Tag Archives: press

INTERVIEW: Graham Coull

MASTER DISTILLER – DINGLE DISTILLERY

Well it has been a while, the past 18 months have been pretty crazy for us all, and like most people, juggling work, home schooling, children and navigating this unfamiliar Covid landscape has been somewhat challenging.  However, as things start to settle down, as we start to see what life post covid pandemic could be like, what the new “normal” may well be, we thought it was time to dust off the laptop and return to your screens, and what better way than with a brand spanking new interview, with none other than Dingle’s very own Graham Coull.  You may recognise the name but not the distillery, and as one of Ireland’s relatively new start ups that can be forgiven. Graham spent 14 years as Master Distiller with Glen Moray, and with Ireland having a real resurgence in their whiskey industry, with several new distilleries springing up, he is a safe pair of hands for Dingle.

Take a seat, pour a dram if you wish and let’s talk all things, whiskey, Covid-19, pros and cons of collectible bottles, oh and elephants!

Graham Coull

Morning Graham, so sorry that arranging this interview turned into a total technological fail (I somehow managed to block Ireland from being able to take part in my Zoom meetings, no idea how and it was not deliberate, honest), in fact this was the interview that almost never was when we were hit by even more technical difficulties and the entire recording was lost.  Still we got there in the end.

I’m going to take you back a little bit now, where did your whisky journey being and what got you started?

Well I grew up in Elgin, my mother and father both worked as teachers, and my father was a chemistry teacher who had a real interest in whisky and in fact wrote a course on whisky production, so it was always a point of interest and influence.  When I finished my studies there were no positions in the whisky field, it was a case of go into brewing or go into nuclear power, I chose brewing and that set me on the path to whisky.  I started a job with Webster’s Brewing, and it was through there that I really got a taste for the whisky industry, as I oversaw the bottling process, I would also see the whisky bottling and it really piqued my interest.  I was fortunate enough to land a position with William Grant back in 1994 on the bottling side of things.  I was so lucky to be in with a company which had such a chance of progression.  I worked hard, really hard, often taking on the jobs nobody else wanted to do and doing it with a smile.  Hard work pays off, and the more I took on the more people noticed me and the work I was producing.  I became the process leader in Dufftown, which gave me distillation responsibilities for Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.  I was then offered to join the Glen Moray team back in 2005.

You were Distillery Manager/Master Distillery at Glen Moray for 14 years, in that time you put out many different expressions and built up a loyal fan base, why did you decide to leave and take a chance with a new Irish distillery?

I had a fantastic time at Glen Moray and put out many whiskies that I am really proud of, sometimes though you just need to challenge yourself.  The opportunity came up and I was really at the stage where if I was going to make a change to my career it was really now or never.  I felt I was ready for another challenge, I was happy that I had left Glen Moray in a great place, ready for a new pair of hands and another perspective.  I wanted to see for myself what I could do, and it’s always exciting to have a brand new project to work with.  I wasn’t there quite from the start, but it is still early enough in the journey to really make it my own.

So, Graham, you joined Dingle in 2019, it will have no doubt been a busy time, and then Covid-19 hit, how much of an impact did that have and how has the journey been?

Its certainly been strange, there is always the excitement and nerves which come with starting any new job.  There’s always a risk and a challenge, and that excitement spurs you on, then Covid hit the world and everything looked different.  The peace, tranquillity and isolation (Dingle is very remote indeed, once you cross the Dingle Peninsular you really are quite cut off) which seemed quite a bonus suddenly seemed to almost trap you.  Luckily it meant we could really get out and about and meet the locals.  It let Fay and I really fall in love with our surroundings, we didn’t feel as much of the pressure from Covid as we maybe would have felt elsewhere, as that remoteness really kept everyone here safe.  Obviously though we have family and loved ones back home and suddenly you couldn’t see them, you couldn’t just pop home and that was a source of worry.  The people here in Dingle and especially the distillery team really helped to keep things as “normal” as possible and there was still plenty of work to be done.

Although you undoubtedly have joined Dingle very early on in their journey you were not quite there from the start.  Is there anything you would have liked to have carried out differently if you had have been there since the off?

Actually I am very fortunate that the new make is exactly what I would want it to be, it has character, it is strong enough to stand up to be being bottled at a spritely age, the barley and yeast is perfect, and the runs and triple distillation give it so much body and character.  There is nothing I would change there.  I guess the only thing that I would have done differently relates to cask management.  When you are starting up these can be such a huge part of your budget and obviously that can force your hand.  I would have liked to have more of a hand in bringing the casks in and selecting what I wanted in advance.  That said I am now able to have control of this area, but if I were to change anything at all, it would be that.

Was it a risk leaving not only a position that you had held for 14 years, but also to pack up and leave your home behind?

Well any new job involves an element of risk and for me the stakes were higher still as it wasn’t just a change of company/distillery, it was a change of scenery, of packing everything up and moving to another country (albeit one that is fairly close).  It wasn’t just a change for me, it was a change for my wife Fay too, and had she not been on board, or not been as supportive as she always has been, I could never have taken the opportunity.  Even though I was fairly sure that I had made the right decision with Dingle there is always those nerves in the pit of your stomach, and you just hope you hadn’t made a big mistake.  I just looked at it and thought, well if it does go horrible wrong, I can just retire. *laughing* I don’t think Graham is made for retiring, he is far too passionate about his craft

Are there any similarities between the whisky you produced at Glen Moray and the whiskey you are producing with Dingle?

