Page 1

Winter 2014

Exclusive: ––––

B E CK HAM 'S NE W C LUB ––––

DAVID BECKHAM SPEAKS TO US ON TEAMING UP WITH HAIG CLUB

+

CHRISTMAS UNWRAPPED

YO U R C O MP L ET E G UI D E TO GIV IN G… AN D R EC EI V I N G !

––––

AULTMORE

LOWD OWN O N A LOW P R O F I L E SPE YS IDE D IST I LLER Y

––––

PL ANET OF THE GRAPES!

EX P LO R IN G TH E R I O JA VA LLEY ' S AR C H ITE CTU R A L WO N D ER L A N D

––––

DRAMBU IE

GAV IN D SMITH O N W H Y T H I S WH IS K Y L IQ U E UR I S N ' T J UST FO R C H R ISTMAS

£3.49 where sold


PLEASE ENJOY OUR SINGLE MALT RESPONSIBLY


The

Sherry Cask connoisseurs

www.glendronachdistillery.co.uk

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

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

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


ENJOYED 2014

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

WWW.GLENGLASSAUGH.COM


CHAIRMAN’S WELCOME

Chairman’s Welcome Ian P. Bankier “We look forward to the Christmas and New Year festivities – longer nights and winter fires and, hopefully, quality time with friends and family.”

In this column, several issues ago, I observed that political correctness prevented me from making a health statement about the virtues of Scotch Whisky. Some considerable time before that, I remember being scolded at a committee of the Scotch Whisky Association for suggesting that the Scotch Industry, like the wine lobby, should be saying something positive about the potential health benefits of moderate consumption of Scotch. It was explained to me in withering tones, that whilst individual wine producers might make expansive claims such as this, the deep pockets of the spirits industry would not be making health claims about their products. Good point! My thinking at the time was that, on its fundamentals, Scotch should be better than other beverages, because it is distilled from natural ingredients with no additives and is generally consumed neat or with water or soda water. On that basis, it seemed to me that beer and wine had a less clean cut story to tell. Above all, they had to be more calorific. I became interested in the topic when the pro-health rhetoric from wine producers began to appear, thinking that Scotch might have a part to play. I looked up a family friend, who was a leading cardiologist in Glasgow and asked him could this be true? He confirmed that it was true and subsequently furnished me with a stack of paperwork evidencing health trials around the world all showing the same thing – that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of heart and stroke disease in non-smoking males. (Sorry ladies, but you didn’t get a mention!) My friendly physician also confirmed my lurking suspicion that there is nothing inherent in wine that makes it uniquely healthy – in fact it is the alcohol that is the active ingredient. Basically, alcohol eats cholesterol. I grant that wine producers have since gone on to make claims about the health benefits of the natural fruits and minerals in wine. This subject has rumbled on over the years and it caught my eye

again in this issue of Whiskeria, where we report under World News that a study of the life-style choices of over 20,000 Swedish men concluded that moderate alcohol consumption, as part of a healthy lifestyle, protects them from a coronary event. That’s a big sample of people and it galvanizes my conviction that sensible regular consumption can be a good thing. And further, I do believe that Scotch is a much better proposition than wine or beer, not only because of its chemistry, but also because it lends itself to slower and therefore more moderate consumption. In this issue of Whiskeria, we look forward to the Christmas and New Year festivities – longer nights and winter fires and, hopefully, quality time with friends and family. I commend you to find time to reach for your favourite dram, enjoy the moment and raise a glass to health and happiness. What’s wrong with that? Ian P Bankier Executive Chairman, The Whisky Shop

5


6

CONTRIBUTORS


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

7

Winter 2014 Contributors

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 more than a dozen books on whisky, while co-authoring many more. 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. On her recent trip to Islay she fell in love with Laphroaig 18 Year Old, describing it as light and delicious compared to ‘the insanely smoky’ 10 Year Old.

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: Charles MacLean; Gavin D Smith; Claire Bell –– Feature Photography: Christina Kernohan –– Illustration: Francesca Waddell

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

–– Glenkeir Whiskies Limited trades as THE WHISKY SHOP. Opinions expressed in WHISKERIA are not necessarily those of Glenkeir Whiskies Limited. Statements made and opinions expressed are done so in good faith, but shall not be relied upon by the reader. This publication is the copyright of the publisher, ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED, and no part of it may be reproduced without their prior consent in writing. No responsibility is taken for the advertising material contained herein. © ASCOT PUBLISHING LIMITED.

–– Prices effective October 2014. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change.


Enjoy Aberlour responsibly.


10

CONTENTS

Winter 2014 Contents 12 16 18 22

A TIME IN HISTORY THE KNOWLEDGE MY CRAFT NEW RELEASES

Drambuie Whisky World Round Up Kerrin Lumsden Winter Reviews

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

David Beckham presents Haig Club

50 T R A V E L

Planet of the Grapes

12

57 TH E WH I SK Y SH OP: 58 The Whisky Shop News Round-up 60 The Johnnie Walker Range 64 Different Styles: Two Great Malts 68 A Bourbon at Christmas 70 Some more off-piste drams 72 Top up your collection this Christmas 74 Islay‌ 76 Gifting this Christmas 78 Customer Favourites 82 The Directory 84 D I ST I LLER Y VI SI T 88 EX P ERT TAST I N G 94 O N T H E OT H ER H AND

Aultmore Balvenie & Bowmore A pretty whisky business

18


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

44

50

84

11

88 62

94


12

A TIME IN HISTORY

A time in history:

Drambuie In a world where many drinks brands work hard to create ‘back stories’ to give their products a sense of authenticity and provenance, most would kill for the sort of heritage boasted by the world’s bestknown whisky liqueur, Drambuie, writes Gavin D. Smith According to tradition, the story begins during the Jacobite Rising of 1745/46, when Charles Edward Stuart (aka Bonnie Prince Charlie) attempted to re-establish a Catholic Stuart monarchy in Britain, aided by the members of many Highland clans. The rising ended with defeat for the Prince’s army at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, after which Charles went into hiding, being pursued by government troops as he attempted to find a way to leave the country and return to France, where he had been living in exile. Many loyal Jacobites risked their liberty and even their lives to aid the Prince, including John Mackinnon, chief of Clan Mackinnon, who helped him escape from the Isle of Skye. By way of thanks, Charles entrusted Mackinnon with the recipe for his personal liqueur, created by his royal apothecary. The recipe included cloves, well-known even then for their medicinal qualities, and it was said that the Prince drank a small amount of the mixture every day in order to maintain his health and strength. The secret recipe remained in the Mackinnon family until 1873, when it was given to John Ross, who ran the Broadford Hotel. Ross began to sell it to his customers, and it was referred to in Gaelic as an dram buideach, ‘the dram that satisfies,’ subsequently anglicised to ‘Drambuie.’ John Ross’ son James registered Drambuie as a trademark in 1893, and in 1909 Skye-born wines and spirits entrepreneur Malcolm Mackinnon, whose business was in Edinburgh, paid a royalty to the widow of James Ross in order to produce Drambuie in the Scottish capital. He subsequently purchased both the recipe and trademark, establishing The Drambuie Liqueur Company before the outbreak of war in 1914. Both office and production facilities were located in Leith, and after just 12 cases initially sold, Drambuie received an important boost when the House of Lords began to serve it in 1916. At the

time, it was first liqueur in their Lordships’ cellar. A year later Drambuie found its way into the even more august premises of Buckingham Palace, and developed a wartime following among officers in Highland regiments. The end of war saw Drambuie begin to conquer international markets, most notably the USA, but the onset of Prohibition in 1920 seemed likely to end this lucrative export destination. However, Drambuie still found its way in the States, often via Canada, and despite its illicit status, developed a strong following on the east coast, where it helped smooth the rough edges off locally-produced illegal spirit. Such ‘mixology’ was ultimately to lead to the creation of the Rusty Nail (one part Drambuie, two parts Scotch whisky), which was embraced by Frank Sinatra and his famous ‘Rat Pack’ cohorts, giving Drambuie a whole new status and demographic, far from the shores of Skye or the Port of Leith. More recently, the brand was given a new look as it began to tempt younger consumers, with the old brown bottle being replaced by a clear glass version, and its 2010 re-launch featured print and TV advertising campaigns, coinciding with celebrations to mark one hundred years of Drambuie being bottled in Edinburgh. The previous year had seen the launch of a new malt whisky variant, named The Royal Legacy of 1745, in tribute to Prince Charles Edward Stuart. A 15-year-old version then hit the shelves in 2011. So just what are the ingredients of Drambuie, whichever expression is your personal favourite? That, of course, remains a closely guarded secret, but what is known is that Highland and Speyside single malts are blended with grain whisky to create a ‘base,’ with many of the component malts being matured for up to 15 years in order to give the ultimate product additional richness and complexity. Scottish heather honey; spices and herbs are


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

hand-blended and ultimately infused with the ‘base’ to give the distinctive aromas and flavours of Drambuie. Our best-known whisky liqueur is inextricably linked with Christmas and New Year, but Drambuie is far more than a drink suited only to the festive season and the cold days of winter, also being the ideal base for summer cocktails such as a Drambuie Sangria. By offering cocktail recipes under the heading of ‘Long,’ ‘Classic,’ Straight’ and ‘Special,’ the makers and marketers of Drambuie have successfully given the liqueur a new place in the drinking repertoire of consumers out-with its ‘traditional’ fan-base. From 2001 until 2010 The Drambuie Liqueur Company was involved in a joint venture with Glenmorangie plc to produce the liqueur, after which Morrison Bowmore Distillers of Glasgow took over this role. Earlier this year, however, after being owned by the Mackinnon family for a century, Drambuie was acquired by independent distillers William Grant & Sons Ltd, of Glenfiddich and Balvenie fame. At the time of the acquisition in September, William Grant & Sons’ chief executive Stella David declared that “We have a passion and a reputation for nurturing and building brands. Drambuie is a natural fit for our portfolio, it has a very rich history and a great story to tell and we are delighted to be in a position to start to re-engage with existing drinkers and to connect the brand with an entirely new generation of consumers.” Grant’s remains in the ownership of the family that founded Glenfiddich back in 1886, and a spokesperson says “We have always been secret admirers of Drambuie. We are very grateful to the MacKinnon family for entrusting the future of this iconic brand to our family, and we will do our best to make them proud in the decades ahead.” It would appear that the precious liquid legacy of Charles Edward Stuart’s time in Scotland is in safe and understanding hands for what promises to be a very bright and prosperous future.

13

KNOWLEDGE BAR: WM GRANT'S » One of the defining characteristics of the Grant family, owners of the Grant's brand, is determination… » William Grant, the founder, built his first distillery, Glenfiddich, at the age of 47, having scrimped and saved for most of his life. » William's son-in-law, Charles Gordon, then became the company's first travelling salesman and set off from Dufftown to Glasgow and beyond, knocking on doors, laden with samples of William's carefully crafted whisky. At the 181st call he secured his first sale. After a further 503 he landed the second. From then on, things became easier - but many would have given up long beforehand.


16

THE KNOWLEDGE

KNOWLEDGE BAR: WORLD NEWS

USA

SWEDEN

A Los Angeles entrepreneur has bought a $64,000 shot of Macallan 64 Year Old single-malt whisky in support of a Korean based charity. The Macallan 64 Year Old is bottled at 42.5% abv and comprises three single malts filled in 1942, 1945 and 1946 and is the only mini-bottle of its kind. Blaine Vess purchased the pricey dram in September at The Macallan’s £10 cocktail lounge at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills. The Macallan promised to donate proceeds from the sale to the charity of the buyer’s choice, in this case, to Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) – a charity that rescues North Korean refugees via a 3,000-mile underground railroad and supports resettled North Korean refugees. Instead of drinking the one-ofa-kind dram, Vess instead returned it to the hotel’s safe adding that he would only drink it when “the Korean people are free.”

Moderate alcohol consumption, as part of a healthy lifestyle, could help prevent four out of five heart attacks in men, according to a recent study. More than 20,000 Swedish men, aged 45 to 79 years of age, were monitored over an 11 year period as part of the study carried out by scientists at the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm. Having assessed their lifestyle choices such as diet, alcohol consumption, smoking status, level of physical activity and weight, the study found those with the lowest risk of experiencing a coronary event practised “low-risk” lifestyle choices, including moderate consumption of alcohol.

THE $64,000 SHOT QUESTION…

MAJOR HEART ATTACK STUDY BACKS MODERATE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION


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

17

KNOWLEDGE BAR: M AT U R AT I O N

GLOBAL EXPORTS

SCOTCH WHISKY SALES FOR FIRST HALF OF 2014 DECLINE While Scotch Whisky exports to some markets, such as France and Taiwan, increased in the first six months of 2014, the overall trend was downwards, with “economic headwinds and uncertainty” being blamed by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Figures published recently by the SWA show that exports of whisky in the first half of the year were £1.77 billion, down 11% from £1.99bn in the same period of 2013. Exports to Singapore, the third largest value market for the spirit, were slashed by 46% and 47% in value and volume respectively, while Scotch’s biggest valued market, the US, dropped by £63.3 million – a 16% decline on last year. There is also decline in many other major markets in Asia and the Americas, for example China, Brazil and Mexico. EXPORTS: GLOBAL

EXPORTS: USA

EXPORTS: SINGAPORE

↓ 11%

↓ 16%

↓ 47%

» Now recognised as one of the most important factors in creating the character and flavour of a whisky, maturation in oak casks more than likely came about as much by accident as design.

» Historically, the making of home-scale spirit/ whisky would have been a seasonal activity using the available harvest. Therefore, to have a decent supply year-round, the spirit would have been stored in a suitable container – wooden casks being one of the simplest options.

» In North America, where oak trees are reasonably plentiful – new oak casks would have been used, and still are today.

» In Scotland, where native oak is very limited, second-hand casks would have been more common – eg those used to import wine, sherry, port, brandy, etc.

» Over the years, the benefits of leaving spirit in these oak barrels would have become apparent, and so rather than just a means to store whisky to drink out of season, they became an integral part of the production process.

RUSSIA

ASIA

There is a real danger that Russia’s Mexican stand-off with the West alongside the rising spectre of Cold War sanctions, embargos and paranoia could derail international trade with Russia. With the total value of alcoholic drinks imported to Russia from countries adopting opposing squares in the global geopolitical chessboard reaching $US 2 billion in 2012, the unfolding crisis has the potential to produce the mother of all hangovers for alcoholic drinks companies putting down most of the proverbial chips on that market.

William Grant & Sons, one of the few whisky makers still in family ownership, has bought the Highlands liqueur to bring the brand to "an entirely new generation of consumers". Around 250,000 cases of Drambuie are sold every year, but while the liqueur is a common feature in drinks cabinets in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, it is virtually non-existent in Asian markets, where sales of Scotch and other premium spirits have soared.

COULD CRISIS SPELL SANCTIONS?

WM GRANT & SONS TAKE DRAMBUIE EAST


18

MY CRAFT

{My Craft} Design Leader

Kerrin Lumsden


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

As we focus on design in this issue of Whiskeria, we speak to Kerrin Lumsden, who is the design leader for Diageo’s Global Brands, a member of Diageo's Global Design Team. Kerrin and his team aim to direct their energy into certain brands within the Diageo stable that are regarded as strategically important. Where did it begin for you? Studying product design at Napier University. Then in working in various design groups like Fitch (PSD) and FutureBrand both London based agencies. In 2008 I got an opportunity at Diageo and worked on project managing many premium gifting design projects for key strategic brands. Design has the power to connect emotionally with all of us and to make our brands truly powerful. I am lucky enough to work on some of the world’s leading brands and help to shape their future. How do you measure success of design? Ultimately, the absolute measure is in sales. However, our ethos is to make our brands more beautiful and attractive and desirable to the consumer. This should make them a lasting experience and in the business sense, increase the brand’s equity. So we use design and design leadership to grow the business. Who do you work with? The fascinating thing about Diageo is that we’ve got teams of people we work with all over the world. In any typical project I work with team members from Singapore, Miami, Columbia and all over Europe. That’s an incredible mix of cultural references and by working closely together, we aim to convey consistent but culturally relevant marketing messages. When did you taste your first whisky? When I started in the whisky industry… I didn’t know much other than the experience of my father giving me a glass of his blend and me not really knowing how to drink it. But you evolve and experiment with ice and water and you learn what your palette really likes. Before you know it, you become a mentor for your friends and it’s a really nice way to stay close. How do you approach any new product? We take inspiration from the liquid itself, and we look into the past. What was the founder’s ethos? We find that the founders we explore were incredible entrepreneurs in their day. We try to bring these stories to life. We also look towards the future – we want what we design today to become part of the folklore of the brand.

