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OBSESSION The world’s most driven whisky collectors explain their infatuation

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SHERRY CASK CONNOISSEURS SINCE 1826 Nestled deep in the east Highland hills, The GlenDronach Distillery has been quietly mastering the art of sherry cask maturation since 1826. Here, in the valley of Forgue, the finest Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks hold our spirit. After years in the quiet darkness of our dunnage warehouses, these casks are rolled into the light, a dram poured from their depths. Every cask will have its moment; it takes patience and skill to recognise it. Each GlenDronach Highland Single Malt bears the influence of long years in the finest sherry casks: complex, elegant single malts of remarkable intensity, with rich depth and a lasting finish.

Savour with time, drink responsibly. © 2017 The GlenDronach is a registered trademark, all rights reserved.

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Cask & Still Magazine | 3 cask and still


From the


The team at Cask & Still love our whisky, but we also love those magical moments when the amber nectar forms a neat backdrop to the daily fabric of drammers’ lives. So the story of Vic Cameron, the former stillman-turnedpreacher, tickled our funnybone. What we found was a fascinating man of heft and conviction who also makes some of the finest whiskies in the world. In this issue we have also been honoured by the presence of Scottish actor Sean Biggerstaff, who is a renowned whisky buff. The sparky Glaswegian’s tales of his joy as he passed two distilleries on his way to work while filming Whisky Galore! and of leading daily post-filming whisky-appreciation classes for his fellow thespians on his way back from the set, brought a broad smile to my face. I can just imagine a troupe of luvvies in the bar at the Craigellachie Hotel being tutored by Sam.

Another of my favourite reads this month was our contributing editor Blair Bowman’s investigation into the murky world of sherry casks in the whisky industry. We certainly like a bit of froth, but here was some real meat for real whisky-lovers to get their teeth into. Yours Aye,

EDITOR Richard Bath


SEAN BIGGERSTAFF The Harry Potter and Whisky Galore! actor is a self-proclaimed whiskyhead who was lucky enough to find himself filming for a month in Speyside and made the most of his good fortune.


OBSESSION The world’s most driven whisky

VIC CAMERON A leading distillery expert at Diageo, Vic the atheist unexpectedly found God overnight, and has launched a new career doing good by mixing the Holy Spirit with his calling in the church.

collectors explain their infatuation

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4 | What’s inside

In this



Keen whisky collectors from around the world share their obsession with Cask and Still


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Cask and Still Magazine | 5



S APR 2018 ISSUE SEVEN cask and still

The team

DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Creative: Amanda Richardson



06 NEWS Remember,




you heard it here first...


Glorious Greek styling at CV Distiller bar in Athens

10 ME AND MY DRAM Harry Potter and Whisky Galore! star Sean Biggerstaff talks tipples


How Vic Cameron swapped distilling for a deity


Whisky isn’t always what it seems

28 SIX OF THE BEST Tempting whisky cocktails from The Devil’s Advocate

30 30EASTERN PROMISE The rise of Taiwanese whisky

38 ON THE SIDE OF ANGELS The fatherdaughter team behind Angels’ Share Glass


comes under the spotlight


Magnanti knows port is not just for Christmas

72 LET THERE BE LITE Genius lager has

more taste and less booze

77 OVER A BARREL When is craft beer not craft beer?


Production: Andrew Balahura Madeleine Smith Photographer: Angus Blackburn Staff Writers: Morag Bootland, Crystal Chesters Contributing Editor: Blair Bowman Contributors: Dr Brooke Magnanti, David Austin Email: editor@caskandstill magazine.co.uk

ADVERTISING Sales Director: Brian Cameron Special Projects Manager: Janice Johnston Sales assistants: Alasdair Peoples

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.

based whisky blogger Anne-Sophie Bigot

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6 | News feed


Similar to geo-caching, but with whisky, a trail of three Angels’ Nectar whisky caches will be hidden across of Speyside Whisky Festival. Guests will be able to find the whisky-filled caches via a series of clues after registering for the event on the Spirit of Speyside website. The first to find each Angels’ Nectar whisky cache will be rewarded with a 200ml bottle of Angels’ Nectar Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. Whisky cachers are asked to leave a whisky miniature in place of each dram they find. Geo-caching started in 2000 and has grown to encompass more than three million caches. www.spiritofspeyside.com



Speyside during the Spirit



Whisky drinkers from around the globe have determined Speyside’s top drams. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Awards stopped off at 18 venues with its roving judging sessions and whisky drinkers in Canada, the USA, Europe and the UK cast their vote following a blind taste test of eight malts distilled in Speyside. The sessions kicked off at Dr Jekyll’s Bar, Oslo, then Scotia Spirit in Cologne and continued to The Brandy Library in New York and the Hopscotch Pub and Brewery in Toulouse. Sessions also took place at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. Winners will be announced at the festival’s closing ceilidh, hosted by The Craigellachie Hotel, on 6 May.




Stewart Buchanan, brother of wildlife


cameraman Gordon Buchanan and Mike Lord, owner of The Whisky Shop

As well as pioneering a new provenance

Dufftown and judge of the Scottish

for Scotch Whisky, the Raasay Distillery

Field Whisky Challenge are two of

has become a new tourist destination

38 new members of the Keepers of

for its small Hebridean island home.

the Quaich. Buchanan is known for

Designed by local architect Olli Blair,

his role in resurrecting BenRiach

Victorian villa Borodale House has

distillery in 2004. Stewart was so

been incorporated within the distillery

dedicated that he slept on the

and now forms a visitor centre, luxury

floor of the maltings while he worked

accommodation and private members’

to strip down and rebuild every piece of

lounge. raasaydistillery.com

equipment to prepare it for production.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 7



The Clydeside Distillery has introduced a ‘label your own bottle’ service for whisky fans visiting their Glasgow attraction. Visitors have the choice of three bottles of ten-year-old whiskies, which they can label. The Islay, Lowland and Highland expressions are part of the distillery tour and each


have their own characteristics and tasting notes. Visitors can hand-write a bespoke label with their, or a loved one’s, details, creating a special memento from their visit. www.theclydeside.com

Highland malt 46% ABV, RRP £49

This ruby malt has been recasked in wine barriques for a sweet and spicy aroma with cherry and chocolate flavours.

BENRIACH CASK STRENGTH BATCH 2 Cask strength single malt 60.6% ABV, RRP £58

This single malt combines cask strength whisky matured in bourbon barrels, oloroso sherry casks and virgin oak hogsheads for a richer taste than its Batch 1 predecessor. Crème-caramel, chocolate and stone fruit flavours.


Chill-filtered single malt 43% ABV, RRP £550

One of the last spirits from Glenmorangie’s former still house, this single malt is part-matured in ex-Côte-Rôtie casks. Oaky with leather, honey and wood spice.


1950s single cask whisky 49.4% ABV, RRP £22,000

Mahogany and chestnut brown, this is an intricately layered aged whisky. Rich, warm aromas with blueberry, fruitcake and dark chocolate.

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Scotch whisky enjoyed a record-breaking year for exports in 2017. Last year Scotch grew in volume and value by 1.6% and 8.9% respectively to a total of £4.36bn – the equivalent of 1.23bn bottles exported globally. The figures come from the latest HMRC export data which also showed that Scotch whisky accounted for over 20% of all UK food and drink exports. There was further demand for exports of single malt Scotch whisky, which grew by 14.2% in 2017 to £1.17bn. The Scotch whisky industry supports 40,000 jobs in the UK, 7,000 of which are in rural areas of Scotland.

IN WITH THE NEW The Balvenie has appointed

Gemma Paterson as its global ambassador, taking over from Sam Simmons. Commenting on her appointment, Gemma said: ‘Words can’t express how excited I am to start this chapter in my career with The Balvenie. I feel privileged to take up such a prestigious role and to play a part in the history of this great distillery.’

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8 | Whisky bars of the world

CV DISTILLER, ATHENS The striking 1920s-style bar is the centrepiece of this elegant jazz bar in the Greek capital. The basement holds a treasure trove of over 700 whiskies, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, while the friendly staff serve up mighty fine cocktails. www.facebook.com/cvdistiller/

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10 | Me and my dram

Here’s tae me: Sean Biggerstaff enjoying a dram at The Pot Still in Glasgow.

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Me & my


What led to your love of whisky? I remember being allowed to dunk my fingers in my grandpa’s whisky. I must have been about two years old. I guess they figured I would hate it if I tried it, and stop asking about it. I remember spending the best part of a week eyeing up an 18-year-old bottle of Glenmorangie when I was about 18 on the Isle of Man. I think that was my first dram when I turned 18. A couple of friends of mine have worked in whisky auctioneers over the years, and that let me get free access to some really incredible drams. Do you have a favourite dram? I got really into Glenfarclas. I love that sweet sherry taste and then in Iain Banks’ book Raw Spirit, it was mentioned as one of the last family distilleries that was left, which I was happy to discover. For my thirtieth birthday, I went on their distillery tour and tasted a lot of the old casks. I really wanted to buy one from the year I was born, but they didn’t have one which had been sherried. I used to exclusively like quite sweet, mostly sherried whiskies, and I’m still more Speyside than anything else. I couldn’t handle peaty flavours before, and

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He played Sergeant Odd in Whisky Galore and Oliver Wood in the Harry Potter films – and Sean Biggerstaff has educated his co-stars in drams Interview by Kenny Smith

I still don’t enjoy too much of the reeking monsters, but my tastes have expanded to Springbank and even Caol Ila.

I spent a month filming on Speyside so as a whisky-head I was as happy as a pig in shit!

You’re a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – what’s been the main benefit for you? It feels like one of the best things I’ve ever done, discovering this source of very reasonably-priced drams. I’ve been drinking a lot of single cask whiskies from the Society, as they often get in the whiskies that are used in blends, so when you try these, you get a good idea of what they’re like. Each one is so unique. Some of the best whiskies I’ve tasted are from distilleries that don’t sell at all. I just bought a bottle of Highland Park

that doesn’t taste anything like the standard experience – this one was ten times more complicated. Did you have many drams during the filming of Whisky Galore? I spent a month filming on Speyside, so as a whisky-head I was as happy as a pig in shit! We were driving past Benriach and Glenglassaugh every day. I was the only one on the cast that was really into their whisky, and I was trying to educate them all. I think I got Kevin Guthrie to become a Balvenie fan, and my reputation as a whisky aficionado among the cast was good! I was very disappointed when I was told we wouldn’t be drinking the real thing – the whisky in the film was fake. Why do you think there’s been a renaissance in whisky in recent times? It’s true of spirits in general. Gin has been a big beneficiary this last couple of years, and there have been a lot of new distilleries opening and new expressions released, while companies have been putting out new single cask whiskies. You do wonder how sustainable it can be, and if the supply will outstrip demand. Of course, I hope it doesn’t.

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12 | The Holy Spirit


SPIRIT Written by Blair Bowman

When Vic Cameron found God, he packed in his job at Diageo and opened his own church

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Pictured: Vic Cameron at the Glen Moray Distillery in Elgin.

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14 | The Holy Spirit

Praise be! Vic was a true non-believer until he suddenly turned to God one evening.

