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Tuesday 27 April 2021


The Rosebank Distillery, Falkirk 

I have posted a lengthy blog on the increase in Scotch whisky distilleries, picking out the new ones. You might like to read that alongside, as it covers the period 2019-2020, with updates wherever possible. I have gone further and posted another blog covering three new distilleries that have commenced construction work for their establishment. Those can be accessed through this link.

Falkirk town is enjoying a bit of a renaissance when it comes to whisky production. The shut Rosebank is a much-revered whisky, with remaining stocks continuing to command high prices. It is built in Falkirk, on the Forth and Clyde canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Its name originated after the roses which grew along the banks of the canal. In October 2017 Ian MacLeod Distillers Ltd purchased the site from Scottish Canals and the trademarks from Diageo with the intention of reopening the site.

Rosebank is rightly regarded as one of the finest – if not the finest – Lowland malt and yet its fame has, slightly bafflingly, never reached the same levels of hysteria as cult distilleries such as Port Ellen and Brora. Perhaps its meadow flower bouquet, gentle fruits and fresh citrus (derived through its triple distillation regime) are not in line with palates which want the big and the bold – even though Rosebank’s worm tubs lend the whisky a thick palate texture.

Records show that three separate distilleries existed in Falkirk in and around the early 1800s. In 1798, the Stark brothers in Laurieston had one going. In 1817, James Robertson opened a distillery nearby named Rosebank but it remained open only until 1819. In 1827 John Stark (of the Laurieston brothers) opened Camelon distillery on the west bank of the canal, which he ran until his death in 1836, after which it was run by Thomas Gunn and his father. In 1840, the Gunn's were approached by one James Rankine to either buy or lease the Camelon distillery Maltings on the east bank of the canal, while he set up a new distillery under the Rosebank name on the west bank. Gunn declined.

Rosebank became a sought-after whisky among blenders, who regarded it as 'top dressing'. The demand was so great that Rankine Jr. was able to charge blenders rent on barrel space while they waited for their order. Success followed and, by the 20th Century, Rosebank was revered by whisky connoisseurs the world over as "The King of the Lowlands." There was a beautiful juxtaposition in one of the lightest, most floral Scotch whiskies ever made being distilled in Scotland's heavy industry Central Belt. This contrast was reflected in the unique production technique of marrying worm tub condensers and triple distillation. The resulting light/full contrast in flavour made it a category defining Lowland single malt Scotch whisky.

The new Rosebank quickly grew, requiring expansion in 1845 and rebuilding in 1864. In 1861 when Camelon Distillery went bankrupt, Rankine bought & demolished it, leaving the maltings only for the use of Rosebank. Rosebank Distillery Ltd was formed in 1894, and in 1914 it was among the companies that amalgamated (Clydesdale, Glenkinchie, St. Magdalene and Grange) to form the Scottish Malt Distillers. Five years later the group became part of DCL.

In 1886, the distillery was visited by Alfred Barnard, who noted that it was set across two sites one on each side of the canal with a swing bridge linking the pair. The malt was produced in the former Camelon maltings on the west side of the canal and would be transferred over to the distillery on the east side by means of the swing bridge. He also noted that their warehouse at the time had storage for 500,000 gallons (1,892,710 litres).

The new distillery will have three stills for triple distillation, plus worm tub condensers, aiming to mirror as closely as possible Rosebank’s historic and much-loved style. There are records of the process and new make spirit style from 1970s but these were of limited use. Things have moved on so much since then. It’s triple distillation, so there are many more permutations. The only piece of equipment likely to survive from the old distillery is the mill – which was second-hand, coming to Rosebank from Port Ellen on Islay during the 1930s.

There can be no doubt that the new distillery will provide a multifunctional resource capable of delivering a range of practical solutions for business and leisure in the area. Of course the whisky itself must not be overlooked. Replicating the spirit of the past would produce a triple distilled whisky unique to the area and put Falkirk firmly back on the map as a whisky producing area.

The new facility will furnish the town with an important attribute. Once completed, the distillery will provide 86 full time jobs and is expected to attract around 75,000 visitors a year. Falkirk already boasts a number of existing points of interest for the visitor and Rosebank Distillery will be a landmark attraction, a reality for the town and surrounding area.

Rosebank was once considered one of the premier lowland whiskies but then United Distillers mothballed the distillery in 1993. The reason given for the mothballing was that its effluent treatment would have required a £2m upgrade in order to comply with European standards of the time, this did not make it commercially viable. At the time of its closure, it still retained many historical features in the production of the whisky, serving almost as a museum. It presented a 30 YO single malt in 1990. Don't ask for the price tag.

The sadness of mothballing in 1993 turned to joy then the visionaries at Ian Macleod Distillers purchased the site in 2017. They are currently restoring the distillery with the aim of opening it in summer 2021, Covid-19 permitting. The distillery will also feature a new visitor centre, as part of the £12 million+ site renovations, and tours will be available in due course.

The team will be creating a triple-distilled revival of Rosebank single malt, last produced in the town in 1993 – a welcome addition to the beguiling collection of Lowland malts. Cult ‘lost’ distillery Rosebank hopes to reopen in autumn 2021 as plans to resurrect the Lowland single malt await council approval.

Rosebank distillery expects to reopen in July 2022. Full planning permission has been granted and the contractor ISG is now working on the site. Fans are excitedly waiting for the grand return.


Half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Falkirk rests in the industrial heartland of Scotland. The Coat of Arms of the Burgh of Falkirk motto is: ‘Better Meddle wi’ the De’il than the Bairns o ‘ Fa’kirk’ & “Touch ane, touch a’.

The historic site of the distillery is bounded by the Antonine Wall, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and World Heritage Site.  To the west of the distillery, stands proud Mumrills Fort a place where it argued that the Battle of Falkirk took place. The epic build of the distillery compliments these invaluable assets and through time will become recognised as a place of exceptional Lowland Malt.

Complementing Falkirk town’s three existing and renowned visitor attractions (Callendar House, The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies), George Stewart's Falkirk Distillery is just a short walk from magnificent Callendar House and was due to open to visitors in the latter part of 2019. Alongside the new distillery, the new distillery building, with its distinctive pagoda, is to include retail, restaurant and office space, quite an experience when opened. The plan which was slightly behind schedule moved into 2021 to let the new make run. An update is placed at the end of this post.

The Founder’s interest in the extraction and bottling of natural spring water coupled with fervent admiration of the Scotch industry (lest not forget its finest produce) gave George the idea of bringing whisky back to Falkirk. From here a diviner (whisky in hand) set about sourcing a site in George’s locality which would provide the finest source of water, their Artesian well.

The Falkirk Distillery

Now for those ‘lost years’, where to begin?  This chapter or chapters can be summarised by a simple phrase: ‘blood, sweat and tears’. The Family drew on its own resources, using local labour, industry experts, sourced the best equipment and survived on a diet of determination. Every inch of the distillery from the laying of the first stone, to the hand crafted copper pagodas and the traditional bonded warehouse has been built to try and respect and mirror what whisky is about: ‘place, people, family and the future’.  Whisky is about tomorrow and tomorrow will surely be a better day….

Traditional appearance, modern facilities; how the new distillery looks today. Producing its own distinctive distilled whisky, the new building will house a world class leading retail, restaurant and business complex. The company intends to invite some of Scotland's best known iconic brands to take up occupancy in the centre's six retail units. A licensed restaurant and fully equipped conference facility will complete the inventory for this world class attraction. 

