Simon & Lee’s Whisky Wanderings

Simon & Lee’s Whisky Wanderings


Lee & Simon at Speyside Distillery

Yesterday Phil Huckle, our newly-appointed intrepid reporter finally managed to sit down for a few minutes with MD Simon Aron. They discussed his recent trip to Scotland with fellow director Lee Tomlinson.

PhilSimon thanks for finding the time to finally sit down and discuss your trip.

Simon: You’re very welcome.

Phil: Right first question. How was Scotland? You were away for a week

Simon: Of course, the trip was incredibly enjoyable. We went for three very important reasons. First, to visit our partners and suppliers who pre pandemic we were visiting nearly every month or two. Unfortunately, we had not been able to see them since September /October last year. I cannot emphasise enough how good relations with these people are so fundamental to our continued success. I might send you one day…!

Phil: I thought I was going to visit our rum suppliers in the Caribbean as that is such an expanding part of our business?

Simon: Me too! Secondly, we went to see three organisations which are building warehouses. There is a real shortage in Scotland right now.

Phil: I didn’t know that.

Simon: Yes, and they are not easy to build as well as there are a lot of planning regulations, health and safety rules and of course the involvement with HMRC. 

Phil: And thirdly?

Simon: We also went to view some bottling plants. We want to help our customers with a faster more seamless bottling process. Customer service in terms of what we offer, and the efficiency of our processes is at the heart of everything we do.

 Phil: So where did you visit in Speyside?

Speyside Distillery Stills

Simon: It was fantastic to visit the Speyside distillery who provide the Trilogy Series for us. They have a wonderful operation producing very high-quality liquid. Of course, it was also lovely to meet all the staff there. It was interesting to find out that their fermentation time is 120 hrs which is very long compared to the average of many other distilleries. This we think leads to the quick maturation in the cask. The whisky tastes amazing even at just three years old.

 The backdrop of the distillery was the snow-capped Cairngorm mountains – just stunning! For reference The Cask Trade Trilogy series provides the opportunity for our customers to invest in three casks of new make spirit. They are aged in a first fill bourbon, refill sherry hogshead and a port barrique. They are selling out so fast!

Phil: Anywhere else of interest?

Simon: We also managed to spend some time in the famous whisky towns of Elgin, Craigellachie & Rothes. Plus, a trip to see our good friend Matteo at the Speyside Whisky Shop in Aberlour. This is one of the finest whisky shops in Scotland. I always buy a few bottles there and on the trip in general! I managed to pick up a 30yr Highland Park amongst many other great bottlings.

Phil: Any highlights on the trip?

Simon: It would have to be staying at the cottage right next to the still room at the Speyside distillery. We had the River Tromie running close by and in the morning, you can hear the river plus the distillery in operation. With that the wonderful smell of the malted barley combined with the fresh fragrant mountain valley air. Truly incredible!

Speyside Distillery Exterior

Phil: Bit different to Regent St then?

Simon: Quite. Oh, I should also mention we had a great meal at the Macdonald Resort in Aviemore. Plus, the oysters at the White Horse in Edinburgh were also impressive and I can highly recommend Café Andaluz in Edinburgh.

Phil: Agreed that place is very impressive. Ok last question. How was Glasgow & Edinburgh plus anything else you’d like to mention?

Simon: We went to see our friends at Cadenhead & Royal Mile Whiskies. Managed to buy a very interesting Kilchoman finished in Mezcal casks.

Phil: That’s very interesting and quite unusual but makes sense as Mezcal can be quite smoky.

Simon: I bought some brilliant artwork for the Regents St tasting room. It is a distillery map in a cartoon version of the Tower of Babel. Even a philistine like you Phil might appreciate it.

Phil: We’ll see…

Simon: Overall a great trip! Really positive for the business. I’ll also point out that most of Speyside and Glasgow was under level three restrictions so restaurants couldn’t sell alcohol or serve food after 8pm! So, no jolly. It is in fact always a pleasure to be in Scotland and I’ve really missed seeing everyone. Hopefully we’ll be travelling up there a lot more in the near future.

Phil: Thanks Simon that was great.

Simon: I think we should open up that Kilchoman Mezcal finish… don’t you?

Bottle of Kilchoman

About the Cask Trade Trilogy: A limited-edition trio of casks, (only £5,000 for the set) available in three unique expressions – Bourbon, Sherry and Port Matured. The creation of this Trilogy is a first for Cask Trade and a truly exceptional opportunity for whisky enthusiasts and investors alike.