There are definitely similarities between Irish and Scotch.  The history of distilling is rich and reaches back through the years, the roots are steeped in history and community much like it is in Scotland, those things are so important even now.  You need the people of the community to believe in you, in your story and the same is true of Scotch.  In terms of flavour profile, both are a light spirit, but with Dingle the triple distillations and short runs really make a huge difference to the spirit that we can put out.  Very true, it’s often the history of whisky and the distillery area that gets me hooked before I’ve even tried the whisky.  What about the “E”, some people feel very passionate about Ireland’s spelling of whiskey, others don’t even notice, how do you feel about it?  Honestly, I cant say I am bothered either way, in fact, does it even need to be there?  It’s the style and the history of Irish whisk(e)y that makes the difference and sets it apart, not the e.  We can have an “E” amnesty then?  *chuckles*Definitely!

I have had the pleasure of “speaking” to your lovely wife Fay over social media quite often regarding Dingle and Fay seems deeply involved and passionate about the Distillery was that always going to be the case and how important was it to have Fay involved?

Obviously Fay was taking a massive leap of faith alongside me, and throughout my career, no matter how busy Fay was with her own career (*Fay worked as a nurse previously, so a real hero*) she always supported me 100% and was always interested in the whole whisky process and loved the sense of community and family a distillery brings.  Being able to take that experience and have her on the payroll is a wonderful thing, although technically I am her boss, but when I pointed that out it didn’t go down so well.  *We had a good laugh about this, with far too many jokes then I could type, this was the kind of interview that you genuinely felt as though you were chatting to a friend*

What’s a typical day like for you at Dingle?

Well the day can be so varied, you have you day to day jobs which will always be there, you have to keep an eye on how the distillery is running, we have two shifts a day, 7 days a week and everything is done by hand.  That’s really important to us, we want this to be a team effort, not a machine effort, if you do everything by hand you can make small changes as you go along, you can play around with the runs and the cuts if you want/need to.  It’s a much more organic product that way.  I need to keep an eye on the stock levels, think about the direction I want to go in, I am a great believer in cask management, it is so important to a distillery to know what it has, to know what it needs for the future and how it is going to achieve that.  I am big fan of forecasts, and will often be found running these reports, changing them slightly and rerunning them.  I know for many that may sound dull, but for me it is so exciting, you are predicting the future before it happens and the decisions I make now have massive implications 20/30 years down the line.  There are often meetings to be had about anything from cask shipment/procurement, to financial, marketing and everything in between.  I need to ensure that we have everything we need to run the distillery.  Everything happens here at Dingle, we use Irish malted barley, we distill, we mature, and we bottle, we even have our own well for our water source.  Everything happens here at the distillery.  So, there is plenty to keep me busy.

It’s been an exciting few years for the whisky industry, prices are driven ever higher and whereas new distilleries would struggle to sell their first offering, they now sell out in seconds at crazy prices, many flipped straight away at auction, or kept on a shelf somewhere.  What do you think about this, does it have an impact on distilleries or the industry, is it a good thing?

In terms of being able to produce whisky as a new distillery and still sell it out, well that is fantastic, with prices at auction climbing so high then as a distillery we are able to ride those good times and take a piece of the pie for ourselves.  It’s vital, as a new distillery, that we are able to recoup our costs and bring money back into the distillery and of course to our funders.  So much money is tied up in time, and although the industry is now accepting younger whisky now and most whisky drinkers realise that whisky does not have to necessarily be old to be good, we still want to have the ability to produce aged stock.  I still think that a standard distillery release of around 10/12 years is a good thing and something I personally would like to produce, therefore it’s not hard to see the need to bring as much funding in as possible. 

That said, it is so important to get whisky out there into the industry and to have it being opened and drank.  To have it shared around so that people know that you exist and what you can produce.   Obviously when we started, we have put out several small batch releases.  These sold out very quickly and we are grateful to all who brought them, but you will often see lovely pictures on social media, with all of the releases, and these are all closed, and you know that they aren’t ever going to get opened and see the light of day, they will just sit of shelf gathering dust, coming out for photo opportunities and then going away again.  I love to see that passion and commitment but as any distiller will tell you, they make whisky to be drank, or to make memories, to tell stories, not to sit in a bottle.  Now with the release of our core Dingle Single Malt (read my review here) which will be widely available, we hope that people will now buy a bottle and open it and really get to know what we can do.   It can become a stable in homes and in bars, and people know that when they run out they can replace it, and lose the fear of opening the bottles.

What’s next for Dingle?

We hope to keep building upon our success so far and for that the people really are instrumental.  We had so many of the local people buying a cask, becoming one of Founding Fathers and taking that leap of faith.  Whether they work in the distillery, or local shops or farms or support us by drinking any of our line (Dingle also produce Vodka and Gin), their support means the world and we couldn’t have done any of this without them.  We are planning on having a complete fit out of the distillery, we have a lot of space that we can use so it’s time to start using it.  We would like a larger visitor centre.  Usually in the summer, I am told that we have a lot of tourists visiting Dingle.  There are a lot of Americans who have roots here and we can get 30,000 tourists in summer alone.  We would like to make the Dingle Distillery a real experience for them, have it as its own journey.  