Where are they today? Falkirk Distillery has announced the production of an ‘exceptional new make spirit’. The distillation process is a fine marriage between the old and the new; their two impressive Speyside copper stills and 4.5 tonne traditional copper mash tun have been married with the 34,000 litre fermentators, spirit safe and state of the art Buhler Malt intake. A heady mixture of both geography and age, with the finest raw ingredients kindly nurtured to produce the most ‘exceptional new make spirit’.


‘After rigorous testing the team at Falkirk Distillery have succeeded in their mission in producing a quality Lowland spirit, ‘organoleptically, the sensory team assessed your NMS as very good.’

Nose: sweet, floral, herbal

Palate: sweet pears, warming mild spice, buttery, sweet hazelnut

Finish: long and sweet, faint tinge of heather


After more than five decades spent running local businesses, the Stewart family celebrated in July 2020 when the distillery became fully operational. There was further reason to be pleased late last year when Falkirk Distillery Company started producing a spirit for the first time. Fans will have to wait a wee while before sampling its whisky, though, as a spirit isn’t whisky until it has been distilled for at least three years.

Inside the magnificent new distillery building are two copper stills and a copper mash tun, which have a long history in whisky distilling having come from the Caperdonich distillery at Rothes, Aberlour.

George Stewart’s family-run distillery has taken the step to “producing status” after 10 years of vision, planning and construction work. Equipped with the mash tun and two stills from the closed Caperdonich Distillery (the Belgian Owl Distillery has been working with the other two Caperdonich stills for a while), the Falkirk Distillery will have the capacity to produce more than a million litres of alcohol annually. They want to produce a light Lowland malt that would appeal to a wide range of spirit drinkers.

Experienced Distillery Manager Graham Brown, who started at Distell and worked for both Deanston and Tobermory, is responsible for the development and quality of the whisky and explains that their main aim here is to focus on the quality of the spirit. There is no rush to just put anything out to market that isn’t something to feel immensely proud of and that facet will show in the final product.

Founder George Stewart also thinks in terms of time and said: “The whole process to date has been one of passion and patience. We have invested heavily in time and money to create something we hope the local area can be immensely proud of. We are overwhelmed with the support shown already from the local area and whisky community. There is something about whisky that really brings people together. Our expectations are that over 80,000 visitors will come through the doors here every year and that has to be a boost for the local community. Furthermore, once fully operational with tours and restaurant running, we will require well over 60 staff members.”

Falkirk Distillery waits for revival of tourism, located on the M9. It hopes for a large number of visitors once tourism starts up again after the Covid-19 restrictions. Then a restaurant and a tasting event centre will join the distillery. Whisky fans can follow the development of the distillery online and see if anything of note is in the offing. 


                                  Our name is inspired by the legend surrounding Jan De Groot-
                                  the man that John O’Groats takes it’s name from. In particular,
                                  the house he built on the site which is now marked by a mound
                                  near the John O’Groats house hotel, very close to our distillery

Jan De Groot, the Dutchman from which John O’Groats takes its name,  came to the area during the reign of James IV. He ran the ferry from the Scottish mainland to Orkney for the price of one Groat (around 2p).  He had seven sons and legend has it that they were arguing about who should sit at the head of the table during family gatherings.

To avoid family conflict Jan built an octagonal house with each of the eight sides having a separate door and window, one for each of his sons and himself. Each door led to the centre of the house where there was an eight sided table.  As no one person could occupy the head of the table this stopped the arguments and gave us a great name for our distillery!

Billed as mainland Scotland’s most northerly distillery, 8 Doors is building a distillery, visitor centre and warehouse in John O’Groats, which is due to open in 2021. They plan to create whiskies from the very edge of Scotland that reflect their location and the local climate.

Why John O’Groats?

The owners can’t think of anywhere better than John O’Groats to make whisky, partly thanks to the climate which is perfect for whisky maturation and also the great people who live in and visit the area.

John O’Groats is the most northerly settlement on the UK mainland and will soon lay claim to hosting the most northerly distillery too. Famous as part of the Land’s End to John O’Groats iconic 874 mile journey through the length of the UK, it is a small coastal village with panoramic views across the Pentland Firth.

Key Personnel

John Ramsay, the whisky creator. John has a huge legacy in Scotch Whisky having worked in the industry for over 40 years. The owners are delighted to be working with and learning from such an expert to produce the first whisky from 8 Doors Distillery.

The idea of working with a small, independent distillery that’s focussing on maturation as much as distillation really appealed to John and he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge with the rest as the 874 Club launch products are brought to life.

Ian Evans, Distilled Experience Ltd. Ian has a wealth of experience in Scotch Whisky having worked for William Grant and Sons for 15 years. Ian’s experience in designing and building new distilleries has been invaluable consultancy as we work towards launch in 2021.

Ian’s 40+ years in the drinks industry and 15 years as Operations Development and Quality Director, and then Distilleries Strategic Development Manager for William Grant and Sons brings a breadth of additional knowledge and experience to the team. They’re excited to be working with someone whose all-encompassing focus on quality fits perfectly with the vision to build a distillery that delivers only the finest Single Malt whisky.

Kerry & Derek Campbell, the owners. Straight, simple and to the point.

Whisky + Place = The dream. Realised!

What the bottles will look like when produced

Distillery Data

The water: Water is sourced from a dedicated borehole on site. The purest John O’Groats water drawn from deep inside ancient rock formations and naturally filtered through layers of sandstone.

The stills: Their bespoke copper pot stills are being made by specialists in Speyside, Scotland.  They are specifically designed to distillery requirements to create exceptional, small batch, hand crafted whisky.

The climate: Located by the coast in John O’Groats, their warehouses are perfectly placed for maturing whisky. Sea mist, ocean spray and a cool climate all contribute to the creation of complex whisky characteristics.

The casks: Their first-fill casks are made from the finest oak, seasoned specifically for the distillery, the result of working with their partners in Spain to create the perfect vessel to bring the whisky to maturity.

The Distillery: Opening 2021.

They created a design that reflects their modern ambitions, to build a home for their whisky, a space for them to take their time and use traditional methods when hand crafting the perfect spirit. The distillery delivers breathtaking views across the Pentland Firth, whatever the weather! Lots of windows to ensure all visitors can enjoy the view from the comfort of the whisky lounge and visitor centre. The distillery on the 32,670 square feet site will have the capacity to produce up to 60,000 litres of whisky each year. The distillery and visitor centre will be housed in one large building and whisky will be matured in an on-site bonded warehouse.

‘Whisky. From the Edge’. The whisky flavour profile will be influenced by the local climate and its situation right beside the sea – hence the strapline.

Their Exclusive Club: They have named their exclusive club 874 Club after one of the greatest journeys in the UK - the 874 miles between Land’s End and John O’Groats.


The bottlings which we now see come from Brora’s last flaring. This was when the still was run specifically to fill in perceived holes in DCL’s inventory. As a result you'll see Broras that are vastly oily and smoky, as also some with the merest exhalation of peat. The waxy, oily, marine/ mineral characters seen in Clynelish are invariably exaggerated. instead of the waxy oil of Clynelish, here there's a lot of lemon acidity. There was, sadly, a small run of bottlings with a butyric character.

Diageo releases an annual – and limited – bottling as part of its Special Release programme. With growing interest in smoky whiskies – and closed distilleries – Brora has become a cult malt.

