Whisky Event – Bruichladdich Old vs New

From left: SMOS 1992, SV 1990, X4+3, Islay Barley 2010

Here’s a new whisky event that Geek Flora and Choc went to in less than a week! Bruichladdich Old vs New event happened at The Single Cask on 9 May 2018. Hosted by both bar manager Brendan and Bruichladdich APAC Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood, it was an awesome evening filled with history and amazing whiskies.

The Lineup

The lineup on 9 May was a stellar one. The liquids came from different eras of the Bruichladdich distillery. We had a Signatory Vintage 1990 Bruichladdich, 26 Years Old, a Single Malt of Scotland 1992 Bruichladdich, 23 Years Old, the X4+3 and the Islay Barley 2010 from the distillery itself. The oldest whiskies came from independent bottlers as Bruichladdich was in a less than desirable situation in the 1990s when it still belonged to Invergordon. If you followed our article about the distillery, you would know that Bruichladdich closed in 1994 and did not reopen until 2001.

The X4+3 was a unique expression as it was quadruple-distilled and aged for only three years (hence the name X4+3)! It came from the era of Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan, the legendary distiller. It is almost impossible to find a bottle now, so if you manage to find one, BUY IT! The Islay Barley 2010 is, of course, one of their newer expressions when the distillery came under the guidance of their current master distiller – Adam Hannett.

The Event Proper

The event started not with the whiskies, but with pizzas and garlic bread, compliments from the good folks at The Single Cask and Bruichladdich. After they fed us, the event started with Brendan and Chloe up on “stage”.

Brendan and Chloe up on “Stage”

They explained that they originally wanted to start the tasting session with the old vintages, but changed their minds. They were starting with the youngest one! The reason was simple – we are likely to taste the difference better when we did the young to the old. So, that’s precisely what we did!

Islay Barley 2010 (50% abv)

The Islay Barley is slightly different from the regular Scottish Barley as it has a salty tint to it. We would like to think that it is due to the Islay barley used. While the typical sweetness of a Bruichladdich is prominent, there is this unique coastal salt, and toasty cereal notes to it. The spice is also sharper than the regular Scottish Barley. Overall, it is a lovely dram that you can enjoy any time of the day.

X4+3 (63.5% abv)

X4+3 is exceptional. That is Geek Flora talking, by the way. The sweetness of the whisky is so distinctively pears, green apples and melons! This is one whisky for the sweet tooths! The palate has hints of coastal salt and lemons coupled with light tangy spice at the tip of the tongue. Even though this is only aged for three years, the creaminess and oiliness of the whisky are remarkable. We supposed it has something to do with it being quadruple-distilled.

SMOS 1992, 23 Years Old (55.4% abv)

The SMOS 1992 was one of the crowd’s favourite that night. As it was from the Invergordon era, the distillate differed slightly from the modern ones. There was this pine note within the whisky, which kind of differentiate it as a whisky made for blends (we think). The nose was fresh with pine, melon and lime. The palate presented a bouquet of flowers, with oak, light melon and hints of lime. Warm spice lingered in the middle and back of the tongue. Unfortunately, the finish was short with pine-oak and floral notes. It was also dry. Again, the finish showcased a whisky that was perfect for blending, but not so great perhaps, as a single malt due to a rather short finish at such a high abv.

Signatory Vintage 1990, 26 Years Old (53.4% abv)

As for the Signatory Vintage 1990, it was a little different because it was a sherry-cask matured whisky. However, it appeared to be slightly lacking as it did not showcase typical sherry notes. The nose was promising, with cherry, hints of cranberries (some say baby vomit), green apples and some savoury salted meats. The palate was warm spice, red fruits and hints of salt. While the finish is long, salty and dry, it did not give a high satisfaction. Were our expectations too high? We are not so sure.

After Party at The Single Cask

We stayed way longer than we planned to (as usual). Initially, it was to savour and finish our drams, especially the X4+3 and the SMOS 1992. As the crowd left and the bar quietened, it became a great place for conversation. We had a chat with Chloe and a fellow Laddie fan, Fiona, and spoke about Laddie t-shirts! Haha! So, we decided to take this photo below.

Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador!

It was such a beautiful picture, isn’t it! Chloe and Brendan had on the Bruichladdich Polo Tee, while Geek Flora and Choc had our Unicorn Bruichladdich and Octomore Tee. Fiona was wearing her 2017 Feis Ile tee! We love this so much that we named it the “Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador” picture!

