A Grooves


Ardbeg Day falls on Saturday, 2nd June 2018. This year, the Islay distillery will be rolling back the years to the Ardbeg Village of the late 1960s 

Each year, Ardbeg Day marks the end of Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt, Fèis Ìle, with a global celebration of the untamed spirit of Islay. Eagerly anticipated by Ardbeggians and smoky malt whisky enthusiasts the world over, this year will take them back in time for a celebration of all things ‘Peat Love’.

Inspired by the alternative lifestyle and unorthodox spirit of a previous generation, Ardbeg will release this year’s celebratory Limited Edition, Ardbeg Grooves. In his latest experiment, Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks has used re-toasted red wine casks to mature a portion of the whisky. While still sticky with the residue of the wine, these casks were intensely charred to produce heavy grooves into the surface of the wood, a technique that has produced more intense flavours. The result is a whisky aromatic with smoked spices, distant bonfires and chilli-seasoned meats.

Meanwhile, all across the world, Committee Members and lovers of smoky malt will be invited to don their flares, channel some ‘flower power’ and celebrate their passion for the peaty whisky they “dig” above all others.

Distillery Manager Mickey Heads said: “The Ardbeg Village of the 1960s was a very different place – a groovy wee community, with its own post office, billiards hall, two choirs and even a football team. These days the Ardbeg community is a worldwide one, and Ardbeg Day is the best way for us all to come together and raise a dram to the ultimate Islay single malt.”

Ardbeg Day in the UK will play host to a live online tasting, broadcasting to all Ardbeg Embassies nationwide, uniting them in a celebration of Islay’s peatiest malt. The day will also see the launch of Ardbeg’s Summer of Peat Love Campaign, where Ardbeg’s own 1960s inspired VW van will tour the country making stops at a number of leading music festivals, bars and Ardbeg Embassies serving smoky drams to the masses, spreading a taste of Islay’s ‘Peat Love’ and good vibes along the way. More details on Ardbeg’s Summer of Peat Love will be released in the forthcoming weeks.

The Committee release of Ardbeg Peat Love bottled at 51.6% goes on sale at 9am on 14th March 2018, RRP: £89. Committee Members will receive a link to purchase their own special bottle.

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Ardbeg Day:

Every year, the Islay Festival of Malt and Music takes place in May or June on Ardbeg’s island home. On the Festival’s final Saturday, Ardbeg Day, the Distillery traditionally throws open its doors to welcome fans from all over the world. In 2012 Ardbeg Day became a global event, enabling the whisky’s passionate international following to take part in a worldwide celebration of all things Ardbeg in their own country. Recent Ardbeg Day themes have included the Islay-limpics and the Peat Football World Cup, while in 2015, Ardbeg Day celebrated the single malt’s 200th anniversary by looking forward 200 years to a retro-futuristic version of Islay in 2215.  For 2016, Ardbeg Day became Ardbeg Night, as fans across the globe recalled Islay’s dark past as a smugglers’ haunt. And in 2017, Ardbeg Day plunged deep under the sea for another legendary celebration.

Ardbeg Grooves:

Ardbeg Grooves is a limited-edition bottling created to celebrate Ardbeg Day 2018. It is the Distillery’s first whisky with a heart matured in wine casks that have been intensely charred to carve heavy grooves in the surface of the wood. The result is a whisky with perfect harmony between smouldering, smoky cinnamon and the sweetness of vanilla popcorn, treacle and pear – with an intensity Ardbeg lovers will adore.

Tasting notes:

Ardbeg Grooves is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV. 

Nose: Intense aromas of smoked cinnamon and paprika, antique leather and saddle soap, with classic Ardbeg scents of pine resin, tar and briny sea spray in the background. A distant hint of a fragrant bonfire by the shores of the distillery and, finally, an unusual savoury note, like chilli-seasoned meats. A little splash of water releases some beautiful, unexpected aromas: lavender scented soap, ground white pepper, floral and herbal notes entwined. Fresh flowers mix with coriander leaves and mint.