Brora – or as it was originally known, Clynelish – is one of Scotland’s Clearance distilleries. It was built in 1819 by the the Duke of Sutherland who, with his wife and her estate managers, enacted some of the most brutal forced evictions in the Highlands, as part of an economic experiment which saw 15,000 farmers from their estate alone, moved off their land and resettled either on the coast, or sent to Canada and Australia.

Those who ended up in the new settlement at Brora were put to work in the Duke’s new business enterprises, one of which was distilling. It took some time for the distillery to find its feet, passing through a number of lessees until George Lawson took charge. He and his sons would run the plant from 1846 to 1896 when they sold it to the Glasgow blender James Ainslie and his business partner John Risk who rebuilt the site that year.

Ainslie himself went bust in 1912 when Risk and DCL took shares in the firm, John Walker & Sons following in 1916. Risk was bought out in 1925, when Walker joined DCL and the latter took complete control in 1930. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that the distillery began to increase capacity significantly as a result of demand for blends increasing. By 1967, this had reached such a height that it was decided that it would be easier to build a new and larger distillery – initially known as Clynelish 2 – alongside the original buildings than try to expand them.

The old distillery closed for a year, but reopened in 1969 and was in production, though not always at full capacity, until it closed in 1983.

In 1975, after a change in legislation banning two distilleries from being called the same, its name was changed to Brora. During 1972 to 1974 when DCL’s Caol Ila was being rebuilt, production of heavily peated malt was switched here. Also, during periods of drought on Islay, the production of DCL’s heavily peated requirements was switched to the far north east. This could explain why although Brora’s peating levels in general dropped after 1977, there are occasional heavily smoky expressions from the 1980s.

The distillery was closed finally in 1983, and although rumours surfaced occasionally about it reopening they seemed little more than wishful thinking. However, in October 2017 Diageo revealed plans to reopen both Brora and Port Ellen distilleries, which also closed in 1983. Subject to planning permission, the two sites are expected to be operational once more in the 2020s.

Given the age of the Brora distillery, a comprehensive survey was carried out on the building to identity areas that needed work. Sections that needed repair were dismantled and rebuilt. The distillery’s iconic pagoda roof was also removed and restored by the engineering team before being reinstalled.

The distillery’s original copper pot stills have also been refurbished by Diageo’s coppersmiths at Abercrombie. It was lucky that the stills were in a good enough position to be refurbished for reuse. The refurbished stills will produce around 800,000 litres of whisky per year; a volume that pays homage to the distillery’s small-batch production of the past.

The Diageo archive holds comprehensive and historic information on the previous distillation regimes of Brora, which have been used to guide work in the new distillery. Many of Brora’s original buildings will remain on the site, with the addition of a new still house to house Brora’s two stills.

The use of these stills is due to the fact that Brora aims to distil the same style of whisky that was produced at the distillery prior to its closure. Detailed records kept by Diageo in its distilling days will help the distillers of today to reproduce the famed whisky.

The transportation of the stills for refurbishment marked a huge milestone in the revival of the distillery. Brora was meant to be fully-functioning by Summer 2020, but Covid-19 related delays mean that the site should now be up and running some time in 2021. Let us hope that it is worth the wait!

The newly-restored Brora Distillery is right next door to Clynelish Distillery and is scheduled to start production again in summer 2021. The resurrected distillery will not be open for distillery tours, but visitors will be able to learn more about it on a tour of Clynelish Distillery.

As in the original distillery, a seawater cooling system will channel cooling water to the condenser, with greater efficiency than its predecessor. Spent lees will be disposed of to the sea through an existing effluent line to a long sea outfall, and solid by-products will be sold as animal feed.

Diageo, however, is mum about whether Brora will continue to roll out its coveted Special Releases after the new distillery opens its doors. The first Brora to be released from the reopened distillery will be a 12 Year Old – subsequent releases will be older expressions. The folks at Diageo remain coy about the style of the new 12 Year Old, noting that they will “produce whisky that will match the character and quality of its illustrious predecessors”.

But there are clues. Diageo mentioned in its media release that the new distillery will most likely get its malt from the maltings at Glen Ord distillery, which already makes peated malt for Talisker and thus “has the capability to make peated malt for Brora”. We’d wager that the 12 Year Old will be peaty but with a slightly toned down smokiness to appeal to a wider range of drinkers.


One of the most famous “lost” distilleries in the Scotch whisky industry has been brought back to life on 19 May 2021, 38 years after being mothballed and following three years of intensive restoration. Spirit is once more flowing at the “ghost” distillery of Brora in Sutherland following a comprehensive restoration project by owner Diageo. The reawakening comes nearly four decades after the distillery was closed during a period of excess capacity across the industry. Diageo has revived Brora as part of a £35 million project which will also see it bring the celebrated Port Ellen distillery on Islay back to life. It declared that the investment marks a “major signal of confidence in the future growth” of the Scotch whisky industry. The renovated site is capable of another 200 years of production, according to Diageo. As one of Diageo’s smallest distilleries, Brora has the capacity to produce 800,000 litres of spirit annually.

In the 38 years that the distillery had been closed, it gained cult status among whisky fans. The remaining casks and bottlings have seen a great increase in value. A new Brora era has begun and new whiskies will mature. The Brora brand sits within Diageo’s Reserve portfolio of premium and luxury spirits, which the company said accounted for 15% of its growth when it reported its interim results in January.

Master Distiller Stewart Bowman had the honour of officially opening the doors of the Brora Distillery and pouring the first new make into the cask today. His father was the last excise man of Brora and Bowman found it emotional to roll the first new cask into warehouse 1. His father, Alastair Bowman, was the Excise official who oversaw the closure in 1983. Diageo plans to release its Ultra-rare Brora Triptych alongside, at £30,000 for the set of three really old, rare and expensive expressions.

Joanne McKerchar, archivist at Diageo, played an important role during the renovation, as the personal experiences of the workers from Brora’s active days were to be incorporated into the planning. The new Brora Distillery works with stills that are exact copies of the old stills, and efforts were made to replicate the original conditions and production processes as far as possible.

From July, visitors will be welcomed again to the Brora Distillery. The two very exclusive and expensive tour options for £600 or £300 per person can be booked on the distillery's website. They will include tastings of rare Brora releases, and a new distillery-exclusive bottling, called The Brora Distillery Collection: Hidden Beneath, a Brora 1982 39 Year Old.

New Distillery At Grantown-on-Spey

The family owned Speymalt Whisky Distributors Ltd, who trade as Gordon & MacPhail, is set to build a new whisky distillery on the banks of the River Spey at Craggan, near Grantown-on-Spey. The Cairngorms National Park Authority granted approval for the design on 11 October 2019. It is to carry the name Cairns Distillery.

Gordon & MacPhail is a family owned business which has built its unrivalled knowledge and expertise in the Scotch whisky industry over a 124-year history. In 1993, they acquired Benromach Distillery and reopened it, after extensive refurbishment, in 1998. Local response to their plans has been a healthy positive.

The building has been designed to take full advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms. The eye-catching modern design includes the distillery and warehousing, as well as tasting rooms, a visitor centre with retail space and a coffee shop. The circular nature of the building will disguise much of the day to day working area within the service yard and sedum roofs will allow the buildings to blend into the surrounding environment.

They aim to build on the success of Benromach, with the second distillery forming an important part of the company’s ambitious plans for growth.

