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Autumn 2015












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A S I S E E I T…

{ As I see it… } Ian P. Bankier Executive Chairman |

When the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) recently offered an information seminar to persons and syndicates planning to build a new distillery in Scotland, some 36 parties applied to attend. And as I write today, at least ten new distilleries are under planning, construction or, indeed, have newly opened. If all 36 planned distilleries come to life, this will be an astonishing statistic, as it would represent an increase of almost 30% in the number of single malt distilleries in Scotland. Astonishing, because the historic background since the great ‘whisky loch’ of the 1970s is of numerous distillery closures, as the industry has grappled with economic efficiencies and perceived surpluses in mature whisky stocks. So what’s going on? It all started around 2005, when the major global drinks companies began to realise that world demand for Scotch was outstripping supply. Sales in emerging markets, such as Asia, Latin America and Russia, were soaring. Their response to this dilemma was not only to increase production, but they all switched from being net sellers of whisky stock to becoming net buyers. That meant that they bought up every scrap of spare distilling capacity. Small distillers, who had been bumping along on a hand to mouth basis were suddenly getting very interesting visits from the ‘big boys’. This development, naturally, caused quite a stir and also attracted a fair share of publicity and, unsurprisingly, it led to a number of entrepreneurs concluding that it would be a good idea to build a distillery. And so plans were set in motion. Even though Scotch sales have now declined somewhat, Scotch remains in strong demand around the world. The outcome is that whisky enthusiasts are to be the beneficiaries of a new generation of small ‘craft’ single malts that will come on stream over the next few years. They will come from some great locations such as the Isles of Harris, Lewis and Islay, the Ardnamurchan peninsula, Annandale in Dumfriesshire and even the city of Glasgow. And they will join the existing community of small distillers around the world that

have been forging an independent path. Deservedly, each new distillery will be hailed as an achievement, it will grab the headlines of the day and whisky connoisseurs will enthusiastically welcome them to the fold. But this is where I should like to draw a line. Scotch whisky is not a product that can be made today and sold tomorrow. Any comparison with the highly successful craft beer industry would be erroneous, indeed, misleading. What puts the great single malt Scotch whiskies on a pedestal is the amount of time they have been practicing their ‘craft’ and the amount of investment employed. The eventual maturation of some whisky from a new small distillery is not an end, but it is a rudimentary beginning. On the other hand, those single malt distilleries that are established, have been so for more than a century, they have mature stock going back for decades and it has taken relentless annual investment to build them, polish them and attend to every detail of quality. Time and money (and I mean oodles of money) are fundamental to making great Scotch whisky and it is an inconvenient fact that this new generation of small distillers lack both in considerable measure. When you get close to single malt distillers like The Macallan or Glenfiddich, to name but two, and understand the time they take and the money they spend in pursuit of quality and perfection, and that is before you even begin to comprehend the years of stock laid down in the very best oak casks, you realise that there is simply no fast track to that standard. Every single malt has its place and this new generation is very welcome, but their arrival should not be seen as a revolution. Already they are being described as craft distillers, leading to an erroneous comparison with beer and implying ‘craft’ is good and large production bad. My plea to whisky aficionados is to curb your enthusiasm. Vive la difference, but let’s not create another Scotch whisky myth!

“Time and money are fundamental to making great Scotch whisky. This new generation of small distillers lack both in considerable measure.”

Spotify Playlist Ian P. Bankier 'Songs that tell a great story' » » » » » » » » » »

Long Black Veil | Rosanne Cash Almost Persuaded | Etta James The Boxer | Simon & Garfunkel Paperback Writer | The Beatles Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) | Don Maclean Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm | Crash Test Dummies In Dreams | Roy Orbison Sylvia’s Mother | Dr Hook & The Medicine Show Folsom Prison Blues | Johnny Cash It’s All Over Now | The Rolling Stones.

Scan the QR code to listen to this Whiskeria Spotify playlist » or go to whiskeria_magazine



Win a trip to Loch Fyne Whiskies! Win a trip to Loch Fyne Whiskies! To celebrate the launch of the new range of The Loch Fyne products, The Whisky Shop is offering one lucky winner the chance to win a visit to Inveraray, the home of Loch Fyne Whiskies. One lucky person will win a bespoke whisky tasting in Loch Fyne Whiskies, including a tour of the shop and the chance to hand-fill your very own bottle straight from The Living Cask. You will then be treated to dinner, bed and breakfast for two in The George Hotel, just opposite the Loch Fyne Whiskies shop. To be in with a chance of winning, just answer this simple question:

Q: What significance does 1745 have for Loch Fyne Whiskies? and email your answer, along with a contact telephone number and address to: T&Cs The winner will be selected from all correct entries received by 31st October 2015. The judge’s decision will be final. Entrants must be over 18 years old. Date to be mutually agreed, exclusion dates apply. Prize does not include transport. Prize must be claimed within 12 months.

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ROUSED BY THE CARIBBEAN Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Rum Cask Finish After patiently raising our whisky for 21 years, we add a sublime finishing touch. By finishing our malt whisky in Caribbean rum casks, we rouse our exceptional Scotch whisky with extra rich, sweet and exotic flavours.

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{ Contributors } Autumn 2015

Brian Wilson

Claire Bell

Brian Wilson, formerly an MP, held several Government Ministerial posts during his political career. He lives on the Island of Lewis from where he pursues various business interests, notably in the energy sector. He also led the regeneration of the Harris Tweed industry and is currently Chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides Ltd. His first love was writing and he continues to write books as well as opinion pieces for national newspapers.

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. On her recent trip to Islay she fell in love with Laphroaig 18 Year Old, describing it as light and delicious compared to ‘the insanely smoky’ 10 Year Old.

Charles MacLean Gavin D. Smith 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 more than a dozen books on whisky, while coauthoring many more. He is currently preparing a new version of The Malt Whisky Companion.

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.



THE LOCA L S ECR ET T H E R A R E S T M A LT Our malted barley has no hint of peat smoke, ensuring the SMOOTHEST, CLEANEST taste. This rarest of SPEYSIDE CLASSIC has been distilled in HANDMADE copper pot stills since 1897, yet for over a century it was only sold in LIMITED EDITIONS aimed at collectors. PLEASE ENJOY OUR SINGLE MALT RESPONSIBLY. AULTMORE AND ITS TRADE DRESS ARE TRADEMARKS



{ Contents } Autumn 2015


Cuba Ralph Erenzo, Hudson Whiskey Charles MacLean

42 M Y WH I SK ER I A Cover Feature:

Michaela Tabb, Snooker Referee


Skopelos, Greece

57 58 60 62 64 66

THE WHISKY SHOP: A Hebridean Sprint to Islay A Hebridean Sprint to Jura A Hebridean Sprint to Skye A Highland Beauty Autumn in Speyside

72 74 78 82

A New Addition Ice & Crystal Customer Favourites The Directory


Ardbeg Jura Talisker Glenmorangie Glenfiddich / The Singleton of Dutown Woodford Reserve

Makar / Bruichladdich / Bulleit Bourbon Talisker Glenfarclas


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42 85



90 94




Somewhere in the late 1960s, two agents of the Cuban revolution came to Scotland. They were men with a mission – to find out how to make Scotch whisky and report back to Fidel Castro. How did I come by this story? Well, at first hand, actually. When I became UK Trade Minister in 1998, I embarked on a little personal project to normalise our commercial relations with Cuba, rather than tagging along as accomplices to the American blockade. Within a few weeks, I went to Havana and, without preannouncement, straight into dinner with Fidel which was initially slightly surreal. For whatever reason, we got along well and over the next few years, I enjoyed many hours of conversation with him. Which takes me back to the whisky tale. “I once sent ‘spies’ to Scotland,” he declared conspiratorially, using his fingers to indicate the inverted commas. “I wanted to know how to make whisky. We were never going to do it commercially, but I was interested in knowing about the process”. That permanent state

of intellectual curiosity was very characteristic of the man. The agents returned with discouraging news – that it took 20-plus distilleries to produce a blended Scotch whisky. Single malts were less fashionable at that time, so I suppose that never occurred to them. But, Fidel assured me, their journey had not been entirely in vain. Ever since, in a corner of one of Cuba’s rum distilleries, they make whisky, he said, and sell it locally as Old Havana. To prove the point, he called over the aiter and a few minutes later, a bottle of Old Havana appeared which led to a most unusual exchange of toasts. The President of Cuba raised his glass to “Tony Blair and the Third Way” while I reciprocated with “Peace and Socialism”. Fortunately, I had brought some of the good stuff with me from home so these convivial proceedings were not entirely confined to the dubious delights of Old Havana. My love affair with Cuba has persisted beyond life in politics,

“I once sent ‘spies’ to Scotland,” he declared conspiratorially… “I wanted to know how to make whisky.”

{ A Time in History } Brian Wilson Cuba

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which I left in 2005. A couple of years later, I was asked to chair a seminar on renewable energy in Havana with a view to establishing links with the UK industry. One of the upshots was that we formed a company called Havana Energy. The Cubans realised that they were dangerously overdependent on cheap oil imports from Venezuela. If that ended abruptly, which was a distinct possibility, they would find themselves in the same situation as the early 1990s when the Soviet Union pulled out virtually overnight, leaving Cuba with desperate shortages of oil and other commodities. In other words, they urgently needed to reduce oil dependence by developing their renewables potential. Havana Energy formed a joint venture with the sugar ministry to develop biomass plants at five sugar mills around the country. Nothing happens urgently in Cuba so that project is still work in progress. However, an immediate spin-off developed. For as long as I had been going to Cuba, I had heard “marabou” spoken of as a national plague. Marabou started life as a decorative plant, introduced a century ago from Africa. In Cuba, it thrived, became anything but decorative and spread to more than a million hectares, as agriculture receded. We took samples back to the UK, found that it could be used as a very effective biomass fuel as well as for producing activated carbon and now it is being harvested for these purposes. Potentially, the Cubans have a major asset in marabou instead of a massive liability. And the one certainty is that supplies of the raw material will remain plentiful for many years to come! Most visitors to Cuba return home with a good vibe about both country and people. But this might also be tinged with a sense of regret that such unnecessary hardship is created for ordinary Cubans by the peculiar circumstances which prevail – with a sworn enemy just a half hour flight away, still pursuing an ancient Cold War vendetta. Of course, this hostility has also served over the decades as a useful alibi for the failings of the Cuban system itself. In the past few years, the government has become more self-critical and has faced up to the need for reforms. Thousands of small private businesses now operate – restaurants, guest houses, hairdressers, market stallholders and so on. It’s a start. To those who are itching to discover Cuba before it “changes”, my advice tends to be: “No need to rush”. The idea that limited détente with Washington will mean commercialism sweeping away ideals, or even new American cars replacing vintage ones, is wide of the mark. Barack Obama’s attempt to normalise relations between the


two countries reflects long overdue recognition that the blockade of Cuba is as futile as it is unjust. As Bill Clinton said: “Anyone with half a brain knows the embargo is counter-productive”. Doubtless, he would have liked to end it when in office. But, now as then, there is a determined rearguard action in Congress to be overcome. Two Republican front-runners for the Presidential nomination, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, are both hostile to Obama’s attempts to move on after 53 unproductive years. Only Congress, rather than Presidential decree, can lift the blockade which is by far the biggest barrier to investment in the country. The number of American visitors to Cuba will probably double this year, to around 1.5 million, due to some liberalisation in restrictions imposed by the Americans. Half the population of the US seems anxious to be in the queue to go there once the travel ban is totally lifted. But the Cubans need quite a lot of time to adapt to the prospect of a major influx. They simply don’t have the infrastructure to cope. The hotels in Havana are bursting at the seams for most of the year. There are very few genuinely five-star properties. As with everything else, investment is urgently needed to handle a big increase in US tourism and the Cubans will handle that challenge at their pace rather than one decreed in Washington. I very much hope that the Obama initiative can sustain momentum and be carried on by his successor. The Cuban people have suffered enough hardship. Every aspect of daily life is stunted by the shortage of money. Every sector of the economy desperately needs investment. Young Cubans share the same interests as their counterparts across the Florida Straits or in Europe. They want to travel and communicate. In spite of all that, the Americans will be sadly mistaken if they expect an unconditional welcome for the return of the almighty dollar. It won’t be like that at all – which helps explain why change will be gradual, whatever Washington decides. There is much in Cuba to be valued and defended. Memories have been kept alive of the humiliations visited on the country by the dictators and gangsters who ran it in the American interest before 1959. Never forget, as you stroll along the Malecon – the great promenade of Havana – that one plan thwarted by the revolution was to tear down all these iconic buildings, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and replace them with casinos. The Cubans have good reasons to insist that it is they who will control the terms of change. A postscript to my whisky story. I brought a bottle of Old Havana back to Glasgow and Tom Shields, then diarist for The Herald newspaper, took it to a hard-drinking local pub to ascertain the views of the patrons. One of them threw back a gulp and pronounced: “More like Castrol than Castro”. But the rum, I can guarantee, is excellent!






The SINGLETON word and associated logos are trademarks Š 2015

THE SINGLETON. MADE OF TASTE. Single malt whisky with honey notes from maturation in toasted bourbon casks.



{ My Craft } Ralph Erenzo Owner – Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, Hudson Whiskey

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Tell us your first memories of whisk(e)y? Both good and bad… Probably the first whiskies I was drinking I have no memory of! I was actually much more of a Guinness drinker before we started making whiskey. I was also a fruit spirit fan - I was very intrigued by eau de vie, brandies and Armagnac, and that’s what got my interest first in the industry.

moving. So the next thing I knew, he’d strapped the speakers to the ceiling and every night we would turn it on. My son, Gabe, coined the phrase ‘sonic maturation’ and that was beautiful as it made it sound really official! But mostly it was so much fun – when people ask how it affects the whiskey I say – it’s so much happier whiskey! We play music to it all day long!

And now you’re in it, what do you love most about the industry? I like the camaraderie that we find in the industry, especially with the new generation of small craft distillers – they are friendly competitors, so I feel we are all working together to improve the industry. Everyone has the same interest, which is building infrastructure, and keeping business going. We all talk freely, and every one of the new distilleries was built after us – they all came here first and we always sat down with them and told them what to expect and gave them guidance.

What are the unique characteristics of Hudson Whiskey? Flavour wise, the whiskeys have a good vanilla note and that is what we try to maintain - that originates from the small 3 gallon barrels that we originally used. So we continue some production with this method, using barrels as small as 5 gallons. We use larger barrels too because it is far cheaper to produce whiskey in bulk, but Hudson is known and unique for its terrific vanilla flavour.

Tell us how Hudson Whiskey was born? Well here in the Hudson Valley we are in the heart and home of the American apple – it’s so readily available and it made sense for us to use it. Fruit is easier to start with than grain as there is no starch conversion involved, you just take the juice, throw the yeast in and go! So it was something that was relatively straightforward because we really knew nothing at the start. Once we got that down, we started experimenting with grains. There was no manual for doing this – so everything we did was pretty much an experiment, and we really welcomed and sought out new ideas. I lobbied in Albany to get the Farm Distillery Act passed in 2007, which allowed us the right to have a tasting room – and that changed everything. This paved the way for other distilleries to set up, and now, since 2008, there are over 100 in New York State.

And this is why you started using the small barrels in the first place? Yeah! It was funny because when we started sending them to William Grant’s, they were laughing, but we told them that they are great in the beginning for experimentation because they turn over very fast. The process ends up taking 30-40 days per gallon, so a small 3-gallon barrel we can turn over in 3-4 months, as opposed to 2-3 years for a larger barrel. That was what allowed us to get product on the market fast, and then we slowly migrated some of our whiskey to larger barrels because, of course, they are so much more efficient and provide other important aspects of maturation.

“I remember… feeling it thumping in my chest every time the bass hit. I thought, ‘that would work on the whiskey!’ ”

Speaking of new ideas, who came up with the idea of playing music to the casks? Well it was my idea to try getting bass beats in there, at a time when we wanted to start moving the barrels to agitate the liquid. I knew the job would have fallen to me to move the barrels and I didn’t want to do it! I remember going into New York City, pulling up to traffic lights and hearing the guy 3 cars back with the bass going and feeling it thumping in my chest every time the bass hit. I thought, ‘that would work on the whiskey!’