Taste: A powerfully salty mouthfeel drifts into sweet vibes of treacle toffee, vanilla popcorn, salted fruits with soot and tar. Again, those distinctive savoury notes of smoky BBQ, paprika and mustard spice, fading into an unexpected haze of smoked pears and apples, almost like pear cider. 

Finish: Smoked paprika and bonfires with a mellow sweetness throughout.


Ardbeg is The Ultimate Islay Single Malt Whisky. Established in 1815, Ardbeg is revered by whisky lovers around the world as the peatiest, smokiest and most intense of all the Islay malts.  Despite its smokiness, Ardbeg is renowned for its delicious sweetness, a phenomenon that has affectionately become known as ‘the peaty paradox’.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Ardbeg suffered from an uncertain future and it was not until it was purchased by The Glenmorangie Company in 1997 that the Distillery was saved from extinction.  Since then, the Distillery has risen like a phoenix and today Ardbeg is well established as a niche, cult malt, with a passionate following.  

Ardbeg Committee:

The legacy of the whisky was safeguarded in 2000 by the formation of the Ardbeg Committee.  The Committee is made up of thousands of Ardbeg followers in 130 countries worldwide who are keen to ensure that “the doors of Ardbeg never close again”.  Committee members are regularly consulted on new bottlings and expressions and are offered exclusive Committee bottlings. Members also receive invitations to special gatherings, tastings and events.  The Committee, chaired by Mickey Heads, is free to join at


Since 2008, Ardbeg has won more than 50 gold and double gold medals in key whisky competitions. Ardbeg was voted ‘World Whisky of the Year’ twice by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible (2008, 2009) and has twice been awarded ‘World’s Best Single Malt’ at the World Whiskies Awards (2010, 2013). At the 2014 Global Icons of Whisky Awards, Mickey Heads was voted ‘Distillery Manager of the Year’. The following year, Ardbeg’s expressions took the top three spots in Whisky Advocate magazine’s review of the best single malt Scotch whiskies under US$100. Meanwhile, both Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail have been awarded gold medals at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In 2017 Ardbeg Kelpie, released to celebrate Ardbeg Day, was named Whisky of the Year International Whisky Competition.

The Glenmorangie Company:

The Company is one of the most renowned and innovative distillers and marketers of Scotch whisky brands worldwide and is part of Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.  Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Company produces Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt whisky and Ardbeg Islay Single Malt.

Responsible Drinking:

Ardbeg and The Glenmorangie Company advocate responsible drinking and suggest that drinkers savour Ardbeg whiskies in moderation and in line with recommended daily guidelines for alcohol consumption.

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BenRiach 21 Year Old

BenRiach has a new expression in their ‘classic’ (unpeated) range, BenRiach 21 Year Old. I suppose this means the excellent BenRiach 20 Years will be phased out. Mind that there is also a peated 21 year-old Authenticus.

The recipe is quite unconventional, with four oak types involved: ex-bourbon, Pedro Ximénez sherry, red wine (Limousin oak) and virgin oak casks. It is one of the first creations of the new Master Blender Rachel Barrie.



BenRiach 21 Year OldBenRiach 21 Year OldBenRiach 21 yo (46%, OB 2017)

Nose: a bright fruity nose, with the ex-bourbon oak in front with some oak spices from the virgin wood. Peaches, Granny Smith apples, lemon peels with pepper and ginger. Light marshmallow and vanilla. A hint of strawberry candy after a while. I can get something from all oak types except for the PX maybe. Mouth: same intense fruitiness (peaches, berries, citrus) a bit like a fruit compote. Then some milk chocolate and sultanas (sherry after all) and balanced spices. Cinnamon pastry, a little ginger. Sweet biscuits. Finish: quite long, with a sweet maltiness, light earthy touches and oak spices.