I want to play around with different casks and finishes, also we produced a small amount of peated Dingle, and that is something I would be really keen to produce again but on a larger scale.  We want to see Dingle hit the global markets too. 

Interesting, so big plans.  You mention different casks types/finishes, any plans to use rum casks (we love a rum cask here at Whisky Corner).

Actually I do have plans to experiment with rum casks, it’s really important that you get really good casks for that and keep a really close eye on the finishing process, ideally I’d be looking at 18 months maybe 24 months but that can be tricky, once you have all the rum influence out of the cask, the casks themselves are usually pretty old tired casks, so they don’t have anything to give themselves, its purely the influence of the rum we want to use.  I think sometimes people think finishing can be seen as easy or lazy, but it really isn’t, you have to watch the casks so carefully to ensure you don’t over finish it and then lose all the work you have already put it.

Let’s talk packaging.  I really love the quality of the bottle on the new Dingle release.  It’s a very heavy chunky bottle with heavy duty cork, the tin is very simple, but seems in perfect keeping with the overall look and feel.  It would have been easy to pick a much simpler bottle I am sure, certainly cheaper, how important is the look of the finished bottle for you?

I think it is really important, it makes a statement, and gives you an idea as to what you can expect.  It really is hats off to the team here, as they could definitely have gone for a less expensive, less luxurious style, especially as a new distillery with so many costs, this was one of the places the costs could be shaved a little, but to scrimp on the packaging would feel like cheapening, or underselling the whiskey we produce.  It deserves the nice bottle.  We want people to feel as though they are getting something special right from our special releases down to our new core range.  There really is so much competition at the moment you need to ensure you can stand out from the crowd right from the off.

Whilst on the subject of packaging I noticed that there are no tasting notes on the bottle or the tin, is this deliberate?

It was very much deliberate, a lot of people find that they don’t necessarily know how to explain what they are tasting, they may not have the words or are able to recognise individual notes, and although there are many who are really into tasting and tasting notes, we wanted to make this as accessible as possible.  There is no pressure to see if you can find the notes we have printed on the bottle, or no preconceived ideas, it’s not up to us to tell the customers what they taste, let them find out for themselves.  Obviously for those who are interested in notes they can read reviews, such as yours or others out there and enjoy those.

Find out what i think of it, here!

The Dingle Dude (as I call him) features very prominently in the design, and I must admit I find him both cool and terrifying in equal measures.  Who is he?

Ah that would be the Wren Boy or Wren Man.  This is a local tradition still popular today in many parts of Ireland, and especially so here in Dingle.  We wanted to ensure that it was very clear how important location and local community are to making Dingle Distillery a success, most of our Founding Fathers are from here in the local community and it’s important they know how much we appreciate them.  *Having researched this a little it’s a fascinating mythical figure concerning, as you may expect, a wren.  Legend has it that there was a parliament upon the birds (others say that it was god who wanted an answer to the question) and it was asked which of the birds would be king of the birds, in order to find this out it was decided that whomever could fly the highest would be king the birds, one by one the birds dropped out of the running until the Eagle who was soaring highest, tired and dropped lower in the sky, at this point the Wren emerged from under the Eagle’s wing and soared higher still, thus becoming the king of all the birds.  There are also claims that the Wren stands for treachery and it is said that a Wren betrayed the Irish soldiers fighting the Norse by beating its wings upon their shields. On 26 December parades are held, and people dress up in straw and historically call house to house to collect money which is then donated to charity.   No Wrens are harmed during the making of this parade and in fact now days a fake Wren is used, but even before the Wren was not to be killed.  If you want to know more Google has all the information you need*

What is your greatest whisky achievement to date?

That is a difficult question, I think for me I would have to say it is my cask management skills.  It might not sound much but it is so important for me to be able to manage stock levels so that we can continue to manage stocks.  I have always been interested in numbers and forecasts and these are instrumental in being able to futureproof your stock.  I would hate to go into a place, use all their whisky and leave them with nothing and then just walk away.  Poor cask management/stock management can destroy a distillery.  It’s a real source of pride for me that for a good many years, people purchasing Glen Moray expressions will still be drinking my whisky.

When you get a chance to sit down and relax with a dram, what do you reach for (other than Dingle of course)?

There are some really great whiskies out there.  I am not a fan of very sherried offerings, mostly I will turn to something bourbon matured or a mix of bourbon/sherry.  I find the strong sulphurous notes just too overpowering.  I have to say I am a huge fan of the Caol Ila 18, it is a fantastic drop, it has those Islay notes which are so unforgettable, you can really just wile away the time with a glass of this.  You don’t have to try and pick it apart, although that’s not to say that it isn’t complex, but you aren’t forced to explore it unless you want to, you can just sit back and enjoy it.  That’s really what I have tried to do with our Dingle expressions, they are complex enough if you want to try and pick out the individual layers and notes, but you don’t have to, you can just sit and relax and enjoy it.  When Scapa 16 was still available I would have a bottle of that on the go.  It is unmistakable in its style, the apple notes work so well with the coastal elements.  Clynelish 14 is another go to for me, its waxiness is so appealing, its always perfectly balanced and deeply enjoyable *we then wax lyrical (see what I did there) about Clynelish for a long time*

For nothing other than a bit of fun: you have been given an elephant, you can’t sell it or give it away, what are you going to do with it?