Did you have a vision of always working alongside family? It is a dream come true to be able to work with family members and actually enjoy it! I think it’s a rarity to have this kind of relationship - we have a good time! Gabe has worked with me since he was six years old, I always gave him something to do and some money, and so he grew up doing business! I never really asked him to come into the business, but what I did say was ‘if you want to come, there is always a place for you.’ At one point he was at a crossroads in his career and he came here to help out with lifting and carrying, and then he just stayed and it has been fabulous. We have similar ideas about what should happen, which is really rewarding. It’s good to see him now with his own projects, and that is a source of pride for me, and I’m so glad we are working together.

And how soon did that idea become a reality? Well when I got home I suggested it to my business partner, Brian, and the next day he showed up with sub-woofers and a 5-gallon carboy! We set it up on a table with water on the side and he ran a heavy rap beat through it and we started to see the water

What is on the horizon for Hudson? Well I’m going up the road this afternoon to pick up a sherry cask from one of our local wineries - we are going to put our whiskey into one and see what happens. Longer term, the state has a new barley program which is interesting - they are studying which varieties are



Knowledge Bar Hudson

» » » »

Owned by Ralph Erenzo and his business partner Brian Lee Tuthilltown Grist Mill and property was bought in 2001 Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery was founded in 2003 First whiskey distillery in New York State since Prohibition


the sturdiest and best suited for this environment. Our barley is the only ingredient that currently isn’t from New York State so this would be a big development for us. We are also building a cognac still, which will be really good for fruit spirits, and it’s also a great attraction. We are trying to focus more on the entire operation, but really, it’s the whiskey that draws people here. And finally… What was the last dram that made you say ‘wow!’ ? I recently had a Glenfiddich Single Malt vatting of 1989 and 1976 barrels - it was pretty spectacular!

Named Best US Artisan Distiller of 2010 by the American Distilling Institute

Spotify Playlist Ralph Erenzo 'Hudson's Sonic Maturation' » » » » » » » »

Midnight | A Tribe Called Quest Harlem Shake | Baauer Fight For Your Right | Beastie Boys Big Poppa | The Notorious B.I.G Oh No | Zeds Dead Make it Bun Dem | Skrillex & Damian Marley Sabotage | Beastie Boys Clap your Hands | A Tribe Called Quest

» Discover more at: Photo p16 by Ben Stechschulte

Scan the QR code to listen to this Whiskeria Spotify playlist » or go to whiskeria_magazine

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» Feature: Loch Fyne Whiskies

— 3 I N N O VAT I V E E X P R E S S I O N S BRAND NEW TO THE WHISKY SHOP Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History, a thoroughly researched and usually reliable tome, records: “Loch Fyne Whiskies was founded in the picturesque and historic town of Inveraray in 1992 by Richard Joynson, who until then had been a fish”! As the author of the book, I could not resist leaving this delicious typo – with Richard’s permission (he is a good friend). It should have read ‘fish-farmer’. At the time, according to Richard’s first newsletter – the grandly titled Scotch Whisky Review – it was one of only two “known retail businesses wholly dependent on the sale of whisky and whisky goods”. How times have changed! Richard retired in 2013 and today Loch Fyne Whiskies remains an independent retailer led by John Beard, formerly of Whyte & Mackay. While he was at the helm of Whyte & Mackay, John was responsible for the very successful re-launch of both The Dalmore and Jura single malt brands, among other things. Richard introduced The Loch Fyne Blend in 1996, describing it as a super-premium. It was blended by Ronnie Martin OBE, former Director of Production at United Distillers and Professor of Distilling at Heriot Watt University, then Chairman of Inverarity Vaults, the company which assembled the original blend. At the time, I described it fulsomely as: “A true premium blend which has clearly used well matured fillings. There is no harshness in it, no cereal notes or feints, no artificial caramel notes. A whisky which is appropriate for any time of the day: perilously smooth, mellow and easy to drink”. Advertised as ‘The Malt Drinkers’ Blend’, it immediately won the Bronze Award in the Blended Scotch category of the International Wine and Spirit Competition. Currently it is being created for Loch Fyne by Tom Aitken, the hugely experienced former Master Blender with John Dewar & Sons. The Loch Fyne Living Cask first appeared in 1998. This is a continually changing blended malt, inspired by the renowned oenophile, Professor George Saintsbury, who wrote in his Notes on a Cellar Book (1920): “…The more excellent way – formerly practised by all persons of some sense and some means north of the Tweed – is to establish a cask… fill it up with good and drinkable whisky… stand it up on end, tap it half way down or even a little higher, and, when you get to or near the tap, fill it up again with whisky fit to drink, but not too old.

You thus establish what is called in the case of sherry, a ‘solera’, in which the constantly changing character of the old constituents doctors the new accessions, and in which these in turn freshen and strengthen the old.” When John Beard took over the business, he loved the living cask concept, but felt that it had languished somewhat in recent years. He got to thinking and decided to put The Living Cask at the heart of everything Loch Fyne would do in the future. Believing there was room for two expressions, he created a new living cask to go alongside the original one. Also, he scaled up the whole proposition with the introduction of two American oak hogsheads, which he has placed in the Loch Fyne workshop in Inveraray, which is now integrated within the shop itself. It will be here that all Living Cask bottles will be filled, by hand. The Living Cask still held some whisky from the original 1999 vatting. Into this John first introduced a goodly portion of the 1745, then additional malts from regions other than Islay, in keeping with the ‘solera system’ recommended by Professor Saintsbury. When he was happy with the result, he labelled the product ‘Batch 1’. It is expected that there will be four or five batches each year. The idea is that as The Living Cask continues its life, each change will be noted and given a batch number, so the drinker can assess the changes and even collect the series. Those who visit the Loch Fyne workshop in Inveraray can taste each batch and write their notes in a tasting ledger kept there for the purpose. He created the new expression using a range of good Islay malts, some with considerable age, believing that the heritage of Loch Fyne Whiskies was serving customers en route to the Western Isles and noting that this was their drinking preference. To identify this, he named it ‘The Living Cask 1745’ - not only a notable date in Scots history (whichever side you were on!), but also the date the town of Inveraray was founded by the Duke of Argyll. The 1745 is a superb marriage of malts and I comment further on this below. The Living Cask 1745 will stay the same for a while so as to allow its unique combination of aged Islay malts to marry, then it will be topped up with more premium West Coast malts. The Living Cask is an attractive, novel and interesting idea, and I commend both expressions to you.



The Loch Fyne Blend — BLENDED SCOTCH WHISK Y @ 4 0 %VO L | £ 24

Tasting Note Light cereal with fruity notes (rice pudding with damson jam? Fresh plum?). Later, trace of toffee and wax, on a base note of sanded wood and a thin thread of fragrant smoke. The taste is sweet, fresh, faintly maritime, toffied and slightly smoky. Water reduces the aroma. Best enjoyed at full strength.

The Loch Fyne The Living Cask Batch 1

— B L E N D E D M A LT W H I S K Y @ 4 3 . 6 %VO L | £4 2

Tasting Note Complex – European (predominantly) and American oak – rich and chewy; fruit loaf with almonds, slightly charred; carrots, neeps, turnip lanterns, (sweet, vegetal, burnt); smoky – and becomes more phenolic over time. A smooth texture and a sweet, lightly salty, gently smoky finish.

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The Loch Fyne The Living Cask 1745

— B L E N D E D I S L AY M A LT W H I S K Y @ 4 3 . 6 %VO L | £7 5

Tasting Note Very different to Batch 1: more maritime, masculine, mineralic. Opens gradually to reveal seaweed, iodine, rock pools, with an extinguished beach bonfire in the background and a trace of matchbox striker. The taste is sweet, salty and distinctly smoky.




The Deveron 12 Years Old

The Deveron 18 Years Old

— S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT @ 4 0 %VO L | £4 0

— S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT @ 4 0 %VO L | £6 5

The Deveron – until recently known as Glen Deveron – comes from Macduff Distillery, which stands on the east bank of River Deveron, within sight of where the river joins the Moray Firth, between the Royal Burgh of Banff and the active fishing harbour of Macduff. It was designed by William Delmé Evans, the leading distillery architect and engineer of the day, for a syndicate led by Banff’s Town Clerk, Bertie Cumming, and including a whisky blender, a whisky broker and a solicitor. It contained a number of innovative features – steel fermentation vessels instead of Oregon pine washbacks, horizontal shell and tube condensers instead of worm tubs, stills heated by four inch diameter copper steam coils instead of by direct firing, and most unusually, the pots of the stills were completely lagged, the lagging extending to the bottom of the still neck. When it went into production in 1960, it attracted a good deal of interest from the trade. When the investors sought to register ‘Macduff’ as a trademark, two whisky companies objected – one on the grounds that they already owned the name and the other that it might be confused with their existing brand MacLeay Duff. Hence the adoption of the name Glen Deveron. In 1972 the distillery was bought by the Italian drinks company, Martini & Rossi, which also owned the William Lawson brand of blended Scotch, which, although unavailable in the UK, sells around 15 million bottles annually, mainly in Southern

Europe and Mexico. In spite of the pressure that this put on Macduff’s production, the owners were bottling Glen Deveron as a single malt (at 5 years old), and by the mid-1970s it was the third best selling malt in the world. Martini & Rossi merged with Bacardi in 1992, to become Bacardi-Martini, then bought John Dewar & Sons (together with Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla Distilleries) in 1998, after the Monopolies & Mergers Commission insisted that the recently established United Distillers & Vintners (a merger of Independent Distillers & Vintners with United Distillers - now Diageo) divest itself of a major brand. John Dewar & Sons is now the registered owner, and repackaged and re-launched Glen Deveron as The Deveron in 2013. The fishing village of Macduff was laid out by James Duff, Second Earl of Fife, in 1783, and became a leading herring port in the 19th century, curing and exporting fish in barrels direct to the Baltic ports. There was considerable rivalry between Macduff and its ancient and elegant neighbour, theRoyal Burgh of Banff.

Tasting Note Mid amber in colour. A gentle, slightly waxy nose with a chalky background (perhaps talcum powder,) opens after a while to reveal a dusty herb drawer. Pleasant and undemanding. At full strength the taste is sweet throughout, with hints of butterscotch; water dries it out a bit and increases its texture.

Tasting Note Russet-gold in colour. A rich nose, with an oily top note – mineral oil, then scented aroma-therapy oil – then fragrant wood notes and creamy fudge. At full strength the taste is sweet throughout, with traces of toffee apple, clotted cream and tobacco. A drop of water increases the mineral oil scent, fills out the mouth-feel, and dries out the taste a little.

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Royal Brackla 12 Years Old

Royal Brackla 16 Years Old

— SINGLE HIGHLAND @ 4 0 %VO L | £5 0

— SINGLE HIGHLAND @ 4 0 %VO L | £ 9 0


Brackla Distillery was founded on the Cawdor Estate, near Nairn, in 1812 by Captain William Fraser of Brackla, a former soldier, invalided out of the army the previous year. We know quite a bit about him, thanks to the testimony of one Joseph Pacy, appointed excise officer to Brackla Distillery in 1838, who published his Reminiscences of a Gauger in 1873. It is clear that they did not get on… “…the personal appearance of the captain, something striking, not readily to be forgotten. He was a tall, muscular, big-framed man. His eyes were large and full, but not clear nor expressive. His voice was deep and somewhat husky, and when he spoke it was in a commanding way, especially to those of an inferior position in life to himself. I was not charmed by his manner.” William Fraser was sixty-one when Pacy took up his position. They were chalk and cheese: Pacy the dutiful and thrifty civil servant, opinionated, self-righteous and something of a martinet; the Captain a peppery old soldier, an imperious ex-India hand, possibly still suffering from the wounds which had invalided him out of the regular army. A proud, independent-minded Highlander, impatient of authority (especially government authority,) conscious of his social standing. In spite of being chairman of the bench of magistrates for Nairn, he thought nothing of flouting the excise laws: he was fined £50 in 1827, £300 in 1831 and £500 in 1836, and subsequently William Fraser & Co were fined £200 in 1839 and £600 in 1844. We do not know the nature of the offences, but Pacy remarks: “The captain, who had been accustomed to command until it became part of his nature, chafed sorely at being compelled to submit to laws enforced by a poor humble Gauger. He did not or seemed not to understand that his military rank was not to be taken into account in his capacity as a distiller… It was impossible to cultivate a friendly spirit with the captain”. In truth, the problem was that the Captain’s standards of quality were not recognised by the law. Pacy continues: “His whisky had a great name; it fetched the best price in the market. It was kept in stock long enough to improve its flavour, but in securing age he lost something by evaporation…. this was a great grief to him, as he had the tax to pay on it. He considered it no wrong to make up this deficiency irrespective of law. He was not alone in that view; and this was the chief if not the sole cause of our long and bitter strife.” A typical Highlander, Fraser was proud of his name and his standing in society: “The captain was a man of influence… and otherwise exercised considerable power in the county…To his friends he was warm-hearted,


and to his dependents generous, - those of them who could submit to his impatient temper; and had I belonged to that class I should have shared his favours.” Pacy also remarks, perhaps with a trace of bitterness: “He was a regular guest in the Earl of Cawdor’s family”, and here lies the clue to how he managed to bring his whisky to the attention of King William IV, who granted him a Royal Warrant, the first ever given to a whisky.

Tasting Note Mid amber in colour; good legs, indicating viscosity. The first impression on the nose is nutty (Brazil and Macademia nuts), giving way to vanilla sponge and baked apples (Eve’s Pudding): soft and rounded. A smooth texture; a lightly sweet taste, with some acidity. Drying in the finish with a thread of smoke and leaving a spicy afertaste.

Tasting Note Mid amber. The aroma is fresh and clean – ‘artists studio’ (oil paint and natural turpentine), slightly acidic (citric acid), with sanded oak as a base. A light sweet taste to start, with some spice across the tongue and in the finish, which is very slightly smoky. A drop of water softens and sweetens both aroma and taste.

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Royal Brackla 21 Years Old — SINGLE HIGHLAND @ 4 0 %VO L | £ 1 8 0


Tasting Note Deep amber. A rich, waxy aroma; oiled teak, sweet root vegetables (turnip, neeps), Halloween lantern (candle and burnt neeps). A voluptuous texture; the sweetest of the three, still with a tingle of spice and a hint of smoke in the finish. Water reduces the vegetal notes, but the aroma is still earthy. Best enjoyed straight.




Hunter Laing’s Authors’ Series


Hunter Laing & Co. Ltd. was incorporated in 2013, following the break-up of the long-established family company, Douglas Laing & Co, which was founded in 1948 by the eponymous Frederick Douglas Laing (FDL). It is headed by Stewart H. Laing and his sons, Scott and Andrew. Stewart has spent almost fifty years in the Scotch whisky industry – first as a blender, and latterly as a bottler of fine single cask malts. He began his career as an apprentice at Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay before joining his father in the family business. As well as blending and cask selection, Stewart’s main job was representing the company’s brands around the world – in these days mainly blends, some of which were best-sellers in Douglas Laing’s main markets of Asia and South America. In order to create those whiskies, FDL purchased and laid down many hundreds of casks from distilleries all over Scotland – some of which have long since closed. These casks form the core of Hunter Laing’s extensive stock: in September 2014, the company bought a 35,000 sq. foot warehouse in South Lanarkshire to accommodate 15,000 casks, in addition to the 2,000 casks they hold in their Carron Bond nearby. Until then, Stewart told me, their casks were stored in eighty-seven different locations! When Hunter Laing was established, Stewart also acquired two well- respected brands from the earlier company – Old Malt Cask (single cask malts bottled at 50%ABV without chill-filtration or tinting) and Old & Rare (a deluxe range of single casks of exceptional quality, bottled at natural strength). The company has since introduced the Douglas of Drumlanrig range, and is now releasing the Authors’ series. Scott Laing tells me: “My brother and I both enjoy reading and old books: in the United States we have a First Editions range of single cask malts, and our Authors’ series might be seen as an extension of this, just as Old & Rare is an extension of our Old Malt Cask range. We want to create a brand that is a tribute to great authors of the past; quite masculine in style reminiscent of an oak panelled library, or a gentleman’s club. In future bottlings we plan to use reasonably well aged casks (late teens to twenties), drawn from highly sought after distilleries and less well known ones – perhaps to match the authors they are paired with. These will always be bottled at cask strength, without chill-filtration or artificial colouring. As well as being first rate drinking malts, we hope the Authors’ range will also be attractive to collectors.” The first malts in the Authors’ series are all classics – as are the authors they have been paired with.