A Laddie Cocktail

Islay Barley 2010 Whisky Sour

Just as we were about to leave, Brendan said, “How about an Islay Barley Whisky Sour?” We just had to stay for that because Brendan made terrific cocktails! Most of you who know Flora personally know that she is not a cocktail person, but she took two big sips from this glass that she shared with Chloe. It was the perfect answer to how yummy this whisky sour was. Stunningly balanced between the sweetness and the alcohol, this whisky sour is probably something that you will keep wanting to come back for.

After emptying the glass, it was time to head home. So we bid goodbye to Brendan and Chloe and made our way back. It was an excellent evening to be sure. If you have never been to a Bruichladdich event, come to the next one. We promise that you will not be disappointed.

 

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Whisky Review #88 – XOP Caol Ila 36 Years Old

XOP Caol Ila 36 Years Old at The Drunken Master Whisky Bar, Kaohsiung

Some of you may know that I am a Caol Ila fan as well as a Bruichladdich fan. Both distilleries are on Islay, but the styles are quite different. Nonetheless, I find whiskies from both distilleries enjoyable, and suitable for the various moods that befall me. This review is an independently bottled Caol Ila by Douglas Laing. It is part of their XOP range as it is a distillate from 1980 and matured for 36 years. I had this whisky at The Drunken Master Whisky Bar last year when I was there attending the Takao Whisky Fair.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber
ABV: 57.4%

Nose: Sweet caramel finds its way into the nose with warm spice in the background. Hints of dark fruits like raisins float in and out of the nose. After aeration of three minutes, the spice becomes more prominent, and the sweetness of fruits and caramel fade into the background. After ten minutes, light, aromatic peat appears to complement the spice. At the same time, light notes of caramel and dark fruits reappear. The result is intense sherried notes. (18/20)

Palate: Hot spice leads the way, but sweet caramel and dark raisins coat the palate almost immediately after the spice, reducing the fiery hotness. After airing, the spice mellows beautifully. Caramel, raisins, and dark chocolate are evident in the mouth, and we detect hints of honey at the back of the mouth. Unfortunately, the honey notes are quickly overwhelmed by the spice. Light peat comes in at the end, but it is hardly noticeable. (17/20)

Finish: Long finish with warm spice leading the way. Aromatic peat surfaces in the finish instead of the palate. We think that it could be due to the spice. After airing, the peat disappears from the finish, leaving only the mellow spice and the fruity sweetness. (17/20)

Body: It is not the most balanced dram that I had drunk. The peat is hardly noticeable in the palate and finish, though it is promising in the nose. The redeeming grace is the intense sherried notes that are balanced from the nose to the finish. The whisky is likely to benefit from some water, which will open the flavours. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to do that due to the overcrowding at the bar. (33/40)

Score: 85/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “My first impression was WOW! Then the spice overwhelmed me at the palate. I still think it is a fantastic whisky, but it probably needs more than just aeration. This whisky should open up its flavours if I add some water. It was a pity that I did not get to do that during my time at the TDM bar as it was too crowded! If I get to try this again, I will report!”

Geek Choc: “My mouth burns from drinking this whisky. It is too spicy for my liking, and I do not know why Geek Flora likes it! Hahaha…but I have to admit that it is pretty special. I think I will enjoy it more if I add some water to mellow the spice.”

 

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Date Night with Jack Daniel at Asia’s Number One Bar

Canon JD No. 7 with tasting glasses

Geek Flora and Choc were invited to a tasting session of Jack Daniels on 6 May 2018 at Manhattan Bar. It was an awesome evening because tasting a famous Tennessee at Asia’s Number One Bar can never go wrong. Besides, the assistant Head Distiller, Mr Chris Fletcher, was in town and we knew that he would answer all our geeky questions.

We reached Manhattan Bar around 7 pm, and the reception ushered us into a private room next to the main bar floor on the right. What we saw was absolute class and luxury as the tall glasses laid in their full glory with the gold nectar within them. The room smelled of whiskey (of course), and we got a little more excited.

