As I see it… Ian P Bankier —
Illustration: Fran Waddell
J One of the idiosyncrasies of this UK island nation is that we see the world from our own perspective and assume that everyone does what we do. A generalisation, I admit, but I have often found myself at social gatherings explaining to friends, who are not industry experts, that the world doesn’t drink the same way as we do in the UK. The peculiarity of the UK is that we drink an awful lot of beer. The same is true of other Anglo Saxon countries, such as Germany, Australia and the USA, but this is not the case in much of Asia, Indo- China, the Far East, Latin America and the Mediterranean countries of Europe; i.e. pretty much the rest of the world. The vast populations of these territories, if indulging in alcohol, drink it short; mostly spirits, but also wines. They do not see the need or enjoyment of ingesting gallons of fluid to enjoy ‘a wee refreshment’, as they say in the West of Scotland. My other party piece used to be to ask my audience, which country consumes most Scotch whisky in the world? The answer, until recently – to everyone’s great surprise – was France! Today, it’s the USA, but France is still up there. France is definitely not a beer swilling country and, whilst wine is the national product, they enjoy their beverages short and consume a great deal of whisky. This is a round about way of introducing to you that THE WHISKY SHOP has decided to open a new luxury store in Paris. The new store should be fully up and running by April. It will occupy a commanding position in the Place de la Madeleine in the heart of the city’s fashion and gourmet quarter. France is a solid market for whiskies and Paris is one of the top international destinations for world travellers. The Paris store will be modelled on our much-admired luxury
store in Piccadilly London. We will be offering the French customer a new shopping experience, commensurate with the premium and luxury brand status of the whiskies that we sell. The Scotches and international whiskies we enjoy today deserve their luxury status, because they are wonderful things, beautifully crafted over many years. Like so many special treats, they are a totally appropriate vehicle for selfindulgence. And here is the anomaly. Luxury consumer brands of every description maintain a high profile in the best shopping destinations across the world - but not whiskies! For reasons of historical accident, the top whisky brands have confined their retail presence to airports. I would venture that this is hardly the ideal environment for carefree and unhurried shopping. Yet whisky producers across the world have very successfully upgraded their leading brands to premium and luxury status and surely they deserve better. At THE WHISKY SHOP we have not only identified this anomaly, but we have offered to fix it. We started with Piccadilly in London, and now we move to Paris. That said, we do not want this new store, or indeed any branch of THE WHISKY SHOP, to appear to be unattainable to our friends and customers. And I promise you that it will not be. So if you find yourself in Paris come and visit – you will be assured of an extremely warm welcome – and the surroundings will be beautiful! Ian P Bankier, Executive Chairman, THE WHISKY SHOP
“ Luxury consumer brands of every description maintain a high profile in the best shopping destinations across the world – but not whiskies!”
WIN! THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask Batches One, Two and Three, plus three future releases.
This Spring we’re giving you the chance to win a prize that keeps on giving… One lucky Whiskeria reader will win the opportunity to follow the evolution of THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask from the first batch to the sixth – on us! The lucky winner will not only receive a bottle each of the existing THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask Batches One, Two and Three. We’ll also send a bottle each of the next three releases, allowing you to chart this unique whisky’s progress and compare notes on this exciting ‘living’ liquid in a variety of delicious incarnations. To enter, simply tell us: Which town does THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask live in? Answers should be be emailed to: email@example.com Please include your full name and answer. Terms & Conditions The winner will be selected from all entries received via the email address stated above by midnight on 30th July 2016. The judge’s decision will be final. This competition is not open to employees of THE WHISKY SHOP Ltd. Or Loch Fyne Whiskies Ltd. All normal competition rules apply.The Loch Fyne The Living Cask batches four, five and six will be released over the next 18–24 months. UK entrants must be 18 years old or over to apply. International entrants must be of legal drinking age in their country of residence. The Living Cask® is a trade mark of Loch Fyne Whiskies.
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–– creative direction a visual agency email@example.com –– feature writers Brian Wilson; Charles MacLean; Gavin D Smith; Claire Bell –– feature photography Christina Kernohan –– illustration Francesca Waddell Kate Timney
Glenkeir Whiskies Limited trades as THE WHISKY SHOP. Opinions expressed in WHISKERIA are not necessarily those of Glenkeir Whiskies Limited. Statements made and opinions expressed are done so in good faith, but shall not be relied upon by the reader. This publication is the copyright of the publisher, ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED, and no part of it may be reproduced without their prior consent in writing. No responsibility is taken for the advertising material contained herein. © ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED.
–– Prices effective February 2016. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change.
Contributors Spring 2016 —
Illustration: Fran Waddell
— Brian Wilson, formerly an MP, held several Government Ministerial posts during his political career. He lives on the Isle 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 Barn Bookery, a book charity that helps build libraries within disadvantaged schools in her native South Africa. Her adventures have taken her from the Western Isles of Scotland to islands scattered off Africa’s eastern coast...
Gavin D. Smith
— Gavin is one of the world’s most prolific and respected whisky writers. He’s regularly published in a range of top magazines and has written more than a dozen books on whisky, while co-authoring many more. Most recently he has prepared a new version of Michael Jackson’s seminal whisky publication, 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 also script advisor for Ken Loach’s 2012 film The Angels’ Share and subsequently played the part of the whisky expert in the film (which he claims to be his biggest career highlight to date). With such an incredible whisky career behind him, it was high time Charles told us about his Whiskeria, in addition to providing his usual expert insights on new releases and extra-special drams.
Contents Spring 2016
12 My Craft Stewart Christie & Co. 18 Distillery Visit GlenDronach 23 New Releases Spring 2016 42 My Whiskeria Charles MacLean 52 Collector's Corner 54 Whisky World Round-Up 56 Travel Ilha de Mozambique 60 A Time In History Barrie Knitwear 65 THE WHISKY SHOP Section 88 Mixing It Up Tabac 98 Expert Tasting Macallan 25 / Bowmore 23
Stewart Christie & Co. is Scotland’s oldest tailor. With a long history of holding both estate and family tweeds and tartans – not to mention commissions for royal and military attire – they specialise in bespoke and off-the-peg tailoring of unparalleled quality. —
My Craft |
Photography: Christina Kernohan Assistant: Alix McIntosh
Stewart Christie & Co. 101 a Stewart Christie & Co. still tailor bespoke pieces in their Edinburgh workshop a
Harris Tweed jackets are the shop’s most popular off-the-peg line thanks to the material’s quality and provenance – they’ll set you back around £325
A Stewart Christie & Co. made-to-measure suit will cost you around £850 while a bespoke, two-piece suit is around £1,400 – almost half the price of Saville Row!
a Every item is 100% British made
Vixy Rae & Daniel Fearn took over Stewart Christie & Co. in August 2015. Daniel finds inspiration in the tailor’s impressive archives. Vixy & the team still create items from the Edinburgh workshop.
J What sets Stewart Christie & Co. apart, and what does the company stand for? Daniel: Authenticity, quality and skilled craftsmanship. What is the process – how to do you create a piece from initial commission to finished article? Vixy: It starts with the concept and the purpose of the garment. Whether it is a kilt for a wedding or a bespoke suit for work. Cloth choice is the most important thing so the garment is fit for purchase, followed by the cut and the measures. Once the fabric arrives the head cutter drafts the pattern and the process begins. After the tailor has basted the garment together it's ready for the first fitting – one or two are required to ensure the fit is precise. When the cutter is satisfied with the fit the article is then finished, trimmed and pressed by the seamstresses ready for one final fitting. Stewart Christie & Co. has an incredible heritage – tell us more about it. Daniel: The company has such an impressive archive both in books and garments. We used the archive pieces when we first took over to raise awareness of the importance of quality and craftsmanship in the company. Vixy: Our favourite finds include photos of King George V wearing a Stewart Christie Highland outfit at Holyrood, the invoices to
Sir Walter Scott, not to mention all the years of meticulous notes on style, finish, cut, fabric and trim. We’re now custodians of this amazing history for our children and perhaps theirs as well. How does Stewart Christie & Co.’s incredible legacy inspire how, and what, you create today? Vixy: I’m constantly impressed by the craftsmanship we hold. We still make on the premises, meaning we are one of the last, (or the first of a new generation) in Scotland to do so. The industry is suffering from profit over pride; we’re trying to place as much production as possible in the UK to help counteract that. Daniel: Our collections are often inspired by the people and the legacy of the craft. We intend to educate and enthuse a new generation of tailors to move the craft forward by offering apprenticeships. Aside from the past, where else do you seek inspiration? Daniel: I always find the Scottish Landscape a complete source of inspiration, the changing seasons and the shapes and lines of the land, from the crags to the beaches. The practical aspects of form and function also enter into garments. I like clothes to have purpose and style, which in turn gives them true value. Vixy: I find most of my inspiration in people. Confidence has a strong part to play -
when people are happy and feeling good, that’s when you see the best results of someone wearing garments effortlessly. What’s your favourite part of the design process? Daniel: There’s a single moment when a gentleman is wearing the finished suit for the first time; he looks at himself and there is a happiness that the garment is making him feel more than he is. Vixy: I enjoy making the connections between an idea and the way it can be translated into a garment. A simple detail can inspire a whole look! A bespoke customer may have an unusual request, and an aspect of that design may be taken forward into our collections. One of your taglines is “Bridging generations since 1720” – something whisky can relate to! How do you maintain a balance between innovation and tradition? Daniel: We are finding a greater crosssection of ages coming through the door now, and noticing that each generation has to make its own mark. We are no different, but everything has to hark back to the values of the past to retain credibility and timeless quality. What traditions do you think it’s most important for the fashion industry to preserve – are there any we’re in danger of losing entirely?
Dan: Fashion is self-perpetuating and completely disposable unless you are at the really high end. There is always the need for change, and to balance this there is a definite need for quality. What we’re trying to create is an authentic, sustainable business, which has its feet firmly planted in the quality of its products and service. Vixy: There are so many little tailoring companies which have closed because there has been no one interested in learning the trade, so the older tailors retire and nothing is handed down. It is really the technical ability in both workshops and factories which needs to be preserved and taught... Drams in the dressing room – something Stewart Christie & Co. is now known for! Why whisky and tailoring – what’s the thinking behind that? Daniel: One of my favourite films is an Ealing comedy called Battle of the Sexes. It’s set in Edinburgh in the late 1940s and concerns the workings of a tweed cloth shop. There’s a scene when the sales director is looking at a map of his world exports, and it’s actually a roller blind which hides his impressive whisky collection! From that moment I knew we should be following suit. Vixy: We hold the 12, 15 and 18 Year Old single cask Glenfiddich to sample in the fitting room, and also have a 26 Year Old kept for very
special patrons. Whisky and tweed are as good a match as Port and Stilton or peaches and cream; being a Scottish company, it feels completely natural. Daniel: After enough nips, everything always appears to make you look like James Bond, and even paying the bill can seem less of a chore too! What does the future hold for you? Vixy: Stewart Christ & Co. currently serve an extremely established and refined customer base with a cross section of gentry and aristocracy from all over Scotland. From affluent students, to retired colonels and even the Royal Company of Archers. But in the future we aim to offer something for the whole family, including the ladies. It is incredible being able to create the first dedicated ladies’ collection in nearly 300 years (ready late spring 2016). People have high expectations and there needs to be that balance between the traditional and the contemporary. The samples are looking fantastic; the cut is an evolution of the classics for a modern age. I like the idea of having a piece which will look as good today as it will in ten years. Both: We are very lucky with the loyal team of staff and tailors that we've respectfully inherited at Stewart Christie. We’re putting our energy into one special flagship store in the hope that eventually customers will come from
all over the world to experience exceptional service in the oldest tailors in Scotland – and leave with a piece of history! Stewart Christie & Co. sell a range of off-the-peg tailoring, outdoor wear, accessories and more, as well as accepting commissions for bespoke items; you can find them at 63 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NA or find out more at www.stewartchristie.com.
Stewart Christie & Co. A potted history a Founded in 1720 under the name Marshall Aitken a Merged with Messers Christie & Son and Messers J. Stewart Christie & Sons under the joint name Stewart, Christie in 1933 a ‘Stewart’ and ‘Christie’ chosen over ‘Marshall Aitken’ as both names held a Royal Warrant a
The company held a Royal Warrant for King George V. and today they still hold trimmings, replacement uniforms and also reline coats for the Royal Guards
a Taken over by Daniel Fearn and Vixy Rae in summer 2015 a Every item is 100% British made
GlenDronach is famous for its generously sherried malts, but that's only one facet of its rich and complex character. Gavin Smith explores the Highland distillery's unique heritage, and how this has shaped the whiskies we know and love today…
Distillery Visit |
Location: Forgue By Huntly, Aberdeenshire Established: 1826 by James Allardice
a GlenDronach’s first evangelical customers were… a couple of prostitutes James Allardice met on the Canongate! a Famous for producing heavily sherried malts a Bought over by Walter Scott in 1830, then by Glenfiddich heir Captain Charles Grant in 1920 a Mothballed in 1996 by then owners Allied Distillers a Chivas Brothers reopened the distillery in 2005. Only then was steam-heating introduced, making GlenDronach one of Scotland’s last distilleries to heat their stills by coal fire a In 2008 GlenDronach was taken over by BenRiach Distillery Company. By 2015 they had won Global Whisky Distiller of the Year at the Icons of Whisky Awards
J glendronach distillery is located in the quiet valley of the River Forgue, some ten miles from the Aberdeenshire market town of Huntly, on the eastern fringes of Speyside, though some commentators consider it a ‘Highland’ rather than ‘Speyside’ distillery. GlenDronach seems to be part of an agricultural community where the rhythms of life have not changed too much with the passing of years, and whisky-making appears close to its age-old farming roots. Legend has it that a colony of rooks inhabited Glendronach in the days when the area was popular with illicit distillers. The birds are thought to bring good luck, but they also acted as a first-class early warning system if any excise officers appeared in the vicinity. Back in the years after the Excise Act of 1823 made legal distilling in the Scottish Highlands a more financially tempting prospect than had previously been the case, one James Allardice headed a consortium of local farmers and businessmen which established Glendronach distillery in 1826. Soon, Allardice was seeking markets for the single malt whisky he made there.
According to legend, deciding to try his luck in Edinburgh, Allardice headed south to the Scottish capital with a barrel and a flagon of Glendronach, only to find a singular lack of interest among the many tavern landlords he approached. Heading disconsolately back to his hotel he was accosted on the Canongate by two prostitutes who asked him to buy them a drink. Being a thrifty Highlander, Allardice declared that there was no need for such extravagance, as he had a plentiful supply of whisky in his hotel room. In due course the ‘ladies’ emerged, suitably refreshed, from Allardice’s hotel and later returned for another bottle to share with friends. Seeing no point in carrying all his stock of Glendronach home, the distiller gave away the remainder of the flagon to his new acquaintances, only to find word of his whisky spreading on the streets; soon it was being requested by name in the city’s pubs. The landlords who had previously refused to deal with Allardice now began to place orders, and the future of Glendronach distillery soon 19
appeared secure. However, fire virtually destroyed the distillery in 1837 and James Allardice was declared bankrupt five years later. Between 1852 and 1887 Glendronach was in the hands of Walter Scott, formerly manager of Teaninich distillery at Alness, and he rebuilt it much in the form we see today. A significant part of Glendronach’s subsequent heritage is intertwined with two famous Scotch whisky distilling families, namely the Grants and the Teachers. In 1920 Captain Charles Grant, fifth son of William Grant, founder of Glenfiddich, paid £9,000 for Glendronach, and ownership remained with the family for the next four decades. Then, in 1960, Glendronach was acquired by the Teachers, and the distillery subsequently passed into the hands of Allied Breweries Ltd. in 1976, along with the rest of Teachers’ assets. It was then part of large-scale drinks companies for some 30 years, as Allied Breweries morphed into Allied Domecq, which in turn was taken over by Pernod Ricard subsidiary Chivas Brothers in 2005.