Hmm this is tricky, which type is it, African or Indian *I don’t know, which would you like it to be* which one has the biggest ears?  *no idea* we were then reliable informed that the African Elephant has the biggest ears.  ok I think that I would use it wash out the mash tuns and also I’d ride it down Dingle high street.  It would be quite a tourist attraction and actually we had a dolphin here in Dingle called Fungie, who was very playful and friendly.  It was well known for interacting with the boats and the tourists.  It became something of a celebrity actually although it’s not been spotted since.  *I looked this up on google, and Fungie was first spotted at Dingle in 1983, and a news report published a few months ago has confirmed that Fungie is alive and well and has merely moved to a new spot.  Whether this is temporary or not, they cant say, but fingers crossed Fungie will return back to Dingle again.

And that concludes our interview, thanks so much for your time Graham we managed to rack up a two hour chat and none of it felt like work (well not for me anyway, hopefully it wasn’t too hard going for you), it was a really great chat and here’s hoping we can get a dram in person at some stage.  Hope to speak again soon.

Keep your eyes peeled for Dingle Distillery is you have not tried their products yet you will want to.  For my review of the new Dingle Distillery Single Malt read here.   You can check Dingle’s website here and take a look at the gin and vodka too. 

We have an exciting competition to give away a bottle of Dingle Single Malt to not one but two lucky winners.  How do you enter our competition, click here to find out.

ROSEBANK 30 YEAR OLD

ROSEBANK 30 YEAR OLD LAUNCH MARKS FIRST GLOBAL RELEASE UNDER IAN MACLEOD DISTILLERS

Rosebank Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky has today announced the first in a series of annual, limited edition, releases – a 30 Year Old 1990 vintage, bottled un-chillfiltered at 48.6% ABV. To celebrate this year’s landmark launch, the distillery is giving a select number of customers the chance to “bank” a future expression of the rare liquid.

Rosebank 30 Year Old is a hand-selected vintage, laid down in 1990, shortly before the distillery’s untimely closure in 1993. The limited-edition bottles will be marked Release One, a nod to this new chapter in Rosebank’s legacy. Each year will see a new limited-edition release, laddering up to the first “new” Rosebank spirit under Ian Macleod Distillers.

Only 4,350 bottles of Rosebank 30-Year-Old will be available to buy worldwide, making this an incredibly rare purchase and demand is expected to be high. Bottles are priced at £1,600 and available directly from Rosebank’s website.

Rosebank is also giving its fans and connoisseurs the chance to get more than just a bottle of the rare whisky. The first 200 people to scan the QR code on the neck collar of their Release One bottle will be given the opportunity to enjoy a dram of Release Two at their nearest high-end, luxury bar or whisky retailer in 2021 as well as the chance to receive an early link to purchase Release Two before the general release. (A list of participating outlets for these customers to choose from will be sent to them in early 2021.) 

Robbie Hughes, Group Distillation Manager for Ian Macleod Distillers, said: “The first global release of Rosebank 30 Year Old is a truly iconic moment for the distillery. It has matured in 62% refill sherry butts and 38% refill bourbon hogsheads for decades, patiently waiting to be awoken, and delivers layers of incredible flavour that you won’t find in other whiskies.”

“What makes Release One so exciting is that we’re giving Rosebank fans the chance to join us on this monumental journey over the next decade, as we revive the iconic distillery. With a chance to “bank” exclusive access to next year’s release, we’re not only inviting them to become part of Rosebank’s legacy, but to become part of Rosebank’s family.”

Robbie Hughes, Group Distillation Manager

Ahead of its official release, Rosebank invited some of the world’s top whisky writers to enjoy the “First Sip” of Rosebank 30 Year Old, capturing their initial reactions to the bottle and whisky itself on camera. Renowned and celebrated writers including Felipe Schrieberg (USA), Alice Lascelles (UK), Mamoru Tsuchiya (Japan), Martin Eber (Australia/Hong Kong), Bernhard Schäfer (Germany), and Thijs Klaverstijn (Netherlands) feature in the short video, having received no tasting notes or samples in advance. See their reactions here.

Rosebank 30 Year Old’s launch also comes shortly after the brand released two limited edition, single cask whiskies in February (Cask No. 433 and Cask No. 625) and a Travel Retail exclusive 1990 Vintage Release in March, much to the delight of fans. Only 100 bottles of each 1993 Single Cask bottlings were made available via online ballot, with over 3,000 people entering for a chance of purchasing one of the rare bottles. The ballot was temporarily paused due to COVID-related restrictions, with the final successful entrants set to be drawn before the end of the year.

These releases come after Ian Macleod Distillers acquired the Rosebank brand and last remaining stocks in October 2017 and were granted planning permission to revive the distillery on its original site in January 2019. In November 2019, construction officially began on the highly anticipated redevelopment – with expansive plans for a 1,000-square metre, energy-efficient distillery, including a state-of-the-art visitor centre, tasting room, shop and warehouse among the canal-side buildings.

Once open, Rosebank Distillery is expected to generate 25 full time jobs and attract around 50,000 visitors a year to Falkirk. It will offer a wide range of distillery tours, with some featuring the very last drams of Rosebank distilled prior to the 1993 closure. 

