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Outturn Beckoning: Friday 5 June Issue 06, 2020

ATTRACTIVE OPPOSITES Summer and winter, light and dark, old and young: enjoy a journey of beautiful contrasts by exploring our new selection of unique bottlings.

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CONTENTS Cellarmaster’s Note Andrew Derbidge.............................. 3

The Lindores Connection Scott Mansfield.................................. 20

Malt of the Month Cask 66.164 I like big butts..................................... 4

A trip to Oban Jenny Forrest...................................... 24

Your dram, your way Lachlan Watt ...................................... 18

Ambassador’s Address Matt Bailey............................................ 26 Events Virtual tasting details..................... 27

OUR BOTTLINGS JUICY, OAK & VANILLA

YOUNG & SPRITELY Cask No. 71.70 Rubbed with fragrant body oils .......................................

6

6

SPICY & SWEET Cask No. 20.25 (The Vaults Collection) My God, it’s full of stars! ........................................................

8

Cask No. 9.174 Strawberry jalapeno ice cream ........................................

9

DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS Cask No. 30.109 Strangely soothing ....................................................................

11

Cask No. 35.250 Bathing in brandy .....................................................................

11

OLD & DIGNIFIED Cask No. 24.139 (The Vaults Collection) Beauty beyond skin deep ...................................................... 2

14

LIGHTLY PEATED

SWEET, FRUITY & MELLOW Cask No. 134.7 A dreamer’s dram .....................................................................

Cask No. 52.31 I dream of creamy .....................................................................

12

Cask No. 108.20 Out’n’about .....................................................................................

14

Cask No. 93.121 Slubbing Billy and spotted dick ........................................

15

PEATED Cask No. 66.164 (Malt of the Month) I like big butts ...............................................................................

4

Cask No. 53.319 Back to the suture ......................................................................

15

RUM AND GIN Cask No. R1.5 A little extravagant ...................................................................

17

Cask No. GN3.3 Makes the medigin go down ...............................................

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CELLARMASTER’S NOTE Dear Members, Needless to say, the last few months have been “interesting” and have turned our world upside down. Some industries and sectors have continued on with minor inconvenience; many have adapted and adjusted to accommodate as best they can; and, sadly, some sectors have come to a grinding halt, putting many out of work. Many of our colleagues in the drinks industry have been badly affected with hospitality and on-premise trade being forced to shut down. Some elements of the drinks industry have evolved or side-stepped to operate within the current parameters, and the whisky scene has been particularly pro-active in this regard. Sample packs have been scrambled to facilitate online or virtual tastings and some of the events through Zoom have enabled us to “meet” and participate in hosted tastings that offer most elements of a regular tasting event, with the convenience of staying at home!

Whilst online tastings yield the opportunity to taste the whisky and listen to the host/ presenter on our phones or screens at home, I concede there is a big ingredient missing, and it’s that sense of gathering. The pure and simple energy of a social event and enjoying the company of like-minded people. It is actually a major tenet that defines our branch! When the Australian branch launched here in 2002, there were several international branches of the Society at the time that were little more than mail-order catalogue operations. One of the key foundation stones of our branch was the notion of holding meetings and tastings where we would enjoy malts, conviviality, and company.

The Society has been particularly active in this space, holding several online events that many members have participated in and enjoyed. It’s making the best of a bad situation, and I acknowledge there are some elements that do have appeal. (Such as no taxi or Uber fare home afterwards!!) Something that I’ve wondered about and pondered over is to what extent will things return to “how they were” when this eventually blows over, and what COVID-19 habits or behaviour will we cling to or maintain? The realm of online/virtual tastings is an interesting one, because there are clearly some benefits that members will probably want to continue enjoying. For example, for those who live outside the capital cities and can’t make it to our main tasting events, the sample packs and virtual tastings have been brilliant ways to engage with the Society and participate. I can see genuine merit and appeal in still running the occasional online event once normality returns.

I, for one, look forward tremendously to being able to don the kilt again and hosting regular events once more – sharing whiskies, stories, facts, and fun. Not to mention getting out, travelling to other cities, and catching up with members around the country again.

Andrew Derbidge ~ Director, Cellarmaster & NSW Manager

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MALT OF THE MONTH Peated whisky has a certain punch and brilliance at a young age, and when extra-matured in a vibrant sherry butt, it makes for a unique and fascinating taste. Distillery 66 is a consistently peated new make and tremendous fun, and this cask 66.164 I like big butts was not only a member favourite in the UK, but you can tell the panel had some fun with this one, too.

REGION

Highland

I LIKE BIG BUTTS

CASK TYPE

2nd fill sherry butt

AGE

7 years

PEATED

DATE DISTILLED

25 April 2012

CASK NO. 66.164

OUTTURN

623 bottles

ABV

61.8%

AUS ALLOCATION

36 bottles

$149.00

REDUCED FROM $170

4

SPE FIN CIAL ISH

A big initial bluster of autumn leaves on fire, twiglets dipped in marmite, barley in a feedbag and a pleasingly dirty edge. Some cider vinegar and the sweetness of molasses alongside hay, balsamic vinegar, noble rot grapes and cinnamon balls. Reduction brings out mixed spices, hunting schnapps, green wood, malt loaf, rosewater and hints of silage and tobacco leaf. Some smouldering chimney smoke in the background. The palate is big, sweet and smoky. A deep and unctuous curdle of stem ginger, coffee grounds, dark chocolate and green walnuts. More cinnamon notes, hay bales, lemon pith and a complex sooty aspect. With water there’s peanut brittle, bitter chocolate, brown sugar, cherry liqueur and a lingering wisp of oily peat. Matured for five years in an American oak oloroso sherry butt before being transferred to a European oak oloroso sherry butt.