19

And so the whole process will continue to build. Our readers, I’m sure, imagine a new liquid arriving in your office and then an afternoon of deep reflection? Ah!…that’s funny… but those days are long gone. Having said that, currently, we are working on Mortlach, a brilliant Speyside malt whisky dating back to 1852. In the case of Mortlach, we do start learning how incredible this whisky is and the style of that whisky will inform elements of the design. Do you have a style of design leadership? We believe in long term relationships with our design partners and supply chain… we pick and match the right team to the right project so it’s not competitive in that respect. But when we are designing a new bottle it will be one agency to design the bottle, then a brand team, a team for technical constraints, a team for how it is packed. My job is to help all of these elements keep their integrity with the overarching vision for the product on the shelf. The Mortlach bottle, identity and package are reminiscent of the industrial age, maybe the 1930s… what was the actual inspiration? We worked with our archivist. The design inspiration came from our research into the founders, George Cowie and his son Dr Alexander Cowie. They were both very innovative – and brilliant engineers, creating a unique and very complicated distilling process. Dr Alexander Cowie was a key person behind bringing the railway to Dufftown, we used this insight to treat the packaging in a very beautiful Victorian way of engineering, but overall in an excellence of presentation. In the fullness of time, you should begin to see the rich story when you get under the skin of our work with Mortlach. We would like to think barmen the world over will get that story out and be able to tell it as they present Mortlach. Can you tell us a little about Haig Club project? Although I wasn’t the lead on this project, I can tell you that it’s more than just a new bottle… it looks amazing, it’s luxury whisky. Haig Club is a grain whisky, it has a remarkably smooth taste with a sweet finish. I think of it as more of an iconic bottle that matches a great liquid and it’s a fantastic story that David Beckham has helped us bring to life. That combination will make this unique the world over. Is Haig Club redefining whisky packaging? Differentiation is absolutely everything in our game. It really is exciting to see a bit of work that is so distinctive that it brings to life its own personality. All our work strives for that high standard. If you look back at the classic square Johnnie Walker bottle, designed as pragmatic Scottish efficiency in shipping, together with the striding man mark on an angled label, designed to have a bigger impact and be more easily recognisable at distance – these


20

MY CRAFT

inspirational elements have endured through time, been finessed, and are now key assets for our brand. So, when you are developing a new brand it is always our aim to develop something which is unique, memorable and beautiful. Are there any trends you’ve noted in the last few years? I think there is a trend in the rise and rise in craft beer to learn from. It tells me people are much more prepared to be surprised and delighted by what they are drinking. The pack has to look great to engage with these tastes – it has to talk to customers in a fascinating way and it’s got to be a great product to drive you to go deeper into that world and to try new things out. There is a real parallel between that and whiskies. What is the direction of travel for design in the whisky industry? People want more authentic local stories. So increasingly we work with local crafts people with as much care and attention as we do when working with big name collaborators like David Beckham or Madonna. Our customers really want to get under the skin of our brands, it’s really got to stand for something - using the right craftsmen and artists to help us to bring that to life is a great platform for us and gets us to design some really great work.

KNOWLEDGE BAR: KERRIN'S DESIGN I N S P I R AT I O N "I take inspiration from many places, both personally and professionally. From architects (inspired by my wife) like Mies Van der Roe and Zaha Hadid, to product design – Marc Jacobs, as well as some of the 'design classics' like the Dualit toaster, Motorola Startac etc. and from furniture – Eames, 1970s G-plan, to artists like Futura & Shepard Fairey. By being open to inspiration from any source, the creative work can flow into unexpected and exciting spaces."  


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

21


22

NEW RELEASES

New releases –Winter 2014 »

Charles MacLean runs the rule over the latest products to hit The Whisky Shop shelves.


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

Tasting Note Deep amber in hue, with dull bronze lights. An intense, mellow, savoury nose, which combines dried meat (biltong) with plums in liquor and coal tar soap. Tannic-dry to taste, with big smoke in the finish and a perfumed middle. Water raises the perfumed scent, smooths the texture and mellows the tannins.

» Bowmore Old & Rare Platinum

– 2 3 Y E A R S O L D S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT 5 8 .1 %V O L | £4 6 8

23

After nearly fifty years in the whisky industry, Stewart Laing left the company founded by his father, Douglas, to establish a new business with his sons, Scott and Andrew. With him he took a large stock of mature whisky and two well-established and highly regarded brand names, Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare, under which the company’s malts are bottled. On its website, he explains: “Whilst we are proud to place the Laing family name on all the casks we bottle, there are some whiskies which are so remarkable that they deserve a little extra recognition. “Hunter Laing's Old & Rare name signifies a rare single cask malt that has been bottled at the peak of its flavour.  Whether it was the water, the wood, or even the location in the warehouse, circumstances have conspired to create a sublime drinking experience which once consumed, can never be repeated.” Indeed. These whiskies are super-de luxe; drawn from single casks, bottled at natural strength and natural colour, without chill-filtration, and presented in distinctive squat bottles in a wooden box. Each bottling is, of course, unique: “Although each sip from an Old & Rare cask is an exquisite experience the pleasure must be tempered with a little sorrow, due to the fact that such a taste can never be exactly replicated again.” Many of the casks selected for the series will have been filled for the company years ago – currently, Hunter Laing has casks stored in 87 different locations! This is soon to change, however. In September this year Hunter Laing bought a 35,000 square foot warehouse in South Lanarkshire to accommodate 15,000 casks, in addition to the 2,000 casks held in their Carron Bond nearby. A lot of casks to choose from! Readers of Whiskeria will know that Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay, said to have been founded in 1779 by a local farmer, David Simpson of Bridgend. It is my belief, however, that the actual date of foundation was a decade before this when the ‘model village’ of Bowmore was laid out by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, the local laird. The make has long had a high reputation. As early as 1841, Walter Frederick Campbell of Islay received an order from the Royal Household for “a cask of your best Islay Mountain Dew [cash size and price of no concern] but the very best that can be had”. The order was renewed two years later. It was also one of the earliest malts to be offered as a single: even in the 1880s Bowmore Pure Islay Malt Whisky was being sold throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada. In 2007 a bottle engraved ‘W & J. Mutter, 1851’ [the Mutter brothers owned the distillery between 1837 and 1892] achieved £25,000 at auction, and in September last year, 12 bottles distilled in 1957 were released and auctioned for Scottish charities in October 2012, with a reserve price of £100,000.


24

NEW RELEASES

Balblair 1999 Vintage – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 46%VOL | £82

Tasting Note Burnished gold. A first aroma of fine brown bread and butter, with light vanilla and ground almonds gradually emerging. A sweet then spicy and lightly salty taste at full strength. Water raises faint maritime notes and a light oiliness; the taste now softer, sweeter and lightly perfumed.

Balblair is one of our oldest malt distilleries (founded 1790), and one of the prettiest. It also featured in Ken Loach’s awardwinning film The Angels’ Share (2012), as the location for the auction of a cask of extremely rare whisky from Malt Mill Distillery on Islay. The tireless distillery-bagger, Alfred Barnard, remarked in 1887: “In former days the whole neighbourhood abounded in smuggling bothies, and was the scene of many a struggle between the revenue officers and the smugglers”. It stands in ‘the Parish of Peats’, Edderton, six miles from Tain in Ross-shire - the current site is some distance from the original and was chosen in the 1870s to take advantage of the newly laid railway line between Inverness and Wick. Edderton is reputed to have the cleanest air in Britain. The founder was one John Ross. Members of his family held the licence and managed the distillery for over a century, and still today nearly half the staff are Rosses: a common name in Ross-shire. The malt was first bottled by its owner, Inver House Distillers, in the late 1990s, and since 2007 has been bottled in limited edition ‘vintages’, with casks selected by the company’s Master Blender, Stuart Harvey, by year, not by age, but with what he describes as a ‘rolling core’ of whiskies around 10, 20 and 30 years old. In 1947, Balblair was bought by a solicitor from Banff, Bertie Cumming (who also owned Pulteney Distillery in Wick), and this inspired me to attempt to write up the tasting notes for the 1999 Vintage in the style of P.G. Wodehouse:

The aunt poured half a teacup of golden liquid into a dainty porcelain receptacle, not much bigger than an egg-cup. "China?”, says I. "Dear boy, you know I never drink tea in the afternoon. I follow Mr. Churchill's example..." This allusion was lost on me. She pushed the cake stand within reach and having missed lunch, I commandeered a brace of cucumber sandwiches (dainty; brown bread and butter) and a slice of Battenburg which, it has to be said, looked as if it had appeared before on the teatable: the marzipan was curling a bit and the pale pink sponge looked dry, but I can never resist old Batters... Only then did I have a sip of 'tea'... "I say...", I spluttered. "What have we here?" She said nothing, smiled mysteriously and observed me quizzically through her lorgnette. I addressed the cup again and sniffed it. At that moment a waft of salty sea air floated through the window from the beach and seemed to bring with it the scent of ice cream cornets. Or was this scent coming from the liquid? The taste was sweet, then slightly salty, with a green apple element. "Top hole!", says I. "What on earth is it?" Now I was smelling Parma violets - but surely this was the aunt and a scent of Makassar spirit, as in barbers' shops, as she refilled my cup. "Scotch malt whisky from a distillery called Balblair in the far north of Scotland. Do you approve?" "Rather! Must tell Jeeves to get me some."


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

The Dalmore 25 years old – S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 42%VOL | £6 0 0 Dalmore’s Master Blender, the legendary Richard Paterson (who is also responsible for the Whyte & Mackay blends, and one of the top blenders in the whisky trade), first created a ‘Cigar Malt’ from a judicious selection of old casks in 2001. It was very popular, particularly in the United States, but was replaced two years ago - for reasons of political correctness, and also because some American consumers thought the whisky contained cigar tobacco (!) – by Dalmore Gran Reserva, and then by Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve. Talking about his Cigar Malt Reserve, Richard Paterson told me: “To really appreciate a malt with this depth of character, you should accompany it with a piece of dark chocolate (at around 80% cocoa), strong black coffee (I suggest Colombian, Java or Ruandan) and a robusto cigar (Hoyo de Monterey, Partagas, Cohiba). Warm your mouth with a sip of coffee, then take a nibble of chocolate. Now a sip of whisky. Finish with a puff of cigar smoke, and repeat. Paradise!” I can vouch for this splendid ritual! And although I have not been sent a generous enough sample to investigate the Dalmore 25 years old in this way (!), I am confident that it would perform brilliantly with a cigar: the flavours in the malt complement those found in some tobaccos.

25

Tasting Note Bright amber with burnished copper lights. A reserved nose to start, but complex: tobacco, hard toffee, dry fruitcake. Opens to more tobacco, fruit pastilles and a hint of chocolate. A rich and unctuous texture and a densely sweet taste, drying , with traces of treacle toffee, dark chocolate and tobacco. More fruity with water.

Cigar connoisseur ‘Patrick S’ writes in Stogieguys.com: “I can see why this might be billed as a ‘Cigar Malt’ as it does indeed pair well with a fine cigar. It also features more flavours (wood, earth, pepper, chocolate, toffee, etc…) in common with cigars than any whisky I’ve ever tasted. And it pairs with a wide range of cigars, from oily maduros to spicy Nicaraguans to subtle Cameroon-wrapped Dominicans”. Another cigar aficionado, ‘Denis’, author of the blog Cigarinspector.com, agrees: “An Oliva Serie G Maduro goes well with the malt owing to its rich, dark chocolate flavour and aroma which so nicely complement the whisky. Other notes include coffee and toasted nuts. With a Nicaraguan filler and a Cameroon wrapper, this cigar has a medium-full body, but the spiciness of the Dalmore helps it to assert itself. “And if you have access to Cuban cigars, treat yourself to a Montecristo Edmundo. Alone, this cigar slightly lacks evolution in my opinion and the Dalmore gives it a good boost in this department”. Well, here in the U.K. we do have access to Cuban cigars. Pour yourself a large dram of Dalmore 25 years old and “Pass the Partagas”, as my friend and fellow contributor to Whiskeria, Gavin Smith, says!


26

NEW RELEASES

What makes Laphroaig different? Where does its unique flavour come from? The flavour of any malt whsky comes from three sources: the raw materials, the production process and the maturation process. In this article I will look briefly at each, in relation to Laphroaig. Raw Materials Only three ingredients are allowed: water, yeast and malted barley. Laphroaig’s process water comes from the Kilbride Reservoir, which is itself fed by a broad catchment area of 800 hectares. It is brown, from the peat it percolates through before reaching the distillery, and highly acidic. It is unlikely that these peaty solids affect the flavour, and since the peat overlays quartz, the mineral content of the water is low. Distillers’ yeast is exclusively used: a hybrid named Mauri, consistently dependable. Barley comes from the east coast of Scotland and England. The variety is not deemed to be an important contributor to flavour, although it is important for the yield of alcohol. Significantly, a proportion of the barley is malted on site in Laphroaig’s old-fashioned floor maltings (currently around 10%). The rest is malted at Port Ellen Maltings two miles away, peated to the distillery’s precise specification. Laphroaig owns its own peat banks on Machrie Moor, close to Islay’s airport. It is hand cut in April and May, left to dry on site then transported to the distillery in August. It is carried from the peat shed to the kiln via the shortest light railway in the U.K. – only 20 yards long. The fragrance of the peat smoke is an important element in the spirit’s flavour, and Laphroaig is peated to between 10 and 15 parts per million phenols.

Laphroaig 17 years old

Production The malt is ground and mashed. These early stages are very important for yield, but not for flavour. Then the sugary liquid from the mash tun is pumped into washbacks (stainless steel at Laphroaig) and fermented by the addition of yeast for 55 hours. The length of fermentation time is important for developing fruity flavours in the whisky. Now at 8.5%ABV, like a strong unhopped beer, the liquid, called ‘wash’ charges the first still, the ‘wash still’. Laphroaig has three of these, all charged at 83.5% of their capacity with 10,500 litres of wash each. The stills are indirect fired by steam-heated pans and coils and are equipped with shell and tube condensers. A typical run takes five hours. The liquid, now called ‘low wines’ and at around 15%ABV, goes to low wines receiver, and from here charges the second still. Laphroaig has three stills of 4,700 capacity and one of 9,400 litres. It is at this stage that the skill of the still operator comes into play. The first runnings, called foreshots, are high strength, pungent and even poisonous: they are run for forty-five minutes and directed to the low wines receiver for re-distillation. Now the operator begins to save the ‘heart of the run’ which will become whisky. This lasts around two and a half hours in the small stills, three and a half in the Big Still, after which time further undesirable flavours emerge, called ‘feints’, and the spirit is again separated for redistillation. They run for around two hours. Maturation This is the single most important area for flavour development. Laphroaig uses mainly first-fill ex-bourbon barrels from Maker’s Mark Distillery in Kentucky. Around 60% of the make is matured either at the distillery or at Ardbeg; the remainder is tankered for maturation in Glasgow. The location does not seem to affect the flavour of the mature whisky.