It’s quite a complex dram and the composition is very well done, you really get something from all oak types without breaking the balance. Personally I’m not a fan of using so many casks but here it works out well. Coming soon, already available from Master of Malt.

Score: 87/100

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Gordon & MacPhail Caol Ila 9 Year Old 2008 at The Whisky Barrel – Scotch Whisky News


Caol Ila 9 Year Old 2008

Single cask bourbon barrel bottled January 2018 by Gordon MacPhail for the Cask Strength series. Rich peat smoke, ripe banana, nectarine and pear flavours. Vanilla aromas lead to green app;es and citrus. The palate is peppery with ripe banana, nectarine and pear flavours. Rich peat smoke on the finish.  Caol Ila Distillery is famous for the stunning view from its still house windows looking out across the Sound of Islay and for the objects which have passed by including naval battleships, submarines and whales. Caol Ila was established in 1846 by Hector Henderson on a sheltered but rocky stretch of coast on north east Islay. Now the largest malt whiskey distillery on Islay it produces peated and some un-peated malt whiskey with the distillery range including Caol Ila 12 year old and the Distiller’s Edition. Caol Ila participates in Feis Ile, the annual Islay Festival of Malt and Music.

Buy – £49.61


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Milk Honey Distillery – Israel’s first whisky distillery

is launching a second edition of its single malt whisky Experimental Series

After making history on International Whisky Day 2017 with the first single malt whisky in Israel, the Milk Honey Distillery will launch a second edition of single malt whisky at “Whisky Live 2018 “

After making history in 2017 with the first  ever single malt whisky in Israel, sold at a particularly successful international public auction, Milk Honey Distillery is launching an exclusive second edition of lightly peated  single charred barrel.

Similar to the first single malt whisky, this cask is also part of the Experimental Series, distilled in the early stages of setting up the distillery – before establishing the distillery in south Tel Aviv and acquiring the current industrial equipment, and before crowd-funding through Indiegogo. This cask was distilled during April 2014.

Distillation of the cask was carried out in a small pot still in a warehouse in the Sharon region by head  distiller Tomer Goren, accompanied by the late Dr. Jim Swan, an international master distiller, in his role as consultant to the distillery at the time. This was a period of experimentation for Dr. Swan and Tomer Goren, using various interesting raw materials, and in this special cask they first experimented with peated malt, which was crafted in house and gave the  distillate light smoky notes.

The liquid was aged and matured over 43 months in two types of barrel – first in a new 225 liter American oak cask, and then, after 28 months, it was transferred to an ex-bourbon cask for the remainder of the period in the distillation warehouse in Tel Aviv, and bottled at the optimal time.

This series is a harbinger of what is to come: a unique Israeli whisky, mature for its age thanks to aging in Israel’s hot climate.

The Milk Honey Distillery products, including the single malt, are distributed and marketed exclusively by Hacarem Spirits Ltd., and sold at hundreds of points of sale across Israel. The second edition of single malt whisky can be tasted and purchased for the first time at ” Whisky Live 2018″ event. Afterwards the new single malt will be available at specialized stores around the country. 

Tasting impressions

Nose – a delicate maltiness with a hint of lemon in the background, combined with light oak notes and cinnamon, all enveloped in light  peat smoke  appearing in the background.

palate – light-bodied with a malty sweetness, lemon and orange peel notes followed  by a light tang of black pepper and delicate peat smoke. These combine to make a whisky that is both balanced and complex.

Finish – long. Delicate peat dominates the finish, with a hint of maltiness in the background and dark chocolate notes.

General – a balanced and complex whisky. The combination of delicate maltiness and light  peat that creates an interesting whisky that develops as you drink.

