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Isle of Arran Distillery – The One and Only

The Isle of Arran Distillery sits in the foothills of the village of Lochranza on the north-west tip of the Isle of Arran. The owner of the distillery chose this location because of its vicinity to Loch na Davie. Loch na Davie holds the purest water in all of Scotland because granite and peat cleansed and softened the water in its slow meandering down from the mountaintops.

Short History of the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran used to house about fifty distilleries on the island. However, most of them were illegal, and smuggling activities went on for a period. Similar to Campbeltown, the proximity to water made producing and selling moonshine easy. However, as time passed, these illegal distilleries either obtained licenses to operate officially or close down. The last legal distillery on the Isle of Arran, called Lagg, was closed in 1837.

History of Arran Distillery

Harold Currie, a former director of Chivas, founded Arran Distillers in 1994 with the intention of building a distillery on Arran. Construction started in 1994 but halted after a pair of endangered golden eagles built their nests on a cliff near the distillery. As a result of the interruption, the distillery opened only in 1995. Arran distillery also took on the silhouette of two golden eagles as part of their logo.

The first spirit ran from the stills at the Arran distillery on 29th June 1995 at precisely 14.29 hours. It is the moment of glory for the Isle of Arran as it is the first legal distillation after more than 150 years of non-activity. The distillery was forced to store some casks in the warehouse of Springbank distillery due to their small capacity. However, in a recent revolutionary upgrade, the Arran distillery is now capable of storing and maintaining its production efficiency.

An interesting note about the founder, Harold Currie, is the fact that he was 70 years old when he decided to build Arran. He lived to a ripe, old age of 91 years old and left the distillery in capable hands when he passed on.

Production Methods at Arran Distillery

Arran distillery continues to use the traditional methods of producing whisky. The only drawback for the distillery is its lack of space for a traditional malting floor. Nonetheless, they buy their barley from the best source in Scotland to ensure high quality.

Arran distillery used barley and water from Loch na Davie to make their whisky. First, the barley and water are mixed in a mash tun to make wort, which then goes into wooden washbacks. The workers then add yeast to the wort for fermentation. To ensure a fruity new make, fermentation at Arran runs between 52 hours to 72 hours. The result is a liquid called “wash”, which is what we know as beer.

The workers double distilled the wash in copper pot stills and the final new make is a liquid that is about 68% alcohol strength. The distillation team placed this colourless liquid into oak casks that previously held sherry or bourbon. The wood gives the colour and character of the whisky, so the choice of the cask is one of the crucial influence for the final product.

Most of the Arran whiskies are bottled at either 46% abv or cask strength, so the flavours and aromas are retained for enjoyment. There are some of them which are bottled at 40% and 43% abv.

The Range of Arran Whiskies

Some bottles from the range of Arran’s exceptional whiskies

Arran has an impressive range of whiskies despite its young age as a distillery. All of the single malt whiskies at Arran are non-peated except for one. While most of their single malts are non-age statements, they do have age statement whiskies in their core range. We highlight some of them below:

Arran Lochranza Reserve

This is a non-age statement whisky bottled at 43% abv. It was released to celebrate the location of the distillery and named after the village. It is made up of 7 to 8-year-old whiskies mostly matured in bourbon oak casks.

Arran 10-year-old single malt

The Arran 10-year-old single malt is their flagship single malt. It is the backbone of Arran distillery, and one of the most enjoyed Arran whiskies in the world.

Arran 14-year-old single malt

The Arran 14-year-old single malt is one which is exceedingly popular among whisky drinkers. Slightly more complex than the 10-year-old, it is the go-to Arran whisky if you are looking for more complexity and richer flavours.

Arran 18-year-old single malt

The Arran 18-year-old single malt is the premium league of the Arran range of whiskies. The complexity is heightened at 18 years old, and the whisky displays rich and matured notes of Arran’s signature – orchard fruits and vanilla.

Arran Machrie Moor and Machrie Moor Cask Strength

Arran Machrie Moor and its cask strength version are released yearly since 2010 in small batches. Every batch is slightly different, but the core flavours are mostly the same. The difference is more prominent in the cask strength version as the abv usually differs from the previous year batch.