Edgar Allan Poe: Clynelish 1996 — S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT @ 5 6 .1 %V O L | £ 2 8 0

Charles Dickens: Macallan 1993 — S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT @ 5 4 . 8 %VO L | £6 0 0

Tasting Note (Dickens) Pale amber in colour; good beading. A mellow nose, with fruit compote and orange zest resting on a base of sandalwood; becomes slightly peppery with a drop of water. Viscous, sweet, tannic and warming to taste at natural strength, and similar (plus fine white pepper) with water.

Rudyard Kipling: Ardbeg 1993

— S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT @ 5 6 .4 %VO L | £ 9 0 0

Robert Louis Stevenson: Probably Speyside’s Finest 1986 — S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT @ 4 8 %VO L | £ 1 9 0

Tasting Note (Poe) Pale gold, good beading. Light candlewax on the nose, backed by attractive fragrant dried-herbal and faint floral notes on an earthy base. Sweet, lightly acidic (acid drops boiled sweets) and slightly salty to taste. With water, the nose becomes less waxy, more fragrant and mineralic; the taste remains the same, but more salty.

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Tasting Note (Kipling) Deep amber in colour with moderate beading. The first aroma is of lanolin and damp, untreated wool, even a hint of sheep dip, with roast chestnuts in the background. Oily and surprisingly sweet to taste, with fragrant woodsmoke in the aftertaste. Faintly waxy with a drop of water, backed by charred wood. Smooth and sweet, with hessian and washed out creosote.

Tasting Note (Stevenson) Pale gold; light beading. Slight nose-prickle at the start. A clean, fresh aroma – green apples, sweet gooseberries, light acetone – and a light taste, with Rice Krispies and a spicy finish. Water suppresses the aroma; the taste is now a little sweeter, and slightly less spicy. A short finish.




Strathclyde 25 Years Old 1989 The Sovereign

— SINGLE CASK SINGLE GRAIN @ 5 9 .7 %VO L | £ 1 25

Scotch grain whisky has long been regarded as malt whisky’s poor relation. This is unfair. Certainly it is lighter in style, but the spirits from each of our seven operating grain distilleries are all subtly different. All have their own character, a clean, sweet, lightly fruity flavour, much of it influenced by the casks it has been matured in, usually first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads. Until recently only two single grain whiskies were available – Cameron Brig and Invergordon (now discontinued) – and two blended grains, The Snow Grouse and Hedonism, the latter from the independent bottler, Compass Box. Then last year came two expressions of Girvan (from William Grant’s distillery of the same name in Ayrshire) and Haig Club (from Diageo’s Cameronbridge Distillery in Fife), the latter heavily promoted by David Beckham. Is this a sign of a revival in interest in grain whisky? Currently, there are 112 operating malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, with the capacity to produce 334.32 million litres of pure alcohol per annum. There are only seven grain whisky distilleries, but they can produce 419 million litres, and almost all are currently working to capacity. Their product is, of course, essential for blended Scotch whiskies. Grain whisky is made by cooking unmalted cereal grains – usually wheat, but maize is sometimes used – and then adding

a small amount of malted barley to kick-start the fermentation. Distillation is done in patent stills which operate continuously – as opposed to malt whisky, which is distilled in batches, in pot stills. This makes for a purer, lighter, higher strength spirit. Strathclyde Distillery stands on the south bank of the River Clyde in the Gorbals district of Glasgow. It was built by the longestablished, London-based distiller and blender, Seager Evans in 1927, originally to produce spirit for rectification into gin and later, when they acquired the well-known brand, Long John, for whisky blending. In 1956 ownership passed to the American distiller, Schenley Industries, who installed a malt distillery, Kinclaith, on the site to supply fillings for Long John. When they sold to Whitbread, the brewers, in 1976, Kinclaith was dismantled to make room for expanding Strathclyde. Whitbread’s spirits interests were bought by Allied-Lyons in 1990, and the new owner spent a lot of money further expanding Strathclyde’s capacity, and when the company was broken up in 2005, the distillery was sold to Chivas Bros., Pernod Ricard’s Scotch whisky division. I know of only one bottling of Strathclyde , at 13 years old and 55.7%Vol; Douglas Laing & Co. released a 2005 some years ago, and now Hunter Laing has released a 25 years old at 50.6%Vol in their Sovereign range of grain whiskies, often of considerable age.

Tasting Note 9ct gold in colour: refill exbourbon cask. A light aroma, with some prickle. Fresh solvent scents and warm vinyl (a new car interior) float above planed oakwood; very sweet to taste – etheric and lip-tingling. It benefits from dilution, which brings out pale floral scents and acid drops (boiled sweets). The taste remains sweet and light, the finish short.

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Braeval 25 Years Old 1989 Old Malt Cask

— S I N G L E C A S K S P E Y S I D E M A LT @ 5 0 %VO L | £ 1 5 5

Another uncommon single malt from Hunter Laing & Co., in their flagship Old Malt Cask range, Braeval has never been released as a single malt by its owner, and is rare in independent bottlings. The distillery was built by the Canadian drinks giant, Seagram, in 1973/74 to provide fillings for its Chivas Regal blends. Originally it was named ‘Braes of Glenlivet’, but the owners of The Glenlivet Distillery objected on the grounds that the two might be confused. At 1,665 feet above sea level, it is the highest distillery in Scotland. Interestingly, ‘Glenlivet’ once referred to the style of whisky made in the region we now know as Speyside, and beyond: at one time, no fewer than 36 distilleries attached the name to their own – Macallan-Glenlivet, Aberlour-Glenlivet, even GlenforresGlenlivet, (now Edradour), near Pitlochry in Perthshire, some ninety miles away! No wonder it was known as ‘the longest glen in Scotland’! In the 1880s, John Gordon Smith, son of the founder of ‘the real Glenlivet Distillery’ obtained a court order that only his make might be named The Glenlivet, and although the others were allowed to attach the designation as a suffix, no brand now does this. The Braes of Glenlivet was once a famous haunt of smugglers: in the early 19th century, it was reported that there were over 200 illicit stills in the district. Braeval draws its water from burns in the Ladder Hills, through which runs the drove road used by the


Tasting Note Pale gold in colour (refill ex-bourbon cask), with good beading. A rounded fruity nose on a light vanilla base – apple purée on pale sponge – with a hint of planed oak. Simple and mellow. Very sweet to taste, with boiled sweets and some spice. A short finish. A drop of water raises light solvent notes; the taste now drier and more tannic. moonshiners to take their product to market in Aberdeenshire and further south, where it had the highest possible reputation. Famously, when he came to Edinburgh in 1822, King George IV ‘drank none other’ than illicit Glenlivet whisky, supplied by Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchas, on the instructions of her father. In her Memoires of a Highland Lady she recalled: “My father sent word to me – I was the cellarer – to empty my pet bin, where was whisky long in wood, long in uncorked bottles, mild as milk, and the true contraband goût in it. The whisky… went up to Holyrood House, and was graciously received and made much of.” Braeval Distillery is uncompromisingly modern in design, but with traditional architectural features, such as a pagoda roof. Internally, operations are all carried out on a single level and may be conducted by a single individual. Spirit is taken by road tanker to Keith for filling into cask and matured on several sites around Speyside. Unusually, it began with three stills; two more were added in 1975 and a further one in 1978. The four spirit stills each have a bulge in the neck, known as a ‘Milton ball’; I believe the name may come from Strathisla Distillery (originally known as ‘Milton’, and also owned by Chivas Bros.), which also has ‘boil balls’ on all its stills. The resulting spirit is sweet and grassy in character.



Jura 37 Years Old 1978 Old & Rare

— S I N G L E C A S K I S L A N D M A LT @ 5 3 . 9 %VO L | £5 4 5

Hunter Laing’s Old & Rare series is what it says it is: a deluxe range of single cask single malts of exceptional quality, bottled at natural strength and without chill-filtration. The bottles are also presented in wooden boxes. The first licensed distillery on Jura was built in 1810, on the present site where there had been an even earlier, unlicensed plant called the Small Isles Distillery. The licensee was the Laird, Archibald Campbell. Several of his tenants ran the distillery without much success, then, in 1876, a Glasgow firm named James Fergusson & Sons leased the site from the owner, now James Campbell, and invested £25,000 in improving the distillery and building a pier. All went well until the old laird died in 1901. His son wanted to increase the rent. The Fergussons said: “We’re not paying more. We pay enough”. It went to court and the Campbells won. The Fergussons responded by closing the distillery and removing all their plant, machinery and stock of whisky to the mainland. Campbell’s lawyers said: “Close the distillery down if you want. You still have to pay the rent”. Fergussons responded: “No we won’t. We’ll take the roof off, and in Scots’ law: no roof no rent”. And that’s the way the distillery lay from 1908 until 1960. By the late 1950s the enlightened landowners of Jura were determined to staunch the flow of emigration and to attract new blood to the island by increasing employment, and as part of the plan they were determined to rebuild the distillery.

In 1956 they secured the services of William Delmé-Evans, who had built Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire from scratch between 1947 and 1949. In an interview in 2004, shortly before his death, he recalled: “During 1958 I started designing a new distillery which just about trebled the production capacity of the old one, and by 1963 Jura Distillery was commissioned”. He used the same sloping site as the previous distillery, clearing the crumbling remains of the former, except for the manager’s house – the tall building on the left, when viewed from the sea [This has recently been refurbished and provides three handsome apartments for visitors]. The water came from the same source as previously – the Market Loch. “My primary aim was to construct an economic distillery within the space available”, he wrote. “Everything had to be simple and fall to hand. You could not afford to complicate things in so remote a location… It was our intention to produce a Highland-type malt differing from the peaty stuff last produced in 1900. I therefore designed stills to give spirit of a Highland character, and we ordered malt which was only lightly peated.” Today, Jura is available in a variety of styles, both peated and unpeated. This 37 years old is ‘traditional’ and unpeated in style. At 7.7 metres, the stills are the second tallest in Scotland (the tallest being Glenmorangie). They are ‘lantern’ shaped with pinched waists, like old-fashioned paraffin-lamp glasses, and the pots are very broad – all making for increased copper contact and a purer, lighter spirit. Willie Cochrane, Jura’s Distillery Manager, told me: “Around 95% of the casks we use are first-fill American oak ex-Bourbon barrels from Jim Beam and Heaven Hill Distilleries in Kentucky. The remainder are a combination of Limousin oak barriques and Spanish oak ex-sherry butts. “In the past we filled a lot more butts – and there are still a few lurking in the warehouses, ear-marked by Richard Paterson, our Master Blender, for future special bottlings! “We began to use first-fill barrels about 10 years ago - especially for single malt bottlings. Previously we were using mainly refill hogsheads, and since then we have been re-racking these older casks into the first-fill barrels – currently at the rate of 150-175 per week. This has made a huge difference to the quality of our single malt.”

Tasting Note Polished rosewood. Nose drying with slight prickle. A rich, slightly oily aroma, with sweet tobacco, polished leather and almond praline, on a base of oloroso sherry with a whiff of dry seaweed. Complex and mellow. The taste is hot, sweet and tannic, with canvas and wood-spice. Water tames it, makes the oily note more fragrant and the taste more salty.

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Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 2

— S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT @ 5 0 . 3%VO L | £ 25 0

Tasting Note Bright amber. A soft, rich aroma, with ripe plums and prunes, topped by an intriguing fragrant note – rose water, scented hand-cream – and enlivened by a fresh, nose-cooling squeeze of orange zest. Joined by vanilla ice cream after a while. Deliciously feminine. The taste is sweet, fragrant and tannic, with white pepper and light, creamy vanilla; a lengthy finish. At (slightly) reduced strength the aroma is unchanged; if anything, the taste characteristics are exaggerated. First rate!

Balvenie’s Tun 1509 series was introduced in 2014 to replace the company’s earlier Tun 1402, which began as a distillery exclusive in 2010 and sold out immediately. Last year I was presenting a tasting of the entire 1402 series in Beijing – nine batches – except the first bottling, which could not be bought by my host at any price…! For both series, David Stewart, Balvenie’s legendary Malt Master, selected a number of casks of varying volumes, strengths and ages – nothing younger than 22 years in the 1402 series; my guess is the same for Tun 1509 series. He then disgorged the casks into a large marrying tun – hence the name; there is no significance in the number: tuns 1402 and 1509 were simply the most convenient. To create the second batch of Tun 1509, David chose 32 casks – 23 traditional American oak hogsheads and barrels, seven European oak sherry butts and two ex-sherry hogsheads. All were transferred to Tun 1509, which sits in Balvenie’s famous Warehouse 24 (see below), for several months to marry before bottling. Marrying allows the different whiskies to mingle together and create a unique expression of The Balvenie which, as blenders say – ‘is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.’ Every bottle of Tun 1509 Batch 2 comes with a poster with simple flavour wheels, illustrating David and his colleague Brian Kinsman’s (Glenfiddich’s Malt Master) assessment of the flavour profile of each cask under the simple headings ‘spice’, ‘oak’, ‘sweet’ and ‘delicate’ (i.e. fruity/floral). The carton is decorated with a similar assessment of the finished whisky, and the reverse of the tube lists all the casks used, by cask and wood type, and the flavour values ascribed to each. This is magnificently geeky! It allows us malt enthusiasts to explore in depth the flavour of the whisky and to compare notes with the Masters! And David Stewart is a true ‘Master’, universally respected by his peers in the whisky industry, especially as an innovator. He joined William Grant & Sons in 1962, aged seventeen, and retired last year, although he still acts as a brand ambassador and mentor – and returns periodically to select casks. Finally, a word on Warehouse 24, which houses Tuns 1509 and 1402.

