INFO CLASSIC MALTS James Buchanan Ltd, Distillers, Glasgow & London
19 years old
40 % LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY CONNOISSEURS CHOICE Distilled 1970 Bottled 1989 Proprietors: Jas. Buchanan Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
36 years old
47.2 % SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS CASK STRENGHT Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky Distilled in 1966 Bottled in 2002 Limited Edition of 1500 bottles Genummerde flessen Dalwhinnie Distillery, Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire
29 years old
57,8 % SPECIAL CLASSIC MALTS CASK STRENGHT Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky Second very special release Distilled 1973 Bottled in 2003 Limited Edition 5250 Numbered Bottles Dalwhinnie Distillery, Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire
20 years old
INFO CLASSIC MALTS SELECTION SPECIAL RELEASES 2006 Fine Cask Strenght Single Malt Whiskies Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Natural Cask Strenght Distilled in 1986 Matured in 2nd refill Sherry European Oak casks YOUNGEST OF THREE LIMITED RELEASES TO BE OFFERED BY THE DISTILLERY Bottled in 2006 Just 4200 individually numbered bottles available world-wide 180 bottles available for the Netherlands Dalwhinnie Distillery, Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire
43 % 1 9 8 0 THE DISTILLERS EDITION Limited Edition Special Release Double Matured D. SC. 312 Oloroso Cask Wood Dalwhinnie Distillery, Dalwhinnie, Inverness - shire
Highland Malt The Midlands DALWHINNIE (1898
Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire. Licentiehouder: James Buchanan & Co, Limited. Onderdeel van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (S.M.D.). De malt divisie van United Distillers Ltd. Eigendom van Guinness. Dalwhinnie betekent ontmoetingsplaats. De oorspronkelijke naam was Strathspey.De kosten van de bouw zouden £ 10.000 bedragen.
De stichters van Strathspey waren John Grant, Alex Mackenzie en George Sellar. Mackenzie een architekt ontwierp de distilleerderij.
De plaats, heel afgelegen, was gekozen omdat de Highland Railway er dichtbij langs liep en de Great North Road er voor langs liep. Strathspey werd opgestart in Februari 1998, op het hoogtepunt van de whiskygekte dieep��p����iP��ؓ����@���ss="fs10">met het frauduleus bankroet van de Pattisons . In October werd Strathspey gekocht door A.P. Blyth, manager van een distillerij te Leith de distilleerderij ten behoeve van zijn zoon.Strathspey werd verbouwd onder de leiding van de toen beroemde architekt Charles Doig, en de nieuwe naam werd Dalwhinnie . Op 10 Februari 1905 werd Dalwhinnie verkocht voor £ 1250 aan Cook & Bernheimer te New York en Baltimore, toen de grootste distillateurs in Amerika.De naam van hun dochteronderneming werd James Munro & Son Ltd, gevestigd in Inverness.
Zij namen een groot lagerpakhuizen complex over te Leith, waarboven altijd de Amerikaanse vlag woei.
De eerste poging van Amerikaanse investeringen eindigden in 1919, het begin van de Amerikaanse drooglegging.
Sir James Calder, van Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd, whiskyblenders te Leith, was de koper en met de overname in 1926 door The Distillers Company Ltd van Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd, werd Dalwhinnie onderdeel van Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (S.M.D.).
Dalwhinnie staat 327 meter boven de zeespiegel.
Op 1 Februari 1934 werd Dalwhinnie grotendeels door brand verwoest.In April 1938 werd Dalwhinnie weer opgestart, maar was gedurende de tweede wereldoorlog weer geslotenIn 1960 werd er gemoderniseerd. . Dalwhinnie is Station 0582 van de meteorlogische dienst. Dalwhinnie heeft twee met stoom verhitte ketels met een kapaciteit van 1,2 miljoen liter spirit per jaar. Dalwhinnie maakt deel uit van de Classic Malts en The Distillers Edition series. De Mash tun is 6,8 ton, de Wash backs (zes stuks) kunnen elk 34000 liter bevatten. Er staat 1 Wash still van 17000 liter en een spirit still van 14000 liter. Het water komt van de Allt an T'Slui Spring. De manager is David Hardy, hij is ook de manager van Blair Athol (2003).