Price: Edition 2 Single Malt Whisky 500 ml NIS 449 

About the distillery

The Milk Honey Distillery is the first and largest whisky distillery in Israel. The distillery produces superior spirits, and is working on an Israeli single malt whisky to be marketed commercially, whose first edition, the Founders Edition, sold out in a successful crowd-funding campaign, is aging in barrels and will see the light in 2019. All the raw materials, equipment, barrels, and processes have been chosen with the aim of ensuring that the final product – whether clear spirit or aged whisky – meets the most stringent standards of quality and taste, without making compromises or cutting corners on the long journey to produce the whisky: guidance and advice from the late Jim Swan, a world-renowned master distiller specializing in hot climate aging; specially designed equipment; carefully selected barrels; and the best raw materials available.

The Milk Honey Distillery

16 HaTehiya St., Tel Aviv – 03-6320491

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Bowmore Vintner’s Trilogy 26 Years

Bowmore Vintner's Trilogy

Bowmore Vintner's Trilogy

This Bowmore 26 Years is part of the Vintner’s Trilogy, a series of three wine finished single malts. We already had the Bowmore 18 Years Manzanilla before and it turned out to be rather excellent.

This 26 year-old expression was matured for 13 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then given a second maturation (another 13 years) in French oak wine barriques – something that I usually approach with caution.



Bowmore 26 Years Vintner's Trilogy - French oakBowmore 26 Years Vintner's Trilogy - French oakBowmore 26 yo ‘French oak barrique’ (48,7%, OB ‘Vintner’s Trilogy’ 2017, wine matured)

Nose: starts on a slightly farmy (yes!) peat, with hints of sheep stables. Love that. Some oily notes and menthol. Then there’s blackberry jam, blueberry muffins, Black Forest gateau and dark chocolate. Wait a bit longer and you’re in for tropical fruits (barbecued pineapple). Hints of roasted coffee beans as well. Mouth: same feeling of gentle peat smoke with dark fruits (blackberry, black cherries) as well as (now more discrete) hints of sweet mango and pineapple. Lots of raisins and chocolate with a pinch of salt. Gentle herbs too. It’s a little more winey / oaky but few tannins. Finish: long, on sweet peat, chocolate and traces of oak.

Expensive, but quite a special dram. Nice peat, subtle farmy notes and tropical fruits as well. Again not too winey, just excellent. Available from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange among others.

Score: 91/100

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Like its Irish racehorse namesake, The Tyrconnell emerges victorious with

its most aged Irish whiskey finished in rare Madeira casks

Chicago, IL (March 1, 2018) – The Tyrconnell® is proud to announce the debut of one of the most aged expressions within its cask finish portfolio, The Tyrconnell® 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Released to select U.S. markets this month with a suggested retail price of $100 (750ml), only a limited quantity has been produced due to its age and unique finish.

Aged for 15 years in American White Oak ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Madeira wine casks from Portugal’s Madeira Island, The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish is a one-of-a-kind Irish whiskey with an unsurpassed richness and complexity. It is the oldest Madeira cask finished Tyrconnell released.

By 2007, The Tyrconnell distilling team was experimenting with different finishing techniques after discovering how amenable their light, soft and fruity whiskey was to a cask finish. One of the first modern Irish whiskeys aged in Madeira casks, The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish, was released in 2007 alongside The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask Finish and The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish, all permanent expressions in the brand’s portfolio.

“We knew we had discovered something special when we first began experimenting with finishing The Tyrconnell in Madeira casks,” says John Cashman, Global Brand Ambassador. “Because we are in the fortunate position of being one of the oldest Irish whiskey-producing companies, we have the patience to wait 15 long years to present something truly remarkable. The 15 year old Tyrconnell finished in Madeira casks is a beautifully rich and spicy spirit, one that I like to enjoy neat or over a few cubes.”

The Tyrconnell is made of just two ingredients – the finest Irish barley and pure Irish spring water. These two simple materials are transformed by experienced hands into an Irish whiskey like no other. Produced in traditional pot stills, The Tyrconnell is one of a rare few Irish whiskeys that utilizes double distillation, allowing more of the rich and natural flavors of The Tyrconnell to remain. This creates a whiskey that carries a delicate flavor atop a creamier, more viscous presence.

