Port Dundas Distillery Focus 

Port Dundas Distillery Focus 

 

Port Dundas is sadly no more. It was closed and demolished in 2011 by its owners Diageo when they decided to consolidate their grain whisky production at Cameronbridge. Whilst the business rationale behind that is probably very sound, it is a real shame that this famous Glasgow landmark is now deceased. Opened way back in 1811 it is doubly sad as the distillery was celebrating its 200th anniversary.

When you think of the wars, depressions, recessions, social changes and huge whisky booms and busts that it has survived it’s slightly ironic that it was finally closed in a time when the Scotch whisky industry has never been in a healthier state, and its owners never more prosperous. Port Dundas distillery itself was certainly seen as a landmark when it opened as it sat on the highest point in Glasgow and towered over the city.

In the 1860s it was merged with the Cowlairs distillery next door and then in 1877 became one of the founder members of the DCL group (which eventually became Diageo). By 1885 its mixture of column and pot stills made it the largest distillery in Scotland and production was flat-out to keep with the global boom in blended whisky. The location was perfect for the bottling; blending plants were close by as was the huge port of Glasgow used for shipping the whisky to the four corners of the world.

In 1902 another neighbour Dundashill was merged into the complex. Dundashill at that time had the largest production of Single Malt whisky and at this point, it’s hard to fathom the size of the combined site. The complex could also boast at the time the world’s tallest chimney which was 138 metres tall!  

The 20th century was tough for many Scotch Whisky distilleries, and two fires in 1903 and 1916 destroyed much of the facility – thankfully Port Dundas was rebuilt and thrived. It even managed to survive the Luftwaffe’s intense bombing campaign of 1940 and 1941. Once the war was over it was onwards and upwards and at one point was producing 39 million litres of spirit which was needed for the Haig, Johnnie Walker and White Horse blends amongst others.  

We’ve always found older whiskies from this closed grain distillery incredibly smooth to drink. They have unique complexities which whilst not as in-depth as a Single Malt are still rewarding in their own right. Port Dundas typically has notes of vanilla and caramel with a lovely mouthfeel and texture. An incredible chance to purchase such an old Cask (1999) this is worth re-gauging and sampling upon purchase but be in no doubt the liquid is excellent.

From the investment angle, our eyes always light up when it is a closed distillery because there is only a finite amount of stock and one day it will all be gone. As stated at 68.5% ABV there is a lot of life left in these casks and even at 22 years old they have a long way to go if you want them to. For this reason alone we would invest and hold for as long as you can (whilst paying close attention to how it’s maturing) because if you are in possession of some of the last casks in existence, then the laws of supply and demand are going to work very much in your favour.

One last thing to consider is that this Port Dundas Distillery has a lot of history and even if many people don’t realise it right now that can certainly change. The legend of Port Dundas could certainly grow over the mists of time.

We currently have a range of 1999 Port Dundas Hogsheads on our stock list. To find out more about investing in Port Dundas casks, contact The Masters today!

Benrinnes Distillery Focus

Benrinnes Distillery Focus

 

A stereotypical Speyside Malt is generally described as sweet, fruity, and floral, and the perception is that it is lighter in style. However, Benrinnes Distillery whisky would certainly fit into a vastly different category, which can only be described as ‘meaty’ along with fellow Speysiders; Cragganmore, Dailuaine, and Mortlach.

For Benrinnes, this full-bodied flavour comes from its incredibly complex distillation style. Today Benrinnes Distillery falls under the vast Diageo empire with nearly all the production destined for their Johnnie Walker and J&B blends. This means that finding a bottling of this Malt is rarer than a hot summer’s day in the Highlands. If you do get a chance to try this wonderful Malt the first thing you will notice is how big-bodied and viscous it is – it really is a unique experience trying it.

Benrinnes Distillery itself is located at the foot of the famous Speyside mountain, which is of course where the name comes from. Opened in 1826 the history of the distillery has been quite unremarkable with the liquid hidden from view until the late 1990s when the first limited edition bottlings occurred. From researching this distillery, the scarcity and lack of availability have given Benrinnes a real cult following amongst the whisky enthusiast community.

From an investment perspective, this is a clever addition to the portfolio as you have a rare whisky that will be in great demand with the Independent Bottlers; the whisky itself has a very unique style and it is owned by Diageo. There seems to be no reason why the supply and demand of the marketplace will not continue to push the value higher and higher.