Tasting Note Pale gold in colour. No bead. Immediately maritime – sea air, seaweed, ozone, iodine. Fresh, with sweet fragrant smoke – even smouldering herbs. Then chalky, as in aspirins (lightly medicinal). Surprisingly sweet to taste: then salty. Smooth, with lingering smoke in the aftertaste. An excellent example of the make.

– S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT | DOUGLAS OF DRUMLANRIG | 46%VOL | £117


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

There are only six dedicated grain whisky distilleries in Scotland: Cameronbridge (Fife), Girvan (Ayrshire), Invergordon (Ross & Cromarty), North British (Edinburgh), Strathclyde (Glasgow) and Starlaw (Bathgate). Loch Lomond Distillery (Dunbartonshire) produces both malt and grain whiskies. Together they have the capacity to produce 400 million litres of pure alcohol per annum – which is about 100 million litres more than all the Scottish malt whisky distilleries, around 110 at the last count and growing! – yet, until recently, only one single grain was generally available, Cameron Bridge, and even that in tiny amounts. Then, this year, Diageo announced the launch of Haig Club, also from Cameronbridge Distillery (which was founded by John Haig) and William Grant & Sons launched three expressions from Girvan Distillery (see Whiskeria Autumn and Summer issues for reviews). And now Hunter Laing, the respected Glasgow independent bottlers, have released a number of single cask bottlings of Invergordon at different ages. The deep-water port of Invergordon, on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth was an important naval base during the two World Wars. Under the Defence of the Realm Act 1916, all the licensed premises in the town were taken over by the State, and in 1931 Invergordon was the scene of a mutiny – a rare event in British naval history. In September 1931, in an attempt to cope with the Great Depression, the National Government announced cuts to public spending, including a 10% pay cut for officers and senior ratings in the Royal Navy and a 25% cut for petty officers and ratings who had joined pre-1925. Ten warships of the Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear-Admiral Wilfred Tomkinson, arrived at Invergordon on 11th September and when the ships’ crews read about the cuts, spontaneous demonstrations took place ashore and later on board some of the ships, which had been joined by a further four

Tasting Note Pale gold. Vanilla ice cream, with high esters, becoming more fudge-like after a while, with vanilla sponge. Light texture, light creaminess.Tart overall; with a curious burnt Halloween turniplantern finish. Slightly sweeter with water, more spicy and distinct char/smoke in the finish and aftertaste.

27

cruisers.By the 14th the situation was serious and when Admiral Tomkinson ordered the fleet to undertake planned practice manoeuvres the following day, the crews of four of the largest battleships refused to obey orders. Around 1,000 men were involved. Tomkinson was sympathetic to his men’s complaints and repeatedly informed the Admiralty of the seriousness of the situation, urging his masters to reconsider the 25% cut for junior ratings who had joined the service before 1925 and stressing that this was the only complaint and that the men remained respectful to their officers. In the end the Cabinet accepted his recommendation, the ships were ordered to return to their home ports, the leaders of the mutiny were jailed and 200 sailors discharged from the service. During the 1950s several attempts were made to bring industry to the Highlands north of Inverness: Invergordon Distillery was one. It was vigorously promoted by James Grigor, Provost of Inverness, with good reason: communications by sea and road were excellent, the port was on the edge of a notable barley-growing district and the water was first rate. Invergordon Distillers Ltd was incorporated in 1959 and the distillery commenced production in July 1961 with one Coffey still producing 10,000 gallons of pure alcohol a week. Two further Coffey stills were installed in 1963, and a fourth in 1978, with an extra column to produce industrial alcohol. Current capacity is 38 million litres of pure alcohol per annum. Since 1993, the distillery has been owned by Whyte & Mackay; in May this year Whyte & Mackay was bought by the Philippinesbased brandy distiller, Emperador, producer of the world’s bestselling brandy – close to 31 million cases a year. The best-selling Scotch, Johnnie Walker, sells just over 19 million cases. This bottling of Invergordon 17 years old comes from Hunter Laing’s ‘Sovereign’ range of single cask grain whiskies, started around ten years ago and now with spanking new packaging.

Invergordon 1997 – 17 YEARS OLD SINGLE GRAIN | THE SOVEREIGN R ANGE | 58%VOL | £9 6


28

NEW RELEASES

Tasting Note Bright orange; Irn Bru. Thin texture. The first aroma is of porridge sprinkled with chocolate; bread mix with yeast. Then jam roly-poly, segueing into suet or apple dumpling with strawberry jam.Very light texture: sweet start, a trace of salt, a tangy finish. Cereal overall. Short finish, with a hint of orange peel.

Tasting Note Pale gold; thin legs. Shreddies or rice pudding on the nose, with pork scratchings – even gammon steaks after a while. Very little smoke. The taste is sweeter than expected; sweet then bitter, somewhat vegetal – celery?; a short finish, with a vegetal aftertaste.

Glenturret Sherry Edition

Glenturret Peated Edition

– S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 4 0%VOL | £45

– S I N G L E H I G H L A N D M A LT | 4 0%VOL | £45

Alfred Barnard, the indefatigable editor of Harper’s Weekly Gazette and the first and greatest-ever whisky tourist, was in full voice when he wrote about Glenturret Distillery in his monumental The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom (1887): …most picturesquely planted on the banks of the River Turret… [whose glen is] a perfect paradise to artists, who come in great numbers to transfer some of its transcendent beauties to canvas. Poets have celebrated its many romantic scenes in song and verse. The district in which the distillery stands is known as ‘The Hosh’ and was recorded as a haunt of smugglers as far back as 1717, one of whom tenanted the farm upon which Glenturret Distillery would later be built. Based on the fact that this farmer-distiller was known to be operating in 1775, Glenturret claims to be the oldest distillery in the Scotland. When Barnard visited it was very old fashioned: The inner workings of the Distillery [i.e. Still House, Mash House, ‘Running and Receiving Room’] are of the oldest fashion, plan and type, and of the same character as that in vogue half a century since. Here are no new fads, appliances or patents, but, like the buildings, the vessels are all of the ancient pattern. Still today, Glenturret’s equipment is quaint – particularly its mash tun, which has no mechanical stirring gear and must be agitated and the draff emptied by hand with a wooden paddle and a spade. The first licensed distiller at The Hosh was James Drummond, from 1818 to 1842, when he went bankrupt. The second

licensee also filed for bankruptcy, and in 1874 the licence was taken by a local landowner, Thomas Stewart, who changed its name from ‘Hosh’ to ‘Glenturret’. After a further change of ownership in 1903, the distillery was closed and dismantled during the 1920s. Its revival was the work of an entrepreneur named James Fairlie who bought the site in 1957, repaired and restored the buildings and reinstated the equipment, often buying second-hand plant, with a view to, in his words, “preserving the craft traditions of malt distilling and developing its appreciation”. To this end he welcomed visitors – the second distillery so to do (Glenfiddich was the first, opening a visitor centre in1969) – and laid on tours and tastings. The popularity of the pretty market town of Crieff, nearby, as a tourist resort and spa, ensured that interest was strong, and this was increased dramatically after the distillery came to be owned by Highland Distilleries (now The Edrington Group). In 2002 Edrington invested £2.2 million in up-grading the visitor facilities and creating what they named ‘The Famous Grouse Experience’. This popular attraction welcomes around 100,000 visitors a year.


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

29


30

NEW RELEASES

The Glenlivet Vintage 1964 – 50 YEARS OLD SINGLE S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 42.3%VOL | £18,0 0 0

On September 22nd, The Glenlivet launched the first expression of its ‘Winchester Collection’ of 50 year old malts from this most distinguished distillery. It is planned that this will be followed annually (or occasionally?) by other 50 year olds. The next one will come from 1966. The inaugural edition of only 100 bottles has been drawn from casks filled in 1964 and beautifully packaged. Alan Winchester is The Glenlivet’s highly distinguished Master Distiller. A local man, he joined the company thirty-five years ago and rose through the ranks. He is universally respected in the whisky industry, both for his skill and experience and for his profound knowledge of the history of whisky, and of Speyside in particular. Led by America, there was a phenomenal increase in the demand for Scotch during the 1960s. In 1960 exports to the U.S. stood at 12 million proof gallons; by 1968 it was 33 mpg. All but a tiny amount of this was blended Scotch, and that tiny amount was The Glenlivet. In August 1963, the company appointed Barton Distilling, to distribute The Glenlivet in the USA and the Caribbean. At the time 3,000 cases were being sold in the United States each year, primarily in New York and California.  Bartons planned an advertising campaign to expand this, under the headline: ‘The Scotch That Stayed Single.’ To meet the growing demand, out-put at all Scottish distilleries increased slowly until 1963/64, then began to accelerate rapidly from 29m proof gallons to 51m proof gallons in 1967. The Glenlivet matched this, steadily increasing production during the decade: by the 1970-72 season, output

Tasting Note (from Alan Winchester) Long maturation in an American oak ex-bourbon cask has intensified the fruity signature notes of The Glenlivet: ripe pears, oranges and black cherries create an intriguing flavour, while smooth, creamy toffee notes give a rich, velvety texture. In the background, hints of caramelised sugar entice the taste buds and endure on the palate, creating the sort of whisky that legends are made of.

had almost doubled (from 380,778 proof gallons in 1960-61 to 744,785 in 1970-71). The size of the distillery, its plant and processes remained the same, however, with one change: the old floor maltings were closed in 1966, and now malt was brought in from independent maltsters, lightly peated to Glenlivet’s specification. This was happening throughout the industry; slow and labour-intensive floor maltings simply could not produce enough to meet the distilleries requirements. So this first expression of the ‘Winchester Collection’ provides an opportunity to taste a whisky distilled from malt made at the distillery. I asked Alan about this and he acknowledged that although the malt specification did not change, and although the malt supplied by the new centralised maltings was more consistent in quality, the very variability of malt made on site – whether at Glenlivet or elsewhere – was part of the whisky’s charm. “And don’t forget”, he added, “that 1964 was the year we began to use Golden Promise barley, which for so long was the variety of choice for Scottish malt distillers, producing a heavier, more oily, more flavourful spirit.” Finally, I asked Alan how he saw his role as Master Distiller. “I have ultimate responsibility for the quality and consistency of The Glenlivet. Although the position of ‘Master Distiller’ was only created in 1997, I am0 the heir to a long line of managers and owners stretching back to George Smith, who founded the distillery in 1824. As you know, I have a deep interest in the history of whisky, so it comes naturally to me to have an eye on the past – but my other eye is on the future”.


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

31


32

NEW RELEASES

Inchgower 18 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | O L D M A LT C A S K | 5 0 %V O L | £ 1 1 5 Inchgower is a Bell’s distillery, so passed into the ownership of Guinness in 1985, then Diageo two years later. It is a key component of the Bell’s blends, and as they have grown in popularity the distillery has been expanded, most recently in 2012 when capacity was increased from 1.9 million LPA per annum to 3 million LPA. The distillery stands just outside the important fishing port of Buckie on the Moray Firth – a long way from Speyside, although it is classified as such. Arthur Kinmond Bell, son of the eponymous Arthur Bell, bought it in 1936 from Buckie Town Council, who had acquired it following the bankruptcy of its owner earlier that year for £1,000. A.K. (as he was always known) travelled up there by train, inspected the distillery in the company of the Provost of Buckie and liked what he saw. When he visited in the 1880s, Alfred Barnard had described Inchgower as “a modern work, fitted up with all the latest improvements of machinery and vessels… situated in the heart of the finest barley-growing district in Scotland [i.e. the Laich o’Moray]”. It had been built in 1871 by one Alexander Wilson, to replace another distillery nearby named Tochineal, established by Mr. Wilson’s great-uncle in 1822. There and then, A.K. Bell offered the Provost £3,000 for the distillery, its extensive warehouses and eight ‘model’ cottages. This was promptly accepted on behalf of Buckie Town Council, then, as they were leaving the distillery, the Provost pointed out a picturesque old mansion-house nearby which traditionally housed the distillery manager and which was also for sale. A.K. immediately offered him a further £1,000. Dazed by the sudden

Tasting Note Deep amber, pale polished mahogany. Good beading. Light nose prickle: mellow, with a winey top note (Madeira?) on a rich fruitcake and digestive biscuit base, laced with tea at full strength. A creamy texture and a taste which starts sweet and finishes sour. The latter is much reduced with water.

offer, the Provost accepted and the deal was done. In later life he was heard to mutter: “It was the first time I was done twice in one day”! For many years during the 1940s and ‘50s the manager at Inchgower was Ned Shaw, a well-known local ‘worthy’ famous for his wit and many stories, some of which he told on radio and television. One interesting observation concerned how whisky was drunk: “The great whisky drinkers in my time had their own special way of tasting the stuff. They’d take a dram of whisky first and then some water, and shoogle the mixture around in their mouth”. On one occasion when he remonstrated with one of the distillery workers about taking excessive advantage of the ‘dramming’ tradition, by which all the workforce received a dram – usually a gill (a quarter of a pint), and usually new make spirit, which they called ‘clearik’, at 63.5%Vol – the man replied: “And why for no? I’ve been lang enough kept doon in this warld!” Because of its importance as a blending whisky, particularly for Bell’s, Inchgower is not often seen as a single. Indeed, I am not sure that the only expression offered by the distillery’s owner – at 14 years old (in Diageo’s ‘Flora & Fauna’ series) – is still available. So this 18 years old from the ever-resourceful family firm, Hunter Laing, offers a rare opportunity to taste it.


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

Aultmore 12 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT

Aultmore 25 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT

33

Tasting Note Pale gold with lime lights; vin gris. Fresh and ‘green’; malty and yeasty, with notes of wheat beer, giving way to mossy herbal scents and to fresh apples and pear-drops with water. A light texture and a clean, sweet, slightly acidic taste at full strength, becoming softer and rounded with water. Fresh and vivacious.

Tasting Note Pale straw/autumn gold in colour. A richly fragrant nose with fruit notes predominating - fresh fruit salad, with white grapes, orange segments, green apples – backed by vanilla sponge and a suggestion of smoke. Smooth and silky in the mouth; sweet over all with a spicy finish.

The name derives from Allt Mhor, the Gaelic for ‘Big River’ – although my 1857 Gazetteer of Scotland refers to the river in question, the Auchinderran Burn (from which the distillery draws its process water) as ‘a small stream’! The district is sparsely populated, rolling farmland, and the hamlet of Aultmore only came about when the distillery was built. The site is on the edge of an area of wild country known as the Foggie Moss, stretching north towards the coast at Buckie, with numerous springs and abundant peat deposits that made it a haunt of illicit distillers in the 19th century. Even today, the Moss exudes an air of mystery: often shrouded in thick mist, with ruckles of stone marking former croft houses, gaunt dead trees and rank pasture yielding to heather-covered moor. While I was researching Inchgower Distillery for this magazine, I came upon the following mention of ‘Aultmoor’ in Alfred Barnard’s Distilleries of the United Kingdom: “Our coachman points out a farmhouse on the high ground, opposite the Distillery, where lived McPherson, a noted smuggler, who for many years evaded the law, but was at last captured with several kegs of whisky in his possession, which he was carrying in his cart, concealed in trusses of straw, to the sea-shore.

“He was heavily fined and in default of payment imprisoned. The fine would have been remitted had he revealed to the judge the Still from whence it was procured. As a matter of fact it was the product of an illicit Still at Aultmoor Glen, at the back of Bin Hill, a regular smuggler’s haunt, and these men used the same water as that now in use at the Distillery.” This was written around 1885; as late as 1934 an elderly local remembered a ‘small still’ being worked by one Jane Milne on the Auchenderran Burn, and the DCL Gazette of that year notes “four bothies, still visible in the burn and gullies where an ample supply of water could be obtained.” The illicit spirits were taken to Keith, Fochabers, Portgordon and Buckie, all less than ten miles distant, where it was said to been in great demand from publicans and innkeepers. Although the excellence of the water played a part in the choice of the site for Aultmore Distillery, the main reason was its proximity to the Great North of Scotland Railway, to which it was connected by a spur to the Keith-Buckie line.