CLASSIC MALTS OF SCOTLAND
October 2005 De Classic Malts of Scotland serie, bestaande uit: Glenkinchie 10 years old, Dalwhinnie 15 years old, Cragganmore 12 years old, Oban 14 years old, Talisker 10 years old, Lagavulin 16 years old
verandert van samenstelling Oban 14 year old wordt vervangen door Glen Elgin 12 years old, Lagavulin 16 years old wordt vervangen door Caol Ila 12 years old Dit komt omdat de betrokken distilleerderijen de produktie niet meer aankunnen. CLASSIC MALT SELECTION tegelijkertijd wordt onder de naam Classic Malts Selection een 3- Bottle Plinth uitgebracht met: Glen Elgin 12 years old, Talisker 10 years old, Caol Ila 12 years old
Glen Elgin Speyside 12 years old FRUITY Natuur geuren 15 % Fruitigheid 60 % Turf 10 % Houttonen 15 % deze malt kenmerkt zich door zijn volle en zachte smaak met een explosie van vers geel fruit Talisker Skye 10 years old POWERFUL Natuur geuren Fruitigheid 30 % Turf 70 % Houttonen een aromatische, explosieve en prikkelende malt van Skye die uiteindelijk ook zoete tonen laat proeven CAOL ILA Islay 12 years old SMOKY Natuur geuren 50 % Fruitigheid Turf 50 % Houttonen een malt met een duidelijk karakter, krachtig compleet met zee-aroma's en de geur van hout-vuur.
The place-name "Dalwhinnie" derives from a Gaelic word meaning "the meeting place". Here, in former times, cattle drovers coming from Inverness and farther north met those who had crossed the Monadhliath Mountains from the west, and rested their herds before ascending the Pass of Drumochter on their way to the cattle fairs of the south. Here, too, the military road through the Central Highlands, built by General Wade in 1728-31, forked west to Fort Augustus and north to Inverness. A section of the original road, unused except by distillery transport, can still be seen immediately north of the crossing of the distillery burn by the "old A9". The Strathspey Distillery - that was its original name - wasbuilt at a height of 1,073 feet (327 metres) above sea-level. The main reason for choosing this location was its access to abundant, cold and uncontaminated mountain water close to its source in Lochan an Doire-uaine. This supply flows underground for some way before forming the Allt an t-Sluic, the distillery burn. The area, uninhabited and uncultivated for many miles, held ample reserves of peat. The site chosen for the distillery was bounded at the rear by the main railway line from Inverness to the south, and on the front by the Great North Road. The Inverness Courier, on 26 January 1897, predicted that the cost would be "something like £0", and that the buildings would be "of ample character, well adapted to stand the rigours of this high climate". As it turned out, it was an economic blizzard that wrecked the new enterprise. The promoters included John Grant, J.P., of Gran-town-on-Spey, solicitor and sherriff's clerk depute for Inverness-shire, Alex Mackenzie, C.E., of Kingussie, architect and burgh surveyor, and George Sellar,also of Kingussie, grocer and draper. Mackenzie designed the distillery. Strathspey began production in February 1898, the year when the speculative boom in building malt whisky distilleries reached its peak. The venture was not a commercial success, and went into liquidation. In October, A. P. Blyth, managing director of a distillery company in Leith, announced that he had bought Strathspey on behalf of his son. Charles Doig of Elgin, a well-known distillery architect, was engaged to make "considerable improvements on the buildings and plant"; an application for a railway siding was made and the distillery was given a new name, Dalwhinnie. A. P. Blyth & Son resold it on 10 February 1905 to Cook & Bernheimer, of New York and Baltimore, the largest distillers in the USA at that time. The price was £1,250.
