IRISH WHISKEY A TRUE REVIVAL
AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD FORSYTH
ISLAY, SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND THE STILLS, HILLS AND PILLARS THAT ARE THE MACALLAN
AROUND THE WORLD IN 24 DRAMS PART 1
DISPLAY UNTIL APRIL 10TH
01 9 772009 963013
FOREWORD BY Bernard Walsh, Walsh Whiskey Distillery
BERNARD WALSH MANAGING DIRECTOR WALSH WHISKEY DISTILLERY FEBRUARY 2017
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hese are certainly exciting times in the global whiskey sector. Already the fastest growing and third largest spirit category in the world, whiskey is expected to grow at a healthy 4.5% annually through to 2020. The sustainability and financial strength behind this surge comes from strong demand spread across the globe and with premium whiskey as the main driver of growth. Of course both Irish whiskey and American bourbon have been making big waves in recent years and this is set to continue with growth of 8% and 7% respectively – which will help to nudge them a little closer to the nighon unassailable position of Scotch, the world’s largest whiskey by some distance. Though the main producing countries are still Scotland, The United States of America, Canada, Japan and Ireland – whiskey is also gaining momentum in non-traditional territories. Australia, Croatia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Romania, New Zealand, India and China are all adding to the mix. It is not just the profile of producer countries that are changing; we are also seeing the emergence of a younger and inclusive market demographic. In the West in particular, younger adults are exploring what whiskey has to offer and women are a very significant part of the new whiskey-drinker market. This is challenging stereotypes of how Uisce Beatha / The Water of Life is best promoted to younger men and women while not alienating the more traditional imbibers. All of this development brings investment, innovation and a myriad of twists and turns to intrigue us on our personal whiskey journeys. A growing market is also reflected in an increasing range of interpreters and storytellers to help consumers along the way on their path of whiskey enjoyment. The Cask Magazine is a very welcome addition to the whiskey commentariat. Though emanating from Ireland, a veritable hotbed of whiskey renaissance and innovation, The Cask is inclusive of all whiskey / whisky creeds under the sun. It offers a fresh eye on a dynamic and progressive sector from the perspective of true whiskey explorers. My hearty congratulations on this milestone to the entrepreneurial team behind The Cask, namely, John Burke; his son, John L. Burke and David McIlhatton. By all accounts whiskey appreciation is a great pastime for all three gentlemen. If your work is your pleasure then that is more than half the battle. I commend this first edition of “The Cask” to you and offer you a serving suggestion inspired by my fellow countryman, the writer, James Joyce. He described the “The light music of whisky falling into glasses” as “an agreeable interlude”. I hope you find your first read of “The Cask” an equally agreeable ‘interlude’ in tandem with your own favourite dram.
Sinea first started out in the whisky industry at the tender age of eighteen. A self-confessed whisky geek who managed to get away with writing a master’s dissertation on Scotch whisky distilleries, she still can’t quite believe that she gets paid to talk about whisky all day.
Still wet behind the ears, John is just starting out on his whisk(e)y adventures. Picking up the passion from his father, from the day he turned 18 (and not a day earlier!) He is now living the dream traveling the world and expanding his palate with each new dram. “I have no idea how to make a Magazine, I just wanted an excuse to drink whisk(e)y” - John Luke Burke.
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A professional who’s appreciation of whisky is credited to his grandfather; A man with great taste, who’s heartful toast was requisite at every special occasion. As Co-Founder of This magazine David aims to bring together a global community of like minds celebrating the passion and care that goes into making whiskey. “A dram represents the beholders emotions. To the philosopher its catalystic and thought provoking, to the businessman or politician it influences and defines, and to the friend it unites”
Gavin D Smith is a freelance journalist and author, specialising in the subject of whisky. He contributes to a wide range of specialist publications and websites, and has more than 20 published whiskyrelated books to his credit. He lives in the Scottish Borders.
Luke has been making an almighty nuisance of himself since the mid2000’s, as he pesters distillers, retailers and distributors on the finer points (and price) of fine Whiskey. He can be found lurking on the margins of Whiskey Shows and Tastings in Dublin, and further abroad (when permitted by The Authorities).
INSTAGRAM & TWITTER @suzisgrapecrush
Suzi is very passionate about wine, beer and whiskey, not forgetting her love of food and travel. She has been a part of this industry for over 14 years and has worked on level 4 in WSET during this time. Regularly hosting tastings and staff training sessions in these sectors. Suzi also judges many food and drink competitions as well as regularly contributing to magazines, most recently contributing to The Malt Whisky Year Book 2017. You can follow Suzi’s blog on all whiskey, wine, beer and spirit related beverages, or you can check her out her Twitter and Instagram for more information on these subjects and more
EDITORS LETTER W
THE CASK TEAM: Co-Founder Editor Co-Founder Co-Founder Features Editor Production Manager Graphic Designer Design & Layout PR Manager
John Burke David McIlhatton John Luke Burke Suzanne Redmond Keith Wealleans Colin Brennan ClearDesigns.ie Express PR
elcome to the first edition of The Cask Magazine, our new quarterly publication designed for people who share a love and appreciation for Whisk(e)y. The Cask Magazine is the result of three whiskey enthusiast’s search to find the best drams from around the world. We invite you our readers to join us on our voyage of discovery as we travel the globe to find whiskies, news and stories to share. During our voyage, the Cask Team will visit Distilleries, old and new, large and small, near and far, to seek out the very best expressions available for our readers to explore. In our ‘On The Cask’ section we will sample whiskies and provide you with our opinions. We are strong advocates of the spirit of the quote “There is no such thing as bad Whiskey ...”. We also understand that palates vary and while we will deliver our opinions with the opinions of our guest tasters - we hope that you will also send us your opinions of these whiskeys. In ‘The Collector’ section we highlight whiskies that I have added to my personal ‘Whiskey is for collecting and not drinking’ cabinet. In ‘The Library’ we will list new publications that are aimed at the whiskey world. In ‘The Bar’ section we secretly visit renowned and distinguished establishments in all corners of the world. Over the next editions we will be adding new features. By the end of the year we hope to release our first Annual Yearbook. Join us on our journey... and enjoy Sláinte.
For all advertising and marketing queries, contact ph: +353 (0) 83 1706030 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org ABV Media Ltd Ph: +353 (0) 83 1706030 Email: email@example.com © ABV Media Ltd 2017 ISSN: 2009-9630
We wish to offer a huge THANK YOU to the following people without whose enthusiasm, encouragement, assistance and patience we would not be where we are today Bernard Walsh, Gavin D. Smith, Sinea Weintz, Dominic Roskrow, Gerard Garland, Conor Dempsey, Lisa Doyle, Sally Anne Cooney, Gary Mills, Gary Mcloughlin, Flor Prendergast, Rachel Nolan, Leah Kilcullen, Maureen Campbell, Luke Gough, Richard Forsyth, Ian Buxton, Charles MacLean, Peter Wills, Scott Lyth, Serghios Florides, Danny Joyce, Dominic Byrne, John McCarron, Paul O’Farrell, Ken McCabe, Trisha Mulligan, all at the Aviators Whiskey Society (of which we are proud members), Keith ‘he who has the most patience’ Wealleans, Colin Brennan, Alan Keane, Patrick ‘The Sage’ O’Neill, Terry Daly (look what you started!) and finally - a special thanks to our support team Lisa Acton, Emma Clarke Conway, Deanna McIlhatton and Lorna Redmond.
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JOHN BURKE, EDITOR
e k r u B n h o J Follow us on Twitter & Instagram: @TheCaskMagazine ‘Like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/TheCaskMagazine
THE CASK MAGAZINE is the registered business name of ABV Media Ltd. Registered In Ireland Registration No. 585035 (ABV Media Ltd.) Registration No. 579184 (The Cask Magazine)
Contents NEWS................................................. 06 NEW RELEASES.................................. 08 EVENTS.............................................. 10 AROUND THE WORLD IN 24 DRAMS..... 14 IRISH WHISKEY REVIVAL.................... 24 BOANN............................................... 30
Aviators........................................... 34 DIAGEO............................................... 36 BOOK REVIEW..................................... 38 PUB REVIEW....................................... 40 THE COLLECTOR................................. 42 On THE CASK...................................... 45 ISLAY.................................................. 75
the MACALLAN.................................. 80 the GLENLIVET.................................. 82 STILLS................................................ 87 RAMPUR INTERVIEW........................... 90 COCKTAILS......................................... 92
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UP TO DATE Scotch Whisky Industry Calls for a 2% Drop in Excise Duty
Irish Distillers invests €10.5m into its Midleton Distillery Irish Distillers, producers of well known Irish brands like Midleton, Powers and Redbreast, are investing 10.5 million euros in a strategy to increase Pot Still Irish Whiskey capacity by at least 30%. Irish Distillers are leading the way for a Global Irish Whiskey Renaissance, and doing their bit to support the Irish Whiskey Associations target of growing the global Irish Whiskey sector 300% by 2030. This expansion will include three new copper pot stills, and are expected to be operational by June 2017.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called for a 2% spirits excise duty cut in order to boost an industry that creates £5 billion annually for the economy. The Scotch Whisky industry supports more than 40000 jobs, and according to new research Scotch Whisky is the largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods. The current tax on an average priced bottle of Scotch is at 77%. In 2014 the SWA called on the British Government to implement a ‘fair tax for Whisky’ policy which resulted in a 2% cut and scrapping of the alcohol duty escalator – which is an annual increase in excise by inflation plus 2%. The SWA says that the governments support in recent years has led to a boost in revenue for the treasury and supported a wave of new distillery openings – 14 in the past three years. The SWA also states this research reinforces Scotch Whisky’s position as a strategically important industry for the UK in terms of value it adds to the economy, jobs supported investment and export performance, and should be supported by the government.
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Planning Permission application for first distillery in North Wales for 100yrs
Halewood Wines & Spirits a Liverpool based drinks producer and distributor has filed a planning application to build a whisky and gin distillery at the 6000 sq metre Aber Depot. In Abergwyngregyn. The project will be named Aber Falls Distillery and will be the first whisky distillery built in North Wales for more than 100 years. The last being Frongoch near Bala, liquidated in 1900.
100th Ambassador for William Grant & Sons William Grant & Sons has appointed Richard Blanchard as their 100th addition to the global brand ambassador team. Richard will represent Glenfiddich in Australia & New Zealand from January 2017 educating the press, public and trade clients about William Grant & Sons brands, which include Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Grants and Monkey Shoulder.
Industry loses a legend Heaven Hill Brands President Max L. Shapira made an announcement that Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam passed away aged 75. “I, along with our entire Heaven Hill family, am saddened to share that our Master Distiller Emeritus, Parker Beam, passed away after a long and valiant battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. All of us within the company, and the general public, watched with awe and admiration as Parker and Linda waged a much publicized war against this terrible disease, using their courage, his standing as one of the industry’s great Master Distillers and his wide sphere of influence to generate international awareness, and millions of dollars, for ALS research and treatment.”
Makers Mark announces (industry first) bourbon cellar Located within the distillery grounds, and built on the hillside lies The Makers Mark cellar. With storage capacity for up to 2000 barrels, the cellar provides the cool environment necessary to finish Makers Mark 46 and the recently launched Makers Mark Private Select. Bill Samuels Jr. first created Makers 46 in 2010. They took a fully matured Makers Mark and finished them for at least nine additional weeks in a cool environment with seared French Oak staves inserted in the casks.
Record year for visitors at Buffalo Trace Distillery Buffalo Trace Distillery has announced a record number of visitors to its Frankfort, Kentucky distillery in 2016. The US historic landmark place of interest hosted 170,587 guests in 2016, an increase of 17% from 2015. “We continue to surprise even ourselves with the volume of guests we are welcoming weekly”, said Meredith Moody, Marketing Services Director at Buffalo Trace. “We’re excited about what the future holds for Buffalo Trace Distillery, we’re definitely not resting on our laurels but looking for more and better ways to enhance the visitor experience”
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Age of Discovery Barrel aged cocktail at the Savoy
Planning Permission granted for donegal distillery Shliabh Liag, the proposed whiskey, gin and poitin distillery in Donegal has been granted planning permission by its local county council. This distillery is expected to produce 35000 cases of alcohol per annum, create large number of jobs for the area, as well as being a real boost for local tourism. Drioglann Shliabh Liag CGA, is also the company behind The Silkie blended Irish Whiskey, which launched in 2016. Commenting on the news, James Doherty, Managing Director of Sliabh Liag Distillery, said: “This is a momentous day for the area and brings the goal of reclaiming the distilling heritage of Donegal another step closer. The Distillery will be a real boost for employment and tourism in the area. We will continue the development of The Silkie and launch An Dúlamán, Irish Maritime Gin in the coming months while we further develop the Distillery plans.”
Chivas Regal Announced Launch of its 2017 Masters Competition Chivas Regal’s 2017 Masters Competition has been launched. Bartenders from around the world will be invited to create three unique and original cocktails, inspired by New York, Tokyo and their local city respectively. The goal being to highlight the flavours and versatility of Chivas Regal spirit. In July 2017, each national winner will compete at the global final in Tokyo. The winning Global Chivas Regal Master will be given the chance to collaborate and work with some of the world’s most influential bartenders in a city of their choice.
Lakes Distillery’ New Master Blender In January 2016 Cunards Queen Mary 2 started her 4 month voyage around the globe. The Beaufort Bar at the Savoy in London has launched its new barrel aged cocktail. After being mixed, sealed and bonded the aptly named Age of Discovery Cocktail started its around the world voyage on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 in January 2016. The barrels spent the 4 month journey maturing in different prevailing temperatures and humidities secured on an open deck. The result is said to be a totally unique experience. The age of Discovery is exclusively available at the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy Hotel for £90.00. It Is served in a custom made glass, whilst sitting on a map boards showing the journey. A full bottle is also available for £350.00.
Lakes Distillery in Cumbria, UK has announced the appointment of its new Master Blender, Dhavall Gandhi. Dhavall brings experience in finance, creative strategy and distilling science from his work in both the US Management Consulting sector and the Scottish Whisky Industry (formerly worked at The Macallan). Dhavall has a Master’s Degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Wall university and an IBD diploma in distilling as well as being a Chartered Scientist in whisky distilling. Dhavall said “I’m looking forward to help create something new from the ground up and have the opportunity to influence the house style of the Lakes Malt.
8 NEW RELEASES
NEW RELEASES Arran announces new limited edition 21st anniversary bottling
Glenmorangie launches Vintage Collection
The Arran Malt has launched a new limited edition bottling to celebrate the distilleries 21st anniversary. The release is limited to just 5,988 bottles and will be available towards the end of February 2017 in selected retailers. The Arran Malt was matured in a selection of ex-sherry casks that were actually used in the first three years of production at the distillery.
The Dalmore 50yr old The Dalmore has launched a new limited edition 50 Year Old Domaine Henri Giraud champagne-finished single malt. This is to celebrate their Master Distiller Richard Paterson’s 50th year in the whisky industry. This 50 Year Old (40% ABV) has been matured in ex bourbon casks, Matusalem olorosso sherry casks from the respected Gonzalez Byass Bodega and port Colheita pipes from the Douro region of Portugal. It is then finished for 50 days in rare champagne casks from Domaine Henri Giraud. Commenting on the launch, Richard Paterson, Master Distiller at The Dalmore said: “This is a special year for me so I chose to finesse this whisky in a champagne cask, as this magnificent drink is synonymous with celebratory occasions. Bringing the champagne together with Matusalem oloroso sherry and port is perhaps the greatest example to date of our ability to innovate in both maturation and cask finishing while preserving the signature flavours of The Dalmore.”
Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990 is the first in the series of expressions from the new Bond house no1 collection. The series has been named after Glenmorangie’s largest 19th century bonded warehouse, which due to a rapid increase in demand is now home to Glenmorangie’s famous copper stills, which are said to be the tallest in Scotland. 1990 was a problematic year for Glenmorangie as the barley crop from the previous summer was the most challenging harvest in history. Thanks to the huge amount of experience and craftsmanship at Glenmorangie, they were able to produce enough new make that year. Through the odds this apparently truly exquisite and elegant whisky is now available to those lucky enough to grab a bottle
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Jameson launches its annual St Patricks Day Edition Each year Jameson celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by commissioning an artist to create a piece of original art for its Limited Edition Bottle. It’s a tradition which sees artists interpret Irish culture in their own unique style. Each artist is presented with the freedom to showcase their work on a bottle that will be seen in bars around the world. This year Jameson is proud to be working with Steve McCarthy, a Dublin based designer and illustrator. His style is bold, colourful
Benromach’s extremely limited 42yr old
Benromach owned by Gordon Macphail has released an extremely limited 42yr old. The 1974 forms part of their heritage collection, and from cask no. 1583 there are only 452 bottles available worldwide. Bottled at 49.1% abv and with sherry butt maturation there are some noticeable rich and fruity characteristics along with menthol and dark chocolate notes
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and inspired by the humour and wit of the people that he has been around all his life. Sine Metu is the Jameson family motto and it has been at the heart of the company since it was founded in 1780. It exists to encourage people step away from the well-trodden path, to being open to new people and new experiences and it is the creative starting point for Steve’s approach.
Two Small batch bottlings from Bushmills
Wyoming launches new batch of Single Barrel Bourbon
Bushmills Irish Whiskey announces they have launched their two annual small batch single malt whiskey’s. These expressions have both been matured and finished in three different types of cask. Bushmills 16 Year Old Small Batch (40% ABV) has been aged for 16 years in both bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry butts, they’re then vatted and married for nine months in Port pipes. Bushmills 21 Year Old Small Batch (40% ABV) is matured in American oak bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks for around 19 years, the whiskey is then matured in madeira wine casks for a further 2 years.
