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Winter 2013


Pa u l M c G u iga n ’ s B est S hot +

W his k y o f T he Year O u r M a n agers D ecide –––– C hristmas S P E C I A L W hat ’ s i n store –––– A moro u s B easties

R oma n tic getaway s i n S cot l a n d

£3.49 where sold

I SHINE The King Alexander III is a unique marriage of specially selected whiskies, artistically created to honour the historic act of saving Scotland’s King in 1263. Bringing together an assemblage of six spirits – finessed in bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Madeira, Sherry, Marsala and port casks – this exceptional spirit is alive with rich and complex characteristics, and glows with a regal shine.

Benjamin West, Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald (‘The Death of the Stag’), National Gallery of Scotland. Please drink responsibly.


Chairman’s Welcome

I am pleased to introduce our winter issue of Whiskeria. This will take us through Christmas and into the dark days of January 2014 when surely a warming dram will be the drink of choice. In our last issue of the magazine we launched a new look layout and design. In this issue we have refreshed the editorial content with the aim of giving the reader more information from every angle of whisky drinking and enjoyment. One of the things we are mindful of at The Whisky Shop is that very many of our customers are not themselves whisky drinkers. They are buying for someone else. Those Customers, in particular, appreciate our help and guidance and they have become as avid readers of Whiskeria as anyone. Naturally, we hope to convert some along the way. And on the subject of help and guidance, all of our customers thirst for knowledge, so much so, that we have instituted what we call a ‘Knowledge Bar’ in each of our new flagship stores. Furthermore, we have extended the concept to Whiskeria. The Knowledge Bar is featured in its own right and also alongside some of the articles in this issue. It contains tit bits of relevant facts and information and is aimed at every level. Unlike many beverages, whisky seems to split the drinking community into the likes and dislikes. Very few people are neutral on the subject. I have always believed that whisky suffers greatly from misconception, much more than any other drink. For example, whisky is often singled out among spirits as being particularly strong. It is also, unfairly in my view, accredited with the cause of a sore head in

Ian P. Bankier

the morning. The truth, more likely, is our old friend – red wine. Also, single malt Scotch whisky is often regarded as expensive, but the reality is that it is not. Let me explain. There are, believe it or not, 27 half measures in every 70cl bottle of Scotch whisky. By comparison there are 6 small glasses to every full bottle of wine. Each is a unit of alcohol and when you cost out a good bottle of single malt with a bottle of wine, the result is surprising. Take a bottle of Aberlour 10 year old at £31.49. For your money you get a superb sherried Speyside, that has been 10 years in the making and can and does stand up to the best single malts on the market. Cost of a dram – £1.17. Compare and contrast with an average bottle of Chianti at, say, £9.99. Cost of an equivalent measure – £1.65. So there you have it. Proof, if proof were necessary, that single malt Scotch is good value for money. For those of you picking up this issue before Christmas, may I wish you and yours compliments of the Season. For those who pick up after Christmas, then I do hope that you found a bottle of single malt in your stocking! Ian P Bankier Executive Chairman, The Whisky Shop


Winter 2013


Gavin D. Smith

Claire Bell

Victor Brierley

Charles MacLean

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

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

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

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

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

–– Creative Direction: Buro Design Thinking Partners 0141 552 1574 –– Design: Emlyn Firth –– Feature Writers: Gavin D Smith; Claire Bell; Andy Harrold; Mil Stricevic –– Feature Photography: Renzo Mazzolini –– Illustration: Francesca Waddell

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

–– Glenkeir Whiskies 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.

Consumer Booklet No other whisky can claim to have inspired the passion that The Glenlivet has - praised, celebrated, imitated and fought over: George Smith’s original style has remained unrivalled over the past 180 years.

For the facts Enjoy The Glenlivet responsibily


Winter 2013

13 Knowledge Bar

Sharing what we know about whisky


Whisky World Round Up


1823: A Moment in History


My Craft: Eddie MacAffer

Breaking news from around the world

Gavin D Smith on a watershed year for Scotch Whisky

A day in the life of Bowmore’s Master Distiller

21 Whisky of the Year

The Whisky Shop managers select their best of 2013


Cover Story: Paul McGuigan’s Best Shot The acclaimed Scottish director talks film and whisky

––– 37

The Whisky Shop Section


The Christmas Specials


What’s in store for Christmas


What’s Collectable this Season?


Whiskeria Customer Favourites

Raise your sights for something out of the ordinary Buyer’s guide for winning Christmas gifts

Tempting gems to suit a range of budgets

What are The Whisky Shop customers enjoying?

58 The Directory

Where’s the nearest store?

––– 60

Travel: Amorous Beasties


Intelligence Sherried Speyside Whisky Gavin D Smith on how to buy Sherried Speyside Whiskies

68 75 80

Distillery Visit: Glenfiddich Tour Gavin D Smith takes the tour.

Expert Tasting: Charles MacLean


The Whisky Shop competition


Claire Bell selects four romantic wintery hidey-holes

Macallan Amber & Chivas Regal 18 Yr Old Gold Signature

Column: The Emperor’s New Drams

Victor Brierley lets off steam on the language of tasting

18 21

32 37

52 60 68

75 62 80

I N troducin g : THE KNOWLEDGE bar» Customer surveys conducted by The Whisky Shop on a regular basis reveal that customers value the knowledge they gain from every visit. In response, The Whisky Shop’s two flagship stores in Piccadilly, London and in Manchester contain a Knowledge Bar as a permanent fixture. The flow of each shop has been designed, not only to display the product, but also to have a stopping point where the customer can find out more.


£4.3b £2.5b 2002


New Export Record Scotch Whisky exports hit a record £4.3 billion in 2012, an overall increase of 73% over the past decade

THE PRODUCT ON THE SHELF If an age is stated on a bottle of whisky it must, by law, refer to the youngest whisky in the bottle, not the average age, as is sometimes thought. Most whiskies, both single malts and blends, are reduced in strength with water before bottling, which typically takes place at 40%abv or 43%abv. However, a ‘cask strength’ whisky is bottled at its ‘natural’ strength when considered ready to bottle. This strength will vary depending on age and maturation conditions, with the amount of evaporation – known as ‘the angels’ share’ – that has taken place varying in each individual case. The practice of chillfiltration involves refrigerating whisky and finely filtering it to ensure that it retains its clarity in the bottle and when water is added by the consumer. However, many aficionados consider that the process removes subtle but important elements of aroma, texture and flavour and an increasing number of more exclusive single malts are now being offered un-chill-filtered.

World’s best seller Johnnie Walker is the world’s bestselling blended Scotch whisky, accounting for 19.7 million cases (236 million bottles) during 2012.


W H I S K y world round up

USA Over the first six months of 2013, Scotch whisky exports grew strongly. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the value of exports rose by 11% to almost £2bn, while the volume of shipments was up 9% on last year to more than 560 million bottles. USA remains the largest market with growth of 29% over the first half of 2012.

unveiled an expansion of its famed Midleton Distillery and announced a new Irish Whiskey Academy and an extensive Irish Whiskey Archive, which provides a thorough history of the Irish whiskey category. UK The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating whether United Spirits should be forced to relinquish Whyte & Mackay, the historic Glasgow-based Scotch whisky business, following Diageo’s acquisition of the stake, amid concerns over competition.

BRAZIL is the fastest growing market in the global top ten. In the first half of 2013 it grew by 49% with volume sales of 28.3m bottles. IRELAND William Grant & Sons Ltd. will invest in a new pot still whiskey and malt whiskey distillery in Tullamore, bringing whiskey production back to the town for the first time since the original distillery closed in 1954. Meanwhile, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard – makers of Jameson Irish Whiskey – reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the continued global growth of Irish Whiskey as it

FRANCE was formerly the top market in the world but has been overtaken by USA. It remains the biggest market in Europe. Sales in Germany are growing strongly, but still only half the size of France. SOUTH AFRICA South African wine and spirits producer Distell has signed a deal worth £160-million (about R2.2-billion) to acquire Scotch


K N O W L E D G E BA R : F a cts a nd F i g ures

Top 10 Scotch Whisky Export Markets (by value) Jan–Jun 13

Jan–Jun 12

Change %




2 France




3 Singapore



19% 28%


4 Germany



5 Spain




6 S.Africa




7 Taiwan




8 S.Korea




9 Mexico







10 Brazil

Tribute to Honour goes on sale. One of the world’s most expensive and exclusive whiskies is now available from The Whisky Shop’s flagship Piccadilly store for the first time. Priced at £150,000, Tribute to Honour has been crafted by Royal Salute using the most precious and scarce whiskies to pay homage to the oldest crown jewels of the British Isles: The Honours of Scotland. Only 21 bottles have been released globally and each flagon of Royal Salute Tribute to Honour is individually numbered. One of these bottles will be kept in the Royal Salute Vault and bottle number 17 is currently displayed in the window of The Whisky Shop’s Piccadilly store.

whisky producer Burn Stewart Distillers Limited from Scottish-based CL World Brands Limited. Burn Stewart brands include the Islay malts Bunnahabhain and Tobermory. INDIA Diageo finally took control of United Spirits Group, the country’s largest beverages company. Although Diageo’s brands account for some 20% of the Scotch whisky imported into India, the market is still dominated by local spirits. United Spirits has an estimated 42% share of India’s total alcoholic drinks market. TASMANIA booming whiskey industry is receiving high praise from the world’s premier whisky critic, Jim Murray. In his 2013 World Whisky Bible, Mr Murray called a Sullivans Cove drop “a staggering achievement” and described a whiskey from the Tasmania Distillery as “unquestionably one of the world whiskies of the year.”




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

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

1823: A moment in history

Gavin D Smith explains why 1823 was a watershed year in the history of Scotch Whisky. Whisky distilling in Scotland goes back to at least the 15th century and in the centuries that followed it was a widespread cottage industry. Every ‘But and Ben’ throughout the land kept chickens, milked a cow, made butter and distilled uisge beatha – the Gaelic for whisky, meaning literally water of life and pronounced uska beg. The name was shortened to uska – hence whisky! The product itself was rough – agricultural you might say – and highly inconsistent in quality. The Government attempted to control the activity by taxing whisky and the Scots responded by dodging the tax. By the early 1800’s there were thousands of illicit stills in every part of rural Scotland. The situation was out of control. However, there was much public sympathy for the illegal distillers. They were providing an essential product to their local communities at low cost. The individual quantities were not large. Very many of the distillers were women with children to look after. And many Highland landowners tended to turn a blind eye to illicit distilling on their land, as the money made by their tenants through this trade was often the only way they could pay their rent. Nevertheless, something had to be done. In 1820, a number of Highland landowners, or lairds, including the Duke of Gordon – whose estates included the great whisky-making centre of Glenlivet – offered to support increased measures aimed at stamping out the illegal trade in return for a better deal for licensed distillers. The advantages were perceived as being more revenue for the government, despite the lower level of duty, and opportunities for the lairds to make money out of the new distilleries that would surely be built as a result of the proposed legislation. In 1822 the Illicit Distillation (Scotland) Act was passed, which introduced harsher penalties for anyone involved in making, supplying or drinking illicit whisky. The following year’s Excise Act 1823 included a major reduction in duty to two shillings and three pence per gallon, with a distilling licence costing a relatively affordable ten pounds,

and exporting whisky into England was made significantly more attractive. The first distillery to be licensed under the provisions of the 1823 Excise Act was Glenlivet. As a result of the changes in legislation, the number of licensed distilleries in Scotland rose from 167 in 1824 to 264 in 1826 and production of duty-paid whisky increased from two million gallons to six million gallons per annum. Illicit distillation fell dramatically during the next few years, with an astonishing 14,000 detections being made in 1823, but only 692 in 1834, and just six in 1874. There have been many changes in the world of Scotch whisky during the past two centuries, but probably none as influential and farreaching as the 1823 Excise Act.


