla and butterscotch, cut through with mint. The combination is reminiscent of Murray Mints. PALATE: Demerara sugar and golden syrup give way to toffee apples, raisins and star anise. FINISH: A cracking finish with plenty of length, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses depth.
Archie McDiarmid MANAGER, LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS
Luvians opened its St Andrews store in 1996 and has been at the forefront of promoting craft beer, wines and spirits in Fife ever since. Archie runs the shop’s constantly evolving list, which includes a broad selection of whiskies. Here are his pick of bourbons...
58 | Connoisseur’s Selection
MORRISON & MACKAY CARN MOR CELEBRATION OF THE CASK CAPERDONICH 1992 230
An exceptional single cask bottling from the closed Speyside distillery Caperdonich. NOSE: Slight acetone on the nose initially with underlying old calvados aromas. Becomes old pears and peaches with aromas of a freshly used cider press combined with cereal notes of summer fields. PALATE: Pineapple, mango sweetness and woody, chewy richness. FINISH: So long and broad on finish – a true contemplative.
SPRINGBANK LOCAL BARLEY 11 YEARS OLD 90
Following on from last year’s 16 Year Old, this is the second recent incarnation of Springbank’s ‘Local Barley’ release using barley sourced from farms around Campbeltown. NOSE: There is ample sweetness on the nose including marmalade, banana bread and honey. PALATE: The palate is very lactic initially and then
Less of an obvious choice this one. A limited release at the time from Glendronach, now sold out from the distillery. Initially aged in re-charred puncheons and then finished in virgin American oak casks. NOSE: Smoky toasted oak with over-ripe mango, papaya and other tropical fruits. Plus, the vanilla of American oak on
opens up into broader crème
anglaise, vanilla and a
PALATE: The palate contains all the characteristic sweet
sweeter confectionery note.
coconut and vanilla notes you’d expect with some deeper,
FINISH: Distinct bready
darker flavours such as Madeira cake and black tea.
and roasted nut flavours.
Shane Dunning WHISKY AND SPIRITS BUYER,
WOODWINTERS WINES AND WHISKIES, BRIDGE OF ALLAN
GLENDRONACH 14 YEARS OLD VIRGIN OAK FINISH
FINISH: It finishes with more complexity and smoky notes.
As well as being a whisky and spirits buyer for Woodwinters, Shane also undertakes private sales of whisky and fine wines for the company. Shane highlights three of his favourite investment drams.
Cask and Still Magazine | 59
Other spirits ARBIKIE CHILLI VODKA 41.99
This has to be tried on its own or, as we love it, in a Bloody Mary. Having been drinking this cocktail all over the world, this has to be the best and only way to go. NOSE: Spicy and rich but not mad. PALATE: Warming, however not burning. FINISH: Welcoming, hot rich and yummy.
MATUSALEM 23 GRAN RESERVA RUM 79.99
From the Dominican Republic, the company dates back to the late 1800s by Benjamin & Edwardo Camp who left Spain to establish a distillery on the island. NOSE: Toast done on a BBQ with rich fruits notes. PALATE: Rich and warming fruit flavours. FINISH: One not to be rushed, just savoured.
STIRLING GIN 34.99
Like many a good idea, Stirling Gin was created after a few G&T’s. The creators say it’s a sexy gin to mix and play with. NOSE: Green, clean and fresh. PALATE: Slightly oily with a hint of spice coming from the fresh nettles used. FINISH: Long and complex as each botanical can be experienced.
Cameron McCann OWNER, STIRLING WHISKY SHOP
Stirling Whisky Shop can be found within the Highland Hotel on 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.
60 | The great gin scandal
GIN SCANDAL Written by Blair Bowman
The wilful mislabelling of gin provenance is putting the entire distilling industry at risk, as well as grossly misleading consumers
Pictured: Some â€˜Scottishâ€™ gin producers are less than forthcoming on provenance, and many are downright misleading.
