Whisky News, November 2013
by Gavin D Smith
Another new distillery
Barely a month seems to go by without an announcement that yet another new distillery project has been unveiled in Scotland. One of the latest is a £6.7 million collaboration between Perthshire-based John Fergus & Co and Indian drinks group Kyndal.
The two firms plan a joint venture to build a micro-distillery and bonded warehouse in Glenrothes, Fife, with a projected opening date sometime in 2015. The venture will focus on exporting to markets in India, Africa and the Far East and is expected to generate exports worth £3.6 million during its first three years of operation.
The project is being supported by a £1.6 million grant from the Scottish Government's Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation Scheme, while Scottish Enterprise is providing a £240,000 Regional Selective Assistance grant to support employment at the new distillery.
Kyndal Group was set up in 2002 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Whyte & Mackay, but following the acquisition of Whyte & Mackay by India's UB Group, a management buyout of Kyndal India in 2006 was led by
Siddharth Banerji (right, pic courtesy Spiritz Magazine).
India currently levies a 150 per cent duty on whisky imports, but Banerhi declares that "Developments towards rationalisation in import duty structures would open up a large market for Scotch whisky,
and Kyndal in partnership with John Fergus & Co would like to maximize this huge opportunity. Together, we would launch high-quality premium Scotch and ad-mix brands in these markets."
And yet another
Meanwhile, over in the west of the country, plans have been submitted to establish a £10 million distillery and visitor centre on the banks of the River Clyde. The old Queen's Dock 'pump house' building, close to the Riverside Museum and new Hydro concert venue, is at the centre of the venture, which is headed by Tim Morrison, proprietor of independent bottlers AD Rattray.
If plans are approved this will be the first distillery in the centre of Glasgow for more than 100 years, though Chivas Brothers' Strathclyde grain plant in the Gorbals district dates from 1927. The anticipated capacity of The Glasgow Distillery will be around 500,000 litres per year, although initially output is likely to be some 150,000 litres per annum.
According to Tim Morrison, whose family used to own Bowmore distillery, "Glasgow has a rich whisky history - in 1963, the trade directory lists 30 or 40 whisky companies working in the city. We began
thinking about building a distillery in the spring of 2011 to help secure supplies for AD Rattray, our whisky bottling business. Our vision for the new distillery and educational visitor centre
is that it becomes a part of Glasgow's busy tourist trail - we anticipate it will attract more than 50,000 visitors each year."
The famous Suffolk brewery of Adnams is about to release its first two whiskies, having installed distilling plant which became operational in 2010. Adnams Single Malt No. 1 has been aged for three years in French oak barrels, and is described by its producers as "smooth and rich," with notes of "runny honey, vanilla and apricot".
Adnams Triple Grain No. 2 meanwhile has been produced from East Anglian barley, wheat and oats and matured in virgin American oak barrels. It's described as being "bold, dark chocolate-scented," and with notes of "toasted oak, pepper and orange peel"
John McCarthy, Adnams distiller, says that "We have tasted both spirits as they have matured in the oak barrels and have been extremely pleased with the flavours as they have developed. We are now
looking forward to bottling them in just a few weeks' time and hearing what people think."
Adnams whisky will be bottled later this month and will be available from 5th December at the distillery.
William Grant & Sons has just launched its innovative Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25 Year Old Scotch as a UK exclusive bottling. According to John Ross, Master Distiller, "The Girvan Patent Still continuous distillation method takes the finest cereal grains to produce a very pure, fruity and clean-tasting grain spirit, which is lighter in aroma and character than most malt whiskies. It is then matured in first-fill American white oak, which adds flavour, character, colour and complexity.
"Time mellows the whisky, amplifies the aroma and enriches the taste. Characterised by vanilla, toffee, honey and caramelised fruit notes, the whisky delivers a taste that truly reflects William Grant & Sons' pioneering distillation heritage."
The Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25 Year Old Scotch is available from this month in specialist outlets, with an RRP of £250.
Malt Whisky Yearbook
The latest edition of the indispensable Malt Whisky Yearbook has landed on our desk, containing its usual comprehensive array of up-to-the-minute information and statistics, as well as authoritative
articles by the cream of the world's whisky writers, including Charles MacLean, Gavin D Smith and Dominic Roskrow.
A new element to the 2014 Yearbook is a series of one-page essays dedicated to leading Scotch whisky blends and their blenders, as well as an acknowledgement of the increasingly international aspect to
whisky production, highlighted by a number of 'Whisky around the World' features.
As always, the Malt Whisky Yearbook is essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject, and if you only buy one book this year (and we suspect many of you do), then make it
this one. £13.95, but buy at Amazon for £9.63 with free delivery
Changing whisky rooms
According to a new survey, changing the drinking environment can enhance the imbibing experience by as much as 20 per cent.
The study was led by Professor Charles Spence, Head of Crossmodal Research at the Department of Experimental Science at Oxford University. Professor Spence ran multi-sensory tests with sensory
architects Condiment Junkie and The Singleton single malt, for participants at a specially designed bar in London. This study was followed by in-lab testing and under both conditions participants
reported significant variations in their ratings of the scent, taste and flavour of whisky when tasting The Singleton in different atmospheres.
According to Professor Spence, "We carried out experiments both in the laboratory and in The Singleton Sensorium, under more realistic bar conditions. The Singleton Sensorium saw people tasting The
Singleton single malt Scotch whisky in three rooms with very different environments: a grassy room laid with turf and noises of nature, a fruity room with red fruits and chiming bells, and a woody
room with wood panels and sounds of crackling wood. Both sets of results confirm that it really is possible to enhance the drinker's experience by creating a rich multi-sensory environment."
He adds that "This sort of research has significant implications for anyone looking to enhance their whisky experience in a bar, restaurant or even from the comfort of their own homes. Notable chefs
have embraced the potential when working with all the senses to deliver powerful tasting experiences."
Having taken the Professor's advice to enhance one's whisky-drinking experience, perhaps the final touch could be to play some music on one of Linn's new record players made from
Spanish oak Highland Park casks.
The Scottish company has been creating highly-regarded hi-fi systems since 1972, and each of the 40 limited edition Sondek LP12 sells for £25,000, though that price also includes a bottle of
Highland Park 40-year-old. What to play, though? Perhaps The Platters classic 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' or if you are more of a rocker, something by Peat Townshend…