Cask & Still Magazine - Issue 9

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Cask & Still Magazine | 3 cask and still

From the


Almost a decade ago, I was lucky enough to be invited up to a food masterclass at food writer Ghillie Basan’s gloriously remote Speyside cottage. Stopping in at Knockando and Glenlivet to stock up on some liquid gold in case we got snowed in, I headed into the hills outside Tomintoul, where I received a memorable education in Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking. My abiding recollection of that trip was Ghillie’s borderline obsession with flavour combinations, and how various ingredients interact. It is precisely this attention to detail and instinctive understanding of taste which has seen her writing lauded by culinary luminaries such as Yottam Ottolenghi and Rick Stein. Now back in her native land after decades of globetrotting, it was only a matter of time before she turned her attention to the national drink, and I’m so glad she has. Ghillie has been

researching which whiskies go with which spices, and the results make for fascinating reading. Who knew, for instance, that Caol Ila 12-y-o is the perfect accompaniment to cured meats and sushi, or that Glenlivet 18-y-o is made for home-baking? Read on – and you may just find that eating never has to be boring ever again.

EDITOR Richard Bath

ON THE COVER: Illustrations by Maria Epine


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FEDERICA STEFANI This Italian whisky obsessive from Milan works for the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh by day, and samples drams by night. Thankfully she also finds the time to pen some fascinating pieces for C&S.

GERALDINE COATES One of the world’s great authorities on gin, Geraldine asks how the sagging shelves in cocktail bars and pubs can accommodate all the new gins – and concludes they can’t, and that something must give...

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4 | What’s inside

In this


Cover line

24 WHISKY & SPICE AND ALL THINGS NICE Ghillie Basan’s new book has some perfect

whisky and food pairings

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S APR 2019 ISSUE NINE cask and still

The team

DESIGN & EDITORIAL Editor: Richard Bath Creative: Grant Dickie Production: Andrew Balahura Madeleine Smith



06 NEWS Remember, you heard it here first... 08 BAR SNAPS A


unique retro whisky bar in Utrecht uncovered

10 ME AND MY DRAM Songwriting


Whisky hero Emmanuel Drom lets customers enjoy the world’s finest drams

legend Bill Martin shares some stories over a dram




Staff Writers: Morag Bootland, Stephanie Abbot, Rosie Morton Contributing Editor: Blair Bowman Contributors: Federica Stefani, Dr Brooke Magnanti, Peter Ranscombe, Gabriella Bennett, Rachel McCormack, Geraldine Coates Email: editor@caskandstill

ADVERTISING Sales Director: Brian Cameron

We examine the trend for architecturally impressive distilleries

market is so saturated it’s like a producers’ battlefield

22 THE RANT Rachel McCormack reveals her pet hate when it comes to whisky Q&A sessions

Spirit guru Brooke Magnanti re-evaluates sherry

Sales assistants: Alasdair Peoples

72 PAGES OF OUR DRAMS We reveal our



Rum cocktail recipes to get you in the summer mood

34 L’ESPRIT DE VIE More than any other nation, Les Francais adore le whisky


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Photographer: Angus Blackburn


favourite whisky books


The ever-growing craft lager industry means more tasty treats for consumers


scene in Poland is booming

Ad sales: John Boyle

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.

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6 | News feed


Loch Lomond Group has launched the Littlemill 40-Year-Old Celestial Edition (46.8% ABV) in the UK, the oldest expression ever to be released from the now lost Littlemill distillery. The precious the world’s oldest distilleries, is now available and is priced at £6,000. Only 250 bottles will be produced in total, making this a much soughtafter collector’s item. Littlemill 40-Year-Old Celestial Edition celebrates the life’s work of Littlemill owner Duncan Thomas. For more information visit



liquid, distilled by what is thought to be one of



Smokehead Islay Single Malt Whisky has teamed up with renowned global biking sensation Tyler Lunceford – known as the Ducati Whisperer of the New York tri-state – challenging him to create his boldest motorcycle yet. The project will follow the creation of a customised Ducati bike, captured through a series of episodes. US-born Tyler has a workshop in Brooklyn where he customises bikes for obsessive bikers and rock stars. He recently opened a workshop in Leith, Edinburgh and will produce a custom Ducati, inspired by vintage racing motorcycles, for Smokehead to showcase at key events. The project will run until September 2019, when the finished model, ‘The Smoker’, will be unleashed.




FROM SOURCE TO STORE William Grant & Sons’ whisky brand Ailsa Bay

Distillation experts from Heriot-Watt

has launched the world’s first blockchain

University have created a botanical library

whisky in partnership with specialist blockchain

to help Scotland’s gin producers create new

company arc-net. Blockchain is a list of

products and increase their exports. The

registers, or ‘blocks’, which contain information

scientists have spent three years distilling

about the distillation and maturation process

and cataloguing 72 botanicals that can be

such as cask types and bottling dates. Data is

grown in Scotland and are commercially

collected from parent company William Grant

available from sustainable sources. The library

& Sons’ existing data sources. Consumers

includes everything from nettles and lavender

can trace their whisky’s origins via a web

to dandelion and the chagga fungus, which

experience which is individually tailored to

grows on birch trees.

each bottle by scanning a QR code.

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world will remain a jewel in the crown of Edinburgh’s tourism landscape.

GLEN MORAY FIRED OAK Speyside Single Malt 40% ABV, RRP £39.99

Inspired by the popularity of American Bourbon. Matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in charred virgin American Oak casks, giving a smooth, spiced and vanilla flavoured whisky.

The most extensive and famous private Scotch Whisky collection in the Diageo has agreed to extend the loan of the prized Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection for another 10 years, ensuring it will remain a key part of the Scotch whisky tourism landscape until 2029. The 3,384 bottle collection, which includes an array of iconic brands, was gathered over 35 years by Brazilian businessman and whisky aficionado Claive Vidiz, making it a unique record of whisky history. One of the oldest and rarest bottles in the collection is a Buchanan’s whisky dating back to 1897.


Swedish Single Malt 46.1% ABV, RRP £60

Äppelblom (apple blossom) is a fruity and lightly spiced whisky filled with hints of apple, pear, citrus, almond toffee and cedar. Try Äppelblom just as it is or if you have a sweet tooth try it with a hot apple-based dessert.

TOMATIN WAREHOUSE SIX COLLECTION: 1975 Highland Single Malt 46.5% ABV, RRP £2,400

Aged in a hand selected Spanish Oloroso Sherry Butt, yielding just 300 bottles. Tropical and dried fruits, dark chocolate and warm spicy notes balanced with background aromas before a long and elegant finish.


Blended Malt Scotch 55.5% ABV, RRP £46.95

The Hive provides floral sweetness followed by orange and toasted oats. The colour is pure orange blossom honey and there’s orange on the nose too, along with honey, cinnamon and a hint of stone fruit. The finish is clean and fresh.


A single malt produced at an artisan Scottish distillery has been named as category winner in the Speyside’s best non age statement whisky category. SPEY from Speyside Distillery’s Tenne cask-strength release was awarded the title at the internationally renowned World Whiskies Awards. Tenne cask-strength is a newly released version of one of SPEY’s five core single malt expressions. It is initially aged in bourbon barrels and finished in Tawny Port casks to give it a distinctive rich red hue and a sweet finish.

BRANDING BRILLIANCE R&B Distillers have been awarded two

prestigious medals by The Bartenders’ Brand Awards 2019 for Raasay While We Wait 2018 and The Tweeddale Grain of Truth. R&B Distillers’ The Tweeddale Grain of Truth has been awarded a silver medal in the taste category, silver for its design and bronze for value. Raasay While We Wait 2018 was released in October 2018 and has now been awarded silver medals across all three categories at the competition.

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8 | Whisky bars of the world

THE MALT VAULT, UTRECHT The water of life is treasured in this Dutch cellar. Offering over 300 types of whiskies, The Malt Vault is situated in the heart of Utrecht. The bar’s retro design creates a unique ambiance in which to enjoy a dram or two, and knowledgeable staff are on hand to offer advice to both new whisky drinkers and connoisseurs. The curved wall behind the bar is adorned with malty goodness from top to bottom, with each bottle glistening gold in the light – so get ready for a taste of whisky heaven.

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10 | Me and my dram

Me & my


When was the first time you drank whisky? It was in the tenement where I grew up in Govan, Glasgow. My father was a great piano player and I got up during the night and ran from my family’s place at number seven to number five. My father would be there playing the piano, and he and the neighbours would all be drinking whisky. I must have been around five years old and that was my first time tasting whisky. My mother went bananas and I wasn’t allowed to touch it again until I was 21, but I always remembered it. I followed her rule though, because my mother was tough. Have you always enjoyed whisky? Yes, I have. I feel that it’s the cleanest drink out there. Some people say vodka is, but I think whisky is a really clean drink. I have also been to lots of distilleries, particularly in and around Dufftown. How do you take your whisky? I have my whisky neat. Malt whisky is always neat but I’ll add a dash of water with blended whisky. For me, night time is the best time to drink whisky. I’ll have a dram before bed nearly every night. Do you have a favourite dram? I like Macallan, the old Macallan – maybe about 18-years-old. I like a blended whisky called the Black Bottle, it’s really good. It’s worth buying for the bottle alone. I also like Bells.

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Legendary songwriter Bill Martin on drinking whisky with Billy Connolly and Frank Sinatra – and why Sean Connery is a disgrace Interview by Stephanie Abbot

Have you tried much whisky from outside Scotland? No, but I thought it was a disgrace many years ago when Sir Sean Connery was in an advert for Suntory where he turned around and with his very distinctive voice said: ‘The finest Scotch I’ve ever drunk.’ And when he turns the bottle around it’s Suntory – a Japanese whisky. He’s supposed to be ‘Mr Scotland’. I only drink proper Scotch.

I must have been around five years old – that was my first time tasting whisky

Have you enjoyed a dram with any famous faces? I’ve drunk drams with some really interesting people, such as Billy Connolly, Alex Ferguson and Frank Sinatra, at various functions over the years. Do you have a favourite whisky bar when you come back to Scotland? It’s not necessarily a whisky bar but I really like to go to Steps Bar in Glasgow. I also like to go to my local pub in East Kilbride which is called The Montgomery Arms. Did you drink whisky to toast any of the big successful moments in your career? When Sandie Shaw won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest singing a song I wrote called Puppet on a String, I definitely had more than a few celebratory drinks afterwards. I think I drank Ballantine’s whisky. It was a very big night.

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12 | New architecture of whisky

Barrels of fun: Instead of keeping barrels in a fusty warehouse, at the new Macallan distillery, they are kept in a state-of-the-art room which is a major visitor attraction.

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ramchitecture D An explosion in whisky tourism has inspired a new generation of bold, futuristic, customer-friendly distilleries that are literally reshaping the whisky landscape Written by Federica Stefani


hisky distilleries were all much the same until recent years. Musky, crumbling warehouses held thousands of casks and bubbling copper stills, rarely to be seen or visited by passers-by. Industrial, money-making machines they may once have been – but no longer. Now, instead, a new wave of distilleries are showcasing magnificent feats of architecture, complete with state-of-the-art visitor centres and openplan distilleries. But why the change? As ever, this is driven largely by economic forces, which this time are the result of our changing relationship with whisky. Put simply, consumers are no longer content with just buying whiskies off the shelf, they want a much closer relationship with the brand. This has led to a surge in Scottish whisky tourism – which has grown by a colossal 45% since 2010 – and prompted the industry to invest in infrastructure that can super-charge that rise. The result is that this year, around 1.9 million people will cross the threshold of Scotland’s distilleries. Currently visitors spend £60.9m at visitor centres each year, a figure which looks set to rise exponentially.

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14 | New architecture of whisky Clockwise from top left: Clydeside Distillery has been hugely successful; Clydeside lit up at night; Isle of Harris’ public room; Aurora’s views of the Lyngen Alps; Aurora’s Bivrost Lounge; Aurora Borealis shines over the Norwegian distillery; Isle of Harris distillery.

