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Spring 2014





–––– A b erfeldy DISTILLERY




£3.49 where sold

The benriach Single MalT ScoTch WhiSky Established in 1898 and located in the ‘Heart of Speyside’, the BenRiach Distillery became independent in 2004. With access to an impressive inventory of maturing whiskies dating back as far as 1966, our range of expressions is varied both in terms of age and style, including ‘classic Speyside’, special ‘finishes’, heavily peated BenRiach and single cask vintage bottlings.



Sherry Cask connoisseurs


The GlenDronach - Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Pioneers of sherry cask maturation since 1826

Nearly 70% of the flavour in whisky is derived from the cask it has been matured in. Wood’s important, which is why we adopt a ‘no compromise’ approach when choosing our world renowned Sherry casks to enrich our whisky.

Here, the abundance of nature and the centuries-old passion for making single malt whisky conspire to create the generous and multi-layered whisky of Aberlour.

Enjoy Aberlour responsibly

For the facts


Chairman’s Welcome Ian P. Bankier


“If you want to know what a whisky is like, we attempt to tell you in language that we believe the vast majority relate to”

I am delighted to kick off 2014 with our spring edition of Whiskeria. This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Whisky Shop under its present ownership. When we started our journey in 2004 our objective was to create a nationwide chain of specialist whisky shops that would bring a full and exciting whisky range to the high streets of the UK. I believe that we have achieved this goal. Our progress has been helped by a burgeoning single malt and premium whisky category over the decade, which has brought to the consumer tremendous variety and choice. The array of beautifully presented products that occupy our shelves today bears little resemblance to what was available in 2004. Back then, some progressive thinking was evident, with wood expressions being the vogue of the day, but the execution was lagging behind somewhat and, as a generality, single malt whiskies were being undervalued by the distillers. The picture now is a different one. The presentation and packaging of single malt whiskies has been transformational and now it is clear that the outer clothing lives up to the whisky within. As a special gift, the single malt or the premium whisky is an outstanding contender. But it does have to be said that the much greater choice of whiskies has brought a degree of complication. At The Whisky Shop our focus is on un-complicating the potentially complicated. Our motto printed boldly on the front page of every issue of Whiskeria is ‘unlocking the mystery of whisky’. In this issue, as with every previous issue, you will find information, opinion, facts and figures that are intended to inform and advise everyone who engages with this remarkable product.

In recent issues we have been pursuing a strategy of eschewing pretentious and meaningless prose when describing whiskies. In defence of this practice, I would suggest that it is born out of the sheer number of different expressions of whisky that are available. The small community of experts, who attempt a description of every one of them, has lapsed into a trend of seeking to find different and more exotic phraseology, rather than use what might appear to be uninteresting and repetitive language. Although by no means the worst offenders, I admit that we, ourselves, have been slightly guilty of this practice in the past, but I do hope that these days are behind us. If you want to know what a whisky is like, we attempt to tell you in language that we believe the vast majority relate to. Granted, we may have taken this concept to an extreme at one point in this issue – see our In-store section – where we describe the Botanist Gin as ‘nice’. In defence I would say that ‘nice’ is a concept that almost everyone I know understands and relates to! So I hope you enjoy this latest edition of Whiskeria. Spring is here – technically – and summer is just around the corner. Ian P Bankier Executive Chairman, The Whisky Shop




For the facts

Enjoy Strathisla responsibly

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M


Spring 2014 Contributors

Gavin D. Smith

Claire Bell

Victor Brierley

Charles MacLean

Gavin is one of the world’s most prolific and respected whisky writers, is regularly published in a range of top magazines and has written several books on whisky. He is currently preparing a new version of The Malt Whisky Companion.

Claire Bell has written on travel for Time magazine, The Herald, The Times, The Guardian and Wanderlust. She lives in Glasgow where she runs The Old BarnBookery, a book charity that helps build libraries in disadvantaged schools in her native South Africa. Her favourite whisky is Glenmorangie, best enjoyed with a book.

The face of The Whisky Mavericks, whisky tastings, writer, exadvertising guy, lover of everything Scottish. Spent time visiting every Scotch whisky distillery but as a new one seems to open (or reopen) every few months, there are now others to catch up on.

Charles has published ten Scotch whisky books to date, including the standard work on whisky brands, Scotch Whisky and the leading book on its subject, Malt Whisky, both of which were short-listed for Glenfiddich Awards. He was script advisor for Ken Loach’s 2012 film The Angels Share and subsequently played the part of a whisky expert in the film. He says it’s his biggest career highlight to date.

–– Commissioning Editor: GlenKeir Whiskies Limited –– Managing Director: Andrew Torrance 0141 427 2919 –– Advertising Sales Executive: Catherine Service 0141 427 2919 –– Photography: Subliminal Creative 01236 734923

–– Creative Direction: Buro Design Thinking Partners 0141 552 1574 –– Design: Emlyn Firth –– Feature Writers: Charles MacLean; Gavin D Smith; Claire Bell; –– Feature Photography: Christina Kernohan –– Illustration: Francesca Waddell

–– Produced by: Ascot Publishing Limited PO Box 7415 Glasgow G51 9BR –– Contact:

–– Glenkeir Whiskies Limited trades as THE WHISKY SHOP. Opinions expressed in WHISKERIA are not necessarily those of Glenkeir Whiskies Limited. Statements made and opinions expressed are done so in good faith, but shall not be relied upon by the reader. This publication is the copyright of the publisher, ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED, and no part of it may be reproduced without their prior consent in writing. No responsibility is taken for the advertising material contained herein. © ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED.

–– Prices effective February 2014. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change if Alcohol Duty rates increase.



Spring 2014 Contents

12 16 18 22


1970s Whisky World Round Up Wm Grant’s Malt Master Just In! New Releases



One Fyne Lady

47 48 52

THE WHISKY SHOP Old Favourites in Small Sizes Visit the USA

56 62 66 68 70 72 74

Off Piste Dramming Customer Favourites

76 82 90 92


The Spirit of Argyll


Aberfeldy Charles MacLean Victor Brierley


New Singleton Expressions A visit to… Tullibardine A visit to… Bruichladdich More Gift Ideas THE DIRECTORY

22 22

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M

38 47

76 82


90 62 92



A time in history:

1970s Gavin D Smith shines a light on the great ‘whisky loch’ of the 1970s

Anyone with a passing interest in Scotch whisky will realise that the industry has been enjoying a huge boom in recent years. With the emerging markets of the world demanding more and more of the product, every distiller has invested in increased production facilities with the building of new distilleries, expanded distilleries and more warehousing. The mood across the industry is that we simply can’t make enough of it! But it hasn’t always been like this. There have been notable and well documented episodes when the Scotch Industry has got it horribly wrong and one such was in the late 1970s. The root of the problem is that Scotch whisky cannot be made today and sold tomorrow. The maturation process – the storing of new spirit in oak casks in warehouses in Scotland for a minimum period of 3 years – is what defines Scotch as the leading spirit beverage of the world. Given the length of time between making spirit and selling it as matured whisky, the directors of Scotch companies require remarkably accurate crystal balls. They must decide how much spirit their distilleries should be making over a protracted period of time, anticipating what the market for their product will be like several years and more down the line. The period after the end of the Second World War saw Scotch whisky enjoying

great success all over the world, notably across Europe, the USA and even in the Far East. Just like today, it was booming. The only slight difference was that single malts were virtually irrelevant at that time. But aged blends required stocks of mature whisky, and during the 1960s and early ’70s, with interest rates low and the availability of ‘cheap money,’ there was a great deal of investment in distilleries across Scotland in order to increase production. As was to be expected, the vast Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) led the way. During 1971-72 major extensions to its production facilities at Glendullan and Teaninich were undertaken, while Linkwood was trebled in size, and Mannochmore was built from scratch adjacent to Glenlossie distillery. Aberfeldy was rebuilt during 1973, and on Islay, Caol Ila was reconstructed from the ground upwards the following year. In September 1973 Chivas Brothers’ ultra-modernlooking Braes of Glenlivet distillery opened, situated in a remote Speyside location, and in August of the following year, Braes was joined by Chivas’ equally modernistic Allt a Bhainne plant, a few miles from Dufftown. A decade earlier Wm Grants had taken the plunge with a brand new grain distillery at Girvan to support their

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M

popular Grants Standfast blend and Invergordon Distillery was born in the same era. Another totally new Speyside distillery was created by International Distillers & Vintners’ subsidiary Justerini & Brooks at Mulben, near Keith, between 1972 and 1974, while across in Inverness-shire, the already sizeable Tomatin was further expanded to boast a total of 21 stills and the largest capacity of any malt distillery in Scotland, namely 12.3 million litres per annum (lpa). According to Michael Moss & John Hume in The Making of Scotch Whisky (1980), “The expansion of the early 1970s was undertaken on the basis of rapidly rising demand for Scotch from all the major European countries, from Japan and from the home market. Between 1970 and 1974 Japanese imports rose from 1,400,000 [3,633,000 litres] to 7,700,000 proof gallons [19,988,150 litres], including 4,200,000 gallons [10,899,000 litres] of bulk malt whisky, to make it the second largest export market. The American demand fluctuated wildly, though it reached an historic high in 1975. From 1970 to 1978 total exports increased annually in volume, despite production trends.” However, 1973 saw economics problems develop as a result of the Arab-Israeli war in October, which caused a major rise in oil prices the following year, and the global economy faltered as a result, not helped by the ending of the Vietnam War, which had served to boost the US economy. In Britain a three-day week was instituted between January and March 1974 in order to conserve energy supplies in the wake of a miners’ strike. Inflation began to bite and ‘cheap money’ became a thing of the past. All of this bad news impacted on the consumption of Scotch, especially in the key North American market where volumes were the highest. The world began to look like a very different place and without putting too fine a point on it the Industry hit the panic button. Against revised predictions of sharply declining volumes, the distillers felt they were vastly overstocked and began to slash their distillery outputs. From a ‘high’ of 1974, when a total of 476,395 million litres of Scotch whisky was produced, output fell to a ‘low’ of 239,081 in 1983 – a reduction of almost 50%! A further consequence of these conditions was that those distillers whose companies were listed on The Stock Exchange began to report lower sales and reduced profits. When the anxiety of overstocking was revealed to the financial analysts and reported on in the business pages, the problem was dubbed by the press as ‘the whisky loch,’ as a parallel to the EEC ‘wine lake’ which was making news at the same time. In 1983 Highland Distilleries closed its Bunnahabhain distillery on Islay on a temporary basis and put all its other distilleries on short-time working. Worse affected, however, was DCL, which responded to the crisis by announcing the closure on 31st May 1983 of Banff, Brora, Dallas Dhu, Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Glenlochy, Knockdhu, North Port and St Magdalene malt distilleries, along with Carsebridge grain distillery – a total of 10 distilleries. Tomatin distillery entered liquidation in January 1985, paying the price for its energetic expansion programme


“The root of the problem is that Scotch whisky cannot be made today and sold tomorrow… Given the length of time between making spirit and selling it as matured whisky, the directors of Scotch companies require remarkably accurate crystal balls”

– of previous years and the situation was still very grave for DCL, which simply had too many distilleries. The company’s 1983 distilleries’ rationalisation programme was extended, with the closure on 31st March 1985 of a further 10 sites. These were Royal Brackla, Coleburn, Convalmore, Glenesk, Glentauchers, Glenury Royal, Imperial, Mannochmore, Millburn and Teaninich, while the older parts of Glendullan and Linkwood were also shut down. By this time, however, the Conservative government, elected in 1979 and headed by Margaret Thatcher, had implemented monetarist policies and a reduction in public spending in order to reduce inflation, while privatisation of many nationalised industries took place, along with a radical reform of industrial relations. By late 1986 Britain was enjoying a sustained recovery, with growth levels running at around four per cent, and the Scotch whisky industry was also beginning to recover, with output of malt spirit rising from 264,947 million litres in 1986 to 428,762 million litres during 1990. However, it is fair to say that the effects of the dramatic reversal caused by ‘the whisky loch’ were felt intensely by the industry throughout the period of recovery and the relative boom that came with the Thatcher years. Such was the impact of ‘the whisky loch’, the mind-set of the industry for the next twenty years was that there was too much production. Consequently, Scotch was undervalued and sold at prices around the world that did not reflect the quality of the spirit and the economic cost of maturation, a process unique to Scotch whisky. Come the turn of the century, around 2006, the combined forces of industry consolidation, well directed brand marketing and the development of the ‘emerging markets’ of Brazil, Russia, India and China, including Latin America and Africa, kick-started the boom that prevails to this day. Stocks of Scotch whisky are insufficient to supply the potential that is perceived and all is well. Those Scotch whisky analysts who really understand the dynamics of the industry say that the relative chaos that followed ‘the whisky loch’ was avoidable and that the Industry should have held its nerve and traded out the surpluses that were seen at the time. At the time this view was shouted down by the great majority, but, in retrospect, they were correct. Did I not say at the beginning of this article that it’s all about having crystal balls?





GLOBAL Scotch SPIRIT VERIFICATION SCHEME LAUNCHED A scheme to protect genuine Scotch whisky has been set up by the UK government and the whisky industry. Anyone involved in producing Scotland’s national dram will have to sign up to the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme. Those in favour of the regulations say the scheme will help safeguard billions of pounds of exports and tens of thousands of Scottish jobs. SCOTLAND NEW STILLS FOR GLEN ORD DISTILLERY Work has begun on installing six new whisky stills at the Glen Ord distillery in Ross-shire as part of a £25m expansion project. The stills, manufactured by a specialist company in Alloa, will double the output at the site in Muir of Ord. SCOTLAND SECOND MALT DISTILLERY FOR THE ISLE OF SKYE Talisker Distillery, the only single malt distillery on the Isle of Skye, is shortly to have company. The Torbhaig Distillery is to be built by Sir Ian Noble, the renowned and characterful merchant banker, at a cost of around £5m. SOUTH EAST ASIA SALES SLOW DOWN IN EMERGING MARKETS Both Diageo and Pernod Ricard, the world’s top two spirits groups, have reported a slow down in sales in the emerging markets, notably China.