Cask and Still Magazine | 61 >>>
he boom in Scottish gin is a truly remarkable success story. Thanks to our close trading links with the Netherlands, we Scots developed a taste for gin in the 1700s. No British city drinks more gin per head than the good folk of Edinburgh, while the Wine and Spirit Trade Association estimates that 70% of gin produced in the UK now comes from Scotland. Since William Grant launched Hendricks in 1998 and proved that there is a mass market for premium-priced gin, the sector has exploded in a ﬂurry of activity, with every week seeming to bring a new bespoke artisan gin trading on its Scottishness. Whisky is well regulated and its three-year minimum in the cask rule presents a sizeable barrier to market entry. In comparison gin is cheap and easy to produce. The result has been a feeding frenzy. ‘For every 10% growth in sales of gin there is a 10% increase in the number of gin brands,’ says Stephen Kemp of Kirkjuvagr Gin in Orkney. But much of what we are being sold is a con. Many of the gins being marketed on the back of their Scottishness are not Scottish in the sense that we all understand: the most misleading are manufactured entirely in England, but many also are produced in the central belt yet purport to come from far-ﬂung Highland or Hebridean locations. Where their couthy labels and Highland addresses invite us to imagine crofters or lairds installing pot stills in remote longhouses or castle steadings to produce a lovingly-crafted small batch artisan gin, what we are being sold is often industrialised Scotch mist. ‘The origins of gins baﬄe the buyer,’ says Jayne Carmichael Norrie, an independent gin expert and owner of e-commerce site The Gin Room Scotland. ‘Many gins seem on the surface to be from somewhere speciﬁc in Scotland, so we assume that they will brings jobs and investment to that community, which is a good thing. When that is not the case, the consumer is being deceived and misled.’
Some ‘Scottish’ gins are made entirely in England
62 | The great gin scandal
Much of the problem has its roots in the several grey areas that have allowed gin manufacturers to exploit uncertainty around the rules. For instance, according to EU regulations Grain Neutral Spirt (GNS) is essentially vodka until juniper is added and the whole lot is distilled a second time, at which stage it becomes gin, yet there is only enough juniper grown in Scotland for a few tiny brands, so in a sense virtually no gins are truly, completely Scottish. As for the Grain Neutral Spirit, as with malted barley used to make whisky, this is largely sourced from outside Scotland – only three gins in Scotland make their own GNS: Arbikie Distillery (from potatoes), Dornoch Distillery (from malted barley) and the Brewdog-owned Lonewolf Distillery (grain). Grey areas are one thing, but in many cases gin manufacturers appear to be deliberately giving the impression that their product was mainly or wholly made in Scotland – or at a speciﬁc, usually remote, site in Scotland – when it wasn’t. There are legions of examples but two of the most blatant offenders are Daffy’s Gin and Gordon Castle Gin. Both market themselves as Scottish brands but are entirely distilled, manufactured and bottled in England. Daffy’s describes itself as a ‘single batch, copper pot distilled Scottish Gin’; its distillers list an Edinburgh address on the bottle and
There needs to be 100% transparency and honesty
illustrate the contact page on their website with an Edinburgh skyline. If you pick up a bottle of Gordon Castle Gin, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was a gin distillery at Gordon Castle, but you’d be wrong. Their website describes the ‘magical Scottish walled garden’ and says that ‘Highland herbs are carefully blended and patiently distilled to tease out the botanicals to create this Scottish gin’. The front label boldly says ‘Gordon Castle, Scotland’, which is repeated on the back label, along with the address of the castle itself. However, the gin is entirely made at Thames Distillers, and the only Scottish element is the lavender and mint sent down from their garden, which seems wildly at odds with their strap line – ‘provenance doesn’t get any purer’. Part of the problem is that, unlike the whisky industry, where the Scotch Malt Whisky Society rules with an iron ﬁst and has the power to punish transgressors, the world of gin production is like the Wild West by comparison. Although Liam Hughes, the vice-chair of the Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA), says that ‘the SCDA is comfortable with startup ventures contracting out to established distilleries either side of the border as long as the labelling is clear and not misleading to the consumers,’ its accreditation scheme is voluntary and applies only to members. ‘The Scottish craft spirits industry needs to take a reality check on provenance,’ says Jonathon Engels from Crossbill Gin, which claims to be the only gin distillery to use 100 per cent Scottish juniper and rosehip. ‘There needs to be 100% transparency and honesty.’ There are a whole slew of horribly nuanced issues. For instance, can a gin producer who sends concentrated botanicals from an island to be added to GNS in London, claim to be producing gin from that island? And what of
Cask and Still Magazine | 63 >>>
Pictured: Can a gin distilled, manufactured and bottled in England really claim to be Scottish?