And of course there’s a hidden benefit to brands from visitors, with consumers more likely to drink a whisky whose distillery they have visited. So the benefit is not only instantaneous, but can form a lifelong association with a brand. Of course, visitor centres are no revolutionary concept. But while distillery tours of old consisted of a meander through a few dusty barrels and a measly farewell dram, these pioneering builds have turned the whisky experience on its head, offering an entirely new insight into the nation’s historic drams. This trend has been spectacularly encapsulated in the new, futuristic Macallan distillery on Speyside, a sleek steel building which has redefined the very nature of whisky distilling. At a cost of £140m, it is a remarkable fusion of modernity and functionality which fits beautifully into the surrounding countryside, emphasising the brand’s history and the fact that it is a product of its Speyside environment. More to the point, it is customer-friendly, and is acting as a magnet for whisky tourists that will ensure it more than repays the herculean outlay. ‘People want to ask detailed, technical questions,’ says Gareth Roberts, director of Organic Architects, who has been working on the building of new distilleries at Ardnamurchan and Lindores Abbey. ‘We like to design the building so that it is entirely open. When you visit a distillery and you have a metal floor, for example, I always think about going underneath it to discover all the tanks, pipes and pumps: this is what the real whisky aficionados are interested in.’ Take the Clydeside Distillery, for instance – a marvel of modern architecture which sits on Glasgow’s riverbank. The site was formerly

These pioneering builds have turned the whisky experience on its head

known as the Queen’s Dock, a vast commercial wet dock opened by Queen Victoria in 1877. The Pumphouse used to control the entry gate to the dock which saw ships exporting whisky all over the world. As preserving this history was of paramount importance, every decision in the redevelopment process – from the architectural design to the colour scheme of the interiors – was made to reflect the historical and industrial influences of the surrounding area. The result of the innovative design and a city centre position has seen impressive visitor numbers that have far outstripped the distillery’s own projections. Similarly, big players like Macallan and Glenfiddich, and even small-scale distilleries like Edradour and Isle of Harris, have expanded their galleries, bars and warehouses in a bid to draw in devoted whisky enthusiasts and culture buffs alike. While preserving a site’s historical background is important, the power of marrying a distillery’s interior with its exterior is not to be underestimated. Norway’s spectacular Aurora Spirit Distillery, the northernmost distillery in the world which is based in the Lyngen Alps, is a prime example. As the whisky is produced with the Lyngen’s glacial water, the designers brought the external environment indoors in magnificent style, choosing to include floor to ceiling windows to showcase Aurora’s icy backdrop. Emulating this back in Scotland, Sukhinder Singh’s company, Elixir Distillers, have plans for a new Islay distillery to complement the site’s coastal surroundings. A network of paths and a tasting lodge will be set up along the shoreline, allowing visitors to enjoy the drink in its coastal context.

THE DOIG-VENTILATOR Many distilleries feature a similar shape, and one characteristic element – present especially in Speyside distilleries – is the pagoda-head roof, known as the Doig-Ventilator. This was invented in 1898 by the Scottish architect Charles Doig, who worked on 50 individual distillery projects. Born in 1855 in Alyth, Angus, he moved to Elgin in the 1880s and witnessed the boom of new distilleries in Speyside. The likes of Dallas Dhu, Dailuaine and Glenfiddich were but a few of the big names that appeared in that time, as well as Highland Park, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Laphroaig.

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16 | New architecture of whisky

A fundamental element of any revamped distillery, though, is their use of renewable technologies. Architects are making increasing use of biomass plants, as seen at Ardnamurchan, Balmenach and Roseisle, while seaside distilleries are beginning to use seawater pumps to generate energy, reducing their carbon footprint. Even historic builds like Tomatin and Aberfeldy have jumped on the clean, green bandwagon, having installed biomass boilers several years ago. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Mackmyra – a vertical building that stands 35 metres tall – is another climate-smart distillery that uses gravity to transfer ingredients during distilling. With this architectural revolution sweeping the nation, distillers are beginning to wake up to the opportunities in Scottish whisky tourism. With striking architecture comes increased footfall, and with that comes a broader, richer whisky industry that everyone benefits from. As we enter this new age of whisky, the focus has widened from simply making whisky, and as a result the physical infrastructure of the industry is changing at a dizzying rate.

macallan distillery

Above: Mackmyra’s vertical distillery takes advantage of gravity. Opposite clockwise from top left: Macallan’s undulating roof; view towards Macallan’s production area; underneath Macallan’s roof; Macallan still room. Below: Macallan Distillery cross-section drawing.

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The sleek Macallan building is a triumph of modern design. Utilising the surrounding environment to their advantage, the architects cut into the slope of the land, covering the roof in wildflower meadows to merge the building with the landscape. Project architect Toby Jeavons explained that the site sits in a protected area, so ensuring little impact was made on the Speyside landscape was a crucial element in the development process. The new distillery takes its energy from a nearby biomass plant and the energy released during condensation is used to supply other areas within the building. But it’s when you look at the interior that the build really comes to life. When you see the floor to ceiling windows, steel beams and undulating roof – which is listed as one of the most complicated roofs in the world, consisting of 380,000 individual components – the six years, 8,000 tons of steel and £140m that went into its construction suddenly make sense.

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Whisky? See the latest issue of Cask & Still magazine and previous issues for free at





Whisky’s traditional


rite of passage

Behind the scenes in the Arctic Circle at the world’s most northerly distillery

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port of leith Edinburgh-based Port of Leith Distillery is set to become Scotland’s first vertical distillery. Despite its urban setting, the building’s biggest asset will be its waterfront view. ‘The first image we drew was one of the stills, looking outside with the water behind it,’ says Stefano Faiella, director of Threesixty Architects. ‘We don’t just want people to be looking at our building, we want people to come inside and be part of the distillery and the landscape. We thought that the view from the stillhouse would be a powerful one. ‘The vertical building was an incredible opportunity – the idea that you will be able to start a tour from the top of the whisky production process and follow the spirit down the building is an exciting one. At every stage of the process, from milling to distillation, you will get wonderful views.’ The building’s proximity to the water has posed many challenges, not least having to find materials that can withstand a constant battering from the sea. Nevertheless, the distillery is set be a striking landmark on Edinburgh’s skyline. What’s more, it will bring the whisky trade back to Leith, formerly the capital’s whisky district – something that founders Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling were keen to accomplish. Right: Impression of how the finished vertical distillery will look. Below: Founders Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling.

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20 | New architecture of whisky

lindores ABBEY After a break of 523 years, the water of life started flowing from Lindores Abbey – which was the first place where we can prove whisky was consumed – once more. Rebuilding the distillery from the original farm buildings in 2017, it is now home to a contemporary still room, visitor centre, shop, refectory, production area and Legacy Bar. The old cloister has been transformed into a light, airy banquet area which can cater for over eighty people. ‘Historic Scotland knew that what we’d do would increase the flow of visitors to the abbey,’ says Organic Architects director Gareth Roberts. ‘So they gave us the green light to do some things that look a bit unusual. ‘What was interesting about Lindores was linking the old building to the new facilities. You can see the stills from the abbey and the stillhouse overlooks the abbey ruins.’

These modern distilleries have certainly caused a stir in Scotland’s whisky tourism industry. But what is it that makes them successful blueprints? As far as modern builds go, flooding them with light is always high up on the list of priorities, as is creating a feeling of space with clean, uninterrupted lines. But the common thread in these distilleries is their theatre. Shining a light on the paraphernalia that defines Scotland’s whisky culture, bringing the production process to life and creating a lasting memory for visitors to take home are arguably the most powerful elements of these magnificent builds.

Right from top: Construction of Lindores Abbey Distillery; the distillery’s exterior; the stillhouse has magnificent vistas all round.

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EVERY BOTTLE has a story to tell... A D R A T T R A Y. C O M


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22 | The Rant

THE FIGHT to be right For whisky author and influencer Rachel McCormack, her pet hate is being asked ‘so, what’s your favourite whisky?’ What is wrong with you people...


ince my whisky travelogue Chasing The Dram was published I have spent over a year at tastings and book talks addressing roomfuls of people, very few of whom know the difference between a malt and a blend. During that time I’ve predominantly hung out with people who equate the discovery that peaty whisky is a better accompaniment to blue cheese than port as akin to finding the real Da Vinci code. Almost always at any event, after I have spent over half an hour telling what I hope are hilarious tales of whisky trial and error, pilgrimages to see important whisky men’s graves or one of those Campbeltown nights that no one truly remembers, there is a Q&A. During this, someone always – and I mean always – asks me the same question. In the online world memes and trite quotes appear regularly on our screens through which we increasingly live most of our lives. Images full of cute kittens and doe-eyed puppies beseech us, via badly chosen fonts in white lettering in an inappropriate size for the image, to ask ourselves if we want to be kind, or if we want to be right. Dutifully we say loudly to ourselves that of course, we enlightened few just want to be kind, we’d happily sacrifice hours of argument, selfjustification and self-righteousness in order to be wholesome, magnanimous and kind. We are all, of course, liars. There is almost no one in this world (except, of course, for you dear reader or your

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With the infinite number of tastes available, why would you want just one?

Playing the field: Rachel asks whether you really want to limit yourself to one right answer or enjoy greater variety. Credit: Del Sneedon

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favourite uncle), who would swap a lifetime of kindness and thoughtfulness for even just one evening of knowing that they were utterly, totally and completely beyond a shadow of a doubt, self-justifyingly right. The question I get asked in every Q&A is this. ‘So Rachel, after all your visits to distilleries and your tasting sessions, can I ask what is your favourite whisky?’ Suddenly the atmosphere in the room thickens, women uncross their legs and straighten their backs, men shift in their seats and fold their arms. Everyone leans forward slightly. For what will this writer say? This woman we have come to see tell her tales of whisky and food, bus trips and mishaps, the woman we are looking to right now to be our guide in the vast pantheon of whisky varieties. Will she mention the one I bought last Christmas as a present? Will it be the one I told everyone at the office to get as that was the best one? Will she, please no, mention my sister’s favourite whisky, the one I hate on principal and out of duty? But most of all, what I really want to know is this: will the whisky that she likes best, the one she puts in prime position as the Whisky God of Thunder, the whisky of whiskies, will it be the one I like? Will I, out of everyone else I know, out of everyone else in this room, will I be the one to be right? Everyone in the room is waiting for the writer’s answer. This is where I have to confess, this writer always, and without fail, greatly disappoints every eager person wanting to have their palate vindicated, wanting to be right in their taste. There are more than 120 distilleries in Scotland right now, each making their own distinctive style of spirit. There are multiple ways of bottling the product of their stills; there’s mixing from the same distillery, mixing from different distilleries, mixing spirit from the same distillery aged in different types of casks, there’s bottling from only one type of cask. There’s even bottling from one single cask from one single distillery. The taste of whisky ranges from soft and sweet, almost rumlike, to smoke, disinfectant and ash. That’s without looking at whiskies that taste of brine, salt, raisins, flowers, grass, fire or even pears and plums. And with all that variety, all that possibility, people are asking me to choose one, hoping it will be the same one as theirs and they can be right? As the great whisky writer Dave Broom says anytime he is anywhere near a television camera, ‘whisky is there to be enjoyed’. And with the infinite number of tastes available, why would you want just one? Why would you need to have a favourite when you can have a variety that you can spend the rest of your life trying and enjoying? The question is, do you want to be right, or do you want to enjoy yourself?


SAM HEUGHAN The Outlander star is a big whisky fan and particularly enjoys the Talisker 10-yearold, Oban 14-year-old and the Laphroaig 21-year-old.

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS Best known as Joan in the Madmen series, Hendricks developed a love of whisky, Johnnie Walker Black Label to be precise.

HARRISON FORD If he had to make a ‘solo’ whisky choice, Star Wars and Blade Runner star Harrison Ford would opt for a bottle of Bruichladdich single malt which he first discovered while filming a movie.

