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KINDRED SPIRIT The Whisky Shop Magazine

Winter 2017/18 F.E.W Spirits Dr Kirstie McCallum Paris Whisky Bar Guide Loch Fyne Whiskies Cocktails New Releases

£3.49 where sold

KT Tunstall’s story so far...




50 years in the making‌ Whiskeria discovers the journey of Loch Lomond 50 Year Old

Over the past half century, while Loch Lomond, Scotland’s most famous expanse of water, was exposed to the turmoil of the elements, nearby a very special cask was quietly maturing under watchful eyes. Its precious contents have now been released as the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old – the award-winning Loch Lomond Distillery’s oldest and rarest single malt. Just 60 decanters will be available worldwide. The Loch Lomond Distillery, located in Alexandria, on the banks of Loch Lomond, has one of the oldest heritages in the industry, with roots stretching back to the Littlemill distillery, licensed in 1772. The 50 Year Old was distilled in Loch Lomond’s unique straight neck stills in 1967, around a year after production got underway at the current site. It was matured in an American oak hogshead for 31 years and then in a European oak hogshead for a further 19 years before being bottled at 46.2% abv. According to John Peterson, Production Director and Master Distiller at Loch Lomond Distillery, the rich and refined character of the 50 Year Old is testament to the innovative distillation techniques championed by the distillery’s first owner, American Duncan Thomas. He said: “Our straight neck pot stills were unique

in 1966 when they were first installed, and they are still unique to this day. Their straight shape grants us greater control over the character of the spirit from the outset. They were remarkably forward-thinking and are sophisticated in their ability to provide us with greater control over the quality and flavour profile of the spirit, capturing fruity notes particularly well.”

Crafting the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old has been the work of Loch Lomond Master Blender, Michael Henry. He said: “The 50 Year Old had been maturing for 40 years

before I joined Loch Lomond Whiskies and had been well taken care of by previous Master Distillers and Blenders. A great deal of dedication and craftsmanship is required to nurture and protect ageing whisky and to preserve the cask in the best possible environment in a cool warehouse with very little temperature variation.” Each hand-blown Glencairn crystal decanter encasing the whisky is presented in a bespoke chest by ‘architects of objects’, Method Studio in Scotland. The husband and wife team, Callum Robinson and Marisa Giannasi said they drew inspiration from the drama, romance and kinetic energy of Loch Lomond to create ‘The Tempest Chest’. Creative Director, Callum explained:

“Hand-shaped in solid oak, leather lined and indigodyed, the tactile, sculpted surface of each chest is suggestive of tempestuous water at twilight, with only a solid brass key visible from the exterior, mysteriously emerging from the surface to build intrigue. Inside, the bottle rests upon sculpted oak waves, alongside a solid turned brass vial miniature, lined in glass and reminiscent of the straight neck pot still.”


“…the rich and refined character of the 50 Year Old is testament to the innovative distillation techniques championed by the Loch Lomond distillery’s first owner, Duncan Thomas.” Master Distiller John Peterson

On the nose, the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old delivers a heady oak spice of clove and cinnamon with sweeter notes of sultanas and raisins with creamy vanilla fudge. There is intense vibrant tropical fruit with a honey sweetness on the palate, while the finish is warming stem ginger, bursts of gooseberry and elderflower and grapefruit citrus. The Loch Lomond 50 Year Old is priced at £12,000.

Michael Henry, Master Blender



As I see it… Ian P Bankier — Illustration: Francesca Waddell

J You either love Christmas or you loathe it.

People love Christmas for many reasons, but I would say the common denominator is that every year we enjoy doing broadly the same things and performing the same rituals. It’s that comforting sense of tradition that provides the happiness of a family gathering. I do acknowledge that there is also, and importantly, a spiritual side to Christmas, which I in no way wish to disrespect by these observations. Christmas is traditional – old fashioned you might say – with old fashioned artefacts, such as trees, logs, fake snow, puddings and paper crackers that invariably go phutt rather than bang. Christmas doesn’t do high-tech! Nor does it always respond well to modernisation. In the USA, for example, many people insist on the cringingly correct greeting “Happy Holidays” for fear of offending those who do not recognise the festival. When it comes to gifts, I’m a traditionalist. I like a gift that can be wrapped up and put under the tree. And when it is opened, there it is, revealed to the happy recipient. Frankly I struggle with the trendy ‘activity gift’. “Hey, we’ve given you a day on a lake water jet flying!”. Oh dear, I think, as my heart sinks. “We’ve given you tickets for [fill in the blank] in ten

months time!”. Where will I be then, I silently murmur (I’m here today). I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but is Christmas not all about the joy of gathering with friends and family and exchanging gifts – I mean things that you can have in the moment? Of course, at this juncture you would expect me to say this, but I have always maintained that a gift of whisky for anyone with half an inkling to enjoy it, is undoubtedly the gift of choice. What can you buy today for less than £99 that has been 12 years or more in the making and looks beautiful? And, joy of joys, it can be drunk! And, better still, it can be opened and admired on the day. This Christmas coming, I don’t think I have gone into the festive season and witnessed so much variety at The Whisky Shop. The whole category of specialist whiskies and premium spirits has been buzzing. The influx of niche whiskies from around the world has impacted, as have the early gin offerings from some of the new population of craft distillers in the UK. But in addition, the established brands have all extended their ranges to provide a variety for every taste and budget. Not only that – at The Whisky Shop we have expanded the list of gifts that are exclusive


“I have always maintained that a gift of whisky for anyone with half an inkling to enjoy it, is undoubtedly the gift of choice”

to our shops. We have introduced a delightful gift entitled the 12 Drams of Christmas that contains twelve individual miniature bottles of different whiskies. With this you can enjoy an individual treat each day of the holiday period, sampling the delights of our great product! You can also buy and gift a W Club subscription package for your favourite person. A W Club subscription will cover a set period over which we will post to the recipient a whisky sample (or samples) every month – truly the gift that keeps giving! And, of course, we also do traditional. Our range of liqueurs this year is as strong as it has ever been with new introductions from Loch Fyne Whiskies. Their Chocolate and Orange Liqueur is sumptuous and their Honey and Ginger version is better still. So, to all of you who open this copy of Whiskeria, I hope that you enjoy our seasonal offering of articles and whisky news, and that you pay us a visit either online or in store where we will be happy to find you the perfect gift for Christmas. Slàinte Ian P Bankier, Executive Chairman,



Competition — Whiskeria Exclusive

Win! A F.E.W Spirits Goodie Bundle

This winter’s Distillery Visit takes us to F.E.W Spirits – the pioneering distillery which overturned century-old prohibition laws in Evanston, Illinois, in order to create seriously delicious craft whiskey and gin. We’re big fans of what they’re doing at F.E.W and we’re sure you will be too (that is, if you’re not already!) – that’s why we’re giving away this fantastic F.E.W goodie bundle to one lucky Whiskeria reader! To win a bottle each of F.E.W Bourbon and F.E.W Rye whiskey, both signed by the distillery team who created them, plus a F.E.W Spirits t-shirt, hat, beautifully designed poster and F.E.W sticker set, just answer the question the below: To enter, simply tell us: Which historical prohibitionist lent her initials to F.E.W Spirits? Answers should be emailed to: Please include your full name and answer. Terms & Conditions The winner will be selected from all entries received via the email address stated above by midnight on 31st February 2018. The judge’s decision will be final. This competition is not open to employees of THE WHISKY SHOP Ltd. All normal competition rules apply. UK entrants must be 18 years old or over to apply. International entrants must be of legal drinking age in their country of residence.

–– produced by Ascot Publishing Limited PO Box 7415 Glasgow G51 9BR –– contact

–– commissioning editor GlenKeir Whiskies Limited –– executive producer Claire Daisley 0141 427 2919 –– executive chairman Ian P Bankier –– product photography Subliminal Creative 01236 734923

–– creative direction a visual agency –– feature writers Brian Wilson; Charles MacLean; Gavin D Smith; Claire Bell –– feature photography Brian Sweeney Christina Kernohan –– illustration Francesca Waddell Sean Mulvenna

–– 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 27 October 2017. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change.

SHERRY CASK CONNOISSEURSHIP SINCE 1826 Nestled deep in the east Highland hills, The GlenDronach Distillery has been quietly mastering the art of sherry cask maturation since 1826. Here, in the valley of Forgue, the finest Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks hold our spirit. After years in the quiet darkness of our dunnage warehouses, these casks are rolled into the light, a dram poured from their depths. Every cask will have its moment; it takes patience and skill to recognise it. Each GlenDronach Highland Single Malt bears the influence of long years in the finest sherry casks: complex, elegant single malts of remarkable intensity, with rich depth and a lasting finish.

Savour with time, drink responsibly. © 2017 The GlenDronach is a registered trademark, all rights reserved.



Contributors Winter 2017/18 —

Illustration: Francesca Waddell

Brian Wilson

Claire Bell

Charles MacLean Gavin D Smith

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

Claire Bell has written on travel for Time magazine, The Herald, The Times, The Guardian and Wanderlust. A confirmed nomad, Claire lives between Glasgow, France and her native South Africa where she co-runs the dialogue collective Consciousness Café. Global adventure or a stay on Scottish soil, she is a dab hand at finding places you'll want to visit.

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

Gavin is one of the world’s most prolific and respected whisky writers. He’s regularly published in a range of top magazines and has written more than a dozen books on whisky, while co-authoring many more. He is also responsible for editing and releasing the latest version of Michael Jackson’s seminal whisky publication, The Malt Whisky Companion.


Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™ Capsule Series. Limited edition by Tom Dixon Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™ is the pinnacle of the art of blending. Our experienced Master Blenders handpick just 1 in 10,000 casks of the rarest whiskies to craft an unrivalled masterpiece. A collaboration between Master Blender Jim Beveridge and critically acclaimed British designer Tom Dixon OBE, two pioneers of craft and luxury. The copper accents of the design are a characteristic of Dixon’s distinguishable contemporary designs and a deliberate nod to the art of whisky-making.



Contents Winter 2017/18 —

12 Short List This season's good taste guide 16 Distillery Visit F.E.W Spirits 21 New Releases Winter 2017/18 38 My Whiskeria KT Tunstall 48 My Craft Dr. Kirstie McCallum, Master Blender 54 A Time in History Auld Lang Syne 58 Mixing It Up Loch Fyne Whiskies' winter cocktails 65 The Whisky Shop Section 88 Travel Paris Whisky Guide 94 Dear Uncle Ether Whisky's foremost agony uncle 96 Expert Tasting The Last Drop Vintage 1971 & Loch Lomond 50 Year Old


Four long decades have ticked slowly by as this precious liquid slowly and silently matured in Turney casks. The result is an irreplaceable piece of history, come pour a dram and journey with us to the beautiful island of Islay.



The Short List

ShortList Winter 2017/18


— There’s more to life than just whisky – complement great taste with our top objects of desire this season

Stewart Christie Quality Bespoke Tailoring —

1. Stewart Christie Wool Pockerchief £14.50 2. Olney Wool Felt Safari Hat £54.00 3. Grey Herringbone Three Piece Suit £565 Off The Peg / Made to Measure £990+ / Bespoke £1,500+ ) Edinburgh tailors Stewart Christie stock a wide collection in store and online, with items from some of the best British brands. All pieces are manufactured in-house or by UK suppliers, each hand selected for the fine quality and heritage of their products.

Cross Cashmere Luxury Knitwear —

Pictured: The Houndstooth £349 Cross Cashmere is a unisex knitwear line defining contemporary Scotland with a heritage heartbeat. The capsule was created by fashion writer and stylist, Lynne McCrossan, as part of her 2016 book – Cashmere: a guide to Scottish luxury — and is produced at their mill, William Lockie, in Hawick, which has been manufacturing luxury products for over 240 years.



The Short List

Harris Tweed New Fabrics for Home Interiors —

Christopher Ward C8 Power Reserve Chronometer —

Award-winning Harris Tweed Hebrides of Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, has produced a beautiful new range of handwoven fabric with designs, weight and finish specifically intended for use in home interiors. World-renowned Harris Tweed exudes style and quality. The range can be viewed online or call (+44)1851-700046.  

Powered by a hand-wound version of their Calibre SH21 movement, the C8 introduces a power reserve complication for the first time – when fully wound, the decorated twin barrels provide an incredible five days of power. Meanwhile, the black DLC case and altimeter-inspired date calendar match that practicality with stunningly innovative design.

£POA |

Noble Isle Whisky & Water Bath & Shower Gel — £20 |

The finest whiskies in the world start with just two ingredients, barley and water. Noble Isle sources malted barley from the time-honoured Balvenie Distillery in Dufftown to create their famous Whisky & Water Bath & Shower Gel; a liquid gold redolent of the finest oak-aged single malt with warm vanilla and cedarwood on the nose and skin-calming extract of Scottish malted barley.

£1695 |

THE ULTIMATE WINTER WARMER Trade is going to be hotting up this winter thanks to Glenfarclas giving away a free branded top quality knitted bobble hat RRP £9.99 with every purchase of their specially packaged 10 year old Single Malt Scotch whisky.




Distillery Visit

F.E.W Spirits may be a small distillery, but it’s achieving big things in the world of craft drinks. Gavin Smith finds out why, sometimes, less is more...



Distillery Visit

Knowledge Bar Distillery Visit F.E.W Named after renowned local prohibitionist, Frances Elizabeth Willard First distiller in Evanston, Illinois – the home of the Temperance Movement – since prohibition was introduced For more info, or to book a tour, visit: Location: 918 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202

The USA’s burgeoning craft distilling movement has restored whiskey-making to many States which lacked distilleries since prohibition (1920-33), and has seen the total number of such operations grow dramatically all over the country. There are now well in excess of 1,000 craft distilleries in operation, with 21 in the state of Illinois alone. One such venture is F.E.W. Spirits in the Illinois city of Evanston, and in this case the distillery has put temperance at the very heart of its name. Evanston, which lies close to the North Side of Chicago, was founded by Methodists, and famed as home to the Women's Christian Temperance Union and suffragist and prohibitionist Frances Elizabeth Willard. Taking her initials for his new venture, former patent lawyer Paul Hletko established F.E.W. during 2011 in a characterful ex-garage building, just off Chicago Avenue, having put all his legal training to the task of obtaining the first ever licence to distil within Evanston’s city limits. The name also works on another level, with Hletko declaring that “We don’t make a lot of product, we just make a few.” Prior to the Second World War, Hletko’s grandfather brewed beer in what is now the Czech Republic, but during the Second World War the brewery was seized by the Germans, and the only family member not to die in a concentration camp was his grandfather. Despite strenuous post-war efforts, he never managed to regain his brewery, and after his death, grandson Paul decided it would be appropriate to find some way of honouring his legacy. Accordingly, his change of career restored the family tradition of making alcohol. “I decided to take up distilling as it was a passion and I had a desire to lead a creative life,” he says. “I chose our distillery’s location as it is about halfway between my home and where my children attended elementary school, and was very convenient.” F.E.W boasts a 2,700-square-feet distilling floor and a 400-square-feet tasting room. When it comes to stills, Hletko notes that “I have two hybrids from Kothe, and a continuous still from Vendome.” Kothe Distilling Technologies Inc. is based in Chicago, so the stills in question did not have

far to travel from workshop to distillery. The firm is the sole North American representative for Germany’s Kothe Destillationstechnik. Vendome Copper & Brassworks Inc. is to US distilling what Forsyth of Rothes is to Scotland – namely, the best-known and most prolific still-maker in the country, with its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. Paul Hletko put his flexible distilling regime to work creating gins, ‘white dog’ whiskey, aged bourbon, rye and single malt whiskey. “We make grain spirits because we're in the country’s breadbasket,” he declares, noting that “We source the highest quality grain we can find, as close to home as we can get.” Unlike some other ‘producers’ who buy in spirit, F.E.W operates a ‘grain to glass’ policy, and Hletko stresses that “It’s really important to me to be true to who we are. We make everything ourselves; we say we make it ourselves, and we do make it ourselves.” He adds that “I love whiskey, I love drinking whiskey, I love sharing whiskey… and making whiskey is incredibly rewarding.” The distillery’s bourbon mash bill comprises 70 percent corn, 20 percent rye, and 10 percent rare two-row malt. The spirit matures in new white oak barrels, sourced from a Minnesota cooper, with the specification of a relatively heavy char, which leads to a rich-coloured whiskey with pronounced vanilla notes. When it comes to F.E.W Rye whiskey, the distillery declares that “The generous rye content is married with the sweetness of corn for a genteel interpretation of the venerable spirit. Patiently aged in air-dried oak barrels, its spicy character transcends mere resurgence.” The third whiskey variant produced by the distillery is a single malt, distilled from both unsmoked and cherry-wood-smoked malted barley, with the latter being sourced from a malthouse in Wisconsin. Aged for a minimum of one year in exbourbon barrels from the Minnesota cooperage that supplies all of F.E.W’s wood, this Scottishinfluenced whiskey blends smoke and sweet spice to create a highly-regarded dram. Indeed, last year, the influential US Eater website declared F.E.W to be one of the 12 best single malt whiskey distilleries in the country.