To find out more about investing in Tullibardine Whisky, contact The Masters today!

Macduff Distillery Focus 

Macduff Distillery Focus 

 

Macduff Distillery is owned by the Bacardi–Dewar’s Group and is situated right on the coast just to the east of the Speyside region, so is officially classified as a Highland distillery. Opened in 1960 in the post-war whisky boom, the distillery made malt whisky as fillings for the huge William Lawson blend. However, under the then-owners Italians Martini Rossi, they realised that there was an opportunity for light young Single Malts which suited the Italian palate, so a five-year-old and an eight-year-old were released to much success. The expansion of the distillery has continued and in 1995 moved under the ownership of Bacardi-Dewar’s. 

The style of this malt is medium-bodied, nutty, and fruity. The whisky’s character is said to come from short mashing, short fermentation time, and extra cold condensers which give a little more texture and weight to the malt. 

From an investment perspective, it’s worth noting that the owners have plans to expand the sales of the Single Malt under the brand name The Deveron, and at present are promoting a core range at 12-years-old and 18-years-old. We’ve tasted the 18-year bottling before and absolutely loved it, so much depth of flavour with a wonderful silky texture. The single cask bottlings are also incredible.

It’s fair to say that Macduff Distillery is one that’s quietly slumbering away in its idyllic coastal setting, and one day is going to awaken and start surprising people. It’s important to consider that if the Malt is needed for a Blend then the Blend will always take priority as that’s 85% of the market. Macduff is certainly worth investing in for its quality and who the very wealthy owners are. Clearly, the independent bottlers love this distillery so there will never be a shortage of options for your exit strategy.  

NB – The official distillery bottlings were originally called Glen Deveron and now just Deveron whilst the independent bottlings are by the distillery name Macduff.

We currently have a range of 2012 Macduff Hogsheads and Sherry Butts on our stock list. To find out more about investing in Macduff casks, contact The Masters today!

Tomintoul Distillery Focus

Tomintoul Distillery Focus

Tomintoul Distillery is a relative newcomer, having opened in 1965. It is located in the highest village in the Highlands just on the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains with its closest neighbour being The Glenlivet distillery. In 1990 Robert Fleming became their Master Distiller and is still there to this day over 30 years later. He has certainly been instrumental in the rise of this distillery.

In 2000 Angus Dundee Distillers bought the distillery and an impressive core range of 10, 14, 16, 18, 21, and 25-year-old Whiskies have been released as well as many limited edition cask finishes including the delicious 15-year port wood finish. It’s clear that the liquid is very versatile and ages well at all ages in all different types of casks. This bodes well for any investor as it will give a lot of flexibility for any exit strategy.

Currently distillery capacity is at 3.3 million litres. They produce a small amount of peated malt but most fits into that classic Speyside style. We find Tomintoul to be a medium-bodied malt that is quite sweet and fruity with plenty of pineapple, cheesecake and peaches as an example of their 14-year expression.

From an investment point of view, it is clear that the 30-year tenure of Robert Fleming has certainly steered the distillery in the right direction and laid down strong foundations for the future of Tomintoul Distillery. The casks right now are very good value for money.

To find out more about investing in Tomintoul casks, contact The Masters today!

Strathdearn Distillery Focus

Strathdearn Distillery Focus

 

Strathdearn Distillery (a.k.a Tomatin without distillery naming rights) in many ways has had quite a remarkable rollercoaster history. Located in Inverness close to the Western edge of Speyside, the distillery opened up in 1897. Post-World War II it underwent a huge expansion going from two stills up to 23 and making it Scotland’s largest distillery. However, the timing was awful as Scotch whisky had just gone into decline and by 1985 the distillery had gone bankrupt and into liquidation.

The saviour arrived from an unexpected source as the distillery was bought by company Takara & Okara and it was the first Japanese foray into Scotch whisky. Under Japanese ownership, Strathdearn Distillery production was downsized and there has been a slow evolution from making fillings for blends into becoming a well-known Single Malt brand. They have in recent years established a core range of a NAS, 12, 18, 30, and 36 years old with many, many limited editions released.

In 2010 Tomatin started making a limited amount of peaty whisky which was called Cu Bocan then in 2018 a very rare 50-year-old expression was bottled (£10,000). Today production capacity is about five million litres with a varied fermentation of between 55 and 110 hours. They age in a variety of casks and like many distilleries you can find many different finishes.