Glendronach was silent from 1996 to 2002, and until the 1996 closure, floor maltings were in operation – much later than at most Scotch whisky distilleries. The use of peat and coal in the maltings meant that pre-closure Glendronach was peatier (at up to 14ppm) than most other Speyside single malts. Glendronach is also notable for being the last distillery in Scotland to operate coal-fired stills, though ‘health & safety’ issues precipitated conversion to steam in 2005. Chivas Brothers did not find Glendronach fitting comfortably into its Scotch whisky portfolio, which was somewhat overburdened with riches after the acquisition of Allied assets, and it was therefore not surprising when, in August 2008, an announcement was made to the effect that the BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd. had purchased Glendronach. One of BenRiach’s first acts was to apply its ‘signature’ spelling regime to Glendronach, which was re-branded GlenDronach. “Chivas was happy to sell Glendronach,” says Managing Director Billy Walker, a master blender who headed the private consortium that acquired BenRiach distillery in 2004. Walker boasts an impressive 30-year whisky industry CV, which includes a period spent working as operations director of Burn Stewart Distillers. “It’s not easy to focus on them all when you have lots of good distilleries,” he adds, “and Glendronach
didn’t fit Chivas’ volume model. It was once in the top five single malts, and was Allied’s number two, after Laphroaig. It was a single malt of substance in terms of market presence, and it was always on our radar. GlenDronach is a very special, sherried malt; a big, rich whisky which deserves a big wood experience. It’s a whisky that works really well with sherry.” Accordingly, some £3 million was invested over a five year period in ex-sherry casks, sourced directly from Spain, and a three year programme that involved re-racking around 50 per cent of the entire inventory into fresh, Oloroso sherry casks was undertaken. “Today 100 per cent of the spirit we distil is being filled into exsherry casks,” says Walker, “The split is about 60/40 Pedro Ximenez/Oloroso.” Having purchased GlenDronach, Walker and his associates set out to create a new core range, and in 2009 the 12, 15 and 18-year-old expressions were introduced, along with a limited edition 33-year-old, and five single cask bottlings. The following year four cask-finished variants and no fewer than 11 vintage bottlings were released. More vintages have followed, along with a ‘core’ 21-year-old, and nine single cask expressions in 2014, while an 8-year-old, named The Hielan appeared in 2015. Maturation of The Hielan takes place predominantly in ex-Bourbon casks, with some sherry cask-matured whisky in the mix. 20
Most distillers have tended to increase the age of their ‘entry level’ expressions over recent years, or more commonly have dropped age statements from them altogether. So why did GlenDronach decide to introduce an 8-year-old? “We would say ‘why not?’” says the company’s Sales Director Alistair Walker, son of Billy, “The whisky is good, we’re very pleased with it, and in terms of timing the market seems to be more accepting of ‘younger’ aged whiskies now than was the case a few years ago. We did debate internally as to whether or not we should put an age statement on the whisky, and we decided it was a good idea to include the age as it provides additional clarity as to exactly what this whisky is.” Another development has been the production and bottling of peated GlenDronach spirit. According to Alistair Walker, “GlenDronach has always been a very traditional distillery, and largely we have walked the traditional line with it, but every now and then we veer off-path and throw a GlenDronach-shaped curveball! “There are two very big flavour profiles that are popular in Scotch whisky – sherry cask and peated – so we decided to bring them together, and the recently released GlenDronach ‘Peated’ represents the fruits of our labour. It’s interesting to experiment, albeit in a more limited way with GlenDronach than with BenRiach. Whether it is peated runs or different cask
L–R: Former distillery manager Frank Massie tries the fruits of his labour, surrounded by GlenDronach’s signature sherry casks; Current distillery manager Alan Mac; A phoenix from the ashes – GlenDronach Distillery as it stands today; Distillery worker Gordon Shand in GlenDronach’s traditional still room.
finishes, such as Madeira and Marsala, it keeps the GlenDronach range vibrant and interesting.” He adds that “The current ‘Peated’ expression is now a permanent fixture in the GlenDronach range, and we are going to explore the peated side of GlenDronach some more over the next couple of years. Watch this space!”. Meanwhile, Billy Walker says that “This year we are distilling around 350,000 litres of peated GlenDronach out of a total of 1.2 million litres. It’s peated to around 55ppm.” In terms of the newest GlenDronachs, Alistair Walker explains that, “We have just released GlenDronach Grandeur batch 007, which is a 25-year-old this time, limited to just 1,180 bottles, and drawn from Oloroso sherry casks. We have also recently released the fifth ‘Cask Strength’ batch from GlenDronach, and that is a very popular ongoing series. Finally, our 13th batch of GlenDronach single casks will be on the market very soon. There will be nine casks in total, with a good variety of ages – from very old all the way through to some casks from this millennium. As always with GlenDronach, the emphasis will be on big sherry casks, and the range will focus on both Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez, as is the tradition.” However, one old favourite has been withdrawn due to lack of relevant spirit stocks caused by the distillery’s closure from 1996 to 2002. “The 15-year-old (Revival) was temporarily discontinued last year, to a great furore!” explains Alistair Walker. “We have never experienced such
a response from the market as to when we stopped the 15-year-old and that is a huge compliment to the whisky. However, the key word here is ‘temporarily’, as when maturing stocks allow it, GlenDronach 15-year-old will return to the range. We estimate this will happen either in late 2017 or 2018.” When it comes to the equipment that produces GlenDronach single malt, the distillery boasts a notably rare cast iron mashtun with a copper dome and nine larch washbacks. Lengthy fermentations – lasting for between 60 and 90 hours – are practiced, and there are two pairs of stills, with production processes controlled by hand rather than computer. Visitors are welcome to see all stages of production at GlenDronach, and there is a very welcoming gift shop and four tour options. These are the Discovery Tour, the Tasting Tour (including samples of GlenDronach 8, 12 and 18 year old), the Premium Tasting Tour (featuring 18 and 21 Year Old, and the cask strength, distillery-exclusive Distillery Manager's cask [2004, cask #5525]). For the truly dedicated, there is also The Connoisseurs’ Experience, described by the distillery as: “A rare opportunity to enjoy an in-depth distillery tour, followed by a tutored tasting in the company of one of our very experienced tour guides.” Back in the mid-1880s, distillery chronicler Alfred Barnard visited Glendronach as part of 21
his research for what would ultimately become his book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, and unusually for him he commented on the whisky’s character after sampling it. He wrote that “The Glendronach make is pure Highland Malt, and held in high repute both in England and Scotland; we tasted some 1878, which was very much like liqueur brandy.” How intriguing it would be to try some 1878 Glendronach and compare it with today’s spirit, which after some ups and downs along the way is once again achieving ‘high repute.’ At the same time, the good news for Billy Walker and his team is that those rooks are still nesting, circling and calling in the sky above GlenDronach, continuing to act as a good luck omen. Though when it comes to the triumphant revival of GlenDronach to its premier status, luck does not seem to have much to do with it.
New Releases Spring 2016 â€”
GlenDronach Grandeur 25 Year Old Batch 7 SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT 50.6% VOL £408 Faintly waxy and musty/mossy to start with; opens to reveal sour fruits – green apples, unripe pears, gooseberries – on a light heathery base. A natural, moorland aroma which becomes more fragrant with a little water, and also more peppery, although the waxiness is still there. Smooth texture, sweet, mossy and peppery taste.
GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 5 SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT 55.3% VOL £68
J glendronach Distillery stands in a shallow glen among the rich farmland of central Aberdeenshire, not far from Huntley. It was first licensed as early as 1825 by a consortium of local farmers and businessmen, led by James Allardice, who built a sturdy and substantial house overlooking the site. By all accounts, Allardice was a larger than life character. He so impressed the local laird, the Duke of Gordon – whose vast family seat was at Huntly, nearby. On one occasion, when he had dined at Gordon Castle, and was somewhat the worse for drink, Allardice was over-effusive in his praise of the Duchess of Gordon’s piano-playing. The following morning the Duke informed him that his wife had not been amused, to which he replied: “Well, Your Grace, it was just that trash of Glenlivet you gave me yesterday after dinner that did not agree wi’ me. If it had been my ain guid Glendronach, I would not have been ony the warr”. Historians of whisky will remember that, as its landlord, the Duke had encouraged George Smith to license the first distillery on Speyside in Glenlivet! Notwithstanding this, he ordered a cask of Glendronach immediately, and later gave him introductions to some members of London society, where the whisky was famous for a while before the distillery burnt down in 1837. For many years it was owned by Teachers and was a key component in their blend Highland Cream, which may owe its sherried character to Glendronach, a malt which benefits mightily from maturation in ex-sherry casks, and which has won a well-deserved reputation in recent years for this style. When Teachers was taken over by Fortune Brands in 2005, Glendronach Distillery went to Chivas Bros., who sold it to Billy Walker, owner of BenRiach Distillery and one of the most experienced distillers in the industry today. He was trained as an organic chemist, and
started his career in whisky as a blender with Inver House Distillers, from where he went to Burn Stewart, finishing as Production Director. As well as being the Managing Director of BenRiach & GlenDronach Distillers Ltd., he is also the company’s Master Blender, responsible for selecting the casks that go into their single malt bottlings. GlenDronach Grandeur drains the finest Oloroso casks in the inventory acquired by Billy Walker. In a press release he says: “A vast selection of barrels, hogsheads, puncheons and butts have been maturing in GlenDronach’s traditional dunnage warehouses since the 1960s, and it is the most extraordinary and remarkable of these which have been chosen for this very special bottling.” The 25 Year Old is put together from casks selected by himself. The edition is limited to 1,180 bottles (each numbered by hand) and was released in January this year. It is a magnificent whisky: I would advise you to ‘buy now while stocks last’. GlenDronach Cask Strength (Batch 5) has been matured in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks, the latter – an intensely sweet wine – balancing the dryness of both the sherry and the Spanish oak in which it has been matured. Robust, traditional and delicious. The GlenDronach Batch 13 range of single casks – nine expressions at between 47 and 12 years old are universally excellent, even the younger bottlings. It was a privilege to taste eight of them and compare the subtle differences. An outstanding range of whiskies. See overleaf for Batch 13 tasting notes…
Mid-amber. A mild nose-feel and a top note of muesli with dried sultanas, nuts and raisins on a base of creamy rice pudding. Sweet, tannic and spicy to taste at full strength. A drop of water thins and dries the aroma, introducing a baked apple note. The taste is now less sweet and dry, but very more-ish.
GlenDronach GlenDronach GlenDronach 1968 Single Cask 1993 Single Cask 2003 Single Batch 13 Batch 13 Cask Batch 13 48 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
23 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
13 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
FROM EX-PEDRO XIMENEZ
FROM EX-OLOROSO SHERRY
FROM EX-PEDRO XIMENEZ
SHERRY HOGSHEAD Nº: 5837,
BUTT Nº: 40, CASK
SHERRY PUNCHEON Nº: 930,
CASK STRENGTH 49.5% | £2375
STRENGTH 53.1% | £175
CASK STRENGTH 57.3% | £85
Deep rosewood, magenta lights. Perfumed wax (lavender furniture polish), ripe greengages, hard toffee dipped in dark chocolate, sandalwood. A lightly dry texture and a taste which combines dried fruits, coffee and scented wood, bitter chocolate following the long finish, and hessian in the aftertaste. Magnificent!
Deep polished rosewood with crimson lights; moderate beading. Nose-drying, with light prickle. A highly fragrant aroma (scented hand-cream, heady floral notes), on a base of Oloroso sherry and dried mixed fruits. A thick mouthfeel and a rich, sweet taste, drying spicily in the long, warming finish.
Polished mahogany; good beading. A mild, dry aroma – mineralic, ashy and slatey to start, then opening into the familiar dried fruits with a trace of waxed Barbour jacket. A voluptuous texture and a sweet and fondant-scented taste.
GlenDronach GlenDronach GlenDronach 1991 Single Cask 1995 Single Cask 2004 Single Batch 13 Batch 13 Cask Batch 13 25 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
23 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
12 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
FROM EX-OLOROSO SHERRY
FROM EX-PEDRO XIMENEZ
FROM EX-PEDRO XIMENEZ
BUTT NO: 2361, CASK
SHERRY PUNCHEON NO:3047
SHERRY PUNCHEON NO: 5521,
STRENGTH 53.1% | £185
CASK STRENGTH 48.6% | £138
CASK STRENGTH 57.3% | £85
Antique polished oak; surprisingly good beading. A dry nose: warm sand, dried figs, glacé cherries, sultanas, Oloroso sherry, a hint of candlewax. Oily and mouth-filling, with a sweetish taste, soon drying and spicy across the palate and in the long finish.
Polished mahogany; very good beading. A mild, dry aroma, somewhat closed to start, then becoming fatty (beef suet), floral (wall-flowers) and fruity (dried figs). The taste is surprisingly sweet, with a smooth texture, the Pedro Ximenez coming through delectably. A digestif.
Polished mahogany; good beading. A mild nosefeel, nose-drying, somewhat closed to start, then wax polish, candied fruits and sweet wine. The taste is sweet over-all, with peppery spice in the middle and a long dry finish.
GlenDronach GlenDronach 1992 Single Cask 2002 Single Batch 13 Cask Batch 13 24 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
14 YEAR OLD HIGHLAND MALT
FROM EX-OLOROSO SHERRY
FROM EX-PEDRO XIMENEZ
BUTT NO: 76, CASK
SHERRY PUNCHEON NO: 4651,
STRENGTH 53.1% | £175
CASK STRENGTH 54.8% | £88
Polished mahogany; good beading. Nose-drying and light prickle; rich with Oloroso sherry, waxy dried mixed fruits, dried orange peel, charred wood, polished leather. Smooth texture; sweetish start, then dry and spicy, with a long warming finish. Almonds in the aftertaste.
Polished mahogany; good beading. A mild, dry aroma, somewhat closed to start, then cereal-based (buttery shortbread, fruit loaf), a suggestion of gingerbread. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, with jammy fruits and kitchen spice, leading to a long warming finish.
Oban Little Bay HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY 43%VOL | £60 Burnished copper in colour. A faintly oily nose, with brine, dried seaweed, sanded teak, and trace of fresh apples. At full strength the texture is oily and full-bodied; sweet overall, slightly salty, spicy across the tongue and in the finish; well balanced, with lingering warmth and an aftertaste of almond cake.
