Scotch Malt Whisky Society JOIN OUR NEXT VIRTUAL TASTING – Scotch Whisky News

We were delighted so many of you joined us for our first round of regional virtual tastings last week, and we’re excited to announce that you can now get involved in the next one.

Select the session that you’d like to take part in and pick up the new Discovery Pack that will be used throughout the tasting. Then all that’s left to do is to get your glassware and water ready, print out our downloadable tasting mat and join us online at the assigned time. We look forward to sharing a dram with you soon.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, Leith EH6 6BZ

Contact: or call 0131 555 2929 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.45pm). Visit the Society at here for membership information

This is your chance to join and to take advantage of their great offers!

Spot the SMWS bottles in this amusing You Tube video


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Bowmore One Small Step 17 Year Old 2002 – Apollo Moon Landing – Scotch Whisky News

One Small Step Bowmore 17 Year Old

Wednesday the 20th of May, 2020, Fife, Scotland

Specialist online whisky shop,, is proud to release an exclusive single malt Scotch whisky distilled at Bowmore Distillery to mark the 51st anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing in 1969. Following on from the 2019 Deanston, One Giant Leap (SOLD OUT) and 2020 Highland Park, Houston We’ve Had a Problem (SOLD OUT) whiskies.

One Small Step
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Bowmore 17 Year Old, 2002 Vintage

On the 20th of July 1960 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon in what was one of the most historic, scientific and culturally significant events of the 20th Century. Those famous words spoken by Armstrong really do sum up the event – “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And fifty years on, we’re all still talking about it.

To mark the 51st anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, has selected a single cask of Bowmore single malt Scotch whisky. Distilled in October 2002, this whisky has been aged for 17 years before bottling in March 2020 at 54.6% ABV. Matured in a single first fill Oloroso hogshead (cask reference #TWB1010), this whisky is limited to just 270 numbered bottles.

Available exclusively from, shipping to customers Worldwide including the United States of America, Canada and Japan.

‘One Small Step’ Bowmore 17 Year Old | 2009 | | 54.6%

Tasting notes
Colour: Deep sherry.
Nose: Galactic quantities of rich dark sherry, Meteoric spiced ripe pears in a crater of hot chocolate.
Taste: Solar summer fruits dusted in a smokey nebular.
Finish: Light years of sweet oak on a supernova finish.

Price: £150 GBP inc VAT / $150 USD (+ PP) *

The Whisky Barrel    E:
T: +44 (0)845 2248 156
Find us on: Facebook, Twitter Instagram

Notice for Editors:-
Q) What is the product called?
A)  ‘One Small Step’ Bowmore 17 Year Old 2002 Exclusive.

Q) When will this product be released/was it released?
A) Wednesday the 20th of May 2020.

Q) Where is it available?
A) Scotland, off-trade,

Q) Is this product already available in other markets?
A) Scotland only, ships worldwide.

Q) How much is it?
A) £150 GBP / $150 USD (+ PP)

Q) Who handles the product’s distribution?
A) In-house at

Q) How many bottles are there?
A) 270 bottles from a single cask limited to one bottle per customer.

Q) What is the ABV of this product?
A) 54.6% ABV natural cask strength.

Q) Why has this product been launched?
A) Limited Edition single cask exclusive for whisky shop.


The Whisky Barrel is a specialist online whisky and spirits merchant based in Fife, Scotland and  was established in 2007. In 2019 The Whisky Barrel won The Queens Award for Enterprise: International Trade. The Whisky Barrel is also a winner of the Whisky Magazine Online Retailer 2018 and was International Wine Spirits Competition runner-up in 2016.

*N.B. Prices correct at the time of publishing and are subject to currency fluctuation.

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada Mid-May Outturn (2020) – Scotch Whisky News

Part two of our May Outturn still takes inspiration from the wild, rediscovering whiskies influenced by animals and the outdoors. Don’t let these rare beasts escape you – grab one now and take a walk on the wild side of flavour.

We’ve matched each of our flavour profiles to different forms of wildlife. Delve into your personality and taste preferences, and take our Find Your Spirit Animal quiz online at Share your discoveries with us on social media using the hashtag #spiritanimal.


