Man of Myth & Legend Winter 2019—20 £4.50 where sold
Carnival Row’s David Gyasi + Nikka Mixing It Up + Laphroaig Distillery Visit + Deakin & Francis My Craft + Birmingham Travel Tour Guide + Get It Before It’s Gone New Releases
The Magazine of
As I see it…
Still Unique, Different, and Interesting Ian Bankier, The Whisky Shop Chairman, reflects on 2019 and looks forward to the year ahead. — Illustration: Francesca Waddell
❛ …where the cost base is proportionate, bricks and mortar retail is blossoming.
Welcome to the 2019 winter edition of Whiskeria. As we embark on another festive season at The Whisky Shop, we look forward to meeting and greeting our customers in store, as well as those who click online, with our best ever selection of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year gifts. In homage to the well-used retailer’s promise, we have something for everyone’s taste and budget. And it’s true! Take time to turn the pages of this edition and you will see for yourself. Or consult our gift guide – The Wish List. At the same time, we also reflect back on what has been a fast moving and event-driven year – I should add “so far”. Dominated by Brexit, and all its attendant uncertainties, the media has diligently served us our daily dose of doom and gloom. From the impossibilities of Brexit, to the saving of the planet, the corrosiveness of persistent negative news has been constant. And, in our corner, the retail sector, well it’s the end of the world as we know it. Or is it? At The Whisky Shop we have enjoyed a very normal year in all 20 of our locations across the UK, and also in Paris. Shoppers have behaved as usual. Chinese New Year, Fathers’ Day, Independence Day, Birthdays, and all the other occasions to buy from us, have come around as usual. And, low and behold, Christmas looks to be here again – as usual. As I see it, the apparent collapse of retail, together with consumer confidence, is patchy. Be in no doubt that online shopping is transforming consumer behaviour – and we are eager to be part of this evolution. But people
in great numbers still want to go to shops, speak to sales assistants, and touch and feel the goods. The demise of department stores, retail chains, and restaurants has not been universal. Especially where the cost base is proportionate, bricks and mortar retail is blossoming. The ever upward rent and rates model of the UK is now broken, and the market is currently bringing things back into line. In particular, those retailers who have been focussed and have a plan are doing OK. We fall into that category. We have a plan. It is to deliver at every one of our shops a retail experience that is joyous. We ensure that our staff are knowledgeable and that they make every effort to give our customers the best experience they can. Crucially, we stock a large and growing selection of items that are unusual, interesting, and very often unique to us. The Whisky Shop is where you come to find something refreshingly different. And, above all, our customers feel welcome and want to come back. That said, we take nothing for granted. The consumer is discerning, there are many outlets for whisky and gifting, and we have no right to be successful if we don’t deserve to be. So, once again, it’s my pleasant duty to wish all our customers and readers, and their friends and families, our good wishes over this festive season. Slàinte Ian P Bankier, Executive Chairman,
Win! A personalised bottle of The Nikka 12 Year Old. We’re giving away a bottle of The Nikka 12 Year Old Japanese whisky, engraved with your own bespoke message! Introduced for Nikka Whisky’s 80th anniversary in 2014, the flavours of this whisky are an homage to heritage. Using more malt whiskies than grain whiskies in the formula, this expression is malty and rich, and balanced with the softness and mellowness of Coffey Grain whisky. For your chance to win, simply visit: whiskyshop.com/whiskeria-competition Competition closes Monday 17th February 2020. T&Cs apply. The winner will be contacted directly. Terms & Conditions The winners will be selected from all entries via the link stated above by
Mixing It Up Nikka
midnight on 17th February 2020. The judge’s decision will be final. The competition is not open to employees of The Whisky Shop Ltd. All normal competition rules apply. UK entrants must be 18 years old or over to apply. International entrants must be of legal drinking age in their country of residence.
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Prices effective 21 October 2019. All prices in this edition of Whiskeria are subject to change.
Contributors Charles MacLean —
Charles has published fourteen Scotch whisky books to date, including the standard work on whisky brands, Scotch Whisky, and the leading book on its subject, Malt Whisky, both of which were short-listed for Glenfiddich Food & Drink Awards. He was also script advisor for Ken Loach’s 2012 film The Angels’ Share and subsequently played the part of the whisky expert in the film (which he claims to be his biggest career highlight to date).
New Releases Winter 2019—20 9 Expert Tasting Talisker / Laphroaig 96
Brian Wilson —
Formerly an MP, Brian held several Government Ministerial posts during his political career. He lives on the Isle of Lewis, from where he pursues various business interests, notably in the energy sector. He also led the regeneration of the Harris Tweed industry and is currently Chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides Ltd. His first love was writing, and he continues to write books, as well as opinion pieces for national newspapers.
A Time in History Scotch in Japan 30
Gavin D Smith —
Gavin is one of the world’s most prolific and respected whisky writers. He’s regularly published in a range of top magazines and has written more than a dozen books on whisky, while co-authoring many more. He is also responsible for editing and releasing the latest version of Michael Jackson’s seminal whisky publication, The Malt Whisky Companion.
Distillery Visit Laphroaig 50
W E S TA R T E D O N YOUR WISH LIST 15 YEARS AGO. #LetItSlow
Winter 19—20 9 26 28 30 35 44 50 54 62 71 96 98
New Releases | Winter 19—20 Industry Top-Up | Whisky News Digest The W Club | A New Take A Time in History | Scotch in Japan Travel – Tour Guide | Birmingham My Craft | Deakin & Francis Distillery Visit | Laphroaig Mixing It Up | Nikka My Whiskeria | David Gyasi The Whisky Shop Section Expert Tasting | Talisker & Laphroaig Uncle Ether
Reviewed by Charles MacLean 001 002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010 011 012 013 014 015 016
Maker’s Mark Private Select #3 The Whisky Shop Exclusive Highland Park Esquire Exclusively available from The Whisky Shop Old Pulteney 2006 The W Club Exclusive The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 8 The GlenDronach 1993 Cask #7434 The Whisky Shop Exclusive The Balnvenie 1509 Batch 6 Glenfiddicich Grand Cru Octomore 10.1 Dialogos Octomore 10.3 Dialogos Brora 40 Year Old 200th Anniversary Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Glenury Royal The Macallan Edition No.5 Platinum Old & Rare Glen Keith 26 Year Old The First Editions Glen Garioch 2008 The Old Malt Cask Craigellachie 11 Year Old The Old Malt Cask Tobermory 12 Year Old
New Releases Whiskeria
Maker’s Mark Private Select Batch 3
The Whisky Shop Exclusive Single Cask Straight Kentucky Bourbon Age: – Vol: 54.4%
Tasting note by Phil Dwyer, manager at The Whisky Shop Manchester: a tropical nose with pineapple, mango, apple, and lime leads to a fresh and clean palate with all that exotic fruit accompanied by pine, mint, and brown sugar. The finish is light and spicy, with yet more tropical fruit. Darren Leitch, The Whisky Shop’s National Retail Manager, tells me: “In June, Phil Dwyer, our Manchester store manager, and I visited Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, to create two further batches of Maker’s Private Select (three and four – four will be for another time). “After a tour of the distillery in the company of Maker’s Mark Brand Diplomat, Amanda Humphrey, it was time to settle down to the task at hand, creating a one-off cask bottling edition. Creating Private Select is all about selecting individual wooden staves which will be suspended deep within the cask before the cask is filled with Maker’s Mark at full strength. The interaction the liquid has with these additional staves is what influences the final flavour of the whisky, and what makes each batch different is the fact that there can be many combinations of the staves selected. “There were five different stave types to choose from and a combined total of ten are used in the cask. Some gave off notes of fresh apple and pear, others caramel and vanilla, and others spice and dark fruits. Each type has a different name. “Since this was to be our third release of the Private Select, we wanted it to be quite different from the first two batches. To start with we chose our staves cautiously, then we became more adventurous and more random in our selection, and, when we sampled the result, we were delighted – even if it was a fluke! We continued with the ‘scientific’ approach to make six or seven further combinations, but the resulting liquids did not match up to the random No. 2, and this is the one we have settled on. The stave types were: three Baked American Pure, two Seared French Cuvée, three Maker's 46, and two Toasted French Spice. “Once we decided this we went to the filling hall, picked the staves, attached them to a metal ring, and simply dropped them into a new American Oak barrel. The end was resealed and it was filled with Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, at 108.9 proof (54.5%VOL), at around four years old. We signed the barrel and left it to mature alongside the thousands of other Makers Mark barrels for a few more months – enough time for those additional staves to work their magic. “We believe it is different enough from batches one and two and, for me personally, it is a bourbon I can really enjoy – plenty of flavour and, even at it's high strength, very, very drinkable”.
exotic fruit accompanied by pine, mint, and brown sugar
Highland Park Esquire
Exclusively available from The Whisky Shop Island Single Cask Single Malt Age: 15 Year Old Vol: 60.3%
The colour reminds me of a horse chestnut: deep amber with rubious lights. Good beading. A tightly integrated aroma with some prickle. After a short time, notes of vanilla, coconut, and oak shavings emerge; the base notes are faintly peaty, as might be expected. A creamy texture and a taste which starts sweet, becomes slightly salty and finishes oaky/bitter, lightly smoky, long and warming. Benefits from a drop of water, which enhances the creamy sweetness and supresses the bitterness. This is a collaboration between Highland Park and Esquire Magazine; the former has become the first official whisky sponsor of the prestigious annual ‘Townhouse’ event hosted by Esquire, this year at Carlton House Terrace, St. James’s, London, between 17th and 19th October. By the time you read this, you will have missed the event, but fear not: Highland Park Esquire is now exclusively available from The Whisky Shop. Alex Bilmes, Editor-in-Chief at Esquire, said: “We are excited to be working with Highland Park to produce a bespoke Esquire single cask whisky – a genuine first for us. We are looking forward to launching it and, of course, tasting it at Esquire Townhouse in October.” Esquire Townhouse is an award-winning luxury brand experience featuring a programme of live celebrity interviews, panel debates, and masterclasses spanning fashion, culture, food and drink, design, and travel. At this year’s event Martin Markvardsen, Highland Park’s distinguished Global Brand Ambassador, hosted a series of workshops at which guests were given the opportunity to learn all about the brand before indulging in some delicious whisky and food pairings. To celebrate the partnership, Highland Park and Esquire have collaborated to create the Highland Park Esquire Single Cask. The limited-edition single malt whisky is the first-ever single cask from Highland Park to be released in collaboration with a UK media house, and will be served throughout the weekend, including in Highland Park favourites, the Orcadian Cooler (a highball, with lemon juice, elderflower cordial and soda) and a Salted Honey Old Fashioned (with honey and sea salt, finished with a drop of orange oil). Scott McCaffer, Brand Manager at Highland Park, said: “Launching the whisky at Esquire Townhouse is a really exciting opportunity for us as it is the perfect opportunity to engage with likeminded consumers, as well as those interested in exploring the category.”
vanilla, coconut and oak shavings emerge
Old Pulteney 2006 Single Cask #1448 The W Club Exclusive Highland Single Cask Single Malt Age: 13 Year Old Vol: 51.4%
Bright gold with lemon lights – American oak hogshead. Fine beading. The nose is fresh and maritime – a sea breeze – with a trace of lemon zest and of soft fudge. At natural strength it has a smooth texture and a sweet then salty taste, leaving the tongue tingling. ‘The Manzanilla of the North’ indeed. A strange name for a distillery overlooking the ‘cold grey sea of Caithness’, you might well think. The name was bestowed on the recommendation of no less a person than Thomas Telford (the ‘Father of Civil Engineering’), who designed ‘Puleneytown’, a model village, and the port of Wick. Pultneytown and its harbour were built by the British Fisheries Society between 1800 and 1820. Its Director General was Sir William Pulteney, who had met the young, impoverished Telford when he was working as a stone mason on his father’s house in Dumfriesshire, and later when he was engaged in Edinburgh’s New Town. Through marriage, Sir William became ‘the richest commoner in England’, and also became Telford’s principal patron, including appointing him as Architect to the British Fisheries Society, but he died before the Wick project was completed. Wick soon became the largest herring station in Europe, used by over a 1,000 fishing boats and attracting 7,000 migrant workers during the season. It was logical to build a distillery there to quench the thirst of such a hoard of workers, and this was done in 1826 by a local man, James Henderson, whose family continued to own the distillery until 1920, when it was sold to the Dundee blender, James Watson & Company, passing to John Dewar & Sons three years later, and thence to the Distillers Company in 1925. Today, it is owned by Inver House Distillers. Old Pulteney describes itself as ‘The Maritime Malt’, and was once known as ‘The Manzanilla of the North’, on account of its key-note dry and salty taste. It is a perfect aperitif. This 2006 expression, released via The Whisky Shop exclusively for members of The W Club, justifies these descriptors and well displays the character of the whisky.
The nose is fresh and maritime – a sea breeze – with a trace of lemon zest and of soft fudge
The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 8
Highland Single Malt Age: 10 Year Old
The colour of Amontillado, with light beading, in spite of its strength. A sharp, prickly nose-feel makes it difficult to assess aroma, but gradually notes of sandalwood, dry Brazil nuts, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds emerge. The texture is silky, the taste sweet then tannic, with a hint of brimstone, and considerable spice in the finish. Many now consider The GlenDronach to be the benchmark ‘sherry-matured’ malt. The policy of filling into casks seasoned with Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry was begun by the distillery’s former owner and master blender, Billy Walker, who also inherited a substantial stock of long-aged sherried whisky with which to build the brand. He bought Glendronach in 2008, changed the brand name to The GlenDronach, and sold the distillery to the Brown Forman Corporation of America (owner of Jack Daniels) in April 2016, along with its sister distilleries, The BenRiach and Glenglassaugh. The custodian of The GlenDronach’s quality and consistency today is the company’s Master Blender, Dr. Rachel Barrie. The distillery was founded in 1826 by a group of farmers led by James Allardice, who has been described as an “inventor, pioneer and entrepreneur; exuberant and extroverted”. The story goes that, soon after he commenced production, he travelled to Edinburgh with a small cask of his whisky with a view to taking cask orders from the city’s taverns and spirits merchants. Alas, nobody was interested. Returning to his lodging in the Canongate one evening, he fell in with a couple of ‘ladies of the night’ and, over a few drams of ‘guid Glendronach’, explained his predicament.
The GlenDronach 1993 Single Cask #7434 The Whisky Shop Exclusive Highland Single Cask Single Malt Age: 26 Year Old Vol: 54.2%
Polished mahogany with magenta lights; very good beading and legs. Mellow and nose drying, with some prickle. A silky texture, mouthfilling, and a sweet taste, with treacle, dark chocolate, and smoked almonds. A suggestion of struck match at reduced strength. Classic GlenDronach. Impressed by the whisky and by his generosity, the ladies spread the word to their colleagues who were not slow to join the merry tasting. Next day, all the taverns on the High Street were ringing with demands for Glendronach from this motley crew… and, as Allardice recorded in his memoirs, “orders were swiftly forthcoming.” Both these expressions are excellent examples of the The GlenDronach style, which Dr. Barrie describes as: “rich, with maraschino cherries, dark chocolate,with layers of damson plum, Morello cherries in dark chocolate, black walnut and truffle on a bed of antique leather and old-fashioned treacle gingerbread”. Every year she selects a handful of casks for individual bottling; the cask from 1993, which has been specially selected and bottled for The Whisky Shop, is a puncheon seasoned with Pedro Ximénez sherry, while the 10-year-old Batch 8 is a mix of PX and Oloroso casks.
sandalwood, dry Brazil nuts, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds emerge.
treacle, dark chocolate, and smoked almonds. A suggestion of struck match
The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 6
Speyside Single Malt Age: —
Mid-amber, with good beading. Light prickle on the nose at full strength, somewhat spicy. The first impression is of fruit loaf (soft brown bread with sultanas, walnuts, nutmeg, and allspice), gaining milk chocolate notes with a drop of water. The taste is sweet and clean (sugared almonds at an Italian wedding!), drying in the finish, with some spice. The Balvenie’s Tun 1509 series was introduced in 2014 to replace the company’s earlier Tun 1402, which began as a distillery exclusive in 2010 and sold out immediately. For both series, David Stewart, The Balvenie’s Honorary Malt Master, later joined by Brian Kinsman, current Malt Master, selected a number of casks of varying volumes, strengths, and ages – nothing younger than 22 years, in the 1402 series; my guess is the same for the Tun 1509 series. They then disgorged the casks into a large marrying tun – hence the name. There is no significance in the number: tuns 1402 and 1509 were simply the most convenient. To create the sixth batch of Tun 1509, they chose 21 casks of three different types: refill sherry butts, ex-bourbon barrels, and ‘Double Wood’ refill sherry butts. The blend was then transferred to Tun 1509, which sits in The Balvenie’s famous Warehouse 24 (see below) for several months to marry before bottling. Marrying allows the different whiskies to mingle together and create a unique expression of The Balvenie which is – as blenders say – ‘greater than the sum of its constituent parts.’ David Stewart, The Balvenie’s Malt Master, writes: “Batch 6 is a truly remarkable liquid that showcases the gorgeous colour and rich depth produced during the marrying process”. The carton of each bottle supplies the Master Blenders’ assessment of the flavour profile of each cask under the simple headings ‘spice’, ‘oak’, ‘sweet’, and ‘delicate’ (i.e. fruity/floral), and the reverse of the tube lists all the casks used, by cask and wood type, and the flavour values ascribed to each. This is magnificently geeky! It allows us malt enthusiasts to explore in-depth the flavour of the whisky and to compare notes with the Masters! I know of no other malt which provides such detailed information about the cask types that have gone into a vatting. Bravo, Balvenie!
soft brown bread with sultanas, walnuts, nutmeg, and allspice
Glenfiddich Grand Cru Speyside Single Malt Age: 23 Year Old
This tasting note has been provided by The W Club’s new manager, Natalie McLaughlin, who attended the launch event: The nose is gentle, light, and floral. Notes of orchard fruits (crisp apple and pear skin peels), marzipan/ vanilla icing, candied lemon, and toffee apples, Demerara sugar. Palate bigger than the nose. Stewed pears. The crisp apple is now a freshly baked apple pie. Other pastries too – brioche, croissants. It’s certainly ferment-y! Sandalwood, lots of vanilla oak and white stone fruits – white peaches and white grape. The finish is medium and sweet. Spice lingers, quite bubbly (like a Champagne!). Glenfiddich Grand Cru has been finished in French cuvée casks – hence its name – having been matured in a mix of American and European oak casks, in the usual way. The style of wine is not stated: my dictionary defines cuvée as ‘a vat of blended wine of uniform quality’. Grand Cru – literally ‘great growth’ – is the highest classification of wines from Burgundy, but not in Bordeaux, which is all rather confusing. Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich’s Malt Master since December 2009 – and only the sixth Malt Master (formerly called Master Blender) in the distillery’s 125 year history – has responsibility for the quality and consistency of all Wm. Grant & Sons products, including this 23 year old. He told The Scotsman: “Breaking category conventions once more, this unusual collaboration presented an exciting opportunity to create a spirit that further elevated our unique Glenfiddich style. “We experimented with the maturation time and hand selected the right balance of 23 year old Glenfiddich casks out of our unique collection of old age malts. “The further influence from the oak of the French cuvée casks added an extra layer of complexity thanks to the liquid they once held. Marrying the best of both worlds, the final liquid presents an exceptional finesse and is a special tribute to each individual cuvée cask the malts were finished in.” The distillery’s website describes it, hyperbolically, as “encapsulating the very spirit of luxury and craftsmanship of Glenfiddich while surpassing the very notion of Single Malt, as it sets out to redefine moments of celebration through a new and extraordinary drinking experience. “Created for the non-conformists, it has been uniquely crafted as a surprising delight, at every sip, for those tearing up the rule book and who want to celebrate big life moments in a whole new way.”
crisp apple is now a freshly baked apple pie. Other pastries too – brioche, croissants
Octomore 10.1 Dialogos
Islay Single Malt Age: 5 Year Old
Pale gold in colour, with moderate beading. The first impression on the nose is of buttered burnt toast, joined after a while by lime marmalade and a light maritime aroma on a medicinal base (antiseptic cream), which later edges towards smoky bacon crisps. The texture is lightly oily and the taste sweet and salty; the finish is not as smoky as might be expected, long and warming; leaves the tongue tingling. “It started as a late night ‘what if’ idea after a few drams. What if we distilled the most heavilypeated barley humanly possible in the tall, narrow-necked Bruichladdich stills?” Proudly independent, often cheeky and provocative, the guys at Bruichladdich are never short of headlinegrabbing ideas. Octomore “challenges comfortable convention” as “the world’s most heavily peated single malt”, to quote the distillery’s website. It is released annually in relatively small batches. The name comes from a farm and former distillery (1816-1852) which stands on a hillside overlooking Port Charlotte and grows barley for Bruichladdich. The barley is converted into malt at Port Ellen Maltings where it is peated to 80.5 (Batch 1) and 167 (Batch 3) parts per million phenols respectively [phenols are the chemical compounds which lend smoky and medicinal flavours to whisky]. To put this in context, bear in mind that ‘heavily peated’ malts like Lagavulin and Caol Ila are peated to around 30-35 ppm phenols. The first batch of Octomore 10YO was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2012, when it was described by its owner as being “a dram for the connoisseur and the enlightened student of peat”. At the time it claimed to be “the world’s most heavily peated whisky”. The third batch is considerably higher in phenols and is composed of an unusual mix of casks: 37% of the liquid was matured in first-fill port pipes, 31% in first-fill Cognac casks, and 20% in second-fill bourbon hogsheads. 12% was matured for three years in first-fill American barrels, then re-racked for two years in virgin oak casks, then transferred for six years into second-fill American oak barrels. In days gone by, most whisky was drunk young and, since the malt used by Highland distilleries was all dried over peat fires, their whiskies will generally have been smokier than today’s malts. So, as well as being innovative, Octomore pays tribute to the distillery whose name it bears, and to the men of Islay who made whisky there.