Four years after he had built Glenfiddich Distillery, William Grant bought twelve acres of adjacent land, including Balvenie House, a neo-classical mansion, commissioned in 1722 by William Duff, later 1st Earl of Fife. It is said that Duff built the house for ‘a beautiful countess’ (not his wife), who had been gifted a greyhound by a local admirer. The dog turned out to be rabid. It bit her and she soon died of hydrophobia, as a result of which the house was abandoned by its owner. It had been lived in for only eight years, and had been derelict for eighty years when William Grant bought it. Balvenie Distillery commenced operation on 1st May 1892, with the old mansion house being converted into a maltings. In 1929, the upper storeys were demolished, and the lower storey turned into Warehouse 24. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman…




Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

— BLENDED SCOTCH WHISK Y 1 0 0 ° U S P R O O F | @ 5 0 %VO L | £ 2 3 On 1st January 1920 America went dry. “The manufacture, sale, transportation, import and export of intoxicating liquors [were] prohibited throughout the United States.” The Scotch whisky industry’s initial reaction to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was dismay. With high taxation in the UK and the post-war Depression, export markets were becoming increasingly important, not least the United States, but it soon became apparent that America’s taste for Scotch was undiminished – indeed increased – and by making use of ports in neighbouring territories, cargoes could be brought within striking distance of the US mainland. Mexico and Canada, Latin America and British Guyana, the West Indies (particularly the Bahamas) and the small French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon off the south coast of Newfoundland, were the main destinations. Exports to these places increased dramatically. St. Pierre and Miquelon imported 119,000 gallons of Scotch in 1922 – described as “quite a respectable quantity for a population of 6,000 people”! The same year, the Bahamas, where the government spent £250,000 dredging the entrance to Nassau to allow larger ships to enter the harbour, received 408 times the amount imported in 1918. From these entrepôts, ships loaded with whisky and gin proceeded to lie off the American seaboard, just outside territorial waters, and off-loaded their cargoes to fast inshore vessels, speedboats and small craft, which then dodged the US Coastguard to run it ashore. In the early years, ‘rum-running’, as it was called, was a game of cat and mouse, played hard but fair. This changed dramatically

as the years went by, the price of liquor rose and mobsters came to control the market. The early gung-ho period was epitomised by the career of Captain William McCoy, a former first mate in the US Merchant Navy, who owned a boatyard in Florida and who was attracted to rum-running as an adventure as much as for the profit – at the height of his career he was averaging $300,000 a trip. He was also proud of the quality of his goods, giving rise to the expression ‘The Real McCoy’ to describe unadulterated, wholesome spirits, particularly Cutty Sark Scotch. The brand was owned by Berry Brothers, the distinguished London wine merchants. In 1921, Francis Berry visited Nassau and met Captain McCoy who, according to company tradition, confirmed Mr. Berry’s conviction that the style of Scotch which would most appeal to the American palate would be “light but smooth, and never darker than pale sherry”. When he returned to London he commissioned Robertson & Baxter, whisky brokers and blenders in Glasgow, to make up the blend, offering them 50% ownership of the brand. [R&B is now part of the Edrington Group, and in 2010 this company took full ownership of Cutty in exchange for Berry Brothers owning the Glenrothes single malt brand]. Over lunch in the firm’s ‘parlour’ at No. 3 St. James’s Street, Francis Berry, his partner Hugh Rudd and the well-known Scottish artist, James McBey, came up with the name Cutty Sark, perhaps a reference to the speed required to deliver boot-legged goods into the US: the tea clipper, Cutty Sark, long held the record as the fastest ship afloat. McBey then designed the striking bottle label, which remains little changed to this day, although he had originally specified cream as the background colour: the bright yellow was a printer’s error! Cutty Sark Prohibition celebrates Captain McCoy with a premium expression. Wendy Harries Jones, the brand’s senior global manager tells me: “We wanted it to be even smoother than Cutty Sark Blend and have a higher than normal alcohol content – 100% proof rather than the 80% proof of our major competitors. We found the answer in Prohibition Edition – an old-school, authentic Scotch, smooth on the tongue but with a big finish.

Tasting Note Pale amber - darker than standard Cutty bottlings - with good beading. A rich nose, with some prickle. Fruit loaf with chilli pepper at full strength; a little water raises toffee and malt. The taste is sweet, fruity, malty and spicy, with traces of butterscotch, and a long warming finish. Smooth and mouth-coating with water, now a trace of kiwi fruit; still long and peppery.

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The Naked Grouse — BLENDED SCOTCH WHISK Y @ 4 0 %VO L | £ 2 6 . 5 0 In November 1999, Highland Distillers PLC was taken over by its holding company, Edrington; the following year it was taken out of public ownership, in order, as the Group’s Chairman Sir Ian Good told me, to enable the company “to control its own destiny… to make quick decisions, un-beholden to the City”. Among those ‘quick decisions’ was the resolve to expand The Famous Grouse range, using the brand’s outstanding reputation to attract new consumers and offer existing ones the opportunity to ‘trade up’. Three years later Sir Ian commented in the Annual Report: “We are adopting a targeted, focused approach to develop our key brands on the international stage. We see great growth opportunities for The Famous Grouse and the new variations of the brand are showing signs of benefiting from what is known as the ‘halo’ effect”. Even before this, the company had launched The Famous Grouse Prestige and Gold Reserve in Asia (1996); now, in 2003, The Famous Grouse Islay Wood Finish and Portwood Finish were introduced. The former died quickly but Portwood remained popular, especially in Scandinavia, for some years. Islay Wood was resurrected in 2006 as Black Grouse, a peated expression proposed by the Swedish marketing team: smoky flavours are very popular in Sweden. To satisfy the other end of the flavour spectrum came The

Tasting Note A deep amber hue; a base note of fragrant wood (cigar box, dusty drawer, sawn oak), with dried fruits and fragrant cooking spices (all spice, nutmeg, mace). A rich, smooth texture and a sweet taste, drying slightly in the finish, with juicy fruits (macerated dried figs), and dark chocolate-covered coffee beans in the spicy aftertaste. A blend for malt lovers.


Snow Grouse, first released in 2008 - a blended grain whisky; younger and lighter, designed to be served direct from the deep freeze. The Naked Grouse was and is a premium offering. It is presented with minimal labelling and a frosted glass bottle, which allows the liquid to be the ‘hero’ rather than the packaging and expresses ‘environmental friendliness’. Gerry O’Donnell, Edrington’s Commercial Director, told me: “Although some of these innovations were not ‘break-through’ in terms of scale, this was a decade in which The Famous Grouse grew its top line volume and revenue every year. There is no doubt in my mind that, as well as being innovative (and therefore newsworthy), they were incremental to brand awareness, helping sales people to open doors and grow the Scotch whisky category. Their introduction also encourages the trade to stock and support the brand”. The Naked Grouse was one of the last creations of the company’s long-serving Master Blender, John Ramsay, who retired after forty years shortly before the whisky was released. Having been awarded a Licentiate by the Royal Society of Chemistry, John joined the whisky industry in 1966 as a lab assistant at Strathclyde grain distillery. In 1971 he was appointed Chief Chemist at William Lawson Distillers, and ten years later, Blender/Chemist with that company. He joined Highland as Production Controller in 1990 and became Edrington Group Whisky Quality Manager and Master Blender in 1991. For two and a half years before retiring last year, John worked with his designated successor, Gordon Motion, who also played an important role in creating The Naked Grouse, and bears responsibility for its continuing flavour profile, along with other expressions of the brand. The Macallan and Highland Park are central to the make up of The Naked Grouse, which is then ‘matured in the finest sun dried sherry oak casks’, according to the company’s website. It is presented in a plain, label-less bottle, with a grouse bird embossed in the glass, so the whisky’s rich colour may be admired.



Hibiki Japanese Harmony

— B L EN D ED JAPAN ES E WH I S K Y @ 4 3%VO L | £5 4 The Hibiki website begins its account of ‘the most famous Japanese whisky’ as follows: “Embodying the soul of Japanese craftsmanship, this harmonious blend resounds with calm complexity and “Wa”, oneness.” Hibiki itself means ‘Resonance’. The website continues: “It speaks to the soul and emotions of the most discerning whisky lover…resonates from nature and all the subtleties found from the twenty-four seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar.” Indeed, the twenty-four seasons are recollected by Hibiki’s bottle-shape, which has twenty-four facets. The brand is owned by Suntory, and the first Hibiki blend was released in 1989 to commemorate the company’s 90th anniversary; Hibiki Japanese Harmony appeared in March this year. The constituent malts come from Suntory’s two malt whisky distilleries, Yamazaki and Hakushu, and the grain component from the company’s Chita Distillery. The sites for both Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries were chosen on account of their water sources and micro-climates. Both are on Honshu, Japan’s southern island - Yamazaki in a misty region at the confluence of three rivers, backed by mountains; Hakushu high in the heavily wooded Japanese Southern Alps, supplied by snow-melt water ‘of rare softness and purity’.

Founded in 1923, Yamazaki is Japan’s oldest whisky distillery. It was designed by Masataka Taketsuru (‘The Father of Japanese Whisky’), a young chemist who had been sent to Scotland four years previously by Suntory’s founder, Shinjiro Torii. Hakushu was built by Shinjiro’s son in 1973 and is one of the largest malt distilleries in the world. The production process is very similar to that for Scotch whisky, and the product is the closest in style to Scotch of all nonScotch whisk(e)ys. But it is by no means a copy: from the start, the aim was to create a unique Japanese style. In his book The World Atlas of Whiskies, my friend Dave Broom writes: “If Scottish single malt is a rushing mountain burn, with all the flavours jostling for position, Japanese malt is a limpid pool where all is revealed”. Unlike in Scotland, Japanese distillers do not exchange spirits for blending. Each company – the two principal ones are Suntory and Nikka - creates all the styles of whisky they require for their blends, by adjusting the peating levels, the yeast types, the shapes and sizes of the stills and the wood types. Yamazaki, for example, uses five different types of cask: ex-sherry (American oak and European oak), ex-bourbon, new oak and Japanese oak, including the very rare Mizunara oak. It is known that Japanese Harmony contains some spirit matured in the latter; it is not known whether, like Hibiki 12YO, it contains malts which have been filtered through bamboo charcoal and aged in plum liqueur casks. Some readers might like to try enjoying Hibiki Harmony in the Japanese way, called mizuwari, i.e. ‘cut with water’ or highball, cut with soda. The latter is simply a variation on the ‘Scotch & soda’ so popular with our forebears, but with typical panache, the Japanese attach a ritual to making it: “Add block ice to a highball glass. Stir with a bar spoon to chill the glass, then discard any melted water from the glass. Add 1 to 1.5oz whisky. Stir thirteen and one-half times clockwise. Add two to three times as much sparkling water as whisky. Stir three and one half times more clockwise.”

Tasting Note Pale amber in colour. A delicate scent of polished copper and light vanilla to start with, developing complex floral, green, mossy then fresh oaky notes, changing all the time. A surprisingly dry mouthfeel, and a lightly sweet, then chilli-pepper taste, at full strength, mellowing with a little water, leaving a charred, oaky aftertaste.

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Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 Years Old


Signature Craft is a new range from Jim Beam, comprising (so far) three limited expressions – Quarter Cask, Rare Spanish Brandy Finished (the first of a planned rotating series of limitededition releases) and 12 Years Old. Its creator is the distillery’s legendary Master Blender, Fred Noe, and his plan is to explore unusual mashbills and finishes with each expression. Signature Craft 12 Years Old will remain as a core brand. Fred’s great grandfather was Jim Beam, indeed he can proudly claim to be the seventh generation of Beams (and Noes) to have had responsibility for the whiskey. The first was Jacob Beam (originally Böhm), a farm distiller who, according to family tradition, was selling corn whiskey by 1795, named Old Jake Beam. His son and grandson, both named David, developed and expanded the business, moving the distillery to Nelson County, then his great-grandson, James Beauregard Beam (1864–1947) built a new distillery at Clermont, Kentucky in 1933, near his Bardstown home, soon after Prohibition was repealed. The James B. Beam Distilling Company was founded in 1935, and hence forward, the bourbon would be named Jim Beam.

Tasting Note Burnished copper: virgin American oak barrels. Highly fragrant, with a base of vanilla and caramel; a trace of aniseed and spicy rye in the top notes. A smooth texture, surprisingly dry, with a sweet taste (marzipan, vanilla, maple syrup, but not cloying), and just a suspicion of hickory smoke and coconut in the aftertaste. No need to add water.


James B. handed the business over to his son, Jeremiah (18991977), who opened a second distillery at Boston, Kentucky in 1954, and appointed his first cousin, Booker Noe (1929-2004) as Master Distiller. He remained so for forty years, to be succeeded by his son Fred. The Beam dynasty has also played a key role in the history of the massive Heaven Hill Distillery near Bardstown, beginning with Jim Beam’s nephew, Joseph, who was appointed Master Distiller in1935 and succeeded by his son, nephew, grandson and great-grandson – the last two, Parker and Craig Beam, are today Joint Master Distillers. The dynastic aspect of American distilling is interesting in relation to the styles of whiskey made by each company. Dave Broom remarks in his World Atlas of Whisky: “Due to Prohibition, American whiskey had to start afresh. The styles that emerged from its distilleries were very much the creation of the distiller. Parker Beam learned from his father, he didn’t follow an approach handed down for over a century as is the case in Scotland. There is a direct physical and emotional attachment.” The same is true for Fred and Booker Noe. Dave recalls tasting some heavy, oily, pre-Prohibition bourbon with Booker Noe, who guffawed as Dave spluttered and choked on it. “I like true bourbon’, he growled, “but, you know, some things just need changing”. This applies not only to the whiskey. Last year Beam Inc. was bought by the Japanese distiller, Suntory for around $16 billion, and the company was re-named ‘Beam Suntory’. It is the third largest drinks company in the world, with a huge portfolio of products, including Scotch whisky [Laphroaig, Ardmore and Bowmore Distilleries, and Teacher’s blended Scotch], Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, vodka, cognac, rum, tequila, cordials, and pre-mixed cocktails, as well as bourbon, rye and blended American whiskeys.



The Macallan Rare Cask

— S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT @ 4 3%VO L | £ 2 0 0

The Macallan Rare Cask is a new addition to the company’s 1824 Series of core expressions which do not bear an age statement. Like the four others in the range – Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby – it allows Bob Dalgarno, Macallan’s highly skilled ‘Whisky Maker’, to choose casks which contribute to the individual whisky’s flavour, rather than being constrained by the requirement that it be of a specific age. As readers of Whiskeria will know, if a whisky bears an age statement, this must be that of its youngest constituent: even if 95% of the casks used are twenty-five years old and only 5% ten years old, the bottles must be labelled ’10 Years Old’. Unlike blends, malt whiskies almost always bore age statements – typically 8 or 10 years during the 1970s, rising to 12 in the 1980s and even higher in the 1990s when there were ample stocks of well-aged malts. The so-called ‘Whisky Loch’ accumulated during the late 1970s/early 1980s (when there was dramatic down-turn in demand for blended Scotch whisky) made these older expressions possible, but the loch is almost drunk dry, while demand for long aged malt whiskies and super deluxe blends has never been greater. So the key reason for abandoning age statements is to maximise the use of aged stock by vatting it with younger whiskies and encouraging consumers to judge it on its merits, not simply to assume that ‘older is better’.

But there’s more to it than this. Last year I spoke to Bob Dalgarno about another expression without an age statement, The Whisky Maker’s Edition. What he said is relevant to The Macallan Rare Cask as well. Like the former, the latter uses only ex-sherry casks. “For the distillery’s own bottlings we always favoured European oak, ex-sherry butts, which make for a dark colour and a full-bodied flavour, and I have used a majority of these in this expression, balanced by American oak ex-sherry casks. The latter add sweetness and caramel notes, and balance the tannic dryness of European oak… It’s all a matter of balance. That’s what I’m looking for.” “Was it difficult to put together?” I asked. “Not really”, Bob replied. “At least no more difficult than any other expression of The Macallan. Perhaps more fun. My reputation is on the line with every batch, even when my name’s not on the bottle!” “More fun?” “Not having an age statement means I have greater liberty in balancing flavours from various ages - although I have not used any whiskies under about 12 years in this vatting - and there are some much older.” Macallan has long avoided giving their malt a ‘fake tan’ – to quote an American website – i.e. they do not adjust the colour by adding spirit caramel. So casks must be selected for the colour they add as well as the depth of flavour. Bob says: “Of more than a thousand barrels, aged in the industry's most exclusive and expensive casks, only 1% of the whiskies made the cut”. The website quoted above concludes succinctly: “The bottles are presented in a swank gatefold box”! box”

Tasting Note The whisky has a bright polished mahogany hue and a viscous appearance. The first nose is of rich dry fruit cake or fruit loaf with a touch of cinnamon, a hint of white pepper and allspice, and a suggestion of cooking chocolate. A smooth texture and a sweet yet unusually (for Macallan) salty taste, with chocolate and spice. Water mellows all these elements and adds crème brulée and fresh oak. The taste is less salty.

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Laphroaig 10 Years Old Douglas of Drumlanrig

— S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT @ 4 6 %VO L | £ 8 3

Richard Montagu Douglas Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 12th Duke of Queensberry, is the largest private landowner in the United Kingdom. The family seats are Drumlanrig Castle (Dumfries & Galloway) representing the Douglas line, Bowhill House (near Selkirk) representing the Scott line and Boughton House (Northamptonshire) representing the Montagu line. The Buccleuch Dukedom was created in 1663 when Charles II’s eldest illegitimate son, James, Duke of Monmouth, married Ann Scott, 4th Countess of Buccleuch, and it merged with that of Queensberry by inheritance in 1810, along with ownership of Drumlanrig Castle which had been built between 1679 and 1689 for William Douglas, First Duke of Queensberry. Known as ‘The Pink Palace’ on account of its having been built from pink sandstone, Drumlanrig is one of the leading examples in Scotland of late 17th century Renaissance architecture. It also houses an important art collection, made famous in 2003 when Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen. Also known simply as The Buccleuch Madonna, this priceless painting was discovered in Glasgow four years later and returned. It now hangs in the Scottish National Gallery.