Following on from the success of their first two batches which sold out in 2015, Wyoming have launched a new batch of Single Barrel Bourbon (44%). The single barrel was spent 5 years maturing and was hand picked by Wyoming Whiskey’s Head Distiller Sam Mead and Master Blender Nancy Fraley David DeFazio, Co-Founder and COO at Wyoming Whiskey, said: “This Single Barrel release has been highly anticipated since our 2015 bottles sold out so quickly. This is the bottle that you hide from your friends. My dad doesn’t ask for much, but he asks for this.”
EVENTS 02/03/2017 Whiskyfest – Washington DC, USA WhiskyFest, is the leading whisky festival in North America, offering you the opportunity to taste from a selection of more than 300 whiskies from around the world, attend whiskey tasting seminars and enjoy some gourmet food.
04/03/2017 Miami Whiskey Mash III – Miami USA Miami’s premier whiskey event. The Miami Whiskey Mash will take place at Taurus: Beer & Whiskey House. There will be around 100 different expressions of whiskies plus delicious light bites, cigars, coffee and live jazz. www.miamiwhiskeymash.com
04/03/2017 Whisky Birmingham – Birmingham, England Whisky Birmingham, the city’s main whisky attraction from The Birmingham Whisky Club. Featuring a variety of whiskies, independent bottlers, local experts,
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creative masterclasses, music and street food. Time: 12:00-17:00 Tickets: £35 - £75 www.thebirminghamwhiskyclub.co.uk/ whisky-birmingham/
30/03/2017 Whiskies of The World – San Jose, CA, USA A night full of whisky, cigars and food, join them in San Jose Time: 18:00 – 22:00 www.whiskiesoftheworld.com/san-jose/
31/03/2017 Whiskies of the World – San Francisco, USA Hundreds of whiskies, cigars and loads of food, join them in San Francisco for the best whisky night out. Time: 18:00 – 21:30 www.whiskiesoftheworld.com/sanfrancisco/
31/03/2017 - 01/04/2017 Whisky Live London – London England Whisky Live London is holding its two day event at the Honourable Artillery Company. Times: Friday 17:00 – 22:00 Saturday 12:00 – 17:00 Tickets: From £45 www.whiskylive.com/england/182/ london-2017
21/04/2017 Whiskyfest Chicago - USA WhiskyFest, the leading whisky festival in North America, offers you the opportunity to taste from a selection of more than 300 whiskies from around the world, attend whiskey tasting seminars and enjoy some gourmet food.
27/04/2017 - 01/05/2017 Spirit of Speyside Festival – Scotland Speyside opens their doors to whisky lovers around the World. This five day festival will hold more than 500 events, full of whisky food, music and merriment. www.spiritofspeyside.com
By David McIlhatton
HOW IT’S MADE
HOW IT’S MADE
FROM GRAIN TO GLASS Part 1: An Overview
o, we’ve been making whiskey for quite a long time, definitely centuries perhaps even millennia for the general use of distillation techniques. In all reality, apart from a few experimental methods and technologies the foundation principles and processes in the making of whiskey haven’t really changed since the early days. In rather crude terms, you take some grain and ferment it to make beer, distil it and store in casks where the flavour is heavily influenced by the length of time the spirit matures within the oak, and you end up with whiskey. This was true in the past and of course remains true today. The very reason for this lack of change follows the classic and proverbial saying that ‘if it isn’t broken don’t try and fix it’. To this date there isn’t a system that even comes close to rival the copper pot still or patent continuous stills powerful and efficient talent in turning the murky brown wort into a wonderfully pure new make or white dog (depending on your location). There have of course been developments in technology and materials over the years, experiments with different grain and
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yeast varieties, different cask types and maturation techniques. There are exciting new materials like Nano copper sheet causing greater surface contact with the ether vapours allowing for a purer spirit, and the quality control managers little baby, the digital process management system to improve production consistency. All these are slowly making small changes in the industry, little improvements here and there, generally fine tuning a distilleries quality and productivity. Do we expect any drastic changes to production in the near future for whiskey making, I speculate probably not, it would be far too expensive for the distilleries to start a retrofit job with anything other than copper stills, and frankly there is nothing out there that could even comes close to replacing them anyway. Changing the base ingredient from cereal grain to anything else is changing the spirit to something else entirely as to be classed as whiskey it must be from the grain. However, one area of the whiskey industry where there is significant amounts of innovation and experimentation at present is in the maturation process. Oak
casks of any kind are indeed a sought-after commodity and as coopering is in some ways a dying craft unless current demand can spark a revival, the supply is too low to meet such huge demand. Due to this gargantuan global demand, distilleries are forced to make use of their younger spirits to get the whiskey out on the market much more quickly; the increase in sales of bottlings without age statements is a direct result of this, as younger spirits can be married to an aged whiskey without having to state it on the bottle. The following pages constitute part one in a series of articles taking us on a journey through the processes of how our favourite drink is made. We’ll kick off with an overview briefly summarising all the stages of production and then in each following magazine issue break down and discuss these stages in much more detail to plug up those holes in your whiskey making knowledge bank and leave no stone unturned on the matter. So, without further ado Let us begin.
12 HOW IT’S MADE
Gathering the Grain. As the grape is to Brandy, Juniper Berries are to gin and molasses to Rum, grain is the base ingredient in whiskey making. Grain and cereals throughout the world are a staple food type, you’ll come across them in pretty much all cultures for the simple reason that they’re generally a robust crop type, and can be grown in some of the most hostile of environments. Back in the day distillers would have made their whiskey using local crops, a case of whatever was available which framed the style and character of the whiskey from region to region. American whiskies including Bourbons generally have a high corn/maize content due to the abundance of corn farms, Canadian was well known for its Rye whiskey due to the popularity of Rye farming. Scottish and Irish whiskey makers made use of barley, and towards the end of the 19th century corn as well due to rather large supplies in the two nations. Malting the Barley This stage is specific to whiskey made using malted barley, which is in fact most whiskies as even the majority of blends contain a certain percentage of malt. When barley is malted, the grain has been allowed to germinate slightly, which aids the fermentation process. The way
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it works is the fresh barley is steeped in water causing it to swell, then stored on a malting floor. Within a week, the barley will begin to germinate, and the chemical reactions during germination make the sugars within the grain much more readily available to the yeast, allowing for a more efficient fermentation known as a process called ‘diastase’. In most cases the malted barley will be outsourced and delivered to the distillery. Malting barley on the distillery premises is quite expensive and time consuming, so only a handful will carry out this stage on site and even then, will probably outsource a certain amount to meet demand. Dry Out Before any grain is allowed into the fermentation tanks they need to be dried. This is usually carried out in a large kiln, and in some cases the type of fuel used in the kiln and drying out process can significantly influence the flavour of the whiskey, especially in the case of peat used to fuel the kiln in regions like Islay, Scotland. The smoke from the peat flavours the grain enough to impart powerful aromas, flavours and characters on the whiskey. The general purpose of drying out the grain is to stop the germination process, and allows the grain to be mashed down to a fine grist.
To The Mill In order for the yeast to properly react with all the sugars within the grains, they must first go through a mill. These are usually huge industrial machines and can churn out bags upon bags of fine grist per day. These mills especially in large distilleries usually have dedicated operating and maintenance staff milling grain most days as each fermentation batch uses up a huge amount of grist Mashing The fine grist is then transferred to large drums known as mash tuns and mixed with a lot of water. This water is usually taken from local sources lakes, rivers reservoirs etc. and can add a certain character to the whisky depending on the landscape of the local area, peat soil, limestone, granite etc. The mash is heated allowing the sugars within the grain to dissolve into the water to create a translucent brown solution known as wort. This process is usually repeated 2-3 times where the wort is then finally drawn off through the bottom of the tun, and any left-over grain husks and residue called ‘draff’ is collected and used to produce farm feed. Fermentation This is where the magic starts to happen. The wort is transferred from the mash
HOW IT’S MADE
Apart from a few experimental methods and technologies the foundation principles and processes in the making of whiskey haven’t really changed since the early days.
tuns into fermentation vessels known as washbacks. Historically wooden washbacks would have been used but apart from a few cases today stainless steel washbacks are the most common. Yeast is now added to the wort and left for a period of around 48 hours. The yeast reacts with the sugars within the wort and produces the required by product, alcohol. By the end of the fermentation process there is an equivalent amount of alcohol in the washback to a strong beer (5-10% Abv). Now we’re ready to distil. Distillation The main attraction of any distillery are its stills. They stand like majestic copper goliaths taking up huge amount of the distilleries floor space. Here we continue the magic and take the brown murky wort full with alcohol from the mash tuns and feed them into the stills. These are in most cases either gas or steam heated but occasionally direct fire heated. The type and style of whiskey being produced is very much dependant on the type of stills used as well as number of distillations taking place. The design of the still plays a big part in the spirits character, stills that are tall and have a narrow neck create a light and fine spirit, whereas stills that are shorter and have a wider neck produce
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a full and rich spirit. The wort enters the first still known as the Wash Still it’s usually the largest in order to hold the greatest volume of fluid. It is then heated where the alcohol is the first to evaporate. These vapours rise through the still up into the neck and condense. This liquid is known as the low wines and is, at the moment unusable as the alcohol content is around 20-25% abv. The low wines are transferred into the second still. The first vapours to rise to the top of the still are known as ‘foreshots’ which are extremely alcoholic. These tend to be transferred back into the low wines and redistilled in the next batch. The middle vapours are known as the heart and it’s this that the distiller will attempt to extract through the still safe. The final vapours are known as feints and like the foreshots these again are very potent and redistilled with the low wines. The heart spirit now becomes the distilleries signature new make and is ready for maturation.
around 60% of the whiskies flavour. It is of course difficult to judge this with absolute specificity but there is no doubt that maturation is hugely influential on the final taste, colour and character of the whiskey. Usually the longer the whiskey matures the darker the colour and more complex the flavour, this is made even more interesting with different cask varieties and climates. Over time some of the alcohol is lost from the cask through evaporation, this is known as angels share and is typically in or around 2% alcohol by volume, increasing with higher atmospheric temperatures. Due to the global scarcity of oak casks distilleries have resorted to recycling, and the use of refill cask previously maturing sherry port bourbon etc. has become an industry standard. Some whiskies spend a very long time maturing indeed reaching eye watering prices, but whiskies of all maturities each have something to offer, and in the end taste and appreciation is subjective.
Maturation Unlike most gins, rums and vodkas which can be bottled straight from the still, whiskey must spend at the very least the first three years of its life in an oak cask. This process is known as maturation and it is said that the oak imparts in or
Now at long last the whiskey is ready for bottling and distribution, it’s a tremendous journey, a real art form. The transformation from a few very natural ingredients to something so thought provoking and complex is almost human like, well, almost.
14 AROUND THE WORLD
AROUND THE WORLD IN 24 DRAMS Part 1
n all reality, very few of us have the time or money to live our lives travelling the globe and immerse ourselves into each and every culture until we had absorbed all there was to know. The vast majority will go on holiday if lucky once a year, and usually for 1-2 weeks, which isnâ€™t enough to truly embrace the lifestyle of the nation being visited. However, when we do get the opportunity to experience the cultures of neighbouring communities, nations and regions of the world, we like to find ways to remind ourselves of them. Often these can include photographs
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and souvenirs, literally anything that is representative of that experience. For me a big part of exploring the world is in its food and drink. Dining is an important part of life, everyone needs sustenance, but how we go about it and what sort of food and drink we consume tells a tremendous amount about our culture. Early in my working life, I spent a number of years in Italy, Bergamo in the Northern part, close to Lake Garda to be specific. My time there was truly memorable but every time I eat pizza, Carbonara or even drink a glass
By David McIlhatton
of Italian wine I can’t help but imagine sitting in a restaurant among the Lombardy vineyards looking out towards the Alps. In many ways Whiskey is very similar. Have you ever sat there with a rich, peaty scotch and all you can think of is a roaring fire, log cabin and a stunning view of the Islay coast, or sipping Irish and picturing an atmospheric Irish bar; the music and ‘Craic’ flowing faster than the drink. There is a saying that every whiskey no matter how old or wherever it came from, it has a story to tell. In all the whiskey making nations around the globe, the spirit has become a part of its culture, communities solely reliant on the distilleries for jobs and thus the welfare of their families, generations of skilled workers striving to maintain absolute quality and continue on traditions
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started centuries before, or maybe a simple dram with a friend and bit of conversation. As in food, art, and architecture whiskey has certain personality traits and characteristics that differentiate it from one culture to the other. These traits, some of which are more subtle than others can be explored and recognised in the different whiskey expressions available. Whiskey really does try to tell you a story about where it has come from and what it’s about, so it’s very much down to the person drinking to listen and learn. This article is the first in two parts, in which we will choose a bottle from each of the major whiskey making nations around the world that best reflects the heritage, essence, and character of not only the whiskey made there but also the culture that whiskey has created in that nation.
16 AROUND THE WORLD Distilling was most likely brought to the east coast of America by the Irish/Scots towards the end of the 18th century. As American Pioneers ventured west over the Allegheny Mountains after the American Revolution, the craft followed. Before Kentucky became a state in 1792, a huge proportion of the region was known as Bourbon County, Virginia named after the Bourbon’s (French Royal Family). Even after a complete restructuring of Kentucky’s counties, the area to the east of Lexington (North East Kentucky) is to this date still known as ‘Old Bourbon’. The Rye farmer-distillers from Pennsylvania and Maryland who settled in Old Bourbon began making Corn whisky, which was then shipped out of Maysville. From this major port, whisky travelled down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, where it could be shipped to the East coast and around the world. Bourbon became America’s most sought after and popular whisky, whenever you think of American Whisky its usually a Bourbon that first springs to mind. Flavours common in Bourbon include caramel and vanilla, these are created from the sweet corn and charred barrels, making Bourbon whisky extremely distinctive, especially when comparing to a malt whisky. Louisville, Kentucky was a very important hub for distilling and distribution during the 19th and 20th century, however Bardstown became the most prominent centre for distillation in America.
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Bardstown was eventually named ‘The Bourbon Capital of the World’ and is the home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Americas Premier whisky event. I must say it’s not been an easy task trying to choose a whisky that best reflects the character, style and history of American Whisky. Like in Scotland and Ireland the industry is so mature that many of the whisky brands have been around for multiple generations. There were quite a few different Bourbons that I could quite easily have chosen here for a few different reasons. Buffalo Trace Small Batch made by Buffalo Trace Distillery claims to be the oldest continuously operated distillery in America. There is Makers Mark Small Batch made at what used to be Burk’s Distillery Loretto, Kentucky listed on the National register of historic places, and of course there is Jim Beam White Label one of the best-selling American brands in the world. In the end, I decided on Old Forester. It is distilled at the BrownForman distillery Shively, Kentucky, and is confirmed as the longest running Bourbon on the market (145 years as of 2016). The mash has a slightly higher Rye content than usual representative of the old rye farmers who came to settle in Kentucky. The flavour profile is classically Bourbon, rich and smooth, plenty of oak, sweet corn, grainy rye spice and vanilla. It’s a very versatile whisky and wouldn’t feel out of place in any environment; a truly genuine bourbon experience.
Canadian whisky history like American is another pioneer/settler story. The art of distillation was brought over from western Europe during the late 18th and early 19th century. In contrast to the general misconception that the Irish and Scots were the first distillers of whisky in Canada, it was in fact the English and German settlers that made the grain spirit. The Irish/Scots were known for distilling fermented molasses into rum on the east coast. The molasses were shipped in from the Caribbean, and were only accessible from the ports. When settlers started moving to the west, whisky making became more and more popular as it was too expensive to transport the molasses inland. Historically Canadian Whisky’s biggest market is the US so the distilleries took a hit during prohibition, and only the bigger names like Hiram Walker, Seagram and Gooderham & Worts managed to avoid bankruptcy. Whole towns have been created around the distilleries, like Walkerville Ontario, which is part of Windsor and still today home to Hiram Walker’s manufacturing site. Canadian Whisky is well known for its light and smooth style. The mash used nowadays predominantly includes bourbon style corn whisky produced from column stills, however its rye content is generally higher than American whisky. This goes back to German and Dutch settlers replacing wheat with rye in the mash recipes in order to give the whisky a much more intense flavour. Canadian whisky is typically a blend of
distillates, which usually include grain (corn) whisky acting as a base, and then in most cases a mix of rye and malted barley whisky where the ratios are decided by the master blender. After these whiskies have been blended and allowed to marry, they are allowed to mature in oak barrels for a defined number of years, depending on the specific style or expression. Canadian is very often light and smooth, with a contrasting spiciness adding to the palate. To best reflect this distinct style of whisky, I have chosen Canadian Club Reserve. This whisky has been matured for at least 9 years and has a high rye content giving whisky of this nature the nostalgic nickname “Rye”. It all started at the Hiram Walker distillery, back in 1858, and became quite highly regarded especially in the US. Harams exquisite whisky was so popular throughout all the gentleman’s clubs in the states that it was decided that the name should be changed to ‘Club Whisky’. American distillers weren’t too happy with Clubs popularity, and in an attempt to turn people away from Canadian whisky they lobbied a law to be passed requiring all Canadian imported whisky to have ‘Canadian’ in its name, in order to differentiate them from American whisky. In the end this backfired and with its new name, Canadian Club went on to become even more popular.