Their story begins, as do most old timers in the industry, with a grocery, established in 1895 in the heart of Scotland’s Speyside region. They originally curated all manner of groceries from around the world such as teas, coffees, wines and whisky. Their appreciation of the rich tapestry of flavours they encountered led the founders, James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail, to seek out and complement this varied stock with equally fine produce in the form of Speyside’s many and varied single malt Scotch whiskies.

In 1915, a young John Urquhart joined the business to serve as an apprentice under the two founding partners. Urquhart quickly established himself as a valuable associate for James Gordon in selecting, purchasing, and maturing whiskies from local distilleries. John also assisted with the creation of house blends for the shop’s customers across the Speyside area. Over his long career dedicated to sourcing flavour both from home and abroad, John Urquhart developed his skills as a master of malt whisky maturation, building an impressive portfolio of maturing whisky casks. He was able to pass on this deep knowledge and passion for single malt Scotch whisky to his family.

Under the expert tutelage of his father, George Urquhart joined the business in 1933. Like his father before him, young George began at the very bottom: cleaning, sweeping, and stacking. Through carefully nurtured relationships with local single malt distillers and a deep understanding of the spirit that they produced, John and George Urquhart were able to focus on the importance of maturation. They matched spirit to the highest quality oak casks, before lovingly maturing the whisky, often over many decades.

On 03 February 1940, 15 First Fill Sherry Butts were filled at Glenlivet and left to mature in warehouse number 6 at the distillery. Over the years some of the casks were used and on the 10th January 1980, the remaining 8 casks, including cask 339, were moved to Gordon & MacPhail’s own bonded warehouse in Elgin.

With excellent stocks of whisky, the business survived the ravages of the Second World War, releasing large quantities of our stocks of mature whiskies for shipment to the United States. These whiskies brought in needed funds that were applied towards the war effort. During those bleak years, when barley rationing reduced distilling almost to a standstill, they continued to fill their casks. Owing to the prudent stewardship of John and George, the future was secured during these turbulent times. Indeed their foresight in filling large amounts of whisky in the late 1930s and early 1940s meant we had healthy stocks when peace was finally declared in 1945. This is when they made their killing!

Connoisseurs Choice Launches

In the late 1960s, George took the unprecedented step of launching a range of single malts from across Scot distilleries bottling them under the banner of 'Connoisseurs Choice'. Aimed at the emerging markets of France, USA, Italy, and The Netherlands, all having developed a love for well-matured single malt Scotch whisky, this range set the trend for single malts around the world. Future generations of Urquhart were to follow.

In the 1970s and ‘80s the business expanded significantly. Led by UK Sales Director at the time David Urquhart, the company grew its wholesale business throughout Scotland, then further afield in the United Kingdom. To support this rapid growth, operations were shifted from the offices above the South Street shop, to custom-built offices and duty paid warehouses – named George House – at Boroughbriggs Road in 1991.

Family Dream Realised

Alongside an unrivalled knowledge of Scottish single malts and passion for matching spirit with oak, the Urquhart family held a long-standing ambition to own a distillery. This desire became a reality in 1993 with the purchase of the Benromach Distillery on the outskirts of Forres, just twelve miles from the shop in Elgin. After five years of careful and deliberate re-equipping, Benromach Distillery was officially reopened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.

In 1995, they celebrated our centenary. One hundred years had been witness to three generations of the Urquhart family learn and grow the business. The dawn of the new millennium welcomed the first member of the fourth generation, Stephen Rankin, John Urquhart’s great grandson. In 2007, brothers David and Michael took over the reigns as Joint Managing Directors.

Generations Series Launched

On 11 March 2010, Gordon & MacPhail made history by launching Generations Mortlach 70 Years Old, the world’s oldest bottled Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Unveiled at an exclusive event at Edinburgh Castle, the release sparked international media interest, and all large decanters were either sold or reserved within two weeks by collectors and whisky enthusiasts worldwide.

On the 08 March 2011, Gordon & MacPhail released the 2nd in the Generations series, Glenlivet 1940 70 Years Old.

On 20 September 2012, Gordon & MacPhail released Generations Glenlivet 1940 70 Years Old (Release 2), the second and final release from cask 339.

On 02 September 2015, Gordon & MacPhail released the next in the Generations range, Mortlach 75 Years Old. The curtain was raised on what is believed to be the world’s most exclusive single malt Scotch whisky.

            MORTLACH 75             MORTLACH 70             GLENLIVET 70(2)             GLENLIVET 70(1)



Speyside Distillery is a small, hand-built, artisan distillery nestled amongst the foothills of the beautiful Cairngorm Mountains, still hand distilling in time-honoured traditions and widely acknowledged to be amongst the prettiest of all Scotland’s distilleries. Originally a barley mill and croft dating back to the 1700's, it closed in 1965 and over the next 25 years it was slowly and lovingly converted into a single malt distillery, which then started producing spirit on Christmas Day in 1990.

The distillery draws it’s water from the Spey River tributary -The River Tromie still using the old mill lade, which originally ran the waterwheel that powered the old mill. The distillery itself was hand-built by a stone mason Alex Fairlie and the full production is housed under one roof. It is often referred to as the Tromie Mills Distillery.

The distillery is also known as ‘Lagganmore’ from BBC TV’s ‘Monarch of the Glen’ series. The small boutique distillery is nurtured by an experienced team of highly skilled craftsmen dedicated to crafting the highest quality spirit in each and every single drop. The whisky thus created is a light, delicate and interestingly characterful single malt Scotch whisky.

Highly regarded as being amongst the smoothest and most approachable of all the malts in the Speyside region, SPEY from Speyside Distillery is a multi-faceted dram which offers the malt drinker a range of ages and styles to suit different times of the day, or indeed, seasons of the year. Each release has had an additional period of maturation in specially selected casks to add complexity and texture to the whisky.

SPEY Chairman’s Choice

The Chairman of the company, on Christmas Day, selects the first batch of whisky to be used only by the family, the annual tradition of SPEY Chairman's Choice. John and Robert Harvey started the business in 1770 and on Christmas Day 1787, John, the Chairman of the company personally selected the whisky (by then 17 years old-I'm sorry, I cannot accept this claim! In fact, I contest it.) to be used only by family. John Harvey called this exclusive and secret family whisky, Spey "Chairman's Choice".In 1856, Chairman Harvey finalised the “Harvey’s codex” – which was designed as a family only known recipe for exactly how the whisky was malted and distilled, how the Highland water was chosen as well as the critical wood / casks selection to be used for the maturing of SPEY and also the Harvey’s brand of Scotch whisky.

They had a rough time staying afloat, till the 1920’s US Prohibition Era years when Alec Harvey (9th generation), storing and exporting the whisky from North East England, developed a lucrative business in Chicago and New York in the USA. The focus that Harvey’s put onto the quality of the whisky and the bottle presentation paid excellent dividends.

WWII hurt them and the Harveys moved to Taiwan. Much later, John Harvey (11th Generation) John relaunched SPEY in his adopted home, together with Taiwanese colleagues, building it to the No.3 malt brand in a few short years. Then in 2012, John Harvey McDonough realised his grandfather’s dream of returning to distilling, when Harvey’s bought Speyside Distillery Company Limited, operating the beautiful Speyside Distillery. The acquisition will safe-guard the supply of SPEY Whisky.