ABOUT ROSEBANK 30-YEAR-OLD 

Nose: Soft and creamy with caramel wafer, gooseberry, white grape, almonds, vanilla, honey, lemon, and nutmeg 

Palate: delicate and crisp, wonderfully balanced, light syrup, chamomile, pear, and delicate tropical fruitiness with pleasing oak spice 

Finish:  soft but long, candied violets, orange, and faint mint 

ABV:  48.6% 

DRINKS BY THE DRAM ADVENT CALENDARS 2018

Christmas is fast approaching, but there is still time to get that special someone a very special advent calendar.

So whether it is a whisky lover, a gin fanatic or a rum obsessive, we are sure there is something for everyone available.

 

The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar - Festive
The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2018 – Festive Edition

Following on from the success of 2017 with sales increasing by almost 75% year on year, Drinks by the Dram has refreshed its calendar line up and is pleased to reveal its 2018 offering, including new themed packaging, exciting collaborations and plenty of ways to ensure you countdown to Christmas in style.

This year some of Drinks by the Dram’s Advent Calendars have taken on a global feel, each featuring the finest liquids from different countries, all wrapped in unique, themed packaging. In the collection there’s the classic Whisky calendar, The Tequila calendar, The Scotch Whisky calendar, The Bourbon calendar, The Rum calendar and The Gin calendar —  each containing 24 wax-sealed 30ml drams of fine global spirits.

Without giving too much away (we all know Father Christmas won’t visit if you open all of your calendar at once), there are some very exciting tipples to be discovered behind these doors. Enjoy rare spirits, award-winning expressions and distinguished drams from all around the world.

Whisky lovers are in for a treat with this year’s calendar offering; in the Old & Rare Advent Calendar you’ll find truly exceptional expressions, including The Blended Whisky Company’s XL Blend – aged for over 40 years and extra large in intense flavours.

The best-selling original Whisky calendar returns this year in festive red packaging, and inside you’ll find 24 delicious drams including the highly sought-after Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 8 from The Blended Whisky Company, and the incredible Japanese Nikka Whisky from the Barrel. And, new to the line-up for this year is the World Whisky Advent Calendar, showcasing exceptional whiskies from around the globe – try whiskies from Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, England, India and more.

For gin enthusiasts, there’s a whole host of calendars to tantalise the taste buds, and after the huge success of last year’s calendar, That Boutique-y Gin Company has once again teamed up with Drinks by the Dram to bring you 24 incredible gins to count you down to Christmas. Behind these doors you’ll discover gins with interesting botanicals, incredible flavours and unique concepts. Sample award-winning expressions from boutique producers, and even get into the festive spirit with Yuletide Gin, containing gold, an entire gingerbread house and even Christmas tree needles.

 

gin
That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar 2018

“Our Drinks by the Dram advent calendars have become an annual Christmas essentials for many consumers, along with the tree, turkey and festive jumpers,” said James Griswood, Senior Product Manager, Drinks by the Dram.

“We see great loyalty for these calendars, and a large number of consumers come back year after to year to treat themselves to one. With stunning new designs this year, on a range of our best sellers, they look better than ever and also make the perfect gift for any drinks enthusiast.”

Drinks by the Dram first launched its line of advent calendars in 2012, starting with The Whisky Advent Calendar. Since then the range has grown year-on-year, always showcasing the most exciting liquids across each category and price bracket.

This year the full Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar range includes Whisky, Premium Whisky, Old & Rare Whisky, Very Old & Rare Whisky, World Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Bourbon, Japanese Whisky, American Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Single Cask Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Cognac, Tequila, Armagnac, Mezcal and Absinthe.

In addition, the calendar range sees some exciting collaborations including with That Boutique-y Whisky Company, That Boutique-y Gin Company, Origin, Douglas Laing, Glenfarclas, The Hot Enough Vodka Co and The Gin Foundry, whose in-demand Ginvent calendar returns for another year.

The Drinks by the Dram 2018 Advent Calendars are available from 31 DoverBeer Hawk and Master of Malt, and from all good drinks retailers.

RRPs range from £99.95 to £9,999.95.

 

Old Pulteney unveils new collection to signal brand evolution

New expressions set sail for the maritime malt

Distilled and matured by the sea, Old Pulteney single malt Scotch whisky is the true maritime malt and we’re excited to embark on a new voyage with the launch of our new core collection featuring our flagship 12 Years Old, Huddart, 15 and 18 Years Old.   This move marks a reinvigoration of the core range for the award-winning Caithness-based distillery, complemented by distinctive new design and packaging.

This new collection signals an evolution for the brand, with a renewed vigour around the maritime malt yet staying true to Old Pulteney’s rich heritage and traditions.  This introduction supports a wider drive to ensure strong consumer relevance and appeal, with the new whiskies consistent with the renowned house style and provenance; yet bringing some new flavours to the fore.

Defined and shaped by its stunning coastal location, Old Pulteney has a highly distinctive character infused by the unique combination of brisk sea air and meticulous cask selection.   Each of the new whiskies tell their own story and bring their own part of the Old Pulteney legacy to life.