Many people in Scotland feared that the purchase of Dalwhinnie might be the first step to an American take-over of the Scotch whisky industry. Some Scotch whisky traders took the more hopeful view that Cook & Bernheimer's purchase was part of a move to promote sales of its prod-ucts in the USA and Canada, which could result in favourable publicity for the Scotch whisky industry as a whole. At that time, South Africa and Australia were the largest overseas markets for Scotch, and the vast potential market offered by the English-speaking population of North America had hardly been tapped. Once established as distillers of Scotch malt whisky, Cook & Bernheimer formed a company, styled James Munro & Son Ltd., with registered offices in Inverness, to run the business. They also acquired a huge warehouse and office block at Boundary
House, 121/123 Constitution Street, Leith, above which the American flag was constantly flown, and where Scotch whiskies were blended "to suit the American palate". The first stage of direct American involvement in the Scotch whisky industry came to an end in 1919 with the enactment of Prohibition. Cook & Bernheimer cut their losses by selling out to Sir James Calder, chairman of Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd., Scotch whisky blenders, of Leith. Sir James sold this company to The Distillers Company Limited in 1926. Dalwhinnie Distillery has been operated by a DCL subsidiary, Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd., since 1930.An outbreak of fire on 1 February 1934 caused extensive damage, resulting in the closure of the distillery. Until that year, there was no electricity in the village; paraffin lamps were used to light the premises; there was no telephone, and steam engines were used for power. Dalwhinnie reopened in April 1938, after extensive rebuilding and refitting,' only to be closed again, as a result of Government restriction on the supply of barley to distillers, in the second world war.
The distillery was refitted again in the 1960's. The wash still and the spirit still were hand-fired until 1961, when they were converted to steam heating from a coal-fired boiler, which in turn was converted to oil-firing in 1972. The malt barns ceased production in 1968 and were converted to a racked warehouse in 1970. British Rail closed the private siding in 1979. Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. owns 11 houses for occupation by employees and runs a hostel with ten bedrooms, and a full-time cook, to accommodate single workers, or craftsmen and contractors' men who need to stay overnight. It is not uncommon for Dalwhinnie to be snow-bound for four or five days at a time in severe winters. Angus MacDonald, a former distillery manager, has described days in 1937 when snowdrifts over twenty feet high piled up and people scrambled out of their houses through first-floor windows. In 1940, he and hismen worked for a week on end to clear snow from the railway siding and the loaded goods waggons . "We cleared by Friday. On Saturday there was another heavy fall and we had to start all over again." A minor hazard of life is the propensity of red deer to raid gardens in the early hours of the morning. Dalwhinnie has been a secluded spot since it was by-passed in the 1970's by a new stretch of the A9. Dalwhinnie Distillery is Station 0582 of the Meteorological Office. It is one of the manager's responsibilities to make a daily record of maximum and minimum temperatures, the number of hours of sunshine, wind speed and snow depth. He is also, ex-officio, a trustee of Dalwhinnie village hall. The distillery is the focal point of the community. The licensed distillers are James Buchanan & Co. Ltd., of Glasgow and London, proprietors of Black & White, Buchanan's Reserve, Buchanan's de Luxe and The Buchanan Blend Scotch whiskies. They bottle limited quantities of Dalwhinnie malt whisky for the local market.
DALWHINNIE THE DISTILLERS EDITION De juiste houten vaten selecteren om een single malt in te laten rijpen is traditioneel één van de vaardigheden van de distillateur. De kombinatie van het hout en de pas gedistilleerde alcohol is mede bepalend voor het karakter van de malt whisky. Als de gerijpte whisky later opnieuw een tijdje doorbrengt in een tweede vat kan hij aan diepte en komplexiteit winnen. November 1997 werden een beperkt aantal vaten van de zes Classic Malts gebotteld waarvan de whiskies deze bewerking hebben ondergaan. Van alle Spaanse soorten zijn Oloroso - vaten de meest karaktervolle en bijgevolg ook de meest gewaardeerde. Oloroso staat voor droge, rijke concentratie van sterke geuren en betekent letterlijk 'welriekend'. Olorosovaten zijn sterk geapprecieerde partners voor de tweede rijping van Dalwhinnie, omdat ze de uitgesproken geuren en smaken van de malt perfekt aanvullen.