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fter a fascinating 23-year career in distilling, Vic Cameron felt a calling and left his job at Diageo to follow a different spirit. As well as being a fully-qualified distiller with highly specialised expertise in laboratory analysis of whisky and cereals, plus distillery operations management, Vic is now an ordained minister with his own congregation in Elgin. Interestingly, Vic had been a staunch atheist for a very long time. He was absolutely ‘unchurched’ and never even went to Sunday school as a child. Yet his wife was from a church-going family and as the token atheist at gatherings, Vic would take great pleasure in winding his wife’s family up. Then quite suddenly one night, he became a Christian after asking himself, ‘How could our world exist without a God?’ While working for Diageo, he went through a church leadership programme which led him to open his own church. Around this time, Vic’s father passed away, which made him question what he was doing with his life and what kind of legacy he would leave behind. When thinking about his own mortality, he decided that he would prefer to spend his time helping the church and others, rather than working for a corporation five days a week to satisfy shareholders. As he became busier both at work and with the church, he began to burn out and decided to resign from Diageo so he could give more of his time to his passion. However, the church couldn’t pay him a salary so he set up a consultancy firm, Discerning

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of Spirits. He has worked with the likes of the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, University of the Highlands and Islands, and the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, teaching and offering his technical expertise. By taking the step to go it alone, Vic had no constraints and could be in charge of his work life and church life, while taking on the projects that interested him. This is how his church came to fund an orphanage project in rural India. When Sundar, the pastor of an orphanage in the state of Andhra Pradesh, contacted Vic to ask if he could buy the children of the orphanage some bibles, Vic decided to set up sponsorship programmes for the twenty orphans and widows who came to Sundar for meals. After sponsoring for a while, he paid a visit to the orphanage to see how his money was being used. When he arrived he was shocked to see that the 20 orphans were living in Sundar’s threeroom house along with his own two children. During this initial visit, Vic also learned that his church were their only donors, and Sundar raised the rest of the funds himself. Vic’s church now fund the orphanage with donations of around £600 per month. Last year they launched a special fundraising project to put a new roof on Sundar’s house only fore to disaster to strike when the whole building collapsed during the construction work. Vic learned the news while back in Elgin after Sundar emailed him images of the ruined building. Luckily no one was injured since the

Vic questioned what he was doing with his life and the legacy he would leave

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16 | The Holy Spirit

Deliverance: Many of the whiskies Vic made with Diageo are now coming to market.

Vic has made a difference to the lives of orphans and widows

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orphans and widows had moved into temporary accommodation. However, this meant that a £5,000 roof project had become a £40,000 new-build. Despite this major setback, Sundar never lost his faith, which has been a constant source of inspiration for Vic. Due to the area’s lax planning permissions and regulations, Sundar was able to draw up new plans and started construction just four days after the building collapsed. Although he didn’t have the funds for the new building, Sundar had faith that everything would work out. ‘I’m trying to live up to his faith,’ says Vic. ‘The new building has walls and doors up and should be finished soon.’ Through Vic’s congregation

he has made a huge difference to the lives of 20 orphans and 20 widows, as well as the people of the other 20 churches Sundar supervises. He has visited Andhra Pradesh twice already and his ultimate aim is to move there permanently, with the long-term plan of building a school for the community. Vic’s wife is fully involved in the project and has been on both trips to the orphanage, and his eldest daughters have expressed interest in becoming teachers at the school once it is built. Having had a career starting with malt spirit, a lot of what Vic made during his time at Diageo is now coming to the market as incredible aged whiskies. Vic should be proud of the legacy he will leave, both on the world and on the world of whisky.

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The U N I Q U E LY PERSONAL GIFT Exclusive Single Cask Scotch Whiskies ...bottled straight from the cask, sealed in wax and personalised with you handwritten message.



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18 | The Rant

The sham of

SHERRY CASKS Sherry-matured whisky is big business but the casks used to mature this sweet dram are not what you think they are. Blair Bowman investigates the rumours and uncovers the truth


herry-matured whiskies are incredibly popular, but did you know that the casks used are not really what you think they are? As a whisky drinker, you’ll probably have seen the photos that whisky companies use in their marketing. If so you could be forgiven for thinking that the sherry-matured whisky you are drinking was matured in a dusty old sherry butt sourced directly from a bodega in Jerez. Instead, the reality is that the sherry casks used by the Scotch whisky industry are all made to order for distilleries, seasoned with young, undrinkable sherry, and then sent off to Scotland. The image that whisky brands purport about the sourcing of their sherry casks is wantonly misleading. I feel it’s important to give a mini sherry lesson here. Sherry is a fortified wine matured in wooden casks. However, unlike typical wines, which are matured in wood and then disgorged leaving an empty cask (which can then be reused for maturing whisky for example), sherry is matured in a solera system. In the solera system, before new wine can be added into a cask, the wine from one row is emptied by a third and moved to the row underneath, and the same happens on this row too. The casks are never allowed to be emptied by more than a third at a time, meaning that older wine and newer wines are constantly blended together.

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The sherry casks used for whisky are made to order, seasoned with sherry and shipped It is very rare for a bodega to introduce new casks into a solera system and equally, it is very rare for them to take casks out of a solera system (usually by this stage they are completely exhausted or perhaps leaking). There are examples of some bodegas which have casks in their solera system that are 200 years old. It is nearly impossible for a Scotch whisky distillery to source an ex-solera system cask. Until the 1980s sherry was exported around the world in casks, a lot of it to the UK. After bottling the sherry, it was inefficient to ship the empty casks back to Spain, so most of them would end up in the whisky industry. However, the sherry was sent in transport casks speciallymade from European oak, while solera casks are instead always made from American oak. Nevertheless, the transporting of the casks to the UK could take up to a few months so these new transport casks would absorb some of the sherry into the pores of the wood, which was beneficial for the maturing of whisky. In 1986, a law was passed which meant that all Spanish wines had to be bottled in Spain before they could be exported, so the whisky industry had to come up with an alternative way to get hold of sherry casks since transport casks were no longer available. For a while, the whisky industry had been commissioning the Spanish bodegas to put around a litre of pajarete (a very sweet wine made from Pedro Ximenez grapes and grape must syrup) in a cask and put the cask under pressure in order to force the sweet wine into the pores of the cask. However, the Scotch Whisky Association quickly outlawed the use of pressurised pajarete casks.

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This led to the practise of seasoning casks, which is still the norm today. The sherry casks used in the whisky industry today are made to order, seasoned with sherry and then sent directly to Scotland. Everything you’ve heard about the casks being sourced from bodegas is a fallacy. It is not a cheap solution but for now it is the modus operandi for the entire whisky industry when they mature in sherry casks. Most distilleries in Scotland have contracts with Spanish cooperages who prepare the new oak casks for them (either from European oak or American oak). The newly made casks will then be sent to a sherry bodega for ‘seasoning’. Depending on the specifications, the cask will be filled with sherry wine of varying types and ages and left to season from anywhere between six months to two-and-a-half years, although the industry standard appears to be 18 months. There are rumours that casks are not often filled fully, and are only a third or even a quarter filled. However, having spoken to a

well-known bodega and a Spanish cooperage which specialises in seasoning casks for the whisky industry, they have both said that they will always fill to the brim of the cask. It appears that this may have been an issue a few years ago but not with new casks today. That said, there could be thousands of quarter seasoned sherry casks in Scotland that are currently maturing old stocks of whisky. It’s an interesting thought. After the seasoning, if deemed to be finished, the sherry is taken out. Due to acetic acid and tannin levels from the virgin oak, the wine is not fit for consumption but it is often used again for seasoning or turned into sherry vinegar. This I find odd: if it isn’t fit for consumption as wine, then what will that mean for the new make spirit that will end up in that cask shortly? I understand that the sherry wine is extracting and adding flavours into the virgin wood, but it still makes you wonder. The Scotch Whisky Association’s stance on sherry casks is an interesting one. The SWA

Visual trickery: Jameson barrels ageing in Bodegas Lustau with real Lustau Solera butts behind.

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GLENDRONACH 21 Produced to fill the gap in the expanding Glendronach range, this 2011 release is a combination of sherry matured whiskies, both oloroso and PX.

MACALLAN 12 DOUBLE CASK Matured in American and European sherry oak for a minimum of 12 years, this double cask dram is an exciting new age statement from Macallan.

ABERLOUR A’BUNADH This cask-strength single malt whisky bottled directly from sherry casks is a superb after-dinner drink. It is produced without chill-filtering or the addition of water and is released in small batches.

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20 | The Rant

I like big butts and I cannot lie: A sherry butt.

previously took advice from external counsel on the use of replicated casks for maturing Scotch whisky. Guidance sent out to members states: ‘Counsel has advised that it is permissible to replicate, for example, a traditional sherry cask by storing sherry in a suitable cask, as long as the storage of the sherry in the replicated cask is equivalent to traditional storage, both as regards time and other factors, so that the oak is affected in an equivalent manner. Members should treat replication of casks with caution, as whether replicated casks are acceptable will depend on the facts in each case.’ In my opinion the seasoning of casks for, say, 18 months is not ‘equivalent to traditional storage … so that the oak is affected in an equivalent manner’. When I asked Federico Sanchez-Pece Salmerón, communications manager at Bodegas Lustau, whether or not he thought the length of seasoning was equivalent to the length of time ‘real’ sherry would be aged, he said: ‘Real sherry would be aged much longer’. He added that seasoning and sherry production are two different things entirely. This was echoed by Rafa Cabello, CEO and master cooper of Tonelería Del Sur Rafael Cabello S.L., a cooperage that specialises in the seasoning of casks for the whisky industry. Rafa explained that

it is not the same thing. ‘It is important to understand that these casks are different from solera system casks, which are very old,’ he said. ‘The result is that seasoned casks give whisky younger flavours and aromas and some tannins, whereas a true oloroso cask would give more depth with older aromas’. Another source notes that ‘the seasoned casks are virgin Spanish oak so the process doesn’t really relate to sherry seasoning for consumption in terms of timing’. Stuart Macpherson, Spanish operations manager and master of wood for the Edrington Group, agrees that the length of time for seasoning is not the same as for real sherry. He says that the ‘seasoning of “real” sherry would depend on the type of sherry wine you were trying to create’. It is worth pointing out that the Edrington Group, who own Macallan and Highland

There is a huge opportunity to create clarity for consumers rather than using romantic – and misleading – images of dusty old bodegas

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hence the use of Pedro Ximenez (PX) among others. I think the whisky industry could really up its game here in terms of transparency. I’d love to see more clarity about the use of seasoned sherry casks, because as you now know, these are the norm. It’s a confusing subject with different types of oak, sherry and cask, but with a little effort the industry could make things a lot clearer. The old adage comes to mind: if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? By equal logic, if sherry is filled into a virgin cask, does that make a sherry cask, even if the sherry is no longer fit for consumption after seasoning? But to the whisky industry, it seems that if it looks like a sherry cask and smells like a sherry cask, then it probably is a sherry cask. There is a huge opportunity to create clarity for consumers here. Rather than using romantic images of dusty old bodegas and their solera systems, why not show truthful images of newly-seasoned casks and have conversations with consumers about this. It’s important to open the conversation up to discuss why this happens. Why not trust your consumers and show them how varied sherry can be. This might help introduce whisky consumers to the wonders of sherry and create demand for what could be a range of whiskies. Spoiler alert: sherry is seriously underrated and amazing value for money. For example you can easily get a bottle of 30-year-old oloroso and still have change from a £20 note. I for one intend to keep asking the tricky questions about this and hope that brands become more transparent on the subject in the future. Remember, the words ‘sherry cask’ on the label don’t give you much of a clue about anything.

The real thing: A solera system used for producing sherry.