Octomore 10.3 Dialogos Islay Single Malt Age: 6 Year Old
Pale gold, with moderate beading. The top notes are similar to the 10.1 – buttered burnt toast – but more oily and ashy, and with a trace of custard cream biscuits. The mid-notes are maritime/mineralic, with a trace of seaweed and ripe plum. The base is lightly smoky. A sweet taste, becoming salty, with Virginia tobacco, not as peaty as might be expected, but warming. Batch 3 has greater complexity than Batch 1.
buttered burnt toast, joined after a while by lime marmalade
oily and ashy, and with a trace of custard cream biscuits
Brora 1972 200th Anniversary Exclusive Release
Highland Single Malt Age: 40 Year Old
Clear amber, with good viscosity. A mellow nose and a complex aroma with fragrant herbal top-notes (heather pollen, bog myrtle), faintly maritime, with warm candlewax below this on a lightly smoky, sandalwood base. A waxy, teeth-coating texture with a surprisingly sweet taste, a shake of salt, and a long faintly smoky finish. Superlative: worthy to celebrate a 200th birthday. For the first 150 years of its existence, Brora was named Clynelish then, in 1967/8, a new distillery was built nearby, imaginatively also named ‘Clynelish’. The original distillery was mothballed for a couple of years, then resumed small-scale production. Between 1969-83, it produced a heavily peated malt for blending purposes, then, in 1975, a new mash house was installed and the name was changed to ‘Brora’ to avoid confusion with the new Clynelish. The distillery finally closed in 1983, but in 2017 Diageo announced plans to restore the old distillery, replicating plant and processes, and bringing it back into operation by 2020. The spirit from Clynelish/Brora has long enjoyed a high reputation. The trade journal, Harper’s Weekly remarked in 1896 that “the make has always obtained the highest price of any single Scotch whisky. It is sent out, duty paid, to private customers all over the kingdom; and it also commands a very valuable export trade; the demand for it in that way is so great that the proprietors… have for many years been obliged to refuse trade orders”. This is highly significant since, by the 1890s, 99.9% of the malt whisky distilled went into blends: the blending houses in ‘the trade’ were the distillers’ key customers and annual production was entirely geared to their requirements. The great Victorian oenophile, Professor George Saintsbury, named it as one of his favourite malts in his Notes from a Cellar Book (1920). Dr. Craig Wilson, Master Blender, selected twelve hogsheads from the distillery’s ‘golden era’ to mark Brora’s bi-centenary this year, yielding 1,919 bottles (coincidence?). He writes: “Of all the stories of Brora, there is one that seemed particularly fitting to tell on its 200th Anniversary. From 1969-83, there was a new experimentation phase in production and the Brora distillers created a smoky malt using heavily-peated Northern Highland barley… the few casks that are left from this Age of Peat matured remarkably well, and what remains is a multi-layered and complex Single Malt of astonishing quality”.
fragrant herbal top-notes (heather pollen, bog myrtle)
Johnnie Walker Blue Label ‘Ghost & Rare’ Glenury Royal Edition Blended Scotch Age: –
Pale amber in colour; no beading at this strength. The top notes are fruity (bruised apple), with a trace of heather honey and chocolate wafer biscuits on a base of butterscotch and balsawood. All tightly integrated. The texture is unctuous and the taste sweet overall, drying elegantly in the finish. The official tasting note also identifies the “sweet apple and delicate apricot character of Glenury Royal”. In late November 2017, Diageo introduced a series of expressions of Johnnie Walker Blue Label that make use of whiskies from distilleries which have ceased production and are uncommon – hence ‘Ghost & Rare’. The first expression in the series had Brora as its heart malt, the second Port Ellen, and now the third and final release includes old whisky from Glenury Royal Distillery, combined with Cambus (grain distillery), and Pittyvaich (Speyside malt) – both of which closed in 1993 and have been demolished – as the other ‘ghosts’ in the blend, together with ‘rare’ casks from Glen Elgin, Inchgower, Glenlossie, Glenkinchie, and Cameronbridge Distilleries. Dr. Jim Beverage, Walker’s highly distinguished Master Blender, remarked at the time of the launch: “Shining a light on this hidden treasure of the whisky world is something we’ve wanted to do for some time. This indulgent new limited edition provides us with a wonderful opportunity to explore the remarkable layers of rich fruit found in every drop of Johnnie Walker”. Glenury Distillery near Stonehaven, a fishing port fifteen miles south of Aberdeen, closed in 1985 and was later demolished to make way for residential housing. A shame, since it produced a distinguished malt – two releases in Diageo’s Rare Malts series won ‘Most Outstanding Single Malt’ and ‘Best Single Malt over 12 Years’ at the International Wine & Spirits Awards 1996. It also had a very interesting history. During the 1830s and ‘40s, the distillery was licensed to Captain Robert Barclay, Laird of Ury, the first man to walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours (to win a bet of 1,000 guineas!) and who had ‘a friend at Court, whom he referred to as ‘Mrs Windsor’’. It was she who persuaded King William IV to grant the ‘royal’ suffix in 1835 – to the infuriation of Captain William Fraser of Royal Brackla! Soon after his death in 1854, the distillery was sold by public auction for £3,000 to William Ritchie of Dunottar, whose family owned it until 1936 when it was bought by the colourful cowboy, Joseph Hobbs, for £7,500. He sold it to a subsidiary of National Distilleries of America two years later for £18,500.
heather honey and chocolate wafer biscuits on a base of butterscotch and balsawood.
The Macallan Edition No.5 Speyside Single Malt Age: –
Official tasting note from The Macallan: Colour: Sunlight Barley. Aroma: Vanilla and toffee with notes of oak, nutmeg, ginger, lemon basil and pear. Palate: Fresh and sweet with caramel moving into poached peaches and ripe pear. Quickly followed by a toffee sweetness with light oak spices in the form of nutmeg and hints of ginger in the background. Finish: Long and sweet. This is the fifth in the now familiar series of annual limited releases, originally available only in Travel Retail, designed to “showcase the diversity of casks used to mature the spirit and to demonstrate the company’s commitment to sourcing only the very best”. Edition No.1 was released at the end of 2015. Both it and No.2 focused on cask influence. No.3 explored the impact of aroma, No.4 illustrated ‘structure’ and, now, Edition No.5 is designed to showcase colour. Readers of Whiskeria will recall that The Macallan has long boasted proudly that they never adjust the hue of their whiskies by adding spirit caramel. American white oak lends a different hue to the spirit than European oak; first fill casks, more colour than refill casks – especially if they have been seasoned with sherry. Sarah Burgess, The Macallan’s enthusiastic Whisky Maker, and her team have the challenge of not only matching flavour profiles batch for batch, but also matching colour. This is no mean task when they are replicating core range expressions. She says: “Whilst colour development starts with mixing basic colours with precision to achieve different shades, when it comes to whisky making, it is the knowledge and understanding of a specific palette of colours from the cask which is the starting-point.” To emphasise the connection with colour, the bottle’s label has been dressed with ‘a uniquely bold shade of purple’ in collaboration with designers at the Pantone Colour Institute in New Jersey. After visiting the distillery they realised just how complex the colours of whisky were and adopted a different approach, one which would ‘represent’ rather than ‘emulate’. “As the rainbow’s most complex colour, purple naturally felt like the ideal shade to highlight the equally complex process involved in The Macallan’s whisky making. “Macallan Edition Purple reflects the richness, intensity, complexity, and nobility of The Macallan’s character”. It also happens to be the Roman imperial colour…
Fresh and sweet with caramel moving into poached peaches and ripe pear
Platinum Old & Rare Glen Keith 26 Year Old Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Age: 26 Year Old Vol: 51.8%
Deep gold; American oak refill cask; exceptional beading. A mellow nose-feel and a highly fragrant, classic Speyside aroma – pear drops, tropical fruits, bubble gum, marzipan, solvent – all soft and rounded, as is the liquid’s texture. The taste is sweet overall, and lightly acidic, with a lingering scented finish. A lovely old whisky with considerable vitality. Sam Bronfman, President and CEO of the giant Canadian distiller, Distillers CorporationSeagrams Limited, wrote in his memoirs: “It was clear to me that if we were to become a truly great international distilling company, we must enter the Scotch whisky business.” This was in 1933; three years later Seagram acquired the Glasgow blender, Robert Brown Ltd., then, in 1949, the established blender and broker, Chivas Brothers of Aberdeen, and in 1950, Strathisla Distillery in Keith. Chivas Regal (first created around 1900) was by this time the best-selling deluxe Scotch in North America. ‘Mr. Sam’, as Bronfman was universally known, took a close personal interest in its further development. It was to supply fillings for their blends that Glen Keith was built adjacent to Strathisla Distillery in 1957/8, on the site of an old meal mill. This was the first distillery to be commissioned on Speyside since 1900 and, although traditional in appearance, it was from the outset a very modern unit, and was used for research and experimentation. Still today, Chivas Bros.’ lab is located there. Until 1970, it employed triple distillation; that year the distillery was expanded from three to five stills (a sixth was added in 1983), all of different shapes, direct fired by gas (the first distillery to use this method, although the stills were converted to indirect firing by steam in 1986). Glen Keith was also a pioneer in the use of computers to monitor production and, for a period in the 1970s, experiments were done in the production of peated spirits (named Craigduff and Glenisla, but never bottled by their owner). During the 1980s, trials were done using a wheat mash and different yeast varieties. In 1999, the distillery was mothballed, then passed to Pernod Ricard when that company acquired Seagram’s whisky interests in 2001. Glen Keith remained closed until 2013, after radical refurbishment and reconstruction. Glen Keith is rare as a single malt – I know of only three proprietary bottlings – so this 26YO bottling from Hunter Laing, under their Platinum Old & Rare label, is indeed both very ‘old’ and ‘rare’. I do not know of any older expression.
pear drops, tropical fruits, bubble gum, marzipan, solvent
The First Editions Glen Garioch 2008
Highland Single Cask Single Malt Age: 10 Year Old Vol: 46%
Tarnished silver in hue – American oak refill cask. A mild nose-feel , with cereal top notes (Rice Crispies, rice pudding, fresh morning rolls). Beneath these there lurks a suggestion of apricot jam (at full strength); the base note is acetone/solvent. The taste is malty and somewhat aggressive; sweet overall. A session malt. Glen Garioch (pronounced ‘Glen-Geery’) is one of the oldest in Scotland. It was first licensed in 1798 and the site – which still has some charmingly antiquated buildings – might well have been expanded from a brewery established in 1784. The founder, John Manson, came from local farming stock; he was joined four years later by his old brother, Alexander, and, in 1837, the year before John died, they were joined by his son, also named John (1804-1877). John junior took over the business and finished life as a petty landowner, with the proud title ‘Laird of Fingask’. His son, Sir Patrick Manson, was the first person to demonstrate conclusively the connection between mosquitos and diseases such as elephantiasis, and to postulate the origins of malaria, earning for himself the soubriquet ‘Mosquito Manson’. He is recognised as ‘The Father of Tropical Medicine’. The Manson family relinquished ownership in the 1880s and the distillery passed through several hands, until it was bought by the Glasgow whisky broker, Stanley P. Morrison, who also owned Bowmore Distillery on Islay, for £150,000. At the time, Glen Garioch was mothballed on account of “chronic water shortages and limited production potential”. Morrison resumed production at the same level as previously but, in 1972, set about finding an alternative water source using a local water diviner. Together they found what came to be called the ‘silent spring of Coutens Farm’ – it could neither be seen nor heard, but it flowed in sufficient abundance to increase production ten-fold. Morrison Bowmore Distillers extended the plant from two to three stills in 1972, and to four in 1973, when the distillery was largely rebuilt, although the floor maltings were retained and peating levels increased. Glen Garioch was first bottled as a single malt in 1972.
Rice Crispies, rice pudding, fresh morning rolls
The Old Malt Cask Craigellachie 11 Year Old Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Age: 11 Year Old Vol: 50%
These are both bottled under Hunter Laing’s reliable ‘Old Malt Cask’ label. Regular readers of Whiskeria will know that Hunter Laing is a family company, based in Glasgow and incorporated in 2013, following the break up of the long-established firm, Douglas Laing & Co. (founded 1948), and owned by Stewart Laing and his sons, Scott and Andrew. Stewart’s long experience and extensive stock of old whiskies make it possible for the company to release a number of collections, including The Old Malt Cask, introduced in 1998 and described as being a range of “rare and old malts, bottled at 50%Vol without chill-filtration or colour adjustment.” Craigellachie Distillery was commissioned in 1891 by a local farmer/distiller, Alexander Edward, in partnership with Peter Mackie of Lagavulin Distillery who had created the White Horse blend the year before. The spirit character is rich and heavy (Craigellachie has worm tubs) and very slightly peaty. It was the core malt for White Horse, a brand now owned by Diageo, while the distillery was sold to John Dewar & Sons (Bacardi) in 1998. I have been told that Craigellachie-Glenlivet single malt was popular in officers’ messes before World War I, but since then the only proprietary bottling was in United Distillers Flora & Fauna series around 1990 until 2014, when Dewar’s released four expressions at 13, 17, 19, and 23 years old to widespread acclaim. This Hunter Laing bottling is from a single European oak refill cask. This expression has been wine finished. I am sure most readers will know that Ledaig is the peated expression from Tobermory Distillery. The name apparently means ‘safe haven’, which well describes Tobermory Bay, and the original distillery was first named Ledaig. It is of early foundation (1798) and was built by John Sinclair, who had arrived at the recently built ‘model village’ in the early 1790s with little money and successfully established himself as a merchant and ship owner. As well as the distillery, he built a pier known as ‘Sinclair’s Quay’ and a substantial four-storey rubble warehouse, used for maturing whisky until 1982, when the then owner converted it into flats – a move much regretted by the current owner.
The Old Malt Cask Tobermory 12 Year Old Island Single Cask Single Malt Age: 12 Year Old Vol: 50%
Amber in hue. Rich woody opening notes, with sumptuous Belgian praline chocolate on the nose. Then come apricots and dried green raisins; a delicate sweet floral note hides at the very top, inviting you in for a taste. The palate is yielding with more milk chocolate and barley sugar candies. A rich and unctuous dram with a finish of stewed fruits, dense fruit crumble with thick vanilla custard to top it off.
Very pale gold in hue, like whispered yellow. The initial nose is white pepper, a wisp of maritime air – like a fishing village harbour on a breezy day – with the sea theme building into a feisty palate of hot barley and salted caramel. A thin and drying finish, culminating in peppercorn and citrus zest.
Rich woody opening notes, with sumptuous Belgian praline chocolate on the nose.
Very pale gold in hue, like whispered yellow.
Whisky News Winter 19—20
The Whisky Shop Interesting Auction Results Releases 1,200 We’ve sold a bottle of Kinclaith for £1,200 – the highest we’ve seen it go for in the current market.
875 A Port Ellen 1970 17 Year Old bottled by Gordon & MacPhail – the first to emerge this year – has been snapped up for £875.
975 The Brora 1975 20 Year Old Rare Malts edition has sold for a fantastic £975 despite a low fill-level, proving quality always wins over quantity!
Charity Auction Results
Auction Records 72,000
Gordon & MacPhail generously donated the oldest Macallan they ever bottled – a 65 Year Old, distilled in 1938 – to raise funds for the Beatson Cancer Charity. Gordon & MacPhail added: "With each bottle we have donated, we include an offer of an exclusive tasting of rare whiskies for 4 people, conducted by Stephen Rankin, our Director of Prestige.” Also generously donated to raise money for the Beatson charity is the first Rosebank ever released by the distillery’s new owners. The Rosebank 1989 Beatson Single Cask 29 Year Old / Bottle No. 1 of 1 "was drawn from Cask No: 2477 and hand-filled into a one-off decanter specifically to support Ian Curle's auction for the Beatson Cancer Charity.” It sold for £16k on Whisky Auctioneer. The Macallan Millennium Decanter 50 Year Old, released to commemorate the turn of the millennium, has set a new auction record, selling for £33k.
The Macallan 1950 Exceptional Cask, released at 67-years-old in July 2019 for £40k has achieved its first auction price of an impressive £72k.
13,500 An independent bottling of Clynelish from WM. Cadenhead has achieved a whopping and unprecedented £13.5k – breaking the £10k barrier for the first time.
19,000 A Brora 40 Year Old, distilled in 1972 and released to Travel Retail at around £6k less than five years ago, has set a new record, selling for £19k at auction.
4,000,000 As we go to print, the world’s ‘most valuable whisky collection’ is under the virtual hammer at Sotheby’s online auction. Sold on 24th October, the collection of 467 bottles and nine whole casks was valued at £4 million, and includes a consignment of 178 bottles of The Macallan dated from 19261991. Sotheby’s have said it is "the most comprehensive collection of the Macallan Fine and Rare series ever offered at auction”.