From the highest distillery in Scotland, set in the windswept Grampian mountains with their unlimited supply of fresh water, comes this delightfully gentle, delicately smoky malt. The Gaelic word from which the name Dalwhinnie comes is Dail-conneeah, which translates as 'meeting place'. The highest distillery in Scotland was founded on these bleak, wind-swept central pastures in 1898. The classic Highland Malt, Dalwhinnie ages slowly to develop a remarkable character. Fifteen years of gentle ageing make it a smooth, suble malt without a trace of harshness. Heartwarming yet also mellow and honeyed, its combination of delicacy and depth sets it apart. Where it matters, Dalwhinnie retains the old ways. Increasingly rare wooden worm-tubs, a landmark outside the distillery as distinctive as its pagoda roofs, help this remain a spirit of real character. Hidden depths are also apparent. Smooth-tasting Dalwhinnie yields flavours of creamy vanilla and a heather-honey sweetness, finishing in a smoky Highland glow of surprising intensity, Dalwhinnie is the remote Highland destination on a journey around Scotland's six malt whisky regions. The other Classic Malts are: Glenkinchie, Lowland, Cragganmore, Speyside, Talisker, Skye, Oban, West Highland and Lagavulin, Islay.
October 2005 Diageo has announced that its 2005 Annual Rare Malts Selection will be the last.
The collection will consist of four cask strenght single malts from closed distilleries; Glen Mhor 28 years old, Millburn 35 years old, Glendullan 26 years old and Linkwood 30 years old. Dr. Nicholas Morgan, global malts marketing director commented: 'As the Special Releases are now well established, it makes less sence to continue selecting and promoting a parallel series of Rare Malts with his own separate indentity'. In future, all premium and rare whiskies will be made available in the annual Special Re-leases series.
1897 John Grant, George Sellar and Alexander Mackenzie from Kingussie commence building the facilities The first name is Strathspey and the construction work amounts to 10.000 Pounds 1898 Production starts in February. The owners encounter financial troubles after a few months and John Somerville & Co and A.P. Blyth & Sons take over in November and change the name to Dalwhinnie' The architect Charles Doig is called in to make some improvements 1905 America's largest distillers, Cook & Bernheimer in New York, buys Dalwhinnie for 1,250 Pounds at an auction. This marks the first time a foreign company takes ownership of a Scottish distillery The administration of Dalwhinnie is placed in the newly formed company James Munro & Sons 1919 Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd, headed by Sir James Calder buys Dalwhinnie
1926 Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd is bought by Distillers Company Ltd,(D.C.L.) which licenses Dalwhinnie to James Buchanan & Co.
1930 Operations are transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers (S.M.D.)
1934 Dalwhinnie is closed after a fire in February
1938 Dalwhinnie opens again
1968 The maltings is decommissioned
1986 A complete refurbishing takes place
1987 Dalwhinnie 15 years old becomes one of six selected malt whiskies in UnitedDistillers' Classic Malts
1991 A visitor centre is constructed
1992 Dalwhinnie closes and goes through a major refurbishment costing 3,2 millionPounds 1995 Dalwhinnie opens in March
1998 Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition 1980 (oloroso) is introduced for the first timeThe other five in The Classic Malts, each with a different finish, are also introduced as Distillers Editions for the first time
2002 A 36 years old is released
2003 A 29 years old is released
2006 A 20 years old is released
There is another distillery which goes out of its p��p����iP��ؓ����@���acter of light waxiness, but the stills are run in a way to stop copper conversation and their lyne arms run into worm tubs – the classic way to produce a heavy new make character.
