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Sunday 30 May 2021

ARDNAHOE DISTILLERY TO START BOTTLING SOON

The ARDNAHOE DISTILLERY
SET TO START BOTTLING IN DECEMBER 2021?


NAME & LOCATION 

Ardnahoe – which means “Height of the Hollow” in Scottish Gaelic and gives Ardnahoe Distillery its name, is situated on the North-East coast of Islay, equidistant between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain Distilleries. Ardnahoe Distillery is the ninth malt whisky distillery on the world-renowned whisky island of Islay. This family-owned distillery was purpose-built over a period of two years in an idyllic greenfield location on the island, to produce fine Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the classic Islay style.

The distillery is built into the side of a gentle slope on a four-acre site, with vistas over the Sound of Islay, the majestic Paps of Jura and out towards the isles of Colonsay and Mull beyond. A truly inspirational setting in which to distill an extraordinary whisky.

WATER


They draw the water to produce Ardnahoe spirit from the eponymous Loch Ardnahoe, which lies a duck’s flap from the distillery. Loch Ardnahoe offers extremely soft water that has been filtered through peat and rock for thousands of years. The result is an exceptional water source to use in all aspects of the whisky making process.

Mysteries surround Loch Ardnahoe: no one is quite sure how deep it is, while others say there’s a ghost of a charging white steed that rises out of the Loch on a full moon. They’re stories for another time…

One could be forgiven for thinking they’re in paradise – a natural, stunning and magical environment to create an exceptional spirit with a heart and soul of its very own.

BARLEY AND THE BOBY MILL

The whole process of making whisky is a remarkable chemistry that is orchestrated by the most skilled masters of their art. Firstly, the barley is malted on Islay, a process where the malt is steeped in water in order to allow the seeds to germinate; that unlocks the sugar potential to be turned into alcohol later in the process. Once the barley has been soaked, it is then dried over peat smoke for around 20 hours, to reach ~40 ppm. This is the foundation of the distinctive peaty Islay flavour in the ultimate spirit. The barley is then ground into ‘grist’ in their 100 year old Vickers Boby mill – the only piece of equipment in the distillery which is not new. A little bit of the past, brought to the present as the world flits by into the future.

THE MASH TUN  

The milled grist is transferred to the copper-domed mash tun. Water from Loch Ardnahoe is heated, added to the grist and the process begins to produce a liquid called ‘wort’: a sweet, sugary solution and in this case, also smoky. The attention to detail at this point in the process is paramount: too hot and the enzymes will die, too cold and the enzymes will not convert as much starch. At Ardnahoe the aim is to create the clearest wort possible and this can only be accomplished by careful consideration as to how much the mixture is mashed. Therefore, it is constantly checked for temperature, mixing rates and quality. The result at Ardnahoe is a liquid so clear, pure and sweet that it lends itself perfectly to the ultimate, unique and dynamic spirit.

The wort is separated from the barley husks and taken to the next stage of the process, whilst the husks, known as “draff” are taken away by local farmers to be used as cattle feed.

THE WASHBACKS

The sugary liquid, or wort, from the mash tun is collected in the underback. From there it passes through a cooler to ensure it doesn't kill the yeast that is soon to be added and is pumped into the washback at a temperature of about 23°C. The next part of the alchemic transformation takes place in the four traditional Oregon Pine washbacks. Specially designed and constructed using the long, straight variety of timber which has minimal sap and knots and offers the optimum habitat for yeast development, these were constructed by JB Vats in Dufftown. Chilled yeast is added to the sweet, clear wort and the reaction begins. The yeast feeds on the sugar to produce alcohol and froths violently before subsiding after 50 hours into a ‘wash’, a liquid not unlike weak beer. The total fermentation time at Ardnahoe is approximately 65 – 70 hours which gives the desired result of a wonderfully fruity wash.

The brewing process differs from beer production in one important respect. At no point is the wort boiled (as in the production of beer) so, as the yeast is busily converting sugars into alcohol in the washback, a range of other complex reactions are also going on, carried over from earlier stages in the process: in particular any remaining starch in the wort is still being converted to sugar during the process.

Little seems to happen at first, but then the yeast really kicks into action and the effect can be tumultuous, rattling and shaking the washback and its surrounds and threatening to overspill the washback with active froth. This is countered by the switcher, a rotating arm designed to skim the froth before it reaches the top of the washback.

Taking too close a look inside the washback at this point in the process can be a literally breathtaking experience. The action takes place below a blanket of carbon dioxide that has displaced all the oxygen in the washback, producing a sensation in the top of the nose like every fizzy drink you've ever consumed, all at once. Carbon dioxide extractors are used to prevent too much escaping into the distillery itself. After fermentation is complete the vaguely beer-like wash, which has an alcohol content of about 7-8% by volume, is pumped from the washback and into the wash still for its first distillation.

THE STILLS


Situated in their bright, airy still room with beautiful vistas of the Sound of Islay, the two copper pot stills at Ardnahoe were manufactured in the North East of the country by the artisans of Speyside Copperworks. Lantern-shaped in design, they are relatively large with a capacity of 13,000 litres for the wash still and 11,000 litres for the spirit still, which, along with their unusually long descending lyne arms allows the vapour plenty of copper contact. Slow, gentle distillation ensures that the Ardnahoe spirit has all of the desired characteristics; being fruity, peaty and of the highest quality.

The basic principle of all stills is that the alcohols boil at a lower temperature than water. In the wash still the alcohols gradually boil in the still and make their way to its top, and then along the lyne arm, the horizontal(ish) copper arm leading from the top of the still, to the wash condenser, where it is cooled and turned back into a liquid that is sent to the low wines receiver. What is now called low wines has an alcohol content of around 22-24% by volume.