CASK NO. 68.29

CASK:  Refill hogshead

AGE:  10 years

FLAVOUR PROFILE:  Juicy, oak vanilla


CHARACTER TRAIT:  Power, wit and wisdom balanced with a gentle soul; a harmonious experience


CASK NO. 13.65

CASK:  2nd fill barrel

AGE:  13 years


SPIRIT ANIMAL:  Spicebush Swallowtail

CHARACTER TRAIT:  Plays on the senses; a sweetness seeker, flouncy and soft but with an edge


CASK NO. 137.2

CASK:  Refill barrel

AGE:  8 years



CHARACTER TRAIT:  A noble force of nature – mighty, strong and headstrong, leaving a long-lasting impression

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada
Suite 160
104 – 1240 Kensington Road NW
Calgary, AB  T2N 3P7



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Caol Ila 10 Year Old 2000 Berry Bros & Rudd

Distilleerderij: Caol Ila
Regio: Schotland (Islay)
Fles: Caol Ila 10 Year Old 2000/2011 Berry’s Own Selection, Berry Bros Rudd, Cask #309877 for Whisky Import Nederland
Kleur: witte wijn
ABV: 57.1%


Hofleveranciers Berry Brothers uit Londen brengen vaak malts uit onder hun eigen label, zoals deze jonge Caol Ila uit 2000. Het vat werd speciaal gebotteld voor Whisky Import Nederland in 2011. Mooie sterkte, als u het mij vraagt. Erg bleek.

Zoetzure neus op limoensap, perzik met lichte turfrook en iets umami wat me aan rosbief doet denken. Daarna wordt hij wat medicinaal (brandwondenzalf) en zilt (zeewier en zout). Plots verschijnt een niet mis te interpreteren toets van… pickles! Dit is mooi en door de goeie integratie van de alcohol verbrandt hij je neus absoluut niet, ondanks de 57.1%.

Hij heeft een mooie olieachtige structuur en komt verrassend zacht binnen. Het is een prima verderzetting van de neus – op limoen, zeezout, brak water en appeltjes – maar met een uppercut van de turf, wat hem flink wat punch geeft. Hij is perfect drinkbaar zonder water en simpelweg heerlijk. Een extra dosis karamel zorgt ervoor dat de balans tussen zilt en zoet perfect zit. Erg lekker.

In de lange afdronk krijg ik wat assen en keren ook de pickles weer, na eerst wat zilt en zoet te zijn geweest.

Hier wordt ik blij van. Erg blij.


Geproefd door Mark Dermul op 01-03-2020
(om snel andere tasting notes te vinden, surf naar

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A K&L Best-Seller Returns—The Glendronach 15 Year Old “Revival” Single Malt – Scotch Whisky News


Collectors Rejoice—A Beloved Highland Single Malt Returns
Glendronach “Revival” 15 Year Old Distillery Bottling Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($79.99)
“The best of the bunch, and very impressive!” — John Hansell, Whisky Advocate

NOTE: In accordance with local directives, our walk-in retail locations are currently closed. We have low cost and free delivery options available in ZIP codes where we can ship lawfully, including anywhere in California. We can also include any new or existing will call orders in your delivery batch. Choose local delivery at checkout to learn if you qualify.

It’s been five long years, and we couldn’t be more thrilled at the return of what was once one of KL’s best-selling Scotch whiskies. Considering that it just won Best in Show at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, odds are it may disappear once again! The Glendronach 15-Year Highland Single Malt wowed our hardcore aficionados until the distillery ceased production of this bottling in 2015. We always held out hope that they would come to their senses and get this fan-favorite back on our shelves, and today that hope is fulfilled. The “Revival” of this incredible, age-stated stunner is everything we knew and loved about this bottling from years past, including the spectacular pricing. One of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, Glendronach is a reference point for the art of aging Scotch in used sherry casks. It’s their forte, and they’re proud of it. The 15 Year Old “Revival” sees extended time in both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso butts, giving it an outsized Highland profile. Nonchillfiltered and bottled at 92 proof, this remarkable dram exhibits an array of honeyed, exotic fruit tones along with a telltale, nutty sherry element. The sheer weight and richness of the spirit contrast brilliantly with the smoky and spicy secondary characteristics, and the structured, grippy finish is classic Highland style. We seldom get a second chance at such a popular item after a long hiatus, so any and all lovers of great, aged Scotch whisky should act decisively to make good on this opportunity.