Aging the whiskey for 15 years before incorporating the Madeira cask finishing method into this unique limited edition has resulted in an even more complex expression with an incredible evergreen forest freshness. The best way to enjoy this sipping whiskey is on the rocks or neat to showcase the rich, sweet aromas on the nose, its fresh flavor and spicy finish.

The legend of The Tyrconnell® was born in 1876, when R. M. Delamere entered his beautiful chestnut colt, Tyrconnell, in the 10th running of the prestigious National Produce Stakes Horse Race at The Curragh, considered Ireland’s most important thoroughbred racecourse. A short thoroughbred with the odds stacked against him, fortune found favor that afternoon as Tyrconnell crossed the finish line in first place, besting horses and oddsmakers alike on his march to victory.

The against-all-odds victory captured the imagination of the assembled crowd, which included the Watts, an Irish race horse loving family who had built a thriving whiskey distillery. They chose to commemorate Tyrconnell’s win by creating a limited edition, small batch whiskey that bore the name of their local champion. Although the Watts family intended to make The Tyrconnell just once, it ended up becoming their most popular whiskey, even claimed to have been the best-selling Irish whiskey in America before Prohibition.


PROOF                  46% ABV

AROMA                Wafer biscuit sweet vanilla aromas mingle with banana bread and deep red fruit skin. Very soft and approachable with hazelnut and dark sugar lingering under the surface.

TASTE                    Initially soft but then an explosion of spice. Viscous and oily, coating the mouth with stone fruit, hints of Peach Melba and a fresh herbaceous zest.

FINISH                  Astonishingly long, initially sweet with the stone fruit to the fore followed closely by burnt orange peel, drying with an almost evergreen forest freshness and a finale of spice that lingers for what seems like an eternity.

The Tyrconnell 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish Limited Edition joins, for a limited time, the Tyrconnell portfolio which includes: The Tyrconnell, The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish, The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask Finish and The Tyrconnell 10 Sherry Cask Finish. 

About The Tyrconnell® Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The Tyrconnell is produced at the Cooley Distillery, nestled in the foothills of the Cooley Mountains in County Louth. The Cooley Distillery, part of the Kilbeggan Distilling Company, has been the driving force behind the Irish Single Malt evolution. Most Irish malt whiskey has traditionally found its way into blended whiskeys, thus it is rare to find Irish malt whiskey bottled in its single malt form. The award-winning Tyrconnell portfolio includes The Tyrconnell, The Tyrconnell 16 Year Old Limited Edition and a trio of 10 Year Old cask finished expressions: Madeira Cask, Sherry Cask and Port Cask. The Cooley Distillery also produces the award-winning Kilbeggan Blended Irish whiskey, Kilbeggan Single Grain and Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish whiskey. For more information on The Tyrconnell, please visit

About Beam Suntory Inc.

As the world’s third largest premium spirits company, Beam Suntory is Crafting the Spirits Brands that Stir the World.  Consumers from all corners of the globe call for the company’s brands, including the iconic Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon brands and Suntory whisky Kakubin, as well as world renowned premium brands including Knob Creek bourbon, Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whiskies, Teacher’s, Laphroaig and Bowmore Scotch whiskies, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Hornitos and Sauza tequila, EFFEN and Pinnacle vodka, Sipsmith gin and Midori liqueur.

Beam Suntory was created in 2014 by combining the world leader in bourbon and the pioneer in Japanese whisky to form a new company with a deep heritage, passion for quality, innovative spirit and commitment to Growing for Good.  Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan.  For more information on Beam Suntory, its brands, and its commitment to social responsibility, please visit and

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Ardbeg Distillery rolls back the years to celebrate all things ‘Peat & Love’ on Ardbeg Day – Scotch Whisky News

Worldwide events coincide with the release of a Limited Edition bottling: the grooviest single malt to come out of the Ardbeg Distillery in decades

Each year, Ardbeg Day marks the end of Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt, Fèis Ìle, with a global celebration of the untamed spirit of Islay. Eagerly anticipated by Ardbeggians and smoky malt whisky enthusiasts the world over, this year will take them back in time for a celebration of all things ‘Peat Love’.