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24 | Pairing whisky and spices

Image by Zeki BaĹ&#x;an

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Whisky & Spice ALL THINGS NICE Spice Girl Ghillie Basan turns up the heat with her moreish whisky and food pairings Written by Gabriella Bennett


hillie Basan describes herself as the original Spice Girl. Although her writing career spans two decades, 40 cookbooks and thousands of recipes, the common flavour thread is always heat. Her fascination with cuisines ranging from Vietnamese, to Moroccan, to Turkish, stems from a love of travel; she has previously lived in East Africa, Italy and southeast Asia. But she has stayed close to home for her latest title – what is thought to be the world’s first book pairing whisky with spicy food. The idea for Spirit & Spice took root several years ago when Ghillie created a business cooking and serving mezze to whisky parties and shooting groups on the mountains near her cottage in the Cairngorms. ‘It was a way of giving people a spread of food that covered different cultures,’ she says.

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‘The whisky industry threw me a lifeline, and quickly I was doing big groups. ‘I live on a whisky smuggler’s route, and the industry thought that it might be nice to bring people to me. We could do a walk down to the dam and some foraging. Then I was asked to pair food with whisky and come up with finger food to match with a new whisky launch. ‘Instead of doing a spice book I started to think about doing a whisky and spice book.’ With no points of reference or other resources to rely on for research, some cookery writers would find the task insurmountable. Then again, Ghillie is no stranger to a challenge. As a child she split her time between boarding school in St Andrews and holidays in her family’s home beneath the Ngong Hills in Kenya, before graduating from Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London. French food was swapped for the deep, nourishing dishes of her

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26 | Pairing whisky and spices

formative years soon after, and she built a successful career as a food writer, journalist and cookbook author. As the commissions flooded in, so too did the celebrity acknowledgements. The chefs Rick Stein, Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver have devoted column inches to her, praising her knowledge of spice and sophisticated palate. Stories from her travels were woven into the pages – each book was as much about living within different communities as it was about cooking. Stints living in New York, Istanbul and Tehran followed. Always tasting, always learning. Then, in the late 1990s, came a complete change of pace. Ghillie moved back to Scotland in pursuit of the romantic dream of renovating a dilapidated property in the Glenlivet foothills. There she found the weather harsh and the reality of renovating her cottage more difficult than expected. In brutal winters she would pull her young children, Yazzie and Zeki, three miles over snowdrifts in a sleigh to get them to school. Cut off from the main road for weeks at a time, she learned how to be resourceful by cooking with foraged flora and other goodies found from the land around her home. ‘I draw my sanity and inspiration from wild spaces,’ she says. ‘I always have. I love big cities but I get claustrophobic if I’m there for too long. ‘I do a lot of wild food and bush cooking. My son is involved in that – he is far more knowledgeable about botanicals than I am. We live outdoors as much as possible, the kids and I. In the woods or by the river or in the garden. That has never really come into my professional life and books until this one.’ Wild living plays a crucial role in Spirit & Spice. It is a love letter to food with flavour, enhanced and complemented by the finest single malts. It is also an ode to the wonderful produce found in Scotland’s remote outcrops, such as wild venison chorizo from Great Glen Charcuterie, a Highland-based company. Added to a smoky Moroccan paella made vivid with harissa, preserved lemongrass and spices roasted and ground by hand, it represents a coming together of cultures as well as ingredients. This idea is strengthened by the recommended dram of Glenfarclas 105, Bowmore 12-year-old or Oban 14-year-old, each of which complement different characteristics of the dish. Elsewhere, lemongrass, ginger and macadamia nuts are

Above: Pouring the perfect dram. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Hot humus; Kifto chillies; fridge cake; chickpea fatta. Credit: Christina Riley. Centre: Ghillie Başan. iCredit: Newsline-media.

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It is an ode to the wonderful produce found in Scotland

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Cask and Still Magazine | 27 >>>

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18/04/2019 11:56:03

Treat yourself to one of our award winning Tomintoul malts. @tomintoulwhisky

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Cask and Still Magazine | 29 >>> Right from top: Whisky and spice cured venison fillet with a dram, taken by Zeki Başan; Chilli oil and dried chillies, taken by Christina Riley.

three of the stand-out ingredients in Ghillie’s Singapore Laksa – a kind of noodle soup with Indian influences, served in this case with Scottish salmon. It is suited to Glenlivet’s Captain’s Reserve, a malt finished in cognac casks for a raisin-rich intensity. In the book’s ‘Love’ snacks section, Baba Ghanoush should be washed down with Highland Park 12-year-old, or a Bunnahabhain 12-year-old, in order to extend the creaminess found in smooth aubergine and tahini. Carrot puree with yogurt and melted mint butter, paw paw and poppy seed salad, and feta with zahtar are perfect small plates to share with friends. ‘It is not as simple as one whisky going with one dish,’ Ghillie explains. ‘It’s about breaking down the flavours and deciding which ones you want to enhance or contrast so that you can enjoy the layers of flavour in the food as well as in the whisky. ‘But at the end of the day taste is subjective so it comes down to the flavours you pick up on and what you actually like.’ Exactly why spice marries so well with whisky can only be attributed to a strange kind of magic. The science is unclear, but the theory goes that dishes with strong flavour profiles can withstand the fire found in the spirit of life. Spice knocks out tanins and fruit notes found in wine, according to the author. Whisky, which she describes as a glorified beer, the more traditional accompaniment to curry, is a much better friend. ‘It holds its own and if you work with the whisky you can actually have an incredibly satisfying meal,’ she adds. ‘You are still eating wonderful Scottish food but in a different style. I feel like I have hit upon a moment. People in Scotland want what they call the authentic experience. Even if they can’t kayak or walk up a hill, if they can buy a book on it, then they are happy. ‘I am not necessarily capable of kayaking with them, but I can do this.’ Spirit & Spice will be published by Kitchen Press in May.

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18/04/2019 11:56:51

30 | Pairing whisky and spices

THe perfect match Get ready to try some delicious whisky and food pairings...

Oban 14 There is a touch of smoke and oak in this spicy and zesty whisky along with sweet vanilla notes and a hint of mint and seaweed that teases the palate. Thick and slightly salty, it offers a satisfying contrast to syrupy Indian sweetmeats and complements some Catalan tapas.

Caol Ila 12 This Islay whisky is clean, crisp and lightly smoky with a hint of salt. There is not much spice on the nose or palate but mild pear and juniper flavours come through the gentle smoke. The crisp spirit works well with the umami flavours of smoked ham, cured meats and fish, and Japanese sushi.

Glenlivet 18 The soft baked apple, honey, cinnamon and allspice flavours of this rich and luxurious whisky make me think of autumn baking and Christmas. Orange peel, dried fruit and almond are also present on the palate – all of which complement traditional roast dinners and baking.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Thick and sweet with just the right amount of peat, the rich, smoky flavour is refreshed with a citrus tang and warmed by a whiff of eucalyptus. This whisky is a fabulous accompaniment to Moroccan tagines that burst with flavour, olive oil and preserved lemon.

Highland Park 12 This buttery whisky, with its cheeky hint of peat and honey sweetness, is lifted by juicy citrus and warming spice notes of ginger and black pepper. It is a great companion to the coconut milk, fish dishes of Southern India and Southeast Asia.

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18/04/2019 12:04:57


Award Winning Whisky retailer, Broker & Bottler An unprecedented selection of Whiskies from the everyday to the fine and rare and over 2000 wines, beers and spirits from around the world. Bridge of Allan - Edinburgh - Stirling - Inverness - London

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18/04/2019 09:38:53

32 | Rum cocktails



Get ready for a rum-bunctious summer with these cocktails from Brasserie Prince




SERVE IN: Coupe glass

SERVE IN: Vintage highball glass

SERVE IN: Champagne flute

50ml lychee liqueur

50ml coconut water

10ml elderflower cordial infused with

50ml coconut rum

45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca

butterfly tea

50ml oat cream

20ml Italicus Bergamot

40ml white rum

20ml lime juice

15ml Italicus Bergamot Amaro

GARNISH: One star anise

10ml root beer and ale reduction

1tspn Blue Curacao

METHOD: Chill your coupe glass

For the root beer and ale reduction:

ahead of preparing the cocktail.

In a saucepan put 500g caster

Shake all of the above ingredients

sugar, 700ml root beer and 330ml

For the white chocolate rim: Melt

in a cocktail shaker with ice for 15

English ale. Simmer it down to one

white chocolate and coat the rim of a

seconds. Strain into the chilled glass.

third, stirring slowly so it doesn’t

Champagne flute.

20ml lime juice Top up with Champagne

burn the pan. Lasts up to one month.

METHOD: Shake all of the ingredients (except Champagne) with

METHOD: Shake and fine strain all

ice for 15 seconds and strain.

ingredients over crushed ice. Pour


10ml of LBV Port over the top.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 33




SERVE IN: Retro mini coupe

SERVE IN: Cobbler glass

SERVE IN: Large Cognac snifter

35ml Bacardi Rose

40ml Cachaça

50ml Hennessy XO or Zacapa XO

1tbsp Pisco Quebranta

20ml Dom Benedictine

15ml Champagne syrup

10ml wine reduction

15ml honey water

5 dashes of Peychaud bitter

15ml basil and raspberry shrub

Vanilla perfume

For the wine reduction: Cook 200g

2 fresh raspberries

red wine, 200g red grape juice and 100g caster sugar at 60 degrees

For the vanilla perfume: 50ml Grey GARNISH: raspberries and a basil leaf

celcius for an hour.

Goose Vanille infused with a dry vanilla shell for 24 hours.

For the shrub: 1kg old raspberries, For the Bacardi Rose: Infuse 16.5g of

200g basil leaves, 2 litres of apple

METHOD: Stir all liquid ingredients

rose buds into 660ml Bacardi Carta

cider vinegar and 1kg sugar. Keep in

with ice in a chilled mixing glass.

Blanca for 3 hours and 30 minutes

a Kilner Jar for seven days, shaking

Spray chilled glass with vanilla

then strain.

every day. Strain then refrigerate for

perfume and strain cocktail into

three months.

it. Use Zacapa XO rum for a more

METHOD: Measure all the

mellow and sweeter flavour.

ingredients into a mixing glass, stir

METHOD: Shake all ingredients with

and serve.

ice and strain into a chilled cobbler glass. Garnish with a frozen raspberry wrapped in a basil leaf on a skewer.

In collaboration with legendary chefs Alain and Michel Roux, OBE, The Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux celebrates a ‘new alliance’, matching the very best of Scottish produce with classic French cooking. and bars/brasserie-prince/

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18/04/2019 15:02:50

34 | Whisky in France

The French are comfortably the biggest consumers of Scotch whisky in the world, and are taking their love affair with the water of life to a new level, with new distilleries opening up across the Channel every year Written by Blair Bowman


ere you to be asked to guess which country consumes the most Scotch whisky, you might think it would be America, or perhaps China? You would be wrong, but then few people would correctly guess that the biggest consumers of Scotch whisky outside these islands are the French. Since 2001, France has been the number one market by volume of bottles sold and by a considerable margin. In 2018, the French imported 188 million bottles of Scotch whisky, a whopping 51 million more bottles than the Americans, who are in second place by volume.

