Borders Distillery, Scotland’s newest whisky distillery, to open its doors

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L-R: George Tait, Tony Roberts, John Fordyce and Tim Carton

Just north of Scotland’s border with England, near the River Teviot, sits the Scottish town Hawick. Hawick sits in the council area Scottish Borders. Many miles away from Scotland’s major whisky producing areas, notably the distillery dense whisky region Speyside, Scottish Borders’ last distillery is thought to have closed its doors in 1837.

In recent years, distilleries have begun sprouting in Scottish Borders. One is the Kelso Gin Company. The other, which is of more interest to whisky fans, is the Borders Distillery.

Fast forward to 6 March 2018. That day, at precisely 10.11am, new make spirit started to trickle out of a copper pot still under the watchful eye of staff at the Borders Distillery – this marked the first time in about 181 years that new make was produced in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland with a view to making it into whisky (well, legally at least!). Continue reading “Borders Distillery, Scotland’s newest whisky distillery, to open its doors”

How is whisky made and where does its flavour come from? Distilling and Maturing whisky

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Whisky is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘[a] spirit distilled from malted grain, especially barley or rye. There is more to it than that, of course. Making whisky is complex. Whisky is not “made” into a finished product, it takes time. The spirit that becomes “whisky” is clear as water when it is distilled. To become whisky, this clear liquid (which is called “new make”) needs to mature in oak. This post will show you how this “new make” is distilled, and then matured into whisky. It will explain how different types of whisky get their distinct flavours, and from where. 

Continue reading “How is whisky made and where does its flavour come from? Distilling and Maturing whisky”

Christmas 2015 gift ideas: 5 great whiskies under $100

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I have lost count of how many times I have, while perusing the whisky section of Dan Murphy’s (Australia’s leading liquor store), been asked by a perfect stranger something along the lines of “excuse me, could you help me choose a whiskey for a gift?”. My adoring eyes (or salivating mouth) as I admire all the lovely liquid gold must be a dead give-away! All this practice at choosing gifts for other people has led me to write a post about Christmas gift ideas for the whisky lover. In this post, I recommend ten whiskies that should tick all the boxes this Christmas depending on a gift recipient’s taste; and whether he or she has been naughty or nice.

Most true whisky lovers look beyond marketing and fancy bottles. For us, it is all about the whisky. We dare not put a whisky on display to collect dust and never be opened; that would be a waste of a spirit that has taken many years of maturation in oak casks to come into existence. These five whiskies therefore satisfy a few simple criteria: (1) they are delicious; (2) they are good value; (3) they have an interesting story that makes them a great Christmas gift. The whiskies that have made this list are readily available in leading retail chains and easily accessible. While some other whiskies certainly deserved to make this list, as they are hard to find outside certain countries, they are not mentioned here. 

# 1: Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 year old

JW Green

Price: AU$69.95 

Type: Blended malt whisky 

Age: 15 years 

Why does this whisky make a great Christmas gift?: Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 year old is a malt blend, which means that it is made up only of malt whisky and not a single drop of grain whisky. It is rare to find 15 year old malt whisky for such a great price, not least the increasingly rare Johnnie Walker Green Label. Green Label has been discontinued by Johnnie Walker, making it highly sought-after by Johnnie Walker fans including those annoying folk who collect whisky because it looks nice in display cabinets. This, in turn, has meant that the price of this whisky sky rocketed on the grey market and on eBay. However, Johnnie Walker have recently released a limited edition Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 year old. I have seen it here and there, in Port Melbourne and Melbourne city, selling like hot cakes. The good news is that it is available online via Dan Murphy’s, at a limit of 2 per customer. 

# 2: Glen Orrin 30 year old

gLEN oRRIN 30

Price: AU$99.99

Type: Blended scotch whisky

Age: 30 years 

Why does this whisky make a great Christmas gift?: Ever feel like trying a 30 year old whisky guilt free; that is, without feeling like every sip costs $50? With 30 year old blended whisky starting at around $400-$500 per bottle in the most competitive retail shops, it may be easy to feel that old whisky is simply beyond most budgets. Fear not, Aldi is here to save the day. Glen Orrin 30 year old blended Scotch whisky includes malt and grain whiskies that have matured in sherry casks for at least 30 long years in cold Scotland. It is a fine tasting whisky, and at under AU$100 it is an absolute bargain! So, get out the cut crystal glasses and savour this three decades old Scotch whisky beside the fireplace (or barbie and flies if you are in Australia). 