Introducing Jack Daniel as a person

In case you do not know, Jack Daniel was indeed a real person. Nobody truly knows Jack’s birthdate, but official records from the distillery stated the 1850s. He was the youngest of 13 children and was very young when his mother died. His father remarried but unfortunately killed shortly after that in the Civil War. Jack did not get along with his stepmother, and hence, he ran away from home at a young age. Jack ended up in Lynchburg, Tennessee where a local lay preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call took him in.

Jack began his career as an apprentice distiller with Call and his Master Distiller, Nathan Green. In 1875, Jack received an inheritance from his father’s estate and founded Jack Daniel Distillery with Call. However, Jack took over the distillery shortly afterwards as Call decided to answer his true calling as a preacher.

Jack Daniel Distillery

Jack soon expanded the distillery in 1884 by purchasing the surrounding land. He was getting recognition from the public, and the whiskey gained popularity in the 1880s. The distillery began to bottle their liquid in square bottles in 1897 to convey a sense of fairness and integrity. In 1904, Jack Daniel won a gold medal at the St Louis World’s Fair, and the distillery experienced a surge in demand. However, things looked bad at home with Prohibition oncoming.

Jack gave the distillery to two of his nephews in 1907 due to failing health and died in 1911 due to blood poisoning. One of them became the next owner for 40 years while the other sold his share early. Prohibition laws passed in Tennessee in 1910 and the distillery halted its production in Lynchburg. Two other sites in St Louis, Missouri and Birmingham, Alabama started distilling but failed to produce quality liquid. In 1920, the United States of America passed nationwide prohibition laws, stopping further distillation from taking place.

Despite it all, Lemuel “Lem” Motlow held his uncle’s legacy through the Prohibition and was the front mover in repealing the Tennessee state-prohibition law in 1938. After that, things ran smoothly until 1942, where the U.S government banned production due to World War 2. After the war, Motlow resumed Jack Daniel in 1947. Sadly, he died in the same year and left the distillery to his children.

Jack Daniel distillery began its modern era in 1956 when Brown-Forman bought the distillery from the Motlow family.

The Making of a Tennessee Whiskey

Did you know the difference between a bourbon and a Tennessee? To confuse you a little, a Tennessee can be bourbon, but bourbon can never be a Tennessee. Why!?

The definition of bourbon defines it as a liquid made anywhere in the U.S with at least 51% corn and matured in a brand new charred oak cask. The alcohol content of the new make must also be 80% or lower. A Tennessee is a bourbon produced in Tennessee and treated with maple charcoal before maturing in a brand new charred oak cask. The process, called charcoal mellowing, makes all the difference between a Tennessee and a bourbon.

Charcoal mellowing helps to maintain the flavour consistency and soften the whiskey to make it less harsh. Hence, a Tennessee whiskey is always easier to drink than a typical bourbon.

The Making of a Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel distillery sources its water from an underground cave spring. The grain percentage is 80% corn, 12% malted barley and 8% rye. The distillery milled the corn and cooked it with hot water to turn it into grist before adding the rye. After that, they allow the mixture to cool before adding the malted barley to the mash. The fermentation team then pumps the mash into the fermentation tanks and add yeast. When fermentation completes, the alcohol abv is around 12%.

Distillation then begins in the 100% copper stills. The 40ft tall column still brings the vapours into a short still with copper plates heated by steam. The system separates the alcohol and then distil it a second time before cooling off into new make. The liquid then passes through 3m of charcoal made on-site for the charcoal mellowing process. The entire process takes about two to three days. After that, it becomes Tennessee whiskey at 70% abv.

Jack Daniel’s Barrels

As you know, all American whiskey needs maturation in brand-new charred American oak. Jack Daniel is no difference. Their Tennessee whiskey sleeps in brand-new charred American oak casks for at least four years and mostly less than eight years. There is no additional colouring. Maturation in Tennessee is different from Scotland – they need hot summers. Hot summers mean maturation is likely to conclude in five to six years while cooler summers will result in a slightly longer maturation.

Jack Daniel resells all their barrels after using as they are not allowed to use it for the second time. About 25% of all ex-bourbon barrels in the world are Jack Daniel’s!

Jack Daniel’s Cooperage

Jack Daniel also owns two cooperages and have a patent barrel-making process. They buy oak trees, cut them up and build their barrels from scratch. The newly-made barrels are toasted for 17 minutes at 260 degrees Celsius to get the creamy vanilla and caramel into the wood before getting charred for 25 seconds. The cooperages make about 2,000 barrels every day.