The 1823 Excise Act States that a Single Malt Scotch Whisky is any whisky in return for a licence fee of £10 (not a lot even in today’s money!) and a set of payments per gallon of proof spirit. This dramatically reduced the number of illicit stills operating in Scotland. Above: A nip against the cold, Erskine Nicol, 1869


C R A F T : W H I S KY

My Craft: Eddie MacAffer Eddie MacAffer is the longest serving distillery manager and employee of Bowmore Distillery on the Isle of Islay. He has become Bowmore’s first master distiller. He has worked at Bowmore for 47 years.


What took you into whisky? I was a full time merchant seaman, but in 1966, when the seaman’s strike took hold, I was driven to look for an alternative job. I applied for a job at the local distillery and despite not having a taste for whisky, I got it!

Laphroaig, for example, would burn for about double our time and Ardbeg, the strongest, would be even longer. What is the one thing that someone tasting Scotch malt for the first time needs to know? If you can, join a group whisky tasting class.

What else would you have done? I might just have gone back to sea if the strike hadn’t lasted so long.

What is the worst dram you have tasted? Every single dram is different… some are better than others, but there is no such thing as a bad dram – in my view!

What was it like back in the 1960’s and how much has changed? In Bowmore there were about 30 of us, including 6 maltmen and 5 warehousemen. Nowadays, it’s a much smaller team. We had no real sense of there being a world market, we were very much focussed on the UK and there were no international whisky tourists like there are today.

And what is the best? I am extremely privileged to be able to say that the best I’ve tasted is: 1955 Bowmore single cask, bottled in 1995. Are there many laughs in a Scotch malt distillery? Back in the day…plenty laughs but none that I can report on! Suffice to say – it was a different time. But we are still a happy bunch at Bowmore and we have a social life outside of work.

Has it all been change for the good? Oh I think so. It’s a much more sophisticated world for Morrison Bowmore. As far as production goes – we have not changed too much of the process, but we are proud to have given no3 warehouse to the community, who have converted it into a swimming pool. As a by-product of the Bowmore process we provide them with heat to keep the water warm through a heat exchanger.

What is the most frequently asked visitor question? Well….’What’s your favourite dram’ springs to mind (laughs)… What’s your favourite Bowmore dram? Mine is 17YO Bowmore which is very special, followed closely by the 15yo Darkest.

What is a master distiller and what do you do? On the island, I’m the face of Morrison Bowmore and I spend most of my time looking after important visitors and when requested give them tours of Bowmore. Of course I help out with the current manager as and when requested.

And outside of Bowmore, what would be the next 4? Auchentoshan, Bunnahabhain (for Islay), Highland Park, Old Pulteney. What advice would you give to yourself just starting at Bowmore Distillery? Firstly, see it as a brilliant opportunity, keep your head down, work hard, learn as much as you can.

What ingredient in whisky – barley, water, peat, wood, age – has the biggest inf luence on taste? I would have to say the wood. American white oak bourbon barrels (brings high caramelised flavours ) or European oak Oloroso sherry casks (for the dark colouring). Quality barley of course is next. After that, the age it spends in the wood and for Bowmore the light peat aroma.

If you could do it all again, what would you change? After 47 years of ups and downs – I wish I learned more when I was younger. I’ve been very fortunate to have the job for 47 years – and now the position I have.

And what would it be if you removed the influence of peat that Islay is infamous for? Some of the Islay makers have a no peat expression so I guess that’s what you get. The most famous example is up at Bunnahabhain.

What would you like to see more of in Whiskeria? Full of admiration for the job Whiskeria does… the information. If I could see more of the unsung heroes, the craftsmen doing their job with pride and passion – I can think of a long list right now.

Bowmore is described by some as lightly peated – how does that come about? Well to get to our light peated taste we burn peat in the drying process for less time than other traditional Islay distillers. 19

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

Enjoy Aberlour responsibly

For the facts

Right: The Whisky Shop managers from across the UK –––––––––––––––––––––––


attention to any feedback. They go out of their way to sample as many whiskies as possible and those they do not taste, they make it their business to learn about them. In a field populated by so many self-appointed experts, The Whisky Shop Managers are the real experts. This is the time of year when Whiskeria publishes the results of THE WHISKY SHOP single malt of the year competition. This year, we have decided to widen the scope and canvas the shop managers for a range of views.

In a field populated by so many self-appointed experts, we identify where the real expertise resides, and we ask for their views. THE WHISKY SHOP has 23 Store Managers and collectively they possess more than 100 years’ experience of single malt whisky! Across all stores they meet and greet approximately 2 million visitors every year! These are astonishing statistics. Every day the staff and management of The Whisky Shop give advice and guidance to their customers and they listen to what they say and pay close



M ost e x citin g new rele a se of 2 0 1 3

Taste: A soft, smooth, creaminess gradually develops until the whisky hints at chewy, sticky toffee. A delicate floral note creeps in, which lingers tantalisingly until a final burst of Seville orange rounds it off.

– G l e n l ivet Q u erc u s

Finish: Long, sweet and very slightly dry.

Cask Edition range is a collection of exceptional handselected whiskies that celebrate the unique qualities of The Glenlivet.” Introduced in 2005, alphabetised expressions of The Glenlivet Single Cask Editions range to date have included The Glenlivet Atlantic, Blairfindy, Cairn Daimh, Drumin, Eclipse, Faemussach, Guardians, Helios, Inveravon, Josie, Kilimanjaro, Legacy and Minmore What makes this so interesting to our Managers is that it is the first time one of these Glenlivet expressions has been released exclusively through a retail chain. Another feather in the cap of The Whisky Shop!

Every year sees an array of new releases from distillers as the common cause to drive consumer interest into the premium whisky category continues its momentum. This year, 2013, has been no different. New releases, from the straightforward range extension to entirely new concepts have abounded. We asked the management what particular items caught the eye and why. A number of the Managers noted the new release from Kilchoman, featured in the last issue of Whiskeria, and a number mentioned Ardbeg Ardbog, but the release that carried the confidence of the majority was The Glenlivet Quercus 17 Year Old £203 per bottle. The Glenlivet, the world’s No 2 single malt Scotch whisky, has embarked upon a programme of releasing rare expressions as part of its Single Cask Editions range, highlighting the subtle, complex and elegant style of The Glenlivet. Each expression in this highly collectable range is non chill-filtered and bottled at its cask strength before being presented in the same luxurious bottle that houses the ultra-premium and prestige expressions within The Glenlivet range. Neil Macdonald, Brand Director for Malts at Chivas Brothers, says: “The Glenlivet Single 22



malts are just coming into their own and this one is from the right distillery and from a distiller that has a prodigious track record of issuing successful limited edition releases. Also it has been released at a price that is reasonable, and will very likely show capital appreciation over time along with its other Bowmore cousins. This Bowmore has been matured exclusively in Port wood casks giving it a beautiful dark colour and a remarkably rich f lavour. Bottled at 50.8% volume it represents good value. In fact we recommend that you buy it to drink, not collect!

Collecting whisky for interest or for investment value has been on the steady increase. Whiskeria has published a number of articles covering the subject. This is an area where the customer must be discerning, for not every product labelled a collector’s item is a winner. The managers possess deep knowledge of this complex subject and readily and freely give their advice to their customers. We asked them to nominate an item that has been in store this year that they consider to be good value and a great collector’s item whether for its inherent interest or because they believe that it has great investment potential. For an item to be truly collectible, it must come from the right distillery, it must be truly distinctive and/ or rare and if the distillery itself has a solid track record of releasing strong contenders that have pleased the collecting community, then that is a big advantage. And the final ingredient is that the price of the item itself must not be over-hyped. All of these factors played their part in the decision of the Managers to nominate the Bowmore 1989 Port Cask Matured at £380 per bottle. At 23 years it can be said that some of the best Islay single

Taste: A delicious feast of smoke-infused blood orange, winter spices, black truffles and walnut oil. A whisky to warm the coldest Islay night, this limited edition Bowmore Single Malt has been matured exclusively in port casks for 23 years, giving it a deliciously dark colour and remarkably rich flavour. 24


Taste: On the nose there is roseship, Seville orange, toffee nut crisp and crushed autumn leaves. The taste is full and weighty, with brittle toffee nut crisp, burnt orange crumble and distinctive oaky notes.

– D a l more 1 9 9 5 V i n tage [ D isti l l er y M a n ager ’ s E x c l u sive ]


As a customer, going up market is genuinely rewarding. We asked the managers to nominate the premium malt that they consider the perfect choice for the customer who wants something a bit special. An item that is so good that it is worth every penny of its premium price. With a whole article on this subject in this edition of Whiskeria, our Managers collectively chose the Dalmore 1995 Vintage. (£92.99 per bottle) There are a number of truly great Highland Distilleries, but what singles out Dalmore is the depth and quality of its vintage stocks coupled with the expertise of its Master Blender, Richard Paterson (featured in the last edition of Whiskeria). The combination of these two strengths has produced a string of premium single malts that have been hugely popular with customers of The Whisky Shop. This one, the 1995 Vintage is a Distillery Manager exclusive. It is limited to only 1800 bottles filled from a special 1995 Vintage, combining 65% ex Matusalem Sherry Cask, and 35% American White Oak to create a truly exceptional whisky.

1x Single Malt – defined A Single Malt Scotch Whisky is any whisky that is batch distilled at a single distillery using only water and malted barley. Since November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland. 25


At Christmas, many whiskies are bought by or for people who want to dip a toe into the whisky world. The customer wants something that is easy drinking and will give a good experience that the drinker will want to repeat. We asked the managers what they would offer and why? This has to be the most often repeated customer question in every Whisky Shop. What do I buy for someone just starting to like single malt whisky? So much is spoken and written about the highly prestigious Islay malts that it is easy to get a mis-placed sense of their relative importance. The fact is that the great majority of single malt whiskies come from regions that are noted for lightness of impact and subtlety of f lavour. When it is recognised that the origin of the single malt is as a blending agent, it is easy to see why. And so it is easy for The Whisky Shop staff to recommend something light and appealing. Our managers chose Strathisla 12 year old at £40.49 per bottle. Strathisla is a classic Speyside malt and the distillery sits in the Chivas stable, in fact its 12 year old is a core ingredient for Chival Regal blend. It is also nominated as the home of Royal Salute, the most prestigious whisky in the Chivas portfolio and possibly the world.

Taste: The nose is rich and of good body. Some notes of wood oils and resins, rubbed petals, winter spice and cereal sweetness… marmalade and hints of bourbon with a thick creaminess. Palate is thick and full. Thick cream and honeyed raisins. Sultana notes emerge with a little Madeira and mixed peels. The oak develops into the finish, which is fruity.







Just 21 bottles of Tribute to Honour have been yielded from the casks. But the story doesn’t end there! Established in London in 1735, Garrard are the world’s oldest jewellers and have served as Crown Jewellers to six consecutive British monarchs since receiving the Royal Seal from Queen Victoria in 1843. Garrard have dressed Tribute to Honour with no fewer than 413 black and white diamonds, studded across the stopper, collar and sterling silver plinth of the bottle, while creating a stunning replica of the Sword of State on the front of the bottle, f lanked by exquisitelycrafted golden lions. Pioneering French master-porcelain makers Revol have been producing the very finest earthenware since the 18th century and are now in their eleventh generation of family ownership. Their porcelain is made to a secret recipe including clay, quartz, feldspar and kaolin in the family’s state-of-the-art production facility in Saint-Uze. For Tribute to Honour, Revol have sourced the finest volcanic clay from New Zealand. Out of hundreds of f lagons cast, only 21 f lawless examples have been selected for Tribute to Honour, with all the remaining decanters being destroyed. Just 21 decanters of Tribute to Honour have been created. Less than 15 litres of this fabulous 45 year old spirit have been handbottled into bejewelled f lagons of the finest French porcelain. Prior to release, only Master Blender Colin Scott has tasted his intensely-concentrated, silky masterpiece: Sorry, but The Whisky Shop managers haven’t had a sniff !