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When you compare this to Spain’s consumption of 55 million bottles or Germany’s of 46 million bottles, you begin to appreciate the scale of the Gallic love affair with Scotch whisky. In all, the French consume the equivalent of 2.8 bottles of Scotch whisky per person per year, a formidable amount given that this figure is on top of their prodigious consumption of wine and other spirits. Whisky, though, has a particularly exalted status in France – in fact there is a lovely adage in the whisky industry that the French consume more whisky in a month than cognac in a year.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 35 >>>

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18/04/2019 14:25:38

36 | Whisky in France

The French consume more whisky in a month than cognac in a year Given the keen French interest in consuming whisky, it comes as no surprise that France is also a hub for companies which own Scottish whisky distilleries and brands. Some of the largest whisky companies in the world are based in France, while many of the world’s best known whisky brands and distilleries have Frenchowned parent companies. Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), for instance, own two of our most storied single malts in Ardbeg and Glenmorangie. There are also a handful of brands that you’ll only really see in France but their whisky sells in significant volumes, such as Label 5 blended Scotch whisky, which sells 1.5 million cases in France each year out of a total sale of 2.1 million cases. Another brand you may not have heard of is William Peel blended Scotch whisky which is almost exclusively sold in France, where they sell over three million cases a year. There is obviously a long history of distilling in France, which is the home of cognac, armagnac, calvados, pernod and absinthe. Due


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Brenne Cuvée Spéciale Initially matured in Limousin Oak and finished in cognac casks.

to France’s clear appetite for whisky it is not surprising that whisky distilleries have been popping up across the country. But you may be surprised to learn that there are now 40 or so whisky distilleries in France with supposedly another 30 in the pipeline. The first single malt whisky distilled in France was made in 1988 at the Warenghem Distillery in Brittany and is known as Armorik single malt. They are one the largest whisky producers in the country, producing around 200,000 litres of pure alcohol per year. This puts it on par with the likes of Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife or Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. The French whisky scene is made up mostly of micro-distillery operations. Many of them were previously distilling fruit eau de vie or are brewers that have now converted their operations to include producing single malt whisky as well. The French are a remarkably proud nation, especially when it comes to their food and drink, so they have been very supportive of the nascent

Kornog Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish A cask strength peated whisky finished in PX casks.

Armorik Classic A mix of sherry and bourbon cask matured. Containing a mix of different ages of whisky.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 37

whisky industry that has built rapidly in their own country. It helps that the French have an almost fanatical belief in the concept of ‘terroir’ – originally a wine concept that is all about the connection between the wine and the sense of place where it was made through the ingredients and soil – which means French whiskies have their very own USP when it comes to sales in France. The other obvious advantage of making whisky in France is the country’s connection with wine making. This is about more than the knowledge of producing and marketing, with the ready accessibility of wine casks for maturing French whisky giving another USP and an advantage over having to secure bourbon or port casks. However, where the cost of a used wine cask in France used to be around €30, the requirements of the whisky industry mean that this has now jumped up to around €300 per cask due to the spike in demand. Things have come a long way since the first single malt was made back in the late 1980s. France now has Geographical Indication (GI) status for whiskies made in Brittany and in Alsace, no mean feat given that the only other whiskies with GI status in the EU are Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey. In 2017, the French Ministry of Economy and Finance quietly slipped through a change in the law that moved the production of single malt whisky in France in line with the rules that govern the production of single malt whisky in Scotland. Namely, to be a French single malt whisky it must be made from a mash of malted barley, at a single distillery in a batch distillation and matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks. This is a really interesting development and shows that France is serious about making highquality whisky. The future of French whisky looks bright. The only concern is that a lot of production is very small-batch at the moment, which means that the consistency can vary. But the Auld Alliance is still going strong and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more French whiskies available here in Scotland.

La Martiniquaise • Glen Moray • Label 5

Rémy Cointreau • Bruichladdich

Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits • William Peel

The future of French whisky looks bright

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy • Ardbeg • Glenmorangie


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Pernod Ricard • Chivas Regal • Glenlivet • Aberlour • many more

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Spencerfield Spirits FP 245x200.indd 52

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Cask and Still Magazine | 39

Whisky by numbers Impress your friends with these facts and figures 41 bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped from Scotland to 175 markets around the world each second, totalling over 1.2 billion a year

Some 20 million casks lie maturing in warehouses in Scotland just waiting to be discovered

£4 . 7 BILLION

There are currently 128 operating Scotch whisky distilleries across Scotland

Scotch whisky exports are worth £4.7 billion More than 10,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch whisky industry in Scotland...

Laid end to end, those bottles would stretch about 350,000km – which is 90% of the distance to the moon


10,000 ...and over 40,000 jobs across the UK are supported by the industry

To be classified as a Scotch whisky, the spirit must have been matured within oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years

Source: Scotch Whisky Association figures from 2018.

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18/04/2019 12:41:23

40 | A bluffer’s guide to...

Written by: Federica Stefani


Fermentation While the methods of old have long reigned supreme in Scotland, the process might be set for a shake-up

When it comes to fermentation, distilleries in Scotland have mainly pursued efficiency and yield rather than playing with flavours, with the vast majority of producers choosing to stick to hard-working distiller’s yeast. But perhaps due to the surge in interest in fermented products that is sweeping the whole food and drinks industry, or even the influence of other successful whisky nations such as Japan and the US – where fermentation is at a lively experimental stage – producers are now going back to look at the bubbling matter in greater depth. But what is fermentation really about?

SETTING THE SCENE Let’s start with the star of the show: the yeast. These unicellular micro-organisms, classed as fungi, feed on sugars. As a result, ethanol and carbon dioxide are produced, alongside other compounds. The yeast can come in different forms: liquid, cream, dried or pressed semi-dried. Liquid yeast is sometimes used but can only be kept alive for a few weeks. As such, distillers tend to use stock dried yeast that lasts for several years. Grain distilleries tend to use cream yeast. The yeast that is most commonly used by the brewing and distilling industry is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species – it can be bred into a variety of strains that are used alone or in conjunction with others. The most common nowadays are the M strains – MX being a more efficient evolution of it – known for its ability to convert a high level of sugars into alcohol. Some distilleries also use brewer’s yeast strains which, although more difficult to control and less consistent, enrich the flavour and mouthfeel of the whisky. Fermentation takes place in big containers called washbacks which are traditionally made of larch, Oregon pine, Douglas Fir or cypress, although many distilleries now use stainless steel. After the barley has been malted, milled and steeped in hot water, it results in a sugary liquid called wort. In fact, all these preliminary steps are designed in order to provide the highest possible concentration of sugars, which in turn allows for a higher conversion rate to alcohol.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 41


after pitching. After the yeast has died, lactic acid-


producing bacteria present in the washback and

After the wort has been cooled down and brought

the raw materials take over. They give way to a

to a temperature that can trigger fermentation

second fermentation process by metabolising the

without killing the yeast, the yeast is gently added

remaining sugars and cell membranes of the yeast,

to the wort. This differentiates brewing and distilling

which are rich in fatty acids. This stage produces

fermentation from traditional wine making, where

the compounds that give sweet and heavy aromas

wild yeasts present on the grapes are left to

and soften the smoky notes. At the end of the

interact naturally with the ‘must’ (as the grape juice

process, which lasts approximately 48 to 60 hours

mixture before or during fermentation is known).

(but that can be run for over 100 hours in some

Early mixing helps prevent unwanted bacteria from

distilleries), a liquid called wash – a beer of around

infecting the liquid.

7-8% ABV – is created.

Lag phase


The transition period between pitching and the start of fermentation. At this point the yeast shifts from a dormant state to metabolic activity by absorbing oxygen, essential to prepare them for metabolising sugars that will lead to cell replication and the absorption of nutrients (which is where the actual fermentation process begins). Exponential or Log Phase After it has been left a while, the yeast starts budding, which means it multiplies three or four times in the wort and reaches around ten times its initial population. This phase lasts until the yeast runs out of oxygen, thus leaving the cells in an anaerobic environment.

Some distilleries use yeast strains which are difficult to control but enrich the flavour

There are many aspects within fermentation that impart different flavours to the wash and will eventually be found in the whisky after distillation. It is widely recognised that fermentation times and temperatures have a great impact on what the whisky will taste like. This is because different flavour compounds are formed at different stages – and the temperature either speeds up or slows down the process. Yeast action produces high levels of alcohol and organic acids that together form flavour compounds called esters.

Stationary phase

Different esters form at different stages

The micro-organisms start metabolising the

and thus give a variety of flavours. A short

nutrients they absorbed in order to stay alive.

fermentation will provide aromas of cereal,

At this stage, the sugars are turned into ethanol

whereas a longer one (more than 60 hours)

and carbon dioxide. The latter produces a thick,

produces fruity notes. Another important

rising foam that has to be broken up by switchers

compound is diacetyl, which is formed during

– metallic arms rotating in the washback. Fatty

the exponential phase and gives a waxy,

acids and higher alcohols, which combined form

buttery mouthfeel but also cheesy notes if

the esters, are also produced, and these play a

present in higher concentrations. A very short

significant role in the flavour profile.

fermentation time can lead to an excess of

Death of the yeast – and the rise of bacteria

diacetyl, and being very volatile it can be

With no more nutrients to feed themselves and

difficult to diminish even with distillation.

having exhausted all their energetic resources,

Isoamyl acetate, a ketone ester produced

the yeast dies out and is left in the liquid that will

in longer fermentations, will result in a pear,

be distilled. This happens around 36 to 48 hours

banana-like aroma.

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18/04/2019 12:36:42

42 | Whisky Hero

Sharing is caring: Emmanuel Dron is passionate about Spirit of Enterprise: Davidson is one letting people experience of the whisky world’s great innovators. extremely rare whiskies. Photo: Marcel Van Gils

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we are one of the last places to open crazy bottlings

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Cask and Still Magazine | 43


Whisky collector Emmanuel Dron created a bar that allows people to enjoy decadent drams from times gone by Written by Federica Stefani


he art of collecting offers a unique sense of nostalgia and knowledge: gathering objects from the past can open a window onto another era, preserving memories from the erosion of time. The same can be said for whisky collectors. However, the passion that Frenchman Emmanuel Dron puts into his work goes beyond simply gathering bottles. When he opened The Auld Alliance, one of the most popular specialist bars in Singapore, he created a time capsule where people could not only sit and stare at rare, old bottles but also taste the spirit of times gone by. ‘This has always been the philosophy: not just to have bottles sitting in a cabinet, but to have them open so that people can try them,’ he says. ‘We are one of the last places to open crazy bottlings. For instance, we just opened the Caol Ila 1968 50-Year-Old – it’s a very expensive whisky and we are among the only ones who have opened it. There was a guy who travelled all the way from Hong Kong to try it and he was blown away. This is a very good feeling.’ It was love at first dram for Dron when, as a student in Lille, he was gifted a bottle of Glenfiddich. The discovery made him eager to learn more about the water of life and, alongside his best friend, he became a regular visitor to the local jazz club and managed to go through the whole whisky menu (around 150 expressions) in just over three months, noting down all the tasting notes in a notebook he’s carried with him ever since. His decision to write a letter to La Maison Du Whisky gave his career a massive boost: he was offered a job in Paris in 1997 and has worked in the whisky industry ever since. When he was sent to Singapore in 2010, the desire to do something ‘more personal’ started to grow. ‘I wanted to open a bar and I wanted to focus on old bottles,’ he says. ‘There was already a whisky bar in Singapore, but no one was doing the old bottlings from the sixties and

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seventies, which is something that really interests me, so I decided to build my own company.’ Things have changed in whisky distilling and the passionate historian in Dron is also the thing that encourages him to allow people to taste bottlings that in most cases would be ‘off-limits’. One of the essential elements of the bar is the attention and research it takes to find exceptional bottles and casks at prices people can afford. However, the boom experienced by the whisky industry in the last few years has turned the tables for whisky entrepreneurs. ‘It wouldn’t be possible to do the same thing starting in 2019. When I opened back in 2010, the whisky was still okay in terms of prices. I remember a legendary bottle of Bowmore 1966 Samaroli Bouquet, which recently sold for almost £52,000, and at the time you could buy it for around £850 to £1,000. ‘A few famous distilleries have become quite arrogant – they don’t want to share their product, so sell them directly to rich people or send it to bloggers, and I find this extremely sad. They forget the base of people that have been following them for the last twenty years.’ The Auld Alliance is a treasured whisky destination in Asia, with people travelling from abroad just to have a taste of its amazing collection, which features whiskies from across the globe as well as cognac, rum and other spirits, plus some exclusive expressions bottled for the bar. Dron’s favourite bottle? A 16-year-old Laphroaig 1970 from the Italian bottler, Samaroli. ‘It’s so pure and perfectly balanced between the iodine, the medicinal and pure fruitiness, it’s such a beautiful style of whisky. ‘You need to collect what you like: just like with music and old records, you want to collect something that you like to listen to.’