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RUBBED WITH FRAGRANT BODY OILS

REGION

Speyside

CASK TYPE

1st fill bourbon barrel

AGE

7 years

DATE DISTILLED

1 November 2011

YOUNG & SPRITELY

OUTTURN

254 bottles

CASK NO. 71.70

ABV

61.8%

AUS ALLOCATION

12 bottles

$165.00

Perfumed aromas suggested rose-scented soap and bath time in a flower garden whilst creamy notes delivered vanilla and coconut over dried apples and apricots. A wave of caramel flooded the palate before being invigorated by hot chillies and ginger. Then warm fudge emerged and softened alongside chamomile tea and orange blossom. Water brought out more of a scented caress as talcum powder unified with rose and lavender body oils. A sprinkling of nutmeg joined demerara sugar and sherbet along with vanilla sponge cake and pink icing. Finally, pineapple and rhubarb crumble arrived with plenty of custard as we relaxed with a finish that perfectly balanced sweet fruits and chocolate with dry tannins and coconut husk.

REGION

Goa, India

CASK TYPE

2nd fill bourbon barrel

AGE

5 years

SWEET, FRUITY & MELLOW

DATE DISTILLED

31 January 2014

CASK NO. 134.7

OUTTURN

215 bottles

ABV

61.0%

AUS ALLOCATION

30 bottles

A DREAMER’S DRAM $329.00

This was a nosing dram with an initial puff of mild sweet spice, followed by black peppercorns crushed in one’s fingers and fried plantains with a squeeze of lime. Sweet and spice and all things nice on the palate neat, like a grilled tuna steak with an Asian sesame crust using freshly grated ginger and lime juice alongside soy sauce. Diluted we imagined sitting on Mobor beach in south Goa at sunset smoking a perfumed shisha pipe and having a slice of rum-soaked gateau with dark chocolate shavings. A tranquil, peaceful and beautiful rich experience which transported us to another realm, climate, world even. 6


7


MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF STARS! SPICY & SWEET CASK NO. 20.25

$1199.00

Limit of one bottle per Member. Ballot entry bottling. To enter the ballot go to bit.ly/smws2025

We have passed through the stargate into another dimension of flavours is the first line of the tasting notes from the Tasting Panel. That line couldn’t be more apt. Some whiskies are almost literally time machines, reaching into other eras, other worlds, other dimensions, and this 20.25 My God, it’s full of stars! is right up there. A true rarity, being a thirty year old single cask whisky from a long-gone distillery in the history of time. Founded in 1936 and fully decommissioned in 1991, this timecapsule of a cask represents a different era of whisky from this Lowland distillery. While the distillery no longer exists, its stills now live on at the Waterford distillery in Ireland.

8


REGION

Lowland

CASK TYPE

Refill bourbon barrel

AGE

30 years

DATE DISTILLED

28 February 1989

OUTTURN

128 bottles

ABV

47.5%

AUS ALLOCATION

6 bottles

PR REL EMIU EAS M E TH COL E VA LEC ULTS TIO N

We have passed through the stargate into another dimension of flavours. A madness of high esters confronts us. Pear drops, bubblegum, juicy fruits, fruit salad juice, pineapple gummy bears and foam banana sweeties. With water it moves towards sweet herbal liqueurs, chamomile, fizzy sherbet, ancient Jamaican rums, lemon oils, sweet tar extracts and warm greenhouses. The taste is otherworldly. Toasted peach stones, champagne cocktails, key lime jelly, almond extracts, coconut water, lime leaf, toasted wood spices and tea tree oil. A splash of dilution and there’s sandalwood embers, olive oil, gorse bush, creamy coconut macaroon and final, pyroclastic thrust of grassy, fruity esters. Unlike any other type of whisky. An intergalactic thrill-ride in the starship of your choice!

STRAWBERRY JALAPENO ICE CREAM SPICY & SWEET CASK NO. 9.174

$199.00

IAL SPECISH N FI

REGION

Speyside

CASK TYPE

1st fill charred red wine barrique

AGE

15 years

DATE DISTILLED

2 March 2004

OUTTURN

270 bottles

ABV

55.0%

AUS ALLOCATION

30 bottles

The aroma reminded one of us of cooking a venison steak in a red wine chocolate sauce whilst another would enjoy it watching an intense rugby match between Bordeaux and the Glasgow Warriors. To taste, we were all at the after-game party with plenty of well-aged Lambic wheat beer (having lost some of its sourness and acquired a vinous bittersweet flavour with dark fruits in the background). Diluted we ordered ginger beer ice cream floats and had no churn strawberry jalapeno ice cream; sweet, spicy matched by a cool creaminess. After 13 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead we transferred this whisky into a 1st fill charred red wine barrique.