J oban ‘Oban’ is easy to say and order in a bar or liquor store. There is no doubt this has helped introduce this excellent malt to many, who have now become devotees – especially in the United States, which is the brand’s leading market. Americans are sensitive about such things: Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Auchroisk, etc. eat your hearts out… ! Diageo released this new expression of Oban in Global Duty Free last year. Little Bay is a translation of ‘Oban’ (according to the carton), although my Gaelic dictionary tells me that although Òb is Gaelic for a ‘creek’ or ‘haven’, ‘little’ is beag. (ban is used mainly to indicate ‘female’). Anyhow, you get the picture. Oban Bay is certainly a ‘haven’ – a lovely, sheltered bay, protected to the south and west by the island of Kerrera, and to the east by the mainland, with a peninsula surmounted by the ruins of Dunollie Castle guarding it from northern gales. This headland has been fortified since the Bronze Age, and humans have taken shelter in Oban Bay since Stone Age times: in 1890 a cave was discovered behind Oban Distillery, in which were human bones from around 4000BC and some tools. These are now in the National Museum in Edinburgh. The cave was sealed to prevent vandalism and grave robbing. The discovery was made when the distillery owner was attempting to expand the site. Alfred Barnard wrote in his monumental The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom (1887), shortly before the cave was discovered: “It [i.e. the distillery] is built under a rock, which rises 400 feet high, and is festooned with creepers and ivy”:
squashed in between the cliff and the sea. But this is part of its charm – this, and the old-fashioned equipment and processes that are used here. Barnard continued: “It is a quaint old-fashioned work, and dates back prior to the existence of the town, having been built in the year 1794… by the family of Stevenson, the founders of the town of Oban, which previous to their advent was only a small fishing village.” The ‘Stevenson family’ was led by Hugh and his brother John, local worthies with interests in slate quarrying, house-, ship- and bridge-building. The family had been living in the district since at least the 1740s, and, as Barnard says, Oban largely grew out of their enterprises – and around the distillery. Hugh Stevenson became the town’s second provost (i.e. mayor) in 1819, when he transferred his assets to his son: the distillery, farms, house property, a hotel (“in part erected”), the island of Belnahua (together with its substantial slate quarries), two steamships and a sloop. Unfortunately, in spite of these riches, the son went bankrupt ten years later. The distillery remained in the family until 1866, however. Most of the whisky was transported to Glasgow and the Clyde ports by sea until the railway arrived in July 1880, attracting thousands of tourists a year to Oban, the West Highlands and the Hebrides, who could relish the single malt – which Barnard described as a “good self whisky” – from bottles decorated with a panoramic view of the town of Oban.
The First Editions Linkwood 1997 SINGLE CASK SPEYSIDE MALT 59.5%VOL | £131
Pale gold; ex-refill American oak cask. A scent of fresh summer fruits (fruit salad, with pear, green apple and lemon juice) on a base of planed oak and green tea. Water reduces the aroma, but the fruit salad remains. A smooth, soft texture; sweet overall – barley sugar, acid drops, cream soda and bubblegum.
J linkwood Many would regard Linkwood as the leading example of the lighter style of Speyside malt. It is ranked Top Class by blenders, and as a result is rarely seen as a single. Not many people know that it was twice earmarked for promotion by its owner, the Distillers Company Limited [DCL; the largest whisky company in the world], and twice dropped. The story provides an interesting insight into the attitude of the industry towards single malts, pre-renaissance. In July 1964, H.M. Braid, Chairman of the DCL’s Home Trade Committee, drew the attention of management to the success of Smith’s Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, and suggested that the company might release some ‘self whiskies’, as single malts were referred to at the time. He also observed that in the year 1962/63, DCL’s sales of self whiskies amounted only to 819 cases, less even than sales of the company’s single grain, Cameron Brig, which sold 1,166 cases. There followed an animated discussion about the availability of mature stocks at a time when the company’s blends (Haig, Johnnie Walker, Black & White, White Horse, etc.) were in big demand, with doubts expressed about the company being able to support any sustained increase in demand for single malts. Two members of the Management Committee were asked to investigate and recommend three brands which might be promoted as single malts. They suggested Cardhu, Aultmore and Linkwood. Cardhu was to be marketed by Johnnie Walker, the distillery owner, with a £15,000 advertising budget and an 8 Year Old age statement; no budget was allocated to Aultmore. Unknown to the Committee, Aultmore was already being sold in Italy by J&R Harvey, as was Linkwood in the U.S., by Jack Daniels, and selling 4,000 cases annually.
When they heard that Cardhu was to have an 8 Year Old age statement, Jack Daniels requested the same for Linkwood. This made the management committee nervous: “the Cardhu exercise might commit the Company to provide age labels for all single malts”. Cardhu was chosen as the guinea pig, but in spite of the advertising spend, the committee found, in August 1967, that only 462 cases had been sold. The ‘experiment’ was put on hold until 1982 when many more brands of single malt were being promoted in the wake of Glenfiddich’s success. Now the mandarins of the DCL introduced a range of six malts – Linkwood 12 Year Old, Rosebank 8 Year Old, Talisker 8 Year Old, Lagavulin 12 Year Old, Strathconnon and Glenleven (the last two were blended malts) – which they named ‘The Ascot Malt Cellar’ (Ascot was the company’s home trade base). It made little impact, owing to a continuing reluctance to advertise, but the idea of representing regionally different styles, would become highly significant after DCL was taken over by Guinness in 1987. The new owner revived the concept the following year with the highly successful ‘Classic Malts Selection’ of six malts chosen to represent regional differences. But Linkwood was not included in this selection, Speyside being represented by Cragganmore, probably on account of it being a prettier distillery. Such was the demand for Linkwood that a replica distillery was built along side the original in 1971, named ‘Linkwood B’. This operated in parallel with Linkwood A until 1985, when the old Linkwood distillery closed.
Laphroaig 13 Years Old BATCH 2 BLENDED MALT 43.6% VOL | £116
Predominantly European oak on the nose: malty fruit loaf, a hint of baking spice, rich and slightly tannic. A smooth texture and a sweet caramel taste. A little water introduces a suggestion of swimming baths; the taste remains sweet, but there is now a slightly phenolic (medicinal) finish.
J laphroig The ‘Douglas of Drumlanrig’ range is owned by the independent Glasgowbased bottler, Hunter Laing & Co., drawn from the company’s extensive stock of mature malts and bottled at 46%Vol. Each release is endorsed by the signature of the Duke of Buccleuch, laird of Drumlanrig Castle. 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. Laphroaig Distillery stands on the shore, next door to Lagavulin Distillery. It was founded in 1815 by Donald Johnston, and remained in his family until the 1950s. Donald’s great-grandson, Ian Hunter, who became manager of Laphroaig in 1908 and sole owner of the business twenty years later, was the man who really built the brand as a single malt. He was also the man who removed the agency from Mackie & Co. [see Lagavulin, opposite] During the 1920s, he set about selling his whisky in the United States, one of the earliest
single malts to be promoted there. Prohibition was still in place, but a loop-hole in the law allowed whisky to be sold ‘for medicinal purposes’, and Laphroaig’s medicinal character made it perfect for such. While he was abroad, the distillery was managed by his secretary, Bessie Williamson, and when he died in 1954 he bequeathed Laphroaig to her along with the Johnston family’s closely guarded ‘distilling secrets’. These were considered so valuable that the company had tried to block the publication of a memoir by a former cooper at the distillery, lest he divulge too much! By this time the distillery was badly in need of repair. In order to raise the funds to do this, Bessie sold a third of her shares to an American distiller, the Schenley Corporation, and by 1970 Schenley had complete ownership. The days of privately owned distilleries were over – today only a handful are in private ownership. Like many other distilleries, Laphroaig became an item on a multi-national corporation’s balance-sheet: Long John International, Whitbread, Allied Lyons, Allied Domecq and since 2005, Fortune Brands, owners of Jim Beam Bourbon, which merged with Suntory last year to become Beam Suntory. 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. It is one of only nine distilleries with its own traditional floor maltings, using local peat which contributes these characteristics. This is an excellent example of the make, which the owner of the distillery describes as “the world’s most richly flavoured Scotch whisky”. Devotees of Laphroaig will not be disappointed!
Lagavulin 8 Years Old SINGLE ISLAY MALT @48%VOL | £TBA
Pale gold with faint green lights; American oak refill casks. Light bodied. Powerfully phenolic: carbolic soap, backed by smouldering peat with bergamot; nose-drying and maritime (road salt, iodine). A thin texture, but a full-on Lagavulin taste: sweet, smoky, warming, with a very long finish and a lingering aftertaste of smoke.
J lagavulin This expression of ‘The Prince of Islays’ might be considered to be ‘The Original’, since this was the age at which it used to be presented, long before the familiar and rightly legendary 16YO was introduced in 1988. 2016 is the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin’s foundation by John Johnston, about whom I know nothing, except that Lagavulin Bay (the name translates as ‘the hollow of the mill’, by the way) was a popular place for illicit distillers in the early nineteenth century. It’s a lovely spot, rock-strewn and difficult of entrance by sea; guarded by what remains of Dunyveg Castle, where the Lord of the Isles’ right man, MacDonald of Dunyveg, harboured the fleet of small galleys – ny-vegs in Gaelic, hence Dun-ny-veg, the ‘fort of the small ships’. The sea gate in the wall of the castle, through which the ships were drawn up and secured, is still clearly visible. A romantic place, and a malt whisky which has long been esteemed: in 1887, Alfred Barnard wrote in The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom: “The are only a few of the Scotch distillers that can turn out spirit for use as single whiskies [i.e. bottling as single malts], and that made at Lagavulin can claim to be one of the most prominent”. At the time Barnard visited, the distillery was owned by James Logan Mackie, who also held the agency for Laphroaig, next door. In 1890 his nephew, Peter, who had served an apprenticeship at Lagavulin, became a director of the company. The same year, he created the White Horse blend; so successful was this that by 1908 Mackie & Co. was named among the ‘Big Five’ (with Walkers,
Dewars, Buchanan and Haig), but Laphroaig had a new owner and cancelled the agency. Peter Mackie was furious: his company had, after all, built Laphroaig’s reputation. He went to court (and lost), then attempted to block his neighbour’s water supply (unsuccessfully) and then resolved to make a whisky which was very similar to Laphroaig, and which would damage the latter’s market. He installed a second, small distillery within Lagavulin, which he named ‘Malt Mill’. The building which housed it is now Lagavulin’s visitor centre. The plan was a failure, but Malt Mill operated until 1962. Its make went into blends, although according to Ken Loach’s award-winning film, The Angels’ Share (2012), a unique cask was discovered and sold at auction for £1.2 million… Peter Mackie was knighted in 1920 and died in 1924. His obituarist described him as “one third genius, one third megalomaniac and one third eccentric”. He was a tireless spokesman for the whisky industry, scornfully dismissing Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget’ in 1909: “What can you expect of a Welsh country solicitor being placed, without any commercial training, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a large country like this”. He was also an authority on shooting, author of The Gamekeepers Handbook, and the inventor of a supposedly healthy ‘power flour’ which he named ‘Bran, Bone and Muscle’ and obliged his distillery workers to eat.
Braeval 14 Years Old SINGLE SPEYSIDE MALT FROM OLD MALT CASK 50%VOL | £93 Mid gold with amber lights. Refill US oak. Fresh for its age, with sweet vegetal notes (neeps, parsnips); somewhat earthy. After a while traces of fruit (greengage, unripe melon) and vanilla. With water, softer; more caramel with macadamia and walnuts. Sweet to taste, with chilli pepper, light overall and easy drinking.
J braeval When Braeval Distillery was built by Seagram in 1973 it was named ‘Braes of Glenlivet’, but the name was changed in 1994 to avoid any possible confusion with The Glenlivet. Readers of this magazine will recall that at one time there were no less than thirty-six distilleries using the name ‘Glenlivet’, including ‘GlenforresGlenlivet’ at what is now Edradour, just outside Pitlochry! No wonder Glenlivet was referred to as ‘the longest glen in Scotland’! In truth the term described not the location, but the style of malt whisky made at these distilleries, which Alfred Barnard, the first and greatest ‘distillery-bagger’ described in the 1880s as being: “…the pine-apple flavour it develops with age, which is the old Glenlivet style, so seldom met with now. It also matures very rapidly, eighteen months’ whisky having the appearance of three to four years old. It will be in its prime in about five years.” It is somewhat surprising that Seagram changed the name, since the malt whisky made at Braeval was (and is) all destined for blending, especially for Chivas Regal. Indeed, the distillery owner – now Pernod Ricard, which acquired much of Seagram’s whisky estate and brands (including Chivas Bros.) in 2001 – has only very occasionally released proprietary bottlings. The few expressions that have been available all come from independent bottlers – and they are rare. This bottling falls under the ‘Old Malt Cask’ range owned by the indie bottler, Hunter Laing, in Glasgow who produce limited edition bottlings at 50%Vol, without chill-filtration.
The higher strength and lack of chill-filtration are both important for flavour. Since April 1917, when The Central (Liquor) Control Board dictated that spirits must not be bottled at over 40% Alcohol by Volume [70° Proof], this has been the standard bottling strength. Previously the usual strength was around 50%Vol, although since it was not required that this be displayed on the label, the strength varied. Higher strength alcohol holds together the flavour-bearing molecules better than lower strength alcohol – indeed, below 40%Vol there occurs what sensory chemists describe as a ‘catastrophic’ fall off of flavour. In some spirits – gin, for example – the flavour can be restored by the addition of more botanicals. This is not permissible with Scotch whisky, to which nothing may be added. This is not to say that the whisky must be drunk at high strength - the addition of a little water is almost always a good thing; it is a matter of personal taste – what it implies is that, if the spirit strength is reduced prior to bottling, many of the volatile flavour-bearing molecules fly off. Chill-filtration was introduced in the 1970s as a way of ensuring that the whisky remained clear and bright if water or ice were added. Without this process, which involves chilling the liquid down to around 0°C to precipitate the ‘lipids’ (long-chain fatty esters) which cause the liquid to go hazy, then passing it through a bank of blotting-paper-like filters. Sure, this ‘polishes’ the spirit, but it also removes much of its texture and flavour.
BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 1 SINGLE SPEYSIDE MALT 57.2%VOL | £TBA
The colour of autumn sunlight, with moderate beading, this has come from first-fill American oak casks. The nose is more mellow than one would expect, with fruity top-notes (apple, melon and green banana), on a light pastry base; more perfumed when qualified with water. The taste is sweet, fresh and acidic.
J ben riach Distillery – or BenRiach, as its owner prefers – was built by John Duff in 1897, designed by Charles Cree Doig of Elgin, the leading distillery architect, to be a typical Speyside distillery in both its construction and spirit character. Duff was a publican and former manager of Glendronach Distillery. In partnership with a couple of local businessmen, he had had built Glenlossie Distillery in 1876. He then emigrated to South Africa in 1888 with his entire family where he attempted to establish a distillery in Gauteng Province in the Transvaal, which was known at the time as PVW – Pretoria-WitwatersrandVereeniging. Gold had been discovered here two years previously, so there should have been a ready market, but for reasons unknown Mr. Duff’s scheme failed and he moved on to the U.S.A., where he again attempted, unsuccessfully, to found a distillery. Nothing daunted, he returned to Scotland in 1892 and was employed as distillery manager at Bon Accord Distillery, Aberdeen. Next year he commissioned Longmorn Distillery, close to Elgin, then BenRiach a quarter of a mile away – at the time it was named Longmorn No.2. The two distilleries were connected by a private railway line. By 1899, John Duff was again in financial difficulties, and sold Benriach to his partners at Longmorn, who mothballed it the next year, although they continued to use its maltings until 1998. BenRiach remained closed until 1965, when it was rebuilt and modernised. Five years later Longmorn Distillers Ltd amalgamated with The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd to form
The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. This company was acquired by Seagram, the massive Canadian drinks group, in 1977, and in 2001 Seagram’s whisky interests were bought by Pernod Ricard. BenRiach was again mothballed, then sold to a small consortium with South African backing, led by Billy Walker in 2004. Mr. Walker has been described as “the smartest man in the whisky industry” (Dave Broom). Trained as an organic chemist, he worked for Ballantines, Inver House and Burn Stewart Distillers, where he led a management buy-out in 1988. He has since acquired GlenDronach (in 2008) and Glenglassaugh (in 2013) Distilleries, all of which he has revitalised. Throughout its long and chequered history, all the make from BenRiach went for blending. This changed dramatically when Billy Walker took over: he immediately released a range of five core expressions at different ages, and every year since then these have been added to – in some years by up to twenty new bottlings; peated and un-peated, long-aged and NAS, a variety of wood finishes, a slew of single casks every year… The widest range of expressions of any distillery. Today 70% of BenRiach spirit will be sold as single malt, and 30% goes for blending, mainly to Chivas Bros. Throughout the Seagram ownership the maltings at BenRiach operated, only being decommissioned in 1998. The new owners conducted trials in October 2012, and the first malt to be used for distilling was in September 2013. It turned out to be substantially more expensive than commercial malt, but it is still hoped that around 10% of ‘home-made’ malt might be viable.