18/04/2019 14:17:49


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The award-winning visitor attraction in the heart of Highland Perthshire Discover a range of production tours, including options for whisky afficionados

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. Food is limited to lunch only including hand made pies by Jarvis Pickle Kitchen. 80 West Bow, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 226 7667

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18/04/2019 09:51:16

Cask and Still Magazine | 45 >>>

s ’ r u e s s i o n on



L E S Befuddled by the dizzying range of

drinks on offer? Feel the fog of confusion lift with our 20-page guide to what the real experts drink

S &

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18/04/2019 16:29:43

46 | Connoisseurs’ Selection

Speyside Mark Angus

RETAIL SALES MANAGER, GORDON & MACPHAIL, ELGIN Responsible for running Elgin’s flagship whisky shop, Mark selects the G&M Retail Exclusive range, organises Spirit of Speyside tastings and judges the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.




The liquid is golden amber in colour giving you confidence in the double-matured sherry cask whisky inside. NOSE: Waking up to buttery cinnamon toast, plump raisin fruit and a light woodiness gathers from the charred barrel. PALATE: A large hit of sweet butter pancakes served with maple syrup and dusted with brown sugar. Spice and fruit come through followed by a milk chocolate finish. FINISH: A delightful end awaits with a fruit and nut chocolate bar and oak lingering on.


Ewan c M Ilwraith

OWNER, ROBERTSONS OF PITLOCHRY 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, including these Speyside drams...

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Balvenie at its very best delivers this golden amber delight, the clean white label makes the colour pop all the more. NOSE: Punched in the face with bold fruity notes and rum raisin. You can also detect a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.


PALATE: Smooth! The whisky is creamy in the mouth, fruity with Seville orange coming to the fore, plump raisins follow with heather honey and white grape. FINISH: A long slightly drying whisky. Hazelnut and cocoa finish this superb whisky from Dufftown in Speyside.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 47 >>>




One of my favourite whiskies, I have many… Single cask, natural colour and




This is part of the new release of whiskies from Glenrothes Distillery. They only produced whisky matured

non-chill filtered this a complex and

in sherry-seasoned casks and the range is based on the

delightful whisky. So good, in fact, I

‘solera process’ and is reflected in the colours and flavours

bought the cask. NOSE: Complex aromas of new leather, green bananas and a hint of wood smoke. PALATE: Powerful and remarkably viscous showing aniseed, orange zest and a beautiful waxiness. Peppery and spicy with a drop of water added.

of the whisky. NOSE: Rich, fruity, candied orange with hints of oak resin. PALATE: Rich and spicy, creamy vanilla with orange peel and nutmeg. FINISH: Good length with more nutmeg and orange. It has a very satisfying finish to it.

FINISH: Honeyed barley, sweet and more spice. Long finish and very moreish. A powerful and complex dram.




Peated to a level of 67ppm, this is a wonderfully smokey whisky which is very complex. Matured in first fill Bourbon casks. Produced in small batches only and a delight to drink (for peat lovers). NOSE: Sweet, citrus, cured meats, vanilla, a hint of honey and a slight tobacco note. PALATE: Pepper, oranges, aniseed and bonfire smoke. Add a drop of water and the taste opens to reveal more citrus fruits; grapefruit and lemon. A hint of chocolate and cigars. FINISH: Sweet almond oil and more smoke on the finish. An outstanding dram at a great price.




The colour looks very inviting as its rich golden amber hue beckons you to open. NOSE: Rich fruit is strong with bitter chocolate, and crème brûlée all complementing the senses. Sweet sugary vanilla biscuits also come through as the whisky warms in the hand. PALATE: The whisky is thick and creamy with stewed fruit and hints of cherry coming to the fore; orange peel develops into a satisfying fill. FINISH: It is a little drying but lingers pleasingly, with spice and a nutty oak finish that is hard to beat for the price.

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Award winning whisky bar with over 700 whiskies. Restaurant offering Scottish food made from the best regional ingredients. Whisky tastings and food matching arranged. Kilkerran Road, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28 6JL

01586 552133

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Cask and Still Magazine | 49 >>>





This was the discovery of the year 2018

Bruichladdich have done it again. This

– only a six-year-old but with plenty of

was distilled from 100% Scottish barley

character and full of flavours.

and has enjoyed maturation in first fill

NOSE: Smoked meat, sweet and spicy malt and lingering caramel sweetness. PALATE: Smoked pastrami, creamy mille feuille, a good whack of phenolic smoke and a pinch of sea salt. FINISH: Warming and devilishly long lasting.

American whisky barrels, a second fill French wine cask and the finest French oak cask from the Bordeaux left bank. NOSE: Summer fruits and a peat smoke extravaganza. PALATE: Lively and sweet with icing sugar and marshmallow, bound in well balanced smoke. FINISH: Warming, long lasting with interesting medicinal peat smoke.



An excellent Bowmore by the chaps at Morrison & Mackay, one of the first releases of the Bequest range. This superb dram was distilled in May 1991 and bottled in November 2017. NOSE: Bonfire on a beach with some yellow fruit sweetness, delicate coffee and earthy smoke. PALATE: Raisins soaked in brandy, smoked oak, salted caramel with coastal character developing through. FINISH: Barley sweetness with delicate coastal peat smoke.


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Joanna co-owns Jeffrey St Whisky & Tobacco in Edinburgh – an independent purveyor of the finest whisky and tobacco. Joanna and her team also offer whisky tastings for customers.

18/04/2019 16:44:49

We are Edinburgh’s premier Whisky Bar with an unrivalled selection of Single Malt Scottish Whisky. With over 400 drams we have a whisky to please anyone’s palate. Usquabae is the perfect place to find the finest selection of whisky, local craft beer & fine Scottish fayre all within a relaxed and chic setting. Whatever the occasion we at Usquabae are happy to accommodate. 2-4 Hope Street Edinburgh 0131 290 2284

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RARE AGED SINGLE CASKS & RARE OLD BOTTLED WHISKY WANTED +44 07384 583850 or +44 07988 286346

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Cask and Still Magazine | 51 >>>





In my opinion still a hugely under-rated distillery, one of our oldest and fairly easily accessible from Aberdeen for a wee tour.


A new addition to the Dalmore range, the port

NOSE: The Founders Reserve opens with a mellow creamy aroma followed by orchard fruits, hessian, heather and grassy notes. PALATE: It has a waxy texture on the palate and flavours of bruised fruits, almonds and a light gingery spice. FINISH: The spices intensify on the finish with some cayenne pepper over a lovely oak and earthy base.

influence works really well with Dalmore so it made sense for this release. NOSE: The aromas on this are quite shy at first but soon reveal fruity notes, fruit pastels, blackcurrant and chocolate raisins with a touch of honey in there too. PALATE: The port flavours dominate the palate initially, very rich with black grape against a prickly spice but nicely integrated into it’s velvety texture. FINISH: Some gristly barley, malty cereal and dark chocolate jaffa cakes


welcome you on the finish.


A very clean and easy drinking Highlander. It takes a touch of water to release its sweeter side. This is one of only 251 bottles from the Old Malt Cask range by Hunter Laing. NOSE: Aromas of vanilla, creamy toffee, fresh chopped oak and pine needle then a sweet grape and wine note arrives with a touch of spearmint. PALATE: It’s a lovely weighted whisky with a palate of sweet toffee, the texture and candy sweetness of Edinburgh Rock then hints of lemon which sweetens further with some water to lemon meringue pie. FINISH: The finish is grassy and a little drier, it’s vibrant, chocolate limes.

Darren Leitch


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The whisky shop is the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK. The website – – enables the company to meet an even greater global demand for Scotch whiskies. Darren is a senior judge on the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.

18/04/2019 16:51:40

52 | Connoisseurs’ Selection






A limited release of Johnnie Blue that contains, amongst others, Port Ellen single malt and rare single grains from Carsebridge and Caledonian. A stunning incarnation of Johnnie Blue. NOSE: Creamy, vanilla sweetness of waxy citrus. PALATE: Rich malt and tropical fruits.



Made from 33% Lowland grain and 67% malt (from Islay, the Highlands and Speyside), aged in a combination of first-fill and refill bourbon barrels, first-fill sherry casks, and a small amount being finished in new French oak. NOSE: Full, rich and smoky. PALATE: Dried fruits, warming spices and sherry notes. FINISH: Soft peaty finish.

FINISH: All perfectly balanced by the maritime smokiness of Port Ellen that lingers in the long and warming finish.




A blend of some of the finest Islay and Speyside peated malts combined with richer, older GlenAllachie, aged in Oloroso, Virgin Oak and Red Wine casks. NOSE: Aristocratic peat smoke with dark chocolate and fudge. PALATE: Tobacco, leather, cedar wood and waves of peat reek with oodles of cocoa, vanilla, honey and spices. FINISH: Subtle and peaty sweet.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 53 >>>






A carefully selected


A really soft yet flavoursome

concerto of over 30 malt

sipping blend from Dewars.

and grain whiskies are involved, initially being

NOSE: Initially green apples,

aged for three years here

pears and honey with dried

in Scotland in Sherry

fruits and citrus freshness.

butts before being sent

PALATE: Creamy cereals,

to Jerez to socialise

vanilla and light caramel.

with Sherry producers

FINISH: The finish is soft with

Gonzales Byass. There

nutmeg and a wisp of smoke.

it is finished off in Pedro Ximenez casks for one year prior to bottling. NOSE: Brown sugar, molasses and dates, with a nutty underbelly. PALATE: Very prominent sherry notes, spices coating orchard fruits. FINISH: Long and pleasant

Shane Dunning WHISKY AND SPIRITS BUYER, WOODWINTERS WINES AND WHISKIES, BRIDGE OF ALLAN 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 recommends three delicious blends.

with hints of vanilla and dried fruits.




The Trademark X blend was well known in Victorian times and this new release has been created to replicate the now lost original. NOSE: At first, sweet notes of icing sugar and raisins are present, before oily, lightly peated qualities emerge; soot, soft earth and freshly cut hay. Over time, a combination of dark chocolate, sultanas, prunes, marzipan and subtle hints of chilli and salt come to the fore. PALATE: Spicy flavours of mint chocolate blend in with syrup, plums, prunes and roasted coffee beans. Gentle peat and soft smoke linger in the background, which introduce a delicious juicy quality. Water brings out thick, rich cream and ripe dark cherries. FINISH: The finish is long, syrupy and gently spicy, gradually softening to



Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Here Robin selects some of his favourite blends on the market.

leave subtle, distinctive stone fruit flavours.

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18/04/2019 16:55:48










Pantone 428

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66 Market Street, St. Andrews, KY16 9NU Tel: 01334 477 752


Introducing an exciting new addition to our Finlaggan family of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, this malt has been matured in Rioja red wine hogsheads to give a delicious smoky dram bursting with peat and sweet red berry fruits

Ask your favourite whisky retailer to order you a bottle or for more information visit our website

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Specialising in a huge range of

Whisky, Gin, Rum, Bourbon, Vodka, Cigars, Wine, Champagne, Sherry, Port, Craft Beer & More! 105 West Nile St, G1 2SD 0141 332 4481

23 Bath Street, G2 1HW 0141 258 8427

21 Clarence Drive, G12 9QN 0141 334 4312

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Cask and Still Magazine | 55 >>>




A cracking Independent release of this much loved Lowland grain distillery. NOSE: Richly spiced with its natural sugar, hard candy and crème brulée. PALATE: Deeply sweet with golden syrup, demerara sugar, molasses and espresso. FINISH: Waves of barley sugar, more spices and hints of vanilla.



An aged single malt that is the entry to Bladnoch’s range of limited releases. NOSE: Sweet grassy notes with delicate floral aromas. PALATE: Spicy and sweet oak with citrus notes and hints of coconut, ginger, vanilla and gooseberry. FINISH: Clean, sweet, spicy citrus, crisp


and refreshing.