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10


STRANGELY SOOTHING

REGION

Speyside

CASK TYPE

1st fill sherry butt

AGE

12 years

DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS

DATE DISTILLED

6 June 2007

CASK NO. 30.109

OUTTURN

634 bottles

ABV

64.9%

AUS ALLOCATION

30 bottles

$220.00

Take off your slippers, the open fire has nearly gone out but the embers are still glowing. Everything which needed to be said has already been said, so light up a cigar and let the day come slowly to an end. Big and powerful it almost takes your breath away as you savour your last one before bed. Water added toasted almonds, cinnamon rolls, ginger cake, chilli chocolate and Turkish coffee on the nose but still powerful on the palate with herbal, tangy and rich dry fruit cake. Yet right at the end there is the sweetness of the chocolate waiting on your pillow.

REGION

Speyside

CASK TYPE

1st fill bourbon barrel

AGE

23 years

DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS

DATE DISTILLED

27 October 1995

CASK NO. 35.250

OUTTURN

210 bottles

ABV

53.4%

AUS ALLOCATION

12 bottles

BATHING IN BRANDY $340.00

Aromas greeted us with the soothing nature of a hot bath as honeysuckle and butterscotch fused with spicy nutmeg and dark chocolate. Rich and soft fruits embraced ripe melon, banana and guava whilst light flickered on the water from heavy wax candles. On the tongue it was vanilla, coconut and maple syrup that emerged first, closely followed by nougat, caramel and custard. Flavours became even more juicy with water, as ripe pears joined mango and watermelon before oak aged cider married with cola cubes and marzipan. Finally, sultanas soaked in a bath of brandy blended with the big spices of nutmeg and cinnamon and led onto a finish that appeared to be never-ending. 11


KNOWN BEYOND ALL OTHERS LTS AU TION V E TH LLEC CO

M MIU SE E R A P ELE R

Some distilleries are made for blends. Some are made for single malts. Some are known far and wide. But there is one distillery that is known beyond all others. And that is distillery 24. Ask any whisky drinker which distillery produces probably the best sherried whiskies in the world, and their answer is almost always going to come back to this distillery. Positioned on the iconic Easter Elchies estate, their new £140m distillery site may look like something straight out of a science fiction epic, but it wasn’t always that way. Cask 24.139 Beauty beyond skin deep is a relic of a time long gone. A moment in sherried whisky history from a single cask that hails from the king of sherried whisky distilleries. Something truly rare, truly special, and truly to be shared with the best of company.

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BEAUTY BEYOND SKIN DEEP OLD & DIGNIFIED CASK NO. 24.139

$2,950.00

Limit of one bottle per Member

REGION

Speyside

CASK TYPE

Refill sherry butt

AGE

30 years

DATE DISTILLED

12 May 1989

OUTTURN

559 bottles

ABV

46.9%

AUS ALLOCATION

12 bottles

It quivers in golden, glistening stillness to begin. But it climbs up the glass. Slow and sure. Breakfast is served! Maple bacon, pancake batter, cranberry gravy, chocolate chip cookie dough in mid-bake. Some musty oranges, tempered by uber-ripe cantaloupe melon. We’re a long way from the days of old for this distillery, but we’re also closer to its true, stodgy, thick and loveable heart. Water gives us golden sultanas, fruit load, seed breads and toasty, buttery, comforting warmth. A glow of golden syrup comes drizzling from on high. In the mouth it rolls in like a wave of sweetened squirty cream. Syrups, dark fruit extracts, brown sugar caramelising in a pan with butter. Warm brioche, croissants freshly liberated from a hot oven, hazelnut chocolate spread, earthy, subtle wood spices and little teaspoons of treacle. Water lifts up the earth, the forest freshness, the dusty rafters and the tobacco pouches. It’s all rather emotional in the end. What was, what is and what’s been lost... 13


I DREAM OF CREAMY JUICY, OAK & VANILLA CASK NO. 52.31

$230.00

REGION

Highland

CASK TYPE

1st fill Sauternes barrique

AGE

12 years

DATE DISTILLED

21 March 2007

OUTTURN

240 bottles

ABV

58.7%

AUS ALLOCATION

24 bottles

CIAL SPE NISH FI

A dense and creamy nose! Custard creams, cream horns, Sauternes drizzled over quivering custard puddings and notes of butter, lychee and some squirty cream from a bottle. There’s also coastal wildflowers, sandalwood, Fruit Chew sweeties and some tart cider apple notes. With water there’s peached pears in syrup, mashed banana on granary toast, sweet old cider, fondant icing and banana liqueur with faint note of linseed oil and smoked lemon rind. The palate is similarly sweet and viscous but balanced by some grippy tannin and a wonderfully dense texture. Notes of petrol, glycerol, slated caramel, tonka beans and a fatty vanilla note. Reduction offers notes of golden sultanas, mincemeat, orange peel, pink grapefruit, Earl Grey tea and some citric tartness to keep things lively. Matured for 11 years in a bourbon hogshead before being transferred to a first-fill Sauternes barrique.

