40% THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
30 years ols
40% Last Bottle and empty THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND (very old bottling) Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
12 years old
43 %INFO CHIVAS BROTHERS Chivas Brothers Ltd, Strathisla Distillery, Keith
14 years old
40% THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND Distilled 1980 Bottled 1994 Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
15 years old
40 % THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND Distilled 1980 Bottled 1995 Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
21 years old
40 % LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
32 years old
56.4 % INFO SINGLE CASK SCOTCH MALT WHISKY Date distilled November 1969 Date bottled August 2002 Society Cask No. code 58.5 Outturn 490 bottles The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh 'A damp cave in a hot country'
13 years old
43 % THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Distilled 7/6/89 Bottled 14/1/03 Matured in a bourbon barrel Cask no. 5385 Genummerde flessen The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L.
40 years old
40 % INFO Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky THE OLDEST HIGHLAND MALT DISTILLERY IN SCOTLAND Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Co, Ltd Strathisla Distillery, Keith, Banffshire Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
17 years old
43 % THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Distilled: 18/3/87 Bottled:20/1/05 Matured in a Whisky-hog Cask no; 2373 Numbered Bottles The Ultimate Whisky, Company, N.L
1 9 6 7 Aged 41 years
45.5 % PEERLESS SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Cask Strenght Single Speyside Malt DUNCAN TAYLOR Unique Whiskies of Distinction Fons et Origo D T C Distilled 12.05.67 Cask no. 2717 Bottled 01.12.08 102 Numbered Bottles Duncan Taylor and Co, Ltd, Huntly, Aberdeenshire STRATHISLA
Keith, Banffshire. Licentiehouder: Strathisla - Glenlivet Distillery Ltd. Onderdeel van The Chivas & Glenlivet Group. Eigendom van Seagram. De verwerking van vlas tot linnen was een belangrijke industrie in Noord - Oost Schotland rond 1780. Maar door de opkomst van Ierland als linnen leverancier en katoen als vervanger, begon een periode van neergang. George Taylor, een welgesteld zakenman die zijn geld had verdiend in de linnen industrie zag om zich heen op zoek om zijn geld te investeren. Hij huurde een stuk land van de Earl of Findlater and Seafield en in 1786 was de distil-leerderij in produktie. 1786 was ook het jaar dat de discriminerende Wash Act werd opgeheven, en er een einde kwam aan de verschillende belasting tarieven op het produceren van whisky tussen de Hooglanden en Laaglanden. Taylor distilleerde ook nog illegaal en toen dat werd ontdekt moest hij een, voor die tijd enorme boete betalen van E 500. De naam van de distilleerderij was toen Milton, genoemd naar een kasteel van de Ogilvy's, toen Miltoun geheten. In de topgevel van een lagerpakhuis van Strathisla zit een steen waarop vermeld L.M.O, wat staat voor Lady Margaret Ogilvy, de steen is afkomstig van het tot ruine geworden oude kasteel. In 1820 kreeg Taylor een ernstig ongeluk tijdens een rit te paard, en niet meer in staat om te werken verkocht hij Milton aan een zadelmaker John MacDonald te Keith. Van hem is alleen maar bekend, dat hij niet gelukkig in zaken was. In 1821 nam William Longmore Milton over. William Longmore was een invloedrijk bankier en zakenman, en heel progressief voor zijn tijd, hij installeerde een dorsmachine, bouwde een dam om het water vast te houden, om de waterkracht te benutten voor de aandrijving van de machinerie. Hij was directeur van de North of Scotland Bank te Keith en zat in het bestuur van de Great North of Scotland Railway. Ook bouwde hij de William Longmore Hall in 1872, legde een bowling baan aan die nog bestaat en zorgde voor goed en voldoende drinkwater voor Keith. Ofschoon de naam van de distilleerderij Milton was, werd de whisky onder de naam Stra-thisla verkocht. Op zondagavond tien over negen 's avonds, ontdekte Mr. Sellar, distillateur, tijdens zijn controlle ronde dat Milton in brand stond, dat was op 22 Januri 1876. De schade was enorm, maar door de massale hulp van mensen uit de omgeving kon nog veel worden gered, onder andere 36 koeien, dertig koeien kwamen in de vlammen om. De brand stelde William Longmore in staat Milton te herbouwen op een modernere manier, stenen gebouwen inplaats van hout. De volgende gebeurtenis te Milton vond plaats op 5 Juli 1879, toen er een explosie plaats vond , maar de distilleerderij was binnen een jaar weer herbouwd.