This Ardbeg Day, which falls on Saturday, 2nd June 2018, the Islay distillery will be rolling back the years to the Ardbeg Village of the late 1960s.

Inspired by the alternative lifestyle and unorthodox spirit of a previous generation, Ardbeg will release this year’s celebratory Limited Edition, Ardbeg Grooves. This bottling has been matured in ex-wine casks which have been intensely charred to form heavy grooves in the surface of the wood. The result is a whisky aromatic with smoked spices, distant bonfires and chilli-seasoned meats.

Meanwhile, all across the world, Committee Members and lovers of smoky malt will be invited to don their flares, channel some ‘flower power’ and celebrate their passion for the peaty whisky they “dig” above all others.

Distillery Manager Mickey Heads said: “The Ardbeg Village of the 1960s was a very different place – a groovy wee community, with its own post office, billiards hall, two choirs and even a football team. These days the Ardbeg community is a worldwide one, and Ardbeg Day is the best way for us all to come together and raise a dram to the ultimate Islay single malt.”

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BenRiach Distillery Profile by Mark Davidson (aka The Jolly Toper) – Scotch Whisky News

BenRiach Distillery

Benriach Distillery

Benriach-Glenlivet is situated a few miles south of Elgin in the Speyside region. It is named after Riach farm, ‘Riach’ meaning either “Hill of the red deer” or more likely “speckled Mountain”, although it was originally called ‘Longmorn No.2”.

Foundation and the Early Days


 The story begins with John Duff (b. Aberchirder, 1842). His family owned land around Miltonduff just west of Elgin. In the 1870s he managed Glendronach distillery but then went on to be the publican at The Fife Arms in Lhanbryde near Elgin. He built Glenlossie distillery in 1876 in partnership with two local businessmen : Alexander Grigor Allan (d. 1895) who was the Procurator Fiscal for Morayshire and Roderick Kemp an Aberdeen wine spirit merchant. On the dissolution of the partnership in 1892 Grigor went on to become sole owner of Talisker and Kemp to own Macallan. From 1887 sales of Glenlossie were exclusively via John Hopkins the London based blender and from 1890 proprietor of Tobermory distillery as well as the Old Mull brand. Hopkins was originally a partner in Glenlossie but left in 1888. Another partner was H. M. S. MacKay who was both Elgin’s burgh surveyor and a land agent. Glenlossie was built under the supervision of Duff to his own plans. It is one of the first examples of the use of concrete in construction in the distilling industry with only the stone built stillhouse not using the then new material. In 1887 Duff was described as “a great moving spirit” by The Aberdeen Journal. Certainly he seems to have successfully climbed ladders but his next ‘move’ may not have been his best. In 1888 Duff emigrated to South Africa with his wife and 3 daughters. He tried to distil in Gauteng Province in the Transvaal, an area where gold had recently been discovered. He failed to find success perhaps mainly due to opposition to British influences and investment from President Kruger which led to the blocking of Duff’s plans. Duff then attempted a similar scheme in the USA. This plan likewise didn’t bear fruit, apparently a combination of the competition from illicit distilling and again anti-British sentiment. Returning to Scotland in 1892 he found work as the distillery manager at Aberdeen’s Bon Accord distillery having his registered address in the city at 5 Union Terrace. He also became a partner in an Aberdeen wine and spirit merchant. He was 52 when he went into partnership with George Thomson Charles Shirres in 1894 under the trading name of John Duff Co.. They built Longmorn distillery, spending £20k (equivalent to £2M today). In 4 years Duff had bought out the other two and built Benriach with the profits from Longmorn at a cost of £16,000. This time he entrusted the distillery design with Elgin architect Charles Doig. Building of Benriach on an adjacent site to Longmorn commenced in 1897 with production starting in 1898. At this point the company was changed from Longmorn-Glenlivet Distillery Company by being incorporated into Longmorn-Glenlivet Distilleries Company Limited while Hill Thomson Co.Ltd and Longmorn distillery manager James Grant and his son ran the distillery when Duff, the sole share owner, ran into financial difficulties and the distillery was repossessed by the bank. This was a disastrous period for many businesses in the whisky industry as boom turned to bust. To illustrate the intensity of the optimism around this time: an amazing total of 33 distilleries were built in the 1890s with 21 of these being in Speyside. However production stopped in 1900 due to the collapse of the market. In this year Duff was officially declared bankrupt although he had been insolvent before this. By 1901 the Board of Directors included J.A. Dewar of John Dewar Sons, Arthur Sanderson of VAT 69 and James Anderson of J.G. Thomson, Leith. Despite the influence of such names the distillery had to shut come 1903.