REGION

Speyside

OUT’N’ABOUT

CASK TYPE

2nd fill bourbon barrel

AGE

7 years

LIGHTLY PEATED

DATE DISTILLED

3 November 2011

CASK NO. 108.20

OUTTURN

240 bottles

ABV

63.0%

AUS ALLOCATION

12 bottles

$155.00

We imagined walking up Ben Rinnes with the smell of recently burnt heather still in the air, but at the same time a little sweetness of honey as well as lavender. On the palate we reached the top, enjoyed the 360 degree view to the Cairngorms and the Moray coastline as we tucked into pork scratchings with sweet smoked paprika followed by peat-roasted marshmallows. After a drop of water we prepared for the descent as at the bottom friends were waiting with peat smoked strawberries dipped in chocolate and a glass of refreshing fizzy apple pear lemon juice - the perfect day out! 14


SLUBBING BILLY AND SPOTTED DICK

REGION

Campbeltown

CASK TYPE

1st fill bourbon barrel

AGE

10 years

LIGHTLY PEATED

DATE DISTILLED

26 March 2009

CASK NO. 93.121

OUTTURN

208 bottles

ABV

59.7%

AUS ALLOCATION

24 bottles

$199.00

*an old-fashioned mechanical apparatus for twisting cotton or wool threads **a British pudding made with suet and dried fruit

An interesting nose - cheap chocolate and puff candy at seaside fairgrounds, pumpkin seed oil, an apothecary and a retired Slubbing Billy*. There’s also a hint of smoke if you persevere. The palate definitely gets ash and medicinal smoke but it’s reasonably urbane and perfectly counterpoints the cascade of sweetness in the mouth (Crunchie bars, marshmallows in a chocolate fountain). The reduced nose finds creosote, burnt twigs dipped in honey, fruit slice, spotted dick** and well-fired rolls. The reduced palate is a great balance of chocolate bun sweetness with all the make’s characteristic masculinity, tar, oak, spice and restrained smoke.

REGION

Islay

CASK TYPE

Refill bourbon hogshead

BACK TO THE SUTURE

AGE

13 years

DATE DISTILLED

18 July 2006

OUTTURN

261 bottles

PEATED

ABV

58.2%

AUS ALLOCATION

42 bottles

CASK NO. 53.319

$229.00

ILE FEISTIVAL FES

A hearty fusion of cough syrups and peated armagnac! Add to this lemon-infused olive oil, sardines in brine and many surreptitious hospital aromas peeping around the corner. A trip to the body shop (car and human variety), WD40 sprayed over an oyster, fish sauce and Thai basil, then a smouldering pot of kedgeree smothered in lashings of petrol. Water gives it a rather botanical set of aromatics, smouldering flowers, grist, smoked cereals, star anise, jasmine tea, asparagus soup and medicated Vegemite. The palate opens with a blast of anthracite smoke, lime essence and an all-out assault of medicine, tinctures and ointments. Disinfectant soaked bandages swaddle the tongue! Some farmy cider apples and smoked salty mead notes. Waters gives us oily sheep wool, smoked peaches, raw seawater, malt vinegar-soaked newspaper and lemon-tinged disinfectant. Mighty stuff! 15


16


A LITTLE EXTRAVAGANT

REGION

Jamaica

CASK TYPE

New oak heavy char barrel

AGE

12 years

RUM

DATE DISTILLED

29 March 2007

CASK NO. R1.5

OUTTURN

194 bottles

ABV

62.8%

AUS ALLOCATION

24 bottles

$225.00

CIAL SPE NISH FI

The initial nose had plenty of solvent-like aromas such as nail polish remover and wood glue but as often happens over time, fruity, sweeter notes of pineapple and strawberries appeared. Astringent and fiery combining with a strong, salty liquorice finish made this a challenging proposition. Water to the rescue as well as time! Now we discovered cardamom, cloves, honey and hints of petrol (in a good way!) like one can encounter in fine aged Riesling wine. Now we imagined dipping salted dark chocolate cookies into a mug of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. After 11 years in an ex-bourbon barrel we transferred this rum into a new oak heavily charred barrel.

MAKES THE MEDIGIN GO DOWN

REGION

Hawick

CASK TYPE

2nd fill bourbon barrel

AGE

–

GIN

DATE DISTILLED

1 November 2018

CASK NO. GN3.3

OUTTURN

271 bottles

ABV

50.3%

AUS ALLOCATION

36 bottles

$110.00

An unusually earthy gin. Deep, rooty and lightly tarry. Full of liquorice, fisherman’s friends, vapour rubs, black pepper, menthol, gooseberry acidity and chalky minerality. Superbly fresh, clean and full of linens, wools, citrus pith and clay. Reduction brings out tart mango, grapefruit, pineapple juice and the potent petrichor scent of walking through a wet jungle. Surprisingly potent with further notes of overripe blood orange and crystallised lemon peel. The palate opens with vanilla beans, Turkish delight, orange segments, lime leaves, peppery cocktail bitters, arrowroot and soft medical tinctures. With water this morphs towards ginger in syrup, lemon and honey throat lozenges, bubblegum, wormwood, quinine and green tea full of strong honey. 17


BY LACHLAN WATT

YOUR DRAM, YOUR WAY Transparency is the key to enjoyment, however that is.