The whiskies that are classed as super premium are usually extremely rare and produced in magnificent packaging. In short,they are truly awe inspiring. They are aimed at the customer who has to have the best of everything. We asked the managers to nominate the product that in their opinion exudes prestige and luxury and is, not only genuinely impressive, but, given what it is, represents reasonable value for money. The one chosen was perhaps the most high profile whisky to hit The Whisky Shop for some time. It is, of course, Royal Salute Tribute to Honour at £150,000 per bottle. (We are not quite sure whether this passes the value for money test – but hey! this is Oligarch territory!) Royal Salute was first released in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – a powerful and sophisticated blend of whiskies aged for a minimum of 21 years. Six decades later, their rarest and most sumptuous whisky ever, Tribute to Honour, has been created to redefine the pinnacle of Scotch whisky. Scotland’s Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State are the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles. Collectively known as ‘The Honours of Scotland’, they have symbolised the country’s Royal heritage for over half a millennium. Hidden for their own safety from Oliver Cromwell’s forces in the 17th century until after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, The Honours were subsequently stored in a locked oak chest in Edinburgh Castle - where they languished in obscurity until being discovered by Sir Walter Scott in 1818. Today, The Honours of Scotland, emblematic of national pride and history, are still required for the country’s most important ceremonial state events. Colin Scott has worked for Chivas Brothers for nearly forty years, and has been the company’s Master Blender since 1989. For the creation of Tribute to Honour, Colin Scott has selected only the rarest and most opulent whiskies from the extraordinary archive of liquid history held in the warehouses at Strathisla distillery, the home of Royal Salute. Although none of the whiskies used are less than 45 years old, these irreplaceable casks have defied the decades of natural evaporation - the angel’s share – to save a few precious litres for Colin to assemble into a blend of truly unprecedented majesty.

Taste: Rich and languid, the sensuously smooth texture of the spirit embraces the palate as never before. The luxuriously long finish carries echoes of the blended whiskies’ enriching age. It leaves you speechless, in awe of the experience and wanting to savour every drop.




We sell many blended whiskies to customers who regularly drink a blend, but want something more indulgent at Christmas. Whilst we talk a lot about single malts, we must always recognise that there are many magnificent blends on the market. We asked the managers what blended whisky would they recommend and why? Our managers recommend Chivas Regal 18 Y.O. £50.99 per bottle. Chivas Regal 18 Y.O. is a multi-award winning luxury blended Scotch Whisky. It is an extremely successful product around the world, notably Asia and the Far East, where the drink of choice is a blend on the rocks. Chivas Regal 18 YO is a uniquely rich and multilayered blend that includes over twenty of Scotland’s rarest single malt Scotch whiskies. With 85 f lavour notes in every drop, each sip is a new discovery.

Nose: Rich, indulgent, multilayered aromas with hints of dried fruits, buttery toffee and dark chocolate. Taste: A velvety, dark chocolate palateyields to elegant floral notes and a wisp of sweet, mellow smokiness. Finish: Extremely warm, long finish.



– O U R W H I S KY O F T H E Y E A R – T H E M A C A LL A N amber S I N G L E M A LT

Finally, we asked the managers to nominate the single malt whisky of the year. This single malt is the one that they consider to be an all-rounder – popular with customers, a top seller and in their opinion a product that will never disappoint. This was without doubt the most difficult question to answer, because the choice of products and expressions is potentially vast. Nonetheless, the category narrowed down to a short list of firm favourites from which a relative newcomer to The Whisky Shop emerged. Without further ado we declare that the managers’ clear choice as the Single Malt Whisky of the year – 2013 is: The Macallan Amber 1824 Series £59.99 per bottle. For years, The Macallan Distillery has pursued an unwavering commitment to sourcing the very best oak sherry casks, which have always been the most expensive in the industry. The 1824 Series showcases the signature style of The Macallan, embracing the defining elements which have made it one of the world’s truly great single malts. Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Whisky Maker, has created four expressions by identifying the natural colour formed during maturation in different casks types to create the character informed by these colours. The expressions are Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby, all names ref lecting the actual colour of the whiskies in the range, but also describing naturally occurring mineral and metals. This is an innovative approach to whisky making and has allowed Bob Dalgarno to assess the broadest range of casks delivering an unrivalled range of natural colours. The casks chosen for the range deliver a gradation of colour from light to dark, with the wood character defining each expression’s f lavour, moving from lighter, lemon citrus to richer, dried fruit notes. As the whiskies become darker and richer, so the pool of casks able to deliver this character becomes smaller and rarer.


Taste: The colour of spun honey, with orange lights. The first aroma is of sweet malted barley, but after a short while this is replaced by flapjacks or steamed syrup sponge, drizzled with Golden Syrup, with traces of ginger, cinnamon and white pepper: sweet and soft, yet spicy. The taste is sweet then sharp, with distinct ginger and spice lingering in the warming finish.



Shot Paul McGuigan the acclaimed director of film (The Acid House, Gangster No. 1, Lucky Number Slevin) and television (Sherlock) takes time out from the production of his latest film to talk to Whiskeria about a career that has taken him from Bellshill to Hollywood and beyond. Words Mil Stricevic, Pictures Renzo Mazzolini

It’s a crisp and bright Saturday morning in the leafy west end of Glasgow as Paul McGuigan welcomes Whiskeria into the sumptuously wood-panelled Park-side apartment that is ‘home’ when the demands of an internationally nomadic working life allow it. With life split between the UK and America, where he has been steadily building a profile directing big budget television as well as movies, Paul is only weeks away from commencing the shoot on his latest film, a contemporary re-imagining of the Frankenstein story... MS: Paul, you seem in good spirits – what’s going on in your world? PM: Well, I’m only in Glasgow for weekends at the moment because for the last few months I’ve been based in London, where we are coming to the end of pre-production on a new film based on the Frankenstein story. Set in London in 1860, our film is centered on the relationship between the doctor, played by the excellent James McAvoy, and his assistant Igor, who will be played by Daniel Radcliffe.


50 33


With so many films of the Frankenstein story to refer to, how will yours be different? Obviously the Boris Karloff version is an iconic starting point, but we are trying to bring something new by cherry-picking from the original book as well as acknowledging all those films. The production design is central to the movie, so much of our 25 week pre-production schedule has been spent focusing on how to create the world in which our film exists. That means devising sets, costumes, stunts and special effects, as well as the character design of the monster itself. I’ve never done anything like that before; it’s a pretty big movie in that sense. Rather than using the language of Victoriana as something historical, I have been working with Eve Stewart, who’s a brilliant production designer (3 times Oscar nominated for her work on Les Misérables, The Kings Speech and Topsy Turvy) to develop a modern vision of Victorian London: we’re trying to capture that sense of ‘the future’ that must have existed around that whole spirit of Victorian invention and the industrial revolution… looking forward rather than backwards. Our script explores real scientific research that was going on at that time – this is not comic book science – and our doctor is a young man developing his own craft of reanimation. The story hinges on the relationship between the doctor and his assistant. In fact our writer, Max Landis, saw a parallel between the doctor’s work and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: the way he must have felt as he developed his idea for a social network and tried to convince others of its value. In a way our story is a platonic love story between Igor and Frankenstein: 2 young men with a shared belief in something incredible. You have mentioned the importance of a good script writer and production designer… I’m guessing good film-making often relies on the convergence of a good team? Sure… In fact surrounding yourself with very talented craftsmen and then taking all the credit for it is what a lot of people think directors do! When we were developing Gangster No 1 my producers asked me who I liked as a cinematographer, and it was the first time I’d had that luxury, and I thought, well… I love the work of this guy Peter Sova, who I didn’t know at all but who had just shot Donnie Brasco, and they just organized for me to with him in New York… Within hours of meeting he agreed to work on the project, and since then we have worked together on several other of my movies, including Push and


“Surrounding yourself with very talented people and then taking all the credit for it is what a lot of people think directors do! –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Lucky Number Slevin. It was a great lesson: always try and surround yourself with people who are passionate about their work and passionate about what they can bring to yours… if at all possible I tend to surround myself with the same people. It’s obvious that visuals are a very important aspect to your work, but do you think that your particular background and ‘route’ into film shaped the kind of film-maker you are? (Paul never went to film school, but studied photography at the Glasgow College of Building and Printing in the late 1980s, coincidentally alongside Renzo who took the photographs for this feature) Well obviously I started as a stills photographer, so my craft has evolved from that technical training. I could have gone to art school to do photography, but I wanted to know all the technical stuff: if you know how things really work it frees you up to be creative. I think coming from that kind of background means that I still think very visually in terms of story-telling: I think in frames. I want to get to one frame in every scene, and I always have a visual frame of that in mind… its just like taking a photograph. Once you start developing your craft you realise that it’s not just about style; you use visuals to create context and content. That’s why I use wallpapers so much: I like backdrops to be striking, but they can also say a lot; they can isolate, they can hint at what is going on or help with characterization. There seem to have been a lot of documentaries on TV and radio recently on the subject of music within film. Is that important to you, and at what point do you start thinking about it? Often it’s my first port of call once I’ve got the script – it’s a big thing. I construct a kind of aural mood board for it


Left: Paul McGuigan with Morgan Freeman on the set of Lucky Number Slevin

to share with people, along with my visual research, in order to try and communicate a sense of tonality for the project. You’ve got to stop talking in abstract terms and ground it somehow: “I want it to look and sound like this”. In fact some of my more successful movies have had really great soundtracks: I worked with Johnny Dankworth for Gangster No 1, who had scored a lot of those great 1960s Joseph Losey movies like The Servant. We went to Johnny’s house to meet him: he’s ‘old school’ - he literally plays you about 4 chords, and you have to imagine this as a score with a hundred-piece orchestra! You’ve got to give it up to God a little bit, you know, but he’s such a great craftsman it really brought the film together. That was a brilliant experience, and we’ve worked with other great people too; Josh Ralph on Lucky Number Slevin, David Arnold on Sherlock… the trick is to get these kinds of people engaged, let them know what you’re after, keep them involved. Having never been to film school or indeed been on set with someone else directing, I am guessing part of your understanding of movie-making must derive from watching other people’s work: has anyone been a particular influence? Obviously I’m a big fan of movies, but I tend to prefer older films… films that were more ‘crafted’. I like Martin Scorsese because he thinks of every shot as another layer of storytelling: its not just ‘recording’. This can be traced back to his own influences – Hitchcock and all the greats of cinema. I like to filter all that stuff and bring my own voice to it in order to develop my particular style, but I’m definitely of the school that says ‘let’s do it through the camera, let’s use the camera as a device, as an interesting way of telling a story’. It sounds very simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t. I was thinking about this on the train on the way up last night - obviously I was thinking about whisky - but in fact Whisky Galore is a brilliant movie, and Alexander Mackendrick was a brilliant film-maker. I mean, if you’re going to find treasure, whisky is a great treasure to find, rather than gold bullion… much more fun! You’ve spoken about your admiration for the craftsmanship of collaborators as well as a sensitivity towards analogue, materiality and texture. How does your appreciation of craftsmanship filter into other aspects of your life? Well, I like well-made things, and certainly believe in paying more for something of quality if I believe it’s going to go with me on a journey through life. Not only professional kit, such as a bespoke view-finder, but also clothes. I’ve had some


“Whisky Galore is a brilliant movie… I mean, if you’re going to find treasure, whisky is better than gold bullion… much more fun!” ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––



suits made for me in London by Mark Powell, and seem to find a lot of unusual stuff at RRL (a niche ‘heritage’ line from the Ralph Lauren fashion brand).