At last, the first full scale release from this little Fife distillery. Matured in a combination of Pedro Ximinez, Oloroso and Bourbon casks. NOSE: Delicate on the nose, with a light, straw-like character alongside a soft, vanilla, candied barley-sugar sweetness and a hint of hazelnut. PALATE: Sweet and juicy, with notes of peach and plum. Sherry influence is most noticeable here, with a light, fruitcake character along with sweet, oaky-vanilla. FINISH: Remains light, with a candied sweetness, yet bringing in a delicate spice and hints of dried plum.

Robin Russell


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Robbie’s Drams Whisky Merchants is a family-run business, situated in the seaside town of Ayr. Fine character, great whisky, since 1984. Robin selects some of his favourite bottles of Lowland whisky on the market.

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56 | Connoisseurs’ Selection




A subtle blend of grain whiskies from two of Japan’s great distilleries, Miyagikyo and Yoichi. NOSE: Delicate orchard fruit, cereal, oats and roasted nuts. PALATE: Creamy, toffee apples developing to a vanilla and soft smokiness. FINISH: Smooth and gentle, a perfect balance between fruit and malt.



A sherry cask bottling from the Nantou distillery in Taiwan. NOSE: Nutty, sultanas, sweet sherry notes. PALATE: Beautifully balanced, dark chocolate and mandarin dominating followed by soft spice and a touch of mint. FINISH: Orange and mocha coming through, drying out to soft oak and a hint of liquorice.



A limited release of an Irish Single Malt aged for 11 years in American Oak and finished for 3 years in the finest Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. NOSE: Dark chocolate and orange peel leading onto dried fruit. PALATE: Rich and mouthcoating, balanced sweetness with candied fruits, ripe plums and soft oak. FINISH: Full bodied and sweet with notes of mocha and dark forest fruits.

Nick Sullivan


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

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Cask and Still Magazine | 57 >>>



MAKER’S 46 45




Named after Jim Beam’s legendary distiller Booker Noe, this is another

A softer more balanced bourbon than the standard

of the small batches from the

Maker’s Mark, if you are a fan try to seek out some of

Beam stable.

their newly launched Private Select range.

NOSE: For something at such a

NOSE: Aromas of sweet honeycomb, beard wax and

high strength it has surprisingly

some burnt oranges balanced with cedar wood and

soft aromas of sweet tobacco

biscuit or rusk type cereal bar.

and dried wood spice.

PALATE: It’s delicately flavoured with a syrupy

PALATE: The flavours in contrast

sweetness at first that reveals floral notes and a

are full bodied and although

touch of marzipan. It’s then honeyed as it rolls onto

drinkable at it’s full strength it does

the finish.

benefit from a splash of water, it has

FINISH: Short and sweet with more of that

flavours of nutty toffee,

marzipan lingering on.

biscuit with chocolate and mint. FINISH: The finish is of cuban cigar leaf.



One of four small batch bourbons produced at Jim Beam, this one is the lightest in character and bottled at a more moderate strength of 80 proof. It’s good, maybe too easy drinking. NOSE: It has aromas of coconut and Bazooka Joe bubble gum alongside some wintergreen/antiseptic/ medicinal notes. PALATE: Flavour wise it is very gentile with light toffee and honey notes. FINISH: Floral and citrus before a touch of charcoal on the finish.

Darren Leitch


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The whisky shop is the largest independent specialist retailer of whisky in the UK. The website – – enables the company to meet an even greater global demand for Scotch whiskies. Darren is a senior judge on the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.

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Whisky Challenge

Be on the 2019

READERS’ PANEL WANT TO TAKE PART IN 2019? The 2018 panel (top right) sampled 68 different whiskies at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith. If you love whisky why not join us for next year’s Readers’ Challenge?


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Cask and Still Magazine | 59 >>>

Investments GLENDRONACH GRANDEUR 27YO #10 480


The colour is a deep golden amber and beautifully presented in a small but stylish bottle and walnut case. NOSE: Deep rich plum conserve and golden syrup, followed by dried apricots, glacé cherries and brandy snaps with hints of Brazil nut. PALATE: Seville orange and stewed fruit fills the mouth, the liquid thick and smooth. Cinnamon and nutmeg on top of figs follow with touches of beeswax polish. FINISH: The lingering of old leather dries on the tongue but it is sweet none the less and satisfies long after the dram has gone. Perfect!



No more than a four-year-old, it has a good colour of pale gold from the first fill bourbon barrel and first fill STR barrique casks it’s matured in. NOSE: On the nose there are sharp but grassy notes, touches of cereal and zest. As the whisky is allowed to



The liquid is a pale gold in colour and stands out in its bottle which oozes elegance. NOSE: Jammy sultanas and fresh cut apples, its crisp floral note leads into spicy sherry. Stewed apples and pears with hints of tropical fruit and golden syrup.

breathe you pick up vanilla and peach.

PALATE: Medium-body and quite firm. There are notes of

PALATE: It is a little oily and herbs dominate

marmalade, sultanas and orange peel with a hint of brown

the taste buds. White pepper then hits you and the harsh liquid is metallic and rough. FINISH: Herbs continue with no vanilla or peach ever

sugar. FINISH: It has a good long length with an enjoyable but firm nutty oak finish.

really coming through. The pepperiness is all but gone for a medium length finish.

Mark Angus


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Responsible for running Elgin’s flagship whisky shop, Mark selects the G&M Retail Exclusive range, organises Spirit of Speyside tastings and judges the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.

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60 | Connoisseurs’ Selection





This is a blend of several very

rum reserves from a single vintage. Finished in

old rums of Barbados.

Spanish sherry casks.

NOSE: Roasted coconut and

NOSE: Raisins, and oranges with


a hint of vanilla.

PALATE: Intense flavours of

PALATE: Silky,

vanilla, ripe banana and sugar

rich and incredibly

cane. FINISH: Remarkable long finish.


This is crafted from a selection of exceptional

flavoursome. FINISH: Notes of cloves, liquorice and nutmeg.



This rum has been selected from the finest casks that are at least 12yo. NOSE: Honey and tobacco alongside intense fruits. PALATE: A lively, spicy character with creamy vanilla and toffee. FINISH: Intense and lingering.

Brian Gibson


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T.B. Watson Ltd. has been trading in Dumfries since 1909, and now runs The Drambusters website and whisky club, with more than 300 members. Company director Brian, a Keeper of The Quaich, selects some of his favourite rums...

18/04/2019 17:03:18

Cask and Still Magazine | 61




Full in body, dark in colour, rich in berry flavours and soft in tannins, the Gran Passione is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Corvina. The Corvina is allowed to dry on the vine for a few weeks, causing the fruit concentration and sugar levels to increase. It is based on the same technique used to make Amarone, and it is rarely used in wines as well-priced as this one! Look for some Amarone characters of dried cherry, raisin, prune and chocolate. NOSE: Rich in berry flavours. PALATE: Dried cherry, raisin, prune and chocolate. FINISH: The balancing acidity makes it a good match for grilled meat.




White stone fruit and plenty of joy in this delightful blend of old bush vine Chenin and young vibrant Viognier. NOSE: Aromatic with delicious generous fresh apricot, white peach and hints of passion fruit on the nose. PALATE: On the palate it has tight, white, fleshy stone



Comes from vines overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and after fermentation in stainless steel it then aged for 18 months in new and 2nd passage barrique. blackberries, liquorice and chocolate. NOSE: Deeply coloured, the wine has notes of blackcurrant. PALATE: This is a polished, elegant Aglianico that retains the relaxed character of the grape and region. FINISH: Finishes long and herbal.

fruit with a balancing sandy texture. FINISH: Bright acidity and minerality delivers a delicious balance. Lots of fun on its own and with food.

Shane Dunning


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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 recommends three delicious wines...

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62 | Off the Shelf



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Cask and Still Magazine | 63





This limited edition gold gift tin Aberfeldy 12 is

Perfectly balanced with a rich finish, Springbank 10-year-old offers the

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perfect introduction to the Springbank range.

from the new online distillery shop while

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8 8. GLENALLACHIE 12YO Hand-crafted to perfection by master distiller Billy Walker, the 12-year-old single malt is at the heart of the GlenAllachie range. This exquisite Scotch whisky is bursting with a variety of flavours: from lashings of butterscotch, honey and vanilla, to delicate hints of mocha and marzipan in the background.

9. ILEACH ISLAY SINGLE MALT The Ileach Islay single malt, meaning a true man from Islay, is a peat-loving dad’s dream with peat smoke and chewy, sweet malt on the palate and a long warming, smoky finish.

062-063_CS09.indd 63

18/04/2019 16:28:20

64 | For the love of gin


As the gin market across the country reaches saturation, the battle is on for brands to earn their place Written by Geraldine Coates

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Cask and Still Magazine | 65 >>>


ccording to that highly respected font of all gin knowledge, The Gin Foundry, there are now 1,350 British-made gins available in the UK. And these are proper gins, so gins that are intended to be gin and which are bottled at, or over, 37.5% ABV in compliance with EU legislation. They are not seasonal editions only available for a limited time and they are not just different strength versions of one brand. They don’t include gin liqueurs or indeed the many fruit and flavoured gins that should really be marketed as gin liqueurs. Scotland’s share of this gin bonanza is 250 different gins and, by the time you read this, that figure will have risen considerably. This is not just an overcrowded market; it’s a gridlocked one. And the obvious question is just how do these new gins elbow their way to the head of the queue and grab any attention at all from bewildered – not to say overwhelmed – consumers.

064-067_CS09.indd 65

In the old days, oh about ten years ago, brand building was a great deal more straightforward: a newly launched spirit brand followed the well-worn path of seeding into the high end ontrade before pursuing listings in the offtrade. Essentially, this meant getting influential bartenders to fall in love with your product and sell it to their customers, often by creating a signature serve (think of how well Hendrick’s has done with their G&T with cucumber). Creating a buzz was seen as one way to secure that all important distribution deal with a large wholesaler and start thinking about exports. That model is essentially broken, more’s the pity as it also served as a very effective quality control mechanism. On the other hand there are now hundreds of specialist gin bars stocking hundreds of gins so opportunities abound, one would think. But there are signs that bartender fatigue has set in big time.

18/04/2019 13:09:02

66 | For the love of gin

this is not just an over crowded market, it is a gridlocked one

Clockwise from top: Iain Stirling, founder of Arbikie; House of Botanicals owner Adam Elan-Elmegirab; Claire Fletcher of Lussa Gin.

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‘When we opened 13 years ago we had around 40 gins and some of them were quite difficult to source,’ explains Jason Scott, founder of Bramble in Edinburgh, which regularly features high on the list of the World’s Best Bars. ‘Nowadays, if someone comes to us with a new gin we’re almost at the stage of saying “so what”? ‘We always taste the product because we don’t want to stamp on someone’s dream, but last year we only took on four gins. If we list a new gin we have to drop one of our existing ones, there’s only so much room behind the bar. And it has to be exceptional, as good as Tanqueray, which is our benchmark.’ If there’s no more room at the inn, the upside is that social media and e-commerce have opened up whole new ways for distillers to promote and sell directly to potential customers. Gin festivals, masterclass tastings and meet the maker type events allow brand owners to get face to face with their target audience and introduce them to their products. Many distillers, particularly ones based in remote rural areas, make the bulk of their sales at food festivals, farmers’ markets and similar events. Distillery tours are also a significant source of income, with Pickering’s Gin in Edinburgh, for example, reporting that around 10% of their turnover comes from visitors to their distillery at Summerhall. But there’s no denying it’s hard out there. Established brands like Hendrick’s and Caorunn have the advantage of being owned by large multinationals with access to the parent distribution network and marketing expertise. Gins that are part of whisky distillery startups also have more clout. However, there’s no question that small independent gin-only distillers with zero or limited marketing budgets struggle to get on shelves. Claire Fletcher of Jura-based Lussa Gin is someone who knows just how difficult the current climate is. ‘The market is saturated and anyone who says that it’s not difficult to actually make money is lying,’ she says. ‘When we first started doing events there would be maybe 20 producers, now there are 80. When we talk to retailers they say “we’ve already got 65 gins why would I stock yours?”