The Distillery

The Distillery


Recent History


 When the dark days of the first half of the 20th century turned to the post WWII recovery rising demand prompted building and expansion of distilleries. After sitting dormant for over 60 years Benriach was rebuilt and reopened in 1965. The current stillroom was originally a warehouse, the mash house is original while the tun room dates from the refit. Up until 1980 a private rail link was used to move goods between Benriach and its sister Longmorn. The shunting engine, called a ‘puggie’, is now preserved at Aviemore. Since closing in 1900 and the subsequent mothballing in 1903 the floor maltings were however retained and used to contribute to Longmorn’s malt needs. This remained the case even after Benriach reopened. Only after the rail link closed did Benriach use its own malt. The output of the malting floors contributing 7/8% of grain requirements at the time. In 1970 an amalgamation between The Glenlivet and Glen-Grant Distilleries Ltd. and Hill, Thomson Co. Ltd. formed The Glenlivet Distilleries Ltd. Shortly after this in 1972 batches of malt using significant peat levels started. This would have been due to the high demand put on Islay malts by blenders. On the subject of peating: previous to this increase in peat levels it was reported that in 1967 Longmorn stopped using Mannochhill peat and started using New Pitsligo while circa 1987 Benriach had peat cutting rights at Faemussach Moor near Tomintoul. Similar experiments with peated malt took place at Caperdonich and Glen Keith, the latter going under the name Glen Isla. Other trials included the use of virgin oak.


 In November 1977 Glenlivet Distilleries were taken over by the Seagram Company Ltd. of Canada and was operated under the control of Seagram’s Scottish subsidiary Chivas Brothers. Seagram liked a light spirit for their house style of blends for example Benriach was a major component of their Queen Anne brand (which was named after the last serving Stewart monarch) as well as 100 Pipers, Chivas Regal itself, St. Leger and Something Special. The latter brand dated from 1912 when it was created by Hill Thomson and is to this day big in South America. Steps to boost output at the distillery came when the number of stills were increased from 2 to 4 in 1985. From 1965 there was one large wash still and two small spirit stills. This was later adjusted when a second wash still with a 15KL charge was added and the two small spirit stills were replaced with a single larger one. Due to the ensuing imbalance the new large spirit still was retired and the original stills returned. Also at this time a 7 day working week was introduced. Perhaps these are surprising moves as at this time many distilleries were being mothballed or had production levels reduced. At this point capacity would have been about 1.8ML. From this date the distillery had a dedicated manager, since 1965 this role had also included the management of Longmorn. From 1978 Stuart Gillies was the manager having spent the previous 20 years at Glen Grant. Come 1994 the first bottling of a single malt from the distillery was featured in the Heritage Collection alongside Strathisla, Glenkeith and Longmorn- all Speysiders and not dramatically dissimilar in character so the offering was no where near as diverse as the Classic Malts. By 1998 the maltings were decommissioned. Then on 19.12.2001 Seagrams was bought by Pernod Ricard creating the 3rd largest spirits company. Subsequently due to the overall increase in company capacity four distilleries: Benriach, Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich were each only operated for 3 months of the year. The following year all four distilleries were mothballed. 