The Tasting of Jack Daniel’s Range

The beautiful glasses for Geek Flora

After reading so much about Jack Daniel, it is time for us to take you on the tasting journey for the night. We had a total of six expressions. They are Gentleman Jack, JD Single Barrel, JD No. 7, JD Gold No. 27, JD American Straight Rye, and JD Sinatra Select. Chris Fletcher, the assistant Head Distiller (pictured below) waxed lyrical about the distillery and its whiskey-making methods, which delighted us (and resulted in the long explanation above)!

Mr Chris Fletcher, Assistant Head Distiller at JD

It is now time to delve into the various JD and see how they are.

Gentleman Jack

As the name suggests, this whiskey is a complete gentleman. Soft-spoken and gentle, the nose is full of melons, pears and bananas with just a hint of oak. The palate is creamy, fruity and soft. Elegant indeed. The finish is too short, but Chris mentioned that the distillery makes it this way as it is an entry whiskey for those who just started learning about whiskey.

JD Single Barrel

A little note about the single barrel: the distillery chooses their single barrels only from the top floor of specific warehouses within the distillery. As they build their warehouses on sites of different heights, the top floor of each warehouse differs from the other. As Jack Daniel depends on the weather for maturation, location of each warehouse plays a big part. The highest floor of each warehouse naturally gets the most heat and hence, considered as one of the best.

The JD Single Barrel is a colossal sugar babe. The nose boasts of molasses, vanilla, melons and Juicy Banana chewing gums. The palate is sweet with molasses, vanilla, melons and spice. It is oily and less creamy than Gentleman Jack. Hints of Juicy Banana chewing gums reappears behind the spice. The finish is medium with oak and ripe banana sweetness. Hints of sweet sandalwood appear with the second sip.

JD No. 7

JD No. 7 is well-known in this part of the world, and almost everyone had a JD No. 7 before. The nose is full of molasses, melon and light vanilla. The palate is creamy with vanilla and spice. We get hints of banana sweetness at the end. The finish is too short, with faint banana sweetness and a bit of oak.

JD Gold No. 27

The JD Gold No. 27 is an unusual expression. It matures four years in oak before transferring to a maple barrel for six months to a year. The nose boasts of bananas, vanilla and maple syrup. The palate is exceptionally creamy, with molasses, banana, maple and spice at the back of the palate. The finish is medium, creamy and slightly spicy.

JD American Straight Rye

The JD rye is a new expression launched in September 2017 that consists of 70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted barley. The nose is full of banana cream, light spice and sweet sandalwood. The palate brings the sandalwood to the front, with banana cream, earthen spice and light mint at the back of the palate. The finish is short and spicy.

JD Sinatra Select

JD Sinatra Select

Finally, the JD Sinatra Select is an expression made to commemorate Sinatra’s 100 Years. He loved Jack Daniels and would promote the brand blatantly even though they never paid him a single cent for advertising. Therefore, this expression celebrates the man who loved his JD.

The nose is oaky, oily with vanilla in the background. The banana scent that is so distinctive JD is weaker too. The palate reveals dry oak, vanilla, bananas and hints of sandalwood. There is some spice also. The finish is medium, with sweet vanilla and oak. It gets slightly dry at the end.

A Wonderful Night Indeed

Chris signing the barrel after pouring in the bottles of Gentleman Jack

The tasting session ended with Chris pouring in a few bottles of Gentleman Jack into a barrel at Manhattan Bar to barrel age the whiskey further. As it is part of Manhattan’s barrel-aged program, we may have the chance to try the liquid after the maturation! We shall wait in anticipation.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves that evening and got to know Jack Daniel better as a brand and as a whiskey. We are apparently amazed by the different expressions and have since changed our minds about JD. Just like our friend, Brendan from The Single Cask, said, “So many years of prejudice against Jack Daniels, and it was washed away all in one night.” We feel the same way too!

 

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Does Terroir Influences Scottish Peat?

Peatheads around the world would tell you that peated malts are one of the best things that happened to them. Geek Choc, for one, claims that peated whisky smells heavenly. I am somewhat more reserved on peat, but some of those peated whiskies are fantastic! What is peat? Encyclopedia Britannica defined peat as a spongy material that formed by the partial decomposition of organic matters in wetlands. Depending on the location or terroir, peat can take on different chemical compounds and produce differentiating quality.