Distillery Visit

White spirits have always played a major part in the craft distilling movement, and F.E.W is as celebrated for its gins as it is for its whiskeys. In particular the company’s Barrel Gin stands out from the crowd, true to Paul Hletko’s adage that “You can't just make a good gin, you have to make a good gin that is different.” Hletko uses Cascade hops to give his gin a distinctive citrus character, and the spirit is then matured in a mix of new oak casks and former bourbon and rye barrels, with the contents ultimately being vatted for consistency. The term Barrel Gin is used, as the US government does not allow the designation ‘barrel-aged,’ although this is exactly what it is.

Whatever the contents of the bottle, presentation is obviously of extreme importance in catching the eye of the would-be consumer in a crowded marketplace. For its part, F.E.W offers eye-catching bottle labels based on woodcut prints from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Hletko notes that “We are currently operating near full capacity, but we have grown our capacity consistently for many years. While we enjoy creating one-off, fun projects, we don’t have current plans to introduce new products for our offering set on a consistent basis. One-offs and collaborations will continue to launch, but only on a limited basis.” Given the high quality and provenance of the exiting F.E.W line-up, who could really ask for more?

To win a F.E.W goodie bundle see our competition on page 5 To buy F.E.W. Bourbon and F.E.W. Rye, go to


Our distillery uses more than one type of still. We’re not most. Scottish Single Malt

Distillery of the Year





New Releases: Winter 2017/18

New Releases Winter 2017/18 Reviewed by Charles MacLean

001 002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010 011 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020 021

The Loch Fyne Whiskies Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old The Loch Fyne Whiskies Glenrothes 12 Year Old Inchmurrin The Whisky Shop Single Cask Exclusive Kilchoman 2006 The Whisky Shop Single Cask Exclusive Platinum Old & Rare Malts: Glen Keith 21 Year Old Tamdhu 30 Year Old Caol Ila 36 Year Old Glenallachie 25 Year Old Highland Park 19 Year Old Auchentoshan 32 Year Old Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 Edition Diageo Special Releases 2017: Collectivum XXVIII Brora 34 Year Old Convalmore 32 Year Old Port Ellen 37 Year Old Ardbeg An Oa Jura One And All The Macallan Edition No. 3 Octomore Masterclass_08.1 Old Pulteney 25 Year Old Old Pulteney 1983



New Releases: Winter 2017/18

The Loch Fyne Whiskies Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old Islay Single Malt Age: 12 Year Old

Vol: 46%

A mellow nose, reminiscent of old Armagnac: dried fruits macerated in Oloroso sherry, Muscovado sugar.

The Loch Fyne Whiskies Glenrothes 12 Year Old


Speyside Single Malt


Age: 12 Year Old

Very deep amber with magenta lights – first fill European oak. A mellow nose, reminiscent of old Armagnac: dried fruits macerated in Oloroso sherry, Muscovado sugar. With a drop of water the latter becomes caramelized. A rounded texture and a dry, spicy taste at full strength, with a suggestion of salt; big and powerful. Water tames and sweetens the taste somewhat, with a long, warming, tannic finish






50CL Vol: 46%


Deep amber, Amontillado sherry; European oak. Slightly nose cooling and lightly prickly, with a mellow aroma of custard cream biscuits, with ginger, Szechuan pepper and tobacco, on a base of fresh linen. A drop of water brings up planed oakwood. The ginger comes through in the taste, and the pepper lends a mouth-cooling touch. The taste starts sweet, then dries in a long, spicy, warming finish.

Slightly nose cooling and lightly prickly, with a mellow aroma of custard cream biscuits, with ginger, Szechuan pepper and tobacco, on a base of fresh linen.

J Both these distilleries have been owned for most of their existence by Highland Distilleries, which became Highland Distillers and now trades as part of The Edrington Group. Glenrothes still is; Bunnahabhain was sold to Burn Stewart in 2003. Glenrothes is the older of the two, commencing production on 28th December 1879 – the night of the Tay Bridge Disaster – with Robertson & Baxter, whisky brokers in Glasgow, as its agents. On the suggestion of William Robertson, senior partner of R&B, the distillery merged with Bunnahabhain in 1887 to form The Highland Distilleries Company. Glen Rothes (as it was originally spelled) was ranked Top Class by blenders and became a key filling for Cutty Sark, which was 50% owned by R&B. The first ‘official’ bottling of Glenrothes single malt was released in 1987. Robertson founded Bunnahabhain in 1881 in partnership with the Greenlees Brothers from Campbeltown on a remote site in the north-west of Islay, overlooking the Sound of the same name. Its purpose was to provide fillings for Greenlees’ blends, Lorne Whisky (at the time the bestseller in London), Old Parr and Claymore. Robertson & Baxter was a leading whisky broker and handled the remaining stock. The single malt was first released by its owner in 1979. These two splendid 12 year old single cask expressions, both drawn from ex-sherry casks, have been selected and bottled by Loch Fyne Whiskies, a small business based in Inveraray, on the water’s edge. They make an interesting contrasting pair.




New Releases: Winter 2017/18


The Whisky Shop Single Cask Exclusive Highland Single Malt Age: TBC

70CL Vol: Cask Strength TBC


Dull amber; good beading; refill American oak hogshead. A mellow nose, with butterscotch as a top note, cooked apples in the middle and a base of wood ash. A very smooth texture and a very sweet, then pleasantly oily taste, with traces of milk chocolate in the aftertaste. Water dries out the finish and introduces spice.


… butterscotch as a top note, cooked apples in the middle and a base of wood ash.

J Inchmurrin is a small island in Loch Lomond and Inchmurrin single malt is made at Loch Lomond Distillery in nearby Alexandria, which I was privileged to visit for the first time in August. I say ‘privileged’ because it is a very private site – huge, complex and rambling – inappropriate for general visitors. So much so that it falls under the government’s Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) which impose strict controls on access, as if it were an oil refinery. It has to be said that the site, on an industrial estate, is not very scenic! But it has an interesting history and an awe-inspiring collection of stills – standard pot stills, Lomond pot stills, Coffey stills and continuous grain stills. It was once a massive and very famous dye and textile printing factory with the curious name, The United Turkey Red Company. Turkey red dye was made by a highly complex, secretive and lengthy process, involving rose madder, sheep dung, bullock's blood and urine, fixed with oil and alum. This company closed in 1961 and the 26 acre site was sold three years later to the owner of Littlemill Distillery, the American-born Duncan Thomas, in partnership with Barton Brands of Chicago. Thomas had installed a pair of Lomond stills at Littlemill, and did the same at Loch Lomond – the name is coincidental. As I am sure you are aware, this style of pot still, with a tall rectifying column in place of the usual swan neck, was developed at Dumbarton Distillery, and is capable of making different styles of spirit. Barton Brands sold both distilleries to the independent bottler, Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse, in 1987. Glen Catrine was a subsidiary of the Glasgow blender and drinks wholesaler, A. Bulloch & Company, a family-owned business headed by the legendary Sandy Bulloch, who wanted to secure fillings for his blends. He soon set about extending the range of stills and styles of spirit and by 1994 Loch Lomond was the only distillery in Scotland producing both malt and grain spirits. Inchmurrin is a light style of malt, made in straight neck stills. This single cask has been bottled especially for The Whisky Shop.




New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Kilchoman 2006

The Whisky Shop Single Cask Exclusive Islay Single Malt Age: 11 Year Old

70CL Vol: Cask Strength TBC


9CT gold in colour; 1st fill US oak cask; good beading. A mellow nose for its age and strength. The immediate scent is both maritime and medicinal, with antiseptic cream, surgical spirit and iodine, on a base of coal tar. The taste is surprisingly mellow and sweet, with a shake of salt and a big, smoky finish. At reduced strength, the sweetness decreases and the saltiness increases.


...surprisingly mellow and sweet, with a shake of salt and a big, smoky finish

J Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. It is also the only distillery in Scotland to do everything – from growing and malting the barley to bottling the whisky – on site. It is a true ‘farm distillery’ (as most were in the nineteenth century), situated within Rockside Farm on the west coast of Islay. Its slogan is ‘Taking whisky back to its roots’. Kilchoman is very much a family affair. Opened (by the present writer!) in 2005, it is the brain-child of Anthony Wills, a wine and spirits merchant who moved to Islay in 2000, having married a local girl, Cathy Wilks some years previously. Cathy runs the excellent tea-room and shop, and their boys, Peter, James and George are the sales force. Notwithstanding its relatively recent establishment, its roots run deep. It is my belief that this part of Islay may have been the cradle of whisky distilling in Scotland. The lands hereabouts were granted by the Lords of the Isles to their hereditary physicians, the MacBeatha family (Anglicised as ‘Beaton’), who arrived on Islay from Ireland in 1300 in the marriage train of a noblewoman betrothed to the father of the first Lord of the Isles. A splendid 16th century Celtic high cross in Kilcoman kirkyard is dedicated to the family. Even by the time they arrived in Scotland, the Beatons were known as Mac an Ollamh, the ‘sons of the physician’, and ranked second only to the king in Gaelic culture. They were considerable scholars and from at least the 14th century, were translating classical medical texts from Greek or Latin into Gaelic. Many of these texts were themselves translations from Arabic and provided information about distilling for medicinal purposes. The first written reference to distilling in Scotland dates from 1494 in an order from King James IV for malt to be given to a friar “to make aquavitae”. King James was a renaissance Prince whose interests embraced medicine, alchemy and gunpowder as well as the arts, and who could speak ‘the language of the savages’ (i.e. Gaelic). In 1494 he led a campaign against the Lord of the Isles on Islay, and it is highly likely that he was introduced to uisge beatha (‘the water of life’ or aqua vitae) there by Patrick MacBeatha or his father, Fergus.

*Bottle not released at time of going to press




New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Platinum Old & Rare Malts

J All these malts are released under Hunter Laing’s Platinum Old & Rare label, which their website defines as “the rarest and most remarkable single malts available today… So remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition”. Each expression is bottled from a single cask – so is by definition a limited edition – at natural/cask strength and without tinting or chill-filtration. Each is presented in a distinctive squat bottle and in a wooden box. Since the series was launched it has included some magnificent whiskies, all of which are today sought by collectors.

But Auchentoshan remains a haven of calm to this day. It is the last distillery in Scotland to distil its spirit three times. This was once common among Lowland distilleries and makes for a light, floral/fruity spirit, and this is reflected in this mature expression.

malt. This may soon change, however, since the distillery was sold to a consortium headed by the whisky legend, Billie Walker, former owner of The BenRiach and GlenDronach Distilleries, in July this year. highland park 19 year old Highland Park is one of only nine distilleries with their own floor maltings, and produces around 20% of its requirement. This is heavily peated, then mixed with un-peated malt from the Scottish mainland. Some years ago, the owners of the distillery explored the possibility of having all their malt requirement sourced from the mainland, peated to their own specification – floor maltings are time consuming, expensive and tricky, and the malt they produce is variable. But the spirit from the malt peated on the mainland gave an entirely different character to the spirit than that made with Orkney peat. The plan was aborted. This Hunter Laing expression displays the maritime character and smokiness of classic Highland Park very well.

tamdhu 30 year old The opening of the Strathspey Railway between Dufftown and Nethybridge in 1863 encouraged the foundation of several distilleries in the Upper Spey valley during caol ila 36 year old the ‘whisky boom’ of the 1890s. Tamdhu The tireless Victorian distillery-bagger, Alfred was one of three distilleries built at that Barnard, was so daunted by the steep road leading time in Knockando Parish, the others being to Caol Ila Distillery that he abandoned the dog-cart Knockando itself and Imperial. Curiously, he was travelling in and opted to walk – “much to both Tamdhu and Knockando translate the disgust of our driver who muttered strange words in from the Gaelic as ‘little dark hill’. Gaelic… It is situated on the Sound of Islay [Caol Ila is Anticipating increased traffic on the Gaelic for this], on the very verge of the sea”. Strathspey Railway, its owner, the Great Then he continues: “…in a deep recess of the North of Scotland Railway Company – mountain cut out of the solid rock”. This is odd, since which a contemporary reviewer described there are no ‘mountains’ hereabouts, although the as “a truly awful railway company with a very distillery is over-shadowed by a steep brae. The grand name” – built a station at Tamdhu, view from the still-house across the Sound is named Dalbeallie. In 1976 this became glen keith 21 year old probably the best of any distillery in Scotland, with the distillery’s visitor centre. As the name implies, Glen Keith Distillery the triple peaks of the Paps of Jura in the distance. stands in the Burgh of Keith, just across the River Caol Ila’s spirit is peated to the same level as glenallachie 25 year old Isla from Strathisla. The giant Canadian distiller, it’s sister distillery, Lagavulin, yet the flavour of ‘Glenallachie’ derives from the Gaelic Seagram, had acquired the latter in the early 1950s the mature whisky is quite different. This, a rare, Gleann Aleachaidh, ‘the Glen of the Rocky when they first moved into Scotch whisky; the long-aged example, has bags of distillery character Place’, two miles south of the village of former was the first distillery they built (in (i.e. peaty). Aberlour. In actual fact it is not very rocky, 1957/58) and the first distillery to have been although the site stands in the shadow of built on Speyside since 1900. auchentoshan 32 year old craggy Ben Rinnes. The distillery is of traditional design but While we’re on name derivation, Auchentoshan The distillery was commissioned modern in concept. It was always conceived to apparently means ‘the corner of the field’ in Gaelic in 1967 by Mackinlay Macpherson Ltd., produce malt fillings for blending, especially for and well described the distillery’s gentle rural then a subsidiary of Scottish Newcastle Chivas Regal, then it became the ‘brand home’ of situation at the time of its foundation in 1817, Breweries, to provide fillings for the Passport. As far as I know, it was only once released although then it was called ‘Duntocher’, which Charles Mackinlay blend, which at as a single malt by its owner, briefly, in 1994. means ‘the hill of the dowry’. the time was among the top five best Seagram mothballed Glen Keith in 1999 and The distillery is in Clydebank, just to the selling whiskies in the U.K. market. It sold its whisky interests to Pernod Ricard in 2001. west of Glasgow, and during the 19th Century, was designed by William Delmé Evans, The new owner upgraded the entire site and the landscape thereabouts had changed beyond who had previously designed Tullibardine expanded production from 4 to 6 million litres recognition, with two major shipyards and a huge and Jura Distilleries. per annum. Singer sewing machine factory nearby. Glenallachie has always been popular with blenders, so is uncommon as a single


New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Glen Keith 21 Year Old




Speyside Single Malt Age: 21 Year Old



Speyside Single Malt


Age: 30 Year Old

9CT gold in colour, with light beading, this is a refill American oak cask. The nose-feel is prickly and the immediate aroma is very Speyside, and enhanced by a drop of water – pear drops (and other boiled sweets), green apples, white grapes. After a while tobacco and white chocolate emerge. The taste is sweet and clean, with an aftertaste of boiled sweets.


Tamdhu 30 Year Old 70CL Vol: 53.9%


Pale gold in colour, with good beading. American oak maturation. A soft nose-feel and a gentle Speyside aroma (pear drops, apples); water adds a trace of acetone. A sweet and unusually salty taste at natural strength, with lingering white pepper at the back.

Caol Ila 36 Year Old Islay Single Malt Age: 36 Year Old

70CL Vol: 56.9%


Golden syrup in colour, with good beading. A ‘polite’ nose with light prickle and mild smokiness (smoked ham, linen washed with carbolic soap). The taste is sweet and salty, with bags of smoke in the lengthy finish and roasted parsnips in the aftertaste.