Glendronach “Revival” 15 Year Old Distillery Bottling Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($79.99)

93 points Whisky Advocate: “Deeper, richer, more viscous, and more intriguing than the 12 year old (and not as sappy as the 18 year old). Complex and intriguing, with raisin, orange marmalade, grape skin, sugar plum, cinnamon bun, raspberry preserve, mixed nuts, and coal ash. Nice tannic grip on the finish. The best of the bunch, and very impressive! (JH, Summer 2010)”

KL Notes: The 15 year is finally back! After ceasing production in 2015, the Revival has returned. Aged in PX and Oloroso casks, the malt is classic, rich, and unctous. It’s full of honeyed tones, chocolate, and dried fruits. We weren’t sure what to expect for the return of this customer-favorite, but it’s every bit as good as the last bottles in 2015, possibly even better.

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Cadenhead’s London “The the 25th Anniversary Part 1” – Anniversary Whisky News

Cadenhead’s London 

1995 – 2020

Classics from the past to some classics of the present 

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Cadenhead’s London shop opened its doors for the first time, a lot of things have changed or happened since then, we are making history everyday with everything we do or witness, so let’s make some today as we move forward with a little look back!

We will delay the full anniversary celebrations for obvious reasons. What we can say for now about the anniversary; is we have something planned and we are just waiting to see when and how we can get this out in the near future.

It’s getting warmer so some of us will be looking for a lighter smoother dram, we will add a few that we think might work at the end of this anniversary month newsletter. At least these whiskies will let you travel to delicious and fruity locations!

A quick history of the London shop

The original London shop was located at No3 Russell Street in Covent Garden, it was a small shop with just one compact sales floor and a tiny desk (we still use) with a blackboard on one wall and a few shelves.

One feature that made the shop so unique was uncle Brian, he was the front of house shall we say, his smile and old school charm was liked by all including so many from the world of entertainment.

Customers would be treated to a very entertaining yet informative talk about all things whisky or rum with a dash of gin for good measure.

The Covent garden shop closed in 2007 after it was decided the site was becoming too small and costly to run, especially given we could not offer a full tasting room experience on-site, because of all odd things; the stairs into the basement faced the shop door!!

The new shop was a departure from the normal shop layout, thanks to the front area and back areas separate. This allowed us to have the whiskies in the front with the rums in the back. Cadenhead’s ranges are the first thing you will see nowadays but now with more shelves, we can integrate the rums into the front room as well.

The layout has changed a little more, as we add a new range or two, or we get a little spring cleaning moment. Keep a lookout when you do come in for the latest additions to the ranges.

So over the last 25 years, a number of drams have become memorable favorites, with all who worked in the shop!

Let’s have a look at some staff picks! Some of these you might not see ever again, or if you do, it’s at auction or on the shelves of collectibles people post shots of online for us all the drool over.

Let’s start off with a dram or two we know Uncle Brian Mc Bride loved so much! Springbank 1965/66 Local barley; dram of legends indeed. If you have never had a local barley then it’s hard to convey just how good they are, but the 65 66 were able to forge epics on their own.

Now we have the shop’s proprietors chosen drams, again from the archives and legends of today’s whisky world.

Springbank 21yo is one of the world’s most admired and respected single malts. Back in the 1990’s, it was quite normal to bulk out a release with some older stocks, this happened with the final few releases of the  21 year old at the end of the same decade. Some 30 + year old was added to the mix with the youngest being 21, to say it was the king of whiskies would be an understatement.

His second choice would be the lost distillery Dallas Dhu, with a stunning 24 years old in the Authentic collection. Again, the 1990s – early 2000s would be a time of legendary drams. This Dallas Dhu had it all, rich fruity tones with a clean fresh nose of honey and ginger. The palate was sublime with a lingering rich full-bodied experience with distinct creamy spearmint aftertaste.

One more to add is the Irish Whiskey called Red Breast. It was during a drinking or… shall we say sampling session he had with Mr. Hedley Wright while sampling at Milroy’s with Mr. Milroy himself one eventful night.

Now we have Richard’s selection starting off with the first single grain mentioned so far!

Cambus 30 years old is simply elegant,  sadly another lost distillery, his second and equally rare is the Tobermoray 19 sherry cask from a few years ago, tangy rich coastal tones with heaps of rich Sherry notes.

And finally, for Richard, we have the legendary Mortlach distillery, but this was the 14-year-old Rum cask matured, adding a smooth spice dram to his selection.

So how about Joel’s choices?

The young man is only slightly older than the shop, but his time in the shop has already given him an extensive gallery of memories regarding whiskies!