WARM, FRIENDLY AND PERSONAL SERVICE
• Fine Whiskies, Wines & World Beers • Wholesale • Tasting Room and Private Events 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
• Whisky Brokering 42-46 ATHOLL ROAD, PITLOCHRY PH16 5BX Tel: 01796 472011
Specialising in a huge range of
Whisky, Gin, Rum, Bourbon, Vodka, Cigars, Wine, Champagne, Sherry, Port, Craft Beer & More! 105 West Nile St, G1 2SD 0141 332 4481
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21 Clarence Drive, G12 9QN 0141 334 4312
CaskCas Cask and Still Magazine | 65
gin manufacturers sourcing their spirit from elsewhere in Scotland yet marketing their gin as coming from a remote area of Scotland, thus imbuing it with a romance and provenance that consumers may feel does not really exist? For example, Strathearn distillery near Perth makes spirit for several Scottish gin makers – so Colonsay Gin is made at Strathearn, but says so on the label, while Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin is made at Strathearn, which is not stated on its label (but plans to open its own distillery at Kirkwall later this year). The potential for confusion seems almost endless. As Tony Reeman-Clark, the founder of Strathearn Distillery and former chairman of the SCDA, puts it: ‘Contract distilling is a good way to see if there is a market for a new product but there is a huge debate right now around transparency because some brands make a conscious decision not to mention that they are contract distilled.’ Those who are most nervous about provenance and labelling are those whose background is in whisky and who see the potential for the current confusion to affect not just the long-term future of gin production, but to drag down the reputation of Scotch whisky distilling too. ‘The SCDA is a good idea but there needs to be a fundamental move in ethos towards behaving with integrity – people should be called out for lack of transparency,’ says Paul Miller, the managing director of Eden Mill Distillery. ‘It is very difficult for a gin to be 100% Scottish and this allows for this grey area, and it also allows people to exploit it which could be to the long-term detriment of the industry.’ Reeman-Clark, whose Strathearn Distillery is primarily a whisky producer, agrees wholeheartedly. ‘There are several brands that give a lot of misinformation to consumers but are in fact made in England. Scotland is such an important brand but does nothing to defend itself.’ The capacity for rogue gin producers to harm a fastgrowing and lucrative food and drink sector in Scotland was recently demonstrated by the case of Oban Gin. Significant funds were raised through crowdfunding for the building of a distillery, yet the project never materialised and investors are still trying to get their money back. The bigger issue is the potential for damage to the brand ‘Scotland’, which remains a premium tagline. As Paul Miller, of Eden Mill, says: ‘Scottish craft distilling is a really positive industry for Scotland, but it is a risk to the whole industry when people put a Scottish badge on a product made elsewhere.’
Several brands give a lot of misinformation to consumers
66 | Gin News
BATTLE OF THE BOTTLES
Scottish Field Magazine’s Gin Challenge will put 60 gins to the test this summer. A panel of expert judges – Robin Russell of Robbie’s Drams, Matthew MacFadyen of the Good Spirits Co, Iain Pert of The Jolly Botanist, Douglas Wood of Woodwinters and Gin Club Scotland’s Chrissie Fairclough – will blind taste each of the gins. Check out the winners in the August issue of Scottish Field magazine. www.scottishfield.co.uk
G AND TEA
Anytime can be ‘Gin O’Clock’ with eteaket’s Isle of Harris Gin Tea. The refreshing caffeinefree blend includes a variety of adventurous ingredients, including juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and rare sugar kelp, which is hand harvested by a local diver from the deep underwater forests of the Outer Hebrides. The eteaket Isle of Harris Gin Tea is now available to purchase online at www.eteaket.co.uk, the eteaket Concept Store (111 Rose Street, Edinburgh) and at the Isle of Harris Distillery.
FEEL GOOD GIN
This May, gin lovers will be able to enjoy Scotland’s first and only ethically sourced and sustainably manufactured gin. Beinn an Tuirc distillery, located next to Kintyre’s highest peak of the same name, on Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre, is home to a 99kw hydro-electric scheme which powers the 230-litre copper still, giving Kintyre Gin its unique eco credentials. The family-run distillery also has its own supply of spring water, a vital ingredient in gin distillation, gravity fed to the still from a Victorian spring. www.kintyregin.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 67
Working in collaboration with some of Scotland’s top gin bars, iconic Scottish drinks brand Bon Accord have designed a tonic water that will accompany the vast array of Scottish gins on the market. Made with natural quinine, Bon Accord’s tonic water claims to offer a subtle and balanced flavour that allows the botanicals of Scottish gins to sing.
BEST FRUIT FORWARD
Edinburgh Gin’s Raspberry and Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueurs are now available at Tesco stores across the UK. Joining classic Edinburgh Gin, the popular gin-based fruit liqueurs offer shoppers a wider choice of liqueurs in the drinks aisle, reflecting the growth and popularity of Scottish gin. www.edinburghgindistillery.co.uk
Three Glaswegian companies have joined forces to produce a limited edition small batch gin that will raise funds to support the restoration of the woodland and Victorian walled garden at St Peter’s Seminary, a new cultural venue being developed in the A-listed modernist building in Culross. NVA, Glasgow Distillery Company and Stand collaborated to create Kilmahew Gin, infused with orange peel, bramble leaf and rosehip this handcrafted gin balances citrus and juniper for a zesty, full-flavoured spirit. Kilmahew Gin is now on sale at nva.org.uk/ shop priced at £40.00.
