The Stirling brothers – John, Iain and David – founded Arbikie Highland Estate to oversee the construction and operation of a new distillery business on the family farm near the Angus coast. The company is 100% family-owned.
While the Stirling family can trace their farming roots back to the 17th century, they didn’t move to Arbikie in Angus until the 1920s. Four generations later, brothers John, Iain and David, who despite growing up working on the family farm, were pursuing alternative careers. It was a discussion over a few drinks on a night out in New York that sparked an idea to set up a distillery in an old cattle shed on the family farm, that saw the founding of Arbikie Highland Estate in November 2013.
The brothers spent 18 months building their distillery, using the expertise of the business’ existing blacksmiths and mechanics to assemble the stills created by CARL in Germany.
Combining tradition, provenance and heritage, this ‘barley to bottle’ farm distillery near Perth marks the Morrison family’s return to distilling.
ARBIKIE HIGHLAND RYE HERALDS SCOTCH REVIVAL
Angus farm distillery Arbikie has introduced the first mature Scotch whisky made using rye for over 100 years.
Arbikie rye whisky is matured in American oak and Sherry casks
Mature spirit: Arbikie Highland Rye has been matured for three years in American oak and ex-Sherry casks
Arbikie Highland Rye was distilled in 2015 using a combination of unmalted Arantes rye, malted Odyssey barley and Viscount wheat grown on the distillery’s farm.
Because the whisky is made from a variety of grains it is labelled as a ‘single grain’ whisky to comply with Scotch regulations.
Matured for three years in first-fill American oak casks and finished in ex-PX casks, Arbikie Highland Rye is bottled at 46% abv and described as having notes of ‘orange marmalade, cloves and maple syrup’.
Less than 1,000 bottles have been produced, which are available directly from Arbikie and select retailers globally for around £250.
The expression follows the limited release of a two-year-old Arbikie rye spirit earlier this year, the proceeds from which were donated to the Euan MacDonald Trust.
Single grain: Arbikie Highland Rye is made from a mash of rye, wheat and malted barley
Arbikie master distiller, Kirsty Black, said: ‘We’ve been working on our Highland Rye for years and it has posed some challenges from a growing and distillation point of view.
‘The main differences between our Highland Rye and American rye is that traditionally American rye uses corn in their mash bill, and usually malted rye.
‘At Arbikie we have used unmalted rye, malted barley and wheat. The ageing process is also significantly different due to temperatures in the US and Scotland respectively.’
The earliest recorded references to rye being distilled in Scotland dates to the late 18th century, with the grain falling out of favour among distillers by the early 20th century.
With the popularity of rye whisky in the US and across Europe, a handful of Scottish distillers have begun working with the grain once again, including InchDairnie, Bruichladdich, Diageo, Lone Wolf and William Grant & Sons.
However, Arbikie Highland Rye is the first to be released.