Tasting Note Very pale in colour: almost tarnished silver. The nose is natural (seabreeze), maritime (seaweed, iodine), medicinal (carbolic, coal tar, public swimming bath) and lightly smoky (charred sticks); the taste surprisingly sweet, salty and big-time smoky in the finish. Surprisingly spicy for its strength. Water flattens the flavour considerably.

The ‘Douglas of Drumlanrig’ range of single cask bottlings, personally endorsed by the Duke of Buccleuch with his signature, are usually released at 46%ABV and aged between ten and twenty years. They are drawn from the extensive stock of whiskies owned by Hunter Laing & Co, a company formed in 2013 following the break up of the long-established family firm, Douglas Laing & Co (founded 1948), and owned by Stewart Laing and his sons, Scott and Andrew. Stewart’s long experience and extensive stock makes it possible for the company to release a number of collections, including Old Malt Cask (rare and old malts, bottled at 50%ABV without chill-filtration or colour adjustment, introduced in 1998, and Old & Rare (single casks of exceptional quality and rarity, bottled at cask strength.) As readers of Whiskeria will be aware, Laphroaig is a highly phenolic malt – smoky and medicinal – much enjoyed by its many devotees around the world. Its owners made a virtue of this in their advertising in days gone by, which was all about ‘Love it or Hate it. No compromise.’ Douglas of Drumlanrig’s Laphroaig is very pale in colour, which suggests that the full distillery character will be apparent. Devotees of the malt will not be disappointed.



Hot Shot The first of a kind, Michaela Tabb quickly rose to fame and is renowned as the first and only female to ever referee a World Championship Snooker Final. We caught up with Michaela at the fabulous Cromlix Hotel to find out a little bit more about the woman with the white gloves.

Shot on location at The Cromlix Hotel, Perthshire.

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“As soon as he uttered the word ‘she’ I just heard the buzz going around the arena”

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How did it all begin for you? Well I started with pool – my boyfriend at the time took me down to his local for a drink when I was about 23 or 24 – everybody was playing pool and I thought that if I didn't get involved then I was going to be sitting on my own in the corner… so I gave it a go. The only way I could win was by playing a tactical game, so I learned quickly how to play smart to give me a chance of winning. I found my brain really worked in that way so I progressed and got into the Scottish ladies team. That is when I met my husband Ross (McInnes, professional pool player,) when he was representing Scotland in the men’s team. And what about the transition into refereeing? There was an American 9 ball Pool 1-day event being held in Glasgow in 1999 - it was televised and they had to bring a referee up from England because we didn't have any. Ross saw an opportunity; so he spoke to the organiser and said that we had a female referee in Scotland and they said ‘great - get her to send a CV and a picture down’. So we did and I got the job! I worked with them for the next 17 years.  And refereeing snooker then came as a natural progression? Yes - Nine-ball pool was televised on Sky Sports, and World Snooker had seen that there was this female referee at a time when they were trying to change the profile of the sport. There were still a lot of older gentleman refereeing in those days. World Snooker got in touch with me in 2001 and asked if I would be interested in refereeing snooker. At the time I had no idea if I was going to be any good or not, but I gave it a shot. Did you have any role models, or people you drew inspiration from at the time? I was a snooker fan for years; we always watched it as a family when I was growing up, back when there weren’t 101 TV channels to choose from. I distinctly remember Alex Higgins winning in 1982 – it really sticks out for me. Jan Verhaas, who was a young Dutch referee, became the one I modelled myself on. At that time, I didn't know how to referee as such, but I watched the others and learnt from them. I met Jan through pool and he taught and guided me throughout my snooker career.


Can you pick out a turning point in your career when things really picked up? I started becoming well known after a few years on the Challenge Tour, where I gained a lot of experience on how the rules are actually implemented in a game situation. For 2 years I worked hard and kept my head down, often doing more than the male referees because I knew I had to prove myself. I learned the game really well and I was just starting to believe in myself when I was made redundant. What happened? I had just become the first lady to referee in the World Championships in 2003, when the company that was running the game made some referee cutbacks. The process they used was based around experience and length of service, so of course, I lost my job. That was absolutely horrible because of all the work I had put in; it was so frustrating, knowing what I had put my family through too. But unknown to me, in the background BBC and Sky Sports directors thought that my involvement was one of the best things to happen to the game in years. The decision was overturned and I got my job back. I suddenly realised that I had been accepted within the game and worldwide. From then on, I went forward with confidence and believed in what I was doing. What were your favourite venues? I always loved The Crucible - a round theatre that holds around 1000 people, which makes for the most intense and amazing atmosphere – it's electric. I love that feeling! The Tempodrom in Berlin is another circular arena which has a phenomenal atmosphere. If you could change one rule in snooker, what would it be? There is a rule called ‘the push shot.’ The only reason I would want to change it is because it is not being implemented correctly. I had a terrific argument with Peter Ebdon over it once, where I was adamant he played a push shot and he would not back down. In snooker they don’t seem to adhere to the rule so it has just got to the point now where it is irrelevant, and I think they should scrap it altogether.



What has been your favourite match to referee? There have been a few which will stay with me forever. Definitely the first match I ever refereed at The Crucible - the MC introduced me to the table and I can remember him announcing “we are making history today, she…” As soon as he uttered the word “she” I just heard the buzz going around the arena, and the feeling as I walked out after that announcement was unforgettable. It was to referee Mark King and Drew Henry – very nerve wracking but very memorable. Then there’s my first World Championship final in 2009 between John Higgins and Shaun Murphy – two of my favourite players who I am also friendly with – the atmosphere was phenomenal for our match. And what would be your dream match to referee? I was in the fortunate position of refereeing Alex Higgins a couple of times before he passed away. He always scared the s**t out of me – he was the John MacEnroe of snooker in his day, and was renowned for hating referees with a passion! But he was actually very respectful towards me, he was lovely and it was totally

unexpected. So to have refereed him in his day against Jimmy White would have been amazing. And what is the future of snooker looking like? It has a very bright future, as it has grown massively in Europe and Asia, just unfortunately not so much in the UK. There just aren't that many kids at a young level playing, and I think it is quite inaccessible for them. We have the BBC here supporting snooker, which helps, but isn’t enough. Actually, my son Preston is incredibly talented, and I really wonder whether the next time I am back in The Crucible it will be as a mother watching him play – and he is only 9! We played in Centre Parcs last year together as a family and he was knocking balls in time and time again – it turned a few heads! Any funny moments come to mind? There are so many! The funniest has to be the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, and people still come up to me now and remind me of it! It was a 10am match in the Crucible and Stephen Maguire had

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“BBC and Sky Sports directors thought that my involvement was one of the best things to happen to the game in years”

just potted the green in the bottom pocket. Meanwhile, in the build up to this, my earpiece was quite noisy and I was aware that I was looking for a moment to ask the commentators to turn it down. I was distracted and I meant to pick up the green to replace it, but unaware, I had picked up the cue ball instead! Graeme Dott, who was in the chair whispered to me, 'Michaela, you've picked up the cue ball!' When I realised what I had done, I squealed and the whole place started laughing – even Steven Maguire started pulling my leg. We managed to get it back in the right place but people remind me of it frequently! Not funny at the time! What about whisky? My husband and I are mostly wine drinkers, but I do love a dram to bring in the New Year, and I am impressed by the whisky bar here in The Cromlix. Favourite dram? If not a Grouse then I'd have to say a Balvenie I tried a few years back stands out in my mind.

Knowledge Bar Snooker »

It is believed that Snooker was invented in India in the 19th Century by British Army officers.


18.5 million people in the UK tuned in to watch the climax of the 1985 World Snooker Championship final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. This remains a record for BBC2, and also remains a record post-midnight audience for any channel in the United Kingdom. 


Free ball: When a player is snookered on the reds by their opponent’s foul shot, they can nominate any coloured ball on the table as a red.


Push Shot: Where the cue and cue ball are in simultaneous contact – this is a foul.


Jump Shot: Where the cue ball leaves the table and jumps over a ball before first hitting another ball.


Maximum Break: When a score of 147 is achieved by potting all 15 reds with 15 blacks, then all 6 colours in succession.




Quickfire round Michaela Tabb Dinner tonight is… Pork in a mushroom sauce with onions, mushrooms and sweetcorn served with rice. If I were an animal… I’d be a ‘Tabb’ cat – my family’s cats seem to get treated better than a lot of human beings. My cats get prawns to eat for breakfast and king prawns when they are on special offer! I like to travel…. By air, but only because I can switch off as there are no phones, emails or texts to disturb me! I love to sit back and enjoy the movies, or read and be fed and drink wine – without feeling guilty. My first round is a… Prosecco   Very few people know that I… am a Super Mario fan! I have been playing Super Mario since he came on the scene 30 years ago. I love winter, and when I get to spend hours with my younger son playing Super Mario and Zelda on the Nintendo.

Spotify Playlist Michaela Tabb 'Love Songs'

Photography – Brian Sweeney Location – The Cromlix Hotel, Perthshire – Hair & Make up – Mairi Gordon Styling – Steph Kelly Michaela wears: p.41 & 46 – Jackets – vintage at Those were the Days Vintage, Edinburgh; Blouse – Biba at House of Fraser; Shoes – Christian Louboutin at Pam Jenkins, Edinburgh; p.42 – Michaela’s own p.45 Images: Rob Matthews / Mike Palmer

» » » » » » » » » »

I want to know what love is | Foreigner Lost without your love | Bread Hello Again | Neil Diamond She Believes in me | Kenny Rogers An Innocent Man | Billy Joel Two out of three | Meatloaf Can’t take my eyes off you | Frankie Valli Total Eclipse of the Heart | Bonnie Tyler Hello | Lionel Richie Now | Carpenters

Scan the QR code to listen to this Whiskeria Spotify playlist » or go to whiskeria_magazine

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Enjoy Aberlour responsibly.



C E L E B R AT E L I F E R E S P O N S I B LY Mortlach words and associated logos are trade marks. Š Diageo 2015.



Greece is the word It’s more than an island, it’s a way of life: Claire Bell discovers the tranquil and charming Greek island of Skopelos.

Pink bougainvillea blossoms, like butterflies drowsy in the morning sun, dapple the grass. A yellow butterfly flickers past, as if trying to wake them, but gets caught on a gentle breeze and flits off into the bushes. Out at sea, two yachts heel over in a light wind, another swings leisurely on its anchor. As the breeze reaches land, it flirts with a wind chime, channelling the voice of this ancient Greek island. All around, the only creature with any sense of purpose is a bumblebee. Everyone else – the horse nodding off in the shade, the ducks in the vegetable patch, the three ginger cats, the cockerel and me – is content just to be.

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We decamped to Skopelos in a pique. It was late spring but winter in Scotland was refusing to let go, so we let go of Scotland. Feeling just as sorry for our Greek cousins with their faltering economy, we opted to trade their sun for our euros. Tucked away in the north of the Aegean without an airport, Skopelos is one of the greenest of the Greek islands. It was the setting for the imaginary island of “Kalokairi” in the Hollywood film Mamma Mia, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. The final wedding scene takes place at Agios Ioanassis, a dreamy white chapel perched on a rocky outcrop butting out into the sea.

A brief internet search finds that despite its flirtation with fame, the island has an abundance of charming, affordable accommodation. Out of season, simple rooms with sea views go for as little as £100 per person for a week. We choose Mando Guesthouse in Stafilos, a tranquil bay in the south of the island, owned by Jason and his mother, and are delighted by our choice. We are welcomed like long-lost relatives which, as we are to discover, is just the normal way of being on Skopelos. In the supermarket, in the restaurants, on the street, you are never treated as the sum of your wallet, but rather as a kindred spirit, on a quest to nurture your body and soul.




“Skopelos is a place you visit for your soul. To remind yourself that humanity, kindness and stillness still exist.”

The island’s serenity is like a magnetic force that quietens the mind. The feeling is of languor, gentleness, and an abundance of time. The loudest sound is the splash of flippers in the Mediterranean, the soft laughter of a joke between friends. It is a place where the same people return, year after year, to revel in the collective energy of others who are also seeking a quiet corner of the planet to unwind, read, stroll, swim, and smile to themselves. Tourism might be the island’s mainstay, but there is a real sense that tourism has not changed Skopelos, rather that Skopelos changes tourists. In the past, goat farming was the island’s main business. Jason explains that his grandfather once tended a flock of a thousand goats in patches of land scattered across the island. The most prized land was high in the mountains, the least valuable close to the sea, as goats do not like salty-flavoured grass. How times and fortunes change. Today this low-lying coastal land is an idyll for the visitor. At Mando, a simple path, cut through thick vegetation, leads guests down to a hand-built bathing platform, with a ladder that drops down into the sea and your own private bathing spot. Lying here, you feel the kind of tiredness that comes when all of your cells, one by one, begin to relax. Goats, though, are still important. “Here in Skopelos, goats and plums are the best in all of Greece. We are known for them” , winks Jason. The plums he speaks of are unique to Skopelos – this local variety stubbornly refuses to grow anywhere else in the world. They are hand-dried in the sun over four days to make prunes for cooking and snacking. Each day the farmers hand massage and turn each plum, until on the fifth day they are placed inside a wood-smoked oven, fired with pine from the mountains. Thanasis Gripiotis is a third-generation plum farmer. “I would like to dry my plums by machine, but until they taste as good as by hand, I will continue to do it the traditional way,” he says.

Gripiotis also owns Platernos, an al fresco restaurant set under a tree in Skopelos town. Here he incorporates the three varieties of Skopelos prunes – the sour prune, the black prune and the egg prune – into his dishes, his speciality being a stuffed tenderloin pork. Does he make any liquour from his plums? He smiles and pulls an old plastic bottle from the back of the fridge, filled with a translucent liquid. “Plum raki. Only for friends,” he says, pouring glasses of firewater. Skopelos town is a pleasant place to wander of an evening. Built around a bay in the style of an amphitheatre, the town is a warren of picturesque alleys tucked with white houses, colourful shutters, wooden balconies and bursts of flowers. Jewellery is the island’s main souvenir, and the tiny shops are packed with hand-crafted pieces to suit all wallets and tastes, all made by craftspeople from the Greek mainland. Along the quayside restaurants serve up other local favourites including stuffed zucchini flowers, Skopelos cheese pie, goat pasta and cod cooked with prunes. There is none of the tourist touting of other islands, no one trying to lure you into a restaurant, just friendly, welcoming smiles and nods from the patrons who seem just as delighted to be spending their summer on the island. The owner of Café Thalassa is a case in point. She spends eight months of the year on the Greek mainland, decamping to Skopelos every summer to run a small café in a square outside a tiny whitewashed one-room house, overlooking the sea. “Could you think of a better office for the summer?” she says, pointing at her pop-up creation, decorated with orange and pink geraniums, shady covers, and soft trilling Greek music. It is the kind of place, like so many on Skopelos, where you decide to sit for half an hour, and find you are still there hours later, lost in thought – or no thoughts, as the case may be. A car is useful on Skopelos, although it is possible to get around by bus, and hitchhiking is common. A crumbling old

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tarmac road rings the island, branching off into dusty dirt tracks that connect the sleepy bays with the more mountainous interior, thick with pine, oak, olive and almond trees. Just outside of Skopelos town is Mount Palouki, home to most of the island’s monasteries, visitors welcome. Four kilometres outside the town is Evangelismos, a Byzantine 18th century monastery built in a square around a small church. Today it is home to just one monk and a few elderly nuns who make and sell textiles and handicrafts. Step inside its thick white walls and the island’s silence becomes even more palpable. This is a place that has never known the pulse of the internet, or the rush of modern life. A place where its entire existence has been dedicated to contemplation. An elderly nun sits on the threshold of the church, weaving a tapestry of a cat. “Look, look. It is nice,” she mutters, pointing with pride to the monastery’s prime treasure, a 14th-century gold altar that was imported from Constantinople, before shuffling to her feet and returning from the kitchen with two pieces of the Greek Delight, coated in icing sugar. Sharing food is one of the true pleasures of Skopelos. Nearly all fresh meat and vegetables are grown on the island. In Limnonari, one of the few white sandy bays accessible by car, the taverna is owned by two brothers, who take it in turns to run the restaurant. The one brother – “the good brother,” confides a local – is famed for his cuisine, all his ingredients are organic and he hand rears his own pigs. The other brother – “the bad brother” – is said not to cook with the same care. “But the good brother is in charge this year, so you must eat there,” advises our insider with a delighted smile. We do, passing an entire day trailing between the terrace shaded with mulberry trees and the soft white sand just a few footsteps away, enjoying Sofrito, a creamy garlic pork dish, ice-creams and organic wine.