I

’ve spent years behind the bar serving some of the most incredible whiskies, from striking vintage Port Ellens to stunning young Aussie malts, and everything in between. I am thankful that throughout this time I have earned the trust and respect of my customers. It’s a level of trust from the whisky community earned over time with choosing an incredible blend or a young whisky. One thing that stumps me to this day is people’s hostility over whisky category, style, age and, the thing that frustrates me most – how it should be consumed. The greater community is still yet to grasp that whisky is something to be consumed and enjoyed with your friends, family and community, any way you choose. Want a whisky and cola? You got it. Want the best highball of your life, with a single cask, 20 year old Speyside? You bloody bet your bottom dollar.

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Share your time, your whisky and your knowledge. Share with people without diminishing their likes or dislikes, allow them to form their own opinions and appreciate them.

In my travels over to Scotland from Melbourne, it was an encounter with a bartender in Edinburgh that made this matter painfully apparent to me. I was belittled and patronised for enjoying a single cask, peated whisky with soda after a long day of work. It felt awful! I respect this industry and want to encourage its growth to create a healthy, accessible community. I was made to feel like sharing my infatuation of whisky with others is wasted, as whisky is only for those who want to place it on a pedestal. A difficult situation to deal with. At that point in time I happened to be with those people I wanted to drink and share these sensational drams with, from incredible single cask Taiwanese drams all the way to the consistently great Johnnie Walker Black. Yet, I felt uncomfortable. Since this encounter I have been ruminating on this, and how I could never, ever make a person who is excited about whisky feel this way. I am not in the wrong to enjoy an SMWS single cask Ledaig in a highball. I will allow my customer to have a dash of cola in his single cask Ardbeg. This is where the industry needs to get to. I believe that this stigma comes from the dishonesty of marketing, the curse that plagues the greater whisky industry. The only way to break through this is transparency, communication and, finally, sharing! Transparency is so crucial to the whisky that I enjoy presently. Any producer/bottlers that can tell me what I, as a consumer, need to know to understand what I am tasting and how these flavours are created. From mash bill to cask types and length of finishes. Even, for some whiskies, different maturation environments.

This level of communication can work on many levels, from producer to server, server to customer, customer to friend or person to person. It can be a communication of flavour, knowledge, or, just plainly, likes and dislikes. Each person will experience their whisky differently and has every right to enjoy it in their own way. Having the outlet to express your excitement and enjoyment genuinely, and without the threat of judgement, is crucial to the communication needed to allow this stigma to come to an end. The final way for us to allow this industry to seem less daunting and overwhelming to new whisky enthusiasts is sharing. Share your time, your whisky and your knowledge while entwined in conversation. Sharing is so very important and crucial to the entire culture surrounding whisky. Share with those you love and enjoy spending time with, and to drink to their collective health. Share with people without diminishing their likes or dislikes, allow them to form their own opinions and appreciate them. The Society has upheld these “commandments”, (if you will), for quite some time. They have provided a platform for people to experience whisky, their way. So I implore you, going forward, don’t be the Scottish judgemental bartender I encountered. Be kind and transparent. Communicate and share to the health of your friends, the health of your family, and the health of the whisky industry. Slàinte mhath! LACHLAN IS THE BAR MANAGER AT WHISKY & ALEMENT, ONE OF THE SOCIETY’S PREMIUM PARTNER BARS IN OUR NETWORK. 19


BY SCOTT MANSFIELD, QLD MANAGER

LINDORES ABBEY Queensland Manager Scott Mansfield is a first generation Australian. On his mother’s side, he can trace his family’s connection to Newburgh, Fife in Scotland back to the 1600’s. There’s no doubt his family ties extend further back in the recesses of time.

T

here’s not much new about Newburgh. Generation after generation of its good folk have gone about their business as the River Tay flowed by out to the North Sea. For centuries, the heart of the community was Lindores Abbey. King Alexander III had granted authority over the new burgh (town) to the Abbott in 1266. The Abbey’s orchards were famed throughout the land and its fertile fields proved most productive, yielding bountiful crops of barley. Not surprisingly, at least five kings enjoyed the monks’ hospitality on their travels. This is where our friend, Friar John Cor, comes into the story. 20

In 1494 it is recorded in the Royal Exchequer Rolls that King Henry IV had commissioned “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.” Aqua Vitae, water of life, or in Scottish Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’. Thus, Lindores Abbey is the site of the first reference to making of the distilled spirit which came to be known as Scottish whisky. Religious turmoil in the 16th Century saw the Abbey abandoned and fall into ruin. Whilst each year the people of Newburgh continued to tend to the orchards and harvest the barley, the art of distillation was lost to this part of Scotland.