In addition to the above, Arran also experimented with wine cask finishes. Currently, they have three different wine cask finished whiskies labelled as cask finishes.

Arran Port Cask Finish

The Arran Port Cask Finish is the first experiment of wine cask finish. Using barrels from Portugal, the port wine cask give a sweeter finish to the typical Arran Malt.

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish

The Arran Sauternes Cask Finish is a sweeter version of the Port Cask Finish due to the influence of the delicious white wine that is Sauternes. The whisky is highly complex with notes of the white Sauternes shining through.

Arran Amarone Cask Finish

The Arran Amarone Cask Finish is a marriage of the Arran malt with the cask of Amarone wine from the north-east of Italy. The Amarone cask imparts a bright reddish tinge to the whisky and gives higher complexity to the drink.

There are other Arran whiskies such as the Smugglers Series, The Bothy Quarter Cask, the Robert Burns Single Malt and the latest release of the Arran Malt Distiller’s Edition. The newest release celebrates the 10th anniversary of Arran’s master distiller, James MacTaggart working with Arran Distillery.

Arran In the Future

Arran distillery has much to offer to the world of whisky, and we look forward to more exceptional whiskies from them. There is new of a 21-year-old Scotch coming in 2018 so do stay tuned for more! Arran is also building a second distillery in the southern tip of the Isle of Arran, in the village of Lagg. The new distillery will take over the making of the peated Machrie Moor series. Estimated to complete only in 2019, the future of Arran is looking brighter with each passing moment.

 

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    Whisky Review #67: Arran 14-Year-Old

    Arran distillery needs no more introduction after our post of its history and another one on the event at Quaich Bar. The object of our review today is the Arran 14-year-old. Dubbed as the perfect “go-to” dram for a whisky lover who wants to upgrade from the 10-year-old and not yet wanting to advance to the 18-year-old, this whisky here is a beautiful expression.

    Arran 14-year-old is made up of whiskies matured in 60% ex-sherry casks and 40% ex-bourbon casks. Therefore, when compared to the 10-year-old, it is not as fruity but sweeter due to the sherry influence.

    Let’s check out the review now.

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Copper Gold
    ABV: 46%

    Nose: Sweet oak mixed with dried fruits, vanilla and toffee, come up front when we first nose it. The spice hides in the background. When we add a little water, some sea salt tang appears alongside caramelised fruits notes. (16/20)

    Palate: Sweet vanilla and honey coat the palate with notes of green apples and pears. Charred oak is also prominent with spice at the back of the tongue. Interestingly, the spice disappears, and the honey notes become more noticeable after airing the whisky. With water, the spice comes a little stronger to the forefront, but the vanilla and honey sweetness quickly overcome it. (16/20)

    Finish: The finish is reasonably long with dried fruits and vanilla notes. Some honey is also detected at the end. (15/20)

    Body: The balance for the 14-year-old is slightly better than the 10-year-old. It is still somewhat singular in its profile but an upgrade from the 10-year-old. (30/40)

    Total Score: 77/100

    Comments:

    Geek Flora: “The 14-year-old is slightly more complex as compared to the 10-year-old. While I still tend to lean towards the simple 10-year-old for my daily dram, this 14-year-old is a potential upgrade for me after I finished the 10-year-old bottle.” 

    Geek Choc: “It is singular, but I kinda like it. The higher sherry influence in the 14-year-old appeals to me as the sweetness of the dried fruits makes it more interesting.” 

     

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      Whisky Review #66 – Arran 10-Year-Old

      The Arran 10-Year-Old is the entry level to its incredible range of whiskies. Made with the occasional whisky drinker in mind, this whisky is approachable and easy to drink. If it is the first time you are trying Arran, the 10-Year-Old is an excellent bottle to start. The liquid that made up the 10-Year-Old is 20% from ex-sherry casks and 80% from ex-bourbon casks. The result of this mixture is a sweet, fruity and slightly spicy concoction.