CANADA Scotch TRADE RESTRICTIONS UNDER REVIEW Historic trade barriers on the export of Scotch to Canada are under review. Provincial liquor boards still control the import, sale and distribution of spirit drinks in Canada and there are complex fees and costs associated with their rules that have the effect of discriminating against Scotch. It is hoped that they can be removed so as to have a level playing field for all spirits. Also, the removal of archaic restrictions on bulk imports would be welcome. INDIA DIAGEO DEAL FOR INDIAN SPIRITS LOOKS SET Although hampered by litigation in India, instigated by creditors of the sellers, Diageo’s deal to acquire from United Breweries control of their Indian Spirits division, including Whyte & Mackay, looks set to go ahead. Meanwhile, in the UK, Diageo are likely to dispose of Whyte & Mackay due to competition law considerations. Whyte & Mackay own single malt brands Dalmore, Jura and Fettercairn. JAPAN / USA SUNTORY BUYS BEAM The Japanese drinks group, Suntory, has agreed to buy US spirits company, Jim Beam, for USD 13.6 billion in a deal that would make the Japanese company the third largest spirits maker in the world. Suntory presently owns Morrison Bowmore Distillers and have a minority stake in The Macallan.

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M


Japanese Whisky Distilleries » Operational distilleries: – Chichibu (est. 2008) Saitama Prefecture Fuji Gotemba (1973) Shizuoka Prefecture Hakushu (1973) Yamanashi Prefecture Miyagikyo (1969) Miyagi Prefecture Shinshu (1985) Nagano Prefecture White Oak (1919) Hyogo Prefecture J A PA N Yamazaki (1923) Osaka Prefecture Yoichi (1934) Hokkaido

Fuji Gotemba

» Japan’s largest distillery in terms of potential

Top 5 Scotch Whisky Export Markets (in terms of value) Figures for first 6 months of 2013 / v same period 2012


USA / £391M /+29%


France / £198.8M /+6%


Singapore / £173.8M /+29%


Germany / £83.4M /+29%


Spain / £8.18M /+11%

output is Fuji Gotemba, which boasts a capacity of 12 million litres of spirit per annum. It is owned by Kirin Holdings, and produces both malt and grain whisky.

Japanese Scotch Mini-Series

» Tokyo television company NHK TV is planning a 150 episode mini-series about the Japanese husband and Scottish wife, who founded Japan’s first whisky distillery – Nikka – having met at Glasgow University in 1918. The Scot, credited with bringing whisky distilling to Japan, is Rita Cowan, who was born in Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow. They set up production in the 1920s on the cold northern island of Hokkaido and adopted the Scots spelling – whisky without an ‘e’. Their business took off during WWII when imports of Scotch were blocked.




Blending Youth & Experience: Brian Kinsman Brian Kinsman, a qualified chemist, joined William Grant & Sons in 1997 and in 2009 became only the sixth Malt Master in the company’s history

“If you do something for long enough you get experienced and the practice of doing it every day is what keeps you sharp.”

– Brian Kinsman –

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M

What took you into whisky? I joined the grain distillery as a chemist in ‘97 doing routine chemical analysis and that was my route into whisky. I think my generation have all pretty much come into whisky through the science route – which is an interesting way to understand how the industry has changed. What else would you have done? I could have done anything. I started developing new products in dentistry, but hadn’t considered the whisky industry until I read a job advertisement. It looked really interesting. What has changed since you started in the industry? It’s constantly evolving with more process control, a better understanding of maturation and efficiencies of scale, but in general there is way more information available about what happens in the cask during maturation. What has remained the same is a massive lack of knowledge and education about Scotch whisky. As I travel the world and find a total lack of understanding of how whisky is produced, I think there is a sizable opportunity to tell that great story. It is a brilliant story to tell and folk love it. If you have a drink with your friends and can tell them a tiny bit of the story, it’s interesting and good pub chat. Has it all been change for the good? Generally it’s all good. As an industry in Scotland we have to be aware that we are not the only folk doing this. Japanese whisky, Bourbon, Irish Whiskey, the Taiwanese, are all doing what we are doing and sometimes better, in terms of their dedication to the pursuit of new things, so I think we as a business are sitting in a nice place, but as Scots we shouldn’t be getting too complacent. What is a master blender and what do you do? In this company it’s all about looking after the quality of the spirit brands. With Scotch whisky, especially the single malts, the job is very hands on. Less so with the blends where the chief task is to ensure that the taste always stays the same. Are you a natural or is your skill something that can be taught? It’s a tricky one that. If you do something long enough you get experience and the practice of doing it every day is what keeps you sharp. Some days I can do as many as a couple of hundred samples. It’s sometimes said that women have better palates than men. Is this true? I have heard that – but I’ve never seen any empirical evidence for or against. Undoubtedly, some people have better palates than others and for sure, if we look at sensory panels, not everyone can smell everything. Also, there are some who are very sensitive to peat and some who are very sensitive to sulphur. You can get the best of all of that by putting together a nosing panel.


What ingredient in whisky – barley, water, peat, wood, age – has the biggest influence on taste? The key ingredients haven’t changed for hundreds of years what has changed is the degree to which the wood of the cask can influence the flavour. Quite significant differences can be achieved through maturing in different oak types. However, you can’t take a poor quality whisky and make it good in the maturation – in short the influence is probably 60% oak and 40% maturation. What is the one thing that someone tasting Scotch or malt for the first time needs to know? It’s another tricky one… it’s a big old flavour… if somebody picked up the drink for the first time would they love it? Possibly not. It’s probably as much to do with the way people serve it – the biggest mistake is that people drink it too strong! Is there such a thing as bad whisky? If so what would it be like? Yes – but I have to say, pretty hard to find these days. The industry has become much better at quality. I will still see the very odd bad cask. Younger whiskies from other countries around the world will probably never compare favourably to a matured single malt from Scotland, but that is like comparing chicken with beef. It’s incomparable. It’s not so much bad whisky as whisky which is not to your taste. Where would you advise the novice to start? Can you be ‘fitted’ for a whisky? Going back to education, seek out a shop with a knowledgeable salesman or a patient knowledgeable bartender – there are so many great whiskies on offer. Books, magazines like Whiskeria help, but it is probably best if you get to a tasting class. I like to think that, by the end of that class, I could have someone who is more appreciative of what they are drinking and, in addition, has picked up some knowledge of what other tastes they like. I could have someone ready to buy the right thing. Yes, you can be fitted for a whisky. Are there many laughs in a Scotch malt distillery or is it all extremely serious? It’s a great industry… we are a family business. Lots of us have really long service and that produces a very friendly atmosphere. One of the nicest aspects of the business is that at an intercompany level we are very open towards one another. It’s a great and fun industry. What’s your favourite William Grants dram? You are asking me to choose which is my favourite child. That’s difficult. But it also depends on the occasion, what you are eating, who you are with. When the time is right, I like nothing better than a Hendricks gin and tonic. At other times it’s a blend or single malt, but my go to for a special occasion is the Glenfiddich 18yo.



And outside of William Grants stable, what would be your top 5? Primarily I like Speysides – I like Glenrothes, Linkwood, in fact any classic Speyside. I also like a subtle peated Highland Park. And, of course, Johnnie Walker Black Label is a good solid quality blend and, wherever you go in the world, it’s going to be there. What advice would you give to yourself just starting at William Grants Distillery? Ha! Do everything the same. The single piece of good fortune is that I just happened to be here at the right time to become the master blender when David Stewart (the previous master blender) needed to find someone to work with him. You can’t plan all that - I was just very fortunate. What changes would you imagine lie ahead for the industry? Hopefully more growth, more innovative and diverse products. I think age remains very, very important for certain products and think it’s not so important for others. I think we will get to a place where it is appreciated in the right context. There are certain times when you want the reassurance of a 12 year old age statement and other times when you want a certain flavour profile that actually the age statement almost prevents you from achieving. The nice thing about taking the age statement off means that the balance you can get when balancing an old whisky with a young whisky, blended together, is totally different from, for example, a 12 year old. I think all of that comes back to what we have covered several times now, an education thing… so when you go to a shop, don’t just look at the price and age statement – you need to engage with it and understand what it tastes like, why does it taste like that, read the tasting notes, talk about what you like, go on that journey – and once you have that knowledge make sure you pass it on. Whisky is a very social drink. I think wine is sometimes too complicated, whisky has enough depth to get engrossed in it all but is also relatively understandable at a novice level. I think with wine, especially in some of the old territories – France, Italy – the level of knowledge you need to truly understand is so deep that the vast majority of people never get there. And that is where the Australians have been very clever – they packaged their product up in a much simpler way. But whisky has a nice balance – you can understand it with relatively low levels of knowledge… and still enjoy it. What would you like to see more of in Whiskeria? The single biggest issue for me is trying to translate flavour, experience and knowledge to consumers and you already do that – and even better now. More and more of that can only be a good thing – I don’t care about which product consumers choose but if they start drinking whisky then that’s a huge benefit to the industry. To have a level of knowledge and an appreciation of the product, they can then start exploring – that’s what we all want.


» By law, Scotch whisky must be matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks. » Oak is considered to be the most suitable type of wood because it is hard, yet relatively easy to work, and has just the right degree of porousness – allowing the spirit to ‘breathe,’ but not to leak. » The two main types of oak used for whisky maturation are American White Oak (Quercus Alba) and European or ‘Spanish’ oak (Quercus Robur). » The majority of casks used by the Scotch whisky industry are American oak ex-Bourbon barrels, with a small percentage of casks having previously contained sherry rather than Bourbon. Indeed, of the 18 million casks maturing in Scottish warehouses today, less than 10 per cent previously held sherry, and they may cost 10 times more than former Bourbon casks. » Prior to use by the Bourbon industry, new barrels are charred, in order to allow the wood to interact with the spirit in a positive way. The inside of the casks are usually exposed to fire for between 40 and 60 seconds, though levels of charring vary. » The most commonly used casks for Scotch whisky ageing are the Bourbon barrel (200 litres), the hogshead (250 litres) and the butt (500 litres). » Casks are constructed by coopers who spend a lengthy apprenticeship learning how to assemble, re-assemble and repair watertight vessels. No nails or glue are used.



New releases – Spring 2014 – Charles MacLean runs the rule over the latest products to hit The Whisky Shop shelves

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M


Tasting Note: A fine amber colour. The initial nose is mellow, but spicy – warm fruitcake from the oven sprinkled with earthy red pepper. Mouth-filling and smooth; sweet then slightly bitter, with a finish of burnt buttered toast. Water freshens it, but not a lot else. Some vanilla fudge in the development. Drink straight!

Macallan 20 Years Old – S i n gl e C a s K | D i st i ll e d 1 9 9 3 | B o ttl e d b y Old M a lt C a sk | 5 0 % V O L £159.99

Macallan is among the top four best selling malt whiskies in the world – a truly ‘global brand’ – so it may come as a surprise to some readers that the distillery’s owners only began to promote it as a single in 1981. Prior to this, all but a tiny amount went into blends: the make was ranked ‘Top Class’ by blenders. For their single malt bottlings, the owners resolved to use only Spanish oak ex-sherry butts. Since 2004 they have augmented this with American oak ex-sherry casks, which add sweetness and other delectable f lavours to the traditional style. This bottling from Hunter Laing & Co, in their Old Malt Cask range, has been drawn from a refill American oak ex-sherry hogshead, which has yielded a mere 285 bottles. Hunter Laing was formed last year, following the break up of the long-established firm, Douglas Laing & Co (founded 1948), and is owned by Stewart Laing and his sons, Scott and Andrew. Stewart’s long experience and extensive stock of old whiskies makes it possible for the company to release a number of collections, including Old Malt Cask (rare and old malts, bottled at 50%Vol without chill-filtration or colour adjustment, introduced in 1998) and Old & Rare (single casks of exceptional quality and rarity, bottled at cask strength). Both these collections of single malts have won the respect of connoisseurs for their reliable quality, and this 20YO Macallan is no exception.

As well as the distillery’s rigorous wood programme, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Macallan used only a strain of barley called Golden Promise. This variety was introduced in 1966 and immediately became very popular with brewers and distillers. It had a short stalk and matured early, so could survive the colder windier conditions of the north, growing particularly well in the Laich o’Moray, close to Speyside (and Macallan Distillery). For its time it also gave higher yields of alcohol – 385-395 litres per tonne – but by 1980 this had been surpassed by a variety called Triumph (producing 395-405 litres per tonne), and, as is the way with breeds of barley, became vulnerable to mildew and disease, so was more expensive to grow. However, Macallan stayed loyal to Golden Promise long after other distillers had abandoned it, believing that it made an important contribution to f lavour – particularly to the mouth-feel or texture of the whisky. I can vouch for this, having tasted new make spirit from a single distillery (not Macallan) made with a range of varieties with exotic names – Derkado, Chariot, Optic, Decanter – alongside spirit made with Golden Promise. The latter stood out noticeably! This 20YO bottling, distilled in 1993, provides you with an opportunity to experience the delights of G.P.!



Tasting Note: Full gold. A gentle, elegant fragrance topped by soft fruits – strawberry, white peach, cherry – and backed by sweet tobacco leaf. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, with crisp acidity, traces of coconut and a medium-length, warming finish, leaving a hint of planed oak. More perfumed with water, with light oak notes, the taste is now sweet throughout.

Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve – J a p a n e s e S i n gl e M a lt 43% VOL | £52.00

In 1923, Shinjiro Torii, the Father of Japanese whisky, built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki, at the foot of Mount Tenno on the main railway line linking Kyoto with the port of Osaka, at the conf luence of three rivers. As with other Japanese single malts (see Hakushu p35), each expression of Yamazaki is a vatting of different styles of whisky as well as different cask types. This is quite unlike Scotch malt, where – with only a couple of exceptions – each distillery makes one style of whisky, and gives the Japanese product an interesting extra dimension. What is this ‘extra dimension’? How do Japanese malt whiskies differ from their Scottish cousins? After all, the production and maturation processes are identical, and it may be said that, of all the world’s whiskies, Japanese malt is the closest in style to Scotch. The most noticeable difference is a lack of any cereal f lavours. Many Scotch malts have malty notes - especially the younger expressions – by design. Japanese distillers exclude these notes in several ways: First, by making sure their wort is crystal clear. The wort is the sugary liquid created when the ground malt is mixed with hot water in the mash tun. Scottish distillers talk about ‘clear’ and ‘cloudy’ worts (the latter making for a malty spirit), but none is so clear as Japanese wort. Second, by using a mix of distillers’ and brewers’ yeasts, some unique to the individual distillery. This used

to be the case in Scotland, but now all Scottish distillers use only distillers’ yeast. Furthermore, the brewer in a Japanese distillery will kick start his fermentation with the latter, and pitch brewers’ yeast part-way into the fermentation, in the belief that this produces a range of new f loral-fruity f lavours in the spirit. Third, Japanese distillers tend to ferment for very long periods – typically around 72 hours. Some Scottish distillers ferment for as short as 48 hours (which produces a malty spirit); others for around 60 hours. Dr. Mas Minable, a senior chemist at Suntory (which owns Yamazaki Distillery), defined the difference between the f lavour of Scotch malt and Japanese malt whiskies as ‘transparency’, in conversation with my friend and colleague Dave Broom, who went on to explain: “On the one hand, this means a precision of character, an ordered array of aromas and f lavours that seem to line up on the palate and can be tasted almost individually while still making up a complex whole. Which isn’t to say that these are light whiskies. Transparency is spot on. You can see into them”.

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Tasting Note: Deep amber, this is from a refill butt. The colour is amber; the nose full-on Laphroaig – iodine, seaweed, barbeques, smoke on a beach. Old-fashioned Laphroaig: takes no prisoners. The taste at 50%Vol is very sweet, then chalky and smoky. A drop of water makes the aroma more herbal, though the dry smoke continues. The taste now has a (rare) trace of umami, the 5th primary taste!


Like all the Islay distilleries except the most recent one, Kilchoman, which opened in 2005, Laphroaig stands on the shore – in this case beside a rocky inlet on the south coast of the island – in order to permit the beach-landing by small cargo boats called ‘puffers’ of barley and coal, and the export of casks of whisky. The founder of the distillery was Donald Johnston; the date 1815. It remained in his family until the 1950s. His great-grandson, Ian Hunter, who became manager of Laphroaig in 1908 and sole owner of the business twenty years later, was the man who really built the brand. One of his first tasks on taking control was to change the distillery’s agents, Mackie & Co of Glasgow. Unusually, Laphroaig was being sold as a single malt even in those days. Peter Mackie (later Sir Peter), creator of White Horse, was furious; Mackie’s had, after all, established Laphroaig’s reputation in the whisky trade. Described as “one third genius, one third megalomaniac, one third eccentric”, he went to court (and lost), then attempted to block Laphroaig’s water supply (unsuccessfully) and then resolved to make his own ‘Laphroaig’ at Lagavulin Distillery, next door, which he owned. This is one of the most vainglorious stories in the history of Scotch – a history not lacking in strange stories!

Laphroaig 11 Years Old – S i n gl e C a s K | D i st i ll e d 2 0 0 2 | B o ttl e d b y Old M a lt C a sk | 5 0 % V O L £ 1 0 7. 9 9

Laphroaig proudly presents itself as “the world’s most richly f lavoured Scotch whisky”. It is heavily peated – the distillery is one of the few to have its own maltings – smoky, medicinal, seaweedy, even tarry, but with an unexpected sweetness to start with. An ‘in your face’ malt: not long ago it was being advertised as ‘uncompromising’ – you either love or hate it, there’s no middle position! Because of its global popularity, it is not often seen in independent bottlings – nor have I ever seen it bottled at 11 years! So this excellent expression from Hunter Laing & Co, bottled as part of their Old Malt Cask range of rare whiskies, is uncommon.

Even today, with the benefit of modern scientific knowledge, it is impossible to copy another’s whisky. You can imagine what it was like in 1908, when Peter Mackie installed a new distillery within Lagavulin called ‘Malt Mill’ to make the same whisky as his neighbour. He failed, but Malt Mill survived until 1962, its make going into blends. In Ken Loach’s award-winning film ‘The Angels’ Share’ (2012), a cask of Malt Mill from 1962 achieves over a million pounds at auction. According to the whisky expert in the film (myself!) it tasted sublime, but in truth it is unlikely to have tasted as good as this 11 year old Laphroaig!


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As I mention later (see Knowledge Bar, p85), Aberfeldy was first bottled by its owner as recently as 1991, on account of the make being so essential to Dewar’s blends. This bottling was at 15 years (in United Distillers Flora & Fauna series); it was replaced by a 12YO and an 18YO when Bacardi acquired the distillery and joined by a 25YO in 2000 to mark the opening of ‘Dewar’s World of Whisky’ and by a 21YO in 2003. Since then there have been occasional single cask bottlings – both Stephen Marshall, Dewar’s Global Malts Ambassador, and Stephanie Macleod, the company’s Master Blender, are keen on these, and all the ones I have tasted have been excellent. Stephanie is only the seventh Master Blender to have been appointed by John Dewar & Sons since John Dewar (Senior) himself. She joined the company in 1998 to manage the Spirit Quality laboratories, then worked as understudy to Tom Aitken (the sixth Master Blender) for three years and succeeded him on his retirement in 2006. I asked her what she was seeking in selecting casks for individual bottling. “It is important to me that the whisky ref lects the DNA of the Aberfeldy make, which might be summed up as ‘heather honey’: sweet, full bodied and well rounded, often with orange peel, Ogen melon and spice. Other f lavours are developed by the cask and wood type, and of course by the length of maturation, but I do


not want these f lavours to dominate or detract from the core character.” “In some ways, selecting the right cask for individual bottling is even more difficult than choosing a number of casks for a vatting. With the latter, one can balance the characteristics of the component casks in order to achieve a consistent f lavour which is ‘more than the sum of its parts’. An individual cask necessarily stands alone! “Casks are all different and mature their contents in different ways. As well as retaining the key characteristics of the make, I want each expression to add variations and extra f lavours. I am not looking for consistency, unlike when I am creating a vatting or a blend like Dewar’s White Label. “I am looking for f lavours that are different, but still retaining the key characteristics of Aberfeldy - perhaps enlarging upon beeswax/honey, sherry, or citric notes; unexpected aspects but still recognisable as Aberfeldy. I also think that the bottling should be palatable at natural strength, without adding water, since many consumers will want to enjoy it like this.” The cask Stephanie has selected for this 16 Years Old – which is exclusive to The Whisky Shop – is a refill American oak ex-sherry hogshead. It has done a splendid job.

Tasting Note: Dull gold. Light nose-prickle. A mellow nose, with tightly integrated aromas, at natural strength, opening up with water to reveal a dry, dusty, herbal note and a trace of orange peel. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, with light aciditiy and beeswax, and a long warming finish. Water introduces a trace of soft fudge, with some oak in the aftertaste. Drinks well straight.

Aberfeldy 16 Years Old – S i n gl e C a s K | D i st i ll e d 199 6 | 61.5%Vol £150.00






This journey begins in the Antarctic with Ernest Shackleton and the men of the 1907 Nimrod expedition who, after 18 months and a heroic but unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole, return home – leaving three unopened crates of original Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky buried beneath the ice. Discovered over a century later, returned to Scotland and meticulously recreated, this long-lost whisky has travelled further than any other. It began with Shackleton. Now it’s your turn to Continue the Journey.

WWW.THESHACKLETONWHISKY.COM ©2012 Mackinlay’s is a registered trademark of Whyte & Mackay Limited. Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky 47.3% Alc./Vol. (94.6 Proof.) Imported by Whyte & Mackay Americas, North Miami, FL. Always drink in moderation.

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Glenturret Triple Wood – S i n gl e M a lt | 4 0 % V O L £46.00

Tasting Note: Deep gold, with amber lights. The first impression is of rice pudding, with a browned skin; husky porridge with double cream. After a while a faint note of strawberry jam. The taste is sweet and lightly meaty (roast chicken), with some spice and gentle acidity towards the end and a warming finish. Water increases the meaty note and introduces dry herbs.

Glenturret makes a strong claim to being the oldest surviving licensed distillery in Scotland, based on the fact that there were two or three illicit distilleries at ‘The Hosh’, Crieff, where it is located, mentioned in 1775, and many more in the district. The first licence was not granted until 1818, however, and Glenturret has had a chequered existence, with several owners going bust. Ultimately the distillery was saved when the site was bought by James Fairlie in 1957. He reinstated the distilling equipment, which had been removed after the final liquidation in 1929, often using second-hand plant, and restored the distillery buildings where possible, integrating new buildings with the old. His ambition was to ‘preserve the craft traditions of malt whisky distilling and to develop its appreciation’. Glenturret was accordingly the first distillery in Scotland to encourage visitors – at least five years ahead of Glenfiddich which opened its visitor centre in 1969. James Fairlie sold to Remy Cointreau in 1981, who greatly extended the visitor facilities. At that time, Remy had a trading relationship with Highland Distilleries, and in 1993 Glenturret joined Highland (now Edrington). In 2002, Edrington fulfilled Fairlie’s dream of ‘developing appreciation’ when the company spent £2.2 million in up-grading the visitor facilities, now named ‘The Famous Grouse Experience’. I understand that further up-grading is currently underway and will be revealed this spring. Last year Glenturret was visited by more than 90,000, more than any other distillery in Scotland. The atmosphere is old fashioned, by design. The one tonne mash tun is stirred by hand with a wooden paddle – this is unique: mechanical stirring gear was adopted by most distilleries in the late 19th century. Until 1972 the wash still was the spirit still. The distillery cat, Towser, who died in 1987 and is commemorated by a bronze statue, aged twentyfour, dispatched 28,899 mice – a fact which is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records! Glenturret is not a well known malt - indeed the distillery’s output is tiny compared with most others – and so far as I’m aware the owners have never released a single malt which combines a mix of woods. The inf luence of Spanish oak is especially apparent in the colour and aroma. It is exclusive to The Whisky Shop.



Tasting Note: Full amber. Nose drying, with a citric note in the foreground (the label suggests ‘lime sherbet’); behind this some soft vanilla fudge and in the background light heathery smoke. Water adds maritime notes and old oilskins. Both the lime and the toffee come through in the first taste; with water, both these are reduced but still present. Fresh and invigorating.

Highland Park 16 Years Old – S i n gl e C a s K | D i st i ll e d 1 9 9 7 | B o ttl e d b y Old M a lt C a sk | 5 0 % V O L £114.99

Highland Park is one of only seven distilleries which malt (a proportion of) their own barley in traditional, labour intensive f loor maltings. The others are Balvenie, Benriach, Bowmore, Kilchoman, Laphroaig and Springbank. In this process, barley is steeped in fresh water, then spread out on a cement f loor to germinate. This takes about a week, and the grains have to be turned every eight hours, by hand, to make sure they germinate evenly. Once the rootlets have appeared, germination is halted by spreading the ‘green malt’ over a perforated metal f loor in a kiln and passing hot air through it. All but Balvenie also burn peat during the early stages of drying the malt. Floor malting is slower and gentler. It doesn’t force on the germination, and the length of time on the malting f loor can be varied according to the weather and the rate of progress of each load of barley. Most important of all for the f lavour of the whisky is the use of peat. Highland Park kilns use only local peat (the distillery has its own peat-banks), and the fuel is a mix of peats cut at various depths. Orcadians have different words for their peats: the top, rooty, layer is called ‘fog’, the next ‘yarphie’ and the dense, lowest layer, ‘moss’. The burning temperature must be kept to a smoulder: if the peat f lames, the organic chemicals which give the malt - and the whisky - its smoky f lavour will be destroyed. The heavily peated malt is then mixed with unpeated malt, brought in from the mainland, to create the exact level of

peaty character required by the distillery. It is a long, slow process, but it is essential to the character of Highland Park malt whisky. Experiments, some years ago, with buying the malt ready peated to the distillery’s specification were not a success: the resulting spirit did not have Highland Park’s defining character. The nature of the peat and the smoke it creates has always been something of an obsession at the distillery. The first ‘whisky tourist’, Alfred Barnard remarked in 1886: “The celebrated Orkney peat is the only fuel used in drying, with the exception of a little heather...We noticed a peculiarly shaped timber building, which our guide informed us is called the ‘Heather House’. Here heather is stored, which has been gathered in the month of July, when the blossom is fully set. It is carefully cut off near the root, and tied into small bundles of about a dozen branches. One or two of these faggots are used with the peat in drying the malt, and imparts a delicate f lavour of its own to the malt, rendering Highland Park Whisky unlike any other made in the Kingdom.” Although heather is no longer burned in the kiln, Highland Park is still unlike any other malt whisky. This expression from Hunter Laing & Co, in their Old Malt Cask series (see Macallan 20YO for details of this company), has been drawn from a refill American oak refill hogshead, which has yielded a mere 307 bottles. It is an excellent example of this distinguished malt.

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Tasting Note: A gorgeous magenta colour from a first fill ex-sherry butt. Astonishingly mature for its 9 years. A dry nose initially, with traces of sherry, canvas, maraschino cherries and yoghurt with a dollop of caramelised sugar. Drinks perfectly, straight: both sweet and dry, with creme brulee and cherries. Water introduces soft leather, but is not necessary. Superb for its age – or any age!