The process continues until almost all of the alcohol has been given off, and what is emerging from the still is water vapour. The remnants of the wash still are pumped out and reduced to a solid, providing a high protein cattle feed, and the wash still is ready for its next batch of wash from the washback.

THE WORM TUBS

Ardnahoe Distillery is unique on Islay and one of only a handful in Scotland still to employ the traditional style of worm tub condenser. Large copper coils submerged in tanks or “tubs” of cold water allow the vapour after it has passed through the lyne arm of the still to condense gently and gradually, thus imbuing it with added texture and complexity. This style of condensing used to be common throughout Scotland but fell somewhat out of favour in the 20th century because its use necessitates particularly slow distillation. Whilst the accountants may not share our enthusiasm, we believe the benefits of this less efficient method will ultimately be apparent in the glass!

Just as today, in the days of Illicit distillation “the worm” was a highly valued and expensive to manufacture piece of equipment, indeed those illicit distillers would, during a raid, ensure that they retained their “worms”, even if meant losing their stills to the excisemen. It is an interesting piece of local folklore that Ardnahoe was the site of last illicit still on the island as recently as 50 years ago.

The condensers sit at a height, outside the distillery, as seen in the pic above. The vapours enter at the top of the coil and the condensed liquid emerges at the bottom.

MATURATION

Cask selection is of paramount importance to the creation of exceptional whisky. Ardnahoe uses around 70% first fill ex-bourbon barrels and 20% ex-oloroso sherry hogsheads. The bourbon casks come directly from the United States and are made from American White Oak, which imparts flavours of toffee, honey and vanilla to the whisky. Directly from Jerez, the Oloroso sherry casks are made from European Oak and impart rich intense flavours of red fruits, brown sugar and spices.

To be called scotch whisky, the spirit must be produced and warehoused in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years. As the spirit rests in the casks, over time the effects of the maturation soften and flavour its spirited character. Approximately 2% of the casks’ volume (fluid / alcohol) evaporates every year, this is what’s known as The Angels’ Share – how much they steal away depends on the warehouse type and location. A proportion of the Ardnahoe spirit is matured at the distillery on Islay, absorbing the particularly maritime atmosphere and adding an extra element of “terroir”.

The aim is to produce a classically peated style of Islay single malt whisky; smoky, dynamic and full bodied. When will anyone know it’s ready? The whisky will whisper those soft words to the Master Blender. Never rush a good thing




Friday 28 May 2021

NEW WELSH DISTILLERY RELEASES FIRST EDITION SINGLE MALT

 Aber Falls Distillery launches first single malt whisky

ABERFALL DISTYLLFA WHISGI RELEASES 3 YO SINGLE MALT

Aber Falls Distillery in Abergwyngregyn, Wales, launched its first 100% Welsh single malt whisky on 17 May 2021.

The ‘Inaugural Release’, consisting of 2,000 bottles, is quintessentially Welsh; milled and distilled in North Wales using 100% Welsh malted barley and rock-filtered water from the Aber Falls waterfall. It’s also aged in the Distillery’s local Welsh warehouses, before being bottled on site at the Distillery.

The single malt was distilled in a copper pot stills and matured along the coastline of North Wales in a mix of wooden barrels, including American and European oak, Spanish sherry, Virgin oak and Orange Wine casks selected to enhance the flavour profile during maturation.

The glowing amber expression, produced and bottled on-site, is alive with tropical fruit flavours at first, followed by scents of sweet hay and cut grass. The palate delivers warmth with dark chocolate and golden syrup before rounding off with a touch of cream and vanilla to finish.

Dr Kirsty McCallum, master blender at Aber Falls, said: “The setting of Aber Falls is so unique, nestled between the Menai Straits and the Carneddau mountain range, offering a remote microclimate, creating the ideal conditions to influence the character of the whisky. One of the big advantages of producing whisky in Wales is having more scope to experiment with a variety of casks, and our wood strategy has also been a key contributor to the finished liquid, which we’re extremely pleased with for a three-year-old bottling.”

The Inaugural Release, which is the first of many age-declared whiskies and special editions planned for the future, is bottled at 46% ABV, and the 70cl expression has an RRP of £45.

To complement the unique characteristics of the whisky from the first Distillery in North Wales for more than 100 years, the ‘Inaugural Release’ has a bespoke bottle, boldly embossed with the brand’s unique Triquetra and topped off with a wooden cap, reinforcing the Distillery’s heritage and the brand story. The bottle is presented in a gift box made from fully sustainable materials, supporting Aber Falls’ pledge to be 100% sustainable in the future.

James Wright, MD of the Distillery and a member of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, said that this whisky was the first to be distilled in North Wales for 100 years, bringing together the very best Welsh ingredients. These credentials truly encapsulate the ‘Spirit of North Wales’ within the Inaugural Release and demonstrate the distillery’s distinctive character, laying the foundation for future releases, with a non-aged declared bottling due in September. The team consists of local people producing a local product using local materials and proud to do so.

Previously a slate works in the 19th century and a margarine factory during the world wars, Aber Falls Distillery opened in 2017 initially releasing gins and liqueurs.

Aber Falls Distillery, in collaboration with other Welsh distilleries, is working towards protecting Welsh whisky with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). As well as protecting the status of Welsh whisky, Aber Falls Distillery is working hard to protect the local environment by adopting an ethos of field-to-field, maximising local resources by returning any waste ingredients back to local farms for use as fertiliser or cattle feed.