Celebrating the birthplace of Old Pulteney, Huddart (ABV 46%) is rich gold in colour. A distinctively smoky take on its signature single malt scotch whiskies, Huddart is richly warming and combines influence from the salt-infused sea air with peat smoke, delivering a mellow and smoky whisky with real character, depth and identity.

RRP £45.

A naturally rich, amber-coloured whisky, the 15 Years Old expression (ABV 46%) is Old Pulteney’s most balanced and smoothest single malt whisky yet. Bursting with aromas of rich dried fruit, ripe apples and citrus, with honey sweetness and a generous chord of creamy vanilla, 15 Years Old effortlessly brings together two different sides of the flavour spectrum. RRP £70.

Completing the new portfolio, 18 Years Old (ABV 46%) takes its character and colour entirely from the American oak casks and Spanish sherry butts in which it has been nurtured, delivering a deep amber colour. This indulgent and deeply warming expression features notes of chocolate and spice, but allow for the influence of more vibrant, zesty flavours. RRP £115.

The new collection is complemented with the addition of the repackaged flagship Old Pulteney 12 Years Old.

The golden-coloured 12 Years Old expression (ABV 40%) is the perfect place to start your Old Pulteney journey, with a flavour which is welcoming and effortless.

12 Years Old embodies the maritime malt characteristic that has become synonymous with Old Pulteney whiskies. It has been matured for 12 years in ex-bourbon casks, marrying together the salty flavours of the sea with the influence of American oak, to bring sweetness into play, and create a classic expression. RRP £32.

 

The collection of four whiskies also has a striking new design, which freshens up the overall look yet created around the existing, highly distinctive Old Pulteney bottle shape.

 

The collection will be available from 14th August in the UK with our preferred partners The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop, Royal Mile Whiskies, and Sutherland Brothers, thereafter, there will be a phased global roll out.

Eden Mill launches first single malt whisky

First whisky distilled in St Andrews for 160 years

Eden Mill distillery in St Andrews has released its first single malt whisky as its Hip Flask Series goes on sale today (Tuesday 24 April).

Only 3,800 20cl bottles from the series of seven single malt expressions are available, priced at £25 each.

The release marks the first time whisky has been distilled in the region for nearly 160 years, when the Haig family owned the Seggie Distillery until it closed in 1860.

Paul Miller, co-founder of Eden Mill, said: “St Andrews has a rich history when it comes to whisky, and now over a century and a half later we’re picking it up where it left off – on the site of the old Seggie Distillery that Eden Mill now stands on.

“Each expression in the Hip Flask Series contains liquid matured in what we call ‘honey casks’ – first-fill and virgin oak casks that we’ve hand-selected from all around the world, from Speyside to Spain. As each cask only holds a small amount of liquid, releasing smaller bottles of each is a way for as many whisky fans as possible to discover a taste of what’s to come.

“The Hip Flask Series is about applying the pioneering and experimental nature synonymous with Eden Mill to single malt whisky, showing the power of trying different grains, processes, maturation techniques and woods to highlight what you can do differently within the realm of single malt Scotch whisky.”

The launch of the whisky follows the announcement of Eden Mill’s expansion to a new £4m distillery and brewery just metres from its current headquarters in Guardbridge. This expansion will see capacity increase tenfold to 200,000 litres per year as well as opening the door to new product development.

Paul added: “What people are tasting now is the start of a journey that will see the Eden Mill single malt evolve over ten, twenty and thirty years. The passion of our small team of distillers is evident in every drop of liquid we have released, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

A 70cl bottling of Eden Mill single malt whisky is due to be released this summer, with those purchasing a bottle from the Hip Flask Series given the opportunity to be among the first to sign up to the exclusive waiting list.

The Hip Flask Series is available now at www.edenmill.com/singlemalt or at the distillery shop in St Andrews from Wednesday 25 April.

Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling

Benromach Logo 2018BENROMACH LAUNCHES ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS WITH 20TH ANNIVERSARY BOTTLING 

The Benromach Distillery Company Ltd celebrated a significant milestone in the distillery’s history today (23rd April 2018) with the release of the Benromach 20thAnniversary Bottling.

This special whisky celebrates 20 years since production started at Benromach after the distillery was refurbished and re-opened in 1998. Distilled in the first year of production, only 3,000 bottles of this highly anticipated limited edition single malt will be available worldwide.

Matured in first fill oak casks in the traditional dunnage warehouses at the distillery in Forres, Scotland, the 20th Anniversary Bottling is part of the classic range of Speyside single malt Scotch whiskies.

This single malt whisky epitomises Benromach’s classic style. It has an exceptional vintage character, with rich fruits, fresh citrus and charred oak with subtle spice and a light touch of smoke on the finish.

20th Anniversary BottlingThe 20th Anniversary Bottling is presented in a special Benromach bottle, nestling in an elegantly lined wooden box. It also features copper detailing, reminiscent of the distillery’s two gleaming copper pot stills. A beautifully written and presented hardback book accompanies the whisky and celebrates the time-honoured traditions that are employed into lovingly crafting this unique single malt Scotch whisky.

There will be 3,000 bottles and 400 of these will be available for purchase at the Benromach Visitor Centre in Forres.

 

Keith Cruickshank, Distillery Manager at Benromach, who joined as a Distiller in 1998 said: “When we began distilling again in 1998, we wanted to recreate the unique Speyside whisky taste which historically had a touch of smoke. The 20th Anniversary Bottling uses the finest ingredients to create a gorgeous whisky that has exceptional depth and smoothness.