Glenrothes 9 Years Old – S i n gl e C a s K | D i st i ll e d 2 0 0 4 | B o ttl e d b y D O U G L A S O F D R U M L AN R I G 46%Vol | £59.99

Douglas of Drumlanrig is a newish range offered by Hunter Laing & Company (see Macallan 20 years old), for single casks at competitive prices, bottled at 46%Vol. If ever there was an example of age being of secondary importance to spirit quality and cask activity, this is it! At the youthful age of nine years, this Genrothes is simply superb! A near-perfect balance of distillery character and complex f lavours coming from the first-fill ex-sherry butt it has been drawn from. Tasted blind, I would have guessed it as at least fifteen years old. It may surprise you to know that until the 1980s malt whiskies were commonly bottled at younger ages than they are today. In October 1976, The Scotch Whisky Industry Review stated: “The minimum age for bottled malt is 5 years, with 6-8 probably the most usual, although many are bottled at 10, 12 or even 15 years…” Russell Grant, owner of The Glenlivet Distillery (and at the time Production Director of The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers Ltd.), wrote in Scotch Whisky (1974): “Although by law Scotch whisky need only be matured for three years, for standard brands an average of four to six years is normal, while de luxe and single malt whiskies are often left to mature for twelve, fifteen or even twenty years. There is a danger however, that after fifteen years the whisky may take on a f lavour

of woodiness from the cask and be spoiled”. He described the effect of long maturation to me as making the whisky ‘slimy’! Glenrothes Distillery is owned and operated by Edrington, though the single malt brand has long been owned by Berry Bros. & Rudd, the distinguished firm of wine & spirits merchants in London’s St. James Street, founded in 1698, who first released ‘Glen Rothes’ as a single malt in 1987. Prior to this, the entire make went into blends – it is ranked ‘Top Class’ by blenders – notably Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. Glenrothes was originally named Glen RothesGlenlivet. By the 1880s no less than twenty-seven distilleries on Speyside described themselves as ‘Glenlivet’, which irritated Russell Grant’s great-grandfather, John Gordon Smith, the owner of the original ‘Glenlivet’ (and the only distillery located in the Glen of the River Livet). He raised an action to limit the usage, but before it came to court the owners of the leading ‘Glenlivet’ distilleries agreed to use the term only as a suffix to their own distillery’s names, or to drop it altogether, and agreed that Smith’s Glenlivet should be honoured with the title ‘The Glenlivet’.



Tasting Note: Concentrated fruit – clementine, pear, a note of pineapple – with toasted almonds and moist gingerbread behind. Mouth-coating and sweet overall – milk chocolate, treacle toffee – enlivened by sweet orange. A long, refreshing finish.

The Glenlivet Gallow Hill – S i n gl e c a sk | b o ttl e d n a tur a l str e n gt h £235.00

In 1924, a local Glenlivet poet, R.H. Calder, published a poem to mark the gifting of the village hall to the community by Captain Bill Smith Grant, owner of the distillery. Its opening verse is well-known:

had a gibbet, conspicuously located on the hill which rises behind the distillery and commands extensive views across the whole district. Bodies were left to hang there until they rotted and were picked bare by crows.

Glenlvet it has Castles three / Drumin, Blairfindy and Deskie, And also one distillery / More famous than its castles three.

Glenlivet has a Gallowhill / Whereon the hangman plied his skill / But though the name suggests it still / No culprit does the gallows fill.

Verse two touches on the smuggling which was once widespread in the Glen: by 1820 it was estimated there were 200 illicit stills in the parish. Glenlivet has its peaty hills, / And rushing burns and sparkling rills, / Where scores of wee unlicensed stills / Were busy filling kegs and gills. Only relatively remote today, in days gone by Glenlivet was virtually inaccessible, and anyone entering the district was easily spotted, including excise officers. The people here were independently minded – a law unto themselves – and continued to work their small stills long after private distilling was banned in 1781. They were also staunchly Jacobite and Catholic: the owners of the glen were the Earls of Huntly (later Dukes of Gordon), leading Roman Catholics, and for years after Roman Catholicism was banned in Scotland, the secluded head of the glen hid the only place where young men could train for the priesthood – the Seminary of Scalan. On account of this perceived lawlessness, the parish

Finally, I cannot resist quoting verse six, which tells of my ancestor’s valour at the Battle of Glenlivet in October 1594: Glenlivet has a battlefield / On which Argyle was forced to yield, But brave MacLean his brand did wield / Til Huntly’ might o’ercame the chield. The battle was between the Catholic Earls of Huntly and Errol, with a small army of around 2,000 men, and the Protestant Earl of Argyle, with an army of 10,000 men from the Isles, including a detachment of Macleans, led by their chief, Sir Hector Maclean of Duart. The Catholic earls made up for their smaller number by cleverly deploying cavalry and a few cannon and soon put Argyle’s army to f light. The balladeer who told of the battle recorded that: “The Chief of Maclean alone withstood the assault of the horsemen, and performed marvellous feats of bravery, but was at last forced off the field by his own soldiers, and Argyle himself was compelled to f ly, weeping with anger”.

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Tasting Note: 9CT gold in colour. The first aroma is of green malt, hay and bread dough, soon becoming Thai prawn crackers (unique in my experience!), then sweetening to vanilla infused cake mix. The taste is fresh and sweet, with fresh cereal notes – ears of barley, oats – but with a pleasantly spicy kick in the medium length finish. Most unusual.


independent – indeed for many years Pepper’s whiskey proudly advertised itself as “Born with the Republic”. He was succeeded by his son, Oscar, in 1838, who rebuilt the distillery (now known as The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery) and hired a Scottish chemist, Dr. James Crow, who applied modern science to the art of distilling and is generally considered to be ‘the Father of American Distilling’. In 1878 Oscar’s son sold the business to Leopold Labrot and James Graham, and it became known as the Labrot & Graham Distillery. They sold it to the Brown-Forman Corporation (makers of Jack Daniels) in 1941 who operated it until 1968 then mothballed and sold it. In 1993, B-F bought it back – by this time the distillery was derelict and overgrown – and spent $10.5 million restoring the buildings and installing three copper pot stills (made in Scotland). In 2003 Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select was first released, and today it is one of the most popular bourbons among connoisseurs.

Woodford Reserve Classic Malt – Am e r i c a n M a lt W h i skE y 45. 2%Vol | £120.0 0

Woodford County, Kentucky, is largely covered by stud farms. Magnificent race-horses graze in verdant meadows and parkland, divided up by white wooden fences and fine old homesteads. The very epitome of the Old South. Woodford Reserve is the smallest distillery in Kentucky. Standing in a wooded valley, Glenn’s Creek, between Frankfurt and Lexington, it is built of pale limestone, with some of the buildings dating from the 1830s. For me, it is the prettiest distillery in America. It is also the most historic. It was founded by Elijah Pepper in 1776, the year the United States became

“The distillery honours both Pepper and Crow,” says Chris Morris, Master Distiller, “but it isn’t a recreation of a nineteenth century whisky”. Indeed it might be said to be an extension of James Crow’s analytical research into what’s possible, and this is especially evident in a range of limited releases, ‘The Master’s Collection’. Classic Malt now joins curiosities such as Four Grain, Sonoma-Cutrer Finish and 1838 Sweet Mash. As the name implies, this is distilled wholly from malted barley, so it is not a Bourbon, which must have at least 51% maize in its mash bill. It is also triple-distilled in pot stills, where other American whiskeys are made in patent stills or hybrid continuous stills, comprising a columnar ‘beer still’ and a pot still ‘doubler’. Like Scotch malt, Classic Malt is matured in refill barrels, while by law Bourbon must be matured in new American oak barrels. I am told that the company has simultaneously released Woodford Reserve Straight Malt, the same in every way to Classic Malt except that it has been matured in new barrels.



Bowmore Laimrig 15 Years Old – D I S T I L L E D 1 9 9 9 | b o ttl e d n a tur a l str e n gt h 53.7%Vol | £69.99

Laimrig is the Gaelic for ‘a landing place, a natural quay or pier’ and celebrates the distillery’s ancient stone pier, where sacks of barley and coal were once landed, and casks of whisky dispatched by ‘puffers’ – the shallow-draft, coastal steamers that operated up and down the West Coast of Scotland until the 1960s. Bowmore Distillery itself was founded in the 1770s – the given date is 1779, but I think it may have been established a decade before this, when the ‘model village’ of the same name was laid out by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, the local laird. It is certainly the oldest distillery on Islay and can make a good claim to be the oldest distillery on its original site in Scotland (but see Glenturret Triple Wood, p29). The make has long had a high reputation. As early as 1841, Walter Frederick Campbell of Islay received an order from the Royal Household for “a cask of your best Islay Mountain Dew [cash size and price of no concern] but the very best that can be had”. The order was renewed two years later. The owners, Morrison Bowmore Ltd (itself owned by Suntory, the leading Japanese distiller [see Yamazaki and Hakushu, p24 and p35), offer a wide range of expressions at various ages, finishes and wood types to satisfy a seemingly insatiable global demand. In 2012 alone, sales increased by 15%, when 2.2 million bottles were sold. Eddie MacAffer is the distillery’s first ‘Master Distiller’ having worked at Bowmore for forty-seven years, latterly as Distillery Manager (see his interview in Whiskeria,

Winter 2013). He was voted ‘Global Distillery Manager of the Year’ in the 2013 Icons of Whisky Awards. Since 2012 he has been ably assisted by Rachel Barrie, Master Blender, who has overall responsibility for cask selection and who has contributed hugely to Bowmore’s growing reputation and increasing list. For this edition, limited to 18,000 bottles, she has finished the mature whisky in first fill ex-Oloroso sherry butts and bottled it at natural (cask) strength. Bowmore is a full-bodied spirit, fruity and smoky – though not as smoky as some of the Islay malts (Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin, for example) – and the combination of this with sherrywood works perfectly.

Tasting Note: Dull amber – the colour of teak. The first nose is rich and prickly, with chocolate, hazelnuts, Oloroso sherry, dried figs and raisins. Behind this lurks some cocoa and peat smoke against a maritime, beach-like, background. Water adds plums and pears. The taste reflects all these elements: rich and full-bodied, with a sweetish start with more chocolate, a salty middle (seaweed crisps), and a long dry finish.

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Tasting Note: The colour of white wine. A fresh nose, and lightly cooling – eucalyptus, a hint of mint, a trace of cucumber – the first taste is likewise mouth-cooling, with a sweet start, a trace of fresh acidity and a shortish finish. A light, aperitif-style malt. A drop of water sweetens the aroma slightly and introduces pear drops. The taste remains light, sweet and fruity.

Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve – J a p a n e s e S i n gl e M a lt 43%Vol | £52.0 0

Hakushu Distillery – pronounced ‘Hack-shoo’, which means ‘white sand bar’ – stands at 2,300 feet above sea level – more than twice the altitude of Scotland’s highest distillery – in the shadow of the pale granite pyramid of Mount Kaikomagateke (9,744 feet), in the Japanese Alps. White is a sacred colour in Japan, and the name is derived from alluvial deposits cast up by the rivers which water the district, rushing down from the mountain above in crystal-clear cascades, filtering through granite rocks and filling subterranean caverns and springs. It is considered to be the best water in Japan and is bottled and sold by Suntory, the distillery’s owner. The distillery is surrounded by deep green sub-tropical forest, most of it protected as a nature reserve. The air is clean and cool, which makes Hakushu district popular with summer visitors escaping the torrid heat of the cities and plains of Japan’s south island, Honshu – especially since it is only three hours by Bullet Train from downtown Tokyo. Climate and water quality were key reasons for Suntory choosing to build their second distillery at Hakushu in 1973, the year the company celebrated its 50th anniversary and a time when Japanese whisky was enjoying huge, albeit local, popularity. Alas, the boom did not last. The Asian financial crisis which began in 1997 caused sales to plummet, and the situation was exacerbated by a change in fashion away from brown spirits. Many Japanese distilleries closed – some

forever – and the original still-house at Hakushu was mothballed. Japanese distillers were left with large stocks of whisky on their hands, and had to find new ways to sell it. As happened in Scotland during the 1980s, many turned to single malt, and this is now leading the revival in Japanese whisky, and its appreciation by whisky drinkers around the world. Until recently, Japanese malt whisky was not available as a single. Everything went into blended whisky. Like other Japanese distilleries, Hakushu produces several styles of malt whisky. The reason for this is that, unlike in Scotland, Japanese distillers do not exchange malt and grain whiskies (from which they make their blends), so each company has to make all the f lavours it requires. Hakushu can do this by varying the peating levels in its malted barley – all the malt comes from Scotland, but some is smoky and most not. By using different strains of yeast, and different lengths of fermentation – unlike Scotch distillers, the Japanese believe that yeast-strains and fermentation times play a crucial role. Then there are the stills themselves, and how they are operated. Hakushu has the widest range of still shapes and sizes of any distillery in the world. Six wash stills and six spirit stills; some are short and dumpy, some tall and majestic. Five of the stills are direct fired by gas f lames; one is indirect fired by steam coils. Likewise, five of the stills have shell and tube condensers, but one has a worm tub. And finally there’s the wood: a combination of new and refill American oak barrels, ex-Oloroso sherry Spanish oak butts and new Japanese oak casks. For the Distiller’s Reserve, a selection of different whisky and cask styles have been selected to achieve a delightfully fresh single malt.








One Fyne Lady Eleanor Argyll talks to Whiskeria about a life less ordinary at Inveraray Castle.

Words Claire Bell, Pictures Christina Kernohan

Eleanor Argyll’s life has the ingredients of a modern Shakespearean tale. As the great-great-great granddaughter of John Cadbury, the great chocolate industrialist, she is a descendant of one of England’s most-loved, peace-loving Quaker families and yet in 2002 married the head of Clan Campbell, one of Scotland’s most ancient, well-armed and oft vilified clans which has its clan seat at the iconic Inveraray Castle on the shores of Loch Fyne. Whiskeria’s Claire Bell caught up with her to find out what life is really like for the modern-day Duchess of Argyll. You grew up in the Cadbury family, part of a modern corporate dynasty, and you’ve married into a Dukedom that has been around since Bonnie Prince Charlie. Did you find it difficult to adapt? I guess I’m lucky in some ways, moving from one famous family to another, because I’m used to people looking at the surname and knowing a bit more about you than they would other families - though Cadbury is one of those surnames you never have to spell, unlike Argyll (laughs). There is a lot of history that goes with being a Cadbury, but it’s not a

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“If you are lucky enough to inherit a big house, you’ve got to make sure it works.”