The production of Aber Falls Whisky benefits Wales at every stage; it utilises Welsh skilled workers and Welsh ingredients, and contributes to a more sustainable production system in that waste products go on to be used in other Welsh industries. Aber Falls will achieve its ambition of putting Wales on the world map as a producer of excellent food and drink.

THE DISTILLERY

Aber Falls professes it is committed to quality and a premium taste, and wants to be recognised and respected for the calibre of their product and what it stands for.

Their team is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about whisky, and all work with the same goal in mind – to create the best whiskies and spirits using the finest ingredients sourced from Wales.

LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS

Aber Falls believes that working closely with local businesses and partners is imperative in creating a great experience for visitors to North Wales. Teaming up with other attractions in the surrounding area, puts into place a range of offers so visitors can enjoy a day out riding the waves or flying the skies, followed by a fun and fascinating Aber Falls distillery tour and tasting experience. The perfect way to spend time exploring the vivid beauty and variety of activities on offer in North Wales.

Aber Falls also has arrangements with Adventure Parc Snowdonia, set in the Conwy Valley of the Snowdonia mountains, a revolutionary world-first inland surf lagoon; Dylan’s Restaurant, which has a great mission statement:Celebrating the local produce, character and natural beauty of North Wales; Go North Wales, a great place to stay and plan adventures in North Wales; Blas Cymru / Taste Wales that brings together producers, buyers and food industry professionals for their signature international food and drink trade event and conference and Customised Private Tours in Wales with Celticos.

THEIR ROOTS

The village of Abergwyngregyn is home to their distillery, and sits at the foot of the famous Aber Falls waterfall and the water is filtered down from the Snowdon mountain range to become a key ingredient in all their spirits. Attracting over 50,000 visitors a year, this picturesque spot is easily accessible, just off the A55 and a stone’s throw from the coast.

Previously a slate works in the 19th century, a margarine factory during the world wars, and more recently a drinks wholesaler depot, the building has been lovingly restored and refurbished, proving the ideal place to create their spirits and demonstrate their passion and skill.

THE PROCESS

Their copper stills, appropriately named Golchi, meaning wash in English and Gwirod, meaning spirit, are specially designed to produce refined, premium quality whisky. The copper removes any sulphur, with the large surface area of the tall still ensuring maximum contact with the liquid.

Aber Falls whisky is unique in both its production and its taste. Working with local farmers, they use only authentic Welsh malted barley and fresh Welsh water, and recipes have been meticulously built to highlight the quality of these spectacular ingredients. The spirit must be aged for a minimum of three years and one day before it is legally whisky, so the single malts can be released in 2021, as just proved.

After fermentation, the wort and low wines are distilled in large copper stills, which remove the sulphur from the liquid and help in the formation of esters, giving the spirit a refined, fruity character.

Once distilled, a range of specially selected wood barrels, including American Oak Bourbon, Virgin Oak and Spanish Sherry, enhance the flavour profile of the whisky during the maturation process. These casks are stored at the distillery in Abergwyngregyn to take on the characteristics of the Menai Straits air, and retain the authentic profile of Aber Falls.

The magic happens during the aging process, when skilled distillers use a variety of methods to blend and create the finest whiskies, including dividing barrels, marrying the liquids, or simply full-term maturation in one cask. This gives a diverse portfolio, ranging from 3 year old expressions to as old as felt necessary to achieve maximum quality and taste.

The new visitor centre here at Aber Falls Distillery has opened, as will the bistro and a brand new whisky tour from 17th May. The gift shop is open 7 days a week where you can buy Aber Falls’ award-winning spirits and official merchandise.

The inaugural release of 2000 bottles made from their first mature casks has been sold out. A mix of American Virgin Oak, Sherry and Orange wine casks has made a unique release setting the course for the distillery’s future.

TASTING NOTES Vol. 70cl / ABV 46% @ £45.00

Colour: Glowing amber.

Nose: Initial notes of tropical fruits, coconut, mango and banana, alongside scents of sweet hay and cut grass.

Palate: This exceptional single malt whisky has flavours of dark chocolate and golden syrup, influences of cream and vanilla with hints of pine.

Finish: A touch of cream and vanilla carried forward.

ABER FALLS INAUGURAL WHISKY RELEASE

Marking a significant milestone in their whisky journey, Aber Falls Distillery launched their first 100% Welsh single malt whisky.

The ‘Inaugural Release’ consisted of 2,000 bottles, and is quintessentially Welsh; milled and distilled in North Wales using 100% Welsh malted barley and rock-filtered water from the Aber Falls waterfall. It’s also aged in the Distillery’s local Welsh warehouses, before being bottled on site at the Distillery. This exceptional single malt was distilled in a copper pot still and matured along the coastline of North Wales in a mix of wooden barrels, including American and European oak, Spanish sherry, Virgin oak and Orange Wine casks selected to enhance the flavour profile during maturation. Sadly, it sold out almost immediately, despite being limited to one bottle per customer.

To complement the unique characteristics of the whisky from the first Distillery in North Wales for more than 100 years, the ‘Inaugural Release’ has a bespoke bottle, boldly embossed with the brand’s unique Triquetra and topped off with a wooden cap, reinforcing the Distillery’s heritage and the brand story. The bottle is presented in a simple yet striking gift box made from fully sustainable materials, supporting Aber Falls’ pledge to be 100% sustainable in the future.