Another must-eat spot is Taverna Flisvos in Loutraki, in the north-west of the island. The terrace juts out into the lapping sea, and the catch of the day is kept in a basket at the end of a long rope, the owner hauling up the fish with every order. There are some places you visit for the culture and the sights, others out of curiosity, so you can say you have been there. Skopelos is a place you visit for your soul. To remind yourself that humanity, kindness and stillness still exist. They are not lost. We just have to slow down, stay still for a while, and smile at a stranger. Images on these pages by Claire Bell

Knowledge Bar Skopelos, Greece

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Regional Unit: Sporades Islands Population: 4960 (2011 census) Area: 96.3 Sq. km Famous for: Rugged beaches, wildlife and as the filming location for 2008 movie ‘Mamma Mia’.

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.



The Whisky Shop Autumn 2015 A Hebridean Sprint to Islay / 58 A Hebridean Sprint to Jura / 60 A Hebridean Sprint to Skye / 62 A Highland Beauty / 64 Autumn in Speyside / 66 A New Addition / 72 Ice & Crystal / 74 Customer Favourites / 78 The Directory / 82


A Hebridean Sprint / Islay Ardbeg The nights are still soft and long and the seas are relatively calm, this is the time of year to set sail for the iconic islands of the Hebrides where the folks are delighted to see you and you can sample some of the most individual single malt whiskies in the world. We look at three from three very different islands – Islay, Jura and Skye.

Knowledge Bar Ardbeg » The Ardbeg distillery, arguably the most famous of the famous Islay malts, celebrates its 200th Anniversary this year. Best known for making some of the most heavily peated whisky in the world, Ardbeg has experimented with many different types of maturation in its many years of producing malt whisky. The brand has developed a massive cult following, organised into The Ardbeg Committee with a worldwide membership of over 110,000.

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Ardbeg Ten Year Old

Ardbeg Uigeadail



What is it? Ardbeg Ten Year Old is considered by some to be the peatiest, smokiest, most complex single malt of them all. It is non chill-filtered and has a strength of 46% ABV, thus retaining maximum flavour, at the same time giving more body and added depth.

What is it? Ardbeg Uigeadail (pronounced 'Oog-a-dal') is a special vatting that marries Ardbeg's traditional deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. It is non chill-filtered at high strength, which retains maximum flavour and gives more body and added depth.

What’s it like? Intensely peaty, but this does not overpower the more subtle flavours of smoky fruits, citrus juice and spiced toffee. The peat gives way to the natural sweetness of the malt, with an incredibly long lasting, smoky finish.

What’s it like? An amazingly complex balance between fruit flavours, spice and smoke. A full flavoured whisky with a rich, deep flavour and mouth-coating texture. The sherry cask maturation gives this a stunning sweet warming flavour that complements the aromatic smoky finish.

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Ardbeg Corryvreckan –


What is it? Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where only the bravest souls dare to venture. Swirling aromas and torrents of deep, peaty, peppery taste lurk beneath the surface of this beautifully balanced Ardbeg dram. Like the whirlpool itself, Corryvreckan is not for the faint-hearted! What’s it like? Intense and powerful, with lots of salt and tar, but also with an appealing dark chocolate sweetness and rich red fruits and muscovado sugar. Lots of pepper on the palate, and a mouthful of black tarry espresso balanced by soft, rich fruits. A long, powerful finish with black coffee, chocolate coated cherries and hot pepper sauce.



A Hebridean Sprint / Jura Jura The Isle of Jura is located very close to Islay, separated by a narrow channel that some say can be swum – but not recommended! Despite its proximity, the terrain is entirely different to Islay, which is relatively flat. Jura, on the contrary, possesses a series of three huge conical shaped mountains that are very visible from the distance and have been Christened ‘the Paps of Jura’.

Knowledge Bar Jura » Whilst the island is one of the bigger Hebridean islands, the population is small with just 196 people, one road, one pub and one distillery. In 1963 the distillery today was built from a derelict ruin.

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Jura Origin 10 year old –


What is it? This whisky signifies the rebirth of the Jura distillery on the island of Jura in 1963. On the front of the bottle is a Celtic symbol for birth, beginnings and the forces of nature. The 10 year old is aged in ex-Bourbon casks for 10 years and is light and delicate with a warming honey finish. What’s it like? The bourbon cask maturation makes this a smooth whisky, with floral notes and a hint of oak. Sweet honey and soft, warming barley develop to a traditional Island character. A sweet malty biscuit and sea spray finish.

Jura Diurachs’ Own 16 year old


What is it? This has matured for 14 years in American white oak, before spending a further two years in ex-Amoroso Oloroso sherry casks. Named after the people of Jura – the ‘Diurachs’ – because it’s their dram of choice and just like the Diurachs, it’s full of character. With such a proud and passionate heritage behind this whisky, it comes as no surprise that the Diurachs’ own symbol stamps every bottle with approval. What’s it like? The double maturation results in a full-bodied malt with a Christmas cake flavour, lots of dark chocolate, rich dried fruits and candied fruit peel. A lingering, chocolate finish with hints of toasted oak.

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Jura Prophecy

Jura Tastival 2015



What is it? Jura’s heavily peated Prophecy is released in small batches that are drier and smokier than the standard peated Jura whisky, Superstition. Matured in Limousine casks, this is a non-chill filtered whisky with a huge peaty punch!

What is it? The second release of the Jura Tastival available to buy outside the annual Island festival. Matured in rare and exclusive Ladubay sparkling wine casks from the Loire Valley in France. Distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2015, it is one of only 3970 bottles available worldwide.

What’s it like? Complexly peated and briny, with strong spicy sea spray. Some people taste peat smoke and fresh cinnamon. A fantastic depth of aromas and long lasting flavour.

What’s it like? Rich and fruity; black cherries, treacle toffee, marzipan, liquorice and chocolate ganache with just a hint of ginger. The fruity flavour is influenced by the maturation in the sparkling wine barrels. An extraordinary and rare release from the island distillery.



A Hebridean Sprint / Skye Talisker The Isle of Skye sits off the very north west of Scotland, large and mountainous, dominating the skyline and separated from the mainland by a short crossing spanned by the Skye Bridge. It is Scotland’s most visited Hebridean island and when you get there you will see why. The mountains are truly awesome and when the weather is overcast, which it often is, they glower down at you in true Scots dour fashion. However, you are never far from a dram to cheer you up!

Knowledge Bar Talisker » Talisker Distillery was built in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, beside Loch Harport on the island of Skye. The name comes from the Norse, "Thalas Gair", meaning "Sloping Rock" and, until 1928, Talisker used a triple distillation method typically associated with Irish whisky. The distillery receives more than 50,000 visitors every year.

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Talisker 10 year old –


What is it? Talisker is the only Scotch whisky rugged enough to call the Isle of Skye its home. Young, fun and set to make an impression. 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.

Talisker Skye


What is it? Named after the island that the distillery is proud to call home, Talisker Skye is a malt of many contrasts, combining a smoky yet sweet opening with a powerful spicy finish. Matured in a combination of refill and specially selected toasted casks to bring out the sweeter elements of Talisker. What’s it like? Rich and balanced; a spicy and smoky aroma, which opens up to a pleasantly sweet and smooth taste, with just a hint of pepper and smoke. A long lasting, smooth and warming finish.

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Talisker Storm

Talisker Port Ruighe

Talisker Distillers Edition

Talisker 18 Year Old





What is it? Double matured in port casks, this malt is a toast to the Scottish traders who braved the high seas and were instrumental in founding the port wine trade, shipping it to the world.

What is it? The Talisker Distillers Edition is older, sweeter and richer than the regular bottlings. After its usual aging process in American oak casks, the whisky undergoes a second maturation in casks previously holding sherry to create a richer expression of this island favourite.

What is it? Storm is an exuberant new expression of Talisker: intense and smoky, with enhanced and vibrant maritime notes, smoothly balanced by Talisker's signature hot sweetness. What’s it like? A warmer, smokier and spicier whisky than the 10 year old, the Storm still has all of the pepper, smoky and salty flavours typical of the island distillery, but is much more lively and intense.

What’s it like? The Port finish combines Talisker's powerful maritime character with succulent sweet notes of rich berry fruits for a superb contrasting taste experience.

What’s it like? The double maturation in ex-sherry barrels gives this whisky a delicious full-bodied flavour, with lots of rich fruit and sultanas. Well-balanced, with a perfect combination of sweet fruits and intense pepper.

What is it? A rich and full-bodied single malt matured in a variety of casks, which were previously used to age bourbon and sherry, for a minimum of 18 years. Apleasantly sweet and warming malt from the wild and stormy island of Skye. What’s it like? Full-bodied, with a rich smokiness, toffee sweetness and just a hint of chilli. An intense peppery finish, with lingering smoke.



A Highland Beauty Glenmorangie Glenmorangie is often erroneously identified as a Speyside distillery. Glenmorangie sits in the far north of Scotland, beyond Inverness and half a mile from the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Tain. The distillery overlooks the spacious shores of the Dornoch Firth. The name, loosely translated as ‘the Glen of Tranquility,’ is often mis-pronounced. Think ‘orange’ when you say ‘Glenmorangie’ and the name rolls off the tongue! In standard form, Glenmorangie is widely available, but that does not make it a bad thing, as it is one of the most heavenly single malts that you might wish to enjoy. Knowledge Bar Glenmorangie » The stills at Glenmorangie are the tallest in Scotland. Their long copper necks stand at 5.14 metres (16ft 10 1/4 inches), the same height as a fully-grown adult giraffe! Which means that only the very lightest and purest vapours make it to the top, giving a smoother, more elegant whisky.

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Glenmorangie The Original

Glenmorangie Lasanta

What is it? A ten-year-old single malt, Glenmorangie Original is produced by marrying the delicate spirit that emerges from Scotland's tallest stills with first and second fill American white oak casks.

What is it? Elegant and full-bodied, this whisky spends ten years maturing in white oak ex-bourbon casks before being moved to Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez Sherry casks from Jerez in Spain for a further two years.


What’s it like? Light and sweet, yet incredibly complex. Scents of citrus and peach, with soft vanilla and lots of floral fruitiness. A clean finish, with hints of orange and peach.


What’s it like? A delicious and soft whisky, with lots of sweet sherry flavoured sultanas, orange segments and butterscotch, combining to create complex warm spices. A long and satisfying finish with spiced orange, chocolate and hazelnuts.

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Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

Glenmorangie 18 year old

Glenmorangie 25 year old

Glenmorangie Signet





What is it? The darkest and most intense whisky in the extra-matured Glenmorangie range, Quinta Ruban has spent 10 years maturing in American white oak casks before being moved to carefully selected ruby port pipes from Portugal. What’s it like? An incredibly complex spirit, with a balance of sweet and dry flavours and contrasting smooth and crisp textures. Lots of mint chocolate, with a silky aftertaste with traces of orange.

What is it? Glenmorangie 18 Year Old is a single malt Scotch whisky of serious distinction. Once it has spent fifteen years maturing in American white oak casks approximately 30% is transferred into Spanish Oloroso casks to spend a further three years maturing. Then, when both elements have reached 18 years, they are blended back together to create a whisky with a rich bouquet and full, rounded flavour. What’s it like? Rich and rounded with sweet dried fruits and a complex, floral fragrance. A balanced flavour between honey and malt with a subtle hint of wood smoke, moving on to a tantalising finish, with sweet dried fruits and a subtle dryness from the Oloroso influence.

What is it? The oldest expression in the Glenmorangie core range, matured in a range of casks including American White Oak, Oloroso Sherry and French Burgundy casks for at least 25 years before being combined together in exact quantities to make a complex whisky bursting with deep flavours. What’s it like? Big and full-flavoured. Deep forest fruits and Christmas pudding give it an incredibly smooth flavour with a delicious long and warming finish. Complex, with multiple layers of sweetness, a perfect testimony to Glenmorangie’s knowledge and expertise.

What is it? Undoubtedly the richest whisky in the Glenmorangie range, a blend of unique and rare whiskies, distilled over 30 years ago back when the distillery still malted its own barley on site. The result of a lifetime’s experience, this is the richest whisky in the Glenmorangie range. What’s it like? A melting sweetness is followed by an explosive spiciness, thanks to its maturation in the ‘designer casks’ made exclusively for Glenmorangie from American white oak.



Autumn in Speyside Glenfiddich The Speyside region in the North East of Scotland is where the greatest concentration of Scotch malt whisky distilleries can be found. Noted for their non-peaty flavour, they are the malt of choice for all Scotch whisky blenders. On their own, they take a bit of beating. They are delicious and easy to drink. We look at two of the world’s best and most popular Speyside malts.

Knowledge Bar Glenfiddich » Founded in 1887 by William Grant, Glenfiddich is one of the few single malt distilleries to have remained family-run throughout its history. In the summer of 1886, with the help of his seven sons and two daughters, William Grant set out to fulfil a lifelong ambition. Together they began building a distillery by hand, stone by stone. After a single year of work it was ready and William named it Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer. William's passion, determination and pioneering spirit continues to guide the owners today.

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Glenfiddich 12 year old –


What is it? Carefully matured in the finest ex-bourbon American oak and ex-sherry European oak casks for at least 12 years, the whisky is then left to rest in oak marrying tuns for an additional 6 months to achieve complete harmony of aroma and flavour. Not only the world's favourite, but also the world's most awarded single malt Scotch whisky. What’s it like? Distinctively fresh with a characteristic sweet, fruity flavour. Develops into creamy butterscotch with subtle malt and oak flavours, leading to a long and mellow finish.

Glenfiddich 14 year old Rich Oak –

£48 What is it? Glenfiddich Rich Oak is a completely original finish to single malt Scotch whisky. After 14 years maturing in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, the whisky is transferred to carefully selected virgin Spanish and American oak casks to release extra layers of aroma and flavour into the whisky. What’s it like? A complex harmony of fresh fruit and spices. The oak maturation gives the spirit a spicy vanilla and dried fruit flavour, developing to become deeper and richer with time as a subtle nutty character emerges.

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Glenfiddich 15 year old Solera –

£50 What is it? This 15 Year Old expression is a truly special single malt that exemplifies the family's tradition of innovation. Aged in European, American, and New American oak to carefully release the virgin cask flavours, the whisky is then mellowed in unique Solera vats before being married in Portuguese oak tuns. What’s it like? Bursting with flavour, the unique maturation process gives this whisky a warm spicy flavour. Silky smooth with multiple layers of sherry oak, marzipan, cinnamon and ginger, it is full-bodied and satisfyingly rich.

Glenfiddich 21 year old –


What is it? Raised in Scotland, roused by the Caribbean… Casks that once contained premium Caribbean rum are used to finish the 21 Year Old expression. This expression spends four months finishing in these "Gran Reserva" barrels selected by the Malt Master, adding to its distinctive and complex flavour. What’s it like? The rum finish releases layers of intensity that set this 21 year old apart from other whiskies. An intense and vanilla sweet aroma, with hints of banana and floral notes, followed by a soft lively taste with ginger and lime developing into a complex and exceptionally long ending.

Glenfiddich Excellence 26 year old

Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1992 Single Cask*



What is it? A whisky steeped in history, heritage and quality – Glenfiddich Excellence 26 Year Old was created to honour the distillery’s continuous line of family ownership since William Grant founded it in 1887. A rare single malt that has spent 26 years maturing in American ex-bourbon casks. What’s it like? Soft and delicate on the nose, with a beautiful floral character. The flavour is vibrant, with a balance of dry tannin and soft brown vanilla sweetness. Deep and complex, with hints of spice and liquorice.