“... and just at that magic hour - when the neon starts to fade along the strip and the sun is coming up - we shared a dram. These are the memories that bond friendships forever.”

I’m not really a hoarder, but I do collect old cameras and lenses, and also photographs – I’ve got original prints by the amazing amateur photographer Vivienne Maier who was only discovered posthumously, and by Robert Capa, whose work I love and about whom I’ve been trying to make a film for years. I wouldn’t consider myself to be especially materialistic, so the belongings I really value are perhaps the ones with more emotional meaning… there’s a leather director’s chair that we found in a junk shop in Yorkshire which I always take with me, and also my black cap, which I wear on every shoot… I guess it’s my lucky charm! Its funny… I’ve had this one for a while, but when I lost the one before I was really pretty devastated. Can we finish by talking about whisky? How did you get into it, and is there a Paul McGuigan whisky moment? I guess what I find interesting about whisky as a filmmaker is that feeling that within each bottle there’s a memory waiting to be made, a story waiting to unfold… a movie to be made. Having said that, I don’t actually remember my first whisky, but I can certainly remember my first good whisky, which was a peaty Laphroaig. In terms of habit, I don’t really have a typical whisky moment, but have one in particular which was pretty special. My 40th birthday fell while we were filming Lucky Number Slevin in the States, and we held a big party in Las Vegas. I had

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– bought myself a bottle of 40 year old Glenmorangie as a treat, and was really looking forward to enjoying it but somehow during the evening, without my realising it, someone opened it and started passing it around. No-one really understood how special it was, so folk were just taking a measure, filling it with Coke, whatever… you know – just a waste! Fortunately for me, my cinematographer and dear friend Peter Sova saw what was going on, discreetly removed it for me and stashed what was left under my bed! At about 8 o’clock the next morning Peter came to my room, retrieved the bottle from where he had hidden it and, just at that magic hour – when the neon starts to fade along the strip and the sun is coming up – we shared a dram and celebrated the 6 films we had made together, and a really good friendship. I don’t mind that idea of romanticism between 2 guys: moments like that are special, and these are the memories that bond friendships forever.


The Whisky Shop

Winter 2013

The New Shop /39 Christmas Specials /40 Christmas Gift Guide /46 Collectables for the Season /52 Customer Favourites /56 The Directory /58


Whisky Shop Manchester

Located at 3 Exchange Street, close to exclusive retailers Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Shop is designed to be luxurious, accessible and educational to whisky novices and

connoisseurs, leading them on a journey of discovery and celebrating the heritage and craftsmanship of the product.

The Whisky Shop is the first retail store in the

UK to provide a dedicated platform for some of the world’s most exclusive whiskies. Its flagship London store in Piccadilly which opened late last year is widely regarded by the industry as the leading specialist whisky retailer in the world.

The Whisky Shop has opened the doors to its 22rd store located in the heart of Manchester’s retail area.

The Manchester opening is just the latest in a

series of exciting developments for the business in 2013. Following on from the opening of its flagship London store in November 2012, the retailer acquired specialist whisky store, Loch Fyne Whiskies, for an undisclosed sum in May.

The London Piccadilly store recently fought

off competition from the new Burberry global flagship on Regent Street and the bespoke Christian Louboutin boutique in Selfridges to scoop a prestigious retail design award. The Whisky Shop’s commitment to design excellence is set to continue in its Manchester store.

The store is spread over two floors, showcasing

almost 600 sq ft of retail space. Featuring slate and timber flooring, glass display vitrines and a new fully-glazed shop front featuring copper signage, the store has a comfortable but luxurious feel.

Prominent space in the main retail section is given

to The Whisky Shop’s key retail partners Diageo and BrownForman. Located up a few steps from the main retail area is The Whisky Shop Library which features an array of rare and exclusive whiskies. Situated at the top of the Library stairs are inset angel wings, in reference to whisky terminology, ‘the angels’ share’ and a signature symbol of The Whisky Shop.

Andrew Torrance, managing director of The Whisky

Shop, said: “These are very exciting times for The Whisky Shop. Manchester has a fantastic retail offering and we’re delighted to be opening our newest store in this vibrant and interesting city.” 39

The Whisky Shop

Dalmore 18 Year Old

The Christmas Specials

This Dalmore was matured initially in American white oak for 14 years, then filled to Spanish sherry butt wood for 3 years and finally married for a full 12 months in upstanding sherry butts. It is bottled at 43% volume. It has a rich walnut brown colour with copper highlights. On the nose, there is a charming aroma of pine, lemongrass and cinnamon and on the palate there is Colombian coffee, truffles and rosemary with an enduring floral aftertaste.


Even in this time of austerity, there is no doubt that the Great British shopper is inclined to loosen the purse strings at Christmas. At this time of year customers come to The Whisky Shop to find something different or special. The regular request is for ‘something a little better than usual’. So – you would like to raise your sights? Here’s our guide…

Go for age…


It is a simple truth that the older the age of a whisky the better the drinking experience will be. That is because the whisky has had a longer time in the cask to mature. The maturation process is a crucial element in determining the style and overall quality of the end product. Here are some excellent examples:-

Old Pulteney 21 Year Old The Old Pulteney distillery is in Wick on the north coast of Scotland where for 21 years this whisky has absorbed all of the elements that a northerly coastal environment can throw at it. This just has to be scrumptious and if any proof were needed, consider

Jim Murray’s Bible tasting note of 2012, which states:“if you had the formula to perfectly transform salt, citrus, the most delicate smoke imaginable, sharp barley, more gristy barley, light vanilla, toasty vanilla, roasted hazelnut, thinned manuka honey, lavender honey, arbutus blossom and cherry blossom, light hickory, liquorice, and the softest demerera sugar into the aroma of a whisky, you still wouldn’t quite be able to recreate this perfection.” Nothing over-the-top about that is there? £99.99

Ben Riach 1995 This is a limited edition single malt provided exclusively to The Whisky Shop. It has been bottled at a natural cask strength of 53.1% volume. The expression has been crafted from just 4 casks of 1995 vintage BenRiach and so it weights in at 17 years old. Each cask filled on May 4th 1995 has been selected

by hand, and the four then combined to produce this exclusive bottling. Consistent with its Speyside location, Its nose is sweet and creamy, toasted vanilla with a hint of barley sugar, its colour is warm golden straw and on the palate there is sweet heather, vanilla and honey base, developing to candied apples, with a crisp dry finish.


Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Voted by The Whisky Shop managers as the best blend of 2012, this blended whisky drinks quite differently from the previous two examples. To suggest that it is smooth would be a serious understatement. The Chivas Regal Lion symbolises Chivas Brothers’ pride in this superb whisky. For over 100 years Chivas Brothers

has owned a remarkable wealth of whisky stocks and this Chivas Regal 18 includes over 20 of Scotland’s rarest single malt whiskies. It is aptly described by American whisky writer and author of ‘Kindred Spirits 2’, F. Paul Pacult as, “Strength and elegance balanced in harmony... blended Scotch does not get any better than this.”


…but not always.


The age statement on a bottle is a good guide to quality, but not always! There are some notable single malts of exceptional quality, where the distiller has elected not to put an age statement on the bottle. That is because the distiller prefers some flexibility. Age is highly important but not always essential. If the wood – that is the type of cask used for maturation – is of exceptional quality, the whisky can take on special characteristics that will not necessarily improve with age. A distiller, who wants to capture that special thing, can do so by omitting the age statement on the bottle. Here are some examples of stunning malts with no age statement:-

Auchentoshan Three Wood This unique Auchentoshan Lowland Single Malt Whisky has been matured in three different cask types. It starts off in American Bourbon, then moves to Spanish Oloroso Sherry – and finally Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. This remarkable combination of woods delivers a product that has a rich golden bronze colour. On the nose there is just a hint of blackcurrant behind sweet raisins and citrus fruits that deliver to the palate distinct fruitiness with hints of nuts, cinnamon and lemon. A butterscotch sweetness adds to the overall complexity. That fruitiness carries through to a long lasting end.


Macallan Amber

Aberlour A’bunadh

The Whisky Shop Single Malt Of The Year, as voted by their managers. Macallan Distillery has been at the vanguard of the movement to offer something other than age itself. That is because Macallan possesses some of the very best quality wood in the industry. One of their latest expressions is The Macallan Amber. With Macallan everything is understated quality, including their own tasting note that simply says: “The spirit is polite, almost apologetic at first with a floral, citrus sweet nose that gains presence commanding a chorus of sweet vanilla notes over freshly harvested grain. Raisin, sultana and cinnamon look on as toffee apples and candy floss step into the limelight.” Whiskeria’s own Booker Prize on its way!

Once again, wood is the big story here. First of all this is a Single cask – batch number 36. It has been matured in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts and bottled at 60.1% vol. That is strong and water is compulsory if you want to taste your Christmas pudding! On the palate there is orange, black cherries, dried fruit and ginger, spiked with dark bitter chocolate. The sherry in the oak comes through particularly on the aftertaste, which goes on forever.



Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition Another big sherried malt, but this time at a strength – 43% volume – that will allow you to enjoy undiluted if you like. It hasn’t spent its whole life in sherry wood, it has been finished in a rich Oloroso cask that has been especially selected for its fine yet robust balance The Distillers Edition range offers the consumer an insight into the ability of the Master Distiller to pick out the gems that are not necessarily very old but have reached that critical point where they have something special. This one is exceptionally smooth and full of flavour.


Or something different again…


A single cask bottling is literally the contents of a single cask. Each and every cask tells its own story and judicious selection of casks can pick out the very best of a bunch. The producer of a single cask bottle will also subject the whisky to a much less aggressive filtering process and at the same time bottle the whisky at a higher strength. Both of these measures leave in flavour to be enjoyed. Higher strength also means ‘more bangs for your buck’ and the contents will go a lot further than a normal strength bottle. So this has to be factored in to the assessment of price. The Whisky Shop has a long standing relationship with the best of the independent bottlers – Hunter Laing. Here are some great quality Hunter Laing products, not only for the connoisseur, but for the regular single malt enthusiast.

Port Ellen 30 Year Old: Old and Rare Selection Islay

Macallan 35 Year Old: Old and Rare Selection Speyside

Caol Isla 16 Year Old: Malt Cask Selection Islay

The Whisky Shop is proud to introduce the stunningly limited single cask Port Ellen 30 year old from Hunter Laing’s Old and Rare Selection. Port Ellen, of course, is the long closed Islay distillery that has achieved mythical status among Scotch Whisky collectors and enthusiasts.

Macallans of this age and rarity are few and far between and this one must be one of the oldest Macallans available anywhere. It has been bottled at a natural cask strength of 46.3% volume and is one of only 255 bottles filled from a refill hogshead. The whisky was distilled in May 1977 and bottled in April 2013. Rich and honeyed aromas with golden syrup and dried apricots followed by melon, mango and a dry, crisp apple note. It has a soft creamy texture and flavours of marshmallow and candied lemons then finishing with a distinctive ash and smoke note complimenting the fruits and adding a bit of spice.

An incredibly rare Caol Ila 16yo that is limited to only 145 bottles. Bottled at 50% volume this single cask expression is packed full of peat, vanilla sweetness and some delicious baked apples.