Thursday 27 May 2021

TWO BEASTS HIT THE SCOTCH ROAD

 May is the month of the beasts in scotland

PEAT'S BEAST

A single malt with inimitable taste and distinctive strength, the Beast is a unique whisky ‘not for the faint hearted’. Straight from the Scottish Highlands, you’ll find a distinctive nose of spicy cinnamon with undertones of pear and apple. The taste is just as strong, with a hot and spicy edge that will warm the throat. To deliver full force, the Beast is never chill filtered.

Peat’s Beast, created in 2011, wasn’t just the brainchild of one person, but the collaboration of many great minds. Like any great drink, it’s the combination of key ingredients that makes all the difference. The makers think their team makes a pretty good dram.

Eamonn Jones was a regional director at Whyte & Mackay, responsible of the sales of Dalmore, Jura and other great brands. Gerald Erdrich was his importer, distinguished in the business. Together these two great minds decided to come together and use their expertise and ingredients to make a brand, a beast. Who could make their beast come alive? For that, a creative genius was needed. Their dear departed friend Mark Graham assumed the role of creator. In collaboration with LA-based Brazilian artist Dough Alves, the iconic Beast was born.

Now, it fell to more great minds to ensure the Beast would pack a punch. Lighting your senses with smoke and fire from the start, untamed and ferocious. Industry legend, Richard Paterson, also known as “The Nose”, confirmed that the attributes of the dram was never any less than awesome. Eamonn Jones’ business partner and 30-year industry colleague, Aidan Smith, ensured quality was maintained at every single step.

There you have it. A blend of great minds, great brains and great friends have created a fantastic single malt. The Beast was born!             

As the years have passed, the Peats Beast family has grown. Along with the Standard 46% single malt whisky un-chillfltered, no additives no colouring......the range now includes: a Batch strength version finished for 9 months in Pedro Ximinez casks.

The first bottling standard 46% single malt whisky, un chillfiltered, no additives, no E150A.

Colour: Straw yellow with glittering highlights.

Nose: A rugged fusion of sea spray, bonfire smoke, damp earth and spicy cinnamon immediately arouses the senses.

Taste: Strong and bold with plenty of backbone and structure as this great monster unfolds its fiery fangs on your palate. This is not for the faint hearted. Take a generous mouthful with a biting wind blowing furiously in your face. Hold it long in your mouth allow the thick tar, peat smoke and creamy liquorice to penetrate every part of your tongue. Time will tame it.

Finish: These powerful aromas of peat moss and wet grass must be fully respected before seductive notes of crushed pear, apple and freshly baked bread provide the perfect finish to this memorable melody.

A recent addition is a 25 year old Islay single malt, now available in the market from an undisclosed Islay distillery. The bottle is presented non-chill filtered at cask strength of 52.2 % and with a label that is far from a design classic. Let's look beyond the cover for the much more important contents.

Colour: copper-gold

On the nose: Lovely mellowed iodine, a nice subtle smoky peat, perhaps a hint of burnt hay. There is a definite coastal element, smoked seaweed. There is a fruity sweetness too, of overripe berries. A nose that requires plenty of time to appreciate.

Palate: A toffee sweetness up front which combines well with the dense oily spirit. The peat then comes through: ashy and drying, but not overly so. A world away from the more brutish young Islay malts of this day. Dry spice and black pepper kicks in and lasts into the finish, which is satisfyingly long.

Peat’s Beast is enjoyable, tamped down for a whisky whose retail price approaches £200. Therein lies the problem: the increasing cost of whisky, Islay malts and older expressions.

Why peat? What's it got to do with Whisky?

Until relatively recently, Peat was the primary source of domestic fuel in Scotland. Easily accessible and with what seemed like in infinite supply, it is the soft, spongy earth composed of decayed vegetation such as moss, plants and tree roots.

When burnt, it is extremely smoky and produces an extremely aromatic smoke; hence when peat was used to dry the malted barley in the nascent whisky industry, the phenolic characteristics it  gave became highly prized. The distilled spirit was imbued with rich notes of tar, iodine, smoke and briny sea spray.

BUT WHAT’S DEFINITE IS THAT PEAT’S BEAST IS A CLASSIC PEATY WHISKY WHICH EMBODIES ALL THAT’S GOOD ABOUT USING PEAT SMOKE…

Peat’s Beast might be from Islay; it might not be... Peat Smoke was, and is used at distilleries in the Highlands, Islands and Speyside as well; many large distilleries will distill once or twice a year using peat dried malted barley in order to be able to compare and contrast their spirits distilled and matured in different ways or using different ingredients or maturation techniques.

Product Description:

A limited release from the Peats Beast team, this time, a complex, full-bodied, punchy Islay beauty aged for 30 years in oak casks and bottled at 50.6% ABV. Don't let the terrifying monster on the label put you off – a magnificent balance coastal smoke, floral heather, and bright citrus awaits.

Nose - Enticing peat, medicinal, citrus, fruity, aniseed, soft floral and cereal top notes

Palate - Sweet and savoury, peat and sea salt, citrus fruits and toffee balanced with woody spice

Finish - Long with peat, heather and oak with delicate herbal and citrus notes

TIMOROUS BEASTIE UNLEASHES “MEET THE BEAST” CASK STRENGTH LIMITED EDITION

MEET THE BEAST

Douglas Laing & Co, the family firm behind the “Remarkable Regional Malts” Scotch Whisky range, unleashed Timorous Beastie “Meet the Beast”, a limited edition of the sleekit dram to amplify the flavour experience of their Highland Malt brand end May 2021.

Offered at a natural cask strength of 54.9% and matured exclusively in ex-American Bourbon barrels, the spirit is said to be a “massive amplification” of the original.