– Eleanor Argyll

– The Duke and Duchess of Argyll in the library at Inverary Castle. Image: Christina Kernohan



day-to-day history whereas when you live with the Argylls, you live in the castle, so the history is with you day-to-day. I guess one big difference is that I grew up in a normal house in London with my mum, dad and brother, so I’ve had to get used to sharing my home with 85,000 tourists. How did you and the Duke first meet? When I was 18 I came to stay with his sister, Louise. I remember looking out the car window on the way back from the train station and seeing the castle and saying: “Oh my god, look at that house, that’s amazing” and them saying: “That’s where we’re going.” I had no idea. I thought I was just going to stay with my friend Louise in her house in Scotland. I had no clue that they lived in a castle. Have there been challenges becoming a Duchess? There have been a few. People have a picture of what you are like before they’ve met you. When I arrive at school on a Thursday they are expecting someone terribly grand with a ball dress on with a train and a crown, but then they just get me and my trainers. I think people do have a perception, because you are related to the royal family, that you are going to be completely different, but you’re just human. But as I say to my kids, you have to be extra careful in what you say and extra nice because people expect a hell of a lot of you. We read a lot about the modern working woman struggling to balance job, kids and home. Are there even more challenges of being at the helm of a modern aristocratic family? I don’t know many women who don’t work now. Most of my friends work, especially if they choose the private school system, because you have to pay the bills and pay the mortgage. Life has got so expensive now. I don’t think I’m particularly unusual and I think I am lucky in a way because Torquhil (the Duke of Argyll) and I run the castle together, so I can do the school run and I don’t have to panic that I need to be in an office by 7 o’clock in the morning. Inveraray Castle starred in the Downton Abbey 2012 Christmas special, as the home of Lord Grantham’s cousin Shrimpy. You’ve said before that you don’t have staff, the kids make their own beds and you do the cooking. When all the juggling balls are up in the air, do you ever wish that you lived in the Downton Abbey era? No, I think it would be appalling to be a girl in that era. I wouldn’t choose it. I went to a very feminist school, my school was set up by suffragettes, and you got taught if you worked hard enough you could do whatever you wanted. I did not grow up assuming I’d get married. I grew up assuming I’d get a job

and pay my own mortgage. I just happened to marry a guy who has all this history. I think we are lucky times have changed. Where do you see the future of the landed aristocracy in Scotland? If you are lucky enough to inherit a big house, you’ve got to make sure it works. And I think that’s where times have changed because two generations ago there was money to have lots of staff, you just ran your estate, that’s what you did. I don’t know if it made a profit or a loss, I can’t think it made much of a profit, but I think there was more money to fling around. But now you don’t have a London house, a country house and a sporting estate, you have a house that you share with the tourists and if you are lucky enough to get 85,000, then you really are lucky. We work really hard to get our tourists and give them a nice day when they get here. What kind of legacy do you want to create at Inveraray Castle? My husband believes you should pass it on in a better condition than you received it. He went to Cirencester (the Royal Agricultural College), so he’s the first person to have gone to agricultural college out of all the generations. He went to learn how to run a farm, how to do the accounts, how to maximise what you’ve got. Is innovation the key? I would say so because times have changed. Argyll used to be huge on fishing, Campbeltown was the big fishing place and now fishing doesn’t happen there so you have to move on, you are never going to run it how they ran it a hundred years ago. In 2007 we put on our first music festival which ran for two years with the most amazing line-up – Bjork, Goldfrapp, Sigur Ros – and then for the last three years we’ve been running the Best of the West Festival, which has the best musicians and food from the west of Scotland. Last year we had 5,500 people, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Skerryvore played, we served up the best oysters, salmon and cheeses and we had a whisky tent where people could come and try all the different whiskies from this side of Scotland and have little master classes. We are sitting on such amazing stuff around here. How do the established aristocracy react to you turning the clan seat into a music festival? After all, it’s not exactly The Antiques Road Show. I think everyone was very pleased that we were putting on a well-done good show, and you are not harming the castle in any way, you are actually bringing more people to the castle, and putting Argyll on the map more.

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“Last year we had 5,500 people, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Skerryvore played, we served up the best oysters, salmon and cheeses and we had a whisky tent where people could come and try all the different whiskies from this side of Scotland and have little master classes.”

– Eleanor Argyll

– Right: Inverary Castle during festival time Below: Whisky and music making the perfect blend




So what else is on the cards? We’ve heard rumours of a distillery? We are open to all ideas. We consider anything that comes our way. If we did do a distillery, it would probably be something very specialist, drawing on the history of the castle and the history of the family. The Campbell clan certainly has a colourful history. Which Argylls from the past do you most admire? Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter, was fascinating. She was married to one of the Dukes of Argyll and she set up the Girls Public Day School Trust for schooling clever girls who couldn’t necessarily pay school fees. She was also an amazing sculptor and independently minded and quite a voice in her own right, which for Queen Victoria’s children was quite rare because most of them were just married off, but she married the Duke of Argyll and was given a pretty independent life. Is Inveraray castle imbued with any of the Campbell spirits of the past? We’ve got a few ghosts. From the outside the castle looks quite big but the central Armoury Hall takes up most of the castle and that’s filled with hundreds and hundreds of axes and bits of armoury used in old battles. Was any of that armour used in the Glencoe Massacre? I shouldn’t think so, because Glencoe was pretty tiny. It has hit history quite well, but in fact it was a pretty tiny event compared to a lot of things the Campbells got up to. (laughs). Glencoe is a funny one, because if you look at different ways of telling history, with the Glencoe Massacre the Campbells were actually working for the government and if you go to the Glencoe museum there’s a completely different slant on it. It wasn’t a good outcome for the Macdonalds, but the Campbells were working for the government and the government gave the order.

The issue of Scottish independence is rearing its head again in 2014 with the upcoming referendum. The Campbells’ role in the 18th century battles for independence left them with a reputation as the bête noir of rebellious Highland clans. Do you think they’ve managed to escape from their history? No, I’m sure they haven’t. They were so huge, they ruled so much of Scotland in those days, they were such a big, powerful force and the Macdonalds lived right next door. Now we’re really good friends with the Macdonalds but in those days they were huge clans and they were running their own parts of Scotland so of course they were against each other all the time. Do you have a view on the Scottish independence question? I personally think Great Britain is a very great thing, but that’s just my opinion. We’ve all got a whisky story – the first time we drank it, our first whisky hangover. What’s yours? I had never tasted whisky until I married my husband. My dad’s family were Quakers, so we didn’t really grow up with many spirits around. My first time was at the Oban Games. It was also the first time I went to the Highland games. It was so alien to what I had grown up with, enormous men throwing tree trunks, and then the whisky, well… it kept you warm. I remember having my first taste and thinking: “What is it that Scotland is getting so excited about?” because it’s such an acquired taste, isn’t it? Of course, then your taste buds change. So which whiskies will we most likely find in the castle? The ones that come home more often are the Chivas Regals because my husband works for them (laughs). For me I prefer the lighter ones, not so much the peaty ones. – The Best of The West Festival takes place September 2014 For more info visit:



The Whisky Shop Spring 2014 Old Favourites in Smaller Sizes /48 Visit The USA /52 Off Piste Dramming /56 Customer Favourites /62 New Singleton Expressions /66 A visit to… Tullibardine /68 A visit to… Bruichladdich /70 More Gift Ideas /72 The Directory /74


Old favourites in smaller sizes – Whilst the standard bottle size for spirits in the UK is 70 cl, distillers do produce other sizes. Buying smaller size bottles from The Whisky Shop is a practical way of increasing the selection of single malt expressions that you can enjoy at home without breaking the bank. So here is an interesting selection of whiskies in 20cl (quarter bottle) and 35cl (half bottle) sizes. – Click & Collect:

Balvenie 12 year old Double Wood / 20cl –


What is it? A 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types. Over the period of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt. What’s it like? Smooth and well-rounded with a beautiful finish. The traditional casks soften and add character, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.

Cragganmore 12 year old / Speyside / 20cl – £20.49

What is it? One of the lesser known Classic Malts. A classic Speyside. What’s it like? A delicate and smooth malt, with a bouquet of herbal flowers. Light and easy to drink with a long and dry finish.

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Dalwhinnie 15 year old Highland / 20cl

Glenfarclas 105 60% / 35cl

Caol Ila 12 year old Islay / 20cl

Clynelish 14 year old Highland / 20cl

What is it? Another of the Classic Malts, this time Highland.

What is it? A real heavyweight contender in the battle for Speyside and one that has an incredibly loyal following. Weighing in at a strength of 60% abv it leaves nothing behind.

What is it? One of the original Classic Malts from Islay.

What is it? Clynelish Distillery, one of the most northerly distilleries in Scotland, produces single malt whisky unique in both taste and texture and is highly prized for use in world-leading blends.

– £21.49

What’s it like? Smooth and soft, flowery, with a touch of peat. A long and slightly smoky finish.

– £32.99

What’s it like? The addition of water is essential with this one and we would recommend Source Water available at all branches of The Whisky Shop. With an unmistakable sherry influence it produces classic sweetness and a dry, multi-layered finish that lasts forever.

– £23.49

What’s it like? Very peaty and smoky with a surprising freshness. A long, warming and spicy finish.

– £20.00

What’s it like? This coastal Highland whisky has a rich and complex character with a maritime influence. It is well rounded with an attractively dry finish.


Old favourites in smaller sizes, cont. – Click & Collect:

Lagavulin 16 year old Islay / 20cl

Oban 14 year old Highland / 20cl

What is it? A big Islay malt – one of the biggest.

What is it? A 14 year old from the Oban distillery that was founded in 1794 and lies in the centre of this scenic West Highland town.

– £27.49

What’s it like? As you would expect, intensely flavoured with peat, smoke and iodine. A wonder to behold, with a huge finish.

– £23.49

What’s it like? Fruity and sweet with seaside aromas and fresh flowers.

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Woodford Reserve Cask Rye Twin Pack 2x35cl

Johnnie Walker Blue Label / Blend / 20cl

What is it? Skye’s finest and only single malt. Young, fun and set to make an impression.

What is it? The Johnnie Walker brand is the world’s biggest selling range of blends. The Blue Label is the super premium expression with a unique blend of rare and old whiskies to die for.

– £21.49

– £157.99

What is it? The pack comprises a set of two different rye whiskeys, each distilled from the same 100% rye mash recipe – one version matured in new charred oak casks, acquiring a deep golden brown colour; the other matured in aged oak casks, where it develops a light straw colour. The double release affords the buyer an unusual opportunity to compare the effects of differing maturation techniques applied to the same spirit.

Talisker 10 year old Island / 20cl

What’s it like? The new cask version exudes aromas of cinnamon and tobacco leaf and has spiced apple and rich berry flavours. The matured cask version is both citrus and spicy with a soft vanilla finish.

What’s it like? This is a big, dry, peaty and peppery whisky, ideal for those cold winter nights. Huge, long, warming and peppery in the finish, with an appetising sweetness.

– £62.99

What’s it like? Rich, smooth and extremely moreish. An eye-opener to those who say they don’t rate blends.



Visit the USA –

American whiskeys are definitely on the rise. Using a different methodology from the Scotch industry, they can be less intense and are generally sweeter on the palate. Typically they are mixed with coke, but there is a high end range of American whiskeys that drink like single Scotch malts and are to be savoured. There are some real beauties in here. – Click & Collect:

Gentleman Jack Rare Jack Daniel’s Whisky

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel

What is it? Introduced by the Jack Daniel Distillery in 1988, Gentleman Jack is carefully crafted using only the finest grains, ironfree water from their own cave spring and a time honoured process that dates back more than 140 years. Bottled at 40% abv.

What is it? The whiskey is finely crafted from a single barrel which has been individually hand selected to ensure its unique taste and smooth and aromatic character. Bottled at 45% abv.

– £32.99

What’s it like? The new spirit is dripped through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal before maturing in new American oak barrels. When the Master Distiller decides that the whiskey is mature, it is then charcoal mellowed a second time. This additional step results in a smoother, more refined finish.

– £44.99

What’s it like? Bottled from individual barrels hand selected by the Master Distiller, it has a rich, full bodied taste. Less than one barrel in a hundred will be chosen, each with a unique character. These are found in the Angel’s Roost, the highest spot in the barrelhouse where the extreme temperatures of the Tennessee seasons force a greater interaction with the wood, emphasising the caramel, vanilla, and oak notes.

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Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Selection – £34.99

What is it? Woodford Reserve is the oldest and smallest working bourbon distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky. This is small batch production and everything is specially selected and hand crafted. This selection is bottled at 43.2% abv. What’s it like? It is dark amber with a tawny-copper cast. On the palate the taste is toffee and roasted nuts – a well-rounded, smooth and tangy taste.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Maple Wood Finish – £157.99

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Four Wood Finish – £157.99

What is it? A unique offering of Woodford Reserve Finish - aged in a toasted maple wood barrel, resulting in a whiskey enhanced with hints of maple, honey and cinnamon. The fifth in the series of limited edition Master’s Collection bottlings, Maple Wood Finish continues Woodford Reserve’s tradition of crafting rare whiskeys that extend the category in bold new directions.

What is it? Four Wood is 100% pot still Woodford Reserve Bourbon, aged in brand new American Oak and then finished in Oloroso Sherry, Maple Wood & Ruby Port casks. Each whiskey is placed into one of the casks and these cask finishes are mingled together to produce a layered product of exceptional quality and a depth of complexity rarely seen in American Whiskey.

What’s it like? Rich and warm with cinnamon spice, faint hints of maple syrup, berry fruit and a touch of nuttiness - a long finish with a touch of warm fruit.

What’s it like? Warm and full bodied, with a spicy, nutty aftertaste. The Oloroso cask brings notes of walnut and caramel, the Maple Wood brings hints of maple and baking spice whilst the Ruby Port barrel brings notes of rich berry fruit.


Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Seasoned Oak Finish – £157.99

What is it? Seasoned Oak Finish combines fully-matured Woodford Reserve with barrels crafted from wood that has been exposed to the outdoors for three to five years – the longest seasoning known in the bourbon industry. What’s it like? The taste is full flavoured and robust with layers of anise, dark berries and cherry fruit, warming cinnamon and clove spice notes.




To ‘e’ or not to ‘e’? » With or without? American whiskey adopts the Irish spelling and is spelt with an ‘e’ whereas Canadian whisky adopts the UK spelling without an ‘e’.

Getting categorical » There are various categories of American whiskey but in general they are distinguished by region – Tennessee Whiskey – or type – Bourbon Whiskey.

Typical Types » The type of American whiskey is determined by the mash it uses. The mash is the mix of grains used. Some types of American Whiskey include: Rye whiskey – made from a mash that consists of at least 51% rye Bourbon whiskey – made for mash that consists of at least 51% corn Corn whiskey – made from a mash that consists of at least 80% corn.

{ {

REGION (eg) Tennesse TYPE (eg) Bourbon

Rye Bourbon Corn

Kentucky, ken? » It is believed that up to 95% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky. Technically, bourbon can be made in any part of the US.