THAT IS UNTIL ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO. Almost 500 years after Lindores Abbey went into decline, a new distillery has been built. Drew Mackenzie-Smith, fourth generation custodian of the Abbey’s ruins, has brought whisky distillation back to life at Lindores. Mackenzie-Smith’s Great Grandfather, John Howison, took over the tenancy of Parkhill Farm, adjacent to the Abbey’s ruins in 1905, and purchased Lindores Abbey Farm in 1913 for £3500. Parkhill now grows barley for the distillery. Following his Grandfather and Mother, Mackenzie-Smith assumed responsibility for running Lindores Abbey Farm in the mid70’s. The Abbey itself has changed over the last 100 years. Mackenzie-Smith’s Grandfather used the ruins as an extension of the farm and kept his bull in the ruins. However, the next two generations transformed the site so that it is very much manicured these days. The journey to rebuilding the distillery started with two events about 20 years ago. Whilst scrolling through a website called ‘Connoisseur Scotland’, Mackenzie-Smith came upon the reference to Friar John Cor for the first time. He decided to contact a whisky society and suggest that he was thinking of opening a small visitor centre (no distillery at that point). On contacting

a whisky society, Mackenzie-Smith was surprised at the enthusiasm of the response. The second event was a few months later, Mackenzie-Smith’s father was on the phone and he mentioned a gentleman turning up at the door asking if he could go for a wander in the abbey ruins. Drew says: “This never really happened as the ruins at that point were still just ‘our back garden’, but dad said it was fine and thought no more of it. Then six months later, he received a lovely book in the post called ‘Scotland and its whiskies’ and the chap was Michael Jackson, the great whisky writer. Inside he had written ‘To Ken, many thanks, turn to page 147’ and there was a lovely photo of the ruins and the chapter started ‘For the whisky-lover, it is a pilgrimage’ and he talks of walking around and saying a silent St Dionysian prayer to one Friar John Cor of Lindores Abbey.” After reading about Friar John Cor this way, Mackenzie-Smith did a great deal of research which was instrumental in helping him curate the interior historical elements of the visitor centre. It’s one thing to be custodian of an historic site linked to the origins of whisky in Scotland, but the leap to creating a new distillery was quite dramatic. The decision to build a distillery happened organically over a twenty year period.

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Mackenzie-Smith always felt that as a family they were hugely privileged to have the Abbey on his property and felt that it should have been more widely recognised for its historic importance. But being tucked away in a wee corner of Fife, he felt he was probably fighting a losing battle! “I used to receive quite a few messages, especially from the US where people were shocked that such an historic (in the whisky world) property was just neglected, and surely the Scottish Government should step in. They were never aggressive but just felt that, like Mt Vernon Distillery in the US, we should be like a national monument, but to be honest at that time, I was ploughing a lonely furrow and, whilst there was interest, no-one was going to put their hand in their pocket to help a small project like mine. And whilst I did raise some interest and bring out a couple of limited edition bottlings, nothing was really happening and my wife Helen and I decided we needed to leave it and get on with our lives and careers. And that’s exactly what we did for 15 years - and then I took a telephone call which changed everything. A friend from the industry (Ken Robertson, ex-Diageo) who had been extremely helpful first time around and who always ‘believed’ in Lindores, phoned out of the blue and said that he felt it was now or never for Lindores (this was now about six years ago). He said that with all the new distilleries springing up, I should seize the moment, carpe diem and all that, so that’s exactly what I did! Because I had twenty years to ‘prepare’, I was fortunate enough to meet a great many highly respected people from the industry who were hugely generous with their time and hard earned wisdom - Ken Robertson, Dr Alan Rutherford, Anthony Wills of Kilchoman, Richard Patterson of Dalmore, Keith Steel of Glenmorangie, really too many to mention but the main advisor once the project became a reality was the late Dr Jim Swan, he helped shape Lindores and working alongside Richard Forsyth (of Forsyth’s, 22

the Rolls Royce of Still makers!), we created a fantastic distillery producing an awardwinning NMS that will become whisky in December 2020. Jim was a friend, as well as a colleague and his tragic death occurred on the day we were going to have our topping out ceremony, it was a massive shock not only to us but the whole industry. He wasn’t so well known outside the whisky world but he was involved in a number of new and established distilleries where his knowledge, especially with regard to maturation, helped create some great whiskies Kavalan springs to mind. Jim helped shape our cask and spirit profile but Gary Haggart (ex-Cragganmore), our Distillery Manager, has taken it to a new level, and we were delighted that a week or so ago our New Make Spirit was voted the best in Scotland in the prestigious World Whisky Awards.

Whilst we are a lowland distillery, actually our fields go down to the low watermark on the river Tay, so if you get your old see-through school ruler and follow the Highland / Lowland line from Dunoon to Dundee, you will see we are sitting bang on the line! So our spirit is lowland but not necessarily traditionally so; more robust in my opinion. Also Lindores is the gift that keeps on giving, our monks had permission to take 200 cart loads of peat from the nearby peat moors of Kyndloch (now Ladybank). We know the monastery was heated with peat and brushwood, so maybe the original Aqua Vitae was more like Laphroaig?! We’ll never know, but it does give us license at some point to try a peated expression, not just a marketing gimmick but a genuine throwback to the 13th Century.”


Mackenzie-Smith eschewed the current trend to produce gin until stocks of whisky matured. Inspired by the reference to Friar John Cor, Mackenzie-Smith started reading up on Aqua Vitae and the monks from Thiron in France who built and lived at Lindores. They used plants that grew around the monastery, and infused barley spirit with these plants and other herbs and fruits.