Joel’s earliest memory of Cadenhead’s authentic collection leads back to late 2017 when Ben Nevis 21 years old was released. This whisky sparked Joel’s love towards rich fruity whiskies, with hints of tropic and pistachio nuts.

Joel also enjoys contrasts as was seen with Ledaig 20 years old. This Mull beast was a perfect combination of thick oil, maritime flavors, and meaty barbecue. Truly a dram to remember, considering the several nicknames we gave it. Joel can reveal these names the next time we meet!

Lastly, Joel recalls one of the best whiskies he has ever had. The mighty Tullamore 38 years old, which was part of the 150th Anniversary Authentic Collection. This amazing Irish whiskey, with incredible 68.9%, was a journey in the mouth. Its complexity provoked the very tongue to spin like a disco ball as it burst with once in a lifetime flavors.

Stephens selection is based on some old school simplicity, starting with a fairly new one from Campbeltown; Kilkerran 12! A great all-round dram with a little smoke and coastal tones.

The next one is a legendary dram from a closed distillery! Stephen was lucky enough to be gifted with a mini bottle from Millburn. This 13 years lasted several weeks because it was something so special.

Finally Port Dundas 31! This whisky is a recent addition, but one that has never failed to deliver a rich all-round palate. It is a favorite of many others’ and people still keep asking for more bottles of this amazing grain!

With little chance of getting some of the vintages above we have decided to get some alternatives, will these single malts and grains become as highly regarded as those from the past? A collectible or must-have dram is a very personal choice for each of us, so we have had a look at some that are still available today as contenders.

  1. Springbank 10 
  2. North British 32 55.2% Sherry Butt 
  3. Fettercairn 12 51.1%  
  4. Royal Brackla 10 56.3% 
  5. William Cadenhead’s Irish 11yo 46%
  6. Longrow Classic 46% 
  7. Tullibardine 12yo 55.2%
  8. Ord 11yo 56.2%
  9. Kilkerran 12yo
  10. Port Dundas 31yo

We hope to get back soon with a new release once things return to normal with the bottling hall.

All the best

Cadenhead’s team London

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society “TALES FROM THE WEE TOON” – Scotch Whisky News

It might be affectionately known as the Wee Toon, but Campbeltown was once known as a giant of whisky-making. The local Malts Festival might have been put on hold for this year but with our exclusive Society festival bottling, you can still get a flavour of the region in your own home.




The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, Leith EH6 6BZ

Contact: or call 0131 555 2929 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.45pm). Visit the Society at here for membership information

This is your chance to join and to take advantage of their great offers!

Spot the SMWS bottles in this amusing You Tube video


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Bunnahabhain helps whisky lovers celebrate Fèis Ìle in spirit – Scotch Whisky News

Bunnahabhain helps whisky lovers celebrate Fèis Ìle in spirit

Virtual ‘Feis at Home’ celebrations keep the festival spirit thriving for 2020

Tasting kits allow whisky fans to join in from the comfort of their own home

Exclusive distillery news and competitions revealed to those who tune in

It’s one of the most anticipated calendar dates for the whisky fans who descend on Islay’s shores years after year, but the cancellation of this Spring’s world-famous Feis Ile festival won’t stop Bunnahabhain from throwing its (virtual) doors open to all.

While physical celebrations are on hold due to social distancing guidelines, Bunnahabhain is inviting whisky fans from across the globe to ‘Feis at Home’ and transporting them to the shores of Islay via a special live tasting of not one, but two exceptional new festival editions.

Hosted by renowned whisky expert Dave Broom*, Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager Andrew Brown will be joined by Master Blender Julianne Fernandez, Master Distiller Stephen Woodcock and Visitor Centre Manager Dr Billy Sinclair for the live stream on Friday 29th of May from 8pm (BST). The group will lead whisky fans through a tasting and take part in a panel discussion about the two limited-edition expressions being released to mark the occasion.

Tasting kits available to purchase from the Bunnahabhain website will allow people to follow along from the comfort of their home. And it wouldn’t be Feis Ile without a few surprises…with exclusive details on a new product to be revealed live during the tasting.

Ahead of the tasting, Visitor Centre Manager, Dr Billy Sinclair will take friends of Bunnahabhain on a Facebook Live tour around the distillery and island – a chance to get the full Feis Ile experience from afar. Eagle eyed viewers will also have the chance to win a trip to the world-famous festival in person in 2021, with competition details announced on the first ‘tour’ to go live on Bunnahabhain’s Facebook page at 10am (BST) on Friday the 29th of May.

Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager, Andrew Brown, said: 

Our world famous ‘Music and Malt’ festival here on Islay is a pilgrimage for many a Bunnahabhain fan and we love greeting them here at the distillery. We’ll miss seeing some familiar faces in person, but Feis Ile is always warm and welcoming, so we’re embracing the fact that live streaming technology will allow even more people to join in this year.” 

We’ve got a great panel of experts on board to talk through our wonderful new festival editions, and anyone who’s visited Feis Ile before will know that’s not all we’ve got up our sleeve. You’ll have to tune in to find out more, but we can guarantee a memorable festival, even if it’s not running exactly as we had planned.” 

On sale information on Bunnahabhain’s new festival editions will be announced later this week. 

Bunnahabhain’s virtual ‘Feis at Home’ events will take place on Friday the 29th of May 

A virtual tasting and panel discussion of two new festival editions will take place at at 8pm (BST) 

Live streams from the distillery on Islay will take place at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6.30pm (BST) 

Join in on Facebook: 

Tasting kits can be purchased from, priced at £16.50: 

Please ensure orders are placed by 25th of May (UK) or 18th of May (rest of world) to avoid disappointment

For more information please contact Fiona Hayes, WIRE: / 07837000900


About Bunnahabhain:

Established in 1881 and situated on Islay’s most northerly point, Bunnahabhain is the island’s most remote distillery, overlooking a notorious passage of ocean known by seafarers as the sound of Islay.

It has long established links to the sea, previously only accessible by boat – with ships loaded up daily before transporting their important whisky cargo back to the mainland for sale.

The word ‘Bunnahabhain’ is actually Gaelic for ‘mouth of the river’ referring to the Margadale River, its source of pure spring water which is distilled in the island’s tallest stills to create the renowned malts. It’s the use of pure spring water that is piped to the distillery which gives it its unique light colouring which sets it apart from other darker liquids on the Islay landscape.

The distillery goes against the grain – quite literally – with a portfolio made up of broadly non-peated expressions, however, its peated Toiteach A Dhà expression recently won in the Scotch Islay: No Age Statement category at this year’s World Whiskies Awards. Bunnahabhain took home a further four titles in the 2020 awards ranging from silver to gold certificates – showcasing the calibre of its range. 

*About Dave Broom:

Dave Broom was born in Glasgow and has spent the past 30 years writing about alcohol. He spent 7 years as features editor on a UK drinks trade weekly then, after working a stage in an Australian winery, returned to the UK to specialise as a freelance writer on spirits.

He has written 12 books, two of which [Rum and Drink!] won the Glenfiddich Award. ‘Whisky: The Manual’ was awarded Best Spirits Book at the Spirited Awards in 2015 and the ‘World Atlas of Whisky’ has been called “a landmark publication”.

His most recent book, “The Way of Whisky: A Journey into Japanese Whisky’ appeared in 2017 and was awarded the John Avery prize at the Andre Simon Awards in 2018.

As well as regular radio and TV work, in 2018/9, he wrote and presented the whisky culture documentary ‘The Amber Light’ (directed by Adam Park).

He has been contributing editor at both Whisky Magazine and and continues to write for a large number of international titles. He launched his new website in 2020

The other part of his life is involved with training and speaking. He regularly gives talks at international whisky events. He designs in-house training courses for distillers, and was one of the team which developed (and continues to maintain) the Single Malt Flavour Map.

He has been a tutor on Diageo’s influential Malts Advocates Course for 20 years. He also advises on spirit quality and new product development for a number of distillers around the world.

In 2013, he was awarded the Communicator of the Year at the ISWC awards and in 2015 was voted Best Spirits Writer at the Spirited Awards. He is a Master of the Quaich.

About Andrew Brown, Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager

Andrew Brown’s Bunnahabhain journey began in May of 1988, when the distillery found itself short staffed for unloading malt boats coming into its famous pier. After helping out on a few occasions, he was given a full time role as a warehouseman, and joined the small, hardworking team, of Bunnahabhain Distillery.

He quickly moved on to work in the warehouse and mash house, as the relief mashman, learning the ropes from the team around him on running the still house boilers. In 1997 he took on the role of Assistant Team Leader, progressing to become the Bunnahabhain Distillery Manager in 2010

It’s a position he has proudly held for over 10 years and has seen the production at Bunnahabhain increase substantially in that time.