Bruichladdich 11Year Old SINGLE ISLAY MALT 50%VOL | £100
The deep amber colour indicates maturation in European oak, and this is confirmed by the aroma: dry and earthy (new hessian sacks), a whiff of Oloroso sherry, then tablet, which becomes treacle toffee when water is added, and a hint of sulphur. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, with mushrooms and smouldering hessian.
J bruichladdich This expression of Bruichladdich falls under Hunter Laing’s ‘Old Malt Cask’ range [see Braeval, p.32]; it has been matured in Oloroso sherry-seasoned Spanish oak, which is unusual for the make and has given it an attractive old-fashioned richness. The distillery was purpose-built in 1881, using the then recently rediscovered material, concrete, and is very traditional in style, with an ancient cast-iron rake and plough mash tun dating from its foundation, six Oregon pine washbacks, and two pairs of stills. It had a mixed history until it was bought by a private concern led by Mark Reynier, a London wine merchant, with the support of local investors, for £6.5 million in 2000. Reynier’s family had founded the wine merchants, La Reserve, in Soho, and later the well respected independent whisky bottler, Murray McDavid. With a deep knowledge of wine, he pioneered a wine-finishing programme at Bruichladdich, which he named ‘additional cask evolution’ (ACE-ing), re-racking mature whisky for varying lengths of time in wine barrels and barriques from a range of vineyards. Among the original investors was James McEwan, a local man who had started at Bowmore Distillery as an apprentice cooper in 1963 and ran the warehouses there until 1977, when he moved to Glasgow and spent the next seven years as a blender in Morrison Bowmore’s head office. He returned to Bowmore as manager in 1984, just when malt whisky was beginning to take off, and was soon spending much of his time travelling the world, tirelessly promoting Bowmore, Islay and Scotland.
He was persuaded to join Bruichladdich as Production Director when Murray McDavid & Co. took over, and went on to release a baffling number of special and commemorative bottlings. These have included: Yellow Submarine – to mark the discovery of a bright yellow, unmanned sub-sea vessel by a local fisherman (for a long time the Admiralty denied all knowledge of it!); Octomore, the most heavily peated whisky in the world; Usquebaugh-baul, which translates as ‘Perilous whisky’, quadruple distilled and filled into cask at 88%Vol; The Laddie Ten – Bruichladdich’s colloquial name – to celebrate the new owners’ tenth year (this is now the standard bottling). When I asked Mark Reynier why they released so many expressions, which were confusing consumers, frustrating retailers and infuriating collectors (who couldn’t keep up), he simply replied: “Because we can. And we’re having fun”. Bruichladdich’s website sums up the company’s credo: “We believe that Islay whisky should be the ultimate expression of the island itself; an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and where it is matured… from the philosophies of those who distil it. A sense of place, of terroir that speaks of the land, the water, the barley and the human soul that gave it life”. The up-shot of all this strong branding and pawky promotion was a huge increase in Bruichladdich’s reputation. In spite of Mark Reynier’s loud protests, the distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau, the French drinks giant, in 2012 – for £58 million!
Johnnie Walker Green Label BLENDED MALT WHISKY 43% VOL | £45
Deep amber in colour, initially somewhat closed, then subtle scents of dry Xmas cake, complete with marzipan, icing sugar and waxed wrapper, begin to emerge. A smooth, rich texture, and a sweet, dry-fruity taste, with milk chocolate, baking spices and a trace of ginger. Drinks well straight.
J johnnie walker's ‘Kilmarnock’ blends have been around for a long time. The earliest expression was Old Highland Whisky, registered in 1867 with the familiar slanting label and rectangular bottle registered three years later. In 1907, Johnnie’s grandsons, George and Alexander, registered ‘Johnnie Walker’ as their trademark and rationalised their range into Extra Special Old Highland (a 12 Year Old blend), Special Old Highland (around 5 years old) and Old Highland (a low cost blend). Two years later these were ‘colour-coded’ with black, red and white labels respectively. White Label was soon dropped. Green Label was introduced around 1990, as a blended malt – in those days we called them ‘vatted malts’ or ‘pure malts’ – i.e. a mix of several malt whiskies from different distilleries. The carton of Green Label identifies four malts as ‘key components’: Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila. Some years ago I was talking to Dr. Jim Beveridge, the quiet-spoken and modest leader of the Johnnie Walker blending team – nowadays he is described as the brand’s Master Blender, but he always, generously, maintains that it is a team
effort. He even includes in the team Sir Alexander Walker, Master Blender from the 1890s to the 1930s, who established the Walker house style and whose blending books and notes are an inspiration. “Ask any blender and he’ll tell you that blended malts are more difficult to get right than blended Scotch, with its portion of grain whisky.” “Why should this be?” “On the one hand, it’s about what the blender is trying to achieve, and on the other it’s to do with the role of grain whisky in a blend”. “I’ve often heard it said that the blender is trying to achieve something which is ‘more than the sum of its parts’; a drink which combines its constituents in such a way that a totally new flavour is created”. “Precisely. In a successful blended whisky you should not be able to taste any of the individual components; the important thing is the overall flavour – what sensory chemists call ‘the integrated flavour complex’. “This is where grain whisky comes in. Among other things, it performs the key function of pulling together the flavours of the individual malts, balancing and integrating them into a homogeneous whole. Some
blenders compare the role of grain whisky to that of ‘size’ – the gluey substance which artists apply to a canvas before painting in the colours”. It’s a nice analogy. The size (which was traditionally made from the bones of rabbits, I believe!) provided a stable base for the painted composition – in this case the ‘colourful’ malts. This is certainly the case with Johnnie Walker Green Label, which my learned colleague, Dave Broom, describes as: “An arresting, pure malt whisky with vibrant, natural notes of forest, shore and fruit. The different elements are all in evidence yet also in harmony. Concentrated flavours have been brought together and work together as a whole whilst retaining their individuality. It changes every time you pick up the glass.”
John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016 BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY 43%VOL | £515
A mellow nose, but with some peppery, tickly spice (even made me sneeze!). The top-note is floral (expensive hand-soap?), on an earthy, mossy, even smoky base. After a while a trace of soft leather. Water rounds off and softens the nose: vanilla fudge with raisins and wood ash. A very smooth texture; a very sweet taste (butterscotch and fruity boiled sweets), then mouth-drying, with white pepper lasting into the long, spicy, very slightly smoky, finish.
J john walker & sons private collection Private Collection 2016 is the third annual release in this distinguished series. I described the first (2014) as “flawless”; the second won a double gold and ‘Best Blended Scotch’ in the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The idea behind the series is to explore the key flavour characteristics of the Walker house style, the building blocks of the blends: in 2014 ‘unique smokiness’, in 2015 ‘rare fruitiness’ and now ‘fine honeyed notes’. Dr. Jim Beveridge, Walker’s Master Bender, describes it as the most complex expression so far. Mature whiskies were drawn from over a hundred casks to create three vattings. Individual casks of single grain whiskies, including some rare stock from Diageo’s closed distilleries, Caledonian, Cambus, Carsebridge and Port Dundas, were selected to show-case two styles: ‘vanilla, fudge, woody’ and ‘sweet, estery, honeyed’. The two blended grains were then returned to wood to marry for some months, before being mixed with the third component: a vatting of selected casks of Highland single malt, chosen for their soft fruity characteristics to highlight
and complement the sweet character of the grains. These casks form part of Jim’s treasured collection of ‘experimental’ stock - private reserves he set aside during the 1980s and ‘90s to monitor flavour development and never before used in Johnnie Walker’s blends. Stocks of all these whiskies are necessarily scarce and each of the Private Collection editions are limited to 8,888 bottles. The sharp-eyed among you will remember that this is an extremely lucky number in China! As well as exploring ‘fine honeyed notes’, the 2016 edition of Walker’s Private Collection also amply demonstrates the blender’s art of combining layer upon layer of flavour to create an harmonious whole – a blend which is truly ‘more than the sum of its parts’ – at once lively and mellow, with an unusually soft texture. Jim Beveridge comments: “Each generation of Walker’s whisky blenders has a greater understanding of the art and science of whisky making. I am always acutely conscious of building on the achievements of those who have gone before in order to forge new paths of flavour into the future, and am extraordinarily fortunate to have access to my
predecessors’ blending books – not least, those of Sir Alexander Walker… “I am also privileged to have access to the largest stocks of mature malt and grain whisky in the world. Indeed, my colleagues and I could not have achieved the soft sweetness and sophistication of the 2016 edition without access to our reserves of rare single grain whiskies and experimental stock… It was wonderfully rewarding work.” Johnnie Walker’s Global Brand Director, Guy Escolme, adds: “The Private Collection 2016 edition epitomises what our blenders can achieve through access to the greatest reserves of whiskies, incredible skill and attention to detail in the making. The fine honeyed notes highlight a precision and lightness of touch to integrate beautifully the many aspects of flavour – a worthy addition to this acclaimed series”.
Charlie MacLean — A Man of Great Taste
My Whiskeria |
A world-renowned authority on all things whisky, Charlie MacLean’s wealth of knowledge is only matched by his eccentric means of sharing it. This is a man of great and expansive tastes in all departments – be it whisky, tailoring, travel or the fascinating company he keeps.
Photography: Christina Kernohan Assistant: Alix McIntosh All garments and styling by Stewart Christie & Co. Shot on location at Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Charlie’s Top 5 Places to Drink Whisky: 1. Tai Pei, Taiwan
their range, knowledge and the aesthetics of the bars there are incredible!
2. 3. 4. 5.
Tokyo, Japan Zürich, Switzerland Groningen, Netherlands Belfast, Northern Ireland
a With whisky notoriety comes expanded opportunity – both quantitatively and geographically. In 2015 alone Charlie ventured abroad 23 times to 17 different countries, most often in the name of whisky work. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to do it. And we can’t think of anyone better than Mr. Charles MacLean. 43
My Whiskeria |
“ It would be invidious of me to name favourites. The classic Scotsman’s reply to the question is: ‘The whisky you’re about to buy me’!”
J the man behind the whisky You were born in Glasgow and spent much of your youth in Kildonan, on the isle of Arran; what was your first introduction to whisky? “What’s the legal age for drinking – 17 is it? 18! Well I think I was in the pub a bit earlier than that. “Whisky is an acquired taste – it’s complex. Nobody really likes it at first. On Arran there was the culture of drinking your beer with a dram of whisky – a half and a hauf. Then, at an undisclosed point in the evening, everybody would switch to drinking just whisky… There wasn’t really any other option!” Despite becoming school friends with Charlie Grant, then heir to the Glenlivet distillery, Charlie continued to favour blends into his university years: “By 1970, when I was first at university in St Andrews, I was very familiar with whisky, which was about three ‘n’ thruppence for a dram. “In 1970 less than 1% of malt whisky made in Scotland was bottled as single malt – Glenfiddich only began promoting in 1963. My favourite drams then would’ve been what they stocked at the local bar: Long John’s, Dewar’s, Whyte & MacKay… Oh, and The Antiquary. The Famous Grouse didn’t even really exist at that point”. Did this early experience of whisky shape your current penchant for relaxing with blended whisky, as opposed to malt? “I grew up with blended Scotch. Assessing and writing about malt whisky is my living. When I simply want a dram to relax (at 6pm precisely!) I reach for a blend – malt is work – and in spite of having hundreds of samples of malt whisky in my tasting room, this is what I want.” So what else got you to where you are today? “I studied Art History at St Andrews. Art History and Divinity, actually. I wanted to pursue that field, perhaps teach. But my father told me he’d only continue funding my studies if I abandoned the arts. He was one of those types who advocated sayings like ‘those who can’t, teach’. So, I went off to study Law at Dundee on my family’s wishes.
“When I was finished with Law – actually, while I was still doing my law apprenticeship – Sandy MacCall Smith and I set up a literary agent called ‘MacLean Dubois’. All the big literary agents had two names in the title! “We sat in the pub and came up with ‘MacLean DuBois’ because we wanted to attract a certain type of author – the sort ex-Foreign Legion men would read. Sandy said, ‘they sell well’ and of course, all the Legionnaires would change their name to John Dubois!” “Around the same time I also had a spell as manager of Edinburgh’s DeMarco and Henderson Galleries”. In 1978/79 Charlie also had a stint writing alongside his friend Simon Scott: “We both wanted to better acquaint ourselves with the literary world – both being aspiring writers. We scripted one of Sandy McCall Smith’s earlier books into a play together, although nothing actually came of that. “It was around that point that we were asked to edit a biography of Hercules the Bear… It’s a long story, because we basically had to re-write the script. After a false start with my cousin Jamie MacLean, Scott and I had no choice but to split the manuscript right down the middle – he took the middle to the end and I took the first half – and we sat at either end of the dining table to rewrite the story.” What would you have been if not a whisky writer? “I probably would’ve been a Scottish history writer. I always had a book on the back-burner. Scottish non-fiction – castles, tartan, clans, forests, that type of thing. “But that wasn’t to be. In 1981 Bell’s Whisky commissioned me to write their Christmas brochure! I then went on to work for Glenmorangie, Allied Distilleries, Whitbread and Macallan. “This prompted me to pull together a proposal – my first as a solo writer – to Mitchel Beazley Publishers who did those Pocket guides to... books. I put forward a Pocket Guide to Scotch Whisky.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Charlie MacLean's Words of Wisdom “When you’re drinking whisky for appreciation – Yes to water. No to ice.” What do you know now that you wish you’d known sooner? “How to chat up girls!” Does whisky help? “Only if the girl also likes whisky!” What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? “I’d have to say this, from Peter O’Toole: Keep your bowels open and never volunteer.” If you had to pick one dram to drink for the rest of your days, what would it be? Johnnie Walker Black Label Finally, if you had to summarise the whisky climate in three words, what would they be? “Bouyant. At the moment. Sorry, that’s four words!”
Charlie’s Top Terms for Whisky Drinkers 1. Sgriob
The sensation on your top lip as you’re just about to drink whisky.
2. Viscometric Whorls:
The wee wiggles when you add water to whisky that show how the whisky and water combine. Strong viscometric whorls give a good indication of mouthfeel.
An adjective commonly used by whisky tasters to indicate a scent of baby vomit.
4. Blythe, Boscy and Borajjo
The three stages of drunkenness, roughly translating to merry, tipsy and drunk!