...After a while tobacco and white chocolate emerge. The taste is sweet and clean, with an aftertaste of boiled sweets.


A sweet and unusually salty taste at natural strength, with lingering white pepper at the back.


A ‘polite’ nose with light prickle and mild smokiness (smoked ham, linen washed with carbolic soap).


New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Glenallachie 25 Year Old




Speyside Single Malt Age: 25 Year Old

Vol: 49.3%


Island Single Malt


Age: 19 Year Old

Polished brass in colour, with moderate beading. American oak. An elegantly floral nose (Lily of the Valley?), on a base of scented hand cream, with a light prickle. A sweet taste overall, with some fresh acidity and lingering milk chocolate in the aftertaste at full strength.


Highland Park 19 Year Old 70CL Vol: 55%


Dull gold, refill European oak? The aroma is all creamy vanilla fudge, perhaps with a suggestion of sultanas, and peat-reek in the back. A sweet and slightly salty (maritime) taste, and some smoke in the finish. Classic Highland Park.

Auchentoshan 32 Year Old Lowland Single Malt Age: 32 Year Old

70CL Vol: 51%


Bright gold in colour, with good beading: American oak maturation. The top note is of fruit salad, with peaches, orange segments and bananas on a faintly peaty, dusty base. The taste is sweet and acidic, with dry coconut and chilli pepper in the finish.


The top note is of fruit salad, with peaches, orange segments and bananas on a faintly peaty, dusty base.


The aroma is all creamy vanilla fudge, perhaps with a suggestion of sultanas, and peat-reek in the back.


An elegantly floral nose (Lily of the Valley?), on a base of scented hand cream, with a light prickle.




New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 Edition Japanese Single Malt Age: 18 Year Old

70CL Vol: 48%


Full amber in hue, with a mild nosefeel. The highly aromatic top-note is both fragrant and oily – aromatherapy oil and sandalwood. Beneath these is a clutch of tropical scents – ripe mangos, over-ripe banana, carpenters’ workshop. The mouthfeel is dry and nutty overall (walnut, nutmeg), but sweeter and spicier with water (black pepper, beetlenut, dark chocolate).


The highly aromatic topnote is both fragrant and oily – aromatherapy oil and sandalwood.

J ‘Mizunara’ is the Japanese word for the oak species Quercus mongolica, which grows in only a few districts of Japan, central and northern China, Korea, eastern Mongolia and eastern Siberia. The name derives from mizu (water) and nara (oak). In addition to being rare and highly sought after, Mizunara oak is very difficult to cooper, being both hard and permeable, and so prone to leaking. Suntory, the owner of Yamazaki Distillery, has been experimenting with Mizunara oak for decades and discovered that if the wood was straight-grained, from trees which were older than usual (with a diameter of at least 70cm), the problem of leakage was reduced. The Mizunara 2017 Edition is made from a precise selection of malt whiskies, all distilled at Yamazaki and aged exclusively in Mizunara casks. Suntory’s Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo wanted to create an expression that achieved an exquisite balance of subtlety, refinement and complexity. To this end he sampled one hundred casks at 18 years and above – the resulting blend even includes a small amount of 50 year old Yamazaki. He writes: “I wanted to reveal the whisky’s soul that is the Art of Mizunara – a heightened sense and awakened palate, engaged through aromas and flavours never known before. Encountering it should be a moment of epiphany.” I am not the only reviewer of this fine whisky to believe that Fukuyo has achieved this. Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 Edition was launched in early October and is limited to 1,000 bottles. The box it is presented in is made from recycled Suntory casks.



New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Diageo Special Releases 2017


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Brora 34 Year Old Highland Single Malt Age: 34 Year Old

Collectivum XXVIII Blended Malt Age: –

70CL Vol: 57.3%


Pale amber, with bright lights. Vapourous and prickly. A clean, fresh aroma, tightly integrated so difficult to isolate scents. Acidic, floral and fruity over all. Water introduces a note of sherbet and acid drops (boiled sweets), green apples, acetone and sphagnum moss. The texture is soft, the taste a rainbow of primary colours: light sweetness, some acidity, surprising salt and a bitter lemon finish, all dusted with ginger and chilli pepper.


Pale amber, with bright lights. Vapourous and prickly. A clean, fresh aroma, tightly integrated so difficult to isolate scents.

70CL Vol: 51.9%


Deep gold; American oak refill casks. Excellent beading and slow-running legs. The initial aroma is maritime, mineralic, with dried seaweed; dried mixed herbs in the middle (slightly dusty), and later a suggestion of orange juice, all on a very faintly waxy base. The latter emerges more with a drop of water, also the herbal fragrance. Both increase in the development. The teeth-coating candlewax that Brora is renowned for is only just apparent. At natural strength the taste starts sweet and dries elegantly, with some spice in the finish. Water enhances the waxy texture and taste and introduces Szechuan pepper, at once spicy and mouth-cooling.

J Diageo has been releasing limited amounts of malt whisky from selected distilleries in its ‘Special Releases’ series since 2001. The bottles’ reputation for quality, combined with their rarity, has pleased both consumers and collectors; previous releases now achieve far higher prices at auction than their release price – some massively so! Earlier this year, well in advance of the series launch, Dr. Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Head of Outreach (whatever that might mean!) wrote: “One of the most cherished moments in the whisky calendar is the annual announcement of the Diageo Special Releases collection – a group of limited edition and natural cask strength whiskies that are highly  anticipated around the world and revered for their quality and collectability.    “So highly awaited are the releases, that we struggle  to keep them under lock and key… so, in light of recent speculation, we would like to confirm the truly impeccable line-up of this year’s collection of ten bottlings.” As well as the four malts featured – Port Ellen 37 Year Old, Brora 34 Year Old, Convalmore 32 Year Old and ‘Collectivum XXVIII’ (a blended malt featuring liquids from all 28 Diageo malt distilleries) – this year’s releases are: Blair Athol 23 Year Old, Caol Ila 18 Year Old, Glen Elgin 18 Year Old, Lagavulin 12 Year Old, Port Dundas 52 Year Old and Teaninich 17 Year Old. The company’s engagement with single malts began in 1988 with the release of the famous ‘Classic Malts Selection’, six whiskies representing six regional styles. This was followed by the ‘Rare Malts’ series between 1995 and 2005 which allowed collectors, connoisseurs and enthusiasts to enjoy remaining older stocks, and/or unusual expressions from unusual (and often closed) distilleries. This is the first year the Special Releases have included a blended malt.


New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Convalmore 32 Year Old




Speydside Single Malt Age: 32 Year Old

Vol: 48.2%

Port Ellen 37 Year Old


Islay Single Malt


Age: 37 Year Old

18CT gold in colour, from a refill American oak cask. Good thick legs. A mellow aroma, sweet and fruity – tinned pears and ripe melon, orange juice, a twist of orange peel – on a base of almond oil and oak shavings. A drop of water introduces a waxy note and supresses the fruity elements somewhat. A smooth texture and a sweet, centre palate taste at natural strength; fruity, with just a trace of crisp acidity and a long, warming finish. At reduced strength the taste becomes sweeter, but the light acidity prevents it from becoming cloying. The warming, spicy finish lingers long.

70CL Vol: 51%

Spun honey; deep gold. Light beading. American oak maturation. The initial scent of peat-reek fades to dry peat and brushwood after a while – an unlit fire – with a trace of mixed dried fruits. A drop of water raises bath salts and scented candles, perhaps a trace of cinnamon and Stollen cake. Becomes more smoky and waxy in the development. At natural strength, the whisky has a smooth texture and a surprisingly sweet taste, distinctly salty, with a spicy and smoky finish. Water enhances all these and lengthens the finish, leaving a pleasant aftertaste of hessian.


The initial aroma is maritime, mineralic, with dried seaweed; dried mixed herbs in the middle (slightly dusty)


...tinned pears and ripe melon, orange juice, a twist of orange peel – on a base of almond oil and oak shavings.



A drop of water raises bath salts and scented candles, perhaps a trace of cinnamon and Stollen cake.




Ardbeg An Oa

New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Islay Single Malt Age: –

70CL Vol: 46.6%


Deep gold in colour, with khaki lights, the first impression on the nose is of toasted fruit loaf, dusted with allspice and nutmeg, on a peaty/medicinal base. The mouth-feel is smooth, the taste very sweet to start, with light saltiness and a smoky and spicy finish. Water introduces a note of damp wool and coal tar.

J Dr. Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s celebrated Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks formerly known simply as ‘Master Blender’ – has been at it again… This new expression, launched in August, is a complex mix of cask types: 55% refill American oak ex-bourbon barrels, 20% heavily charred virgin American oak barrels, 20% European oak ex-Pedro Ximénez (sweet sherry) casks, 5% others (what the ‘others’ are is a secret) blended and married in a huge French oak bespoke ‘gathering vat’ for three months in The Gathering Room at the distillery. Waxing poetical, Dr. Bill writes: “There is a wonderfully Ardbeggian magic to The Gathering Room, where the parcels of casks married together in this whisky merge over time, to reach new levels of complexity. “Ardbeg An Oa’s rounded and subtly smoky aromas reflect the contrast of the Mull of Oa, with notes of creamy toffee, aniseed, dates and hints of peach and banana. The whisky’s smooth, creamy texture leads to a huge syrupy sweetness on the palate, as milk chocolate, orange and smoky tea leaves mingle with sweet spices, cigar smoke and – unusually – grilled artichokes, before a lingering, seductive and smoky finish.” He described the result to me as being “an iron fist in a velvet glove”, reflecting the dramatic contrast between the Mull of Oa [pronounced ‘Oh’] – the rugged peninsula which reaches out towards Ireland like a knobbly carbuncle on the south coast of Islay – and shelters Kildalton Parish, where stands Ardbeg Distillery. Certainly, the whisky combines powerful intensity with a silky texture. An Oa is only the fourth core expressions to be released by Ardbeg since 2000 – the others being 10 Years Old (2000), Uigeadail (2003) and Corryvreckan (2009). Things move slowly on Islay…


… toasted fruit loaf, dusted with allspice and nutmeg, on a peaty/ medicinal base.




New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Jura One And All Island Single Malt Age: 20 Year Old

J Launched on 1st September as a limited edition, One and All celebrates the small community on Jura – 200 souls – and the folk who work in the distillery. The company’s press release explains: “The realities of living on a remote island in a small community means that everyone has to work together for the benefit of ‘one and all’. Nowhere is this bond stronger than at Jura Distillery.” It goes on to say: “Together, the Diurachs [as the inhabitants of Jura are called] and the distillery have rebuilt a thriving local economy since re-opening the distillery over 50 years ago. It’s this tenacity of Jura’s people, which makes the island and its whisky so special – a community of few, shaped by a passion for the island they live on, brought there through family, fate and history.” This is no exaggeration. Although there had been a licensed distillery at Craighouse since at least 1831, this closed in 1901, and over the next fifty years, the island’s population declined from 625 to 220 people. The Second World War had taken its toll and, as with many Hebridean islands, there had been a steady drift of younger people away to the mainland. As the focal point of a wide-ranging plan to increase employment on the island and attract new blood, the two leading landowners on Jura, Robin Fletcher and Tony Riley-Smith, determined to rebuild the distillery. The new Jura Distillery opened in 1963. The mix of casks employed for Jura One and All is unusual and includes American white oak exbourbon barrels, sherry-seasoned butts and French oak barriques which had previously held Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc wines. They were selected by the distillery’s workforce, and blended by the legendary Richard Paterson. Graham Logan, Manager of Jura Distillery comments: “There’s no better way to mark the distillery team’s dedication and craftsmanship, than by creating a limited edition expression in their honour – chosen by them. In tribute to their passion and tenacity – the shared spirit that each person brings to every last drop – this special whisky is the perfect dram to toast one and all. We can’t wait to hear what people think.”

70CL Vol: 51%


Rich amber in hue, with copper lights. Mild nose prickle veils a profoundly dense and tightly integrated aroma, with butterscotch and tablet, dried figs and dusty mixed herbs, a dusting of ginger. A rich, mouth-filling texture and a sweet taste (cherry liqueur chocolates?), with a surprisingly spicy finish.


Mild nose prickle veils a profoundly dense and tightly integrated aroma, with butterscotch and tablet, dried figs and dusty mixed herbs, a dusting of ginger.




New Releases: Winter 2017/18

The Macallan Edition No. 3 Speyside Single Malt Age: –

70CL Vol: 48.3%


Deep amber, polished mahogany. Big soft nose-feel, with a top-note of vanilla toffee – buttery, caramelised sugar – and a mid-note of honeyed peach and sweet sweet malt. To taste, mild sweetness, slightly tannic, treacle toffee with dried sultanas covered with dark chocolate.

J For this addition to The Macallan’s annual Editions series the brand owner has employed the services of leading perfumer, Roja Dove, to create an expression which showcases the spirit’s aroma. Roja Dove has been described as “one of the world’s most innovative fragrance creatives, and the industry’s most respected perfumer… firmly established as the leading educator and foremost authority on fragrance.” Before he opened the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie within Harrods in London he worked for twenty years at Guerlain, and became the first non-family member to be appointed Global Ambassador for the company. For this project he worked closely with The Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno, and together they selected six types of cask – European and American oak, first-fill and refill, some of the casks smaller than usual to allow for greater contact between the maturing whisky and the wood. They describe the result as having a “sweet and fruity character, with the complexity of a fine fragrance… notes of flowers, vanilla ice cream and orange oil lead into chocolate and burnished oak. The vanilla continues on the tongue, intermingled with sweet fruit, rich fruit cake and light resin.” Bob Dalgarno comments: “There are many parallels between the worlds of whisky and perfume and it has been fascinating to work with Roja to explore the power of aroma in individual oak casks and its influence on the resulting whisky.” Roja Dove, in turn, praised Dalgarno: “From the beginning it was obvious Bob and I had a lot in common. We have worked together to master the balance of taste and aroma, resulting in an incredibly flavoursome, fresh and citrus whisky with enveloping sweetness … Edition No 3 is an exceptional example of the whisky maker’s art, where Bob has interpreted my thoughts so accurately, when combined with the extraordinary power of scent.” It is a remarkable single malt, and a splendid example of The Macallan style.


…a top-note of vanilla toffee – buttery, caramelised sugar – and a midnote of honeyed peach and sweet sweet malt.

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New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Octomore Masterclass_08.1 Island Single Malt Age: 8 Year Old

70CL Vol: 59.3%


9CT gold; American oak barrel; light beading. A prickly nose-feel to start, but no overpowering smoke – more medicinal phenols (carbolic soap, coal tar, Makassar oil), gradually developing a pleasant ‘fireside’ note. A smooth texture and a sweet taste, slightly salty, with a big warming (but not overly smoky!) finish. Best enjoyed straight.


…smooth texture and a sweet taste, slightly salty, with a big warming (but not overly smoky!) finish.

J “It started as a late night ‘what if’ idea after a few drams. What if we distilled the most heavily-peated barley humanly possible in the tall, narrow-necked Bruichladdich stills?” Thus wrote Mark Reynier, Managing Director of Bruichladdich Distillery in 2002. The result was Octomore. Proudly independent, often cheeky and provocative, the guys at Bruichladdich under Reynier’s leadership were never short of headlinegrabbing ideas. According to the distillery’s website, Octomore “challenges comfortable convention” as “the world’s most heavily peated single malt”. It is released annually in relatively small batches. The first was peated to 80.5 ppm phenols (the chemical compounds which lend smoky/medicinal flavours to whisky), and subsequent batches have reached 205ppm phenols! To put this in context, bear in mind that ‘heavily peated’ malts like Lagavulin and Caol Ila are peated to around 30-35 ppm phenols. The name comes from a farm which stands on a hillside overlooking the village of Port Charlotte and grows barley for Bruichladdich. There was once a distillery here of the same name (1816-1852). The barley is converted into malt at Port Ellen Maltings. Phenols tend to dissipate over time, so Octomore is usually bottled young, at around five years, for full impact. It also challenges the notion that quality and flavour are functions of long aging. In days gone by, most whisky was drunk young or even un-aged, and since the malt used by Highland distilleries was all dried over peat fires, their whiskies will generally have been smokier than today’s malts. So as well as being innovative, Octomore pays tribute to the distillery whose name it bears, and to the men and women of Islay who made whisky there.


