gavin smith

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Whisky News, March 2009

by Gavin D Smith

Dingle Distillery

Plans are well advanced for the creation of a new Irish distillery, due to be developed in a former creamery in the County Kerry town of Dingle. The project is backed by Jerry O'Sullivan's Southbound Properties, and involves Oliver Hughes and Liam La Hart of the Porterhouse Brewing Company, Ireland's largest independent brewery operation. O'Sullivan says that “I bought the old creamery site from Kerry Group over three years ago and I've been looking for a project that would reinvigorate the site as a hub of activity and to generate and sustain local employment.” Around €8 million is to be spent on the new venture, and the Dingle Distillery, or Drioglann Daingean Uí Chúis, is planning to provide
five full-time manufacturing jobs and up to 12 full-time visitor's centre positions in due course. The promoters claim that the new distillery will generate income and interest from the USA, Russia, Asia and mainland Europe, all of which are experiencing strong growth in premium Irish whiskey sales. Hughes and La Hart intend to triple-distil in pot stills, in the traditional Irish manner, taking a slender spirit 'cut' to ensure a high quality end product, and Scotch whisky industry veteran John McDougall, formerly of Laphroaig and Springbank, has been recruited to the cause. Although the whiskey produced will be matured for at least four years in ex-Bourbon and ex-port casks, the distillation and sale of gin and vodka will supply an income stream in the shorter term, and a visitor centre is planned to showcase the distillery once it is up and running. "This will be the greenest distillery in the world," claims Oliver Hughes, who says that solar panels will be fitted during conversion of the creamery and that power will be generated by an on-site watermill. Although the project is still at the planning stage, it is hoped that the stills may be fired up sometime next year. Whisky-pages will keep you informed of developments as and when they happen.

Green Grouse

   From potentially the greenest distillery in the world to the 'greening' of The Famous Grouse. Renewable energy company Scottish Bioenergy Ventures has successfully completed the first phase of a trial at The Edrington Group's Glenturret distillery in Perthshire, in which algae converts carbon dioxide into biofuels. The next phase of the project at the Famous Grouse's 'brand home' will see Scottish Bioenergy Ventures build a reactor at the Crieff distillery which will be capable of capturing and converting 20 tonnes of CO2 into 6,000 litres of biofuel during the next 12 months. Stage one of the project involved an innovative process of capturing CO2 from the distillery's boiler exhaust and percolating the gas through algae reactors, converting it into oils and protein for use as fuel at the distillery. The algae reactors also successfully eliminated chemicals and captured copper from the waste water, reducing even further the environmental impact of the distilling process and cutting costs. "The results from the
first phase of the demonstration project have been very positive,” notes Dr Willam Crilly, Edrington's Technical Support Manager, “and we look forward to working with Scottish Bioenergy to help it advance this innovative technology, which will be of benefit to not just Glenturret distillery but the Scotch whisky industry in general.” Glenturret Production Manager Neil Cameron adds that “We as a company have a strong commitment to protecting the environment and are always looking for new ways to minimise the impact of the distilling process. Scottish Bioenergy Venture's technology has shown real promise in doing this area and we have been pleased to assist in its ongoing development.”

Perfect Finishes

Back to Ireland for a moment, and Jameson's 'The Perfect Finish' campaign, which runs until 31st March in 4,000 bars across the UK. At the heart of the promotion is St Patrick's Day on 17th of this month. According to a spokesman for the Pernod Ricard brand, “Jameson's sponsorship of film awards and festivals globally as well as within the UK has given the brand a strong association with film. In keeping with this, Jameson is challenging its customers on how well they know their film endings in a new film trivia promotion, based around the notion of 'The
Perfect Finish.' “Consumers purchase a Jameson and mixer, and are invited to take part in the quiz to guess the film based on the endings. Teasers are provided on a range of promotional items such as drinks mats, posters and point of sale materials. Upon entering the promotion, consumers will have the opportunity to win prizes including thousands of director's cut DVDs, with top prize being a holiday to an iconic film destination such as Thailand, LA or Tokyo.” Entry forms are available at participating bars and winning entries will be published in ShortList magazine on 7th May.