34

NEW RELEASES

Tasting Note The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4567 Deep amber, with thick viscosity. A heady aroma of dried fruits macerated in liquor (dates, figs, sultanas, raisins) on a base of oiled sandalwood; traces of orange peel and pot pourri after a while. Deep caramel in the development. Perfumed hand-soap in the taste, which is dry overall, tangy, with allspice and pepper across the tongue. Most unusual.

Tasting Note The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4570 Deep gold, thick legs. Light olive oil to start, somewhat closed, then reveals notes of sanded oak, buttery vanilla sponge and baked pears. The taste is not dissimilar to No.1 – spicy and tannic, with a perfumed start and a tart and warming finish.

Tasting Note Pale gold, thick legs. Malty porridge, bruised pears and candlewax on the nose, which is also lightly prickly to start with – surprising for this strength. The taste starts very sweet and dries elegantly, with fragrant peppery spice lingering in the aftertaste. Water softens the texture, and reduces both sweetness and spice

The Balvenie 50 Years Old

The Balvenie 25 Years Old

– SINGLE CASK 4567 | 45.4%VOL SINGLE CASK 4570 | 45.9%VOL BOTH DISTILLED 1963 | £26,50 0 (E ACH)

– SINGLE BARREL 4 7. 8 %V O L | £ 4 0 0

William Grant & Sons, the owners of Balvenie Distillery, released their first 50 years old expression in 2012, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of David Stewart joining the company. He was seventeen when he was taken on as an apprentice for 12 years when he joined in 1962 – the year before Grant’s began to promote and export Balvenie’s famous sister, Glenfiddich – and was appointed ‘Malt Master’ in 1974. He is universally respected within the Scotch whisky industry for his experience, good judgement and modesty: in his half century with William Grant’s he reckons he has nosed over 400,000 whisky samples. His renowned ability to identify the finest casks of whisky for maturation has helped William Grant & Sons earn the Distiller of the Year accolade an unprecedented eight times. In 2005, David won the Grand Prix of Gastronomy, awarded by the British Academy of Gastronomes. At the dinner held to mark his 50th year with the company, Peter Gordon, William Grant’s managing director, read the report to management after his interview. It concluded simply: “He’ll do…” !

The Balvenie 50 Years Old The first bottling of Balvenie Fifty (a mere 88 bottles, originally priced at £20,000) was drawn from a European oak ex-sherry hogshead – an unusual cask, since most European oak is raised into butts. At the time David remarked: “Cask 5576 and I have shared the last five decades together at The Balvenie Distillery and as single malt making is as much art and alchemy as precise science, the interaction between wood and maturing whisky means each cask will produce something entirely unique… it’great delight to discover how, after half a century this unique cask has

turned out a truly special single malt.” Although now partly retired, David has gone on to investigate more of the distillery’s rare old casks and has chosen two which have produced remarkably different whiskies. He says of them: “Although beginning the same way and being distilled on the same day, cask number 4567, has a deep reddish hue and a beautifully full taste characterised by dark fruits and spice – typical of maturation in a European oak cask." “The 50 Year Old from cask number 4570 is different, with a rich golden hue and an elegant oak and vanilla sweetness. Both are among the most complex, sophisticated and fine whiskies ever to be released from Warehouse 24, the home of our oldest and rarest whiskies.” I concur with what he says (see my tasting notes). These are among the most unusual whiskies I have ever tasted! The two expressions are bottled at cask strength (45.4% and 45.9% respectively), without chill-filtration. Both have been hand-filled at The Balvenie Distillery into hand-blown glass bottles, and have yielded just 131 bottles of cask 4567 and 128 bottles of cask 4570. They are presented in wooden cases consisting of 49 layers of wood and a closing layer of brass, handmade by Scottish craftsman, Sam Chinnery. Like the whiskies themselves, one box is darker than the other!

The Balvenie 25 Years Old This has also been drawn from a single cask, described on my sample bottle as ‘single barrel traditional oak’, which I guess means a refill American Standard Barrel, (ex-bourbon, with a capacity of aproximately 200 litres). Looking at these three malts together provides us with an opportunity to discuss what happens during lengthy maturation.


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

Scientific understanding of the chemistry of oak wood and of what is happening during maturation is relatively new, simply because before the 1970s the scientific techniques for exploring such matters were unavailable. Chemists now talk about ‘cask activity’, and believe the wood performs three crucial functions, described as ‘subtractive’ ‘additive’, and ‘interactive’. Subtractive effects In order to be bent into a barrel-shape, the staves must be heated, and heat performs the vital function of altering the chemical structure of the inside surface of the cask. European casks are ‘toasted’ to bend them into shape; American casks are flamed once they have been made, so their inside walls are charred as well. The benefits of charring were probably discovered accidentally: carbon acts as a ‘purifier’, removing ‘immature’ characteristics and extracting undesirable compounds from the new spirit. Since European casks do not have a heavily charred interior, their subtractive activity is not as pronounced as American casks. Additive effects Oak contains hemicellulose (which caramelises when heated, adding sweetness and colour), lignin (which, like hemicellulose, degrades when heated to produce vanillin and coconut flavours) and tannins (which produce astringency, fragrance, delicacy and colour). As might be imagined, a brand-new cask is much more active than one which has been filled before, so almost all Scotch whisky casks are ‘seasoned’: they have been used previously for maturing bourbon (mainly) or other spirits, sherry or other wines.

35

The first time they are filled, there may be residues of the previous incumbent – Bourbon, sherry, etc. – lurking in the walls of the cask, but the most obvious additive effect is colour. European oak, being more tannic, lends its contents a deeper hue than American wood. The degree of colour depends upon how often the cask has been filled, but as a general guide, European oak hue runs from ‘old polished oak’ to ‘young mahogany’, while American oak hue is all gold: 18CT through to 9CT (deep amber to pale straw). Interactive effects Oakwood is semi-porous, which allows the contents of an oak cask to ‘breathe’ and interact with the air outside. This leads to oxidation, which removes harshness, increases fruitiness and enhances complexity. The spirit is said to ‘breathe’ through the wood, and over the years it generally loses both volume and strength. The interaction between the wood and the atmosphere is the least understood of the mechanisms of maturation, and some say the most important. It is also the mechanism most affected by the micro-climate of the warehouse in which the cask rests during maturation. Heat, humidity and atmospheric pressure all play a part. All these expressions of The Balvenie have been filled into relatively inactive refill casks, the first (c.4567) into European oak, the other two into American oak. Their idiosyncratic flavours owe a great deal to the interaction between the spirit and the atmosphere of warehouse 24: unique flavours which can only be developed by time.


36

NEW RELEASES

Glendronach 2003 – SINGLE CASK HIGHLAND M A LT | 5 3 . 3 %V O L | £7 0 'Redcurrant jelly is good for the belly. Ginger and nuts are good for the guts. But the wine of Glendronach is good for the stomach. ' So ran the old saw, no doubt put about by James Allardice, the founder of Glendronach Distillery in 1825, under the patronage of his landlord, the 4th Duke of Gordon, who had steered the Excise Act of 1823 through Parliament, thus laying the foundations of the modern Scotch whisky industry. Alexander Gordon, the Duke, was so impressed by Mr. Allardice that he introduced him to London Society, among whom he apparently established something of a reputation for his ‘Guid Glendronach’. Another tale tells of the opening of an even better market… Keen to introduce his whisky to Edinburgh, James travelled there with ‘a large barrel and a flagon’ and approached a number of publicans. All had stocked up for the season and no orders were forthcoming. Wandering disconsolately back down the Canongate to his hotel, he was accosted by two ‘ladies of the night’, who pressed him to take them for a drink. “Ah hae my aine guid Glendronach”, he told them, and plied them with the same. Next day they returned for more, and he gave them the remains of his flagon. The excellence of Glendronach spread like wildfire throughout the Old Town of Edinburgh, and everyone wanted to taste it. As the story goes, James did not return home as planned the following day. Instead, he stayed a while in Edinburgh where he sold all his stock. Not long after, bottles could be found in every pub along the Royal Mile! He was also a welcome guest at Gordon Castle. On one occasion, having been, as the Americans say, ‘over-served’, he was ‘over-effusive’ in his praise of the Duchess of Gordon’s piano playing. The following morning, the Duke informed him that the Duchess was not amused, to which the bold Allardice replied: “Well, Your Grace, it was just the trash of Glenlivet you gave me yesterday after dinner that did not agree wi’me. If it had been my aim guid Glendronach, I would not hae been ony the warr”. Readers of Whiskeria will no doubt remember that the Duke had also encouraged another of his tenants, George Smith in

Tasting Note Deep amber/polished mahogany, indicating European oak maturation. The nose is prickly, but opens gradually to reveal moist Xmas cake (saturated in liquor!), baking spice and dark chocolate. A viscous texture, with a sweetish taste, drying elegantly and leaving an aftertaste of chewed pencils – and a warming glow.

Glenlivet, to become one of the earliest licensed distillers on Speyside. We are assured that a cask of Glendronach was ordered immediately. The distillery was largely rebuilt in the 1850s, following a disastrous fire in 1837 and passed through several hands until 1920 when it was bought by Captain Charles Grant, youngest son of William Grant of Glenfiddich for £9,000. His son sold the distillery to William Teacher & Sons in 1960, who expanded it to four stills – its present capacity; unusually, they remained direct fired by coal until September 2005. Then, in July 2008, Glendronach was sold to Billy Walker, owner of BenRiach Distillery and one of the best regarded distillers in the business. He has created what is accurately described on the distillery’s website as a ‘renaissance’.


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

37


38

NEW RELEASES

Diageo Special Releases 2014 »

Other oldies include:: A highly perfumed 38 year old Glendullan, the oldest expression of this malt even released by its owner. This is now known as ‘The Singleton of Glendullan’ and represents The Singleton range in North America; in Europe we have The Singleton of Dufftown and in Asia The Singleton of Glen Ord.

Diageo began to release annual limited bottlings of around a dozen malts in 2001. The whiskies selected are unusual, distinctive, often old and rare. The releases are now eagerly awaited each year by connoisseurs and collectors, and particularly by consumers: I have had the privilege of writing tasting notes for all the Special Releases since their introduction in 2001 and can vouch for their excellence, without exception. This year’s selection of eleven malts includes the 14th annual appearance of Port Ellen (at 35 years old) – earlier bottlings of this legendary malt now change hands for very considerable sums (indeed, I will not be surprised to hear that the batch has sold out by the time you read this!).

A splendid 35 year old Brora – bear in mind that the 40 year old released earlier this year (and soon sold out) had a price tag of £7,000! An elegant, even feminine, 21 year old Rosebank, ‘The Queen of Lowland Malts’, which closed in 1993. A robust 21 year old Benrinnes, perfect for after dinner with coffee, dark chocolate and Havana cigar. An unusual 25 year old Strathmill – much more complex than the usual make from this distillery. A stylish aperitif.

Tasting Note The colour of antique brass. A dry, leathery nose to start with; fat and saddle soap behind, then almond oil, Makassar oil, with the latter growing into barbers’ shop scents. Now there are some fruity notes (brown banana, dried fig, a trace of mango), with sandalwood and vanilla fudge. A voluptuous texture, with a sweet taste, drying in the finish, leaving an aftertaste of bitter chocolate.

Tasting Note Pale gold; considerable nose-prickle, and a maritime top note – a fresh sea breeze, with scents of machair flowers. Behind this is a very light cereal note (Swedish crisp-bread, becoming vanilla sponge) and a hint of lemon. A smooth and creamy texture and a surprisingly sweet taste, with light saltiness and chilli pepper. Lively clean and warming, with traces of dark chocolate and juniper in the aftertaste.

Cragganmore 1988 – 25 YEARS OLD SPEYSIDE 51.4%VOL | £299

Caol Ila 1998 – 1 5 Y E A R S O L D I S L AY 6 0.39%VOL | £75


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

These are supported by unusual expressions of the everpopular Classic Malts Range: Caol Ila 30 year old and Caol Ila (Unpeated) 15 year old, Cragganmore 25 year old, Lagavulin 12 year old and Clynelish ‘Select Reserve’, without an age statement. All are bottled at natural strength, without chill-filtration or tinting; all but four are in editions of under 3,000 bottles, eight of them in numbered bottles. In many respects, Diageo was the pioneer of offering a range of malts chosen to display ‘regional differences’ in flavour. This was the Classic Malts series, launched in 1988: six malts representative of the regions they came from – Glenkinchie (Lowland), Dalwhinnie (Highland), Cragganmore (Speyside), Oban (West Highland), Talisker (Island) and Lagavulin (Islay). It is no exaggeration to say that these opened up the whole malt whisky category. Interestingly, the idea of releasing a range of malts loosely based on region, had been pioneered in the very early 1980s by Diageo’s predecessor, the Distillery Company Limited, with its ‘Ascot Malt Cellar’ – Ascot was the DCL’s Home

Caol Ila 1983 – 30 YEARS OLD I S L AY | 55.1%VO L | £425

Lagavulin 2002 – 12 YEARS OLD I S L AY | 5 4.4%VOL | £8 0

39

Trade HQ – comprising Rosebank, Linkwood, Lagavulin, Talisker, Strathconon and Glenleven (the last two were blended malts). The Classic Malts also expanded the interest in older and rarer malts, and was followed by the Rare Malts Series, limited editions bottled at cask strength, without chill-filtration or colouring, begun in 1995 and concluded in 2005, when stocks of such whiskies became depleted. The annual Special Releases have to an extent replaced the Rare Malts. Dr. Nicholas Morgan, former Marketing Director (Malts) at Diageo, and now ‘Head of Whisky Outreach’, said of this year’s Specials: “I’m astonished that each year we manage to find such a remarkable and varied range of Single Malt Scotch whiskies for our Special Releases. Tasting this year’s, I was struck by the outstanding range of tastes and textures they deliver – from the characteristic waxiness of Clynelish, to complex Cragganmore, the surprisingly robust Benrinnes, and the relaxed smokiness of Caol Ila. And I know experts and enthusiasts alike will be equally delighted”. This ‘expert and enthusiast’ certainly was!

Tasting Note Harvest gold in colour. A mellow nose, with a big phenolic impact – both medicinal (antiseptic, medicine cupboard) and smoky (distant wood-smoke), and after a while a sweet scent of toasted marshmallows, burnt toffee. Soon the phenols fade, to be restored only slightly with a drop of water. A big, oily mouthfeel, with billows of smoke. Sweet overall, with a trace of salt and a long smoky aftertaste.

Tasting Note Very pale gold in colour and a surprisingly mild nose-feel, with initial egg custard or sour cream notes. These soon give way to more familiar Lagavulin scents of natural varnish, ash and smouldering bonfire, against a background of tart redcurrants. A thin texture and a surprisingly mild taste, but with big character: sweet, salty and sour (lime zest?) in the middle, and heaps of smoke in the back. A resinous aftertaste.


40

NEW RELEASES

Tasting Note The colour of Golden Syrup, it has a mild aroma, with a coal bunker in the background, and a fugitive scent of custard. Dry and mineralic overall, but with sweet scents of flower honey and candlewax. Any smoky aromas soon fade. The taste is rich, savoury and sophisticated, with clean smoke and hessian in the finish, then a cooling taste of clove.

Port Ellen 1978

Tasting Note Antique gold in colour; fragrant and herbal, with floral top notes to start with (perfumed hand soap, talcum powder), backed by citric notes (mandarin peel and lemon zest), then more profound tropical fruit scents and soft vanilla fudge. Fresh and spritzich to taste at full strength, starting lightly sweet, finishing zesty and sharp, with a lingering a taste of coconut.