New Releases: Winter 2017/18

Old Pulteney 25 Year Old




Highland Single Malt Age: 25 Year Old

Vol: 46%

Old Pulteney 1983


Highland Single Malt


Age: 33 Year Old

Vivid orange: the colour of Irn Bru! A rich aroma with a suggestion of treacle toffee and coffee grounds, but retaining Pulteney’s hall-mark maritime character, with salt and light oil as its base notes. A big smooth texture and a sweet, salty taste, with some coconut in the long, warming finish.

70CL Vol: 46%

Deep amber, with magenta lights. A dry, oily nose – Three in One oil, new Barbour jacket – with a thread of smoke in base: a ‘mechanical’ aroma. Very smooth texture and a surprisingly sweet taste, drying lightly to a tannic finish, with a lingering aftertaste of dark chocolate. Best enjoyed straight.

J A strange name for a distillery overlooking the ‘cold grey sea of Caithness’, you might well think. The name was bestowed on the recommendation of no less a person than Thomas Telford (the ‘Father of Civil Engineering’), who designed ‘Pulteneytown’, a model village and the port of Wick. Pulteneytown and its harbour was built by the British Fisheries Society between 1800 and 1820. Its Director General was Sir William Pulteney, who had met the young Telford when he was working as a stone mason, building Edinburgh’s New Town. Through marriage, Sir William became ‘the richest commoner in England’, and also became Telford’s principal patron, including appointing him as Architect to the British Fisheries Society, but he died before the Wick project was completed. Wick soon became the largest herring station in Europe, used by over 1,000 fishing boats and attracting 7,000 migrant workers during the season. It was logical to build a distillery there to quench the thirst of such a hoard of workers, and this was done in 1826. Old Pulteney has long been known as ‘The Manzanilla of the North’ on account of its dry and salty taste, and in recent years has adopted the soubriquet ‘the genuine martimite malt’. These superb old bottlings are not as salty as the younger expressions but still retain the distillery’s maritime character, adding layers of complexity.



A dry, oily nose – Three in One oil, new Barbour jacket – with a thread of smoke in base


…a sweet, salty taste, with some coconut in the long, warming finish.

ATL A N TIC SE A SA LT Part one of a four part limited release that celebrates the iconic flavour profiles of the legendary No.1 VAULTS, the World’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouse.




My Whiskeria


The one and only KT Tunstall talks Scotch, soul-searching and escaping to the States... — Photography: Brian Sweeney Lighting: Jonni Styling: Bertie Bowen Make Up: Chloe Edwards




My Whiskeria

W “It’s very ritualistic, whisky. It’s a real elixir. ”



My Whiskeria

KT joined us on a sunny Autumn afternoon, fresh from an interview with The English-Speaking Union. We were immediately intrigued – how did the organisation relate to our international rock ‘n’ roll cover star? When I was 17 I got a scholarship with The English-Speaking Union to a school in America, and did my last year of school in a place called Kent School, Connecticut,they do secondary school exchange programmes, getting kids to speak and build their confidence and communicate. It was really nice reminiscing about going, because it was the first time I’d left home, and the first time I’d heard lots of music. I literally just got on a plane to America, on my own, at 17. It was amazing. What kind of music did you find there? I’d grown up in St. Andrews and it was very difficult to see any shows. It was much more about playing instruments, for me. When I got over to the States, there were just a lot more people who were very obsessed by music, and so I just suddenly heard the Grateful Dead, and The Rolling Stones and The Flaming Lips, and met a huge, huge ‘pot of gold’ of people my age who were obsessed with music. I had my first band over there… They were called The Happy Campers, because my guitar player was a pothead and just wanted to call the band THC! You mentioned that, before going to America, there wasn’t much music in the house? My parents didn’t listen to music; they weren’t really into it, and then my little brother was born deaf, and any background noise made his life more difficult. It was all about playing instruments when I was younger. I asked my parents for a piano when I was four. I was obviously just super into it!

How did that progress into what you do today? One of the really formative moments in my life was meeting King Creosote, who’s from St. Andrews also. He’d been living as a musician for 10 years by that point, but he saw my first ever gig and asked me to join his band when I was 16. That just changed everything. It was the first time I’d ever met musicians, it was the first time I’d witnessed people living their lives as musicians, and it was very unconventional. They had no money, but they would disappear into Europe for months at a time, and pay their way by busking. I was just like, “That’s it, I’m done, this is the life for me”. Did you have any jobs before becoming a musician? My first job was with the Fusaro brothers, Antonio, Luigi and Vince (obviously Italian!), who'd set up a specialist wine, whisky, cigar and café business in Fife. Then, when I finished uni and went back up to St. Andrews I returned to my job in their specialist wine and whisky shop – it’s called Luvians. It’s a really special business, they really care. And they would send all of us on tasting trips. It was great! Is that when you began drinking whisky? They insisted that we understood what we were talking about. So that’s really when I started to develop a total love affair with whisky. I just loved the ritual of how it was made – it’s such romantic storytelling associated with whisky, and why each one tastes the way it does. I mean it’s almost like Scottish accents, you know? I grew up in St. Andrews and 15 miles away in Dundee there were people I couldn’t understand, and I think that’s a really great metaphor for whisky. Would it be fair to say that whisky is more than ‘just a drink’ to you? It’s very ritualistic, whisky. It’s a real elixir. And it’s something that I think, no matter how much you drink, is special, and it’s used in these ways which are quite sort of Pagan feeling, you know? Opening a bottle of single malt is a special occasion, it’s not the same as opening a bottle of wine.

You likened Scotch whisky to Scottish accents… I’ve never been anywhere else in the world where the differences in accent and language are so extreme in such a small place. I’ve been all across America and everywhere, and yes, you definitely get extreme accent changes, but Scotland is this tiny country, and if you put a bunch of very varied whiskies in front of someone who’s never tasted whisky before, I don’t think they’d have any trouble tasting that there was difference there. Whereas, if you put 10 red wines in front of someone who’s never had red wines, it’s going to be a more nuanced thing. It sounds like whisky is a pretty inspiring thing for you! But do you actually drink it regularly? I used to drink it a bit too regularly… ! It’s also got such an intrinsic link to rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the classiest rock ‘n’ roll tipple you can have, and I would always have a bottle of single malt on my rider. I didn’t specify, so we would get to try something new. I have to say, there are very few whiskies I’ve tasted that I didn’t appreciate. In early interviews, you named Highland Park, Glenkinchie and Talisker as your top whiskies – has that changed over time? A newer favourite that I tasted just before I stopped working in the shop, and that’s always impressed me, is Glenrothes. Which is a bit more unusual for me because it’s a Speyside whisky. Also it’s just hilarious, because, all my love to Glenrothes, but it’s just not the most romantic town! I don’t like drinking anything in whisky, I don’t like ice and I don’t like water. I usually prefer to drink it on it’s own. Straight up. So you’re not into the newer, more experimental ways of serving whisky? I just don’t think there’s any point using a really expensive whisky to do that, because you’re not going to taste the difference anymore. But you know, each to their own! You can’t be a snob about it.



My Whiskeria

W “It’s such romantic storytelling associated with whisky, and why each one tastes the way it does. I mean, it’s almost like Scottish accents…”



My Whiskeria

Would you describe yourself as a whisky evangelist? I probably used to be. As you enter into your 40s, you realise that the whisky is going to win. So, I’ve definitely gone much easier on it these days! But I’m always really interested, particularly if I’m travelling abroad – it’s amazing seeing what’s made it to these far-flung places. Do you have a favourite whisky bar outside the UK? There was an amazing bar in the Lower East Side in New York called Motor City, and they probably had one single malt, probably The Macallan and that was it, which I love, but it was a proper, dirty, rock ‘n’ roll biker bar. You know? It was such a cool place, great tunes on the jukebox, it was just a proper dive bar. It’s either one or the other: I want to be in a dive listening to incredibly obnoxious loud music with a bunch of mates, or I want to be in a really top class, amazing luxury whisky bar. Or by a fire, outside, in a tent. That’s also excellent. Does whisky always have empowering, rock ‘n’ roll or even slightly masculine connotations for you? I think whisky does have a masculine character, which is partly why I like it. I feel a more masculine energy within myself come to the fore when I perform, and there’s no coincidence it was always on the rider. It’s completely synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll and I’m sure always will be. It’s not a drink I would choose in a big group situation, for me it suits more intimate times, or at the end of the night when you’ve found a conversation you can really get your teeth into. We used to drink a lot of single malt with the band and crew, and opening and sharing a bottle together was a lovely ritual after a show. There’s a magic in friends drinking from the same bottle of whisky – it’s a beautifully crafted drink, which is artful to me.

Your most recent album came out last year… Kin came out last September (2016). I didn’t think I was going to make a record for quite a long time, because I’d moved to California and I needed a break. I was kind of burned out. I took a year out, and was training myself in film composition, which is something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I worked with the Sundance film composers lab programme up in George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Northern California, which is outrageous. It’s like utopia for sound engineers and mixers everywhere. Then I just found myself driving around the canyons, and Mullholland Drive, and Pacific Coast Highway listening to Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and absolutely falling back in love with those massive, muscular pop songs, and starting to write really big pop choruses. The album before that had been a folk record – a very personal, intimate, quite melancholy record. I think, if I’d written more stuff like that, I would’ve just put it on the back burner. But it just felt like the world was starting to shift into a pretty difficult place, which has kind of just continued over the last few years. And I feel that if, as an artist, you’re coming out with pretty positive, empowering music, it’s probably a good time to do it. So is there a political edge to what you’ve written? I really only do personal politics in songs. I very rarely do out-and-out commentary on what’s happening in politics at the time, because it just doesn’t inspire me that much. But it all just comes down to personal relationships anyway. I remember at some point last year, having a really strong vision that I should make a trilogy of records. So Kin is the first in that trilogy, and is very much about the soul and spirituality, and coming through something quite existential. I’ve just finished making my new record with Nick McCarthy, formerly of Franz Ferdinand, who is absolutely brilliant, just a revelation to work with in terms of being a producer, but also as a songwriter. That’s going to be the ‘body’ record – it’ll be soul, body, mind. So, there’s a third one coming after this, and I’m going to do them in quick succession.

I love the idea of putting out a trilogy of records that all sit together with the same artwork, and they’ve all got three letter titles. The opening track on Kin, Hard Girls, seems like a real ‘girl power’ anthem (it even features Spice Girl Mel C in the video). Is that a sort of social commentary? The song Hard Girls is about how we all sometimes put up a front to try and be something we are not, in order to protect ourselves from being hurt. In my experience, being vulnerable is really the only way to nurture real relationships with other people, but it can be scary to allow someone to see the full spectrum of who you are. It's not just about women, I dedicate a few lyrics to the guys! We all face the same challenges. In terms of girl power, I run my own business, write my own material, get on stage and kick arse, work hard, play hard, and do my best to be a decent human being in the process, so yeah, I'm happy to inherently take on being a girl power ambassador! When’s the next record out? I’m hoping to have this next one out in the spring of next year (2018) – it’s nice to have some time to digest it, and make sure there’s a really good plan in place to support the record. Because it’s hard now, it’s really very difficult to be heard. It’s a very over-saturated market, so the more preparation time you’ve got to get it right the better, I think. I wanted to make a very raw record, a raw rock record, and I’ve done that, but there’s also an element of it that I didn’t expect, which is much more emotional. And it’s working with Nick – working with someone that really gets it, and gets me, and understands that a song is really a tool to augment and express how you’re feeling, and therefore allow that to happen for someone else. Your career followed a similar path to Franz Ferdinand’s, in that everything suddenly seemed to happen at once… I have no problem with people describing it as an ‘overnight success’, because it did feel like that! It just took 10 years to have an overnight success… But definitely being on Jools Holland that time, was like being shot out of a canon.



My Whiskeria

Knowledge Bar KT Tunstall's Christmas Top 5 1. Mele Kalikimaka Hawaiian Christmas / Bing Crosby 2. 2000 Miles / The Pretenders 3. I Wanna Be Sedated / The Ramones 4. Last Christmas / Wham 5. Hark The Herald Angels Sing / The Fall

KT Tunstall's Christmas Single Malts Talisker Glenrothes Bowmore Bunnahabhain Ardbeg

W “Whisky is the classiest rock ‘n’ roll tipple you can have, and I would always have a bottle of single malt on my rider. ”



My Whiskeria

What’s the story with Jools Holland, for those who don’t know it? I was a last minute replacement for N.A.S, the rapper – I literally got 24-hours’ notice. That was crazy cosmic intervention I think! It was me, Anita Baker, Jackson Brown, The Futureheads and The Cure. It was amazing. Who are your biggest inspirations and influences? You mentioned Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac – are strong female icons important to you? Yes, for sure these artists you mention. Also Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Pretenders, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Blondie... I've been writing some songs recently with Suzi Quatro, and the thing that is important to me is that we are musicians first, not ‘female musicians’. Suzi always felt that way and said so. I strive to offer something that honours the legacy of great music, but I don't see gender in that pursuit. But, of course as a woman, I am greatly inspired by these brilliant, strong women, and continue to learn from them. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and the best advice you’ve ever given? The best advice I ever received was from an old bass player of mine, Pete McLeod. After a gig one night, he said “stop apologising”; I would always say sorry for shit during my shows. And it was advice that helped me way beyond playing music. The best advice I’ve ever given? Probably to tell young musicians not to waste their time trying to sound like someone else. The person you try to copy has already done it way better than you ever will.

So, how do you celebrate Christmas and New Year? We used to do family Christmas, you know traditional, normal. But both my brothers have families now, they both have kids, and it just turns it into a total nightmare of who’s going where. So I’ve basically sacked it off completely, and make sure we have a family Christmas in November, and then I just take off back to L.A. for Christmas in the sunshine, in the shade of a palm tree.

Knowledge Bar KT Tunstall's Hogmanay Top 5 1. 1999 - Prince 2. Auld Lang Syne - Robbie Burns 3. Disco 2000 - Pulp 4. Staying Alive - The Bee Gees 5. 500 Miles - The Proclaimers

KT Tunstall's Hogmanay Drams Laphroaig

What about Hogmanay? I do love New Year, actually. A lot of people don’t like it, and I’ve always really enjoyed it. But I don’t really care what I do – I don’t really like being in massive crowds, it’s a bit overwhelming. I think my favourite one, having said that, was playing Hogmanay up in Edinburgh. I played the main stage right before the fireworks. It was weird, because we watched the fireworks straight after we played and I just went “Oh my God, I’m sober!”. And I think it was the first time in like 20 years that I’d been sober at New Year. I’m equally happy sitting on a beach, or sitting with friends, or not doing anything. It’s always a special time for me, I always find I really take a moment as the year changes, to reflect on what’s happened and think about what I’m hoping for the next year. Party or no party, it’s a flag in the ground for me. What does the future hold? One thing I love about what I do is that I never need to answer that question! One of my favourite things about doing what I do is that I don't know what is coming. You have to learn to go with the tides, it’s not easy and I’m not a master of it yet, but incredible things have happened by avoiding rigidity and too much planning. There’s many things I’d like to try, and many things I’d like to make, but I feel that my rock / folk / rhythm guitar playing and stomping boot heel will always be there somewhere… •

KT’s album Kin is available to buy now

The Macallan Highland Park Lagavulin



My Whiskeria

W “I feel that if, as an artist, you’re coming out with pretty positive, empowering music, it’s probably a good time to do it. ”

Few things in life are a privilege to give and receive.