On the Shelf

The Balvenie distillery on Speyside has created a new website for single malt whisky enthusiasts, featuring what they believe to be a world first - the facility to assemble an online 'Whisky Shelf,' which serves as a replica of their home whisky collection, complete with detailed personal tasting notes. Malt whisky fans who sign up to's 'Warehouse 24' (a members' area named after one the distillery's oldest warehouses) can list and rate thousands of different single malt whiskies. Members may also compare notes with other members and experts who have
already created their own Whisky Shelves, including David Mair The Balvenie's Global Ambassador and The Balvenie's apprentice Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. David Mair says that "As well as all the things you'd expect to find on a whisky distillery website, we crafted our new site and the Whisky Shelf with the malt enthusiast in mind. We're obviously delighted when The Balvenie is a drinker's favourite, but we know that malt enthusiasts will try many different whiskies in their lifetime and collectors can amass hundreds of single malt whiskies, meaning keeping track of all your tasting notes can be tricky." View the new Balvenie Distillery website and create your own online Whisky Shelf at

Balvenie Buzzing

   Staying with Balvenie, this year's Vintage Cask selection process has involved a group of beekeepers, who were invited along to the Dufftown distillery to help Malt Master David Stewart choose two special casks, each more than 30 years old. According to The Balvenie, "A key characteristic of The Balvenie is its distinctive honeyed flavour and the beekeepers were invited to put their finely tuned noses and palates to the test to identify the casks that best exemplified a mature example of The Balvenie single malt's signature honeyed complexity. Tim Lovett, President of the British Beekeepers' Association, honey judge, Fiona Dickson and Ayr-based beekeeper Phil McAnespie joined David Stewart for the selection process, and between them they singled out two casks from 1978 - cask numbers 6248 and 2705 - to become the new Vintage.
David Stewart says that "The panel quickly identified the subtle layers of complexity we look for in vintage Balvenie. The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 offers those distinctive honey notes, together with subtle oakiness, citrus fruits and a spicy vanilla sweetness". Honey judge Fiona Dickson often tastes up to 300 honeys in a single competition and was surprised at the similarities between judging honey and single malt whisky, noting that "When selecting honey I look for the correct balance between sweetness and flavour and we drew upon the same skills in selecting The Balvenie Vintage Cask." The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 will be on sale from May, with a retail price of £450 a bottle.

Whisky Month

   Here at whisky-pages we have already noted, with keen anticipation, the forthcoming 'Whisky Month' of activities scheduled for May as part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations. Now, however, a detailed 'what's on' guide has been produced for anyone keen to plan ahead. Whisky Month invites the public to explore Scotland's greatest drink through this month-long extravaganza, which including highlights such as
the Spirit of Speyside Festival. The Whisky Month programme can now be downloaded at

And finally...

Want to read brand new drinks writing from some of the best-known names in the business while supporting a deserving charity at the same time? If so, we have the solution. Leading international writers on beer and whisky have collaborated in a unique project to honour legendary drinks writer Michael Jackson, who died in August 2007, aged 65. Editor Ian Buxton, who conceived the project, says that “Michael Jackson dominated the world of both beer and whisky writing for two decades and was hugely influential in both 'real ale' and single malt whisky. A complete generation of writers has cause to be grateful to him, not to mention countless brewers and distillers. This new book honours that legacy.” Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser is a collection of new writing from a baker's dozen of top whisky and beer writers. The collaborators on the project represent a roll of honour from drinks writing: (in alphabetical order) Stephen Beaumont, Dave Broom, Ian Buxton, John Hansell, Julie Johnson, Charles MacLean, Hans Offringa, F Paul Pacult,
Roger Protz, Lucy Saunders, Conrad Seidl, Carolyn Smagalski and Gavin D Smith. All have donated without fee an original, new essay to Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser, to be published on March 27th (Jackson's birth date) by Perthshire publisher Classic Expressions. All proceeds from the publication, which was supported by leading single malt whisky The Glenlivet, will be donated to the Parkinson's Disease Society of the UK. Jackson suffered from the disease for many years prior to his sudden death. “If variety is what you celebrate in your choice of whisky or beer, then this is truly a joyous and eclectic celebration of a life well-lived,” says Buxton. “We have sought to honour Michael with words; fresh and new writing on beer and whisky that he would have enjoyed reading, that he would have respected, that he might even have wished to have written himself.” Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser will be available initially from the Classic Expressions website at and from leading whisky retailers, independent brewers and other outlets. Price £12.99 (UK), €14.99 (Europe) and €18.99 (USA).

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