      Let’s check out the review without further ado.

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Pale Gold
      ABV: 46%

      Nose: Sweet vanilla cupcakes greets the nose with a touch of spicy cinnamon. Notes of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons) follow after to create a sweet and gentle nose. With some time, fresh oak appears to deepen the complexity of the whisky. (15/20)

      Palate: Sweet vanilla notes couple with red apples coat the palate beautifully before citrus fruitiness rush in to fill the palate. The mouthfeel is soft and mellow, creating an almost silky feel. (16/20)

      Finish: A relatively long finish with sweet apples and a slight citrus zest. Hints of spice linger in the throat. (16/20)

      Body: Reasonably balanced for a 10-year-old whisky with a straightforward character. It is indeed an entry level whisky that can be enjoyed by everyone. (29/40)

      Total Score: 76/100

      Comments:

      Geek Flora: “I like the Arran 10-Year-Old for its simple character. It is an approachable dram and one that beginners can easily adapt to. The sweet, fruity spice adds complexity to the mellow notes of the whisky.”

      Geek Choc: “It is a simple drink that can be enjoyed anytime. If you have friends who are not whisky drinkers, this is a good dram to introduce if you want to convert them into whisky lovers!”

       

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        Interview with Kevin Sheehan, Cartographer of Manuscript Maps

         

        Picture Credits: www.manuscriptmaps.com

        Do you like ancient maps? The kind of maps that wow you from the first moment because they were hand-drawn with beautiful details. If you do, you should check out Manuscript Maps.

        Manuscript Maps belongs to Mr Kevin Sheehan, a British cartographer who drew all his maps by hand. If you are wondering why WhiskyGeeks is talking about maps, that’s because Kevin has drawn impressive maps of Scotland’s whisky distilleries!

        Here’s a picture of one of his latest version:

        Picture Credits: www.manuscriptmaps.com

        Did you marvel at the details on the map? Well, the physical one is even more impressive! Geek Choc bought the whisky map from Kevin, and he was stunned by the beauty of it. “It is amazing just how Kevin can include such minute details like tiny lines to create the shading of the sea. I’ve never seen such excellent artistry!” Geek Choc exclaimed at our headquarters when the map arrived! Well, he was too excited to say anything else after that.

        So, as a team, we decided to reach out to Kevin and asked him for an exclusive interview with us, and he agreed to do so. We conducted our conversation through a couple of emails and Kevin kindly provided us with some excellent photos too!

        Welcome to the World of Whisky Distilleries

        Picture Credits: www.manuscriptmaps.com

        Kevin spoke about the history of the whisky map in our first interview with him. His first whisky map was hand-drawn in late-2014. Kevin began with a detailed plan, before drawing the distilleries in pencil and then go over each line with dip pens and ink with different calligraphic nibs. Just as Geek Choc has noticed, every tiny line is hand-drawn, even the shading of the sea. The whisky map took more than 120 hours to draw (that works out to about three months). Kevin also took time to research and communication with the distilleries in Scotland to feature them on his whisky map.

        Kevin has printed three editions of his whisky map so far. Each version has been popular, and in fact, the whisky map is his bestseller! He prints each map on 200-300 gsm textured paper, and he numbered, signed and dated every single one of them. The maps at A2 sized, so it is easy to hang them up at home.

        Picture Credits: www.manuscriptmaps.com

        The 2017 edition shows 124 operational single malt distilleries, seven grains distilleries, 25 closed distilleries (since the 1970s) and 11 forth-coming distilleries. The 2017 edition has sold out now, and Kevin has released a new 2018 version of the whisky map. This new version is exciting as he included the brand-new Douglas Laing distillery in Glasgow, as well as the planned reopening of Brora, Port Ellen and Rosebank distilleries.

        More about British Cartographer, Kevin Sheehan

        Kevin has an impressive education in the art of map-making. His passion for maps started at childhood, where he drew fantasy Tolkien-style maps. His love for maps led him to do many art classes in his youth and began his journey in the art of map-making. As an undergraduate in Durham, Kevin started to draw maps of the area as gifts for his family and friends. He also took his Master degree in Medieval and Renaissance History and took a class with Mr Paul Harvey, the world expert in medieval mappaemudi. He was so enthralled by the art of map-making by then and pursued his passion with a PhD in the history of cartography.

