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Summer 2015 £3.49 where sold

The Big Time FITNESS COACH, ACTOR AND MODEL CRAIG MCGINL AY ON BREAKING THROUGH

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MY CRAFT

FOCUS ON B OW M OR E

J UST D ESERT ?

I N D EP EN D EN T B OT T L ER ST EWA RT L A I N G

ON E OF SC OT L AN D' S OLD EST D I ST I LLER I ES

EXPLOR I N G T H E D ESERT PL AI N S OF N AM I B I A

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200 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF LAPHROAIG

Established in 1815, this year sees the 200th anniversary of Laphroaig® Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. To commemorate this landmark celebration, Laphroaig is proud to announce a very special and limited release of Laphroaig 15 Year Old. A long revered expression in the Laphroaig range, Laphroaig 15 Year Old was originally launched more than 30 years ago, with a lower level of peat and a higher bottling strength of 43% all combining to give the whisky a mellow, rounded taste, its briny orchard fruits adding bite and depth, the overall feel rich and smoky. Laphroaig Distillery Manager John

Campbell decided to re-release this product, one of his long-time favourites, in celebration of Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary. Beautifully made, Laphroaig 15 Year Old pays homage to the original edition, answering the call for its return by many a long term friend, while at the same time introducing new fans of Laphroaig to a whisky that they have yet to taste.

Laphroaig has been dividing opinions for 200 years, always garnering strong and interesting points of view through the years. Some of these varying opinions are featured in videos as part of the Laphroaig Opinions Welcome campaign, which can be viewed at www.laphroaig.com/opinions.

This summer also welcomes the launch of ‘200 Opinions Wanted’ A competition to celebrate the very best Laphroaig opinions from around the world. Two-hundred of the most unique opinions will be displayed as individual tiles on the distillery wall and the authors of the very best of them will be rewarded with a trip to Islay to attend “Laphroaig Live,” a global whisky event held at the historic Laphroaig Distillery for the first time in nine years. To enter visit www.laphroaig.com/opinions, complete promotional code WHA005 and share your opinion. (Ts & Cs apply).


BRIAN PALMER

LAPHROAIG.COM/OPINIONS


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A S I S E E I T…

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

First I welcome you all back to this summer edition of Whiskeria. With Father’s Day kicking off the summer season, we concentrate on gifting in our shop section. A gift of a superb malt is an excellent idea, because there are so many individual and special whiskies to choose from. So you would think that selecting a whisky gift would be an easy thing for the gift buyer to accomplish. The opposite is true. Across our stores in the UK we meet and greet as many as 3 million shoppers every year and a high proportion of them are gift buyers. Very many of these shoppers feel that they lack special knowledge of the product and they worry that they might choose the wrong thing. They need our help. I find it curious that when you compare a whisky gift to almost any other gift that you might want to buy for a friend or relative, the whisky purchaser feels under pressure. Some years back one of the major distillers did an extensive consumer survey into Scotch whisky and discovered that, quite unlike any other spirit beverage, the consumer carries a concern that there are strict rules attached to whisky – that must be obeyed. I blame the Scots for this! I say this because when the Scottish nation are proud of something, they are never shy about telling you all about it. With whisky, that has been the case for generations and consequently there is a lot of ‘stuff’ out there. Here’s another example. Scotland is very proud of the fact that the Scottish banks retain the right to print Scottish paper currency. In the rest of the UK, however, Scottish pound notes are largely unrecognised. Any Scot who has attempted to pay for a round of drinks in a London pub with a Bank of Scotland £20 note will tell you that they are as popular as… Now occasionally, a visitor to Scotland will pick up the local currency and find themselves back south of the border attempting to use it. When that happens, the cashier predictably objects. Invariably, a Scot will appear out of nowhere and will quote the mantra that every Scot quotes at such a time. He or she will cough gently and say “I think that you will find that these are legal tender.” The incredible fact of the matter is that they are not legal tender, but the Scots have perpetuated this myth!

This leads me to the second unique facet of Scotch whisky, which is that, quite unlike any other spirit beverage, Scotch has attracted a disproportionate number of myths. These myths, ranging from ‘you cannot add water’ to ‘blends are bad and malts are good’, are the work of the Scots – again proud of their product and keen to impart information, but sadly the wrong information.

“Where the Scots leave off the zealots begin!”

All of this adds baggage to what is in reality a simple proposition. And it gets worse, because where the Scots leave off the zealots begin! The zealots are the whisky ‘experts’ who, like wine buffs, have made an art form out of sounding intelligent and knowledgeable about the product, especially when it comes to tasting. And in their wake they leave scores of honest and conscientious people feeling inadequate. So when a non-whisky drinker enters a whisky shop, he or she feels under the same sort of pressure that they would upon entering an up market art gallery in Dover Street. And indeed, some whisky shops behave as if they are up market galleries – especially those who choose to have a desk with someone sitting behind it on the shop floor! I kid you not. These are the peculiarities that have inspired us to adopt the signature line ‘unlocking the mystery of whisky’. This is not casual marketing speak, but it is core to our beliefs and dictates how we set up our stores and how we treat our customers. When shoppers visit our stores they are made to feel at ease, they are welcome to linger and browse and on no account do they gain the impression that they are being confronted by expertise that they cannot possibly possess. We guide and explain in simple language and we steer both the non-whisky drinker and the enthusiast to a safe choice of purchase. With 22 shops across the UK our practical advice is accessible. For those who prefer to shop online, our web site prominently displays that you are only a phone call away from one of our staff who will be happy to help.

CHAIRMAN'S P L AY L I ST » » » » »

Canon in D Major | Pachelbel Brandenburg Concerto No.3 | JS Bach Nocturne No.2 in E Flat Major | Chopin Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo | Mascagni Piano Sonata No.8 'Pathetique' | Beethoven


WHISKERIA SUMMER 2015

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Competition

Win! A blending masterclass with Brian Kinsman The Whisky Shop has teamed up with William Grant & Sons to offer you a very exclusive, once in a lifetime prize. We are offering one lucky winner (plus guest) the chance to win a private blending master class with William Grant & Sons Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. Brian Kinsman is the sixth Malt Master and has over 18 years’ experience, selecting and creating some of William Grant & Sons’ biggest and best loved whiskies, including Glenfiddich and the Grant’s blends. This will be a fantastic experience for any whisky lover, and a unique opportunity to learn about the art of blending from the Malt Master himself. To be in with a chance of winning this wonderful prize, just answer this simple question: Q: What year did Sandy Grant Gordon, great grandson of William Grant take single malt whisky to the world? and email your answer to: competition@whiskyshop.com T&Cs The winner will be selected from all entries received by 31st July 2015. The judge’s decision will be final. All normal competition rules apply. Entrants must be over 18 years old. Date to be mutually agreed, excluding Christmas and New Year. Prize must be claimed within 12 months.

–– –– Produced by: Ascot Publishing Limited PO Box 7415 Glasgow G51 9BR –– Contact: enquiries@whiskyshop.com

–– Commissioning Editor: GlenKeir Whiskies Limited –– Executive Producer: Imogen Bankier imogen@whiskyshop.com 0141 429 2919 –– Managing Director: Andrew Torrance 0141 427 2919 –– Advertising Sales Executive: Catherine Service 0141 427 2919 –– Photography: Subliminal Creative 01236 734923

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

–– 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 May 2015. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change.


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CONTRIBUTORS


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

{Summer 2015} Contributors Charles MacLean

Brian Wilson

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

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

Claire Bell Claire Bell has written on travel for Time magazine, The Herald, The Times, The Guardian and Wanderlust. She lives in Glasgow where she runs The Old BarnBookery, a book charity that helps build libraries in disadvantaged schools in her native South Africa. On her recent trip to Islay she fell in love with Laphroaig 18 Year Old, describing it as light and delicious compared to ‘the insanely smoky’ 10 Year Old.

Gavin D. Smith

Victor Brierley

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

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

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

UNLOCK THE SECRETS

www.benriachdistillery.co.uk


The

Sherry Cask connoisseurs

www.glendronachdistillery.co.uk

WE ONLY PUT OUR NAME ON THE WORLD’S FINEST SHERRY CASKS.

The GlenDronach - Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Pioneers of sherry cask maturation since 1826 www.glendronachdistillery.co.uk

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


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CONTENTS

{Summer 2015} Contents

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A TIME IN HISTORY THE KNOWLEDGE MY CRAFT NEW RELEASES

Patagonia World News Stewart Laing Summer Reviews

42 M Y W H I S K E R I A Cover Feature:

Actor and Model Craig McGinlay

52 T R A V E L

Namibia

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57 T H E WH I SK Y SH O P : 58 Glendronach 62 Auchentoshan 64 Dalmore 66 Glenfarclas 68 Suntory 72 Let's make it Personal - Engrave your gift 74 Independence Day Specials 76 Last of the Summer Gin 78 Customer Favourites 82 Mixing it Up 84 The Directory

86 D I STI LLER Y VI SI T 92 EX P ERT TAST I NG 96 O N T H E OT H ER H A ND

Bowmore Auchentoshan & Bowmore Simply the best?

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A TIME IN HISTORY

A time in history:

Patagonia Brian Wilson | Patagonia – it’s an intriguing name, which conjures up a sense of mystery and remoteness. Descriptions like “the world’s last great wilderness” and “the end of the earth” convey an image of sparse population and inaccessibility. All of this is partly true. But Patagonia – not a country, but a region which straddles the southern ends of Argentina and Chile – is gradually making a larger impression on the global tourism map as geographic extremity becomes a more marketable commodity. Cruise ships glide in and out of the many ports around the coastline. Patagonia has just about everything that nature can bequeath including not only two great icescapes but also the world’s seventh largest desert and some of the most spectacular rainforest on the planet. On the Argentinian coast, the Perito Moreno glacier is one of the few in the world which is expanding rather than contracting. Nobody quite understands why. But at least it relieves the consciences of environmentally-aware tourists who sign up for trekking tours on ice. Star attraction of Chilean Patagonia is the Torres del Paine National Park, lying between the Andes and the Patagonia steppes. It covers 180,000 hectares of breathtaking scenery and a vast array of flora and fauna. Increasingly, as tourism develops, the basic accommodation of the past is giving way to comfortable hotels. Punta Arenas, the capital of the Chilean Patagonia region is just 150 miles away. But in this long, thin strip of a country, the national capital, Santiago, lies a good 2000 miles to the north. Small wonder that Patagonia has developed very differently from the rest of the country and retained its distinctive character and cuisine. In such a land of glaciers, mountains and vast sheep-farming estancias, it is hardly surprising that there is a population density of just one person per two square kilometres. The forces of modern history have ensured that the presentday population has been blended from a wide array of origins, many of them European. Few of these ingredients are more ubiquitous than the Scottish connection, particularly on the Chilean side of the border. In

early decades of the last century, thousands of Scottish migrants – particularly from the Highlands and Islands – were drawn to Patagonia through advertisements offering work on the vast sheepfarms. Their names live on to this day. The poverty-stricken Outer Hebrides of the post First World War years was a prolific supplier of labour to Patagonia. In the early years of the century, the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego, then the biggest sheep-farming enterprise in the world, had started to recruit from the agricultural communities of rural Scotland. As tends to happen in migrant pathways, those who had blazed the trail sent home word about the availability of work and conditions. The reports must have been sufficiently positive to encourage many others to follow. From the Isle of Lewis alone, more than 200 men made the epic journey to the furthermost tip of Latin America on the promise of work. Most of them stayed. Greta Mackenzie, a Lewis woman whose father was one of the Patagonia shepherds who returned to his native island, has written extensively on that migration. She contrasted the present day ease of air travel with the tortuous route which confronted the emigrants from the island villages of her own parents’ generation. “From Uig, Carloway, Ness or wherever, they walked to Stornoway in order to board the ‘Sheila’ or the ‘Loch Ness’ for passage to Kyle of Lochalsh; from there they travelled by train to Glasgow, then south to Liverpool or Southampton where they boarded the steamship which took upward of 30 days to reach Buenos Aires”. From there, the vessel would head south along the Argentine coast with representatives of the sheep companies meeting the new arrivals along the way. Then it was on by horse-drawn wagon, sometimes a two day journey, to their estancia’s headquarters. After a brief rest, each was dispatched to his lonely shack on the


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

pampa, 15 or 20 miles from the nearest neighbour. At dipping and shearing, all the sheep were gathered in to the estancia headquarters and the shepherds converged with them. Greta wrote: “Often, the streets of Comodoro Rivadivia, Puerto Deseado, San Julian, Rio Gallegos and Punta Arenas rang out with the high-spirited rendering of Gaelic song when the boys arrived to load the wool on to waiting ships”. The name Patagonia was bestowed by Ferdinand Magellan who did the first proper survey in 1520 and might have named it after a ferocious fictional character of the time. When explorers from Europe first alighted upon the region, they were struck by the height of the population which led to a Euro-myth growing up that this was a land of giants. This was not seriously debunked until 1773 when the Admiralty published accounts of expeditions by more level-headed British explorers who had reported back that the men of Patagonia were no more than six and a half feet tall – still pretty big by European standards, but scarcely giants. Unfortunately, there is little trace left of these indigenous people. The introduction of sheep into Patagonia began in the 19th century and owed its origins to British farmers in the Falkland Islands, which had been reclaimed in 1833, extending their operations onto the southern mainland, 300 miles away. However, it was the Spanish colonialists who soon turned sheep into big business and dealt ruthlessly with the natives who got in their way. The indigenous people were used to hunting the guanaco, the rhea and other creatures for food. Not unreasonably, they failed to see why sheep should be treated differently and had difficulty with the concept of private property. The estancia owners started to use armed guards to protect their investments. The opposition was soon wiped out. Several of my wife’s relations, from the Uig area of Lewis,

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were among the 1920s emigrants to Patagonia. Mainly, they ended up in Chile. There was a general awareness at both ends of this history but, for obvious reasons, not a lot of contact. An uncle returned in the 1970s to Lewis after a 50 year absence, hated it because there wasn’t enough open space and went back to die in Chile. But Facebook and Skype have changed all that and there is now a great deal of regular contact – at least as big a revolution in the cause of bringing people together as the advances in transportation, and much more affordable! Of course, once the links are re-established, the idea of travel to explore these connections becomes more attractive. The photographs for this feature were taken by Mirko Vukasovic Morrison. His grandfather and my wife’s mother were cousins and his mother married a Croatian of whom there are also many around Punta Arenas, the biggest town in Chilean Patagonia. Mirko effortlessly switches between his three national identities. People rarely travel thousands of miles to establish a new home because they want to rather than out of economic necessity and lack of work. Typically, once they have settled, they become very loyal to their new country while seeking to maintain connections with the place from which they came. Patagonia in the early 20th century became just such a melting pot and the residue of that era persists strongly today. For thousands of Scots, the reasons for visiting Patagonia extend beyond the glaciers and rainforests to a deeply personal interest in understanding more about this distant place that their forebears were cast down in and which became their home.