Two Classic Whiskey Cocktail Recipes: Old Fashioned

The Manhattan

– –   –  –

1½ ounces of your favorite bourbon 2 dashes of angostura bitters 1 sugar cube A few dashes of water

– – –  –

1 ½ ounces of your favorite bourbon 1 ounce of sweet red vermouth 1 dash of angostura bitters 1 maraschino cherry


Place sugar cube in an old fashioned glass and


Stir bourbon, vermouth and bitters over ice and

saturate with bitters, add a dash of plain water.

strain into a chilled glass.

Muddle until dissolved.


Garnish with cherry.

Fill the glass with two ice cubes


Serve straight up.

(no more or it will dilute your cocktail).




Add your favorite bourbon.


Garnish with orange slice and a cocktail cherry.



2/ 3/

51% RYE

51% CORN

80% CORN

A gift as unique as the person receiving it.

Proud Gold Medal winner at the Whiskies of the World Masters 2013.

Make Your Singular Experience a Memorable One © 2014 JACK DANIEL’S SINGLE BARREL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Off-piste dramming –

Spring is when the skiers like to go off-piste. Here is a selection of off-piste drams to tempt the adventurous, and we added some that are collectable. – Click & Collect:

Girvan Grain 25 Year Old

Great King Street The Artists Blend

What is it? A grain whisky from Wm Grants’ Girvan distillery that has aged in ex Bourbon Oak casks for 25 years.

What is it? A hand crafted blend bottled at 43% containing the very highest quality grain whiskies from first fill American oak barrels and almost 50% malt whiskies.

– £249.99

What’s it like? Velvety smooth with an incredibly sweet flavour, like Crème Brulee, and an intriguing citrus note.

– £34.99

What’s it like? Incredibly smooth, with an aftertaste of apples and spices.

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Hudson Baby Bourbon / 35cl

Hudson Four Grain / 35cl

Hudson Manhattan Rye / 35cl

What is it? A half-bottle of the splendid Baby Bourbon - the first legal aged grain spirit to be produced in New York since Prohibition ended over 75 years ago. The foundation is 100% Empire State corn, sourced within ten miles of Tuthilltown Distillers.

What is it? Hudson Four Grain bourbon whiskey brings together the distinct characteristics of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. Each batch starts with 800 pounds of grain which is ground at the distillery, cooked and fermented, then distilled twice. It is aged in signature small barrels.

What’s it like? Expressively woody, superbly smoky, with mellow notes of vanilla and caramel.

What’s it like? Grains are perfectly suited one to the others so that the end result balances the soft richness of corn, the sharp peppery notes of rye, all the smooth subtlety of wheat and the sweetness of malted barley.

What is it? Until Prohibition, New York was known for its rye whiskey. This feisty spirit was the basis for the legendary Manhattan cocktail, made famous by Jenny Churchill (Winston’s Mum). Rye had not been produced in New York for over 80 years, but Tuthilltown Spirits’ Hudson Manhattan Rye whiskey signals the return of the quintessential New York whiskey.

– £49.99

– £49.99


– £49.99

What’s it like? Bottled at 92 proof, it is fruity, floral and smooth, with a recognisable rye edge that leaves no doubt the origin of the spirit. Each bottle is hand filled, capped, waxed and numbered.


Off-piste dramming, cont. – Click & Collect:

Botanist Gin

– £36.99

What is it? Yes, we know it’s not a whisky, but this is the off piste section! It’s a small-batch, Islay gin using nine of the classic gin aromatics – orris root, cassia bark, coriander seed, etc – and augmented with a harvest of 22 local botanicals, hand-picked from the hills, peat bogs and shores of the island of Islay. What’s it like? Nice!

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Old Malt Cask 20cl Single Cask Bottlings –

What are they? Limited edition single cask bottlings from hand-picked casks by Hunter Laing. Each bottling is un-chill filtered and bottled at 50%abv.

Auchentoshan 13 year old

Benrinnes 10 year old

Blair Athol 10 year old

Laphroaig 9 year old

What’s it like? Light and fruity with a hint of caramel.

What’s it like? Sweet and full of earthy flavour.

What’s it like? Like a rich fruit cake full of dried fruit and spices.

What’s it like? Peaty, smoky, ashy – just what you would expect from a cask from this distillery.

– £34.99

– £27.99

– £27.99

– £26.99


Off-piste: Specials to collect – Click & Collect:

The Last Drop

– £2200.00

What is it? This is a blend. Not just any blend. More than 82 whiskies went into the original marrying vat, 50 years ago, many from distilleries long ago closed and forgotten. For 12 years the blend matured, and then most was bottled and sold as a fine 12-year old whisky. However, the company forgot just three casks; they lay at the back of the warehouse, unnoticed, evaporating (the “angels’ share”), and developing an unequalled richness of nose and taste. It is from the very last of these barrels that The Last Drop 50 Year Old comes. Bottled by hand and sealed with wax, the bottle of The Last Drop 50 Year Old nestles in a luxurious red leather case,

along with a 50 ml miniature, so that owners can taste this magnificent liquid before deciding to open the bottle. You will also find within the box, a ‘secret drawer’ containing a signed and numbered leather-bound book, certifying your bottle of The Last Drop 50 Year Old, and with room for your own tasting notes as you explore this extraordinary blend. What’s it like? Powerful and glorious – it’s hard to believe you are drinking a blend. One of the best drams in the world and definitely one to sample ‘before there is no more…’

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Customer favourites – Click & Collect:

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

Glenturret Triple Wood

The classic example of a Highland malt. Gentle traces of beeswax and buttered toast, covering a zesty note of orange peel. Smooth and scented to taste; sweet to start, with a hint of white pepper, drying in the warming finish. Water increases the waxy note in both the aroma and texture.

A mix of mature Glenturret malts from three different styles of cask: first fill exBourbon American oak barrels, first fill ex-sherry Spanish oak Butts and refill American oak hogsheads. The resulting whisky is a fragrant mix of orange peel, peardrops and vanilla, with cedarwood, marzipan (dusted with cinnamon) and coconut in the taste, drying lightly in the shortish finish.

– £39.99

– £46.00

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Glenfiddich 18 Year Old

Aberlour 12 Year Old

Balvenie 17 Year Old

Bowmore Laimrig 17 Year Old

The leading expression of the world’s best-selling malt, introduced in the mid-1980s, this is a classic – a benchmark whisky – developing and expanding the flavour profile of the 12 years old. Bronze in colour, the nose is a combination of orchard fruits, baked apple and oak shavings. The taste starts sweet, then dries out somewhat, with the fruity flavours becoming dried fruits, with candied peel and dates, imbued with an atmosphere of fresh oak.

A distillery in Speyside noted for its pure, clean taste, this distillery makes big berried sherried whiskies and delicate honeyed and vanilla ones, then mixes them to create this. There’s some green apple too, and you might find a hint of mint.

Full gold in colour; an elegant and complex aroma, with honeycomb and vanilla, indicating the use of active American oak casks, and behind this a hint of fresh green apple. The taste is sweet to start, with a sherbet-like fizz, followed by dried fruits, toasted almonds and cinnamon, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. A lengthy, sweet finish.

Laimrig is the Gaelic for ‘pier’ and celebrates the distillery’s ancient stone pier, where sacks of barley and coal were once landed, and casks of whisky dispatched by ‘puffers’ – the shallow-draft, coastal steamers that operated up and down the West Coast of Scotland until the 1960s. This cask strength whisky is the colour of teak – indicating the use of Spanish oak butts. The first nose confirms this with a scent of Oloroso sherry, dried figs and raisins. Behind this lurks some cocoa and peat smoke against a maritime, beach-like, background. The taste reflects all these elements: rich and full-bodied, with a sweetish start, a salty middle, and a long dry finish.

– £62.99

– £41.99

– £87.99

– £69.99


Customer favourites (cont.) – Click & Collect:

Isle of Jura Superstition

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

From a distillery that has moved towards the top of Britain’s favourite malts, this particular expression isn’t typical of the island distillery. However it brings a moderate amount of peat to the otherwise sweet, fruity and creamy whisky.

This is a vintage motor car of a whisky: no frills, no gimmicks, just a growling sherried engine and a big display of the very finest that well made sherry cask whisky can be. Highly enjoyable on all counts.

– £37.99

– £40.99

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M


Auchentoshan 12 Year Old

Dalmore 12 Year Old

Strathisla 12 Year Old

Balblair 1997

One of the few distilleries in the Lowlands, this distillery lies close to Glasgow and its fortunes have risen significantly since the brand was repackaged and its age moved from 10 to 12 years. This is relatively light and clean, an easy drinking fruity whisky ideal for warm autumn evenings.

Beautifully packaged, full of Highland flavour and of outstanding quality, this has long been popular with our customers. There’s some big orange and apricot flavours, peanut toffee crunch and a healthy level of oak, a big all rounder.

This is a prince of a malt, one of the most iconic Speyside whiskies of them all. It is bursting with rich fruity flavours and has depth and complexity. If you like Chivas Regal and are ready to move towards malt, this is the one for you as it’s a core malt in that blend.

This is one of Scotland’s best ‘hidden gems’ from a distillery up on the North East coast on the road from Inverness to Wick. It is a Starburst fruit bowl with fresh citrus and green fruit notes and just enough earthiness to stop it from being cloying.

– £39.99

– £43.99

– £40.49

– £54.49


New Singleton Expressions –

The Singleton is a neat concept from Diageo that covers a number of individual Speyside single malts under one banner – Singleton. These two new Singleton expressions use different wood combinations from the excellent Dufftown distillery. – Click & Collect:

Singleton Sunray

Singleton Tailfire

What is it? Sunray is a new expression of The Singleton of Dufftown achieved by maturing in toasted ex-Bourbon casks specially selected for the purpose.

What is it? Tailfire is another expression of The Singleton of Dufftown achieved by maturing in European (ex sherry) casks specially selected for the purpose.

What’s it like? A smooth yet intense character comes from the toasted ex-Bourbon casks delivering a honeyed, vanilla sweetness with aromas of blackcurrant and baked apple.

What’s it like? A vibrant and enticing character comes from the casks delivering a juicy red berry freshness and sweet aromas of vanilla and fresh cut grass.

– £45.00

– £40.00

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M



A visit to… Tullibardine –

Tullibardine Distillery sits quietly in the Perthshire countryside witnessing the stream of traffic heading to Gleneagles and beyond on the M80. It’s been in private ownership for some years now and the benefits of the owner’s passion for his product is beginning to shine through. – Click & Collect:

Tullibardine Sovereign

Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Finish

What is it? A new Signature Single Malt from Tullibardine using whisky matured in Bourbon barrels and a small percentage of Sherry casks from the broad base of aged whiskies distilled and matured at Tullibardine.

What is it? For about 12 months Tullibardine single malt has been finished in Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes casks which are 225 litres in size. This Chateau is classified as a 1st Growth Bordeaux Wine.

What’s it like? Having been matured in first fill Bourbon barrels and some Sherry casks this is a lovely balanced whisky exhibiting barley, pear drops and creamy chocolate notes which develop on the palate with a lingering finish.

What’s it like? This is a wonderful golden whisky with interesting citrus flavours, cereal notes and vanilla; there is a touch of pineapple and orange peel on the finish which is medium to long.

– £44.99

– £54.99

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Tullibardine 228 Burgundy Finish

Tullibardine 500 Sherry Finish

Tullibardine 20 Year Old

Tullibardine 25 Year Old

What is it? For about 12 months Tullibardine single malt has been finished in Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet red burgundy casks which are 228 litres in size.

What is it? For about 12 months Tullibardine single malt has been finished in sherry butts which are 500 litres in size. In this instance the sherry originally in the butts was Pedro Ximinez.

What is it? This 20 Year Old single malt was distilled and matured at Tullibardine spending all that time in mainly 1st Fill bourbon barrels from the Heaven Hills Distillery in the USA and a small percentage in sherry hogsheads.

What is it? This 25 Year Old single malt was distilled and matured at Tullibardine spending all that time in Oloroso Sherry hogsheads.

– £54.99

What’s it like? The time in these red burgundy casks has created a delightful ruby colour to this whisky with vanilla, light chocolate flavours and a creamy richness and hints of red summer fruit.

– £54.99

What’s it like? The time spent in the sherry butts has created an intense dark rich brown whisky with hints of toffee and apples with an edge of cereal notes; on the palate vanilla and toffee abound with dates and spice.

– £149.99

What’s it like? A charming single malt that delivers vanilla, cocoa, honey, and oatmeal in equal measure while finishing smooth and dry on the palate.


– £269.99

What’s it like? Full-bodied, smooth and fruity in the mouth, there is a myriad of flavours coming from toffee, spice and dried apricots. This is a Tullibardine to savour and take your time over.


A visit to… Bruichladdich –

Over a decade ago, life was breathed into a rather neglected distillery on Islay and Bruichladdich – or as it was affectionately known ‘the laddie’ – was brought back to life. The energy exuded from this relatively small distillery was immense and the ‘lad’ has attracted a huge following. The expressions following are a testament to the owner’s belief that raw ingredients matter. – Click & Collect:

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2007

What is it? A hand crafted single malt made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, then matured by the shores of Lochindaal in premium American oak.

What is it? Harvested in 2006 and distilled in 2007, the grain for this iconic whisky was grown for Bruichladdich in the Minister’s Field at Rockside Farm by Mark and Rohaise French.

What’s it like? Fresh and moderately peated with not too much smoke but enough to take you back to the campfire on the shore.

What’s it like? Rich and robust with the maltiness of the barley very much to the fore.

– £50.00

– £50.00

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Bruichladdich Black Art 4

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

What is it? This fourth incarnation of the now legendary Black Art is more enigmatic than ever, the composition of casks a mystery to all bar its creator. Matured in American Oak and a premium wine cask, and bottled at a cask strength of 49.2% ABV.

What is it? A heavily peated spirit distilled at Bruichladdich distillery and matured in American oak casks. Triple distilled from 100% Scottish Barley the spirit gently matures in the lochside village of Port Charlotte before being bottled at the distillery using Islay spring water.

– £275.00

What’s it like? Sweet and fruity with a mellow oakiness.