In 1880 werd Wm. Longmore and Company opgericht met William Longmore zijn schoonzoon als directeur: J. Geddes Brown was de naam van de schoonzoon. De aandelen 7000 stuks van E 5 per stuk vonden grif aftrek door mensen uit de omgeving en afnemers van Milton zowel in Engeland als de kolonies. William Longmore stiercf op 23 December 1882, 76 jaar oud. Er werden toen drie directeuren beneomd door de aandeelhouders: twee advokaten te Keith. James Alexander Stephen en Samuel Wyatt Mayer en een wijnhandelaar te Edinburgh, Thomas Thompson Jones, om de distributie aan winkels te organiseren. Rond de eeuwwisseling vulde men 15 tot %) hogsheads per week, ongeveer 4300 liter, die werden opgeslagen in lagerpakhuizen en vervolgens werden afgevuld in gallons van 10 liter en stenen 'jars' van 5 gallons, (één gallon is 4,5 liter). De meeste pubs, winkels en hotels in de omgeving hadden een contract met Milton. Vooarl door de mogelijkheid om de whisky ook in flessen te bottelen, zorgde voor een veel groter afzetgebied. William Brown, de zoon van, installeerde een kleine bottelafdeling, die zes flessen te-gelijkertijd kon vullen, deze machine bleef in bedrijf tot in 1943. Aan het eind van de tweede wereldoorlog kreeg Gordon & Macphail een contract om een percentage van Milton af te nemen en te bottelen. Milton was toen ongeveer, evenals de meeste andere distilleerderijen, dertig weken per jaar in bedrijf. Tijdens de tweede wereldoorlog was Milton voor maar 25 % in produktie. Er was een onplezierige periode kort na de tweede wereldoorlog toen een Londense finan-cier, Jay Pommeroy via stromannen aandelen opkocht in verschillende whiskyfirma's. Op deze manier werd hij directeur in een aantal whiskyfirma's, waaronder William Longmore. Vervolgens werden de leveranties aan de normale afnemers stopgezet, en de whisky verkocht aan brievenbus firma's te Londen, die de whisky op de zwarte markt verkochten. Er kwam een regeringsonderzoek en Jay Pommeroy werden bijna al zijn bezittingen afgenomen en werd een gebroken man. Mr. Geddes te Edinburgh was de liquidateur, hij ontsloeg manager Robertson en benoemde de directiesecretaris A.J. Phimister tot manager. Mede door zijn toedoen kwam het vertrouwen en daarmee de oude afnemers terug. Op dinsdag 15 April 1950 werd Milton verkocht tijdens een veiling voor E 71.000, koper was James Barclay, directeur van Chivas Brothers te Aberdeen. Chivas Brothers, whiskyblenders te Aberdeen sinds 1801, werd in 1936 overgenomen door de whiskymakelaars Lundie and Morrison. Zij verkochten nog datzelfde jaar de gehele voorraad whisky, en verkregen Chivas Brothers zo voor niets in handen. Lundie and Morrison verkochten Chivas Bros in 1949, door bemiddeling van James Barclay, eerder directeur van Ballantine en Hiram Walker (Scotland) Ltd aan Robert Brown & Co, een whiskyblender die in 1935 werd overgenomen door Seagram Ltd.