“This new expression gives Benromach lovers around the world the chance to own and taste a moment in time from the distillery’s rich history. Part of the Benromach classic range of single malts, this is a rare and exceptional whisky and a fitting dram to unite Benromach consumers globally to celebrate our 20th anniversary year.”

Desired by many, owned by few, the Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling captures the classic character of Benromach Speyside single malt Scotch whisky – rich, smooth and beautifully balanced, with a hint of smoke. This is the traditional taste, which was almost lost forever, but brought back by the distillery when it reopened in 1998. Benromach is one of only a few distilleries in Scotland to use traditional methods, without any automated machinery. The small team of distillers employ all their senses when crafting this classic Speyside single malt Scotch whisky, managing the process by sight, sound and touch to create the unique, handcrafted and authentic Benromach taste.

The Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling is available worldwide from Monday 23rd April 2018, with a UK RRP of £299. Prices in international markets may vary depending on local taxes and duty.

For more information on Benromach, and to explore the wide range of expressions available, please visit www.benromach.com

Gordon & MacPhail – Portfolio Relaunch

Gordon & MacPhail’s new look Connoisseurs Choice leads portfolio relaunch

 Scotch whisky maturation expert, Gordon & MacPhail, has announced the relaunch of its portfolio of single malt Scotch whiskies to continue strengthening the reputation of the brand globally.

The 122-year-old, family-owned company is streamlining its existing portfolio into five distinct ranges: ‘Discovery’, ‘Distillery Labels’, ‘Connoisseurs Choice, Private Collection’, and ‘Generations’. Each range celebrates Gordon & MacPhail’s single-minded commitment to the art of Scotch whisky maturation.

The first range to relaunch, with a distinctive new look, will be ‘Connoisseurs Choice’, which marks its fiftieth anniversary this year.

Stephen Rankin is Director of Prestige and a fourth generation member of the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail. He said: “Gordon & MacPhail has a 122-year history of forging strong and lasting relationships with distillers across Scotland and our loyal consumers. With four generations of experience in the whisky industry, we have continually evolved, innovated, and grown.

“As we begin a new chapter, we are streamlining our portfolio to make it more accessible for our consumers, placing their desire for products with heritage, authenticity, and provenance at the heart of each range. We want to take malt whisky lovers on a journey that will help them explore beyond their usual whisky choices.

“Each whisky tells a story, not only about the distillery of origin and the casks maturing the spirit, but also about the time and patience devoted to nurturing each whisky to the pinnacle of its maturation potential. Many of the whiskies in our ranges have been tended by multiple generations of my family.”

The newly refreshed ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ was first pioneered in 1968 by George Urquhart, second generation of the family, at a time when very few whiskies were bottled as single malts.

Stephen continued: “When my grandfather launched ‘Connoisseurs Choice’, he was considered eccentric for taking such an innovative approach. This range provided an opportunity for whisky lovers to explore whiskies that had never previously been bottled as single malts. As a result, he is heralded as one of the pioneers of the single malt category.

“Our ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ range remains true to my grandfather’s vision and philosophy while placing a greater emphasis on small batch, single and multiple casks, bottled as vintages. We hope consumers will look forward to each limited release.”

The brand-new ‘Discovery’ range will follow in late spring; ‘Distillery Labels’ will launch in the summer, and new look ‘Private Collection’ range will be released in the autumn; the next ‘Generations’ unveiling is still to be revealed.

2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the “Connoisseurs Choice” range, the new range     launches now in Spring 2018. These will be small batch non-chillfiltered, single and multiple cask bottlings. The label will clearly state what vintage the whiskies are as well as having a   different colourway depending on the strength or wood finish. (46% – Gold Colourway, Cask    Strength – Grey Colourway and Wood Finish – Red Colourway).

G&M

The price of the new range starts at approximately £70, $70 or €70 and rise to approximately £500, $500 or €500 depending on local taxes and duties.

For more information about the new look ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ and streamlined portfolio, visit www.gordonandmacphail.com

Steve McCarthy, Designer, Illustrator & Designer 2017 Jameson Bottle

Steve firstly you appear a very private man, having carried out my research (like a good interviewer), there is surprisingly little about you out on the net, why so private?

Steve McCarthy

Illustrators tend to toil away in secret with very little contact to the outside world, but I’m definitely not a recluse, in fact I generally get a great deal of inspiration from the people I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by in Dublin.

It’s quite possible I’m hard to find online, but If you happen to pass Grogan’s pub on South William Street any time soon, ask anyone and they will know all my business.

Did you always have an artistic talent?

I’ve always been curious, and I’ve always been a bit inside my own head – drawing seemed an easier way to communicate when I was younger, as I was very dyslexic, so you could say it was how I adapted.

I don’t really believe in talent, you never question your ability to speak your native tongue, and it’s well understood that to learn another language it’s just a matter of studying. Artistic skill is the same, it’s just another language.

Did you know that you would work within the arts?

I knew from an early age that drawing was my favourite solution to problems and when I needed to earn some money I turned to art and I still love drawing today.