ENJOYED 2014

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

WWW.GLENGLASSAUGH.COM


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THE KNOWLEDGE

KNOWLEDGE BAR: WORLD NEWS

USA

SCOTLAND

KENTUCKY CRIME RING

ROYAL APPOINTMENT

In Kentucky nine people have been charged with engaging in organised crime and being part of a syndicate dealing in stolen Bourbon and anabolic steroids. Three of those charged worked at the distilleries targeted, including Gilbert Curtsinger who worked at Buffalo Trace and was described as the group’s leader. Another defendant also worked at Buffalo Trace while a third worked at the Wild Turkey distillery. Over a seven year period, the crime ring is believed to have stolen vast amounts of Bourbon with the recovered whiskey alone said to be worth at least $100,000, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and included both bottles and barrels. One recovered barrel contained 17-year-old Eagle Rare Bourbon valued at $11,000 to $12,000. Stolen barrels were stashed by the gang until customers were found.

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay have opened Scotland’s first single estate distillery in Ballindalloch in Speyside. The distillery crafts whisky using barley grown on the estate and water sourced from the same land, only outsourcing yeast. Distillation began towards the end of last year with the first bottling of Ballindalloch Scotch due to take place in the next eight to 10 years. The Duke and Duchess spent over an hour at the distillery, during which they unveiled the site’s commemorative plaque and fitted bungs into two casks, the whisky from which will be bottled in 10 years’ time with the proceeds from future sales going toward charities chosen by the Duke and Duchess.


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WORLD WHISKY MARKETS

KAVALAN – KING OF SINGLE MALTS

ANOTHER DROP

Taiwanese whisky brand, Kavalan, has beaten off competition from around the world to be named best single malt at the 2015 whisky awards. Produced at the King Car distillery in Yilan, Kavalan’s “Solist Vinho Barrique” triumphed against single malts from Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, France, South Africa, Australia and France, many of which also won awards in various categories. With tasting notes including “fruit cake”, “big clove, chilli and dry cinnamon” and even “custard creams” (when water was added), “Whisky Bible” author Jim Murray, commented: “Good whisky is, without question, a work of art; great whisky is a tone poem. And here, I beg to insist, is proof.”

Weaker economic conditions and political volatility in some markets saw the value of Scotch whisky exports decline 7% to £3.95 billion in 2014 from £4.26bn the previous year, according to newly published figures. S:

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W H IS KY

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EUROPE

FREE TRADE CALL TO EU The Scotch Whisky Association has called on the European Union and the future UK government, no matter the political complexion, to continue to press the case for more open markets, and to pursue ambitious Free Trade Agreements to promote exports. The Scotch Whisky Association pointed to existing FTAs, such as the EU agreement with South Korea, which have boosted growth and to the huge potential of agreements with countries including India, the USA and Vietnam.

SOUTH AFRICA

CAN THE CLAN The long arm of the law has reached small distiller, Centurion in South Africa, who have been producing a local whiskey labelled ‘Clan Whisky’, because the image of the product suggests that it is Scotch when in fact it is distilled in South Africa. Whisky watchdog, the Scotch Whisky Association, successfully sued Centurion company, for using the word ‘Clan’ in large letters and for depicting on the label a man in traditional Scottish Highland dress, wearing a tartan kilt and standing against a rural background that could be the Scottish Highlands.

INNOVATION

JOHNNIE BOLDLY GOING… Diageo’s Johnnie Walker blended Scotch whisky brand has launched ‘The Boldest Glass’, a new innovation that has married the latest innovations in technology and sensory science, with the overall aim of promoting its Johnnie Walker Red Label and ginger ale serve. ‘The Boldest Glass’ works through the use of bone conduction technology. Tiny vibrations are transmitted from the glass, through the lower jaw and directly to the drinker’s inner ear, allowing them to hear bespoke audio to enhance the brain’s perception of the bold and fiery flavours of Johnnie Walker Red Label and ginger ale.

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MY CRAFT

{My Craft} Founder – Hunter Laing & Co

Stewart Laing


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Stewart Laing is the founder of independent bottlers, Hunter Laing & Co, based in Glasgow. Hunter Laing & Co provide The Whisky Shop with a superb range of single cask malt whiskies under the labels, Old Malt Cask, Platinum Old & Rare and Douglas of Drumlanrig. Maintaining such consistent quality is a notable skill and we caught up with the man behind it all.

What is a single cask bottling and how does it differ from mainstream single malts? When the distiller of a mainstream brand goes into production he empties as many as 500 barrels in one batch and in the end of the day he looks to achieve a product that has a consistent taste no matter when it was bottled. In fact every cask is different, but in large batch production all of these differences are smoothed out. Each cask has an individual taste profile governed by how old the barrel is, where within the warehouse it has been stored and how the wood and the alcohol have interacted over the course of the maturation period. These differences range from being very slight to being remarkable.

What’s the history of Hunter Laing? Hunter Laing emerged from an existing business called Douglas Laing & Co that my father established in 1947 having come out of the air force after the war. I worked this business with my brother, but as our families each grew up and wanted to join the business, we thought it a good idea to make a split. I am now proud to have my two sons working along with me in Hunter Laing.

What else? Well, when we bottle up a single cask we seek to interfere with the whisky as little as possible. We do not add any colouring and we do not chill filter. Chill filtering is the method of removing from the whisky all of the things that prevent it from being crystal clear in the bottle even at cold temperatures. In some cases we bottle the whisky at cask strength –our Platinum Old & Rare range – and in others we reduce the strength slightly to 50% abv. Our aim is to try and give the drinker everything the whisky has to offer.

How did it all start for you? When I was in my late teens in 1963, I spent a glorious summer on the west coast island of Islay working in the Bruichladdich Distillery. I just loved it and caught the bug. I then did a commercial apprenticeship at Ballantine’s Whisky in Dumbarton. On that site, Ballantine’s had a malt distillery, a grain distillery, a blending house and a bottling hall – practically everything you need to see to understand the trade. If you hadn’t gone into the whisky industry what do you think you might have done? When I was young I was a keen footballer and would have liked to have given that a shot. I remember being a ball boy at Hampden (the Scottish national stadium) and being on the side lines of some notorious games. How has the business got to where it is today? Our traditional skill is blending Scotch whisky and the first half of my career was occupied by exporting Scotch blend to the markets of the Far East and South East Asia. But in the 1990s the markets began to change and we saw a niche opportunity in speciality single malt bottlings. Single malts were gaining ground in the UK and France and there was an opportunity to bring to the consumer something a little different. Also we had a very varied stock holding that could support such a business.

What about strength, why do you choose to reduce to 50% abv? We think that there is an optimal strength at which most single malt whiskies should be enjoyed. Of course, the strength, by law, cannot be lower than 40%, but quite a number of whiskies can be over 60% abv when we bring them into production. Personally, I don’t believe that we are doing the consumer any favours by offering them high strength whiskies that really have to be diluted, especially with the modern quality of tap water. Our Old Malt Cask range is intended for drinking rather than collecting (although many of them are collectable nonetheless) and that is why we supply them all at a standard 50%abv. But we do bottle the Platinum range at cask strength, because these are our oldest and rarest whiskies and a collectors market prefers to receive them that way.

» Check out Hunter Laing & Co's exclusive bottlings at: www.whiskyshop.com/ single-malt-scotch-whisky/single-maltcollections/limited-editions


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MY CRAFT

'Quality is synonymous with quality'

Clearly, the cask is important, is there such a thing as a bad cask? Yes most definitely. It will be flat and woody, although not undrinkable. I guess you would say that our ‘craft’ is in selecting the right cask. What makes a cask stand out for you, is it age or make or what? It could be any of these factors. Certain distillers are renowned for the quality of the whisky they distil but we will want to know the story of where that cask has been kept, what kind of wood it is and how many years the cask has been in production. You see, casks are used over and over again and eventually they become tired. The age of the whisky is an important dynamic, but it will not be the deciding factor. Basically we are concentrating on quality. Our mantra is ‘quality is synonymous with quality’. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start drinking malt whiskies? I would say start anywhere. You will know very soon if you are going to take to the whisky taste. And if you do, you will soon want to try something else and before you know it you will have covered the range of styles. I encounter people whose first single malt is something like full blooded Ardbeg and they like it! How do you drink your whisky and what kind do you like? I drink it neat with no ice or water and I guess my palate has become used to receiving it that way. I have absolutely no objection to anyone wishing to add water or ice and as I said earlier, water is mandatory, in my view if the strength is high, because all you will taste is alcohol. My preference is the Islay and west coast taste, but I am perfectly happy with a Highland whisky. Thinking back when you started off in business, is there anything that you know now that would have helped or changed anything? I don’t think I would have changed my career, but in terms of the business, I should have invested more in maturing stock. Many of the collectable makes are getting very hard to find nowadays. I also would have made a more concerted effort to buy a distillery for the business.

KNOWLEDGE BAR: TOP 5 PICKS

Darren gives us his current top 5 Hunter Laing picks: » Douglas Of Drumlanrig Laphroaig 15 year old » Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 18 year old » Old Malt Cask Glen Garioch 21 year old » Platinum Old and Rare Mortlach 22 year old » Sovereign Grain Cambus 50 year old Darren Leitch is The Whisky Shop's National Retail Manager


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NEW RELEASES

New releases –Summer 2015 » Charles MacLean runs the rule over the latest products to hit The Whisky Shop shelves.


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Walker & Sons » John Private Collection No.2 2015 Edition

– LIMITED EDITION BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY | 4 6.8%VO L | £515 For many years, Dr. Jim Beveridge, Master Blender of the Johnnie Walker range, and his team have created annual, very limited, one-off blends under the Johnnie Walker brand for the directors of the company. Now Diageo have decided to apply the same principle to an exclusive annual release, The Private Collection, of which this is the second. Each edition will showcase aspects of Johnnie Walker’s DNA – richness, sweetness, fruitiness, smokiness. The launch expression last year, explored ‘smokiness’: the current one explores, in particular, ‘fruitiness’. 29 casks of malt and grain whisky have gone into this edition, yielding 8,888 bottles only. Each cask is a vatting of whiskies of different ages and from different types of cask (active ex-sherry and ex-bourbon) from a single distillery, or a number of distilleries. The individual casks are then re-racked into an exhausted cask to marry, sometimes for many years. It’s a complex business. Each region brings its own distinctive fruity character to the blend. I was privileged to taste some of the component vattings with Jim: Speyside vatting: over-ripe tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, pawpaw); acidic freshness (Opal Fruits). Traces of sandalwood, almonds, coconut. The taste is sweet, fresh and exotic: essentially light, lightly acidic. West Highland (Oban vatting): boiled apples for jam, a trace of lemon, warm sand: deeper that Speyside, and more oily with water. Taste is sweet, lightly acidic, slightly salty. Lowland (Glenkinchie 23 years in cask; mainly exAsbach brandy): summer fruit pudding, red currants; rich for Glenkinchie, a trace of toffee. These are opened with water, with hops added. Good texture, smooth, light sweetness, slightly spicy aftertaste. Highland (Glen Ord? Dalwhinnie?): closed to start, then brown apples, with fresh acidic edge. Apple crumble – deeper and richer – buttery, caramelized orange peel. V. subtle smoke with water. Rich, sweet and buttery to taste, with light smoke in the finish.

Jim joined the company in 1979. His original task was to trace the origins of malt and grain whisky spirit character – to study how the distilling process, and (particularly) maturation, affected the flavour of the mature whisky. He devoted years to studying distillation and maturation, travelling around the distilleries and warehouses of Scotland, and spending countless hours with samples in his lab. His work and discoveries were truly pioneering, and have provided guidelines for the skilled craftspeople responsible for making maturing and blending Diageo’s whiskies. The understanding he gained from these years of study have provided Jim with the deep understanding required to create the John Walker & Sons Collection of rare Scotch whiskies. As Jim says: “The attraction of such a limited edition is that I can choose casks without worrying about sustainability: I have complete freedom in the casks I choose, since I don’t have to ensure there are sufficient stocks to repeat the blend again and again”. And since Diageo hold the largest stocks of mature whisky in the world from around 35 distilleries (including closed distilleries) – he is spoiled for choice!

Tasting Note Deep amber in colour, the aroma is of rich dense fruit, with an overall impression of soft toffee or nougat. A hint of smoke, and later lightly mineralic. More waxy with water: a balance of rich age and acidic freshness – the latter increasing with water. A luxurious mouthfeel: smooth and rich. A sweet overall taste, with light salt, some spice (‘Cambodian curry’) and a thread of smoke. A long, lingering, fruity finish.


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Tasting Note Pale gold with tawny lights – a mix of American and European oak refill casks. The top note is lemony, on a light linseed oil and base, with waxy baked apple in the middle. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, with light, crisp acidity. I was reminded of lemon meringue pie. Fresh overall.

Kininvie Batch 3 23 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 42.6%VOL (35CL) | £120 The little booklet which accompanies Kininvie’s stylish packaging describes the distillery as: “…nestled in the Conval Hills of Dufftown.” It’s tucked in behind Balvenie Distillery on William Grant’s extensive site on the edge of Dufftown, which is also home to their Glenfiddich Distillery. It holds three wash stills and three spirit stills; the rest of the equipment – a large, full-lauter mash tun and ten Douglas fir washbacks – is housed within Balvenie Distillery. Kininvie is a state-of-the-art, fully automated modern distillery, opened by Janet Sheed Roberts, William Grant’s grand-daughter, on 26th June 1990, and capable of 4.8 Million litres of spirit a year. Kininvie was built to supply malt fillings for William Grant’s blends and it traded with other blenders under the name Aldunie. As a result very little has been bottled as single malt, all strictly limited. The first was Hazelwood 105 (in 2006; 15 years old, bottled at 52.5%Vol or 105° Proof) to commemorate Janet Roberts 105th birthday; the second was Hazelwood Reserve released to mark her 107th birthday in 2008. Kininvie was first released under the distillery’s name in 2013 at 23 YO, exclusively for Taiwan. Batch 2 was made available in the U.K. in July 2014 (see Whiskeria Autumn 2014), and now we have Batch 3. Very discreetly on the back of both cartons it says: ”Only available upon invitation or request”… Batch 3 is paler than Batch 2 and fresher over all. Neither is very aromatic. They share a faint grassy scent, but Batch 3 is greener; they are both slightly oily on the nose, but while Batch 2 is nut oil, Batch 3 is closer to linseed. The latter is also distinctly lemon note, especially on the palate. Both are sweet to taste, Batch 2 sweeter than Batch 3, with a slightly more voluptuous body.