Finding it impossible to choose one whisky as a favourite, he opts for three, all Bunnahabhain (of course) – 40 year old, Auld Acquaintance then after this the 18 year old.

About Julieann Fernandez, Blender

Julieann Fernandez’ whisky journey started while she was at university with a placement at Chivas Brothers. Working in the Kilmalid lab doing analytical chemistry and new product development created a true passion for whisky and following her graduation with a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science, Julieann joined the Scotch Whisky Research Institute as an Analytical Research Scientist.

From there, Julieann returned to Chivas Brothers, moving around the business and learning all aspects of distilling; from grain and malt to developing her organoleptic skills.

She joined Distell in 2017 as Blender and works alongside Senior Blender, Kirstie McCallum, on the single malt, blend and limited-edition portfolios. Julieann is currently studying towards her Diploma in Distilling.

About Billy Sinclair, Bunnahabhain Visitor Centre Manager

Biologist, geneticist, conservationist, diving instructor and commercial coxswain – Billy Sinclair has packed a lot into life. He holds an honours degree in Biology and Biochemistry, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics. He also has more than 50 scientific papers to his name. If you want to know about antibiotic resistant bacteria in remote Australian communities, the evolutionary history of Scotland’s pine forests, paternity testing in rare pigs, or survival strategies in ancient, deep-sea cousins of the octopus, Billy’s your man. In his 25-year career, he’s travelled the globe, working in Scotland, Ireland, England and Australia. He’s also led student field trips in Egypt, Australia and The Gambia. And in 2015 he embarked on a new adventure, when he moved with his family to Islay and added a new passion — serious Scotch whisky — to his long, long list.

His favourite dram (if he’s forced to choose) is the Bunnahabhain 18-year-old.

About Stephen Woodcock, Master Distiller

Stephen Woodcock started his career in chemistry, managing chemical plants to create coloured pigments for the paints, inks and plastic industries.

With parents working in the drinks industry, his father owned a pub and mother worked for Allied Distillers – so maybe it’s not surprising that he ended up there too. He joined Diageo in 2009 as the business leader responsible for pre-distillation. It’s a chemical process after all, just like any other. But a last-minute change of plan saw him take on the management of Dundashill Cooperage in Glasgow instead, where he simultaneously took on a General Certificate in Distillation. It wasn’t until the Dundashill site (sadly) closed in 2010 that he had the chance to put that knowledge into practice.

He moved to Speyside to take charge of the multi-million-pound upgrade and commissioning of Inchgower Distillery in Buckie. Following that Stephen worked in seven different Speyside distilleries, learning more about predistillation and distillation processes with each move. In a bid to understand this further from a more academic perspective he completed the IBD Diploma in Distilling in 2017, and in June 2016 he joined Distell as Distilleries Manager and Master Blender. His role is to protect age old traditions, while working to refine and improve the processes of the distilleries he takes charge of, so they can keep creating the finest whiskies in the world.

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Mars Launches Tsunuki The First – Japanese Whisky News

Mars Launches Tsunuki The First – Japanese Whisky News

Mars Launches Tsunuki The First by LIAM HILLER

Hombo Mars have finally announced the release of the first single malt whisky produced at their Tsunuki distillery – Mars Tsunuki The First.

Tsunuki is the newest of Mars distilleries, built in 2016. Until now no Tsunuki single malt has been released, but you may have seen the name appear on some whiskies distilled at Mars’ other distillery, Shinshu. That’s because the Tsunuki cellars have been used to age Shinshu whisky on a number of occasions, but now, we’ve finally got a first Tsunuki single malt to explore, and it’s just as good as we’d hoped.

Kagoshima To Yamanashi And Back Again

The Hombo Shuzo Co, the owners of Mars Whisky, have been producing spirit in Japan since way back in 1872, when they specialised in making shochu and plum wine. It wasn’t until 1949 that they gained a license to produce whisky at their Kagoshima plant, but even then, they only used it to produce blends from whisky sourced elsewhere.

Another decade would pass before they started to make their own whisky, however, they chose to do that at a new plant in Yamanashi. Kiichiro Iwai, an advisor at Mars who had been the great Masataka Taketsuru’s supervisor at Setsu, built the distillery armed with Taketsuru’s famed notebook, allowing him to incorporate many of the techniques and skills that the “Father of Japanese Whisky” had picked up throughout the years.