– £68.00

What’s it like? Extraordinarily rich with a huge depth of character.



More Gift Ideas – Click & Collect:

Drambuie Liqueur / 35cl

Hibiki 12 Year Old / 50cl

Black Bottle

What is it? A classic Scotch liqueur

What is it? An exquisite blended Japanese whisky. Hibiki includes malt whisky from Yamazaki and Hakushu, as well as grain whisky from Chita. The whisky is partly matured in plum liqueur barrels.

What is it? An iconic Scotch blend created over 130 years ago. Often described as the connoisseurs blend.

– £18.99

What’s it like? Voluptuous, mellifluous and full bodied.

– £45.00

What’s it like? Sensationally smooth and pleasant to drink.

– £27.00

What’s it like? Rich, with a delicate smoke aftertaste and a lot more going on besides.

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Bunnahabhain 3 x 20cl

Whisky Stones

What is it? A brand new but limited edition release of a 3 x 20cl gift pack from Bunnahabhain the Islay distillery famous for producing non-peated whisky.

What is it? Ice, but not as we know it! Shiny hard stones designed to keep your whisky cool without impacting on the taste. Simply store these in the freezer and use them… and use them again.

– £59.99

What are they like? It features three expressions, Bunnahabhain 12 year old, Bunnahabhain Darach Ur and the delicious and peaty Bunnahabhain Toiteach.

– £16.99

What’s it like? Effective and popular with shoppers at The Whisky Shop.



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The Spirit of Argyll With its magnificent hills and lochs, Argyll has been famed for centuries as the essence of wild Scottish landscapes. Claire Bell takes a road trip from Glasgow to the tiny religious island of Iona that inspires all the senses, including the taste buds.

Clann An Drumma, the Children of the Drum, have gathered close to the shores of Loch Fyne. Their tattooed bodies are draped in tartan, and the beating of their hands on the tenor-roped drums is as relentless as the rain. As thousands of feet stamp in unison, churning the land of the Campbells into a gooey, slippery mud, the battle is to stay upright. As the sun sets, the torches are lit on the walls of Inveraray Castle, and a horse with the body of a man joins the hoards in cheering the arrival of five Vikings. It’s not every day that the Norsemen receive such a warm welcome from the Clans, but then again, it’s not every day that Sigur Ros, the Icelandic post-rock band, takes centre stage in the Duke and Duchess of Argyll’s home. It was 2007 when the head of Clan Campbell first experimented with turning their ancestral seat into the site of a boutique music festival. Since then the festival has evolved into the Best of the West, an annual September celebration of the best bands, oysters, salmon, cheeses and whiskies from the west of Scotland, while from April to October, visitors are welcome to explore this 18th century castle and grounds. “We are sitting on so much history,” says Eleanor, the Duchess of Argyll. “The Armoury Hall has hundreds and

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hundreds of weapons, clan crests and the most amazing ceiling designed by Robert Adams. There’s a balcony that goes around the top where you can stand and watch the tourists. Every single one, as they open that door and look up, their mouths drop open. In that moment you really understand what the clans were all about.” The roads to Inveraray from Glasgow take you through some of the most spectacular hills and lochs of Argyll. Opt for the high road along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, stopping at the quaint lochshore village of Luss. This is a picture postcard hamlet of old stone cottages that featured in the Scottish TV soap Take the High Road. Continue on to the Drovers Inn at Inverarnan, billed “Scottish Pub of the Year 1705”, marking the year it first opened its doors to a cavalcade of kilted outlaws, English redcoats and drovers herding highland cattle to southern markets – among them reputedly Rob Roy MacGregor. The foyer boasts a stuffed grizzly bear, a snarling wolf and a two-headed lamb setting the wacky tone for this haven for hikers tramping the West Highland Way. If it’s the low road you’re after, take the ferry from Gourock to Hunter’s Quay at the entrance of the Holy Loch, and continue north along the shores of Loch Eck. Just a few minutes’ drive from the ferry terminal is Puck’s Glen, a steep narrow mossy gorge criss-crossed with waterfalls, wooden bridges and rock pools. It takes little over an hour to do the circular walk from the Forestry Commission car park and leaves everyone who passes through with the sense that they have found a porthole to an enchanted fairy kingdom. If you have all the time in the world, an even more leisurely way to reach Inveraray is to turn left before Puck’s Glen and take the single track B-road up and over the hills, past Balagowan wood, Loch Tarsan and Loch Striven to Tighnabruaich in the Kyles of Bute where the main attraction

is fishing off the edge of the pier, soaking up the stillness and browsing in the Tighnabruaich art gallery. From here continue on under big skies and open farmland to Portavadie, Scotland’s newest, sleek-styled yachting marina, where you can spend the night in luxurious, glassfronted apartments with awe-inspiring views down the length of Loch Fyne. Portavadie is also the jumping-on point for the ferry across to the charming small town of Tarbert on the Mull of Kintyre, famed for its seafood. From here you can continue northwards towards Inveraray, a slow, meandering drive that traces the entire western shoreline of Loch Fyne. Foodies will not be disappointed with Inveraray. From the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar to the restaurant at the George Hotel and Mr Pia’s Fish and Chip shop, there is something for every palate and budget and, if it’s liquid gold you’re after, the Loch Fyne Whiskies shop, which prides itself on its collection of unusual whiskies. “We get loads of whisky fans stopping here on their way to Islay, so we try and cover every distillery in Scotland. We stock some of the rarer whiskies like those from Port Ellen and the Brora distilleries, both of which closed down in 1983,” says shop manager Andy Burns. Another favourite haunt is the Inveraray Jail, now a living museum where actors offer up a taste of what it would have been like to be imprisoned in a 19th century jail. Throughout the day the “inmates” and “warder” stage courtroom trials, share their prison stories and encourage visitors to sample the punishments of the past. Be prepared to be banged up in a cell. For a less punitive pause, try the short, steep walk up Dun na Cuaiche, the little hill next to Inveraray Castle, a personal favourite of the Duchess of Argyll. “It takes about 40 minutes to walk up there with the kids and you get great views

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Facing page: The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan This page: Expert buying advice from Andy at Loch Fyne Whiskies, Inveraray




of the town and the loch,” she says. From Inveraray it’s less than an hour’s drive to Oban, the gateway to the isles. The iconic sights of this Victorian town are the red, black and white funnels of the Caledonian Macbrayne ferries that daily plough the waters between the Scottish mainland and the islands of Lismore, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Mull and Barra; and the curious McCaig’s Tower, which looms above the town like a misplaced Roman Colosseum. It’s a handy landmark though because just below is the Oban distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries in Scotland, that actually predates the establishment of the town. It’s also thanks to the distillery that the town learnt more about its ancient past. During blasting operations in the cliff bounding the distillery yard, they uncovered a cave containing bones and stone tools that would have once been used by Mesolithic settlers, dating the first human settlement at Oban as early as 4,500 BC. These artefacts are now on display in the National Antiquities Museum in Edinburgh, and visitors to the distillery will have to be satisfied with sampling the 14-year-old Oban single malt. Tastings see the whisky expertly paired with a piece of ginger, which sets off its soft peat and salty maritime flavour. If your whisky palate is not yet sated, jump on the CalMac ferry and head for the pretty fishing town of Tobermory on the island of Mull – the setting for the children’s programme Balamory – where there has been a distillery since 1798. The distillery is unique in that it produces two very distinctly different whiskies – the lightly peated Tobermory and the more hairs-on-your-chest peated Ledaig. Once you’re warmed to the core with the uisghe beatha, immerse yourself in some more Scottish waters at Calgary beach, a magnificent stretch of white sand, separated from the road by machair, that rare coastland grassland which is only found in the north and

west of Scotland and the west of Ireland. It will take you a full day to drive around Mull, mostly due to the fact that the roads are single track and it’s normal to smile and wave at every driver you pass. For lunch, try The Boathouse on the tiny island of Ulva, just off Mull’s western coast, population 16. To call the ferryman, slide back the signboard on the Mull-side boathouse and within minutes he will appear to ferry you to this gem of an island. Another magical, not-to-be-missed stop is the small island of Iona, separated from Mull by a mile stretch of water and reached by a small, pedestrian ferry from Fionnphort. Iona is famous for being the place where St Columba first brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland in AD563, and today the island is still home to a Benedictine abbey, where the graveyard of Oran contains the sacred remains of 60 Scottish, Irish and Norwegian kings. The island is a haven of peace and a centre of religious devotion, and those who walk its shores will agree that it is a place apart, that inspires quiet reflection. The composer Mendelssohn fell under Iona’s spell during a visit in 1829 when he wrote: ‘‘In some future time I shall sit in a madly crowded assembly with music and dancing around me, and the wish arises to retire into the loneliest loneliness, I shall think of Iona…’’ And perhaps the rest of Argyll.

Above left: The harbour at Tobermory, Mull Above right: Fresh catch dining, al fresco, at The Boathouse,Ulva



Aberfeldy Tour Charles MacLean explores the history of Aberfeldy Distillery.

By 1890 the demand for blended Scotch was rising so rapidly that many blenders found themselves short of ‘fillings’, as the component malt and grain whiskies which went into their blends were termed by the trade, and unable to meet orders from customers. A logical solution was for blending houses to also become distillers. Not only would this secure their requirements, but it also enabled them to exchange fillings with other blenders. John Dewar & Sons was ahead of the game in this regard and had bought the small Auchnagie Distillery (also known as Tullymet), near Ballinluig, Perthshire in 1890, but although they modernised and expanded it – when they bought it, the distillery’s capacity was a mere 24,000 gallons [62,000 litres] per annum – it soon became clear that this was totally inadequate. In 1896 the Dewar brothers, John (Jnr.) and Tommy, acquired a site near the picturesque village of Aberfeldy and employed the leading distillery architect of the day, Charles Doig of Elgin, to design them a state-of-the-art distillery, built to “the most modern principles”. The Victualling Traders’ Review in September that year reported: “We learn that Messrs. John Dewar & Sons, Limited, Perth and London, have taken a site on the estate of the Marquis of Breadalbane, near Aberfeldy, to erect a distillery capable of turning out 200,000 gallons per annum. The site is a good one, as there is a nearby railway siding into the grounds, and the water supply is received from the Borlich Burn [usually known as the Pitilie Burn. Borlich is a neighbouring farm], which is always full, even in the driest summer. The water has been carefully analysed, and has been proved to be of the best quality for distilling purposes.” The Pitilie Burn supplied water to a number of illicit stills in the late-18th and early-19th centuries, and to a small licensed distillery between 1825 and 1867. It supplies Aberfeldy Distillery to this day. The proximity of a direct rail link to Perth, where Dewar’s head office was located, was a significant bonus: a siding was built to bring in supplies

of barley and coal and take away casks of mature whisky. An old ‘Saddle’ shunting locomotive, known as the ‘Puggy’ (a Scots word for ‘monkey’) parked at the distillery today is all that is left of this railway connection, which closed during the 1960s. The new distillery, which opened in 1898, was built of local stone to a “modern and spacious design”, incorporating a steam engine and a water turbine to provide power. A private generator supplied electricity – a very advanced feature for the day. Dewar’s output exceeded one million gallons for the first time in 1900, and the company was now numbered among the three leading blending houses, along with John Walker & Sons and James Buchanan & Company. Warehousing, bottling, coopering and casemaking workshops were built adjacent to the existing offices in Perth, enabling the company to produce 2,000 twelve-bottle cases a day. “We were now sufficiently equipped to cope with the large orders for cased goods which were pouring in from all the world’s leading markets”, wrote J.L.Anderson, the Company Secretary. Aberfeldy immediately became the heart malt for Dewar’s blends and the distillery’s entire output was used for blending, especially after the creation of White Label in 1906, which rapidly became the leading brand. It’s creator was Dewar’s Master Blender, A.J. Cameron, an important figure in the history of Scotch whisky and the inventor of the ‘marrying process’, by which the component malts were vatted for three or four months before being blended with the grain whiskies. After much experimentation, Cameron found that this gave “greater uniformity and more dependable consistency to the blends, and, notwithstanding its complexity, has been retained as part of our blending system”. The process was once widely used by all blenders, and is still employed by Dewar’s today. Success in the market came at a price, however, not least in terms of advertising expenditure. “If you don’t advertise, you fossilise”, wrote Tommy Dewar. But he also wrote: “Competition

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is the life of business, but the death of profit”, and as early as 1909 had opened discussions with Walker’s and Buchanan’s about the possibility of a merger. Talks continued for a further sixteen years and culminated in ‘The Big Amalgamation’ of all three with the Distillers Company Limited [DCL] in 1925. The key player in achieving this was Henry Ross, Managing Director of the DCL. Tommy Dewar – now Lord Dewar – said at the company’s AGM that year: “We now look upon him [i.e. Ross] as our new Moses to take us out of the wilderness of strenuous competition and lead us into the land flowing with respectable dividends”. Of course, Aberfeldy Distillery was part of the amalgamation, and was now managed by the DCL’s production division, Scottish Malt Distillers [SMD], along with 33 other malt distilleries. But these were hard times for the whisky industry and SMD closed all its malt distilleries during the season 1933/34. This example was followed by the rest of the industry, except Glen Grant and The Glenlivet, which produced a small amount of spirit to meet existing contracts. Aberfeldy was one of the first distilleries to resume production once the crisis had passed, and has remained in production ever since, apart from between 1942 and 1944, due to wartime rationing of barley. The three decades following the conclusion of the war were boom years for Scotch whisky, and as soon as rationing ceased and funds were available, distilleries were expanded and modernised to

meet the ever-growing demand, Aberfeldy among them. In 1960, SMD introduced a mechanical coal-stoking system which took some of the hard labour out of firing the stills, and eight years later closed the on-site maltings; henceforth malt would come from modern centralised maltings at Burghead and Roseisle. Then, in 1972/73, the distillery had a complete make-over, in parallel with many other SMD-managed units. The tun room and still house were reconstructed, using much of the original stonework, and the latter was expanded to accommodate four stills, designed to be the same shape as the original two stills, but now indirectly heated by steam coils and pans rather than direct fire by coal. Large windows were installed in the still house which made for a more pleasant working environment. When the DCL’s successor, United Distillers, merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1998 to become United Distillers and Vintners (and later Diageo) the company was obliged to divest some of its spirits interests. The Dewar brands and four distilleries, including Aberfeldy, were bought by the Bacardi Corporation. Since then, over £3 million has been spent on the distillery, including the creation of a first rate visitor centre, ‘Dewar’s World of Whisky’, which makes good use of the company’s extensive archive to tell the story of the remarkable Dewar brothers, and of the global success of the brand, which has long been No. 1 in the United States. Currently, the shop and café in the visitor centre is being extensively refurbished – due to open during the first week in April 2014.