‘We’re exporting to Germany and Sweden but we’re not even thinking of south of the border. Fortunately our distillery tours are very busy and we’ve got a great story in that we distil on the island and we genuinely use local botanicals. Because we are debt free we can sit tight but I’ve noticed a lot of small producers are getting quite nervous and one wonders how many will still be around in five years’ time.’ So is all this a sign that the much heralded ‘peak gin’ has been reached finally? Well possibly. Personally, I think that the gin sector in Scotland in particular is now full up, and that there’s very little room for new entrants. But, is there a recipe for getting consumer attention that existing brands can follow? The last word goes to Aberdeen-based Adam Elmegirab, who is in the enviable position of having been an influential bartender and is now a successful brand owner with his range of House of Botanicals gins and bitters. ‘The story is really important,’ he says. ‘The folk at Arbikie are doing really well with their field-to-bottle philosophy. It’s transparent and honest and that’s what consumers want. Consumers have a huge amount of knowledge nowadays and they ask really searching questions. It’s not enough to say you are “made in Scotland” when all the ingredients for your gin come from somewhere else. ‘Secondly, start local. When we launched House of Botanicals gin we concentrated on getting local listings first. With gin festivals and events taking place all over the country there’s plenty of opportunity to sell locally to a local audience. Then you build on that. ‘Thirdly, creating a brand is hard work, it’s not a get rich quick scheme. You really have to wear out the shoe leather going to where your consumers are.’ To that should be added the obvious fact that, no matter how great your brand story is, if the liquid doesn’t taste good and, in this market, exceptionally good, you’re not going to succeed. So, if you’re competing for consumer love with the other 249 (and rising) gins out there the golden rules are honesty and transparency about your product, prioritise your neighbourhood and put in the hours. Simple.

18/04/2019 13:10:48

Cask and Still Magazine | 67

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18/04/2019 13:13:26

68 | Connoisseurs’ Selection

Gin LIND & LIME GIN 37.50


Ewan c M Ilwraith



NOSE: The nose is bright and vibrant, it leads

Newly landed gin, produced for the planned Leith Distillery by the very talented James Porteous, who produces Electric Gin.

with lime and pepper, then balances out with


more earthy juniper notes. PALATE: Lime is to the forefront, this leads to an

Ewan took over the running of Robertsons of Pitlochry in January 2013. His extensive background in drinks retail has led him to discover some topclass spirits, including these fantastic gins...

explosion of flavour with more citrus, juniper and pepper. FINISH: This is a great gin, bold, bright and intense.




As with their whisky, Japanese Gin is now making waves over here. Kinobi’s first gin was launched in 2016 drawing on both Japanese flavours and an international




This is produced by Pickering’s Gin

Matthew c M Fadyen

in Edinburgh, it was conceived


disadvantaged young adults.


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. Here are three of Matt’s top gins....

068-069_CS09.indd 68

as a social enterprise. All their profits are reinvested in projects both here and abroad to support

NOSE: A classic style, with juniper and citrus to the fore and just a waft of spice. PALATE: Lovely mouthfeel and again juniper, lemon and a touch of spice. FINISH: Long and balanced, this is a great gin for those who like a

team of experts to create an exceptional gin. NOSE: Balanced, with citrus, hints of tea, warm spice and some soft fruity notes. PALATE: Intense and focused, there is juniper, soft spice and some lightly aromatic tea lingering on the mouthwatering finish. FINISH: This is classically Japanese, elegant, understated yet powerful.

classic style.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 69







Our local gin, this is the creation of

Launched just before Christmas, this gin is from

Helen Stewart and produced on

Dougie Maclean, who wrote the tunes The Gael

her family farm just outside Pitlochry. NOSE: Fresh cut grass

Caledonia. Five times distilled using and also Caledonia malted barley and heather flowers. NOSE: Sweet and malty, heather flowers,

and herbal with sweet

slight note of juniper, some spice coming

notes from the nettles

through. Hints of caramel and citrus.

with juniper in good measure. Hint of spice.

PALATE: Spices, barley notes,

PALATE: Mint, sweet nettles, more cut grass then the mint comes back. Although a heavy nose, this gin is light and

cardamom, rich and sweet. FINISH: Sweet spices, caramel, and citrus with a light peppery note to finish.

sweet to taste. FINISH: Aromatic spices, drying with a long finish. Quite refreshing.




One of our best-selling gins, the distillery is now built on Colonsay and they are starting to produce there. NOSE: Juniper, light with floral notes, aromatic and citrus, fresh and clean. PALATE: Lemon, mint, heather flowers all come through on the initial taste then bog myrtle, warming spices and the mint carries through. FINISH: Citrus, light and minty. Clean with a good finish.

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70 | Spirit Level

sherry baby Despite the tired old stereotypes, a beautifully crisp sherry is for life not just for Christmas, says Brooke Magnanti

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Cask and Still Magazine | 71 WORTH A LOOK


icture the scene: Christmas week, visiting the family. A nip round to the next-door neighbours for exchanging cards and good cheer. They’ve laid on some mince pies, and a cheese board, of course. They pass round a set of cut-crystal glasses – those little goblet-style ones everyone’s gran has. You say you’re not a fan of sherry, but can that really be true when it’s such a seasonal classic? Now let me take you somewhere else: spring, let’s say April. The back garden, the smell of fresh new leaves starting to burst into life. That warm, welcoming breeze that tells you winter won’t be coming round again for a while. You want a dry, crisp drink but you’re gin-andtonic’ed out and vermouth isn’t your style. It may be the hipster in me, but what could be better than the salty bite of a chilled fino right about now? Maybe you’ve heard the news. Sherry is the whisky of wine. For people who grew up on sickly ‘Cyprus Sherries’ and the Hinge and Bracket image of cloying cheer, that might be a hard claim to swallow. But let me assure you that sherries are anything but difficult to quaff. From tangy finos and manzanillas to gorgeously nutty amontillados, sherries go with everything from olives and cured meats to fruit and sweets. Bargain hunters will find much to delight the palate at reasonable prices. It is hard to imagine a more versatile and pocket-friendly tipple that needs very little in the way of extras to shine. Sherry is not at its best hidden in mixed drinks and cocktails, or cooked away in a slow-braised casserole. It is for swirling, sipping

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and savouring on its own or with food. Probably my favourite food pairing is a relatively dry manzanilla served alongside spiced pork dishes with East Asian influence. The sherry holds up to the fat of the pork well, while anise, chilli and allspice bring out a usually-overlooked delicate sweetness in the wine. Second to that? Fino with any shellfish, especially if finished with butter or cream. Either of these is a surprise hit with – believe it or don’t – pad thai. But don’t take my word for it, break out the bottles and let your imagination be your guide. The sweeter end of the style also has a lot to offer, coupled with a flavour profile that will be familiar to fans of sherry-cask aged whiskies all over the map from Glenmorangie La Santa to Kilchoman Loch Gorm. To get that full, rich aroma and flavour, seek out Oloroso sherry. This is the basis for blends such as Harvey’s Bristol Cream, but without all that added extra sugar, and it goes amazingly well with rich fruits like figs, or even a cheeky slice of foie gras. If sherry is the whisky of wine, oloroso is the aged bourbon. Want to go a shade deeper yet? Keep your eyes peeled for bottles made from Pedro Ximénez grapes, with raisin and molasses notes jumping to the fore from long aging in the solera. Then there is the rarest gem of all sherries, the Palo Cortado. This happens when the flor that protects the aging sherry in the cask unexpectedly dies, oxidising the wine. Sipping this is like a showcase of all the best of all the sherries – the sea-air crispness of amontillado at first, followed by a rich yet delicate balance of fruit in the oloroso vein. A 20-year-old Palo Cortado Wellington from Bodegas Hidalgo will still leave you with change from a pink note. And that’s something anyone’s gran can appreciate.

Smooth and elegant but full of flavour. Bread notes at first, and fairly low acidity. As it warms up in the glass it tends to highlight its apple sweetness.


Very dry on the palate, aged 15 years with complexity and rich flavours. Nicely nutty and not too sweet. Pairs well with jamon serrano.


Very crisp and smooth with a vibrant apple side. Slight bitterness with some toasted notes followed by soft olive and light mineral notes. Almond in the finish.

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72 | Top whisky books


A milestone in whisky writing, Barnard’s travels across Scotland, England and Ireland cover 150 distilleries, with detailed descriptions of the production processes as well as colourful tales of the journey in Victorian Britain. Written in 1885, when he worked for Harper’s Weekly Gazette, and published in 1887, this is a historical document and a joy to the whisky buff.


First published in 1930, this is considered the first book on whisky from a consumer’s perspective and is widely acclaimed as


A treasure chest of a publication looking back into the history of distilleries in Scotland and the people who have made creating whisky their life’s work. Apart from its well-designed layout, the tidbit here is the reproductions of treaties, stunning photography, ancient documents and plans dating back to the very first years of the distilleries. A time capsule of the country’s whisky tradition and a guide to Scotland’s main whisky producing regions.

one of the most admirable volumes on the water of life. Aeneas MacDonald, a pseudonym for author George Malcolm Thomson, goes back to the very roots of barley production, contextualising the importance of single malt.



The world of whisky is a fascinating blend of science and storytelling, making it the perfect

subject matter for some of our favourite reads Written by Federica Stefani

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Cask and Still Magazine | 73 >>>


Any list of top whisky books needs a mention of this renowned malt-hunter’s work. Michael Jackson’s companion has informed generations of whisky buffs. Its 7th edition has been updated by whisky experts Dominic Roskrow and Gavin D. Smith and includes a comprehensive guide on how to drink whisky, its production and tasting notes on over 1,000 expressions throughout the ages.


A book going (almost) straight to the tasting point. This colourful volume, in fact, provides an in-depth analysis of 1,000 of the best whiskies from the international scene, specially selected and broken down in what is an extremely detailed aroma wheel. This can be a very good starting point for a beginner to navigate freely through the malts, as well as an interesting index for the more experienced nose.


If you are looking to broaden your horizons beyond single malts and Scotch, then this book gives you the tools to get to know more about the history of whisky worldwide. A complete guide which has less of a bottle-by-bottle approach and offers in-depth details, despite covering a broad range of topics and whisky-making countries. A solid manual for the whisky aficionado who wants a bit more than a standard guide, and a highly satisfying book aestheticallyspeaking with some exciting cocktail recipes to try out.

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18/04/2019 12:57:23

74 | Top whisky books



First published as a coffee-table book in 2015


tome by leading whisky expert Charles MacLean


and later adapted to a bag-friendly format, this provides a good overview of the main distilleries

During WW2 the Islands of Great and Little

in Scotland and their peculiarities. The focus is

Todday were, like the rest of the UK, facing a

on terroir and the aim is to highlight regional

shortage of whisky – until cargo vessel S.S.

differences, their specific histories and what

Cabinet Minister is wrecked with its precious

made them into what they are today.

load of whisky casks which the islanders salvage from the tide. How will they defend their loot from the authorities? First published in 1947, the novel paints a vivid picture of island life.


‘This is not your run-of-the-mill whisky book’, warns the author in his introduction. Ian Buxton has created a travel journal, a tale of sea and malt that captures the charm of Scotland’s whisky distilleries. Memories of childhood, anecdotes and landscapes are combined in an enjoyable and beautifully flowing journey through whisky.

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The appeal of this book is such that it was turned into a TV series before being adapted for BBC Radio Scotland and the Scotsman. Morton wrote in 1992 what is now considered a classic travelogue, full of anecdotes, portraits and plenty of drams. A funny perspective on whisky featuring distilleries, bikes and a guitar on a sidecar. The publisher closed in 2013 so the book is available only in eBook form or second hand.

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McCormack guides the reader through hisky country, sneaking into its distilleries and going through the production processes but, at the same time, providing the context in which whisky tasting happens. Detaching from the plain and sometimes cold description of the whisky world, she blends personal stories, historical anecdotes, portraits and witty statements. Chasing the Dram focuses on the experience of drinking whisky, from tasting to the positive vibes of sharing a dram with other whiskylovers.