Scotland Ireland Wales
The history of Scotch whisky is legendary, a romantic story spanning over hundreds of years. Its culture is so ingrained in Scotland’s society that if removed the void left behind would be of unparalleled magnitude. Whisky is one of Scotland’s premier industries if not the premier industry, entire communities are solely reliant on the production of whisky to put food on the table, and export of the worlds still most popular spirit is an incredible driving force in Scotland’s economy. Scottish Whisky has been through it all. It survived prohibition, the American Revolution, two World Wars, and that’s really only the half of it. Its history goes way back, nobody really knows when it all started but the first piece of written Evidence of ‘Aqua Vitae’ (Water of Life Aka Whisky) being produced was in the exchequer rolls Back in 1495 ‘To brother John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt’. In recent years, Single Malt Whisky has been growing in popularity, however the quintessential Scottish blend still holds around 90% of the market share. When you think of Scotch Whisky you think of variety and choice, there are now so many distilleries, blending houses and Independent Bottlers that you could quite easily go a lifetime and never get the opportunity to sample all that is available. So, to pick a dram that best reflects the nature of Scotch Whisky, in all Its glory is by no means an easy task. The chosen one when tasted must spark in one’s imagination a bleak Cairn Gorm landscape or windswept island docks, heather, haggis, and men in kilts, all to the sound of bagpipes. Ok no whisky is likely to make you think of all that, not unless you’re sipping the dram at a Highland Festival. I’ll tell you what we’ll just jump straight into it, the chosen Scotch to represent this enormous industry is Johnnie Walker Green Label for reasons that I’ll now explain. The Johnnie Walker brand all started in 1820 in a grocery shop in Ayrshire, Kilmarnock. The demand for whisky back then was high so John Walker made it available to customers in his store. It was very much a family company and the brand was passed down to the next generations Of Walkers. The liquor was blended on site and became a household brand across Scotland. Johnnie Walker grew and grew eventually becoming an international favourite
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and the world’s Best-selling whisky. Now as I’m writing this I can see the confusion on some of the readers faces, of all the wonderful single Malts in Scotland he went for a blend, I can hear them thinking, well here’s why. Blended Scotch Whisky is the organ grinder of the industry the breadwinner if you will. If it wasn’t for the Scotch Blend there wouldn’t be a Scotch Whisky industry there at all perhaps no whisky industry, we’d probably all be drinking rum and gin. Having said that the Single Malt industry is of course extremely important to Scotland, it is also an exponentially growing Industry and if I was to write this same article in years to come a Scottish Single Malt may reign victorious. Anyway, a little about the Johnnie Walker Green Label. It is of course a blended Scotch whisky consisting of only malted whiskies from four corners of Scotland including whisky from Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila. So, there’s no grain whisky in the green label only malt, I did this on purpose not because I don’t think grain whisky has any place in Scotch whisky because it absolutely does and is also a growing Industry with many Single Grain Whiskies cropping up now and again. I chose a whisky consisting only of malted whisky because of its growing popularity, malted whisky is now a thing. It is a statement of what I prophesize, a sign of things to come, at the moment we are going through a bit of a drought but when all the new make has had time to mature there will be an explosion of supply, catering for a now global demand for malt whisky. Green Label is also one of the very few bottles of blended whisky to have an age statement, it’s youngest spirit is at least 15 years old, with some well aged whisky lying within. Choosing a whisky with an age statement gives a respectful and sentimental salute and to a certain extent a wave of farewell to most whiskies with an age statement. I’m not saying that they’re gone for good but as long as the aged stocks are drying up and distilleries have to marry in younger spirit in order to meet demand then age statements are in some cases a thing of the past. Johnnie Walker Green Label, is a wonderfully smooth and well balanced blend. It’s quite a laid back dram, a joy to behold, but plenty of complexity to be taken seriously.
When you think of Holland, things like clogs, windmills, masses of flat land and liberal attitudes spring to mind. Ok that was probably a little stereotypical, but the point I’m getting at you probably wouldn’t jump to whisky as being a well-known product coming from The Netherlands. Well now some special things are happening and whisky is now a household industry. This has all been down to the Zuidam Distillery. Since 1976 Zuidam has been famously producing Genever, which for those who don’t know is a type of gin originating from Holland and Belgium. Then in 1996 the first whisky ran from the stills to be bottled in 2007. The family decided to name the brand of their Single Malt whisky millstone, which refers to the Dutch mills used to grind the grain used for the whisky. Zuidam now offer up a range of expressions, the main bottlings being the 5 year old, 10 year old and 12 year old each available in differing varieties, peated,
unpeated with various cask maturations. There is also a 100 percent Rye Millstone available which might tempt the Rye lovers out there. As Zuidam was the first, the pioneers of the Dutch whisky industry I’ve decided to pick one of theirs to represent Holland. Millstone 12yr Sherry Casks was one of the first of Zuidams creations and now it’s had plenty of time to mature. It is a serious force to be reckoned with, and displays the balance between experimentation and tradition. So far Zuidam are putting age statements on their bottles which shows they have classic values, but their work with different cask types and maturation styles is evidence of innovation. The operation at Zuidam has been ramping up recently so we are likely to see a lot more from Millstone in the future.
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Deep in the Brecon B e a c o n National Park, amongst the hills and occasional flock of sheep, there lies a wonderful little Distillery under the name of Penderyn. Well to be fair it’s actually quite a big Distillery located in the village of Penderyn, Rhondda, Cynon Taf, Wales and produces around 700,000 litres of spirit per annum. The Distillery produces Vodka, cream liqueur, the award winning Brecon Gin and since 2004 Single Malt whisky, the first in Wales for over a century. As it stands at the moment Penderyn Single Malt I believe is the only whisky produced in Wales, which in a similar way to English whisky gives plenty of flexibility and room to experiment. So far Penderyn has done just that and have a number of varied Whiskies on the market. The Creation of alcoholic beverages in Wales has been going on for centuries, millennia even. The Great Welsh Warrior Reaullt Hir was said to have distilled ‘Chwisgi’ from Braggot, brewed by the monks of Bardsley Island in AD 356. This romantic story is unlikely to be much more than a legend, and it is unclear exactly when distillation came to Wales. However the production of mead was extremely common in wales during the middle ages, so it is quite likely that there were illicit stills around producing a
England is not particularly well known for its Whisky, but there is in fact quite a long and interesting history of producing both grain and malt whisky in England going back as far as the 17th century, and probably further. In Alfred Bernard’s book ‘The Whisky distilleries of The United Kingdom’ he wrote about the English distilleries that were operating at the time, and it seems that it was a thriving English industry and in some cases as it was stood in high favour, whisky was sent to Scotland and Ireland to be used in many of the blended Whiskies. Some of the old distilleries that Bernard talked about included Lea Valley Distillery in Stratford, London. This industrial powerhouse produced both grain and malt whisky and was founded in the late 19th century. There was also Bank Hall Distillery in Liverpool that produced again both malt and grain whisky, Vauxhall Distillery in Liverpool that produced solely grain whisky, and Bristol Distillery which again only produced grain whisky. Unfortunately, many of these distilleries weren’t to last and English whisky was forgotten about until now. Over the last 15 years, well to be more accurate since 2003 when St Austell Brewery and Healey cider farm announced sale of the first
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potable spirit from these fermented wines and beers. Alcohol production took a downturn towards the end of the 19th century due to the increasing power of the temperance movement, and in the case of distillation things didn’t really get going again until now. Penderyn produce a selection of mainline, single cask and limited edition single malt expressions. The Welsh Dragon 41% range is a great example of how the masters of the industry are experimenting and innovating with their whisky. The first of the range is the Legend which has a madeira finish, the second ‘Myth’ with a very classic Bourbon cask maturation and last of all ‘Celt’ which is a smoky peated expression. It seems that Penderyn are using quite a unique method to produce their whisky. It is distilled once in a Faraday Pot Still going then through a purifier and rectification column. Describing the process and how this method works is a job for another day, but it shows the level of exciting innovation at the penderyn distillery. The whisky best reflecting what’s going on at Penderyn is the Madeira finish. Smooth and spicy are the flavours of the day a very slight confliction I agree but it seems to work. At 46% this whisky is fresh and crisp on the palate, and the ex bourbon barrel maturation with a madeira finish adds certain sweet notes to balance.
commercial whisky in over a century English distilleries have been popping up here and there. In 2006 the English Whisky Co. Ltd. Founded by farmer James Nelstrop started production and now has a peated and unpeated single malt whisky available. The Adnams Brewery were originally known for gin and vodka, but has recently started maturing single malt stock in its warehouses, and the London Distilling Company started production of the first single malt whisky in London since Lea Valley closed in London in 1903. The other two distilleries in England that have recently started commercial production, are The Lakes Distillery and The Cotswold Distillery. English whisky doesn’t have a particularly well known flavour profile, and neither is there any real tradition as to whether it is double or triple distilled, whether it’s peated or unpeated, or common maturation techniques. This means anything goes, which gives tremendous flexibility to the distilleries. Leading the way for the English whisky industry is The English Whisky Co. I recently had the pleasure of trying the new release of The English Original single malt whisky whilst listening to a talk by David Fitt the master distiller at the English Whisky Co. The Distillery has recently had a brand overhaul and I have to say its nothing but impressive, and the whisky is pretty good too. The original is an unpeated expression, non-chill filtered and bottled at 43%, sounds good huh. Well in short it is, in fact if this is a sign of things to come then English whisky’s future is bright.
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England USA France France is no stranger to distillation, for centuries it’s famous Brandy from the Cognac region has been enjoyed around the world, and now at long last they’re trying their hand at making whisky. Well it’s not surprising really, with that sort of distillation experience and of course huge consumer interest (joint largest consumers of whisky give or take) that the French distilleries have decided to start making whisky. The first French whisky emerged from the Still in 1987. It was produced in a Distillery situated in Brittany the westernmost region in France. Warenghem is the distilleries name and after a successful start they went on to be produce the first French Single Malt whisky in 1998. Ever since the French whisky industry has been growing and growing, with at least 40 distilleries across the nation either open or at the planning stage. The main distilleries include Warenghem of course and Glann are more in Brittany, Guillon in the Champagne region and Grallet-Dupic in Lorraine. France is also famous for a Buckwheat whisky produced
AROUND THE WORLD
at the Distillerie des Menhirs in Plomelin, Brittany. The culture of whisky in France is relatively young and will take time to define itself, however based on the quality that is being produced it shouldn’t take too long. As Warenghem were pioneers I’ve chosen a dram from their figurehead brand Armorik. The Armorik Classic is now perhaps the most famous French whisky and is widely available in most duty-free stores and or whisky retailers. At 46% ABV, non-chill filtered and all natural colouring they’re tending to the connoisseurs needs. The classic is a marriage of spirit matured in refill Bourbon Casks and sherry butts, and as it rains pretty much as it does in Scotland the Brittany air is nice and humid, so when you put this alongside the warmer climate it lends itself to a much faster maturation period. It is quite a light dram, not overly complex, one that is suited for all occasions, an all day, everyday whisky you could say.
In quite a similar way to Scotch, Irish whiskey has had a rather tumultuous past. Its history is both romantic and rebellious, and very recently Irish seems to be going through a bit of a Renaissance or would you call it a Revival, I’m not too sure, either way there’s a serious global demand for the spirit. There is quite a strong bond between Irish and Scotch Whiskey, although nobody would admit it, neither would exist without the other. In all reality, there’s not enough evidence to show which came first, a kind of chicken and egg scenario, but in the modern era Whiskey has become an integral part of both nations culture. Prior to the end of the 19th century Irish whiskey held the trophy for the World’s Favourite and most sought after drink. It was highly regarded for its light, floral characteristics and impeccable quality. Irish did take a turn for the worse and was very nearly destroyed, but by the luck of the Irish the spirit was to make a comeback. Now the industry is booming, there are new and planned distilleries popping up all around the Island, and the only thing that has any chance of slowing it down is the very quickly depleting supply (well only until the steadily maturing stock is ready to be bottled anyway). Irish whiskey has quite a distinctive flavour profile, it’s usually very light and elegant, with quite subtle complexities The old consensus that Scotch
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Whisky is double distilled and Irish is triple distilled is nothing more than a myth. The growing number of double distilled Irish expressions, triple distilled Scotch’s, and the always forgotten grain whiskey produced using a continuous still proves there isn’t a single distillation method specific to Ireland. Having said this Pot Still Irish whiskey is undoubtedly Irelands classic and most famous style. Using a mix of both malted and unmalted barley was in the beginning a means to an end, a cost saving mission. However, people got a taste for it, and demand surged out of all proportion. In the end the whiskey that I have chosen which in my opinion best reflects and captures the character and essence of Irish whiskey is Redbreast 12 year old cask Strength. It is of course a single Pot Still and at cask strength it’s quite a force to be reckoned with. Redbreast is an iconic Irish brand, and its whiskey is typically spicy and rich, influenced nicely by the sherry cask finish on all expressions. It was quite difficult making the decision to go with Redbreast as there are a few Irish Whiskies that carry equal weight, so I thought it worth mentioning them. Middleton Barry Crocket Legacy Pot Still could have easily been a winner but, the much more affordable and accessible Redbreast caters for everyone and historically whiskey is a drink for all men not just the wealthy. Other fantastic Irish Classics were Mitchell & Sons Yellow spot and Powers John’s Lane Release that stand their own ground on the Irish Market.
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The ingredients used in the creation of both beer and whisky are pretty much the same except, beer would contain hops whereas whisky wouldn’t (except for some wacky recent day experiments). So, you could say they both go hand in hand, well the tradition for decades is indeed to have a whisky chaser with your beer. Belgium is probably the most famous beer producing nation in the world. This is impressive considering its size, in some ways comparable to Scotland and Ireland as whisky producing Nations. Well now Belgium is home to what is said to be beers most faithful companion, whisky. Of course, as in most European Nations distillation is no new craft and in the case of Belgium Jenever has been produced for centuries. Filliers was the first commercial Distillery in Belgium in fact one of the longest continuously operating in the world. Now they produce rather good single malt whisky under the banner ‘Goldlys’ Belgium whisky. However, there’s something quite unique about this whisky. Goldlys produces something called double still whisky,
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not double distilled whisky. Goldlys marry together grain whisky made in a column still and barley whisky from a traditional Pot Still. Its design is loosely close to a single distillery blend, resulting in a wonderful balanced and characterful spirit. It’s not often that something completely new comes along but it seems Filliers have done it with their Goldlys Double Still Whisky, and a pretty exceptional example is the Goldlys 12 yr. It is of course created from the column still and Pot Still, and its maturation is finished in an Oloroso Sherry cask. A very rounded dram nice, sweet and fruity notes hit the nose and palate but not so much as to overpower. Like Zuidam in Holland the distillers at Fillies seem to like putting an age statement on their bottles which again show traditional tendencies. As it stands now Goldlys is a relatively small operation so it will be quite interesting if Filliers decide to lean towards exclusivity or hit the global market with a storm.
Germany has a very long and interesting history of distillation, like Holland and Belgium it was famous for fruit brandies and of course Schnapps. We don’t know how long Germany has been making whisky, or perhaps I just haven’t come across the right piece of evidence yet and there will be someone who knows German distillation history much better than I. However, I will write about what I do know and what I have found. Very few people get to try German whisky outside of Germany, for some reason it isn’t. particularly well marketed. Slyrs is a relatively new distillery so although some fantastic spirit is making its way out of the Bavarian warehouses it’s difficult to get a sense of a whisky style or character that best reflects Germany. It is because of this I’m going to have to delve into the unknown and choose a whisky that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying. So how an earth I hear you saying is he
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able to make an assessment and choose a whisky in this manner. Well I answer you like this. I have chosen the Distillery and expression based on a story, a tale of culture and character, it.is these things that around which national industries define themselves. Whisky is without a doubt a piece of art, and in many cases art requires a story or influence to give depth of character, German whisky is no different. A Brewery was constructed on the site of an old Benedictine monastery in 1791. It was named the Rothaus State Brewery of Baden (a rather formal name). Winding the clock forward somewhat to 1909, a Distillery was created in the town of Karlsruhe very close to Baden known as Kammer Kirsch Gmbh, with the intention of producing high quality cherry Schnapps. Nowadays Single Malt whisky is produced there but they transport the mash from the old Rothaus Brewery, a joint venture/ collaboration if you will. The result was they ended up winning silver in its category at the 2013 IWSC. The product I talk about is the rather sought after Black forest/Rothaus Single Malt German whisky. This expression signifies the culture of distillation in Germany as an ancient craft, how it’s moulded tradition over the centuries and ingrained itself well into the German culture. A romantic little dram and one that to this day remains on my bucket list of whiskies to try.
Holland AROUND THE WORLD
Italy Over the last couple of generations, the Italians have acquired a taste for whisky. They were one of the largest importers of the spirit in the world, but now they’ve taken the leap and started producing. There’s a long and fruitful history of cereal and grain farming on the old boot, and of course wine, grappa and other fortified liqueurs are all mature industries, and whisky production is still rather youthful by comparison. Having said this there is a considerable amount of scope and potential for whisky in Italy, especially in the Northern parts. Water is of course an important ingredient in all whisky production stages so being close to a reliable source is extremely important. Most regions north of Rome have access to lakes, rivers and reservoirs especially at the foothills of the alps. What is also interesting about Italy is its large temperature variation and higher humidity levels. This of course lends itself to short maturation periods allowing distilleries to get product on the market quickly. Now we’ll look at Italy’s first ever Single Malt whisky Distillery. On the 24th February 2012, the wash still at Puni Distillery was heated up for the first
time. It was a truly exciting and momentous occasion for both the Ebensperger family and the Italian nation as a whole. The whisky I have chosen to represent Italy and the its future in the whisky industry, is the Puni Alba Italian Malt whisky. With its award winning bottle design the Puni Alba certainly looks the part. The spirit comprises a marriage of malted barley, malted Rye and malted wheat, giving the whisky plenty of complexity full of cereal notes and spiciness. The Alba spent 3 years in Sicilian Marsala barrels and finished in casks that previously held Islay spirit, quite the mix one would say. Even with such a short time spent in these casks the spirit Is nicely matured for consumption and influenced with quite interesting characteristics. The name Alba was chosen as it means ‘dawn’ in Italian representing the start of the new industry, but it also means Scotland in Gaelic representing the strong influences from Scotch whisky. All in all, there are some special things Coming from Puni Distillery, hopefully this sets a trend in the region for more.