Apart from the distillery museum of life in Medieval Lindores Abbey and the working Apothecary, visitors can relax in the Legacy Bar, one the SMWS’s Scottish partner bars. How fitting that the finest cask strength, single casks whiskies find a home in such an historic site. Mackenzie-Smith believes one day members will be able to enjoy a SMWS cask of Lindores Abbey whisky.

“We worked closely with the students at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, it has one of the leading faculties of brewing and distilling in the world, and together we worked up recipes using plants from Lindores such as sweet ciceley, but whilst the spirit was very historically accurate there was a small problem…it tasted horrible!

“If I’m totally honest when I first named the ‘Legacy’ bar I thought it would be my legacy but soon realised that was a bit ‘showy’ so now every 1494 member gets their name up on a wooden plaque on the wall, so it’s everyone’s legacy.

So we moved the process to the top bars in Edinburgh and started working with the mixologists. We struggled at first and then we had the eureka moment. I know that the monks traded with Flanders and there, had access to dates and raisins, so we started experimenting to try and slightly sweeten the spirit and it was a huge success. It isn’t like a sweet liqueur but it just took the bitterness away and left us with a fantastic herbed spirit drink. The unexpected added benefit was that the dates and raisins gave the spirit an amber colour, so whilst the aqua vitae can never be called whisky, as the new make spirit has never been in a cask, we feel we have created a truly unique drink that is befitting the spiritual home and we will certainly keep producing it once the whisky comes on line.”

But for me, I suppose it’s knowing that I have had the absolute honour of being in the rare position of being able to turn a dream into a reality. It’s taken a while, but I think when the spirit comes of age in December 2020 I will, with my team and family, have created a lasting legacy, and by doing that I can help preserve Lindores Abbey for another five hundred years.”

WRITTEN BY SCOTT MANSFIELD, QLD MANAGER. SPECIAL THANKS TO DREW MACKENZIE-SMITH FOR HIS TIME. 23


A TRIP TO OBAN

BY JENNY FORREST, SA MANAGER

South Australian Managers, Jenny & Alan Forrest, are quite the intrepid whisky travellers, taking in all sorts of distillery tours, but it was Oban distillery that left quite a lasting impression…

B

usy seaside Oban overlooks Kerrera Island on Scotland’s west coast. Not only is it the ideal stopover for visiting Mull and the other Western Isles as three big ferries steam out each half hour, it is home to one of the few urban distilleries in Scotland. Along the long sweep of the bay, large grey stone buildings face the setting sun. They have pocket-handkerchief lawns and pretty colourful gardens that front the Esplanade, where the locals with their prams take dogs of all shapes and sizes for leisurely walks, watched by the over-seventy’s tugging at their cardigans and beads in the breeze. The International Youth Hostel, where we stayed, is nestled among other old-world hotels and family houses, turned bed ’n’ breakfast lodgings. The green trestle table outside the Hostel was ideally located to watch the passing parade and hear the gentle rise and fall of waves 24

as they lapped the rocky edge of the harbour. It was peaceful sitting together, the dusky rays of the summer sun painting the cloudy sky pink and orange against the dark silhouette of the island across the bay, a wee dram of a 16 year old single malt adjacent to our open journals and pens. One evening, in the 10pm twilight, we watched in delight as two seals, faces like dogs, sidestroked their way along the bay, intent on keeping their distance from the children and land dogs watching them. The Oban distillery, set in the middle of town, beckoned us to visit. Its urban location is a rarity in Scotland. Exchanging thirty pounds for two tickets on the 11am tour with John, a passionate


whisky drinker and former Oban distillery worker, seemed a fair deal. Our tour developed into a private stroll through the grist mill, mash tun and still rooms, with John keen to pass on his wealth of knowledge, gleaned from decades of working within the distillery’s brick walls. The distillery, founded way back in 1794 by brothers John and Hugh Stevenson when they built the premises as a brewery, their home and office, is jammed between the main road along the shore and high cliffs. In the 1890’s when the distillery was being expanded for a new warehouse, the dynamite blasts uncovered caves in the cliff, with human remains and objects dating back nearly 6000 years. Oban Distillery is only small, with a pair of lamp glass stills and worm tubs cooling the precious spirit vapours. These tubs are rectangular and set into the distillery’s roof. Although the distillery ceased production in 1931 after a chequered history, it started again in 1937 and continued with its own floor maltings until 1968 when it closed for reconstruction. It reopened in 1972 and received a boost when it was chosen to be one of the six ‘Classic Malts’ representing the Western Highlands in the late 1980’s. Our tour concluded as we enjoyed John’s accent and stories over several ‘special’, usually unavailable, drams as we perused the range of expressions in their Visitor’s Centre. We’d taken nearly three and half hours to do a tour and tasting! Interspersed with the interesting urban distillery history, John intrigued us with stories of the building overlooking the town - said to be Oban’s most famous. Begun in 1897, McCaig’s Tower seems better suited to a Roman hillside, rather than on a hilltop on the western Scottish coastline. John Stuart McCaig, a local banker, wanted to erect a monument to his family, and provide employment to the many locals without a job, so he began the task of constructing his ‘Colosseum’. Unfortunately, McCaig died in 1902 and his efforts remain today as an outer wall of arches, as no one has had the money or wished to complete the monument. I wonder if, in the period after the Coronavirus pandemic, whether modern-day philanthropists will invest in similar employment schemes as did John Stuart McCaig?