Diageo has announced its Special Releases range for 2019. Titled ‘Rare by Nature’, the collection consists of eight cask strength single malt Scotch whiskies selected from across the Diageo portfolio by Master Blender, Dr. Craig Wilson. Get yours at The Whisky Shop, before it’s too late! a The Glenlivet has launched its Capsule Collection to a perplexed and none-tooimpressed audience. The brand tweeted “No ice. No stirrer. No glass. We’re redefining how whisky can be enjoyed” to introduce the pods, which comprise whisky ‘wrapped’ in edible seaweed capsules. a Swedish brand Mackmayra has launched Intlligens AI-01, which is thought to be the first AI-created whisky. Overseen by Mackmyra Master Blender, Angela D’Orazio, the AI used an algorithm to assess reviews, ratings, and brand ambassador evaluations of Mackmyra’s original 75 recipes, and analyse 70 million different combinations, to inform its recipe. a Bacardi has revamped its range of Royal Brackla single malts with new sherry cask finishes, new ABV strengths, and new age statements – including replacing its 16-year-old expression with an 18-year-old whisky. The new range will initially launch in China Duty Free in May 2020, after which it will become available to domestic markets. a Three new whiskies in The Balvenie Stories collection were unveiled at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes, France, on 30th September, and will launch exclusively in global travel retail in June 2020. The range will comprise The Week of Peat, The Second Red Rose, and The Creation of the Classic – a NAS whisky that pays homage to David Stewart MBE, The Balvenie malt master and longest serving malt master in the industry, who created the first cask-finished whisky back in the 1980s.
Industry Insights An exciting amendment to the Scotch Whisky Regulations has been made following a public consultation by DEFRA. A greater variety of cask types will now be permitted for maturation purposes, ushering in a new era of experimentation for the industry. a
An 'artificial tongue' that can taste subtle differences between drams with 99% accuracy has been developed at the University of Glasgow. Lead Author of the research, Alasdair Clark, hopes it will help tackle counterfeit whisky. a The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has opened its first members rooms in Glasgow. SMWS members can visit from Tuesday to Sunday. Over 300 Society bottlings will be available at the venue. a The world’s most popular online whisky magazine – Scotchwhisky.com – has announced its closure after four years, citing unsustainable financial resources. In their farewell article, they promise "Another home will be found for the many thousands of pages of content from Scotchwhisky.com, and for new and updated coverage of the world of whisky." a Dr Jim Swan has ben posthumously honoured with a new gong at The Scottish Whisky Awards. Jim enjoyed a 40-year career as one of the most accomplished technical advisers to the whisky industry, prior to his death in 2017. ‘The Jim Swan Award for Services to Scotch Whisky’ is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the field.
The SWA has called on the government to provide further clarity on the impact of Brexit, including assurance of EU trademarks for UK products, and protection for Scotland’s national drink. Watch this space! a
Pernod Ricard have broken ground on their new £150 million, 13-hectare single malt distillery in China – the country’s first distillery owned by an international wine and spirits group. It is set to open in 2021. a Graham Coull beat off applicants from around the world to secure a new role at The Dingle Distillery, one of Ireland’s leading, family owned independent distilleries, following 14 years as Glen Moray’s Master Distiller and Distillery Manager.
a Diageo’s chairman, Javier Ferrán, has given a very public vote of confidence to the world’s biggest drinks company by adding a further £1million of shares to his holding over the last 12 months. A positive sign! a Edrington has invested in The Macallan 'Whisky Mastery' team by creating a string of new roles to “continue delivering the outstanding quality, natural colour, and distinctive aromas and flavours of The Macallan,” according to an official statement. The six-strong team includes: Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell, Master of Wood Stuart MacPherson, Lead Whisky Maker Sarah Burgess, with her team Polly Logan and Steven Bremner, and Russell Greig as Sample Room Assistant. a
New tariffs imposed by the US on EU products, including Scotch, from 18th October, have been deemed an ‘existential threat’ to the whisky industry, with growth, investment, and jobs jeopardised. Some distilleries took to flying their wares across the Atlantic, instead of sending by sea, before Trump’s tariffs took effect.
The W Club
A New Take Our new manager of The W Club, Natalie McLaughlin, gives you the low down on our refreshed membership offering.
The W Club’s launch in 2012 was nothing short of timely. A new era for whisky had dawned, with the industry seeing its biggest boom in decades. The popularity of whisky was surging, but much of the language surrounding it remained stuck in an environment of elitism – or ‘Scotch snobbery’, as the press called it. There was an exciting potential to get more people into whisky, but where were they meant to start? With so many new brands emerging onto the scene, whisky bars and their impressive gantries became intimidating. Whisky, for many, was out of budget, out of reach (literally), and for some, out of style. We knew that it didn’t need to be that way. For us, it was an opportunity to create a space in which people could explore whisky without the need for big pockets or big knowledge. And, most importantly, to make that exploration fun. Our mission set out to connect whisky with like-minded people by making our brand approachable. We vowed to only speak in plain language, began hosting accessible tasting events, and put Whisky Wednesday flash sales on our members’ favourite bottles. Seven years and over 5000 members later, we’re the biggest we’ve ever been. We are grateful for the opportunity to grow and to imagine what we can achieve in the world of whisky. We are equally thankful for The W Club community who continue to make this possible. With expansion and change, we plan to be clear and transparent in communicating our plans to evolve The W Club. This year, we invested time into learning what our members wanted from their membership, and listened to what they had to say. We posted surveys, sent emails, made phone calls, and spoke you at tastings. It was thorough because The W Club’s raison d’être is to always put its members first. No matter how much we grow, The W Club remains all about the community that is at the heart of everything we do. The W Club is about the whisky enthusiast who was inspired by their gran’s ritualistic nightcap, and it’s also about the whisky novice who fell victim to the Mad Men effect. Our mission itself remains unchanged, because we remember that we all started our whisky journey somewhere.
benefits of the w club membership A free introductory tasting event New members will be invited to book an induction into The W Club to set them off on their whisky journey. Inductions will be informal tasting events at each member’s local branch of The Whisky Shop. It’s a chance to get familiar with the shop’s layout, meet and chat to the staff, and discover upcoming events. Exclusive access to members-only bottlings Demand for single cask bottlings is at an alltime high, and this is no exception among our members. You’ve asked for more, and we’re going to give you more. For the third birthday of The W Club as it exists today, we’ve released an Old Pulteney 2006 Single Cask #1448, which is for members of The W Club only. To-date, each release has been a sell-out, and we’re excited to announce the next very soon. Keep your eyes peeled! Invitations to exclusive tasting events and special discounts on the night Members will be sent regular invitations to tasting events at their local branch of The Whisky Shop. Tasting events are a way for our members to connect with like-minded whisky lovers and discover something new. These events will be ticketed from as little as £20, and will range from relaxed tastings to interactive masterclasses. A discount of at least 20% will be offered on selected bottles tried on the night. Advance access and discounts on The Whisky Shop events Members of The W Club will be the first to know about, and the first to access, public events at The Whisky Shop. These events are typically brand ambassador-led and provide a more intimate experience. Members will receive £5 off their ticket and can also offer their discount to two guests per event.
Offers in-store and online, including Whisky Wednesday Each month, we select different bottles to be discounted by 10% for our members only. These offers will be available online, and in-store offers will be unique to each branch of The Whisky Shop. Our Whisky Wednesday flash sales will appear at 10am on the 3rd Wednesday of each month and will feature more bottles. No more 11am sell-outs (we hope!).
Cask Committee opportunities – choose our next single cask! We want our members to be hands-on with our cask selection process for members-only bottlings – after all, you’re choosing the whisky for yourselves! For each release, we’ll announce a ballot and invite a committee to taste and select The W Club bottling for that season. Subscription to Whiskeria magazine, worth £20 annually Released quarterly, Whiskeria magazine is your behind-the-scenes look into the world of whisky, with lashings of lifestyle content added for good measure. We’ll continue to post a free copy to all members of The W Club, free of charge, so you can access interviews and expert reviews from the comfort of your home. Priority notice of rare and limited releases Our members will be the first to know when The Whisky Shop is about to release a new limited edition bottle. The early bird catches the worm or, in this case, the whisky! Special members-only competitions Throughout the year, we announce competitions where members can win an exclusive range of whisky prizes. Recent prizes have included a Highland Park Single Cask Exclusive to The W Club, and two anCnoc anniversary bottlings.
Join our new Whisky Club in-store or online! Includes: Invitations to exclusive tastings Magazine subscription Discounts in-store and online
A Time in History
Banzai! To Scotch! Brian Wilson urges us to share Japan's passion for whisky – but beware the karaoke.
Many UK embassies around the world have intriguing stories to tell, usually from an era when imperial power encouraged exceptional real estate offerings from host countries. The classic example is our address in Tokyo, which is the only complex allowed to overlook the Imperial Palace.
Many UK embassies around the world have intriguing stories to tell, usually from an era when imperial power encouraged exceptional real estate offerings from host countries. The classic example is our address in Tokyo, which is the only complex allowed to overlook the Imperial Palace. When I first stayed there as a Minister, a new ambassador had arrived, and his wife went exploring in the bowels of the residence. She came up with a priceless find – the original visitors’ book which tracked the movements of Brits through Japan in the 1920s and ‘30s. Entries stopped abruptly on the eve of Pearl Harbour. What happened next reflected an extraordinary adherence to diplomatic protocol. While the horrors of war were unfolding, the Embassy remained unscathed and unoccupied for any other purpose. Its extensive grounds were carefully maintained. The day after Japan’s surrender in September 1945, the first entry in the book was from the Officer Commanding Allied Forces in the Far East, and the whole routine kicked off again. These days, signatures are more likely to come from British businessmen and their Japanese partners, attending some reception or other. As our foreign service has adapted over the past 20 years to become more trade-oriented,
these property assets – often the best address in town – have become valuable tools of soft diplomacy. Lots of people like an invitation to the British Ambassador’s place. No organisation has been more assiduous in developing these relationships than the Scotch Whisky Association, which certainly knows its way round the embassy circuit for trade purposes, and is frequently called on to oil the wheels of hospitality. Japan is a key market for the industry. In 2018 it imported 50 million bottles of Scotch, which put it at number six in the charts ‘by volume’ behind the United States, France, India, Mexico, and Spain. This is in spite of Japan’s own reputation as a producer of whiskies, both of high quality and at the lower end of the market. In the 1960s, the Scottish entertainer Andy Stewart recorded a song in praise of whisky which included the lines: The Japanese are really great, the things that they can imitate But one thing they can’t recreate is good old Highland Whisky. That theory did not survive the test of time. As with much else, the Japanese moved rapidly from being imitators to
A Time in History
Discover the unique character of every single cask.
innovators. Japanese whisky has been around since the 1920s, but global demand has soared in recent years after its finest blends started picking up the industry’s most prestigious awards – which has led to some curious outcomes. The definition of ‘Japanese Whisky’ can be pretty vague. Between 2017 and 2018, in response to this growing demand, bulk imports of Scottish-made whisky to be incorporated into ‘Japanese’ blends, soared by 141 per cent. One example of this trade is Ben Nevis Distillery at Fort William, which has been Japanese owned since 1989, with much of its output going into the Black Nikka Clear range of blended whiskies. According to the analysts Bloomberg: “Much of what ends up in Japanese bottles is from Scotland and Canada”. That helps explain why pure Scotch continues to lead demand in the whisky bars that feature in all Japanese cities. When the Rugby World Cup was held recently, I met the owners of three such bars in Yokohama at a reception in the Ambassador’s residence. They represented Yokohama Whisky Club, which had produced a special blend to mark the occasion. Subsequently, I visited one of the bars – the Shanty Shack – which should be a ‘must’ on any visiting whisky-lover’s itinerary. It stands out as an old, low building in a high-rise suburb and contains a massive collection of Scotch single malts and blends, as well as Japanese whisky and bourbon. According to the owner, Shigeyuki Kuramochi, Scotch single malts remain easily the most popular category, with Glenfiddich his brand leader. Having developed a whisky interest, Shigeyuki was not content just to sell the product. In the 15 years since the bar opened, he has travelled several times to Scotland to visit distilleries, and has become a ‘whisky professional and lecturer’ accredited by the Japan Whisky Research Centre. When the Japanese alight upon a subject, they tend not to deal in half-measures.
In fact, they even have a word for it – otaku – described to me as “more than a passion but less than an obsession”. I recall another example from an earlier visit which also confirms the Scotland-Japan cultural affinity. Scanning an English-language newspaper, my eye caught an intimation that the Tokyo Pipe Band were holding a practice session and welcoming new members. I went along (with a view to writing about it rather than playing, I should hastily add). My expectation was that a collection of ex-pats might run through a few tunes before adjourning to the nearest hostelry. Nothing could have been further from the reality. The pipe-major was an Australian but otherwise the band was made up of earnest young Japanese – most of them engineering students of Professor Masami Yamane. He had developed an interest in pipe music through BBC Radio in the post-war years. Not only had he learned to play the instrument, he also invented an electronic tuner which assisted in the tricky art of producing just the right sound from the drones. “I showed it to John Burgess,” he told me, referring to the greatest Scottish piper of that era, “but he did not like…”. This did not surprise me, since gadgets had no place in the traditions of the great Highland bagpipe. However, the march of progress could not be halted and today every pipe band uses electronic tuners derived from Dr Yamane’s invention. Meanwhile, in deference to their esteemed Professor, a generation of his students learned to play the pipes, and the Tokyo Pipe Band survives to this day. The Japanese gifting culture plays a big part in creating a high value market for Scotch Whisky. There is no more respectful gesture than to present a really good bottle of single malt Scotch, suitably packaged. This has created a network of knowledge and demand which continues to make Scotch whisky a symbol of both aspiration and success within Japanese society. It is the habit of every ambitious Japanese employee to aspire to the behaviour of those above him. So, if the big boss – the sacho san – drinks Scotch whisky, then so does he (and in this intensely male-dominated society, it normally is ‘he’). Sometimes the outcomes were not particularly happy, as Tokyo-based writer Andrew Baker described: “The first peak of whisky consumption in Japan came in the boom years of the ‘70s and ‘80s when Japanese industry and business was conquering the world and executives driving such success, salarymen with identical suits and briefcases, were national heroes who worked hard and played with equally terrifying zeal.
“These men’s appetite for a snifter or three was entertainingly out of kilter to their ability to withstand the effects of alcohol. One of the few dangers to citizens in the streets of Tokyo was tripping over the prone forms of unconscious salarymen on station platforms, in train corridors or on street corners” It has all become more sophisticated since then. There are not so many identical suits, perhaps greater circumspection in the consumption of strong drink and, as a result, fewer threats to public safety! However, Japan’s appetite for Scotch whisky remains undiminished, and to that we can all say: “Kanpai!” – or “cheers”. Japanese drinking culture has subtle rules which include the right to pull out before the going gets really serious. The toast of “banzai!” (“to live 10,000 years” ) as all glasses are brought together is usually a warning sign, and etiquette advises: “Be enthusiastic. Don't be the one at the table who isn't excited about living 10,000 years”. If you hang in after that, the biggest danger is getting caught up in the karaoke.
Knowledge Bar Japanese Drinking Words
Kanpai! Cheers! Banzai! To live 10,000 years! Koime Make it strong Okawari Refill Yopparai Drunk Futsukayoi Hungover Nonde! Drink! Mizuwari Cut with water
A Time in History
❛ Japanese drinking culture has subtle rules which include the right to pull out before the going gets really serious. The toast of “banzai!” (“to live 10,000 years”) as all glasses are brought together is usually a warning sign
THE PALETTE OF BENRIACH. We source our eclectic cask collection from all over the world. From this colourful palette our master blender Rachel Barrie artfully combines bourbon, Oloroso sherry and virgin oak casks to create BenRiach 10 Year-Old, a rich Speyside single malt with an abundance of orchard fruits, luscious sweetness and toasted oak spice.
BenRiach. Exploring flavour since 1898.
Savour with time, drink responsibly. The BenRiach is a registered trademark ÂŠ2019 BenRiach
Brilliant Bars +Radical Restaurants +Awesome Attractions ➛ In Birmingham, age-old crafts and pretty canals sit alongside innovative industry and a vibrant night-life. Here’s why the West Midlands’ most misunderstood city should be at the top of your agenda.
Tour Guide Birmingham
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The Whisky Shop, Birmingham
11 Coppergate Walk YO1 9NT
DAVID (Store Manager) My favourite whisky of 2019 was The Whisky Shop Exclusive Loch Lomond single cask, which has unfortunately now sold out here. I’m looking forward to more of those! My other favourite is quite a curious one, which was the Girvan 8 Year Old Single Grain, released under the GlenKeir Treasures range, which was a really interesting whisky. After some time in the barrel in the shop, the grain took on this really amazing buttery character. Add a bit of water and it was really creamy, with almost white chocolate notes. We only have a few bottles of that left! How long have you been in Birmingham? Since 1999. I came here to study fine art, and I’ve been in the city as an artist and curator since then. I used to teach art as well. When I first started I was part time here, and part time teaching art. How did you get into whisky? When I was a student, and after being a student, I was working at Oddbins mostly selling wine, and that’s quite an easy crossover in terms of appreciating and describing flavours. I knew the previous manager Craig when The Whisky Shop first opened in Bimingham, and that’s how I started working here. Where would you go for a drink after work? The Wolf. It serves modern micro-brewery beers and super-hoppy IPAs. Then, you can walk up the road from there to the Birmingham Whisky Club.
❁ David, our Shop Manager
ROBERT What are your favourite products to recommend at the moment? I think The Loch Fyne 16 Year Old Bunnahabhain is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the perfect balance of nice coastal notes and the sweet sherry cask influence. Phenomenal! Then, of course, I like anything from Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia. All their products are just fantastic. And of course, their ambassador, Ibon, is great. The Bruichladdich Classic Laddie is also great, with its fantastic sea salt character, and I like Clynelish as well. In the First Editions range you’ve got a couple of independently bottled Bunnahabhains, which are fantastic. And there are various Craigellachie expressions, which include the ones from The Loch Fyne and also GlenKeir Treasures – they’re scrumptious.
❁ Renata RENATA …has just moved to Birmingham from Bristol – we met her on her very first day at The Whisky Shop! Which whiskies are you most looking forward to trying? I’m super-excited to try stuff I haven’t tried from independent bottlers, and also the GlenKeir Treasures. If you could buy any whisky in here today, and money wasn’t an issue, what would you try? I’m a big fan of peated whisky. I’m really bad at decisions! I never know what to choose to order when I'm in a bar. I would maybe go for a Bowmore, from the top shelf!
CITY CENTRE | 29 / 30 Stephenson St, B2 4BH 54 Cornwall St, B3 2DE Opusrestaurant.co.uk
Opus came by recommendation of The Whisky Shop, Birmingham, manager David and, boy, are we glad we listened to him. “Representing an outstanding commitment to the best seasonal ingredients” provides the perfect introduction to their diverse and exciting menu online, and hits the nail squarely on the head. We started with Smoked Cotswold Chicken Terrine and Goat’s Cheese Mousse & Textures of Beetroot; both were big on flavour, but light in texture, which is exactly what you want when you’re saving room for one of their incredible main courses. Our table was soon adorned with rich Roasted Loin of Highland Venison (replete with its own wee venison cottage pie!), Breast of Five Spice Glazed Merryfield Farm Duck – accompanied by fresh autumn chanterelles, and Roasted Tail of Cornish Monkfish atop a smoky Suffolk chorizo paella. To finish came a Burnt Orange Tart and Vanilla Panna Cotta, both presented with a finesse and understanding of flavour that few pastry chefs achieve. To perfectly complement the food is an accomplished wine menu, bracketed by innovative aperitif cocktails, and digestifs including a selection of whiskies sourced from Scotland, America, Ireland, and Japan. The thing that really makes this place, though, is the staff. We couldn’t have been better looked after, or felt more warmly welcome. Assistant Manager Simona and her team made an already special culinary experience unforgettable. An absolute must-visit.