Packaged in a black bottle with red capsule and premium gift tube, the striking livery features the brand’s trademark mouse character and monochromatic colourways, complemented by flashes of bold red. With tasting notes including “complex oak”, “buttery pastry” and “rich spices”, the team behind Timorous Beastie Meet the Beast say it is “bound to appeal to an adventurous whisky drinker with an appetite for big flavours”.

The original Timorous Beastie may look cute and unassuming, but the spirit inside is a seriously credible Highland Malt, offered at high alcohol strength and without colouring or chill-filtration. This new limited edition “Meet the Beast” is designed to unleash Timorous Beastie’s wild side in line with a repositioning for the core brand, which seeks to enthuse and excite consumers via premium, credible messaging with a feisty edge. It’s true what they say – beware of the quiet ones!

Timorous Beastie Meet the Beast is expected to retail at £50 and will be available from selected specialist retailers globally from May 2021. Just 3,600 bottles are available.

Tasting notes   

Nose: expect a burst of sweet vanilla, complex oak and orchard fruits.

Taste: The beast of a palate delivers wonderful notes of candyfloss, creamy honey and buttery pastry,

Finish: Satisfyingly long with spices that go on and on…

ABOUT TIMOROUS BEASTIE

Established in 2014 by Douglas Laing & Co, Timorous Beastie represents “ultimate distillation of the Highlands” in a small batch marriage of Single Malts distilled at Glengoyne, Glen Garioch, Blair Athol and Strathearn Distilleries, amongst others. The multi award-winning Scotch is distributed in over 50 markets globally and has amassed a loyal following.

Douglas Laing & Co. is a leading independent Scotch Whisky distillery, blender and bottler specialising in the selection and release of Single Cask Single and Small Batch Malt Scotch Whiskies. The company was founded by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948 and is still owned and run by the Laing family – Fred Laing Jr and his daughter Cara Laing.

Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts, the Ultimate Distillation of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Regions, encompasses The Epicurean Lowland Malt Scotch Whisky, Timorous Beastie (Highlands), Scallywag (Speyside), The Gauldrons (Campbeltown), Rock Island (Islands) and Big Peat (Islay). Beyond its Blended Malts expertise, the award-winning Douglas Laing portfolio also includes Provenance, Premier Barrel, Old Particular, Xtra Old Particular and XOP Black, collectively known as the firm’s “Exceptional Single Casks”.



Tuesday 25 May 2021

LAPHROAIG'S 15 BOOK LIBRARY OF 30 YEAR OLD WHISKIES

 Laphroaig’s 30 Year Old SERIES ON The Ian Hunter Story

WHISKIES AS LEGENDARY AS THE MAN WHO MADE LAPHROAIG WHAT IT IS TODAY

In 2019, Laphroaig released a new Scotch whisky, The Ian Hunter Story Book One: Unique Character. It was presented in a novel manner, in the form of a heavy tome that, after a few pages, revealed a neat slot with a bottle holding liquid 30 years old nestled therein. It was also the first chapter of a series of rare and collectable aged whiskies that honour the legacy of Ian Hunter. He was the last of the Johnston family to own and manage the Laphroaig distillery, between 1908 and 1944. 15 such books were planned. Each release was to contain an aged Laphroaig, set into a crafted book that would document a part of Ian’s legacy. Every year, a new chapter would be told, uncovering the history behind Laphroaig and the characters who created it.

THE STORY- BOOK ONE: A UNIQUE CHARACTER is at 46.7% ABV. Aged in first-fill bourbon barrels, this non-chill filtered whisky is rounded with a combination of sweet, zesty and medicinal notes, the company says. This is Hunter’s influence, as it was his decision to introduce American white oak barrels into the maturation process of Laphroaig. Over time, the original smokiness of this 30-year-old whisky has become less of an assault on the senses. Married with the sweet vanilla notes enhanced with aging, the whisky develops into a more mature, well-rounded dram. The Ian Hunter Story Book One: Unique Character is available for a suggested retail price of approximately $560 per 750-ml. bottle. 

The first edition of the new, fifteen part series The Ian Hunter Story celebrates the legacy of Ian Hunter, a character as unique as their whisky. Unique. Distinctive. Not for everyone. You could be describing Ian Hunter as much as you could the taste of Laphroaig. Despite his polarising personality, Ian Hunter made Laphroaig what it is today: a whisky enjoyed the world over by a wide and diverse range of people.

Laphroaig is born out of the ancient soil of Islay, the art of distillation and the iconic nature of the people of Islay (‘The Ileachs’). It is thanks to Ian Hunter’s management of the Laphroaig distillery from 1908 to 1944 that these characteristics were brought together to create the whisky that we hold in front of us today.

Ian Hunter’s story still resonates across so many aspects of Laphroaig. In celebration of that fact, each release in this 15 Book series will tell the story of his unique character and his inspiring legacy—a legacy that lives on in their liquid.

In honour of the legacy of Ian Hunter, each release will contain a rare and aged Laphroaig®, set into a beautifully crafted book that will document a part of Ian’s rich legacy. making this a collection unlike any other, and one that is treasured by Laphroaig fans across the world.

TASTE PROFILE

Colour: Burnished gold.

Nose: Sweet and medicinal with manuka honey, light peat smoke, cooked apple and rosemary vanilla. Orgeat syrup and a hint of lemon peel complete the aroma.

Palate: Peaty and peppery with notes of herbs, cedar, kumquat zest and gorse flower. A sweetness of custard cream and vanilla pods.