Where is Scotland’s Peat?

As you can see from the above map, Scotland has various locations of peat bogs. Three of them are in Islay, one in Campbeltown, one in Orkney and the remaining two in the Northern Highlands. As we have tasted different characteristics of peaty whiskies, we wonder if the peat from the various locations contributes to the subtle difference in peaty whiskies.

History of Peat

Let’s start with the historical usage of peat in Scotland. Peat was a conventional fuel used in kilning to dry malts in the past. The islands, Campbeltown and the Northern Highlands, used peat regularly as coal was not readily available. Back in the 1940s, it was typical for the Islay and Campbeltown malts to use 100% peat fire, while the Highlands utilised 50-75% peat. The Lowlands used 25-50% peat. By the 20th century, the advances in technology made coal, gas and oil more affordable, and the reliance on peat reduced significantly. Nonetheless, Islay, Campbeltown and Northern Highlands still produce peated whisky today.

How is Peat Formed?

Peat formed in waterlogged lands through the partial decomposition of organic matter. It appears that there are differences between peat composition based on the different climate, vegetation, bog type and also the cutting depth during the harvest. We can divide peatlands into bogs, fens, marshes and swamps.

Bogs form through heavy rainfalls and contain more sphagnum moss than the other types of peatlands. Bogs also have lesser woody vegetation as compared to the rest. Fens (better known as basin bogs) have more sedges and grass. Marshes, in general, are treeless waterlogged areas and peat formed very slowly. Swamps, on the other hand, are very minerotrophic and the peat has high wood and nutrients contents.

The Contents of Peat

To delve deeper into the contents of peat from the different peatlands, we need to venture deep into a chemical discussion. To ensure that we do not delve too deep into the scientific names (and lost myself along the way), we will stick to layman terms. In general, peat is 90% water and 10% dry matter. The 10% is sub-divided into 92% organic matter and 8% inorganic. Peat formed from bogs are usually more aromatic due to the higher percentage of phenols and aromatic materials found in them. Peat from fens is less aromatic.

Cutting Depth

The cutting depth during a peat harvest is as vital as the type of peatland. The surface layers are usually not aromatic enough to create the smokey effects in the whisky that we love, but cutting too deep into the layers can capture too much harmful nitrogen and sulphur compounds in the peat. Therefore, every distillery that makes peated whisky has their own calculated cutting depth to ensure that the peat they use will produce the effects that they want.

Peat Terroir

Does terroir influence peat? Our research appears to point to the peatland location and cutting depth of the peat as the “influencer”. While the type of peatland and vegetation influence the peat subtly, they are not crucial for the flavours in the whisky. For example, the peat used in Laphroaig and Bowmore are similar to each other as both are fens found on Islay. Yet, the peat found in Laphroaig and Bowmore whiskies are very different. It points to the different cutting depths that both distilleries use, and of course, the interaction between the malts and the casks used. The only difference in the peatlands found in Islay is interestingly from Port Ellen. The contents of the peat using in Port Ellen maltings are woodier in natural and has different microbiology from the rest of Islay.

Interestingly, the peat from Orkney Island is relatively similar to the peat found in the fens of Islay even though it is a bog and not a fen peatland. The peat from the Northern Highlands in Tomintoul is also different from those in Islay, even though it is a fen. The difference in contents across the peatlands in Scotland suggests that peat forms differently due to the climate, microbiology and also the variety of sphagnum moss.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the research points to peat terroir. The contents of the peatland differ across Scotland with local variation found. The cutting depth during the peat harvest also plays a significant role in the flavours of the whiskies as is evident from the different peaty flavours found in whiskies harvesting similar peat.

 

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Whisky Events – Glengoyne & Tamdhu

 

If you are looking forward to the whisky events that we have spoken of in our previous article on Glengoyne Distillery, listen up now! We have received news from the organisers and here are the three finalised events curated just for you!

Jonathan Scott, Business Development Director (Asia), will be here with us for all three events. He hails from Speyside, Scotland and has experiences working with other distilleries such as Jura and Dalmore before joining Ian Macleod Distillers to head both Glengoyne and Tamdhu as their Business Development Director in Asia.

Picture from AsiaEuro

He will be sharing his passion and knowledge for whisky with the participants at all three events. Jonathan will also answer any questions that you have regarding Glengoyne and Tamhdu, so if you have a burning question to ask, you must go to at least one of these events, if not more.