One important point to highlight for investors is that it is clear that the distillery is making their foray into establishing themselves as a premium Single Malt brand very seriously. An example of this is how much they are investing in their wood policy and they now age their whisky in a significantly high percentage of first-fill Bourbon and Sherry Butts.

The progress of Strathdearn Distillery has been slow and steady and the liquid has certainly improved since the dark days of the 80s. This has meant that they have slipped under the radar a bit, so adding the odd cask of Tomatin could be a very savvy long-term play for any portfolio. The value is still certainly there.

To find out more about investing in Strathdearn casks, contact The Masters today!

Blair Atholl Distillery Focus

Blair Atholl Distillery Focus

 

There are so many distilleries who owe their existence to their close relationships with certain blended brands, and this could not be more true than with Blair Atholl Distillery and Bell’s. The distillery is located in Pitlochry in Perthshire and can trace its history all the way back to 1798! In 1896 the Bell’s blend was launched and with Blair Atholl as an integral part of the recipe, its future was secure. This relationship was further cemented when Bell’s bought the distillery in 1933.

In more recent years the distillery came under the ownership of Diageo who opened a fantastic visitor center in 1987. This is important because even though very few bottlings of the Single Malt have been released, general knowledge and affection for the distillery are actually quite well spread. Blair Atholl Distillery is actually Diageo’s most visited distillery and ranks number four in Scotland overall.

The style of the whisky itself can be described in one word; ‘nutty’. This comes from the production which involves cloudy worts and a very short distillation. The whisky also has a really rich depth of flavour, which lends itself perfectly to aging in Sherry Casks. However, because certain flavours are needed for the Bell’s blend most Blair Atholl is aged in Bourbon Casks. Interestingly very few official bottlings have ever been released, although there are a large number of independent bottlings of all different ages which can be found.

From the investment perspective if you can find Blair Atholl in a Sherry Butt then quickly snap it up because the whisky will be absolutely delicious, and every single Independent Bottler will know this and will be very keen to bottle it. This is your main exit strategy. Conclusion – Blair Atholl in a sherry cask is a very strong buy.

To find out more about investing in Blair Atholl casks, contact The Masters today!

Springbank Distillery Focus

Springbank Distillery Focus


You just have to love everything about Springbank Distillery – you really do. From talking to a lot of whisky enthusiasts over many years this is the name that always crops up. It is real, genuine love and there are many solid reasons for it. In no particular order; they’re from Campbelltown and one of the last distilleries standing from a region which used to have over 20, they make great whisky, they support the local community, they don’t go in for flashy marketing campaigns, and they make the whisky the old way with part of it using direct fire heat and worm tubs.

Springbank only use local farmers for their barley, again feeding into the local support. They make three distinct styles with a heavily peated (Longrow), a medium peated (Springbank) and an unpeated (Hazelburn). They also have a limited sustainable production of about 750,000 litres spread across the three styles but with 80% being Springbank. Another rare aspect of the Springbank Distillery is that it is still the same family-owned since 1828!

Nowadays the vast majority of distilleries are owned by huge corporations which in some ways has helped the global distribution and investment, but it’s nice to have at least one distillery hanging on to its original heritage. Springbank age their whisky in a mix of casks and whilst they are very traditional their goal is to create great whisky for their customers, so they have been very proactive and innovative in using different types of cask finishes to create new flavours and exciting new expressions.

Springbank Distillery whisky itself is complex, powerful, oily, full-bodied but also fragrant and fruity. Longrow is much heavier with very powerful smoky, peaty flavours whilst Hazelburn is triple distilled which makes it generally much smoother, with a blend of toffee and orchard fruit flavours. From time to time we get the odd Springbank cask in stock, although they more frequently feature in our Auction (Auction Your Cask) – our most recent auction saw a 1994 Springbank Sherry Hogshead sell for a rather remarkable £71,000 (hammer price)…! We promise you they won’t last very long. Our advice is don’t look at the price, just melt the credit cards and buy it. You won’t regret it!

To find out more about investing in Springbank casks, contact The Masters today!

Ruadh Mhor Distillery Focus

Ruadh Mhor Distillery Focus

Ruadh Mhor Distillery (heavily peated Glenturret) is certainly one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries and it claims to be the oldest (1775) but with some minor digging that is plainly not true. Maybe they started distilling around 1818? The distillery did survive the turbulent 1800s but by 1921 they were bankrupt and the distillery was closed until 1959.