Finish: Coastal with subtle iodine, sea salt and seaweed notes. A touch of coffee and oaky character.

Maturation: 30 Years in first-fill American white oak bourbon barrels.

THE STORY - BOOK TWO: BUILDING AN ICON is at 48.2% ABV but aged for 30 years in Spanish Oak Oloroso Sherry oaks.

The second release of Ian Hunter’s series has come in 2021, a non-chill filtered whisky with sweet sherry notes underscored by Laphroaig ‘s characteristic peatiness. This second release is a tribute to the Icon that Ian Hunter built more than 100 years ago. Because no one thing is more important to the creation of Laphroaig® than the place it comes from Islay and the ‘hollow by the bay’ where Laphroaig® first came into being. It might seem obvious to state, but their whisky could not be recreated in any other place than this.

Set into a beautifully crafted book that will document a part of Ian’s rich legacy which will unfold across 15 years, with every year seeing a new chapter, uncovering the extensive history behind Laphroaig® and the characters who created it, making this a collection unique, and one to be collected by Laphroaig® fans across the world.

Distinctive. Not for everyone This second release, a 30 year old non-chill filtered whisky, is matured in Spanish Oak Oloroso Sherry cask, which makes this second book a unique peated single malt whisky.

The second book starts with Warehouse No.1. With the different cask types being brought by Ian Hunter, including ex-bourbon barrels and sherry cask, Ian recognised the need for more capacity to house them. Ian selected the location by the Atlantic shore that would have its influence on the casks and planned a five-phased extension between 1910 and 1924. It is this icon that is celebrated in Book Two.  

TASTE PROFILE

Colour: Burnt umber.

Nose: Dried dates and figs, cigar box with toffee and dark chocolate, liquorice with medicinal notes, pink peppercorns and all spice. Adding water brings out pipe tobacco and orange peel.

Palate: Manuka honey; sweet, smoked stone fruit.

Finish: Long and mouth drying.

Maturation: 30 Years in Spanish Oak Oloroso Sherry oaks.

In over 20 years of tasting at least 15 expressions from this distillery, this is probably my favorite Laphroaig release of all time. After 30 years in a sherry cask, this whisky is decidedly dark, almost coffee brown in colour, easily the darkest Laphroaig release I can recall. Intensely nutty on the nose, it comes across with more of a Pedro Ximenez character than oloroso, immersive and rich with notes of black tea, some pepper, and the essence of my leather flying jacket.

It wasn’t until I fully savoured the first sip that I really became aware of the peat; the smokiness is so well-integrated with the other aromatics, giving it a lovely, gently smoldering character. It’s soothing and comforting, but also incredibly decadent, that sherry evoking clove-studded oranges, honeyed nuts, and some nutmeg dusted atop. The finish continues the theme, intensely winey and nutty, with chocolate notes emerging in time. It’s absolutely gorgeous and literally impossible to stop drinking, and now that I have no more, I find myself intensely, terribly sad.

THE STORY- BOOK THREE: SOURCE PROTECTOR 70 Cl ABV 49.9%, matured in refill ex-bourbon barrels. The third instalment in the Laphroaig ‘Ian Hunter Story’ series will be a 33 Year Old, bottled at 49.9% ABV. This third book is called ‘Source Protector’. It is a vintage 1987 distillation, fully matured in refill ex-bourbon barrels, showing hints of peaty aniseed and creamy liquorice. More details will be available when the Book is released, later this year.

Prices have skyrocketed. Book One is available at select sites for $1,250.

UPDATE

Laphroaig has launched the third whisky in its Ian Hunter Story series, the 33-year-old single malt Book Three: Source Protector. The Beam Suntory-owned brand launched the second Scotch in the collection October 2020.

The single malt charts the history behind the Kirkbride stream. Following a long-running dispute, Hunter purchased the land leading up to the source of the stream to ensure the distillery would be powered by steam. On the nose, the Scotch offers notes of pears, peaches and apricots. The palate delivers aniseed and liquorice.

The limited edition whisky is available from Laphroaig’s official website and specialist retailers for£920, $1,250 USD, and €990.

Addenda: In July this year, Laphroaig unveiled the 2021 editions of its 10-year-old and 25-year-old cask strength single malts. Part of batch 13, both whiskies have matured in ex-Bourbon casks. In March, Laphroaig had added a 10 Years Old Sherry Oak whisky to its core range.

Friday 21 May 2021

THE COMMEMORATIVE SCOTTISH FUSION MALT WHISKIES

Indian Amrut is not the only fusion whisky

THE SCOTTISH FUSION WHISKIES STORY

The Glover Fusion Whisky Ltd. was originally formed as a small enterprise- TBG & Co- with the aim of producing a Scotch whisky to raise awareness of entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover’s role in shaping modern Japan and celebrate Scotland’s historical, economical, cultural and social links to Japan. They then realised that if Glover and Japan were to be feted by the ceremonial release of a specially created whisky, Japanese malt whisky would have to be included and the outcome could never be a Scotch whisky, but an international blended malt.

Late 2014, the board of TBG & Co contacted Alex Bruce, managing director and master blender at Adelphi, with the intent of creating a designated Fusion whisky by 2015 to celebrate Glover’s life. In the end, and despite the challenges of international procurement and production, they produced not one but three Glover whiskies, the first two in 2015, all of which sold out. The Glover Fusions gave the board the opportunity to highlight the unique flavours of both countries, and create a blend that was even more than the sum of its parts.