Stanley P. Morrison begon een paar jaar later voor zichzelf, en herhaalde het kunstje van Chivas Brothers door voor E:3,6_mïljoen_de,gehele voorraad whisky van Bass Charrington te kopen en hield hier Auchentoshan bijna voor niets aan over. Dat was in 1968 Stanley P. Morrison had in 1963 Bowmore al gekocht. De produktiekapaciteit en opslagmogelijkheden werden te Milton vergroot en de naam Milton werd in Mei 1951 veranderd in Strathisla. In 1959 werd de vroegere waterstoffabriek van het Ministerie van Luchtvaar te Alexandra Road gekocht en veranderd in lagerpakhuizen. Keith Bonding werd één van de grootste in zijn soort. Het hoofdkantoor van Chivas te Paisley werd verplaatst naar Dalmuir, waar ook een enorm lagerpakhuizen- en blendingcomplex werd gebouwd. In 1971 werd te Malcolmburn Farm opnieuw een lagerpakhuis gebouwd. The Braes of Glenlivet werd in 1973 in produktie genomen, Glen Keith was al geopend in 1958, Allt 'A Bhainne in 1975. Er werd een veevoederfabriek voor E 1,5 miljoen gebouwd. In September 1976 werd bij het spoorwegstation te Keith een groot vatting en blending complex geopend. Seagram bezat nu de volgende distilleerderijen: The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Glen Grant, Caperdonich, Glen Keith, Longmorn, Allt 'A Bhainne, Benriach en Braes of Glenlivet. Eind 1994 werd Strathisla uitgebracht in de serie 'The Heritage Selection' samen met Longmorn, Glen Keith en Ben Riach. Strathisla heeft vier met stoom gestookte ketels. Het proceswater komt van Fons Bulliens en het koelwater van de rivier Isla. Strathisla is 'The Home of Chivas Regal'. Op 18 December 2000 wordt Seagram voor 8,15 miljard overgenomen door Diageo en Pernod Ricard. Diageo betaalt 5 miljard (= 61 %) Pernod Ricard de rest. Pernod Ricard krijgt de Schotse whiskymerken en distilleerderijen in zijn bezit. Het motto van Seagram was 'Integreti, Craftmanship and Tradition'. Het water komt van Fons Bullien Well. De Mash tun is 4,84 ton. De elf Wash backs zijn elk 22.500 liter. De twee Wash sills zijn groot elk 12.500 liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 8500 liter. De ketels worden indirect met stoom verhit. De capaciteit van Strathisla is 2,5 liter spirit per jaar. In de jaren zeventig werd er een experimentele, heel zwaar turfgerookte whisky gepro-duceerd, Craigduff, maar dit experiment werd na een paar jaar gestaakt.
Owner: Chivas Brothers
Established: 1786 Water Source: None Malt Source: 150 tonnes Mill Type: Porteus 4 roller Grist Storage: 5 tonnes Mash Tun Construction: Traditional - cast iron rakes, stainless steel shell and copperhood Mash Size: 5.12 tonnes No. of Wash Backs: 8 Wash Back Construction: Wooden (Oregon Pine) Wash Back Capacity: 25000 litres Yeast: Kerry liquid yeast No. of Wash Stills: 2 Wash Still Charge: 12.400 litres Heat Source: Steam from a gas boiler at Glen Keith Distillery Wash Still Shape: Lantern No. of Spirit Stills: 2 Spirit Still Charge: 9000 litres Heat Source: Steam from a gas boiler at Glen Keith Distillery Spirit Still Shape: Wide - necked boiling ball Cask Storage Capacity: A mix of racked and traditional warehouses with a Capacity of 4500 Butts, 8500 Hogsheads and 2500 Barrels Current Annual Distillery Output: 2.4 million litres
It is Strathisla’s small stills which help to give the distillery its character. Although on paper the spirit should be light and fragrant, distillation helps to add heft and weight to the new make. Though widely used in blends – Chivas Regal in particular – it is seen as a tricky customer by blenders as it needs time to hit maturity when its full range of complexities is revealed.
BRANDS PRODUCED HERE
What is most surprising about Strathisla is that so little is made of the fact that this is the oldest licensed distillery in Scotland. It started life as the brewery of the local monastery and turned itself to the making of whisky in 1786, one of the few distilleries in what is now the Speyside region to go legal. It was known as Milltown/Milton until 1870, but its whisky was long known as Strathisla after the river which it sits beside. The distillery was renamed Strathisla in 1951.