My Whiskeria |
“When I simply want a dram to relax (at 6pm precisely!) I reach for a blend – malt is work – and in spite of having hundreds of samples of malt whisky in my tasting room, this is what I want.”
charlie maclean – a whisky maverick
Never one to follow the crowd, Charlie owes his enduring success to a combination of experienced taste buds and an open mind. He’s seen malts soar in popularity, new markets flourish, and distilleries open in the most unassuming of locations. So, where does he see the whisky industry going next? “The history of the whisky industry has always been booms and busts… “We are now in an era of unprecedented growth. Will demand keep up with supply? History says ‘No’. But I would be more positive. Whisky is now trading in a truly global market. If one dips, another emerges. “Whisky is aspirational: if an economy prospers, it becomes affordable and fashionable, and although it is an acquired taste (i.e. not easy for younger drinkers, sweet palates, etc), the flavour is ultimately supremely rewarding. “As has happened in the past, whisky will prevail!” Is the industry pricing out younger buyers, and so preventing a new generation of whisky appreciators evolving? “Not only younger drinkers, but ‘connoisseurs’ as well. The global demand for old/rare whiskies, both malt and blend (for prestige and investment) has driven the price absurdly high. “But don’t blame the whisky industry: look at how many old/rare malts appear on eBay at substantially more than their original price, within weeks. “The global market, and the internet, means that pricing must be global. So if a desirable whisky is competitively priced in Europe, compared with Taiwan, say, it will all end up in Taiwan. Mind you, the Taiwanese really appreciate their whisky!”
Charlie MacLean's World of Whisky Despite his well-travelled palate though, Charlie remains a Scotch advocate to the core; “Ultimately it’s all to do with flavour. “I think that, in the end, once a taste for whisky is acquired the consumer will come to Scotch!” Charlie MacLean is clearly a great ambassador for Scotland’s national spirit, but one man alone cannot change the world. That said, he has some pretty radical ideas up his well-tailored sleeve: “I think distilleries should be made duty-free zones. It is absurd that visitors to Scotland should have to pay more than in their own countries. “Obviously, there would have to be limits on the amount of whisky you could buy, but this would stimulate sales, visits and employment at distilleries.” As our interview draws to a close, we come full circle back to the topic that blends Charlie’s personal and professional lives: blended Scotch whisky. His penchant for this variety is well-documented, and with blended Scotch accounting for the majority of all Scottish whisky sales (less than 10% by volume is malt whisky), it’s clear Charlie is not alone. “Blended Scotch is the backbone of the industry. Although malt whisky is the original, most varied and most glorious expression of Scotch whisky, blend just hits the spot, and has done since the late 19th century. “It would be invidious of me to name favourites. The classic Scotsman’s reply to the question is: ‘The whisky you’re about to buy me’!”. And with that, we think it’s time to get this man a dram.
What advice would you give someone starting out with whisky?
“Go to a well-stocked whisky bar with a friend. Ask the bartender for three different whiskies. Taste. Discuss. Then, inform the bartender which you liked best. Get him to choose another three whiskies of the style you liked, and so forth.” If there were 5 whiskies everyone should have in their drinks cabinet, what would you recommend?
1. Adelphi Directors’ Blend
(which Charlie himself helped create!)
2. Johnnie Walker Black Label 3. Lagavulin 16 4. Clynelish 14 5. Aberfeldy 21 NB “These aren’t my top 5 whiskies of all time – rather, they represent something for everyone. A good cross-section of the various flavours of Scottish whisky”.
Charlie MacLean's Top 5 tips when tasting/ evaluating whisky a Use the right glass a Nose before you taste a Don’t be afraid of adding water a Hold the liquid in your mouth for longer than usual a Leave a little in the glass to return to and enjoy its aromatic ‘development’
My Whiskeria |
â€œI think that, in the end, once a taste for whisky is acquired the consumer will come to Scotch!â€?
Collector's Corner |
J collectable whiskies
come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their price points. In fact, the increased variety of collectable releases coming to market is baffling – but that’s no bad thing. Especially when Neil Jamieson, the whisky shop’s collecting oracle, is on hand to unlock the mysteries of investable whiskies. —————————————————————
Overview of 2015/16
J We saw a number of high profile opportunities where whiskies lasted for literally a number of minutes on our shelves in 2015. Some of the stand-out performers that come to mind include: Ardbeg Kildalton, Laphroaig 32 Year Old, and the GlenDronach Octaves. All those bottles have a wonderful opportunity to show seriously good returns in the short-to-medium term, and were all available to THE WHISKY SHOP customers. I am exceptionally buoyant about the year ahead. Never before have I see so many collectable whiskies released at the start of the year; bottlings such as the Glenmorangie Milsean, the Johnnie Walker Blue (Year of the Monkey), GlenDronach Grandeur 25 Year Old, Yamazaki Sherry Cask, and the Octomore 7.4 all released by the first week of February. It bodes well for whisky collectors everywhere, as demand for all of these releases will be high and it won’t be long before we see ‘sold out’ signs appearing on each one. We’re seeing an increase in demand for whiskies that come from closed distilleries and are bottled by independent bottlers. There are a number of examples of such bottles available today with one of the star picks being a 35 Year Old Platinum Port Ellen which is limited to just 231 bottles. Stock is already running out…
J When it comes to budget, whisky collectors can purchase at all levels – it’s not just about big budget bottles! Sometimes, collectable whiskies priced under £100 offer the best % return opportunity. One item that could fall into this category is the Glenfarclas 1994, which is a WHISKY SHOP exclusive. Recent winner of the Liquid Gold Award in Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible, it has actually, in a lot of cases, been bought to drink (and why not, its a fantastic whisky!). That said, with stocks starting to run low and the demand continuing to increase as more people find out about this whisky, it won’t be long before we start to see the Glenfarclas 1994 on auction sites at an increased price. Whisky collecting has changed over the last 5 years; we’ve seen an increase in people investing seriously in whisky as an ‘alternative investment’ as they turn away from low interest rates and volatile stock markets. From mums to young graduates, people are diversifying their savings into rare whisky with a view to selling on at a later date. As far as price is concerned, it really is all relative to the individual budget. A whisky that costs say, £16,000 for a single bottle, for most people seems something of madness. However, there are people out there – be they rich or serious investors – who create a demand for whiskies in that top price range. It’s a trend that’s getting impossible to ignore with super high value bottles regularly selling out in record time. —————————————————————
J Counterfeits are one area of concern for all whisky collectors. My advice for avoiding fakes, where possible, is to buy when the whisky is originally released from a known retailer. With auction houses, you can never be absolutely sure of provenance. At THE WHISKY SHOP, we never buy from collectors, so any item bought through us is guaranteed to be 100% authentic. It’s certainly a factor that should not be underestimated. It’s also worth noting that if you can purchase a bottle on release you get full exposure to any potential profits that bottle will enjoy, whilst buying on the secondary market means that you miss out on the original increase in value. —————————————————————
J One of the fastest growing markets for collectable whisky is Asia. The encouraging trend in this area is that, quite often, the whisky is bought to drink during special occasions such as Chinese New Year. This has a positive effect on collectors the world over, as it speeds up the process of special releases selling out. It’s a perfect combination of scenarios that dictates the quality of a liquid, and gives it value amongst the collecting community. A whisky release that sells out and has, in the most part, been consumed has a real positive impact on the price potential for that whisky.
J If you’re a prospective collector, visiting your local branch of THE WHISKY SHOP or picking up the phone to one of our whisky experts is a great place to start. It’s getting more and more important to choose the correct whiskies, and the knowledge our staff have at their finger tips will prove invaluable in helping build your collection. Don’t be shy. Ask them questions and listen to their advice!
Top Tips for New Collectors a a a
Try and buy on release Look at whiskies from closed distilleries Don’t ignore market trends, such as the current movement towards aged Japanese whiskies
NB Price increases from the suppliers on some Japanese whiskies is expected to be dramatic during 2016, especially for the older liquid as demand increases, so keep your eyes east!
Stay In The Loop J Sign up to THE WHISKY SHOP mailing list and social media channels to be amongst the first people to find out when you can purchase the most limited whiskies. It is getting vitally important to be in the right place at the right time, as some releases sell out almost immediately! J www.whiskyshop.com J facebook.com/thewhiskyshop J twitter.com/thewhiskyshop
Whisky World Round-Up |
54 1 3
2 6 5
• 1 Scotland
Scotch Whiskymaker Compass Box has launched a campaign to over-turn EU legislation that prevents Scotch whisky producers from offering full transparency to buyers; “Scotch whisky producers should have the freedom to offer their customers complete, unbiased and clear information on the age of every component used in their whiskies.” Read more at: www.compassboxwhisky.com/transparency
• 4 Canada
Grammy award-winning Canadian rapper Drake has announced the launch of his own whisky ‘Virginia Black Whiskey’ via Instagram. Lets hope his drams are every bit as smooth as his lyrics.
Once a titan in the banking world, Lehman Brothers found international infamy in 2008 by filing the largest bankruptcy claim America had ever seen. It now lives on in spirit with the launch of Lehman Brothers Scotch. Emblazoned with the doomed bank’s logo, the flagship whisky is named ‘Ashes of Disaster’ and has “a wicked suggestion of burning bank notes” according to entrepreneur and company founder, James Green. A whisky investment? Time will tell…
Chinese construction works have made an unusual discovery in the mountainous Moganshan region, East of Shanghai – the word ‘Glenturret’ carved into an 8-foot rock face. With 5,500 miles separating the remote location from Glenturret Distillery’s Perthshire home, developers have found only one tenuous link between the two: Scottish missionary Dr. Duncan Main, who built a castle on the land in 1910.
• 2 England
• 5 Australia
Some grape news for you: a brand new $2.5 million distillery is set to open in Australia’s famous wine-making region, The McLaren Vale. Eponymously named The McLaren Vale Distillery, it will capitalise on its famous location by using “some incredible South Australian barrels with amazing history, like a 90-Year Old Muscat cask”, says founder John Rochfort.
• 3 China
• 6 Mozambique
The Scotch industry is celebrating victory in Africa after the Mozambique government granted Scotch Geographical Indication (GI) status, giving consumers in yet another African nation confidence in the provenance of their whisky. Turn the page to discover a secluded corner of Mozambique, where whisky’s prestigious status is a relic of a rich and intriguing past… J
Ilha de Mozambique â€” Claire Bell leaves continental Africa, and life's worries, behind and discovers an often overlooked island idyll. â€”
Illustration: Francesca Waddell Photography: Claire Bell
J it felt like we had woken 500 years ago: Faint, wavering Islamic singing accompanied by drums was filtering in through the thick stone walls, and outside in the bay, colourful wooden dhows with dirty white sails were wallowing in the shallows, enjoying a day of rest. Today was a Muslim festival and before the sun climbed any higher, a religious parade was making its way through the cobbled streets of Ilha de Mozambique, the little-known UNESCO world heritage site on the edge of the Indian Ocean. For 400 years this tropical island, connected to mainland Mozambique by a 3-kilometre causeway, was the capital of Portuguese East Africa, a bustling centre of slave and seafaring trade that attracted the Portuguese, Arab, Turkish and Dutch, all of whom, in turn, tried to lay claim to the island. During their tenure, the Portuguese built Stone Town, a neighbourhood of grand mansions and warehouses, which today stand dilapidated, in various stages of ruin and repair, some so weathered, they are more like sculptures than buildings.
Since 1975, the island has been back in Mozambican hands and has a unique reputation in all of Mozambique – perhaps all of the world – as a place of safety and religious tolerance where Christians and Muslims live peacefully side-by-side, and where anyone, tourist or local, can walk alone at night, in complete safety. How did this once contested island, that still boasts one of the most formidable forts in all of Africa, become a place of peace? The shift, it seems, began during the civil war that followed colonial rule. From 1976 to 1992, the Cold War that divided the rest of the world turned hot on Mozambican soil. During those 16 years, Ilha became a haven for those fleeing the brutal war, and today peace and tolerance are still among the most valued commodities on this island, along with fish and seafood – the island’s main commerce. We first experience the ease between cultures at the end of the old customs bridge, a popular swimming spot. At the bottom of the steps, a black woman in a bikini eases her tiny baby into the water, three fully-clothed Muslim
men plunge in beside her, a foreigner with long red hair snorkels by, while thousands and thousands of tiny, jumping fish, circle the bathers. Overlooking the pier is the island’s oldest building, the Palace of Sao Paolo, built as a Jesuit College in 1619, later morphing into the colonial governor’s palace. Furnished with elaborate pieces from Europe, India and Macau, one bedroom was always kept ready for the Portugese king. It was in this room that Samora Machel stayed in 1975, when he took his first presidential tour of a newly independent Mozambique. According to James, the museum guide, when Machel woke after his first night, he discovered his hefty bodyguard had snapped the delicate rattan chair outside the king’s door. In that moment, Machel decided the palace was probably better off preserved as a museum to mark the colonial past. One room that chills the spine is the king’s drawing room, furnished with intricately carved chairs, tables and dressers, made by a single craftsman in Goa. “After the furniture was made, it was common practice to cut off the craftsmen’s hands so his pieces would be unique, and would increase in value.” James explains. In the dining room is another emblem of the colonial mindset – a large tapestry depicting Ilha des Amores, the mythical island of fresh water and naked virgins of which Portugese
sailors would fantasise as they embarked on dangerous sea voyages. Ilha de Mozambique was almost this island of legend. Fortaleza de Sao Sebastiao, the 16th century fort, was built around a series of underground wells that naturally collected rainwater in the island’s strata of sand and shells. Today, these wells are still the only source of fresh water on the island. To be on Ilha is to be caught between a crumbling past, and a future not yet realised. From outside the fort we pick our way through shallows thick with spiky sea urchins, and board a dhow called Titanic to sail out to Ilha de Goa, an island of shells, cacti and a crumbling red and white striped lighthouse, for an afternoon of picnicking and snorkelling. As we cross the bay, Eddie, a young Mozambican, shares his dream for the island. “We need the foreigners to come back, to buy up the old houses of Stone Town and bring the tourists. If Stone Town develops, the island develops. If it doesn’t we go nowhere.” It is an uneasy sell. Colonialism was ruthless, as was its demise. When colonial rule came to its end after a 10-year-war, the Portuguese were given 24 hours to leave the country, and permitted only 20 kilograms of luggage per person. Today foreigners can only ever own 49% of any property on Ilha – the other 51% must be in the hands of a local – and 58
Eddie admits that although English, Swedish and German speakers are welcome, the Portuguese are still not trusted. “If you say Bon Dia, people will scowl at you. If you say Good Day, they will smile,” Eddie says. You can’t help but wonder what the unintended consequences will be, of courting yet another era of foreign ownership. Gabriele Melazzi is an Italian architect who has been living on Ilha for 16 years. He makes a living running a guesthouse and renovating “weekend party houses”, mostly for Indian traders who live in the nearby city of Nampula. Melazzi says that to date, there is an easygoing relationship between the islanders and foreigners. “The local people are interested in fishing, tides and nature,” he says, but admits that attitudes could change if foreigners start arriving in their droves with speedboats and shiny 4x4s, throwing their weight around, as they have done further south in Mozambique. Most of the local population live in Macuti town, a dense warren of small houses with palm-frond roofs that cover most of the island. We are invited into the home of Mama Anifa and her daughter Alima, to see her collection of capulanas, the brightly coloured patterned fabrics that Mozambican women use as sarongs, head scarfs, baby slings, bags and blankets. She keeps them in a handmade
Snapshots of life on the island include typical street scenes, the imposing colonial fort, and traditional dhow boats
wooden trunk. Mama Anifa explains that the tradition didn’t originate in Mozambique, but was borrowed from the East – influenced by both the saris of India, and the kimonos of Japan. Throughout a woman’s life she will collect capulanas, buying some for ordinary use, some for special occasions. For example, when someone gets married, all the guests will buy the same capulana and wear it to the wedding, and it will then be put away as a memento of that day. In this way, capulanas become like pages of a book or a photograph album, capturing the moments of a whole life. Mama Anifa pulls out a capulana printed with giant yellow circles, explaining that this one she bought on the day her son came out of his initiation rites. She also points to another burgundy with tiny white dots, which is owned by every woman on the island. This is the “ohankawany” capulana, a word which means “to gossip” in Macua, the local language. “People on this island can read a letter through a manila envelope,” explains our translator, Pilane. “Every woman on Ilha has this capulana.” It is easy to whilst away a week on Ilha, falling into the pace of island life, seduced by the old mansions of Stone Town that have been renovated to become guest houses. Our home for the week is Terraca dos Quintadas,
decorated with treasures from East Africa and India, a homage to the history of the region. Throughout the heat of the afternoons, a sea breeze funnels through our terrace, and the white, fringed hammock becomes the only sane place to be. Evenings are dedicated to eating, with each of the island’s nine restaurants as good as the next. On a hot night, the rooftop terrace at Flora de Rose is a balm for an overheated soul, while Villa Sands, the Swedish-owned restaurant built in an old warehouse complete, boasts both a great menu and a beautiful pool overlooking the bay. When you’ve had your fill of freshly-caught fish and seafood, the café Ancora d’Ouro, makes excellent pizzas, while the locally-owned Paladar tucked away at back of the central market, under the shade of the trees and the calls of birds, does delicious lunchtime curries. As for whisky, despite the predominantly Muslim population, there are plenty of places for a dram, as long as you don’t mind a blend. The only single malt on Ilha is an empty bottle of Glenmorangie at Bar Yo-Yo in Stone Town, kept in pride of place on the bar fridge, yet another ruin, another memento to a time gone by.