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The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 4 0%VOL | £39 Whisky legend, Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes’ distinguished Brand Ambassador, reminds us on the carton of Vintage Reserve about the brand owner’s bottling policy: “The Glenrothes is bottled at its peak of maturity and flavour, rather than at a pre-determined age”. The ‘brand owner’ is the world’s oldest-established wine & spirits merchant, Berry Brothers & Rudd, founded in 1698 and based on St. James’s Street, in the smartest district of London. The distillery itself is owned by The Edrington Group (which also owns Macallan, Glenturret and Highland Park Distilleries); Edrington licensed The Glenrothes brand to Berry Bros. in 1987 and from the start the wine merchant felt more comfortable with bottling by ‘vintage’. Prior to this, the distillery’s entire output went for blending – it is ranked ‘Top Class’ by blenders – notably in Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. Simon Berry, the company’s Chairman, reinforces what Ronnie says: “It is our values of quality and integrity which determine the philosophy behind this well-bred Speyside single malt: vintage whisky, like vintage wine, matures at its own pace… Our long history has provided us with the understanding and the patience to ensure that we only offer expressions of The Glenrothes to discerning customers at the moment when our experts deem them to be perfectly mature and ready to be savoured.” In line with this philosophy, each year Berry Bros. release a handful of ‘Vintages’ - small parcels of casks from a specific year – as well as bottling ‘Reserves’, slightly larger releases combining casks from different years and not having an age statement. Ronnie goes on: “Our single Vintages, limited and rare, each capture a unique essence and flavour, never to be repeated. Our Reserves give you the opportunity of enjoying a number of select vintages from

different years – married together in perfect harmony”. This Vintage Reserve, from a combination of American oak ex-bourbon refill hogsheads and Spanish oak ex-sherry refill butts, is the creation of Gordon Motion, The Glenrothes’ Master Blender. The nature and quality of the casks – American or European oak; ex-bourbon or ex-sherry; first fill or refill – make a crucial contribution to the flavour of the mature whisky. Gordon is fortunate that a sister company within The Edrington Group is the Clyde Bonding Company, which has been supplying casks to Glenrothes and the Group’s other distilleries since the 1880s. Glen Rothes – Glenlivet Distillery, as it was originally named, went into production on 28th December 1879, the night the central spans of the Tay Bridge collapsed, taking with them a train of six carriages and 75 souls. The tragedy was immortalised by William McGonagall, whose poem begins: Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay! Alas! I am very sorry to say That ninety lives have been taken away On the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remembered for a very long time.

Tasting Note Lion gold in colour; the first impression on the nose is sweet and malty – Shredded Wheat, with cream, and a dod of strawberry jam. The sweetness comes through strongly in the taste, but is accompanied by lemon zest, lending a freshness to the overall flavour. A little water raises lemon peel on the nose as well as in the taste. A smooth texture and a medium length finish, slightly mouth-drying.


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Rare Cask Reserves Ghosted Reserve – 2 6 Y E A R S O L D B L E N D E D M A LT | 4 2 %V O L | £ 3 5 0 Ghosted Reserve is the first in a series of blended Scotch whiskies (and blended malts – or ‘vatted malts’ as they used to be known) created by Brian Kinsman, William Grant & Sons’ Master Blender. The series will be known as William Grant & Sons Rare Cask Reserves. This first expression is a mix of two very rare malt whiskies Ladyburn and Inverleven – from long closed distilleries, hence the ‘Ghosted’ name. As the company’s press release says: “This whisky is not just rare, it is unrepeatable: an exceptional one-off expression”. Ladyburn was built within Grant’s massive Girvan (grain whisky) Distillery complex in Ayrshire in order to provide malt fillings for the company’s hugely successful blend Standfast. It went into operation in 1966, but was decommissioned only nine years later, so holds the record as ‘Scotland’s shortest operating distillery’! The company only bottled it three times, and I know of only two independent bottlings, so it is very rare – and highly collectable. A Belgian collector of my acquaintance paid over £1,000 for a Gordon & MacPhail bottling around twenty years ago! Inverleven was also installed within a grain distillery, the now demolished Dumbarton Distillery, in 1938. Like Ladyburn, the malt whisky was used for blending -in this case in the Ballantine blends – and was only occasionally available from independent bottlers, never from its proprietor. It had one pair of stills, the spirit still being converted to a Lomondstyle still in 1959. This type of still was invented by Alistair Cunningham, the distillery’s Chief Engineer, to allow for the creation of different styles of spirit. It had a thick, drum-like neck, in which were three rectifying plates similar to those found in a column still except that the plates could be rotated so as to increase or decrease the contact the alcohol vapour had with copper and thus the style – heavy or light – of the spirit. Inverleven closed in 1991, and Dumbarton closed ten years later and the large red-brick buildings were demolished in 2006. Having selected the casks he wanted to use, Brian Kinsman returned the liquid to wood in a marrying tun known as ‘The Witches Hat’ – don’t ask me why! – for several months at cask strength, to allow the flavours of each malt to blend before being reduced to 42%Vol and bottled. 4,100 individually numbered bottles have been released, with 1,200 of them available in the U.K. Brian comments: “Rare Cask Reserves Ghosted Reserve bears testament to the vision and skills of the five Master Blenders who came before me. This exceptional release is a whisky that gives me enormous personal pride. I see it as truly a high point of what blending can bring to the finest whisky, and a spirit that would win the deepest respect of our founder, William Grant.”

Tasting Note Full Chardonnay gold. Macerated soft fruits on the nose – an amazing mélange, including ripe mango, peach, pear, banana and lime. Some almond oil behind. Smooth and sweet to taste, with chilli-spice in the finish. Water introduces vanilla sponge to the aroma, and softens the taste.


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Enjoy Aberlour responsibly.

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Nikka Yoichi

Tasting Note Yoichi’s house-style is smoky, and this expression doesn’t disappoint. Yet the peatiness is not like that of Islay, and it is supported by light sulphury notes: both come through in the taste, which is sweet then slightly salty. It might be taken for an old-fashioned Scotch malt. Charmingly, the label suggests that “it offers drinkers a light-hearted introduction” to the make.

Tasting Note A mellow, elegant nose; complex, with brown apples, almond oil and dried rose petals; perhaps a trace of white chocolate, and with a drop of water, a suggestion of sherry. The taste is sweet and delicate, with a pleasant texture; fondant, Bubble-gum, chocolate and light spice and a perfumed aftertaste.

Nikka Miyagikyo

– S I N G L E J A PA N E S E M A LT | 43%VO L (5 0 CL) | £55

– S I N G L E J A PA N E S E M A LT | 43%VO L (5 0 CL) | £55

The Nikka Whisky Distilling Company was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, ‘the Father of Japanese Distilling’, in 1934. During the early 1920s he had studied malt distilling in Scotland and his ambition was to establish a malt whisky distillery in Japan on the Scottish model. Soon after his return he was employed by Shinjiro Torii, owner of the company which would become Suntory. A site with excellent water was found at Yamazaki, on Honshu, Japan’s southern island, but Taketsuru would have preferred to build on Hokkaido, the northern island, which seemed to him more like Scotland. He wrote: “Even in Scotland there is occasionally a shortage of good water, therefore it is totally unreasonable to build a pot still factory at [Yamazaki] where we cannot have water without digging a well... If we consider the geography of Japan, a place would be needed which would constantly suppy good quality water, where barley can be obtained, with a good supply of fuel, coal or wood, with a railway link and with water navigation.” Everything pointed towards Hokkaido, and once he had fulfilled his ten-year contract with Torii, this was where he built Yoichi Distillery. Hokkaido benefits from a climate closer to Scotland than anywhere else in Japan; it is the only part of Japan to have local access to peat, and originally, the local peat bogs were the source of Yoichi’s subtle smoky character, used to dry the malt during kilning. Today, much of the peat used in production is imported from Scotland. Peat, coupled with the distillery’s close proximity to the ocean leaves a lasting imprint on the Yoichi malts, imparting a salty and smoky character not dissimilar to the famous malts of Islay. By contrast, the whisky from Taketsuru’s second distillery, Miyagikyo, has been compared with the elegant malts Speyside:

sweet, soft and fruity. Almost all the make from Miyagikyo goes into Nikka’s blends, but the small amount that is released as single malt has a cult following, not only in Japan. By the late 1960s Nikka needed a second distillery – Japanese distillers do not exchange casks with each other for use in blends, but rely on making several styles of whisky in a single distillery. Company legend has it that it took Taketsuru three years of travelling around Japan to find the ideal site in the wooded Miyagi Valley – hence the distillery’s name – at the confluence of two rivers, 45 minutes west of the city of Sendai on the main island of Honshu, scene of the terrible earthquake three years ago. It is the larger than Yoichi, with an annual production capacity of two million litres. There is also a grain distillery on the site. From the outset, it was Taketsuru’s intention to produce an entirely different style of whisky to Yoichi. The malt is mainly unpeated, the worts are mostly clear, the fermentations are long, with various yeast types and the stills are large and bulbous, allowing for much ‘conversation’ between their copper walls and the alcohol vapour. All making for a light, pure, fresh, fruity spirit. My friend, the great whisky writer Dave Broom, described Yoichi as “a winter whisky, all smoke and leather armchairs”, while Miyagikyo is “filled with the fruits of late summer”.


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anCnoc 18 Years Old – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 46%VOL | £70 The distillery is named Knockdhu, ‘the Dark Hillock’, but the malt has been named an Cnoc, ‘a knoll or hillock’, since 1993, to avoid any confusion with Knockando Speyside malt. The ground upon which Knockdhu stands was bought by one John Morrison in 1892, and when he discovered a spring of fine water on the southern slopes of Knock Hill, he sent samples to a firm of analysts which happened to be retained by the Distillers Company Limited (DCL), who commissioned the distillery. DCL (now known as Diageo) was originally an amalgamation of the six leading grain distillers – controlling 75% of grain spirit production - in 1877, with a view to ‘avoiding undue competition’ and ‘regulating supply to demand’, to avoid over-production and control prices. The success of blended Scotch during the 1890s persuaded the DCL directors to commence malt whisky production, and Knockdhu’s site near Keith on Speyside was chosen on account of the quality and quantity of the water supply, its proximity to ‘good barley country’, near ‘an inexhaustible supply of peats’ and with the Great North of Scotland Railway line between Elgin and Aberdeen running adjacent to the site. Constructed from locally quarried grey granite, the Banffshire Journal described it as “commodious and complete, with every possible arrangement having been introduced with the object of saving manual labour” when it opened in October 1894. During the 1920s, the manager wrote: “In our business hours everything goes smoothly and pleasantly… The varied duties make time pass so quickly that Saturdays succeed each other with amazing rapidity… The leisure hours of employees are mostly spent in their gardens”. But the Great Depression was looming on the horizon, and Knockdhu was mothballed between 1931 and 1933. It closed again between 1940 and 1945, owing to wartime restrictions on the supply of barley, and during this period was occupied by a unit of the Indian Army, billeted in the malt barns and complete with horses and mules. »

Tasting Note Glowing amber, a natural colour. Some prickle on the nose, and very slightly mentholated. Sweet malt in the foreground, with a hint of ginger, on a complex base of dried fruits and baked apples (with waxy skins); a drop of water converts it to Eve’s Pudding. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, finishing sour and spicy, then cooling.


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anCnoc 1975 – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 44. 2%VOL | £291 » Modernised in the 1960s and converted from direct firing to internal heating by steam coils in 1972, the distillery operated cheerfully until 1983, when it was one of the many casualties of the economic downturn and the need to reduce production. Five years later it was sold to Inver House Distillers, who released Knockdhu single malt for the first time in 1990, changing its name to an Cnoc three years later. Recently, Inver House have introduced a novel and environmentally friendly way of stripping copper residues from the spent lees (the residue left in the spirit still after distillation), by pumping it into a wetland area planted with 17 different species of plants - in particular irises, which have the capacity to neutralise the copper. This saves having to transport the spent lees to a waste treatment plant, taking eight to ten tankers off the road each week.

Tasting Note Deep amber. A mellow nose, somewhat closed, with cereal notes predominating (dusty malt barn; nose-cooling in effect). After a while, a suggestion of honeycomb Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal come to mind. A big, smooth texture; a sweetish start, becoming lightly spicy across the tongue with a curious herbal taste and a long warming finish and cooling aftertaste.

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BenRiach 12 Years Old Sherry Wood – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 46%VOL | £44 On 8th April 2015 BenRiach Distillery announced “a significant milestone in the history of the distillery… A momentous high point for the award-winning Elgin distillery [among many other awards, it recently won the accolade 2015 Global Whisky Distiller of the Year], since the whisky is the first core range expression to be produced predominantly from spirit distilled under The BenRiach Distillery Company’s elevenyear ownership”. Indeed in April 2004, the distillery was bought by three entrepreneurs led by Billy Walker, one of the best-respected men in the Scotch whisky industry, with over forty years of experience as a Master Blender and senior manager. Having joined Ballantine’s in 1971, he went off to become Inver House’s Master Blender, then was part of the team which effected the management buy-out of Burn Stewart Distillers in 1988, becoming the company’s Production Director. Ben Riach [it was two words in those days!] had been part of The Glenlivet Group, which was bought by the Seagram Company in 1977, when the licence was transferred to Chivas Brothers. Pernod Ricard bought Seagram’s whisky distilleries and brands in 2001 and mothballed Ben Riach. Since the distillery has been owned by Mr.Walker and his colleagues, the brand has gone from strength – made possible by, in Billy’s words, “the great inventory we acquired from Chivas”. Numerous expressions have been released, including some using peated malt and some finished in ex-wine casks; the core range includes this delicious 12 Years Old, sherrywood-matured expression. »

Tasting Note Pale polished mahogany; matured in refill ex-sherry casks. A subtle, somewhat closed nose to start, gradually opening to reveal scents of fresh fruit (apple, cherry, peach) and dried fruits (Christmas cake mix). Soft and rounded, especially with a little water. A sweet taste, with sandalwood and ginger; a long warming finish, with milk chocolate and polished leather in the aftertaste.