Park, both known for their sherry-matured whiskies, are often quoted as saying that they are responsible for approximately 80-90% of all the seasoned sherry casks that come to Scotland. So it certainly seems that these replication casks are an approximation of what a real sherry cask would be like. But, in my eyes, they are not really that close to being ‘equivalent to traditional storage’ and are actually miles off being anything like a ‘real’ sherry cask. Another point of issue is the confusing use of the term ‘European oak’ in whisky marketing to mean ‘sherry-matured’, while ‘American oak’ is often used synonymously with ex-bourbon casks. However, as you now know, true bodega solera wood is always made from American oak. The sherry industry has been in decline for several decades, although it is said that Frasier and Niles Crane’s penchant for sherry in the sitcom Frasier did more to keep the sherry industry afloat than anything else for years. The seasoning of casks for the whisky industry has become an important part of their industry with major bodegas and cooperages operating successful seasoning cask businesses for the whisky industry. From time to time a bodgea will go bust, allowing some ex-solera casks to get picked up by distilleries. But I’m told that when this has happened, the casks have generally been of a poor quality and may have been sitting empty for a long time. I’ve also heard from others that if they really wanted to, they could get ex-solera casks but choose not to as the quality is so varied and they need consistency, and can dictate their requirements when ordering seasoned casks. Another point that isn’t clearly explained by whisky brands is the type of sherry used. Sherry can vary from a fino, which is deliciously crisp and dry, to a Pedro Ximenez, which is treacly sweet and syrupy at the other end of the spectrum. Just saying ‘sherry cask matured’ on the label of a whisky is the equivalent of someone entering a bar and ordering ‘beer’. It appears that the majority are using oloroso sherry to season, but it really depends on the flavour the distillery wishes to create,

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22 | Obsessive Collectors


COLLECTORS Cask & Still speaks to whisky collectors from around the world about their prized bottles, pet peeves and predictions for the future of whisky


WISHAW, SCOTLAND Where are you from? I am originally from Old Kilpatrick outside Clydebank but now I’m living in Carstairs. What is your profession? I’m the chef and owner of Artisan restaurant in Wishaw. What whisky do you collect and why? I collect Bruichladdich because when they restarted in 2001 they had some quirky bottles and hand-filled valinchs from the distillery, and the stories that went with them always intrigued me. When did you fall in love with whisky? I fell in love with whisky when I was 16, when my dad bought me my first bottle so that I wouldn’t steal his. Before I opened Artisan, I had 40 to 50 bottles behind the bar. What was the first bottle in your collection? My first bottle was a Glenlivet 12-year-old, which has since been enjoyed.

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Over a barrel: Derek Mather is the chef/ owner of Artisan restaurant in Wishaw.

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24 | Obsessive Collectors

Clockwise from top left: Mark Dermul in Ghent, Belgium; Mark’s whisky display cabinet; Derek with some of the bottles from his collection; Oldstyle Auchentoshan bottles; Derek’s restaurant, Artisan in Wishaw, stocks a wide variety of drams.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 25 >>>

How has being a collector impacted your life? You must always must have one eye open or an ear to the ground for exclusive whiskies. What changes have your seen in the whisky industry since you started collecting? A lot of people aren’t interested in whisky; they are only interested in flipping bottles at auctions for a profit. Have rising prices changed the way you view your bottles? Yes, some of the new releases are geared towards collecting instead of drinking. What are the best distilleries to follow these days? Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Springbank, Arran, Teeling and Glendronach. What are your favourite bottlings? Bruichladdich Octomore Orpheus, Octomore Farm private bottling and sherry Bruichladdich. What are your most prized bottles? I have some very special Bruichladdich, some of which are the only bottles in the world. Do you have any whiskies from other distilleries in your collection? Yes, I have Springbank, Macallan, Kilchoman and Glendronach. What are your hopes for the future of whisky? My hopes are that it doesn’t get too over-priced or expensive for the working person to buy it.

What whisky do you collect and why? I collect Auchentoshan. There are about 250 in the collection now, including some that even the people in Auchentoshan no longer have. That’s how I got the nickname ‘Toshan Man’ from them. I also have independent releases, such as some Islay Distillery exclusives and special releases by whisky clubs in Belgium.

a lot of people are only interested in flipping bottles at auctions for a profit When did you fall in love with whisky? I was over 30-years-old when I truly fell in love with whisky and I started collecting soon after. My collection started in 2009 and before that I had only three or four bottles of Scotch in my drinks cabinet. In less than a decade, my collection grew to 300 bottles. What was the first bottle in your collection? It was a Greenore 8-year-old Irish single grain. Not the new cognac-style bottle, but the old, square, dumpy bottle. Sadly, it’s been discontinued and re-marketed as Kilbeggan. What changes have you seen in the whisky industry since you started collecting? Marketing has become a lot more important and people are now much more knowledgeable about whisky than before. The biggest change, however, has been the tremendous increase in price, both on the official market and in the auction market.

Where are you from? I was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, but have been living in Ghent for the last 20 years.

Have rising prices changed the way you view your own bottles and how you add to your collection? I usually try to buy two bottles: one to enjoy now, and one for the collection to enjoy later. But with some high-end releases, that simply is not possible anymore. I am now often forced to make choices. Get one of these or get two of that. A decade ago, I could easily afford all three.

What is your profession? I am a team leader of the business credit centre at one of Belgium’s leading banks.

Do you think the whisky you collect has changed? It certainly has. Distillers play around with their whisky much more: we are truly spoilt with


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26 | Obsessive Collectors

all those releases. You used to have a standard range of maybe two or three releases, while now distilleries have four to six standard expressions and many special releases that make it quite interesting for the whisky drinker (and collector).

I fear scotch might lose fans to other whisky producing nations

What are some of the best distilleries to follow? In summer, I really enjoy fruity Speysiders such as Benriach or Glendronach, or even a Lowlander. In winter, I will turn to either heavily sherried malts like Aberlour or Glenrothes, or reach for the peaty whisky of Islay. I am especially fond of Caol Ila and Lagavulin, or young Ledaig. Caol Ila is very consistent. I have had the good fortune of trying over 90 different Caol Ila expressions so far, and if I were ever to taste one that I didn’t like I would be truly surprised. I also enjoy lesserknown malts that are not easy to find, like Aultmore, Dailuaine, Glen Elgin, Glenburgie, Macduff or Mortlach. And I always enjoy a glass of Clynelish 1997 or a 1980s Tomatin. What are your favourite bottlings? Those that I consider to be daily drams, which are both affordable and easy to find. For me that would be the Auchentoshan 12 or the Caol Ila 12. But I also have quite a few standard bottlings from Arran, Bowmore, Benromach and the likes in the cabinet. What are your most prized bottles? It is one that I had been searching for for ages: the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old Crystal Decanter

(with glasses), which was sold on the QE2 cruise liner in the 1980s. Do you have any whiskies from other distilleries in your collection? My collection is now about 300 bottles, 250 of which are Auchentoshan. About 50 are from other distilleries. I have quite a few Islays with the emphasis on Caol Ila. There is also my own collection. For two years now, my friend Imanuel and I have been bottling our own whisky under the Mark & Manny’s Malts (MMM) banner. We release four single cask whiskies per year, but only 50 bottles. What are your hopes for the future of whisky? That prices remain under control, because I fear the bubble will burst and Scotch might lose fans to other whisky producing nations. I also hope that they will continue to spoil us with interesting releases, but lose some of the packaging and marketing and return to the essence: the liquid.


Where are you from? I am from the northern part of Norway. I live in a small town called Tromsø, far above the arctic circle and under the Northern Lights. What is your profession? I work in my own little firm as a business

Left: Rolf and a friend share a dram. Right: reclining in his whisky bunker with his 62 unique bottlings.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 27 >>>


consultant. I am also a shareholder and member of the board in the world’s northernmost distillery, Aurora Spirit Distillery. What whisky do you collect and why? I collect mostly whiskies from Islay, my favorite being Lagavulin. I also have some Speyside bottlings. My collection of Lagavulin is not huge, but it consists of 62 unique bottlings. When did you fall in love with whisky? My interest in whisky started in 2008. I visited a local bar where my friend worked. He served me an Oban 14-year-old, with ice. This experience was something totally different to all other spirits I had tasted before. Lagavulin became my favourite around 2010. What was the first bottle in your collection? The Lagavulin 30-year-old. The bottle was bought in Alicante, Spain in 2010. And a Lagavulin Distillers Edition from London’s Whisky Exchange shop. I’ve still got them. How has being a collector impacted your life? Some friends and I are ‘rematuring’ or ‘doublematuring’ some Lagavulin 8-year-olds. I

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bought 40 bottles and filled a 25 litre Hungarian oak cask. I also bought a 3 litre cask for the same purpose, functioning as a ‘reference cask’. The casks were filled on 12 January 2018. The maturation has been going well. Have rising prices changed the way you view your own bottles and how you add to your collection? Yes, definitely. Before, I would just buy the bottle, but now I am more sceptical. For example, the latest Lagavulin 25-year-old costs around £1,000, which is way too much. Do you think the whisky you collect has changed? The industry is getting more profit-orientated. If you take Lagavulin as an example, the Feis Ile Festival bottling started out with maybe 500-600 bottles in total each year. Today there are 6,000 bottles released each year. What are your favorite bottlings? The Lagavulin 21-year-old from 2013. What are the most prized bottles in your collection? My favourites are the Lagavulin 37-year-old and the anniversary bottle from 2016, which was distilled in 1991.

Top: Rolf-Harald Haugen at a warehouse tasting at Lagavulin. Bottom: A small part of Rolf’s collection.

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28 | Whisky Cocktails



Stay cool this summer with the hottest whisky cocktails



15ml Noilly Pratt dry vermouth

35ml Johnnie Walker 12yo

35ml Woodford Reserve

15ml cardamom infused Kahlua

15ml Aperol

20ml red wine and raspberry syrup

1 dash Bittermens hopped grapefruit

25ml lemon juice

10ml Campari


25ml Pilot Blond Ale syrup

20ml lemon juice

METHOD: Combine, stir and serve

METHOD: Combine, shake and

in a rocks glass over a large ice

double strain into a Nick and Nora

METHOD: Shake first without ice to



get a good foam, then shake with

20ml Bowmore 15yo

5ml Elements of Islay Peat

25ml egg white

ice and double strain over ice into a rocks glass. Grate the zest of a lemon over the top.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 29




20ml Nikka Whisky from the Barrel

25ml Balvenie 12yo Doublewood

40ml Caol Ila 12yo

20ml Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum

25ml Remy Martin VSOP Cognac

20ml Regal Rogue Daring Dry

5ml beetroot puree

35ml sustainable citrus cordial


5ml lemon juice

5ml lemon acid

10ml nori seaweed syrup

15ml simple syrup

25ml egg white Soda water

METHOD: Combine and stir over

METHOD: Combine, stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass over

ice for 30 seconds, strain and

METHOD: Combine ingredients

serve straight up.

(except soda water) in a shaker and

a frozen beach pebble.

shake without ice before shaking with ice. Double strain into a highball glass without ice and top off with soda water.