It had a period of considerable fame in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was bottled as a single malt, but by the late 1940s it had fallen on hard times.
Acting on behalf of Sam Bronfman’s Seagram, the legendary whisky broker Jimmy Barclay bought it for £71,000 at auction in 1950, the year after its previous owner had been jailed for tax evasion. It began to rise in prominence immediately as the first piece in Bronfman’s p@�@�P�PYm��`�@`�ajor tourist attraction with a fair claim to be Scotland’s prettiest distillery, in recent times it has played the role of the ‘home’ of Chivas Regal. That accolade also explains why this is a relatively small player in terms of single malt with Gordon & MacPhail being the main resource for bottlings. A repackaging in 2013 however suggests that times may be changing as far as official bottlings are concerned.
Alexander Milne and George Taylor license Milltown distillery, making it the oldest registered plant in Scotland
The distillery is purchased by Macdonald Ingram & Co.
William Longmore purchases the distillery
Longmore retires and the distillery is passed to son-in-law John Geddes-Brown who creates William Longmore & Co.
The distillery's name is changed to Milton
Jay Pomeroy purchases a majority share of the company, but is jailed for tax evasion and the distillery is bankrupted
Acting on behalf of Seagram, Jimmy Barclay purchases the distillery at auction for £71,000
John Urquhart owner of Gordon & Macphail decided in 1950 to place a bid on Strathisla, he was willing to pay 70.000 pound !
The distillery's name is changed once more to Strathisla
Two additional stills are installed, bringing the total to four
Strathisla begins a short run of a heavily peated whisky, Craigduff
Now part of Chivas Brothers, the group is purchased by Pernod Ricard
The Strathisla brand is given a packaging update
CAPACITY (MLPA) i
CONDENSER TYPE i
Shell and tube
FERMENTATION TIME i
GRIST WEIGHT (T) i
HEAT SOURCE i
Steam heating coils
MALT SPECIFICATION i
MALT SUPPLIER i
MASH TUN MATERIAL i
MASH TUN TYPE i
NEW-MAKE STRENGTH i
SPIRIT STILL CHARGE (L) i
SPIRIT STILL SHAPE i
SPIRIT STILL SIZE (L) i
4 (2 wash, 2 spirit)
WASH STILL CHARGE (L) i
WASH STILL SHAPE i
WASH STILL SIZE (L) i
WASHBACK SIZE (L) i
WASHBACK TYPE i
WATER SOURCE i
Broomhill, Cossburn Springs
YEAST TYPE i
2001 - present
Chivas Brothers Holdings
1950 - 2001
George Jay Pomeroy
1940 - 1949
1830 - 1940
McDonald Ingram & Co
1823 - 1830
Alexander Milne and George Taylor
1786 - 1823
JIMMY BARCLAY, BALLANTINE’S AND CHIVAS REGAL
A legendary whisky entrepreneur, Jimmy Barclay built the reputations of not one but two great blended Scotch brands, Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal, in a career spanning the dark days of Prohibition and the glory years of the 1950s
Wheeler dealer: Barclay was one of the most significant figures in 20th-century Scotch
Jimmy Barclay (1885-1963) was a legendary figure in the Scotch whisky industry, described by the Canadian whisky executive Maxwell Henderson as ‘one of the greatest whisky entrepreneurs ever to graduate into the respectable era from the bootlegging days’.
The Canadian heard ‘amazing tales’ about Barclay’s adventures in New York during Prohibition, including ‘the night he climbed down the Hotel Astor’s fire escape to avoid being subpoenaed by internal revenue officers’. He was subsequently involved in some of the most important and complex whisky business deals of the 1940s and 1950s.
Barclay was born in Gargunnock, Stirlingshire, in 1885, but was brought up in Strathspey. He began work as an office boy at the Benrinnes distillery near Aberlour.
In 1909, Barclay went to Glasgow to work for Peter Mackie & Co, eventually taking charge of the firm’s home trade, distilleries and warehouses.
There was a recession in the whisky market after the First World War, and the young manager, with his extensive knowledge of the market, was well-placed to spot business opportunities.