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BenRiach 10 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 43%VOL | £4 0 » But this 10 Years Old expression is the first member of the core range to have been entirely created under the control of Billy Walker and his team. Alistair Walker, the company’s Sales Director, writes in the press release: “Last year we released our tenth anniversary BenRiach bottling with four casks from the first week of distillation, but that was a strictly limited one-off expression. “Today’s release is something different and is even more important for us going forward. The BenRiach 10 Years Old is a key new launch for us as it marks a significant milestone – it is the first core range expression to be created predominantly from whiskies distilled at BenRiach since we took over in 2004. We have, effectively, been working towards this single moment since we acquired BenRiach Distillery and the 10 Years Old expression will become the cornerstone of our range.” Back in 2004, Billy Walker said he had ‘modest but robust plans’ to “revitalise the distillery and target new markets, taking BenRiach to specialist outlets around the globe”. The brand is now available in over forty countries worldwide with other emerging markets entering the negotiation stage. He has gone on to acquire and revitalise GlenDronach Distillery and, in 2013, Glenglassaugh Distillery. Earlier this year, the London Stock Exchange Group included BenRiach and GlenDronach Distilleries Company Limited in its list of '1000 Companies to Inspire Britain'.

Tasting Note Natural tawny amber in colour – a mix of American and European oak casks. A fruity top-note (fresh apple, with a hint of powdered ginger) rests on a vanilla sponge base (Eve’s Pudding?), and these aromas are well translated by the taste, which is sweet overall, with light acidity (especially with a drop of water) referencing peaches and lemon zest; a creamy texture and a long, warming finish.

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Tasting Note Deep amber in colour, with magenta lights – the new oak casks are small, to encourage this richness. As promised, the first impression on the nose is corn-on-the cob, liberally buttered, with traces of hard toffee, allspice and oak. An oily texture, and a clean, fresh (pine sap), sweet (but not cloying) taste, with lingering oak in the aftertaste.

Tasting Note Deep amber. A mellow, gentle nose. Cereal, backed by fresh oak base-notes (planed oak) with some pine resin and orange peel by top notes of buttery toffee. The nose becomes more oily with a drop of water. A lightly sweet taste, a smooth texture and pencil boxes in the spicy finish.

Hudson Baby Bourbon

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

– STRAIGHT AMERICAN BOURBON WHISKEY | 46%VOL (35CL) | £4 0

– STRAIGHT AMERICAN BOURBON WHISKEY | 46%VOL (35CL) | £4 0

There is a revolution taking place in American whiskey-making, evidenced by the eatraordinary growth in small – and some not so small – craft distilleries. The American Craft Distilling Institute (‘The Voice of Craft Distilling’), founded in 2003 with a bakers’ dozen small-batch, independently owned distilleries, now has 750 paid up members. Around 900 people attended its 10th Anniversary Conference in Denver, Colorado. The fashion now is for ‘big flavour’ – not only in whiskey. Think how ghastly American coffee once was; look at the success of robust Californian wines and most recently of the burgeoning of craft breweries. A new generation of American drinkers are ready to re-discover their own spirit – rye whiskey as well as bourbon. One such pioneer is Ralf Erenzo, who moved into Gardiner, up-state New York in 2001 with plans to build a rock-climbing centre. Forced to change his plans owing to objections from his neighbours, he turned his attention to spirits when he read that New York state had lowered the annual permit for distilling from $60,000 to $1,250 and capped production at 35,000 gallons [132,480 litres] per annum. Two years later Tuthilltown Spirits was born in the Hudson Valley, making New York’s first legal whiskey since the introduction of Prohibition in 1920. “We want to capture the flavour of the thing we are making our spirits from,” he told my learned colleague, Dave Broom [see his The World Atlas of Whisky]: “Whiskey should taste like the grain from which it is made. We use no peat and focus on individual grains for specific whiskeys. Our corn whiskey smells and tastes corny. Our rye whiskey is grainy and spicy and full of character. American whiskeys are also about the wood. Storage in new charred oak casks results in deeper colour, more caramel and vanilla aromas and flavours, and more spice… We knew we

couldn’t do it the same way as others. We are both by nature and by necessity innovative.” Dave goes on to quote Jess Graber, founder of Stranahan Distillery (2002). “The genie is out of the bottle, and the innovators, with a gleam in their eye, will find a way to give us all something new to taste and talk about.” Unusually for America, the Hudson whiskeys from Tuthilltown Distillery are pot-distilled. Small batch and ‘hand crafted’ they each use diferent mash bills: Baby Bourbon is 100% corn (i.e. maize) grown in New York state, Four Grain Bourbon is a mix of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley, and Manhattan Rye is 100% rye.


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Tasting Note Deep amber, with scarlet lights. A flat, floury aroma (raw pastry), enlivened by masculine scents of soft leather (new car interior) and wax polish. Smooth, oaky and spicy to taste, with cereal rye in the long, spicy finish. The aroma becomes more dusty at reduced strength; the taste more oaky, but still spicy.

Hudson Manhattan Rye – STRAIGHT AMERICAN BOURBON WHISKEY | 46%VOL (35CL) | £4 0

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Glen Garioch 21 Years Old Old Malt Cask – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 47%VOL | £130 The Garioch – pronounced ‘Geery’ – is a tract of fertile arable country, some 150 square miles in extent, bounded on every side by rolling hills. It is known as ‘The Granary of Aberdeenshire’. The quaint market town of Oldmeldrum, on the edge of which stands Glengarioch Distillery, is on its eastern border, some eighteen miles north-west of Aberdeen. For unknown reasons, the distillery is named ‘Glengarioch’, but its single malt whisky has long been known as ‘Glen Garioch’. At the same time, ‘Oldmeldrum’ was formerly ‘Old Meldrum’… The distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland. It was first licensed in 1798 and the site – which still has some charmingly antiquated buildings – might well have been expanded from a brewery, established in 1784. The founder, John Manson, came from local farming stock local; he was joined four years later by his older brother, Alexander, and in 1837, the year before John died, they were joined by his son, also named John (1804-1877). He took over the business, and as well as operating the distillery, opened a snuff mill and bought farms in the neighbourhood. He finished life as a petty landowner, with the proud title ‘Laird of Fingask’, derived from his main farm, and married Elizabeth Blaikie, who was allegedly a cousin of the explorer, David Livingstone. Their son, Sir Patrick Manson, was the first person to demonstrate conclusively the connection between mosquitos and diseases such as elephantiasis, and to postulate the origins of malaria, earning for himself the soubriquet ‘Mosquito Manson’. He is recognised as ‘The Father of Tropical Medicine’. The Manson family relinquished ownership in the 1880s and the distillery passed through several hands, until it was bought by the Glasgow whisky broker, Stanley P. Morrison, who also owned Bowmore Distillery on Islay, for £150,000.

Tasting Note Pale gold in colour (refill ex-bourbon). A gentle ‘rural’ nose – bosky hedgerows and earthy autumn neep fields, with a distant whisp of smoke; water introduces warm vinyl and flaked almonds. The first taste is sweet, slightly mouth-drying, finishing with coconut, and an aftertaste of Jelly Babies (!); with water all these are reduced, but a ginger note is introduced into the warming finish.

At the time Glengarioch was mothballed, on account of “chronic water shortages and limited production potential”. Morrison resumed production at the same level as previously, but in 1972 appointed Joe Hughes as manager, with a brief to find another water source. This became a matter of urgency when: “One day he walked into the distillery and smelled silage. He soon realised the smell was coming from the water supply, and on striding up Parcock Hill discovered that the water source was being polluted by silage that had been spread on the hill by a neighbouring farmer. “He approached another farmer, and asked whether he had some land at Coutens Farm that might provide a spring. Eddie showed him a field that had potential, and brought in ‘The Waater Maanie’ [a well-known water diviner]. Together they found what came to be called the ‘silent spring of Coutens Farm’ – it could neither be seen nor heard, but it flowed in sufficient abundance to increase production ten-fold”. Morrisons extended the plant from two to three stills in 1972, and to four in 1973, when the distillery was largely rebuilt, although the floor maltings were retained and peating levels increased, the peat coming from New Pitsligo Moss nearby. Glen Garioch was bottled as a single malt for the first time in 1972.


Mortlach 22 Years Old Platinum Old & Rare – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 56.8%VOL | £3 35 Mortlach has been in the news recently, first on account of the single malt being promoted for the first time by its proprietor, Diageo, and second because plans to double the size of the distillery by building a replica alongside, have been temporarily shelved. Four new proprietary bottlings were launched in global markets last summer – Mortlach Rare Old (NAS), Mortlach Special Strength (NAS), Mortlach 18YO and Mortlach 25YO – stylishly packaged. This was good news. Previously this famous malt, known as ‘The Beast of Dufftown’ on account of its rich flavour, was uncommon – for the simple reason it was a key filling for the Johnnie Walker blends, and ranked Top Class by blenders generally. By 2011, there were grumblings that “a great, but criminally under-exposed distillery…deserves far wider recognition”. Coincidentally, Diageo had been setting aside stock for single malt bottling since 2011, and also making plans for the expansion of the site by demolishing an old warehouse adjacent to the distillery and replacing it with an impressive modern building which would make good use of natural materials – stone, copper, wood and glass – while replicating Mortlach’s unique stills and processes. Demolition work began in late 2013, and building was due to commence in March 2014, so the distillery would be in operation by November this year. Then in October the project was put on hold. Do the wily directors of Diageo know something we don’t know about the future demand for malt whisky…? What makes Mortlach so special? Like many other malt whisky distilleries, the distillery has six pot stills: three wash stills and three spirit stills. It is how they are operated that makes the spirit unique. I am told it takes six months of training today for a still-man to master the process!

Tasting Note Very deep amber: old cognac; Spanish oak ex-sherrywood. Good beading and an oily texture. Nose drying, surprisingly mellow for its strength; richly fruity (Xmas cake, dates, dried figs), with a suggestion of waxed paper and dark chocolate filled with fondant. A big oily mouthfeel; a dry taste, sweeter with a drop of water; light spice in the long, long finish. Exceptional!

In most distilleries, the stills work in pairs: the distillate from the first still – the wash still – charges the second or spirit still with ‘low wines’ to create ‘spirit’. At Mortlach, only two of the stills are balanced and paired like that (wash still 3 and spirit still 3) and they work independently of the other four. The new-make spirit from these stills will later be combined with the output of the other stills. This part of the process, which might be called the ‘first stream’, is the simple part. The ‘second stream’ involves wash stills 1 and 2, and spirit still 2. These wash stills are similar in size and their combined low wines are sufficient to charge one spirit still. First, however, their combined low wines is divided into two fractions: ‘heads’ (high in alcohol and fruity notes) and ‘tails’ (low in alcohol, heavy, chocolatey and meaty). The heads from wash stills 1 and 2 are transferred to spirit still 2 and distilled again, producing a light and fruity spirit, the ‘second stream’. The ‘third stream’ is even more unusual. The tails from wash stills 1 and 2 charge spirit still 1 (known as ‘The Wee Witchie’) and are re-distilled twice. In spite of this double distillation, the resulting distillate is heavy, low-strength and unpalatable. It is combined with some high-strength, fragrant heads from wash stills 1 and 2 and distilled again to produce rich and heavy spirit. Altogether it nearly amounts to triple distillation: 2.81 times to be exact! It is the combination of the three styles of spirit - complex malt flavours from the first stream, lighter fruity flavours from the second stream and rich heavy flavours from the third stream – that give Mortlach single malt its unique character. As the distillery’s owner, Dr. Alexander Cowie, proudly told the Royal Commission on Whiskey in 1908: “I am a malt distiller of high flavoured whisky, a thick type of whisky”.


Bunnahabhain 13 Years Old – S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT | 50%VOL | £120 Bunnahabhain’s situation on the north coast of Islay, with a fine view of neighbouring Jura, is among the most remote of any distillery in Scotland. The founder was William Robertson, senior partner in the Glasgow firm of whisky brokers, Robertson & Baxter [R&B], in conjunction with the Greenlees Brothers, owners of Hazelburn Distillery in Campbeltown. The improbable site was chosen on account of R&B’s close relationship with another Glasgow firm of blenders, Bulloch Lade & Company, which owned Caol Ila Distillery just down the coast at Port Askaig, which they had recently “extended and improved”, and also because of the copious waters of Loch Staoinsha in the hills above the site, which cool the condensers (process water comes from springs). Work began in 1881 and the distillery was commissioned in January 1883. The first ‘distillery tourist’ Alfred Barnard, who visited Bunnahabhain in 1886 described it as: “A fine pile of buildings in the form of a square and quite enclosed. Entering by the noble gateway one forms an immediate sense of the compactness and symmetrical construction of the work”. As well as the distillery itself, houses, a school and village hall had to be erected for the workforce, a pier built out into the fast flowing Sound and a milelong road constructed up a steep cliff behind the distillery to join the track to Port Askaig. This was at the dawn of the ‘Whisky Boom’, a period in which blended Scotch whisky rapidly replaced brandy as the most fashionable drink in England and throughout the Empire – a period of unprecedented growth. Although R&B did not own any brands of blended Scotch at the time, the spirit to be made at Bunnahabhain was to be used for blending. As such it was to be un-peated, since the fashion now was for lighter and milder blends, rather than the robust and smoky whiskies made hitherto.

Tasting Note Natural amber colour, suggesting American oak maturation. Some nose prickle. A sweet overall aroma, with plums and greengages, and a hint of fresh wood; a barely discernable thread of smoke when water is added. A rich, oily texture and a fruity taste, with an attractive fondant note and some peppery spice in the long, warming finish.

The founding company was named Islay Distillers, but this was changed to Highland Distilleries in 1887, when R&B acquired Glen Rothes Distillery on Speyside. In the 1920s, R&B was commissioned by Berry Bros. & Rudd, the long-established wine and spirits merchant in London [see Glenrothes Vintage Reserve], to blend Cutty Sark, in which they took a 50% share, and Bunnahabhain became a key filling malt for this brand. In 1971, Highland acquired The Famous Grouse, also blended by R&B. Because of its popularity with blenders, Bunnahabhain was not made available as a single malt until the late 1970s. The distillery was sold to Burn Stewart Distillers in 2003 as part of Highland Distillers’ concentration on their ‘core brands, Macallan, Highland Park and The Famous Grouse. I think they now rather regret this! Bunnahabhain is often described as ‘Islay’s mildest malt’, although it is full of character, with a rich texture and a sweet taste, very slightly smoky in its usual expressions – in 1987 experiments were done using heavily peated malt, and now batches of peated Bunna are made every year and released as Bunnahabhain Moine (i.e. ‘peat’) and Cruach- Mhòna (i.e. ‘peat stack). This bottling is in the traditional, un-peated, style and comes from independent bottler, Hunter Laing.