Singleton of Glendullan 1975

Tasting Note Mild nose-feel, with Brora’s keynote scented wax immediately apparent, backed by old-fashioned canvas tents with hemp guy-ropes, sweet tablet/ crystalline sugar, crystalline salt and clotted cream. Waxy and more spicy that the nose leads one to believe, with a sweetish start and a salty middle before a long, warming, slightly smoky finish.

Tasting Note A fresh but fully mature nose. The keynote waxy scents are balanced by oily butterscotch, fragrant mixed herbs and unripe brambles. Water increases both the waxiness and the fruitiness, which both come through in the taste, which starts sweet and finishes tart and lightly spicy. Dries in the finish, with hints of cedar-wood.

– 3 5 Y E A R S O L D I S L AY 56.5% VOL | £2200

– 38 YEARS OLD SPEYSIDE 59.8%VOL | £750

Brora 1978 – 35 YEARS OLD HIGHLAND 48.6% VOL | £1200

Clynelish Select Reserve – HIGHLAND 5 4.9%VOL | £50 0


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

Benrinnes 1992 – 21 YEARS OLD SPEYSIDE 56.9%VOL | £24 0

Strathmill 1988 – 25 YEARS OLD SPEYSIDE 52.4%VOL | £275

Rosebank 1992 – 21 YEARS OLD LOWLAND 55.3%VOL | £30 0

Tasting Note The colour of amontillado sherry, it presents butterscotch to start, with hazelnuts; nose-drying, yet a hint of dried fruits and chocolate then dry fruitcake and treacle toffee. Dry overall from tannic European oak casks. Smooth, sweet, and rich; big bodied, oily and spicy, finishing with spicy fruitcake and dry sherry. A slightly burnt aftertaste, with menthol.

Tasting Note A dense aroma with a mild nose-feel; thick and creamy, it hovers between sweet and sour, like rowan jelly, then resolves as glazed greengage tart. Far in the background is a whiff of smoke and chocolate. The taste has surprisingly little sweetness or acidity for Strathmill gently drying in the finish. More fruity with a drop of water, with the tartness of gooseberries, and a slightly waxy texture.

Tasting Note Tinned peaches and lychees, and a fresh citric top note. Soon gains a hint of soft vanilla sponge and becomes more floral (rose-water, scented hand cream). A drop of water introduces a vinegar note to the citric and creamy vanilla scents. The taste starts sweet and finishes refreshingly sharp (bitter lemon), with an intriguing perfume in the cool finish.

41


We believe that the harder a story is to write, the more rewarding it is to read. Ours began when we reopened a derelict distillery on a remote island, beside a giant whirlpool, helped revive a community and launched a legend. But a story is nothing without its individual characters. And ours has four very distinctive and characterful malts at the core of our range. From soft and mellow to rich and peaty, we have a collective of malts as unique as our story itself.

www.jurawhisky.com


Beckham's New Club David Beckham’s reputation as a football player is second to none. His fame, of course, extends beyond the pitch, where he is known the world over as a fashion icon and celebrity. Most recently he and his business partner Simon Fuller have collaborated with Diageo in the creation and launch of Haig Club. He gives this exclusive interview to Whiskeria.


46

MY WHISKERIA

How did you get involved with Haig Club? Whisky was something I had always wanted to get into. During my football career I had offers to be involved with alcohol brands but as an athlete, it didn’t feel right. Now that I’ve retired, I felt the time was right to sit down with Diageo and talk more about it. When the Haig Club opportunity came up it was really appealing, especially because it’s a single grain whisky. I love heritage and history and the Haig family has over 400 years of association in whisky, so to be part of that is very exciting.

And the design of the bottle, what was your participation in that process? The bottle design was a collaboration between myself and the creative team – I love it – it's quirky and original. We’ve pushed the boundaries with it because it’s a new whisky – the bottle is truly unique. It'll sit there on the shelf and really stand out. Of course it might be more modern than any other whisky bottle that's out there but we've also kept the history and heritage too because the blue design has come from the tasting glasses still used by whisky distillers today.

What about the choice of the whisky blend? Did you have a say in this? Absolutely – I worked closely with Haig Club’s Master Distiller Chris Clark on the flavour profile. When I initially sat down with Chris and the team in Scotland, we talked about the flavours and tasting notes that I liked, it was important to me that the liquid was something I really enjoyed and it was really inspiring to see how that flavour profile was built up using the different cask types. It’s like the first time I tasted a really great wine, I wanted to know more about where those flavours came from.

Haig Club can be served straight on the rocks or as a cocktail? How do you like to have Haig Club served? I like to drink Haig Club neat or on the rocks, I just feel it’s the best way to enjoy the taste and flavours. What's great about Haig Club though is all the different ways you can enjoy it. The flavour profile we've developed means it’s great whisky for cocktails too. If you’re new to whisky then The Clubman is a great way to ease yourself into the liquid.


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

Is it true that is can be good with food? Yes – we've deliberately paired it with certain foods. I went to the Beijing Johnny Walker House and we did a dinner for 20 people where the chef paired each course with a whisky – the last course was Haig Club Ice Cream, which was amazing! For you, what makes Haig Club stand out – taste? Package? It’s the whole package. What we’ve created with Haig Club is unique and really exciting. The flavour profile is stunning – but so is the bottle. The fact that it can be enjoyed in so many different ways for me is also really exciting because it invites people to experience something new that I think they will really enjoy. Do you think that Haig Club will attract a new community of drinkers who would not normally think of Scotch? Absolutely – I think that’s one of the many things Diageo have hoped I could bring to the partnership. I’m still relatively young, and it’s hoped that I can bring a different kind of crowd into the whisky world and allow them to experience Haig Club too. What will also attract new communities to Haig Club though are the different ways it can be enjoyed – neat, on the rocks, in cocktails – the variety is really exciting. Do you think the brand will appeal more to a female demographic? I think the great thing about Haig Club is there’s something for everyone and of course that absolutely includes women. The liquid has such an appealing flavour profile and can be experienced in so many different ways that I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I have working with Diageo to develop it. And do you think that Scotch has attracted too many rules (eg no water, or no ice, or it must be a malt, etc etc) and that this can put people off? What I’ve begun to discover since I retired is that drinking whisky is all about personal preference. Someone could tell you how to drink it or what time is best to drink it, but it’s all down to personal taste. Personally, I like to drink it neat, as I feel it gives you the best flavours. But we’ve designed five different cocktails that you can try making at home, so it isn’t just about having it neat or on the rocks. There’s the Clubman, which is one of my personal favourites or the New Old Fashioned, which shows off the versatility of the whisky. And do you think that Haig Club is lighter and less formal? I think that’s one of the things that really interested me in a single grain. As someone who hasn’t been a traditional whisky drinker, the lighter, easy drinking style really appeals to me and there are no rules around ways it can be enjoyed – it’s down to your personal taste.

47

Does it bother you that a drinker of Haig Club might not even know that it is a Scotch whisky? I think it’s a great way for people to realise they might in fact enjoy Scotch whisky, and experience the liquid in new and exciting ways. Whisky authority Dave Broom, when talking about Haig Club, said “Forget everything you thought you knew about Scotch Whisky” and I completely agree. It’s all about trying new things and opening doors to an exciting new drink you are bound to enjoy. At The Whisky Shop we believe in drinking less but drinking better, do you agree with this philosophy and that there is a place for drinking sensibly? My view on whisky and my view on drinking is it's better to enjoy and savour a great drink instead of drinking more. That's one of the things that I've always believed in. You should savour every drink, and that's what I love about Haig Club. It’s been great to see you in Scotland during the launch of Haig Club – have you had a great time? Any highlights you can share? For me, the whole weekend launching Haig Club has been a highlight. A lot of work has gone into developing such a unique whisky and it’s a really exciting time finally being able to share this with the world.


48

MY WHISKERIA

HAIG CLUB™ COCKTAILS A selection of serves from the Haig Club mixologists…

»

HAIG CLUB™ CLUBMAN

HAIG CLUB™ BEACH CLUB COCKTAIL

Served over hand-cracked ice in either a highball or tumbler, garnished with a long slice of root ginger – 50ml Haig Club™ – 35ml Sparkling apple soda – 6 dashes ginger bitters

Served in a copper tin, garnished with a mint sprig and served with a metal straw. – 50ml Haig Club™ – 15ml Sugar syrup – 12 mint leaves

2 units of alcohol

2 units of alcohol

HAIG CLUB™ ROSE FIZZ

HAIG CLUB™ CLUBHOUSE SODA

The Haig Club take on the classic champagne cocktail, served in a tall flute, garnished by expressing grapefruit zest over the top (zest is then discarded) – 25ml Haig Club™ – 1–2 drops Rosewater on a white sugar cube – Brut champagne to top

Built in a highball on the rocks, garnished with a lemon wedge and a mint sprig – 50ml Haig Club™ – Soda to top – 2 dashes Bitters (your choice of Original Bitters, Ginger Bitters, Orange Blossom Water or Rosewater)

2.2 units of alcohol

2 units of alcohol


JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL PRESENTS

THE GENTLEMAN’S WAGER A rare blend and an even rarer boat inspire an extraordinary wager.

WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/JOHNNIEWALKER

Starring JUDE LAW directed by JAKE SCOTT of Ridley Scott Productions.

THE JOHNNIE WALKER, BLUE LABEL, KEEP WALKING WORDS, THE STRIDING FIGURE DEVICE AND ASSOCIATED LOGOS ARE TRADE MARKS. © JOHN WALKER & SONS 2014. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.


50

TRAVEL

Planet of the

Grapes While the chateaux of France have long welcomed wine tourists, enoturismo has only recently come of age in Spain’s Rioja valley. But what a vintage – the winemakers have hired some of the world’s top architects to create full-bodied bodegas to impress. Claire Bell reports.


52

TRAVEL

It looks like a spaceship: an enormous silver and black cylinder squats on a dusty hilltop, forming a stark and strange contrast to the medieval villages that pepper the surrounding hills. Inside, the sci-fi illusion is complete. On the upper floor a pair of giant, yellow mechanical arms are momentarily paused from the job of delivering crushed grapes into 72 shimmering stainless steel tanks that encase the circular walls. Down below, the ground is made of glass, revealing the entrance to two subterranean caverns that burrow deep into the surrounding hillside. It is in these dark, underground tunnels that 22,000 barrels of crianza are maturing slowly, quietly. Welcome to While wine has been cultivated in this rugged north-eastern corner of Spain since the time of the Romans, until a decade ago wine-making in the Rioja valley was considered something of a closely guarded business and visitors were not entertained. “Making wine used to be a secret in the Rioja,” says Nune Noja our guide at CVNE. No longer. In order to thrive in an increasingly competitive global wine market the new generation of winemakers have been reinventing the Riojan wine experience, teaming up with international and local architects to reinvent the image of Rioja. I first discovered this quiet revolution on a bike. I spent a week meandering along the river Ebro, travelling from its source in the Cantabrian mountains to the place where its water is turned into wine. Cantabria is one of the least populated parts of Spain - just 3,000 people are spread over 50 villages – and feels a universe away from the crowded costas. There are some early architectural delights en route. Cantabria was a Roman stronghold for four centuries and San Pedro de la Tejada is one of the area’s many Romanesque churches famed for its erotic imagery. Above the church doorway are small carvings of men and women lifting their robes to display their earthly goods, though it’s not clear if it was the wind

or the puritans that have robbed a few of the male figures of their former glory. Nature herself, also aims to impress, and the forty-mile stretch leading into the wine-making town of Haro, is a peddler’s dream: a flat ride through a canyon, over which eagles and hawks soar, passing by the foot of one of Rioja’s most legendary hills: the site of the annual La Batalla del Vino. On the 29th of June every year, giant trucks filled with wine, distribute wine into water pistols, buckets and anything else that can hold and spray vino tino, and thousands of locals and a few tourists spend the evening attacking each other with “the blood of the earth”. It is in Haro where you will discover the first fine white shrines at R. Lopez de Heredia. Maria Lopez de Heredia, a fourthgeneration winemaker commissioned the avant-garde IraqiBritish architect Zaha Hadid to create a new structure to house an ornate carved bar that Maria’s grandfather had commissioned for the Universal Exposition in Brussels in 1910. Hadid was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize - included among her work is the Dubai Opera House, Hong Kong’s Innovation Tower and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. In Haro, she has created an ultra-modern mirrored wavelike tasting room that sits in front of the original 19th century sandstone stone winery. I ask Maria whether the tasting room is a metaphor for the new wave in the Rioja valley. “In a family business like ours, we do not follow waves,” she replies. “We have always been sensitive to beauty and want to share it with customers, friends and visitors. My great-grandfather designed a bodega 129 years ago and half of it is still to be built, our dream is to finish it.” From Haro, I continue on at a leisurely pace, peddling through sun-drenched vineyards, pulling over to let tractors laden with purple harvest rumble by. On the edge of Elciego,


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

53

Previous page :Bodegas Ysios in Laguardia by neofuturist architect Santiago Calatrava. Left to right: Bodegas Ysios set agianst the backdrop of the Sierra de Cantabria the limestone mountains that protect Rioja valley.

I stop to ask a gang of lolly-licking farm children gathered outside a sweetie shop for directions to Los Angeles-based architect, Frank Gehry’s Riojan masterpiece: a 43-suite hotel, vinotherapy spa and Michelin-starred restaurant built alongside the original sandstone bodega of Marques de Riscal. Gehry first made international design headlines with his silver winged Guggenheim Mueseum in Bilbao, and you can only imagine what the residents of this no-nonsense, boots-in-the-soil agricultural town first thought when they saw Gehry’s trademark titanium wings, in pink, gold and silver to echo the colours on a bottle of Marques de Riscal wine, coming to life on the edge of their town. Probably something along the lines of: “What’s he been drinking?” It took ten years and $77 million to complete his avant-garde vision. “It's a marvellous creature, with hair flying everywhere, which launches itself over the vineyards. I wanted to design something exciting, festive, because white is pleasure,” said Gehry. To visit the winery, booking is essential, although it is equally satisfying to experience the building from the outside, supping from a bottle tucked away in your saddle bag, and watching the light from the surrounding honey-coloured fields play on the titanium wings. Although it is international architects who have put Rioja on the map, homegrown architects are also innovating in the space. One example is Bodegas Baigorri, the creation of local architect Inaki Aspiazu. This zinc-and-glass cube sits above the vineyard like a minimalist lighthouse from where visitors can contemplate the calm of the vines. The smart design, however, happens underground. Built over seven underground floors, Baigorri uses gravity to move the grapes and wine through the fermenting process, eliminating the need for any pumps, and allows the grapes to be fermented completely intact.“The fruity flavours are

reinforced with this technique and it produces more tempting and honest wines,” says Simon Arina, the winemaker at Baigorri. Another locally inspired creation is Bodegas Darien near the town of Logrono, one of Rioja’s newest wineries, which made its first vintage in 2000. Riojan architect, Jesus Pascial Marino’s goal was to blur the boundary between the landscape and the winery, and his sculptural creation seems to map the uneven topography of the surrounding rocky land, and the overlapping nature of the vineyards. The result is an eco-friendly design (using wind and solar power) that has the feel of a Frank Lloyd Wright, and that at times appears to be sinking into the ground. It is also hosts a museum to one of the Rioja regions other traditions: ceramics. My favourite bodega, though, was yet to come. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Sierra de Cantabria, the limestone mountains that shield the Rioja valley from the north-westerly winds, is Ysios, the creation of Santiago Calatrava, the Valencian architect who is famed for his neofuturist creations, including the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, the Milwaukee Art Musuem and Bilbao’s concord-esque airport. This long, undulating building bodega, built of cedar, aluminium, and a moat of water, sits in the middle of acres of tempranillo vines and at once seems to emulate a row of wine barrels and a cathedral. Perhaps best place to view the building is from Laguardia, the medieval, fortified hilltop village that overlooks the valley. (And a great place to leave the bike, and enjoy an authentic tapas-pub crawl). It is a building that seems to constantly change throughout the day, depending on the light, the mountains, and the number of bottles of wine you have drunk. For guided and unguided cycling trips through Rioja, contact Iberocycle on Iberocycle on www.iberocycle.com


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

The Whisky Shop/ Christmas 2014 The Whisky Shop News Round-up / 58 The Johnnie Walker Range / 60 Different Styles: Two Great Malts / 64 A Bourbon at Christmas / 68 Some more off-piste drams / 70 Top up your collection this Christmas / 72 Islay‌ / 74 Gifting this Christmas / 76 Customer Favourites / 78 The Directory / 82

57


58

The Whisky Shop News Round-Up

NEW WEBSITE AT WWW.WHISKYSHOP.COM SETS NEW STANDARDS IN ONLINE RETAILING The Whisky Shop’s new online shopping site went live in October and received instant acclaim from customers and distillers alike. whiskyshop.com features magazine style imagery and cinematic videography to create a premium online shopping proposition. There are also prominent and easy links to Whiskeria. The new digital platform transports The Whisky Shop’s bricks and mortar flagship store concept into the online world, creating an internet whisky buying experience that is educational and accessible. The prime objective of The Whisky Shop in establishing this new site is to provide world leading standards of customer service and site functionality. The site will appeal, not only to shoppers who want a quick and uncomplicated route to an order, but also to whisky enthusiasts of every type, who might wish to linger and learn more information and facts about the products. This Christmas, The Whisky Shop expects record numbers of customers to take advantage of its Click & Collect facility that covers the UK. There is free UK mainland delivery within 24 hours on all orders over £100 and international delivery is available on all products. Customers can click on ‘Customer Service’ and see who will be handling their order. If a customer has a query, the despatch team phone number is there to use.

