Charity Tasting – 18th October 2019

 

Each year, on the eve of Wee Dram Fest, we do a Charity Tasting where all the proceeds go to our two chosen charities Pancreatic Cancer Research and Prostate Cancer Research. These being a couple of causes close to our hearts.

All the whiskies tasted are donated by the Distillers or Bottlers.

 The Line Up

Longmorn 2005 – G&M – 43%

Donated by Gordon and MacPhail from Elgin. When Messrs Gordon and Macphail first started to mature and bottle Single Malt Scotch Whisky in 1895, they employed a young warehouse lad called John Urquhart. John worked his way up to junior partner and eventually inherited the business. Now over 120 years later it is the fourth generation of his family who run the business. 

Longmorn Distillery was founded in 1893, near Elgin, by John Duff. Duff also founded Glenlossie distillery in 1876. Between the two Duff went to South Africa to try and start a whisky industry there – he failed. In 1898 Duff built a distillery next door called BenRiach. He went bust a couple of years later.

Today it’s part of Chivas group – owned by Pernod Richard. Capacity of 4.5m litres. 4 pairs of stills, 18 mashes a week, 5 days. They make a light gentle spirit, perfect to start the evening.

 Guests

Spey Chairman’s Choice – 40%

This is from Speyside distillery, which first produced spirit in 1990, the Christie family, George Christie, had founded the Speyside Distilling group in the 1950’s. Lovely distillery despite being modern. The Christie family sold out to Harveys of Edinburgh in 2012 – their main customer. John Harvey McDonough, the owner of Harveys, had been doing bottlings for the Taiwanese, and far eastern market. Using the old family brand name Spey. The Harvey family can trace their whisky making dynasty back to the late 18th Century.

The casks used for this limited bottling are chosen personally by John Harvey McDonough. Well wouldn’t you if you had the chance. Rich and fragrant.

 

Tomatin Amontillado Sherry Cask Finish 12y/o – 46%

Situated just south of Inverness. Very high up second highest. Founded in 1897, was the largest malt distillery in Scotland with 23 stills when it went bust. It was brought by a consortium of two customers in Japan, first Japanese owned Scottish Distillery.

Today they have 6 pairs of stills, capacity of 3.3 m Litres. Recently they have been concentrating more on their single malts with excellent results.

This bottling was distilled in 2006, originally matured in ex-bourbon casks. Then for the last 3 years it has been finished in ex-Amontillado sherry casks. Amontillado – from The Montillo region of Spain – is a lighter sherry than Oloroso, but darker and richer than Fino. Works exceptionally well, very rich flavour.

 

Arran Bodega Sherry Cask – 55.8%Guests

Isle of Arran Distillers opened their first distillery at Lochranza, in the North of the Island in June 1995.  They opened a new distillery at Lagg in March, to make a peatier whisky. It is still a small independent company.

This bottling is from Lochranza, where a lighter softer style of whisky is made. It has been matured in a sherry hogshead, a smaller cask of 250 litres, rather than a 500 litre Sherry Butt, the spirit sees more wood so is more intense. The spirit from Lochranza being light and gentle picks up the flavours of the cask very well. Just begs for a fireside to drink it beside.

 

Springbank 18y/o – 46%

Whenever we ask for anything for charity Springbank are always first to offer. The most traditional of all Scotland’s distilleries. Situated in Campbeltown near the southern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula. The town of around 5000 people is a whisky region in its own right and at its height, in the mid-19th Century, it had 33 working distilleries. It had all the things necessary; barley and peat were nearby for malting, Coal was mined locally for powering the stills, and the deep-water harbour and close proximity to the North Channel between Ireland and Kintyre ensured the “route to market”. 

Campbelltown started its decline following the First World War with Prohibition in the USA, their main export customer, also a lot of the whisky making families moved to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the use of roads to carry goods rather than Puffer Boats. At one point there was only one working distillery in Campbelltown – Springbank.

Today there are three distilleries, Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia, Springbank and Glengyle are both owned by J & A Mitchell & Co ltd, Which in turn is owned by Octogenarian - Mr Hedley C Wright.

This is one of their finest bottlings the 18 y/o. Perfectly aged, has gravitas, very complex has everything

Opening the Longrow 21

Longrow 21 y/o – 46%Longrow 21

On the day of our Charity Tasting, Springbank released a 21 years old version of their heavily peated whisky Longrow. This was a limited release, highly sought after. Our good friend Grant Macpherson brought us a bottle to open. A really generous gesture particularly as they had given us the Springbank 18.

It’s not easy producing a well-aged heavily Peated whisky, you have to get the balance right between the woody flavours from the cask and the peaty flavours from the barley. This bottling of Longrow 21 shows just how it should be done!

I’ve got to say that opening this bottle in front of a room full of whisky fans was a real pleasure.

 

Kilchoman 100% Islay – 50%

Founded in 2005 by Anthony and Kathy Wills. Since joined in the business by their 3 Sons – George, Peter and James.

A proper farm distillery situated on Rockside farm on Isle of Islay. The family brought the farm a few years ago.

This year they have doubled capacity by increasing the number of stills to 4, and opening a new malting floor. Can do 480,000 litres a year.

We visited in August just to check the new make coming of the new stills – it‘s excellent very fruity. We actually went a second time with the kids.

Not only do they malt some of their barley themselves they also grow their own barley at Rockside farm – that’s why it is such a great place to visit.  

Hard at Work

Team work

Which brings us nicely onto this expression which is the 9th Edition of the 100% Islay bottling – The whole process is done on site, the barley is grown, and malted on the farm, whisky is made, matured and bottled – yes they have their own line, all on site. They even run sales and marketing from there – our orders are dispatched from the distillery.

Ardbeg Drum – 46%

Ardbeg was founded in 1815, has a capacity of 1.4m litres.

Closed by the then owners in 1983, was run for a few months each year from 1990 – 1996. Sold to the Glenmorangie Company in 1997 – back into production 1998. Moet Hennessy brought the whole company in 2004 for £300m.

At the moment they are building a new still house which will hold 4 stills. The old still house will be used for 6 new wash backs. This will double production to 2.4m litres. Alison and I, and our inspection team, visited in August to make sure they have been doing the job properly. They are hoping the new stills go into production by the end of the year or January 2020.

This is this years Ardbeg Day bottling – originally matured in ex-bourbon casks, then finished in Rum Casks. Gives a spicy flavour.

 

We managed to raise £850 for our charities. So a big thank you to all our guests and contributors.

 Raffle Winner