Getting There – Ilha de Mozambique a Fly to Nampula, either via Johannesburg or Maputo. From Nampula it is a three-hour drive to the island. a Expert Africa offer tailor-made trips to Mozambique. 020 8232 9777 www.expertafrica.com
Brian Wilson recounts the unlikely tale of a current success story in Borders knitwear for heritage brand Barrie, a narrow miss for the Scotch whisky industry, and the impact of Banana Wars! â€”
A Time in History |
Illustration: Francesca Waddell
Barrie Knitwear Location: Hawick Headquarters: Paris Established: 1903 Owners: Aquired by Chanel, 2012 a a a
J The distinguished Borders town of Hawick has been associated for the past couple of centuries with production of high quality knitwear. So when, at the start of this year, the impending closure of ‘Hawick Knitwear’ was announced, there was the risk of a misleading message. In fact, Hawick’s story sums up the enigma of a great industry, which has suffered glacial decline over the past 30 years. In the midst of closures and the loss of famous names, there are also success stories, which deserve to be celebrated and are capable of inspiring others. Whilst the company called Hawick Knitwear, sadly, went into administration after a 140 year history, the outlook for Barrie Knitwear – also based in Hawick – could not be more different. Yet in 2012, Barrie might have gone the way of so many other mills in the Borders if it had not been for the intervention of a prestigious saviour. Chanel had a long association with the company and wanted to protect its own supply chain. So they bought Barrie Knitwear and gave it a whole new lease of life, manufacturing not only for their own needs, but developing the Barrie brand and supplying other high-end designers and retailers. They now employ well over 200 people in Hawick. Look at the Barrie website and there is no mention of the 61
Current collections designed by Odile Massuger The house of Barrie’s fourth signature ready-to-wear collection launches for Spring/Summer 2016 Barrie’s London flagship store in the prestigious Burlington Arcade is 200 yards from THE WHISKY SHOP Piccadilly
name Chanel – and that tells its own story. The success of this business is not built on the eminence of its owners but the quality of the product, aided and abetted by substantial investment – an ingredient often missing from Borders mills which sometimes looked more like industrial museums. They eventually paid the price. However, the Barrie success story offers a formula which can preserve what remains of a proud tradition – by setting the pace at the top end of the market, rather than trying to compete further down. For too long, most Borders mills stuck with tried and tested products and designs rather than pushing out the frontiers, as befits the guardians of a world-class craft industry. Borders textile history stretches back into the Middle Ages but it was with the industrial revolution that the area came into its own. This was sheep country producing high quality Cheviot wool. The fast-flowing rivers provided the water power, while markets in the south were easily accessible by rail. For good measure, Sir Walter Scott added his own considerable cachet. By the 1840s, over 2000 of Scotland’s 2600 knitting frames were located in the Borders, more than half of them in Hawick. In 1883, the Borders College was founded in Galashiels to support innovation and skills. Even by the
late 19th century, finer raw materials such as cashmere were being imported for use and this eventually became the mainstay, though other fine woolens continue to be produced. Planned towns grew up around the mills. As recently as 1981, the industry directly employed 8000 people. That is now down to around 1700. Once there were 250 Border mills but since 2008 alone, the number of textile businesses has fallen from 70 to 40. There needs to be some collective thinking, with government support, about how to build on the prestige of the product and halt an otherwise inexorable trend. I developed a personal affinity with the industry during my stints as Scottish Industry Minister and UK Trade Minister, and – in the latter role – my involvement was largely down to bananas. Let me explain. A couple of days before Christmas 1998, I was enjoying a rare Saturday at home with my family. Then the phone rang. The caller was a very worried Irishman, Columba Reid, who ran the Clan Douglas mill in Hawick. Did I know that Scottish cashmere knitwear was on a list of products to be hit with penal import duties by the United States in retaliation for the EU giving preference to imported bananas from Caribbean countries? It was a fairly unusual question for a Saturday morning but it signaled the start of my intensive involvement in Banana Wars – mainly in defense of the Borders knitwear industry. Clan Douglas exported 90 per cent of their output to the United States and others were not far behind. What was, in effect, the threatened closure of the American market would have been catastrophic.
The World Trade Organisation had given the US approval for sanctions against EU imports up to a certain value. Their list of targeted products was eclectic but far from random. Essentially, they went for high profile industries with a particular sensitivity for politicians. From that perspective, including an iconic Scottish export made sense. Scotch Whisky, as I later learned, was their preferred option but its value was far too great, so they alighted upon cashmere knitwear instead. It was ludicrously unfair but, as became clear, the US trade authorities are ruthless in protecting their own interests – whether these, at any given time, involve shameless protectionism or lip-service to free trade. I got to know the Borders industry very well during this period and together we came up with a solution. Government would underwrite any surcharge on orders taken during this period. In other words, if the additional tariff was inflicted, the UK taxpayer would meet it. With that reassurance, the mills could continue to do business as usual in the US. At the very last moment, the Treasury cottoned onto what we had agreed and went ballistic because of the precedent involved. I was due to announce the deal in the House of Commons when winding up a debate. Sitting on the front bench, I was getting messages to come out of the chamber urgently, to speak to Treasury officials. I stayed firmly on my backside since I knew they were going to tell me not to make the
announcement. The commitment had already been made privately to the industry and I had no intention of reneging on it. So the deed was done, I survived and – more importantly – the industry came through the crisis. It was eventually taken off the US sanctions list, following Tony Blair’s personal plea to Bill Clinton. There was a feeling at the time that the Banana Wars saga had actually been good for the Borders industry because it had obliged companies to work together in a common cause. As is the case with many entrenched industries, they had a history of being more interested in fighting each other to the death than in paying attention to the changing world around them. Unfortunately, the downwards trend was soon resumed. While a few progressive companies with manufacturing bases in the Borders continue to do strong global business, many others have gone to the wall. Yet it is difficult to believe that a product with such a strong international reputation and identification could not, with growing demand for luxury products which have provenance behind them, be sustained at least at the level which currently exists. I have long thought that the south of Scotland’s economic challenges have been relatively neglected in terms of public attention and government support. Knitwear still ranks among Scotland’s premier industries and is one of the few that commands international recognition. It deserves help before there are more closures – and the good news is that we still have shining examples to follow.
Spring 2016 Whisky Shop Exclusives / 66 Rediscover Glenkier Treasures / 70 The Loch Fyne Range / 72 Aberfeldy / 74 Aultmore / 75 Craigellachie / 76 Royal Brackla / 77 The Deveron / 78 Customer Favourites / 79 What Else /84 THE WHISKY SHOP Directory /86
Whisky Shop Exclusives We’re proud to stock a selection of whiskies you simply can’t buy anywhere else. From limited edition bottlings, to old and rare whiskies, single malts to singularly superb blends, these are the whiskies that only THE WHISKY SHOP customers can buy.
Kininvie 23 Year Old Batch 3
Bowmore Devil’s Cask III
– 42.6% VOL | 35CL £120
– 56.7% VOL | 70CL £190
What is it? Opened in 1990 by William Grant’s granddaughter, Kininvie’s whisky is largely used for blends (most notably Monkey’s Shoulder). Each bottle is a limited edition highlighting year of distillation, individual bottle number, and batch number – batch 3 contains liquid from the very first 1990 batch, matured in American hogsheads and sherry casks.
What is it? Named ‘Double the Devil’, this is the final instalment in Bowmore’s Devil’s Cask series. Islay legend tells us the devil himself was chased into the Bowmore Distillery, only to escape in a whisky barrel. Inspired by the fiendish tale, this final expression is matured in first-fill Oloroso and Pedro Xinimez sherry casks, and bottled at a wicked 56.3% ABV.
What’s it like? One from the sweeter end of the spectrum, with honey and zesty fruit showing on the nose. Oaky and light in both colour and scent, the palate develops with a rich, sherried warmth. The finish is short but not sweet, with honey giving way to more oaky, zesty character in a surprising final twist.
What’s it like? Deep mahogany in colour, with serious depth of flavour to match. Treacle, pecan and maple syrup on the nose precede rich dark chocolate, coffee and sherried fruit on the palate. Lingering flavours of dried fruits and salted treacle will leave you greedy for more.
Port Ellen 35 Platinum Old & Rare
The Last Drop Glen Garioch 50cl + 50ml miniature
– 56.5% VOL | 70CL £1,800
What is it? Another whisky from Hunter Laing’s Old & Rare collection, and one that really lives up to the series’ title. This 1978 single malt hails from the Port Ellen distillery – one of the most sought after in Scotland since falling silent in 1983 – and was filled into just 231 bottles in October 2013, making it very desirable indeed! What’s it like? Just as a classic Islay malt should be, this whisky is deeply peaty on the nose, with a distinctive sweetness developing upon tasting. A lovely mouthfeel makes the Port Ellen 35 all-themore desirable, with notes of honey and peat smoke and a long, luscious honeyed finish.
– 43% VOL | 50CL + 50ML £4,500 What is it? The Whisky Bible 2015’s Single Malt Scotch Whisky of the Year! The Last Drop whiskies are the very last bottlings of some truly exceptional Scotch. This expression from Scotland’s most easterly, and one of the nation’s oldest, operational distilleries is another example of Glen Garioch’s signature small batch distilling practice. Each bottle is wax-dipped by hand, and each case includes a 50ml miniature and leather-bound booklet for tasting notes. What’s it like? To quote the marvellous Andrew Rankin: “Heady notes of cognac-soaked fruitcake, marzipan and icing are balanced with ripe apricot and a hit of peaty smokiness, softening to a delicious vanilla and honey nectar (…) The tannins bite but the smoke and citrus come rushing to the rescue (...) A long finish with a delightful tangle of oaky roots and peaty off-shoots make way first for the citrus and then a fabulous pounding spiciness.”
Whisky Shop Exclusives
Macallan No.6 Decanter – 43% VOL | 70CL £2,800 What is it? An incredibly rare Macallan crafted from a hand-selected, first-fill sherry seasoned oak cask to promise a whisky that’s unimaginably luxurious and rich. As is only appropriate for such a sumptuous liquid, it is presented in an exquisitely hand-crafted Lalique crystal decanter that celebrates The Macallan’s 6 pillars of inspiration. What’s it like? Rich and complex, with a deep walnut colour thanks to it’s time in the finest first-fill Spanish sherry oak casks. What’s more, these casks have been carefully crafted in the home of sherry; they impart a unique rich flavour to the classic Macallan character with spice, dried fruit and heady orange groves as the stand-out notes in this sublime whisky.
Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1992 Single Cask –
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ryder Cup –
What is it? Founded in 1887 by William Grant and family-run to this day, Glenfiddich is maybe the world’s most famous Scotch. The first Glenfiddich Rare Collection bottling, which also happens to be a WHISKY SHOP exclusive limited to only 200 bottles, was chosen by our staff and one lucky customer. They selected a refill bourbon cask filled in 1992, representing the year THE WHISKY SHOP was founded!
What is it? Part of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Collection, created to represent the pinnacle of blended Scotch whisky and prove that neither age, nor singular provenance, are enough to define a real whisky masterpiece. Each bottle is individually numbered and emblazoned with the the iconic Gleneagles Hotel to celebrate the return of the Ryder Cup to Scotland.
What’s it like? A great example of the Glenfiddich character that has secured the distillery’s fantastic global reputation. Lots of sweet, fruity notes on the nose and palate are joined by juicy orchard fruits including apple and pear, with a hint of oak and spice.
What’s it like? Only 1 in 10,000 casks is deemed of sufficient character to deliver the smooth signature taste of these big flavoured whiskies. Robust layers with deep richness and smoke, honey and fruit culminate in an incredibly smooth finish. This is a blend of truly rare character.
55.6% VOL | 70CL £1,200
56.7% VOL | 70CL £190
Glenfarclas 1994 Macallan 25 THE WHISKY SHOP Platinum Exclusive Old & Rare – – 43% VOL | 70CL £84
44.8% VOL | 70CL £560
What is it? Winner of the coveted Liquid Gold Award in the 2016 Jim Murray Whisky Bible, and limited to just 1200 bottles, this whisky is as covetable as they come! The Glenfarclas Single Malt Highland Scotch Whiskies are still independently distilled in the heart of Speyside, and remain true to the highly revered signature style of the region.
What is it? An exceptional independent bottling from Hunter Laing’s Platinum Old & Rare collection – a series of rare single cask malts, matured to perfection. Distilled in April 1989, this Macallan expression was drawn from a single refill hogshead barrel in 2014 at a cask strength of 44.8% ABV, and filled just 188 bottles.
What’s it like? Dull-amber to the eye thanks to time in ex-sherry casks, this is a whisky of good texture with nutty top notes, backed up by dried fruits and a trace of milk chocolate. Full-bodied with an unusually sweet taste that diminishes towards the finish, it’s a single malt that benefits from a splash of water to open out woodier notes.
What’s it like? Full bodied and sweet, there are notes of ripe apricot and vanilla on the nose with a nod to Christmas Pudding. Vanilla and a rich fruit pervade on the palate, with flavours of apples and creamy custard. A soft, lingering finish completes the experience. Find out more on page 98–99.
Rediscover: Glenkeir Treasures Diverse, exciting and unique. What more could the curious whisky drinker ask for? We caught up with THE WHISKY SHOP’s National Retail Manager, Darren Leitch, to explain just what makes our GlenKeir treasures so special…
How do we get our hands on these unsung gems of THE WHISKY SHOP? Our staff bottle GlenKeir Treasures in store – each 10Cl, 20CL or 50CL bottle is hand-filled with a sense of theatre, then finished with a hand-written label. We also offer gift sets containing the Glenkeir Treasures. Many distilleries now offer in-house, hand-filled bottles to guests; don’t hold us to this claim but I'd like to think we contributed in some way to this experience! Can’t make it to the Highlands of Scotland to bottle your very own malt? Do it at THE WHISKY SHOP instead… Does that mean bottles of the GlenKeir Treasures can be personalised?