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{ Tasting Notes } Tasting Note: Deep amber. The first nose is relatively closed, with traces of beeswax and buttered toast covering a zesty note of orange peel. Smooth and scented to taste; sweet to start, with a hint of white pepper, drying in the warming finish. Water increases the waxy note in both the aroma and texture; not so dry in the finish. Easy drinking.

Aberfeldy 12 Years Old



Pitilie Gold Rush

» The Pitilie Burn, which provides the process water for the distillery, is reputedly rich in gold.

Doig’s Ventilator

– S IN G L E HI G H L AN D M A L T 40% VOL | £39.99 –

Tasting Note: Deep amber. Warm perfumed candlewax and scented face cream to start, then ripe peaches, heather pollen and toasted coconut. The texture is smooth and the taste sweet then dry – with a lively note of orange peel, and a comforting trace of buttered toast. A long and warming finish. Very more-ish!

Aberfeldy 21 Years Old

– S IN G L E HI G H L AN D M A L T 40% VOL | £152.99 –

» Charles Doig, who designed the distillery, was the inventor of the ‘pagoda kiln’, properly known as the ‘Doig Ventillator’, which has become the key architectural feature of a malt whisky distillery.

Aberfeldy ‘91 » So important was Aberfeldy to Dewar’s blends that it was only in 1991 that it was first released as a single malt by its proprietor.







e x p e rt tast i n g

{ Charles MacLean } Expert Tasting The Glenlivet 18 Years Old

– S PEY S I D E S IN G L E M A L T 43% VOL | £58.99 –

In the dark days before the ‘Malt Whisky Renaissance’ of the 1970s and ‘80s, The Glenlivet was one of the few single malts generally available. Of course, it has the most distinguished history of any malt whisky. It was one of the first malts to be mentioned by name, in the memoirs of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, who, in 1822, was asked by her father to obtain some whisky for the delectation of King George IV on his famous visit to Edinburgh in October that year. She recalled that she was required to “empty my pet bin, where there was [Glenlivet] whisky long in wood, long in uncorked bottles, mild as milk and with the real contraband goût [i.e. taste] in it”. This is the first reference we know of to the benefits of maturation in wood. Ironically, this whisky so favoured by the King, was illicit, but Glenlivet was one of the first distilleries in the Highlands to ‘go legal’ and take out a licence, in 1824, following the crucial Excise Act of the previous year which laid the foundations for the modern whisky industry. Two years later James Hogg, ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’ was saying (as reported by Christopher North): “Gie me the real Glenlivet, and I weel believe I could mak’ drinking toddy oot o’sea-water. The human mind never tires o’Glenlivet, any mair than o’caller air. If a body could just find oot the exac’ proper proportion and quantity that ought to be drunk every day, and keep to that, I verily trow that he might leeve forever, without dying at a’, and that doctors and kirk-yards would go oot o’fashion”. By this time George Smith, the distillery’s owner, had appointed Andrew Usher & Co of Edinburgh as his agent. Ushers would go on to register the first ever brand of Scotch, Usher’s Old Vatted Glenlivet – a mix of malts from different years – in 1853. After 1860 this became a blended Scotch. In the mid-1930s, The Glenlivet became the first single malt to be promoted in the USA by George Smith’s great-grandson, Bill Smith Grant. By 1939 he was shipping around 1,000 cases, including stocks of 2oz miniatures for the Pullman Railway Company and Blue Ribbon interstate express trains. During the 1950s the malt enjoyed cult status, and although there was an acute shortage of stock, cases were reserved for the luxury liners SS America and SS United States. The whisky was bottled at 12 years old – Bill Smith Grant preferred it at 10 years, and called this ‘the tyranny of twelve’ (see Glenrothes 9YO in New Releases, p31) – and it was not until the mid-1980s that the owners bottled an older expression, at 21 years. The legendary 18YO was the third expression to join the range, in 1994.

Tasting Note: Dull amber in colour, the nose is mellow and sophisticated – fruity overall (orange juice and peel, pineapple, ripe pear), with a trace of cigar-box and moss; at 43% the taste is rich and sweet, with some chocolate, drying in the finish, with a hint of crystalline sugar in the aftertaste. A little water introduces bubblegum and vanilla. The taste remains sweet and rounded.

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Chivas Regal 25 Years Old

– D e L u x e B l e n d e d S c o tc h w h i sk y | 4 0 % V O L | £ 1 8 0 . 0 0 – Chivas Regal is a global brand, especially big in Asia – the Chinese market was opened by Chivas during the late 1990s – and the United States. The core range of whiskies are bottled at 12, 18 and 25 years old. The brand was first created by Chivas Bros. of Aberdeen in the 1890s, and was selling in Canada and the United States by 1909, but although it had a high reputation, volumes were low. Like many other early whisky blenders – John Walker & Sons (Johnnie Walker), Matthew Gloag & Sons (The Famous Grouse), George Ballantine & Son (Ballantine’s) – James and John Chivas operated as a general grocer as well as wine & spirits merchants, supplying provisions to Queen Victoria at Balmoral among others, for which they received a Royal Warrant in 1843. The rise of the brand to international prominence came about after 1949, when the company was bought by the Canadian distilling giant, The Seagram Corporation, owned by the Bronfman brothers with the formidable Samuel Bronfman as its president. ‘Mr. Sam’ took a close interest in all aspects of the blending and packaging of Chivas Regal and applied his very considerable drive behind it, as well as a substantial promotional budget. A colleague recalled “…an historic meeting with Mr. Sam when we discussed the eventual world market possibilities for Chivas Regal. I submitted my modest estimates, which were immediately set aside by him as quite inadequate, and he gave his own, which were much greater. But the eventual sales have exceeded even his own estimates. This was not just a man marketing a new product – it was an artist producing his chef d’oeuvre”. Mr. Sam famously wrote: “If distilling is a science, blending is an art”. The original blend was made for him by Charles H. Julian, who had earlier created J&B Rare, under Sam’s direct supervision. The heart malt is Strathisla, which

Seagrams bought the year after it had acquired Chivas Bros. Glen Keith Distillery was built by the company in the late 1950s; Braeval and Allt a’Bhainne in the 1970s. In 1978 Seagram bought The Glenlivet Distillers, owners of Glen Grant, Caperdonich, Longmorn and BenRiach Distilleries, as well as the legendary The Glenlivet itself. All these malts play a part in the composition of the Chivas blends, along with dozens of others. The current ‘custodian of the Chivas style’ is Colin Scott, a charming and highly experienced man who I first met in the mid-1970s, soon after he had joined Chivas Bros. He was raised in Orkney, where his father managed Highland Park Distillery, and joined Chivas in 1973, working under the company’s Master Blender, Jimmy Lang, until he retired in 1989, when Colin succeeded him. As well as travelling a great deal to promote his brands, Colin’s key responsibility is for the quality and consistency of Chivas Regal and its sister blend, Royal Salute. Only occasionally is he required to create new blends – including Chivas Regal 18YO in 1997 and 25YO in 2007.

Tasting Note: Polished mahogany. A dense aroma, with perfume (hair lacquer, bay rum), fruits (bruised pear, dried fig, French apple tart), melted toffee and sandalwood – a drop of water increases the latter. A smooth texture and a rich, sweet taste, drying in the finish, with light spice at bottled strength. Wonderfully mellow and well-balanced. Best drunk without water.



{On the other hand} Victor Brierley‌

Gin & Fizz and Scotch & Fizz

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M

As a pwoud, a vewy pwoud Scot, it gives me a strange frisson when I hear people in some of the ritzier parts of London talk openly (and often brayingly) about their love of London Dry Gin. That quintessentially English of drinks. A whiff of the Empire, Dennis Thatcher, Cricket, the grand days of The Raj and Home Counties sit coms all jump into the consciousness when we hear those in Gotham city and beyond, talk of all things ‘G and T’. So, when I move into my automatically-sprung ‘what have the Scots ever done for us?’ response mode, the Alba aspect of gin always comes as a huge surprise to all those of the newly discovered Juniper generation. Because the facts, many and various as they are, point to a much more Northern slant when Genever or Juniper is discussed. Were it not for a chap called John Stein, a Scot from lowland Clackmannanshire, or ‘The Wee County’ as it’s known back home, we would probably not have a bottle of ‘London Dry’ in every bar in the world. The Continuous Distillation process he pioneered may have been refined and patented by an Irish Geezer called Aeneas Coffey in the 1820s but the fact remains that without this amazing new ‘industrial alcohol’ production process, the insatiable thirst of the British Empire for gin and blended Scotch, and at one point one quarter of the people on Earth who were part of this gang, would have remained unquenched. It’s also a surprise for many to find out that Mr Gordon, the chap whose name is as synonymous with gin as Mr Macdonald’s is with hamburgers and Mr Boot’s is with chemists was actually an Aberdeenshire man. As they say in those parts, ‘Fit like, gin’. Fast forward from the 19th to the 21st century, where we’re now enjoying a gin and a blended whisky renaissance, with a multitude of new, craft, small batch and boutique gins and blends it still surprises many to find out the Scottish roots behind loads of the popular and emerging gin brands. Edinburgh Gin, not surprisingly, but Caorunn, Hendricks and The Botanist gins, all products of separate whisky distilleries and of course possibly the most quintessentially metropolitan sounding of them all, Tanqueray, most of which is now made by Diageo in Leven, Fife! Because ‘London Dry’ is simply a style, it’s no longer got anything to do with geography. Of course, these ‘Jocks on the Rocks’ have been joined by lots of new, English-based brands and with the area around Warrington in Lancashire having gin roots going back centuries and London seeing the opening of several new gin producers and distillers to join the old favourites, us Scots are not the only ones ginning and bearing it. Because gin’s back and blends are back! No longer the preserve of maidens sporting ‘Margaret Thatcher blue’ eye shadow or golfing guffers, lamenting the demise of the blazer and slacks as the mark of a true gentleman. It’s the tattooed gal and luxuriantly-bearded, skinny and half mast trousered hipster’s dram of choice, with mixologists and bar people (does anyone call themselves just a barman any


more?) crying out for the latest, crazily-botanised gin of choice or boutique and modern blended Scotch whisky. With a dizzying amount of choice, the traditional juniper f lavoured and lightly botanised and fragranced gins have been joined by coloured gins, pink ones, purple ones, blue ones and yellow ones, with a similarly encyclopaedic choice of tonic waters and ‘bitters’ to accompany, build on or in a lot of cases, totally disregard the traditional ‘old school’ G&T. The Martini has risen to an art form, in spite of its relative simplicity and as a result, head out to some of the better bars in London with a couple of pals and you won’t see much change from a hundred quid for your artisan, Aperitivo hour cocktails. As well as this, with a dizzying amount of Scotch whisky blends all but Scotching the old ‘blends are a poor people’s potion’ notion, we’re also seeing a return of the original and classic ‘whisky and soda’, the drink that really started it all off in the first place. Highballs are seen as the way to do a number of blended Scotches these days and considering that the blends were created way back, by Messrs Walker, Dewar, Usher, Mackie, Chivas, Buchanan to be drunk with ‘charged water’, is it really all that surprising that the appreciation of a creamy and dreamy Scotch and Soda is back? So, the bar professional as superstar is a modern phenomenon and the cocktail shorthand of ‘a gin martini, wet, with a twist and an atomised spray of bitters’ is no longer the gobbledegook, secret code of wannabe special agents or aficionados, it’s a drinky-poos directive being enjoyed all over Britain. Combine this with a number of interesting fizzy twists on the blended whisky ‘Highball’, it’s clear that artisan and interesting spirits have a very exciting and creative few years ahead of them.

Victor’s Top 5 Pretentious Tasting Notes

I continue my troll of pretentious whisky tasting notes with the following offerings:


“Fairly lightweight, with a couple of decent Tapas-inf luenced twists.”

Surely drinking at the wrong bar!


“Mango coulis, more runny honey, peaches and cream.”

If whisky tastes like this, I’m a poached pear!


“The dark mahogany colour speaks of wood.”

Knock Knock! Who’s there…?


“Another fogeyish bottling.” Really?


“That wasn’t breakfast toast after all. It was melba toast, with a game pate. Or better still, a mousseline…”

Oh yes… and poached eggs, tomato and and coffee – £9.99




Gin &… what else?

Everyone assumes that gin only goes with tonic, but it is surprisingly good with any of the following mixers:

– Grapefruit Juice –  Tomato Juice –  Orange Juice –  Pineapple Juice –  Apple Juice –  Lemonade

Ice is an essential ingredient. Garnishes are optional, but pick from the following:

– Lemon – Lime – Orange – Mint


Cocktail Alternatives:

Traditional (Mad Men) Dry Martini – – – – 1/ 2/ 3/

2 parts Beef eater Gin 1 part vermouth Lots of ice Lemon rind or olive (opt ional) glass and fill with ice. Combine ingredient s in a mixing chilled cocktail glass a into Stir well to chill and strain drink and use as the over Twist a piece of lemon peel olive. an in garnish, or, if you must, toss

Talisker Highball

– Talisker –   Soda or sparking mineral water –  Pinch of white pepper – Lots of ice

“An astonishing, life-remembering dram of labyrinthine complexity” The Last Drop Distillers brings you its latest and smallest offering– only 388 bottles in all. Jim Murray awards it 96.5 – among the World’s top 20 whiskies. Award yourself this great experience, before there is no more.




The winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries received by 14 June 2014. The judges decision will be final. All normal competition rules apply. Entrants must be over 18 years old.

W H I S K Y S H O P. C O M




40% ALC. BY VOL.


Whiskeria Spring 2014 Edition  

Unlocking the mystery of Whisky.

Whiskeria Spring 2014 Edition  

Unlocking the mystery of Whisky.