Blair Athol 18 Years Old Old Malt Cask – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 50%VOL | £1 0 0 The water supplying Blair Athol Distillery comes from springs on the slopes of Ben Vrackie, via the Allt Dour, ‘the Burn of the Otter’. It is said that “the mellow barley bree from the cavern of Ben Vrackie warmed the hearts and strengthened the arms of the Highlanders” when they defeated a Government army at the battle of Killicrankie, twelve miles to the south, in 1689! Following the defeat of another Highland army, at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, George Robertson of Fascally hid from Government soldiers in a large oak tree that stood near the site of the present distillery and was revived by the whisky made at Aldour Farm. The farm took out a licence to distil in 1798, and changed its name in 1825 - when it was rebuilt and expanded – to Blair Athol, although it is located in Pitlochry, eight miles south of Blair Athol village. As early as 1867, Arthur Bell, whisky blender in Perth reported to a customer that the best whiskies he bought in were from “Glenlivet, Pitlochry and Stirlingshire districts”; in 1933 his sons bought the distillery, and with this acquisition Arthur Bell & Sons moved from being a small local blender to being a medium-sized distiller with the potential to become a major player. At that time of depression, Blair Athol was mothballed and it remained so until 1949 when Bells refurbished and tastefully restored the old ivy-clad buildings as the ‘brand home’ of Bell’s Extra Special. It remains the ‘spiritual home of Bell’s’ to this day, and is the key malt component in the blend. By 1970, Bell’s was the best selling Scotch in the U.K. and the company doubled capacity at Blair Athol (to four stills). About the same time, Arthur Bell & Sons installed a visitor centre – Pitlochry is very popular with tourists, who arrive by the bus-load from the south. This was substantially expanded in 1987 with, among other features, a smuggler’s illicit still, and currently attracts around 35,000 visitors a year.

Bell’s first released Blair Athol as a single malt (at 8 years old) in 1972, but after the company was bought by Guinness in 1985 it was dropped for two years until being re-released in a small way as part of United Distillers’ Flora & Fauna series - limited bottlings from all the company’s distilleries. This is still the case: all but a small amount of the Blair Athol made goes into blends – not least Bell’s. This expression (distilled in 1995 and bottled October 2014) comes from the family-owned company, Hunter Laing, independent bottlers in Glasgow. It is part of their Old Malt Cask range, which was first introduced in 1998 – bottled without chillfiltration or colour adjustment, usually at a generous 50% Vol, to allow the full flavour and texture of the whiskies to be enjoyed. This makes such a difference, although I would recommend the addition of a little water, which opens up the aroma and makes the spirit more comfortable to taste.

Tasting Note Deep amber in colour, with good beading. Blair Athol is a robust malt, and this is a good example. Nose-drying and spicy, with good legs, the aroma is richly fruity on a base of buttery sponge – the latter comes through in the oily texture and taste, which starts sweet and finishes dry and spicy, especially at full strength, leaving an aftertaste of peppery buttercream icing.


WE BELIEVE THAT ISLAY WHISKY SHOULD HAVE 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 BARLEY AND WATER FROM WHICH IT WAS MADE, AND OF THE HUMAN SOUL THAT GAVE IT LIFE.

WE BELIEVE TERROIR MATTERS.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE MEN OF BRUICHLADDICH BRUICHLADDICH DISTILLERY ISLE OF ISLAY, SCOTLAND

DRINK RESPONSIBLY

BRUICHLADDICH.COM

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Big Time

The

From international rugby player to successful model and actor, Scottish star Craig McGinlay proves that there are no stereotypes in his field. Having been cast by Guy Ritchie in the Haig Club advert, Craig switched his focus from running his own sports consultancy firm, to modelling with the likes of Vogue Italia and starring in several high profile commercials such as a US Land Rover campaign. It goes without saying that his talent has not gone amiss, as he was recently cast in Guy Ritchie’s latest movie, Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur, alongside Jude Law, Charlie Hunnam and Eric Bana. He took time out of a busy filming schedule to catch up with us in the iconic Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow.

Clothes: House of Fraser, Belstaff Glasgow Stylist: Steph Kelly Hair Stylist: Ben Cross


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MY WHISKERIA


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

So lets start at the beginning… Your career has taken somewhat a sharp left turn! How do you feel that your background in sport has helped you in your career to date? There’s a great many similarities in both areas – mainly the focus that’s required in both fields, the professionalism and the camaraderie. Both areas need for you to get on with people as you’re constantly meeting new people and embracing new briefs and challenges. At what point did you decide to switch your focus to modelling? I was working as a sports scientist with some professional Scottish athletes and I was asked to be in the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014 promotional advert as a weightlifter… wearing a one-piece outfit! (laughs) I’d never done any modelling or acting before, but off the back of that, a modelling agency signed me up. From there, I ended up with a role in the Irn Bru advert and, following that, the Haig Club opportunity came along. So now that you’ve mentioned it, tell us a bit about how you got involved with the Guy Ritchie Haig Club commercial? Well I was asked to go along to a casting for a major whisky brand, and I had no idea what brand, who was involved or who was directing. After the casting, I didn’t think much of it but got invited to the recall in London and there was Guy Ritchie… that’s when I realised it was a big deal! It was four or five days filming up in Glen Affric, and working with Guy was brilliant - he’s very down to earth, very professional, and it was great just learning from him and his team, as he brought with him his full crew. It really gave me a feel for the industry, as even though it was an advert, it was such a big produc-

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tion, and made me think, yes, I definitely want to get involved with acting and give it a good push. And how was that received in the sporting world, once the veil was lifted and it became known that you were pursuing a career in modelling and acting - did everything change for you? Not really. My friends will rib me about it naturally but that keeps me grounded. I’m still really proud of my sports scientist past. After all, it’s been my career and background until now.

Can you tell me what the modelling side has brought to your life experience so far? Loads and loads of variety and experiences I don’t think I’d ever have otherwise. To be honest, I’m still getting used to it all.... and I still feel there’s plenty to learn. It’s only the beginning, and it’s exciting. The opportunities of honing my skills, learning, of meeting professionals in fashion and acting that I admire... all of this appeals to me. You must have a lot of passion for acting to arrive on the path you're currently on. Does it take a lot of energy to sustain that passion? The whole experience is far beyond what I saw for myself, so I’m grateful and fortunate for what’s come my way already with some big new projects on the go… And no, I can’t speak about them unfortunately. Sorry, maybe next time…!


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Speaking of passion - do you find the emotional side of acting a challenge? I find it helpful to draw on life experiences, and I’ve had to delve into my past, to situations that I’ve found myself in. I’ve learned that it’s a crucial part of the job, and it does help to immerse yourself into the character and the role. Having a varied career path has helped me - there is an easy transition from sport in terms of understanding people, which I think is massively important. There are parts of it where my sporting background has been useful as there are certain roles that I’ve needed to get in shape for. It’s something I really buy into anyway, as I love fitness and sport from my rugby background. So now acting has become a goal in my regime - I’m not training just to keep fit in general, but to use it to train for a role – I think its hugely helpful and I enjoy that side of it as well. Having had experience in sport and in fashion, what skills would you say have been transferrable to becoming an actor? I think it would be about the ability to focus, and to be professional in any job or situation. And also to work as a team – on

shoots in both fashion and film, there is often a whole host of people and personalities coming together for the first time, all trying to complete a job and do their best. It’s good to know that I am part of that, and to be considerate and respectful of other people’s talents and abilities. I’ve been lucky to work with many talented individuals already. Who were your on-screen inspirations when you were growing up? Growing up, Christopher Reeve was the man! I am a massive Superman fan, and growing up it was his films I watched, and I just thought he was great, both on-screen and off. You could say he was my hero! If you watch back some of his films, sometimes he was playing 3 different roles, he was an inspiration. Also, now having met people along the way, like David Beckham, for someone at the top of his game, in football and fashion, he is still so nice and down to earth - it’s these people I’m learning from now. Who have you met along the way that has given you the best advice? The Communications Consultant, Karen Hendry, has been so helpful in advising me on how to deal with interviews and events.


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

QUICKFIRE ROUND: C R A I G M C G I N L AY » Favourite place on earth? I do love London but there's no place like home. » Meal on death row? I’d order three. I love my food - the executioner may have to wait quite a while... » What keeps you awake at night? Nothing. All that gym work makes me sleep like a baby. » Ideal car? Land Rover Sport.  Having filmed an advert for Land Rover and also driving one in the Haig Club advert, my love for these cars is very much there at the moment. » Favourite bar? The Fumoir at Claridges or Shoreditch House in London. In Scotland, The Gleneagles Hotel - Stunning. » Biggest fear?  I have had a fear of lifts in the past! Don't laugh...I was stuck in one when I was a very young kid and it stayed with me for a while! However, now that I’m often staying in hotels I’ve had to learn to overcome this irrational fear! » People are surprised that I... ...Shampoo, condition, oil, comb my beard. It's like a pet! 

CRAIG'S P L AY L I ST » » » » » » » » » » On the rise… Craig in action and in training.

Hold Back the River | James Bay Elastic Heart |Sia Gravity | DJ Fresh feat. Ella Eyre Bloodstream | Ed Sheeran Lose Yourself | Eminem Still DRE | Dr Dre My Love | Route 94 I Got U | Duke Dumont GDFR | Flo Rida Money on my Mind |Sam Smith

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Stylist, Mark Van Daal has been the one telling me I can’t turn up to events in my trainers, tracksuit trousers and t-shirt! So I’d say that they’ve been the ones keeping me right as I make the transition from sport into the fashion industry. Are you having as much fun as you appear to be having? Are there any downsides? The downsides are that I don’t see family and close friends as often as I would like. However the upside is that every day is different, and you never know what’s round the corner. All in all, I am having a fantastic time and I wouldn't change it for the world. I’m also having to work hard to progress, and I enjoy that. Where do you aspire to be in 5 years time? Career and personally? I’d like to do more movie roles and I hope to progress to more major pictures and leading roles. Working with a top director like Guy Ritchie on the Haig Club advert was an amazing experience, and I’d love to work with Guy on one of his future film projects. I also see myself moving to LA down the line. I would love to do some big ad campaigns as well as some editorial in global magazines.

Do you get much time to enjoy a drink with friends? I make the time to catch up with friends as much as possible when I’m not working, usually in the gym. It’s a huge part of my life. Also, working in fashion and film, you meet lots of new people and this is as much a social as it is work – that’s the fun part of my job! And is there a place in your life for whisky? I actually drink very rarely due to work, gym training, and having to maintain a high level of health and fitness. Saying that, there is a time and a place for it, and for me, it's all about quality, not quantity - and whisky is a great example of this. Drink responsibly with friends and family... and enjoy! What’s next? – Craig will be playing the role of Harry in Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur – set for release in July 2016. Keep up to speed at: craigmcginlay.com officialcraigmcginlay @CraigMcGinlay


F AT H E R ’ S D AY J U N E 2 1 C E L E B R AT E I N S T Y L E

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TRAVEL


D I S C O V E R

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


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TRAVEL

Just

Desert Extending from the red sands of the Kalahari to the golden grains of the Namib, Claire Bell explores the oldest desert on earth in Namibia


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

The farmer with the leathery face shakes his head as we descend out of the cloudless sky to the brown plains below. “The rains still haven’t come,” he says. “Don’t worry. They’ll come today. That man over there is a Scotsman,” I reply with a nod towards my husband. “He takes the rain with him wherever he goes. Even to a desert.” True enough, within an hour of leaving Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, this vast country on the north-west shoulder of South Africa, the sky darkens, and a torrent descends. I remember this rain from my childhood in Africa. Clouds impatient to dispense their dark bellies before the hot sun chases them away. Rain that you run from, not because it soaks you, but because it pummels you, making your whole body sting. Back in those days, Namibia was part of South Africa. This former German colony had been made a South African protectorate after the Second War, and its small population of 2.4 million became subject to apartheid laws. When the apartheid machine began to dismantle in the late eighties, Namibia lost its shackles first, hosting its first democratic elections on 21 March 1990, a few weeks after Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island, and four years before South Africa. But while politics is still the metronome which underpins all of South African life, in Namibia there is a sense that Mother Nature holds the baton. We are here to explore the southern desert region, extending from the red sands of the Kalahari to the golden grains of the Namib, the oldest desert on earth. Over the next two weeks, installed in a 4x4 with two petrol tanks, we will head away from tarred roads, to explore some of the 37,500 kilometres of gravel roads that criss-cross this land. But although this might sound like an off-road trip only suitable for hardy Africa hands, Namibia serves up her rough with incredible smooth. In recent years, many of the old cattle and sheep farms have been transformed

into luxury lodges that would not look out of place in a glossy magazine. Part of my quest is to uncover what kind of whiskies can be enjoyed in this little-known corner of the earth, and I spot my first bar just a few kilometres south of the Tropic of Capricorn. The Kalahari Bar in Kalkrand is just next to the petrol station. The floor is covered with faded ceramic tiles, the kind now fashionable again in Europe, and above the bar is a faux 18th century bust sporting sunglasses and a cigarette. Elvis the barman greets me with a glittering smile – he has a gold star embedded in each of his front teeth – and gives me a tour of his whiskies: Scottish Leader, Black and White, Three Ships, the South African grain whisky, and waves an empty carton of White Horse. “It’s the most popular. I’ve run out,” he says. Button Kambonga, a 45-year-old goat and sheep farmer, agrees. “Drink it with water and ice and you still feel fresh the next day.” We spend our first night at Bagatelle Game Ranch, a cluster of beautifully designed chalets built among the red dunes of the Kalahari and home to an orphaned springbok called Skankie who counts muesli and ginger biscuits among her favourite treats. To prevent her poking anyone in the eye during her opportunistic bids for food, Skankie’s antlers are sheathed in green hosepipe. At the end of a day of travelling, it is normal for your body to be charged with the excitement and anxiety of constant movement, but as I sit outside, I notice that flittering feeling is not there. It is as if the desert stillness has absorbed it, my inner chatter drowned out by an immeasurable quiet. After a gentle night, eating kudu steaks cooked outside on an open fire, we continue south the following day, our iPod tracking between Bob Marley, AC/DC and Beethoven, all of which, in their own time, seem a perfect fit to the immense peace, intensity and drama of this landscape.