The White Rocket – Glengoyne Masterclass

The White Rocket is a cafe located at 5 Stanley Street that provides a fantastic food menu to go with the whisky of your choice. In this Glengoyne Masterclass, Jonathon brings you four different drams from the Glengoyne core range. Going for this Masterclass means you will get to taste the following Glengoyne expressions:

  • 12 Years Old
  • 15 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • Cask Strength

Details of the Masterclass:

Date: Monday, 21 May 2018
Venue: The White Rocket (5 Stanley Street, Singapore 068724)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $48
Reservations: The White Rocket Facebook Page or call 6221 0108 or email thewhiterocketsg@gmail.com

Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar – Whisky Pairing

Join Jonathan Scott as he works hand-in-hand with the Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar to deliver a superb whisky pairing dinner for you at the newly-opened izakaya located at Riverside Point. We are sure that you will salivate just looking at the menu on offer that night.

  1. Nama Kaki with whisky passion fruit sauce paired with Tamdhu 10 YO
  2. Otoro with whisky miso sauce paired with Glengoyne 12 YO
  3. Pan-fried Wagyu or Kurobuta with whisky truffle sauce paired with Glengoyne 15 YO
  4. Fried whisky inaniwa udon paired with Glengoyne 18 YO

Details of the Whisky Pairing Session:

Date: Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Venue: The Flying Fish Izakaya & Bar (30 Merchant Road, Riverside Point #01-07, Singapore 058282)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $128++
Reservations: Email andrewkj.tan@yahoo.com.sg or Call/Whatsapp/SMS 96325338

The Wall SG – Glengoyne Whisky Masterclass

For those of you who know The Wall SG well, you will know that Jeremie is going to treat you right. Join Jonathan, Jeremie and Samantha as they bring you on a tasting journey through the premium range of Glengoyne expressions. Showing in this Masterclass will be the following:

  • 15 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • 21 Years Old
  • Cask Strength

Feel free to stay on after the event to enjoy more whiskies at this bespoke whisky bar!

Details of the Masterclass:

Date: 23 May 2018
Venue: The Wall SG (76 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088497)
Time: 7 pm
Cost: $68++
Reservation: The Wall SG Facebook Page or call 6225 7988 (Alternatively, drop Jeremie or Samantha a PM) 

Enjoy yourselves!

Do choose one of the events and head to the venue to enjoy a night of whisky and fun. Learning is always more pleasant when whisky is available! If you want to learn more about Glengoyne Distillery before going for any of the above events, do check out our article on the distillery here. Have fun!

 

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The Glengoyne Way – No One Takes More Time & Care

Glengoyne Distillery nestled deep within the beautiful landscape of Dumgoyne, north of Glasgow, Scotland. Within the surroundings of the distillery, a hidden waterfall waits to surprise first-time visitors. The miniature glen that Glengoyne sits is an amazing sight to behold. There is no wonder that visitors often named Glengoyne Distillery as the most beautiful distillery in Scotland.

History of Glengoyne

George Connell was the founder of Glengoyne distillery. History has it that Connell began distilling at Burnfoot Farm – the current Glengoyne distillery – in 1820. Safe within the miniature glen that hid the farm from the Exciseman, Connell escaped the notice of the law. Connell was not the first man to distil at the farm illegally as he learnt the trade from his grandfather.

In 1823, the law changed with the introduction of the Excise Act. Many underground distilleries took the license to operate, but Connell did not. In 1833, he finally decided to work with the law and obtained his license. He named the distillery Glenguin of Burnfoot. Connell took a 99-year lease on the land where Glenguin sat in 1836. It gave him the right to use the water of the property at any future time. Critically, Connell also made the decision not to use peat in his distillation process. His decision to deny peat in his whisky behold his legacy until today.

The Distillery Changed Hands

The distillery changed hands in 1876 to the Lang Brothers in Glasgow. History has it that the Lang brothers wanted to change the distillery name to Glengoyne, but a clerk made a mistake, and the distillery became Glen Guin. The name Glengoyne did not take effect until 1907. Did you know what Glengoyne means? It comes from Glenguin, which means Glen of the Wild Geese.