        During his days as a PhD student, the university hired Kevin to draw maps of Durham University and Durham Pub. They sold the prints in the new visitor centre at the school. As you can guess, the maps were a huge hit with visitors. Kevin graduated in 2014 and founded Manuscript Maps. He never looks back since.

        Kevin is a whisky lover just like the rest of us. That explains why his first ever map drawn for his company is the whisky map! He loves his Scotch and Irish whiskies, as well as Japanese whiskies. He shared that he like lightly peated whiskies that are well-balanced, so his choices tend to lean towards Speyside and some of the Islay whiskies. Kevin’s favourite distilleries (so far) are Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, Aberlour and Fettercairn. Nonetheless, Kevin’s love for whisky usually leads him to buy whatever is on sale!

        Kevin is experimenting with new products for his whisky map. He has printed the map on tea towels and is planning to release a jigsaw puzzle of the map by the end of November!

        If you like the whisky map, there is the chance that you will love the gin map that Kevin has drawn as well. It is his second love, after the whisky map. Illustrated in the same dimension and style, it is a perfect complement to the whisky map!

        Where to Buy

        If you are keen to buy the whisky map (or the gin map), you can visit Manuscript Maps right here. He ships internationally so you don’t have to worry that you can’t buy this beautiful map.

        You can find Kevin on these social media platforms too:

        Twitter: @ManuscriptMaps
        Instagram: @ManuscriptMaps
        Facebook: www.facebook.com/manuscriptmaps

        Discount for WhiskyGeeks Members

        If you are keen to purchase the maps, do remember to enter the code “WHISKYGEEKS” during check out so that you get 20% off any map you buy! Caring is sharing! Do tell all your whisky friends and head over to www.manuscriptmaps.com.

         

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          Whisky Review #65 – Bruichladdich 20 Years Old Duncan Taylor

          Bruichladdich fans will agree that it usually taste of sweet vanilla notes and is spicy on the palate. However, have you thought about a Bruichladdich that has almost no spice, and instead, takes on a light, grassy note? No? Well, neither have we! Until now…that is.

          The subject of this review is a Bruichladdich 20-year-old by the independent bottler, Duncan Taylor. Distilled in 1992, the liquid matured in oak casks for 20 years before getting bottled in 2013. The total yield is 300 bottles.

          Let’s look into this excellent dram now.

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Pale Gold
          ABV: 52.4%

          Nose: Grassy to the max! It smells like an early morning stroll in a meadow, where flowers are just starting to bloom. The sweetness is minimum, but instead, floral notes are prominent. Peppery spice floats in the background, but it is not strong. Un-typical Bruichladdich! After airing for near 30 minutes, the sweetness of white peaches can be detected in the background, making it more typical Bruichladdich. (17/20)

          Palate: The taste is light grass and floral all at the same time. Slightly acidic with light peppery spice. Unlike the Classic Laddie, this whisky has almost no spice. After a while, honeyed notes surface and push the spice further into the background. After airing for near 30 minutes, the palate changes completely. The grassy notes are gone and are replaced by sweet white peaches, making the taste more like a typical Bruichladdich. (18/20)

          Finish: The finish is short with some sweetness. It does not change with time. (15/20)

          Body: It is a simple whisky, but well-balanced. Mind-blown at first but slowly, it develops typical characteristics of Bruichladdich. This is a shot of whisky that can be savoured over an extended period just to see it blossom into its full Bruichladdich character. (32/40)

          Total Score: 82/100

          Comments:

          Geek Choc: “I did not expect a surprise when I ordered this dram, but boy, did it surprise me with its difference from the typical Bruichladdich. I like the grassy notes and the fact that the spice is minimum. It is nice to taste something different now and then! It is probably a good idea to drink this again in a month’s time to see if the oxidation in the bottle makes this “more Bruichladdich” than what I had.” 