Our six whisky cocktails were made by Conor O’Keeffe at The Devil’s Advocate Bar, 9 Advocate’s Close, EDINBURGH EH1 1ND. www.devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk

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30 | Whisky in Taiwan

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Eastern promise

Cask and Still Magazine | 31 >>>

Taiwanese whisky beat Scotch in a blind tasting test in Edinburgh, but what makes this small island’s malts so consistently impressive? Written by Blair Bowman

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aiwanese whisky leapt into the limelight when, in January 2010, a single malt whisky called Kavalan Classic from King Car Distillery in Taiwan, came out top in a blind tasting in Edinburgh chaired by Charles Maclean. A flurry of press interest from across the world ran the headline ‘Taiwanese whisky beats Scotch in blind tasting’. The tasting consisted of six samples, all of them around three years in age, made up of four scotch whiskies (two blends and two single malts), a threeyear-old malt from St George’s Distillery in England, and Kavalan Classic, the first bottling released from Kavalan. The samples were analysed strictly blind. The purpose of the tasting, set up by The Times, was to see how the English whisky fared against the Scotch, but when the results came in, the Taiwanese whisky came out top. It won by fourteen percentage points in front of the whisky in second place, which was a three-year-old

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Scotch blend. This being the more interesting story, and a surprise to all involved, the journalist from The Times ran with it. As a result, Kavalan was on the radar of the wider whisky industry. From then on, Kavalan started picking up gongs at various whisky awards around the world. Its status as a world-class single malt was cemented in 2015, when it was awarded the title ‘World’s Best Single Malt’ at the World Whisky Awards. Ian Chang, head of research and development and global brand ambassador, is also master blender for Kavalan. He was mentored by the late whisky consultant Dr. Jim Swan, who was fundamental in the creation of Kavalan’s spirit. The distillery was built in just nine months and is on the same site as King Car Group’s bottling plant for their bottled water business. Until 2002, spirits had been produced by a state monopoly in Taiwan, although the island has been a top four market by value for whisky for a number of years, despite a relatively small population of just 23.5 million.

The parent company King Car Group had been producing various beverages, namely root beer and ready-to-drink coffee. However, in 2006 changes in the law relating to distilling, inspired King Car to expand their operations into the production of whisky. It was a clever move by the company to produce a native Taiwanese whisky for the thirsty local market. Kavalan is the brand name given to the whisky produced at their distillery, which is located in Yilan County, in north eastern Taiwan. There, says Chang, ‘the sub-tropical heat and high humidity of Yilan causes accelerated maturation, ensuring a rich, complex whisky in just a few years, which we often refer to as “maturity redefined”. ‘After maturation, in the heat of Taiwan, whisky becomes even softer and smoother in a very short time. One of our challenges is to change the method

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of whisky production to suit a hot climate. The subtropical climate is bad for the angel’s share as there is a lot of evaporation.’ Due to the distillery’s location, they have some tricky elements to contend with. Fluctuating temperatures peak at between 37˚ and 40˚C in the summer, and around 6˚ to 8˚C in winter, combined with 95% humidity for most of the year. This, of course, plays a part in the maturation of their whisky. The angel’s share can reach up to 15%, compared to Scotland’s average of less than 2%. The distillery gets around one million visitors per year, which is both impressive and surprising when you compare it to Scotland, where there are 1.7 million visitors across all of the country’s distillery visitor centres. The product is available in 60 countries and has won well over 220 international whisky awards. They have over 18 bottlings available and are set to produce around nine million litres of alcohol this year, putting them nearly on par with Glenlivet (10.5 million litres of alcohol). But King Car is not the only distillery in Taiwan. In 2008, the state-owned Nantou Distillery in central Taiwan became the second producer of single malt whisky on the island. I remember trying Kavalan Classic in the summer of 2010 while living in Shanghai. I had seen the news headlines from earlier that year about it beating Scotch whisky in a blind taste test. I remember being very impressed by the tropical fruitiness of the whisky, despite its relatively young age. This is something that Kavalan have truly mastered, largely thanks to Dr. Swan. Their wood policy and clean spirit produce very tropical, fruity whiskies, which are ‘maturity redefined’ as Chang would say. Their popularity has accelerated in just a few years. You can now find Kavalan in most Oddbins, as well as in the whisky section of Waitrose, where is retails for around £50. So if you would like to try it for yourself you can now pick up a bottle of fine Taiwanese single malt whisky with your weekly shop. If this doesn’t show the quality and appeal of the product, then I don’t know what does.


32 | Whisky in Taiwan

Clockwise from top: Kavalan Distillery in Taiwan; barrels of King Car whisky; Ian Chang, master blender for Kavalan; charring of casks at the cooperage inside Kavalan Distillery; the copper stills in the distillery.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 33 >>>

The Angels Share evaporation can reach up to 15% compared to Scotland’s average of less than 2%

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19/04/2018 15:53:13

Carnegie Whisky Cellars Full Page Ad.qxp_Layout 1 11/04/2018 10:01 Page 1

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Cask and Still Magazine | 35

whisky by numbers Impress your friends with these facts and figures

£139 Exports earned £139 every second in 2017

The EU accounted for 31% of Scotch whisky exports, making it the top destination for exports


£356M Export value of Scotch whisky in 2017 was £4.359bn, up by £356m compared with 2016

2 0 £4.273 BILLION The previous high for export value was £4.273bn in 2012

Scotch whisky accounts for over 20% of all UK food and drink exports

Source: HMRC export data for 2017

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Scotch whisky is sold in around 200 markets worldwide


39 bottles were shipped overseas each second in 2017


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36 | A bluffer’s guide to...

Written by: Blair Bowman



Copper pot stills




These giant teardrops of shiny metal play a major part in whisky production

Diagram 1

The humble copper pot still is synonymous with

from one another with near infinite options and

whisky and is an integral part of the production

variations. However, I will attempt to summarise

process. Visit any distillery and perhaps the most exciting part is the grand finale, when you enter the still house and are met by towering copper pot stills. These are arguably works of art in their own right. Aside from their shimmering beauty and the welcome warmth they provide as you enter the shelter of the still room from the chill of a typical Scottish day, the copper pot still is without a doubt where the magic happens. In Scotland, whisky is distilled twice with

the shape of each individual still plays a part in the final taste of the spirit

a few of the possibilities. Bear in mind that the shape of each individual still plays a part in the final taste of the spirit. On your travels you will see that no two stills are the same, which is part of the beauty of distillation. A fourth generation family business, Forsyths of Rothes, in the heart of Speyside, produce the lion’s share of copper pot stills for Scottish whisky distilleries, as well as distilleries all around the world. If you think of

the odd exception. This means that most

a well-known spirit from anywhere in the world,

distilleries have pairs of stills, known as the

be it whisky, bourbon, rum, vodka, brandy, gin,

wash still and the spirit still. The wash still and

or tequila, there is a high probability that it was

the spirit still are typically different in shape

distilled using a Forsyths still.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 37

Forsyths manufacture copper pot stills varying from 50 litres to 25,000 litres in volume. A still can last around 30 years before it needs to

C = the conical and tall neck, which connects

Diagram 2

be replaced and can cost around £50,000,

to B D = the bend in the neck E = the lyne arm (swan neck) which connects to D

depending on its size among other factors.


There’s a myth that when dented stills are replaced, a dent is put in the same place so as

The three most common types of neck for a

not to change the spirit quality. I’m not sure if

copper pot still are ogee, lamp glass (not shown

this is true but it makes for a good story.

in diagram) or boil ball. Each one of these will create a different amount of reflux and therefore

To make a copper pot still you need to

a different type of spirit.

start with sheet metal. This is always made from 99.85% pure copper (of British standard


BS2570C106). Interestingly about 80% of the copper is recycled from the electronics industry, or from old copper pot stills.


Glenmorangie pride themselves on having the tallest stills in the business. The necks of their stills reach nearly 17 feet high. A smaller still is

Copper was first used to make stills because of its malleability. It was then

more likely to produce a heavier spirit. Macallan

discovered that the longer the contact

have traditionally boasted about how short and

between the vapour and the copper, the lighter

dumpy their stills are (the new Macallan distillery

the spirit would be. This is because of the

is set to open soon and will presumably have

‘reflux’, a vapour that rises inside the still then

stills of a similar size).

condenses. The more reflux, the lighter the



The angle of the lyne arm (swan neck) will also

1) HEAT SOURCE: The first variable is the heat source used.

have an impact on spirit character. If it points BALL FORM

upwards then copper contact and reflux will be

Traditionally, a still would have been heated

extended. If it is angled downwards then it helps

by a fire directly underneath it. However, this

to gather more intense flavours.

can cause inconsistency and lead to potential scorching as well as providing a potential


ignition source for alcohol vapours. Today,

Another important factor impacting the taste is

almost all distilleries use steam (heated by gas)

how the spirit is condensed back into a liquid. If

or electricity. The variations include: steam coil,

the spirit is condensed in a traditional worm-tub

steam jacket, electric element or electric hot

condenser – where the copper piping is coiled

plate as the heat source.

in a vat of cold water – it is said this produces a heavy, oily spirit. The more commonly used type

2) SHAPE OF STILL: The upper part of the still is made up of five basic sections (see diagram 1):

of condenser nowadays, and the one you will OGEE FORM

see at most distilleries, is called a shell-and-tube condenser. These are designed very differently

A = the spherical lid which covers the pot.

from the worm-tub condenser and are more

B = the intermedia connection

efficient and easier to clean.

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38 | Whisky Hero

Below: Ixxxxxxxxxxx Left: Tom decided to forgo his retirement to launch Angels’ Share Glass.

It’s not our whisky, it’s the angels’ share

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Cask and Still Magazine | 39

ngels On the side of

Launched in 2013, Angels’ Share Glass is flying high

Written by Blair Bowman


ngels’ Share Glass was founded in 2013 by a father-and-daughter team in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire who are known for producing unique, handblown glass angels filled with whisky. Tom Young is a world-renowned glass blower and in 2005 sold his business Village Glass in anticipation of his retirement. However, his daughter Karen Somerville had a ‘eureka’ moment while watching the film, The Angels’ Share shortly after it was released. She had a vision to create a hand-blown glass angel filled with whisky as an homage to the angels’ share, which occurs during the maturation of whisky. Instead of retiring, Tom was persuaded by Karen to establish Angels’ Share Glass and devised an IP protected glass angel, which is hand-blown and filled with 25ml of whisky. The angels look similar to the well-known Murano glass angels from Italy, except they are filled with whisky. The whisky is hermetically sealed in a special process only known to Tom and Karen. The expertise required to seal the flammable

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whisky into molten glass, without it igniting, is what makes these glass angels so unique. In his earlier career, Tom created spirit safe bowls for nearly every distillery in Scotland as well as making specially commissioned glass pens for the first release of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. In 2017, Tom received an MBE for services to glass blowing. Karen, who is MD of the business, has driven the growth of sales dramatically since the first angel was created back in 2013. The angels are now sold at whisky distilleries across Scotland as well as specialist independent gift shops. The team have also branched out into other whisky-related blown glass gifts, such as water droppers, decorative tasting glass lids and glass drinks stirrers. The multi-award winning family business is going from strength to strength and recently opened a new glass blowing studio to further evolve its offer. The namesake product is purely decorative and not for drinking. It’s completely sealed, the intention being you can keep your favourite dram forever. As they say to customers, ‘It’s not our whisky, it’s the angels’ share’.

19/04/2018 17:26:00

One of Edinburgh’s finest whisky bars with over 300 whiskies from home and abroad. Open for breakfast from 8.30am daily and serving food through to 10pm

Online Reservations @ www.abbeybar.co.uk 65 South Clerk St, Edinburgh EH8 9PP 0131 668 4862 TheAbbeyBarEdinburgh


THE BOW BAR Winner of the AA Hospitality Pub of the Year Scotland 2017/18

Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Bow Bar has 400 whiskies to choose from and 8 real ales from across the UK. Independent whisky bottlers are well represented and up to 40 international bottle beers can be found here. Award winning pies available at lunch time. 80 West Bow, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 226 7667 www.thebowbar.co.uk

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Cask and Still Magazine | 41 >>>

s ’ r u e s s i nno



L E S Befuddled by the dizzying range of

drinks on offer? Feel the fog of confusion lift with our 13-page guide to what the real experts drink

S &

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42 | Connoisseur’s Selection


Mike Lord


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 three Speyside whiskies that have caught his attention.