# 3: Glenlivet 12 year old

GLENLIVET 12

Price: AU$56

Type: Single malt 

Age: 12 years

Why does this whisky make a great Christmas gift?: The Glenlivet 12 year old is such a delight to smell and sip; truly a beautiful Speysider with notes of honey, wisps of smoke, and sweet tropical fruit. It is, however, being replaced with the no age statement Glenlivet Founders Reserve. Get a bottle, or 17, while you can. I am certainly stocking up the bunker with this fine single malt. 

# 4: New Zealand Whisky Co South Island 21 year old

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Price: AU$99

Type: Single malt

Age: 21 years

Why does this whisky make a great Christmas gift?: On a trip to Wellington, New Zealand, I learned that New Zealand has the best craft beer; and it pains me to say it, better than Australia. The New Zealand whisky scene, however, has not shared the same heights as Australian whisky. Then NZ Whisky Co decided to release some old stock of whisky which had been aging for 21 years in ex-American oak barrels in the picturesque south island of New Zealand; better known as Middle Earth. This delightful whisky has depth and maturity that holds its own against some of the very best whiskies I have tasted, and yet it offers a unique flavour profile that I found thoroughly pleasing – and all for under $100. So I am torn, as an Aussie, in admitting that not only does New Zealand have the best beer  but it also has some pretty stellar stocks of whisky aging away. I suppose all I am left with is the pavlova debate. I won’t even mention the rugby. Seriously though, I am delighted to see whisky of such quality and great value coming out of New Zealand.

#5 Bruichladdich Islay Barley 

ISLAY BARLEY

Price: AU$99

Type: Single malt

Why does this whisky make a great Christmas gift?: Now this is a whisky with a fascinating story! Take a single grain of barley which has grown on Islay on a single field, make it into a beer and then distill the beer and put the distillate to mature in American oak barrels in Bruichladdich’s coldest warehouse. The result is spectacular. This is an interesting demonstration of the importance of “terrior” in single malt whisky; something that wine lovers would associate with the flavour which the earth in which grapes are grown imparts to the grapes which then carries through into the wine. A similar principle applies here; only prepare to taste Islay.

 

Beam Suntory smoky whisky tasting and some tips on how to nose and taste whisky


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On 2 December 2015 Malt Mileage had the opportunity to attend a Beam Suntory event at the Henry Bucks menswear store in Melbourne, “Peated Malts of Distinction – a journey through five world class smoky whiskies”.

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Beam Suntory’s core smoky whiskies were on tasting, paired with a delectable assortment of cheeses. The whiskies included Ardmore Legacy Highland malt whisky, Connemara Irish whiskey, and, Islay malts Bowmore 12 year old, Laphroaig Select Cask and Laphroaig Triple Wood. On the night we were guided through the whiskies by Brendon Rogers, whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory. Brendon proved to be extremely knowledgeable in whisky production and maturation.

wp-1449296757068.jpgBrendon reaffirmed the importance of good tasting practice to fully appreciate a whisky, and shared with the group how to nose and taste a whisky; an important but often overlooked aspect of whisky tasting. This good tasting practice seemed to be in line with accepted practice, including much of Richard Paterson’s approach to whisky tasting, and included: (1) agitate a whisky by swirling it in the glass before nosing or tasting it, not only does it look cool but it also seems to enliven the whisky after its time resting in the bottle; (2) use the right glass, preferably a Glencairn in my opinion, to catch all those beautiful aromas and hold them in the glass ready for your nose; (3) don’t stick your nose in the glass when first nosing a whisky, but hold the glass just under your nose and breath in through your mouth to smell the whisky and also reduce the aroma of alcohol (think of it as whisky foreplay); (4) when tasting the whisky, swish it gently around your tongue and savour it; and (5) after swallowing a whisky, breath in and then out to really get the flavour of the finish. It was great to see this knowledge being shared with whisky consumers, in addition to the great work of Richard Paterson in his online videos.

The star of the night, for me, was the Laphroaig Triple Wood – a complex smoky malt with beautiful notes of oloroso sherry and Spanish oak cutting through the peat and American oak driven vanillas – one of my very favourite Islay malts which I return to time and time again at home. The Bowmore 12 year old and Ardmore Legacy hit the spot too, though they did not light my night on fire like the Triple Wood did. As for the Connemara and the Select Caskimage, they seemed to be the least enjoyed among the people within my vicinity; far too mild mannered, though this is to be expected in such “breakfast drams” such as the Select Cask.