          Geek Flora: “When Choc told me that this is grassy, I thought he was drunk! Nonetheless, I was impressed when I nosed and tasted this dram. That is fantastic! Well, it is a pity that Spice did not get to try this one because he was overseas. We will drag him along if we try this again!”

           

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            Whisky Review #58 – Springbank 17 Years Sherry Wood

            We visited Quaich Bar recently to catch up with the wonderful people there and had some special drinks that are available at the bar. Springbank 17 Years Sherry Wood was one of them. Now, this is different from the Springbank 17 Years Sherry Wood CASK STRENGTH version, which we did not get the chance to try it yet. This baby here is bottled at 49.2%, much lower than the Cask Strength of 52. 3%.

            Let’s dive into the review!

            Tasting Notes:

            Colour: Deep Amber
            ABV: 49.2%

            Nose: Strong sherry (read: caramel) with relatively high sulphuric notes. There is a hint of white pepper hiding in the background. After airing for 15 minutes, sweet aromas of honeyed meat (like honeyed bbq meat) waft into the nose elegantly. The sulphuric notes recede into the background. (17/20)

            Palate: Oily mouthfeel with sweet caramel coating the palate at the first sip. Malt is noticeable on the palate as well with a hint of sulphur at the back of the tongue. After 15 minutes, the sweet caramel becomes more prominent, coming firmly to the forefront and muscling the malt and sulphur out of the way. Peppery spice springs out as well, bringing an additional layer of complexity to the palate. (17/20)

            Finish: It is a relatively long finish with sweet caramel lingering in the mouth. (16/20)

            Body: It is a lovely full-bodied whisky with a robust profile. Moderately complex for a 17 years old especially after airing the whisky. Makes me want to try the cask strength version to see how it differs. (32/40)

            Total Score: 82/100

            Comments:

            Geek Flora: “Well, it is a great dram, but perhaps I was looking for more complexity in the whisky. Nonetheless, it is a bottle that I would gladly buy if my pocket allows it as I think it is an interesting whisky to share amongst good friends.” 

             

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              Whisky Review #57 – Springbank Vintage 1997 Single Cask #789

              Most whisky lovers like to try single cask bottling because of the rarity it invoked and the uniqueness of the liquid. We are not any different. We tried this bottle of Springbank Vintage 1997 single cask (#789) some time ago and wanted to share our review because we love it.

              This bottle is different from the Springbank Vintage 1997 batch 1 and 2. Bottled at 59.2% abv, the alcohol level in this whisky is higher than both batch 1 (at 55.2% abv) and batch 2 (at 54.9% abv).

              Let’s dive into the review!

              Tasting Notes:

              Colour: Soft Amber
              ABV: 59.2%

              Nose: Slight peat with the first nose but sweet caramel surfaces quickly to complement the gentle peat. Citrusy lemon appears after 5 minutes and lingers in the background. (17/20)

              Palate: Oily mouthfeel with sweet caramel coating the palate pleasantly. Spice lingers warmly in the background to give an extra kick. The peat in the nose does not exist in the palate. (16/20)

              Finish: Long finish with pleasant sweet caramel and warm spice. The spice disappears quickly, leaving only a pleasant sweet ending and a surprising waft of smoke n the breath.(18/20)

              Body: It is not the most well-balanced single cask but still lovely nonetheless. The complexity is also not well-established, but the caramel notes was a beautiful cover for the spice and slight peat. (30/40)

              Total Score: 81/100

              Comments:

              Geek Flora: “I was very excited to try this single cask honestly but felt a little let down after drinking it. I love it nonetheless because the palate is different from the usual Springbank portfolio. I will try it again (we have a reserved sample even though the bottle is gone!) and update the notes if it changes.”

               

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                Event: Launching Macallan Edition No. 3

                WhiskyGeeks attended the media launch of Macallan Edition No. 3 last Monday, 16 October at the Luxe Museum. If you have seen the pictures on their Facebook page, you would know that it was a grand event indeed!