The Whisky Shop’s new website www.whiskyshop.com has been designed by integrated public relations and digital marketing agency, The BIG Partnership. For further information visit www.bigpartnership.co.uk The Whisky Shop was crowned the Best Specialist Drinks Retailer of the Year at the Harpers Awards 2014.


60

The Johnnie Walker range

“Johnnie Walker, the man who walked around the world”. The world’s greatest whisky house is known for its expert blends. Each Johnnie Walker whisky is a blend of extraordinary depth with big bold flavours. Here, we review the range. Click on www.whiskyshop.com/johnnie-walker-black-2631

and watch Robert Carlyle tell the fascinating story of Johnnie Walker and almost 200 years of vision and quality.

Click & Collect: whiskyshop.com

Johnnie Walker Blue

Johnnie Walker Red

£210

£33

What is it? Johnnie Walker Blue Label is the pinnacle of Blended Scotch Whisky making from Johnnie Walker. Only 1 out 10,000 casks is deemed to be of sufficient character to deliver its remarkably smooth signature taste. Blue Label is a big flavoured whisky that reflects the Walker belief that neither whisky age alone, nor whisky from a single location, is enough to achieve the creation of a masterpiece today. What’s it like? Layers of big flavour, deep richness and smoke, layers of honey and fruit and an incredibly smooth finish deliver this truly rare character.

What is it? Johnnie Walker Red Label is the world’s best-selling Scotch Whisky renowned for its bold, characterful taste – balanced to shine through even when mixed. What’s it like? Red Label has a combination of light whiskies from Scotland’s east coast and dark, peaty whiskies from the west coast. The character of the whisky is defined by intense, spicy, zingy, edgy flavours followed by aromatic spices and finally a long, lingering, smoky finish.


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

Johnnie Walker Black

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Johnnie Walker Double Black

Johnnie Walker Platinum

£40

£48

£47

£90

What is it? Johnnie Walker Black Label became simply “Black Label” in 1909. It is regarded by experts as the ultimate Scotch deluxe whisky, the benchmark by which all others are measured. It is often imitated, but never copied! What’s it like? With exclusive access to Scotland’s very best whiskies, ranging from the powerful west coast malts all the way to the more subtle east coast flavours, Black Label draws upon all these aromas to create a unique blend with a smooth, deep and complex character.

What is it? Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve has been personally crafted by the Johnnie Walker Master Blender. He has handpicked prized casks from selected reserves to create a bold blend of intense flavours which is every bit as luxurious and indulgent as its name suggests.

What is it? Johnnie Walker Double Black is a blended whisky in the style of Johnnie Walker Black Label but with a rich, more intense, smokier flavour, created through blending selected aged whiskies that are naturally smoky and rich in character, with those matured in deep charred old oak casks.

What’s it like? Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is an indulgent, luxurious and multi-layered blend with a smooth balance of sweet fruits and creaminess that evolves into deeper honeyed tones before finishing in lingering waves of wood, fruit and light smoke.

What’s it like? The flavour is full bodied and complex with the signature Johnnie Walker peat smoke shining brightly through rich raisins and sultanas. Apples, pears and orange zest bring freshness while creamy vanilla brings a softness and sweetness to the tongue. The long warming finish combines spicy oak tannins and lingering smoke.

61

What is it? From the earliest days of their business, the Walker family crafted exclusive Scotch Whiskies for the directors of their company and for private gatherings. Johnnie Walker Platinum Label is a supremely rich and full-flavoured 18 year old blend, created for those special moments. Platinum Label is drawn from a limited number of casks, carefully chosen and retained throughout their maturation because of their exceptional character. What’s it like? It is an intense, smooth and subtly smoky blend. It embodies the characteristic full flavours of Johnnie Walker blended Scotch whiskies and reflects a strong sweet and elegant Speyside style.


62

The Johnnie Walker range (cont.) KNOWLEDGE BAR: JOHNNIE WALKER » John "Johnnie" Walker was born in 1805 near Kilmarnock and ran a grocery, wine and spirits shop on the High Street in Kilmarnock from where he started to sell his own whisky brand, then known as "Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky". –– » John's son, Alexander, had learned the art of tea blending whilst working for a tea merchant in Glasgow and, when he returned to take over the family business from his ailing father, he used those skills to create the family's first blend in 1865, "Old Highland Whisky", which eventually became "Johnnie Walker Black Label". –– » In 1870, Alexander Walker introduced the now iconic square bottle as it allowed more bottles to be packed in a case and reduced breakages. –– » Alexander Walker also introduced the famous slanted label – its angle of precisely 24 degrees was carefully calculated to present more of the label on the front face of the bottle so that the brand name could be easy to read without having to tilt your head. –– » It is reckoned that more than 200 million bottles of Johnnie Walker are sold around the world every year.

John Walker & Sons Odyssey

John Walker & Sons King George V

£654.99

£490

What is it? This John Walker & Sons Odyssey is a rare triple malt and a modern interpretation of Alexander Walker's nautical decanter bottle and blend of 1932. When gently pushed, the bottle rocks elegantly to and fro. The Johnnie Walker master blender searched a number of distilleries in Scotland for the three rare single malts that have been carefully blended to create Odyssey. What’s it like? Developed using Sir Alexander’s hand-written notes, Odyssey has been married in European oak casks to create an elegant and rich whisky.

What is it? This special edition of Johnnie Walker Blue Label recreates the Johnnie Walker blending style in the time of King George V and celebrates the granting of a Royal Warrant to John Walker & Sons in 1934. What’s it like? This is a powerful, slow and exceptional blend. This blend includes Port Ellen, a highly prized malt whose distillery no longer exists.


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

John Walker & Sons Private Collection –

£500

What is it? The 2014 Edition is the first in a series of one-off, once-ayear JWS Private Collection limited releases of small batch, remarkable blends by Master Blender Jim Beveridge. The 2014 Edition is created from 29 unique casks and only 8,888 numbered bottles are available worldwide. What’s it like? This blend includes whiskies from the experimental Calculus casks, studies in the effects of wood on maturing whisky. Their intense vanilla, caramel and rich fruitiness balance the Highland, Island and Islay smokiness.

63


64

Different Styles: Two Great Malts

Talisker 10 year old

Talisker Distillers Edition

£37

£62

What is it? Deep and stormy like the ocean crashing over the rocky shores of its island distillery, Talisker 10 year old is still the classic expression of this powerful, coastal malt.

Talisker v The Singleton of Dufftown For over 175 years, the distillation process at Talisker on the Isle of Skye has remained virtually unchanged. Even a fire in 1960 didn’t stop them from making Talisker the traditional way. Instead, they recreated the unique wash stills, meticulously following the original design. The spirit is always double-distilled to create a rich, deep character embodying the maritime characteristics of a whisky made by the sea. Some 200 miles to the east of Skye sits the Dufftown distillery where fine single malts with the classical Speyside character have been produced since 1896. Longer fermentation and slower distillation than many competitors ensures exceptional smoothness and depth of flavour. The liquid is then matured in a combination of American and European oak casks (with only the finest casks hand selected for a richer taste) to ensure extra flavour and perfect balance.

Click & Collect: whiskyshop.com

What’s it like? On the nose there is a powerful peat-smoke aroma with just a hint of sea-water saltiness. It is full bodied carrying a rich dried-fruit sweetness with smoke and strong barley-malt flavours, with the signature Talisker peppery flavour warming the back of the mouth. The finish is huge delivering more pepper and an appetising sweetness.

What is it? The Talisker Distillers Edition is unique: after its usual aging process in American oak casks, the whisky undergoes a second maturation in casks previously holding sherry. The result is older, sweeter and richer than the regular bottlings. What’s it like? On the nose there is the most tantalising aroma of sherry. On the palate it is soft and sweet, as if the sherry is suppressing the natural pepper sensation, with some very deep cocoa notes in the finish.


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

Talisker 57 Degrees North

Singleton 12 year old

Singleton 15 year old

Singleton 18 year old

£76

£48

£54

£70

What is it? Highlighting the latitudinal position of the distillery - one of the most remote and northerly at its rugged home on the Isle of Skye, Talisker 57° North has no age statement. Drawn from 100% American oak refill casks, it has a purity which emphasises Talisker’s unique and intense distillery character. What’s it like? On the nose it is clean and intense, with light smoke like a struck match. On the palate it is sweet to start with smoke and tar arriving in the middle. The finish is tingling with the signature pepperiness.

What is it?‘ Perfectly Balanced, Naturally Rich and Smooth' is the wording on the Singleton label, and it is the ideal summary of this striking malt. What’s it like? This is a smooth, naturally rich single malt whisky. It brings out the classic Speyside fruitsweet aromas on the nose that develops on the palate to sweet nutty and fruity flavours. The finish is medium to long with a delayed, lingering warmth.

What is it?‘ An elegant malt with sweet fruitiness and perfect balance. What’s it like? On the nose it is slightly spicy with hints of toffee. On the palate the flavour is sweet to start then drying in the finish. The finish is delicately spiced with notes of cinnamon.

65

What is it?‘ Rich and mellow; showing a perfect balance between soft fruit and spicy dryness. What’s it like? It has a dry and autumnal nose leading to a firm to full palate that is both dry and sweet; nuts, dark toffee and gentle mint. The finish is long, smooth and warming ending in wood-smoke and a feint of black pepper.


J & G GRANT, GLENFARCLAS DISTILLERY, BALLINDALLOCH, BANFFSHIRE, SCOTLAND AB37 9BD TEL +44 (0)1807 500257 INFO@GLENFARCLAS.CO.UK WWW.GLENFARCLAS.CO.UK Glenfarclas encourages responsible drinking.


68

A Bourbon at Christmas

Technically, bourbon can be made in any part of the US, but the reality is that around 95% of all Bourbon Whiskey is made in Kentucky. Here is a selection from our range for Christmas.

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 81

£34

£27

What is it? Wild Turkey 101 is a 101 proof (50.5% alcohol) bourbon that is a marriage of primarily 6, 7 and 8-year-old bourbons. It has an exceptionally gentle and rich aroma for a high-proof bourbon, thanks to quality at all stages of its production. What’s it like? At first taste, 101 is rich with vanilla and caramel, with notes of honey, brown sugar, and a hint of tobacco. Its high proof contributes to a bolder flavour. Best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

What is it? Wild Turkey 81 is an 81 proof (40.5% alcohol) bourbon aged 6-8 years, longer than any other bourbon in its class. To give it that signature kick, they use the classic Wild Turkey high-rye mash bill and age it in their famous #4 alligator char* American oak barrels. 81 shines on its own, but it's best in a mixed drink like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. What’s it like? Classic Wild Turkey spicy kick; a mellower counterpart to Wild Turkey 101; almonds, honey, and blackberries. * Char is measured on a four level scale with the deepest char, #4, called alligator char (as the staves look a lot like the backs of alligators after this deep char).


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

Bulleit Bourbon

Sazerac Rye

£42

£52

What is it? Bulleit Bourbon is a Kentucky bourbon, distilled and aged for at least six years in small batches. What’s it like? Bulleit is made using an unusually high proportion of rye cereal in the mash (around 28%), which adds a delightful spicy character alongside the more typical "bourbon sweetness" from the corn.

What is it? The One and Only New Orleans Original. Sazerac Rye Whiskey symbolizes the tradition and history of New Orleans Rye Whiskey that dates back to the 1800s, around the time when saloons, veiled as Coffee Houses, began lining the streets of New Orleans. It was at the Sazerac Coffee House on Royal Street where local patrons were served toddies made with Rye Whiskey and Peychaud’s Bitters. The libation became known as the “Sazerac” and America’s first branded cocktail was born. This is the whiskey that started it all. What’s it like? Aromas of clove, vanilla, anise and pepper. Subtle notes of candies, spices and citrus. The big finish is smooth with hints of liquorice.

Eagle Rare 17 year old

Elmer T Lee Single Barrel

£185

£62

What is it? Eagle Rare 17 year-old is one of the five bourbons included in the award-winning Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. This rare bourbon is released in small quantities once a year in the autumn. What’s it like? It is delicate and dry with flavours of leather, vanilla and tobacco. The finish is lingering, with a hint of toffee.

69

What is it? Named after Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee, this whiskey is hand selected and bottled to the taste and standards of Elmer T. Lee himself. What’s it like? Perfectly balanced, the nose brings notes of clover, vanilla, and old leather. The flavour balances fruit, honey and vanilla with a light spiciness. A long and warm finish.


70

Some more off-piste drams

We continue our series of drams that are off the beaten track with a pleasurable visit to Penderyn in Wales, and a couple of zany Jack Daniel’s liqueurs for Christmas.

Penderyn Single Malt

Penderyn Peated

£42

£59

What is it? This is an award winning single malt whisky from the only distillery in Wales. The unique distilled single malt whisky is matured in bourbon barrels and finished in rich Madeira wine casks to impart a generous flavour of subtle complexity.

What is it? The sweet aromatic smoke of Penderyn Peated single malt whisky is an alluring and unusual expression and is produced each year as a limited bottling. The peated single malt whisky has been aged in ex-bourbon barrels and expeated Scotch whisky casks.

What’s it like? It has a classic freshness with aromas of cream toffee, rich fruit and raisins. The palate is crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness. Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla persist in the finish.

What’s it like? It introduces itself with sweet, aromatic smoke. Under this there are signature notes of vanilla, green apple and refreshing citrus. The smoke and vanilla linger on the attractive medium length finish.


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

Penderyn Sherrywood –

£56

What is it? A rich fruity single malt whisky derived from a combination of whisky matured in bourbon barrels and dry Oloroso sherry casks, in which the Penderyn style is enhanced by rich tones of dry Sherry. What’s it like? It has the classic Penderyn freshness, while aromas of dark fruit and rich toffee mingle with green apples and hazelnuts to create a deeper mystery. On the palate rich sweetness gives way to refreshing dryness, yet sweet notes of toffee and sultana persist in the long finish.