68 | Connoisseur’s Selection
Gin NB ARTISAN - NORTH BERWICK GIN 32.99
SELECTED BY ROBIN
NB Gin is a pure, clear, uncompromising grain spirit of 42 per cent ABV, the result of an exacting process that’s been perfected and bottled, to become recognised as the best London Dry Gin in the world. NOSE: On the nose, there is an abundance of juniper berries and inviting citrus notes as well as a dash of peppery spice. PALATE: The palate is actually very similar to the nose,
DINGLE GIN 40.50
fresh, clean and full of juniper. FINISH: Citrus with a dash of pepper towards the end.
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
Built in 2012 on the outskirts of Dingle, Ireland, Dingle Gin are trying to create a gin that shows off its unique location by using locally sourced botanicals. NOSE: Fresh and herbaceous with a lovely core of red berries and spice. PALATE: Herbaceous and intense with a lovely round
PICKERING’S GIN 1947 ORIGINAL RECIPE 32.99
SELECTED BY ROBIN
Pickering’s Original 1947 Gin is based on a Bombay recipe, handwritten on a fragment of paper dated 17 July 1947.
mouthfeel. Lemon and
NOSE: Spicier, sweeter and more intense, it’s a
mint dominating before
decadent trip back to the last days of the Raj.
tailing off to a nice
PALATE: Cardamom, coriander,
earthy finish. FINISH: A lovely bold gin that has a real sense of place; the gin is not shy and demands attention.
clove and cinnamon spice. FINISH: The spices lead to a crisp, refreshing and long finish. Drink with ice, tonic and a wedge of lime. For a more warming drink, substitute tonic water for ginger ale.
Cask and Still Magazine | 69
COTSWOLDS DRY GIN 37
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
Established in 2014, Cotswolds are an English whisky distillery that have launched a gin as they wait for their whisky to be ready. NOSE: Intense and floral with lavender, bay and grapefruit all leaping out of the glass. PALATE: Bold, round and intense, the bay is pronounced as is the citrus and intense lavender. FINISH: This gin has set a very high bar that few others have bettered. Bold, intense and vibrant. One of the very best.
ROCK ROSE PREMIUM SCOTTISH GIN 33.99
PROPRIETOR, ROBBIE’S DRAMS WHISKY MERCHANTS, AYR
www.robbieswhisky merchants.com Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Robin selects his favourite gins on the market.
SELECTED BY ROBIN
Rock Rose Gin gets its wonderful flavour from a carefully selected and put together creation of local and traditional botanicals. NOSE: Fresh and delicate. PALATE: Each botanical is meticulously chosen for its flavour properties to create the perfect taste. Juniper berries, Rhodiola Rosea, sea buckthorn, rowan berries, blaeberries, cardamom seed and Verbena to name but a few! FINISH: A smooth finish. I have it on good authority that each year will herald a new vintage!
MISTY ISLE GIN 34.50
SELECTED BY MATTHEW
Produced on the Isle of Skye by two brothers, Thomas and Alistair Wilson, using locally foraged juniper and other classic botanicals. NOSE: Elegant with lemon and juniper to the fore. They are nicely balanced by a hint of liquorice. PALATE: Zesty with a hint of lemon sherbet. Spice and some subtle juniper notes. FINISH: Beautifully balanced, with a lovely long finish. This gin shows real class and attention to detail.
THE GOOD SPIRITS CO., GLASGOW
www.thegoodspiritsco. com 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.
70 | Spirits & Beers
Fill your glass with our pick of wines and spirits
1 1. BUCK & BIRCH Aelder Elixir is a wild elderberry liqueur that is handcrafted in East Lothian. Wild Scottish elderberries and wild Scottish botanicals are blended with young Scotch whisky to produce a drink that is both versatile and distinctive. Rich, dark and very smooth, Aelder can be enjoyed neat as a fantastic alternative to port, topped up with fizz for a beautiful aperitif or used in any cocktail where a dark fruit hit is needed. www.aelderelixir.com
3. SMÖGEN WHISKY Sweden’s Smögen distillery is small. So far proprietor Pär Caldenby has distilled every drop himself. Named after Smögen Island, the distillery produces heavily peated single malt.
2. LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP
Look for Smögen Primör, the first
Barbera D’Alba – a violet red
bottling, and Triple, an experiment
colour alludes to the sweet dark
in triple distillation, matured
fruits, giving this wine a refined
in sauternes barriques casks.
The latest drop of golden
nectar in Tullibardine’s
The classic 10 Year Old is the
carefully crafted array of
signature malt from Tamdhu.
single malts. Fruity and rich
Matured in hand-selected sherry
with a tasting palette of red
casks and bursting with fruit
fruits and vanilla, the cask
and spice. Available online or in
strength expression has
Oddbins, Waitrose and specialist
matured for 12 years in first
fill bourbon barrels.