In the summer of 2016, they embarked on an ambitious programme to bring out a series of new fusion whiskies, something that has never been done before. They changed names from TBG & Co to Fusion Whisky Ltd to better represent their aims, and, in the autumn of 2016, released the second title in the fusion whisky series, The Kincardine. This blended malt whisky is a fusion of the Indian Amrut single malt whisky and Scotch from Glen Elgin and Macallan distilleries. It honours the life of the “Walking Viceroy” Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine, who spent a lifetime in public service and whose legacy lives on in both Scotland and India. Incidentally, Adelphi’s Alex Bruce is the great-grandson of the 9th Earl of Elgin.

With very strong international interest in this pioneering approach to blended malt whisky, Fusion Whisky Limited moved forward with its series of innovative fusion whiskies. Working with partner Adelphi, they have produced blended malts in partnership with a Dutch and Australian distillery and are in discussions with other international distilleries in countries where Scots have had a profound influence and where exceptional craft whisky is being produced.

Fusion has since won a major award from Scotland Food & Drink for the innovative collaboration with Adelphi, and continues to attract interest from whisky lovers around the world.

                

Thomas Blake Glover was born in the thriving fishing port of Fraserburgh on the north-east coast of Scotland and educated at The Chanonry House School in Old Aberdeen. After school he joined the largest British company trading in the Far East, Jardine Matheson, and in 1857 was sent to work in the company’s Shanghai office. Two years later he was appointed as the company’s agent in Nagasaki – a brave move, since there was considerable resistance to Westerners in Japan at the time.

Indeed, until 1858 Japan was closed to all foreign trade and external influences – a policy which had been followed since 1639, with the exception of a tightly controlled Dutch trading station on the island of Dejima. By the mid-19th century, however, a powerful faction grew in the Japanese central administration, which was aware of the power of western technology and frustrated by the government’s extreme conservatism, which blocked attempts to modernise Japan.

It was against this background of political and social turmoil that Thomas Glover began to operate, initially for Jardine, Matheson and Co. and then as an independent merchant. He learned Japanese and initially traded green tea out of Japan, arms which he bought in Shanghai or Hong Kong and ship broking, the latter through his brothers, James and Charles, ship brokers and builders in Aberdeen. Between 1863 and 1867 the Glovers sold twenty ships to Japan, including the first modern warship in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

In the early 1860s he was also involved in arranging an (illegal) trip to Britain for five senior members of the Choshu Clan, and later fifteen members of the powerful Satsuma Clan, based in the south of the country. These men would play an important part in promoting Western technology and ultimately became very senior members of the government which overthrew the old regime with the restoration of the Emperor Meiji in 1868.

The new government was dedicated to learning from the West, encouraging trade and directly supporting business and industry and Thomas Glover soon became a leading figure in the industrialisation of Japan.

Among many other ventures he developed the first modern coal mine in the country at Takashima, had a dry dock built in Aberdeen and shipped to Nagasaki, founded the shipbuilding company which would later become the Mitsubishi Corporation and backed the establishment of the Japan’s first large-scale brewery, becoming head of the Japan Brewery Company in 1894. In recognition of these achievements, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, the first non-Japanese to be so honoured.

The Whiskies

To honour the achievements of a unique man, Thomas Blake Glover, and the historical relationship between Scotland and Japan, independent bottler, Adelphi Distillery Ltd., was asked to create a blend of Japanese and Scotch malt whiskies.

To this end, Adelphi was offered the chance to select a single refill ex-sherry hogshead from one of the few remaining casks from Hanyu Distillery. It was disgorged and shipped to England for marrying with a carefully determined volume of Scotch whisky from two single casks: 35% from an American oak ex-sherry hogshead distilled at Longmorn, and just a drop from a Spanish oak ex-sherry butt distilled at Glen Garioch.

The final ratio was assessed through extensive trial vattings by Alex Bruce and Charles MacLean. "We wanted the final whisky to present the unique flavours of both casks, but also to be even more than the sum of its parts. We added a drop of whisky from Glen Garioch Distillery in homage to Thomas Glover’s home in Aberdeenshire, to complete the flavour profile," they said. It was launched as a 22 year old malt whisky in 2015 at an ABV of 53.1%.  

The Glover whiskies edition was completed with the Glover 18 of 2017. It followed the launch of The Glover 22 and The Glover 14, both in 2015 & The Glover 18 of 2016, but is said to have a “a little more Sherry cask influence” than its predecessor. In line with the rest of the range, the whisky is composed of liquid from Scottish distilleries and the Hanyu distillery in Japan.

“Both mouth filling and teeth coating (waxy), it’s initially tangy with decadent marzipan and milk chocolate leading to a very well balanced finish warmed by a hint of fresh pepper and the slightest hint of distant smoke,” Alex Bruce, MD & Master Blender at Adelphi Distillery. The Glover whiskies are blended at Adephi Distillery and released under the Fusion Whisky company. There is every likelihood of a fifth edition of the Glover Fusion series.

           

THE GLOVER 14 YO 44.3% (2015)   18 YO 48.6% (2016)            18 YO 49.2% (2017)            22 YO 53.1%(2015) 

THE FOLLOW UP

The Kincardine: Fusion of Indian and Scotch Whisky

The Kincardine is a fusion of Amrut single malt whisky from India and Scotch from Glen Elgin and Macallan distilleries. It honours the life of the “Walking Viceroy” Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine, who spent a lifetime in public service and whose legacy lives on in both Scotland and India. The edition consists of two blended malts, the Kincardine 7 YO and the E&K 5 YO.

