gavin smith

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Whisky News, January 2015

by Gavin D Smith


The historic ruin of Kennetpans distillery, located near the Clackmannanshire Bridge and by the shores of the River Forth, is to receive a grant in excess of £60,000 to help prevent further deterioration of its structure. The scheme to aid Kennetpans is being co-ordinated by the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, whose Cultural Heritage Officer Kirsty McAllister declares that "This building was the world's first whisky distillery on an industrial scale," and indeed during its heyday in the 18th century it was the largest whisky distillery in the world, being owned by members of the Stein family. Along with the Haigs, the Steins were regarded as 'whisky royalty,' and due to intermarriage, the two families developed a powerful whisky-making dynasty. Their influence stretched beyond Scotland to Ireland, as it was a Stein who in 1780 founded Dublin's Bow Street distillery, which was ultimately owned by John Jameson. See for more details.


Despite conservation efforts, it seems highly unlikely that Kennetpans will ever make whisky again, but this is not the case with Lindores Abbey in Fife. Lindores has a great claim to whisky fame, as the as the location where the first recorded uisge beatha was distilled in Scotland. The Exchequer Rolls for 1494 state "To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, VIII bolls of malt, wherewith to make acqua vitae." Lindores Abbey has lain in ruins since it was sacked in 1559, and for the last century it has been in the ownership of the Mackenzie Smith family. Now, Drew Mackenzie Smith is heading a £5 million project to return whisky-making to Lindores, building a distillery and visitor centre close to the abbey. Mackenzie Smith says that "The distillery itself will be capable of producing 200,000 litres of spirit per year, but the details of its style are still being discussed at the moment. We will be using barley from the family fields that surround the abbey as well as drawing some of the water from the 'Holy Burn', the water course which runs from nearby Lindores Loch." See for more details and Facebook contacts.

Tullibardine 1952

Tullibardine distillery at Blackford in Perthshire is about to release its oldest whisky to date, namely a single cask dating from 1952. This is also the oldest cask owned by the distillery, and is the first release in a new series of bottlings called The Custodians Collection, each of which will be at least 40 years of age. According to James Robertson, International Sales Manager for Tullibardine, "Releasing the 1952 as the first Custodians' bottling, with others to come, takes Tullibardine to a whole new place. It takes us into the super-premium bracket, as well as having our core range, which has been enjoying significant growth across a range of markets." Remarkably, the 1952 cask was an ex-sherry quarter cask, probably a first-fill cask at that, so the fact that the whisky from this relatively small vessel has survived the test of time in very good condition, with no adverse bitter woodiness, is quite extraordinary. Inevitably whiskies of that vintage do not come cheap, but Tullibardine is expecting £16,000 for each of the 60 to 70 decanters being released in three tranches, which compares favourably with other single malts of this age.

Two from Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie has released two new expressions, the first, called Dornoch, being exclusive to the travel retail arena, while the second, named Tùsail, is the sixth release in the distillery's Private Edition collection. According to Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation, "Glenmorangie Dornoch (£55.99) unites ex-Bourbon American white oak barrels reflecting the distinctive vanilla and citrus Glenmorangie house style with a lightly peated Glenmorangie spirit that has been extra matured in ex-Amontillado sherry casks. The swirling under-current of peat adds an unexpected dimension of distant, smoky apples, complemented by vibrant, sweet nutty flavours layered upon the rich, warm toffee and dried fruits. These balance to create a single malt whisky that reflects the beautiful setting in which Glenmorangie is crafted." Tùsail (£75.99) is produced using Maris Otter barley, a variety on the verge of extinction, as it has been largely superseded by more productive varieties. However, two British seed merchants formed a partnership to save Maris Otter, and when Bill Lumsden heard about the venture, he ordered a batch of the winter barley and had it processed on traditional floor maltings. Lumsden explains that "When we heard the story of those determined to preserve such a flavoursome grain, their ethos - and the barley itself - seemed the perfect match for a Glenmorangie single malt. I knew its deep flavour profile would provide an intriguing contrast to Glenmorangie's more delicate house style, creating a whisky to enchant connoisseurs. The result pays homage to the Maris Otter variety, with rich, rustic flavours of nut toffee, sweet barley malt, ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and dates, complementing the more familiar Glenmorangie notes of peaches, oranges and smoked pears."

And finally…

A belated 'Guid New Year' to you all from 'whisky-pages.' May 2015 be full of new whisky discoveries and the enjoyment of old favourites.

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