❀✿❀✿❀✿❀✿❀ Fine Fittle➘
——————————————————— 1 Great Western Arcade CITY CENTRE | Colmore Row, B2 5HU | greatwesternarcade.co.uk
We’ve got some tasty neighbours in the Great Western Arcade. Try Hawaiian food at Kuula Poke, stay virtuous with a lunch from ‘Land’ Vegetarian, or warm up for a Japanese whisky purchase at Sushi Passion. If you’re looking for a nibble to enjoy with your dram, you can’t go wrong with some artisan cheese from Anderson & Hill. ——————————————————— 2 Fumo Italian Tapas / San Carlo CITY CENTRE | 1 Waterloo St, B2 5PG / 4 Temple St, Birmingham B2 5BN Sancarlofumo.co.uk
Sleek and chic Fumo is the latest concept restaurant, cocktail bar and late-lounge from the city’s familyrun San Carlo group, whose eponymous restaurant is a multi-award winning home of fine Italian cuisine. ——————————————————— 3 Otto JEWELLERY QUARTER | 14 Caroline St, B3 1TR | ottowoodfired.com
Settle into the comfy surrounds of Otto to enjoy wood fired speciality pizzas, charcuterie, and vegetable boards featuring the very best British and Italian ingredients.
——————————————————— 4 The Indian Brewery Company
——————————————————— 7 Original Patty Men
“Different, innovative and awesome” is the mantra of this Indian street food and craft beer specialist, and it’s bang on. Visit to try spiced delights, and their own-brewed Birmingham Lager on tap. ——————————————————— 5 Hen and Chicken
Tucked away beneath the train tracks is one of Birmingham’s most raved about restaurants. In their own words they are “Patty pimps and purveyors of filth”, serving delicious dirty burgers along with Siren Craft Brew beers. ——————————————————— 9 The Balti Triangle
JEWELLERY QUARTER | 214 Livery St, Archway 16, B3 1EU | Indianbrewery.com
JEWELLERY QUARTER | 27 Constitution Hill B19 3LE | henandchicken.com
This perennially popular eatery marries irresistible Indian cuisine with the best British gastro pub values, creating a crowd-pleasing place to enjoy curries and craft beers. ——————————————————— 6 Digbeth Dining Club DIGBETH | Lower Trinity St, B9 4AG | digbethdiningclub.com
The city’s old industrial quarter has been transformed into its cultural heart over recent years. This streetfood collective runs Thursday to Sunday and hosts a melting pot of foodie traders, who consistently draw big crowds each week.
DIGBETH | 9 Shaw's Passage, B5 5JG | originalpattymen.com
OUT OF TOWN | Ladypool Rd, B12 8JS
This area of Balsall Heath is the undisputed original and best venues to find Balti food in Birmgham. As a bonus, most venues offer BYOB! ——————————————————— 9 Carters OUT OF TOWN | 2c St Mary's Row, Wake Green Road, Moseley, B13 9EZ | cartersofmoseley.co.uk
If you’re feeling flash, venture out to Carters Michelin Starred restaurant and luxuriate in the modern surroundings with a menu that celebrates amazing British produce. ——————————————————— 10 The Plough OUT OF TOWN | 21 High St, Harborne, B17 9NT | theploughharborne.co.uk
This immensely popular, independent inn and eatery serves good, honest pub classics. The ultimate stop off for some comfort food.
CITY CENTRE | 29 / 30 Stephenson St, B2 4BH | yorkscafe.co.uk
How do you like your eggs in the morning? Since visiting Birmingham, we’ll be saying “from Yorks!”. A foodie favourite for very good reason, the bustling Stephenson Street café occupies a corner of the cosmopolitan city centre, giving it a lively atmosphere and great people-watching potential. The brunch menu serves up a glut of global influences, with Arabian Buttered Eggs, Turkish Eggs, Shakshuka, and Louisiana Fried Chicken all on offer, along with classics like Eggs Benedict, Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs, and a full English. To top it all off, the coffee is first class too! 13
Buffalo & Rye
CITY CENTRE | 11 Bennetts Hill, B2 5RS | buffaloandrye.co.uk
This quirky, casual burger joint takes aesthetic inspiration from Birmingham’s heavy metal heritage – cocktails include The Lemmy Sour (an update on a classic whisky sour with Jack Daniel’s and cola). It’s another favourite with The Whisky Shop staff in Birmingham due to its incredible American whiskey menu, which features no fewer than 50 bourbon, corn, and rye expressions from across the Atlantic! To soak it all up, there’s a hearty selection of burgers, ribs, and other indulgent morsels, and some truly imaginative candy milkshakes, too.
——————————————————— 4 The Birmingham Whisky Club
——————————————————— 1 The Wellington
If there’s anyone in Birmingham who shares our ethos, it’s the city’s official whisky club, whose HQ includes a specialist bar and tasting room for customers to explore all things whisky.
CITY CENTRE | 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5SN | thewellingtonrealale.co.uk
David’s passion for real ale and craft beer almost equals his passion for whisky, and he recommends this city centre bar as the perfect place to find a great variety of both! ——————————————————— 2 The Wolf / Rock and Roll
Brewhouse Bar / Burning Soul JEWELLERY QUARTER | Brewery 2-10 Constitution Hill, B19 3LY /
60 Regent Pl, B1 3NJ / thewolfbirmingham.com | burningsoulbrewing.com
If you’re a craft beer connoisseur, the Jewellery Quarter will be your Birmingham Mecca: this trio of micro and indy breweries each have their wares on tap, and are within easy walking distance of one another. ——————————————————— 3 1000 Trades / The Vanguard JEWELLERY QUARTER | 16 Frederick St, B1 3HE | 1000trades.org.uk
1000 Trades has a progressive approach to drinks, with beers “tending towards the stronger and weirder”, and an all-natural wine list on offer. Upstairs there’s The Vanguard: the UK’s first cocktail bar and meadery! Perfect if you want something a bit different.
Bourne & Co. Cocktails
7-8 Suffolk Street, Queensway, Birmingham B1 1LT | bourneandcompany.com
Nestled behind an unassuming exterior, a stone’s throw from the famous Bullring and Birmingham New Street Station, is a bar born from a love of vintage cocktails. A respect for the history and heritage of mixology is evident at every turn, right down to impeccably dressed bartenders Davide and Martin, and their precise, practised methods. Focusing on vintage cocktails and ‘twisted classics’ the menu reads more like a manual – there’s a thorough tasting guide, the potted-history of each classic serve, and snippets of information about key events such as prohibition and the rise of ‘tiki’.
JEWELLERY QUARTER | 75-80 Vyse St, B18 6HA | thebirminghamwhiskyclub.co.uk
——————————————————— 5 Hop & Scotch / Dark Horse MOSELEY / KINGS HEATH | 9 Institute Rd, B14 7EG / 145 Alcester Rd, Moseley, B13 8JP | darkhorsemoseley.co.uk
Just as it says in the name, Hop & Scotch serves up a fantastic whisky selection alongside their impressive range of craft brews. Dark Horse nearby also specialises in craft beers, along with live music and a smokehouse on site. ——————————————————— 6 Grace and James MOSELEY / KINGS HEATH | 23 York Rd, B14 7SA | graceandjames.xyz
This light and airy natural wine shop, bar, and deli changes their wine menu daily, showcasing new and different biodynamic and organic wines, along with a delicious range of cheese and charcuterie to eat in or take away.
MOSELEY / KINGS HEATH | 118 Alcester Rd, B13 8EE | theprincemoseley.co.uk
A truly unique offering in the heart of Moseley, award-winning The Prince of Wales pub has a traditional front that hides four bars (including wine, and cigar bars and the NO-TIKI Tiki bar) plus a heated marquee. ——————————————————— 8 The Distillery EDGBASTON | 4 Sheepcote St, B16 8AE | thedistillerybirmingham.co.uk
This part canal-side bar, part gin distillery, is the birthplace of Roundhouse Gin. Enjoy one in the outdoor area, which overlooks Birmingham’s famous canals. ——————————————————— 9 The Edgbaston EDGBASTON | Edgbaston 18 Highfield Rd, B15 3DU | theedgbaaston.co.uk
A boutique hotel designed in luxurious Art Deco style with not one but three cocktail lounges to pick from! Perfectly executed classic cocktails sit alongside imaginative new creations on a menu categorised by themes such as ‘Nature’, ‘Adventure’, and ‘Heritage’. ——————————————————— 10 The Old Crown EDGBASTON | Digbeth, High St, B12 0LD | theoldcrown.com
Occupying Birmingham’s oldest secular building, The Old Crown proudly states it is “your community pub since 1368”. Visit for a genuine tradition pub experience, complete with old beamed ceilings and cosy armchairs.
Bostin' Bars ➘
——————————————————— 7 The Prince of Wales
Jekyll & Hyde
CITY CENTRE | 28 Steelhouse Lane, City Centre, B4 6BJ | thejekyllandhyde.co.uk
If you’re in the mood for gin, then Jekyll & Hyde is the place to go – they have over 80 varieties of botanical brilliance on the gantry, and a staff who really know their stuff. In keeping with the popular origins of gin, the pub itself has Dickensian decor to send you back to the days of gin palaces and mother's ruin! With a popular week-night quiz and a lively crowd, it’s an excellent place to mingle with the locals.
CITY CENTRE | The Grand, Colmore Row, B3 2DE | thealchemist.uk.com
The bartenders at The Alchemist take experimental cocktails to the extreme, with a theatrical approach to serving drinks that froth, fizz, and flare from conical flasks as if created in the lab! Punters watch the theatrics from high stools in this stylish bar, and choose from weird and wonderfully-named creations such as Lightbulb Moment, She’s Electric, Banoffee Manhattan, and many more. There’s even an Augmented Reality menu that blends technology with mixology in intriguing new ways.
CITY CENTRE | No.3 The Grand, 27 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2BS liquorstoreclothing.com
Strange name for a men’s clothing store, you might think? That’s because there’s more to the trendy boutique than meets the eye. Stocked with an electric range of men’s fashion and footwear, the shop also holds the secret to one of the city’s most exclusive cocktail bars… Only those deemed worthy are given access to Liquor Store’s Speakeasy: a hidden hot-spot for prohibition era cocktails. You’ll need to pick up a playing card and get the password correct if you want to find it!
——————————————————— 1 Ikon Gallery 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, B1 2HS | Ikon-gallery.org
Internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue Ikon is housed in the Grade II listed, neo-gothic former Oozells Street Board School, designed by John Henry Chamberlain in 1877. Entry is free. ——————————————————— 2 Custard Factory Gibb Street, Digbeth, B9 4AA
Just five minutes' walk from the city centre is Birmingham’s undisputed creative hub. Custard Factory is home to many inspiring businesses, from indy shops to cafes and bars, and artists’ spaces to the Mockingbird Cinema. ——————————————————— 3 Birmingham
Museum & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH | birminghammuseums.org.uk
A collection of international importance covering fine art, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, natural history, archaeology, ethnography, local history, and industrial history. There’s everything from Egyptian artefacts, to an excellent collection of pre-Raphaelite art. ——————————————————— 4 The Barber Institute of Fine Art University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TS | Barber.org.uk
Part of the university campus, the Grade II listed Art Deco exterior of the Barber Institute houses an art gallery and concert hall. The breadth and quality of the collection is immense, taking you from Gainsborough to Turner, to Van Dyke and Magritte – (to name but a few).
——————————————————— 9 Soho House
Built as a parish church and consecrated in 1715, St Philip's became the cathedral of the newly formed Diocese of Birmingham in 1905. Make sure you look out for the amazing windows, designed by Birmingham born pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by William Morris & Co. ——————————————————— 6 Selly Manor Maple Rd, B30 2AE | Selleymanormuseum.org.uk A timber framed Tudor construction, Selley Manor stands at the heart of Bourneville Village, after being moved there by chocolate manufacturer and philanthropist George Cadbury. Today, it’s a heritage site, allowing you to step back for an authentic experience of Tudor England. ——————————————————— 7 Cadbury World
This is the Georgian home of the Birmingham industrialist and entrepreneur, Matthew Boulton, and also the meeting place of the Lunar Society – a leading Enlightenment group. (See My Craft for more info!). ——————————————————— 10 Library of Birmginham
Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB | birminghamcathedral.com
Linden Rd, Birmingham B30 1JR | Cadburyworld.co.uk
The home of the famous chocolate! This is the destination for a real Willy Wonka experience – there are demonstrations, tours, and more to totally satisfy the most sweet-toothed among us. ——————————————————— 8 The Museum of the
Jewellery Quarter 75-80 Vyse St, Birmingham B18 6HA | birminghammuseums.org.uk
Built around the perfectly preserved workshop of Smith & Pepper, left untouched for 30 years after closure, and mostly unchanged for 70 years beforehand! This is a true time capsule experience, giving an insight into the important city industry and craft.
Soho Ave, B18 5LB | birminghammuseums.org.uk
Centenary Square, Broad St, B1 2ND
Bookworm or not, you’ll definitely want to make a pilgrimage to see the architecturally astonishing Library of Birmingham. Opened in September 2013, it was the flagship project for the city’s ongoing redevelopment and is the largest public library in the UK. Visually, it is a masterpiece of post-modern, high tech design.
——————————————————— 5 St. Philip’s Cathedral
Family Cocoa Silver My Craft
Housed in a modest corner of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter since 1786, Deakin & Francis is England’s oldest manufacturing jewellers. As with whisky, their success relies on a team of resident artisans who expertly marry traditional craft with modern design to create timeless, collectable treasures. They specialise in the design and manufacture of incredible cufflinks and bespoke commissions.
— Photography: Brian Sweeney
Knowledge Bar Deakin & Francis Est. 1786 by Benjamin Woolfield Location: Regent Place, Birmingham B1 3NL Now managed by the seventh generation of the Deakin family Henry and James Deakin are both fully qualified gemologists deakinandfrancis.co.uk Instagram/Twitter: @deakin_francis Tel: +44 (0) 121 236 7751 Flagship store: Piccadilly Arcade, London SW1Y 6NH Tel: +44 (0) 203 784 9369
We met Henry Deakin – the seventh generation to take the helm of this family business – for a look behind the scenes. We bought the building in 1786 as a family, 234 years ago. Our meeting room is James Watt’s old sitting room where he and Matthew Boulton started the Lunar Society*. They’d be sitting in here and smoking opium, or whatever they did! We’ve been here all this time. We’ve never moved factories. We’re an old dusty workshop, but it works. The building leaks, it’s a bit of a nightmare, you wouldn’t design a jewellery factory like this, but it certainly does work for us! Birmingham is now being developed so much that we’re losing the craft and the artisans. So, we’re turning this building into the ‘best of Birmingham’ – we’re moving these designer-makers in. We didn’t do tours here, for security reasons amongst other things, but have now slowly started doing them. I remember saying to dad, when I was taking over,“There’s journalists wanting to come in” – people like The Financial Times’ ‘How to Spend It’ who would’ve been worth having in – and dad was like, “I don’t want them here!”. I was trying to build a brand! How has the internet impacted your business? It has completely changed our business. We were purely B2B, so we were manufacturing for all these other people. But now the customers want to find out – and more generally members of the public want to know – where things are made. People want to go to source and find out how things were made, and check that people aren’t employing children and everything else.
So, we’re being discovered more and more by people, which is great! *The Lunar Society of Birmingham was a dinner club and informal learned society of prominent figures in the Midlands Enlightenment, including industrialists, natural philosophers and intellectuals, who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham, England.
How do you decide what to make? We have a snooker table in one room where we keep all our planning for next year’s designs. The design guys lay it out and the board choose what they like! If we want to make something, we then decide how it is going to be made, and what metals we’ll make it out of. Then we’ll blow it apart and work out what tools we’ll need to make that cufflink, what it’s going to cost us, what we can sell it for, and if it’s worth selling. My brother [James Deakin] is head of creative, and Adam also does design – he does hand drawing and computer drawings too, which is a whole world of wizardry that’s new to us, but it’s proving to be really useful. For many years we’ve created grand one-off designs and with these new skills, customisation is something we’re trying to get into more because, as a small family business, we can do it. It’s not like we have minimum orders for 1,000 units. We’ve made a single ring or a single phone cover (in solid gold) as well as bespoke commemorative pieces of boats, horses, and cars.
One machine in this room has been here for close to 200 years, and it’s for drawing down wires to the desired gauge. There’s a smaller machine that does that, but this is so much cooler!
Nigel in the tooling workshop where he cuts and shapes metal using the fly- and hydraulic presses
The Viking dress studs and cufflinks
An articulated skull umbrella topper
We’re known for our skull cufflinks and items like the skull-topped walking stick, which work in the same way: when the jaw is pulled down, the diamond eyes appear… These are really fun, and we’ve been making them for years. Skulls, for us, are very important. We’re an old business, and we’ve manufactured for basically everybody – most of Bond Street, for example – but we’re not allowed to say who we manufacture for, which is really irritating! When I took over the company, we were known as the brand behind the brands and, actually, we needed to put our name on a product, and we needed to put the company first. So, we slowly started building this brand, and we got into some amazing stores! It was easier for us to get into stores in America than it was to get into stores in the UK, because our UK customers weren’t keen to promote us – they still wanted to say they made the cufflinks and
What factors dictate the designs? It very much depends on the whole team. They’ve got free rein to do what they want to do, because we know what can sell, and they know what can be made. Between us all we have a bit of a play around. We’re a bit too small to be influenced by trends and fashions. We don’t stop making anything – we have what look like copies from 1910 or 1920, but they’re not copies, we just don’t stop making those designs. Do you keep one of everything? ….no! We try to, but there’s so much! Thankfully, we’re seeing our product come up in sales rooms that’s over 100-years old. That’s pretty cool! We have some stones here that were cut for us before the First World War, and we only found them recently in one of the vaults. We don’t tell anyone that, but we probably should! It’s a brilliant marketing story.
jewellery themselves! We got into Bergdorf Goodman, which was one of our first big department stores, and that’s really what took the brand to where it is now. For the first time ever, not only were we allowed to put our name on the product – they wanted our packaging, they wanted the story, they wanted myself, my father, and my brother to go round and talk to people, because they couldn’t believe that our company is older than America! It was extraordinary! I came back from seeing Bergdorf in America, and dad picked me up from the airport and he goes “I’ve designed something brilliant”. And I was like, “Alright dad! Rein yourself in! What is it?”, but he refused to tell me! When I got to my desk, there was a pair of skulls. I thought they were pretty cool – it was before anyone was doing skulls – but I
Are you a whisky drinker? Probably not as much as I used to be! Do you have a favourite whisky? I drink an awful lot of Famous Grouse. I very sadly lost a friend this year, Arthur Chamberlain, who owned Glenfiddich. We were about to do a project together, so it’s very sad that we didn’t. Another one I like is The Dalwhinnie – I put it in the freezer for a very long time, until it’s almost like a Slush Puppy! We do a whisky cufflink, actually! These are amazing. It’s a rock crystal, carved from behind, painted with a onebristle brush, and backed with Mother of Pearl, so you get a 3D image. It takes days and days to make. Those retail for about £4000-£5000.
wasn’t sure who would buy them. Then dad said, “Pull down the jaw…”. As soon as you do that you get the diamond eyes and it’s like “Wow!”. That year I sent a picture of the skulls via email to the Bergdorf buyers – it was quite early on for email then – and they went nuts over them! From opening the account, to that Christmas, we were the highest selling brand in Bergdorf after Loro Piana and Ralph Lauren. No brand had ever done that – we did 42 pairs of cufflinks between Thanksgiving and Christmas! That really helped us to start pushing the brand and getting it out there… Our Viking dress studs and the matching cufflinks were originally done for fun, but now we cannot make enough of them. You have rubies in the eyes, spinel set into the headset, enamel horns, then the rabbit. We have all sorts of amazing, extraordinary work.