On the northern outskirts of Oban, the ruins of Dundlue Castle fight through the overgrowth atop the headland. We climbed a steep, narrow goat track from the beach, and enjoyed great views over the harbour and Mull. We watched the pied oyster catchers with their red legs, ducks and giant seagulls (North Sea gulls are about three times the size of our Aussie seagulls!) forage on the water’s edge. The beach of large, smooth grey pebbles the size of small footballs, was clothed in brown seaweed. In the shallows, the blanket of weed rose with the incoming swell of water; in other places it lay warm and dry in the sun on the high water mark. The sunshine warmed the ruin’s grey stones and our backs as we rested from our scramble through alternating blackberry thickets, camomile and yellow dandelions. After each enormous Caledonian ferry headed west through the narrow island channels, the noise of their breaking wakes rose to meet the song of the thrushes and blackbirds that foraged insects among the ruined walls around us. It was magical.

That magic continued into the evening as colourful spinnakers billowed and puffed as the local sailors tacked their small crafts across the harbour around a complex course - and the ferry timetable. One obvious novice was becalmed in the path of an incoming ferry, only to be buffeted out of harm’s way at the final second, seemingly by a long blast of the ship’s foghorn. We let out a shared sigh of relief! Oban was certainly a great town to visit – for its scenery, its proximity to the islands, its history and its fabulous distillery. Put it on your list of post-Covid19 possibilities. WRITTEN BY JENNY FORREST, SA MANAGER 25


AMBASSADOR’S ADDRESS It’s hard to not write topically at the moment. To remark and reflect on everything that is happening in the world. Our surroundings, our way of ‘normal’ living changing on an almost daily basis. What I find exciting, however, is the optimism that I’m seeing every day in our incredible community of members online, joining in livestreams, sharing photos of what’s arrived, what they are appreciating, and what is in their glass. Sometimes I like to step back, really ask, “What is a whisky community?”, and then get to see it in action. For some of the guests I’ve had on the livestreams each night, I’ve even posed that question. What does a community look like in this ‘new normal’, as some say. Even in isolation, the Society has been what I like to think of as a beacon of bringing members together, even if over a livestream or in our Facebook group, enjoying an evening tipple of a great single cask whisky together. A community is a network. It’s a way for us to connect with each other, have ‘whisky epiphanies’, and discuss all sorts of aspects of what makes it so exciting in the exploration of flavour. One thing I’ve been asked a few times now is what I’m going to do first after restrictions are lifted and life returns to some level of normalcy after all this. The answer, in order of importance, is: Go to the pub for a pint and a classic pub 26

parma, and then start putting together the biggest member parties for members around the country again, to celebrate the love of community and the single cask experience. Absolutely everyone is welcome. So at the time of writing, what’s next? Well it’s mid-May, our mid-month offer is about to hit, and while everything changes every day, some things stay the same. We’re still going live every weeknight to Facebook & YouTube; we’re creating some really exciting online tastings; and we’re working closely with our UK team on some special member events and releases in the months to come, which is keeping our casking team and Cellarmaster very busy! In the meantime, stay safe and dram on! Slainté,

Matt Bailey ~ SMWS National Ambassador

CO WITHNNECT MATT bail ey@ sm

@sm ws.com ws_ . mat au t


EVENTS

WEIRD, WACKY & WONDERFUL VIRTUAL TASTING LIVE

FRIDAY 26TH JUNE 7PM AEST

This month, we’re bringing you another fun gathering in the form of a virtual tasting hosted by Matt Bailey and Andrew Derbidge. We have a specially curated selection of bottlings, each one with a weird, wacky and wonderful pedigree! Weird casks, wacky distilleries, wonderful whisky. A virtual tasting of 5 x 30ml drams, some featured in June Outturn, others are exclusive releases that will never make it to an Outturn but also available as 700ml bottles for purchasers of the tasting pack (very limited stock).

LIVE ON YOUTUBE AND FACEBOOK FRIDAY 26TH JUNE, 7PM AEST

WWW TASTING SET ONLY $99*

*Includes 5 x 30ml drams of the following bottlings, and two tasting mats: Cask 134.7 A dreamer’s dram Cask 112.51 Funky Irie Feeling Cask 52.31 I dream of creamy Cask R1.5 A little extravagant Cask 16.44 Breakfast in a Highland croft

GRAB YOUR WEIRD, WACKY & WONDERFUL TASTING SET AND JOIN IN THE FUN!

27


BOTTLINGS TO SAVOUR SMWS.COM.AU

02 9974 3046 Mon-Fri 9.00am - 5.00pm AEST

@SMWS_AUSTRALIA

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Society bottlings are offered and sold through The Wine Empire Pty Ltd, Liquor Licence LIQP770010175.

Profile for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Outturn June 2020  

Outturn June 2020  

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