It was only in the latter part of the 20th-century with considerable investment from Remy-Cointreau and then the Edrington Group that things started to turn around. What really put the distillery on the map was the very popular Famous Grouse Experience which opened in 2002. In the 21st-century Single Malt expressions started to be released with a Sherry cask, a triple cask and the Peated cask (which gained a bit of a cult following).

Regarding the liquid, with a very long fermentation time of 120 hours and one small pair of stills production is only about 150,000 litres per year. About 10,000 litres of this produces a few batches of their heavily peated malt, named ‘Ruadh Mhor’ which translates as ‘Big Red’.

In 2018 the distillery was sold to the luxury Swiss jewellery and glassware group Lalique. They have instantly invested in new equipment to treble production and brought in two of the Macallan team to oversee this and launch new products. It certainly looks like they will try to reposition the brand on the Premium/Luxury end of the market, so interesting times lie ahead.

To find out more about investing in Ruadh Mhor casks, contact The Masters today!

Royal Brackla Distillery Focus

Royal Brackla Distillery Focus

Located in the Highland region just to the West of Speyside is the Royal Brackla Distillery. It is only one of two distilleries today that are allowed to use the ‘Royal’ name (Royal Lochnagar being the other) due to receiving a Royal Warrant from the then-King William IV way back in 1835 – it was known as ‘The King’s Own Whisky’.

Legal distilling on this site started in 1812 which was back in the days when most highland whisky would’ve been made illegally so the founder Captain William Fraser would not have been popular with the local community, but eventually when the whole industry turned legal the distillery started to thrive. For most of its history, Royal Brackla Distillery trundled along just making Malt for Blends with the famous Dewar’s and Lawson’s brands being the main recipients.

In 1998 the distillery was bought by the Bacardi group but it wasn’t until 2015 when Royal Brackla really started to be promoted as a single malt. That year a 12, 16, and 21-year core range was released and more recently a number of well-received limited editions all finished in either Port, Muscatel, Palo Cortado, PX, or Oloroso Sherry have become available. Bacardi has big plans to expand Royal Brackla’s popularity around the world especially in Asia, and they have also repackaged the brand with a much more premium image.

It is very clear that things are moving in an upward trajectory. Current production is now at around four million litres with a fermentation time of 68 hours with four pairs of stills in operation. The whisky is unpeated and has a fairly robust, fruity spicy style, not a million miles away from its Speyside neighbours down the road.

From an investment perspective, it’s hard to see how you could go wrong here; the owners clearly have big plans, popularity is growing, the brand image is becoming more premium and the price is still far below the illustrious malts down the road. Most importantly, the whisky is very good – The Royal name isn’t going to hurt either!

To find out more about investing in Royal Brackla casks, contact The Masters today!

Miltonduff Distillery Focus

Miltonduff Distillery Focus

Today the Ballantine’s blend from Miltonduff Distillery is selling around eight million nine-litre cases per year; that’s about 96,000,000 bottles! Not too shabby to be only behind the global juggernaut that is Johnnie Walker in sales. Why is this relevant? Well for those of you who have tasted this fantastic malt you’ll know how difficult it is to find. The simple reason for this is that these huge global blends of course need plenty of Single Malt Whisky and the heart of Ballantine’s is Miltonduff (with Glenburgie the other key player).

Miltonduff distillery itself is located just South West of Elgin in Speyside and opened like many in the area in 1824 after the change in the tax laws. Production today is up to 5.8 million litres with a fermentation time of 48 hours, producing a very classic Speyside-style whisky. The ones we’ve tasted are quite floral with plenty of citrus and orchard fruits, peaches and a hint of spice. Three years ago Chivas Bros released a 15-year Malt but there are a few Independent Bottlings to try and track down.

From an investor point of view, this is a very astute addition to your portfolio for a number of reasons – firstly, it’s rare. Its owners, as stated earlier, need a lot of it for Ballantine’s. Secondly, this means it is in demand even more so from independent bottlers so your exit strategy is more than secure. Thirdly this could easily be a superstar Malt because the liquid is very good – for that reason it is underpriced a little.

It’s always worth reminding yourself about the bigger picture – whilst Single Malts have seen fantastic growth and interest this century it’s still blends that make these whisky companies the majority of their income. Very simply this is a buy. If any casks did become available then we wouldn’t dither.

To find out more about investing in Miltonduff casks, contact The Masters today!