Although the name is synonymous with the world's best-known whisky producing region, Speyside Distillery has been one of Scotland's best kept secrets. Their Award Winning Single Malt Whiskies and hand-crafted gins are produced at this beautiful, artisan distillery located in Drumguish, Kingussie, in the foothills of the Cairngorm Mountains by the River Spey.

Their Classics:

·       SPEY Chairman’s Choice, selected this year by Chairman John McDonough.

·       SPEY Royal Choice, produced exclusively under licence from Historic Royal  Palaces.

·       The Latin Collection: SPEY TRUTINA, TENNÉ & FUMARÉ.

·       SPEY Limited Editions.

Their Products:

·       SPEY Single Malt, a luxury, high-quality award winning single malt.

·       BEINN DUBH Single Malt: The Black Mountain Legend. The local BEINN DUBH Ruby Black Single Malt Scotch Whisky, itself potent and mysterious, uses water from the Cairngorm Black Mountain and is finished in toasted ruby port casks from Portugal.

Speyside Distillery launched its ruby-black whisky – Beinn Dubh – at Europe’s biggest Harley Davidson motorcycle rally in Aviemore in the Cairngorms, the home of the tiny boutique distillery on 30 August, 2015.

Beinn Dubh is the name given to Ben Macdui – the highest peak in the Cairngorm mountain range – by Professor Norman Collie after his solo climb to the summit in 1891. It translates from Gaelic as the black mountain – a reference to the mystical and spooky atmosphere Prof Collie encountered on Ben Macdui. Speyside Distillery wanted to recreate the essence of the black mountain in a bottle, and Beinn Dubh was born. It gets its unusual colouring because it has been finished in toasted port casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Like the mountain, the whisky is dark and mysterious. It is very much the whisky of the Cairngorms – the water used in its production is from the Black Mountain itself, and the malted barley is sourced locally.

Tasting notes NAS 43% ABV £45-50

Nose: Frank with strong Port influence. The fruity side brings notes of plums, raisins, dried fruits and baked apple; also some burnt caramel, pecan pie, roasted marshmallows and treacle.

Palate: Thick and somewhat liquorice with wood smoke, oak spices, coffee beans, caramel, dried fruits, brown sugar, honey : warm and sweet but not overly complex. It’s got fiery character on the tongue at first sip but finally gets more approachable and easy-drinking than expected from the nose.

Finish: warm and sweet with dark chocolatey hints.

Overall: Interesting and easily poured after a hard-working day… It is definitely not too complex but its affordable price and approachable character makes it a good everyday dram.



The picturesque distillery in Drumguish, Kingussie, where Speyside Distillers produce their The Spey Single Malt Whisky, has a new owner, the company Glasgow Whisky.

Until the current lease expires in spring 2025, Speyside Distillers will continue to produce there. They then want to move the production of The Spey into a new distillery, which is to be built in the Speyside. Details on the location and size of the planned distillery are not yet known.

Glasgow Whisky began life in 2007, when Graham Taylor and Stuart Hendry launched the company. With over seventy years service in the industry between them, they have been able to put their combined experience to good use in building and developing the company and in 2015 they were joined by Rory Taylor, the first of the next generation.

From day one, they have built the company on an ethos of heritage, quality, consistency and a passion for the Whisky they produce and ship around the world. Glasgow Whisky blends the guarantee of quality into all aspects of their business and this is something which customers, suppliers and competitors all recognise.

They produce numerous brands of Scotch, Blended Scotch, Blended and Single Malts. The Blended Scotch range comprises of Highland Cup,Highland Cup 12 Year Old,Strathallan, Strathallan 12 Year Old, Kelvin Bridge, Scottish Friend and the Auld Gate.They are all bottled at the production facilities of RUE Minsk Kristall, in Minsk, the capital city of the Republic of Belarus. 

The Single Malt range is diversified. In their Speymhor range, they have the Speymhor NAS listed as a 3 YO, the Speymhor 12 YO, the lightly peated Speymhor 15 YO, the Speymhor 21 YO, the 28 YO Speymhor Blended Malt and the Speymhor 30 YO Single Malt.

In the Munros Single Malt Range, they have their edition of Ben Nevis 22 YO, Glen Grant 23 YO, Braes of Glenlivet 24 YO, Glentauchers 23 YO, Glenallachie 14 YO, Glen Keith 24 YO and The Munros 1989 Macallan.

In the Cailleach Single Malt Range, there is the Cailleach Beira NAS, the Cailleach  Masters  Edition NAS, Cailleach 12 YO, Cailleach 15 YO, Cailleach 18 YO, Cailleach 25 YO, Cailleach 30 YO and Cailleach 40 YO.

Almost all products are exported to China and the States of the erstwhile USSR. They lack presence in the more recognised global market, which is why they are in need of a base in Scotland. From 2025, the Speyside Distillery will see extensive renovations and a new start with a modernised production facility.


Burn o’ Bennie Distillery was born from the heritage and traditions of Royal Deeside at the hands of Owners Mike Bain and Liam Pennycook. They strive to create limited edition, premium cask whiskies that honour our home and pay homage to Scotland’s national drink, using the finest local ingredients and the best casks available. They are seeking crowdfunding.

Whisky is the lifeblood of the community, a bringing together of the like-minded. They want the public to join the journey as one of Scotland’s few independent distilleries leading the uprising of small-batch, innovative cask whiskies.

From Deeside to Burn o’ Bennie

For 200 years, Royal Deeside had only one whisky distillery in operation. Unlike other regions of Scotland where whisky production was rife, the area had seen no new distilleries open their doors, despite having the ingredients, water, and provenance to make great whisky in abundance. So in 2017, Deeside Distillery was born - the first distillery in 200 years and the owners’ first foray into whisky.

Whilst operating under the name Deeside Distillery, they spent over two years exploring a variety of malt recipes and wood types, experimenting with octaves and quarter casks, wood contact, and accelerated aging techniques, to gain an insight into how the whisky would mature in 250L casks at ten years and beyond. In 2019 they laid down 100 casks, 88 of which sold quickly as private investment pieces. The years of trials and this inaugural cask production enabled them to hit the ground running at Burn o’Bennie and produce an exceptional and unique whisky from the outset.

Provenance and Terroir

The provenance and terroir of the region provide all that is needed to create exceptional whisky. It is this connection between land and whisky that allows head distiller Liam Pennycook and his team to source malts, water, and wood from the surrounding area. Blessed with an abundance of water in Royal Deeside for only a limited amount of small-batch whisky. The distillery uses waters from the ancient springs of the Pannanich Wells, one of the purest and healthiest mineral waters in the world. This gift from nature spends 50 years being gently filtered through layers of underground rock and miles of crevices before it becomes the bloodline upon which the whisky is born. When developing Burn o’Bennie whisky, the distilling team used their innovation and intuition to experiment with a variety of grain bills in pursuit of an exceptional combination.

After two years of trials and recipe tweaks, they developed a unique wash utilising a malt bill containing pale, crystal, and chocolate malts - all native to our region-which pair beautifully with some of the finest casks available-only the best ex-oloroso and ex-bourbon casks.

Burn o’Bennie is one of a few independent distillers leading the uprising of small batch production by creating limited runs of premium cask whisky. Burn o’Bennie whisky is carefully crafted and distilled using built for purpose copper stills to create an exceptional whisky as they embark on full cask production of this liquid gold.       