Using new make spirit distilled at the award-winning Speyside Distillery in Kingussie, Scotland, each customer will be able to purchase just one cask of each expression. We will travel on this journey with you, arranging samples at the different stages of maturation to provide you with a unique tasting experience. So don’t miss this opportunity to play your part in something truly exceptional. To find out more, get in touch today.

Speyside Distillery Focus

Speyside Distillery Focus

Nestled inside the magnificent Cairngorm National Park is the Speyside distillery. Opened in 1990 Speyside distillery didn’t show up on anybody’s radar until the new owners took over in 2012. Since then they have released some very exciting expressions. From a 12/18 & 27 YO to 12 YO peated cask and a 12yr port cask. However, what investors should certainly pay close attention to are their three cask strength versions. Tenne (Port finish), Trutina (Bourbon), and Fumare (Peated – Bourbon cask). These expressions will tell you how well this whisky ages in the cask.

Speyside Distillery

Recently we introduced an opportunity for investors to purchase what we called The Cask Trade Trilogy. This consists of three casks of Speyside new-make spirit aged in three different casks. To view Sir Colin Hampden-White and Phil Huckle taste indicative samples of the tasty trio click here. Speyside distillery really is producing some fantastic liquid!

The distillery is currently producing about 600,000 litres per year with a fermentation time of between 70-120hrs. We would describe their whisky as quite light in style but with a wonderful depth of flavour. Brand Executive Phil’s tasting notes when trying their bourbon cask talked of lots of floral, honey, citrus and grassy notes.

Branded SPEY Casks

From an investor’s point of view, not only is Speyside a rising star that is bound to surprise people in the future, but it is incredible value for money. Also, it is becoming increasingly popular in the all-important Asian market and right now is already very popular in Taiwan. We can’t recommend this distillery enough!

If you’re interested and want to find out more, get in touch today.

Cooley Irish Whiskey Distillery Focus

Cooley Irish Whiskey Distillery Focus

Phil Huckle

The Irish weren’t very lucky when it came to whiskey in the early part of the 20th century. From having a dominant position over their Scottish cousins it all quickly unraveled thanks to US Prohibition. They gained independence but were then hit with huge tariffs for the British Empire market; the surprisingly very strong temperance movement in their own domestic market. In a short space of time, Ireland went from around 200 distilleries down to three. Finally, the comeback is well and truly on and Cooley Irish Whiskey can be proud of the part they played in this.

In 1985 John Teeling bought a state-owned potato schnapps (a joke here would just be too easy). He converted it into Ireland’s first new whiskey distillery in over 100 years. Early on they decided to innovate and break from the standard way of doing things. The release of a peated malt was actually quite controversial at the time as that was considered Scottish territory. However, Teeling said why shouldn’t we challenge the Scots on their own turf as clearly, peated whisky was very popular.

Cooley Grain and Single Malt Samples

The distillery itself is located just south of the border in County Louth. They actually in effect have two distilleries in one as they also produce grain whiskey for their blends. Current production is up to around 650,000 litres for their Malt with two pot stills operating. Most of the aging’s done in first-fill bourbon casks but they do use sherry, port, and Madeira cask finishes. Some of Cooley’s current products are gaining in sales and very positive reviews. These include their Kilbeggan Blend, their Connemara Peated Malt, and of course the Tyrconnell Single Malt.

Recently they were bought by the Japanese company Suntory, which has seemingly only helped them go from strength to strength.

A little dram

From an investor point of view, it is clear that Irish Whiskey is on a strong upward trajectory, and evidence of this is recent global sales and the number of new distilleries opening/being built. This is a very good time to add Cooley Irish Whiskey to your portfolio; with Cooley, you have a producer with an already very strong track record, with a loyal growing following (especially in the all-important US market) and who make great whiskey. We have Irish Whiskey on our current stock list so get in touch and let’s talk Whiskey!

To find out more about Irish Whiskey Investment, contact The Masters today!