Winter Jack –

£19.50

What is it? Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack is a seasonal blend of apple cider liqueur, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and holiday spices. What’s it like? Winter Jack is best served warm. Once heated, it has an inviting aroma of warm apple cider, orange peel, cinnamon, clove and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. The taste is reminiscent of apple pie complemented with Tennessee Whiskey and seasonal spices, with a finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

Early Times Fire Eater –

£24

What is it? From the makers of Jack Daniel’s , a new Cinnamon Liqueur Whiskey. Consumers love the taste of Fire Eater and the brand story. A magnificent blend of hot cinnamon liqueur and smooth Early Times whisky. What’s it like? An aromatic blend of warm bakery cinnamon and creamy brown sugar that quickly escalates into a hot cinnamon sensation. It finishes with a smooth whisky character.

71


72

Top up your collection this Christmas We have sourced some highly collectable whiskies for the enthusiast this Christmas. From the house of Hunter Laing, we have picked a selection from their Old & Rare range. We have also plundered a couple of special Springbank malts. Although all of these whiskies are rare and collectable, they are also very drinkable and at this time of year they can make that special celebration even more special.

Click & Collect: whiskyshop.com

Springbank 21 year old Renegade

Springbank 18 year old Renegade

£250

£200

What is it? This single cask of Springbank was matured for 13 years at Springbank and then moved to the warehouses at Bruichladdich on Islay for the remaining 8 years of maturation. With Bruichladdich being much more exposed to prevailing Atlantic winds and foreshore influences than at Springbank’s warehouses in Campbeltown, some additional “maritime” influences have been imparted to this already exceptional whisky. Matured in Sherry Hogshead number 118. One of only 219 bottles ever produced. What’s it like? An earthy yet fruity, faintly smoky, waxy nose that increases with water. Creamy but also zesty and herbal with a dry and salty taste that becomes more pronounced with the addition of water, giving it a seaweed coastal character.

What is it? Specially selected and bottled by Mark Reynier, the former owner of Bruichladdich Distillery. Drawn from a first fill sherry cask 003 and one of 326 bottles ever produced. What’s it like? Immediately fruity dark chocolate and cocoa on the nose. The taste is coffee, chocolate, tropical fruit, orange peel, marzipan and faint meatiness that, with the addition of water, leads to BBQ fruit and woodsmoke. Then, to finish it’s medium, drying and salty, leaving a faint impression of coffee.


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

73

Rosebank 22 year old Old & Rare Platinum

Macallan 25 year old Old & Rare Platinum

Port Ellen 31 year old Old & Rare Platinum

£520

£535

£1360

What is it? This Rosebank 22 year old was distilled in March 1992 and bottled in May 2014. It is one of only 136 bottles which have been filled from a refill hogshead and bottled at natural cask strength of 51.4% vol. What’s it like? A light gold whisky with initial notes on the nose of green foliage, followed by the sweeter influence of caramel syrup, liquorice and vanilla ice cream. The palate is sweeter still with Highland Toffee and lightly fruited notes. A medium finish to end with an aftertaste of hard boiled sweets.

What is it? This Macallan 25 year old has been distilled in April 1989 and bottled in July 2014. It is one of only 188 bottles that have been created. Bottled at a natural cask strength of 44.8% volume. Each bottle has been drawn from a Refill Hogshead. What’s it like? A bright golden coloured whisky with a full bodied mellow sweet nose of Christmas pudding, vanilla and apricot. Smooth and buttery on the palate with vanilla, rich fruits, apple skins and custard powder giving a long and satisfying finish, sweet with just a hint of oak.

What is it? Distilled in September 1982 and bottled in July 2014 at a natural cask strength of 45.9% volume, this 31 year old Port Ellen is one of only 29 bottles and was filled from a Refill Hogshead. What’s it like? A golden coloured whisky with a robust full bodied nose initially sweet with vanilla and soft fruits with peaty seaweed becoming more pronounced. On the palate it has a slight tongue prickle but full bodied with an initial sweetness then peat, seaweed and iodine with a hint of citrus peel at the end. A long dry finish, slightly peaty with oak at the end.


74

Islay… you don’t have to go there to pay it a visit this winter

Bowmore 15 year old Darkest

Bowmore 18 year old

£62

£96

What is it? Matured in a combination of both bourbon and sherry casks, it's the final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks that gives Bowmore 15 Years Old 'Darkest' the rich, deep colour reflected in its name. What’s it like? It exudes an aroma of delicious dark chocolate, sun-dried fruits and a tell-tale wisp of Islay smoke. It is wonderfully full bodied and rich with a complex and warming finish.

What is it? Matured in hand-selected oak casks, this is one of Bowmore’s rarest and most exceptional bottlings. What’s it like? It has the classic Bowmore smokiness, perfectly tempered with creamy caramel, chocolate and ripe fruit with a long and wonderfully balanced finish.


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

Kilchoman 100% Islay

Lagavulin Distillers Edition

£78

£76

What is it? Established in 2005, Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland and the first distillery to be built on the Island of Islay for 125 years. What is it? The 100% Islay is a lighter and fresher whisky with citrus flavours which are distinctive to Kilchoman's new make. The taste is of soft peat smoke with a long smooth finish.

Caol Ila Distillers Edition

Bunnahabhain 18 year old

£70

£99

75

What is it? Each Distillers Edition expression undergoes a second (or ‘double’) maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine. A really distinctive and distinguished dram.

What is it? As with the Lagavulin before, each Distillers Edition expression undergoes a second (or ‘double’) maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine. This extraordinarily stylish and complex expression of Caol Ila has been double-matured in Moscatel casks.

What is it? The Bunnahabhain XVIII is in the traditional style, revealing only a very slight smokiness. It is presented in a traditional dark green bottle and is bottled at the old-fashioned strength of 46.3%Vol [80° Imperial Proof ], proudly proclaiming that it is of ‘natural colour and unchillfiltered’.

What’s it like? Its nose is peaty and medicinal, with rich fruit and spice. In the mouth, sweet malt is quickly overwhelmed by peat smoke and intense, clean, crisp flavours that are beautifully balanced, yet complex.

What’s it like? A big, sherried nose, delivers fruit cake on the palate with baking spices. Smooth texture, then lots of peppery sensations and a long and warming finish. A drop of water makes it easier to taste.

What’s it like? On the nose it is intensely peaty with clear notes of vanilla. To taste it is sweet and luscious, then the peat attacks, smoke filling the mouth, but also a glimmer of fruit. It has an incredibly long finish, even for Islay.


76

Gifting this Christmas

The Whisky Shop is carrying its greatest ever selection of gifts this Christmas. Here is a small sample to whet your appetite. We look forward to seeing you in store or greeting you online at whiskyshop.com. You can also click and collect.

Noble Isle Whisky & Water Luxury Hand Wash/Hand Lotion

Whisky Stones –

£16.99

£18 / £20 What is it? These beautifully scented and innovative toiletries have met with instant popularity with customers at The Whisky Shop. Their aromas are enticingly different, some describe them as addictive.

What is it? A complete sell-out from last year we have brought back the intriguing whisky stones. Ice… but not as we know it. Simply store them in the freezer, pop them into your dram for cooling effect with no dilution and pop them back in the freezer when the party is over.


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

A Hauf an’ A Hauf

Glenkeir Tresures 2 x 10cl & 2 Glass Gift £40 Pack Scotland in a box

What is it? Reaching back to Glasgow’s colourful post war era this is our unique ‘take’ on the ‘Hauf an’ a Hauf’ that was the drink of choice of the working man. Literally it was a half pint of beer with a half measure of whisky as a chaser. We have paired two famous products from Glasgow – Auchentoshan 12 year old single malt and Tennent’s Beer Aged with Whisky Oak. The gift pack also includes a beer glass and a whisky glass. Bring on the nostalgia!

What is it? Fudge, honey, marmalade, all laced with the wonderfully sherried Speyside Glenfarclas Single malt whisky; shortbread and a dram to share of our Glenkeir Treasures Speyside malt – an indulgent taste of Scotland in a box!

£23

– from £30 to £38

Find many more gift pack options online and instore

Glencairn 2 Glass & Water Jug Gift Pack – £29.99

77


78

Customer Favourites

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

Aberfeldy 12 Year Old

Bowmore Laimrig 15 Year Old

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

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

– £42

– £65


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

Balvenie 17 Year Old

Aberlour 12 Year Old

Glenfiddich 18 Year Old

Craigellachie 13 Year Old

£90

£44

£65

£50

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

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

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

79

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


80

Customer Favourites (cont.)

Balblair 1999

Dalmore 12 Year Old

£82

£46

Burnished gold. A first aroma of fine brown bread and butter, with light vanilla and ground almonds gradually emerging. A sweet then spicy and lightly salty taste at full strength. Water raises faint maritime notes and a light oiliness; the taste is now softer, sweeter and lightly perfumed.

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


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

Auchentoshan 12 Year Old

Strathisla 12 Year Old

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Isle of Jura Superstition

£42

£42

£43

£40

From Glasgow’s own distillery, this dram is triple-distilled in classic Lowland fashion, but the lightness of character associated with tripledistillation gives the brand subtlety rather than anything approaching blandness. The nose features ripe orchard fruits, almonds, crème caramel and a hint of sherry. The palate delivers citrus fruits, sherry and soft oak, while the finish gives nuts and cloves. This is a smooth and attractive dram that will persuade any Irishman to switch allegiance.

Strathisla is one of Speyside’s more elusive single malts, due to the fact that most of the ancient distillery’s output is destined for the Chivas Regal and Royal Salute premium blends. With a pedigree like that, this has to be good! It has a rich sherried nose with stewed fruits and spices. On the palate is it round, smooth and full-bodied, with toffee, honey, nuts and mild oak. The finish is medium in length, slightly smoky, with more oak and a final flash of ginger.

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

81

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


82

The Directory Join the W Club and you will receive all future editions of Whiskeria. Visit whiskyshop.com to buy your whisky the easy way and use thewclub.co.uk to read reviews, news, blogs, tasting notes, exclusive content and deals, and more! We’re also on facebook – just search for ‘The W Club’.

South

North

Scotland

London Piccadilly 0207 499 6649

Gateshead MetroCentre 01914 603777

Glasgow Buchanan Galleries 0141 331 0022

London Paternoster Square 0207 329 5117

Manchester 3 Exchange Street 0161 832 6110

Edinburgh Princes Mall 0131 558 7563

London, Westfield – Pop up store – opening soon

York 11 Coppergate Walk 01904 640300

Edinburgh Victoria Street 0131 225 4666

Lakeside Lakeside Shopping Centre / 01708 866255

Stoke-on-Trent Trentham Gardens 01782 644483

Edinburgh Ocean Terminal 0131 554 8211

Nottingham 3 Cheapside 0115 958 7080

Inverness 17 Bridge Street 01463 710525

Birmingham Gt Western Arcade 0121 212 1815

Fort William 93 High Street 01397 706164

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

Click & Collect Now it’s even easier to buy at The Whisky Shop. Visit our website to use our Click & Collect service to pick up from any of our stores across the UK. whiskyshop.com

Oban 52 George Street 01631 570896 C

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

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K


84

DISTILLERY VISIT

Aultmore Tour Gavin D Smith explores Aultmore, a low profile distillery on Speyside Aultmore has just about as low a profile as any Scottish distillery and single malt brand around, but that is changing, as owners John Dewar & Sons Ltd progressively release new expressions from their five distilleries. Aultmore 12 and 25 year old bottlings are hitting the shelves in time for Christmas, so it is surely time to explore the heritage of the distillery that produces them. Aultmore distillery itself is located some three miles from the Speyside whisky centre of Keith, and dates from the heady days of the ‘whisky boom’ during the last decade of the 19th century. Not that you would realise that if visiting the distillery today, as it is resolutely modern in appearance. The great expansion in distillery construction and enlargement of existing plants that characterised the latter decades of the 19th century had its greatest focus on Speyside. Of the 33 distilleries that opened in Scotland during the last decade of the 19th century, no fewer than 21 were situated there. Although positive trading conditions applied to distilling all over Scotland during the mid to late-1890s, Speyside was taking centre stage more than ever before. This was partly due to blenders’ stylistic preferences, but also because the fertile agricultural land of the north-east grew good quality malting barley, there was pure water in abundance and locally-available supplies of peat, while coal could relatively easily be imported by rail, and casks of matured spirit exported to the blending centres further south by the same method. The area in which Aultmore was constructed had the reputation of once being favoured by illicit distillers, suggesting that the quality of water there was good, and the new distillery took its water from the Burn of Auchinderran leading to the Anglicised ‘Aultmore’ appellation from the Gaelic Allt Mòr (‘big burn' in Gaelic). Aultmore was created during 1896/97 by distillery entrepreneur Alexander Edward, with major blenders Pattisons Ltd of Leith

having a share in the venture. In addition to having a significant involvement in the creation of Aultmore, Alexander Edward was co-founder of Craigellachie – also now part of Dewar’s portfolio - and instrumental in establishing Benrinnes, Benromach and Dallas Dhu distilleries, adding Oban to his collection of distilleries in 1898. From 1898 Aultmore traded as part of Oban and Aultmore Glenlivet Distilleries Ltd. All was right with the world of Scotch whisky, and Aultmore was doubled in capacity during 1898, but the bubble of over-production was soon to burst, and Aultmore briefly closed, opening again in 1903 or 1904, unlike several of its late Victorian counterparts. Aultmore managed to survive through the lean trading times of the next two decades, before being sold by Alexander Edward to John Dewar & Sons Ltd of Perth in 1923 for the sum of £20,000. It joined Aberfeldy – built by the Dewars in 1896/98 – and Parkmore in Dufftown in the family firm’s portfolio of distilleries, before Dewars was absorbed by the vast Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in 1925. The operation of Aultmore was handed over to DCL’s subsidiary Scottish Malt Distillers in 1930, and the distillery remained in its original form until 1971, when, in the wake of the next Scotch whisky ‘boom’ the old plant was demolished and replaced with the series of structures present today, housing four rather than two stills. Although remaining resolutely a ‘back room’ distillery, tasked with creating malt whisky for blending purposes, and particularly for inclusion in the best-selling Dewar’s White Label blend, Aultmore was notable for its role in the processing of by-products of distillation. Early experimentation of evaporating the pot ale – the residue after the initial distillation in the wash still – to produce a concentrated ‘syrup’ took place as early as 1906 in a plant in the Speyside distilling community of Rothes, producing a spray-dried,


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

85


86

DISTILLERY VISIT

powdered form of evaporated pot ale which was sold as fertiliser. Aultmore played a notable part in further development work on by-products, when a processing plant was installed at the distillery in 1952, where a substance more suitable for incorporation into animal feed was developed. The various processes were refined over the years, and Aultmore came to have a ‘dark grains’ plant, which mixed pot ale and draff – the cereal residue left behind after mashing – to create dark grains, a highly nutritious cattle feed. This finally closed in 1992, after stop-start periods of usage. Towards the end of that decade the successor to DCL, namely Guinness plc, merged with Grand Metropolitan plc to create Diageo, and a requirement of the sale by the regulatory authorities was the disposal of part of the vast new business. Accordingly, John Dewar & Sons Ltd, with Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla distilleries was acquired by Bacardi Ltd in 1998 for £1.15 billion. Blending was the name of the game for all the distilleries, along with Bacardi’s existing Glen Deveron plant, with the bestselling blended Scotch brand in the USA – Dewar’s White Label – to service with malt spirit. So Aultmore continued its low-profile existence, being substantially automated in 2008, when sevenday production commenced, with only a hard-to-find 12-year-old

KNOWLEDGE BAR: A U LT M O R E » A 10 horse power Abernethy steam engine was installed in 1898 to supplement the original source of power, a water-wheel driven by a lade from the distillery dam. All the distillery’s machinery was inter-connected to allow it to be powered by either the steam engine or the water-wheel. After the latter fell into disuse the steam engine worked the barley and malt conveying plant, the malt dresser and mill, the mashing machine, the wash still rummager and various pumps. This piece of engineering excellence continued to give service for almost three quarters of a century and is preserved at the distillery today, although not in working order. » A ‘Puggy’ steam locomotive carried sacks of barley and coal, empty and full casks of whisky, from the distillery to the railway line. In the mid-1960s the brakes on the distillery engine failed and it went out of control, crashing into Keith station. Soon after this Dr. Beeching’s cuts closed the Keith-Buckie line. » In July 1898, The Glasgow Herald reported that the Aultmore Distillery was capable of producing 200,000 gallons of whisky a year. ‘The whole make has been sold and there is thus practically no stock of whisky at Aultmore to be taken over. The vendors are building and will complete a large new warehouse at the Aultmore-Glenlivet Distillery to increase the facilities for maturing the whisky, and they are also fitting up the whole works with the electric light.’

official bottling of the single malt being available from 2004. As Dewar’s Malts Ambassador Lomond Campbell explains, “Aultmore has long been a favourite with blenders because its profile is not overwhelming. It has plenty of character, but nothing to throw a blend off balance. As a single malt it makes for easy dramming. It’s relatively light and really everything you’d expect from this sort of Speyside. It becomes really interesting as it gets older, with the fruity and grassy notes becoming much enhanced.” Dewar’s is marketing the new expressions as ‘Aultmore of the Foggie Moss,’ and Campbell says that “We opted to use the ‘Foggy Moss’ tag because this conjures up the right sort of image for the whisky. This place where Aultmore distillery has its water source is damp, foggy and mysterious, and there’s something quite enigmatic about Aultmore. It was always known locally as ‘A nip of the Buckie Road,’ as the distillery sits beside the road from Keith to Buckie, and nobody asked for an ‘Aultmore’ in a local bar. It’s almost as though there’s something slightly secret about it.” With Aultmore single malt now gaining much wider exposure, more and more consumers are discovering that secret, and they certainly seem to like their ‘nips from the Buckie road.’ Try some for yourselves and look out for 30 and 35-year-old Aultmore releases, due next autumn.