John Crabbie and Co. have been purveyors of wine and spirits since 1801. An absolute pioneer in his field, John Crabbie’s involvement in the Scottish whisky industry is legendary. He and his family have a long and fascinating history. At one time, they owned substantial amounts of property in Leith, sourcing, producing and exporting their products all over the world. John had a true passion for malt Scotch whisky. Only the very finest single malts were good enough for his Crabbie whisky brand, a philosophy and standard they are still guided by today.

Leith History, Brand Origin & Distillery Data

Leith, which lies to the North of Edinburgh on the southern side of the Firth of Forth, established itself as Edinburgh’s commercial port and Scotland’s gateway to an exciting and ever-expanding new world. It was also the home of John Crabbie as it was an ideal location for the business as the British Empire grew and import and export thrived.

Bonnington is a multi million pound distillery in heart of Edinburgh and the first single malt distillery in Leith for nearly 100 years. Commissioned December 2019, it began production in March 2020 – with an estimated 2200 casks per year. The distillery has unique twin linked receivers which allows the distillers the ability to create two spirits types from the same distillation.

Distillery Data:
  • Water source – ancient aquifer 147m under the distillery
  • 2 x 30 tonne grain silos
  • Malted barely used per mash 2 tonnes
  • Mash Tun – 2.5 tonnes
  • Fermentation vessels – 6 x 10,000 litres
  • Wort fermentation- at least 48 hours
  • Bespoke squat neck stills from Speyside Copper in Keith
  • Wash still 10,000 litres
  • Spirit still 8,000 litres

The Re-launch

Crabbie Whisky, one of Scotland’s most enduring and celebrated whisky brands, has launched a range of superior single malt Scotch whiskies, reflective of its founder’s passion for producing only the finest spirits. After decades, the brand is celebrating its relaunch into the Scotch Whisky industry.

Their range of whiskies is:

Yardhead Single Malt Scotch Whisky: Named after the site in Leith, Edinburgh, where John Crabbie’s original distillery was located, Yardhead is a single malt whisky designed for mixing as well as sipping. Exclusively bottled from first fill bourbon casks creates a versitile flavour profile – perfect for highballs and modern whisky cocktails.

Crabbie 12 Year-Old – Speyside Edition: Drawn from specially selected bourbon casks from the heart of Speyside.

Crabbie 15 Year-Old Highland Single Malt: Distilled at a unnamed distillery and aged in ex-sherry casks from the Jerez region of Spain. There are subtle notes of smoke which gives depth to this beautifully complex Scotch whisky.

Crabbie 8 Year-Old: A modern day interpretation of a beloved classic John Crabbie & Co blend. Bottled at 46% and un-chillfiltered, this is a Highland whisky – full fruity floral notes with a deliciously smooth and well-balanced finish.

Crabbie 12 Year-Old – Island Edition: A complete island malt and the perfect introduction to the peated whisky category.


Crabbie 40 Year Old Speyside Single Malt: This 40 Year Old Speyside single malt whisky has been bottled from an exceptionally rare single cask. Bottled at 44.5% ABV, it is presented in a Glencairn crystal decanter.

Crabbie 50 Year Old Islay Single Malt: A single cask bottling, 50 year old Islay single malt scotch whisky. Cask 11562 was hand selected from Bunnahabhain Distillery and bottled at cask strength, 46.5% ABV, without chill filtration and with natural colouring.


Prior to these, there were 2 x 30 YO cask strength Speyside single malt and one 28 YO, also at cask strength.

More basic data is available at the Govt website.


Edinburgh has played a dominant role in the history of Scotch Whisky. It was as significant a place for production and blending as anywhere else in Scotland. Some of the biggest brands in the market today have their origins in the Scottish capital, including Johnnie Walker and Ballantines. Leith was the city's whisky district, from where the origins of some of the biggest names in the industry can be traced.

Leith played a pivotal part in Scotland's whisky heritage. From the 16th century, it became a centre for the storage of wine and brandy, with as many as 100 bonded warehouses at its height. Historically Leith harbour was one of the key landing points for sherry from Spain and port from Portugal, and it was here that whisky merchants had the idea of using the newly emptied barrels to store their whisky in the bonded warehouses that lined the shore. And so, the whole idea of sherry and port matured whisky was born.

Whisky followed on when in 1822, Leith was granted one of only six licences issued to ports in Scotland allowing them to store whisky under bond. At the time, whisky was seen as a poor man’s drink, with wine and brandy the premium tipples. In the late 19th Century, the tables turned.

The European wine industry was ravaged by a triple whammy of vine weevils of which the worst was the Phylloxera, imported from the USA as faster shipping decreased transit time to less than the weevil self-destruct time. Wine and brandy production crashed as producers fought to cure their vines of this pest. Whisky makers moved in to fill the void and the warehouses of Leith were soon filled with barrels of ageing spirit.

Work Begins on Port of Leith Distillery

Work began on 01 November 2020 on the new £12 million Scotch whisky distillery which is set to become a tourist landmark for Scotland’s capital.

Foundations have just been laid for the Port of Leith Distillery which will rise 40 metres above the quayside a stone’s throw from the Royal Yacht Britannia. The flagship distillery – due to open in 2022 – will feature a top floor double height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year.

The project is the brainchild of boyhood friends and distillery co-founders Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling, who hatched the idea, naturally enough, over a dram.

The Building

The site for Leith distillery is located right on the edge of the harbour, next to The Royal Yacht Britannia and The Ocean Terminal centre. The owners never set out to build a vertical distillery - that is a byproduct of a small site. They did however want to build a modern landmark that would reflect what we want to be as a company: restless, experimental and open. They aim to eventually produce 400,000lpa (litres pure alcohol) per year as well as welcoming tens of thousands of visitors through the door with a shop and bar. In addition to this, there is lab space for analysis and experimentation with students from Heriot Watt, offices and facilities for staff, and a number of flexible spaces that can be used for exhibitions and public events. The top floor bar will show a spectacular view, providing a unique panorama across Leith, Edinburgh and Fife.

At the core of the building will be a vertical production process. The gravity-led design provides an opportunity for visitors to experience a distillery like never before, getting as close to the production process as possible as they follow the liquid from the mash tun in the centre of the building, down through the ‘brewery’ and fermentation, to the stills on the ground floor. The proposals to create a vertical distillery in Scotland has been a hugely enjoyable experience. The design brief for the building was expressly aimed at encompassing Innovation, Education and Openness by creating an exciting and modern face for the scotch whisky industry.

At just short of 40 metres in height, and with a total floorspace of 28,000 sqft, the beautiful, bold and modern building sitting on Leith's waterfront will become a major new landmark for the city, and an iconic beacon for the many cruise ships that now dock in Leith.

The Whisky

At the core of their vision is an ambition to produce outstanding Scotch whisky, optimising the role that yeasts and fermentation play in spirit flavour - a very significant part of the production process so rarely discussed.

The £12 million project is funded by a range of international private investors and whisky fans, including two unnamed drinks industry CEOs, and is being built by specialist Scottish firms including constructors Colorado Group (which built Raasay and Kingsbarns distilleries) and process engineers Allen Associates. Innovate UK is funding a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Heriot Watt University's International Centre for Brewing & Distilling (ICBD). They have undertaken a 2-year R&D programme, experimenting with a range of yeasts and fermentations and drawing ideas from different sectors of the drinks industry to find new flavours and styles that can be drawn through the distillate. The knowledge gained will open up a new frontier in Scotch Whisky research.