KNOWLEDGE BAR: NAMIBIA Republic of Namibia

A F R I C A

Namibia

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Motto

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"Unity, Liberty, Justice"

Anthem

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"Namibia, Land of the Brave"

Capital

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Windhoek

Languages

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English, Afrikaans

President

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Hage Geingob

Area

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Total 318,696 sq mi

Water (%): negligible

Population

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2,113,077

»

Namibian dollar (NAD)

Currency

(2011 census)


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“In Namibia, we don’t buy whisky by the glass, we buy it by the bottle,” he grins. As the afternoon sun mellows, we turn west, traversing land ankle-deep in fine blue-grey Bushman’s grass, used as cattle fodder in the dry seasons. As we summit a small rise, an enormous panorama opens up, stretching for hundreds of kilometres into the distance, and in that same moment, the orange light diffuses through the blue grass transforming the earth into a pale, dreamy seascape, dotted with black conical islands. A mirage. We switch off the music and stop the car. The only appropriate response seems silence. We are bound for Luderitz, the quirky harbour town with its German art deco architecture, caught between two of the most inhospitable terrains on earth: the searing heat of the Namib and the ice-cold waters of the Atlantic, chilled by the Benguela current pushed up from Antarctica. Luderitz began life as a 19th century trading post, but in 1909 its fortunes changed when diamonds were discovered in nearby Kolmanskop. Between 1911 and 1914, one thousand kilograms of diamonds were picked up from the surface of the ground, and the area was redefined as the Spiergebiet, the Forbidden zone, a restriction which still stands today despite the fact that the diamond fields have moved further south leaving Kolmanskop as a

desert ghost town, its art déco mansions once filled with dreams, now filled with sand. As we enter the Spiergebiet, the temperature outside is pushing 40C and a heat haze hovers over the thin ribbon of black tarmac, making it seem as if we are imminently about to drive off the edge of the world. Wind. Sand. Hyenas, caution the triangular road signs. The wind picks up and the orange sand blows across the road like a spectre. We round a corner and slow for a yellow digger, a Namibian Sisyphus, scooping the sand off the road. Whereas yesterday the desert had filled me with peace, today it taunts me. On the outskirts of Ludertiz, someone has spray painted “Thank You Lord Jesus” on a rock at the side of the road. Hallelujah indeed. Ludertiz is a good place to re-combobulate, with pizzas at Barrels bar and oyster burgers at the Oyster factory, but the only way back is through the surreal Dali-esque landscape, and I notice my relief when we are back on the other side, and installed at Klein Aus, a private reserve belonging to Piet Swiegers, the grandson of a diamond detective. Rusting on his land is a Hudson Terraplane, peppered with gunshots, a memento of a Bonnie and Clyde-like car chase in which diamond detectives killed two diamond thieves trying to escape across the desert. Piet has a whisky bar worthy of mention, though he admits he keeps his favourite, a 30-year-old Laphroaig, in the safe. “I only go in the safe during the day and I don’t drink whisky during the day, so it’ll last longer if it stays there,” he says with a laugh. The best whisky bar in the area, though, belongs to his neighbour, at the Banhofhotel in the tiny town of Aus. Choose from a 15-year-old Jura, a 10-year-old Dalmore and a selection of McGibbon’s Provenance limited release whiskies, including a 1999 Bunnahabhain and a 2001 Caol Ila. Barman Farco Areseb admits he is an ardent whisky fan:


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“My father was a whisky drinker. Glenmorangie smells like home to me”, adding that single malts are usually too expensive for local palates. “In Namibia, we don’t buy whisky by the glass, we buy it by the bottle,” he grins. I pack my bottle for the next part of our adventure, a 3-day hike exploring the rim of the Namib desert, a mixed terrain of dunes, boulders, acacia trees and unexplained fairy circles which appear among the grasslands. Previously this land was used to farm karakul sheep, the lambs slaughtered within 48 hours of birth for their velvety hides. Drought and public opinion brought this industry to its knees in the 1980s, and today the land has been repopulated with oryx, springbox, zebra and kudu, who together with the lappet-faced vultures, fog-basking beetles, barking geckos, dancing spiders and bat-eared foxes, are restoring the ecosystem. It’s also a favourite terrain for the sociable weaver bird, who cobuild enormous multi-storey apartment-like nests in the acacia trees, in a bid to co-police their chicks from their nemesis, the Cape Cobra snake. It is a punishing hike, not because of the distances or terrain, but because of the heat. It is late summer, and by 10am we are wilting, by noon we can barely lift our heads, but the prize is worth it: two nights at the 1000-star desert hotel, where a private chef conjures up desert cuisine of oryx goulash served with fine South African wine, and our luxury suite has only the stars as a canopy. As we snuggle down in cosy camp beds, the heavens aflame with shooting stars, it seems a shame to fall asleep, but we’re in too easy reach of the Sandman here, and we soon merge with the desert silence. From here it’s on to the Namib Naukluft National Park and the enormous rolling red dunes of Sossusvlei which end in a cracked clay lake bed, dotted with petrified trees, that have been without water for a thousand years. En route we realise we’re not the only ones struggling with the heat. In the noon day sun, three

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Ruppells Korhaan birds, stand in an orderly line, trying to capture the shadow of a single telegraph pole. Beyond this is the village of Solitaire, current population 92, whose most infamous resident is the late Moose McGregor, a Scotsman who fell in love with this parched place fifty years ago, and built a desert bakery where he sold Scottish pies to weary travellers until his death in 2014. As a tribute to this much-loved local hero, the bakery staff still keep an empty box of his favourite whisky, Scottish Leader, behind the counter, and a framed picture of him in his tam o’shanter smiles down on the steady stream of customers. We finally leave the desert at Karibib. As brown turns to green, thorns turn to leaves, gravel turns to tarmac and our fellow drivers stop waving back, we feel an immediate nostalgia for what we are leaving behind, but take comfort in the fact that the oldest desert in the world has always been there, and one day, when we return, it will still be there, unchanged.


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Summer 2015 Gifting at The Whisky Shop -Father's Day and beyond / 58 Making it Personal – Gift Engraving / 72 Fourth of July – Join the Celebration / 74 Last of the Summer Gin / 76 Customer Favourites / 78 The Directory / 84

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Gifting at The Whisky Shop This summer edition of Whiskeria comes out in time for Father’s Day 2015 when the ideal gift is a great bottle of malt. Also, over the summer season, very many of our customers at The Whisky Shop are searching for a gift. Gifting is our speciality and we have devoted the larger part of this shop section to featuring a range of gifts to suit every budget. Our priority has been to select whiskies that are not widely available and are just a bit special as befits the recipient of the gift!

GlenDronach KNOWLEDGE BAR: GLENDRONACH » The GlenDronach Distillery lies just on the edge of the Speyside boundary and is officially classed as a Highland malt. GlenDronach is famous for producing richly sherried single malt whiskies of inimitable and individual character. The distillery, established in 1826, is located in the Forgue valley, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire and is named after the source of its water, the Dronac burn.

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GlenDronach 15 year Old Revival

GlenDronach 18 year Old Allardice

£57

£90

What is it? A full bodied single malt, the GlenDronach 15 year old Revival has been matured in the finest Oloroso Sherry casks and is non chill filtered and of natural colour.

What is it? The GlenDronach 18 year old Allardice has been matured in the finest Oloroso Sherry casks. A tremendously complex and long single malt, it is non chill filtered and of natural colour.

What’s it like? An incredible concentration of aromas - treacle toffee and chocolate orange. A very dynamic and full bodied dram for its age.

What’s it like? Rich and dark, it has remarkable flavours of stewed fruits and all-spice married together with classical aged Oloroso.


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Gifting at The Whisky Shop

Bowmore 12 year old

Bowmore 25 year old

£44

£299

What is it? The Bowmore 12 year old has received much critical acclaim and reflects the raw essence of the distillery, which has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal since 1779. What’s it like? Subtle citrus notes with honey, balanced by a peaty smokiness. Sweet and delicious with a long, mellow finish.

Bowmore KNOWLEDGE BAR: BOWMORE » Bowmore distillery has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal on Islay since 1779. The whisky it makes is matured in casks within its legendary vaults, breathing in the coastal salty air on one of the most westerly islands of Scotland.

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What is it? This is a whisky to be savoured slowly. Matured for a quarter of a century in North American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks, this highly acclaimed Bowmore 25 year old is exceptional and exhibits the finest qualities of each. What’s it like? Intense sherry with stewed fruit and a gentle smokiness. Caramel and hazelnut with a gentle but incredibly complex finish.


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Gifting at The Whisky Shop

Auchentoshan 12 year old

Auchentoshan Valinch

£44

£62

What is it? Auchentoshan is the only triple distilled single malt In Scotland. The new spirit is the highest strength distillate of any single malt distillery in Scotland with all the impurities in the liquid distilled away. The result is a smooth and delicate tasting single malt scotch whisky. What’s it like? This Lowland single malt whisky has the tempting aroma of toasted almonds, caramelised toffee and the signature smooth, delicate, Auchentoshan taste.

Auchentoshan KNOWLEDGE BAR: AUCHENTOSHAN » Auchentoshan is the only Triple Distilled Single Malt in Scotland. The new spirit is the highest distillate of any single malt distillery in Scotland with all the impurities in the liquid distilled away and, as such, makes Auchentoshan the smoothest, most delicate tasting single malt scotch whisky.

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What is it? For years, Auchentoshan were asked to create a non chillfiltered, cask strength edition and thus Valinch was born. Valinch is the name of the pipette used to draw whisky straight from the cask. This is an unadulterated small batch release. What’s it like? Creme brulee on the nose with a sweet and creamy taste and a hint of orange zest on the finish.


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Gifting at The Whisky Shop

Dalmore 18 year old

Dalmore Cigar Malt

£90

£70

What is it? Dalmore 18 year old is matured initially for fourteen years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry wood for a further four years. What’s it like? This offers a provocative and intense taste experience with an enduring aftertaste of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Dalmore KNOWLEDGE BAR: DALMORE » The Dalmore Distillery has been producing exceptional single malt whisky since 1839 and, for almost a century, was owned by the Clan Mackenzie. The clan's defining influence on the distillery is still evident to this day, with the iconic royal stag's antlers, taken from the Mackenzie family crest, adorning each and every bottle of The Dalmore

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What is it? The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve benefits from a judicious selection of aged stocks drawn from casks of three types: American white oak ex-bourbon casks, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques. What’s it like? The body, structure and character of the Dalmore Cigar malt is the perfect complement to a fine cigar. Rich, spicy and chocolatey with a malty biscuit finish.


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Dalmore King Alexander III –

ÂŁ180

What is it? Crafted to honour the act of saving Scotland's King in 1263, this expression unites six specially selected casks housing spirit of perfect maturity. Whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherry wood, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are brought together in perfect harmony. Each cask gives its own flavour notes, delivering a unique complex single malt whisky revered by connoisseurs.

What’s it like? A smooth texture with a rich taste that starts sweet, then dries elegantly, with some spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) leaving a hint of dark chocolate in the aftertaste. Water introduces caramel and sweetens the taste overall.


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Gifting at The Whisky Shop

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfarclas 105

£45

£66

What is it? This fabled Speysider comes in a wide range of ages, right up to 60, but the 10-year-old is a perennially popular example of the brand and its style. What’s it like? It exhibits a nose of rich Christmas cake, featuring sherry, raisins, nuts and spices with a background hint of smoke. A dry sherry taste, with a gradually sweetening full body. The finish is long, nutty, and comparatively dry.

Glenfarclas KNOWLEDGE BAR: GLENFARCLAS » Since 1865 Glenfarclas has been owned and managed by just one family, the Grants of Glenfarclas. To this day Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries in Scotland to remain family owned and managed and is now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generation of the family. The Grants remain committed to the vision of creating the best quality Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky. Glenfarclas is renowned for producing Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky in the traditional Speyside style, with a heavy Sherry influence and one of the delights of Glenfarclas is exploring the subtle differences between the different expressions.

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What is it? A real heavyweight contender in the battle for Speyside and one that has an incredibly loyal following. Weighing in at a strength of 60% abv it leaves nothing behind. What’s it like? The addition of water is an essential with this one. With an unmistakable sherry influence it produces classic sweetness and a dry, multi-layered finish that lasts forever.


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Glenfarclas 40 Year Old –

£510

What is it? The oldest expression in the Glenfarclas core range, the 40 year old was first released in 2010. This is a 40 year old to drink, not collect, and is an ideal gift for someone special. What’s it like? Rich and smooth, with dark chocolate orange and burnt brown sugar. Let the rich dark golden 40 year old breathe a little or add a drop or two of water to let the layers of flavour develop on the palate. The finish is extremely long and satisfying.

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Gifting at The Whisky Shop

Suntory KNOWLEDGE BAR: SUNTORY

» Since its birth in 1923, the history of Suntory Whisky has been the legacy of Japanese whisky itself. The creation and the innovation of Japanese whisky was pioneered by Suntory and continues to be perfected through its artisans.

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Yamazaki 18 year old

Hakushu Distillers Reserve

£175

£45

What is it? Yamazaki is Suntory’s flagship single malt, multi-layered with fruit and Mizunara (Japanese Oak) aroma.

What is it? From the Suntory distillery, Hakushu has a slightly different flavour to the Yamazaki.

What’s it like? With a dried fruit and milky coffee nose and a berried fruit and chocolate taste, this 18 year old has a lovely long, smooth, spicy finish.

What’s it like? A crisp and fresh whisky, with refreshing citrus fruit, cucumber and peppermint. A hint of smoke on the finish.


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Hibiki 12 year old

Hibiki 17 year old

£67

£99

What is it? Numerous pure single malt whiskies aged in a variety of cask types all combine to create the Hibiki 12 year old. What’s it like? Rich and sweet, with soft fruit and custard. A complex, well-rounded finish.

What is it? Hibiki means resonance in Japanese. It speaks to the soul and emotions of the most discerning whisky lover. The legendary Hibiki represents true harmony, the ideal of perfection, the paragon of 'The Art of Japanese Whisky' and its artisans.

What’s it like? A light, sweet whisky with a soft fruit and toffee flavour. A sweet, fruity finish with a hint of lychee.

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KNOWLEDGE BAR: TAST I N G

Darren’s Top 6 tips on how to taste Whisky: 1/ Use a good glass. I generally use the Glencairn glass to enjoy a dram - it's designed to enhance the aromas of a whisky and fits the hand almost like a traditional whisky tumbler.

2/ Hold the whisky in your glass up to the light. The colour of the liquid can give you an indication of what you might expect to taste. A darker reddish or dark brown colour can often suggest a sherry cask matured whisky and a golden colour can suggest an ex bourbon oak cask. You may also see what is known in the drinks industry as “legs”; these are the beads that cling to the glass then run down the sides. Again this can be an indicator to a particular cask or perhaps an older whisky age.