*Whisky Shop Exclusive

What is it? Recently, several members of The Whisky Shop team and one lucky customer, Neil Cromarty, joined Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, to select a single cask Glenfiddich to be bottled exclusively for The Whisky Shop. The cask they chose was a refill bourbon cask filled on 13th March 1992, the year that The Whisky Shop was founded. This bottling is the very first cask to be released from the Glenfiddich Rare Collection; casks that are hand selected by Brian Kinsman because they exhibit a host of seductive aromas and flavours typical of older Glenfiddich. Only 200 bottles ever produced. What’s it like? Matured in a refill bourbon cask distilled on the 13th March 1992, bottled at 55.6% abv. This whisky really shows off the Glenfiddich distillery character, with lots of sweet, fruity notes with apple and pear and just a hint of oak and spice.


Autumn in Speyside The Singleton of Dufftown

The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old –



What is it? The Singleton range starts with this naturally rich single malt whisky, matured mainly in European oak casks for a minimum of 12 years.

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? Lots of fruit and nut flavours can be found in the 12 year old expression. Sweet fruit aromas move into a richer, dried fruit and toasted nut flavour on the palate, with a medium-long, crisp and warming finish.

Knowledge Bar The Singleton of Dufftown » Being named after the town, you would expect that Dufftown distillery was the first distillery in the town. But it wasn't - that honour falls to Mortlach, a short stroll away along the Dullan Water, which was founded in 1823. Dufftown distillery was a (relative) latecomer, opening in 1895 under the name of Dufftown-Glenlivet.

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The Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire

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.

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The Singleton of Dufftown Sunray –


What is it? Sunray is a new expression released in 2014, achieved by maturing in specially chosen toasted ex-bourbon casks. 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.

The Singleton of Dufftown 15 year old


What is it? A 15 year old release of the Singleton whisky, aged in a combination of European and American Oak casks resulting in a sweet and spicy malt. What’s it like? A perfectly balanced whisky, initially sweet with golden syrup and fruits moving to a dry finish. Light and smooth with fresh fruit, and a delicately spiced finish.



Glenglassaugh Distillery, standing on the Moray Firth Coast at the edge of Sandend Bay, is a distillery which lay silent and forgotten for over two decades. Its heritage stretches back to 1875 and the distinctive fruity character of its whisky is loved by all who discover it. After being mothballed for over 20 years, production was restarted in 2008. The first whisky from this refurbished distillery is now available to single malt Scotch whisky lovers everywhere.



A New Addition Woodford Reserve Rye

Knowledge Bar Rye Whiskey » Under American law, whiskeys like Woodford Reserve Rye must be aged in new oak barrels and are usually made in column stills. » Rye whiskey is distilled from a mash that is composed of at least 51% rye. This produces a spirit that is spicier and fruitier than bourbon and Americans often refer to it as their version of an Islay scotch.

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Woodford Reserve Rye –


What is it? Woodford Reserve has launched its latest innovative expression, created by Master Distiller, Chris Morris. He predicted the current trend for rye whiskeys when he lay to rest the first few barrels of the liquid, 6 years ago, and he has proven to be spot on.

What’s it like? A bold yet smooth balance of flavours, with distinct notes of pepper and tobacco. Lots of fruit and a slightly sweet, spicy finish – great in cocktails, in particular as a variation to the classic Manhattan.

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Knowledge Bar Darren’s Guide To Whisky Pairing. Loch Fyne Liqueur with Creme Brulee Instead of a dessert wine try a chilled Liqueur. My favourite combination is Loch Fyne Liqueur with Vanilla Creme Brulee. The flavours complement each other very well and the lingering citrus and slight spice finish of the liqueur is enhanced by the toffee and vanilla of the pudding. Bowmore 12 Year Old with Fresh Oysters Try a mouthful of Bowmore 12 year old followed by a fresh, slippery oyster. After, pour some more of the whisky into the now empty oyster shell and sip to get the maximum flavour of brine and saltiness. It’s a nice little party appetiser and talking point. We constantly read about wine being the perfect partner for various foods, and wine labels will often refer to which food types the contents of the bottle will mostly complement. I have yet to see a label which gives a similar offering for whisky... maybe we are missing a trick. That said, I have always been slightly sceptical that we can do with whisky what a wine sommelier can do with a cellar full of the grapey stuff. Since whisky is a stronger spirit to drink and is served to be sipped, it might not find its way into the sommeliers handbook anytime soon. For me, I prefer whisky and food pairings to be experimental and in small doses, something that is light-hearted and a bit of fun. With that in mind, there is no reason why some of our top Scottish restaurants cannot offer more simple combinations which would enhance whisky’s reputation amongst food lovers who are perhaps too often reaching for the all so familiar wine glass. Here are a few simple options to try…

Dalmore 15 Year Old with Dark Chocolate We have recently discovered Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier whose standard 70% cocoa dark chocolate goes extremely well with a Dalmore 15 year old. Both are rich and luxurious, and the flavours balance perfectly as the sherry sweetness of the whisky and the bitterness of the cocoa combine. A Whisky Shop favourite! Lagavulin 16 Year Old with Dunkeld Smoked Salmon Salmon and whisky have long been good pairing partners, but the sweet brine note of the Lagavulin is enhanced by a hot smoked salmon. The double whammy of smoke sets the taste buds into overdrive. At Dunkeld Smoked Salmon, they even offer one already cured in this Islay single malt. BenRiach 20 Year Old with Dunsyre Blue Cheese Recently uncovered as a perfect match at our Inverness store, the rich sweet flavours of the sherry-influenced BenRiach work well to cut through the sharp and spicy notes of this Ayrshire favourite cheese. As a whisky and cheese combination goes, this is a must try – mature flavours at their finest,and one that our W Club regulars in Inverness will agree with.



Ice & Crystal

Sphere Ice Molds

Whether enjoying a dram or a G&T, many people want their drink chilled before enjoying. How do you go about it, though? We’ve got two neat options, with a beautiful crystal glass to add a touch of style to any drink.

What is it? Spheres of ice are quickly becoming popular because the smaller surface area means the ice melts slower, keeping your whisky cool without becoming too diluted and affecting the taste. This pack contains 2 moulds to create spherical ice balls – perfect for your summer drinks.

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What’s it like? If you drink your whisky with ice, you’ll love these easy to use moulds. Stackable and dishwasher safe – they’re practical, too. Popular with Japanese whisky fans, try them with the Yamazaki Distillers Edition for the full experience.

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Whisky Drink Stones

Hand-cut crystal tumbler



What is it? Ice, but not as we know it! Another way to keep your drink cool without impacting on the taste. A set of nine reusable shiny hard stones, simply store these in the freezer and use them again and again.

What is it? A beautiful hand-cut crystal tumbler from Glencairn Crystal. This tumbler is the perfect size to fit in one of our new ice balls and makes an excellent gift for any whisky fan.

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


What’s it like? A great alternative to the standard Glencairn crystal glass if you would like to add some ice or water to your whisky. It’s also a brilliant way to serve cocktails, because every drink should be enjoyed in a beautiful glass!


Customer Favourites Shopping for the ideal gift? Look no further. In this section there is something for everyone. These are the brands that our customers like the best. Click & Collect:

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

Bowmore Laimrig 15 Year Old



The Perthshire distillery of Aberfeldy produces elegant yet robust single malts which deserve to be much more widely celebrated, though the bulk of Aberfeldy’s output goes into the best-selling Dewar’s White Label blend. The 12-yearold has an attractive honeyed nose and on the palate it is full bodied, quite sweet, with malty notes. Overall it is very nicely balanced. The finish is long and complex, becoming progressively more spicy and drying.

This Whisky Shop exclusive bottling of Bowmore takes its name from the Gaelic for ‘pier,’ referring to the ancient stone pier that once served the distillery. It is presented at cask strength after sherry cask finishing and with the addition of a little water it opens up beautifully. The nose offers an instant aroma of coal tar soap, but the rich Oloroso sherry notes deliver an attractive counterbalance. On the palate it is full bodied, with a luxurious raisin and sherry taste, complemented by wood smoke. The finish is long and spicy and smoky .

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Balvenie 17 Year Old –


Like the popular 12-yearold Balvenie DoubleWood, this 17-year-old version was matured initially in ex-bourbon casks before a final few months of European Sherry cask ageing. The result is a quintessential Balvenie, with honey, malt, vanilla, and green apples on the nose. Smooth and extremely easy to drink, the palate majors in dried fruits, vanilla and spices. The finish is medium to long, with more honey and vanilla, plus aniseed and warming oak. This is an excellent example of why it pays to trade up from a 12 year old single malt.

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old

Craigellachie 13 Year Old £52



This well balanced and smooth single malt is Glenlivet’s newest expression and pays tribute to their pioneering founder George Smith, capturing the smooth fruity taste that he first envisionedin 1824. Full gold in colour, the nose is mellow and sophisticated – fruity overall backed by sweet biscuit notes with a remote and elusive fragrance that becomes more floral at reduced strength. The taste is sweet with a creamy finish

This expression of the world’s best-selling single malt has been matured in a mix of ex-sherry casks and former bourbon barrels, which gives it greater complexity than its younger siblings. The nose offers raisins, sultanas, vanilla and a dusting of cinnamon over apple. Full-bodied and creamy in the mouth, with sherry, dried fruits and brittle toffee. The finish is lengthy, with toffee and ginger. This is a cracking dram!


The colour of Pinot Grigio white wine, from refill American oak casks. A youthful nose, with creamy rice pudding as a top note, acidic tropical fruitiness in the middle (lychees, mangosteins, even a fugitive trace of pineapple), and the most subtle hint of smoke at the back. The taste follows this: sweet, acidic, slightly smoky. More estery with water (warm vinyl), with a gentle mouthfeel and a sweetly acidic taste.


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GlenDronach 12 Year Old

Dalmore 12 Year Old



This superb richly sherried single malt is matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The nose offers aromas of stewed fruits, rhubarb and bramble jam with some crushed hazel nut and brown sugar and a faint charcoal smokiness as it opens over time. Richly flavoured with rich sherry fruitiness to the fore, some Turkish Delight and aniseed add to its complexity. The finish is clean and balanced but rich and spicy – a classic warming dram.

Stylistically, The Dalmore is a muscular Highland single malt with plenty of evidence of sherry wood maturation in most expressions. The attractively perfumed nose of the 12-year-old offers sweet malt, thick cut orange marmalade, sherry and a hint of leather. It’s a brilliant drink, full-bodied, with sweetening sherry in the mouth, along with spice and balncing, delicate, citrus notes. The finish is as long as your arm, with spice, ginger, lingering Seville oranges and even a suggestion of vanilla. A Whisky Shop malt of the year.

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

BenRiach 10 Year Old

Aberlour 12 Year Old

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Isle of Jura Superstition





This BenRiach 10 Year Old marks a significant milestone – it is the first expression from the Benriach core range to be created predominantly from whiskies distilled at BenRiach since Billy Walker took over in 2004. Natural tawny amber in colour from a mix of American and European oak casks, it has a fruity top-note (fresh apple, with a hint of powdered ginger) with a vanilla sponge base; these aromas are well translated by the taste, which is sweet overall, with light acidity, referencing peaches and lemon zest; a creamy texture and a long, warming finish.

Aberlour uses a mix of ex-bourbon and former sherry casks for most of its maturation, with sherry usually playing a prominent part. The 12 year old is ‘double cask matured’ in this manner and Oloroso sherry is prominent on the sweet nose, along with honey, almonds and wood. Christmas spices, sherry, stewed apple, honey and almonds appear on the palate, while ginger features in the lengthy, drying finish, along with nutmeg.

This fabled Speysider comes in a wide range of ages, right up to 60, but the 10-year-old is a perennially popular example of the brand and its style. It exhibits a nose of rich Christmas cake, featuring sherry, raisins, nuts and spices. A background hint of smoke is also present. The palate is defined by quite dry sherry, with a developing and gradually sweetening full body. The finish is long, nutty, and comparatively dry. A family classic.


Jura’s iconic distillery does not traditionally produce peated whiskies. Superstition, however, comprises 13 per cent of heavily peated malt and this ingredient delivers a lightly peated result. Furthermore, components of the peated element have been aged for up to 21 years, the significance of that being that age will have softened the overall peat impact. The nose yields gentle peat aromas, a hint of sherry, toffee and honey, while on the smooth palate smoke, toffee and barley merge. The finish is medium in length, with a hint of salt and smoke. A very individual and attractive dram.


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London Piccadilly 0207 499 6649

Gateshead MetroCentre 01914 603777

Glasgow Buchanan Galleries 0141 331 0022

London Paternoster Square 0207 329 5117

Manchester 3 Exchange Street 0161 832 6110

Edinburgh Princes Mall 0131 558 7563

Lakeside Lakeside Shopping Centre / 01708 866255

York 11 Coppergate Walk 01904 640300

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Inverness 17 Bridge Street 01463 710525

Nottingham 3 Cheapside 0115 958 7080

Fort William 93 High Street 01397 706164

Birmingham Gt Western Arcade 0121 212 1815

Oban 52 George Street 01631 570896

Brighton 64 East Street 01273 327962 Guildford 25 Chapel Street 01483 450900 Oxford 7 Turl Street 01865 202279 Norwich 3 Swan Lane 01603 618284

Callander 11 Main Street 01877 331 936 Gretna Gretna Gateway Outlet Village 01461 338004

• Small batch and perfectly aged for making delicious cocktails • Knob Creek Rye is made with the finest quality rye to create a smooth yet spicy finish • Patiently aged and crafted • Knob Creek earned a Double Gold medal and out-rated 95 other bourbons to be named ‘Best Bourbon’ at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015 Maxxium UK Ltd, Maxxium House, Castle Business Park, Stirling, Scotland FK9 4RT



Knowledge Bar The Glasgow Distillery Liam Hughes CEO

The Glasgow distillery has started production of single malt whisky in the city for the first time in more than 100 years. Having launched Makar Gin last year, The Glasgow Distillery is now branching out into the whisky market.

Our Distillery ‘We produce new-make spirit which will become Single Malt Whisky in a few short years – we are currently laying down the casks for maturation. We have two stills for the Whisky production; our Wash Still is called "Tara" and holds 2,300 litres and our Spirit Still is "Mhairi" with a 1,400 litre capacity. Our gin production is small scale but high quality and we produce approx 310 bottles per run of Makar Glasgow Gin; our gin still is called "Annie" and she holds 450 litres.’

The History ‘Glasgow Distillery can trace its name back to the Dundashill Distillery that was built in 1770. The Distillery had many ups and downs, changing hands a number of times but during the mid 1800s it was called The Glasgow Distillery Company Ltd. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Distillery had a reputation for producing a peated and an Irish style whisky, and despite new stills being installed, it couldn't prevent its closure in 1902 and subsequent demolishing in 1903.’

Our Vision ‘We are very focused now on making sure that the spirit we are laying down is of a high quality, and to date we are delighted with it. Of course, we will be keeping a close eye on how it comes on in the casks over the next couple of years. The wood we have is from excellent sources and we have a good mixture of Bourbon, Sherry and Port Casks – plus we have a range of sizes from 50 litres up to 500 litres, which will give us a great mix of flavours at different stages.’

The Future ‘The future is both a long way off and frustratingly close, so we will be concentrating on bringing great quality products to the market while we wait for our whisky to mature. We are also using the time to build strong partnerships so when our whisky is ready we have those relationships in place in key markets. The whisky will be our pride and joy and we will only want the best people working it with us.’