In 1919, Barclay left Mackie’s and joined RA McKinlay (owner of Alexander McGavin & Co) to purchase George Ballantine & Son. In 1921 they acquired The Stirling Bonding Co and, in 1922, James & George Stodart. T&A McClelland and Highland Bonding Company followed.
Through these acquisitions, the duo not only acquired large maturing stocks at keen prices, but owned and bottled their own brands, including Ballantine’s and Old Smuggler.
The dapper McKinlay took charge of the office and the production of blended whiskies. The gregarious Barclay, meanwhile, concentrated on sales and deal-making.
During the 1920s, he travelled extensively to establish the Ballantine’s and the Gaelic Old Smuggler brand names in the US. The fact that the Americans had recently introduced Prohibition was a mere inconvenience.
Jimmy Barclay Chivas Regal
Herb Hatch of Hiram Walker believed that ‘Ballantine’s made its American debut in the whorehouses of Havana, Nassau and New York’ during the Prohibition years of the 1920s and early 1930s. Certainly, Barclay made influential contacts in the US, Bahamas and Canada during that time, including Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns of the 21 Club, the famous Manhattan speakeasy, who also set up a liquor distribution company.
That company, 21 Brands, was appointed as US distributor for Ballantine’s, which became one of the most popular Scotches in the country. Its success impressed two more of Barclay’s friends from Prohibition days – Hatch and Bill Hume of the distillers Hiram Walker – Gooderham & Worts.
They bought a controlling interest in Stodarts and the Stirling Bonding Co in 1930, and in Robert Ballantine & Son in 1935, in a deal which must have made small fortunes for their owners.
Barclay stayed on as a director of Hiram Walker’s Scotch whisky subsidiary, Hiram Walker & Sons (Scotland) Ltd, for a couple of years. He arranged the purchase of the Miltonduff and Glenburgie distilleries for the company, to guarantee the supplies of single malt whisky required for the Ballantine’s blends. And he worked closely with James Horn and George Robertson to create a new premium blend, Ballantine’s 17 Year Old.
One of Barclay’s final acts in connection with Hiram Walker came in December 1938, when he appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court to give evidence in a case in which Hiram Walker, George Ballantine & Son and other companies were prosecuted under the Merchandise Act 1887: they had allegedly used the false trade description ‘Scotch whisky’ in connection with blends of Scotch malt whisky and grain whisky from Northern Ireland.
Barclay told the court that he believed a whisky could be called ‘Scotch’ if it was a blend of Scotch malt whisky ‘and any other British-produced patent still grain whisky’, apparently supporting other defence witnesses who believed that Scotch had become a term which indicated a ‘style’ rather than a place of origin.
He went on to say that, since the First World War, ‘Irish grain was bought and sold by reputable firms for the purpose of being blended with Scotch malt and being marketed as Scotch or blended Scotch whisky’ – even if there was as little as 5% Scotch malt in the blend (although he added that such a small amount was practically unheard-of).
This latest ‘What is Scotch Whisky’ case attracted headlines in British newspapers in 1938 and 1939. All the plaintiffs other than Barclay’s old company, McGavin’s (which had simply bottled the products for their clients), were found guilty and given nominal fines. The little-remembered test case established quite firmly that Scotch mixed with spirit made in any other place ‘must not be labelled Scotch whisky’.
Barclay then became entangled in the celebrated Excess Profits Tax avoidance scandal of the 1940s. EPT was levied by the British Government to prevent rampant profiteering when the prices of whisky stocks went through the roof at the beginning of the Second World War.
Established brokers and a number of ‘straw men’ formed a syndicate to buy and sell whisky companies and their valuable stocks at small margins, over and again, before the final transfer to the new owner.
This labyrinthine scheme ensured that the EPT liability for the vendor was kept low, while each link in the selling-on chain was no doubt rewarded with a tidy fee.
According to the media, the scheme was fronted by Jay Pomeroy, a Russian émigré, entrepreneur and opera impresario, but involved a who’s who of the Scotch whisky brokerage trade, including Barclay.