3/ Smell or Nose the whisky. A large part of tasting a whisky comes from the aromas in a whisky, so spend some time with your nose in the glass and take in the smells - they will alert you to the characteristics you are about to taste. Take a small sniff at first, (you might be trying something of high strength), then bigger sniffs thereafter.

4/ Taste it. The wait is over! Start by taking a very small sip and let it pass over the whole of your tongue to see what you get. Once you are better acquainted, take a larger amount and allow the liquid to explore your whole mouth, coating the taste buds, and identify the primary tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Whiskies will often have more than one of these traits, but once identified you can allow a history of flavours you have experienced to come to mind. It's then about deciding on the taste profile. It can be fruity, smoky, oaky, nutty - the list is endless and it really is very individual. The important thing is to enjoy.

5/ Enjoy the aftertaste. The feature that differentiates whisky from other spirit drinks is the length and complexity of the finish. All of the flavours – and some more – that you have tasted in the glass continue and develop during the aftertaste.

6/ Add some water! Yes, I do. I will always recommend you try whisky neat but then I suggest you add a little water and see what happens. You will find that the ‘burn’ from the alcohol will almost disappear and the flavours will mellow and be more discernable. I would like to say that all whisky is perfect as it is bottled, but with more and more higher strength whiskies on the shelves, the addition of a little water is a good idea. A whisky at, say, 60% alcohol is just too strong to consume neat and, indeed, the distiller does not expect you to do so. Balance is the key and once you have your favourite dram with the right water-to-whisky ratio you are laughing … until the glass is empty! Ice can also be OK, but will close down the aromas and flavour a bit. Cocktails? Absolutely! A final tip - drink responsibly. Slainte!

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Let’s make it personal! Have your gift engraved. If you’re looking to add a finishing touch to your gift, why not add your own bespoke message to a bottle using our new engraving service? Whatever the occasion, we can engrave a personal message on a specially selected range of whiskies and deliver it directly.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Engraved

Bunnahabhain 12 year old Engraved

£55

£49

What is it? The highest standard is maintained when crafting and selecting Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel. Just one out of every 100 barrels is set aside to mature in the highest reaches of the barrelhouses, where dramatic temperature changes cause the colour and taste to deepen further. What’s it like? Smooth and full of flavour with notes of toasted oak, vanilla, and caramel.

What is it? Bunnahabhain is quite distinct from the other Islay single malts – it is created using unpeated malted barley and its isolated coastal location takes advantage of the pure spring water that flows underground away from the peaty moorlands. What’s it like? The nose offers a fresh and aromatic experience with a subtle whiff of smoke and is followed by a light fruit and nut taste that leads to a warm malty sweetness.


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Haig Club Engraved

Chivas 18 year old Engraved

Jameson Select Reserve (Small Batch) Engraved

£54

£60

£45

What is it? Haig Club is a whole new approach to Scotch. It is a single grain and it is presented in a square blue flask, with the name embossed in the glass and a copper stopper. To promote it Diageo have partnered with David Beckham (yes, the David Beckham, see Winter 2014 issue) and Simon Fuller, creator of American Idol, manager of Beckham, Lewis Hamilton, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray. What’s it like? Pleasingly different! Fresh, clean, simple, delicately sweet with fresh fruit undertones. A pleasant smooth mouthfeel with a fresh, sweet and sherbet-like taste.

What is it? Chivas 18 year old is a uniquely rich and multi-layered blend that includes over twenty of Scotland's rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. What’s it like? An attractively balanced and satisfying blend with a mellow and rich nose. A very soft texture, a smooth mouthfeel and an overall sweet taste, with a hint of dryness and a lengthy finish.

What is it? A triple distilled Irish blend, this all began when the Jameson masters carefully selected a high proportion of Irish pot still whiskey and a rare small batch grain whiskey, and left it to mature in flamecharred bourbon barrels. What’s it like? The unmistakable rich and smooth Jameson taste is enhanced with aromatic notes of charred wood, deep spices and exotic fruit.

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Independence Day Specials

Knob Creek 9 year old (small batch)

Knob Creek Straight Rye

£39

£39

What is it? Knob Creek bourbon is created in the style of turn of the century bourbon. This is a Small Batch Bourbon that has aged for 9 years in charred American white oak.

As 4th of July celebrations go off across the USA, join in the spirit of the occasion with a celebratory bottle of American whiskey. Here is a selection of what is available.

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What’s it like? With a maple sugar aroma, distinctive sweetness and rich, full-bodied flavour, this Small Batch bourbon strikes all the right senses! Perfect straight or cooled slightly with one or two ice cubes.

What is it? This is a Kentucky Straight Rye. Instead of corn as the master grain, it is high quality rye. Knob Creek Rye is still made in small batches, patiently aged in the deepest charred barrels and bottled at a full 100 proof to maintain a big flavour. What’s it like? It has a unique rye spiciness and warm smooth flavour. Try it in a classic Old Fashioned or Manhattan – or just sip it neat or with ice.


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Basil Hayden's

Baker’s 70cl

Jim Beam Black Bourbon 70cl

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

£39

£46

£35

£36

What is it? Basil Hayden's is unequalled in that it utilises twice as much rye in it as the other bourbons in the Small Batch Collection. Aged eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, Basil Hayden's has a broad appeal and is equally enjoyable alone or in cocktails. What’s it like? An elegant bourbon. Enriched by a hint of peppermint, it impresses with notes of pepper balanced by slight citrus overtones, and has a spicy, warming finish.

What is it? Named after Baker Beam, grand nephew of the legendary Jim Beam, Baker's Bourbon is 7 years old and hand-bottled at 107 proof. It utilises a special strain of jug yeast that has been in the family for over 60 years and this provides Baker's with a silky smooth texture and consistent taste from batch to batch. What’s it like? The mix of grains, yeast, and seven soothing years in new oak combine to give this bourbon a deeply mellow, richly flavourful, medium-bodied taste with a delicious aroma full of fruit and vanilla. Best served in a snifter with a splash of spring water.

What is it? An elegant and refined premium 86 proof, extra aged bourbon that has spent twice as long in white oak barrels than original Jim Beam. Meant to be sipped and savoured but also mixes well in cocktails. What’s it like? The extra years of aging make for a complex, sophisticated taste and give Jim Beam Black its full bodied flavour with smooth caramel and warm oak notes.

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What is it? As bourbon ages, a portion of the liquid is lost from the barrel due to evaporation - that's the "Angel's Share." After aging, when the bourbon is dumped out of the barrel, a certain amount of whiskey is left trapped within the wood of every barrel. Jim Beam calls that the "devil's cut." A proprietary process pulls the rich whiskey trapped inside the barrel wood after the barrels are emptied. This barrel-treated extract is blended with 6 year old Jim Beam bourbon and bottled at 90 proof. What’s it like? A robust, premium bourbon with intense oak and vanilla notes and a long smooth finish with a hint of sweetness.


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Last of the Summer Gin

Yes, it says THE WHISKY SHOP above our door, but we do stock a small selection of exceptionally crafted gins for those who want something long and refreshing over the summer months.

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Caorunn Gin

Botanist Gin

£42

£39

What is it? Caorunn is a small batch, handcrafted London Dry gin. It is made with 5 locally foraged celtic botanicals, Rowan Berry, Dandelion, Bog Myrtle, Heather and Cool Blush Apple, which are uniquely infused in the world's only working Copper Berry Chamber at Balmenach Distillery in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

What is it? The Botanist is a small-batch, artisan Islay gin made using nine of the classic gin aromatics augmented with a heady harvest of 22 local botanicals from the island of Islay. It is then slow 'simmered' distilled in a unique Lomond pot-still, affectionately known by the head distiller Jim McEwan as 'Ugly Betty'.

What’s it like? Dry, crisp and aromatic.

What’s it like? A highly distinctive, complex, floral gin – nice!


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Hendrick's Gin –

£36

What is it? Life is simply too glorious not to experience the peculiar flavours of Hendrick’s Gin distilled in two antique copper stills housed in a remote Scottish distillery and infused with rose and cucumber. What’s it like? Delightfully curious!

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Customer Favourites

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

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

Bowmore Laimrig 15 Year Old

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

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

– £44

– £70


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Balvenie 17 Year Old

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old

Craigellachie 13 Year Old

£93

£36

£80

£52

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

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

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

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


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Customer Favourites (cont.)

GlenDronach 12 Year Old

Dalmore 12 Year Old

£45

£48

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

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


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BenRiach 10 Year Old

Aberlour 12 Year Old

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Isle of Jura Superstition

£40

£46

£45

£42

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

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

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

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


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KNOWLEDGE BAR: MIXOLOGY

1/

2/

3/


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

Mixing it up... Your guide to summer cocktail perfection, provided by mixologists from our top pick of Edinburgh bars 1/ Rick's The Darkest Tropic

– 40ml Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest 10ml Giffard Crème de Banane 15ml fresh lemon juice 10ml Demerara Syrup 15ml egg white 2 Dashes of Black Walnut Bitters Dry shake, then shake again with ice. Double strain into a frozen classic Martini glass. Garnish with a banana crisp.

2/ Tigerlily The Bittersweet Old Fashioned

– 45ml Auchentoshan Three Wood 5ml Cherry Heering 5ml Cinnato Barolo A Dash of Chocolate Bitters Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass, gently stir and pour over a block of ice into an ‘old fashioned’ glass to serve. Garnish with a chocolate-coated cherry.

3/ Montpeliers The Cherry Picker

– 37.5ml Maker’s Mark 12.5ml Cherry Marnier 2 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters Stirred and served in a rocking tumbler.

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DISTILLERY VISIT

Focus on

Bowmore Gavin D Smith

Bowmore Distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland, having been founded in 1779, and is certainly the oldest surviving distillery on the ‘whisky island’ of Islay. It is located in the centre of the island capital of Bowmore, fronting the western shore of Loch Indaal, a sea loch opening into the Atlantic Ocean. The distillery was established by local postmaster and ferry operator David Simson, who had previously distilled at Killarow, near Bridgend, three miles from the village of Bowmore. Simpson operated Bowmore until 1837, when he sold it to Glasgow-based W& J Mutter, previously proprietors of Jura distillery. Later notable Bowmore owners were JB Sherriff & Co, who ran it from 1925 to 1950. The distillery ultimately came into the hands of whiskybrokers Stanley P Morrison Ltd in 1963, and in 1987 the firm, which also operates Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch distilleries, changed its trading name to Morrison Bowmore Ltd. Two years later, Japanese distilling giant Suntory acquired a 35 per cent stake in the company, and in 1994 took full control. 2014 saw Suntory Holdings Ltd acquire the shares of Beam Inc, which brought Bowmore and Laphroaig Islay single malt brands into the same ownership. This does not however raise issues of the whiskies competing against each other, as Hannah Fisher, Senior Brand Manager, explains. “Bowmore and Laphroaig are very different whiskies and are not seen as competitors. Laphroaig is known for its strong, peaty notes, giving it a particularly rich tone. In contrast, Bowmore is a very balanced whisky, reflecting its location in the heart of Islay. Notes of vanilla, citrus, peat and salt can all be enjoyed in a dram of Bowmore, offering consumers a very different liquid.” Today, despite being the second-best-selling Islay single malt after Laphroaig, Bowmore is one of the smaller Islay distilleries in terms of capacity, with a maximum annual output just in excess of two million litres. However, when the great distillery chronicler Alfred Barnard visited the island during the mid-1880s he noted that Bowmore was producing 200,000 gallons of spirit per annum (909,000 litres), making it second in size only to Ardbeg, which was then turning out some 250,000 gallons (1.13 million litres). Barnard described the settlement of Bowmore as “…the capital of Islay, a town containing 800 inhabitants, and built on the face of a hill, at the top of which stands the parish church, a circular whitewashed building with a spire. The Bowmore Distillery covers nearly four acres of ground, and is built on a shelf of the sea coast…” Despite being written almost 130 years ago, Barnard’s description remains broadly accurate to this day. He added that

“It is a noticeable fact that all the Distilleries in Islay are built on the seaboard. The distillers say that proximity to the sea favours the various processes of malting, brewing, and distilling.” Barnard noted the existence of five malting floors at Bowmore, and while on-site malting no longer takes place at virtually all of the distilleries he visited during his exhaustive tour of Scotland’s whisky-making facilities, Bowmore remains one of a handful where it does, along with new ‘stable mate’ Laphroaig.

"the maritime climate plays an important role in the character of Bowmore whisky"

Around 40 per cent of Bowmore’s malt requirements are obtained from its three operational malting floors, with the remainder being sourced from maltsters on the mainland and peated to the same level of 25 phenol parts per million (or ppm). This places Bowmore in the middle of Islay single malts in terms of peating levels, although it is sometimes described as the ‘smokiest’ of all the Islays. So does the use of distillery floor maltings really make any difference to the character of spirit produced? One man who certainly thinks so is distillery manager David Turner, who started work at Bowmore as a warehouseman 25 years ago. David declares that “I think using our own floor maltings is very important, as I believe some of the fruity flavours, especially in the older Bowmores, are well known for coming from the malt barns. Bowmore is the oldest and the original Islay distillery and one of very few that still has floor maltings. The traditional production methods have been handed down from generation to generation.” When it comes to transforming the malt into spirit, Bowmore is equipped with a stainless steel semi-lauter mashtun, six traditional Oregon pine washbacks and two pairs of stills. At Bowmore tradition blends with innovation, and a significant amount of time, energy and money has been invested in making the distillery more environmentally friendly, with the boiler being converted to recycle and reuse waste energy. A process has also been developed to macerate and bake peat into ‘caff’ for burning in the floor maltings, which generates increased peat flavour in the malting barley yet requires up to 75 per cent less peat than was previously the case. In 1990, a warehouse was donated to the local community to create an indoor swimming pool, which is heated by hot water from the still house condensers.