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Sweden “Why are there no whisky distilleries in Sweden”. Whisky making is a relatively new craft in Sweden, it’s not an industry the nation is particularly known for nor is it particularly common, but it’s there working away and it’s most definitely here to stay. Vodka is the nation’s primary distilled beverage, Absolut being one of the more well known brands. In Sweden the winters are long and cold, which limits the types of crop that can be grown, Winter Wheat is perhaps the most robust. Barley can also cope with the climate for at least the best part of the year, and develops a pleasant sweetness through the Swedish Summer just in time for harvest. For Sweden, there is one whisky distillery that stands out above the crowd, true pioneers are the founders where the final product is a real credit to them.
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Mackmyra was established in 1999 when a few friends went on a ski trip. Each holding a bottle of whisky for the host, a conversation then ensued about making a Swedish whisky. One year later Mackmyra was founded and the rest is history. To represent Mackmyra and in turn Swedish whisky, it has to be Mackmyra Svensk Ek. This expression was matured in Swedish oak barrels made from the trees planted on the island of Visingo, originally intended for shipbuilding. The harsh winters and huge seasonal variations have made these oak staves extremely durable, they are heavily toasted which imparts spicy characteristics like ginger and pepper. These combined with exbourbon barrels which give notes of vanilla and toffee allows for a pretty spectacular dram.
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24 IRISH WHISKEY REVIVAL
Irish Whiskey... A True Revival This is a period of time the Irish Whiskey industry is unlikely to forget.
here’s a real sense of excitement buzzing around the island. New and proposed distilleries along with related businesses are starting to establish themselves, quickly preparing for the exploding competition. Exports are sky rocketing and according to the latest trends research report by ‘Just Whiskies’ and ‘IWSR (a Wine and spirit trends research organisation), Irish Whiskey was the fastest growing spirit across the globe between 2009 and 2014. IWSR predicts we’ll see a 60% growth in Irish Whiskey sales between 2014 and 2019. Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association said in a recent press release, “Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world and globally
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Irish whiskey exports are expected to double by 2020 and double again by 2030. There are 10 new distilleries including Glendalough, Teelings, and Echlinville who have recently started producing and 22 proposed distilleries expecting to open over the next decade. This brings the total number to 36 when you include the established Middleton,
By David McIlhatton
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IRISH WHISKEY REVIVAL
26 IRISH WHISKEY REVIVAL
Bushmills, Cooley and Kilbeggan. Ireland is definitely going through a whiskey revival. Less than a decade ago the 4 distilleries just mentioned were producing all the whiskey Ireland had to offer. When you compare this to Scotland’s 100 plus distilleries, relative land mass aside there is still a lot of potential growth for Irish Whiskey. So why in recent times has there been such an explosion in interest for ‘Irish’. To answer this, we’ll dive into Irelands distillation history, covering whiskey’s relationship with Poitin, its popularity during the 18th century and how prohibition, the war of independence, and the British boycott crushed one of Irelands Premier industries. We’ll then finish off by talking about how this all turned around giving Irish Whiskey the potential to be great again. The history of Irish Whiskey is both romantic and mysterious, it’s true origins are unclear and generally disputed. However, there are a couple of things that we can be certain of. Firstly, the word whiskey comes from the Gaelic ‘Uisce Beathe’ which means water of life or ‘Aqua Vitae’ in Latin, and secondly in 1405 was written the first known piece of evidence confirming the consumption of a distilled spirit in Ireland. It was a written record in the Annals of Clonmacnoise (An Irish historical chronical covering events pre 1408AD) regarding the death of a chieftain after taking a surfeit of Aqua Vitae at Christmas. It is said that the art of distillation was brought over to Ireland by Christian Monks who learnt the technique whilst travelling to Mediterranean countries during the 6th century AD. The art was modified in order to obtain an alcoholic spirit. Very quickly the distilling of a fermented mash became rather popular with the Irish People. The base of this mash could include anything from malted barley and crab apples to sugar beet and potatoes, pretty much whatever you could get your hands on. The mash was poured into a small copper pot still, which was then heated by in most cases turf fires and distilled along a copper pipe. The resultant moonshine was infamously named ‘Poitin’ ‘Little Pot’ in Gaelic, and became an important trade commodity helping supplement the income of many Irish families. Over the years Poitin became deeply ingrained and played a huge part in Irish culture, society and history. The memories and legends of Poitin would be kept alive by poets and songwriters for years to come. Two pieces that are firmly stuck in my mind, the first being from an old Irish folk song ‘The Rare Ould Mountain Dew’ famously covered by The Pogues: “There’s a neat little still at the foot of the hill
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Where the smoke curls up to the sky, By a whiff of the smell you can plainly tell That there’s poteen boys close by. For it fills the air with a perfume rare And betwixt both me and you As home we roll, we can drink a bowl Or a bucketful of mountain dew.” The second from a song written by Bobby Sands called ‘McIlhatton’. He wrote it whilst he was in prison, and it was about an illicit poitin distiller and distributor infamously named Mickey McIlhatton. The song was then reproduced by Christy Moore and recorded on his ‘Ride On Album’. “McIlhatton you Blurt, we need ya, Cry a million shakin men, Where are your sacks of barley Will your likes be seen again? Here’s a jig to the man and a Reel to the drop, And a swing to the girl he loves, May your fiddle play and poitin Cure your company up above.” In 1661 the British imposed a tax on all distilled spirit which slowed down the trade dramatically. Suddenly all distillers across the land were taxed on their produce, thus encouraging the Irish people to distil illegally. In an attempt to further deter illicit distilleries a law was passed in 1760 making it illegal to operate a still without a license. It was around this time that we believe the distinction between Poitin and whiskey was made. Whiskey was produced legally and exported to foreign lands whereas Poitin was produced illicitly and only available through word of mouth. Poitin is very much the forefather of Irish Whiskey, as it legitimised the history and heritage of Irish distillation. Poitins romantic and rebellious past with tales of the rogue illicit distiller ever avoiding the excise man helped create a certain perception of ‘Irishness’. Anyone involved in marketing knows that people love a good story, so if establishing a Poitin related brand its worth taking advantage of its associated drama, rebellion, passion and desperation. Poitin definitely helped Irish Whiskey become internationally popular, and has created a strong framework for its Revival. It seems Irish Whiskey had developed quite a fan base. Queen
IRISH WHISKEY REVIVAL
Elizabeth l who in 1541 considered ‘Uisce Beatha’ better than the ‘Aqua Vitae’ of England. Czar Peter the Great of Russia during the 18th Century had found Irish Whiskey and declared ‘of all the wine of the world Irish Spirit is the best’. During the 1800’s there were thought to be around 2000 distilleries in Ireland, but almost none had an operating license. Unfortunately, by the 1820’s there were so many taxes on whiskey production that only 20 distilleries remained, however there were many illicit stills in operation around the Country. One of the most famous taxes imposed on the industry was the tax by weight on malted barley. In order to reduce the tax burden many Irish distilleries created a whiskey using a mix of both malted and unmalted barley. The unique and rather pleasant flavour profile created from this unusual mash became hugely popular, and the finished product is known as ‘Pot Still Whiskey’. By the start of the 19th century the Irish Whiskey Industry had been extremely successful. This light, pleasant and sweet nectar like spirit had become a global favourite. In fact, around the mid18th century a parasitic insect known as Phylloxera infested and destroyed most of the grape vines in France, allowing Irish Whiskey to become for a time the most popular drink in the world. Unfortunately, this trend wasn’t to last, and Irish Whiskey took a bit of a down turn. In 1838 a temperance movement was started to protest mass alcohol consumption. A leading Member Capuchin Friar, FR Theobald Matthew turned people against the stuff which he called a ‘demon drink’. In a mere ten years 2 thirds of the population had pledged never to touch alcohol again, causing financial ruin to distillers across the nation. Soon after an Irish exiseman known as Aeneas Coffey perfected and patented a still, capable of distilling a spirit faster and more economically. It was known as the Coffey Still or Column Still, and used primarily for grain spirit common in blends and Bourbon. To the Irish this was an abomination, in their opinion the cheaper lighter spirit didn’t come close to compare to the higher quality and more flavoursome Pot Still Whiskies. Coffey then travelled to Scotland with his still, where luckily for him it was welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately Pot Still Whiskey became in relative terms too expensive to produce, and export sales were lost to the Scottish blends. The sales dropped so much that in an attempt to combat this, the 4 Dublin based distilleries came together and published a book/pamphlet called ‘Truth about Whisky’. They were so angry at the Scottish blenders that they called for the banning of blended whisky. They also needed to differentiate Irish Whiskey from Scotch Whisky so it was decided to put the ‘e’- in the spelling of
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Irish Whiskey as opposed to the Scottish spelling, ‘Whisky’. In 1909 The Royal Commission on Whisky and other potable spirits made the decision that grain spirit could be called Whisky as long as it was matured for long enough (minimum of three years in oak barrels) Luckily for the Irish Whiskey industry there was still plenty of trade to be done with the US. However, when the 1916 Easter Rising and Irelands War of Independence came along there was a severe disruption to overseas trade and all the barley farmed was required for the war effort. The nightmare only got worse for Irish Whiskey, because in 1920 America closed its markets, and prohibition ensued. For the next 13 years the Irish lost a huge customer Base, and only bootleg whiskey from Scotland managed to make its way into the hands of the American People. This gave them a taste for Scotch Whiskey and its popularity exploded through America and the British Empire. The trade embargoes continued with Ireland and between 1932 and 1938 Britain cut off Irelands trade access to all the Common-wealth markets, leaving Ireland with zero trade links. Soon after the Second World War there were only 3 distilleries left in the Republic of Ireland; Jameson, Powers and Cork Distilling Co. Together they managed to form Irish Distillers Ltd. which was again in effort to combat the decline in Irish Whiskey. They constructed a new Distillery in Cork and soon after went on to buy Old Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim. Irish Distillers Ltd. then held a monopoly on Irish Whiskey. In 1988 Pernod Ricard, a French conglomerate bought Irish Distillers Ltd and began sinking huge amounts of money into Irish Whiskey with a hope to eventually make it what it once was. By the turn of the new century, the investment seemed to start paying off. Sales of Irish Whiskey in the US have soared over 500% since 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Cooley’s Distillery started making Tyrconnel, Kilbeggan and Connemara in order to step up competition in Ireland. Single Pot Still Whiskies like Green Spot, Yellow Spot, and Redbreast are now in such high demand that supply is quickly depleting. “most of the different Single Pot Still Whiskies were launched in the US market within the last 5 years but only in small volumes. We sell what we are able to produce, and the demand for these spirits is higher than our current supply.” Says Patrick Caulfield, senior brand manager for Pernod Richards Irish Whiskey Brands. “It seems that Irish Whiskeys lighter smooth and easy to drink reputation is no longer overshadowed by Scotch and is now the go to drink for many new whiskey drinkers. Lew Bryson
author of Tasting Whiskey tells us “Irish Whiskey has transitioned from being a shot with beer to a plus one drank with a mixer most notably ginger ale. Irish and ginger has exploded and made Irish Whiskey quite popular. That’s taken Irish Whiskey out of the “Old white ghetto” and into the mainstream. Adding to the growing popularity of all things Irish, the explosion of Irish pubs you’ve got a great recipe for success” The Revival of Irish Whiskey has so far been extremely dramatic. Investors are pumping huge amounts of money into the Industry. Brown Forman an American corporation spent $50 million on a Distillery in Slane, and Iilva Saronno of Disarronno has invested heavily in Carlow’s Walsh Whiskey Distillery. The Loop, Ireland’s duty free store, has built a brand new travel retail experience in Dublin Airport, allowing travellers to browse and purchase a huge variety of Irish Whiskey. Irish Whiskey has recently undergone a massive brand overhaul. When you look at Jameson’s Whiskey Maker series and Teelings Spirit of Dublin philosophy, you can tell these distilleries have the intention of attracting a much wider and more varied audience; from the younger novice drinker to the seasoned collector. It’s definitely been quite a turnaround for Irish Whiskey, and with so many new, upcoming and planned distilleries, there are definitely some exciting times ahead. Keep your eyes peeled and a close watch over Irish Whiskey in the coming years as this revival only seems to have got itself going. The question really is will Irish distilleries remain true to its heritage and legacy, allowing the romantic yet rebellious perception of ‘Irishness’ to grow in parallel with what was one once ‘The World’s Favourite Spirit’.
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There’s a New Spirit in Town There is magic in the Boyne Valley, a place steeped in history, myths and legends.
t is therefore no surprise that Drogheda native Patrick Cooney and his family decided to bring the art of whiskey making back home. According to local legend the infamous river Boyne was created by the Irish goddess Boann, the wife of Nechtan, then leader of the Tuatha dé Danann. Boann distillery couldn’t be more ideally located for visitors or for distillery supplies if it tried. Nestled in the lush countryside of County Meath, in an unusually quiet spot which lies less than a minute from the M1 at exit 8 (20 minutes from Dublin Airport) and five minutes or less from the city centre of Drogheda. A unique opportunity popped up when the Cooney family went searching for a location for the family distillery, a lifetime dream of Patrick Cooney. Whilst out visiting other properties they got a call about a former car showroom. The angels must have been looking out for them that day as it makes for a perfect place to house and display a new distillery. With floor to glass windows on two sides it will be a beacon calling all to her. On a chilly afternoon the Cask Team were lucky enough to visit this beacon of beauty that is Boann Distillery. As we drove off the motorway down the road, Boann in all her beauty shone through on this grey grim day. Stepping out of the car the silence was golden with a hint of mystery lingering in the air as we made our way up the steps into the distillery. We were warmly greeted by SallyAnne, one of Patrick’s daughters. It really is a handson family business with each member taking on ownership of a particular part of the business. This may have been the dream of Patrick but it is a dream not only supported but passionately so by each and every family member. That passion and enthusiasm ricochets around the distillery not only to their guests but
The Stills at Boann
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By Suzanne Redmond
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to the team they carefully chose to take on this great journey with them. The beer and bottling hall are fully functioning,
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Born of bravery. In pursuit of excellence
and there is a calming feeling within the distillery. This given some of the rather expensive issues that arose in the last year shows what a great leader this fine distillery has at its helm. Boann will be making traditional pot still as well as single malt whiskey in their three shining squat bottomed stills with nano-reflux inducers. The stills otherwise known as Sunshine, SallyAnne and Celestine have a capacity of around 10,000, 7,000 and 5,000 litres respectively, were designed by Green Engineering in Italy. This new technology increases the copper contact within the stills to six times that of a traditional still. These stills glow no matter what the weather is like and as it was my fourth visit within a year I can attest to this. As you approach the distillery from the M1 you will be greeted by the sight of these beauties standing up in front of you, though if you are coming via Drogheda you will not miss out as from that approach you will be greeted by the Rolls Royce in brewery form. Boann will not only make whiskey but gin, craft beer and cider too. It may
seem a lot but they have been in the beer and cider business for a long time, plus they had the space. As for the gin, that is down to Sally-Anne and her love for this spirit. Sally-Anne was eager to add the still and persuaded the rest of the family that it was a good idea by appealing to the inner accountants in both father and son. Patrick started life as an accountant and his son James who has followed on in his footsteps is now the company accountant for Boann. So what does the future look like for Boann? In my humble opinion it is bright. The passion and motivation does flow and like a river it may be winding but the sense and planning that has gone into this adventure is evident. Hence it will be a success for the Cooney family and the Boyne Valley. Until Boann’s whiskey has matured the family recently released their ‘Whistler’ series of aged whiskies. The name is in honour of Patrick who is a habitual whistler, something his son James seems to have inherited. Some might say the proof is in the pudding but theirs whistles from the bottle.
The Cooney Family
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john burke interviews danny joyce - secretary of The Aviators Whiskey Society When was the Aviators Whiskey Society formed? The Aviators Whiskey Society was formed back in August 2014 by Ken McCabe. Ken was a Whiskey Ambassador in Dublin Airport’s Duty Free Store at the time and decided to push ahead with creating a Society for anyone that had an appreciation for all things whiskey to enjoy. Upon founding, Ken put together a committee of (then) staff members who would take up certain roles to maintain a well run Society. These were Dominic Byrne (President), John McCarron (Vice President), Paul O’Farrell (Quarter Master), Trisha Mulligan (Treasurer), Ken McCabe (Events Manager) and myself (Secretary). Initially, the Society was going to be for Dublin Airport staff, but as we bring in Global Ambassadors from respective whiskey companies to showcase at our events, we decided to not keep this to ourselves, and we set it up to be an open Society. The Society was set up to celebrate, promote and above all, ENJOY WHISKEY!
over 120 members now in our Society (international as well as in Ireland), we feel we have already succeeded in some of our goals by establishing a solid relationship with our members.
What are the aims of the AWS? Our aim was to create a Society were, whether it was your first or fifth visit, you’d feel comfortable sampling, listening, asking questions and getting involved. Our Society’s ethos is based on three key elements which we think are needed to host these events. The first is FUN. The second is FUN! The third and most of all is, FUN! We want our meetings and tastings to be informal and enjoyable so we run our meetings quite casually, yet professionally. We don’t treat it like a training session or a classroom, more like a get together with the intention to learn about and taste whiskey, but have FUN doing it. With
Can members of the public join the AWS? Absolutely, we are an open Society and all are welcome, whether that’s airport staff, their friends, or the general public. You do not need to have any association with aviation to join. We’re a separate organisation to our good friends at Dublin Airport.