My Craft

Distell’s Master Blender Dr. Kirstie McCallum took a moment out of her busy schedule creating expressions for Deanston, Bunnahabhain, Ledaig and Tobermory (amongst others), to tell us all about making whisky a thing to be enjoyed… —

Photography: Christina Kernohan Assistant: Cat Thomson



My Craft

My Craft Interview

Dr Kirstie McCallum Timeline 1996– 2000

PhD in Analytical Developments in Single Bubble Sonoluminescence from Glasgow Caledonian University

2000– 2006

Quality Analyst, Development Chemist and Scientist at Chivas Brothers then Allied Distillers


Joins Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd as Blender

2012– 2016

Takes a hiatus from blending to become a Global Brands Ambassador

2016– Senior Blender for Distell Present

Let’s start at the beginning – how did you end up with a career in whisky? Basically luck! I had no intention of working in the whisky industry. I left university with my chemistry degree and was told that, if I wanted to get anywhere in the pharmaceuticals industry, I had to do a PhD. So, I went back, did my PhD, left university… and there were no jobs in the pharmaceutical industry! I got a temporary appointment up at Port Dundas’ Glasgow lab, started work, fell in love with the [whisky] industry, fell in love with everything to do with it, and I’ve never left since. Have you always been a whisky drinker? Yes, even as a student I was a whisky drinker. We heard that you were partial to a whisky and coke? There’s nothing wrong with a whisky and coke! I love a whisky and coke. I love mixing whisky, I love whisky in cocktails… So, no strong opinions on mixing, ice, water, glass shape…? If you wanted to add milk to it, go ahead and do it. If you want to put it with orange juice, do it. It’s about how you enjoy drinking whisky. Enjoy it! I went to Canada and had their Bloody Caesar, made with Clamato juice. Then I tried that with whisky and it worked really, really well. Good hangover stuff! You’ve obviously got an incredible palate and nose – does that affect the ways you’re able to drink and enjoy whisky? I think it opens up more possibilities because you can look at how different flavours interact with each other. I think whisky is there for everybody to enjoy, no matter what you want to do with it. For too many years there’s been too much snobbery – you can’t do this, you can’t do that – you can do whatever you like with whisky! We don’t make it for people to be snobby about. We make it for people to drink it and enjoy. And however you want to enjoy it is entirely up to you.



My Craft




My Craft

Do you think being Scotland’s youngest ever female blender helped you change people’s approach to drinking whisky? I don’t think so. I think it’s just my character – I don’t like things to be set in a way that they’ve ‘got’ to be. I am very much a believer in ‘you do what you want to do’. It’s as simple as that. Was there a moment you realised that whisky blending was your calling? I think that what drove me is the passion of it. I’m very much a believer that, if you have a decent sense of taste and a decent nose, you can train yourself up. It’s experience, it’s learning as you go. Part of being a blender is building up that repertoire and learning to put it together. Is there anything special you do to keep your senses sharpened? I don’t wear perfume. You’re not supposed to drink coffee… Spicy foods, things like that, can dull your sense of smell. I love a good curry at the weekend, but I’ll steer clear of them during the week.

Do you apply different strategies to your different brands? They are very different whiskies, so you have to have a different vision for each. Deanston is this lovely heather honey. It’s a young distillery, so you can do a bit more with it. Bunnahabhain is like a statesman. That is, it’s a well-known whisky with a real following, it’s always got that touch of sherry somewhere in it. It’s very much got its own characteristic. It’s ‘the bees-knees’ kind of idea, so you’ve got to be a little bit more refined with it! What about your Mull whiskies? I love working with Tobermory and Ledaig. One distillery produces such different whiskies, and there’s so much you can do. It amazes me the differences you can get between the two, yet the stills are exactly the same – the only thing we’re changing is the peated malt.

Your job takes you all across Scotland – do you see the different whiskies being shaped by their environment? When you think about it, every distillery in Scotland makes whisky by basically the same How has your role developed and processes, and yet they’re all so different. It’s changed? down to the still shape, it’s down to the area… My role in the whisky industry full stop it’s down to all sorts of things. And I find it has developed quite a lot over the years, because amazing that we can get such a variety, and I actually started off in a lab as an analyst, then the fact that we know so much about whisky, moved into quality approvement, and then I but we don’t know everything yet. I don’t want trained up using my nose and my palate. After to know everything! that I went into the brand ambassadorial role That’s part of the magic of Scotch for me – for four and half years – which was great fun – there are still elements of mystery. and then back into the blending! Do you have any signature processes, Did your experience as a brand styles or finishes that you champion? ambassador change your approach I like working with PX casks, I love working as a blender? with red wine casks. There are lots of things Yes! I think if I’d only ever done blending that I want to try, lots of experiments I want work, I’d have sat in a lab and done things the to do. I think that’s part of my ethos – trying way I wanted to do them. By going out and something different. talking to people – consumers and people in the industry – you find out what people actually Do you still approach it with a chemist’s want to drink, what excites them. ‘head’ sometimes? No. I now approach it with passion, it’s as simple as that. Chemistry will always be there, and it’s a really good tool to be able to use; you can use it to get the full picture.

Knowledge Bar

Kirstie's Top Christmas Drams

Bunnahabhain Canasta Bunnahabhain Pedro Ximénez Bunnahabhain Mòine Brandy Deanston Red Wine



My Craft

What does your typical day look like? I don’t really have a typical day! Every day is different. One day I can be in the warehouses tasting the casks, the next day I’m working on a blend in the lab. Then I could be doing interviews, or I can be out doing tastings for consumers, so it changes.

Is it ever a case of nervous anticipation when you’re working with a new cask type? Definitely. I’ve got a few experiments Do you have a ‘favourite’ type of day, or ongoing that are very much like that. But you’ve is it the variety that you like best? got to try. If you don’t try, you’re never going to It’s the variety. I love being in the warehouse, know, you know? I love tasting the casks, I love tasting whisky. I do spit it back out, of course! Are there any common misconceptions about what you do? Do you have a favourite whisky that I think sometimes when we talk about you’ve made, or anything you’re ‘master blenders’ people automatically think we particularly proud of? work with blended whisky. They don’t actually I would actually say they’re all my babies, realise that most of the single malts on the I’m proud of them all. I love working with the market are blends as well, because you’ve got limited editions for the single malts. more than one cask going into a batch of, say, We’re doing one this year, the Bunnahabhain Bunnahabhain or a Deanston 12 year old. Canasta, it’s a 36 year old 1980 release… I love I think sometimes people get confused that whisky. I think, if you’re looking for sherry with ‘single malt’ and ‘single cask’. I hear that flavours, it’s one of the biggest Bunnahabhains quite a lot. we’ve done. That’s a limited edition. Do you think there’s a lot of education that Is there a challenge for you in introducing still needs to happen with whisky drinkers? people to flavours and finishes they may I think it depends where you are! In not have thought about before? certain parts of the world, their knowledge Most whisky drinkers are quite open to is phenomenal. Whisky is a spirit that seems different casks and trying different things. It’s to have caught everyone’s imagination, and it a very experimental audience when it comes builds a passion – it’s a real social thing. to single malts. It’s one of these industries and processes that you’ll never know everything about, and Have evolving tastes and a lean towards every day is a school day. Experience is building ‘artisan’ drinking influenced your work? all the time, and we’re learning more things Yes, very much so. Especially for single malts, about it. So, not just for the consumer, but I you’re definitely seeing it with all the different think for everybody, there’s always more to finishes and everything that’s coming out. learn about whisky. There are different wine finishes available: wines you’ve maybe never heard of before, wines that haven’t been available on the UK market. You talk to a cask supplier and say, “What’ve you got that’s unusual? What’ve you got that’s different?”. It’s all about the relationship [with cask suppliers]. I go out every year – to Spain, to Kentucky – and visit them.

Who have been your biggest influences? There were three main influences in my whisky career, and all of them I worked with at a previous company – Chivas. One was Abby Stevens, who was one of the blenders – he knew so much. There’s also Master Blender Colin Scott, and the guy who was chief chemist at Chivas, David Pert – I’ve never known someone have so much technical knowledge about whisky. They were the ones who instilled the passion in me, which I’ve now developed. Where are your favourite places to drink whisky? I’d actually say that one of my top three was in a barn in Finland! I like drinking whisky at home. Wherever I am with my friends, or with good company, that’s where I like to drink. I’m not picky! What next? What does the future hold? Just this, just this forever!

For 14,000 days our 1980 Canasta Cask Finish breathed our briny coastal air – first in casks that held Oloroso sherry, then in perfectly sweet Canasta sherry oak. Pour a dram and come journey with us to the beautiful island of Islay in a single sip.




A Time in History

For Auld Lang Syne Brian Wilson gets to the bottom of Hogmanay traditons —

Illustration: Sean Mulvenna


“A lot of the firstfooting was lost from the 1960s onward as television’s tartanised pastiche of the real thing, The White Heather Club, came to be synonymous with greeting the New Year and people increasingly stayed indoors, particularly if it was blowing a gale outside!”



A Time in History

The Scotland in which I grew up did not bother much with Christmas. It was only in 1958 that Christmas Day became a Scottish holiday with Boxing (or St Stephen’s) Day following in 1974. Until then, it was common for people to work as usual and await the coming of the New Year as the cause for celebration. Christmas certainly was not associated with the kind of revelry that has become the norm. We quite enjoyed the fact that the contrast with England was marked by 20th century symbols. Whereas the London newspapers stopped the presses for Christmas Day, the Scottish ones published. A week later, the only papers on sale in Scotland were the relatively unfamiliar English titles. Similarly, Christmas Day was a big date in the English football calendar while the Scottish tradition was for New Year’s Day fixtures. It is only in the last couple of decades that the balance has really tipped in Scotland towards Christmas becoming the bigger event – a social change that owes more to commercialism than anything more spiritual. The pressures of advertising and imagery of Christmas have eventually proved more powerful than Scotland’s gallant efforts to promote the spirit of Hogmanay and all that – though that remains a special time for Scots, wherever they are found. Actually, if you look a little more closely, Christmas celebrations have at least as long a pedigree in Scotland as anywhere else. Carmina Gadelica, first published in 1900, is a priceless collection, by Alexander Carmichael, of traditions that were by then fading. Carmichael wrote: “Christmas chants were numerous and their recital common around Scotland. They are now disappearing with the customs they accompanied [...] Formerly on Christmas Eve bands of young men went about from house to house and from townland to townland chanting Christmas songs […] The rejoicers wore long white shirts for surplices and very tall white hats for mitres, in which they made a picturesque appearance as they moved along singing their loudest”. The survival of such traditions, long enough for Carmichael to collect them, was remarkable. Since most of Scotland succumbed to the Reformation of 1560, Christmas celebrations had been frowned on – or banned outright – by the Presbyterian churches as a Catholic thing, lacking in Biblical justification. In some rural parts, fortunately, the old traditions remained stronger than the power of clerical authority and, ironically, the Gaelic-speaking periphery of

Scotland – which became most closely identified with austere religiosity – was also the place in which the venerable pre-Reformation customs survived the longest. Meanwhile, the stereotypical English Christmas was formed not only through a less fundamentalist religious tradition but also the pure Victoriana of turkeys, Christmas trees and Christmas cards. Then there was Charles Dickens’ contribution to the general assumption that it was the duty of jolly Englishmen to spread peace and goodwill on Christmas Day while only the Scrooges opted out. More recently, the annual orgies of marketing and consumption have reinforced the Christmas brand, albeit with everdiminishing reference to its origins. I still much prefer the Hogmanay emphasis which entails reflecting upon the year which has just passed, with whatever it has brought, and looking forward to the incoming one with hope, optimism and quite a lot of nostalgia. At heart, that remains a good tradition to party around whether it’s in one’s own home or in great public celebrations, like the Edinburgh Hogmanay or the Times Square festivities in New York. By the 20th century, the practice around Hogmanay – a word that probably has Norse origins though nobody is quite sure – had evolved into the pleasantly dignified custom of firstfooting. Most people did not have money to spend on lavish celebrations and the norm was for families to visit friends and neighbours bearing small symbolic gifts – cake or shortbread for sustenance and maybe a piece of coal to represent warmth. The New Year ‘bottle’ was carried from home to home and toasts exchanged over modest drams. The bottle had to last! Whisky is an essential part of the Scottish ritual though in many Scottish homes, my own included, it was probably the only time of the year when that particular purchase was made. Proportionate to earnings, whisky was a lot more expensive in those days. My father’s loyalty for this annual indulgence was to White Horse, a blend with a strong Islay connotation which sold on the slogan: ‘You can take a White Horse anywhere’. A lot of the first-footing was lost from the 1960s onward as television’s tartanised pastiche of the real thing, The White Heather Club, came to be synonymous with greeting the New Year and people increasingly stayed indoors, particularly if it was blowing a gale outside! It has to be admitted that past generations had more imaginative ways of celebrating these

calendar landmarks. Again, turning to Alexander Carmichael and Carmina Gadelica, he tells us of one tradition which could still be found in parts of Scotland: “The ‘gillean Callaig’ carollers or Hogmanay lads perambulate the townland at night. One man is enveloped in the hard hide of a bull with the horns still attached. When the men come to a house they ascend the wall and run around sunwise, the man in the hide shaking the horns and hoofs, and the other men striking the hard hide with sticks. The appearance of the man in the hide is gruesome, while the din made is terrific”. Anyone for a revival? More recognisably, Scotland – or to be more precise, Robert Burns – has given the world the essential song for all such occasions in Auld Lang Syne: “Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot for Auld Lang Syne”. Not many, even in Scotland, could explain the precise meaning of these opening lines, far less the rest of the poem. But magically, it does not seem to matter for the spirit of the song transcends the detail of the vernacular. In 1788, Burns sent it off to the Scots Musical Museum in Edinburgh with a note which described his verses as “an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man”. The world is glad that he did. As Scots spread their wings (or were evicted) in the 18th and 19th centuries, they took Auld Lang Syne with them. For the Scottish diaspora, it became an anthem for what they had left behind. From its humblest of origins, it became one of the most recognisable songs in the world, even if hardly anyone knew the words! One man who did a lot to help was Guy Lombardo, the bandleader who, for half a century, played in the New Year for American and Canadian radio and television audiences from the Waldorf Astoria in New York. He was known as ‘Mr New Year’ and it became an essential part of the format that Auld Lang Syne rang out just before ‘the ball’ descended on Times Square. So, every North American got to know the song – or at least the first line of it. “And there’s a hand, my trusty friere and gie’s a hand o’ thine. And we’ll tak a richt guid willie waugh, for auld lang syne”. You don’t need the exact translation but roughly speaking it means: “Have a great time. Don’t overdo it. And enjoy your whisky”. Honest.






Mixing It Up

A journey through winter with Loch Fyne Whiskies... Winter is here, bringing with it a string of festivities. Make sure you’re prepared for every occasion with these simple-yet-spectacular serves using The Loch Fyne range of whiskies and gin, guaranteed to impress, without any stress. —

Photography: Christina Kernohan Styling: Meredith Wilkie Assistant: Muckle



Mixing It Up

Festive Party Season The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin & Tonic ‘Perfect Serve’

— 25ml The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin Twist of orange peel Tonic Ice — Method: Fill a glass with your desired amount of ice, add one measure of The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin, and twist orange peel into the glass. Top up with your favourite tonic, serve to guests, and enjoy! —



Mixing It Up

Christmas Eve The Loch Fyne Twister — 12.5ml The Loch Fyne Honey & Ginger Liqueur 12.5ml The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin Lemonade Twist of lime Ice (optional) — Method: Add half a measure of The Loch Fyne Honey & Ginger Liqueur and half a measure of The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin to a glass, add a twist of lime, and top up with chilled lemonade. Ice optional! —



Mixing It Up

Christmas Day The Loch Fyne Chocolate & Orange Apéritif

— 25ml The Loch Fyne Chocolate & Orange Liqueur Tonic water Mint sprig Ice — Method: Half fill a glass with ice, add a measure of The Loch Fyne Chocolate & Orange Liqueur, top up with your preferred tonic water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Stir and enjoy! —



Mixing It Up

Hogmanay/ New Year’s Eve Whisky Champagne Cocktail — 25ml

The Loch Fyne Aultmore 10 Year Old Single Cask

1 Brown sugar cube (or more, to taste) Bitters Champagne — Method: Pop a brown sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne glass, soak in bitters and add 25ml of The Loch Fyne Aultmore 10 Year Old. Stir to dissolve the sugar, top up with Champagne and serve immediately to toast the New Year! —



Mixing It Up

Burns’ Night The Loch Fyne High Ball — 12.5ml The Loch Fyne Honey & Ginger Liqueur 12.5ml The Loch Fyne Blend Soda Water Ice — Method: Fill a glass with your desired amount of ice, add a half measure each of The Loch Fyne Honey & Ginger Liqueur and The Loch Fyne Blend. Top up with soda water and raise a toast! —

Traditional Concept. Modern Twist. Warm up for winter with The Loch Fyne Liqueurs. Loch Fyne Whiskies | Inveraray | Argyll | PA32 8UD | t: 01499 302 219 (Shop) / 0800 107 1936 (Orders) | e: 64

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66 The Whisky Shop Exclusives 67 Hunter Laing & Co. 68 The W Club 70 Gifts 74 Personalise Your Gift 76 12 Drams of Christmas 78 Customer Favourites 86 Directory



The Whisky Shop Exclusives ➛ We’re proud to stock a

selection of whiskies exclusive to The Whisky Shop. From limited edition bottlings to old and rare whiskies, single malts to singularly superb blends, these whiskies are for our customers only.