Overall, this Beam Suntory tasting was a fantastic night with one stand out whisky – the Laphroaig Triple Wood – that makes me praise whoever first decided to store peaty whisky in used sherry casks. Peaty malt and sherry wood: a brilliant composition if done properly which is probably one of the world’s best flavour combinations for the devout peat head. Amen. Try the Laphroaig Triple Wood with some blue cheese to accentuate the peaty smack in the face.

“Past, Present and Future”: Artbeg Exhibition celebrates 200 years of Ardbeg’s “untamed” single malt [exclusive images]

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To celebrate 200 years of Ardbeg whisky, the distillery will exhibit images which are intended to capture the “untamed” spirit of Ardbeg. This exhibition is creatively called ARTBEG.  

The Artbeg Exhibition, which will be revealed today, marks Ardbeg Day (to be celebrated on 30 May 2015). The exhibition is comprised of 20 layered digital collages which can be viewed on the external wall of the Ardbeg distillery’s West Maltings building and on www.ardbeg.com. The exhibition will be removed at the end of this year.   

The collages are created by photographer Peter Heaton, who is proclaimed to be an “ardent” Ardbeg single malt fan. After visiting the distillery in 2014, Mr Heaton created the collages by layering his photographs of Ardbeg and Islay with material from the Ardbeg archives. This includes correspondence to and from Ardbeg, bills and other records.

Mr Heaton, speaking of the exhibition, said:

“I have always had a fascination with Islay and its single malts, particularly Ardbeg. The exhibition interprets the Distillery over time and I wanted to create layered, complex imagery which would encourage people to give the work some time and think about the theme of past, present and future.”

Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads, also had a few words to say about the exhibition, and said:

“This exhibition provides an intriguing twist on the story of Ardbeg – and contains more than a few surprises. The complexity of these remarkable images makes you stop and think about the whisky’s heritage and its future”.

Malt Mileage is very fortunate to have – with thanks to EVH – received two exclusive images from the Artbeg exhibition to share with readers. 

 The committee meets (1)

The first image, “the committee meets”, is a collection of images that contain the 9th Century Kildalton Cross, which stands near the Ardbeg distillery, a vintage map of Islay and a document which makes reference to the “Sound of Islay”; the narrow straight between the isles of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland.

The picture itself is dark, with what seems to be a storm brewing in the distance. The ashy and sooty look of the collage captures the mood of Ardbeg’s signature smoky peat, while the sun softly shining though the darkness seems to reflect Ardbeg’s sweetness – what some call the “peaty paradox”.

Ardbeg Distillery from the pier

The second image, “Ardbeg distillery from the pier”, captures a shot of the Ardbeg distillery rising out of old archived handwritten letters which were sent to the distillery.

The waves bashing against the rocks signals a turbulence shared in the first image, though it predominately seems calm and picturesque. Having been raised by the coast most of my life, the smell of seaweed and the sea comes to my nose just looking at this image; triggered by the yellowish roughage. This seems to capture the maritime nature of island whisky, such as that from Islay.

Art tends to be a subjective experience, and the above notes reflect what my eyes perceive. What do you perceive?

Ardbeg fans are encouraged to sign up to the Ardbeg committee at: http://www.ardbeg.com/ardbeg/members/public/index/register.

Chivas Brothers commences production at new Dalmunach distillery

Chivas Imperial_160714_0125Chivas Brothers has now constructed its new Speyside malt whisky distillery, Dalmunach, with production commenting this month in October 2014. Capable of producing up to 10 million litres of spirit per year, Dalmunach is expected to support growing global demand for Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute.

Dalmunach is Chivas Brothers’ 14th operating malt whisky distillery and it sits on the banks of the River Spey, being aptly named after a nearby pool in the river. It houses eight copper pot stills, with a tulip shape used for the wash stills and an onion shape used for the spirit stills. These replicate those from the Imperial distillery, which was situated on the site until 2012.

Laurent Lacassagne, Chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, comments:

“As global demand for Scotch whisky increases year on year, our confidence in the long-term growth prospects for the category remains strong. The construction of the new Dalmunach distillery is a clear demonstration of our confidence and also of our commitment to invest to meet the significant growth potential.