One of only 120 bottles ever produced and bottled at a natural cask strength of 53.9% volume this limited edition will not last long. A robust peaty leathery nose initially masking a spicy citrus zest.




The Whisky Shop

What’s in store for Christmas Whisky is the ideal gift at Christmas and the selection available at The Whisky Shop is second to none. Here is a short buying guide.

Aberlour New Range 12 Year Old Whisky Shop Exclusive

Aberlour New Range 15 Year Old Select Cask Reserve

What is it? An easy drinking single malt that will give pleasure to practically every single malt drinker

What is it?A premium malt from a great distillery that has had the benefit of extra age in sherry wood.

What’s it like? It has an appealing aroma of baked apples, raisins and light caramel. On the palate it is creamy with dried fruit, marzipan, fudge, a touch of nutmeg and pepper. It has a long, rich finish.

What’s it like? It’s rich and amber in the glass; it has a strong malty nose with honey and caramel. The taste is complex and rounded with hints of vanilla and it has an intense and dry finish.



Aberlour New Range 18 Year Old What is it? Another step up the Aberlour range, this will seriously impress the recipient! What’s it like? Fantastic! On the nose it is rich and complex with notes of toffee and butterscotch; on the palate it has a perfect structure. Initial notes of soft apricot and cream are offset by developing flavours of leather and oak with a touch of honey. Its finish is very long and balanced as it progresses to a gentle oak flourish.


Jack Daniel’s Frank Sinatra Select

Bruichladdich Octomore 6.1

Dalmore 12 Year Old

What is it? Jack Daniel’s American whiskey – but not as you know it!

What is it? The world’s most heavily peated whisky.

What is it? The gift for every occasion.

What’s it like? This is the 6th edition of the Uber-experimental cult Octomore. Titanic amounts of Peat but with a light, delicate complexity.

What’s it like? Beautiful both inside and out. A great package and a single malt whisky that delivers everything that is great about Scotland.



What’s it like? Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select is bottled at 90 proof and gains its rich character from specially crafted “Sinatra Barrels” mingled with our classic Tennessee Whiskey. The Sinatra Barrels are handcrafted with the addition of deep grooves on the inside of the barrel staves. This exposes the whiskey to extra layers of oak which imparts a rich amber colour, bold character and a pleasant smokiness, followed by an incredibly smooth vanilla finish.


Jura Superstition

Drambuie 15 Year Old

Highland Park Loki

Who’s it for? Every whisky lover.

Who’s it for? Mum & Dad

Who’s it for? Highland Park Collectors.

What is it? This is a sensational taste, uniquely combining Jura’s core character with subtle, peated tones.

What’s it like? This is an indulgent blend of carefully selected Speyside malt whiskies and the famed Drambuie elixir. The whisky flavours are classic Speyside, with fragrant grassy and butterscotch notes and a touch of vanilla from the Bourbon barrels the malts aged in for at least 15 years. The exact recipe of the elixir remains a secret to this day; one thing we do know is that it includes saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.

What’s it like? Highland Park Loki, a 15 year old limited edition single malt bottled at 48.7% abv, comes housed in the same unique and award winning wooden frame as Thor, echoing the fearsome contours of a traditional Viking long ship Palate: The true shape-shifting ability of Loki springs to life on

What’s it like? It has smokey, peaty repertoire offset with tastes of spice, honey and pine. £37.99


the palate: its waxy texture is amplified by an intense smoke that doesn’t appear on the nose, shattering the light citrusy illusion of the aroma. All is not what it seems. The smoke fades as liquorice and rich spiced apple flavours come out to play. Lemon and grapefruit are consistent throughout this elusive, yet intriguing character.


Loch Fyne Liqueur

Highland Park 5x5cl

Source Water

Who’s it for? Mum… but the rest of the family can join in too!

Who’s it for? Those who likes variety!

Who’s it for? Whisky Drinker

What’s it like? Loch Fyne Liqueur is a Scotch whisky liqueur with 12 year old Scotch Whiskies at its heart. Made with natural flavourings of chocolate, tangerine and orange it is less sweet than other liqueurs, it has a warming aroma of deluxe Scotch whisky, spicy orange cake and a tiny whiff of log fires. The liqueur is distinctively packaged in a 70cl decanter bottle.


What’s it like? The Collection comprises five 5cl miniatures of the most popular bottlings, namely 12, 15, 18, 25 and 30-year-old Highland Park


What’s it like? We all know that adding a few drops of water opens up your whisky, revealing the distinctive aromas and flavours. Naturally, the best water is from the same region as the Whisky.

From £3.99 - £11.99

Glenkeir Treasure 1x20cl + Glass / 2x10cl + 2 Glasses Who’s it for? The person who would appreciate something different What’s it like? Customers of The Whisky Shop constantly search for the different and the special..The Glenkeir Treasures concept starts with a truly unique range of single malt whiskies that we obtain directly from the distiller. The single malts are decanted into individual barrels within our shops from where they are hand bottled as and when the purchaser chooses them. They are bottled at 40% strength, making them easy drinking and accessible.

From £21.99 – £28.99

Talisker 10 Year Old Malt with Glasses

Talisker 10 Year Old Malt with Food Pack

Who’s it for? The sea farer

Who’s it for? The epicurean!

What’s it like? This excellent 10 year old maritime malt is packaged with a pair of round bottom ‘rocking’ tumblers – perfect for shipboard drinking or just for simply sharing a dram or two.

What’s it like? This excellent ten year old maritime malt is accompanied by a guide that recommends the best food pairings, perfect for impressing and entertaining your family and friends.


This pack is complete with: Talisker 10 yo 4 tasting glasses 1 booklet with the recipes and education on malts & food.


The Talisker Collection

The Classic Malt Strong Collection

The Coastal Collection

The Classic Malt Gentle Collection

Who’s it for? The crew of the boat

Who’s it for? Dad

Who’s it for? More of our maritime friends – but it doesn’t have to be so!

Who’s it for? The beginner

What’s it like? For those who appreciate malt whisky at its finest, this Gift Pack houses three superb expressions of the legendary Talisker. Talisker 10 Year Old (20cl) – smokily sweet with a hint of a sea salt, autumnal fruits and a warming, spicy finish Talisker 57° North (20cl) everything you’d expect from Talisker but a little more richness than the 10 Year Old – a combination of smoke, subtle sea saltiness, rich fruits, a hint of toffee and the signature spicy finish. Talisker Distillers Edition(20cl) – double matured in Amoroso casks, the Distillers Edition delivers a bitter sweet harmony of tastes. Its crisp peat softens to a richer, sweeter finish


What’s it like? Here are the big flavours for the big fan of Classic Malts! These whiskies offer a broad canvas of powerful tastes ranging from the tang of the sea to the smoky and the peaty, making a distinctive Gift Pack to savour. The perfect gift for the person who enjoys malts that are uncompromising in their character. Talisker 10yo 20cl Lagavulin 16yo 20cl Cragganmore 12yo 20cl


What’s it like? Celebrating the best of the seashore from Skye to Islay to the North East coast of mainland Scotland, the whiskies in this Gift Pack with their maritime flavours are perfect for those who like salty, briny malt. Talisker 10yo 20cl Clynelish 14yo 20cl Caol Ila 12yo 20cl


What’s it like? This is the perfect introduction for those new to the world of Classic Malts. A wonderful all-round demonstration of the quality of Lowland and Highland malts, this gift pack embraces gentler whiskies with lighter and mellow flavours. If you are not sure of your recipient’s tastes in Malt Whisky, this is the pack to choose and it will never disappoint. Oban 14yo 20cl Dalwhinnie 15yo 20cl Glenkinchie 12yo 20cl


The Whisky Shop

What’s Collectable this season? Collecting whisky can be absorbingly interesting and as a general rule it can be a lucrative pastime. The range of collectable items at The Whisky Shop is as good as ever. Here are some tempting items:

The Glenlivet Quercus

Aberfeldy 16 Year Old Whisky Shop Exclusive

Notes This was voted by the Managers of The Whisky Shop as the most interesting collectors item of 2013. The Glenlivet is possibly the greatest of the Speyside distilleries and limited editions from here are rarities in their own right. Its nose is soft, ripe red apples intertwined with baked almonds. On the palate it is smooth and creamy gradually developing until the whisky hints at chewy, sticky toffee. A delicate floral note creeps in, which lingers tantalisingly until a final burst of Seville orange rounds it off.

Notes The is cask number 6814 filled in 1996 at Aberfeldy Distillery. Exclusive to The Whisky Shop it is bottled at cask strength The whisky was specially selected by members of The W Club in March of this year

Finish: Long, sweet and very slightly dry.


Nose: Aromas of scented grassy meadows play with a delicate syrupy sweetness of tropical fruits and a subtle nutty finish. Taste: Floral flavours intermingle with a combination of chewy toffee and delicate liquorice flavours, finishing with a balanced oakiness.


Brora 35 Year Old

Caol Ila Unpeated Stitchell Reserve

Cardhu 21 Year Old 1991

Convalmore 36 Year Old Distilled1977

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt.

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt.

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt whisky.

• From a closed coastal distillery at Brora • The equal oldest Brora ever bottled • Twelfth of a very limited series of annual releases • Annual allocation has extended availability of this irreplaceable malt but stocks are depleted • From refill American Oak and European Oak casks over 35 years old filled in 1977 • Only 2944 individually numbered bottles world- wide

• From Caol Ila, an active distillery on Islay • An eighth limited release of unpeated Caol Ila • From a batch made only once a year, from unpeated malt, for blending in the “Highland Style” • From a mix of refill American Oak, rejuvenated American Oak and ex-bo dega European Oak casks, so interesting to compare with expressions from first fill Bourbon previously released at 8,10 and 12 years old and a 14 year old from ex-bodega oak. • Limited availability worldwide

• From the renowned Cardhu distillery on Speyside. • A second limited release in this series. • Interesting to compare with the 22 year old 1982, released in 2005. • From ex-bourbon American Oak casks filled in 1991. • Fewer than 6,000 individually numbered bottles worldwide.

• From Convalmore, a closed distillery in Dufftown on Speyside. • A very rare malt, highly prized by collectors. • A very limited release of individually numbered bottles. • Latest of three limited releases to be offered by the distillery. • Interesting to compare with a 28 year old 1977 released in 2005. • From European Oak refill casks. • Only 2,980 bottles worldwide.





Lagavulin 37 Year Old Distilled1976 Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt whisky. • From the essential Islay distillery, Lagavulin, on Islay’s rocky south coast • The oldest Lagavulin ever bottled by the original distillers and exceedingly rare. • From refill American Oak and European Oak casks filled in 1976. • Just 1,868 bottles available worldwide, from specialist retailers only. • The longest-aged Lagavulin we have released, so highly desirable and likely to sell rapidly.


Oban 21 Year Old

Lagavulin 12 Year Old

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt.

Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt whisky.

• From Oban, a tiny distillery on the west coast of Scotland, gateway to the islands. • A very rare extra-mature Oban, the first for ten years in this series of limited releases. • From rejuvenated American Oak and second fill ex-bodega casks. • Just 2,860 individually numbered bottles available world-wide. • From specialist retailers only. • Interesting to compare with a 20 year old from refill casks released in 2004.

• From the essential Islay distillery, Lagavulin, on Islay’s rocky south coast • Twelfth in a series of special 12 year old releases from the original distiller’s stocks • Vatted from refill American Oak casks, each at least 12 years old • Available in limited quantities worldwide • A perfect introduction to the sheer excellence of Special Releases.