This Balvenie is traditionally matured in ex-bourbon casks before being given a further maturation for a few months in ex-port casks. A celebration whisky, but don’t expect to need the cork again after opening. NOSE: Fruit flavoured, mint, sweet on the nose. Then liquid caramel, chocolate coated raisins and walnuts. PALATE: Medium sweet on the palate. Very creamy and lush. Strawberry jam notes. Quite spicy and a touch of menthol. FINISH: More gentle spice and a touch of wood smoke.



www.robbieswhiskymerchants.com Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a familyrun business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character and great whisky since 1984. Here, Robin selects some of his favourite Speyside drams on the market.

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A new addition to the core range, matured in American and Spanish oak casks which have allowed the whisky to embrace the rich, natural elements of Speyside. NOSE: Hints of rich dark chocolate with spicy notes of raisins, zesty citrus fruits and vanilla PALATE: On the palate there are notes of orange, toffee, vanilla and leather, all wrapped together with a gentle spice. FINISH: The long lasting finish has a warming spice which is sweet and creamy.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 43






This Benromach was matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks followed by a further 28 months in ex-Sassicaia wine casks which is a much sought-



after Italian wine. A very classy dram at a bargain price.

A unique combination of five vintages from four different cask types including bourbon,

NOSE: The nose is plums and blackcurrant jam with a wisp of smoke.

port, madeira and sherry married together

Then comes tamarind sauce – ginger, cumin and chilli.

skilfully to celebrate the 120th anniversary of this

PALATE: Chewy on the palate. Chilli prickle at first, then

famous distillery.

comes milk chocolate coated mixed berries with a

NOSE: An aroma explosion of sugar-crusted

smoky tang.

rhubarb crumble, chocolate raisins and oak

FINISH: The finish is smoked chilli

smoked toasted almonds.

flavoured black coffee.

PALATE: A cocktail of roasted and toasted coffee


beans, melted dark chocolate and sweet raisins infused with fortified wine. Rich, complex and completely well




This whisky was matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks and is neither coloured nor chill-filtered. For its age and price it is hard to do better.

FINISH: Long and satisfying. Spice and oak come to the fore.

NOSE: The nose is baked oranges, marmalade and toffee. There are also notes of tangerines and candle wax. PALATE: Warm and spicy. Rich with milk chocolate raisins, honey and orange drizzle cake on soft oak. FINISH: Very long and warming with wood spice.




A limited release inspired by the historical import of casked port into Scotland during the 19th century and made using Highland peat, in an additional homage to the whiskies produced in that era. NOSE: Strawberries dusted with cinnamon sugar, filled with sweet wood smoke. PALATE: Crisp, tart cranberry juice, flooded with waves of Highland smoke, sweetens to red berry compote, with rich, stewed barley and lingering, smouldering charcoal. FINISH: Long and warming with mint and peat intertwining.

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19/04/2018 10:13:15

By test the best Scotland’s Oldest Independent Bottler Whisky, Gin, Rum & Cognac Individually selected casks non chill-filtered and natural colour


172 Canongate Royal Mile Edinburgh EH8 8DF

Tel: 0131 556 5864

Highlander Inn at the epicentre of the ‘Malt Whisky Universe’

Popular throughout the year with local Speyside residents and international visitors. With more than 400 different, and interesting whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask 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.

Popular throughout the year with local Speyside residents and international visitors.

With around 300 different, and interesting whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask Malt whiskies, and real ales & lagers on draft. www.whiskyinn.com 01340881446 info@whiskyinn.com

10 Victoria Craigellachie, Banffshire AB38day 9SR from Bar lunches andStreet, dinners are Aberlour, available every 12 noon till 2:00pm and 5:30 to 9:00pm, food all day Sat & Sun from 12 noon till 9:00pm.

Highlander Inn at the epicentre of the ‘Malt


Popular throughout the year with local Speyside residents and international visitors. With more than 400 different, and interesting whiskies, including a large number of Single Cask 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. 10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR

www.whiskyinn.com 01340881446 info@whiskyinn.com 01340881446 info@whiskyinn.com 10 Victoria Street, Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire AB38 9SR www.whiskyinn.com

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Cask and Still Magazine | 45




A lovely easy-sipping blended Islay malt. NOSE: Crisp citrus fruits, warming peat and some iodine. PALATE: Seville oranges, lemon with smoky cereal notes. FINISH: Salty, fresh and long.




An unnamed Islay single malt from the southern end of the island. NOSE: Sherry butt aged and with all the expected and iconic medicinal phenolic, briney seaside and earthy aromas.


flavours. NOSE: Beautifully rich. Raisins, coffee, leather with just a hint of peat. PALATE: Wow! Stunning. PX cask dominates but never overwhelms.

PALATE: Soft and then opens up into a salty

There is a wee bit of peat like Laddies

and peaty explosion of flavours with a

of old.

dusty, herbal edge.

FINISH: Some salty freshness

FINISH: Sweet peat and saline length.

balances and lengthens the flavours.

Shane Dunning



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Immense old-school sherried Laddie

As well as being a whisky and spirits buyer for Woodwinters, Shane also undertakes private sales of whisky and fine wines for the company. Here, Shane chooses some his favourite Islay whiskies.

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46 | Connoisseur’s Selection





Glencadam is one of the few remaining distilleries in the eastern Highlands. This naturally coloured, unchillfiltered 21-year-old is fantastic value! NOSE: Sweet and enticing; lemon sorbet, raspberries, and cream. PALATE: Gentle and moreish; candied lemons, brown sugar, and vanilla yoghurt. FINISH: The sweet, creamy, malty notes continue alongside lingering citrus





The second release in this limited edition range following on from the 1990 vintage, wine fans might like to know some ex-Côte-Rôtie casks were used for this one. NOSE: Almond, marzipan and creamy chocolate notes to start with, a good solid oak and alpine forrest adding the highland element, creme brûlée and fresh honey once you add water. PALATE: Immediately mature oak notes, beeswax and hazelnut followed by green apple, burnt orange and maple syrup flapjacks. FINISH: Soft cinnamon and liquorice notes combine with a touch of cuban cigar leaf, I prefer this one neat, no water.

TOMATIN 12 YO 35.40



Having once specialised in providing whisky to third parties, Tomatin now offers an impressive array of high quality single malts. NOSE: An intricate mixture of floral and sweet notes; blossom honey, fresh mint

and lavender.

PALATE: Heavier than the nose suggests; toffee, stewed apples, and gentle oak spice. FINISH: Fleeting floral notes, followed by juicy fruitiness.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 47




The relaunched Loch Lomond range increasingly attracts new fans and as the official sponsors of the British Open Golf 2018 I expect this to continue. NOSE: Initially vanilla and toffee with Lee’s Snowballs giving it a real confectionary character, some grassy notes and orange sherbet add to the mix.

Darren Leitch

PALATE: Light and delicate malt with barley and oak balance followed by buttery toffee, apples and oranges. FINISH: Shortbread and butter


tablet with a gentle cinnamon


spice to carry it on then



fresh peaches at the

This distillery is renowned for

very end.

producing a unique fusion of waxy spirit and coastal flavours. The 14-year-old is a classic! NOSE: Bright and busy; tropical fruits, golden syrup, and salty smoke. PALATE: Complex and well-balanced; barley


www.whiskyshop.com Darren is the National Retail Manager of the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK: The Whisky Shop. He is also on the judging panel for the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.

sugar, smoked kippers, and candle wax. FINISH: Oak spices emerge to mix with the wax and brine in the medium finish.

BALBLAIR 2000 70



A millennium baby, this Balblair was matured in Bourbon barrels before being finished in sherry casks. NOSE: Stewed fruits, black wine gums, cola bottle sweets and clove rock combine with Highland heathery breeze. Sherry dominates. PALATE: Rich fruity top notes with plum, black cherry and a touch of cocoa bean underpinned with a nice vanilla cheesecake flavour. FINISH: More sherry pours through on the finish with ginger and clove and a light pepperiness.

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www.wmcadenhead. com Josh joined the Cadenhead team in 2016 and has now worked in the whisky industry for a number of years. He is particularly enjoying access to many interesting and unusual single cask bottlings.

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48 | Connoisseur’s Selection





Soft and light, with sweet chantilly cream


flavours, this is a very fine grain whisky, and a


good starting point if you fancy a change from malts.


Single cask bottling from Morrison & Mackay, limited to 260 bottles.

NOSE: Light and elegant, with sweet vanilla notes and hints of buttered popcorn.

NOSE: Heather honey sweetness leads to nasturtium pepperiness and green tropical fruits.

PALATE: Round and soft with classy oak notes giving vanilla and fudge, followed by

PALATE: Peach and apricot in single cream with

that popcorn note again.

gentle wood spices and Granny Smith apples. FINISH: Tongue-tingling spices with freshly cut grass and barley sugars.

FINISH: A great example of some mature grain whiskies, light elegant and dangerously moreish.




This spicy, fruity blend has been made exclusively with malt and grain whiskies aged for at least ten years. NOSE: Light and grainy, with some tropical notes like ripe banana, overplayed with some lovely vanilla notes. PALATE: Sweet and light-bodied with those rum notes coming through along with some lovely, gentle cask notes and a touch of pepper spice on the finish. FINISH: A lovely, full-blown blend, the rum really works and complements the sweet whisky.

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The fourth release of The Glover is a blend of 18 year old whiskies from Scotland and Japan.


NOSE: Elegant and malty on the nose with honey, vanilla spice and a touch of leather. PALATE: Balanced and elegant with sweet malt and honey and


gentle spice notes that lead to a



long finish.

Recently won a blind

FINISH: A blend of a Japanese and

tasting in our shop as

a Scottish single malt produces a

the ultimate Christmas dram;

whisky that reflects the best of

the finest Speyside whiskies

both countries.

predominantly matured in sherry butts. NOSE: Stewed fruit and prune syrup, dark bitter chocolate, aniseed and cinnamon towards the end.

Matthew McFadyen


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.

PALATE: Chilli chocolate with fennel and rosemary, spiced caramelised apples with rich Dundee cake. FINISH: Mouth-watering finish with baked ginger fruit cake. All-round balanced whisky.




A great recreation of a whisky made between 1924 and 1928 – a personal favourite of mine. NOSE: Incredible smell of apples and pears, which leads to gentle spices and a lingering smell of sweet smoke. PALATE: Vanilla with mixed citrus fruits, warming charred oak and a slight cinnamon edge. FINISH: Medium to long finish with developing layers of creamy toffee, chocolate, spices and smoke.

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Michael Hanratty


www.thecarnegiecourthouse.co.uk/whisky-cellars Michael worked for ten years in the industry in the Lowlands, and headed north in 2016 to manage the new Carnegie Whisky Cellars in Dornoch.

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50 | Connoisseur’s Selection




Single cask, single grain from Cambus, the defunct Lowland distillery. This whisky spent a quarter of a century ageing in a sherry butt. Bottled at natural cask strength of 57.1%, this whisky is very moreish. NOSE: Butterscotch, desiccated coconut and Belgian waffles. PALATE: Follows with a wave of fudge, cinnamon, cloves and chocolate, showing remarkably good texture. FINISH: Pecan slice, bruised bananas, a delightfully long lingering finish.



This is an absolutely delicious whisky bottled by Gordon & Macphail. This particular expression was matured in refill sherry hogshead and refill American hogshead, hence the burst of complex flavours. NOSE: Fresh mint and tropical fruit aromas with a delicate touch of oak. PALATE: Peppery initially with sweet peach, mango and kiwi fruit. FINISH: Devilishly long lasting.