The latter was named in connection with the purchases and re-sales of Bladnoch distillery, William Longmore & Co and other businesses. However, after the introduction of retrospective legislation to close the tax loopholes, and after the Inland Revenue finally began unravelling the deals to claim appropriate amounts of EPT, the authorities ruled that he had been involved only as a consultant.
Even before he severed his ties with Hiram Walker in the late 1930s, Barclay had begun working closely with one of its Canadian rivals – the colourful Sam Bronfman of the Distillers Corporation – Seagram’s Ltd.
Bronfman had ‘issues’ with Distillers Company Ltd, the dominant player in the Scotch whisky industry, which in 1933 had rejected a proposal to work in partnership with his company in the US.
He became obsessed with a plan to create a blended Scotch that would compete with Johnnie Walker and other great DCL brands. Barclay, who had known Bronfman since Prohibition days, was happy to assist.
In 1935, Barclay had purchased the Glasgow firm Robert Brown Ltd for Seagram’s and began to amass the large inventory of aged grain and malt whiskies that would be required for the launch of a new, premium blended Scotch.
He husbanded the stocks through the Second World War and, working with a number of well-known brokers, found ways to add to them. In 1949, when reserves of pre-war Scotch whiskies were at an all-time low, and the 12 years age statement had been removed even from Johnnie Walker Black Label, Bronfman made his move.
Seagram’s paid considerable sums to buy The Highland Bonding Co and William Walker & Co from Barclay, along with their large stocks of maturing whisky. Barclay then acted for the company to purchase the Aberdeen grocer Chivas Brothers (with its prestigious Royal Warrant), acquiring more stock, but also the rights to the Chivas Regal brand name.
Bottling facilities: The Glasgow Bond was used by Seagram’s to package Chivas Regal
The Canadian company also required a distillery to guarantee supplies of single malt for the new blend, and in 1950 Barclay acquired on its behalf the Milton (renamed Strathisla) distillery in Keith.
The previous owner, William Longmore & Co, had been forced into liquidation in the wake of the EPT scandal and of demands made to shareholders to settle claims for more than £500,000 in unpaid tax.
Finally, Bronfman needed facilities for bottling his Scotch whisky, so Barclay put The Glasgow Bonding Co’s bottling facilities in Glasgow at Seagram’s disposal.
Cockney master blender Charlie Julian was employed to re-formulate Chivas Regal as a rich 12-year-old blend, and it was launched in New York in August 1951.
At a time when bottles of older Scotch were hard to find, Chivas Regal stood out from the crowd. By 1960, Seagram’s sold more than 100,000 cases in the US each year, and it remains (with Ballantine’s) one of the world’s most famous whisky brands.
The ever-restless Barclay left the Chivas board in the late 1950s, in search of yet more business opportunities. He bought four hotels, including the famous art deco Beresford in Glasgow, as well as three farms and a herd of pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle.
He retained business interests in Nassau in the Bahamas, and he remained a major player in the whisky trade: when he died in 1963, it was said that his company, T&A McClelland, held larger stocks of Scotch whisky than any other private firm.
PATRICK DE SCHULTHESS, STRATHISLA
Pursuing rare whiskies may have initially thinned out the bank balance of Swiss accountant Patrick de Schulthess, but in the process he has made many new friends, in addition to building an enviable Scotch collection. While a Port Ellen might be his holy grail, Strathisla remains his passion.
Patrick de Schulthess Strathisla collector
Whisky journey: Collecting Scotch has allowed Patrick de Schulthess to discover Scotland
Who are you and what do you do?
‘My name is Patrick de Schulthess, I’m Swiss-born, living in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and I’m currently running a small accounting firm.’
What whisky do you collect and why?
‘I used to collect whatever nice bottle was available, but due to the sheer size of the whisky world, I decided to specialise in some specific areas, mainly Talisker Connoisseur’s Choice Black Label from Gordon & MacPhail. When I started, it was one of my first real whisky surprises and it still remains one of the best ever whisky series in my opinion.
‘Ardbeg from the 1960s and 1970s – these whiskies were love at first sight for me and they remain one of my passions for collecting and drinking. I love Islay whisky from the 1950s to the early 1980s, but I had to make a choice so I decided to concentrated on Ardbeg.