The Singleton of Dufftown 28 Year Old 1985 Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt. • From Dufftown,an active distillery on Speyside. • A first limited cask strength release of The Singleton in this series. • From American Oak refill casks filled in 1985. • Just 3,816 individually numbered bottles world wide. • From specialist retailers only.


Talisker 1985 27 Year Old Notes A limited edition, natural cask strength single malt. • From the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. • The seventeenth release in this series from the distillery. • From American Oak refill casks filled in 1985. • Interesting to compare with previous bottlings in the same series, all of them whiskies of great dignity, subtle nuance and easy balance. • Just 3,000 individually numbered bottles available world-wide.


Whiskeria Customers Favourites Macallan Amber

Aberlour 12 Year Old

Strathisla 12 Year Old

Isle of Jura Superstition

Balblair 1997

Auchentoshan 12 Year Old

The colour of spun honey, with orange lights. The first aroma is of sweet malted barley, but after a short while this is replaced by flapjacks or steamed syrup sponge, drizzled with Golden Syrup, with traces of ginger, cinnamon and white pepper: sweet and soft, yet spicy. The taste is sweet then sharp, with distinct ginger and spice lingering in the warming finish. CM

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

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

This was our Customers’ Choice favourite whisky last year and it is from a distillery that has moved towards the top of Britain’s favourite malts. This particular expression isn’t typical of the island distillery however, bringing a moderate amount of peat to the otherwise sweet, fruity and creamy whisky. DR

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

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









Dalmore 12 Year Old

Bowmore 12 Year Old

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfiddich 15 YO Distillers Edition

Ardbeg 10 Year Old

Glenrothes Select Reserve



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

While Jura Superstition is bringing someone new to the peaty party, this is the guv’nor of mid range smoky malts. The peat here is significant and central but it doesn’t overwhelm, instead showing off the fruity sweet notes of the malt. DR

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

It says much about the Speyside region that there are so many of its whiskies included in this list, and they are so disparate. This is Whisky making at its finest, with the classic fruity notes of Glenfiddich enhanced by oak and spice. Stunning stuff. DR

This is the big peat monster for which the island of Islay is famous. Sweet, but with smoky, medicinal and sea coast notes, this is a classic example of peaty whisky and has maintained its popularity over the years. No wonder. DR

A big component in blends such as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark, Glenrothes is building a reputation for its big hefted and very diverse vintage releases. This is an entry level ‘greatest hits’ and has some robust earthy notes in the mix. Weighty and impressive. DR





Tasting Notes: DR: Dominic Roskrow CM: Charles MacLean

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For the facts

Enjoy Strathisla responsibly


Amorous Beasties

Don’t hibernate just yet. Instead, wrap yourself in something woolly, pull close your favourite person, and head out to those same windswept vistas and medieval nooks that lured thousands of would-be romantics all summer long, because it is in the winter, by the warmth of candlelight and log fires, when the most potent romance is distilled. Whiskeria travel writer Claire Bell selects four wintery hidey-holes to suit every romantic palate…

For the Casual Romantic Monochyle Mhor, the chic boutique hotel at the far end of Balquihidder glen, in the famed stomping ground of Rob Roy Macgregor, has long been a destination for Scots with a nose for fine dining and cool design. But earlier this year, the owners brought a new addition to the style map, transforming the derelict Kingshouse Hotel at Balquhidder Junction into the Mhor 84 Motel. “The feel is Scandinavian with a lot of soul,” says Mhari Taylor, one of the co-owners, who describes how they created the eclectic, laidback motel in just six weeks, drawing on the goodwill of friends and locals. “We bartered and traded to do it up. All the mismatched crockery was donated by the locals, the deer horns you see in every room were bartered for labrador puppies (they went to good homes), and 15 of the chairs in the dining room were swapped for a night in the motel,” laughs Mhari. And while the feel – and the price – is more casual than its

Above & Right: Mhor 84



WHISKY : ON TOUR Below: Port Charlotte Hotel, Islay Right & Far Right: Inshriach Yurt, Cairngorms

sister hotel, it’s as much of a foodie destination, with venison charcuterie, wood pigeon and Isle of Mull lobster on the menu. “Our ethos is really good Scottish ingredients without a lot done to them,” says Mhari. It is easy to pass a whole day in the Rob Roy Bar, watching the light shift on the Braes of Balquhidder, supping on one of the 15 single malts (“Talisker is the most popular with the locals,” confides the barmaid) and playing pool in the stylish games room, but it would be a mistake not to stretch your legs in one of the Trossachs’ most beautiful glens. “So wondrous wild, the whole might seem, the scenery of a fairy dream,” wrote Sir Walter Scott of these gentle Stirlingshire hills. An easy walk is the two kilometre uphill path from the churchyard at Balquhidder, where Rob Roy lies buried alongside his wife and two sons, through the forest to the viewpoint at Creag an Tuirc, the historic gathering place of the MacLaren clan. On a winter’s day Loch Voil is often laced with an ethereal mist, a living reminder of the days when the fighting men of the MacGregor clan, who appeared from nowhere and vanished without trace, were known as the Children of the Mist.

Room 9 at the Port Charlotte Hotel, seems like the frame of an oil painting. A gull by the shore of Loch Indaal meditates on the remnants of an old pier. A yellow hulled inshore fishing boat drifts on its mooring. A whitewashed stone house shimmers against the ice-blue sky and distant green hills. As you snuggle deeper into the blankets, you feel your body clock slowing to island time, because this most southerly Hebridean island is used to taking her time. Home to eight working distilleries – the oldest, Bowmore, dates back to 1779 – this is a place where waiting 10, 12, 16 years for something to happen, is the way of things. The closest distillery to the white-washed conservation village of Port Charlotte is Bruichladdich, which up until September 2012 was the only independently owned distillery on the island (It is now owned by Remy Cointreau). The former owner, Mark Reynier, brought the distillery out of mothballs in 2000, and over a decade sought to bring the “Scotch” back into whisky, using only Scottish-grown barley for his maltings. “Most of the distilleries import their barley from Russia but we only use Scottish barley. The local farmers say their cows prefer the husks from our whiskies,” said Reynier in a 2012 interview. In fairness, this might have been down to the fact that Bruichladdich is one of the few unpeated single malts made on Islay. For those who prefer the island’s classic smoky flavours, head to the south of the island where the iconic white-washed stone buildings of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries, with their oriental pagoda towers, are open to visitors all yearround (limited tour times in winter). Whisky is not the only Scottish heritage being

For the Classic Romantic Flee the mainland and head to one of the sunniest places in the British isles – the island of Islay. On a calm winter’s morning, the sash window at the foot of the bed in 62

nurtured on Islay. The Victorian looms of the Islay Woollen Mill produced tartan and tweed for the Hollywood films Braveheart and Rob Roy, and owner Gordon Covell loves to regale visitors with stories of impromptu visits from Her Majesty the Queen. “She nearly gave some American tourists a heart attack,” he says with a chuckle. Back at the Port Charlotte Hotel, you can dress up for dinner or don a woolly jumper and head into the lively bar, popular with the locals whose favourite dram is Black Bottle, a blend of all the island malts and grain whisky. “It’s an undiscovered wee gem,” confides a local nose.

helped hand build the yurt using willow from his land and oak sourced from Perthshire. Adding to the romance is a handmade sauna, fashioned from an old horsebox and fitted with a picture window that looks out over the peaty waters of the Spey. Feeling the temperature rise inside as it dips out of doors must be one Scotland’s hottest experiences, made only more satisfying by the fact that you will have fired up the sauna yourself using a ready-supply of pine logs. For those wishing to explore further afield, Inshriach Farm is a half hour drive from Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s highest altitude distillery at 1073 feet above sea level. Dalwhinnie might boast the closest stills to Heaven, but this is not good news for the angels. Her barrels are renowned for being the most stingy– the village’s average year-round temperature of 6C (on par with Iceland) keeps the Angel’s Share way below the annual Scottish average of 2%. The distillery has created a unique tasting experience, pairing 6 Scottish signature whiskies with 6 chocolates from Aberfeldy’s Highland Chocolatier. The lemongrass truffle with the Glenkinchie and the cinnamon and clove praline with the Lagavulin will send your palate into orbit. And if that leaves you hankering after more sweet stuff, pay a visit to the tea room at Inshriach Nursery (open weekends in Nov and December, closed Jan, Feb) where Norwegian baker, Gunn Borrowman, bakes the kind of cakes (the Lindt chocolate and raspberry is a showstopper) that linger on the tastebuds long after winter is over. Book through Canopy and Stars

For the Diehard Romantic If the raw power of nature thrills you, try the Inshriach Yurt in the Cairngorms, just a few miles from Aviemore. Pitched beneath a copse of silver birch just metres from the banks of the Spey, this Kyrgyzstani-style yurt, fitted with wooden-floors, a Persian carpet, an iron four-poster bed and a wood-burning stove that could fuel a rocket, is a winter camping experience bar none. On a wild, windswept night, bedded down beneath layers of blankets (woolly hat advised) and encircled by lanterns and solar-powered fairy lights, you’ll feel like Bilbo Baggins on honeymoon. “The whole place is a piece of theatre. It’s somewhere people come to create something or be inspired. Here you are in close quarters with nature, and slightly at its mercy,” says Walter Micklethwait, the co-owner of Inshriach Farm who 63

For the Indulgent Romantic There are not many places in the world where you can expect to be welcomed by a 6ft5 Scotsman wearing a kilt, cape and feathered cap. But then there are not many places like Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, which wears its marble, brass and polished wood interiors with the easy elegance of a grand old dame. For a winter’s night of total indulgence, check into one of the deluxe rooms which have panoramic views of Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle, and spend an evening soaking up the flavours in Hadrian’s Brasserie and Scotch, the hotel’s new whisky bar which stocks 420 whiskies behind its locked, wooden cabinets - that’s 200 more bottles than The Albanach bar on the Royal Mile. Among the most expensive single malts are the 19-year-old Dalmore Constellation at £125/ dram and the 28-year old Glenmorangie Pride at £116/dram. “Our job is to match the right whisky to the right person,” says whisky ambassador James Quaile, who honed his craft sailing Scotland’s west coast and drinking Islay malts. So what would he select for someone who loves Glenmorangie but has aspirations to become a Laphroaig drinker? “I’d recommend the 14-year-old Tomintoul. It’s known as the gentle dram,” he says. And if they insisted on something more peated? “I’d suggest the unaged Talisker Port Ruighe,” he says, with a hesitant eyebrow. After tasting both, I can conclude he got it right the

first time. To help novice palates to discover the complexity in the whisky, Quaile offers a slice of wild boar salami. “The tongue is a nerve. As we drink our body likes to stay at a constant zen. If we have had a sweet dessert then we will pick up on a bitter taste in the whisky. By eating this sour, peppered salami, it helps pick up on the sweet honeyed tastes,” explains Quaile. Right again. The Tomintoul now tastes even better. After a night spent overindulging on uisge beatha, you’ll be glad to discover there is a second source of the water of life beneath the hotel – in the spa. After a morning languishing in the 15-metre swimming pool, sauna and Turkish steam bath you will be ready do it all over again. Above: The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh 64




How to buy

Sherried Speyside whisky

Speyside Spots Macallan Distillery, Charlestown of Aberlour Glenfarclas Distillery, Ballindalloch GlenDronach Distillery, Aberlour