Single malt Scotch whisky from a secret distillery situated north of the town of Girvan on the west coast of Scotland. Single cask #AB004 bottled 2017 by The Creative Whisky Co. for the Single Cask Exclusives series. NOSE: Lemon juice with red fruit, sweet mint and grass. PALATE: Drying oak aromas with grass and white spices followed by yellow fruit. FINISH: A little pungent on the tongue with slowly developing, spicy aromas.

Joanna Santiago


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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.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 51

Islands ARRAN 18 YEAR OLD 75.99




The oldest core range bottling from Arran’s only whisky distillery.

unnamed single malts by Morrison

NOSE: Baked peaches with syrup

& Mackay, this release being from an

and toasted almonds. Vanilla and light

Orcadian distillery.

cinnamon spice.

NOSE: Very delicate smoke with hints of orange and baked pear.

PALATE: Sweetness, ginger, citrus

PALATE: Sweet and malty, moving to vanilla and fresh fruit.

and baked peaches. FINISH: Smooth and rich, subtle spice, orange


The third release of a series of

FINISH: Biscuity, slight peppery notes with a vanilla sweetness on the finish.

marmalade and toasted brioche.



A fantastic new single cask, cask strength Caol Ila bottled by the independent bottler, Gordon & Macphail. NOSE: Vanilla aromas lead to green apple and citrus. PALATE: Peppery with ripe banana, nectarine and pear. FINISH: Full-bodied with rich peat smoke, tobacco and spice.

Nick Sullivan



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Nick oversees the smooth running of the Aberdeen Whisky Shop on the west end of the city’s Union Street. His top three island picks can be found among an enormous range of whiskies, including several highly collectable bottles.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 53



From the Hudson Valley in New York, this bourbon has as mash bill of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. The distinct flavours from each combine so well, and it also benefits from maturation in small barrels. NOSE: The nose is a crossbreed of rice, spice and sweet wheat notes, giving the best of both. Treacle, honey and wood spice.


PALATE: The palate starts with thick molasses, dark treacle and then the wood spice comes through. Then comes concentrated fruit cocktail syrup from a


Kentucky straight bourbon which has had a second maturation in American oak casks that have been deeply toasted before being lightly charred. This makes for a much smoother bourbon for sipping

fresh, carved wooden bowl. FINISH: The finish has lots of spice, treacle and rolled oats.

neat or with a little ice. A great crossover for scotch drinkers. NOSE: The nose starts with brown sugar, dark chocolate and then caramel with a very gentle woodiness – fresh oak. PALATE: The palate is smooth and oily. At first there is cocoa powder, then wood and raisins come through. There are also hints of coconut, macaroons and treacle tart.



A very classy Japanese whisky and a great place to start if you have not tried Japanese whisky before.

FINISH: Gentle spices and toffee on the finish that linger.

NOSE: The nose is sweet and floral with orange blossom at the start. It develops into green wine gums coated with desiccated coconut. PALATE: The palate starts dry and then spiced oranges come through followed by pineapple and lemon liqueur. FINISH: The finish is long and sweet and has a touch of Japanese woodsmoke.

Mike Lord



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Based in the heart of Speyside, The Whisky Shop Dufftown offers an exceptional selection of over 600 whiskies. Here are three of owner Mike Lord’s favourite worldwide whiskies...

19/04/2018 10:53:46

54 | Connoisseur’s Selection

Irish whiskey TULLAMORE DEW 14YO 52


A variety of casks were used to mature this Tullamore Dew expression including port, Madeira and sherry as well as the traditional bourbon barrel. NOSE: Fruity with peardrops, fruit cocktail, lychee and fresh green apple, a proper dessert type whisky. PALATE: A lot of flavours but delicate on the palate. Glazed and tropical fruits combine with molasses and butter icing. FINISH: Wild berries, blackcurrant, hawthorn, damson then some marzipan and charred oak.



A very complex, single pot still Irish whiskey using both Spanish sherry casks and Malaga wine casks to develop its richness through maturation. NOSE: Rich fruity notes with dried spices followed by creamy vanilla and raspberry ripple. Add water and it develops caramel banana and poached pears. PALATE: Pleasant and with a great depth of complexity cherry stone, peach skin, fruit syrup, raisins and treacle toffee. FINISH: Vibrant with the spices lingering long against the rich and balanced sherry and wine notes.

ROE & CO 35


A blend of Irish malt and grain whiskey Roe & Co was crafted with both the whiskey drinker and cocktail maker in mind. NOSE: Light oak then caramel, honeycomb and candy floss offer sweetness against a leafy, green tea and rubbed grass character. PALATE: Has a richer mouthfeel than the aromas would suggest, immediately fruity with yellow plum and white grape, foam shrimps. FINISH: Quite short but citrus burst gives it a zingy zip and it’s a lot more mellow with a splash of water.

Darren Leitch



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Darren is the national retail manager of the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK: The Whisky Shop. He is also on the judging panel for the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge. Here he shares some of his favourite Irish whiskeys.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 55



This whisky has been specially selected by Master Blender, Rachel Barrie, from some of the distillery’s most extraordinary and remarkable sherry casks from 1990, 1992 and 1993. NOSE: A carefully woven tapestry of stone fruit, baked quince and glazed cherries on a seductive bed of sandalwood, roast chestnuts and subtle musk scented leather PALATE: An elegant, deep and perfectly integrated palate combines a myriad of sherry cask tastes in each sip; an initial burst of rich sherry-laced fruitcake intriguingly opens up to reveal baked orange, sultana and luscious black cherries.



This release is always much anticipated and never graces our shelves for long! Aged in sherry casks (60%) and bourbon casks (40%). Only 4,800 bottles worldwide. NOSE: Elegant and refined. Sea salt and wakame seaweed, followed by pine cones, wood shavings and honey. PALATE: Rich and creamy with subtle peat and juicy sweet flavours. Salted popcorn, tofu, butterscotch and vanilla. tobacco leaf, wood shavings and Black Forest gateau. FINISH: Pecan nuts followed by soft peaty embers with dark chocolate and earthy notes.

Robin Russell



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Ultra-rare, this whisky numbers only 4,200 bottles drawn from the very last seven casks of 1986. NOSE: Dried fruit – raisins, fig syrup, prunes and Christmas cake. Muscovado sugar, a hint of hot sand and candied peel. PALATE: Sweet PX notes, raisins, dried figs, dates, grape sugar. Leather, cigar boxes and Christmas cake. FINISH: Never-ending. Sweet fruit, PX, salted caramel, cinder toffee and a hint of smoke.

Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character and great whisky since 1984. Here, Robin chooses three whiskies for those with an eye on investment.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 57

Other spirits WESTER SPICED RUM 35




Wester Rum takes its name from the


Super premium and triple

Wester Sugar House Company which was

distilled, 100% blue

established in Glasgow’s Candleriggs in

agave, with a twist.

1667. For over a century it built a reputation

Speyside whisky casks

for refining sugar and distilling rum. Craft

are sent out to Mexico

distilled and infused with fine spices, citrus

to age the spirit for

zest and vanilla.

seven months.

NOSE: Rich spices, cloves and anise.

NOSE: Sweet caramel

PALATE: Sweet sugars, vanilla with the

and toffee notes, a hint of

lemon zest coming through.


FINISH: Rich, creamy and

PALATE: Oaky notes from the

spicy, a lovely mouth feel

barrel, agave and earthy notes.

and long finish.

FINISH: Rich and smooth, creamy and buttery.



Eau de vie used to be made using the leftover fruits in rural areas using traditional stills. Tayport Distillers have taken this one step further, using the finest Scottish fruit, to produce a smooth and delicate eau de vie. NOSE: Spirited with fresh crisp strawberries. PALATE: Tart and citric with the strawberries continuing to come through. FINISH: Crisp and dry. Serve with ginger ale and fresh basil.

Ewan Mcllwraith



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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 here he recommends the best of the rest!

19/04/2018 11:00:58

Passionate About Whisky On-line 10% off voucher for Cask & Still Readers until 30 July: Cask10%

Visit us on our website or in the Malt Whisky Capital of the World. We send orders around the globe.

Specialising in a huge range of

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival 2018 27 Sep to 1 Oct 1 Fife Street, Dufftown, Scotland, AB55 4AL 01340 821 097 enquiries@whiskyshopdufftown.com

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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The Good Spirit Co.indd 1

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Cask and Still Magazine | 59

Other NEWS


Berry Bros. & Rudd has announced the launch of a new selection of own-label whiskies. Four blended malt whiskies each representing the epitome of a classic style of Scotch, join the recently re-launched Berry Bros. & Rudd London Dry Gin to form ‘The Classic Range’. The new blended malt whiskies include an Islay and Speyside as well as the distinctive cask styles of sherry and peat. The whiskies are priced at £32.00 for a 700ml bottle in the UK. www.bbr.com

KEEPERS OF THE QUAICH Keepers of the Quaich was established by the Scottish whisky industry to recognise the outstanding commitment of those who produce or promote Scotch. On Monday 26 March, 38 new members were inducted into the international society at a private ceremony at Blair Castle in Perthshire. To qualify, new Keepers must have worked in the industry for a minimum of five years. To date, just over 2,600 men and women from more than 100 countries have received the honour.


If you love a dram, then you’ll definitely want to be a part of the 2018 Scottish Field Whisky Challenge readers’ panel. Each year, a small group of Scottish Field readers blind taste drams from all over the country. The magazine is currently looking for readers to join the panel and take part in the event at the Scottish Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh on 30 July. Should you be selected you will be given a (large) selection of whiskies to sample, with expert assistance on hand. If you want to put yourself forward, then send an email to whisky@scottishfield.co.uk before 30 June, explaining why you want to taste some of Scotland’s finest whiskies. All levels of experience welcome but you must be over 18 to apply.

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19/04/2018 11:11:08


Every Time

Lying on the west coast of Scotland, Islay is at the mercy of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, whose treacherous storms have been shaping the landscape for thousands of years. Islay malts are unlike any other malt whiskies – they are  robust, smoky and peaty, with hints of the sea and spicy sweetness.

Islay Storm - the essence of Islay

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

“Silver – Outstanding” IWSC 2017 Award Winner

Available in all good independent Scotch whisky retailers

Award Winning Whisky retailer, Broker & Bottler www.vintagemaltwhisky.com






Bottled for CS James & Sons Ltd by The Vintage Malt Whisky Company, Glasgow, G62 Tel: +44(0)141 955 1700 Contact: info@vintagemaltwhisky.com Pantone 428

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Pantone 431

Luxor Foil 396

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

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Cask and Still Magazine | 61



Fill your glass with our pick of whiskies 1. BENRIACH 10 YO


The flagship of the BenRiach range. The ten years old is tree cask matured in a combination of bourbon, sherry and virgin oak. Aged for a minimum of ten years, this award winning Speyside single malt is fruity in style and brings a taste of


toasted oak spices, green apple and dried apricots.