Balblair 1997 Single Cask

Inchmurrin Single Cask

Kilchoman Single Cask

– 70CL | 51.5% VOL | £140



What is it? Single cask no.913 was distilled at the Highland Balblair distillery in 1997 and bottled in 2017, exclusively for The Whisky Shop customers to enjoy. We’ve chosen to present this whisky at a cask strength of 51.5%VOL, as we believe it showcases the fantastic natural character of the whisky which initially caught our attention.

What is it? Inchmurrin is the largest of Loch Lomond’s islands, and translates as ‘the grassy isle’, making it the perfect namesake for the distinctively soft, round and wonderfully wooded single malts in Loch Lomond Distillery’s Island Collection. This bottling is exclusive to The Whisky Shop: distilled in 2003, only 214 bottles exist.

What is it? An exclusive release from Kilchoman, and (to date) the oldest ever released by the small Islay distillery. Based on the island’s rugged west coast, Kilchoman Distillery is a true ‘farm distillery’, operating a ‘barley to bottle’ policy. This whisky is from single cask no.131, distilled on 7th July 2006 and yielding approx.. 133 bottles. It is presented at cask strength, un-chill filtered and with no artificial colouring

What’s it like? The aroma is very fresh and fruity with orange and lemon jelly sweets, tropical fruit punch and old fashioned pineapple cube sweeties. Rich butterscotch, custard cream and golden syrup showcase bourbon cask maturation to perfection. Rich in flavour with a waxy texture, the palate boasts a nice mix of sweet and spice, where soft toffee and tutti-frutti ice cream are balanced by a touch of white pepper, leading to a long and spicy finish with some toasted coconut and marshmallow.

What’s it like? An ode to the verdant shores of Inchmurrin island, this single cask expression is syrupy and slightly tangy, with striking orange peel followed by barley sugar, some creamy vanilla, and a honey-maple sweetness, leading to a crescendo of cinnamon and ginger spiciness at the end.

What’s it like? Bright gold in colour, the first-fill American oak cask has imparted an unexpectedly mellow character. The nose is maritime and slightly medicinal, with classic ‘Islay’ phenolic aromas; the palate mellow and again salty, with a gust of smokiness to finish.



Hunter Laing & Co.

The First Editions Caol Ila 2009 – 70CL | 46% VOL | £89

➛ Three generations of the Laing

family have honed their skills in sourcing the very finest whiskies from Scotland, and the international reputation they’ve gained is richly deserved. Among others, we stock The First Editions range of accessible single cask malts, the now famous Old Malt Cask range, The Sovereign range of rare and highly desirable single cask grain whiskies, and the eminently collectable Platinum Old & Rare releases.

What is it? An Islay whisky of tender years but big character. Distilled in 2009 and aged in a refill hogshead for 7 years at Islay’s largest working distillery, Caol Ila. Only 381 bottles have been filled from the single cask, at 46%VOL. What’s it like? Expect a full-bodied, rounded nose, initially sweet then with iodine. A smooth and sweet palate with vanilla custard and a hint of marzipan develops to seaweed, with a hint of peat appearing ahead of the long, lingering finish infused with subtle peat smoke.

The First Editions Inchgower 2008 Wine Cask

The First Editions Fettercairn 2008 Sherry Cask

What is it? Distilled in 2008, this whisky hails from Speyside’s Inchgower Distillery, which sits in Buckie, Moray. It has been matured in a single wine cask for 9 years, before being filled into just 460 bottles. Released at 46%VOL for optimum flavour, it’s a surprisingly rich expression for its age and origin.

What is it? Distilled in 2008 and matured for 8 years in a refill sherry hogshead, this whisky comes from the less well known Fettercairn Distillery, located in a small Aberdeenshire village of the same name in the Highland region. Released at 46%VOL, only 309 bottles have been filled from this single cask.

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £67

What’s it like? The nose is nutty, with aromas of blackberries and apples coming through. The palate is similarly rich with walnut, forest fruits, and the intensity of dark chocolate. A medium length finish promises lingering fruity flavours.

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £67

What’s it like? A fresh nose, with marzipan, malt and sweet honey. A herbal and spicy palate, with oranges, cloves and pepper, leads to a pleasingly long and warming finish, with a continuation of the initial spice.



The W Club ➛ Since relaunching The W Club in

2016, it has gone from strength to strength, evolving to meet the needs, and surpass the expectations, of our many members. Our W Club whisky subscriptions continue to be the ultimate ‘gift that keeps on giving’ and with three distinct offerings to choose from, there’s something here for every whisky fan. Not to mention our W Club annual memberships, which promise recipients a range of discounts and tasting events throughout the year.

Explorer Safari

Dram-a-Month Deluxe


– 2X 10CL | £24.99 PER MONTH

– 1X 5CL | £12.99 PER MONTH

– 1X 5CL | £6.99 PER MONTH

This subscription box sends recipients on a journey through the world of whisky, one theme at a time. Once a month, for the duration of the subscription, we’ll post two 10cl samples of whisky direct to their door. Each bottle will contain four measures, allowing a good taste of each, and an opportunity to compare and contrast both whiskies. Every month we will have a new theme from Japan through America and back to some exclusive Scotch masterpieces, covering a variety of styles and finishes. The Explorer Safari subscription box is perfect for sharing – so they might even invite you on Safari with them! A truly unique gift for whisky lovers.

An affordable opportunity for a whisky lover to explore various high-end expressions before committing to the full-size bottle. Once a month, for the duration of their subscription, recipients will receive a 5cl sample of a very special whisky direct to their door. From aged and vintage expressions, to superb limited editions, this is a wonderful opportunity to sample exceptional and expensive liquids they may otherwise be unable to access – an ideal gift solution for the whisky aficionado in your life.

Send someone on a trip through the world of whisky, one dram at a time. This subscription box is a perfect introduction or reintroduction to the world of whisky. Taste your way through new releases, obscure drams and various brands to find your favourite. We’ll post recipients one 5cl sample bottle every month including, every once in a while, a special ‘Golden Dram’. This is the perfect Christmas gift for anybody who would like to start expanding their whisky knowledge.

Membership / Premium Membership (with Gift Box) – £20 / £39.99

In late 2016 we relaunched our ever-popular W Club to be better than ever. One year on, our new offering has proven a resounding success, including a whole host of exciting benefits exclusively for our members: monthly discounts, fantastic flash sales, whisky auctions, a quarterly copy of Whiskeria to your door, regular complementary local tasting events, and more! An annual membership will continue to delight whisky fans of any age and experience, right up until next Christmas. For an extra special introduction to the club, you can’t go wrong with the gift membership box, complete with whisky miniature, Glencairn glass and Jim Murray’s most recent whisky bible.



Gifts ➛ Let us help you find the ideal gifts

this Christmas. Whether you’re looking to add luxury to someone’s life, introduce them to new and exciting flavours, or indulge them with treats from a favourite distillery, The Whisky Shop selection of tempting taster packs and beautifully presented sets has never been stronger!

Loch Lomond Distillery Taster Pack

Glen Scotia Taster Pack

Glenmorangie Taster Pack

– 3X 5CL | £26

– 3X 5CL | £24

– 4X 10CL | £30

What is it? A trio of miniatures showcasing the incredible diversity of whiskies produced at Loch Lomond Distillery. Thanks to its impressive collection of still types and pioneering approach, Loch Lomond Distillery is able to create whiskies of distinctively different styles, represented by their core and island collections: Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin and Inchmoan.

What is it? Take your taste buds to Scotland’s forgotten whisky-making capital, Campbeltown, with the Glen Scotia gift pack, and experience three exceptional variations representing the distillery’s signature single malt style, which combines sea spray, spicy aromatic fruits, vanilla and oak influence.

What is it? A collection of four 10cl bottles showcasing some of the glorious whiskies produced at the worldfamous Glenmorangie Distillery. With a generous, shareable sized bottle each of Glenmorange 10 Year Old The Original, and three 12 Year Old expressions: Quinta Ruban, Nectar D’Or and Lasanta, there’s plenty here to make any whisky fan happy.

What’s it like? Three 12 year old whiskies, each hailing from the same distillery, and all representing a different style of whisky in a true testament to imagination and innovation: Loch Lomond 12 Year Old is aged in three cask types for a perfectly balanced, deep fruity character; Inchmurrin 12 Year Old, named for the ‘grassy isle’, is a triumph of light, fruity sweetness; Inchmoan, the peated element of the island collection, promises a delightfully unconventional smoky character.

What’s it like? A showcase of three distinctive whiskies from the impressive Campbeltown distillery: Glen Scotia 15 Year Old, matured in the finest American oak for sweet vanilla; Double Cask, finished in a combination of bourbon and PX sherry casks for a perfect balance of rich, spicy fruits; and Glen Scotia Victoriana, selected for its rare character and exceptional maturity.

What’s it like? A masterclass in the celebrated Highland malt, with inclusions ranging from a true classic in the medium-bodied 10 Year Old The Original, through the double matured Lasanta (bourbon and sherry) and Quinta Ruban (bourbon and Ruby Port), to the intriguing Nectar D’Or which is finished in Sauternes wine casks.

The Loch Fyne Chocolate & Orange Liqueur Gift Set with Glencairn Glasses What is it? The perfect gift for sharing over the festive period. The Loch Fyne’s appropriately warming and indulgent Chocolate & Orange Liqueur is presented with two classic Glencairn tasting glasses in a stylish black gift box.

The Loch Fyne Taster Pack – 50CL | 40% VOL | £45


What’s it like? A delicious treat for grownups, with just the right degree of sweetness. Generous milk chocolate and top notes of tangy tangerine peel combine with the same whiskies used in The Loch Fyne Blend to create a moreish tipple with subtle hints of coffee and spice.

What is it? A trio of products from The Loch Fyne range of delicious whiskies and gin, presented in an attractive gift box, and the ideal gift for any craft spirits fan. These sets will be available with various combinations of miniatures chosen from The Loch Fyne collection including: The Living Cask 1745, The Living Cask Batch 4, The Loch Fyne Honey and Ginger and Chocolate and Orange Liqueurs, The Loch Fyne Blend, and The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin.

What’s it like? From the smooth and mellow Blend, through the marriage of Islay single malts in The Living Cask 1745, and ever-evolving The Living Cask batched releases, to the indulgent Chocolate and Orange Liqueur and fragrant Honey and Ginger Liqueur, and even The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin infused with Scottish maritime botanicals, each set promises a taste of the wonderful creations from Loch Fyne Whiskies’ west coast workshop!




Ardbeg Warehouse Pack – 1X 70CL | 46% VOL | £52

➛ Let us help you find the ideal gifts

this Christmas. Whether you’re looking to add luxury to someone’s life, introduce them to new and exciting flavours, or indulge them with treats from a favourite distillery, The Whisky Shop selection of tempting taster packs and beautifully presented sets has never been stronger!

What is it? A bottle of Ardbeg’s seminal 10 Year Old core range whisky, presented in a unique and beautifully crafted gift tin, designed in the style of their iconic coastal warehouse! This is the perfect gift for Ardbeg enthusiasts, and anyone wishing to commemorate a trip to Islay’s wonderful white-washed distilleries. What’s it like? Ardbeg 10 Year Old is considered one of the peatiest, smokiest and most complex single malts on the market, and the apex of archetypal Islay style. Non chill-filtered, with a strength of 46%VOL for maximum flavour (of peat, smoky fruits and naturally sweet malt), this quirkily presented whisky tastes as good as it looks.

Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin Gift Tin

Glenfiddich 21 Year Old with Luxury Aspinal Leather Tag

What is it? Presented in a pretty pink and gold-embellished gift tin, this 20cl is made with Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin blended with the juice of rhubarb, from a crop originally grown in the kitchen garden of Buckingham Palace during the reign of Queen Victoria.

What is it? Award-winning 21 Year Old single malt from Glenfiddich – a distillery world-renowned for its eternally popular and consistently highquality whiskies – and presented with an equally exquisite luxury leather luggage tag, produced by Aspinal of London.

What’s it like? This alluring rosy-hued gin is voluptuous on the palate with a sweet and sharp rhubarb explosion. Best enjoyed with plenty of ice and your choice of tonic, this is a great gift for the gin-lover in your life, and a perfect festive party-pour.

What’s it like? Aged for 21 years before being finished in casks that have previously contained premium Caribbean rum, producing a finish that releases layers of sweet intensity. The nose is all sweet vanilla aromas, while the flavour is a complex mix of citrus and spice with a suggestion of smoke.

– 20CL | 40% VOL | £20

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £135












Personalise Your Gift ➛ Choosing a whisky someone

will love is already a fantastic idea for Christmas, but what if you could make the choice even more personal? Our hand-written labels and personalised engravings let you do exactly this, creating something truly unique for you to gift this festive season.

GlenKeir Treasures with Personalised Label

Loch Lomond 18 Year Old with Personalised Engraving

What is it? Our unique GlenKeir Treasures are widely loved by customers, and for good reason: we pick the best casks we can find in order to offer something new and interesting. All expressions are available in a range of bottle sizes, with the option to include a personalised, hand-written message on the label. What better gift for the intrepid whisky enthusiast?

What is it? Matured in the finest oak barrels chosen by former Master Cooper, Tommy Wallace, this 18 Year Old expression from Loch Lomond Distillery’s eponymous line has been allowed to experience the sweeter character of the wood, taking on a subtle hint of peat and smoke to ensure a balanced finish. Now available with the personalised engraved message of your choice, it’s a great gift for the discerning Scotch drinker.

– 50CL | 40% VOL | £VARIOUS Pictured: Craigellachie 9 Year Old

What’s it like? This Craigellachie 9 Year Old is a wonderful winter dram, distilled on 14th July 2008, and presented at 40%VOL. The nose is rich in honey-coated peach and mango, toasted poppy seed and a little liquorice. The palate is rich and waxy with the bite of blood orange and a touch of white pepper, mellowing to creamy candy and sherbet. The finish is classic Craigellachie – earthy and slightly oily with a charcoal finale.

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £88

What’s it like? The nose fuses green apple and grapefruit aromas before sweeter honeysuckle notes emerge with mature oak. The palate is full-bodied and rounded with notes of toasted oak and cigars, developing into green fruits with apple and gooseberry. The finish is long with dried tea and tobacco leaf balancing a soft medicinal peatiness and wood smoke.

The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin with Personalised Engraving

Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach with Personalised Engraving

– 50CL | 42% VOL | £34

What is it? Another hand-crafted product from the Loch Fyne Whiskies workshop. The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin stands out in a crowded marketplace with a clever infusion of Scottish maritime botanicals – add a personalised engraving to ensure your gift is remembered long after the gin is finished!

– 70CL | 46.3% VOL | £65 What’s it like? At the heart of The Loch Fyne Botanical Gin are juniper, coriander and orange peel, complemented by the addition of sea buckthorn, heather pearls, lemon peel and traditional milk thistle. The ingredients combine to make a distinctive yet balanced gin with plenty of aromatic appeal and a lingering, sweet herbal finish.

What is it? Ceòbanach translates from Gaelic as ‘smoky mist’, and is an apt title for this unusually peated expression from Islay’s Bunnahabhain Distillery, which is a small batch release with a smokiness that harks back to Bunnahabhains of the 1800s. Add a personalised engraved message to the bottle, and look forward to giving a very special gift.

What’s it like? Intensely pungent and phenolic on the nose, with fragrant smoke, light tar, sweet oak and seaweed. The palate delivers sweet maltiness, then a lovely balance of tangy smoke and vanilla. Mellow and smooth, white pepper, bitter orange, liquorice and sea salt emerge before a peppery sweet smoke and oatcakes in the lingering finish.