A machine tool used to shape sheet metal by deforming it or cutting it with punches and dies.
A solid mould, made from pig iron.
Excess metal following the tooling process, to be removed and sent away for refining.
The quality of being porous, or full of tiny holes.
Sterling silver jewellery is always stamped with a marking to indicate the percentage of silver it contains. This appears as 925, .925 or 92.5. In the U.S., anything less than 92.5 percent is not considered sterling silver
An official mark or series of marks imprinted on items made of metal to certify the content of noble metals—such as platinum, gold, silver and in some nations, palladium. Also denotes place of origin.
Institutions set up to assay (test the purity of) precious metals. This is often done to protect consumers from buying fake items.
A trader in precious metals, particularly gold and silver.
Every groove on the side of the workmen’s desks here means something. Every notch on a desk like that is a different way of holding a tool, and the guys make all their own tools, too. You can’t just go and buy them off a shelf, so they’ll file away and use angle grinders to get what they need.
Paul in the fittings workshop, where he uses hand-crafted tools and a custom-notched desk to accomplish his delicate work
——————————————————— 1 THE FLY PRESS & DIE The bullion dealers nearby deliver exactly our gauge of metal. We’re quite particular. We want ours to be heavier and better, basically. Nigel takes a big sheet – usually about a foot long and six inches wide – and we use this machine called a fly press to clip out the cufflink shape. Next, you go and choose your die, which dictates the design on your cufflink. We keep about 20,000 pairs of dies in stock – we’ve been making the design you see here for well over 100 years. That goes into the hydraulic press, which squeezes the silver up to about 400 tons of pressure. We then remove the flashing from the sides. This goes back to the bullion dealers, who will smelt it down and add in any purities you need to get it back to 925 silver. ——————————————————— 2 FITTINGS The cufflinks then come to the upstairs workshop, which is one of the original gold shops that we had here. We have two crafts people in here at the moment – today Paul is putting the fittings on the cufflinks. This is also where all handmade pieces will be made, whether that’s a one-of-a-kind 18CT gold necklace, or one of the skulls. As you can see, it’s not green and red buttons here. It’s back to making jewellery how we think jewellery should be made. Every groove on the side of the workmen’s desks means something. Paul wouldn’t want a brand-new desk! Every notch on a desk like that is a different way of holding a tool, and the guys make all their own tools, too. You can’t just go and buy them off a shelf, so they’ll file away and use angle grinders to get what they need.
——————————————————— 3 ENGRAVING The engraver here has made all of his own tools as well. Jason is hand engraving. There are three types of engraving: machine engraving, which is as it sounds, there’s laser, then there’s hand, which is the beautiful, artisan method. If you understand engraving, you wouldn’t settle for a machine engraving. On a cufflink, or anything else, you’d want it to be done by hand, and you’d want it to be done beautifully. I often use the word artisan, because that’s what it is. We don’t do mass-production. If we get an order for 1,000 pairs of cufflinks to be engraved, it’s “no thanks”. It’s not what we’re about. ——————————————————— 4 ENAMELLING We specialise in enamel. Dawn and Elaine are doing vitreous enamelling, which is glass enamelling – it’s the style the Pharaohs used, and what’s used on Fabergé eggs. There are two types of enamelling: this, then cold enamelling, which is similar to car paint. This is the real deal. The cufflinks being enamelled here have the pattern we’ve seen Nigel stamp out. They’ve then gone upstairs to Paul for the fittings. We put the fittings on first so Dawn and Elaine have something to hold when they’re enamelling, and also because you can’t put that much heat anywhere near a cufflink once it is enamelled (to solder), as the enamel would break off. After they’ve got the fittings the cufflinks are boiled in acid, so we know there’s no grease on the face. There’s no dust, there’s no dirt. If you had a fingerprint on there, you’d see the fingerprint through the enamel and have to scrap it.
Signet Ring Process
As with the cufflinks, we buy our metal for signet rings in sheets. We then use a pair of [enormous] shears to chop up the metal – it comes in big chunks, so we need something quite substantial to chop it up! First, Nigel will clip the metal to roughly the right size, then we go to the fly press. This one is probably about 80-90 years old, and it’s just getting worn in. We wouldn’t want to get a new one of these, it’s just getting to the right gauge of metal and tolerance. We use the fly press to pre-form the metal. The die we’re using for this signet ring is probably 30-40 years old. The metal then gets annealed, or heated, and formed – if it goes orange, it’s too hot and will just disintegrate. It would probably fracture if we just did it from a straight block of metal without pre-forming. Nigel puts the ring into a device that clips all the flash off, then it will go upstairs to the workshop, and Paul will turn the shank round to whatever size the customer wants. We’re one of the last to stamp the metal for rings. The reason
we do it is that you get brand new clean metal with no impurities. The other way of making a signet ring is casting, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it means you risk porosity in the ring.This way we know it’s a heavier, better-made product. We won’t have any problems with engraving going forward.This is proper, virgin metal. How it should be made. Other people cast the rings and often use less clean metal which means it costs less to produce, but we couldn’t do that. We used to be much bigger as silversmiths back in the day, so have various dies to make things like handles for teapots, teething rings, spoon handles, mirror handles, photo frames, and letter openers. There’s one we made for Penhaligon’s, a double-sided perfume pendant. A lot of the tooling you’ll see around our factory goes back an awfully long way. And you can’t put these dies into the modern presses, you have to use these old school presses. As I found out when I was a young lad… I’m not allowed to play on these machines anymore!
After applying each layer of enamel we take the cufflinks to the kiln room, where we bring them up to temperature slowly. If you just put them straight into the kiln the enamel will pop. You slowly move them further and further towards the heat to take all the moisture out of the enamel. The enamelled cufflinks are fired at about 600º–700º – just enough for the glass to melt and fuse to the silver. At 850º, the silver would melt. It’s all done by eye. There are no temperature gauges or anything. Once the enamel is set, we’ll reduce the temperature very slowly by moving the piece away from the kiln. When the cufflinks have cooled down the next layer of enamel goes on, and we keep repeating that process. It’s massively labour intensive! When you have four or five layers, the enamel will be higher than the silver. We then use a diamond file, which essentially pulls the silver through the enamel. You shouldn’t be able to feel where the silver starts and the enamel ends. At this stage, the enamel is still dull and flat, so we file again, then polish. We use volcanic ash, which is the finest polishing compound you can get. That will bring the sheen up on the glass. Unfortunately, visitors can’t go into the polishing shops because there are all sorts of funky chemicals there!
Jason is one of the best hand-engravers in the UK
Cufflinks are a really easy gift for a guy, because one size fits all, they last forever, and you can never have too many. Â
Dawn and Elaine undertake the skilled task of enamelling
Original Character Gavin Smith visits Islay’s definitive distillery, whose contentious whiskies have won the love of fans the world over.
Knowledge Bar Laphroaig Established: 1815 Location: Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DU Distillery Tours: Experience Tour £10pp 9available 7 days) Taste of Friendship £40pp (available weekdays) Distillers Wares £70pp (available 7 days) Water to Whisky Experience £110pp (available April-September, limitations apply) Lounge Bar, admission £1pp (open 7 days) Book online, or take a 360º virtual tour at Laphroaig.com
One thing is certain about Laphroaig single malt: no drinker is indifferent to it. Some love its unapologetically full-on peaty, medicinal charms, while others are bewildered by its appeal. Indeed, Laphroaig has been compared to Marmite for the extreme reactions it provokes. “Love it or hate it, but never ignore,” as the distillery Twitter feed declares. Laphroaig has been likened to a burning hospital, and was sold in America during Prohibition for medical purposes, due to the Surgeon General’s refusal to believe that it could be drunk for pleasure! But the ‘lovers’ of Laphroaig are many, making it the world’s best-selling peated whisky, the sixth-best-selling single malt whisky globally, and the number three single malt in the UK. High profile aficionados of its distinctive style include HRH The Prince of Wales, who bestowed his Royal Warrant on the distillery in 1994. origins
Laphroaig is situated on the southern shores of the Hebridean island of Islay, just a mile and a half east of the ferry port of Port Ellen, and close to Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries. Laphroaig – which takes its name from the Gaelic for ‘beautiful hollow by the broad bay’ – was first licensed in 1815 to brothers Alexander and Donald Johnston, though it is thought that the Johnstons may have been distilling illicitly
at Laphroaig for several years prior to obtaining a licence. Laphroaig continued to be operated by the Johnston family until the death of Ian Hunter – the last family member to be involved – in 1954. Hunter was succeeded at the Laphroaig helm by Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Williamson, who had worked as his personal assistant and became one of the very few women at that time to have a distillery role that extended beyond typing and tea-making. Bessie Williamson ran Laphroaig until retiring in 1972, though, during the previous decade, ownership of the distillery had passed to Seager Evans & Company. The brewer Whitbread & Co. Ltd. bought Seager Evans in 1975, and in 1989, Allied Distillers Ltd. took over Whitbread’s spirits division. When the Allied empire was split up in 2005, Laphroaig was purchased by Fortune Brands, and operated by its Beam Global Spirits & Wine subsidiary. However, 2014 saw a merger between Beam and Japanese distilling giant Suntory, which brought Laphroaig into the same ownership as its Islay single malt rival, Bowmore. today The man in charge at Laphroaig is John Campbell, Master Distiller and Distillery Manager, who has held the post since January 2006. Remarkably, he is the first Islay native – or Ileach – to hold the position in more than
❛ …the ‘lovers’ of Laphroaig are many, making it the world’s best-selling peated whisky, the sixth-best-selling single malt whisky globally, and the number three single malt in the UK.
200 years; he has been at Laphroaig for 24 years, having previously worked as a lobster fisherman. Campbell’s career in whisky began with the task of stencilling numbers onto newly-filled casks, going on to take up roles in malting, mashing, and distilling, before becoming assistant manager in 1999. Laphroaig is one of just a handful of Scottish distilleries that still make a proportion of their malt in-house, rather than obtaining it from large-scale commercial maltsters, and Campbell considers this to play a significant part in the unique style of Laphroaig. Around 15 per cent of the distillery’s total malt requirement is made on the four malting floors, with the rest being supplied by Diageo’s Port Ellen Maltings and Crisp Malting on the Scottish mainland. The overall phenolic level of all malt used at Laphroaig is around 45 to 50ppm, and according to Campbell, “Some of the unique salty, medicinal character we want in Laphroaig comes from the floor maltings. For one thing, we peat the malt before we dry it, whereas everybody else peats and dries at the same time. That gives you a smaller range of peat flavours. We peat at a low temperature and then dry the barley, which gives our spirit a wider range of phenol flavours.” When it comes to distillation, Laphroaig is equipped with three wash stills and four spirit stills, with the fifth still being added in 1967 to increase capacity, followed by another
pair five years later. The spirit distillation boasts arguably the longest foreshots run of any Scottish distillery, a practice designed to eliminate the sweet esters that flow early from the spirit still, and which are not part of the Laphroaig character profile. A deeper ‘cut’ of spirit than its Islay neighbours produces heavier phenolics essential to the mature whisky’s style. future growth With nearby Ardbeg distillery currently in the process of increasing potential output by 100 per cent with the addition of a second pair of stills and more washbacks, Laphroaig also has plans to expand production in the not-toodistant future. According to John Campbell, “We’re doing 34 mashes per week, making around 3.3 million litres of spirit a year, and we’ve been working flat out for 14 years now. We currently keep about 92 per cent of what we make to sell as single malt. We’ve cut right down on the amount that goes for reciprocal trading and to independent bottlers in recent years as we’ve worked to keep up with demand for Laphroaig. “Hopefully starting work to increase production is getting close now, but it’s not just a case of adding a new pair of stills or we’d have already done it. We’ve carried out lots of experimentation over the last couple of years, looking at how we keep the character the same.”
Campbell explains that “What makes it difficult is that we don’t have ‘balanced’ distillation, with one spirit still to one wash still. We have three wash stills and four spirit stills, and one spirit still is twice as big as the others. “So, is it a case of keeping the same set-up we have but making it larger, or going back to the old ‘one to one’ balanced regime they had in the 1960s, before the fifth still was installed? Either way, we could be talking about increasing capacity by up to 100 per cent.” According to Campbell, “From the current 15 per cent of malt we make in-house, we will increase floor malting at least proportionately when we expand. We will move the visitor centre out of its present site and claim that space back for more malting capacity.” the whiskies For many years, the 10-year-old expression was the principal Laphroaig available but, in 2004, Quarter Cask was added to the portfolio. Quarter Cask draws its inspiration from the small casks often used to transport whisky on horseback during the 19th century, and the smaller casks provide up to 30 per cent more contact between the wood and its contents, thus intensifying the maturation process. Subsequently, additions to the core range have included a 25-year-old in 2007, an 18-year-old in 2009 and Triple Wood (previously exclusive to travel retail outlets) during 2011. Like Quarter
Cask, Triple Wood is bottled at 48%VOL and carries no age statement. Initial maturation takes place in ex-Bourbon barrels, before spirit of varying ages is transferred into quarter casks for a period of secondary ageing, with a final spell of maturation occurring in European oak ex-Oloroso sherry casks. In 2016, the NAS variant Lore was introduced, while each year sees a limited release under the name Cairdeas, which means ‘friendship’ in Gaelic. A different Cairdeas bottling has been released annually since 2008, with wide diversity of character due to the chosen maturation regime. The 2019 expression is essentially a cask strength version of Triple Wood. A 10 Year Old Original Cask Strength was first released in 1995, and the latest batch is 011, bottled at 58.6%VOL. John Campbell says that “It’s good to have the 10 Year Old Cask Strength back in the domestic market. For some years, it’s only been available online and in the USA, due to lack of stock, but we know it’s always been very popular.” Meanwhile, the 2019 annual release of Laphroaig 25 Year Old Cask Strength has been matured in a combination of European oak sherry casks and ex-bourbon barrels, and bottled at 51.4%VOL.
distillery visits There is no better place to buy a bottle of Laphroaig than the distillery itself – apart from The Whisky Shop, of course! – and visitors are well catered for. The distillery offers a number of varied visitor experiences, including the Hunter’s Hike, during which participants enjoy a dram at the distillery water source, cut peat, and then return to the distillery to tend the barley on the malting floors. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people make the pilgrimage to Laphroaig each year. In 1994 Laphroaig devised a marketing innovation in the shape of the ‘Friends of Laphroaig’, which now boasts in excess of 260,000 members worldwide. Each Friend of Laphroaig is given a lifetime’s lease on a square foot of land at the distillery and the annual ‘rent’ takes the form of a dram. The number of ‘Friends’ is still growing, as is the world’s thirst for Laphroaig, with its unique and distinctively peaty, medicinal charms.
Knowledge Bar The Ian Hunter Series The most recent addition to the Laphroaig line-up is the first in a series of 15 bottlings intended to celebrate the achievements of Ian Hunter as distillery owner. Each annual release will comprise a rare and aged Laphroaig set into a book that will tell part of the story of Ian Hunter’s legacy. Book One of The Ian Hunter Series is a 30-yearold expression, matured exclusively in first-fill Bourbon barrels and bottled at cask strength. Just 4,800 bottles are available. It was Ian Hunter who decided to introduce American white oak exBourbon barrels into Laphroaig’s ageing process, hence the maturation regime of this bottling. John Campbell declares that “If you visit the Laphroaig distillery today it’s clear to see the impact of Ian Hunter through the practices and innovations that are still followed. For good reason Ian is credited as the pioneer and innovator of this incredible whisky; without Ian, the Laphroaig we know today would not exist, so we have much to thank him for.”
See Charlie MacLean's Laphroaig Expert Tasting for more info… 96
Mixing It Up
T A S J A Speciality Brands Whisk(e)y Ambassador, Nathan Shearer, is an expert at showcasing traditional Japanese flavours in exciting new ways.
Mixing It Up
T E P A N
————————————————————————————————— These five serves have been created by Nathan using the Nikka portfolio. They include updates on classic cocktails and an innovative sharing punch, and are fantastic for impressing friends and family over the party season. For more cocktail & whisky inspiration follow Nathan on Instagram: @nathanshearer159 and Speciality Brands @specialitybrand
————————————————————————————————— ➌ | coffey break 30ml Nikka Days 15ml La Blanche de Christian Drouin Eau de Vie de Cidre 15ml Spiced cider syrup 75ml Akashi Tai sparkling sake — Glass: Highball Garnish: Three apple balls on a skewer
————————————————————————————————— ➊ | miruku panchi – a sharing style serve 300ml Nikka from the Barrel 300ml Whole milk 300ml Pineapple juice 300ml Green tea syrup 150ml Lemon juice 75ml D’arroze Armagnac 10ml Sesame oil 5ml Absinthe 150g White chocolate 5g Crushed cardamom pods 5g Flaked cinnamon 3g Cloves — Glass: Cast iron tea pot and four sake cups Ice: Small blocks of clear ice Garnish: Edible flowers (sakura if possible) & sesame seeds, spent curd cookie, kurosato
This cocktail is named after the type of still that the majority of this blended whisky utilises, the ‘Coffey’ Still. This is basically a whisky highball that uses lots of apple flavours – green apple notes from the Christian Drouin Eau de Vie de Cidre, and baked apple notes from the spiced cider syrup. Apple and whisky works particularly well with Nikka Days, which is a versatile and light blend of grain and malt whisky. I also wanted to move away from topping with soda, so chose sparkling sake instead.
An easy crowd pleaser, the milk punch requires a little bit of preparation beforehand but, once it has been clarified, it’s as easy as pouring it over ice for everyone to enjoy. This punch uses a fairly classic recipe utilising citrus, spice, and pineapple alongside whisky, whilst also blending green tea, white chocolate, and sesame oil to add some complexity and depth. ————————————————————————————————— ➋ | miso kyushiki 60ml Nikka Coffey Malt 7.5ml Demerara miso caramel syrup 4 dashes Angostura Bitters 1 dash Xocolatl Mole Bitters — Glass: Old Fashioned Ice: Clear ice block Garnish: Miso cracker and orange twist This drink is based on one of my personal favourite whisky cocktails: the Old Fashioned. Essentially, it’s a very simple cocktail utilising sugar, bitters, whisky, and ice. Instead of using regular sugar, I sweetened this cocktail using a rich demerara syrup and also added in miso. The result is akin to a richly umami salted caramel that blends very well with the subtle smoke in the whisky.
————————————————————————————————— ➍ | shiro-tini 50ml Nikka Coffey Gin 3.5ml Muyu Vetiver Gris 10ml Cocchi Americano 10ml Akashi Tai Honjozo 1 dash Absinthe A selection of wild foraged botanicals: elderflower, gorse flower, rowan buds, sugar kelp, nettle — Glass: Crystal Martini Garnish: Baby’s Breath flower The main idea behind this serve was to create something clean and fresh like a martini, but to utilise ingredients that enhance the citrus notes of the gin. Instead of using a vermouth, I’ve used a blend of aromatised wine and a dry sake, then added a few dashes of absinthe to bring it all together.