Ever been hit by a runaway train from the comfort of your own armchair? Smokestack is a heavily peated blended malt that’s as smooth and spicy as it is rich and smoky. If it’s too intense for you, try it with a shot of Kahlua. You’ll never drink anything else again….. Available online at Master of Malt and from specialist independent retailers. www.vintagemaltwhisky.com/smokestack


4. CALEDONIAN 1987 3. BENRIACH 21 YO This beguiling Speyside single malt Scotch whisky has been matured for at least 21 years in a combination of four types of casks: bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and red wine casks.


single grain whisky was bottled exclusively for Jeffrey St Whisky & Tobacco by The Creative Whisky Co. Only 218 bottles were released. Expect a complex, rich and spicy palate, crème brûlée in alcoholic form. The whisky was distilled in 1987, just one year before

The four types of casks

Caledonian closed its doors

have been expertly married

forever. Today all that remains

by master blender Rachel Barrie with each one adding unique notes to the tasting experience. www.benriachdistillery.com

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This single cask release of Caledonian

from this 19th-century distillery is its 300ft chimney stack, visible from many points in Edinburgh. www.jeffreyst.com

19/04/2018 11:14:50


Whisky? See the latest issue of Cask & Still magazine and previous issues for free at issuu.com/caskstillmagazine

Visit our website: www.caskandstillmagazine.co.uk C&S House Ad.indd 66

19/04/2018 16:31:01

68 | Connoisseur’s Selection





A Northern Isles gin mixing ancient tradition and botanicals with a modern, international style. Botanicals are grown and hand picked for the gin by the Agronomy Institute of the UHI in Kirkwall. The name Storm Strength pays homage to the seafaring tradition of the islands, and the use of Bere barley and an ancient species of Angelica left by the Vikings, found only on the island, lends its name to this outstanding gin, handcrafted in small batches. NOSE: Herbaceous and piney, fresh and sweet. PALATE: A well balanced depth of flavour from the spice and citrus, but not overpowering the floral notes from the wild bouquet of Ramanus rose, Burnet rose and borage. FINISH: Long and smooth with gentle spice and floral notes.

CROSSBILL 200 87.95



Named after an indigenous Scottish bird only found in the ancient woodlands, which are home to Crossbill gin. This is the only Scottish gin using 100% Scottish juniper, and only berries from one 200-year-old specimen are used for this annual, small batch gin. The wild rosehips growing around the juniper are included in this still strength 59.8% special edition. A truly unique and rare gin, which delivers intense, big flavours. NOSE: Warm rosehip earthy tones shine through the juniper. PALATE: The kick you would




A relative newcomer to the market from the Crafty Distillery in Dumfries and Galloway. Made from their own wheat grain spirit along with 11 local botanicals. NOSE: Sweet stewed rhubarb initially, leading to fir needles, mango, pineapple and citrus spice. PALATE: Sherbet, light mango and spices come to the front, a pinch of salt from the seaweed. FINISH: Sweet and refreshing, drying and aromatic. A dash of tonic but no garnish required.

expect from the higher abv with flavour bombs of herbs and wild berries. FINISH: Almost never-ending, sweet and herbaceous.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 69




The second release from Wild Island on Colonsay, currently distilled at Langley Distillery until their own is up and running. This gin is based on an ancient Scots ‘Sacred Tree’ calendar where brambles represent September – the month in which the fruits were gathered. NOSE: Rosehip and juniper on the nose, light citrus and enticing. PALATE: Sharpness from crab apple and bitterness from rowan berries combine with the sweetness of brambles. FINISH: Dry, crisp with berry flavours lingering. Refreshing and fruity.




With their ‘mill to still’ motto, the crew at Dornoch Distillery have produced an exceptional, satin smooth and flavourful gin. Their use of organic floor malted barley imparts a notably creamy mouthfeel to this flavourful libation. My

Ewan Mcllwraith



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 he’s partial to a gin too!

favourite serve is with Fevertree Tonic, a twist of fresh lemon peel to express the oils atop with a twist or two of black pepper to give an extra zing! NOSE: A perfect balance of spirit and botanicals, juniper forward. PALATE: With 10% of the base spirit produced at the tiny distillery, the creaminess of the spirit lends itself as a canvas upon which to exhibit the fruity and floral botanical mix. FINISH: Freeze-dried raspberry and black pepper linger and slowly ebb away on an elegant finish.




Produced in the Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre using 12 botanicals including sheep sorrel and Icelandic moss. NOSE: Quite delicate on the nose, floral notes, citrus, lemon and orange with Orris making an appearance. PALATE: Hints of cassia bark (cinnamon), mixed with the peppery note of sorrel and slight herb. FINISH: Bitter orange and pepper mix in with the juniper and angelica. A very interesting and revealing gin. Serve with tonic and basil or lime.

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www.thecarnegiecourthouse.co.uk/whisky-cellars With almost a decade of customer service experience in the world of whisky, Lorna meets, greets and conducts whisky and gin tastings for visitors from home and all over the world in the award winning Carnegie Whisky Cellars at Dornoch.

19/04/2018 11:04:10

70 | Spirit Level

Any port in a storm While port is often seen as a Christmas tipple, the fortified wine from Portugal once held pride of place on Scotland’s upper class tables, says Brooke Magnanti

Deadly duo: Scottish names Cockburn and Sandeman represent port worldwide.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 71 WORTH A LOOK

is spring, when a woman’s thoughts turn to... port?’ But isn’t it a winter tipple? Hear me out. If you only dust off a sticky old Sandeman’s at Christmas to serve alongside the stilton, or if port in your opinion takes pride of place exactly nowhere, then you may be surprised to learn how Scotland fell in love with this rich, fortified wine. In the 17th century, Britain declared war on France, cutting off their supply of wine. Importers turned to Portugal, where grappa-like aguardiente was added to barrels, stabilising the wine for its journey down the Douro River to Oporto, then over the sea. The richness and sweetness was better suited to colder climates, and port became popular throughout England. As a student coming from Florida to Sheffield in the early 2000s, I quickly fell in love with port for exactly this reason. Not only its warming properties but the ritual of it: the decanters, passing to the left. Being less fond of sweet drinks than most young women, I nevertheless took to port like a duck to delicious, boozy water. But I was an easy sell compared to 17th and 18th century Scots. In Scotland, claret remained the top choice even if it had to be smuggled – a mark of national identity hearkening back to the Auld Alliance. After visiting the Western Isles, Dr Johnson wrote: ‘I forgot to enquire how they were supplied with so much exotic luxury.’ David Hume wasn’t a fan of port, writing: ‘We transferred the commerce of wine to Spain and Portugal, where we buy worse liquor at a higher price’ and eschewed port for claret. But by the end of his life he had come round on the matter, bequeathing to John Home sixdozen bottles of port from his own cellar. Hume’s about-face reflected

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changing attitudes among the upper classes of Scotland, adopting English fashions even if they still preferred cosy Edinburgh to the bustle of London. After 1745, any Scot of money and taste would have sampled the popular English drink of port; many even found that they liked it as much as, or better than, a bottle of French. Even James Boswell, fond of claret in his youth, was serving mainly port at his table in Auchinleck by 1783. When war broke out between Britain and France in 1793, the tripling of the tariff on claret was followed by a steep decline in the popularity of French wines. Prominent former Jacobite Laurence Oliphant of Gask, who fought alongside his father at Falkirk and Culloden, and even fled to France before being pardoned, had stopped buying claret entirely by 1793. The years of war with France were a time when Scottish identity was put aside for the greater British project, and before whisky was firmly established as Scotland’s national drink. By 1815, when Scot Robert Cockburn established his wine house in Portugal after serving under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars, port was no longer considered offensive to Scots. At the height of imperial British power, there was nothing finer to be drunk. George Sandeman, the Scottish port shipper, was a frequent guest at Wellington’s table, and tales of his ‘ancient vintages’ helped spread the popularity of his brand. Today those Scottish names – Cockburn and Sandeman – represent port worldwide alongside their English compatriots Warre’s and Taylor’s, but Britain does not hold the only claim to love of the drink. Port by definition comes from Portugal but that hasn’t stopped New World wineries from tapping into the market. From St Clair portstyle wine, produced in Deming, New Mexico to Gypsy Canyon ‘Angelica,’ a style of wine said to originate with the 16th century Spanish missionaries in California, there is a wide variety available to anyone with a sweet tooth who may have tired of their usual Ruby, Tawny, or LBV.


Selected from the lighter wines of each year and aged in small oak casks, this port is pale in colour, light in body and works well as a chilled aperitif, with an appetiser, or served at the end of a meal.


The perfect port for everyday, informal occasions, Fine Ruby is blended from several young wines to give a rich, fruity and zesty flavour, with an intense colour.


Perfect for collectors, these ‘declared’ vintages are blended from the best produce of the firm’s three estates, only if the wines are judged to be of exceptional quality with depth of flavour and great structure.

19/04/2018 15:50:01

72 | Let there be Lite

Thirsty work: If Albert Einstein had been a beer aficionado, he would have invented Genius.

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19/04/2018 16:20:42

Cask and Still Magazine | 73 >>>



A dire taste experience with low-alcohol lager set two Scots off on a quest to reinvent the wheel – leading to a spark of Genius Written by Richard Bath

ike all the best ideas, it came in a flash of inspiration and it arrived in a pub. Pals Jason Clarke and Charlie Craig had met up for lunch at a country hostelry and, having driven there, were grumbling about the strength of the lager and the quality (or complete lack thereof) of the alcohol-free beer on offer. What was needed, they agreed, was a lower-alcohol lager that tasted – well, like proper lager. Cue Genius, a craft lager that comes in rather fetching matt gold 330ml cans which contain a 3% lager that tastes actually rather good (the tasting notes say it has ‘a subtle

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citrus aroma and taste’ and that’s a pretty fair summary). The USP is that each can contains exactly one unit of alcohol, which by my calculations means that even in Scotland, where the drink-drive limit was reduced from 35 to 22mg of alcohol per 100mg back in 2014, you could in theory drink two cans and be under the limit. However, when I met them in Edinburgh, the duo visibly blanched at the idea of this being cited in print given that the Government’s end game is for no-one consuming alcohol to ever be in charge of a car. Thankfully the days when anyone would consider drinking several cans of lager and still climb behind the wheel of a car are long gone. But the beauty of Genius is that you can have a few beers on a Saturday night and then ferry the kids to mini-rugby on Sunday morning without quaking in your boots. ‘No-one wants to drink beer that tastes like it’s been left out on the side for days, and no-one should have to,’

19/04/2018 16:22:30

74 | Let there be Lite

Image (from top left): Hipsters love craft lagers; Clarke and Craig; Lite beer is big business in the USA; 5p from every can sold goes to Doddie Weir’s MND charity.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 75 >>>

laughed Craig. ‘So we set about working with a really innovative traditional brewer who prizes quality to try and make a low-alcohol craft lager that we think stands scrutiny against lagers with twice the ABV. We’re biased of course, but I think it tastes bloody good and lives up to our aim of making responsible drinking a pleasure not a compromise.’ The two men have big dreams. Clarke had been musing on the reduced alcohol sector after looking at the American market and seeing that seven out of their top ten selling beers are Lite beers. With commendable ambition, he points to the fact that Guinness has dominated a large niche in the market and speaks wistfully about his dreams of Genius doing the same for the ‘light craft lager’ sector. Craig, from Bridge of Weir, has impeccable craft beer credentials having cut his teeth running Fyne Ales for ten years until a parting of the ways in 2013. His partner Clarke, a fast-talking and eminently persuasive former Army officer from Dunblane, has a 20-year background in marketing and digital communications. Between them they have a good story to tell and – far more importantly – a good product to market. ‘Take a step back for a second, and think about the beer sector,’ says Clarke. ‘Lite beers are dominating in the USA for the same reasons that they soon will here. People are far more concerned about their health than ever before, and with the