12 Drams of Christmas ➛ Fresh off the first sleigh from the

North Pole workshop, our 12 Drams of Christmas boxes are the ideal gift for your true love (or yourself) this Christmas! Created to be unwrapped and enjoyed from Christmas day through to 5th January, and with both standard and deluxe options available, each thoughtfully compiled collection contains a range of classic and intriguing drams, guaranteed to deliver festive cheer.

12 Drams of Christmas Standard (2017 Edition)

12 Drams of Christmas Deluxe (2017 Edition)

Twelve 3cl bottles of fantastic whiskies, hand-picked by The Whisky Shop elves to keep you going through the festive season! Our standard offering promises a journey through our Customer Favourites and popular drams, travelling from sweet and floral expressions, to big, bold and sweet drams, and visiting some smoky surprises on the way.

On the first day of Christmas, what will your true love give to you? Fingers crossed it’s one of our 12 Drams of Christmas Deluxe gift boxes, with a premium 3cl dram for every day of the festivities. This selection promises some seriously exceptional discoveries, with everything from luxury blends to The Whisky Shop exclusives, international expressions to well-aged whiskies.

– 12X 3CL | £70

– 12X 3CL | £125










Customer Favourites ➛ The whiskies our customers

love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone.

W Light/ Floral

anCnoc 12 Year Old

Balblair 2005

Loch Lomond 12 Year Old

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £44

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £56

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £45

A whisky whose name isn’t taken directly from its home distillery, anCnoc comes from the Highland Knockdhu Distillery. Established in 1894 as the perfect embodiment of a modern distillery, Knockdhu lies on the border of Speyside and produces light, intriguing, forward-thinking whisky. Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon, sherry and secondfill American oak casks, this expression is delicate yet complex, smooth yet challenging, and universally loved for it!

The first release of the 2005 expression from Balblair – who mark themselves out by bottling by vintage, rather than age. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, there’s definite honey and vanilla present in this delicately sweet dram. The nose is all oaky vanilla and citrus with a suggestion of fragrant cut flowers. The palate is reminiscent of citrus and orchard fruits that lift the intense sweetness and lead to a delectably long, spicy finish.

A new addition from the innovative distillery on the bonnie banks, where different stills are used to create a stunning variety of single malts. This core range expression – bursting with orchard and citrus fruits, cereal and biscuit sweetness, then wood smoke and a peaty tang – has already enchanted the taste buds of Jim Murray, who claimed he’s “never seen spice quite like it, or such a sublime balance with the fruity malt”. High praise indeed.

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley

Glen Moray 12 Year Old Elgin Heritage

Still made to distilling legend Jim McEwan’s original 100% Scottish barley recipe: trickle distilled, matured on the shores of Loch Indaal and crafted from a selection of casks. Described as being “smooth as pebbles in a pool”, expect barley sugar with subtle mint developing to a freshly cut meadow on the nose. Brilliantly clean on the palate, barley and oak are followed by a gust of ripe green fruit, sweet malt, brown sugar and a warm finish.

Another new addition to our Customer Favourites, this Speyside single malt is aged in the finest American oak for 12 years, lending it a delicious toasty character. Look forward to rich floral notes and vanilla toffee on the nose, with berry fruits and freshly cut herbs. The palate has toasted oak and more sublime summer fruits for a mellow sweetness, before a sweet, subtly oaky finish.

– 70CL | 50% VOL | £52

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £43



Customer Favourites ➛ The whiskies our customers

love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone.

W Rich/ Sweet

Blair Athol 12 Year Old – 70CL | 43% VOL | £67 Established in 1798 in picturesque Pitlochry, Blair Athol is one of Scotland’s oldest working distilleries, and produces the signature malt of the famous Bell's blend. This is one of the only a few official bottlings ever produced from Blair Athol, and part of The Flora & Fauna series: a collection highlighting the diversity of Scotland's whisky regions. Walnuts and sherry on the nose lead to cinnamon and orangecitrus on the palate, with the richness of fruitcake completing this delightful dram.

Balblair 1999

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £77

A full-bodied Highland single malt created at one of Scotland’s oldest and prettiest distilleries. Truly representative of the Balblair house style, the initial aromas are of brown bread and butter that later develop to light vanilla and ground almonds. The palate also takes a journey from sweet to spicy thanks to time in Spanish oak ex-sherry butts. Salty flavours are present at full strength, and water enhances the maritime character with a faint oiliness, creating a softer dram overall.

The Dalmore 12 Year Old – 70CL | 40% VOL | £50 It’s not surprising that our former Whisky of The Year retains its status as a firm favourite amongst The Whisky Shop customers. To recap for those who haven’t yet dipped a toe into The Dalmore portfolio, this single malt is a Highland triumph displaying signs of sherry wood maturation: full-bodied, thick, sweet and ‘muscular’. Leathery notes and a long spicy finish add finesse and make this popular dram an absolute must-try.

The Dalmore 15 Year Old

Glen Scotia 15 Year Old

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £70

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £63

Matured for 15 years in a trio of ex-sherry casks, as well as exbourbon barrels, The Dalmore’s 15 Year Old is another core range whisky for your bucket list. A stylistic evolution from The Dalmore’s famous 12 Year Old and just as popular, you can expect a similarly varied profile of chocolate orange sweetness, gentle spice and rich warmth. It’s a true testament to the distillery’s creative and ambitious approach.

Campbeltown is firmly back on the Scotch map as a must-try region for whisky lovers, and no distillery is representing the area better than Glen Scotia. Their 15 Year Old expression is a triumph of flavour, with everything from citrus to oak, ginger snaps to apricots, and a hint of caramel packed into every bottle. Unlike many of its Campbeltown contemporaries, Glen Scotia is available yearround, meaning this is a whisky for life, not just for Christmas!

Glen Moray 15 Year Old Elgin Heritage

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £55 Unquestionably Speyside in character, Glen Moray’s Elgin Heritage Collection showcases carefully matured, complex and well-rounded whiskies influenced by the unique Elgin climate. This 15 year old single malt is aged in a combination of sherry and American oak casks, which impart hints of spice, heady dried fruits and dark chocolate flavours. Expect sherried oak and butter toffee on the nose, followed by an indulgent full-bodied palate with sweetly spiced dark chocolate and fine wine. The finish is long and rich.



Customer Favourites ➛ The whiskies our customers

love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone.

W Rich/ Sweet

The GlenDronach 12 Year Old – 70CL | 43% VOL | £46 A signature single malt from the distillery famous for its richly sherried offering, and an awardwinning expression at that; no wonder The GlenDronach 12 retains its status as a favourite amongst our customers! Matured in both Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks, it is imbued with an indulgent portfolio of flavours – stewed fruits, jam, marmalade, nuts and brown sugar all vie for attention – with a faint charcoal smokiness weaving through over time. A classic warming dram.

The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £95

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £45

Created using waters from the Dronac Burn, this a superbly complex single malt made in the characteristic big sherry style. An ode to James Allardice, who founded the distillery and produced the very first drops of ‘guid Glendronach’, this expression has been matured in the finest Oloroso sherry casks. Rich and dark, it promises remarkable depth of flavour with stewed fruits and allspice.

One of Speyside’s most famous whisky producers also happens to be one of the last remaining familyowned distilleries in Scotland. Boasting a huge range of muchloved whiskies, Glenfarclas is somewhat fabled amongst Scotch drinkers, and this 10 year old is a perennial favourite. The nose is rich with Christmas cake, sherry, raisins, nuts and spice plus a hint of smoke. The palate is surprisingly dry, before sweetening to a full body. The finish is long, nutty and also dry – a real classic.

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £60

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £57

Awarded 95/100 in Jim Murray’s 2007 Whisky Bible, this 46% VOL Speyside whisky certainly leaves a lasting impression, and remains a family favourite amongst the Grant clan. The nose is complex – rich sherried notes and delicious peat balance out with light butterscotch and dried fruit. The palate is full bodied with big sherry character, malt and peat, leading to a sweet and gently smoky finish.

Maturation in custom-made sherry casks from Jerez, southern Spain (despite costing around five times as much as American ex-bourbon equivalents), gives this whisky a unique, dried fruit and resinous character that underpins the sherry top notes. Expect orange peel, fruit cake, vanilla, ginger bread, black cherries and pear drops on the nose, ginger, spice and oaky notes with an explosion of crème brûlée on the palate.

Jura ‘Diurachs’ Own’ 16 Year Old

Oban Distillers Edition

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £59

– 70CL | 43% VOL | £79

Named for the people of Jura, this whisky gives you a true taste of the unique Hebridean isle, as defined by those who know it best! Jura’s dram of the people has been treated to ‘double’ wood maturation in American white oak ex-bourbon and ex-Amoroso Oloroso sherry casks; combined, they’ve lent the whisky a curiously bold character. You’ll detect flavours of Christmas cake, dark chocolate and dried fruit from nose to toasty finish.

A seriously complex whisky of the highest order. Each expression of Oban Distillers Edition undergoes 'double' maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine. The distillery’s entrepreneurial founders – who specialised in importing ‘in demand’ goods – would’ve approved of the Spanish influence brought to bear in this Montilla Fino cask wood finish, which boasts a signature salty smokiness along with walnut, orange citrus and an identifiable, crowd-pleasing sherry character.



Customer Favourites ➛ The whiskies our customers

love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone.

W Smoky

BenRiach 10 Year Old Curiositas

Jura Prophecy

Talisker 57º North

– 70CL | 40% VOL | £47

– 70CL | 46% VOL | £68

– 70CL | 57% VOL | £70

A Speyside peated malt may seem curious, but this BenRiach actually represents a return to original 19th century Speyside form. Peat richness is accomplished by using malted barley dried in the traditional way over peat infused kilns, achieving the optimum balance of peat-bittersweet and oak infusion after 10 years’ maturation. The undoubtedly peaty nose also promises fragrant honey, while the palate boasts peat smoke followed by a complex mix of heather, nuts, oak wood and spice.

A heavily peated expression from Jura Distillery, matured in Limousin casks, and presented non-chill filtered. Released in small batches, it is complex and briny with strong spicy sea spray at the fore, and a drier and smokier flavour than the ‘standard’ peated Jura Superstition. Many taste peat smoke laced with fresh cinnamon in this intensely aromatic whisky with a long lasting flavour.

Talisker is one of the most remote and northerly distilleries in production, calling the windswept and rugged Isle of Skye home. In a nod to its out-of-the-way origins, this whisky takes its name from the distillery’s latitudinal position. Drawn from 100% American oak casks, this NAS whisky has a purity which emphasizes Talisker’s unique and intense distillery character, bringing a balance of clean citrus and vanilla to the typically briny, smoky dram.

Talisker Port Ruighe

Ailsa Bay

Bowmore 15 Year Old

Caol Ila Distillers Edition

– 70CL | 45.8% VOL | £55

– 70CL | 48.9% VOL | £60

– 70CL | 43% VOL | £67

– 70CL | 43% VOL | £75

The whisky gurus at Talisker Distillery have taken their seminal Isle of Skye malt and finished it in Ruby Port casks to create the fantastically rich and fruity Port Ruighe. The nose moves from sea-spray to waxy aromas with a little sweetness. This is mirrored on the palate, with Talisker’s classic maritime character being rounded off and dramatically sweetened by the Port finish. The finish includes cocoa and oak, with even a hint of citrus.

A uniquely balanced single malt with a precise smoky and sweet profile, meticulously crafted in a state-of-the-art Lowland distillery. The nose is intense with smoky phenolic notes balanced by creamy, honey sweetness and... smoky bacon! The palate is zingy, promising a peaty kick layered again over beautiful sweetness – think crispy rashers with maple syrup – with the big finish following suit.

Matured in an inspired combination of both bourbon and sherry casks at the salty-sea-air infused Bowmore warehouses, it's the final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks that gives Bowmore 15 Years Old it’s sumptuously rich, deep colour. Exuding the aroma of delicious dark chocolate, sun-dried fruits and a characteristic wisp of Islay smoke, it is full bodied, rich and complex, and a festive no-brainer for Islay whisky fans.

A stylish, richly flavoured and complex expression from Islay’s much-loved Caol Ila Distillery. Following many years maturing in oak casks, this whisky has then been ‘double matured’ in Moscatel cask wood, hand-selected to complement the whisky’s sweetly fruity, smoky intensity. Expect cinnamon layered with orange and apple freshness, sweet malty biscuit flavours, and waves of classic Islay peat smoke.



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Show me the way to the next whisky bar…

Last year The Whisky Shop opened its doors in Paris, and ever since we’ve been slowly discovering some of the city’s finest whisky dens. Here, Claire Bell picks our favourites… —

Paris Whisky Bars


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Paris Whisky Bars 1: Baton Rouge 9th Arrondissement 62 rue Notre Dame de Lorette Metro: Saint Georges Opened in 2015 — Open 6pm-2am Tues-Sat. Closed Sun-Mon



baton rouge If bartending royalty exists, then Joseph Biolatto, owner of Baton Rouge in Paris’ 9th arrondisement is certainly that. His mother is Madame Biolatto, the legendary owner of the Forvm bar, which from 1931 was the premier whisky bar in the French capital owned by one family. Unfortunately another royal family – the Qataris – set their gaze on the well-known address at Boulevard Malsherbes, and in 2015 the Forvm was forced to relocate when the Qataris decided to build a swanky hotel. In its smaller location at rue du Louvre, the Forvm has now been restyled at as a small cocktail bar, rather than a whisky grand dame, while son Joseph has picked up the whisky mantle – with a twist. Opened in 2015, Baton Rouge is a bourbon and rye whiskey bar, stocking over 85 bottles of America’s honey-coloured finest. The most expensive dram in the house is an Old Crow from the 1950s – a slender bottle that was designed to be as wide as a shirt when folded,

and able to fit snugly inside a travelling salesman’s suitcase – while the signature whisky cocktail is the ‘Sud Sazerac’, a mix of Jim Beam Rye whiskey, garrigue syrup, bitters, Pernod and absinthe. Biolatto named the bar after a slice of its own history, and a history of the Deep South. When French explorer Sieur d’Iberville landed in Louisiana, he found poles stabbed in the earth, hanging with bloody fish and bear heads. The ‘red sticks’ – ‘baton rouge’ in French – marked the territory between two American tribes. Before Biolatto took over his bar there had been a double homicide on the premises: “Someone owed someone money, I thought it was a good name for a bar,” he says. Baton Rouge is popular with Parisians from le coin – the neighbourhood – rather than tourists. Low-lighting and voodoo charms, bought from shops in New Orleans, keep you under its spell and in pride of place, in front of an American flag is a replica Winchester rifle – “the gun that won the west”.




Paris Whisky Bars 2: Harry’s New York Bar 1st Arrondissement

harry's new york bar According to Harry MacElhone, a Scotsman from Dundee, ‘Sank Roo Doe Noo’ (5 rue Daunou, the bar’s address) were the only French words a tourist to Paris needed to learn by heart. The Scotsman first worked at the bar he would later own in 1911. In 1923, as prohibition took root in America, the savvy Scot bought it and renamed it Harry’s New York Bar, sending the message around the world that this was the place for Americans to find a decent drink. And they did. Almost a hundred years later, a fourth generation of MacElhones is at the helm, though the clientele has changed. “Even fifteen years ago, this was a very masculine bar. If you walked in, people would look at you as if to say ‘what are you doing in my bar?’ Now we have more young people and ladies,” says Alain Pinto Da Silva, the bar’s director, who is also in charge of its whisky collection. Harry’s might be world famous for inventing the Bloody Mary cocktail in 1931, but its whisky collection is also worthy of note. An example of its collection is a unique trio of The Macallan – bottles of 1938, 1940 and 1950 – kept in a locked glass cupboard near the entrance, and available as drams for €240, €220 and €110 respectively. According to Da Silva, what makes these bottles special is not just their age, but the fact that they weren’t bought recently on auction, but rather are part of a mythic collection that is kept under lock and key in the Harry’s Bar cellar, not available for anyone to view – no matter who asks. “I am collecting now for this bar’s future. We have to stay one of the best whisky bars in Paris,” says Da Silva. “France is the country that drinks the most single malt Scotch in the world. They might not always like it but they are going to drink it anyway, because they are snobs,” he says with a wry smile.