In the interim, the production equipment for the distillery is now being made in Elgin. The copper whisky stills are being hand-crafted by the Speyside Copper Works. The mash tuns and tanks will be by LH Stainless. Leith was once a centre for whisky production, blending, bottling and maturation. The owners will resurrect that industry once again and put the Port of Leith back on the whisky map, by making an incredible, delicious and distinctive whisky that Edinburgh will be proud to call its own. 

It will be a few years before the Port of Leith Distillery Single Malt will be available for sale.

R&B Distillers

                       Raasay and Borders : two unique whisky landscapes. R&B
                       Distillers:one company with a unique approach to distilling

                         and blending.

R&B Distillers Profile

R&B Distillers Ltd. was co-founded in 2014 by whisky blender Alasdair Day and online dating entrepreneur Bill Dobbie. While it doesn’t currently own a distillery, it does already have a successful whisky brand in The Tweeddale Blend. Plans are in place for the company to build two new distilleries: one on the north western island of Raasay that is currently under construction, and the other in the Borders.

While the Borders distillery is still very much in the pipeline, construction of Isle of Raasay distillery is nearing completion and when fully running, will employ nearly 10% of the island’s population of 120 residents, producing around 150,000 bottles per year.

R&B Distillers History

Alasdair Day’s background was in cheese and mushroom production, rather than whisky. However Day’s family had a connection to Scotch dating back to 1895.

One recipe for a particular blend – The Tweeddale – caught Alasdair’s eye and in 2009 he purchased nine casks from the same nine distilleries listed in his great grandfather’s book to recreate the recipe exactly. Stonedean Ltd. was registered as the trading company and The Tweeddale blend exported in small batches around the world.

Day soon realised that to continue momentum for Tweeddale he’d need to open his own distillery, preferably in the Borders where his great grandfather had lived. Having partnered with Dobbie, the duo set about securing a site in the Borders, but it was a recommendation from an old friend that set them down the path of the Isle of Raasay.

Raasay, or the ‘isle of the roe deer’ lies between the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Skye and makes up part of the Inner Hebrides. R&B Distillers created a small piece of history when planning permission was granted in 2016 to construct the first legal distillery on the island. The company expects to draw the first spirit off in 2020. It also purchased a neighbouring derelict hotel – Borodale House – which is being converted into a visitor centre with five accommodation rooms for the Na Tusairean (The Pioneers) club members.

Now that Isle of Raasay is settled in, the group will search for an appropriate location for its Borders site, which is most likely to be Peebles, following an online poll of its followers to suggest their favoured spot.

In late 2015, R&B Distillers expanded its product range by introducing two conceptual whiskies, the Raasay While We Wait single malt and Borders single grain. The flavour profiles of these whiskies are representative of the styles that will be released from the sites, with Raasay’s lightly peated, single malt character juxtaposed by the mellow single grain whisky that will be the signature of the Peebles distillery.

Stonedean is now a wholly owned, soon-to-be dormant subsidiary of R&B Distillers and The Tweeddale part of the R&B portfolio.

The Tweeddale Legacy

Grocers to the fore again. In 1820, Brothers John & Andrew Davidson ran a licensed grocers shop at 1 Duke Street, Coldstream. Like all grocers of that era, they switched to brewers and wine & spirits merchants. Soon The Tweeddale Whisky was born. In 1895, one Richard Day joined J&A Davidson as an office boy and learned the art of blending. Throughout his career, he recorded minute details of numerous blending recipes in his ‘cellar book’.

J&A Davidson became Richard Day when Day took over the business in 1923. He operated it until the market declined prior to World War II, gradually sold his casks and retired.

The Owners

Alasdair Day inherited his great-grandfather Richard Day’s Cellar Book of blending recipes. From the outset of his own whisky tasting journey, Alasdair became more and more interested in his heirloom book of whisky magic. He set off on a hunt for those relevant whiskies that were still available, many being discontinued and thus long lost. His obvious ingenuity and persistence paid off here and the modern Tweeddale was born. The blending began again in 2009. So after 25 years in the food industry, he’s been successfully handcrafting his great-grandfather’s recipe.


When Alasdair met Bill, two ambitions to return production to the lands that whisky forgot joined forces and the Tweeddale had a new home with R&B Distillers, and Alasdair had a new journey to set out on – to Raasay. Alasdair wasn’t satisfied; the R&B pioneers are big dreamers you see. A Borders distillery, over a century since the last one closed, was the vision, and now it’s their plan.
First Isle of Raasay Whisky in Scotch History

The first legal distillery on the Isle of Raasay in northwest Scotland, with a vision to create the finest Hebridean single malt Scotch whisky and a unique whisky destination with arguably the best view from any distillery in Scotland. Experienced at revitalising an island landmark building, to harvesting the first Raasay barley for a generation, and handcrafting the first Isle of Raasay single malt in Scotch whisky history with mineral rich water sourced from a Celtic well deep beneath the distillery, Tobar na Ba Bàine, ‘Well of the Pale Cow’, for use in every stage of production – from distillation to dilution, and of course, tasting.

Isle of Raasay Single Malt Scotch Whisky comes from long fermentation of up to 118 hours (5 days) that brings a rich, dark, fruity character to the spirit before it even touches the oak of the cask. The carefully crafted recipe combines peated and unpeated Raasay spirit that has been matured in three different types of oak cask: virgin chinkapin oak, high rye bourbon and Bordeaux red wine.

The first legal Isle of Raasay Single Malt Scotch whisky, from an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling, sold out immediately. This will soon be followed by the signature Isle of Raasay Single Malt, coming out May 2021. Distilled in small batches, provenance is at the heart of what they do.

This lightly peated dram showcases innovative six-part maturation. Two Isle of Raasay spirits – peated and unpeated – combine with three distinct cask types – Rye whiskey, fresh Chinkapin oak, and Bordeaux red wine casks – to create a single malt with real depth and complexity.


The first Raasay Signature Edition is to be launched soon and the demand is expectedly high. The distillery is, therefore, offering an opportunity to secure the right to purchase a bottle to 3,000 members of its Slainte Club.

Acquisition Via Two Ballots

Any member of the distillery's whisky club (membership is free) can enter a ballot: Ballot 1 offers the opportunity to purchase one of 2,500 bottles of Isle of Raasay Single Malt for £48, while Ballot 2 offers the opportunity to participate in the launch event on June 4, 2021 with distillery founder Alasdair Day and whisky author Dave Broom. 500 tickets are available at £140 apiece. Besides the ticket to participate in the whisky tasting, a bottle of Raasay Single Malt is included as well as a sample package with six samples for the deconstruction tasting.

Deconstruction Tasting On 04 June

A deconstruction tasting of the Raasay Single Malt Whisky is interesting since the distillery builds its malts on a six cask recipe. Both the peated and the unpeated Raasay malt are matured in ex-rye whiskey casks, chinkapin oak casks and ex-Bordeaux red wine casks. The Raasay Single Malt is batched from all 6 casks and has a slightly smoky, complex character. Those who miss out on the ballot have a chance to buy a bottle in the distillery shop or at one of the dealers in various export countries, while stock lasts. 23,000 bottles will be available on the market. Register for the ballots here on the Raasay Distillery website. The deadline for registration for Ballot 2 is 12 May. The website provides more info about the Slainte Whisky Club and how to join it.