Priced at £49. www.tullibardine.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 71
WHISKY AND WINE
Berry Bros. & Rudd have announced the release of The Glenrothes Wine Merchant’s Collection. Distilled in 1992 and matured for more than two decades in hogshead casks, the collection’s whiskies have been finished in casks which formerly held wine from Château de Beaucastel, Lustau and Ridge Vinyards, as well as casks from port houses Warre’s and Graham’s and ex-rum casks from the St. Lucia Distillery. Bottles from The Glenrothes Wine Merchant’s are priced at £200 each.
Tamdhu Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky has unveiled its oldest ever bottling – Tamdhu 50 Year Old – to coincide with the distillery’s 120th anniversary. Matured in a first fill European oak sherry butt for five decades, just 100 bottles of Tamdhu 50 Year Old will be made available globally. This rare whisky is presented in an exquisitely-designed decanter, created by a team of traditional British craftsmen and women, including glass designer Katy Holford, crystal experts Royal Brierley, and the silversmiths at renowned luxury jewellery house Hamilton & Inches. The single cask release will retail at £16,000 per bottle. www.tamdhu50.com
FINLAGGAN AT THE FEIS
The Vintage Malt Whisky Company has announced the forthcoming special release of their award-winning Finlaggan Islay Single Malt in celebration of Islay’s Feis Ile 2017. This unique Finlaggan has been finished in a port pipe, before bottling at cask strength. Only 900 bottles of this richly smoked and fruity malt have been produced. For a chance to taste, join The Vintage Malt Co. at Finlaggan for their open day on 2 June. It will only be available to buy on Islay and will be exclusively retailed by The Islay Whisky Shop, Shore Street, Bowmore. www.vintagemaltwhisky.com
72 | Spirit Level
Bourbon is in my
Spirits lover Dr Brooke Magnanti â€“ aka blogger Belle de Jour â€“ takes comfort in the welcoming arms of bourbon, the American spirit on which she was once weaned
Above: Brooke educates hipster bartenders on the difference between whiskey and bourbon.
Cask and Still Magazine | 73 WORTH A LOOK
MAKER’S MARK 46
hicago in January. A bitter wind, an overlong conference, and too few friendly faces. Perhaps inevitably I found myself at a bar that was holding a bourbon whiskey tasting. Ah yes, I can hear you say now. Whiskey with an E. The American and Irish interpretations of the noble spirit. And in its bourbon incarnations, a heady, perhaps unreﬁned, drink better suited to colonials in hot places. Well, being myself a colonial originally from a hot place – who am I to refuse? The small batch spirits revolution has hit bourbons in a big way. This ain’t your dad’s Jim Beam or Four Roses, though the estimable folks in Clermont do produce more reﬁned Signature Craft expressions that sit perhaps uncomfortably next to their focus-group-approved Apple and Honey liqueur offerings. Instead, keep your eyes open for Buffalo Trace’s W.L. Weller line, which echoes Pappy van Winkle at a fraction of the price. Or Heaven Hill, which will give you a hit of 70s nostalgia at even less. Blanton’s single barrel gets a mention here, simply for the unexpected variations possible, while Booker’s, a cask strength, non-ﬁltered bourbon, takes that tendency even further. There are those who believe the whiskey was named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and that in the 18th century the cheaper Kentucky spirit was sold as an alternative to cognac shipped from France. Others attribute the invention of the spirit to a Kentucky descendant of Montrose minister and St Andrews alumnus John Craig. The story probably isn’t
true, but to me it really feels as if it ought to be. One thing, though, is certain: bourbon whiskey is a Kentucky native, which is why the ubiquitous Jack Daniel’s isn’t bourbon, even if it’s made the same way. It’s a Tennessee whiskey, as I’ve often had to explain to European barmen who misinterpreted my drinks order. And as I imagine I’ll ﬁnd myself explaining to some Brooklyn hipster someday soon when they try to pass off a craft jug created in a Williamsburg basement. Bourbon’s value is not only – or even, to some, primarily – in the spirit. It makes its way back to us in Scotland via barrels. The American oak that brings bright vanilla and wood notes to the ﬁrst spirit they house are muted and subtle when reﬁlled with our native whisky. I currently have two barrels aging in the Ardnamurchan warehouse, one in a Woodford Reserve reﬁll. And while it’s still early days with the Adelphi and impossible to know how the ﬁnal result will emerge, I have every conﬁdence the Woodford’s contribution won’t be let down by what went into the barrel. My own history with bourbon began when I was born. The only child of a Catholic father and Jewish mother, neither family could accept that I might be allowed to exist without a supernatural Godly blessing. But the matter of religious differences made it impossible to choose, so rather than offend one set of parents, my folks chose instead to go for maximum offence. My uncle (who had been doing time in a Mexican prison, of which more some other day) located an old cellmate who was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, Inc. by post. The ceremony was carried out in my gran’s front room while a Santana album played in the background. The minister was paid with a bottle of Wild Turkey. Bourbon may not be in my blood, but it’s in my soul.