It is here where location also plays a role. Dalwhinnie’s ambient temperature [see below] means that the worms are naturally very cold, resulting in rapid condensing. It was here that Diageo realised the importance of this effect on the creation of sulphury new make.
In 1986, during a modernisation of the plant, the worms were removed and shell and tube condensers put in. The character changed, so in 1995 the condensers came out and worms were re-installed. Even then the character wasn’t quite the same as in the past.
A new style of worm tub: round, wooden, had been installed as they were the first thing that tourists saw when they visited the distillery [worms are traditionally at the back of a distillery, but Dalwhinnie had been constructed to face the railway line and not the A9 road]. The flow of water in the new worms was different to that in the old, cast iron tanks. It was enough to alter the character. A tweak or two and normal service was, finally, restored.
The heaviness of the sulphur means that it takes 15 years in refill casks for Dalwhinnie to emerge fully.
Given the importance to the whisky trade of the railway line which linked Inverness (and Speyside) with the central belt, it is surprising that it took until 1897 for a distillery to be built close to the settlement nearest its highest point, Dalwhinnie.
There is much made of the fact that, in Gaelic, Dalwhinnie means ‘the meeting place’ and the fact that this was the spot where three major drove roads joined. From here, huge herds of black [Highland] cattle headed south to market at Falkirk in much the same way as whisky would more than 100 years later.
These herds were a perfect cover for whisky smugglers (tales abound of small casks being hidden under the hairy pelts of the beasts), but there is no record of whisky being made at this point. Dalwhinnie, more likely, was a place where it would have been drunk.
Three local businessmen, John Grant, George Sellar and Alexander Mackenzie, joined together to reverse this state of affairs, but their Strathspey distillery [the plant lies close to the river] failed. Its second set of owners fared little better, and in 1905 it was sold, as Dalwhinnie, to American distiller Cook & Bernheimer, making this the first Scotch distillery to be owned by a non-UK company, a relationship which ended 14 years later when blenders Macdonald Greenless took charge.
That firm then merged with DCL [now Diageo] in 1926, with the licence for Dalwhinnie being passed to James Buchanan [of Black & White fame]. In 1988 it was chosen as the Highland representative in the Classic Malts selection.
Though well connected by road and rail, Dalwhinnie’s exposed location means that it is regularly cut off in winter – it holds the dubious distinction of being the coldest settlement in the UK, with an average temperature of 6˚C.
Alexander Mackenzie, John grant and George Sellar begin work on Strathspey distillery
Production begins at Strathspey but the trio encounter financial issues and the site is sold to John Somerville & Co, and AP Blyth & Sons who change the name to Dalwhinnie
Cook and Bernheimer, at the time America's largest distillers, buy the distillery for just £1,250 at auction
Macdonald Greenlees & Williams buys Dalwhinnie
The group is acquired by DCL which licenses the distillery to James Buchanan & Co
A fire forces the distillery to close
Not to be held back, Dalwhinnie reopens once more
Dalwhinnie's maltings are mothballed
A thorough refurbishment sees the installation of shell and tube condensers, changing the new make character
The Dalwhinnie visitors' centre is opened
The distillery is closed for a complete £3.2m refurbishment, only reopening three years later
The Dalwhinnie 15 is selected as part of the Classic Malts selection
CONDENSER TYPE i
FERMENTATION TIME i
FILLING STRENGTH i
GRIST WEIGHT (T) i
HEAT SOURCE i
MALT SPECIFICATION i
MALT SUPPLIER i
Mainly in house
MASH TUN TYPE i
NEW-MAKE PHENOL LEVEL i
NEW-MAKE STRENGTH i
SPIRIT STILL CHARGE (L) i
SPIRIT STILL SHAPE i
WASH STILL CHARGE (L) i
WASH STILL SHAPE i
WASHBACK TYPE i
WATER SOURCE i
Alt Ant Sluic Burn
WORT CLARITY i
YEAST TYPE i
1997 - present
1986 - 1997
Distillers Company Limited
1926 - 1986
1919 - 1926
Cook & Bernheimer
1905 - 1919
The Blyth Family
1898 - 1905
Strathspey Distillers Ltd
1897 - 1898
WORM TUBS: THE INSIDE STORY
They’re big, they’re expensive and they’re difficult to install and maintain. But for fans of worm tub condensers, there’s nothing quite like them for creating a spirit of complexity and character. As new distilleries rediscover their fascinations and frustrations.