Mossburn’s second distillery

As detailed in the previous post, Mossburn Distillers, a subsidiary of Dutch drinks group Marussia Beverages BV, set up Torabhaig distillery on Skye. Mossburn chose to establish their second distillery – the new Reivers Distillery – in the Scottish Borders region, south of Edinburgh. It is only the second active whisky distillery to be opened in the area in 150 years. This beautiful rural area belies its storied and eventful past. With many ruined castles, abbeys and towns to be found across the hills that rise above the flood plains of the River Tweed, it is the unexpected home of the rebel spirit of the Reivers that survives to this day.

The distillery is named for the Border Reivers – lawless bands of raiders and marauders organised by families loyal only to their own kin, with no allegiance to either the English or the Scottish crown. They ruled the English and Scottish borders between the 13th and 17th Centuries, following a proud ethos to ‘steal with pride’. Their reputation is firmly established at the heart of the folklore of the region.

In a nod to the Reivers’ rebellious ways, the whiskies to be developed at the distillery will be experimental in nature. Each will be released as small batches and distillers will work to evolve and develop ever-more intriguing expressions over time.

As is known, Mossburn is an established distilling and blending firm, first seen in the market in 1992. Their blenders select unique batches from exceptional distilleries and masterfully blend woods and malts to express the best from all regions, showcasing the versatility each whisky offers. Their  Signature Casks Series of dozens of popular single malts reveals the unique characteristics of Scotland’s whisky-making regions. Each expression is assembled exclusively from Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from a single region. This brand will be taken up separately. 
They have independent Whisky Brands as well, the Caisteal Chamuis Blended Malt Scotch Whisky NAS 40% and the Caisteal Chamuis  Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, 12YO 46%, which justify their classification as authentic voices from the Hebrides.

The ruins of Caisteal Chamuis, also known as Knock Castle or Castle Camus, lie on the headland on the eastern flank of Knock Bay on the Isle of Skye, in sight of the grounds of The Distillery At Torabhaig. The stone to build the steading that would in turn become Torabhaig were originally taken from the by then derelict castle.

This classic Island style Blended Malt Whisky is a tribute to Hebridean life and lore, and reminds us of a time of peat fires, lively company, and bold spirits. It is a characterful whisky, carefully blended and double barrelled in Mossburn casks to balance the heavy island peat – accessible for those curious to explore the Island style.


Torabhaig’s first release is a big, peaty, punchy, oily and rich distillate that belongs to the Isle of Skye. For too long, Islay has claimed all things peat. According to the label, it is bottled at 46% strength and is made with concerto malted barley with a ppm of 50-60, fermented with Pinnacle MG+ yeast and aged in only 1st fill bourbon barrels. Untouched by E150A or chill-filtration, the phenols level is 16ppm when bottled.

Colour: a light tan.

Nose: apple pie, candy floss and some sea salt. Quite a youthful character. It’s nicely balanced with the coastal characteristics mingling well with the peat. Some zest, lime peel and bacon fat. Also pine needles and a spent bonfire. Just enough detail. Adding water reveals more apples and some pears with peaches also noticeable.

Palate: oily, candied lemon, cask char and toasted black peppercorns. Liquorice, grapefruit, green jelly, brine and toffee. More of that coastal brine.

Finish: the peat comes through with some salt. Adding water brings out dried reeds, bacon and smoke. Billows around the palate for an extraordinary amount of time.

Conclusions: A well-sculpted and delivered debut. For Torabhaig, this starts the ball rolling. Peat can cover up a multitude of sins in young whiskies. Here it’s an accompaniment to an assured debut. For such a young whisky, there’s enough to keep you engaged and motivated to follow their journey. But as a peated whisky per se in the market, it is still very young and below par.


Follow the winding Alness river up into the remote hills of the Scottish Highlands. In the shadow of Ardross Castle, you’ll find the remains of a 19th century farmhouse, built of stone and slate. That is the home of Greenwood Distillers. They’re building a bridge that links countries, continents, and cultures — one made of sumptuous spirits, cemented with centuries of expertise and built on a foundation of great people, who hail from Scotland, Kentucky, Japan, Mexico and France. Push through its large wooden doors to discover a distillery alive with experimentation and bursting with the creativity of niche spirits, unexpected botanical pairings and long, patient maturations.

Greenwood Distillers has revealed details of its inaugural spirits range, which will be produced at the new £18 million (US$23m) Ardross Distillery in the Scottish Highlands. The construction of the whisky and gin distillery has begun at Ardross in the Averon Valley, near Inverness. Carving an impressive silhouette in the Northern Highlands, the newly constructed Ardross Distillery will open in 2019, to begin distilling Scotch and Gin.

Situated at Ardross Mains Farm, Ardross distillery will be capable of producing up to 1m litres of spirit a year once operational. The distillery will encompass the 50-acre site, retaining the farm’s 19th-century steading buildings, farmhouse and cottages, while stone and slate from dilapidated buildings will be recovered as building materials.

The distillery itself, including the still house, tun room, mash house and mill room, will be housed in the main building, while two detached cottages will be converted into offices and staff accommodation.

While two large copper stills were transported to Ardross, the founders travelled to France — to the Gascon countryside — hoping to find and negotiate much lauded and long forgotten Armagnac rare stocks. Next, they travelled to Japan to bring back Mizunara casks. Ardross’ distilling equipment is expected to be delivered in early 2018, with production commencing in the summer. Detailed plans, along with full design specs, were approved by Highland Council in February in 2017. (The Highland Council approved plans for an old farm site to be transformed into a Scotch whisky distillery and tasting room, to be called The Ardross Distillery).

The distillery is said to be one of the few distilleries in Scotland to own and manage its own loch. Its initial spirits will be launched in 2019. Whisky will follow, as required by the time rules of the SWA. Ardross distillery will first launch its Greenwood Bond experimental and limited edition single malt and blended Scotch whiskies, of which the first, Mrs Black, is already in the pipeline. 

Greenwood Distillers’ team includes Andrew Rankin as chairman and master blender. With 45 years’ experience, Rankin joined the distillery in 2015 after holding roles at Chivas Brothers and Morrison Bowmore Distillers. He will manage inventory of maturing Scotch and Bourbon whiskies at the site, as well as oversee the quality, production and maturation of all spirits at the Ardross Distillery and future sites.

Greenwood Distillers has released its inaugural limited edition product – Theodore Gin, which was inspired by an ancient Scottish tribe. Whisky, of course, takes infinitely more time to mature and reach a state after three years when it can be released. All future releases will be from Ardross.

The philosophy at Greenwood Distillers is all about embracing a healthy debate. At Ardross, classically trained distillers & master blenders come together with a restless team of untrained dreamers and impetuous doers. The old and young rarely agree — except when it comes to quality. They do not compromise on quality.

Greenwood Distillers founder Barthelemy Brosseau said: “Greenwood Distillers was founded to fulfil a desire to create a global network of distilleries linked by a common respect for spirits and local traditions, but driven by an explorative mindset.”


At the Ardgowan Estate, near Inverkip, work on the Ardgowan Distillery is due to begin after the company secured an investment of £8.4m. The investment, £7.2m of which comes from Austrian businessman Roland Grain, will allow construction of the distillery and visitor centre to begin. Grain, owner of IT company Grain GmbH and an investor in several other distilleries around the world, will now become the major shareholder in the distillery.

He shares the vision of company founders Martin McAdam and Alan Baker and notes that they have already built a strong team around them, their chairman Willie Phillips and their whisky maker Max McFarlane, for instance, and hopes to craft the finest quality single malt whisky based on the extraordinary location of the Ardgowan Estate and the unusual microclimate of the Inverkip area.