 Unusually for the region triple distillation was experimented with in 1998 and was later reinstated by subsequent owners under the guidance of Billy Walker. Currently some three times distilled spirit has been produced every second year. From the original experiment the necessary 5th still is apparently now an ‘ornament’ in Ontario(!). 

The BenRiach Train

The BenRiach Train


A New Chapter


 On 26th April 2004 Billy Walker, Wayne Kieswetter and Geoff Bell operating under the name Intra Trading buy the distillery from Pernod – reportedly paying £5.4M. 40,000 casks are acquired the earliest from 1966 with only a few vintages missing. Billy Walker, an organic chemist, joined Ballantines in 1971 later moving to Inverhouse as a blender. After a subsequent move to Burn Stewart to become their master blender and then production manager he was part of the management buy out that took over the company in 1988. Under the new owners 96 first fill Bourbon barrels are warehoused on 20.9.2004 marking the first filling of new spirit production having recommenced shortly after acquisition. 7.8.2004 saw the first new releases of bottled products. In 2007 the owner’s stewardship is rewarded with the accolade Distillery of the Year from Malt Advocate magazine. A significant development comes in 2008 when the company acquires Glendronach also from Chivas. In 2009 the Whisky Distillery of the Year award comes again but this time from Whisky Magazine. 2011 marks the first year the new owners were able to fill 10,000 casks. Two years later floor malting is restarted although due to cost it is unlikely more than 10% of requirements will be hand malted. In the same year the next acquisition in the form of Glenglassaugh is added to the portfolio. From 2012 it was decided that 200k litres of peated spirit are to be made each January and February. By 2017 this had risen to 0.5ML. Currently the capacity of the distillery stands at 2.8ML. The latest change in ownership came in 2017 when American based Brown Forman took over for a sum of £286M. Most recently, in March 2017, industry personality Rachel Barrie takes over as master blender.


Equipment, Fermentation and Water.


 Cast iron rake and arm mash tun. 8 stainless steel washbacks of 30kl capacity. 48 66 hour ferments. Shell tube condensers. Plain wash still: 15KL charge, plain spirit still: 9.6kl charge. Horizontal lyne arms.The Porteus mill with two de-stoners dates from 1965. 5 dunnage warehouses holding 30K casks. Water comes from 6 wells at Burnside Springs about half a mile from the distillery and is shared with Longmorn. Cooling water is from the same burn that was used by Coleburn, then Glen Elgin, Longmorn and eventually Linkwood.


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Compass Box Tasting

Compass Box Tasting 11/03/2018

  • Compass Box Spice Tree
  • Compass Box Flaming Haert
  • Compass Box The Nectar 10th anniversary
  • Compass Box The Peat Monster
  • Compass box Phenomenology
  • Compass box Double Single
  • Compass Box Hedoïsm


Douglas Laing’s Big Peat “Christmas” Limited Edition at K&L California – Scotch Whisky News

Douglas Laing’s Big Peat “Christmas” Limited Edition Cask Strength Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) (Elsewhere $80)

SKU #1333591 $49.99

The exceptional Big Peat Christmas 2017 arriving perfectly timed to avoid any holiday gifting or sharing with unappreciative relatives. The 2017 Christmas Edition of Big Peat is the probably the best received of these always beloved annual releases. This is a blend of sevenIslay single malts including the rare closed Port Ellen distillery. Douglas Laing has confirmed Bowmore, Caol Ila and Ardbeg, so that leaves Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Bunnahabhain for us to speculate about. High quality blended malt bottled at full strength from these rare special distilleries, we’d expect a hefty price tag. Since we have the California exclusive, we can offer you this amazing whisky for the best price anywhere in the world. Enjoy it now or stock up for the 2018 Holidays.


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