Victor Alexander Bruce was the 9th Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine. Incidentally, he is Adelphi’s Alex Bruce’s great-grandfather. In 1894, Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, granted him the most prestigious appointment in the British Empire – Viceroy of India. As Viceroy, Victor Bruce had responsibility for the entire sub-continent and its population of 320 million people, who were covertly hostile towards the foreigners who they considered marauders out to loot India, and who ultimately plundered £43 trillion.

Unrest, famine and colonial politics all reared their head; the north-west frontier and border with China were sources of tension too. In 1895, he took decisive action to lift the siege of Chitral. Two years later he authorised a force of more than 35,000 troops to recover the Khyber Pass. The boundary line that his government negotiated with the Chinese in the Eastern Himalayas – India’s Line of Actual Control – remains a source of tension today.

To cope with the pressures of office, Victor took regular early morning walks, accompanied only by a solitary detective and his trusted walking stick. These walks, often incognito, gave Victor an invaluable but Anglo-biased insight into India and its people and earned him the nickname “the Walking Viceroy”. After his return to Scotland in 1899, Victor returned to public service.

                                                   

The Kincardine 7 YO Blended Malt Whisky, 52.9% ABV

Created using whisky matured in American oak hogsheads from Glen Elgin in Speyside and Amrut Distillery in Bangalore, The Kincardine is a fusion of burnished copper and summer gold, of honeyed sugars and tropical fruits.

Perfected by Adelphi’s master blender Alex Bruce, The Kincardine is a majestic whisky that brings together the best of Scotland and India. it is believed to be a fitting tribute to the “Walking Viceroy”.

The E&K 5 YO Blended Malt Whisky, 57.8%

The E&K 5 YO Blended Malt is a unique fusion of Scotch whisky from Ardmore and Glenrothes distilleries and malt whiskies from Amrut Distillery in India. The E&K is an exquisite tribute to a remarkable Scot, the “Walking Viceroy” Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin and 13th Earl of Kincardine.

The Winter Queen: A Majestic Blend of Scotch and Dutch Whisky

The Winter Queen is the third in the series of iconic blends from Fusion Whisky and Adelphi, created in honour of the Scottish princess, Elizabeth Stuart. A blend of Scotch malt whisky from Longmorn and Glenrothes distilleries and malt whisky from Zuidam Distillery in the Netherlands, only 866 bottles of the iconic whisky were produced.

Elizabeth Stuart was born in Falkland Palace in Fife in 1596, the eldest daughter of King James VI of Scotland and Queen Anne of Denmark. By the time of her death in 1662, she had been heir to the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland, survived murderous plots and bloody sieges, borne 13 children, been crowned Queen of Bohemia, took domicile in the Hague and revolutionised cultural life in the Dutch Republic, her adopted home of forty years.

The teenage princess modelled herself on her famous godmother, Queen Elizabeth I. She clearly had aspirations, and her wedding to Frederick V, Elector-Palatine of the Holy Roman Empire, was a lavish event, even by royal standards. In 1619, the couple left their home in Heidelberg for Prague after Frederick was elected King of Bohemia. But rebellion erupted and they were deposed after barely a year, earning Elizabeth the sobriquet the “Winter Queen”.

The Brisbane: A Heavenly Blend of Scotch and Australian Malt Whisky

The Brisbane 5 YO Blended Malt 57.5% ABV

The Brisbane is the fourth in the series of iconic blends from Fusion Whisky and Adelphi, created in honour of the Scottish soldier and astronomer, Thomas Makdougall Brisbane.

Born near Largs in Scotland in 1773, Thomas Brisbane was a distinguished officer in the British Army, and served as Governor of New South Wales from 1821-25. As well as the city that bears his name, Brisbane opened the door to the foundation of Melbourne, enabled a free press, and worked to improve conditions for colonists and secure compensation for Aboriginals who lost land.

A unique fusion of Scotch malt whisky from two Spanish oak ex-sherry hogsheads distilled at Glen Garioch, Highland, part of an ex-sherry butt distilled at Glen Grant, Speyside and three ex-Apera casks distilled at Starward Distillery, Melbourne, The Brisbane is a heavenly tribute to a remarkable Scot.

Mahogany with amber lights. initially nose drying, with freshly baked croissants topped with butterscotch sauce, pecan pie, ginger, runny honey, chocolate ├ęclairs and banoffee.

Chocolate ├ęclairs in the taste with stone fruits in the development: ripe plum, apricot and tinned prune juice.

Sweet overall in the finish; creamy mouthfeel, bitter chocolate and more toffee to finish.

The Glover Fusion Fifth Edition 2020

The Glover 5th Edition Fusion By Adelphi 4 YO Cask Strength 54.7% ABV

The 5th release of the innovative and sought after 'Fusion whisky', named after Thomas Blake Glover, who opened up trade between Japan and Britain in the 19th Century and was awarded the Order Of The Rising Sun (the first foreigner to receive this) took place in 2020.

This bottling contains two of the most exciting single malts in the world: Chichubu from Japan and Adelphi's own Ardnamurchan Distillery. Two young 4 YO casks from each were blended together and the result is a dram of excellent balance and depth despite it's youth. This particular bottling has not been dedicated to any one, deceased or alive.

Official Tasting Notes: This is the 5th Glover in the series and all derives from 1st fill bourbon barrels. 2 from AD & 2 from Chichibu. This whisky has a lovely colour of summer gold. On the nose one finds honeycomb, melon, clementine, panatone, flaky almonds & Sour Plooms. The palate delivers a great balance of pineapple cake, mandarin and barley juice & lemon bonbons. Becoming maritime with a light peat smoke to finish, very moreish.