Mackmyra Distillery Focus

Mackmyra Distillery Focus

Phil Huckle

It’s 11.37 am and I’m sitting in our sumptuous tasting room at Cask Trade towers overlooking Regent Street. My genius plan to escape the hectic hustle and bustle of our main office down the corridor for some peace and quiet has now somewhat backfired. Unfortunately, the very famous toy shop next door is blasting out 101 Disney classics! The sudden urge to have a drink has become overwhelming… Luckily, the boss has just handed me a number of small cask samples of the wonderful Mackmyra distillery. I now know what I am going to write about, and relief is at hand from the excruciating noise.

Mackmyra is a relatively new distillery, having started distilling in 2002. The inspiration for the distillery started when a group of friends on a ski trip had brought with them a bottle of whisky for their host. The conversation then started about creating a high-quality Swedish whisky. Three years later their dream had become a reality and in 2006 they released their first expression. (It sold out quicker than Rolling Stones tickets!).

Fjäderholmarna island

In 2011 Mackmyra opened up their ground-breakingly innovative Gravity Distillery. The seven-story building starts with the local malted Swedish barley going in on the top floor. Every floor down is another step in the process, with distillation occurring on the second floor. The new-make spirit then comes out on the ground floor. The distillery uses all the latest energy-efficient devices which makes Mackmyra one of the ‘greenest’ whiskies in the world.

Much of Mackmyra is aged in local Swedish oak. This is very different from your traditional American white oak as the trees grow much slower in the much colder climate. This imparts a spicier, fiery quality to the whisky, which is balanced by a vanilla sugar sweetness that is also prevalent. Mackmyra does also use American & Sherry casks in its aging, and these are also worth looking out for. Another innovative project that Mackmyra have started is finishing their whiskies in a whole range of casks. These include ones that have previously contained lingonberry wine, cloudberry wine, roasted coffee beans, cherry wine, beer & rum. Exciting times ahead.

Mackmyra samples

For the future I do believe that the reputation of Mackmyra is going to continue to grow. In the cool climate of Sweden their whisky is only going to continue to improve with age and become highly collectible. If you have a couple of spare kronor, then you know what to do.

Mackmyra Gravity Distillery

To find out more about New World Whisky Investment (and the exciting new additions to our stock list), contact The Masters today!

Paul John Distillery Focus

Paul John Distillery Focus

Phil Huckle

‘What on earth was that’ (I’ve toned the language down here)… This was my reaction at the dark brown spirit swirling around the rocks glass that had been thrust into my hand. I had just tasted my first Indian whisky! A friend of mine had brought a bottle back from his trip there and I vowed never to touch the stuff again. Interestingly these cheap Indian blended whiskies are made from molasses (which is normally associated with rum) and I could launch right now into some eloquent tasting notes but there is no point. It was rough! That’s all you need to know…..

Fast forward to more recent times and I am working with my previous employer at one of the many whisky festivals that pre-pandemic were popular around the country. Next to my famous Scottish Single malt brand was this Indian whisky brand that I’d heard of but never tasted. The packaging looked good and it appeared quite premium but after my previous experience, I was expecting the worse. Anyhow after several hours of chatting to their brand ambassador next to me, I had tried the full range and learned so many interesting facts about the product and distillery that I was a convert. This was Paul John Indian whisky making its grand appearance in the UK and it felt a privilege to be one of the first to try it.

Goa

Paul John’s Single malt distillery is located in Goa and they make their whisky the Scottish way using a double distillation of malted barley. The wash comes in though at quite a low 5% abv (rather than the usual 8%) and this gives a much sweeter taste. After distillation, the new make spirit will go into the cask at 55% and after four/five years of aging in the tropical heat, the final product comes in at around 57% for their Single Casks. It’s worth pointing out that the tropical monsoon climate of Goa ages the whisky very fast as compared to Scotland and just four or five years in that climate could be argued to be the equivalent of 12-15yrs in the Highlands.

The Indian-made copper pot stills produce about two million litres of spirit per year and maturation actually takes place in underground cellars, which whilst cooler than the outside temperature, the angels share is very high, as temperatures regularly hit 35c+. Paul John uses a mixture of Bourbon & Sherry casks and interestingly makes some smoky batches using peat imported from Scotland.

New World Whisky

Whisky aficionados in the know are getting more and more excited about this wonderful distillery. Recently Paul John was awarded one of the Top Three whiskies in the world in the 2020 World Whisky Awards and has a whole slew of gold medals from every award show imaginable. Make a note, Paul John is quickly rising in the whisky ranks.

To find out more about New World Whisky Investment (and the exciting new additions to our stock list), contact The Masters today!