The choice of wood in the maturation process of Speyside whiskies has a significant influence on flavour. Gavin Smith explores. The Speyside region in north-east Scotland is home to roughly half of the country’s malt whisky distilleries, and a number of them are closely associated with maturation in ex-sherry casks. Distilleries specialising in sherry wood ageing include: The Macallan, which stands high above the River Spey near Craigellachie; Aberlour, situated a mile or so south-west along the Spey; Glenfarclas at Balindalloch; and Glen Dronach, located on the eastern edges of the Speyside area. The tradition of the industry has been to mature new spirit in casks that have had a former use. Ex Bourbon casks have been the popular choice, but many single malt distilleries mature a small portion of their new spirit in former sherry casks. Often, these are added to whisky from bourbon casks to give stylistic diversity. It remains the case that few distilleries are committed to large-scale use of sherry wood in the same way as some of the leading Speysides. In days gone by, sherry wine was a very popular drink in Britain and large quantities were shipped from Spain in oak casks. These were then surplus to requirements and could be re-used by the Scotch whisky industry, which had discovered the positive effects of a previous filling of sherry when it came to maturing spirit. Today, relatively few sherry casks are used in the industry because of availability and cost. Since the 1950’s, sherry has been imported into the UK in bulk and so ex-sherry casks are relatively rare. On the other hand, former Bourbon casks are abundant, because it is a legal requirement of bourbon production that casks can only be used once. Of the estimated 18 million casks of whisky currently

maturing in Scottish warehouses, only some five per cent formerly held sherry, and they may cost ten times as much as ex-Bourbon casks. Those distillers that continue to major in the use of ex-sherry casks have built up long-term relationships with sherry producers in Spain, and in a number of cases have sherry filled into bespoke casks for a specified period before the casks in question are shipped to the UK. Securing the use of casks with known and trusted provenance is essential if high quality sherried single malt is to be created. European Oak (Quercus Robur) is most commonly used to make sherry casks, though American Oak (more usually associated with Bourbon casks) may also be employed in some cases, especially for fino and amontillado sherries. It is partly a matter of tradition that leads distilleries like The Macallan and Glenfarclas to persevere with the more expensive use of large-scale sherry cask maturation, but there can be profit in the best of tradition, and many consumers around the world are happy to pay a premium for the rich, comforting opulence that really good sherry cask maturation can bring. The Macallan is the world’s third-best-selling single malt in terms of volume (behind Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet) and has developed a lofty reputation for its range of aged whiskies, setting a number of price records for rare and limited editions. In November 2010 The Macallan 64 Year Old in a Lalique decanter sold at a Sotheby’s auction for no less than $460,000!


4 essential Sherried whiskies you should taste… –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Aberlour A’bunadh | 60.2% | £57.99 A’bunadh, Gaelic for ‘of the origin’, is matured exclusively in Oloroso ex-sherry butts. It is bottled in numbered batches at cask strength and is not chill-filtered. Unlike the rest of the Aberlour range A’bunadh carries no age statement, and the other expressions in the portfolio comprise varying combinations of ex-Bourbon and ex-sherry casks in their composition. With A’bunadh, the Oloroso sherry is immediately evident on the rich, spicy nose, along with ripe Jaffa oranges. Voluptuous in the mouth, with more orange, plus ginger, sweet sherry and plain chocolate. The finish is big and lengthy, with spicy oak and more dark chocolate. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Glenfarclas, 25 Year Old | 43% | £117.99 Glenfarclas is one of the few surviving family-owned distilleries in Scotland, and it offers an extensive portfolio of aged single malts, ranging from 10 to 40 years of age, along with Glenfarclas 105, the world’s first commercial, cask strength whisky. As if that was not enough, the distillery launched its on-going Family Cask series in 2007, comprising 43 single cask bottlings, with one cask for every year from 1952 to 1994! The 25-year-old is one of the highlights from the distillery, and the nose provides complexity, with soft sherry, coffee, orange marmalade, light oak, and even a hint of peat. Full-bodied, with lots of sherry and oak flavours, zesty orange, nuts and gentle smoke. Long in the finish, with cocoa powder, malt, and drying smoke. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

GlenDronach 15 Year Old

| 46% | £51.49

GlenDronach distillery continues a long tradition of delivering single malts with a heavily sherried profile, and such is the commitment of owners the BenRiach Distillery Co Ltd, that £5 million has been set aside for the on-going acquisition of principally Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. Core bottlings range from 12 to 33 years old, there are a number of cask finished expressions, and an energetic single cask release programme. The 15-year-old has been matured in Oloroso sherry casks, with worn leather, furniture polish and cinnamon feature on the nose. Full and luscious on the palate. Spicy leather sweetens into toffee, apricots and cherries and the finish dries to raisins.


What constitutes Sherry? Sherry is a fortified wine produced around Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia, Southern Spain.

Is this a traditional process? Yes. By tradition new Scotch spirit is filled into casks that have had a former life. Ex bourbon casks are the most popular.

How much is produced? Only 5% of maturing whisky in Scotland is held in former sherry casks

How big are the barrels? The most common cask size used for sherry maturation is the butt, with a capacity of around 500 litres.

Does the colour differ? As a broad generalisation, the use of sherry casks for Scotch whisky maturation will deliver a deep amber colour, with dark fruit and spice aromas and flavours, while Bourbon casks give a paler colour, with vanilla, caramel and coconut aromas and flavours.


The Macallan Gold | 40% | £41.49 Gold was the first expression to be released in the new Macallan 1824 Series – a portfolio of single malts offered without age statements. Ultimately, Gold is intended as a replacement for the current 10-year-old, which it just outpoints in character. The 1824 Series comprises bottlings from casks chosen for their colour rather than age or wood type, though all casks have formerly held sherry. The line-up embraces Gold (UK only), Amber, Sienna and Ruby, plus the ultra-premium ‘M.’ When it comes to The Macallan Gold, the nose offers zesty lemon, then apricots and peaches, fudge and a hint of leather. Medium-bodied, with malt, apples, walnuts and spices on the palate, plus a suggestion of cinnamon. Quite oaky in the medium-length finish.


The most expensive? In November 2010 The Macallan 64 Year Old in a Lalique decanter sold at a charity auction for no less than $460,000!


Glenfiddich Tour In the second part of his series looking at the best visitor experiences in Scotland, Gavin D Smith visits two more Speyside distilleries before heading in to the Highlands

Glenfiddich is the world’s best-selling single malt Scotch whisky, with sales in excess of one million cases during 2012. With a capacity of 12 million litres of spirit per annum Glenfiddich is the second-biggest malt distillery in Scotland, but it could never be accused of appearing anything other than highly traditional. There is much local stone in evidence, malt kiln pagodas, and even a pond populated by ducks! The distillery stands in beautiful countryside on the northern outskirts of Dufftown, the self-proclaimed ‘Malt Whisky Capital of Scotland.’ After Mortlach, Glenfiddich was only the second distillery to be built in Dufftown, with construction taking place in 1886/87, and the first spirit flowed on Christmas Day 1887. The distillery was the creation of former Mortlach manager William Grant, who built and equipped it for the absurdly modest sum of £800 with the help of his immediate family. In order to work within Grant’s extremely tight budget, second-hand stills and other plant were acquired from Cardhu distillery to equip the fledgling operation. William Grant’s gamble to create a new distillery soon began to pay off, and in 1892/93 a second distillery, christened Balvenie was built alongside Glenfiddich. This was the height of the late Victorian whisky boom, which had its principal distilling focus on Speyside, and eventually Dufftown became home to seven distilleries. Today the town still boasts five whisky-making facilities, three of which belong to William Grant & Sons Ltd, as a third distillery, called Kininvie, was established beside Balvenie in 1990 in order to help meet

global demand for Grant’s Family Reserve blend. ‘Willie Grant’s,’ as the organisation is affectionately known locally, is the largest family-owned distilling company in Scotland, having expertly blended tradition with innovation over the years to stay ahead of most of the competition. Courtesy of Glenfiddich, the company was the first to make a concerted effort from the early 1960s to market single malt in England and abroad at a time when single malts were not even drunk in most of Scotland. Today, members of the fifth and six generations of the Grant family preside over the company, which operates major grain and malt distilleries on a site at Girvan, on the Ayrshire coast, and has also diversified its interests, so that it now boasts a portfolio of non-Scotch whisky drinks brands that includes Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, Hendrick’s gin, Sailor Jerry rum and Reyka vodka. But for whisky lovers Glenfiddich is the beating heart of the Grant empire and a place of pilgrimage. Indeed, Glenfiddich was the first Scottish distillery to open its doors to the public on a regular basis, back in 1969, and since then more than three million visitors have sampled its delights. It now attracts around 75,000 visitors per year, partly due to its policy of offering its ‘Classic Tour’ free of charge, along with its iconic status among international consumers. However, the site is large enough and tour logistics sufficiently slick that it never feels overly crowded, even during the busiest summer months, and guides are always welcoming and knowledgeable. Tours are available in most European languages during the summer months and there are also written guides in French,




German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. The Classic Tour takes in all aspects of Glenfiddich’s production, and an undoubted highlight is the sight of Glenfididch’s 28 stills, spread across two stillhouses. This is the largest number of working stills in any Scottish distillery, and the small copper vessels are modelled on William Grant’s originals. Scaling up the stills as demand for the whisky increased could have resulted in changes to the spirit’s essential character, so the size has remained the same and more stills have been added instead. Another highlight of the tour is a visit to warehouse 1, in order to see – and smell – casks of spirit slowly maturing. The visit ends with a sampling of Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18-year-old whiskies. In recent years, Glenfiddich has invested substantially in its visitor facilities, spending £1.8 million to create a new brand/visitor centre, coffee shop and bar – with award-winning toilets! At the same time the distillery has expanded its repertoire of specialist tours to cater for aficionados who want something more in-depth and personal. There is now an Explorers’ Tour, which lasts for around 90 minutes, and includes a visit to Warehouse 8, home to Glenfiddich’s unique

solera vats, where Glenfiddich 15-year-old and the newly-released Cask Collection range of whiskies are ‘married’ prior to bottling. The culmination of the tour is a tutored tasting of 12, 15, 18 and 21-year-old whiskies in the distillery’s VIP suite. The Explorer’s Tour costs £10 and should be pre-booked. For the truly dedicated, there is also the Pioneers’ Tour – a three hour experience during which participants may bottle their own 20cl cask strength unique Malt Masters’ Selection directly from a cask in Warehouse 8. There is also a master-class which involves nosing and tasting Glenfiddich whiskies aged up to 30 years of age. The Pioneers’ Tour is available pre-booked for £75. At the same time as the tour options have been extended, further facilities have been developed, partly to accommodate those taking part in the Pioneers’ Tour. These include a fully-functioning blending room – completed with 1,200 bottles - located in a former malt kiln at the distillery, and with a window which opens onto the distillery mash house. There Master Blender Brian Kinsman will work from time to time, and guests may attempt to replicate Grant’s Family Reserve blended Scotch.




Valley of the deer The name Glenfiddich is a translation of the Gaelic for ‘valley of the deer,’ which is why each bottle bears the image of a stag.