                The Greeting

                The above picture was what greeted us when we walked in. The cask that you see on the left was one of the casks that they used in the Macallan distillery. Macallan shipped to Singapore specially for the event. We were ushered into the main hall behind the frontage to a bar where the staff offered us a cocktail.

                We were feeling a little cheeky that night, so we asked for a glass of neat Macallan instead. The lovely staff told us that the good stuff was in the last room. We were surprised at the mention of rooms, and upon further queries, we understood that Macallan has split up the Luxe Museum to various “rooms” where different flavours of Macallan Edition No. 3 were displayed.

                The Journey in the land of Macallan Edition No. 3

                The setup was a series of “rooms” where guests explored at their leisure. The relaxing atmosphere created here was a luxury that many guests enjoyed. The stroll through the flower garden, the woodlands of oak casks and the modern chic living room filled with precious liquids from Macallan was splendid. Staff members were on hand to serve small bites to the guests. There was a station for ice cream too! We tasted the blood orange ice cream – delicious!

                The journey ended in an inner room where they hid the real gems. Staff at the bar were dishing out glasses of Macallan 12 Years Fine Oak to all patrons, and we finally jumped into the action. Sipping the palatable liquid, we waited patiently for the launch to start officially.

                Launching the Macallan Edition No. 3

                Macallan had the honours of inviting Roja Dove, the Master Perfumer who collaborates with Master Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno, to Singapore for the launch of Macallan Edition No. 3. We also had to pleasure to hear him explain why and how they created Macallan Edition No. 3. This particular edition showcases the nose more than the others because Macallan wanted to impress upon whisky drinkers that the nose is just as crucial as the palate and finish. Macallan wanted to be different by creating this lovely whisky.

                After Macallan officially launched the whisky, all the guest (that’s us!) got to taste it! The beautiful notes of floral and citrus waft up the nose immediately. The chocolate came after with vanilla sweetness in the background. Lovely! The palate was elegant and slightly dry. Caramel and vanilla mixed to complement each other without overpowering sweetness. It was somewhat typical Macallan. The finish was reasonably long, with the taste of vanilla cupcakes lingering for quite a while.

                Meeting Roja Dove

                We managed to meet Roja Dove while heading to the counter for a second glass of Macallan No. 3. The jovial fellow greeted us warmly and patiently answered all our questions. In return, he asked how we like the Macallan Edition No. 3. Well, let’s just say that he wasn’t the happiest man after hearing it! That’s because we told him that we love the nose of the whisky, but the palate seems a little flat. While he was not too happy about our comments, Roja was a perfect professional. We spoke a little longer before we left him to be surrounded by others. It was only much later that we realised we forgot to ask for a picture together!

                Rounding Up

                It was a dazzling night for us, but it was time to call it quits before all of us get too tipsy to head home. While we were a little disappointed with the liquid, we had an enjoyable evening. On a side note, we got to say that the Macallan 12 Years Fine Oak is a fantastic dram! If you have not tried it, you should.

                 

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                  Kilchoman – Islay’s First Farm Distillery

                   

                  Picture Credits: Kilchomandistillery.com

                  Kilchoman is one of the newest distilleries to be built on Islay in 124 years. Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director of Kilchoman chose Islay because of its reputation for producing exceptional malt whiskies. Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in Islay, producing 120,000 litres of alcohol annually.

                  History of Kilchoman Distillery

                  Picture Credits: www.kilchomandistillery.com

                  Anthony Wills founded Kilchoman in 2005, after running an independent single cask bottling company for eight years. The first distillate of Kilchoman ran in December 2005, and the first cask sealed on 14 December 2005. Anthony noted the interest in limited release single malt whiskies growing from the 1990s through his independent bottling company. He wanted to begin a distillery to cater to the growing demand, but he wanted his distillery to be different. Choosing Islay wasn’t difficult because of his family roots, the fertile land and the plentiful water and peat for drying the malt. Kilchoman is the ultimate farm distillery where Anthony “takes whisky back to its roots”. Whisky distillation mainly began as illegal operations on farms back in the 1700s and 1800s, so “taking whisky back to its roots” means that Kilchoman mirrors the beginning of whisky distillation.