Dalwhinnie worm tubs
Turn of the worm: Dalwhinnie reverted to tubs to preserve its unique spirit character
For those ancient alchemists who distilled the first spirits, distillation was like death, for it allowed the spirit to rise up and leave the body behind. However, separating the heavenly vapours was one thing; turning them back into liquid was quite another.
In the 4th century BC, Aristotle suspended balls of wool above boiling sea water to distil it and discover how clouds were formed, but that was never going to work for whisky. Later, Indian distillers used clay pots with copper heads cooled by cow dung, while those in Java preferred copper stills with tin worms, according to the Whisky Science blog.
The pipe off the lyne arm at the top of the still would have been straight, until someone had the bright idea of coiling it into a worm to improve its performance. Clearly copper was easier to mould than other metals, though it would have been expensive and required a skilled coppersmith. Illicit distillers in Scotland always sought to cling on to their worm when raided by the excisemen, even if it meant abandoning the still.
As for cooling those vapours, some would have simply submerged the worm in the local burn. A more practical solution was a barrel full of water – or worm tub as it became known.
In 1771, Christian Weigel invented a sealed condenser out of glass for laboratory use, which became the prototype for the modern, copper, shell-and-tube condenser you will find in most malt whisky distilleries today.
More efficient and compact, such a condenser is considerably cheaper than a worm with the equivalent surface area, and is easier to install. A worm may last slightly longer, but is obviously more costly to maintain.
‘They may be 100m long and there will be a lot of joints along the way,’ says Stuart Harvey, master blender at Inver House Distillers, owner of distilleries including Pulteney, Balmenach and Speyburn. ‘Detecting leaks is very difficult, and the guys have to sample the water in the tub for traces of alcohol on a regular basis.’
Worms and worm tubs clearly work, but the same was probably true of those early condoms made of sheep’s intestines. If the invention of vulcanised rubber in 1839 signified progress for prophylactics, surely it was the same for shell-and-tube condensers and whisky? Well, no – or at least not for the many fans of the humble worm.
One-third of market-leading Scotch whisky company Diageo’s malt distilleries have them, including all the original Classic Malts apart from Lagavulin – and not through any misty-eyed nostalgia. ‘It’s great to have our worm tub distilleries as part of the mix,’ says Dr Jim Beveridge, Johnnie Walker’s master blender.
Meanwhile, Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, is convinced that they helped make Rosebank a truly unique whisky, and he plans to restore them having bought the distillery last October. Up on Speyside, the new Ballindalloch distillery has worms, as does Ardnahoe on Islay.
Dalwhinnie has experienced both types of condenser during its history. ‘My recollection is that it found itself needing new worm tubs in the 1980s when the whisky loch was filling up and distilleries were working a three-day week,’ says Beveridge. ‘There were a number of recently-closed distilleries, and there were one or two condensers going spare.’
It seemed like a smart, money-saving move, but ‘it would have made Dalwhinnie into more of a classic Speyside’, says Beveridge. ‘For a blending whisky that’s fine, but you wouldn’t get a robust, complex single malt.
So, in 1995, the condensers were replaced with a new set of wooden worm tubs, although, according to Beveridge: ‘It seems they lost the original plans, and had to work out how to run the new worms to create the Dalwhinnie new make character.’