————————————————————————————————— ➎ | mai tai 2.0 50ml Nikka Coffey Grain 20ml Toasted sesame orgeat 10ml Hampden Estate Overproof 10ml Akashi Tai Yuzushu 5ml Curacao 15ml Lime juice — Glass: Coupette Ice: Cubed Garnish: Orange zest This cocktail was inspired by the classic rum cocktail, the Mai Tai, which normally uses rum, lime, curacao, and orgeat (almond based syrup). The versatility of Nikka Coffey Grain means that we can swap out the rum in these classic cocktails and replace it with this whisky for a very interesting take. I also used a sesame orgeat rather than an almond base, and went for yuzu as an additional citrus component to round the drink off.
Knowledge Bar Featured Nikka Products Nikka Coffey Gin | Japanese craft gin | 47%VOL | £52
Nikka Coffey Malt | Japanese single grain whisky 45%VOL | £69
Awarded gold at the International Spirits Challenge 2019 Nikka Days | Japanese blended whisky
40%VOL | £40
Nikka from the Barrel | Japanese blended whisky 51%VOL | £54
Awarded gold at the International Spirits Challenge 2019 Nikka Coffey Grain | Japanese grain whisky
45%VOL | £63
Mixing It Up
➊ — Hot Honey Blossom Cider
miruku panchi – a sharing style serve
Mixing It Up
➍ — Forager’s Sour
Mixing It Up
➎ — Deep in the Woods mai tai 2.0
T H E R EAL DAV I D GYAS I Imposing, assertive, and unapologetic, the wealthy faun Agreus Astrayon in Amazon Prime’s Carnival Row is one of the fantasy genre’s most controversial characters after just one series. But what about the man beneath the horns? — Photography: Christina Kernohan
My Whiskeria David Gyasi may not be a household name (yet), but the immensely talented, humbly ambitious actor has transformed into some of the small and silver screens’ most fascinating characters. From his thought-provoking performance as Romilly in blockbuster Interstellar, to a groundbreaking portrayal of Achilles in the BBC’s Troy: Fall of a City, he’s a master of bringing complex characters to life, effortlessly. We met David in the opulent surroundings of LASSCO Brunswick House to talk all things character, including his newest role in Carnival Row.
Carnival Row came out at the end of August, and has had a fantastic reception so far. What has it felt like to be involved? From the minute I read the scripts, to being on it, and the people I was working with, I have just loved it. So, to finally get people to see it, and them responding the way that they have, is nice! I had a feeling that it would be an enjoyable watch, and people seem agree with that, so that’s good! Knowledge Bar David Gyasi Born: January 2, 1980 in Hammersmith, London Must watch performances: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Film – 2019) Carnival Row (TV Series – 2019) Troy: Fall of a City (TV Series – 2018) Interstellar (Film – 2014) Panic (Film – 2014) Cloud Atlas (Film – 2012) White Heat (TV Series – 2012) Containment (TV Series – 2008-2015)
People have been comparing Carnival Row to Game of Thrones, as they see it as a successor to that fantasy genre, binge watching mantle. But, in reality, the two shows are very different. I actually haven’t seen GoT, so I don’t know much! I just know that it’s been hugely successful and that people are absolutely obsessed with it. And so, you just have to respect that, right? One thing I do know about our show, is that it’s come straight from someone’s head to picture, rather than being a book or comic, and that’s something I find quite interesting.
Was it more responsibility, having complete license to define your character, or did it take the heat off a bit because there weren’t any expectations or preconceptions to live up to? I would say the latter, for me. It’s probably different for everyone else, but it felt like there was certainly an openness to suggestion, and I felt included in building something. It’s quite nice to have my own interpretation of who Agreus was and then run with that, rather than lots of different opinions, or people who may have played him in the past. To be completely new was great. The show is quite reflective of the current socio-political climate. Is that in your mind while you’re playing Agreus? He’s almost a prophet of things to come, and is very much at the heart of the conflict and the mirror held up to the human condition. I think that’s a really interesting question, and I think, as artists, it’s who you are. You sort of feel vibrations of what’s going on around you and that, by osmosis, filters into your work, and, therefore, is transmitted out in whatever work you’re doing. It’s also quite interesting that Travis [Beecham] wrote Carnival Row seventeen years ago or something like that, but it feels so apt to now, doesn’t it?
When did you first read the script? I read it about four or five years ago, and I thought it was so apt then too, because of that first scene where the faeries wash up on the beach. It had just happened to Alan Kurdi, the baby who had washed up on a Turkish beach, that week when I first read the script, and I was shocked. I thought “How could Hollywood react so quickly like this?”. Then my agent said that, actually, the script had been around for over 10 years. So that’s kind of the power and the sadness of the piece: at any point over the last 200 years, it could be relevant. That’s our shared history as human beings. Does being a dad influence the roles you take? There are some eyebrow raising scenes in Carnival Row… The first thing is: I really do honestly believe that me pursuing my dreams is probably the best kind of lesson I can give my kids. Doing that authentically and genuinely. And that’s what I’m doing for them. Now, a part of my dream is to have a genuinely happy, healthy family life in four years’ time, and they’re a big part of that, you know? So, there are some things that I do that my son can’t watch, and there are some things that I do that my daughter presses the forward button for! That’s how she dealt with Carnival Row. She binged it on the first night it came out! What’s it like seeing yourself as Agreus on screen? It’s a lot of make-up and a lot of costume… I enjoyed it, actually. I enjoyed it because I had such a vivid idea of who Agreus was. I might even put my audition tape up! I feel I have told that story how I wanted to. How people perceive him, and how he’s perceived, are a different thing. But certainly, what I felt was the essence of him. I felt I was seeing that on screen. Agreus’ character develops quite substantially, with some big revelations later on in the series. When you initially read the Carnival Row script, did you read the full series, or did you only read the first few episodes? I didn’t know the revelation when I first was playing him. I was given the first three episodes, and he doesn’t appear that much in those, but you remember him when he arrives. There’s something about it.
I sat and I spoke with the writers for a while about where he was headed to and what ideas they had for his story, but the real revelation was only disclosed to me after I’d signed on, and I called a meeting! Agreus feels like such a powerful, strong character, so finding out more about his foundation just really rocked me. Did you feel like you’d adopted the character so much that it was like discovering a flaw in yourself? It was like finding out about a flaw in a hero. He became heroic to me when I read him. You’ve got Hell on the Border coming out, which is an intense role and another big responsibility to take on. Do you intentionally choose roles for their poignancy? I don’t think it’s poignancy. I’d like to think it’s heart. I’ve recently done a BBC show called The A Word, which has bags of heart. It’s ridiculous, and funny, and moving, and sad, and all these wonderful emotions are thrown up. I think it’s that, more than anything else. If something just makes my heart beat a little faster when I read it, and I go to sleep thinking about it, and I wake up thinking about it, then I’m like: that’s the right job. All of your roles have been so different. Is it refreshing to have that change, or is it more challenging to swap between completely different mindsets? For instance, going from Carnival Row to Maleficent… In that example, I switched from the side of the ‘Fae’ [fairies] to the human side. That was a really nice switch – not least because it meant that the make-up call was a lot less time! A good friend of mine watched Interstellar, and afterwards he phoned me up and went, “So, does this mean you’re a character actor now?”. And I was like “I dunno man!”. I’m just literally reading bits and deciding what really connects with me. And if I’m fortunate enough to be in that position to say I’d rather do something one way to another, I’m really fortunate. Your character, Romilly, in Interstellar has a very chilling existential experience. Was it an emotionally challenging role to play? Do you know, my way into that, especially the ageing bit, was that this character has always had work and science at the front of his mind and the front of his life, and then these guys go away and he’s left for 23 years, right? And what he realises is that they all get messages from home, and he doesn’t get one in that whole time. What I had in my mind is what it must’ve been like to have committed to something your whole life – you realise that, in the grand scheme
of things, Romilly was working towards saving the human race but, for him personally, it was meaningless. It was all meaningless. And there’s a real sadness to that. When the others walk back in, are they mirages? How many times before that has he ‘seen’ them, and had conversations with ‘them’? Is this real? Anne Hathaway does that beautiful thing, which wasn’t scripted, of touching his face. And it’s like – that’s the difference, because she’s actually touching him. What was it like to be part of that A-list cast? Do you know, I loved it. I really loved it, because they just really blew away the myths of ‘who they were’ as artists. They were actually just hard working, down to earth, nice people who cared about the craft and cared about the story. What was your route into acting – how did it all begin? Back in nursery I did a play and my nursery nurse was quite taken with it, so said to my parents, “You should think about sending him to drama school!”. Then I did a play at secondary school and was like, wow, this is quite amazing. Not even just the work and the play – it was more the comradery. I really loved that. When I went to school you had people who played sport, people who did music, and people who were goths, and people who did art… But then doing this play, every single section was represented. And they got on, which really, really impressed me. I liked that environment, and thought that if I could end up doing something like that for the rest of my life, that would be incredible. Have you ever done the method acting thing and stayed in character? I did a film called Panic in London, and I was playing someone suffering from agoraphobia. When we read the script my wife and I decided that, even though it was in London, I would get a flat and just be out of the house while doing it. So I did. I just went into a bit of a zone. But I found it so draining, because it requires so much energy – your mental energy and your body as well. The physicality. Imagine being method for Agreus! It would just be so draining.
❛ If something just makes my heart beat a little faster when I read it, and I go to sleep thinking about it, and I wake up thinking about it, then I’m like: that’s the right job.
David Gyasi as Agreus Astrayon in Carnival Row, ©Amazon Studios
Let’s talk wrap parties, launches, red carpets, and premieres: what are the best and worst? Which stick in your memory? I remember going to Toronto for the launch of Cloud Atlas*. I had been out of work for over a year, so we had no money, and it was around our anniversary. My wife and I had agreed to not even get cards for each other. Then this email came through saying, “If you’re free, the Wachowski’s [screen play writers] would love to fly you out to Chicago, then on to Toronto. You plus one”. I was like, “What!”. So, we ended up doing that. We got lent these amazing clothes, and we felt like a million dollars and had an absolute blast. What an amazing anniversary gift. It was really good timing! I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to top that one. * David plays Autua/Lester Rey/Duophysite in the film Cloud Atlas Earlier you mentioned the importance of comradery – has there been any particular set where you’ve really bonded with people? I’m a bit of a hoarder of people, and I realise that. I’m seeing someone about it… [laughs]. My best mates are still the people I went to school with, who I’ve known since I was 11,12,13. In the acting game, I meet with a specific group of lads once every three months. Actually, only one other is an actor, and one is a guy I met on one of my first ever jobs.
Do you coach each other through things, or is there competition? In the early days there was probably healthy competition. But we definitely wanted to drive each other on and figure out how good we could be. We wanted our friends to do the best they could, and you’d do the best you could. The actor I mentioned is a guy called Kobna Holdbrook Smith; you get to the point where you realise each other’s strengths, and I literally read something the other day where I thought “Kobna would be amazing for this. This is so good for him”. I was at a talk recently and someone said that we need to get to a point where we realise that a film with all black people in – a ‘black film’ – is not a genre. So, Moonlight is one type of film, and Black Panther is another type of film, but they get bundled together. As both actors and performers, we need to realise that as well. There’s a beautiful nuance that Kobna’s Hamlet will have that’s different to mine. And I’d want to see both of them. Which actors have inspired, or surprised, you most? I remember meting Kwame Kwei-Armah when I was really young on Casualty, and, at the time, he was a prominent face on TV, and I was a little bit star-struck. I didn’t have any scenes with him but, when I was filming, he arrived early for his next scene, and I just remember the amount of love that he had for everyone. And that everyone had for him!
I felt I would try and emulate that energy, because it’s a really useful energy to have. He’s still the same! He’s the artistic director of the Young Vic now, and he still calls me king. “Any time king, any time you’re ready. Come, let’s talk, let’s do this ting!”. I love that. The other name that comes to mind is Angelina Jolie. I really was just impressed by her. I think she comes with a whole sort of prequel – lots of people say lots of things – but the person I met was nothing but generous, and open, and discreet as well. I remember one weekend we were filming [Maleficent: Mistress of Evil], and someone mentioned that she’d just gone to Syria on her two days off. She wasn’t even plugging it, someone else had let it slip. She just sort of mumbled through the fact that she’d just been there and met some people who were really suffering. I found her outlook on life very interesting and inspiring. What’s the thing you wish people asked you about? The greatest football team… Liverpool! I get carried away when I talk about sport! Carnival Row is available to watch now on Amazon Prime. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is now showing in cinemas. Hell on the Border is set for release in 2020.
Look 1 – Suit and roll neck, Scabal Shoes, John Lobb Watch, IWC Look 2 – Jumper, Sunspel Trousers, Joseph Shoes, John Lobb Watch, IWC Look 3 – Turtle neck and trousers, Joseph Shoes, John Lobb Watch, IWC Look 4 – Suit, J Lindeberg Shoes, Jimmy Choo Watch, IWC Credits: Stylist – Holly White, The Wall Group Assistant – Tiziano Viticchie, The Wall Group MUA: Jason Crozier. Stella Creative Artists Photo Assistant: Graeme Cunningham Venue: LASSCO Brunswick House Vauxhall, London Thanks to Ellie Norton, Public Eye
❛ I think, as artists, it’s who you are. You sort of feel vibrations of what’s going on around you and that, by osmosis, filters into your work, and, therefore, is transmitted out in whatever work you’re doing.
Matured for 21 years first in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels, this new expression is further finessed in hand selected virgin American White Oak casks. Crafted on our tiny island home, this whisky has a spicy character in every drop that washes over your palate.
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+ The Whisky Shop Exclusives + Festive Indulgence + Gifting + More Than Just Whisky + World Whiskies + New Year Picks + Customer Favourites
The Whisky Shop Exclusives We’re proud to stock a selection of whiskies exclusive to The Whisky Shop. From limited edition bottlings to old and rare whiskies, single cask single malts to singularly superb blends, these whiskies are for our customers only.
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12 Drams of Christmas Standard: £79/ 12 x 3cl | Various % VOL | Premium: £89 Back by popular demand, our 12 Drams of Christmas boxes are available in two iterations for 2019. Each box contains a selection of Scotch representing an exciting spectrum of regions and flavour profiles, with a dram for every day of the season. Our premium box has been designed with whisky connoisseurs specially in mind.
Highland Park Esquire
Penderyn Bourbon Cask #175
70cl | 60.3% VOL | £200
70cl | 62.1% VOL | £95
Highland Park has become the official sponsor of Esquire magazine’s Townhouse with Breitling (read more in Charles MacLean’s New Releases). To mark the occasion, Esquire selected this single cask to serve at the October event, after which it has become exclusively available from The Whisky Shop.
This single cask single malt Welsh whisky was distilled in 2014, and has spent 15 years in an exbourbon cask prior to bottling in October 2019. Non-chill filtered, and presented at cask strength, it promises fresh and tinned fruits, vanilla, apples, a hint of peach and juicy grapes on the nose. The palate is smooth and creamy, with bittersweet honey to the fore, plus layers of vanilla before an oaky, fruity finish.
Standard or premium versions available — 12 hand-selected miniatures — A broad range of Scotch
Limited to just 432 bottles — Single cask Island single malt for Esquire Townhouse — Butter; vanilla; lingering sweetness
Loch Lomond 2004 Single Sherry Cask
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The GlenDronach 1993 Single Cask #7434
70cl | 54.4% VOL | £110
70cl | 54.2% VOL | £239
Distilled in October 2004, this Highland single malt from the multi-talented Loch Lomond Distillery has matured for more than 14 years in a single cask (#15/624-1). In May 2019, we deemed it to be just right for bottling, and did so, exclusively for our customers.
Distilled in July 1993 and laid down in a single Oloroso puncheon to mature for more than a quarter of a century, exclusive 26-year-old expression is everything you need for Christmas, and more, with dark manuka honey, treacle and oak balsam and chocolate-coated sultanas on the nose. Then, cherry and walnut chocolate cake, with lingering cocoa, raisin, and tobacco leaf on the palate before a lingering finish.
Limited to just 267 bottles — Collectable single cask Highland single malt — Allspice; ginger; fruitcake
Limited to just 124 bottles — Single cask Welsh single malt — Fruity; vanilla; honey
Limited to just 665 individually numbered bottles — Perfect festive dram — Treacle; chocolate raisin; tobacco leaf
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The Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Oak 2019
If you can’t treat yourself at Christmas, when can you? We’ve handpicked these whiskies for their festive flavours, or because they offer you something extra special – like a chance to be part of something truly exciting. Get in the festive spirit, and prepare for the perfect Christmas.
The GlenDronach Parliament 21 Year Old
Old Pulteney 2006 The W Club Exclusive Single Cask #1448
70cl | 43% VOL | £325
70cl | 54% VOL | £150
70cl | 51.4% VOL | £99
This popular annual release is matured exclusively in sherry seasoned casks built from both Spanish and American oak, providing a beautifully rich flavour with sumptuous aromas. The nose opens with dried fruits, ginger and hints of citrus with vanilla and cinnamon. The palate is rich in dried fruits, spices, orange, cloves, and wood smoke, before a full and lingering finish with sweet toffee, ginger, and a hint of smoke.
A definitive expression from The GlenDronach, renowned for its heavily sherried Highland single malts. This expression has matured in both Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks for a minimum of 21 years, and is named in tribute to the group – or parliament – of rooks nesting in the trees near the distillery. The unmistakable fruit-laden intensity is joined by plenty of woody notes and a little peppery chocolate.
If you’re a member of The W Club, rejoice! This single cask expression from the lauded Pulteney Distillery is available just for you. Distilled in 2006, and matured in its coastal birthplace for over a decade, it’s a very limited edition! For those who’ve yet to sign up to The W Club, visit us online to register and secure you bottle, before it’s too late.
Limited to just 276 individually numbered bottles — Only available to members of The W Club — Ripe apple; creamy chocolate; woody vanilla
Matured in both Oloroso and PX casks — Named after rooks nesting at the distillery — Juicy fruits; oak; spiced chocolate
Part of a collectable series — Classic festive flavour — Dried fruits; Christmas spice; wood smoke
The Loch Fyne Glentauchers 11 Year Old
Kilchoman Machir Bay
50cl | 57.7% VOL | £75
50cl | 46% VOL | £49
Distilled in May 2008 at Glentauchers in Speyside, this expression has matured for 11 years in a single sherry cask, developing a nose sweet with stewed fruits, black forest gateau, dark chocolate, and cherry fondant before hedgerow fruits, plump cherries, and blueberry bubble gum. The palate is big and bold, yet wonderfully smooth, with strawberry jam, Garibaldi biscuits, brambles, Turkish Delight, cola cubes, and creamy chocolate. The finish is a triumph of rich oak, brown sugar, and crystallised ginger.
Kilchoman’s signature peated expression is named after the spectacular beach located just two kilometres from the distillery. Maturation in a selection of both Bourbon and sherry barrels contribute a deliciously floral flavour to the classic Islay peat character. Lemon zest and vanilla on the nose mellow to allow a burst of floral intensity and orchard fruit, leading to dried sultanas, warm smoke and honey sweetness on the palate, then sea salt, citrus, and peat smoke to finish.
Signature peated Kilchoman — A great winter warmer — Islay peat; floral; citrus
Limited to just 954 bottles — Indulgently Christmassy — Berry fruits; Turkish Delight; crystallised ginger
Gifts Glorious Gifts! We’ve decided to top-up the inspiration in our Christmas Wish List with a few more amazing gift ideas. Chosen to delight and surprise the most dedicated whisky lovers in your life, we’ve got everything from a quirky cream liqueur, to some legendary liquids for you to choose from.