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How do you deliver on these aims? We strive to continue our friendly welcome to all that come to our events. We are constantly trying to improve on our previous events, to keep things fresh for our members and visitors. All feedback is welcome from everyone, we always seek to be better. Where is the AWS based? We operate in Dublin, with our events usually held in Kealy’s Pub, just beside Dublin Airport. Occasionally we hold events in distilleries and whiskey bars. We feel Kealy’s is the perfect location, not only as it’s on the doorstep of Dublin Airport, but it gives a warm and welcome atmosphere to everyone that passes through it’s doors, which is exactly what we want for our members.
Does the society have any of its own special bottlings or does it intend to? Yes, we have had one release so far with some exciting bottlings in the pipeline. We were delighted to release our first bottling last year, with a Cabernet Sauvignon Single Cask from Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey
Company. With only 306 bottles yielded from the cask, it didn’t last too long on the shelves. It is our intention to release more bottlings through the coming years, with some really special bottles in the pipeline. Our sponsors for 2017 ‘The Shed Distillery’ are laying down something quite special indeed, which we’ll keep close to our chests for the moment. Our members can expect bottlings from their Society this year though, as we’ve already arranged some for the upcoming month with an experimental bottle with Glendalough Distillery being the first. Could you gives us an insight into the AWS 2017 plans? We started off in 2014 with the intention of hosting bi-monthly events, however we have already booked 11 events for 2017, and that’s only in the first 10 months! We now have monthly meetings planned, along with distillery trips to new and existing distilleries. We have some very special events lined up, including another 4th of July special, hoping we can outdo what we did last year. How do you become a member? Membership is a mere €50 per calendar year, which covers entry to ALL of our events and field trips throughout the year. All are welcome to join, which can be done via our website, or by dropping us an email and arranging to pay at the door at the next meeting they wish to attend. If a person is unsure about signing up, we offer a visitor pass for €20 at any of our given events. If a person decides they like what they see (we’re confident they will) we will offer to deduct the €20 from the annual fee.
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36 ROE & CO
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ROE & CO
New Irish Whiskey
Roe & Co launched
Plans announced for a new distillery at St. James Gate
t the end of January, Diageo launched a new premium blended Irish whiskey, Roe & Co. The move by Diageo into the premium Irish whiskey category comes as the company announced plans for investment in a whiskey distillery in the former Power Station at St. James’s Gate. The total project investment comes to €25 million (£18.6 million) over three years. Diageo identified a clear opportunity for premium Irish whiskey. Hence Roe & Co was born. Roe & Co is made from the finest hand-selected stocks of Irish malt and grain whiskies and aged in bourbon casks. It has the signature smoothness of Irish whiskey with a remarkable depth of flavour, and luxuriously smooth blend, with a perfect harmony between the intense fruitiness of the malt and the mellow creaminess of the grain whiskies. Roe & Co is named in honour of George Roe, the once world famous whiskey maker who helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century. His distillery, George Roe and Co extended over seventeen acres on Thomas Street in Dublin and was once Ireland’s largest distillery. As neighbours for hundreds of years George Roe and Co and Guinness were the two biggest names at the heart of Dublin’s historic brewing and distilling quarter. Diageo will now build on this rich heritage with the creation of a new distillery by converting the historic former Guinness Power House on Thomas Street. The new St. James’s Gate distillery, will be situated just a stone’s throw away from where the George Roe and Co distillery once stood and subject to planning approval will begin production in the first half of 2019. Using her thirty years of experience, Diageo’s Master Blender Caroline Martin and her team set about meticulously sourcing and selecting stocks of the very finest Irish whiskies. Caroline and her team trailed over one hundred prototype blends since December 2014, before choosing the finest hand selected stocks of Irish malt and grain whiskies, aged in bourbon casks. Thus making Roe & Co a luxuriously smooth blend with a perfect harmony between the intense fruitiness of the malt and the mellow creaminess of the grain whiskies. The high proportion of first fill casks gives notes of creamy vanilla balanced with its hints of fruit and soft spice and a remarkable depth for such an elegant and refined whiskey. Roe & Co is nonchill filtered and bottled at 45% ABV. The first blend of Roe & Co will be available in key European cities from 1st March 2017 as part of Diageo’s growing Reserve portfolio.
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38 BOOK REVIEW
THE LIBRARY WHISKY This is – in the opinion of many whisky writers and experts – the finest whisky book ever written. Published in 1930, it is the first written from the point of view of the consumer and is thus historically significant. More than that, it is poetic and polemical in style. With its emphasis on the importance of single malt whisky and its concern to protect and inform the consumer, it remains fresh and relevant to the interests of today’s whisky drinker. Ian Buxton’s shrewd commentary and analysis shows that it is a remarkably prophetic book. The luxuriant small edition combines MacDonald’s text with period illustrations for the first time. Buxton also brings the contents bang up to date for today’s whisky aficionado. Written By: AENEAS MACDONALD Appreciation By: IAN BUXTON Published by Birlinn. www.birlinn.co.uk
WHISKYPEDIA Charles MacLean’s gazetteer is a distillery-by-distillery guide that addresses questions such as, what is the enduring appeal of Scotland’s national drink? Why does it taste the way it does; and how is it made? In Whiskypedia, MacLean has produced the key to understanding malt whisky. He is widely regarded as the world expert on Scotch whisky, having researched it for the past thirty years and written numerous books on the subject. Whiskypedia is produced with colour photography throughout; it includes Charles MacLean’s flavour wheel, as well as the flavour map. Selling over 30,000 copies, the first edition of Whiskypedia became the go-to guide to Scottish whisky. This brand new, and greatly extended edition, will likely become a ‘bible’ on the subject. Written By: Charles MacLean. Published By: Birlinn www.birlinn.co.uk
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THE ANGELS SHARE James Markert’s novel, ‘The Angels Share’ is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption and the mystery of miracles. In the thick of the Great Depression, William McFee, the oldest son of the McFee family is the latest in generations of distillery owners in Twisted Tree, Kentucky, working with his parents to revive the business. Unwanted publicity surrounds the distillery and family, when the gravesite of a drifter, recently buried beside the distillery, draws crowds of people who have heard about mystique and wonder at the gravesite. Available from February 23rd. Published by HarperCollins www.jamesmarkertbooks.com
THE MALT YEARBOOK 2017 The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2017 is fully revised and packed with new and up-to-date information on whisky distilleries from all over the world. With over 500 colour photographs, Malt Whisky Yearbook 2017 lists hundreds of whisky shops, whisky sites, and new bottlings. Distinguished writers such as Charles MacLean, Ian Buxton, Gavin Smith, Suzanne Redmond and Stefan Van Eycken contribute to this extensive publication. A comprehensive summary of the whisky year, this is an essential reference book for any whisky enthusiast to own. Edited By: Ingvar Ronde Published By: MagDig Media Ltd. www.maltwhiskyyearbook.com
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40 PUB REVIEW
the bar The Long Hall
he Long Hall has a long and colourful history. Records show a licence for the site was obtained in 1766 making 2016 a notable year in the colourful history of the pub. A pub that may have changed hands over time but one that was placed firmly on the map in 1982 with one of Dublin’s most renowned song writer/musician/vocalist Phil Lynott’s song ‘Old Town’ filmed in The Long Hall. The Long Hall may not be Dublin’s oldest, biggest or ostentatious pub but it is one that generation after generation ends up in. It is an institution, a proper pub with a good pint, good whiskey selection and most importantly personality. You can try to walk past without looking but like a magnet, it will pull you in. You step from the buzzy city into a calm oasis (with exceptions). You can be forgiven taking a moment to take in all the history surrounding you before you realise the barman is smiling and ready to appease your libation. Once home to a private magistrate it was converted into one of Dublin’s most popular pubs. It became a bit of a recruiting station for the The Fenians and the IRB in the 19th century. Today it is still a meeting point and on a random day you can bump into the likes of Bruce Springsteen or if you are of a certain age you might just have bumped into Phil Lynott before his untimely death. To this day The Long Hall has managed to keep the history and its integrity by maintaining the very Victorian features it was designed with. It is
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essentially a living antique, a home for friends and one that Marcus Houlihan wants to preserve. The Victorian fittings are sumptuously carved with the bar dressed in brass trim. The partitions are set with gold leaf bevelled mirrors and ornate stained glass. The Décor does evoke that lavishness of the Victorian era yet somehow maintains a sense of warmth and friendliness. Within this exquisite pub with all its charm you cannot help but notice the rather large clock sitting atop the oval shaped entrance to the very back room of the pub. Added in 1912 after being commissioned from Wekler & Schlegel who were sat across the street, it has to be the crown that is the jewel of The Long Hall. Being an Irish pub with a history it not only wishes to preserve its home, but the famous Irish libations that make Ireland a go to for a pint and a dram. New and old Irish whiskey’s sit happily behind the bar from the warming embrace of a Jameson to the limited anniversary release of The Long Halls very own Powers bottling. Vintage malts, popular blends and peaty whiskey are available to suit every palate. Although it may be steeped in history The Long Hall has a variety of craft beers sitting next to Irelands beloved Guinness. A pub that is a go to, for a great pint. Now you don’t have to take our word for how great this place is, drop by and see for yourself why this pub has been open for over two hundred years.
By Suzanne Redmond
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It is an institution, a proper pub with a good pint, good whiskey selection and most importantly personality.
42 THE COLLECTOR
THE COLLECTOR The Celtic Cask series The Celtic Cask series is a release by Dublin’s Celtic Whiskey Shop. It is released in extremely limited quantities. The Celtic Whiskey Shop hand-picks distillates from across the country, both single malt and single pot still, and then matures or finishes them in casks from Spain, Portugal and Italy. Sherry, port, madeira and other wine casks add richness and complexity to the spirit, from the spicy exotic fruits the Celtic Cask Se to the rich Christmas cake aromas of the Celtic Cask Tri Deag. The range is growing all the time, but with each edition being a once-off, they sell out very quickly. I rate these among some of the most collectable Irish Whiskey bottlings available. Available from The Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin (ships worldwide). I was extremely fortunate to add bottle No. 110 of Celtic Cask Aon and Celtic Cask Aon (No. 1) to my collection. www.celticwhiskeyshop.com
46% Very Limited
DAIR GHAELACH Midleton released is first Dair Ghaelach edition in 2015. The Dair Ghaelach is the first ever Irish whiskey to be finished in virgin Irish oak casks made from oak sourced from Grinsell’s Wood in the Ballaghtobin Estate, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Midleton oversaw the creation of the casks at Antonio Páez Lobato cooperage in Jerez, where after drying for 15 months the staves were worked into hogshead casks and given a medium toast. Each bottle can be traced back to one of ten 130 yr old Irish oak trees. The provenance of this very special whiskey, in particular its journey from grain to glass makes this a must have for collections. I added Dair Ghaelach Tree No. 3 to my collection. www.singlepotstill.com
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Midleton Cask Strength Limited Edition
Littlemill 25 year old This is a very rare bottling of Littlemill Single Malt Scotch whisky that was released for their Private Cellar Edition series. The distillery which was located in the Scottish Lowlands, closed its doors for the last time in 1994, and was subsequently destroyed by fire in 2004. The Littlemill distillery owners, Loch Lomond, have bottled this 25 year old that was aged in a combination of ten American and European oak casks, then married together and finished in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. Limited to 1,500 bottles, this gem comes in a wooden box with a 5cl miniature and a section of a stave from one of the casks used to mature the whisky. Only 1,500 individually numbered limited edition bottles are available worldwide. This fine specimen of Scottish whisky history will set you back in excess of £2,000.00.
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Littlemill 50.4% Limited
THE IRISHMAN 17 The very exclusive Irishman 17 year old single malt was released to celebrate Walsh Whiskey Distillery’s 17 years in business and the commissioning of their distillery at Royal Oak in Ireland’s County Carlow. Bottled at cask strength and only available in a handful of stores worldwide this single malt was drawn from first-fill sherry butts. Each bottle is individually numbered, with a total of 600 bottles released. Inventory is very short so finding this limited edition can be difficult - check the Irish Whiskey Collection in Dublin Airport and Harrods of London. I rate this as highly collectable due to its limited bottling and declining availability. I managed to add bottle No. 186 to my collection. www.walshwhiskey.com
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Walsh Whiskey Distillery 54% Very Limited
The Connacht Whiskey Distillery T
he Connacht Whiskey Distillery is a fantastic new tourist attraction nestled along the Wild Atlantic Way in the beautiful town of Ballina in Co. Mayo. The distillery is ideally located along the banks of the famous River Moy and is positioned at the edge of Belleek woods and at the start of the new Greenway which travels along the Moy Estuary passing the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway and onto the historic fishing village of Killala. The distillery prides itself on using a mix of traditional and modern pot still techniques to unearth unique flavours from our Irish grains and guests are offered an intimate guided craft distillery tour where one will learn about the production of our Connacht Whiskey, as well as our other spirit range. The process from the
grains room all the way through to triple distillation in our bespoke copper pot stills is explored and discussed. Guests will even get an insight into why our unique coastal location is the perfect place to mature unique and flavoursome whiskey. The tour finishes in the Mullarkey Tasting Room. A unique blend of old and new, the comfortable room overlooks the gentle flow of the River Moy. The bar itself was hand-crafted from repurposed timber flooring recently removed from Dublinâ€™s Boland Mills, floors upon which Irish patriots stood and battled British soldiers during the 1916 Easter Rising. In the tasting room guests take part in a fun and informal tasting experience, which includes samples of whiskey, vodka, gin and poitin. Each spirit is discussed and guests will learn the story behind the
names of the spirits, the nosing notes and are given ideas on how best to serve. Each guest is then presented with their very own personalised Whiskey Tasting Certificate to commemorate their Connacht Whiskey visit. Our distillery shop sells bottles of our currently available spirits. We also offer Connacht Whiskey Company merchandise, from sportswear to shot glasses, and other locally sourced products and souvenirs. After a tour of the distillery and a tasting of our spirits in the Mullarkey Bar, a visit to our gift shop is a must. A tour and spirit tasting last about 6070 minutes and we cater to small and large groups, we are also wheelchair accessible. To book a tour call the distillery directly on 096-74902 or through the online booking system on our website.
Address: Castle Road, Ballina, Co. Mayo. Email: Lyndsey.firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 096-74902 Website: www.connachtwhiskey.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/connachtwhiskey
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46 ON THE CASK
There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others. - Raymond Chandler
On #OnTheCask @TheCaskMagazine www.thecaskmagazine.com
Issue 1.indd 46
ON THE CASK
n this section of the magazine, fifteen whiskies will be opened ‘On The Cask’ by our team members along with an invited guest or two! Our goal is to explore whiskies from all corners of the globe and to share our thoughts with you, our reader. The whiskies will range from the newest releases to the ‘old classics’ with perhaps some truly unique bottles in between. In each session our tasting notes will explore the aromas, flavours and tones of these whiskies. The discussions will be long, the notes will be written, palates will differ but each team member will have their say, of that you can be sure. In this issue David McIlhatton has been joined by Suzanne Redmond, Luke Gough and Maureen Campbell, with John B. and myself (John Luke) offering some random comments. We hope that as whisk(e)y enthusiasts you enjoy reading our thoughts just as much as we enjoy sharing them with you. At the back of this section you’ll find your own tasting sheets for the whiskies we have opened ‘On The Cask’, so you can follow us and your fellow readers along this amazing journey we all find ourselves on.
JOHN LUKE, CO-FOUNDER
On Send us you own opinions on Twitter: @TheCaskMagazine @johnL_burke @davemcilhatton @suzisgrapecrush @mairinanne @lukegough1970 #OnTheCask
John Luke Issue 1.indd 47
48 ON THE CASK
Redbreast never ceases to amaze and this new expression is going to become part of the core range.
Suzanne The nose is juicy and complex. Delightful sherry notes sing out with the apricot tones which mingle quite nicely with the aromas of fresh figs, almonds and toasted oak with a lick of liquorice. The juiciness is amplified by the high acidity yet retains a smooth round body. Chinese pear, wilted wildflowers mix beautifully with the mandarin and sherry notes which pop as it warms, a gentle eucalyptus note rounds the palate off nicely. This is an excellent example of marriage between a good sherry bodega and whiskey. Enjoy and avoid adding water as it will dull it.
Luke The nose has lovely notes of orange oil, figs and aniseed. The palate is thick with cereal oils, with an oaky dryness yet retains a hint of creaminess. This whiskey has a long spicy oak finish with a cream undertone.
David Incredibly complex, hairs stand on the back of the neck. Seriously vibrant, hints of dried apricot, a tremendous amount is happening but everything has been brought together like a piece of artwork. Extremely well balanced from the tongue all the way to the back of the throat, sweetness, peppery notes and drying tannins mix tremendously well. The finish is long and lingering and feel yourself reaching towards the glass for more and more.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
IRELAND SINGLE POT STILL NO AGE STATEMENT 46% 700ML SINGLEPOTSTILL.COM €69 / £50
This is an excellent example of marriage between a good sherry bodega and whiskey
- Suzanne R
Discover what all the hush is about.
Treasured for its rare Single Pot Still complexity and Oloroso sherry maturation, Redbreast drinkers are tight-lipped when it comes to spreading the word.