                  Building the Kilchoman Distillery

                  Rockside Farm is selected because it grows the best malting barley on the island. The buildings on the farmland are also perfect for a distillery. Nonetheless, the real challenge was raising funds for the distillery. Anthony raised £1 million from private individuals, the local board and bank. These individuals and enterprises rose to the challenge when the distillery needed a further £3.5 million in the early years of the distillery. Kilchoman’s success is a direct reflection of the passion and dedication of these people in the community.

                  The Whisky-making Process

                  The exciting video above explains the whisky-making process at Kilchoman distillery. From barley to bottle, Kilchoman did it all.

                  The Whisky from Kilchoman Distillery

                  Kilchoman distillery has an impressive range of whiskies despite its relatively young age. Many of their whiskies have won awards, including their flagship Machir Bay, which we have reviewed. Two other note-worthy bottles are the Kilchoman 8-year-old, which we found to be excellent and sophisticated, as well as the Kilchoman Single Cask.

                  Kilchoman Distillery Moving Forward

                  We believe that Kilchoman will grow bigger and better in the years to come. The young whiskies from this distillery have been a pleasant surprise to the whisky community; so we believe that the older ones that are to come will be satisfying too!

                   

                  The Historic Balmenach Distillery

                  Picture Credits: www.pinterest.com

                  The Balmenach distillery is one of the earliest distilleries in Speyside. Located at the bottom of the Haughs of Cromdale in the Spey valley, it sits on the historic site of the defeat of the Jacobite uprising in April 1690. It was in these hills that dragoon guards ambushed an army of Jacobite soldiers on 30th April 1690 during their sleep. They killed many Jacobite soldiers and chased the rest into defeat.

                  History of the Balmenach Distillery

                  In the early 1800s, the McGregor brothers set up a farm in these areas. One of them, James McGregor, also set up a secret still on the site. James obtained a license for his distilling operation in 1824 and formally set up the Balmenach distillery. The McGregor family owned and operated the distillery until 1922 when DCL bought it. Balmenach distillery continued to run smoothly until 1993. UDV decided to mothball the distillery in 1993, and for the next five years, the distillery lay silent.

                  In 1998, Inver House Distillers bought the Balmenach distillery and reopened the distillery. The first distillate of Balmenach flowed in March 1998 under the watchful eyes of Inver House’s master blender.

                  Operations at the Balmenach Distillery

                  Balmenach distillery uses traditional machinery and methods used in the olden days. The distillery uses a cast iron mash tun which mashes around eight tonnes of barley every seven and a half hours. The wash is then fermented in six Douglas fir washbacks for at least fifty hours before it is ready for distillation.

                  The stillhouse of Balmenach has three wash stills and three spirit stills. The total capacity of these stills is around two million litres of whisky a year. The spirit travels through a worm tub before entering one of the two spirit safes in the stillhouse. After that, it transfers into a spirit vat. Finally, the spirit goes in oak casks before getting transported to the warehouses where they mature.

                  Single Malts at Balmenach Distillery

                  Balmenach is still maturing their single malts in the warehouse. Despite rumours that said Balmenach would soon launch their official single malts bottling, our chat with Master Blender, Stuart Harvey, proved otherwise. Stuart shared that it will be some time yet before the world gets a treat from Balmenach’s official single malts bottling. Nonetheless, you can find fantastic Balmenach single malts by independent bottlers such as the one from The Single Cask that we had some time ago.

                  The Distillery Today

                  The distillery is producing both whisky and gin today. Balmenach distillery produced Caoruun Gin, Inver House Distillers’ premium gin. Five Celtic botanicals found in the surrounding hills of the Balmenach distillery go into Caoruun Gin. Handcrafted and distilled in small batches, Caoruun Gin’s quality is tightly controlled by Gin Master, Simon Buley.

                  The whisky produced at Balmenach continues to define this historic distillery that honours the traditional methods of production. We look forward to the day when we get to taste the first official bottling of Balmenach Single Malts.

                   

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