Named after the number of wood combinations they tried before getting the recipe just right, this is the first new Maker’s Mark bourbon for around 50 years. Lots of spice and shedloads of vanilla and toffee sweetness.
JEFFERSON’S RESERVE GROTH RESERVE CASK FINISH Aged in American white oak and finished in French oak, this small batch bourbon has notes of black cherry, vanilla, toffee and spice.
COLONEL EH TAYLOR SINGLE BARREL Exclusively aged in Warehouse C, built by Colonel Taylor himself in 1881, this bourbon has spicy notes, with fruity figs and plums. Sweet and slightly smoky with a long finish.
THE GRILL 213
A real historic pub with a unique welcome
Award Winning Whisky retailer, Broker & Bottler An unprecedented selection of Whiskies from the everyday to the fine and rare and over 2000 wines, beers and spirits from around the world. Bridge of Allan - Edinburgh - Stirling - Inverness www.woodwinters.com
Passionate About Whisky
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
L E G E N www.thegrillaberdeen.co.uk DA RY H O S P I TA L I T Y
L E G EL ENG D A RY H O S P I TA L I T Y E N DA RY H O S P I TA L I T Y
L E G E N DA RY
Visit us on our website or in the Malt Whisky Capital of the World. We send orders around the globe. The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival 21 to 25 Sep 2017 1 Fife Street, Dufftown, Scotland, AB55 4AL 01340 821 097
H O S P I TA L I T Y
• Whisky from every Scottish Distillery • Whisky from every Scottish Distillery • Whisky every Scottish Distillery • Over• Over 120from Malts 120 Malts •Prime Over 160 Malts • Prime locationon on George Square location George Square ••Whisky from every Scottish Distillery • Live music every • Prime location onweek George Square • Live music every week GreatMalts food including Scottish Tapas • Over • Live••120 music every week Whisky from every Scottish Distillery • Great food including Scottish Tapas • Prime location on George Square • Over 120 including Malts • Great food Scottish Tapas • Prime location George Square • Live music everyonweek • Live music every week • Great• food including Scottish Great food including Scottish Tapas Tapas
57 Cochrane Street, George Square, Glasgow G1 1HL Tel: 0141 552 1740 | www.thepiperbar.com
57 Cochrane Street, George Square, Glasgow G1 1HL
Tel:Street, 0141 552 George 1740 | www.thepiperbar.com 57 Cochrane Square, Glasgow G1 1HL Tel: 0141 552 1740 | www.thepiperbar.com
20/04/2017 57 Cochrane Street, George Square, Glasgow G1 1HL 11:48:25
Cask and Still Magazine | 75
BARREL There’s always been an art to pouring the perfect pint but Pilsner Urquell have taken it to a whole new level Written by David Austin
ilsner Urquell is the undoubted jewel in the crown of Czech brewing having continuously produced beer since 1842. They city of Plzen (or Pilsen) itself has evidence of brewing in the city since 1295. Heritage indeed. The emergence of light, bottom-fermented beers ﬂavoured with local Saaz hops gave rise to a new style of beer which has continued to this day. The production of these beers and their continued spread in popularity across the globe is undoubtedly a major success story but that’s only the beginning, because every bar and every barperson then has the job of selling and dispensing the beer. As any artisan coffee and tea producers will tell you, their ﬁnal product is only as good as the end person making it. Enter Robert Lobovsky at Pilsner Urquell. He’s a man on a mission. Having spent much of his childhood growing up in Australia, following his parents’ emigration, he has since returned to his ancestral home of Plzen. Arriving home without employment, he made it his mission to work for Pilsner Urquell and every day at 2pm he phoned and asked for a job. After four months they gave in and ever since 2003 Robert has gained experience in every capacity of the brewery and now holds the grandly titled role of ‘Beer Master’. It’s this role that gives Robert the licence to create a new programme aimed at perfecting
We all like a bit of froth on our beer but how much is too much?
the pour of Pilsner Urquell around the world. The Tapsters programme is an intensive ﬁveday course at the brewery in Plzen, where select bartenders from Pilsner Urquell bar outlets across Britain learn the science behind pouring the beer, the art of pouring and carry out work experience at the local tank bars. These bars house a temperature-controlled tank in the cellar which is ﬁlled with fresh beer direct from the brewery, ensuring freshness and the best possible ﬂavour. We all like a bit of froth on our beer but how much is too much? An inch or so would be the accepted norm but when Pilsner Urquell is poured properly the foam can be one of three ways: Hladinka pour (smooth) is the classic Czech way to pour Pilsner Urquell with half of the pint comprising of foam. This results in a balanced beer that is neither ﬂat nor overly carbonated. The Na dvakrát (crisp) has the least amount of foam of all the classic Pilsner pours. With a considerably smaller head, this style helps enhance the refreshing carbonation of the beer, which makes the ﬂavour bright and refreshing. Mliko (milk) is the closest thing you will get to a Pilsner ice cream and is made up of mostly foam. The result is a smooth and creamy pour with just a bit of beer at the bottom – which should be drunk quickly. We have become accustomed to bartenders, baristas, sommeliers and mixologists – now you can add another name to the list: ‘The Tapster’.