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50 ON THE CASK
A whiskey to share with good mates - Maureen C
“Two heads are said to be better than one”, hence the collaboration between Jameson Distillery and Franciscan Well Brewery
Suzanne A marriage of whiskey and stout. Apricots, banana and damsons lead into a hoppy, herbal nose with a chocolate treacle edge. Fruit spice hits the palate with unripe damsons and tar like notes. The notes from the nose also appear on the palate with a bit of a thump, this whiskey does not hide, it stands tall. One for those who like the IPA’s or chocolate stouts. Though this would also lend itself well for cocktails.
Luke There is an herbal pot-still note on the nose with hints of dark malt and burnt treacle. The palate has toasted hops with a hint of burnt chocolate. It has a smooth finish with hints of grain.
David Brilliantly structured, very well balanced. Initially sweet grain, pot still spice is definitely there. Deep notes, chocolate and treacle emerge, as you sense the stout influence. Jameson was always classic as a chaser with a beer, and this dram is no exception. The only difference is that the deeper and heavier tones of the Caskmate lends itself to pair up with a heavy beer, stout, porter etc.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND BLEND NO AGE STATEMENT 40% 700ML JAMESONWHISKEY.COM €40
ON THE CASK
Not one that needs to be deconstructed
- David M
The aim was to “capture the pot still essence”...Gordon D’Arcy. An accessible whiskey that keeps the Powers brand at its heart.
Suzanne This whiskey has a lovely nutty nose. Barley notes pop along with grapefruit, figs, spice and orange zest. A faint hint of mint lends this to being a gentle easy going whiskey. This is a crowd pleasing whiskey, as it does not overpower the palate. With a soft body and smooth fruit notes this is sure to appeal to many. The aromas from the nose slip onto the palate with touches of orange blossom, earthy tones and light toffee. An accessible whiskey that keeps the Powers brand at its heart.
Luke On the nose there is a mild barley-malt aroma alongside herbs, green pepper, and a hint of vanilla. There is a mouth coating sweetness with hints of banana and dry spice. The finish is smooth and dry, with barley and mild herbal notes.
David Creamy and nutty. What I would describe as a ‘go to whiskey’ in a bar, not one that needs to be deconstructed-just enjoy it. Very much a typical pot still flavour profile if one even exists, nice and light with hints of spice on the palate, ex bourbon butterscotch, and a tad of sherry tannin spice (but very little) . Relatively short finish and smooth nonetheless.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE POT STILL NO AGE STATEMENT 40% 700ML SINGLEPOTSTILL.COM €45
52 ON THE CASK
Barry Crockett ’Legacy’
A whiskey that is a worthy legacy of the genius that is, Barry Crockett - John B
Legacy was created to commemorate the career of the former master distiller, Barry Crockett. Interest, intrigue and personality shine through just like the legend himself.
Suzanne The nose on this whiskey takes you on a journey, just when you think you know what aromas you have - it develops further. This fresh and fragrant whiskey has notes of tropical flowers, pineapple, ripe banana and sweet dried coconut. Like the nose, the palate also never stops developing from semi-ripe pineapple to over-ripe banana with hints of clove, crushed pepper and freshly baked banana bread. This is an intriguing whiskey that continues to develop long after your first sip. Sit back and enjoy.
Maureen On the nose pleasant aromas of South Pacific flowers and dry coconut with hints of sweet pineapple awaken the senses. This is followed by surprising hints of black pepper on the palate that merge into a lovely blend of vanilla and treacly butterscotch that warms all the way down the throat and lingers in the memory. Lives up to the legend that is Barry Crockett.
David Massive nose, rich with tropical fruits, pineapple and peach. Plenty of caramel and bourbon oak. For the very first sip it was like chomping on a mouthful of blackcurrants but strangely this developed to caramel and vanilla with a hint of pepper. A rather medium but bold finish, but not overly long. A wonderfully complex whisky, constantly developing. A whiskey to appreciate.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND BLEND NO AGE STATEMENT 46% 700ML SINGLEPOTSTILL.COM €220 / £150
ON THE CASK
The Whistler Blue Note
Sings off the palate - Suzanne R
This is the first release from Ireland’s newest distillery located in the beautiful Boyne Valley. See our full article on page 31.
Suzanne Floral notes dominate the first whiff which leads into a wild country garden with some tropical fruit notes. Dog rose, lilacs and sweet pea mingle gently with notes of honeycomb, dandelion, ripe banana skin, leafy parsley and unripe pineapple. The palate is at first a little drier than the nose would suggest, with a milk like mouth feel. Spiced honeycomb dance with the overworked butterscotch, vanilla and chili kick to lead you into a faint blueberry, smoke finish. The Blue Note is a well-made whiskey with a full body and enjoyed best at room temperature.
Luke An interesting nose with aromas of cereal, pear drops and caramel. The palate is smooth and sweet with notes of grapes and green fruits. There is spice on the finish of this sweet whiskey.
David A gentle nose with floral and fruit notes. The palate is dry with spiced fruits and honeycomb. A touch of caramel and some leafy notes lend some intrigue to this very enjoyable whiskey. A very welcome addition to the whiskey market.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE MALT 7 YEARS OLD 46% 700ML BOANNDISTILLERY.IE €55
54 ON THE CASK
This expression belies its relative youth
- Luke G
7 Year old Single Malt
“The number 7 has always been associated with the seekers, the thinkers and the searchers of truth. St. Kevin of Glendalough was all of these and more”
Suzanne Banana bread and black cinnamon tease the nose with damsons and vanilla pods. Pepper and red apple follow quickly behind to give you a rich and autumnal whiskey. Orchard fruits with spice mingle with vanilla ice-cream and raspberries. Sounds wrong but it works exceptionally well . The addition of leather, apricots and dried autumn leaves hint at the complexity of this whiskey. Whether it is whiskey or gin Glendalough know what they are doing and it really shows in what they bottle. You will not be disappointed.
Luke The nose is hit immediately with red apples with hints of cinnamon. A rich malty sweetness hits the palate with ripe orchard fruits. The red apples stay on the finish with a hint of leather.
David Sweet malt is the first thing that hits your nose, then beneath it creeps leather and rubber, almost like that new car smell. Wonderfully balanced and smooth, bourbon characteristics are apparent. Finish is long and musty where the leathery oak continues on and on. Quite a serious whiskey, especially given its age.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE MALT 7 YEAR OLD 46% 700ML GLENDALOUGHDISTILLERY.COM €48 / £45
san francisco world spirits competition · irish whiskey awards · global spirits masters · icons of whisky
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Reminds me of a late spring - Maureen C
Sister of Writers Tears ‘Copper Pot’, the Red Head is a bolder expression from the formidable Walsh Distillery.
Suzanne Initially this whiskey has sherry notes, honey and proven dough on the nose. Add some orange zest, apricots, ginger and wild mint and you will see the wonders of Walsh’s single malt. This whiskey does not hide, rather all the aromas slip onto the palate in formation to create, with the addition of fermented ginger, lemongrass and wild daisy’s. This whiskey has a big personality, one you won’t forget easily.
Maureen On the nose there are mild reminders of late spring with fading apple blossom and dog roses. The palate is surprisingly sweet with a lively blend of coffee and treacle toffee with a hint of sugary lemon that is reminiscent of old fashioned confectionery. A good dram to share.
David Quite highly perfumed and floral as you nose it, white oak musk. The floral and perhaps slightly vegetal notes bounce on the palate, wild mint leaves gives a refreshing twist. Some spiciness on the back of the palate. Medium finish
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE MALT NO AGE STATEMENT 46% 700ML WALSHWHISKEY.COM €48
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Quite an elegant start on the first bell - David M
A collaboration between two craft distilleries — one in Ireland, the other in America, West Cork Distillers and Tamworth Distilling in the U.S.A. to create an Irish whiskey finished in American rye barrels.
Suzanne The name suggests a big whiskey but it is quite the opposite with gentle aromas of caramel, spice, white oak, peaches and apricots. The addition of glucose candy, white pepper and candy floss might be where the skill of the prizefighter lends its name, as they do take you a little by surprise yet they work. Vanilla, spice and herbs slip onto the palate swiftly followed by the aromas from the nose. A unique whiskey that can be served neat or will hold its own in a nice cocktail.
Luke The nose is light with notes of glucose, hints of oak and light fruity notes. An interesting palate with light candy sweetness and a hint of rye spice. It has a relatively short finish with light caramel and spice.
David Elegant start on the first bell, a hot, peppery nose until it settles down, dried apricots and other light sweet candied fruit. Not overly complex, white oak and damp wood. As you take a sip you do get a bit of rye spice and vanilla as the whisky hits the top of your palate, the alcohol reigns dominant all the way to the finish line with a drying mouthfeel. Would work really well in a cocktail and is enjoyable neat. note: water kills the deeper complexities.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
IRELAND BLEND NO AGE STATEMENT 43% 700ML PRIZEFIGHTWHISKEY.COM €50
© 20 ENJOY PR DISTILLED
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Prizefight is a collaborative Irish whiskey, distilled and aged in Ireland, and finished in American rye casks sourced by Tamworth Distilling, USA. The result is an incredibly complex whiskey, a smooth and mellow spirit that packs a punch but never burns. AVA I L A B L E AT S E L E C T B A R S A N D O F F - L I C E N S E S I N C L U D I N G C E LT I C WHISKEY SHOP & DUBLIN DUTY FREE W W W. P R I Z E F I G H T W H I S K E Y. CO M
© 2017 Prizefight Whiskey, Dublin, Ireland. All rights reserved. ENJOY PRIZEFIGHT RESPONSIBLY PRODUCT OF IRELAND CREATED BY PUGILIST SPIRITS, LTD. DUBLIN, IRELAND. DISTILLED & BOTTLED IN WEST CORK, IRELAND. AGED IN BARRELS FROM TAMWORTH DISTILLING, TAMWORTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE, USA. •
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60 ON THE CASK
The Dublin “ Liberties
I’ll venture down Copper Alley anytime - John B
Master Distiller, Darryl McNally, says: “My inspiration for Copper Alley was going back to the original methods of Irish whiskey making”.
Suzanne The future is bright if the likes of Copper Alley are what we are to expect from the Liberties. There is quite the aroma profile with floral notes, overripe pineapple, figs, prunes, chili, runny toffee with a hint of crab apple to keep the sweetness in check. It’s a chewy whiskey with cayenne pepper cutting the sweetness of this ripe fruity whiskey. Add some bourbon notes to the aromas that proudly wander onto the palate from the nose to give you a dram that is not only succulent but with good structure. Tasty is one word but topping up the glass shows it is a bit of a moreish whiskey.
David Potent nose, tonnes of white pepper, deep and warming sherry, liquorice. Sweet pineapple, very well balanced and smoothly coats the mouth, definitely some drying sherry tannins to give extra depth to balance with the fruit. Quite a surprising little dram it’s got a bit of a kick but you keep on pouring.
Luke The nose has notes of white pepper, dried fruits with long dark sherry musk. The palate has thick bourbon sweetness with a malty note melting into dark sherry. The finish is long and fragrant.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE MALT 10 YEAR OLD 46% 700ML DUBLINLIBERTIESWHISKEY.COM €63 / £50
10 YEAR SINGLE MALT AGED IN BOURBON CASKS AND FINISHED IN 30 YEAR OLD OLOROSO SHERRY CASKS
new home coming soon in the liberties, dublin
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62 ON THE CASK
The Connacht “ Whiskey Co. Spade & Bushel
It was light in colour and profile, yet its power left us perplexed - David M
“All good things come in small packages” and this is certainly true of this very smart 35ml bottle. Hurry only five thousand exist and The Cask office has truly fallen for this beauty from the Wild West.
Suzanne Connacht has managed to capture the beauty of the west in this bottling. Aromas of fresh meadow wild flowers flicker with day old cut grass. Spring honey, hay and Chinese pears seduce the nose. Hints of lemongrass and sweetpea make you swoon. On the palate juicy pears, lemongrass and sweet peas lead into what turns into quite a meaty body, yet it retains its delicate profile of snowdrops and sugarcane. It really is an amplified version of the nose. The addition of water takes more from the body than from the alcohol. It is an elegant whiskey that will seduce you.
Luke The nose is full and rich with notes of yeast and pear drops. The palate has a thick, malty sweetness with notes of stewed apples, pears, peach and honey. This whiskey finishes with pears and spice.
David It was light in colour and profile, yet its power left us perplexed. My nose hairs couldn’t quite handle the first whiff, but after it settled into the glass the true character shined. Floral, light white oak and sweetness brought me on a walk through a summer meadow. The palate takes every element of the nose and amplifies it about 1000 times resulting in very intense flavours with a long and lingering finish.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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IRELAND SINGLE MALT 10 YEAR OLD 57.5% 350ML CONNACHTWHISKEY.COM €44
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64 ON THE CASK
Kilchoman “ Coull Point
- Suzanne R
A true farm distillery and the first distillery to be established on Islay in over 124 years. With the farm considered as growing the best malting barley on the island, Kilchoman is proving itself as a true contender for peaty scotch.
EXCLUSIVE Suzanne Before you go near the nose you are hit with true peaty Islay notes. Once you move past the lovely peaty notes you get bog heather, toasted nuts, dandelions, orchard fruits and rapeseed. The peat is not as heavy as the nose may suggest as you get a myriad of flavours hitting the palate. Notes of clay, bitter chocolate, tropical fruits and soft toffee mingle with mild vegetal tones. A whiskey that makes you think, and will easily chill with a nice cigar.
Maureen A lovely soft peaty nose interspaced with various heathers and oaty nuttiness gives clear signal to what follows on the palate. Soft smoky toffee with faint hints of spiced dark chocolate blends with tobacco notes to give a surprisingly easy and pleasant finish. A comforting whisky.
David Powerful nose lots of that classic Kilchoman sweet balanced peat smoke. This is very well made spirit, the flavours all cohesively cooperate with each other. The sweet malt isn’t overpowered by the peat, in fact they balance each other perfectly all the way through from the nose palate and finish.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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SCOTLAND (ISLAY) SINGLE MALT NO AGE 46% 700ML KILCHOMANDISTILLERY.COM £45
The Glencairn Glass - Be There Stag - A4 - CMYK.pdf
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66 ON THE CASK
A’Bunadh Batch No.57
This whisky lends itself nicely to being paired with a good cigar
- Suzanne R
This is the 57th batch of Aberlour’s A’Bunadh expression! The A’Bunadh releases are made with whisky drawn from Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts and bottled at cask strength.
Suzanne Figs drizzled in dark caramel lead you into a host of aromas such as mixed nuts, black tea, tobacco and overripe autumnal fruit. Add some wild strawberries and dark toffee to add another layer to this intriguing whisky, mint pops in with thyme. Toffee apple, malt and autumnal characters hit first with overripe orchard fruits softening the palate. Rich honeycomb and figs linger with a hint of orange rind to keep the palate intrigued. Beautiful neat, the addition of water does enhance the sweetness. This whisky does lend itself nicely to being paired with a good cigar.
Luke This whisky has a great nose with notes of creamy sherry, dark chocolate orange and raisins. The sherry and burnt chocolate appear on the palate with notes of spice and oak. It has a long sweet finish with a hint of cloves.
David On the nose, there is an intensity and richness that is held with tobacco and sherry. This is one of those whiskies to be enjoyed with a cigar. Extremely deep and rich palate, heavy oak, intense sherry tannins. Water perhaps starts to cause it to unbalance. The finish is long with dried fruit and sugar cane.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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SCOTLAND (SPEYSIDE) SINGLE MALT NO AGE STATEMENT 60.7% 700ML ABERLOUR.COM €85/£45
ON THE CASK
“ Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12 yr old Single Malt
A dram that metamorphosizes with each sip - John B
At the time the Grain distillery opened in 1994, it was the only distillery in Scotland producing both Grain and Malt whisky. It also operates a unique set-up of three sets of stills.
Suzanne This whisky is iridescent gold in colour, gentle on the nose and shares a plethora of aromas to make you salivate. Notes of gingernuts, candied hazelnuts, dried dandelion’s and flickers of peach with some blanched almonds dance around the glass. Initially this is a juicy fruity number with the aromas from the nose flowing onto the palate. Notes of candied orange peel on the nose are much punchier on the palate with spice and sherry notes mingling with butterscotch. Black and white pepper plays a part in the overall palate and stand out but if left for thirty minutes they do calm down. Overall this is a chewy number that finishes with smooth fudge and blueberries.
Luke An interesting nose with aromas of cereal, pear drops and caramel. The palate is smooth and sweet with notes of grapes and green fruits. There is spice on the finish of this waxy sweet whisky.
David This whiskey is quite complex - the flavours and aromas changed every time you go anywhere near it, one minute toffee and butterscotch the next floral and pepper. Its not a smooth whisky but it is very well balanced. This is far from an entry level whisky as it takes time to appreciate. Try this with a few teaspoons of water to open it up. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge then Inchmurrin 12 is certainly for you.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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SCOTLAND (HIGHLAND) SINGLE MALT 12 YEAR OLD 46% 700ML LOCHLOMONDWHISKIES.COM €50/£40
68 ON THE CASK
Glen Grant “ 12 Year Old
The Major makes an elegant move
- Suzanne R
Glen Grant 12 Year Old single malt was launched mid 2016. It is a whisky that embodies the style and heart of Glen Grant. It is bottled at 43% ABV.
Suzanne This is a whisky that will take you on a journey on the nose alone. The nose is fresh and vibrant with notes of crab apple, light meadow honey, crab apple, milky coffee and hints of caramel popcorn. When you first open the bottle the spice hits the palate with a wallop, but a little time tames this and shows its true colour, that of a fresh, fruity whiskey with spice. Baked apple and light marzipan lend intrigue to this whisky. This is a well-made whisky with a lingering clove and crushed almond finish.