Firsts things first: what are GlenKeir Treasures? The GlenKeir treasures are the whiskies you might’ve seen stored in barrels in our stores. It’s a collection of three to five carefully sourced whiskies, each sold exclusively by THE WHISKY SHOP. Why call them treasures – what makes them so special? Every barrel of GlenKeir Treasures whisky represents a singular moment in time. Not only are these whiskies exclusive to our shops – because we keep them in barrels, they continue maturing while in-store, evolving flavours unique to that location. Each whisky we source has already matured at the distillery warehouses it was sourced from to develop its particular flavor profile. We’re simply adding some unique WHISKY SHOP character to each individual batch… That means every shop sells its own version of each single malt in the collection. It’s a perfect option for anyone who’d like to buy a ‘local’ whisky but can’t make it to a distillery.
It does! Essentially, this means you can come into our shops and purchase a bottle of whisky that’s completely unique to you. We can also do corporate bottlings, or personalise bottles for a special occasion. We offer engraved messages on our Glenkeir Treasures range too. Are the GlenKeir Treasures single malts always the same? The whiskies we source are never to be repeated – so once a treasure runs out in-store, that particular single malt can never be bought again. That means our GlenKeir Treasures collection is always changing as we source new, unique barrels and batches of interesting, often underappreciated, and one-off single malts to replace the ones that run out. What’s more, we source our GlenKeir Treasures from all over Scotland, so there’s plenty of diversity too. Currently we’re stocking a FetterCairn 6 Year Old. Craigellachie 6 Year Old and an Inchgower 6 Year Old…
Inchgower 6 Year Old
Fettercairn 6 Year Old
Craigellachie 6 Year Old
HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT
SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT
SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT
10CL: £10 / 20CL: £16 / 50CL: £35
10CL: £10 / 20CL: £16 / 50CL: £35
10CL: £10 / 20CL: £16 / 50CL: £35
Presents creamy vanilla aromas mixed with some aniseed and a coastal breeze, then flavours of citrus, oak and a salty touch.
Boasts aromas of mixed nuts, almond oil and malty cereals which lead to flavours of toffee, cereal bars and a peppery finish.
Light and sweet with aromas of candy floss, vanilla and lemon, and flavours of coconut, buttertoffee and fruit cocktail.
Keep your eyes on Whiskeria Magazine to find out what’s coming soon to our GlenKeir Treasures collection…
THE LOCH FYNE Range
THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask 1745
THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask Batch 3
– 43.6% VOL | 50CL £75
– 43.6% VOL | 50CL £45
THE WHISKY SHOP enjoys exclusive access to THE LOCH FYNE range of whiskies, which hail from Loch Fyne Whiskies – a wee whisky shop with abig whisky legacy. Given their huge knowledge of the spirit, it’s no surprise that THE LOCH FYNE not only sell whisky, but also produce their very own range of blends, limited edition expressions, and rare, one-off independent bottlings.
What is it? Winner of a Liquid Gold Award in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible, this bottling takes its name from the year Inverary – home of The Living Cask – was founded. A permanent expression from Loch Fyne Whiskies, it’s created using 100% Islay malts, which define it’s distinctively smoky profile.
What is it? THE LOCH FYNE experts have carefully chosen and married malts in a ‘living vatting’. Once one batch is extracted, stocks are topped up and left to marry, creating a new, unique batch. This – the third batch to be extracted from the cask – is a beautiful mix of Islay and Speyside single malts.
What’s it like? Firmly smoky and unyieldingly malty on the nose, but with a distinctively soft quality. Flavour follows the latter, with juiciness and bold barley-sugar notes reminiscent of wonderfully appropriate Fishermen’s Friend sweeties! Silky delivery, with subtle spice and rolling smoke woven through, belies the complex marriage of malts that create this unique whisky.
What’s it like? Myriad aromas layer toffee, cut grass, fresh pine, and coastal oil and smoke. Aromatic spice and pine balance gentle oak on the palate. Water opens out sweeter scents and earthier flavours, with honeycomb and malt on the nose. Soft toffee and milk chocolate dominate the palate, with a spicy kick and warm finish.
THE LOCH FYNE Liqueur
THE LOCH FYNE Bunnahabhain
THE LOCH FYNE Blend
– 40% VOL | 50CL £28
– 48% VOL | 50CL £95
– 40% VOL | 50CL £24
What is it? A deliciously moreish Scotch whisky liqueur created at the workshop on the shores of the eponymous Loch Fyne. Designed around 22 years of customer feedback and whisky wisdom, THE LOCH FYNE Liqueur is an evolution of THE LOCH FYNE Blend, with added chocolate orange impact.
What is it? THE LOCH FYNE offer this wonderful 14 Year Old single cask Bunnahabhain in addition to their own range. Retaining ties to coastal character, it was distilled in February 2001 and matured in a sherry cask at the Bunnahanhain Distillery until December 2015; it’s limited to just 960 bottles.
What is it? A smooth, mellow whisky dubbed ‘the malt drinker’s blend’ by its creators. First introduced in 1996, it has changed in image but the liquid remains the same – a delicious amalgamation of the finest whiskies the Loch Fyne team could find, and a firm customer favourite.
What’s it like? Fresh tangerine peel softens to orange and milk chocolate on the nose, and this is reflected on the palate. Smooth and sweet but refreshingly uncloying, fresh orange flavours are most definitely still present, with light chocolate lingering on the finish.
What’s it like? Rich, complex malt with spadesful of Islay character. Stewed fruit joins treacle and liquorice on the nose. Water develops seaweed, coal tar and sweet tobacco. The palate echoes this, with warmth from cinnamon and white pepper, plus sweet, zesty satsuma and soft heather, then classic turfy peat, liquorice and charred oak.
What’s it like? Ripe green apples mingle with vanilla and honey on the nose, and the evocation of a summer orchard is broadened by hints of nectar and floral notes. Initially sweet, the honey and apples translate from the nose to the palate, with gentle spice breaking through. The finish is long with plenty of sweet orchard fruit.
Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
Aberfeldy 21 Year Old
– 40% VOL | 50CL £44
– 40% VOL | 50CL £119
Constructed by John Dewar & Sons to supply the ‘heart malt’ of their now hugely successful blends, the Aberfeldy Distillery takes its name from its hometown, and its water from the gushing Pitilie Burn. This is one of the few burns in Scotland to be rich in gold, and, as the Aberfeldy 21 carton tells us, “Alchemy, the process by which base materials are turned into gold, is made a little easier when your principal ingredient already contains that precious metal”.
What is it? The majority of this malt is used in Dewar’s White Label Blend – itself a best-seller for good reason! Most definitely worthy of individual high acclaim, this is a fantastically easy-drinking example of the Perthshire distillery’s elegant yet robust house style.
What is it? A more grown-up example of Aberfeldy’s elegant signature whiskies, launched in October 2005 to great, and ongoing, acclaim. Hailed as the Best Highland Single Malt 2014 at the World Whisky Awards, this has understandably become the distillery’s seminal single malt.
What’s it like? Deep amber with beeswax, buttered toast, then zesty orange on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate; initial sweetness is balanced by warm white pepper, followed by a pleasantly warming, dry finish. Water increases the waxy notes, steering away from a dry finish.
What’s it like? Big malty notes on the nose balance sweet honey, orchard fruits and a slight citrus zest. Elegant on the palate – as you’d expect – with smooth vanilla and a wash of light smokiness that lingers across honeyed peaches on the finish.
Aultmore 12 Year Old
Aultmore 25 Year Old
– 46% VOL | 70CL £50
– 46% VOL | 70CL £350
Known ‘more by reputation than experience’, the Aultmore Distillery is shrouded by fog and fable. This is part due to it’s mystical and remote location at the top of the Buckie Road in ‘The Foggie Moss’. Its also due to the whiskies they produce there; rated first class, they are dubbed the Rarest of Speyside. Named after the Gaelic for ‘Big River’, Aultmore produces single malts that evoke the fresh flowing waters and rolling farmlands surrounding it.
What is it? Aultmore whiskies embody their origin, and this superb 12 Year Old example is no exception. Hailing from an area of lush green fields and valleys, it captures a taste of Northern Speyside, showcasing the distillery’s fresh, grassy style wonderfully.
What is it? A rare and delicious release from a rare distillery! Not many bottles of this fine whisky exist; those who do find one in their possession are in for an uncommonly good dram that shows off the best of Speyside distilling: sweet, malty character with plenty of vanilla.
What’s it like? ‘Green’ qualities are hinted at by the pale golden colour with lime highlights. A malty, yeasty nose gives way to mossy herbal scents. Light in texture, presiding flavours are clean and sweet with slight acidity. Water develops apple and pear drop aromas, whilst softening the palate.
What’s it like? Pale straw to autumn gold, this whisky promises a richly fragrant nose with predominant fruit salad, white grape and orange. This is backed by vanilla sponge and a suggestion of smoke. Smooth and silky on the palate, it begins sweet before developing to a spicy finish.
Craigellachie 13 Year Old
Craigellachie 17 Year Old
– 46% VOL | 70CL £52
– 46% VOL | 70CL £99
Speyside was once the heartland of Clan Grant, whose territory was described as stretching between two ‘craggy rocks’ – or ‘Creag Ealechaidh’ in Gaelic. One of these lies at the meeting point of the region’s two most famous rivers, the River Spey and River Fiddich, where the Craigellachie Distillery is also situated. Founded in 1891, it is one of the most productive of all Scotland’s distilleries.
What is it? Despite its young age, this expression nevertheless showcases Craigellachie’s meaty Speyside style with gusto, making it a great introduction to the distillery. Cooled and condensed the old-fashioned way, in traditional worm tubs, it is matured in refill American oak casks.
What is it? The Craigellachie 17 Year Old is to ‘meaty’ what Islay malts are to ‘peaty’! So, if you’re a fan of those bold flavours, this punchy expression makes the perfect next step in your whisky drinking journey. Non-chill filtered and with no added colouring, its big personality is entirely down to 17 years in American oak casks and the old-fashioned worm tubs used during distillation.
What’s it like? Visually, not dissimilar to Pinot Grigio, this whisky is youthfully lively on the nose with rice pudding and abundant tropical fruit, plus a vague hint of smoke. The palate mirrors this, with sweetness and fruity acidity, plus slight smokiness persisting. A lovely gentle mouth-feel is made estery with water.
Craigellachie 23 Year Old – 46% VOL | 70CL £300 What is it? Enamoured with the distinctively different nature of the younger Craigellachie expressions? This 23 Year Old whisky represents the next level when it comes to the distillery’s unusual, meaty malts. Not one for the faint of heart, it’s a bastion of big Speyside aroma and flavour. What’s it like? Chardonnay in colour thanks to time in American oak casks. On the nose it is deeply mellow, with putty and wood smoke behind the scented soap aromas characteristic of younger Craigellachie malts. The texture is voluptuous, very much affirming the nose. Water develops both, and adds mildly mentholated notes.
What’s it like? Significantly more aromatic than it’s 13 Year Old cousin, the Craigellachie 17 Year Old is all about melon, peach and grapes on the nose, with hints of shampoo and light toffee too. An oily mouthfeel accompanies the sweet, slightly acidic flavour profile, which develops to a nougaty finish. Water opens up the soapy scented aroma and bold flavours.
Royal Brackla 12 Year Old
Royal Brackla 16 Year Old
– 40% VOL | 70CL £50
– 40% VOL | 70CL £90
Brackla Distillery was established in 1812 on fertile farmland in the Scottish Highlands. By 1835 it was distilling whisky of such quality that King William IV bestowed ‘royal’ status to the distillery, making it the first Scotch to earn a Royal Warrant, and subsequently the moniker ‘The King’s Own Whisky’. Adhering to the traditional methods that earned it this regal accolade, Royal Brackla continues to produce single malts that do justice to its prestigious heritage.
What is it? A single Highland malt bottled at 40% ABV, and one that contributed to the creation of the first blended whisky in 1860. Royal Brackla whiskies were rumoured to be a favourite tipple of Queen Victoria, and this complex yet refined bottling is a fantastic example of why.
What is it? A fabulous expression, bottled at the distillery’s standard 40% ABV, and part of Royal Brackla’s initial single malts release in 2015. Replete with sherry sweetness thanks to being finished in Oloroso casks, it certainly earns its place as part of the Last Great Malts series!
What’s it like? Mid-amber in colour with good legs. Initially nutty on the nose, this is followed by soft, rounded baked apple and vanilla sponge aromas. The texture is similarly smooth, slightly sweet and a little acidic. There’s a slight drying quality on the finish, with hints of smoke and a pleasantly spicy aftertaste.
What’s it like? Rich amber in colour with a distinguishing ‘artists studio’ scent: oil paint and natural turpentine, slight acidity and sanded oak floorboards. On the palate the impact is subtler, building from light sweetness to mild spice towards the finish, with a vague smokiness too. Add water to mellow both scent and taste.
Royal Brackla 21 Year Old – 40% VOL | 70CL £180
What is it? Our oldest expression in the Royal Brackla range follows suit of the 12 and 16 Year Olds, being bottled at 40% ABV. This is a whisky typical of its origin – rich, big-bodied and unapologetic in colour, flavour and aroma - just as a Highland single malt should be. What’s it like? Deep amber, with luxuriously waxy aromas reminiscent of oiled teak, sweet root veg and recently extinguished Jack-o-lanterns. The sweetest of all three Royal Brackla malts, the signature tingle of spice and light smoke is nevertheless present. Water reduces the vegetal aromas, although some earthiness remains. We recommend enjoying it straight.
The Deveron 12 Year Old
The Deveron 18 Year Old
– 40% VOL | 70CL £40
– 40% VOL | 70CL £65
Formerly known as Glen Deveron, this Highland whisky shares a name with the river upon whose banks it stands. Designed to include a number of innovative features, The Macduff Distillery – where The Deveron is made - generated a great deal of industry interest upon going into production in 1960. By 1970 Glen Deveron 5 Year Old was the world’s third best-selling single malt. Following various merges and buy-outs, it was relaunched by John Dewar & Sons as The Deveron in 2013.
What is it? A 12 Year Old single malt that echoes the easy-drinking, broad appeal of its best-selling predecessor, the 1970s Glen Deveron 5 Year Old. Bottled at 40% ABV, this is a lighter, more herbaceous style of Highland malt that is pleasantly undemanding, making it a fantastic choice for any occasion.
What is it? The slightly longer maturation of this example from the Macduff Distillery gives it a wonderfully autumnal russet-gold colour. This belies the rich, characterful whisky inside – a big brother to the 12 Year Old in many ways, it is a fine example of modern Highland distilling.
What’s it like? A slightly waxy nose with a chalky, powdery background that eases into aromas of a dusty herb drawer. At full strength, this expression of The Deveron is predominantly and enduringly sweet, evoking butterscotch. The addition of water dries out the flavour slightly, giving the dram a bit more texture…
What’ s it like? The nose is rich with a certain mineral oiliness, which develops into a more aromatic profile conjuring fragrant woods and creamy fudge. On the palate, indulgent sweetness pervades with toffee apple, clotted cream and woody tobacco. Water increases the mineral oil scent, fills out the mouth-feel, and dries the finish.
Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old 70
AnCnoc 12 Year Old
– 46.3% | 70CL £39
– 46.3% | 70CL £42
Whether you’re in the market for an impressive gift, or something new to try yourself, who better to advise you than your fellow whisky drinkers? These are the whiskies that have received the ultimate endorsement – our customers returning to buy them, time and again…
A lightly peated expression – and perhaps the distillery’s most ubiquitous – which embodies Bunnahabhain’s signature ‘fruit and nut’ style. Known for producing subtler single malts than its Islay neighbours, Bunnahabhain takes its name from the Gaelic for ‘mouth of the river’ and capitalises on the abundance of fresh, local spring water. Lively sweetness with a touch of seaweed and malt on the nose lead on to a soft, supple palate. Coastal flavours lift nutty sherry, juicy fruit and light malt; the salty tang is most evident on the finish, accompanied by coffee and fresh herbs.
An intriguing and thoroughly modern whisky. Opened in 1984 and widely regarded as the embodiment of a ‘perfect’ modern distillery, Knockdhu is located on Speyside’s borders, but classed as a Highland distillery. This expression has something for everyone thanks to time in American oak, exbourbon and ex-sherry casks, which has lent it its gentle amber hue. Softly aromatic, there’s a touch of honey and some citrus zing to the foreground. To taste, sweetness and moreish fruitiness precede a lingering, smooth finish. At once light yet complex, smooth yet challenging, it is a delight from start to finish.
Customer Favourites Whether youâ€™re in the market for an impressive gift, or something new to try yourself, who better to advise you than your fellow whisky drinkers? These are the whiskies that have received the ultimate endorsement â€“ our customers returning to buy them, time and againâ€Ś
Old Pulteney 12 Year Old
GlenDronach 12 Year Old
Dalmore 12 Year Old
BenRiach 10 Year Old
– 40% | 70CL £42
– 40% | 70CL £45
– 40% | 70CL £48
– 43% | 70CL £40
The definitive expression of Old Pulteney, this multi awardwinning whisky is a fine flagship. The distillery is one of the most northerly on the Scottish mainland, and draws maritime inspiration from its coastal locale. Traditionally crafted, this single malt is matured in air-dried ex-bourbon casks. The resulting whisky is deep amber with a coppery glow. Aroma-wise, this whisky sits on the more intense end of the spectrum, with a characteristic briny sea-air quality. Dry on the palate, it is medium-bodied and smooth – think honey and cream – with a lightly salted spice and sweet, long finish.
Robustly sherried in archetypal GlenDronach style, this is the youngest core range expression from the extraordinary Speyside distillery. Founded in 1826, it soon set ablaze but rose from the ashes thanks to investors including Walter Scott and Charles Grant. Mothballed after Allied Distillers’ 1996 takeover, it was again resurrected by BenRiach in 2008! Rich cereals, extinguished wicks, dried fruit, caramel and Christmas spice open to gingery warmth and nutty creaminess on the nose. Fruit peel and raisin flavours continue the festivities, with a nod to buttered toast and preserves. On the finish, expect nut brittle and luscious toffee.
The Dalmore distillery was established in 1839 and has been in almost constant use since; as a result, they produce a huge and very desirable range of single malts. As is their classic practice, this whisky shows evidence of sherry maturation. Attractively perfumed, the nose offers sweet malt, thick-cut marmalade, sherry and a touch of leather. To drink, it is quite simply brilliant – full-bodied, with sweet sherry balanced by spice and delicate citrus. The finish is lengthy in the best way with spice, ginger, Seville orange and a suggestion of vanilla.
BenRiach has won the hearts of whisky drinkers the world over – and the title of 2015 Global Whisky Distiller of the Year! The distillery has been in production for over a century, and this particular expression is a significant milestone in BenRiach’s legacy, as it’s the first expression to be created predominantly from whiskies distilled onsite since Billy Walker took over in 2004. Fruity top notes layer over a vanilla sponge base on the nose, and this is translated to the palate with light acidity, peach and lemon zest. Creamy in texture, it boasts a long warming finish…
Glenfarclas 10 Year Old
Isle of Jura Superstition
– 40% | 70CL £45
– 43% | 70CL £42
Whether you’re in the market for an impressive gift, or something new to try yourself, who better to advise you than your fellow whisky drinkers? These are the whiskies that have received the ultimate endorsement – our customers returning to buy them, time and again…
A superb example from one of Scotland’s dwindling number of independently run distilleries. Purchased in1865 by John Grant, the Glenfarclas has been in the same family since, and they continue to produce exceptional single malts using time-honoured processes. Vibrant straw gold, this youthful number boasts sherry-sweet scents, coupled with a gentle smokiness and spice. Delicate and light on the palate, you’ll detect malt and smoke with a layer of sherry sweetness. Dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves are also apparent. The finish is long and smooth, with the smoky quality lingering on.
Emblazoned with an ancient Ankh cross – a symbol of good luck in Scotland’s Western Isles – this wild whisky has been created by Jura Distillery as an homage to the island’s intriguing heritage. A departure from Jura’s usual un-peated style, this expression comprises 13% heavily peated malts, mellowed over a 21 year maturation period in ex-bourbon casks. As a result, the nose yields light peat aromas along with toffee and honey. On the palate, smooth smoke, toffee and barley merge towards a medium-length finish with hints of salt and smoke.
Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask Batch 3
– 40% | 70CL £44
– 43.6% | 50CL £45
As profiled on p74, Aberfeldy Distillery’s 12 Year Old single malt is a flavourful yet refined dram that goes down a treat. So, it’s unsurprising that our customers can’t get enough of this Perthshire whisky! To recap: you’ll detect buttery toast with a hint of orange rind on the nose. On the palate a harmonious combination of sweetness and white pepper lead up to a wonderfully warming, dry finish. Add a splash of water to round out the finish and decrease the drying mouth-feel a little.
Experimental and utterly unique, THE LOCH FYNE The Living Cask produces liquid that’s a must-try for any Scotch drinker. As you’ll learn on p72, the Loch Fyne Whiskies experts marry malts in a ‘living vatting’, extracting one batch and topping up with a new, carefully chosen blend of single malts on regular occasion. This whisky represents the third such batch to be drawn from The Living Cask, and contains a beautiful mix of coastal, smokey Islay flavours with the fresh sweetness typical of Speyside malts.
Whisky Drink Stones
Hand-Cut Crystal Tumbler
Bottles, books, and accesories. There’s more to love about THE WHISKY SHOP than just great whiskies…
Ice, but not as we know it! Whisky stones offer another way to keep your drink cool, without impacting on the taste. Simply store your set of nine reusable, shiny hard stones in the freezer, ready to use again and again.
Glencairn Crystal’s beautiful hand-cut tumblers are a great alternative to the standard Glencairn crystal glass if you prefer to add a little ice or water to your whisky. They’re also brilliant for serving cocktails, and make a great gift for any whisky fan!
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible
Charles MacLean's Whiskypedia
Now in its 13th year, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible retains its position as the world’s leading whisky guide. Each edition details around 4500 whiskies from the world’s most famous brands, to more obscure drams. Each one is profiled with easy-to-understand tasting notes and ratings from one of the industry’s most revered experts.
If you just can’t get enough of Charles MacLean’s unique approach to whisky, this is the book for you. A perfect gift for Scotch enthusiasts, it details the complex influences that determine the characteristics of our favourite tipple. Going beyond age, region and terroir, Charles shares his encyclopaedic knowledge of Scotland’s signature spirit in incredible and impressive detail, distillery by distillery.
“Whisky’s finest guru” The Sunday Times
“The ultimate guide to Scotch whisky by a renowned expert” Scots Magazine
“Charles MacLean writes like no other expert on the subject. His prose is informed and highly entertaining” Independent
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In pursuit of fresh Spring cocktails we visit Tabac – a new venture from the people behind Glasgow’s first and only bourbon bar… —
Mixing It Up |
Photography: Christina Kernohan Assistant: Alix McIntosh
Tabac Location: Mitchell Lane, Glasgow City Centre Founded: 2015 Mixologist: Will a
Opened in 1991 as ‘Glasgow’s first style bar’, Bar Ten, this impressive watering-hole was designed by eminent British architect and visionary behind Manchester’s famous Haçienda nightclub, Ben Kelly.
a Today it defines the term hidden gem as a destination that effortlessly marries sleek design with Glasgow’s legendary underground vibe. a
An enviable array of bottles adorn Ben Kelly’s original stainless-steel bar- back; from worldwide whiskies to a mind-boggling selection of tequila, this bar has all the right ingredients for mixing it up.
a Tabac is open from 11am–12am Monday–Saturday and 12pm–12am Sunday.
Rob Roy 25ml Finlandia vodka 50ml Aberlour10 Year Old 25ml Punt e Mes vermouth 4 dashes orange bitters
a Serve in a chilled Martini glass
The Wilfred 50ml Tapatio Tequila 25ml Aperol 25ml Punt e Mes vermouth
a Serve over crushed ice, with a basil leaf. to garnish
Whisky Sour 50ml Jack Danielâ€™s Juice of 1 whole lemon 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 50ml gomme syrup
a Serve in a tumbler with orange slice and cherry to garnish.
Boulevardier 25ml Markerâ€™s Mark 25ml Campari 25ml Punt e Mes vermouth
a Serve in a coupĂŠ with a cherry to garnish.
El Matador 50ml Tapatio Tequila Juice of 1 whole lime 12.5ml Monin Hibiscus Syrup 3 dashes Kafir Lime tincture
a Serve over crushed ice in a tumbler rimmed with citrus salt. Garnish with edible flowers.
Expert Tasting… Charles MacLean —
Illustration: Fran Waddell
Macallan 25 Year Old SINGLE SPEYSIDE MALT 44.8% VOL
Mid-gold. I guess this is from an American oak refill cask, and the whisky’s scented fruitiness would support this. A mild nose; pear liqueur, apple tart, faded ladies’ perfume after a while, a trace of sandalwood. The taste is sweet and perfumed – ‘elegant’ comes to mind, even ‘exquisite’ – with a long warming finish. It does not require water.
Bowmore 23 Year Old SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT 51.8% VOL
Deep amber, with copper lights and good beading. Spanish oak ex-sherry cask. A mellow nose-feel with toasted malt, walnuts and macerated dried fruits in the foreground, backed by faint maritime notes and a hint of dried lavender. The taste starts sweet, infused with lavender, and dries considerably in the slightly smoky finish, with a warming aftertaste.
J Both these malts are released under Hunter Laing’s Platinum Old & Rare label, which their website defines as “the rarest and most remarkable single malts available today… So remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition”. Each expression is bottled from a single cask – so is by definition a limited edition – at natural/cask strength and without tinting or chill-filtration [see Braeval, p32]. All are presented in distinctive squat bottles and in wooden boxes. Since the series was launched it has included some magnificent whiskies, all of which are today sought by collectors. Over the years the series has featured several bottlings of The Macallan at a range of ages between 20 and 33. This is a beautifully perfumed example. Bowmore made an appearance as a 21 Year Old some time ago, and now appears as a 23 Year Old. These are two highly distinguished whiskies.
the company’s entire promotional budget was £50! There is no better example of just how recent is the renaissance of malt whisky! It took off like a rocket, receiving huge plaudits in the press; the late, great whisky writer, Michael Jackson, described it as “the Rolls Royce of whiskies” and the best-selling novelist, Kingsley Amis, was a passionate devotee (and received a case of his favourite whisky every time he mentioned it in print!). Within four years The Macallan stood number three in Scotland and number five in the world, winning the Queen’s Award for Export Achievements in 1983 and 1988. It continues to flourish and consistently achieves the highest prices at auction – currently $628,000 for a six litre bottle (one of only four) sold for charity in Hong Kong in January 2014.
J the macallan Distillery was among the earliest to take out a license on Speyside, in 1824. Until the 1890s it was known as ‘Elchies Distillery’, named after the noble tower house of Easter Elchies which stands on the site, high above the River Spey and the famous Craigellachie Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford, ‘The Father of Civil Engineering’, and built in 1817. The site of the bridge was one of the few ferry points over the Spey, much used by cattle drovers, who, it is said, enjoyed a dram or two of illicit whisky made at Easter Elchies during the 18th Century. Both the house and the early distillery were owned by the Earl of Seafield; the latter was bought by the distilling tenant in 1886 who then sold it to Roderick Kemp in 1892, who rebuilt it – the early buildings were wooden – and re-named it Macallan-Glenlivet. Kemp and his descendants, who owned Macallan until 1996, won an enviable reputation for the malt: it was ranked Top Class by blenders, and all but a tiny amount went for blending. Indeed, the directors of the company bottled only fifteen butts a year, and even these bottlings were released by their licensed agents, Gordon & MacPhail and Campbell, Hope & King in Elgin. Occasional further casks were bottled by licensed grocers. This may come as a surprise to readers, since The Macallan is now a household name - the third best selling malt in the world and a true global brand – but the owners only began to promote the malt as a single in 1980. In 1978,
“The late, great whisky writer, Michael Jackson, described it as ‘the Rolls Royce of whiskies’ and the best-selling novelist, Kingsley Amis, was a passionate devotee” J bowmore is the oldest licensed distillery on Islay, and one of the oldest in Scotland – if not the oldest. The date ascribed to its foundation by its owners is 1779, but I believe it may have been established a decade earlier, when the model village of Bowmore was founded and built by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield. Daniel Campbell’s father, another Daniel, had been M.P. for the City of Glasgow and had voted in favour of a Malt Tax in 1725, as a result of which the Glasgow mob looted his house and broke all its windows. The government of the day paid him £9,000 in compensation, and with this he bought the island of Islay. David Simson was brought over from the nearby village of Bridgend to build the distillery, and he was succeeded as licensee by his relation, Hector Simson, who sold to James and William Mutter, Glasgow merchants of 99
“In 1841, the ‘new’ laird received an order from Windsor Castle to supply ‘a cask of your best Islay Mountain Dew’ for the use of the Royal Household ” German extraction, who expanded the distillery and developed the whisky’s reputation. In 1841, the ‘new’ laird, Walter Frederick Campbell, received an order from Windsor Castle to supply ‘a cask of your best Islay Mountain Dew’ for the use of the Royal Household – cask size and price of no concern, ‘but the very best that can be had’. The order was renewed two years later. The Mutter brothers owned a steamship to carry casks up to Glasgow, where they were stored under the arches of Glasgow Central Station (until recently a large night-club). Unusually for the time, Bowmore was sold as a single malt in the 1890s as well as going into blended Scotch: a bottle engraved ‘W. & J. Mutter 1890’ achieved £13,000 in 2001, while another, allegedly from 1851, fetched £25,000 in 2007. Bowmore is one of only nine distilleries with its own traditional maltings, producing around 30% of its requirement, the rest coming from an independent maltsters on the mainland. Local peat is burned in the malt kiln and contributes to the unique style of the spirit. In 1963 the distillery was bought by Glasgow whisky broker, Stanley P. Morrison, for £117,000 – he set about modernising and expanding the site, including the introduction of an innovative heat-recovery system, which was estimated to save the company slightly over £100K per annum when it was introduced in 1983. Hot water from the condensers pre-heated the wash, heated the malt kiln and warmed the water for the local public swimming pool within a former bonded warehouse which had been donated to the community by Morrison Bowmore the same year. The major Japanese distiller, Suntory, took a 34% share of the company in 1989 and became outright owner in 1994; in 2014 Suntory merged with the American distiller Beam Inc .
Whisky idol Charles MacLean stars for our spring cover feature. Gavin Smith visits GlenDronach Distillery, Claire Bell travels to Ila De Moz...
Published on Mar 3, 2016
Whisky idol Charles MacLean stars for our spring cover feature. Gavin Smith visits GlenDronach Distillery, Claire Bell travels to Ila De Moz...