gavin smith

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Whisky News, July 2013

by Gavin D Smith

Million Pounds Whisky

million pound The Dalmore has teamed up with leading luxury retailer Harrods to offer what is effectively the first 'million pounds whisky.' The Dalmore Paterson Collection - the only one of its kind in the world - now occupies pride of place in the newly refurbished Fine Spirits Room at Harrods, carrying a price tag of 987,500. Master Blender Richard Paterson (right), in collaboration with Harrods wine and spirits buyer Nick Fleming, has selected examples of The Dalmore dating from 1926 to the 1995. Each decade from the 1920s to the 1990s is represented within the Collection, and every expression is named after one of Paterson's 'Scotch whisky heroes.' These are not single cask bottlings, however, but 'assemblages' from several casks, which in many cases have undergone secondary maturation in different types of cask prior to bottling. According to Paterson, "I personally have invested a huge amount of time ensuring that each of these twelve expressions represent the very best of the incredibly rare and valuable stocks that we nurture up at the distillery in Alness." According to a Dalmore spokesperson, "The personality of Richard Paterson has also been imprinted on the Collection through the creation of a personal and unique hand written ledger, spanning more than 200 pages and taking more than 1000 hours to write, capturing Richard's every thought and step on the way to creating the collection. "Each of the twelve expressions is presented in a hand crafted full lead crystal decanter, produced by Glencairn, one of the world's leading crystal houses. Luxury jeweller Hamilton & Inches have crafted and hand engraved the silver that adorns each bottle. The collection itself is housed in a bespoke wooden cabinet, created by one of Britain's leading cabinet makers, Gavin Robertson through more than 700 hours of design and craft." Despite the near-million pounds asking price, Harrods is quietly confident that a buyer for the Collection will emerge in the near future, and Direct of Foods at Harrods, Bruce Langlands declares "I'm more concerned that we sell it too quickly and we lose an outstanding talking point and attraction in the spirits room!" John Beard, Chief Executive of Whyte & Mackay, says that "This is a true partnership between The Dalmore and Harrods, with much time and energy dedicated to creating something very special. Nobody has ever launched a whisky collection such as this before. It represents the lifetimes work of one of the whisky industry's most dedicated, respected and loved characters - Richard Paterson. Whoever buys this will own a truly unique collection of whiskies as well as a little bit of Richard himself as he has put so much in to the creation of this collection."

Feckin Distillery

feckin The first new Northern Irish distillery to open in more than 130 years began making spirit last month. Echlinville Distillery is located near Kircubbin, on the Ards Peninsula in County Down, which separates Strangford Lough from the North Channel of the Irish Sea. The new venture has been established by Shane Braniff, owner of the Feckin Irish Whiskey brand, which to date has been produced in Cooley distillery. Not only will Echlinville in future supply spirit for use in Feckin and Feckin Spiced Irish Whiskey, but will also ultimately lead to a super-premium malt whiskey. In the shorter term, white spirits will be distilled to create an income stream, which will be aided by the creation of a visitors' centre, museum, restaurant and bar.

Energy at Tomatin

Tomatin Tomatin distillery near Inverness is at the centre of a new 'green' initiative, having won funding from the Green Investment Bank for a bio-mass boiler. This is the first Scottish project to receive backing from the bank. Japanese-owned Tomatin will finance the wood-chip fuelled biomass boiler with 576,733 from the Energy Saving Investments (ESI) fund, in which the GIB is a principal investor, while a further 600,274 will be provided by the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF). Wood pellets will be sourced from Balca's plant at Invergordon, on the Cromarty Firth, where wood from sustainably-managed forests is processed. The new bio-mass boiler should reduce CO2 emissions by more than 96,500 tonnes over a 20-year span, and will also save the distillery an unspecified amount on energy costs. Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, declared that the funding deal "Demonstrates that combining Scotland's expertise in the financial and green sectors with a strong transaction team in London, can deliver significant benefits for businesses and local communities across Scotland."

Ardbeg stays

ardbeg Many visitors to the idyllically-located Islay distillery of Ardbeg feel that they really don't want to leave at the end of their visits, and now they don't have to. According to a distillery representative, "Ardbeg Distillery can now offer the definitive getaway for any whisky fan after restoring a 19th century cottage. Seaview Cottage offers stunning views, a location steeped in history, and every modern day luxury you would expect allowing visitors to unwind with their favourite dram at the very place of its origin. Ardbeg's Seaview Cottage has been renovated to the highest standards, with two double bedrooms and one twin bedroom, providing elegant self-catering accommodation at the very heart of the distillery." Distillery Manager Mickey Heads adds that "The house has a lovely relaxed atmosphere, with contemporary interiors and stunning views. Lucky visitors to the island will have the opportunity to stay at the home of the 'Ultimate Islay Malt,' in a cottage that is full of Ardbeg history and lore. I hope that everybody who spends time there will feel the same as I do, and will want to return again and again."

Arran comes of age

16 Year Old Staying with island distilleries, while Ardbeg may boast a heritage dating back to the early 19th century, across on Arran the distillery at Lochranza is celebrating its 18th anniversary. And there is plenty to celebrate, as Isle of Arran Distillers reports a record year for sales and profits in 2012, with net profits up 40 per cent and sales exceeding the 3.5 million pound mark for the first time ever. Managing Director Euan Mitchell says that "As we celebrate our 18th birthday the business is going from strength to strength. We are developing a portfolio of products to match any distillery which is reflected by the growing interest for The Arran Malt around the world. We are in the ideal place to benefit from the increasing global awareness and taste for premium Scotch malt whisky." Set to build on this record success, the distillery is geared up for sustained future growth. Production capacity has been increased to 400,000 lpa, and a new warehouse which gives the business capacity to mature 12,000 casks, Euan continued: "We have a strong business plan and we're performing ahead of expectations, which is a fantastic achievement when trading conditions have been so tough, especially for premium products. We're currently exporting to over 35 countries and we hope to add a number of new export destinations this year." Arran recently launched its oldest malt to date, the Arran Malt 16 Year Old, with plans to release its 18 Year Old next spring.

And final...

Back in February we wrote "What price, as it were, the 'Million Pound Whisky?' Watch this space." Never let it be said that whisky-pages doesn't have its finger on the (sometimes faltering) pulse...

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