Maureen Soft on the nose with hints of crab apple and honey rounded off with a warm bourbon aroma. On the palate hints of nutmeg and cinnamon flow into a light sweetness of apricots and pink lady that fade to a warm medium finish of sugared almond. A very pleasing single malt.
David Very light on the nose, subtle white oak, a bit of fruit spice and caramel. Then the surprise comes as soon as it hits your mouth with a fist full of fruit, stewed apple and custard, lots of oak, ex-bourbon characteristics, vanilla. Finish lingers for a short time gently drying.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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SCOTLAND (SPEYSIDE WHISKY) SINGLE MALT 12 YEAR OLD 43% 700ML GLENGRANT.COM £40
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70 ON THE CASK
Dalmore 12 Year old
“In 1839, Alexander Matheson searched for the perfect distillery location, but his criteria were not the same as others. His only concern was where he could find the best natural resources to make the finest whisky.”
A thought provoking whisky - Maureen C
Suzanne A nose of pure seduction, you have to shake yourself to see what it is you smell. Notes of salted toffee, lapsang shu shung tea, ripe sweet orange and burnt embers lend intrigue to already intriguing nose. The palate is much more upfront than the nose would suggest, though carries many of the aromas from the nose. Notes of autumnal fruits, fruit pastilles, spice, nettle and old pomegranate add interest to this slightly chewy whisky. This whisky lends itself nicely to being paired with a good cigar.
Maureen A delightful nose of soft salted toffee with a toasted hazelnut sweetness, and a lingering hint of burnt orange. On the palate notes of light butterscotch blend with hints of earl grey and green tea ending in a short warm finish of Oloroso sherry.
David Deep and rich with crushed mixed nuts, dark oak, sherry tannins, Christmas cake drizzled in sherry. It’s a bold whisky – a real classic. This is a whisky that epitomises the sitting by a roaring fire, sipping a dram and smoking a cigar sentiment.
ORIGIN TYPE AGE ABV SIZE WEBSITE PRICE
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SCOTLAND (HIGHLAND) SINGLE MALT 12 YEAR OLD 40% 700ML THEDALMORE.COM €65/£40
NAME: THE WHISTLER BLUE NOTE ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 7 YEARS OLD ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: PRIZEFIGHT ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: BLEND AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 43%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: JAMESON CASKMATES ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: BLEND AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 40%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: GLENDALOUGH 7 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 7 YEAR OLD ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: POWERS THREE SWALLOW ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE POT STILL AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 40%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
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72 YOUR RATINGS NAME: SPADE & BUSHEL ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 10 YEARS OLD ABV: 57.5%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: WRITERS TEARS RED HEAD ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: MIDLETON BARRY CROCKETT ‘LEGACY’ ORIGIN: SINGLE POT STILL TYPE: BLEND AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: GLEN GRANT 12 YEAR OLD ORIGIN: SCOTLAND (SPEYSIDE) TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 12 YEAR OLD ABV: 43%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: INCHMURRIN – LOCH LOMOND ORIGIN: SOCTLAND (HIGHLAND) TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 12 YEAR OLD ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
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YOUR RATINGS NAME: ABERLOUR Aâ€™BUNADH BATCH NO.57 ORIGIN: SCOTLAND (SPEYSIDE) TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 60.7%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: DALMORE 12 YEAR OLD ORIGIN: SCOTLAND (HIGHLAND) TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 12 YEAR OLD ABV: 40%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: KILCHOMAN COULL POINT ORIGIN: SCOTLAND (ISLAY) TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: THE DUBLIN LIBERTIES COPPER ALLEY ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE MALT AGE: 10 YEAR OLD ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
NAME: REDBREAST LUSTAU ORIGIN: IRELAND TYPE: SINGLE POT STILL AGE: NO AGE STATEMENT ABV: 46%
NOSE PALATE FINISH COMMENTS
74 ON THE CASK
GOD MADE WHISKEY TO KEEP THE IRISH FROM RULING THE WORLD
On #OnTheCask @TheCaskMagazine www.thecaskmagazine.com
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76 SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND
ISLAY SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND Gavin D Smith offers a comprehensive view of Islay’s distilleries and its unique single malt whiskies
he Scottish Hebridean island of Islay is synonymous with a certain style of single malt whisky – strongly flavoured and heavily peated – and the last couple of decades have seen Islays take the whisky world by storm. The southernmost of the Western Isles, Islay boats eight distilleries to its 3,200 inhabitants, and a visit to this eerily beautiful island, which is rich in history and wildlife, as well as whisky, is a must for every dram-lover’s ‘bucket list.’ The coast of Ireland is just 20 miles to the south of Islay, and there is a persuasive theory that if the art of distillation travelled to Scotland from Ireland, as is often claimed, then the Kintyre peninsula and the island of Islay would probably be the first places where whisky-making was practiced, before the knowledge spread to the Scottish mainland. With the exception of Bowmore and Kilchoman – all of Islay’s eight working distilleries were established during the 19th century, and are scattered widely around the island. Every year during the last week in May they collaborate to stage Feis Ile – The Islay Festival of Music and Malt – with each distillery having its own dedicated day and offering a special limited edition bottling for the occasion. THE DISTILLERIES BOWMORE All of Islay’s current distilleries offer visitor facilities, and a good place to start is Bowmore, the island’s oldest distillery, founded in 1779 (www.bowmore.com). The distillery is located on the shores of Loch Indaal in the eponymous village, which is also home to The Islay Whisky Shop (www.islaywhiskyshop.com) and two of the island’s best places to eat and drink whisky, namely the Lochside Hotel (www.lochsidehotel.co.uk) and the Harbour Inn (www.bowmore.com/harbour-inn). The latter is actually owned by Bowmore distillery, along with a number of neighbouring self-catering cottages. Today, despite being the second-best-selling Islay single malt after Laphroaig, Bowmore is one of the smaller Islay distilleries in terms of capacity. On-site floor maltings are now a rarity in Scottish distilleries, but Islay boasts three out of the handful still operational. Around 40 per cent of Bowmore’s malt requirements are obtained from its three malting floors, and Bowmore stands in the middle of Islay single malts in terms of peating levels, although it is sometimes described as the ‘smokiest’ of all the Islays. All spirit produced at Bowmore is destined for single malt bottling, rather than use in blends and the distillery’s famous old Number 1 warehouse is partly below sea level, and experiences very minor temperature changes compared to other warehouses. The prevailing damp salt air means that evaporation is less than in many cases, while that air also shapes the style of the ageing spirit. Subject to financing, a new distillery is to be created at Saltpan Point, close to Bowmore, using the name of Gartbreck. It is the brainchild of Jean Donnay, who developed Glann ar Mor Distillery in Brittany, and the intention is to heat the pair of stills with live flame, and generally employ traditional whisky-making techniques. BRUICHLADDICH Bruichladdich distillery (www.bruichladdich.com) is also located by Loch Indaal and near the head of the peninsula known as the Rhinns of Islay, some eight miles west of Bowmore. The village of Port Charlotte is two miles beyond Bruichladdich, and between 1829 and
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By Gavin D Smith.
SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND
Photos courtesy of Bruichladdich
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Islay is a must for every dram-lover’s ‘bucket list.’
78 SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND
1929 Lochindaal distillery operated in the village. Port Charlotte is also home to another great place to eat, drink, and rest your head, namely the Port Charlotte Hotel (www.portcharlottehotel.co.uk). Bruichladdich itself was a product of the Victorian Scotch whisky boom, being constructed in 1881 by the Harvey family, who were prominent Glasgow distillers. Today, Bruichladdich is owned by French drinks company Remy Cointreau, but the bold, maverick spirit that informed much of what the distillery did in the recent past under an independent regime headed by Mark Reynier, is alive and well. The distillery’s release programme continues to be energetic, with three principal single malt styles on offer. Along with unpeated Bruichladdich, the core bottlings are heavily-peated Port Charlotte and the world’s most heavily-peated whisky Octomore. ‘Scottish Barley’ and ‘Islay Barley’ are the principal expressions of each, and some 40 per cent of all barley used by the distillery is now grown on the island. KILCHOMAN Islay’s newest distillery is Kilchoman (www.kilchomandistillery.com), located some six miles to the north-west of
Bruichladdich. Kilchoman represents a return to farm-based distilling, and gives visitors the chance to experience its ‘barley to bottle’ ethos, with some of the barley used in distilling being grown on Rockside Farm, where the distillery is situated, and subsequently malted on site. The distillery was established by Anthony Wills and his family, who continue to own and operate it, and the first spirit flowed from Kilchoman’s pair of stills in December 2005. in 2012 the first core release was offered, being named Machir Bay. Now the sherry-cask-matured Loch Gorm and 100% Islay – made entirely from barley grown on the island – are also regularly available, along with Sanaig, named after a small rocky inlet northwest of the distillery. Sanaig has a predominantly sherry cask influence, due to significant time spent in oloroso sherry hogsheads. CAOL ILA Caol Ila (www.malts.com) distillery stands by the north-western shores of Islay, overlooking the Sound of Islay - from which it takes its Gaelic name – to the neighbouring island of Jura, beyond. The distillery is reached via the main road from Bowmore to the ferry
terminal of Port Askaig, and is situated in a small cove at the foot of a hill. Along with nearby Bunnahabhain, it is one of Islay’s most remote distilleries. Caol Ila was founded in 1846 by distillery magnate Hector Henderson, and in 1927 it became part of the everexpanding Distillers Company Ltd’s portfolio of distilleries. Between 1972 and 1974 the entire plant was rebuilt in modern style at a cost of £1 million, with six large, new stills being installed in place of the original pair. Caol Ila has long enjoyed an excellent reputation as a blending malt, playing a significant part in owner Diageo’s Johnnie Walker family of blends. It is the largest distillery on Islay in terms of capacity, being capable of making up to 6.5 million litres of spirit per annum. Although the bulk of spirit produced at Caol Ila is relatively heavily peated, since 1999 there have been annual runs of unpeated ‘Highland-style’ spirit, which have been released in limited quantities since 2006. BUNNAHABHAIN Caol Ila’s closest neighbouring distillery, Bunnahabhain (www.bunnahabhain. com) enjoys an even more remote location, and when it was established by
Photo courtesy of Bruichladdich
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SCOTLAND’S WHISKY ISLAND
brothers William and James Greenlees and William Robertson in 1881, a row of staff cottages and a schoolroom for the community’s children were also constructed, along with a pier. Since 2003, Bunnahabhain distillery has been owned by by Burn Stewart Distillers plc, and for many years its whisky had been one of the least peaty Islay single malts. However, under the Burn Stewart regime quantities of more heavily peated spirit have been distilled annually at Bunnahabhain, and a number of peated expressions have been released, standing alongside the sometimes underestimated lightlypeated 12-year-old and 18 and 25-yearolds. At the time of writing, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain are due to get a new neighbour, as Glasgow-based independent bottler Hunter Laing & Co is in the process of constructing a distillery at Ardnahoe, near Port Askaig. LAPHROAIG While Port Askaig serves as the northern ferry terminal of Islay, the village of Port Ellen has the same role in the south. It is home to Diageo’s large, mechanised malting plant, and the last vestiges of Port Ellen distillery, which closed in 1983. Also in Port Ellen are the historic White Hart (www.whiteharthotelislay.com) and the Islay Hotel (www.theislayhotel.com) both of which offer fine selections of local whiskies. Scattered along the coast road northeast of Port Ellen is a trio of distilleries located in the Kildalton Parish, and these have traditionally been seen as the island’s heaviest hitters. All three – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg - enjoyed bi-centennial celebrations during 2015/16. Heading out of Port Ellen, the first of the Kildalton distilleries to be encountered is Laphroaig (www.laphroaig.com). Like its neighbours, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, it presents a white-painted frontage to the sea, with the distillery name boldly painted in black. Laphroaig was established by brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston, and is now part of Beam Suntory Inc, making it a stablemate of great rival, Bowmore. Like Bowmore, Laphroaig continues to operate its own floor maltings, which provide around 15 per cent of the distillery’s total malt requirements. Laphroaig is equipped with three wash stills and four spirit stills, with the fifth still being added in 1967 to increase capacity. When it comes to learning about
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Photo courtesy of Laguvulin Laphroaig, the visitor is spoilt for choice, with everything from a ‘standard’ tour and tasting right up to the Water to Whisky Experience. This includes a distillery tour, a picnic lunch, peat cutting, a visit to the Laphroaig water source and a taste from a selection of casks before using a valinch to bottle your personal favourite. Laphroaig has been described as ‘Marmite whisky,’ in other words you either love it or hate it, but the dram’s devoted following among fans is nurtured by the Friends of Laphroaig organisation, and the Friends now number almost 700,000, representing some 190 countries! LAGAVULIN Lagavulin (www.malts.cm) is the ‘middle’ Kildalton distillery, situated just over a mile east of Laphroaig and a mile from Ardbeg. For many years, the distillery was associated with Peter Mackie, who owned it from 1889 and created the White Horse blended Scotch, with Lagavulin at its heart. Lagavulin became part of the mighty Distillers Company Ltd in 1927, eventually passing into the hands of successor company Diageo. In 1908, Mackie created a second, small-scale distillery beside Lagavulin, called Malt Mill, in which he produced a notably smoky, old-style spirit, which made liberal use of peat rather than coal. In 1962 the pair of stills from Malt Mill was transferred into Lagavulin, and today the maltings of Malt Mill serve as the Lagavulin visitor centre. When the Classic Malts range was launched in 1988 Lagavulin’s rich, sherried 16-year-old became the Islay representative in the line-up, and 2016
saw the launch of two notably collectable bi-centennial commemorative bottlings, namely an 8-year-old and a 25-year-old. ARDBEG The distillery (www.ardbeg.com) was initially licensed to John MacDougall in 1815, and was effectively in private hands for more than 150 years. Given the high esteem in which Islay single malts are now held all over the world, it seems remarkable that Ardbeg’s future was far from assured during the 1980s and ’90s, with several periods of closure. It was finally saved in 1997 by Glenmorangie plc, which spent in excess of £10 million buying and restoring the site. Under Glenmorangie, a plethora of new releases have appeared, many without age statements. The current ‘core’ Ardbeg range includes a 10-yearold, Uigeadail (with a sherry cask influence) and Corryvreckan (with an influence of new French oak). Ardbeg has a Committee, operating along the same lines as Laphroaig’s ‘Friends’ organisation, and the Ardbeg variant now boasts in excess of 100,000 members. The distillery is equipped with one pair of stills, and the malt used to produce Ardbeg spirit is the most heavily peated of the Kildalton trio of distilleries. Away from whisky, Ardbeg’s Old Kiln Café is renowned throughout the island for the quality of its home-baking, tempting locals and visitors alike. With all eight existing Islay distilleries thriving, two new ones in the pipeline, and ever-growing global demand for its distinctive single malts, distilling on Scotland’s ‘whisky island’ looks set for a very bright future.
The Stills, Hills and Pillars
that are the Macallan The area officially designated as the Speyside malt whisky-producing region is centred on the towns and villages of Elgin, Rothes, Keith and Dufftown, including also the historically famous distilling centre of Glenlivet. Which is where one of the world’s most known distillery is centred, Macallan, formerly Macallan Glenlivet.
o fewer than 51 of the 110 malt distilleries active in 2015 were located within the Speyside region, which also boasts seven of the top ten global best-selling single malts and more than 60 per cent of Scotland’s total malt whisky capacity. In 2015 the total Scotch malt whisky capacity stood at 353.8 million litres per annum and the Speyside region made up 225.5 litres of that, making Speyside a malt haven. Competition could be seen as fierce in Speyside, yet each has their own uniqueness. Something The Macallan has is definitely achieved through their location, the stills, the cut, their oak, colour and not least the beautiful spirit. According to the distillers, “It is a journey through our Six Pillars which make The Macallan so unique.” The Macallan is believed to be known as such in order to differentiate itself from independent bottlings labelled as Macallan. The Macallan distillery was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to be legally licensed. The distillery sits on 370 acres of land, and some 90% of this is used to grow their own barley. With that they have a mile and a half of prime fishing beat along the river Spey, allowing them access to fresh spring water, which they extract from bore holes on the land. The Macallan is the only Scottish distillery to use 20% of the Momentum barley variety, along with 80% of the more popular Concerto type. The
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Momentum variety helps give the rich, sweet, oily new make they desire. They are currently operating with six wooden washbacks and sixteen stainless steel washbacks. Their fermentations are fairly short, as longer ones give a fruitier, floral style which The Macallan does not want “Greatness comes in small packages” Possibly the most unique pieces of equipment are their stills, which are small and squat with short arms. They are the smallest stills on Speyside, which give their spirit maximum contact with the copper, leading to a more concentrated, full bodied, rich spirit. Not only is the stature of these stills unique but they also take one of the smallest cuts of 16%. The clear, colourless spirit is collected from the stills between 72% and 68% to give them the rich, oily spirit they are known for. They currently have 21 stills on the go - one wash still for every two spirit stills - but they have ordered 36 new stills from renowned local coppersmith Forsyth’s of Rothes for their brand new distillery. To The Macallan, wood is a vital ingredient, to such an extent that they spend heavily on sourcing, building, seasoning and caring for their casks. On average they spend around £42 million a year on oak. Over time they have purchased forests in Europe and America in order to ensure a supply of a quality product to the extent they will even sherry-season the oak themselves.