‘[Also] old blended whisky, which nobody was collecting at the time I started and it was readily available. And, of course, Strathisla. This is due to the fact that my friends were already collecting my favourite distilleries when I started, so I decided to go for a different distillery and was rewarded by some amazing bottles.’
How did you come to love whisky?
‘Well, in the beginning I loved wine, and whisky was just something on the side. But as I didn’t drink enough, I had to find something else to buy and whisky came to my mind because you don’t need a specific place to keep them as you do for the wine. When I started, I quickly noticed the richness of the whisky world.’
How has being a collector impacted your life?
‘It affected my life in different ways. It has obviously made me poorer, but also happier as it has allowed me to meet a lot of people who, over the years, became very good friends. It makes me travel a lot. I discovered Scotland and its people this way.’
Have the rising prices for old bottles changed the way you view your collection? Do you see it more as an investment?
‘Good question. I certainly do not see it as I used to. I think that I was lucky enough to start in the early 1990s, so a lot of bottles were available at very low prices – well, by today’s standards.
‘As it becomes more and more difficult to get your hands on valuable bottles, you tend to become increasingly aware of what a luxury it is, and how fortunate you are to have tried so many of these beautiful whiskies. It was never intended as an investment, which is quite ironic, as it turns out to be by far my best investment.’
Do you think the character of Strathisla has changed much over the years?
‘I’m not that pessimistic – let me explain why. The distillate we drink now is brand-new, so hasn’t yet had time to evolve in the bottle. Most of the “older” bottlings we drink these days aged, for some of them, over a very long period of time. I’m not sure that if I tasted the same distillate when young, it would have been as much to my liking.
‘To answer this question I need a time machine, but unfortunately I am not Doctor Who, so I am unable to know if the character of Strathisla has changed that much over the years. What I can say is that the character now is less oily and fatty than some of the older versions. However, whether that is due to bottle ageing or changes in distillate character? Well, it’s anybody’s guess.’
What are your favourite Strathislas?
‘I think the 30-year-old 1963 [bottled in 1993] is very good. The 1967 Samaroli is flabbergasting, together with some 1937 releases by Gordon & MacPhail. But these kinds of bottles are so difficult to source now, so I’ll go for the simple 10-year-old distillery bottling from the 1960s and early 1970s, which is still very good value for money, in my view.’
Opening a bottle with friends is what de Schulthess loves most about Scotch
Which distilleries do you think are some of the better ones to follow these days, from a drinking perspective?
‘I think each and every distillery has some amazing whisky, which appeared thanks to the independent bottlers. In terms of their overall productions, I would say that Springbank comes to my mind, together with Bowmore and to a lesser extent Highland Park. Some others, like Ardbeg and Bruichladdich, have very good distillate that tends to suffer from some weird wood experiments, which is sad.’
What are the most prized bottles in your collection?
‘It’s so hard to pick, and my choice can change from day to day, but my most prized bottle, as a Strathisla collector, is the one from William Longmore & Co.’s Milton distillery (Milton was the previous name of Strathisla).
‘Also a 30-year-old Dalmore official bottling from the early 1950s and a 1955 Bowmore ceramic jug bottled on 12 September 1974 for the opening of the visitor centre. These, and a bottle of Pattisons’ blend, which is special to me for its historical importance.’
What would be your ‘holy grail’ bottle to find?
‘Hard to say. Among the ones I know I would love to have are the two bottles of Port Ellen 12 Years Old from James MacArthur.’
What are the best whiskies you've ever tasted?
‘This one I still don’t know! Among the ones I’ve already tried, I’ll say the 12-year-old Port Ellen, bottled in 1980 for the Queen’s visit. It has such an amazing, wild array of flavours.’
What has been the best whisky experience of your life so far?
‘A trip to Islay I went on a couple of years ago. It epitomised all I love about whisky – sharing with friends, opening some amazing bottles. Highly recommended if you can do this kind of trip. Everyone who loves whisky should try to go to Islay, either for the Fèis Ile or whatever reasons you may find.’