The Dalmore King Alexander Gift Pack
Jura 12 Year Old Gift Pack
70cl | 40% VOL | £225
70cl | 50% VOL | £45
A gift fit for a king, this awardwinning expression from The Dalmore was crafted to honour the act of saving Scotland's king in 1263. It marries liquid from six specially selected casks – ex-Bourbon casks, Matusalem Oloroso sherry wood, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, Port pipes, and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques – in perfect harmony. The epitome of luxury, this elegant whisky is accompanied by two crystal-cut rock glasses.
Maturation in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in aged Oloroso sherry casks gives this 12-year-old a rich and rounded taste. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and smoky: there’s a heady combination of tropical fruit, chocolate, walnut, and citrus, followed by coffee, liquorice, salted bananas, and brown sugar with a whisper of smoke to finish. To add to its festive appeal, this whisky comes with two Jura branded whisky glasses in a twinkly presentation box.
Full bottle + two branded glasses — A great all-rounder — Chocolate; fruity; walnut
Full bottle + two crystal cut tumblers — Award-winning whisky — Cinnamon spice; dark chocolate; caramel sweetness
Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur
Laphroaig Lore Gift Pack
Loch Lomond 12 Year Taster Pack
70cl | 17% VOL | £24
70cl | 48% VOL | £89
3x5cl | Various% VOL | £26
A delicious Highland cream malt whisky liqueur, Magnum is presented in an old-fashioned milk churn style container. Not only is this appealingly unusual – it’s also practical as it helps chill the liquid quickly, and can be recycled or reused! Made with single malt whisky from The BenRiach, combined with delicious Dutch cream, this liqueur comes complete with a little tartan 'tammie' hat.
Since 1815, each Laphroaig Distillery Manager has been the custodian of the craft to make the richest single malt in the world. Over the years, each has passed on their skills and traditions to the next generation to continue this legacy. In honour of this, Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, has created Lore, the richest ever Laphroaig, drawn from a selection of casks including first fill sherry butts, smaller quarter casks, and precious stock.
A trio of miniatures showcasing the incredible diversity of liquid produced at Loch Lomond Distillery. Their impressive collection of still types and pioneering approach allow them to approach distinctly different styles. Loch Lomond 12 Year Old, aged in three cask types, is perfectly balanced and deeply fruity; Inchmurrin 12 Year Old, named for the ‘grassy isle’, showcases light, fruity sweetness. Inchmoan is the peated element of the island collection and has an unconventional, smoky character.
Three distinctly different whiskies — A great gift for intrepid whisky fans — Deeply fruity / sweet & light / peat smoke
Scotch whisky liqueur — Includes a little ‘tammie’ bottle hat — Thick; creamy; fruit chocolate
Presented with two branded whisky glasses — The essence of Laphroaig, distilled — Distinctive smoke; peat; seaside minerality
Not Just The Whisky Shop… Don’t let our name mislead you – we’ve got so much more than just whisky to offer! Whether you’re invested in vodka, daft about rum, or building your very own gin palace, our eclectic range has you covered.
Mermaid Pink Gin
The Kraken Black Spiced Rum: Ceramic Limited Edition
70cl | 37% VOL | £42
70cl | 40% VOL | £39
70cl | 40% VOL | £39
Submit to the siren call of this eye-catching gin from The Isle of Wight distillery! Botanicals including seaside rock samphire, herbaceous Boadicea hops, and zingy Sicilian lemon are left blushing with the addition of fresh island strawberries, which also lend a seductive sweetness. It’s a showstopper and a crowdpleaser all in one.
Distilled from molasses derived from locally grown sugar cane in Trinidad & Tobago, this Caribbean black spiced rum is made with a blend of 11 spices including cinnamon, ginger and clove. It takes its name from the muchfeared mythical sea creature, whose tentacles twist around this limited-edition ceramic bottle moulded to emulate the legendary beast.
Haku is the premium Japanese craft vodka from the much loved House of Suntory. Its unique creation process starts in Kagoshima and ends in Osaka, Japan, and uses 100% Japanese white rice. This gives it its name, Haku, which means ‘white’ in Japanese, and can also be read as ‘brilliant’ – a tribute to the craft of mastering a clear, clean, and luminous vodka. Filtered through bamboo charcoal, Haku has an unparalleled soft, round, and subtly sweet taste.
Limited edition ceramic bottle — Ideal gift for rum fans — Molasses; spice; ginger
Made with fresh island strawberries — Created on The Isle of Wight — Sweet strawberry; citrus; herbal
Premium Japanese craft vodka — Made using 100% white rice — Delicate florals; rice; subtle sweetness
Ben Lomond Scottish Gin
Kill Devil Dark Overproof Rum
70cl | 43% VOL | £37
70cl | 57% VOL | £49
A uniquely Scottish gin crafted with 11 different botanicals including handpicked Scottish blackberries and rowan berries, foraged in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Working in partnership with the John Muir Trust to support Wild Scotland, National Parks, and the Wild Woods Campaign, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin takes its name from the 3,196 feet mountain that overlooks the National Park. Vibrant and crisp, it has a smooth, fresh flavour, finishing on a delicate berry sweetness.
This blended Caribbean rum is a dark and rich blend of the finest Guyana and Jamaica rums, aged in white oak casks for added smoothness and depth. It is bottled at a powerful 57%VOL in a nod to the Royal Navy's old 'gunpowder strength' qualification. Intense and tropical on the nose with blackened banana, pineapple, peaches and citrus zest, the palate brings more caramelised banana and pineapple, with chocolate and coffee bean flavours emerging.
Created with locally foraged ingredients — Made in collaboration with the John Muir Trust — Crisp; smooth; wild berries
Blend of Guyana and Jamaica rums — ‘Gunpowder strength’ — Blackened banana; pineapple; chocolate
Wonderful World Whiskies
Bushmills 16 Year Old
There are some exciting new additions to our world whiskies line-up this winter, alongside some old favourites we’re happy to revisit again, and again. Take your taste buds on a journey of discovery through Ireland, America, Japan, and even Australia, all from the comfort of your couch!
Yamazaki 12 Year Old
70cl | 50% VOL | £75
70cl | 61% VOL | £185
70cl | 41% VOL | £55
A new addition to our Irish whiskeys range, this 16-year-old was distilled at Northern Ireland's Bushmills, claimed to be the world's oldest licensed distillery. Matured in Oloroso sherry casks and Bourbon seasoned casks for just over 15 years, it’s then finished in Port pipes for nine months. There’s currant jam and a touch of vanilla spice on the nose. The palate is rich and juicy with cherries, dried fruits and sweet toffee. The finish is long and rich with dark chocolate and almond notes.
Yamazaki is Suntory’s flagship single malt, and the birthplace of the uniquely profound Japanese single malt character. Spiritual and deep, its signature multi-layered taste is highly praised by whisky connoisseurs all over the world. The 12-year-old is succulent and complex, with soft fruit and the unique Mizunara (Japanese oak) aroma.
Awarded Best Australian Whisky 2016, this is a unique expression that draws the majority of its influence from the vibrancy of Australian red wine barrels. Each one is hand selected and kept exactly as it leaves the winery, remaining uncharred, to preserve the uniquely Australian red wine profile and wine to oak character.
Brand new to The Whisky Shop — Personalised engraving available for £10 — Red fruits; chocolate almonds; sweet toffee
Flagship single malt from The House of Suntory — Classic Japanese whisky profile — Fruit; Mizunara oak; ginger
Best Australian Whisky 2016 — Solely matured in Australian red wine barrels — Floral; red berries; oak spice
Sazerac Rye 6 Year Old
Eagle Rare 10 Year Old
70cl | 49% VOL | £50
70cl | 43% VOL | £43
Made at Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, Sazerac Rye Whiskey is designed to symbolise the tradition and history of New Orleans. A completely classic straight rye whisky, its name is a tribute to the New Orleans coffee house where the Sazerac cocktail was concocted. Although that original recipe contained cognac, not whiskey, it soon became popular with rye and the rest is history…
Another fantastic American whiskey from the Buffalo Trace distillery, this Kentucky straight bourbon is matured for a minimum of 10 years. It has regularly won gold medals at spirit competitions around the world thanks to its unique character: the nose is complex, with sweet toffee, orange peel, herbs, honey, leather and oak. The palate is bold and dry with delicate notes of candied almonds and very rich cocoa, leading to a long dry finish.
Brand new to The Whisky Shop — Named after the Sazerac cocktail — Thick spice; orange zest; burnt caramel Brand new to The Whisky Shop — Multi-award winning — Candied almonds; leather; oak
Happy New Year!
Benromach 10 Year Old
Whether you call it Hogmanay, or simply ‘New Year’s Eve’, it’s universally agreed that 31st December is the perfect opportunity to celebrate in style! Welcome 2020 and toast family and friends with these delicious drams, and start the year as you mean to go on…
Bowmore 18 Year Old
The GlenAllachie 18 Year Old
70cl | 47% VOL | £45
70cl | 43% VOL | £109
70cl | 46% VOL | £97
In the years since its release this whisky has picked up multiple gold medals at various whisky awards – so you know you’re onto a winner. It is described as ‘the classic Speyside single malt Scotch whisky’. The nose has rich sherry with fruit and nut chocolate and a wisp of peat smoke. The palate brings more delicate peat smoke alongside toasted malt and sweet sherry.
Andrew Rankin, Bowmore's Production Director, specifies a mix of cask types for each bottling of the Bowmore 18 Year Old. These are matured in the distillery's famous No.1 Vaults – the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland, and the only one below sea level, with thick stone walls that seep saltwater. When you taste this splendid malt, think of where it spent the last eighteen years! It’s the perfect dram for remembering years past, and toasting the new one ahead.
This Speyside single malt is released in annual batches limited to just 1,000 cases worldwide. It is matured in a combination of American oak, virgin oak and sherry casks, and specially selected by Master Distiller, Billy Walker – the man famous for his astonishing revival of The GlenDronach, The BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh brands.
Multi-award winning whisky — Traditional Speyside taste — Rich sherry; fruint’n’nut; peat smoke
Multi-award winning whisky — A great celebration dram — Dry seaweed; sweet caramel; smoky
Limited annual release — Created by Billy Walker — Marzipan; heather honey; chocolate covered cherries
Hibiki Japanese Harmony
Balblair 25 Year Old
70cl | 43% VOL | £95
70cl | 46% VOL | £525
Delicate and well-balanced, Suntory’s signature blended whisky is crafted with more than 10 malt and grain whiskies to create a harmony of flavours and aromas. The constituent malts come from Suntory’s two malt whisky distilleries, Yamazaki and Hakushu, and the grain component from the company’s Chita Distillery. Some might like to try enjoying Hibiki Harmony in the Japanese way, called mizuwari, i.e. ‘cut with water’ or highball, cut with soda.
Matured for at least a quarter of a century before bottling, this expression is the oldest in the new core range from the Highland distillery. Distilled at the Balblair distillery in Edderton, it is then laid to cask for a minimum of 25 years: first in ex-Bourbon casks, before finishing in Spanish oak butts. The resulting whisky is indulgent and fruity with apricot, liquorice, tobacco, dark chocolate, and blood orange all present and perfectly balanced.
Oldest bottling in Balblair’s new core range — Finished in Spanish oak butts — Chocolate praline; apricot; oak
Japanese blended whisky — Try ‘mizuwari’ with water or soda — Complex florals; oak; sweet
Customer Favourites The whiskies our customers love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone. We’ve grouped these whiskies by flavour profile, to help you find your favourites from the range.
L IGHT / FLO RA L Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old 70cl | 46.3% VOL | £47 Bunnahabhain lies on the north-eastern tip of Islay and means 'mouth of the river'. Whiskies made there are quite distinct from other Islay single malts in that the majority are created using unpeated malted barley in a time-honoured distillation process. The isolated coastal sanctuary also takes advantage of the pure spring water that flows freely underground away from the peaty moorlands. This 12-year-old expression showcases the signature ‘fruit and nut’ style of the distillery.
Fettercairn 12 Year Old 70cl | 46.3% VOL | £47 Hailing from the village of the same name, this core range expression from the Cairngorms is a masterclass in fruity Speyside flavour. Matured in Ameican oak ex-bourbon for its full 12 years in cask, it’s then bottled at an easy-drinking 40%VOL. The nose is light and fruity with notes of vanilla, pear, and soft spice. The palate has juicy nectarines and tropical fruits, with subtle coffee and clove aspects before a rich finish with sultanas and black toffee.
anCnoc 12 Year Old
Balblair 12 Year Old
Balblair 15 Year Old
70cl | 40% VOL | £38
70cl | 46% VOL | £52
70cl | 46% VOL | £80
A whisky whose name isn’t taken directly from its home distillery, anCnoc comes from the Highland Knockdhu Distillery. Established in 1894 as the perfect embodiment of a modern distillery, Knockdhu lies on the border of Speyside and produces light, intriguing, forwardthinking whisky. Matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon, sherry and second-fill American oak casks, this expression is delicate yet complex, smooth yet challenging, and universally loved for it!
Part of the new core range released in 2019, marking a move to expressions bottled by age rather than vintage. Matured in American oak, ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks, this 12-year-old expression has an elegant complexity and warmth. The gentle charisma of the Highlands is encapsulated in the fine balance of fruit, spice and sweetness. Elegant and approachable, this is the defining expression of Balblair Distillery.
Another exciting release from Balblair’s new core range.The 15 Year Old is tropical and mature, with the texture of melted chocolate and one of the finest finishes a single malt can bring. Both round and velvety, welldeveloped and fresh, this whisky represents the perfect balance of unique distillery character and the smoothness of age.
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie
Glen Moray 12 Year Old Elgin Heritage
Loch Lomond 12 Year Old
Auchroisk 10 Year Old
70cl | 50% VOL | £52
70cl | 40% VOL | £43
70cl | 46% VOL | £45
70cl | 43% VOL | £48
A seminal single malt crafted by industry legend and Bruichladdich master distiller, Jim McEwan, using individually selected casks to showcase the classic floral and elegant Bruichladdich house style. Unpeated, it is their signature bottling and the definitive Bruichladdich. Made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, then matured for its entire life by the shores of Lochindaal in premium American oak, it is a testament to the quality of the ingredients.
This Speyside single malt is aged in the finest American oak for 12 years, lending it a delicious toasty character. Look forward to rich floral notes and vanilla toffee on the nose, with berry fruits and freshly cut herbs. The palate has toasted oak and more sublime summer fruits for a mellow sweetness, before a sweet, subtly oaky finish.
An eponymous whisky from the innovative distillery on the bonnie banks, where different stills are used to create a stunning variety of single malts. This core range expression – bursting with orchard and citrus fruits, cereal and biscuit sweetness, then wood smoke and a peaty tang – enchanted the taste buds of Jim Murray, who claimed he’s “never seen spice quite like it, or such a sublime balance with the fruity malt”. High praise indeed.
The Auchroisk 10 year old is part of Diageo’s Flora & Fauna Series, which consists of 26 different Scotch single malt whiskies from their lesser known distilleries – typically those which predominantly supply liquid for blends, rather than single malt releases. Auchroisk itself is a relatively young Speyside distillery, built in the '70s, and draws natural waters from Dorries Well to produce smooth, subtle whisky. This 10 Year Old expression is pleasantly light, with a balance of delicate sweetness and fresh flavours before a short finish.
Customer Favourites The whiskies our customers love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone. We’ve grouped these whiskies by flavour profile, to help you find your favourites from the range.
R IC H / SW EET New to Customer Favourites
R IC H / SW EET The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve
70cl | 40% VOL | £40 Introduced to The Glenrothes core range in 2015, Vintage Reserve marries liquid of 10 different vintages from between 1989 and 2007 to achieve the perfect balance of vibrant youth and mature experience. The oldest constituent brings mellow oak and dried fruits; the dominant proportion adds soft, mature, sweet vanilla; the more youthful additions contribute exuberance and lemon citrus, creating a sharp and uplifting taste, for an ultimately easydrinking Speyside whisky.
Arran 10 Year Old
The BenRiach 12 Year Old Sherry Oak
Old Pulteney 15 Year Old
70cl | 46% VOL | £45
70cl | 46% VOL | £48
70cl | 46% VOL | £75
The classic expression of the Arran Malt, this 10-year-old captures the fresh and unique island style of the western isle's eponymous distillery and is a multi-award winner, taking gold at both The China Wine & Spirits Best Value Awards 2014 and San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2012. Rich vanilla sweetness gives way to cinnamon on the nose, with a soft and sweet texture that takes on a spicy edge. The palate is sweet with apple and citrus against a background of oak.
A Speyside single malt crafted using three facets of sherry cask maturation: 12 years of maturation in sherry casks, followed by finishing in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks to give unexpected layers of sweet fruits and toasted oak spice. The nose is fruity and rich, with pear, fig, apricot, mandarin syrup, crème caramel, and toasted vanilla. The palate has more sweet fruits with honeyed fig, baked pineapple, sultana, chocolate fondant, and nutmeg, continuing to the long finish with a distinct sherry note.
This 15 year old is one of the most balanced single malts in Old Puletney’s new core range, released last year. Matured in American oak ex-Bourbon casks and finished in Spanish oak, spice and sweetness combine with the refreshing coastal notes expected from the distillery. The nose has rich dried fruit, ripe apples, and citrus, with honey sweetness and a generous chord of creamy vanilla. The palate brings fragrant spices and Christmas cake, before toffee and chocolate mingling with sea salt in the finish.
Benrinnes 15 Year Old
Blair Athol 12 Year Old
The Dalmore 12 Year Old
The Dalmore 15 Year Old
70cl | 43% VOL | £52
70cl | 43% VOL | £52
70cl | 40% VOL | £50
70cl | 40% VOL | £72
Another expression from the Flora & Fauna series, this whisky hails from a long-established Speyside distillery with a tumultuous history. Despite fire, flood, world wars, and financial issues, Benrinnes has survived to produce a style of ‘sultry’ Speyside whisky that is always well-rounded and intriguing. This fantastically sweet, smooth 15year-old example is packed with estery characteristics subsumed in its dark aromas.
Established in 1798 in picturesque Pitlochry, Blair Athol is one of Scotland’s oldest working distilleries, and produces the signature malt of the famous Bell's blend. This is one of only a few official bottlings ever produced from Blair Athol, and part of The Flora & Fauna series: a collection highlighting the diversity of Scotland's whisky regions. Walnuts and sherry on the nose lead to cinnamon and orange-citrus on the palate, with the richness of fruitcake completing this delightful dram.
It’s not surprising that our former Whisky of The Year retains its status as a firm favourite amongst The Whisky Shop customers. To recap for those who haven’t yet dipped a toe into The Dalmore portfolio, this single malt is a Highland triumph displaying signs of sherry wood maturation: full-bodied, thick, sweet and ‘muscular’. Leathery notes and a long spicy finish add finesse and make this popular dram an absolute must-try.
Matured for 15 years in a trio of ex-sherry casks, as well as ex-bourbon barrels, The Dalmore 15 Year Old is another core range whisky for your bucket list. A stylistic evolution from The Dalmore’s famous 12 Year Old and just as popular, you can expect a similarly varied profile of chocolate orange sweetness, gentle spice and rich warmth. It’s a true testament to the distillery’s creative and ambitious approach.