5 rue Daunou Metro: Opera Open 12pm-2am Mon-Sat, 4pm–1am Sunday

Paris Whisky Bars 3: Sherry Butt 4th Arrondisement 20 rue Beautreillis Metro: Bastille Open 6pm-2am Tues-Sat, 8pm-2am Mon-Sunday

sherry butt Tucked away down a quiet street in the Marais, Sherry Butt is not a bar that you simply stumble upon. “We are for the whisky geek and the cocktail geek,” says Javier Sham of this stylish, low-key bar, furnished with black leather couches and soft Blanche du Bois lighting. Opened five years ago and with over 110 whiskies – most them Scottish, though there is a healthy smattering of Japanese and a few lesser-known drams from Australia and Wales – Sherry Butt is one of the best-stocked whisky bars in Paris. Every month, the bar chooses a ‘breakeven bottle’ – a rare and expensive whisky that the ordinary punter could never get their hands on – or afford to buy. The bar divides the cost of the bottle by the number of drams it contains, and sells each dram at a price that ensures the bar will only break even on the bottle’s cost. No profit. In August, the breakeven bottle was an Invergordon single grain from rye, made in 1972 and bottled in 2016, and sold for €10 a dram. In September it was a 1988 Fettercairn, matured in a hogshead and bottled in 2016. Each month the breakeven bottle is announced on Instagram and clients from around the world send messages asking them to save them a dram. Sherry Butt is as well known for its cocktails as its whiskies. The cocktail menu changes every six months and the current whisky creation is The Burning Man, a blend of Scotch, Moscatel sherry, cumin syrup, pressed lemon and pimiento butter. Not currently on the menu, but always available, is their legendary creation, the Ronin – named after a Japanese samurai without a master. It’s a mix of Nikka whisky, Madeira sherry, Pandan leaves, Oloroso sherry, black salt, champagne syrup and smoked tea. Although Javier is proud of the whisky cocktails, he refuses to mix single malts. “If someone asks me for a whisky and coke, I say no, I respect whisky too much.”




Paris Whisky Bars 4: Golden Promise 2nd Arrondissement 11 rue Tiquetonne Metro: Etienne Open 7pm-2am Tues-Sat

golden promise The latest addition to Paris’ whisky bars, downstairs from a sake bar, is Golden Promise – named after an old barley rarely grown anymore. There is nothing fusty or old-fashioned about this place though. “We wanted to build a bar where we could listen to music. It’s not about old men with cigars,” says Lilya Sekkal, the female head bartender. Well, not anymore. Before becoming a whisky bar it was “a sauna plus” confides Lilya with a laugh. Here whisky is paired with hip hop, R’n’B and electronica, and the vibe is friendly, cool and relaxed. The bar is divided into three sanctums. In the first you can experiment with whisky cocktails and unusual chasers. Try the Nikka Coffey, a single grain Japanese chased with peach and lemon juice laced with Nepalese Timut pepper, or a 10-year-old Swedish whisky, the Mackmyra 10, chased with Amarot Lanaficio and Fernet Angelico. To gain entry to the second sanctum, knock and wait until Francois Piriou, the ‘conseiller spiriteux’ – spirit advisor – impeccably dressed in a white coat, unlocks the door and admits you to a vault containing 900 bottles of whisky. None of these bottles are available for sale in high street whisky stores – they are all the gems of auctions and collectors’ trophy rooms.

“Our aim is to open collectors’ whisky to everyone, to take whisky back to what it used to be: something to drink. It’s a relief to me to see these bottles opened,” says Piriou. The music in the second sanctum is also somewhat special. Piriou has brought his vinyl collection from home, and pairs the collectors’ bottles with jazz, blues, and mellow 60s and 70s tunes. “When you drink whisky, it makes you vibrate inside. The music brings you onto the same page,” he says. The bar is a well-timed arrival to the Parisian bar scene: French whisky palates have changed a lot in the past ten years. “Before past French customers were looking for something soft and easy to drink – like a perfumed woman,” says Lilya. “They needed to be seduced by what they were drinking.” Today, though, she notices that there are two kinds of customers. The first ask for Japanese whisky, the second ask for peated Scotch. “I call them the barbeque lovers.” In the collectors’ room there’s the ultimate gem for the smoky French fiend: a 1974 Laphroig, selling for €290 a dram. Pirou admits it’s one of his favourites. “It is super peaty and very exotic – there’s a hint of mango, but it still has that medicinal peat and tar.” Another class act is an 8 year old Glen Garioch bottled in 1971, which sells at auctions for €7000. “It’s a whisky that has actually got better from being in the bottle. That doesn’t often happen,” says Piriou. The final sanctum is a den with plush black carpets, turquoise velvet armchairs and lockers with brass padlocks made by a Parisian locksmith, where whisky aficionados can buy, store and savour entire bottles of whisky. With bottles for sale including the Candela – a €29,000 Dalmore blend of four casks, dating from 1878 to 1951 – this final room is ‘whisky plus’.



Whisky Comedian

Dear Uncle Ether…

We are proud to welcome the whisky industry’s foremost agony uncle, Ether Foreshot, to the Whiskeria staff. Here to help you break bad habits, find your way out of the stickiest situations, and remove the most serious stains from your character, no issue is too big or too small…



Whisky Comedian

Dear Ether, Last weekend I snuck downstairs and guzzled a single malt with two ice cubes added. It was thrilling at the time, but I deeply regret my decision now. How can I redeem myself?

Angela, from Guildford

Dear Ether, My wife and I are both staunch islanders, however I recently discovered that she has been on a date with Ben Nevis. Is her lust for a strong Highlander simply a one off, or the sign of a permanent affair?

Angus, from Skye Dear Angela, The first thing you should know is that it is a brave thing indeed to admit to ice-cube-predilection (ICP). There are many ICP sufferers, but many don’t own up to it and few talk as openly as you. Like most sufferers the most difficult part for you will be the guilt, particularly the morning when you had to face your family and they each gave you that ‘knowing look’. When people discover they suffer from ICP, they get an immediate lift, because they realise they have a ‘known condition’ and that it has three capital letters. So you should enjoy this small thrill while it lasts. My best advice to sufferers like you is to say, don’t think of it as ice, but think of it as very cold water. After all, if you leave an ice cube long enough, that is what it will turn out to be. Good luck with the journey!

Dear Angus, Well they do say that there is no smoke without fire. As I see it you have a choice to make. I’m not saying it’s simple, but if you can achieve this, you’ll never look back… You have to try and rekindle the elements that drew you together in the first place. Remember the smoke, the peat, the long and lingering after taste that made you irresistible? Find a good moment and pour her a wee dram of the “right stuff”. Let the aroma of smoke and peat wash over her and then introduce her to that big round taste and huge finish that you were so proud of in your youth. Then remind her that you are 40 years old. I can’t see how it can fail. However, if it does, chuck her and get a new filly! Life moves on. Slàinte!


Uncle Ether, Settle this argument: My friend insists that un-chill-filtered has to be hyphenated. Is he right?

Kevin, from Stornoway Dear Kevin, Your friend is both right and wrong and if he is both right and wrong, you have to consider whether he is a reliable friend. As everyone knows, the hyphens in ‘un-chill-filtered’ are usually employed when the user of the word wants to deeply impress his chosen audience. (By the way, Kevin, did you notice the split-infinitive there?) The tried and tested phrase is “I especially like this dram because it is un-chill-filtered with hyphens”. If said with authority and conviction, no one ever has the courage to ask what the hyphens do. And there you have it. You have established your credentials as a whisky expert and will have the gathering at the Stornoway Black Pudding Club hanging on your every word! But of course your friend is entirely wrong to insist that hyphens must always be used. However, that’s a complex subject for another day.


Dear Ether, I’m a master distiller and I have begun to become more and more aware that my copper still has a bend in it at the top. It didn’t use to bother me but now it does. What can I do?

Glen, from Speyside Dear Glen, Industry statistics over the past ten years have consistently shown that distillers worry most about the height of their stills, whereas whisky drinkers are concerned more about the warmth, taste and finish of the product. There is also a significant minority who become obsessed with shape and I guess that you fall into that latter category. Just as size isn’t everything, shape is not important either. Trust me. Drinkers focus on the outcome, not the process and you have probably become too close to your own process. I would suggest that you need to get out more. Perhaps a hobby? Or another interest.



Expert Tasting

Charles MacLean gives us his expert opinion on The Last Drop Vintage 1971 and Loch Lomond 50 Year Old —

Illustration: Francesca Waddell

J loch lomond 50 year old Limited to sixty decanters worldwide, this is the oldest and rarest expression of Loch Lomond ever released. Like Inchmurrin (see p.24) it was distilled in the company’s tall, straight-necked, Lomondstyle stills in 1967, only two years after Loch Lomond Distillery went into production, filled into an American oak hogshead and finished in a European oak hogshead. Michael Henry, Loch Lomond’s Master Blender says: “The expectations are high when you are working with a whisky as special and scarce as this and it came with great responsibility, but selecting and perfecting this single malt was a true honour. Our stills are synonymous with the fruity notes they give to the whisky. The Loch Lomond 50 Year Old has been granted the time to truly concentrate that character, resulting in a rich, tropical fruit flavour.” The whisky has been filled into hand-blown crystal decanters and presented in beautifully carved oak ‘Tempest Chests’, created by Callum Robinson and Marisa Gianasi of Method Studio, Linlithgow, and inspired by Loch Lomond itself. Callum Robinson explains: “Each chest is designed to capture, in a three dimensional object, the mood and movement of moonlight dancing on tempestuous water. This is mirrored in the language of the hand-blown decanter and its beautifully faceted hand-cut base, perfectly binding the two together. It was a privilege to create a vessel to house something so precious.”

They are objects of great beauty, lined with soft leather, with the flask resting on sculpted oak waves, alongside a turned brass vial, lined in glass and reminiscent of the straight-neck pot still. Truly a work of art, as befits the precious liquid it houses. Colin Matthews, CEO of the Loch Lomond Group, concludes: “For 50 years the Loch Lomond Distillery has been one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. With the launch of the 50 Year Old single malt, we are putting Loch Lomond firmly on the Scotch whisky map and we are proud to become one of a very select few distilleries in the world which have released a 50 year old whisky.”   J the last drop Distillers’ website succinctly sums up the company’s purpose: “We seek out rare casks of old and exceptional spirits, to find something truly wonderful to offer you.” This is a family business, founded in 2008 by three leading figures in the whisky industry: James Espey O.B.E. (formerly deputy MD of United Distillers/Diageo), Tom Jago (creator of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Bailey’s Irish Cream) and Peter Fleck, who was responsible for the phenomenal growth of such brands as Chivas Regal and Smirnoff vodka in South Africa. In 2016 the founders were joined by two of their daughters, Beanie Espey (Sales & Marketing Director) and Rebecca Jago (Creative Director), and by Andrew Rankin, former Director of

Production at Morrison Bowmore, Mike Keillor, formerly CEO of Morrison Bowmore, and Ben Hawkins, a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee with over forty years experience in the wine trade. A formidable team! With good reason they describe themselves as ‘The World’s Most Exclusive Spirits Company’. Since the company’s foundation, only nine bottlings have been released – this is the tenth. It is a stupendous whisky, well deserving of the accolades that have been showered upon it by those of us lucky enough to taste it! It is composed of forty different malt and grain whiskies, all distilled in 1971 and blended in 1983. Some of the liquid was then bottled and sold in the U.S.A., the balance being filled into eleven ex-Oloroso sherry butts. After a further nine years of ageing a small amount was drawn off and bottled as a 21-year-old blend. The remaining whisky was then filled into nine ex-bourbon American oak barrels, which were placed in a traditional dunnage warehouse where they lay for a further twenty-four years. It was finally bottled by The Last Drop Distillers in 2016, the nine barrels yielding only 1,352 bottles.



Expert Tasting

The Last Drop Vintage 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky Age: 45 Year Old

70CL Vol: 46.7%


Bright amber with copper lights, the nose-feel is mild; the initial top notes are of powdered ginger, baked apple sprinkled with toasted almonds, joined by hessian, dusty milk chocolate and toffee, then warm sand dunes. A creamy texture, then lightly tannic; a sweet taste over all, with candied orange, orris root and ginger, and a suggestion of smoke in the long, warming, lightly spicy, finish. A lovely old whisky, complex and continually evolving, but still vital.

Loch Lomond 50 Year Old Single Cask Highland Malt Age: 50 Year Old

70CL Vol: 46.2%


Deep amber in colour, with remarkable beading for its strength and a vivacious nose-feel. The aroma is profound and complex, with a top note of sandalwood, clove and allspice, a middle note of tropical fruits and a base of aromatic oil and tablet toffee. The taste is sweet overall and lightly tannic, with traces of stem ginger and grapefruit, finishing lightly smoky. Outstanding!




This year Glen Moray celebrates its 120th Anniversary by introducing Glen Moray Mastery: a marriage of five exceptional casks of Glen Moray, the ages of which added together make 120 years, a nod to the celebration of the distillery’s birthday in 2017.

The Glen Moray Mastery casks were selected and blended by current Distillery Manager Graham Coull and his predecessor Ed Dodson, the collaboration signifying the passing of knowledge and craftsmanship between the only five Distillery Managers Glen Moray has had since 1897. We spoke with Graham to find out more about Glen Moray and how they look to mark their 120th Anniversary. Questions by Jordan Knight, Photography by Glen Moray Whisky This year is the 120th Anniversary of Glen Moray. What is being done to celebrate such an occasion? Glen Moray reaches the milestone of 120 years of distilling on the 13th September this year but we could not wait and the celebrations started early! To mark the occasion a premium Glen Moray expression has been released named ‘Mastery’. Mastery is an extremely limited release of only 1,000 bottles and it celebrates the history and traditions of Glen Moray. It has been a busy year in terms of travel for me and by the end of the year I will have travelled to Australia and the USA to launch Mastery. We have also welcomed many groups of people to the Distillery to share in our birthday celebrations. On the 13th and 14th of September this year we hosted several events to celebrate the big day. One thing is for sure we will be savouring a dram of Mastery whilst we reflect on 120 years of Glen Moray history and look forward to the next 120 years. What did you set out to create with Mastery? Mastery started as a blank piece of paper. When I was asked to develop a Glen Moray expression to mark 120 years of distilling it was both exciting and daunting! With several thousands of casks available to choose from I asked myself, where would I start? My aim was to select one Glen Moray expression which embraced the history, traditions and craftsmanship

at Glen Moray. I also wanted to pay tribute to the my predecessors, the four previous Master Distillers who nurtured and steered the Distillery through its first 120 years. So how did I capture not only history and tradition but also creativity and innovation in one expression? I wanted to celebrate what makes Glen Moray unique and this gave me the inspiration to focus on the long tradition of experimenting with different types of wine cask. To cut a long story short Mastery was born. In Mastery I have combined five different Glen Moray vintages from four different decades and the cask influences are from Madeira Sherry, Port and Bourbon wood. Including such a diversity of flavours in one expression demonstrates just how versatile the Glen Moray spirit is. All five components were distilled by my predecessors with the backbone of the expression Glen Moray being made up of spirit which I wood finished in Madeira casks. I am very proud of the end result. Mastery has an incredible depth of flavour and the taste is a wonderful cocktail of roasted coffee, dark chocolate and sweet wine infused raisins. It certainly is not the norm to mix different vintages and cask types in one expression  but for me Mastery captures the true personality of Glen Moray. Looking ahead to the next 120 years. What do you see as being the next big thing for Whisky?   Now that’s a question! I think the traditional boundaries of whisky will continue to be challenged. Combining different cask flavours in Mastery has been an eye opener for me and I am excited to try other cask flavour combinations because the permutations are endless. I also think we will see more blended malt expressions coming through building on the synergy of combining single malts together. Whatever happens I am sure that Glen Moray will continue to thrive long after I have passed the reins to the 6th Master Distiller!

W “My aim was to select one Glen Moray expression which embraced the history, traditions and craftsmanship at Glen Moray.” Master Distiller Graham Coull




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

Whiskeria Winter 2017/18  

KT Tunstall | F.E.W Spirits | Dr. Kirstie McCallum | Paris Whisky Bars | Hogmanay Traditions | The Loch Fyne Christmas Cocktail Guide | New...

Whiskeria Winter 2017/18  

KT Tunstall | F.E.W Spirits | Dr. Kirstie McCallum | Paris Whisky Bars | Hogmanay Traditions | The Loch Fyne Christmas Cocktail Guide | New...