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Cask and Still Magazine | 77
TOP OF THEIR GAME Top Out Brewery on the southside
of Edinburgh won four awards at the 1st Annual Berlin International Beer Competition, where close to 100 beers competed. The craft brewer’s Cone IPA and Smoked Porter won gold medals, which means that the trade-only judging panel ‘love it’. Simon Says-on won a respectable bronze medal, while the brewery won the overall accolade of ‘Scotland Brewery of the Year’. www.topoutbrewery.com
ALL THINGS BEERY
Scottish craft brewer, Stewart Brewing has announced the return of its annual Edinburgh Beer Festival on Saturday 13 May. The one-day event at Stewart Brewing’s brewery, near Edinburgh, will be the biggest yet with over 40 craft beers. Visitors will also have the chance to taste a Stewart Brewing Cider – specially made for the festival – and limited edition beers. In addition, the festival will showcase live music and street food vendors, while there will be a selection of wines, gins and soft drinks to ensure everyone is catered for. Tickets are on sale now at www.stewartbrewing.co.uk
BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD
The first ever Scottish beer to be made from leftover bread has been created using unsold morning rolls in a bid to reduce food waste in Glasgow. Hardtack, a blonde beer, is made by Jaw Brew in partnership with Aulds, using surplus rolls that are baked fresh each morning. www.jawbrew.co.uk
78 | Connoisseur’s Selection
FRAOCH HEATHER ALE 2.10
SELECTED BY EWAN
An old favourite of mine in a new guise. The original ale produced by Bruce and Scott Williams, it was brewed in the early days at Maclay’s Brewery in Alloa, sadly now no longer. Dating back 4,000 years, this is the oldest style of ale made in the world. Very distinctive in its taste – honey, bog myrtle and ginger immediately spring into your mouth. The British First Gold hops have a wonderfully citrus and orange aroma and taste sweet with marmalade and floral notes. Surprisingly refreshing. A long term favourite of mine which remains in my top ten.
ST ANDREWS BREWING CO. LOCAL HERO 2.60
SELECTED BY ARCHIE
Following on from last year’s Harvest Ale, this is the second in a series of beers that have been 100 per cent Scottish and 200 per cent awesome. Made with polytunnel grown hops from the James Hutton Institute, this super tasty pale ale has a
6 DEGREES NORTH CHOPPER STOUT 2.70
SELECTED BY ARCHIE
Let’s face it, Scottish weather is an unreliable beast, so even on the brightest morning it is always a good idea to have a back-up plan in case of evening storms. Chopper Stout brings the thunder and lightning in spades, packed with chocolate, coffee and treacle with some raisins and bourbon biscuits at the finish.
slightly floral nose, some zesty lemon and a touch of passion fruit – ideal for summer drinking.
Cask and Still Magazine | 79
TEMPEST BOMBER IPA 4.95
SELECTED BY ARCHIE
As the weather brightens up and the occasional ‘taps aff’ day calls us outdoors to grab some friends for picnics and barbecues, large format bottles (or bombers) are perfect for sharing. Built around Kiwi and US hops,
it is hoppy and fresh enough to be drinkable, while packing enough punch to satisfy the
OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY
most demanding hop
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 beers, but none finer than these three.
COLONSAY PIG’S PARADISE BLONDE 2.99
SELECTED BY EWAN
Named after the amazing grazing that can be found on the island for the pigs, this blonde beer is creamy, sweet and has a decent golden head. Well-balanced and refreshing. There are hints of lemon and custard. There is also a slight metallic taste. Overall, the beer has sweet caramel and honeysuckle with hints of honey. The hops are cleansing and bitter.
BLACK ISLE GOLDFINCH GLUTEN FREE ORGANIC BEER 1.99
SELECTED BY EWAN
Having searched long and hard for a good gluten-free beer, I was delighted to find this gem. Unlike many ‘free from’ beers, this does not lack flavour or body. This is a light beer that is ‘zingy’ in flavour and is fresh with citrus. IPA’s are traditionally more hopped as historically it helped to preserve the beer during the long sea journey to India when heading to satisfy the thirst of troops. Black Isle Brewery was established in 1988 by Dave Gladwin and they now export worldwide.