Customer Favourites The whiskies our customers love provide a happy hunting ground for shoppers. From the smoky Islays to sumptuously sherried drams and everything in-between, there is something here for everyone. We’ve grouped these whiskies by flavour profile, to help you find your favourites from the range.
R IC H / SW EET
Glenfiddich Project XX
Glen Moray 15 Year Old Elgin Heritage
Glen Scotia Victoriana
70cl | 40% VOL | £50
70cl | 54.2% VOL | £55
70cl | 54.2% VOL | £73
The result of one of the most ambitious malt experiments undertaken by Glenfiddich, bringing together 20 whisky experts from 16 countries around the world. Project XX is a combination of each expert's selected cask from the Glenfiddich warehouse, carefully married together in a small batch vatting by Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. Deep gold with classic Glenfiddich fruitiness, apple blossom, pear, oak, creamy vanilla and subtle spice on the nose. The palate is refined, with candy floss, toasted almonds, cinnamon, vanilla oak, and a long finish.
Unquestionably Speyside in character, Glen Moray’s Elgin Heritage Collection showcases carefully matured, complex and well-rounded whiskies influenced by the unique Elgin climate. This 15-year-old single malt is aged in a combination of sherry and American oak casks, which impart hints of spice, heady dried fruits, and dark chocolate flavours. Expect sherried oak and butter toffee on the nose, followed by an indulgent full-bodied palate with sweetly spiced dark chocolate and fine wine. The finish is long and rich.
This Campbeltown single malt has been relaunched at a slightly higher strength than its original release, better reflecting the whiskies created there in the Victorian era, and which have inspired this decadent dram. It is finished in deep charred oak before bottling straight from the cask, with subtle wood and vanilla combining beautifully with a full-bodied spicy fruit aroma. The nose is elegant, with oak and crème brûlée leading to caramelised fruit and polished oak. The palate is sweet and concentrated with blackcurrant jam, subtle wood and vanilla, while the finish is clean and sweet with cocoa tones.
The GlenDronach 12 Year Old
The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice
Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride
Oban Distillers Edition
70cl | 43% VOL | £49
70cl | 46% VOL | £120
70cl | 43% VOL | £110
70cl | 43% VOL | £79
A signature single malt from the distillery famous for its richly sherried offering, and an awardwinning expression at that. No wonder The GlenDronach 12 retains its status as a favourite amongst our customers! Matured in both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, it is imbued with an indulgent portfolio of flavours – stewed fruits, jam, marmalade, nuts and brown sugar all vie for attention – with a faint charcoal smokiness weaving through over time.
Created using waters from the Dronac Burn, this is a superbly complex single malt made in the characteristic big sherry style. An ode to James Allardice, who founded the distillery and produced the very first drops of ‘guid Glendronach’, this expression has been matured in the finest Oloroso sherry casks. Rich and dark, it promises remarkable depth of flavour with stewed fruits and allspice.
One of the most awarded whiskies of all time, the Highland Park 18 Year Old demonstrates harmony, refinement, and complexity. Layers of honeyed sweetness and delicious hints of chocolatecoated cherries are joined by a subtle top-note of aromatic peat smoke. The beautifully balanced flavour is down to Highland Park’s five traditional keystones of production, and it is a real favourite amongst our staff!
A seriously complex whisky of the highest order. Each expression of Oban Distillers Edition undergoes 'double' maturation in casks that have previously held a fortified wine. The distillery’s entrepreneurial founders – who specialised in importing ‘in demand’ goods – would have approved of the Spanish influence brought to bear in this Montilla Fino cask wood finish, which boasts a signature salty smokiness along with walnut, orange citrus and an identifiable, crowd-pleasing sherry character.
Talisker Port Ruighe
Caol Ila Distillers Edition
Ailsa Bay 1.2
70cl | 45.8% VOL | £55
70cl | 43% VOL | £75
70cl | 48.9% VOL | £60
The whisky gurus at Talisker Distillery have taken their seminal Isle of Skye malt and finished it in ruby Port casks to create the fantastically rich and fruity Port Ruighe. The nose moves from sea-spray to waxy aromas with a little sweetness. This is mirrored on the palate, with Talisker’s classic maritime character being rounded off and dramatically sweetened by the Port finish. The finish includes cocoa and oak, with even a hint of citrus.
A stylish, richly flavoured and complex expression from Islay’s much-loved Caol Ila Distillery. Following many years maturing in oak casks, this whisky has then been ‘double matured’ in Moscatel cask wood, hand-selected to complement the whisky’s sweetly fruity, smoky intensity. Expect cinnamon layered with orange and apple freshness, sweet malty biscuit flavours, and waves of classic Islay peat smoke.
Version number two of the unique single malt distilled at Girvan, overlooking Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde. It’s the only Scotch to undergo a micro-maturation with spirit first filled to small ex-bourbon casks for intense rapid maturation, before being transferred to virgin, first-fill and refill American oak for several years. The nose has wood smoke and heather with sweet vanilla oak and candied orange peel. The palate is a perfect balance of peat and vanilla sweetness, with fruit and toffee emerging. The finish has sweet oak balanced with drying peat.
Jura 18 Year Old
Port Charlotte 10 Year Old Heavily Peated
Inchmoan 12 Year Old
70cl | 44% VOL | £75
70cl | 44% VOL | £62
70cl | 46% VOL | £50
The oldest new addition to Jura’s signature range, this 18-year-old expression has been matured in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and enriched by Premier Grand Cru Classé red wine barriques, and is bottled at 44% for optimal flavour. The nose boasts sweet toffee and cinnamon spice. The palate is rich and full-bodied with Black Forest fruits and some smoky notes, before a bitter chocolate aspect and fresh espresso to finish.
The flagship release in Bruichladdich's heavily peated range is distilled, matured and bottled on Islay, and crafted using first-fill and second-fill American whiskey casks plus a proportion of second-fill French wine casks. The nose has characteristic Port Charlotte smoke, with sweeter caramel, fudge, and vanilla custard alongside ginger, cloves and nutmeg. The palate is soft with loose smoke and sweet coconut, vanilla, sherbet lemon, and oak notes coming to the fore, with smoked oyster and sun-baked salty sand. The finish is smoky with banoffee pie, mango, apple, and sweet malt.
Part of Loch Lomond Whiskies' peated Island Collection, born of a unique combination of spirit from a traditional swan neck pot still and a straight neck pot still, resulting in an unconventional peat character marrying smoke and spice. Sweet vanilla from re-charred American oak and refill bourbon casks complement the soft peat style. The nose has smouldering peat with vanilla syrup and cracked black pepper, while the palate is sweet with medicinal peat, smoked bacon, roasted coffee beans, cloves and star anise, developing to fruity green apple and pear. The finish is long with waxy peat and gooseberry citrus.
International Customer Favourites
Introducing a selection of The Whisky Shop customers’ top expressions from outside of Scotland! Hailing from across the globe, our international Customer Favourites represent an increased curiosity in nonScotch drams, and also the growing trend for whisk(e)y distilling the world over.
INTERNATIONA L Kavalan Concertmaster 50cl | 40% VOL | £55 One of the most awarded Asian whiskies of all time, presented in a 50cl bottle (ideal for those who like a little taste of something different). It is distilled in Yilan, North Eastern Taiwan, using the cold pure spring water that flows through the Snow Mountain, and matured in American oak before finishing in Port barriques for fantastic smoothness. The exceptionally pure air and a sub-tropical climate around the distillery contribute to this single malt’s uniquely light and fruity flavour – tropical notes mix with cinnamon spice, vanilla and cream, and finish on luscious dark fruits.
Tyrconnell 16 Year Old 70cl | 46.3% VOL | £80 Tyrconnell was first made to celebrate the victory of racehorse ‘Tyrconnell’ at the 1876 National Produce Stakes horse race. This limited-edition expression has been aged for 16 years in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, before a victory lap in Oloroso sherry casks and Moscatel wine casks from Andalucia. This winning combination breeds honeysuckle and Champagne with peach, apple, and figs on the nose, then a palate that’s nutty with rich dark chocolate and sweet honeycomb, before a long, dry finish brings lime, grapefruit, and warming spiced oak.
Redbreast 12 Year Old
70cl | 47% VOL | £45
70cl | 40% VOL | £50
70cl | 40% VOL | £46
A ‘totally new kind of Bourbon’, Maker’s 46 is crafted with seared French oak staves and matured in the coolest part of the beautifully situated Maker’s Mark Distillery, Kentucky. Named after its origin as the 46th recipe explored by its creators, this exceptionally smooth Bourbon is an evolution from the standard Maker’s Mark expression, and a masterpiece of natural caramel, vanilla, and spice flavours.
The first official reference to the brand name 'Redbreast' appears in August 1912, when Gilbeys were selling "Redbreast" J.J. Liqueur Whiskey 12 Years Old. The name 'Redbreast' itself refers to the bird, Robin Redbreast, and is attributed to the then Chairman of Gilbey's, who was an avid bird-fancier. This modern 12 year old expression is a single pot still whiskey full of aroma and flavour, benefitting from a strong contribution of distillates which have matured in Oloroso sherry casks, giving it its trademark Christmas cake character.
A non-age statement single pot still Irish whiskey comprised of pot still whiskeys aged between seven and ten years old. It has been matured in a combination of new and refill Bourbon casks as well as sherry casks. The nose is fresh with aromatic oils, spice and orchard fruits on a background of toasted wood. The flavour is spicy and fullbodied, with a hint of cloves and the fresh fruity sweetness of green apples, along with further toasted oak leading to a lingering spicy, barley finish.
Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old
Roe & Co
Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old
70cl | 40% VOL | £49
70cl | 45% VOL | £35
70cl | 43% VOL | £58
70cl | 41.3% VOL | £57
Billed as ‘Tom Bulleit’s selected reserve’ this sublime whiskey was first aged in charred American white oak, before select Bulleit Bourbon barrels were set aside to age for a total of 10 years. The result is a very special expression that promises a rich, deep, incredibly smooth-sipping experience. Deep russet in colour with rich oaky aromas, you can expect a consistently smooth taste with vanilla and dried fruit, before a long, smoky finish.
A premium blended Irish whiskey marrying single malt and single grain liquid in American oak ex-bourbon casks, a high percentage of which are first-fill. Developed by Master Blender, Caroline Martin, Prototype 106 was chosen to hold up in cocktails, as well as be enjoyed neat. Fragrant and rounded with soft spice, mellow spun sugar and warm, woody vanilla, the balance is immediately evident on the palate, with a velvety texture and sweetness including spiced pears and vanilla, then creaminess lingering in the finish.
The result of 40 years’ excellence in distilling, this single grain whisky hails from Japan’s revered House of Suntory. Traditionally used as the ‘dashi’ or broth that enhances Suntory blends, The Chita has finally achieved a level of sophistication that allows it to take centre stage. Expect crème brûlée, cardamom, acacia honey, and rose blossoms on the nose. The palate is mild and smooth with subtle mint amidst a deep honey character. Clean and clear spiced oak with subtle bittersweet notes complete the finish.
An Irish single malt triple distilled and matured in exbourbon casks for the majority of its life, before being finished in a selection of four specially chosen casks: Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry, Port, and Madeira. The nose is fruity, with citrus, apple and mango atop rich honey and vanilla. The palate has fresh green fruits, toffee, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of ginger. The finish brings malty notes with some milk chocolate and a touch of spice.
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Talisker Laphroaig The second release in Talisker’s Bodega Series, and the first instalment of Laphroaig’s tribute to its legendary owner and innovator, Ian Hunter, come under Charlie MacLean’s meticulously monocled inspection.
talisker 41 year old At the end of last year, Diageo released a Talisker 40 Year Old – “the oldest ever general release of this famous malt”, and the first planned annual release in what they term the ‘Bodega Series’ of ancient Taliskers, each finished in very special ex-sherry butts sourced from the Jerez region of Andalucia. Now an even older expression has been released. The 41YO Talisker was matured in American oak refill casks before being finished in six ‘exceptional’ ex-Solera, sherry butts (each over 100 years old), which had contained La Goya Manzanilla from Delgado Zuleta of Sanlucar de Barrameda, a company which traces its history to 1719 and is the oldest winery in the Jerez region. A descendant of the founder married the glamorous sea captain José María Delgado y Zuleta in the late 19th century and the company took his name, soon becoming suppliers to the Royal House of Spain. Sanlucar is, of course, renowned for its Manzanilla sherries, and La Goya is a leading brand. Diageo chose Bodega Delgado on account of it being the oldest bodega in Spain, neatly marrying with the oldest distillery on Skye; Delgado also promised the possibility of obtaining some sherry butts of equivalent age to the Talisker. Master Blender, Dr. Craig Wilson, worked alongside Delgado’s Sherry Masters to select the casks.
Furthermore, as Donald Colville, Talisker’s Global Brand Ambassador, explained: “The ledgers in our extensive archive record of all the types of sherry cask used to mature Talisker go back to the early 1900s, and Delgado was a key supplier… The 1978 vintage pays homage to reimagining the flavours that were potentially being enjoyed back then.” Only 2,000 bottles of Talisker 41 Year Old are available worldwide, each presented in a hand-made bottle, housed in a box made from ex-sherry oak, which, Diageo says,“evokes the many stages of the whisky’s history and journey”. laphroaig ian hunter 30 year old Ian Hunter was the great-grandson of the founder of Laphroaig Distillery. He was appointed manager in 1908 and sole owner in 1928. He did much to put the malt on the map – unusually, it was available as a single even in 1908, and during the 1920s and ‘30s he promoted Laphroaig extensively in the United States, getting round Prohibition by selling it ‘for medicinal purposes’. During his absence the distillery was managed by his secretary, Bessie Williamson, and when Ian died in 1954 he bequeathed Laphroaig to her – she was the only woman to own and run a distillery in the twentieth century.
John Campbell, Laphroaig’s distillery manager, writes: “For good reason Ian is credited as the pioneer and innovator of this incredible whisky; without Ian, the Laphroaig we know today would not exist, so we have much to thank him for.” The current owner, Beam Suntory, now plans to honour his memory with fifteen limited releases of old whisky, of which this is the first. Titled ‘Chapters’, each of the 4,800 bottles in the first chapter is presented in a bound book. The idea is to celebrate aspects of Ian Hunter’s life and achievement throughout the series: Chapter 1 explores his introduction of maturation in American oak ex-Bourbon casks after 1946 – all the casks used in this 30YO expression are first-fill. John Campbell continues: “In life itself we develop so many layers and changes that ultimately shape us all. The feeling I have with this whisky is that it has been on an amazing journey and that we should now savour its glory! “Peat reek, manuka honey, stewed fruits, vanilla pods and signature floral notes. A coastal finish with iodine, seaweed and white pepper. Ian Hunter completed the Laphroaig recipe by adding maturation in ex-bourbon barrels. This whisky is a timeless and signature Laphroaig that Ian Hunter would savour himself”.
Talisker 41 Year Old Island Single Malt Age: 41 Year Old
Deep gold with amber lights and good beading. A mellow nose with no prickle, dense and faintly peaty/mossy, with a top note of linseed oil, supported by a suggestion of sweet dried seaweed. The texture is oily and the taste sweet, becoming savoury and lightly salty; drying in the finish, with just a suggestion of Talisker spice and smoke. An outstanding example of a noble malt.
Laphroaig 30Year Old The Ian Hunter Story Book One Islay Single Malt Age: 30 Year Old
9CT gold with amber lights; no beading at this strength. A mellow and sophisticated nose-feel, and a complex and intriguing aroma. The top notes start fruity (mango, papaya, a tropical market), but wafting through them is a smoke which varies from tar to fragrant peat and then becomes oily (olive oil). The taste is surprisingly sweet to start, then gently smoky after delivering a shake of salt, finishing with sackcloth. Like the Talisker, this is a magnificent example of the make.
Dear Uncle Ether
Winter Woes Uncle Ether Foreshot, our resident agony uncle tackles the wintry woes of three more demoralised dramsters. — Illustration: Francesca Waddell
Dear Uncle Ether,
Dear Uncle Ether
I think my wife is cheating on me. Every night we share a dram before retiring. I have a nice selection of bottles, collected over the years, and we have a bit of banter as we choose what to have. It was all such innocent fun – until recently. I have now caught her creeping back downstairs after the light is out, when she thinks I have fallen asleep. And I’m sure she is reaching into my collection and helping herself to another. Should I confront her, or should I get more evidence first?
On my birthday, my colleagues at work gave me a voucher to attend a W Club tasting at my local branch of The Whisky Shop. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t bother going. The following day at work, I was asked how it went and I made up that I had enjoyed myself thoroughly. The problem is, the questions kept coming – what did you taste, what did it taste like? I have dug myself an enormous hole and I feel I can’t see a way out. What should I do?
Douglas from Elgin
Pippa from London
Dear Douglas, Why don’t you join her! For God’s sake man, it’s not a Federal offence to sneak in a wee extra dram. Your fellow whisky drinkers have been doing this for generations. There are so many subtle and skilful ways, it’s almost an art. The most common is when pouring. A little jog at the elbow, an inclination of the wrist, a slight twitch of the hand – and there you have it. Two drams poured, but not quite the same. Or a wee drop in the glass or out of the bottle before commencing – just to check that it hasn’t “gone off”. Indeed, in my youth, I remember admiring the subtle dexterity of a hotel barman in Ireland. A couple had dropped in for a spot of morning coffee. The gentleman went to the bar to order the coffees and with scarcely any words spoken, but a knowing exchange of looks, a shot of Hennessey was popped into one of the coffees. Brilliant! So, here’s my advice: The next time she gets ‘restless’ in the night, pretend to wake up and then say, “Darling, as we are both awake, why don’t we slip downstairs for another dram – one for the ditch!”
Dear Pippa, A dilemma indeed. Well now, there are two roads that you can go down. Road one: keep up the charade, but arm yourself for the journey. You could do worse than buy a copy of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible to swot up on the basics and learn a few tasting notes. You can also join The W Club and avail yourself of a free introductory whisky tasting, so at least you have been to one – not quite the same one… But do you have the stamina for this difficult road? Have your colleagues already seen through you? The other road, the one less travelled, is to tell the truth. My headmaster always told me tell the truth and negotiate your position. And that is what you should do. Be brave!
Dear Uncle Ether I am an MP for a certain party, let’s say with Scottish credentials, and I regularly take the sleeper train north to my constituency, when the business of the House has ended. On the last occasion, the train inexplicably lurched at Carstairs Junction and my bottle of Macallan that I had purchased that day and safely placed in the top bunk, fell to the floor and smashed. Can I blame the Tories at Westminster for this misfortune? Angus from Fife
Dear Angus, I can see you are hurting from this terrible loss and you have my sympathy. What is happening here is that the emotional side of your brain is operating at full speed. Blame the Tories! That’s it. In the agony of the moment it seems so obvious… so right… as if nature intended it. They must have had a hand in this ghastly misfortune. It had their fingerprints all over it. A Tory must have stepped out in front of the train to make it swerve. All of the above will be swimming through your mind. But, Angus, you need to step back, cool off. As the management consultant would say; “widen the lens”. Here’s another way to look at it. I think I am correct in saying that, as a serving MP, you run with the title ‘The Honourable Member’. So, ask yourself this question: is this an honourable strategy?
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David Gyasi | Nikka Japanese Cocktails | Laphroaig Distillery Visit | Deakin & Francis Luxury Jeweller | Tour Guide: Birmingham | New Releas...
Published on Oct 30, 2019
David Gyasi | Nikka Japanese Cocktails | Laphroaig Distillery Visit | Deakin & Francis Luxury Jeweller | Tour Guide: Birmingham | New Releas...