This definitive guide aims to be the most comprehensive work on the world of Japanese whisky. In around 400 pages the author goes through the stories, distilleries and peculiarities of the industry in the Far East’s whisky leader. Belgian-born Van Eycken is an authoritative voice on the Japanese malt scene


as chief editor of Nonjatta and

2017, OCTOPUS, £40

regular contributor for Whisky

A travel diary, a tasting guide, an anthropological essay:

Magazine (Japan and UK).

this book revolves around the whisky industry in Japan but

Whisky Rising covers the history

builds the story of an industry and its visceral bond with the

of whisky in Japan, details

country’s cultural and philosophical background. The exquisite

distilleries and their products, as

photographic essay by Kohei Take enriches the volume and

well as unveiling the secrets of

helps absorb the reader into the forests, streams, and bar life

Nippon-made cocktails.

of the cities and towns scattered around the archipelago.

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18/04/2019 12:58:24

76 | Classified

Cask & Still Classified DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY









Curly Coo Bar Stirling’s only Whisky Bar

Ardnahoe, the family owned distillery opened their doors on the famous whisky Isle in April. The ninth distillery on the island offers a variety of tours, whisky tastings, delicious food and views over the Paps of Jura – a guaranteed unforgettable experience.

Ardnahoe Distillery, Port Askaig, Isle of Islay, PA46 7RN 01496 840 777

Award Winning Whisky Bar. Over 150 Malt Whiskies. Cosy traditional bar. 51 Barnton Street Stirling FK8 1HH 01786 447 191


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n Cask and Still Magazine | 77

Over a

BARREL An explosion of diversity in Scottish craft lagers means drinkers can now look beyond the traditional Big Red T Written by Peter Ranscombe


hink Scotland, think Tennent’s; few beers are as closely associated with their home nation as the Big Red T and its motherland. Since founder Hugh Tennent brought his recipe back from Bavaria in 1885, the brand has been synonymous with every facet of Scottish life. Yet there’s far more to Scotland’s lager scene than a single coloured letter. From the rich Munich-inspired Helles to hybrids blended with India pale ale (IPA), there’s a world of lager beyond the gates of Glasgow’s Wellpark brewery. Long before Gordon Brown’s tax break spawned our current golden age of craft brewing, Schiehallion was a beacon of hope whenever I shivered my way off the hills and into the warm bar of a country house hotel. Spotting a bottle in the fridge or – even better, but rarer – the lager on tap turned a dreich day into a sun-kissed pleasure. Created in 1994, Harviestoun’s flagship beer cemented the brewery’s reputation and won a shelf-full of awards; it’s now even available as a ‘craft can’. Once a lone local antidote to the Big Red T in many pubs, Schiehallion has been joined by an army of alternatives to heavier real ales. One of the styles in which Scottish brewers have tasted success is Helles, Bavaria’s lighter lager incarnation. Yet Scotland’s Helles aren’t all copycats and vary in taste from the malty to the crisp. When Petra Wetzel opened her West brewery in Glasgow in 2006, she turned to the beers of her native

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‘Scottish brewers have tasted success with Helles, Bavaria’s lighter lager incarnation’

Germany for inspiration. St Mungo’s Helles is at the maltier end of the spectrum and is my lager of choice in the depths of winter. Dougal Sharp’s Innis & Gunn lager tips the scales at the opposite extreme, with its crisp green apple notes reminiscent of Estrella Damm. Paolozzi, made by Edinburgh Beer Factory and named after Leith’s pop art pioneer, sits somewhere in between and has become the springboard for a whole host of creative brews. Scotland’s Helles obsession doesn’t end there either; Cromarty and Tempest are among the breweries that are continuing to innovate in this area. And our prowess with lager extends well beyond Munich’s influence. Those clever folk at Williams Bros in Alloa took lager and fused it with IPA to create their Caesar Augustus hybrid, with the addition of the ale bringing more hoppy notes to the fore. Cold Town in Edinburgh took inspiration from the Calton Hill brewery, which it credits with being the first in Britain to brew lager all the way back in 1835; its pilsner’s distinctive yeasty notes make it a worthy addition to the modern-day scene. Yet perhaps the most intriguing developments in recent years have been the emergence of glutenfree lagers, with Edinburgh’s Bellfield brewery leading the way with its bottled Bohemian Pilsner and now a canned craft lager. Even Tennent’s has a gluten-free version these days, proving it’s not just the craft brewers that can innovate.

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78 | Connoisseurs’ Selection





A hazelnut milk porter made in collaboration with Youtuber and wild camping aficionado Paul Hayes, aka Haze Outdoors. NOSE: Sweet and salted cinema popcorn, cocoa powder, hazelnut and a touch of burnt caramel. PALATE: A crisp bitterness on the mid-palate stops the sweetness from becoming overwhelming. Fresh cream, with more hazelnut, cocoa powder and popcorn. FINISH: Lengthy and slightly tannic, with a roasted coffee bitterness. Like a mochaccino from an upmarket coffee shop.




Established in 2013, this Californian brewery keeps going from strength to strength. This is a very limited batch from their sour program. NOSE: Sweet and rich with dried fruit, raisins, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. PALATE: Sweet and tart, with dried fruit, quite vinous, cranberries and black cherry. FINISH: A lovely take on a classic Flanders Red style, clean, sweet and tart.




Mikkeller have long enjoyed legendary status in the global craft community, and this fruited imperial IIPA perfectly illustrates why. NOSE: A bowl of strawberry ice cream, lemon and mango sorbet, on a hot, sunny day. Distinct aromas of cut grass and fresh hay. PALATE: Not as tart as the nose would suggest, but fresh and fulltextured with heaps of fruit. Its high ABV is all but undetectable. FINISH: A lingering crisp sweetness is quenched by a soft, subtle hop-bitter note that disappears as soon as it arrives.

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Cask and Still Magazine | 79





A fantastic example of the Helles


Cromarty have been producing

style, which traditionally incorporated

excellent modern takes of classic styles for a few years now. This is a barrel-aged imperial version of their amazing Red Rocker. NOSE: Piney hops, then toffee, rich fruit and a touch of coffee. PALATE: Rich with caramel, some dried fruit and malty notes. Light carbonation,

a certain amount of Munich malt with a more heavily-kilned and therefore slightly darker lager malt. NOSE: Floral noble hop aroma, with pithy curaçao orange peel and a whisper of caramelised malt sweetness. PALATE: True to style, it has a sweet and slightly rich malt base,

slightly sweet before the hops leaving just a touch of bitterness.

perfectly balancing out the floral, grassy characteristics of the noble hops.

FINISH: Rich and mouth coating, this is a big beer that hides its high alcohol content extremely well.



FINISH: A flash of herbaceous bitterness lingers just long enough to refresh the palate, but not long enough to be cloying.




Overtone are a new Glasgow brewery established in 2018. Their ethos is to produce an ever-changing line up of modern beers. NOSE: Packed with intense hop notes, tropical fruit and a sweet grape note. PALATE: Full bodied and round, this hazy pale is packed with flavour, fruit and malt with a touch of sweetness that leads to a touch of bitterness on the finish. FINISH: Fruity, slightly bitter and long. These new kids on the block are making real waves with their excellent modern beers.

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Archie M cDiarmid

MANAGER, LUVIANS BOTTLE SHOP, ST ANDREWS Luvians opened its St Andrews store in 1996 and has been at the forefront of promoting craft beer, wines and spirits in Fife ever since. Archie runs the shop’s constantly evolving list, which includes a broad selection of whiskies. Here he picks some of his favourite beers...

Matthew c M Fadyen



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. Here are three of Matt’s top beers...

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80 | Whisky events guide

Check out Cask and Still’s whisky events guide to ensure that you know where to be and what to do to enjoy a fun-filled, whisky-fuelled six months

Spirit of Speyside Festival 1-6 MAY 2019 The festival returns for another year, full of events, distillery tours, ceilidhs and much more, celebrating the national drink. Highland Whisky Festival 10-17 MAY 2019 Brand new whisky festival, showcasing eight exciting distilleries and their excellent whisky, taking place in Balblair, Clynelish, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, The Dalmore, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Tomatin and Wolfburn. World Whisky Day 18 MAY 2019 Events take place all over the country on this day, the annual official celebration of whisky. People can participate in tours, tastings and visits to distilleries. Edinburgh Whisky Stramash, Surgeons’ Hall 18-19 MAY 2019 A packed two-day whisky event which showcases the full whisky experience. This event is different to the rest as the organisers promise a programme of comical and madcap entertainment.

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Feis Ile: The Islay Festival of Music and Malt 24 MAY - 1 JUNE 2019 Running for one week, this event promises to deliver an unforgettable experience as you explore the rugged beauty of the Hebridean Island along with tasting some fantastic drams. With traditional music, island history and ceilidhs, it is sure to be a whisky lover’s dream. Edinburgh Whisky Festival 15 JUNE 2019 A full day of whisky taking place at the Assembly Rooms in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. As well as the normal taste tests and opportunities to purchase some of Scotland’s best and rarest whiskies, visitors can also take whisky masterclasses. The Dramathon 19 OCTOBER 2019 The famous marathon event which mixes whisky and running. Running from distillery to distillery, starting at Glenfarclas, participants receive stamps as they run to pick up miniatures of whisky upon reaching the finish line at Glenfiddich. Participants can choose between the marathon, a half-marathon, a 10k or a relay. Islay Whisky Academy Diploma 21-25 OCTOBER 2019 Takes place on the whisky island of Islay and is a five-day course explaining everything to do with whisky production with in-depth knowledge from barley experts, chemists and distillers. Dornoch Whisky Festival 25-28 OCTOBER 2019 The festival offers a host of events for whisky lovers and novices. Whiskies from both independent companies and distilleries available.

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82 | Whisky in Poland

Maciej Frontczak, co-founder of the Boat City Whisky Club in Łódź, is at the forefront of Poland’s whisky revolution The Boat City Whisky Club is one of the most active whisky clubs in Poland. We started meeting in 2009 when I was working for a Polish importer. I had just returned from Scotland where I’d been working near Campbeltown, and I’d learned a lot about whisky. A friend of mine was a font of whisky knowledge, so he talked me through some drams and gave me the Malt Whisky Companion by Michael Jackson. When I started working for that company, I knew the importance of presenting good whisky collections to potential buyers and to educate them about the drink, so we organised a whisky tasting. At the first tasting only four people attended, but over time the numbers grew to around 40. When I left the company, I asked some attendees if they’d still like to meet for a dram once a month. Over the next few years, more people started participating, and we planned more whisky trips and even better line-ups at club meetings. We meet once a month for tastings and we now organise the Boat City Whisky Weekend – an extended tasting where we invite somebody from Scotland to lead a tasting for us. Last year we had David Wood, former manager of Caol Ila, and this year we have Jim McEwan – a real superstar.

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We travel frequently to Scotland for whisky festivals. We also organised a tasting for Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity), a Polish charity event that raises money to buy specialist equipment for hospitals. Poland is now a vibrant place for whisky enthusiasts, with dozens of specialist shops, knowledgeable bloggers and even some independent bottlers. But it wasn’t like that a decade ago – back then, few places sold highquality whisky. If you wanted an independent bottling you had to order it in from the UK or Germany, and whisky prices in Poland were horrendous compared to those in Western Europe. Now, there are whisky bars springing up in the main cities like Warsaw, Poznan and Gdansk. You could say that we experienced a similar whisky boom to the one that Western Europe saw 15 years ago. Now, people are starting to understand whisky and they expect quality drams wherever they go. There are some interesting shops around – the Best Whisky Market in Debrzno is great for whisky freaks and it’s mainly focused on independent bottlers. Dom Whisky in Reda has the biggest selection in the country. In terms of bars with a good whisky selection, I’d recommend Coctail Bar Max in Warsaw and Jastrzębia Góra or Scotland Yard in Katowice. Whisky production has taken off in Poland too. Around five years ago Kozuba & Sons, known for its quality spirits and liqueurs, produced the first Polish single malt, Kozuba Prologue. Only 1,400 bottles were produced.

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