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DISTILLERY VISIT

All spirit produced at Bowmore is destined for single malt bottling, rather than use in blends and it is filled into a mixture of cask types, with the distillery using around 20 per cent ex-sherry casks and 80 per cent former Bourbon barrels. If the use of floor maltings is a distinctive feature of Bowmore as a distillery and a whisky, then the maturation regime is equally worthy of note. There are three on-site warehouses, holding a total of some 27,000 casks, and the maritime climate plays an important role in the character of Bowmore whisky during maturation. Indeed, the distillery’s famous old Number 1 warehouse is partly below sea level. ‘No 1’ experiences very minor temperature changes compared to other warehouses, and the prevailing damp salt air means that evaporation is less than in many cases, while that air also shapes the style of the ageing spirit. According to David Turner, “Maturation at the distillery is important, as Bowmore’s well-known maritime flavours come from the environment and temperature it’s matured in.” Not surprisingly, a warehouse with such great maturation attributes tends to be reserved for rather special casks of whisky, and houses many sherry butts. Some of the truly great Bowmores have silently matured in that venerable warehouse, and there is no greater expression for many aficionados than the famous ‘Black Bowmore.’ The initial release of this 1964 spirit, filled into Oloroso sherry casks, took place in 1993, with further releases during the succeeding two years, and the notably dark colour imparted during maturation led to the expression’s name. Soon considered a classic, bottles have been known to change hands for four figure sums, having initially sold for £100 each. Black Bowmore made another appearance in 2006, as the first in a trilogy of expressions distilled in the same year, but which had undergone diverse maturation experiences. Eddie MacAffer has worked at Bowmore since the 1960s, and was appointed Master Distiller at Bowmore in August 2013, having progressed from distillery operator to head maltman, distillery brewer, head distiller and finally distillery manager from 2008, before taking up his present role. When asked which releases have given him most satisfaction to prepare, Eddie says “The Bowmore Trilogy, starting with the 42-year-old Black Bowmore in 2006, then the 43-year-old White Bowmore in 2007, and finally the 44-year-old Bowmore Gold in 2008. This last release was my second all-time favourite dram. I also had the privilege of being part of the team that watched over these casks as they matured over the years.“ Eddie adds that as far as he is concerned the most iconic Bowmore ever to be offered to the public was “The 40-year-old that was released in 1995. It was distilled in 1955 in the old coal-fired stillhouse. This carefully distilled new spirit matured into a real classic dram.” When it comes to ‘iconic’ drams Bowmore boasts something of an embarrassment of riches, with a 50-year-old variant having been released in 2013, with another 50 bottles following last year. Various vintages are also on offer, with the oldest currently being a 54-year-old, distilled in 1957. More affordable for the average consumer are the ongoing

Devil’s Casks and Tempest series, with the former being 10-yearold cask strength small-batch releases matured in first-fill sherry casks, while the latter are similarly 10 years old, bottled at cash strength in small batches, but having been aged in first-fill Bourbon casks. However, the core Bowmore range itself offers a diverse range of styles and ages, starting with the no-age-statement Legend expression, and progressing through Bowmore Small Batch Reserve, matured in first and second fill ex-Bourbon casks, 12 Years Old and 15 Years Old Darkest, matured in a combination of exBourbon and former sherry casks, before a final three-year period ageing in Oloroso sherry casks. The line-up concludes with an 18 Years Old and a 25 Years Old. Additionally, and exclusive to The Whisky Shop in the UK, is Laimrig, a 15-year-old expression bottled at 53.7%abv after a period of ‘finishing’ in Spanish sherry butts. During the last few years, Bowmore distillery’s ‘empire’ has expanded, from the distillery itself to embrace six holiday cottages and, most recently, The Harbour Inn, located in the centre of Bowmore, a stone’s throw from the distillery. These provide the perfect accommodation for visitors to the distillery, who number around 18,000 each year. If there is one thing better than savouring your favourite expression of Bowmore at home, it is savouring it on the balcony of the visitor centre after watching the maltmen working the malt floors, feeling the heat from the hissing copper stills and the serene, salty dampness of the warehouses, while looking out across the waters of Loch Indaal, glass in hand.

David's Dram:

Eddie's Dram:

Bowmore 25 Year Old

Bowmore 18 Year Old


London Limited Edition Design 2500 individual numbered bottles THE JOHNNIE WALKER, BLUE LABEL, KEEP WALKING WORDS AND ASSOCIATED LOGOS ARE TRADE MARKS © JOHN WALKER AND SONS 2015


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


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E X P E RT TAST I N G

{ Charles MacLean } Expert Tasting – Auchentoshan 18 Years Old Bowmore 18 Years Old


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

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Auchentoshan 18 Years Old Auchentoshan Distillery was built on the very edge of the Highlands. The name itself (pronounced ‘Ock-un-tosh-un’) comes from the language of the Highlands, Gaelic, and means ‘the corner of the field’. The distillery draws its water from high in the Kilpatrick Hills, above the Highland Line, yet it is very much a ‘Lowland’ malt - indeed, it is the only distillery in Scotland which continues to distil its spirit three times, in three pot stills, a practice once common among Lowland distilleries. Triple distillation is a complex process, but the result is a lighter, purer, smoother and more delicate spirit, with fruity and floral flavours. Maturation rounds off and fills out the flavour profile, developing depth and complexity, and Auchentoshan’s Chief Blender follows a rigorous wood policy, selecting a range of casks for each expression. The distillery was founded in 1823 by John Bulloch. Not much is known about him, except that he was a grain merchant. In all likelihood he took out a distiller’s licence as a way of using up surplus barley. Production was small, and he found a ready market for his whisky in Glasgow, sending it up the River Clyde from the little port of Bowling, just below the distillery. The early years were a struggle. Both John and his son went bankrupt, and the distillery was sold to a local farmer who ran the place successfully for forty-four years, until being ruined by a disastrous harvest. But Glasgow was growing, and Glaswegians are notoriously thirsty! At the time of its foundation, the landscape around Auchentoshan was rural, with scattered farms and well-tended fields, small villages and the occasional grand country house. The distillery was described as being “situated in a romantic glen with a stream of water running past it”. During the 1880s the town of Clydebank swallowed up the surrounding farmland, when a huge factory making Singer sewing machines and two major shipyards were established there. Both the latter were leading suppliers to the Admiralty, and one, John Brown & Company, was also the principal builder of Cunard ocean liners, including the Queen Mary in 1934 and the Queen Elizabeth four years later. Because of its naval associations, Clydebank was targeted by the Luftwaffe during World War II, and in the course of two terrible nights in March 1941 the town was utterly destroyed. Over 1,000 people were killed and only seven properties in the district

remained unharmed. Miraculously, Auchentoshan Distillery was one of them, although three warehouses and over a million litres of whisky were lost. A bomb crater behind the distillery now forms the pond which supplies cooling water to the condensers. Production resumed in 1948 but every litre of whisky made went into blended Scotch – Auchentoshan was reputed to lend a smoothness and a ‘brandy-like character’ to the mix. Only in the 1970s was it first bottled by its owner as a single malt, but now there is a core range of six expressions, including this 18 Years Old.

Bowmore 18 Years Old I have just searched my library for the first reference to an 18 years old bottling of Bowmore – probably the most ‘preferred’ age for a single malt after 12 years – but I can find no reference until after the millennium. This is surprising. Bowmore was being sold as a ‘self whisky’ (i.e. a single malt) as early as 1850, “in both England and overseas”, according to Ian Buxton’s recent (and excellent) history of the distillery and its owners, But the Distilleries Went On (2014). By the 1870s it was being sold by the case: “One Dozen Quarts Proof Strength - 16/-“, and in bulk at “Per Gallon @ 11OP – 4/6”. [i.e. “twelve 114cl bottles @ 57%ABV for 80p ; or “45cl @63%ABV for 23p” ! Happy days!]. One of these 1850 bottles, known as a ‘Mutter bottle’, after the owners of Bowmore at the time, William and James Mutter, achieved £29,000 at auction in Glasgow in 2007. It was very unusual for malt whisky to be bottled by distillery owners until the 1890s. Such as was released as single malt – even the term was unknown – was bottled by wine & spirits merchants. The vast majority of the make was sold to the blending houses. So one might say with hindsight that Bowmore was ahead of the game. A notice in The Wine and Spirit Trade Record, March 1922, advertising Bowmore Distillery for sale, states: “The Whisky produced at the Distillery has attained a well-recognised position throughout the world’s Spirit Trade, being of great value as a finely flavoured product for covering [i.e. as a ‘top dressing’ in a blend], and single whisky purposes, including a “Speciality” which can only be communicated to a purchaser”.


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E X P E RT TAST I N G

How one would like to know what the “Speciality” was – a rare malt bottling? Bowmore does not appear in UK price lists from the 1920s; by the 1960s writers were referring to it as being ‘available at the distillery’; in 1973 it was described as ‘available’, and in 1989 Michael Jackson [Malt Whisky Companion] was able to include tasting notes for four expressions – at 10 and 12 years; a Bicentenary Edition (1979 at 15 years) and a one-off 1966 (at 22 years). No sign of an 18 years old until well into the 1990s. Yet eighteen has long been considered a perfect bottling age – at least since the 1980s. In the right casks or mix of casks, and under the right maturation conditions, such a period of time can perform miracles. Some years ago I had the pleasure of accompanying Andrew Rankin, Bowmore’s Production Director, to Jerez in Spain to visit his suppliers of sherry casks, Miguel Martinez. The casks

Auchentoshan 18 Years Old

– S I N G L E LO W L A N D M A LT | 43%VOL | £8 8

Tasting Note Deep gold in hue. A mild, rounded nose, with aromatic oil in the foreground, baked apple in the middle, on a base of caramel wafer. Both the oiliness and the fruitiness increase with water. A smooth and oily texture, with a sweet and fragrant taste, leaving milk chocolate in the aftertaste and development.

are made to Andrew’s specification, then seasoned with sherry for a specified period (four years, as I recall) before being sent to Bowmore for filling. On another trip, we went to Kentucky to visit his suppliers of American oak casks, which would be filled with bourbon for three years before shipment. Watch us on singlemalt.tv.bowmore, via YouTube…! Andrew specifies a mix of cask types for each bottling of his single malts, including the Bowmore 18YO. The casks are matured in the distillery’s No.1 Vaults, built in the late 1700s and the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland. It is also the only warehouse below sea level – dark and damp, and the thick stone walls seep salt water. [again, check out YouTube]. So when you taste this splendid malt, think of where it spent the last eighteen years. There is no substitute for time in the right casks under the right conditions!

Bowmore 18 Years Old

– S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT | 43%VOL | £99

Tasting Note Polished beech in colour, the aroma seems to match this: polished wood to the fore, with gentle smoke behind. In between are scents of dry seaweed and canvas, hemp ropes and lanolin, then caramel rises to dominate. The taste is a surprise after the mellow aroma: big, sweet, salty and smoky at full strength; more floral, less salty and smoky at reduced strength. Both with some spice in the finish.

CHARLES'S P L AY L I ST » » » » » » » »

Desolation Row |Bob Dylan Walk on the Wildside | Lou Reed O Superman | Laurie Anderson Romeo & Juliet Dance of the Knights | Sergei Prokofiev The Last time I saw Richard |Joni Mitchell Farewell to Sicily (by Hamish Henderson) | Dick Gaughan Wild Horses | Rolling Stones Big Joe and Phantom 309 | Tom Waits


96

ON THE OTHER HAND

{On the other hand} Victor Brierley

Simply the best?


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

If I had a pound for every person who has come up to me recently and said: "Japanese whisky is the best whisky in the world", I would have £635… and counting, because there have been a lot! And there are the others, who swear, "that the best Whisky in the World is Taiwanese". Some also crack-on about Bourbon and, indeed, some suggest that anything made by 'Wee Willie Winkie' is the Planet's prime hooch. I get lots of whisky aficionados telling me stuff. They've all got one thing in common, they have been reading the latest guide or league table or book on whiskies of the world. Now, opinions are like… bottoms, everyone has one. Don't get me wrong here, some of my best friends are writers and where would we be without opinions? I love a good yarn and, as I tutor a class on creative writing, I frequently advise fledgling writers "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story". When it comes to books about my favourite subject… I mean, Whisky, who am I to let a little licence, an embellishment of embroidery get in the way of eulogising about the Planet's best social lubricant? And if people want to award marks, stars, trophies or awards of any kind, to drams of any kind, it's surely got to be a good thing? I was brought up believing that those who sneer at ' Awards', are the people who are not winning them. So, why am I getting my ‘troos’ in a tangle over popular opinion that would have it that Whisky from absolutely EVERYWHERE that isn't Scotland seems to be 'The Best… (cue Jeremy Clarkson)… in the World'? Well, the simple fact is, the aforementioned opinions, awards and judgements ain't what you might call 'Scientific'. I mean we are not in laboratory controlled environment, are we? I suppose you could level this at most Awards though. Is the Academy Award/ Grammy/Turner Prize/Mercury Music Prize really the high point of the art in question? Of course not. Not necessarily. But, (and it's actually quite a big 'but,') what these books and

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awards are highlighting is an opinion. Once that opinion is born it is adopted as fact by lots of journalists, hungry for a "the best Whisky in the World ISN'T Scotch?" type of story. And then of course, due to the power of all media of a Social persuasion, this message is carried around the globe, and soon, everyone thinks this story is the truth. And that folks, is where the expression ‘gaining street currency’ comes from. Well… that’s sort of what has been happening to me. People, everywhere are telling me that Scotch is yesterday's dram. And that kinda doesn’t square with my simple philosophy of life. I’m very happy to concede that there are a lot of good whiskies from around the world gaining prominence, many on merit and many deserving recognition and a place in the hierarchy of fine drinking moments. But you can’t casually trash the whole back bar of Scotch blends and malts that dominate the category. Oops! ‘Category’ that’s a corporate word, sorry! Press the reset button. I should say, the majestic, shouty, creamy, dreamy liquids that come from this wee bit of turf that I am proud to call ‘hame’. So please please please bear this in mind when you next read the eloquent phrases of the latest wine or spirit critic or judging panel. Opinions are like… bottoms. And what’s more, there is no end to them! Slainte! victor@liquortolips.scot

Victor’s pretentious tasting notes “Like Dr Jekyll it's trying to escape from its alter ego, but Hyde wins out.” “Excellent, although I was slightly put off by the fishiness. I think all fish are stinking, slimey creatures however, so I am admittedly biased.” “Wet forest soils and moss. Plastics. Mashed potatoes as well.” “Grainy and surprisingly oaked (virgin oak!). Quite earthy and spicy: nutmeg, pepper, liquorice. Green tea. Some melon. Hints of peat again, but very subtle.” “Beach bonfires, ozone and a savoury note on the nose, plus Balkan Sobranie tobacco.” “Smooth, substantial and insinuating on the palate, subtly spicy, with Jaffa oranges, hazelnuts and very gentle, smoky peat!”


Peated Malts of Distinction brings together an unrivalled collection of peated malts for every palate, from the lightly peated flavour of The Ardmore to the heavy peat smoke of Laphroaig. Each single malt boasts its own unique, distinctive and smoky flavour.

Whiskeria summer 2015  

The Whisky Shop magazine includes review of 17 new whiskies, as well as our usual inspiration for your next dram. Our cover for the summer e...