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«M Mixing it up » Cocktails arriving this Autumn

1 / Blushing Annie Mixed by: Harry / Bar: Blue Oyster, Glasgow – – – –

45ml Makar Gin (see Knowledge Bar, left) 25ml Peach, Rosemary and Lemon Macerated Sweet vermouth 2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters Caramelised nectarines to garnish

Stir the ingredients with cubed ice until chilled and suitably diluted / Strain into a chilled coupette glass / Garnish with the caramelised nectarines




2 / The Frontier Mixed by: Adam / Bar: The Finnieston, Glasgow – – – – –

35ml Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey 25ml Dolin Rouge Vermouth 10ml The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur 3 dashes of Pechaud’s Aromatic Bitters A slice of orange to garnish

Method Oil a rocks glass with orange zest and discard / Combine the ingredients and stir / Garnish with a slice of orange

Photos by Christina Kernohan. Courtesy of Kained Holdings, Glasgow.

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

3 / The Hebridean Cooler Mixed by: James / Bar: Porter & Rye, Glasgow – – – –

50ml Bruichladdich Classic Laddie 20ml Creme de Peche 10ml Manzanilla Sherry Slice of fresh grapefruit to garnish

Method Combine the ingredients and stir with cubed ice / Strain into a highball glass filled with block ice / Top with grapefruit soda / Garnish with a slice of fresh grapefruit




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




Focus on

Talisker Gavin D Smith

Despite some stiff competition, Talisker on the Isle of Skye would win many nominations for Scotland’s most beautifully situated distillery. We can do no better than go back some 130 years for journalist and author Alfred Barnard’s description of its setting. “The Talisker Distillery stands at the foot of a beautiful hill, in the centre of the smiling village of Carbost which, after the bare and rugged track we had passed through, was an agreeable change, and seemed quite a lively place. On the broad slopes of the hill, which were covered with crofters’ holdings, husbandmen were busy tilling the soil; whilst at the Distillery below and the village that surrounds it, all was life and motion. Driving along we were struck with the picturesque situation of the Distillery, which stands on the very shore of Loch Harport, one of the most beautiful sea lochs on this side of the island.” There are still crofters’ holdings around Talisker distillery, and the village of Carbost continues to be filled with ‘life and motion’. This is largely thanks to the fact that Talisker and its visitor centre is now a major tourist attraction and owner Diageo’s most-visited distillery. Considering the effort that it takes to get to this remote western part of Skye, that is in itself quite an achievement. The distillery is located some 20 miles from the island capital of Portree, partly along single-track roads, and stands in the shadow of the magnificent Cuillin Hills, which attract thousands of climbers every year. Indeed, Talisker’s whisky has been referred to as ‘the lava of the Cuillins,’ and the aptness of that description is apparent to anybody who has sampled this mighty single malt. Talisker was established in 1830 by brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, who were sons of the local doctor. After trading for 18 years the MacAskills transferred the distillery lease to the North of Scotland Bank, which then oversaw operations. In 1857 the bank sold Talisker to Donald MacLennan – sonin-law of Hugh MacAskill - for the princely sum of £500, but six years later he went bankrupt. After two years in the hands of John Anderson, Glasgow agent for Talisker whisky, the distillery formally passed to Anderson & Co in 1868. However, John Anderson was jailed in 1880 for selling nonexistent whisky to customers who assumed it was safely maturing in the Talisker warehouses! In the same year, ownership passed to Alexander Grigor Allan and Roderick Kemp, though Kemp was later to sell his shares and invest instead in The Macallan distillery on Speyside. At a time when single malt whisky was a relative rarity outside the Highlands, Talisker was already highly regarded, with the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson writing in his 1880 poem 'The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad' “The King o’drinks, as I conceive it,

Talisker, Isla or Glenlivet!” A programme of reconstruction took place at Talisker during the 1880s, and in 1894 The Talisker Distillery Co Ltd was founded. Four years later, this company merged with Dailuaine-Glenlivet Distillers and Imperial Distillers to create the Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. In 1916 that company was taken over by a consortium including W P Lowrie & Co, John Walker & Sons Ltd, and John Dewar & Sons Ltd, and Talisker was one of the assets which passed into the hands of The Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1925. It was subsequently operated by the DCL subsidiary Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD). Talisker had traditionally performed triple distillation, with Alfred Barnard writing that “The Still House contains three Pot Stills; the Chargers, both of them timber vessels, are placed on a platform, which runs across the Still House. There are two Worm Tubs in connection with the Stills, both of them fed by running water direct from the Burn.” Triple distillation ceased in 1928, though to this day the still house configuration of two wash stills and three spirit stills harks back to the those times. Most distilleries have experienced a fire at some point in their histories, and Talisker is no exception. On 22nd November 1960 a valve on the coal-fired number one spirit still was inadvertently left open during distillation. Spirit escaped and caught fire, with the result that the entire still house burned down. However, a reconstruction programme was instigated, and the new still house was equipped with five stills that were exact copies of the originals. The fire may actually have been the salvation of Talisker in the longer term as such a remote distillery would surely have been on DCL’s short list for closure during the company’s radical 1980s rationalisation process, which saw 21 of its malt distilleries silenced during 1983 and 1985. It has been argued that Talisker only escaped because so much expenditure had been lavished on it some two decades previously. During 1972 the five stills replaced after the fire were converted from coal to steam heating, and at the same time on-site floor malting was abandoned. Instead, malted barley was shipped in from the recently-constructed Glen Ord Maltings on the mainland, with Talisker’s malt being peated to 18–20ppm. 1988 saw a 10-year-old Talisker included in the new Classic Malts line up, and a visitor centre was created. A decade later the sherry-cask finished Distillers Edition of Talisker was introduced, and the core range was expanded with an 18-year-old. In 2008 Talisker 57° North ( a cask-strength expression with no age statement) was added to the line-up, and Talisker has long been a firm favourite among Diageo’s annual Special Releases, indeed,

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

“ The varying flavours of Talisker have allowed us to create a portfolio where each variant offers something new whilst keeping them all reasonably ‘Talisker’ ”

the 27-year-old launched in 2013 was the 17th expression to have been bottled in this series. 2013 was a very significant year for Talisker, because it saw an upgrade to distillery visitor facilities, whisky sales smash through the two million bottle mark for the first time, and along with the 27-year-old special Release three entirely new Talisker expressions hit the shelves. A revised and eye-catching bottle design and label had been introduced the previous year and this refreshed brand appearance was utilised for Talisker Storm, Talisker Dark Storm and Talisker Port Ruighe. In line with the growing trend for no-age-statement expressions, this Talisker trio are flavour-led rather than age-specific.

In Storm, the smoky and maritime notes of Talisker are enhanced, principally by the use of a mix of refill casks and rejuvenated casks. The latter – older casks which have been de-charred and re-charred to give them a new lease on life – offer a distinctive wood influence when again filled with spirit. Dark Storm was released exclusively through travel retail outlets and was described when launched by Diageo as the smokiest Talisker to date. This effect is principally achieved by using a proportion of heavily-charred casks for maturation. Port Ruige pronounced ‘Portree,’ after the capital of Skye – is finished in port casks following initial maturation in a mix of American and European Oak refill casks, plus bespoke heavily charred casks. Early this year another new no-age-statement expression of Talisker was released, namely the sweeter and more rounded Talisker Skye, which is matured in a combination of refill and toasted American oak casks, with a slightly higher proportion of toasted casks. Talisker Brand Manager Frances Drury explains why Talisker was the single malt chosen for these range extensions. “The varying flavours of Talisker have allowed us to create a portfolio where each variant offers something new whilst keeping them all recognisably




Knowledge Bar Talisker Located » Loch Harport on the Isle of Skye Capacity » Less than 2 million litres per annum Equipment » 2 wash stills and 3 spirit stills Distiller » Mark Lochhead

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

‘Talisker.’ " “For example Talisker Storm emphasises the spicy, more intense notes of Talisker whilst Talisker Skye brings out the sweetness and softness in the liquid, but they both have the recognisably maritime, smoke of a typical Talisker and stay true to the new-make Talisker spirit. It is this possibility with the Talisker liquid to experiment and create incredible expressions, as well as the openness of Talisker fans to try them out, which has led to these line extensions.” Obviously the investment in and confidence behind the introduction of four new expressions over a two year period must reflect healthy sales figures, and Drury points out that “Talisker is our third-best-selling single malt globally, after The Singleton and Cardhu. The principal markets in order of sales are the UK, France, Germany, USA, The Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Japan and Switzerland. In Western Europe Talisker has grown by 14 per cent volume from 2011 to 2014 and by 17 per cent globally over the same period.” The style of Talisker single malt is influenced by the presence of purifiers on the wash stills, which have the effect of increasing reflux, while a distinctive ‘u-bend’ is present in the lyne arms. The ‘cut points’ are set to collect spirit which has a medium-peated


character, and the presence of worm tubs to condense the spirit tends, to an extent, to nullify the ‘lightening’ effect of the purifiers and lyne arm ‘kinks.’ Talisker’s idiosyncratic bottling strength of 45.8% abv is said to be the optimum to showcase the single malt at its very best, and the distillery has an annual capacity of some 2.7 million litres of spirit. When asked just what factors make Talisker an ‘iconic’ single malt, Frances Drury replies that “I think there are two main reasons. Firstly its entirely unique yet challenging taste. A Talisker has such a recognisable and unusual taste profile (smoky, maritime, peaty sweetness) that is really incomparable with any other single malt. The distillery’s isolated and romantic location, on the windswept coast on the Isle of Skye, also contributes to its iconic status.” Clearly, the ‘King o’drinks,’ that ‘lava of the Cuillins’ in all its guises, continues to exert a powerful and majestic influence over drinkers around the world. Talisker Distillery, Carbost, Isle of Skye, Inverness-shire IV47 8SR



{ Expert Tasting } Charles MacLean Glenfarclas 1994 | Glenfarclas 2000 The Whisky Shop Exclusives

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


Hanging in the distillery, there is a detailed watercolour labelled ‘Glenfarclass Disty.’, dated on the back ‘1791’. It depicts a substantial operation, yet there was no licensed distillery here at that time according to Excise records, so it may be that the date was added later. The first licence to distil on the site of ‘Rechlerich Farm’ in Strathspey was granted to one Robert Hay in 1836, and when he died in 1865 his neighbour, John Grant, bought the farm and the distillery. The latter cost him £512. He employed a former manager of The Glenlivet Distillery, John Smith, to run it, putting his son George in charge of the farm. When John Smith resigned to establish Cragganmore Distillery in 1868, George took over the distillery as well, and the Grants of Glenfarclas have owned and managed it ever since. Successive generations were all named John or George – and this continues to the present day. George I died in 1890, leaving the licence to his widow until his boys, John and George achieved their majority (John was 17, George II 16). The agent for Glenfarclas-Glenlivet new make spirit was Pattisons Ltd of Leith, and in 1896 the brothers formed a partnership with Pattisons with equal shares in the Glenfarclas-Glenlivet Distillery Company, and Pattisons undertaking to take ‘the whole make of whisky’. The famous distillery architect, Charles Doig, was employed to expand it. Three years later Pattisons collapsed, owing GlenfarclasGlenlivet over £27,000. The liquidators eventually paid slightly

over £1,000. Both distillery and farm were mortgaged to the Caledonian Bank, but by 1906 the Grants had managed to trade out of their difficulties – resolved from now on to be independent. In 1912 the ebullient Sir Thomas Dewar, who used Glenfarclas in his blends described Glenfarclas as: “The King of Whiskies and the Whisky of Kings. In its superiority it is something to drive the skeleton from the fest and paint landscapes in the brain of man”. To this day it is rated Top Class by blenders. In 1947, George Grant incorporated a private limited company, J & G Grant, Ltd., in which the shares were owned by his two sons – George and John. He died in 1949, aged 72, and his sons were confronted with death duties amounting to the entire value of the company’s share capital. George III took over management of the distillery and the demand for whisky began to increase rapidly, and as a result he received many offers to sell Glenfarclas, but he politely turned them all down. Capacity was doubled (to four stills) in 1959, and a new warehouse built. In 1965 he noted that there were planning applications for no less than 13 new distilleries: “I fear a slump due to over-production”, he wrote in his diary. This would prove prophetic. George Grant died in 2002 and was succeeded as chairman by his son John. In 2013, John’s son, George, became a director of the company.

Glenfarclas 1994

Glenfarclas 2000


Tasting Note Dull amber: ex-sherry cask. Slow legs, indicating good texture. The top note is nutty (walnuts, Brazil nuts, toasted malt), somewhat nose drying; after a while a trace of milk chocolate (Coco-Pops) and dried fruits. A full-bodied, very sweet taste. Water opens it nicely, adding wood-notes and sun-dried paper. The taste not quite so sweet, with a medium-length finish.

Photos by Christina Kernohan.


Tasting Note Mid-amber: ex-sherry cask. Slow legs. A somewhat closed nose to start, then scents of rice pudding, perhaps with a spoonful of red jelly, becoming more cereal-like, especially with a drop of water. A sweet overall taste, with peppery spice in the warming finish, reduced somewhat by water.



Digital Dramming

Rob Bruce

Awards Taiwan Tipple Topples Scotland and Japan » Time Magazine online reported that Taiwan’s Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique is officially the best single malt whisky on earth, according to the World Whiskies Awards. The contest’s judges described the malt as “surprisingly smooth on the palate” adding: “it’s like Bourbon infused milk chocolate.” Now we all know how polarising these awards can be, so don’t shoot the messenger! With more than 33,000 online shares the story is here on merit, not because I agree!

Although Whiskeria is the most widely read publication dedicated to whisky on this planet, we are very aware there is a huge amount of dram drama that takes place online. So this issue we have decided to trawl through the digital dross so you don’t have to, and we’ll report back on the top topics being discussed on the World Wide Web.


Most Shares Women and whisky » With nearly 800,000 shares on social media, Elite Daily’s article about 'why you should always go for a woman that drinks whiskey' was easily the most popular online story this quarter. The fact that a whisky (or whiskey) loving female can hold her drink, has great taste, is a profound thinker and can stick up for herself are just some of the very sweeping and not very original generalisations made in the article. But if you really desperately need 10 reasons to date a girl who loves whisky, then my suggestions are as follows: a) Go seek out the article on b) Try and find a proper life while you’re at it! »

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

Twitter Top Tweet Tasting »

#ArranWhisky was the top tipple being tested during one of the many tweet tastings superbly organised by The Whisky Wire (@thewhiskywire), with the focus on Sauternes, Bourbon Cask, White Stag and the 18 year old.

Twitter Twitterati

YouTube N-ice Cubes » Suntory whisky took the ‘theatre of serve’ concept to a whole new level by creating the world’s first 3D printed ice cubes… well, the word ‘cubes’ doesn’t really do the nice ice justice! Whisky lovers could enjoy the Japanese brand with ice versions of Batman, the Eiffel Tower or even a sphinx for company in the glass. This video sums it up perfectly: »

@dramming_uk Mmmm sensational stuff. That Bourbon cask is a big, happy, bear-hug of a whisky.

@ben_cops Favourite for me has to be the 18yo – just so sexy. The stag rocks too...

@malthound White Stag Finish: sweet, smooth, peppery finish: sublime – a great dram – strong but well balanced.

» It seems that the classic hot toddy does indeed help if you have a cold. And there is even the science to prove it. The Huffington Post reports that the hot water used in the drink helps to relieve nasal congestion while the whisky dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for the mucus membrane to deal with the infection.

@whiskyrepublic Just an observation… for me, the drams have progressed from anovert hi quality, up front 'ness', to über finesse & subtlety.

@ansgarspeller Was drifting away while tasting this one. Notes on it? Nomnomnom does that cover it?

News Hot Toddy Hits Cold Spot


@JohnnieStumbler White Stag-A whiff of coffee cake and steamed milk. Icing sugar and some light treacle.


And Finally… Walker's Whisky Wax? » Johnnie Walker launched a tache wax designed to enhance the taste of their whisky. The brand claims the three different waxes – Piperine Pepper, Citrus Essence or Ginger Root – will “intensify the flavour of the serve with every sip”. A PR stunt too far?? I’ll leave you to decide… »

Whiskeria autumn 2015  

Whiskeria Magazine is the world's leading whisky publication, and includes reviews of 22 newly released whiskies by Charles MacLean, as well...

Whiskeria autumn 2015  

Whiskeria Magazine is the world's leading whisky publication, and includes reviews of 22 newly released whiskies by Charles MacLean, as well...