With their reputation for crafted excellence, our blended whiskies form a key part of the Chivas Brothers portfolio in both emerging economies and mature markets, so we believe the increased capacity which the new distillery will provide will help to drive the business forward in the years to come.”

Of Oak, Copper and Chivalry: Chivas Regal collaborates with Bremont to create 12 exclusive “Chivalry” watches

Chivalry watch

Chivas Regal has collaborated with British watch brand, Bremont, to create the next installment of its Made for Gentlemen Limited Edition collection, which will be available globally from this month.

Only 12 Chivalry watches, created by Bremont and Chivas, will be released in this year’s collaboration. The exclusive Bremont ‘Chivalry’ watches, which will be auctioned for charities around the world,  will be available via online auction taking place from 22nd October to 9th November 2014 at www.chivas.com/bremont. Proceeds will be donated to The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme.

The Bremont ‘Chivalry’ watch is made from polished steel and features a piece of oak cask used in the maturation of whiskies for Chivas Regal, the signature of James and John Chivas etched on the rotor of the timepiece and the Chivas crest subtly embossed on the dial.  An engraved copper plate, taken from a retired Scotch whisky copper still, sits on the leather presentation pouch.

Also available this year domestically and in Travel Retail from September 2014 will be the Chivas 12 Made for Gentlemen by Bremont limited edition gift tin decorated with deconstructed watch elements to showcase the engineering of Bremont chronometers, which contains a bottle of Chivas 12 year old.

Richard Black, Global Brand Director for Chivas Regal says:

“Over the last three years, The Chivas Made for Gentlemen series has gone from strength to strength, resonating with modern gentlemen around the world who demand substance and style from luxury experiences and products. With this latest edition, we’re celebrating not only the style and handcrafted quality of Chivas and Bremont, but also the spirit of generosity for which John and James Chivas were renowned, and that is increasingly valued in today’s competitive world. We’re delighted with the exquisite designs and we’re confident that Chivas 12 Made for Gentlemen by Bremont will be well received by discerning whisky fans around the world.”

Nick English, Co-Founder of Bremont, adds:

“For me, the collaboration with Chivas was a genuine meeting of minds.  We are all dedicated and passionate about keeping traditions of craftsmanship alive and we are also focused upon leaving a positive legacy.  Bremont watches are ‘Tested Beyond Endurance’ and Giles and I have been blown away by the level of skill that Chivas Master Blender, Colin Scott, deploys in channeling nature and time in blending their Scotch whiskies.”

More information about The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme is available in the below video and the Prince’s Trust website.

 

Pernod Ricard Releases 50 Year Old Glenlivet Single Malts: The Winchester Collection

 

 

The Glenlivet Winchester Collection Vintage 1964 with Cabinet

Pernod Ricard will soon release the world’s first collection of rare 50 Year Old single malt Scotch whiskies from The Glenlivet, which will be on sale from October 2014 at the iconic Harrods.

The Winchester Collection will include the world’s first series of 50 year old single malt Scotch whiskies from The Glenlivet, the distillery that is said to have started it all. Only 100 bottles of the first release, “Vintage 1964”, will be available priced at $25,000 each and bottled at cask strength (42.3% ABV). The first of these bottles, creatively called “Bottle No 1” (such ingenuity!), will go on sale this October at Harrods.  “Vintage 1966” is confirmed to be the next release.

The bottles also seem to be pieces of art,  handcrafted in the British Isles and featuring hand-blown glass and precious materials such as rose gold and ‘Cairngorm Stone’ – a testament to the craftsmanship of the current Master Distiller of The Glenlivet, Alan Winchester, from whom Winchester Collection takes its name. Winchester comments:

“This release marks a milestone for The Glenlivet. Casks of this age and quality are such a rare thing these days that I’m immensely proud to introduce the first of these rare Vintages of preserved stocks from the distillery’s rich past. They’re a testament to our legacy of excellence and to those who have nurtured this whisky over the years, including Captain Bill Smith-Grant, who played such a pivotal role introducing our single malt to the world.”

Global Brand Director for The Glenlivet, Nikki Burgess, adds:

 “The release of The Winchester Collection sets a new benchmark in single malt. We are excited to share this unparalleled spirit, the product of 50 years of craftsmanship, with whisky lovers and collectors alike. Vintage 1964 allows us to tell a new chapter in The Glenlivet’s rich history and is a fitting tribute to those who shaped Speyside’s original single malt whisky.”