88

E X P E RT TAST I N G

{ Charles MacLean } Expert Tasting – The Balvenie Portwood 21 Years Old Bowmore 25 Years Old


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

89

The Balvenie Portwood 21 Years Old Single Speyside Malt | 40%Vol

This expression of The Balvenie has been matured in refill American oak hogsheads for around twenty years, then transferred into fresh European oak port pipes for the final months of its maturation, to give it an extra layer of flavour. During this second period it has been sampled regularly by Balvenie’s Malt Master to make sure the whisky has retained its original character. When deemed to be at its peak, it is bottled at natural cask strength, without chill-filtration. The idea of re-racking from a tired cask into a more active one is not new – indeed, it is likely to have been a common practice in the whisky industry since the beginning - but it is only in the last two decades that it has been commercially exploited and extended to embrace ‘finishing’ in casks which have contained liquids other than whisky – typically sherry or port. It was David Stewart, William Grant’s Malt Master, who first introduced a ‘sherry finished’ malt – Balvenie Classic – in 1982/83, although this was not revealed on the label. He followed it up with the hugely successful Balvenie DoubleWood 12YO (1993) and PortWood (1995), and went on to explore a variety of other finishing casks. At the same time. Glenmorangie was also experimenting with wood finishing, and during the 1990s released just over twenty ‘finished’ expressions. These have now been rationalised down to three core brands: Quinta Ruban (port finished), Lasanta (oloroso sherry finished) and Nectar d’Or (sauternes finished).

Many other companies have followed the finishing route in recent years, notably Edradour and BenRiach. The process holds great appeal for companies with only one distillery, since it enables them to extend their product range. But it is not easy to get right: the second, ‘finishing’, casks are very active, so the whisky must be carefully monitored to make sure wine flavours do not dominate the flavour of the whisky. There have been some disasters over the years, especially among independent bottlings, but by and large consumers love finished whiskies, which generally tend to be sweeter and rounder than the original. However, finishing is no substitute for good maturation. You can’t take a young malt from a duff cask and expect it to cover itself in glory after a year in a port pipe. John Glaser - the founder and inspiration behind Compass Box, the most innovative of whisky companies, and no stranger to experimenting with wood finishing – told me some years ago: “To finish well, you've got to start with whisky which has benefited from enough time in the cask to interact with wood and develop the fine, ethereal, aged characteristics of maturity. Maturation cannot be rushed - which is not to say that there may not be someone out there who will try to take three year-old, immature whisky and pile a lot of oak flavour into it to cover up the immaturity and try to make it saleable. A similar thing goes on in the wine business.”


90

E X P E RT TAST I N G

Bowmore 25 Years Old Single Islay Malt | 43% Vol

Bowmore operates a complicated wood policy for all its whiskies, combining spirits matured in first-fill and refill American oak hogsheads with others matured in fresh and refill European oak ex-sherry butts. The latter are made for the company by the bodega Miguel Martinez in Spain and are seasoned first with sherry wine (mosto) then oloroso sherry for four years, before being shipped to Scotland. The latter cost five times the former, but lend a rich fruitiness to the final product. Some of these casks will have been matured in the distillery’s famous Number One Vault, the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and the only one below sea-level. Its thick stone walls hold back the tide, battered by breakers during the winter months, weeping small trickles of salt water, creating a cool, damp, maritime environment for the casks to mature in. In the course of its twenty-five years maturation, the casks will have lost as much as 50% of their original contents to the angels, to be replaced by salty air, which, as Ian McCallum, Bowmore’s brand ambassador, says “acts as a wonderful ‘polishing cloth’, burnishing the beauty of the spirit”. Indeed. One of my gurus, Dr. Jim Swan, puts it this way: “Think of the new make spirit as a caterpillar. The cask is the chrysalis… After a period of time, the mature whisky emerges as a butterfly”. Some years ago, I nearly blew up Number One Vault… I was filming there for Singlemalt.tv. [check it out; the segment may still be on You-Tube]. Rob Draper, the Director of Photography, had brought his own state-of-the-art cameras from the United States, where he is based, but hired lights from Glasgow. The latter were

the very opposite of state-of-the-art; they were old-fashioned and distinctly ropey. In the middle of the shoot one of the lights exploded with a loud bang, then caught fire. There is always alcohol vapour maturation warehouses, in spite of the damp atmosphere in the Vault and once we quelled the flames with Rob’s jacket we speculated about what might have happened: the potential destruction, not only of Bowmore Distillery, but possibly much of Bowmore village as well… As I have mentioned elsewhere in this issue of Whiskeria, Bowmore is a ‘model village’, laid out by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield and Islay, in 1768. Daniel’s father had been an M.P., known as ‘Great Daniel’ on account of his size and wealth (he was a highly successful merchant in Glasgow), for the Glasgow Burghs in the 1720s. In 1725 he supported the extension of the malt tax from England to Scotland. During the riots that followed - known to history as the Shawfield Riots - the windows of his mansion were smashed by the mob, and as a result received £9,000 in compensation from the City of Glasgow. With this he bought the Island of Islay. The name Bowmore derives from Bogh Mor, Gaelic for the Big Reef. One of the village’s most famous sons was the Reverend Donald Caskie, minister of the Scots Kirk in Paris, who helped an estimated 2000 Allied servicemen to escape from occupied France during World War II, largely through Spain. He became known as ‘The Tartan Pimpernel’, although the Church od Scotland Register of all ministers since the Reformation describes him simply as ‘engaged in church and patriotic duties in France 1939-45’!


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

The Balvenie Portwood 21 Years Old – S I N G L E S P E Y S I D E M A LT | 4 0%VOL | £155

Tasting Note Amontillado sherry in hue; a soft nose, somewhat closed to start. Gradually opens to present fleeting fresh fruit notes (strawberry, banana, pear, cider), then dried fruits and nuts. Smooth texture, sweet taste overall (tinned peaches), short finish; woody wild raspberries in the aftertaste. With water, becomes more musty, with traces of snuffed candles.

Bowmore 25 Years Old

– S I N G L E I S L AY M A LT | 43%VOL | £3 30

Tasting Note Old Madeira in colour. A venerable, mild nose, with canvas and waxed jackets in front, stewed fruit and dried apricots behind; nutty and bosky autumnal notes as a base and a whiff of scented smoke (Lapsang Souchong). A full-bodied, silky texture and a rich, sweet, slightly briny taste, with scented smoke in the aftertaste.

91


A Gift as Unique as the Person receiving it It’s a rare barrel that our Master Distiller deems special enough to carry the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel label. A rich, full bodied flavour with notes of toasted oak and vanilla.

Treat Someone Special to a Personalised Engraved Bottle this Christmas –

exclusively to The Whisky Shop Visit: www.whiskyshop.com/jd-engraving

Make Your Singular Experience a Memorable One © 2014 JACK DANIEL’S SINGLE BARREL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


94

ON THE OTHER HAND

{On the other hand} Victor Brierley

A pretty whisky business


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

Everyone wants their own distillery… As there are a dizzying amount of new distilleries opening... everywhere, it set me thinking, how flippin' hard can it be? Why not join them? After all, if you look at the vast array of blogging sites (people who appoint themselves as experts and write about whisky for free...) there are ones that suggest for $100,000, you could buy your own micro-distillery! A hundred grand in 'US'? Most posh cars are more than that! That's, erm, less than £100,000! Bargain. Therefore, here's Victor's idiots guide to setting up a Distillery. It's easy!… But, dear dreaming drammer, best avoid 'Dragon's Den' for this paltry hundred grand. "Hi my name is (insert here) and today, Dragons, I want x £million, to create a revolutionary new Drink. You'll love this, listen up... I'm going to make it from a really expensive grain, that I might even need to import. By law, I will have to lock it up in a ruddy great shed for years, before I can sell it. I am going to mature it in barrels made of oak, which we are running out of and cost a 'fortune'. Oh and if I want to call it 'Scotch', I will have to make it in a tiny wee country, miles away from anywhere...” Best avoid rational human beings, when it comes to procuring your mountains of cash. You won't get killed in the crush of investors in the first few weeks. Because after all, what does it take to be a distillery owner? Here’s my list. Madness. This is self-explanatory, but you probably need it… in bundles. Techie. Okay, purists, let's say that the 'technical' bit is a bit of a 'given'. Like all the new starts, you're simply going to have to poach an old stager or a bright young thing, from an existing distillery. A future booze prophet, or an industry 'face' who has finally woken up to the fact he/she could be a good deal richer, if they did it themselves. They'll help with all this pesky 'science' stuff, like ABV, stills, spirit safes, all that malarkey. More laws than you can shake a hydrometer at. Moolah. "Eh, we've spoken about cash already? We're sorted, move on!" Assuming you have got a right few quid, this could only be the start, because the World is truly the whisky purveyor's oyster. We're living in strange times where if you really want to crack it, you need markets in countries you didn't know even existed. Because progress, ladies and gentlemen, costs. Have you seen how much a Travel-Lodge in Liberia is? Funding? Think of a number, and multiply it by how much 'nuts' you have. Marketing. Tommy Dewar, Peter Mackie, The Walkers, The Chivas boys, all well-kent historical whisky figures because of their genius in marketing. No point in perfecting an excellent barley juice, if you can't shift it. And here's where the alchemy of 'the big idea' comes into play. Are you going for a different blend? A funny shaped bottle, or are you going to be totally hatstand? You will need some 'Marketing' folk. They used to use flip charts and overhead projectors, I'd imagine they have got even more fancy these days. They will talk about ‘tone of voice’ and ‘Focus groups’ ‘social media and that sort of stuff.

95

Build it, and they will come. Right, you're funded by a couple of crazies you met in Hyderabad at a 'crowdfunding' event, you have a team of whisky 'science' folk pinched from Islay or Speyside, and a bow tie bunch, up from London, doing 'mood boards', now, where are you going to make your amazing new Whisky? Well, you have a choice… Barn Why not use an old, historic building? Can't see much of a problem there. When it comes to the planning authorities in Scotland, it's REALLY easy to convert any old ancient monument, to do whatever the heck you want. After all, most of them are lying in bits. You're doing them a favour by tarting some of these places up. A lick of paint, some stills off E-bay and some tanks. Historic Scotland? Tell them I sent you, if you can speak Scottish, it smoothes the problems. Brand new building Sounds even simpler. Again, areas of outstanding natural beauty, particularly in Scotland, they are crying out for a shiny new place, with a load of maturation warehouses to be built. In the old days, you'd draw it out on the back of a fag packet and just crack on. I can't imagine much has changed. Get one of those architect folk, they'll have it up in a jiffy. You'll need more stainless steel and white paint. Borrow it As you're reading this, let's assume you are a whisky lover. It'll have not escaped your notice that there are already DOZENS of these whisky making places in Scotland, och, all over the World, making our favourite drinkette already! Why not just get someone to make it for you? After all, car people do it, clothing firms do it and if you are a supermarket and you want to do your 'own label' beans, you get someone else to do it for you. One last bit of advice, get a famous person, so you can stick them on the label of your new whisky. Oh, I dunno, one of those 'DJ' types might be good. If they can stand in front of tens of thousands of people 'playing' nothing more than a laptop, they might just have the audacity and brass neck to pull it off. So there you have it, my beginner's guide to making your own hooch and selling it all over the World. How difficult can it be? I don't think I've missed anything out, but if I have, you can get me here. Later troops! Look forward to tasting it.

Victor’s pretentious tasting notes These all speak for themselves! No further comment necessary. "Despite its appearance in a youthful, trendy overcoat, this has some developing, interesting and complex under garments." "Too firm and well proportioned to be deemed voluptuous – but it's a delightfully close call." "Clean sheets, green nettles, tweed couches and hints of coal smoke are all found on the nose and then the sherry comes climbing aboard with the peat smoke in hand. Oh the glory and the rapture this is sensational!" "At full strength it’s all very dramatic. With a little water a Christmas tree pops up for a moment." "Once in the mouth things begin to happen" Yup. That would be the place to put it!


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

UNLOCK THE SECRETS

www.benriachdistillery.co.uk


“An astonishing, life-remembering dram of labyrinthine complexity” The Last Drop Distillers brings you its latest and smallest offering– only 388 bottles in all. Jim Murray awards it 96.5 – among the World’s top 20 whiskies. Award yourself this great experience, before there is no more.

www.lastdropdistillers.com


98

COMPETITION

The Best Competition Prize Ever!

Win the entire Diageo Special Releases 2014

Read our Review Section for details on all these fantastic special releases, with a combined retail value of over ÂŁ5000! Lagavulin 12 Year Old Caol Ila 15 Year Old Caol Ila 30 Year Old Rosebank 21 Year Old Benrinnes 21 Year Old Cragganmore 25 Year Old Strathmill 25 Year Old Brora35 Year Old Port Ellen 35 Year Old Singleton of Glendullan 38 Year Old Clynelish Select Reserve

Simply visit our facebook page for further information: www.facebook.com/ thewhiskyshop The winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries received by 31st January 2015. The judges’ decision will be final. All normal competition rules apply. Entrants must be over 18 years old.


Enjoy Chivas responsibly.


THE HAIG CLUB WORDS AND ASSOCIATED LOGOS ARE TRADE MARKS. © DIAGEO BRANDS B.V. 2014

Whiskeria Winter 2014  

The Whisky Shop magazine includes Exclusive interview with David Beckham on his Haig Club Whisky collaboration. The Whisky Shop has 22 UK...

Whiskeria Winter 2014  

The Whisky Shop magazine includes Exclusive interview with David Beckham on his Haig Club Whisky collaboration. The Whisky Shop has 22 UK...