They fill around 20% of spirit into bourbon casks and the rest into exsherry casks. 80% of sherry casks coming into Scotland are for Macallan. They tend to use them only once, at most twice, hence the expense, but the end result is how they have wowed the whisky world. The Macallan distillery is looking ahead to the future with its ‘Hills’, a state-of the-art distillery which will not only make a bold architectural statement upon completion (aimed for spring 2018) but will also enable them to increase their current production from 10-12 million litres per annum to a hefty 15 million litres per annum. The new distillery is designed to blend into the landscape and from its appearance while under construction it will, and all for only a £100 million. A drop in the ocean compared to the oak bill! Their current stills won’t go to waste, as they will be used for experimental runs, which will avoid taking time away from creating The Macallan whisky we all know today. A visit is a must, especially if you are a fan. Upon opening the car-door you are immediately whisked away with the beautiful aroma of The Macallan coming to life, and the informative and entertaining tour that follows tells you everything you need to know about what is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s great single malt whiskies.
By Suzanne Redmond
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An exploration that takes us on a fascinating journey through The Macallan.
ARTISTS IMPRESSION THE MACALLAN DISTILLERY AND VISITORS CENTRE
82 THE AMBASSADOR
GLENLIVET RISES TO THE CHALLENGE The Scotch whisky industry has moved on since the days of tartan tins and bagpipes; whisky drinkers are increasingly looking for something new and exciting, and distillers are expected to do more than push out their core expressions.
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his is the era of cask strength, counting phenol parts per million and impatiently awaiting the next A’bunadh release. And craft. Craft has undoubtedly been the word on the lips of many a drinks enthusiast in recent years. I challenge you to find a definition of craft that there is anything near consensus on – it’s a heated topic among smaller alcohol producers – but the common theme is a level of attention to detail and the need for individuals to have a drinking experience that is special, unique even. An obvious contender for fulfilling this desire is the wave of distilleries popping up all over Scotland in recent years. Many of them are independent, with a level of flexibility
and autonomy often unafforded the larger distilleries. Small scale production is standard, making experimentation and innovation the norm, filling the gaps created by the more established producers. There’s no doubt about it; distilleries opened, or indeed reopened, in the past decade or so have done the industry a service in helping to shake off the stuffy, oldfashioned mantel of years gone by. Through the course of my day job, I am often asked for my opinion. As a Brand Ambassador for a big player in the industry, people expect me to be sceptical about – even critical of – our younger competitors. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Creativity and competition is vital for Scotch Whisky as a category. Without it, the spirit we know and
By Sinea Weintz
love wouldn’t exist. We can’t let ourselves be complacent and risk stagnation. But it’s very easy for me to say that from the comfort of my laptop. Brands like The Glenlivet have a reputation stretching back centuries. Changing tack would risk being seen as abandoning the whisky’s fan base (who, let’s not forget, helped to get the malt to number one in the world!) An overhaul of the core range or a deviation from the house style would be suicide. It’s simply not an option. Single cask bottlings have long since been one way of providing this unique tasting experience. But their higher price points and sporadic availability just don’t cut it for the average malt explorer… Enter, the Nadurra range. The Glenlivet Nadurra has been around for about as long as I’ve been in the industry and was originally an early response to demand for innovation and authenticity. At the start of my whisky journey in the bustling Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, I had little knowledge of the product other than a vague awareness that the “cool kids” raved about it. Nowadays, in the jaded cynicism
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of my mid-twenties, I’d probably refer to these people as hipsters but, either way, they were onto something more widespread in their search for authenticity. Coming from the Scottish Gaelic word for “natural”, Nadurra was originally a 16-year-old expression of The Glenlivet, bottled at cask strength and non-chillfiltered – before the term became the industry buzzword that it is today. Side-note: if you want to make it sound like you know about whisky without having to say much, ask someone what they think about chillfilltration. Then sit back. The Nadurra mission was simple: bring drinkers as close to the distillery experience as possible. Apart from standard filtration to remove any debris from the cask (because sipping a whisky full of splinters is probably going too far in your search for authenticity), the whisky hasn’t been altered in any way. Fast forward to the present day and Nadurra now comprises a range of three whiskies: Nadurra First Fill Selection, Nadurra Oloroso and Nadurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish. All whiskies in the range are small batch, cask strength, non-chillfiltered –
happen at a fixed rate and for whom the small differences in colour and flavour between bottlings are to be pursued and analysed. Nadurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish epitomises this. The spirit is distilled in the exact same way as all Glenlivet spirit: no peat, with the typically delicate flavour and quintessential pineapple notes. Actually, the journey of the spirit is pretty much typical for a Scotch whisky – until the final stages of maturation. This is when the spirit is rested in casks which have previously held a heavily peated whisky. Now, I’ll be honest: I was sceptical at first. From an innovation point of view, I loved the concept. I am partial
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to a smoky whisky – but I was worried that this wouldn’t stand up to whiskies peated in the traditional method. Now, if you ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you that I like to be right; on this occasion, however, I was thrilled to be wrong. The delicate aroma of The Glenlivet allows for the smoke to penetrate the spirit without dominating. On the nose, we’re talking red apples, citrus zest and, of course, smoke. On the palate, the citrus follows through, with notes of marmalade, vanilla toffee and a spicy, smoky finish. For me, the options that a cask strength whisky presents are nearly endless. I can choose to cut the whisky
with however much or little water that I like, meaning I have a different taste experience nearly every time I drink it! With the Nadurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish, this is particularly evident. A small glug of water gives me something soothing and warming after a brisk winter jog, whilst the intensity of the uncut whisky holds its own alongside a meal. Scapa has gone down a similar route with Scapa Glansa. Released in October, this expression steers the Orcadian malt away from its usual unpeated style. On the nose, the whisky is fruity and sweet. Peaches and pears intermingle with bonfire smoke. The palate is subtler, again
orchard fruits and peach notes. The finish is where the smoke takes centre stage, lingering with a salted caramel undertone. Bottled at the standard 40% ABV, Glansa is arguably the more approachable of the two – particularly if I’m looking at sharing a bottle with some whisky newcomers. The smoke is lighter and the vanilla notes from the bourbon cask maturation really hold their own. When I first tried the Glansa, I was pleasantly surprised at how different it was from the peated Nadurra. It’s often said that a whisky’s flavour
comes from the cask it has been in but this is only part of the story. Every distillery has its own characteristics and, for me, understanding Scotch whisky is all about understanding the relationship between these characteristics and those brought by the cask. Using peated whisky casks has added a whole new dimension to this. But is this enough to keep up with the experimentation and creativity of our nimbler cousins? With a reputation to uphold, things may take a little longer in the pipeline – but we’re catching up. In my book,
newcomers to the industry are always welcome. Larger distillers need to be kept on their toes – this is the way to ensure the whisky industry keeps evolving and stays on top.
Sinea ﬁrst started out in the whisky industry at the tender age of eighteen. A self-confessed whisky geek who managed to get away with writing a master’s dissertation on Scotch whisky distilleries, she still can’t quite believe that she gets paid to talk about whisky all day. Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:
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@SineaTheGuardian @SineaTheGuardian @GuardianSinea
The Glenlivet Nadurra has been around for about as long as I’ve been in the industry and was originally an early response to demand for innovation and authenticity.
” 09/02/2017 21:32
By Suzanne Redmond
Still Game? An interview with Richard Forsyth Last month we at The Cask Magazine were privileged to chat with Richard Forsyth, the man behind the beautiful copper stills we see all over the world.
alking into Forsyth’s in the village of Rothes at the heart of the Speyside whisky-making region, not sure what to expect, I was delighted to meet an affable, unassuming and shrewd business man. Richard is a third-generation coppersmith, and now with his son – Richard Junior - getting heavily involved in the business they are looking forward to the future with confidence. When asked, they both had nothing but appreciation for what the other brought to the business, and this theme sung out with all who work there. Richard Forsyth is an interesting man, if time had allowed I could have happily listened to him long into the night. As I said he is a shrewd and extremely successful man, maintaining and growing a business for future generations. So much
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so on his recent landmark 65th birthday he still got up and went to work, not because he wants control, but because he loves the business. He has so many fascinating stories you can see why his eyes light up when talking about it. He also loves golf and would like more time on the course but his passion and care for the business drives him. Richard also cares for Rothes, where he grew up and still resides, but he has seen great change occur in this quaint village, not all of them good. Instead of letting it take its course, Richard jumped in to retrieve one of the village’s landmarks and that is the old Station Hotel. As a child he remembers Rolls Royce’s pulling up outside it, bringing wealthy fishing clientele to the nearby River Spey, but up to a few years ago it had fallen into real disrepair. He bought it and endeavoured to bring back its glory, and he has most
certainly succeeded. Even if it threw quite a number of costly obstacles at him, he quotes “I have the shampoo in my hair, I will have to wash it now.” A charming quote from a memorable client of Richard’s who started a distillery not quite realising how much it entailed. I did have to ask, when or do you ever see yourself retiring, given that his own father retired when he was sixty. “Possibly 2018 when we have the Macallan project fully completed I will start to taper off.” ‘The Macallan Project’ involves supplying no fewer than 36 stills and other whiskymaking equipment to the vast new Macallan distillery construction project a few miles from Rothes at Easter Elchies. Richard’s passion is still so fresh that I doubt he will ever fully retire, but that’s no harm when you are doing something you love. As part of his ‘retirement’ he plans to visit each and every distillery
PATIENCE ISN’T JUST A VIRTUE, IT’S AN INGREDIENT TIME HONOURED
C E L E B R AT E W I T H G L E N SCOT I A D O U B L E C A S K ‘WHISKY OF THE YEAR’ GLEN SCOTIA DOUBLE CASK
WHISKY OF THE YEAR Scottish Field
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GLEN SCOTIA VICTORIANA
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNER San Francisco World Spirits Competition
GLEN SCOTIA 15 YEAR OLD
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNER San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Please enjoy responsibly
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He is a shrewd and extremely successful man, maintaining and growing a business for future generations.
” 09/02/2017 21:32
the company has ever worked on. That in itself is a formidable undertaking, given he has built stills for hundreds of projects all over the world, whether it is whisky, whiskey, bourbon, rum, tequila, gin, you name it, if it uses a still Richard was probably there. Plus, he has to add all the new ones coming online not only from our wonderful Emerald Isle but all across the globe. Did I mention he started working summer jobs when he was 13 or 14 years of age? Over fifty years later there is no slowing this man down. I was also curious to know which were his favourite and least favourite projects over the years, but he had no real negatives. That’s not to say there were no problems, but there was never a project he wished would end or he would have liked to walk away from. As for his favourite, he’s still mulling that one over, though he did say he loved working on Kavalan in Taiwan and Ballindalloch although they were ‘turn-key’ projects they both had a hold on him. Not least Ballindalloch which arouse over a glass of wine on the 19th hole at Ballindalloch Castle Golf Club. Oliver, the owner of the historic Ballindalloch Estate, had some old rundown cow sheds, I hesitate to use the term ‘shed,’ as they are large and made out of solid stone. Today Ballindalloch is possibly one of the most beautiful, clean and elegant distilleries that I have had not only the privilege to visit but also to spend the day at making whisky. Check them out, as you can also make whisky with them. I will tell you more about them another day, but like Boann in the Boyne Valley they both stole a bit of my heart. A little history of the Forsyth’s. Alexander Forsyth, Richard’s grandfather, started as an apprentice to become a fully-fledged coppersmith for Robert Willison in the 1890s, eventually buying the business off Robert Willison when he retired in 1933. After the Second World War his son Ernest, known as ‘Toot,’ took over the running of the business, bringing in new and modern ways of practice, although today there is still a considerable amount of physical work involved. Forsyth’s were not always making stills; with US prohibition and more recent downturns in the economy, especially during the 1980s, they transferred their skills to the gas and oil industry. Even today they are still involved, but with the surge in the spirits industry they are now
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operating around 70/30 in favourite of drink-related work, whereas during the bad times it was 30/70. Today people are queuing up for stills and after asking if the rumours were true that they would have to wait three years or more, Richard wanted to set the record straight that indeed they were busy and work was pouring in. The wait is nowhere near that long, however, less than a year for small distilleries and at worst fifteen to eighteen months for big projects. For instance, they have an order from a patron for eighty-one stills. That’s before you include Middleton, Macallan, Glenfiddich and Glenivet, though Richard is keen to do as much as he can for all and has an exceptional workforce who work very long days (starting at 7.30am, eek!) He has around fifty coppersmiths, of whom ten to fifteen are apprentices, as he says he would love more but you can’t just put out an ad. There is a
serious amount of skill needed and an apprenticeship is a must, but also takes time. A quick note on ‘The Station Hotel.’ I would highly recommend staying, dining and imbibing there. I have seen the rooms, but I have yet to stay. They are luxurious with no expense spared. As for dining, they have casual dining in the bar named after Richard’s father, ‘Toot’s Bar,’ and a more formal dining room. Both of them use the best quality locally-sourced ingredients. Each time I have dined there I have polished off my plate with a smile. They also have a fantastic whisky bar with a list so long you will never wish to leave the cosy, salubrious surroundings. Don’t tell Richard, but he is very fair with his prices which in this day and age is a rarity, especially in a beautiful hotel. To give you a hint at the length of the list, they have sixty gins alone in the whisky bar, so that might give you an insight into how many there are.
90 RAMPUR INTERVIEW
RAMPUR An Interview With Mr. Sanjeev Banga
up 25 years ago. So, we have been distilling and ageing malt since then. Apart from producing Whisky, Brandy, and Rum, we are one of the largest producers of Vodka in the world.
When was Rampur Distillery founded? Rampur Distillery was founded in 1943 in the North of India in a place called Rampur. We have been in this business since then. Today we produce thirteen million litres of alcohol per month and this makes us the largest in Asia. We do molasses, grain and malt distillation. The malt distillery was set
Tell me about your Single Malt Whisky? Only recently our Master Blender has decided that our Single Malt is the expression that we want to introduce to the world. We wanted it to be simple yet elegant. The brand name was the easiest concept as we decided to name it after the City of Rampur. The packaging comes in an embroidered silk pouch, which adds to the authenticity of the product. We showcased it to the world in Las Vegas in February (2016). It is now available in twelve countries. We are very proud of our
ohn Burke traveled to London where he had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Sanjeev Banga, President of International Business at Radico Khaitan Ltd. Radico Khaitan Ltd. is one the worldâ€™s largest producers of distilled alcohol and is the producer of several world leading brands such as Contessa Rum and Morpheus Brandy
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heritage and we want this to be seen in our product. Will you have additional expression in the future? The Single Malt is our core expression, so we are focusing on this. We donâ€™t want to complicate life for our new consumers. In the future we will be introducing more expressions but we are in no hurry. What are your plans for the European market? We are now in the UK and the response has been tremendous so far and we have interest from Germany, Sweden, Belgium, and Poland. We are rolling out to other European markets as well.
We have pretty greedy angels in India
Did you meet any roadblocks in your quest to produce a Single Malt? No, not really any roadblocks. The ageing and maturing process is much faster in India than in Ireland or Scotland because of the weather conditions. The temperature in summer can go up to forty eight degrees and in winter it goes down to zero. Because of these weather conditions - the interaction between the wood and the alcohol is more intense. We have pretty greedy angels in India. We see the angles take about twelve per cent per year. Do you think that this twelve percent Angels Share will be an impediment
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to producing a long aged whisky? No, we will need to control the temperature a little bit from the extremes but this should lend to the beauty of the whisky. What is the next stage for Rampur? We feel our Single Malt, especially the spiciness on the palate, portrays its origin. We want to concentrate on our product and our customers. We wish to open new markets and increase awareness of India’s whisky. I personally love this whisky and I am very proud of this as a product of India.
COCKTAILS Manhattan 2 Shots Bourbon, Rye, or Canadian Whiskey
1/2 Shot Sweet Red Vermouth
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Whisky Sour 2 Shots Bourbon Whiskey
Squeeze of Lemon
Orange or Lemon Rind
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Old Fashioned 2 Shots Bourbon Whiskey
2 Dashes Bitters
Dash of Plain Water
Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry
HOT TODDY Hot Water 2 Teaspoons Honey 1 Teaspoons Brown Sugar 3 Cloves Squeeze of Lemon Blended Whiskey A Big Mug Cinnamon Stick
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Come and see how we make whiskey, here in Dingle
Pot Still Irish Whiskey
Artisan Pot Still Gin & Vodka
We’d love to see you, so here’s how you can contact us to arrange a tour:
Distillery Tours Daily: March - September 12pm, 2pm & 4pm October - February 12pm & 2pm
Tel. 086 777 555 1 email: email@example.com Facebook: The Dingle Whiskey DisTillery
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On IN THE NEXT ISSUE... We explore the world of Midleton. We continue ‘How Its Made’ with a focus on Grain. In ‘On The Cask’ we fill our glasses with another 15 drams. Gavin D. Smith continues his tour of Scotland with a visit to Campbelltown. The Cask Team is joined by a mixoligist to explore the world of whiskey cocktails. In ‘The Bar’ we pay an undercover visit to one of Scotlands best known Whisky Bars. In a world exclusive we visit Dublin’s Liberties Distillery during its construction phase. We continue our journey around the world with part two of ‘Around The World In 24 Drams’ We send Suzanne Redmond back to Scotland to interview one of the Industries best known personalities.
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SEE OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS... #TheCask @TheCaskMagazine www.thecaskmagazine.com
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Where hope & history rhyme Bernard Walsh is hands on in his quest for hope and history to rhyme for Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak - the home of The Irishman and Writers Tears premium craft Irish whiskeys.
Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Royal Oak, Carlow, Ireland. Producers of premium craft Irish whiskeys - The Irishman and Writers Tears.
DISCOVER THE INTRIGUING TALE OF IRISH WHISKEY!
BOOK NOW! +353 (0) 1 525 0970 WWW.IRISHWHISKEYMUSEUM.IE 119 GRAFTON STREET, DUBLIN 2 (OPPOSITE MAIN ENTRANCE OF TRINITY COLLEGE)
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