Above the blending area are a dining room and a ‘Family Room,’ which, together with the blending facility, comprise what has been titled ‘The Grant Family Home.’ This space is filled with a fascinating array of Grant-related artefacts, and ‘The Family Room’ focuses on William Grant’s son-in-law Charles Gordon, who was also the company’s first blended whisky salesman. This room features artefacts from 1909, when he travelled around the world for a year selling Grant’s whisky. The trunk Gordon used on that trip has been encased in glass to make a most unusual coffee table! In the Archive Area, family archivist Paul Kendall has been given the opportunity to display some remarkable items, including William Grant’s handwritten warehouse plans, an original blending recipe from 1912 and a cabinet showing the Grant’s bottle evolution over the years. Appropriately for a company which boasts such a fascinating heritage, those participating in The Pioneers’ Tour complete their experience with a sampling session in the ‘Grant Family Home’ area, where past and present come together, just as tradition and innovation have always been at the heart of the William Grant company ethos. Carry on round the back of Ben Rinnes and in to the wilder Southern regions of Speyside and you’ll find Glenlivet, a distillery with a major place in the history of the region. Once it was on the smuggling superhighway – you can walk a couple of different smugglers’ trails from the distillery with an audio guide should you so wish – and its location has everything to do with the illicit days of old. It was here that the modern era of whisky was ushered in when George Smith became the first owner of a legal licence under the 1823 Excise Act. That story, and the subsequent months of


fear as distillers tried to protect their trade, are told in a stylish and modern exhibition The iconic triangular bottle used for Glenfiddich and the Grant’s within the stylish visitor centre. blended Scotch whisky range was introduced in 1957, having been These days the distillery is as big as anything designed by German refugee Hans Schleger. in Scotland – its most recent expansion a couple of years back opened by Prince Charles and boasting a large windowed still room that is state of the art. So a tour here takes you from the days of smuggling to state of the art modern distilling. You can also sign up on-line to be a Glenlivet Guardian and on your visit here you’ll be able to access a special members’ room and enjoy a special

55 years, £59k

A bottle of Glenfiddich 55-year-old Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve set a new world single malt record when selling for 94,000 US dollars (£59,335) at a New York auction in 2012.

Snow Phoenix rising 2010 saw the introduction of an innovative limited release by the name of Snow Phoenix. The severe winter of 2009/10 caused damage to several of the Glenfiddich warehouses, and a number of casks from each of these warehouses were selected and blended together to create Snow Phoenix. It comprises a wide range of aged whiskies, matured in a variety of ex-Oloroso sherry and ex-Bourbon casks.

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



{ Charles MacLean} Expert Tasting Our man in the know, celebrity whisky writer Charles MacLean, casts his expert tastebuds over two of our award-winning whiskies.

Taste: The colour of spun honey, with orange lights. The first aroma is of sweet malted barley, but after a short while this is replaced by flapjacks or steamed syrup sponge, drizzled with Golden Syrup, with traces of ginger, cinnamon and white pepper: sweet and soft, yet spicy. The taste is sweet then sharp, with distinct ginger and spice lingering in the warming finish.

Macallan Amber Bob Dalgarno is The Macallan’s ‘Whisky Maker’ – a modest, quiet spoken man in his forties, with huge experience – and overall responsibility for the flavours in the entire Macallan range. I have known him for over fifteen years, and have the highest regard for his skills and openness. For the 1824 Series he has created four expressions based not on the age of the whisky, but upon the natural colours derived from the casks. The expressions are Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby, with colours ranging from old gold to polished rosewood. The character of the individual casks also determines each whisky’s flavour, moving from fresh lemon citrus to rich, dried fruits. As the whiskies become darker and richer, so the pool of casks able to deliver this character becomes smaller and rarer – a fact which is reflected in the price. Bob tells me: “A great single malt is not determined by age, and since these bottlings do not bear age statements, I have greater liberty in balancing flavours from various ages and from different kinds of sherry cask – European oak and American oak, first fill and refill.

“Macallan is a rich, smooth Speyside malt. For our own bottlings we always favoured European oak, ex-sherry butts, which make for a dark colour and a full-bodied flavour. For the 1824 Series I have balanced these traditional casks with American oak ex-sherry casks. The latter add sweetness and vanilla notes, and balance the tannic dryness of European oak.” Bob knows what he is talking about. He was ‘born to the trade’, at Glenallachie Distillery not far away, where his father worked, and started at Macallan in 1984 as a warehouseman. After passing through every stage of whisky making – mashman, brewer, stillman, warehouse supervisor, operations manager – in 1994 he joined the panel which selects casks for bottling. “It’s all a matter of balance. That’s what I’m looking for. Each expression of the 1824 Series is different in flavour, but I hope each achieves balance as well as having its own character. One of my colleagues described the series as being like a flight of stairs: with each expression you take a step up, and enjoy a different view!” Nice one Bob! 75


Customs & Excise became suspicious when they discovered that the companies he was selling the whisky to were fictitious. Following a government inquiry, it was revealed that Pomeroy was selling the whisky, under different names, through the black market – which was booming at that time of acute shortage, and rationing. He was found guilty of evading £111,038 of tax. The current ‘custodian of the Chivas style’ is Colin Scott, a charming and highly experienced man who I first met in the mid1970s, soon after he had joined Chivas Bros. He was raised in Orkney, where his father managed Highland Park Distillery, and joined Chivas in 1973, working under the company’s Master Blender, Jimmy Lang, until he retired in 1989, when Colin succeeded him. As well as travelling a great deal to promote his brands, Colin’s key responsibility is for the quality and consistency of Chivas Regal and Royal Salute. Only occasionally is he required to create new blends including Chivas Regal 18YO in 1997 and 25YO in 2007. In 2010 18YO added ‘Gold Signature’ to its label (Colin’s initials appear on every bottle). The ‘pinnacle of his career’ - his own words - was the creation of Royal Salute Tribute to Honour to mark H.M. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. All the whiskies in this remarkable blend are over 45 years old; it is presented in a black porcelain flask, embellished with gold and 400 black and white diamonds, designed by Garrard, the Crown Jeweller. Only twenty-one bottles have been released… The Whisky Shop, Piccadilly, has one available if you have £150,000 to spare…

Taste: Sun-bleached mahogany in colour. A mellow, rich nose, with sweet white wine and sandalwood as top-notes, supported by buttery toffee, hazelnuts, mixed dried fruits and orange peel as it opens up. Perhaps a trace of dark chocolate, and of baking spices in the development. A very soft texture, a smooth mouthfeel and an overall sweet taste, with a hint of fresh acidity, drying lightly in the lengthy finish. An attractively balanced and satisfying blend.

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Gold Signature De Luxe If Bob Dalgarno is the craftsman behind The Macallan, Chivas Regal was put on the map by the formidable Samuel Bronfman, president of the giant Seagram Corporation of Canada. The brand was first created by Chivas Bros. of Aberdeen in the 1890s, and was selling in Canada and the United States by 1909, but although it had a high reputation, volumes were low until ‘Mr. Sam’ bought the company in 1949 (for £80,000!). He was delighted with his purchase and took a close interest in the blend’s production, packaging and promotion. A colleague recalled “…an historic meeting with Mr. Sam when we discussed the eventual world market possibilities for Chivas Regal. I submitted my modest estimates, which were immediately set aside by him as quite inadequate, and he gave his own, which were much greater. But the eventual sales have exceeded even his own estimates. This was not just a man marketing a new product – it was an artist producing his chef d’oeuvre”. By the 1971 it was the leading de luxe blended Scotch in the world; by 1991 it was selling in excess of three million cases per annum; today sales stand at 4.9 million cases. The heart malt in the blend is Strathisla, which Mr. Sam bought the year after he had acquired Chivas Bros. He claimed to have bought the distillery from “a bankrupt opera impresario”; the story was actually more curious. A dodgy London financier named Jay Pomeroy bought the company which owned Strathisla soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, and immediately began to shift its entire stock of mature whisky to London. H.M.


{Victor Brierley} On the other hand…

The Emperor’s New Drams

“The mouth feel and the nose, conjuring all sorts of verbose and sometimes quite clever journeys of word-smithery but sadly, none of the tastes I was getting…”

Can we use the RIGHT kind of bad language? As a boy growing up, with strong Highland roots on the maternal side of my family, I always associated whisky with ‘events’. Okay, not always fun events, (there was a LOT of whisky on the go when we buried my grandfather, on a memorable day at a ceremony held on a highland beach) but events, nonetheless. Weddings, parties, good times, milestones. Certainly times when the whisky and the stories flowed in equal measure, probably rather too much to take in, of both aspects, but great times, unforgettable times. It therefore struck me as strange that when I started to attend my first whisky tastings in the cityscapes and posher surroundings of Britain that they were largely, pretty serious affairs, sometimes with a seriously limited opportunity for a good laugh. The format is something you have grown to expect now. Lot of glasses, lots of whisky but, unfortunately, lots of rules. The more formal the tasting, the more formal the rules and unfortunately the more pomposity, which in my eyes, sort of flew in the face of the Highland dramming sessions that had first developed my interest in our National drink. Along with the rules (water only in your dram, oatcakes, no drinking till you were told, lots of over-elaborate sniffing and swirling) came the language. And by that I don’t mean the high quality of Celtic cursing that I found hilarious at Highland weddings, it was a new embroidered use of pretentious and for me, slightly bogus descriptive terms for what might be a bloody great glass of whisky but in the grand scheme of things, is STILL a glass of whisky, a social dram, surely meant to be drunk with a smile, with pals, irrespective of what you have shelled out for it, in these increasingly dramtastic demanding marketplaces. I dunno about you, but when I taste whisky, I tend to taste… whisky. I used to nod in the past when whisky ‘experts’ would tell me about the liquorice, leather, lemongrass, lanolin or 1001 other things I was meant to be tasting. The mouth feel and the nose, conjuring all sorts of verbose and sometimes quite clever journeys of word-smithery but sadly, none of the tastes I was getting. What I was getting was the taste of bad or not so bad or really nice, whisky. Should I say something? Sadly, I said nothing and let the linguistic gymnasts tread all over the thing that first got me interested in whisky. The banter, the loosening of tongues and the limbering up of language of a somewhat less floral nature that had made me laugh. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to visit (or at least stand by the gates of the ones that don’t let you in) every distillery in Scotland. This is proving difficult now, as a new one opens every other month, but the point is that by tasting every dram from every distillery it became pretty obvious that they were different. Very different. If I was to try and go down the ‘liquorice and leather’ route I would a) soon run out of flowery phrases b) catch myself out by describing a dram as

being ‘clootie dumpling in a glass’ to the wrong drams, any dram really rendering these daft descriptions totally pointless. We’ve started with this over-descriptive claptrap, where will it end? So, my advice to the ‘newbie’ would be to ignore the ‘swallowed a dictionary’ pompous descriptions because as everyone’s tastes are very different, what I taste and what YOU taste will be different. Also, I know lots of people make a good living out of it, but how ludicrous is marking whisky ‘out of 100’? I know Top Gear give marks out of 10 for cars and I realise that there has to be some form of marking system. But marking a DRINK out of 100? I just don’t get it. For instance would you do the same for Art? Would you mark down The Mona Lisa for not having a good enough smile and give her only 91. Is the outrageous mouth shape of Edvard Munch’s Scream just not worthy of more than 82? Yup, it’s a bonkers idea but no more bonkers than marking the thousands of drams, from hundreds of distilleries, in exactly the same way. Custard creams and an 81 out of a 100? Are we serious? I’d rather buy a dram I can’t really afford, drink it on a social occasion and enjoy the difference that a smaller distillery, an older bottling or something new and different might offer. No nutmeg, barley sugar, raisins or other baking ingredients. No made up items that you really couldn’t or wouldn’t want to ever put in your mouth and above all, no putting words into new whisky lover’s mouths of tastes that they don’t actually taste. I’d like to drink whisky that tastes of whisky.

Victor’s Top 5 Pretentious Tasting Notes


“Absolutely filthy… like doing a bog swim without a snorkel.” Would this be a new outdoor craze in the making?


“The nose is a TNT banana, exploding bursts of fruit…” It’s not LSD is it?


“The hug of sherry is soporific” That would surely be your maiden aunt!

4/ “A pleasant dram, but lacks nerve and buoyancy.” What?? 5/


“Like putting Benny Lynch into the ring with Marciano.” Oh yes! I can taste that immediately!

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Whiskeria - winter 2013 edition  
Whiskeria - winter 2013 edition  

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