MANAGER, LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS
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 beers come through the doors last year alone.
80 | Whisky events guide
Celebrate whisky this summer wherever in Scotland you happen to be
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 27 APRIL - 1 MAY 2017 First launched in 1999, the Spirit of Speyside’s is an annual celebration of Scotland’s national drink in its biggest whisky producing region. With a programme of over 500 whiskyinspired events, the festival is one of the largest events of its kind anywhere in the world. www.spiritofspeyside.com Stirling Whisky Festival 6 MAY Returning for its sixth year, the festival atrracts the top distilleries from across Scotland and offers over 100 malts to try. www.stirlingwhiskyshop.com Feis Ile 2017 26 MAY - 3 JUNE 2017 The Islay Festival of Music and Malt is a week of the best trad music, ceilidhs, Gaelic lessons, golf, bowling and of course whisky tasting. www.islayfestival.com The Whisky Stramash 27 & 28 MAY 2017 Enjoy whiskies from Scotland and across the world in new and innovative ways at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh. www.thewhiskystramash.com
Cask and Still Magazine | 81
The Spirit of Skye 16 & 17 JUNE 2017 A brand new festival on the Isle of Skye bringing together Scotland’s finest whisky, gin, beer, music and food. www.spiritofskye.com Edinburgh Whisky Festival 17 JUNE 2017 Held in the Assembly Rooms on George Street, guests can choose from a selection of tasting sessions and masterclasses. www.thewhiskylounge.com Dramboree 7-9 JULY 2017 A weekend of whisky run by whisky lovers in Glenmore. Whisky fans bring a bottle for everyone to sample and enjoy a distillery tour and tasting workshops. www.dramboree.co.uk West Coast Whisky Fèis 22 JULY The first festival of Scotland’s west coast distilleries at Skippinish Cèilidh House in Oban. Meet the distillers and enjoy a masterclass or three. www.westcoastwhiskyfeis.co.uk The Dramathon 21 OCTOBER 2017 A marathon distance race along the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas distillery to Glenfiddich distillery. You have the choice of a full marathon (Glenfarclas to Glenfiddich), a half-marathon (Tamdhu to Glenfiddich), a 10K (Aberlour to Glenfiddich) or a relay. Get stamped at each participating distillery and pick up miniatures at the end of the race. www.thedramathon.com Glasgow’s Whisky Festival 11 NOVEMBER 2017 More than 50 whisky stands at Scotland’s National Stadium, Hampden Park. World whiskies, art, books, food and lots more. www.glasgowswhiskyfestival.com
82 | Whisky in Germany
After a couple of years of presenting tastings and posting on social media, Cara Leggat, then brand manager for Morrison Bowmore, noticed what I was doing. She said I was their ‘leading online voluntary Bowmore brand ambassador’. My idol is master blender Richard Paterson. I have watched all of his videos and taken part in many of his masterclasses. I present my whisky tastings in my own way but I did borrow some of Richard’s trademark bits.
Voluntary whisky ambassador Gavin Ryan Thompson, from Ayr, wants to share his passion for whisky with the world Germany is known for its beer, schnapps and wines, but the whisky market here has sky-rocketed in the last 15 years. There are an increasing number of whisky festivals and the number of enthusiasts is growing dramatically each year, especially in the north of Germany. In particular, the younger generations are particularly interested and appreciative of whisky. After developing a deep love and appreciation for whiskies, particularly Bowmore, which is my favourite, I started presenting my own private tastings featuring a range of different whiskies like Bowmore, Ardbeg and the Diageo Classic Malts. Then I started to concentrate on the Morrison Bowmore Distillers portfolio: Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch. My passion for whisky grew and it was great to see people enjoying what I was doing.
To celebrate the birth of my daughter, master distiller Dennis Malcolm gave me a bottle of Glen Grant 50, an exclusive for Campari Deutschland. It was wonderful, and very special, but my favourite has to be the Bowmore 15 Darkest. I help out Beam Suntory during whisky fairs, presenting Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and Bowmore, while Douglas Laing & Co also invited me to become one of ten Douglas Laing Fellow Ambassadors. I try new whiskies and provide them with feedback. I also help out with a small family company called The Angels’ Share Glass. I don’t get paid for what I do, but I don’t want to be. For me, a smile on people’s faces after a presentation, and recognition of what I do, that’s what makes me happy!
RARE, EXPENSIVE, HANDMADE. AND THAT’S JUST THE CASKS.
THAT’S THE GLENGOYNE WAY. glengoyne.com
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29/10/2015 15:09 20/04/2017 11:54:21
Published on May 4, 2017
In Issue 5, we investigate global drinking practices, take a closer look at the booming Scotch whisky market in Sweden, and go back in time...