He explains: ‘There are two aspects. There’s the temperature of the water in the tub, and the surface area inside the worm. Generally speaking, the higher the temperature and greater the contact with copper, the lighter and less complex the spirit will become.’
Learning how to run a successful worm is clearly harder than a modern condenser, given the variables involved. There’s the length of pipe exposed to the air before joining the worm, the ambient temperature outside, the water temperature, the rate of flow through the tub, and the fact that every worm is different.
If ‘Diageo is the king of the worm tub,’ to quote Jim McEwan, of whom more later, then Inver House is its prince in waiting, with all but Balblair fitted with worms among its five distilleries.
Harvey had never worked with them in his previous whisky career, and remembers thinking: ‘Whoa, what’s this?!’ But he has since become a huge enthusiast for worm-powered whiskies.
‘Three of our worm tub distilleries were ex-United Distillers or DCL [later absorbed into Diageo], while Pulteney was ex-Allied Distillers,’ he explains. ‘That was quite unusual because Allied were great at ripping out worm tubs. In those days it was all about producing the lowest-cost blends, and not a lot of people were focusing on new make character.’
He continues: ‘Basically a worm keeps the sulphur compounds in the new make spirit to give you a bigger, heavier style of whisky. There are those meaty, vegetable, coal gas, sulphury notes in our new make, which is good – it’s what we want.
‘Then, with an American oak Bourbon barrel with its char layer, the sulphur compounds interact and that gives you your toffee and butterscotch in your mature whisky. So it all adds to the complexity.’
Mention of sulphur risks retribution on a biblical scale from a certain whisky writer, even if some of us like that faintly funky lick of brimstone in our dram. While that debate rages on, let’s just say there’s good and bad sulphur in Scotch whisky, with the latter often caused by running the stills too hard to allow sufficient reflux.
If so, even the shiniest shell-and-tube condenser might struggle to strip out those off notes of boiled cabbage and rotten eggs. The same would be true if you allowed some feints to slip into the middle cut, points out Jim McEwan, production director at the new Ardnahoe distillery on Islay.
‘I’ve never distilled with worms,’ says McEwan, who spent many years at Bowmore and Bruichladdich. ‘But I had this fascination with them – this snaking coil; it’s almost Egyptian-like.
‘With a shell-and-tube, the water’s fired in under pressure, whereas it’s a much gentler, slower process with an old worm tub. The condensation is slower, because you’re not pushing it, and as such the contact with the copper is intensified greatly as it meanders its way down the worm.’
Whether this will give him the purer, lighter spirit he is after is another matter. A shell-and-tube may be faster, but it contains a far greater surface area of copper, and from the experience of Harvey and others, McEwan may be disappointed – but in a good way if it adds weight and complexity to Ardnahoe’s new make character.
He will know soon enough when the new stills are fired up at Ardnahoe in a few weeks’ time. But of course the other great thing about worm tubs, steaming away on a cold winter’s night, is that they provide the lonesome distillery manager with another attractive feature: his/her very own hot tub
DALWHINNIE WINTER’S FROST, GAME OF THRONES HOUSE STARK
Scoring explained >
Single malt whisky
Fruity & Spicy
That classic, clean Dalwhinnie combination of sweet honey and delicate fruits. Dried hay and crunchy malt give substance from the off, before set heather honey and fresh citrus fruits – grapefruit, blood orange juice – add lift. There’s vanilla caramel sweetness and a generous bowl of (still crunchy) Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. A real ‘breakfast dram’.
Sweet, crunchy malt and some nuttiness. Lemon sherbets and green apple lift things up as a touch of black pepper spice sets the tongue buzzing. But there it reaches its limit; things remains pretty two-dimensional from here on, aside from the warming effect of sucking on barley sugars and cough candies.
Some Robinsons lemon barley water and hard caramel. Pretty short.
Light, inoffensive and a friend to all – much like the Starks before the Lannister fall-out.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
A final family breakfast at Winterfell. They won’t be coming Home for a while.