recommended number of units coming down to 14 per week for men and women in 2016, it makes sense to think about the best and most enjoyable way to consume those 14 units. ‘There’s long been a stigma or cringe, a sense that real men don’t drink lite beers, that they’re somehow uncool, but that is quickly fading. Now the main reason that people don’t drink no-alcohol or lite beers is a completely understandable one – they generally taste terrible.’ They have attempted to solve the taste conundrum by teaming up with Andy Reid, a master brewer working at the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. This is where Craig’s background in brewing came in useful: he knew the Marston’s team could perfect the taste by using top quality ingredients like pilsner malt and Styrian Golding hops, and matured with Australian Galaxy and Ella hops. The aim was to produce a rich, complex beer capable of going toe-to-toe with the big lager brands on taste, but with 25% less alcohol than Carling or Fosters, and 40% less than Peroni, Becks and Kronenbourg. As well as focusing relentlessly on taste, Craig and Clarke are trying to bolster their responsible drinking credentials. They recently achieved funder status with the Drinkaware campaign, which is usually reserved for companies with a turnover of £1m or more. The impetus towards so-called responsible drinking is picking up pace. Last month research from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation showed that drinking more than ten units a week led to a life expectancy of two years less. The survey of 600,000 drinkers around the world concluded (somewhat depressingly) that each unit over ten per week is equivalent to a cigarette, taking 15 minutes off life expectancy. The seemingly neverending tsunami of stats about the risks of cancer and obesity that come from drinking to excess is only adding to the direction of travel. On the subject of obesity, the pair think that their lower-alcohol craft lager could become the tipple of choice for discerning female beer drinkers. As well as tasting great, each can contains just 72 calories – which is less than an apple and about half the calories of a large glass of red wine. Given the price of wine in pubs, it’s not outlandish to suppose that a loweralcohol beer which combines flavour and cost-saving with decreasing waistlines has a good story to tell to female drinkers. ‘Nor is it just women who are now more conscious of their health and their waistlines,’ says Clarke. ‘There’s loads of evidence that men have the same preoccupations. So we’re certainly looking at those sectors where people want to look after their bodies – guys at cricket or golf clubs, or MAMILs on a day-long bike ride who strop at the pub to quench their thirst.’ If it sounds unfeasibly virtuous, Craig and Clarke have plopped a halo on top by pledging to give 5p from every can sold to Doddie Weir’s motor-neurone disease charity. Clarke played rugby with Weir and his wife’s father died of MND so it’s a cause close to his heart. If the two Scots can help a good cause profit from the greater good of producing a Lite beer that doesn’t taste like brewed horse urine, then all power to their elbows.

Each can contains 72 calories– – less than an apple and half of a big glass of red wine

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19/04/2018 16:24:36


Inspired by the two resident White-tailed Eagles that nest in the forest at our home on Mull. Our multi award-winning Whitetail Gin, like its namesake combines strength and power at 47% abv with a smooth and delicate finish. Available online at whitetailgin.com

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19/04/2018 15:33:27

n Cask and Still Magazine | 77

Over a

BARREL Producers of craft beer are finding it harder to compete as the big companies introduce rival brands Written by David Austin


eer drinkers are seeking out ‘craft’ products in increasing numbers. But what exactly is craft? From other craft drinks, particularly gin and cider, to craft butchers and craft bakeries, it’s hard to understand what this actually means. The definition of ‘craft’ is ‘an activity involving skill in making things by hand’, which makes sense when you visit craft fairs where the person who made the product is invariably behind the stall selling it. This makes us feel we have invested in something unique and artisan, and we don’t mind paying a little bit more for the pleasure. In the UK we have hundreds of artisanal, local, craft beers that have successfully created a niche in the market. Being a big fish in a small pond is very comfortable, but it is restrictive, especially when you want to expand your horizons and increase your volume, as Innis & Gunn are doing by growing their presence in America. Fundamentally, brewing is about volume, but once you’re out in open water, the predators become larger and more ferocious. The giant breweries want a piece of what you have and preferably all of it if they can. Many small-tomedium sized breweries are being swallowed up and bought out. Take the giant Inbev who bought Camden Town brewery and Aussie craft brewery Pirate Life among others. Carlsberg have taken London Fields brewery and more will surely follow.

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The term craft beer is under attack. Its very notion is being stretched and torn by wolves in sheep’s clothing

And if the international brewers can’t buy you, they have devised a cunning way of out-competing you. Take for instance the aforementioned Carlsberg, whose new tag line is ‘the first craft brewery’ stating its original recipe of 133 years. Tennent’s have created Drygate Brewery within its own Wellpark brewery and the world’s largest spirits company Diageo have created Hop House 13 craft ale. All this does is serve to create confusion for beer drinkers looking for craft products, as beer taps become pawns in the battle to out-market other brands in a crowded game of bar chess. The result is that a bitter wars of words has broken out between leading craft brewers and the big brewers. The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) have been accused of aiding and abetting the likes of Heineken and Molson Coors by accepting them as members in direct conflict with the ethos of its 861 independent brewery members. The term craft beer is under attack. Its very notion is being stretched and torn by wolves in sheep’s clothing. The romantic idea of small-batch, locally-made, hand-crafted beers is still alive but it’s going to get a lot tougher to compete as the big fish circle. Let’s hope that consumers who swallowed the bland ‘sliced white loaf’ of globalised beer and became slaves to its sanitised seduction won’t fall into the trap again and instead ask the questions – who makes it, how and where?

19/04/2018 15:56:59

78 | Connoisseur’s Selection


SKYE RED £2.60


Ever present in our restaurant and shop due to its huge popularity, this is a premium craft ale brewed on the Isle of Skye. Their first ever ale and it’s an award winner to boot! Following a Scottish tradition, three different types of malted barley are used. A balanced, nutty and exceptionally smooth craft ale.



A BIPA – Black India Pale Ale – this relatively new release from Loch Lomond Brewery has a lovely fresh marmalade / seville orange aroma, infused with a walk in the woods. Upon tasting, you’ll get a mouthful of spice


and a bitter coffee finish, typical of stouts. A good precursor to moving on to stout.


This crisp lager has made it mainstream, you can get it everywhere, but that’s largely due to its refreshing flavours of grapefruit and hops. Best suited to drink cold on a hot summer day!

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Cask and Still Magazine | 79



This is hand-bottled, hand-crafted and aged in whisky casks, and from our point of view it is a perfect crossover beer! The Orcadian ale exhibits a ripe, fruity chocolate nose and is balanced by flavours of dark chocolate, dried fruits, figs and even nuts!

Craig Dearden





A whisky infused marmalade pale ale?!

Starting back 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. Here he turns his hand to beer.

Infused with a Glen Garioch 20-year-old no less. Another brilliant crossover beer for whisky lovers. With an orange zesty nose and sweet marmalade palate, this special marriage of whisky and beer is incredible! Leaving you with a bitter and deep orange finish, it is no surprise this beer got a gold at the World Beer Awards 2016.



A soft aroma, cherry and sweet candy to start. upon tasting this you’ll be hit with maltesers and biscuits of the malt variety and a lovely hoppy finish to boot.

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19/04/2018 11:07:02



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to Scottish Field and receive four Rachel Meehan ceramic coasters worth £38.00*

ER – E t) OV IC ebi VE PR t D SA R irec VE (D CO 96 E 39. TH £ N Y O NL O



Rachel Meehan is a fine artist who trained at as a printmaker. Based in the Scottish Borders, in 2017 Rachel launched a new collection of art cards, prints, gift wrap and ceramic coasters, each featuring one of her exquisite floral or exotic bird illustrations. As a keen gardener Rachel draws on her own collection of plants to inspire her Bold Blooms collection. Her work is distinctive, with vibrant colours and strong lines. She captures the essence of the plant with each image taking many hours to complete. This specially selected set of ceramic coasters includes four of Rachel’s favourite designs: Iris, Lilium, Passion Flower and Echinacea. Each coaster is 9.5 cm square with non slip feet to protect surfaces. Designed and made in Scotland the coasters are supplied in a box making them a perfect gift for any plant lover. For more information about Rachel’s work please visit www.rachelmeehan.co.uk

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19/04/2018 15:20:34

Cask and Still Magazine | 81

Summer is here at long last so make the most of festival season and enjoy a dram or two in the sunshine

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Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt

3 – 7 MAY 2018

25 MAY – 2 JUNE 2018

A celebration of Scotland’s national drink in

Get a taste of Islay with a week of whisky

the historic Speyside region which features

and culture. Try some of Islay’s most famous

a range of events, distillery tours, whisky

drams, as well as being fully immersed

themed walks and ceilidhs at venues across

in the culture of the beautiful Hebridean

the country’s largest whisky producing

island with traditional music, Gaelic and a


ceilidh of course.



Stirling Whisky Festival


12 MAY 2018

20 OCTOBER 2018

Top distillers from across Scotland will

A marathon that marries exercise with

convene at Stirling Highland Hotel for the

whisky, the event runs from Glenfarclas to

seventh year running for this event which

Glenfiddich with participants picking up

boasts over 100 malts to try as well as the

stamps along the way to receive whisky

chance to meet with the makers of some of

miniatures at the finish. Also includes a 10k,

the country’s finest drams.

half marathon and relay race distances.



World Whisky Day

Theatre of Drams

19 MAY 2018

22 – 26 OCTOBER 2018

A day entirely dedicated to whisky, with

Taking place on Islay, Scotland’s whisky

events taking place across Scotland. Get

island, this five-day event will teach you

together with friends and enjoy a nip or

everything you need to know about whisky

plan a visit to a distillery, all in the name of

production with a range of events run by


distillers, chemists and brand ambassadors.



19/04/2018 16:52:47

82 | France

visitor experience in distilleries. I then moved to Scotland for a while. Meanwhile I had started my blog, thewhiskylady.net, to share my passion and discoveries with like-minded individuals. Living in the south of France where no whisky clubs or specialist bars existed was a challenge and going online was the only way I could share my passion.

Blogger Anne-Sophie Bigot (aka La Whisky Lady) owns Toulouse’s first whisky bar and is launching the city’s first Whisky Festival The whisky scene is growing and evolving at a fast pace in France. Working in the bar and hosting tastings, I’ve witnessed a shift in the generation of consumers. Whisky has always been seen as an old man’s drink, yet 99% of people coming to my tastings are under 35. Needless to say, there are plenty of girls too. There’s still a gap between Paris and other French cities, but the market is eager to learn. When I came to Scotland for the first time, I couldn’t miss visiting a whisky distillery. The distillery was in Auchentoshan, and I felt a real connection with the history, the stories and, in the end, the product. We tasted a few classic Auchentoshan expressions and I was sold. After that trip, I started researching and learning a lot about whisky and returned to Scotland almost every month and visited more than 30 distilleries. I did a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management during which I wrote two dissertations on Scotch whisky tourism and how to enhance the

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Nowadays, I’m involved at different levels in whisky-related projects. I’m still blogging and I’m working as a whisky auctioneer for online auction house Catawiki, with almost 400 bottles on sale in at least three different auctions every week. I also created my own consultancy company a few years ago. I only work with a small number of brands, on everything from content creation to brand activation. I opened the first specialist whisky bar and microbrewery in Toulouse last year. We’re now organising the first edition of the Toulouse Whisky Festival over two days in May with 40 distilleries. The festival sold out in under a week. It’s a real challenge to get Toulouse on the whisky map, but that’s our mission and we’re already planning a bigger festival for next year.

19/04/2018 16:51:27

Part of our family of fine spirits.


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19/04/2018 12:25:40


UNCONVENTIONALLY SPEYSIDE Choose to drink responsibly. © 2017 The BenRiach is a registered trademark, all rights reserved. *Category winning products in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017

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19/04/2018 12:27:25

Profile for Cask & Still Magazine

Cask & Still Magazine - Issue 7  

The world’s most driven whisky collectors explain their infatuation.

Cask & Still Magazine - Issue 7  

The world’s most driven whisky collectors explain their infatuation.


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