Meet the Masters – Phil Huckle

Meet the Masters – Phil Huckle

Phil Huckle

No stranger to the whisky world, reputable Brand Ambassador Phil Huckle is the latest Master to join our ever-growing team of whisky nerds.

How long have you worked for Cask Trade?

1 day, 4 hrs and 50mins and counting….

What first ignited your passion for Whisky?

I moved to Austin Texas when I was 21 and many of my new Texan friends drank Scotch so I was influenced by them and grew to love it from there…!

What are your top three favourite World Whiskies and why?

Balvenie 21yr Port Word, Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask & The Glenlivet 18yr. I generally prefer whiskies which are rich sweet, fruity and aged for a decent amount of time in sherry or port casks. The Kavalan distillery makes some fantastic expressions and the whisky ages very quickly in Taiwan as it has a tropical climate. I was fortunate to visit the distillery a few years back and has been a favourite ever since.

What are your favourite flavours? Which aspects of whisky are the most important for you?

As above the Speyside style really suits my pallet and I love the rich fruity dry nutty flavours that come from sherry casks or with a port cask finish.

 Your favourite whisky cocktail?

For many years it was a ‘blood & sand’ but these days I am very fond of the whisky highball, especially if it is made correctly. It needs very good quality ice and chilled glasses and must be stirred for a decent amount of time. It was visiting various bars in Tokyo two years ago that got me hooked. The Japanese bartenders have turned making this simple elegant drink into an art form.

Whisky with water or straight cask strength?

For me definitely with water. I generally start with one drop and build up from there and taste and nose the whisky at different ABVs. Every whisky will thus have a sweet spot which is then perfect for your individual pallet. I can’t drink whisky at 60+ % neat, not much anyway!

What do you like most about Cask Trade?

It’s a small growing reputable company which has established itself in a really exciting growing part of the industry. Just as important is that it’s a really nice group of people that are fun to work with.

Why should people invest in Whisky Casks?

It’s a very safe investment with really good growth. As the casks mature the value of the whisky increases. An example of this is a bottle of 18yr old single malt scotch will always cost a lot more than its younger 12yr old cousin. The same applies to casks. Scotch whisky has global appeal around the world and sales are expanding on nearly every continent. Also, you don’t have to cash in your investment…. you can drink it!

To find out more about what Cask Trade can do for you, don’t hesitate to contact the team today and let’s talk whisky!

Cheese & Rum Pairing Night

Cheese & Rum Pairing Night

Cheese & Rum Pairing Night

Cheese and rum; a match made in heaven?

Perhaps seen as an unlikely pairing, when combined they complement each other perfectly – just ask the Masters, who hosted a delightful evening sampling some fine rums and rather decadent cheeses.

The line-up consisted of an eclectic mix from around the world; Chaource paired with Guyana Diamond (Port Mourant Still) 11 YO; truffled brie with Jamaican Clarendon Estate 13 YO; Mrs. Bell’s Blue with a Nicaragua 17 YO chaser and Barbadian Foursquare 12 YO paired with a french comté. There were also some bonus rums on the menu including Foursquare Principia and a Dictado 38-year-old
A good time was certainly enjoyed by all!

Cheese & Rum Pairing Night

New to rum and contemplating adding a cask to your Investment Portfolio? Feel free to try before you buy – contact the team today to arrange your very own tasting session in our sampling room casktrade.com/contact-us/

Cask Trade Virtual Tasting Sessions

Cask Trade Virtual Tasting Sessions

Cask Trade Virtual Tasting Sessions

Last month Sir Colin Hampden-White and Simon Aron hosted Cask Trade’s inaugural Whisky Influencer Virtual Tasting Sessions. A good time was certainly had by all!

The tastings were split into three sessions over two days and included the following delicious drams;

2008 Linkwood Sherry Butt, 56.5% ABV
1997 Caperdonich Hogshead, 57.5% ABV
1997 Allt-a-Bhainne Barrel, 50.2% ABV
2014 Speyside Hogshead, 60.5% ABV
1997 Glen Grant Barrel, 58.6%

Cask Trade Virtual Tasting Sessions

We were thrilled to have few familiar faces within the whisky world in attendance. Thanks to all the influencers for taking part.

We hope to do another one soon so stay tuned!

Cask Trade Virtual Tasting Sessions

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