I’ve begun to appreciate the problem solving aspect of creative work much more. I like the practice of being presented with a creative puzzle and using whatever tools necessary to solve it. The pencil is still my favourite tool though.

Having had a look at your website I was really drawn to the slightly darker side (my interpretation) of your drawings.  Is there a dark side, or was it just my interpretation?

One of my favourite film directors is David Lynch, he is as comfortable with horror as he is with humour and he sees nothing wrong with walking a narrow line between the two, which is how I feel. I think comedy is much more vivid when its framed in tragedy, in the same way colours are so much brighter against the dark.

Are you a fan of whisk(e)y?

Yes absolutely, whiskey is such a big part of Irish culture especially around St. Patrick’s Day.

Do you remember your first whisk(e)y?

I don’t remember my first whiskey, probably because it was drowned in Diet Coke or some such mixer.  I do remember when I was in my 20s,  I’d just left my girlfriend’s house after spending the whole day breaking up,  I guess we were distracted so we hadn’t heard there was a riot taking place in Dublin at the time.

I passed a burning car and a couple of over turned bins before realising what was going on – it was absolute mayhem – and in a lot of ways the mood suited how I was feeling right then.

Along my route I ducked into an open door which happened to be a bar, I sat down probably looking really sorry for myself and the bar man – all joking aside – placed a neat whiskey in front of me, he didn’t even ask what I wanted.  The Barman just looked at me as if to say, “it could be worse”. It was the sweetest whiskey I ever tasted.

As it does in Scotland, whiskey plays a massive part in Ireland’s heritage, right back through the ages, how important is it as a part of Ireland and its history?

Whiskey plays a huge role in Ireland’s heritage. St. Patrick’s Day, as everyone knows, is one of the most important cultural holidays in Ireland and it wouldn’t be the same without a small glass of Jameson.

More recently I have learnt the history of Jameson right back through the ages to when John Jameson started distilling in Dublin at Jameson’s Bow Street Distillery in 1780. Jameson has been making whiskey the same way ever since.

How did the collaboration with Jameson come to be?

Every year Jameson celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by commissioning an artist to create a piece of original art for its limited edition bottle. I was picked out because my bold, colourful style together with a certain level of humour and wit was a perfect match for Jameson.

I was honoured to be chosen considering the famous artists who have produced artwork for the limited edition bottle in the past including my good friends, street artist James Earley and illustrator Steve Simpson.

What was your biggest source of inspiration for your design?

Jameson Limited Edition St Patrick's Day Bottle
Jameson St Patrick’s Day 2017 bottle
Photo credit: Eoin Holland – http://www.eoinholland.com

The biggest source of inspiration for my design of the Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Day bottling was the legend behind the Irish phrase, “to chance your arm”. Legend has it that in 1492, ‘Black James’ Butler and his men found themselves barricaded behind the door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

On the other side was Gearóid Fitzgerald who, tired of the constant fighting between the clans, decided it was time to make peace. Fitzgerald ordered his men to cut a hole in the door before extending his hand through the gap as a token of friendship. Rather than cut his arm off with a sword, Butler shook it and the long standing feud came to an end, giving Dublin one of its most famous sayings: “to chance your arm”.

I was also inspired by age old Dublin landmarks that are loved in equal measure by the people of Dublin, and by me. In the background of my design you can view Ha’Penny Bridge across the River Liffey, the surrounding Irish mountains and the Smithfield tower.

Were you familiar with the bottles, and designers that worked on the previous bottles? Is there a desire to work within their themes, or did you want to get away from that?

I’m good friends with Steve Simpson and James Early – they really made it difficult for me. It was tricky but at the very least I wanted my bottle to have its own personality.

Both James and Steve put a lot of time and thought into what they did and made things very personal to them – all I wanted to do was keep that attention to detail going.

What was the most challenging part of designing the packaging?

There’s a massive amount of constrictions with what you can and can’t put on a bottle and, on top of that, it has to feel and look very much like a Jameson bottle at a glance.

Even though there were all these hurdles Jameson initially gave me free reign to develop the concept and then they guided me through the challenge of making that concept work within the constrictions.

Did it take a long time to design?   

The whole project from being approached, to inspiration and crafting the design took 24 months.

Now that it’s in production, how does it feel to see all these bottles with your label on them?  I take it you have one or two stashed away? 

I do, but it’s funny, I haven’t had that moment yet, where you bump into your work when you’re not expecting it, I’ve had that happen with books and with smaller projects but nothing on this scale.

I almost want to book a flight to see how far away I could go and still spot my design – it often happens when you least expect it, that’s the best.

For people that maybe haven’t visited Ireland yet, what hidden gems would you recommend?

The Aran Islands, there’s just something unquantifiable about them, the communities are so full of creativity and ingenuity and they embody everything great about this little patch in the Atlantic.

What projects do you have planned next?

I’m illustrating a book, which is out in September. I’m also writing my own book that will hopefully be coming out the following year. Apart from that, I’ll be celebrating with my bottle – it’s been 24 months in the making, so I have a lot of time to make up for.

Thank you for that Steve, we will be sure to keep an eye out for your upcoming publications and enjoy your time with your bottle, you’ve earned it.

Jameson 2017 St Patrick’s Day release is now on sale, don’t miss out grab a bottle or two whilst you can as it will be very popular indeed.

Kirsty Clarke (@KirstyClarke29)