Despite successfully building the distillery and producing their own whisky, things weren’t to be for Mars in Yamanashi. The market simply wasn’t ripe for whisky, with Shochu dominating spirits sales around the country, and so in 1969 they stopped production. The plant is still there today and is used for wine production, but whisky is longer distilled there.

Not quite ready to throw in the towel, Mars tried again in 1981, this time back in their home of Kagoshima. This attempt lasted just 3 years, before it was closed down in 1984, with operations being moved to the newly built Shinshu distillery, located in the Nagano prefecture. Shinshu operated uninterrupted until 1992, but yet again, demand for Japanese whisky was simply not there and so they could no longer continue production.

Despite closing the doors, Mars were still not ready to give up on whisky production and, after the Japanese whisky boom of the early 2000s, production was started up again in 2011. Since then Shinshu has produced some incredibly impressive expressions, mostly sold under the Mars Komagatake label, a couple of which have even won World Whiskies Awards.

In 2016, after getting a taste of success at Shinshu, Mars decided that the time was right to go back to their roots, and so they opened the Tsunuki distillery in Kagoshima.

Tsunuki The First

Until now, Tsunuki was yet to release their first single malt whisky and the hype and excitement has been building. Thankfully, the brand new Tsunuki The First does not disappoint.

Distilled in 2016/17, this superb expression was then laid to mature in bourbon barrels. The distillery workers would have tasted the whisky along every step of the way before deciding that they had it just right for bottling in 2020.

It comes in at 59% ABV and brings citrus fruits, vanilla and fresh bread on the nose, followed by more sweet fruits, grassy notes and gentle spices on the palate. The finish is of medium length with a soft sweetness and cracked black pepper.

It’s a truly memorable and exciting new whisky that highlights the expertise and knowledge of those working at Mars, though with them having so much experience in the industry that’s hardly surprising.

The First kicks off the Mars whisky range in style and given it is literally ‘the first’ whisky from the distillery, we expect a lot more to come from them in the coming weeks,months and years, as they look to carve out their own portion of the Japanese whisky market.

Will they manage to become as successful as Shinshu? We’ll just have to wait and see, but more distilleries producing good quality Japanese expressions is surely a fantastic thing for both the industry and whisky-lovers everywhere.

Order Today

To be one of the first (no pun intended) to get your hands on the outstanding Mars Tsunuki The First, simply order online today and we’ll deliver direct to your door. Worldwide delivery is available, so no one has to miss out!

Bottles begin shipping in the first week of May.

Buy Now


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Vital Spark 5 Year Old 2013

Bottelaar: Meadowside Blending Co
Regio: Schotland (Islay)
Fles: Vital Spark 5 Year Old 2013/2019 – Batch 0003, Meadowside Blending Co, oloroso sherry butt, 500ml, 1119 bts
Kleur: mahonie
ABV: 54.9%


Vital Spark is een release van de Meadowside Blending Co die we beter kennen van de releases onder het label The Maltman en The Grainman. Hoewel het niet met zoveel woorden op het label staat, is het een publiek geheim dat deze derde batch een single oloroso sherrybutt betreft van mijn geliefde Caol Ila (wat niet gezegd kan worden van batch 1 en 2!). Oh, dat kleurtje alleen al…

Donkerzoete neus op rozijnen en pruimen, maar met een prachtige medicinale toets, kelp, gezouten karamel en spek op de barbecue. Rauwe biefstuk! Geur van de zee. Rotskust. Bittere chocolade, zeebries, brak water en scheepstouw. Dit is indrukwekkend voor zo’n jonge malt. Erg veel invloed van het oloroso vat, toegegeven, maar wat een neus!

Prima body, bijna stroperig zelfs. Het ABV kan tellen, maar water is overbodig. Knap samenspel van zoet versus zilt, waarbij de spirit van de distilleerderij duidelijk doorkomt en het zoete van de sherry probleemloos overstemt. Dit is het tegenovergestelde van de neus en ik vind het geweldig.

De afdronk duurt een eeuwigheid, biedt naast wat we al proefden nog duidelijke toetsen van notenlikeur en getoaste eik. Assen op het sterfbed.

Je kan je dit kleinood van 500ml aanschaffen voor zo’n 45 EUR. Dubbel en dwars waard! Dankjewel, Manny, dit is een absolute bom!


Geproefd door Mark Dermul op 11-01-2020
(om snel andere tasting notes te vinden, surf naar

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