The Lang brothers took ownership of Glengoyne until 1965 before selling it to the Robertson & Baxter Group. The R&B Group eventually becomes Edrington Group. Under Edrington, the distillery underwent a rebuilding project between 1966 and 1967. They added one more still to the distillery, expanding it from two to three stills.

In 1984, Glengoyne became suppliers of whiskies to the then Queen Mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s household. The Royal Warrant can still be seen on all the Glengoyne products today.

The Beginning of the Modern Era

Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd acquired Glengoyne Distillery in April 2003. The taking over included both the “Glengoyne Single Malts” and “Langs Blended Whisky” brands. Under the family-run company, Glengoyne expanded rapidly regarding output capacity and sales. Ian Macleod keeps to the traditional way of making whisky at Glengoyne, and instead, increase the equipment onsite to increase output. Today, Glengoyne has eight working warehouses with a total capacity of nearly two million litres.

Before we move on from the history of Glengoyne, it is worthy to mention that Glengoyne distilled whisky in the Highlands and matures its whisky in the Lowland. What? Yes, it is true because the distillery sits upon the Highland Line, which divides the Highland from the Lowlands. Glengoyne, however, is still regarded as a Highland Whisky.

The Glengoyne Way

We spoke of the Glengoyne way of making whisky, but we have yet to tell you what it is. The Glengoyne way is six guiding principles that keep the distillery true to their past and the original decision that George Connell made in 1833. The distillery team believes that to change one element would alter the bold and complex flavours of Glengoyne.

Principle #1 – Unpeated

Glengoyne’s whisky is always unpeated. In 1833, the decision was one that was out of necessity. There was no peat in Dumgoyne. Unpeated whisky defines what Glengoyne stands for today – it produces only the most exceptional sherried whisky. The distillery uses Golden Promise barley, similar to The Macallan in Speyside. Perhaps that is why Glengoyne tasted somewhat like The Macallan. Is that the barley making its stake in the whisky?

Principle #2 – Patience

Glengoyne runs the slowest stills in Scotland. The distillate interacts immensely with their copper stills to eliminate the undesired chemical compounds. The result is a smooth, hugely complex spirit that the distillery is known for.

Principle #3 – Sherry Oak Casks

Before the 1870s, Glengoyne did not use sherry oak casks for maturation. However, the boom in sherry in London during the 1870s yields high-quality sherry casks and Glengoyne took the economical route by utilising the sherry casks for maturation. The result was stunning; taking Glengoyne whiskies to new heights and new depths. In today’s market, sherry is not so readily available, and Glengoyne needs to make a decision. They did by sticking to their principle. They use only the best sherry casks and control the process from oak forest all the way to the distillery.

Principle #4 – Maturation

The warehouses at Glengoyne are traditional. Made of stone walls and earthen floor, each warehouse protects the maturing casks from extreme temperature changes. The casks are not stacked close together either. By giving them the space needed for maturation, the distillery creates the consistent evaporation rate that they want in each of their casks.

Principle #5 – Natural Colour

By taking control of the sherry casks they procured, the distillery ensures that the colour of each whisky is natural and without added colour. The clear spirit from the distillery takes on the colour of the cask that they matured in, before getting bottled and released to the market.

Principle #6 – Tradition

It is hard to keep to tradition, but Glengoyne does it, every single day. From 1833 when Connell took the license to operate the distillery legally, the intricate steps he chose to make the whisky are still in use today.

The Glengoyne Whisky

The range of whisky from Glengoyne Distillery is impressive. Starting at ten years old, the core range moves up to 25 years old and a NAS cask strength edition. In between, we have the 12, 15, 18, and 21 years old. The distillery is moving away from the ten years old in recent years and in the future, the 12 years old will be the entry point of the core range.

Besides the core range, there are also rarer whiskies to be found. The Glengoyne 30 years old and 35 years old are expressions to behold. The 30 years old boasts of intense sherry notes with cinnamon, cloves and tangy marmalade. The 35 years old (distilled in the 1970s) boasts of tropical fruits, liquorice and a dark chocolate finish. It also comes in an artistically-designed decanter. Only 500 bottles are available worldwide.

What to Expect Next

Ian Macleod plans to focus on Asia for the Glengoyne brand shortly, so we can look forward to tasting events and food pairing sessions. While the organising committee is getting the logistics sorted out, let us wait patiently for the news. We will inform our readers when the events are ready!

 

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