While the site of Deanston distillery was established in 1785, the actual distillery was built in 1966. Since distilling equipment seems to be replaced about every 50 years anyway, the distillery has an old feel about it with its old brick buildings. The original owners were Deanston Distilling Co. but the distillery was sold to Invergordons Distillers in 1972. Then in 1982 the distillery went silent due to the great whisky loch (think whisky depression) and was not reopened unitl 1990, when Burn Stewart & Co purchased the distillery (source). So its had a short and tumultuous life as a distillery but it seems to be coming into its own now with more bottles popping up at shops. They have made the decision to not use chill-filtration or colour additives for any of their whiskies which is quite refreshing. The distillery is located not far from Stirling Castle which makes it quite accessible to tourists and denizens of Edinburgh/Glasgow alike. We visited Deanston distillery in the summer of 2016 and have chronicled our experience below.
Ben Nevis distillery was founded in 1825 by John McDonald at the foot of Ben Nevis (the tallest peak in Britain). In the 1950’s, the new owners (Ben Nevis Distillery Ltd.) installed coffey stills to produce grain whisky. Due to the presence of both malt and grain stills on site during this time Ben Nevis is one fo the few distilleries that can produce a “single blend”, which is a blend comprised of malt and grain whisky from a single distillery. In 1971 Long John Distillers bought back the distillery and removed the coffey stills. The distillery was closed in 1986, then purchase by a Japanese whisky company (Nikka) in 1989 and re-opened in 1991. Ben Nevis single malt is a bit hard to find and the only expression you’ll likely encounter in the shop is the Ben Nevis 10 year old. However, you are likely to see their blends (not single blends) under the name of “Dew of Ben Nevis”.
The Balvenie Double Wood 12 years old has some historical significance to me and a lot of historical significance to the whisky industry. For me it was the last bottle of whisky I bought in Scotland before moving back home to LA (I moved back to Scotland not long after) after finishing my masters degree. At the time, I just thought it looked nice and it was on sale at the super market. I suspect this is how most people first buy it. It really is an attarctive bottle. Only much later did I learn the true significance of this expression.
Well if you’ve never heard of Chivas Regal, then you must be new to whisky. And possibly just new to the world. It’s truly one of the big Scottish whiskies that has thoroughly infiltrated pop culture and bars across the world. The company began, like other big and old whisky companies, as a grocery store in Scotland. The Chivas brothers opened up their grocery store in Aberdeen in 1801. They unsurprisingly sold luxury items and in the 1850’s James Chivas made their first blend, Royal Glen Dee, to suit the more delicate palates of their refined customers. In 1909 the Chivas Regal brand was born with their release of the Chivas Regal 25 year old. This has been called the original luxury Scotch and was marketed mainly toward the new wealthy class in the USA. Today their flagship whisky is the Chivas Regal 12 although they also have other expressions like the 18 and 25. However, those come with quite the premium price tag.
Well, well, well. A Kilchoman general release of their famously peaty spirit aged entirely in ex-sauternes casks. For those who may have missed it, they actually released a club version of this back in the winter of 2015. So while the marketting spiel is calling this one the first sauternes cask matured Kilchoman, it’s not quite. But it is the first to be available to the general public. Although really anyone can join the Kilchoman club.
Wooo woooo! Let’s all jump on the grain whisky train! Seems like all the whisy companies are doing it these days. If you are wondering why grain whisky is becoming so popular all of a sudden, I have a little theory about it.
Glencadam distillery has always been a bit of a puzzle to me. Founded in 1825, it is one of the oldest running distilleries in Scotland and yet it’s still quite unkown. Or at least it doesn’t seem to have the cult following that other distilleries of similar heritage have enjoyed. It’s awkwardly positioned north of the firth of Tay and thus has a bit of an identity crisis when trying to categorize it by region. Some might call it a highland malt and others say midland. It’s not technically in the highlands but it’s pretty close. It definitely isn’t lowland. It just kind of sits there near the east coast of Scotland right off a major road and yet no one seems to notice.
Kingsbarns Distillery is a new distillery that was built by the independent bottler Wemyss Malts. Douglas Clement was the brainchild for the project and the distillery started producing spirit in 2014/2015 (read rest of post for explanation). The distillery is located near St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland.
7 days a week (closed 25/26 December and 1/2 January)
November – February: 11am – 4pm.
(Mon-Wed) Tours: 11.30am, 2.30pm (Thur-Sun) Tours 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm
March and October: 10am – 5pm. Tours: 11.00am, 12.30pm, 2.00pm and 3.30pm
April – September: 10am – 6pm. First tour 1030am, last tour 430pm.
I wonder how often people have seen this bottle of whisky and thought that this was actually whisky infused with coffee. Or a special type of malt that has notes of coffee. Or anything to do with coffee. Well it doesn’t. This here is Coffey Malt Whisky! Coffey refering to the famous column stills that were patented by Aeneas Coffey in 1830. Malt refering to just plain malt. So basically this here is whisky that was produced by using only malt in a Coffey/column still. If this were made in Scotland, it would have to be called grain whisky. But it ain’t. It’s made in good old Japan where the whisky runs free like buffalo wings on all-you-can-eat night at TGI Fridays!
With the recent rise in popularity of Japanese whisky, it seems like a lot of Japanese expressions are now flooding the market. To the uninitiated, it can be difficult to distinguish the multitudes of bottles with calligraphic Japanese characters in bold accompanied by sparse descriptions in English. I remember attending an “Evening with the Blenders” event at the Scotch Whisky Experience where an excited patron held up a bottle of Yoichi NAS to me and said they won it in the raffle. “It’s collectible!”, they decreed. Well unfortunately for them, or fortunately for me, not all Japanese whiskies are collectible. The Akashi blended whisky is very much an expression whose value will not likely rise in the near future. Tis a drinking whisky. Aren’t they all?
So what is this? Well Akashi is a brand which represents the Eigashima distillery in Japan (which is located in Akashi City). They started like many Japanese distilleries as a Sake and Shochu producer and have recently popped up on the European and American markets. However, this expression is a blend of whiskies from Japan and somewhere else. Sources suggest grain whisky from America. Apparently the Japanese version is quite different from the EU and American versions in that it contains molasses spirit. So that one is quite interesting but what we have here is basically an international blend. The marketing department probably thought making it look very Japanese would help boost sales in Europe and the States, and it probably has. Note that White Oak is another brand they use for their whiskies, so you might see people refering to this as Akashi or White Oak. They use these names on other expressions so it can get a bit confusing.
Another cool tidbit about Eigashima, it is “technically” the oldest whisky distillery in Japan because they got their whisky license in 1919 (Yamazaki started in 1923), but they really didn’t start making whisky until much later.
Distillery: Blend of whisky from Eigashima Distillery and American grain whisky.
Price: £29.95 from the Master of Malt