Colin Hampden-White is Appointed to The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Colin Hampden-White is Appointed to The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Colin Hampden-White

Cask Trade Director, Colin Hampden-White has been made a liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, adding to his list of expertise including Keeper of the Quaich, a judge for the Whisky Awards and his role as a key member of the Cask Trade team.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is a convivial fellowship and its key objectives include being the hub of the spirits industry, supporting education and vocational training, and raising money for charitable causes.

Colin says he is delighted to have been appointed a liveryman. “The Company is great for networking with other people in our industry and raising money for charity, but charity is the main thing. The fundraisers are a good way of having fun whilst donating to a good cause,” says Colin who hopes to join a sub-committee later this year to help raise the profile of the Company on social media.

Representing all corners of the world of spirits from distillers, retailers and writers, there are a number of stages to being admitted as a Liveryman of the Company. Initially, candidates have to be eligible for admission by one of various methods including obtaining the Freedom of the City of London.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers hosted the inaugural ‘One of One’ Auction last year raising £3.1 million for charity.

Over 40 exceptional whiskies and experiences found new owners from all over the world when the first in a series of auctions under the banner ‘The Distillers One of One’ took place at Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh in December. The auction was organised by The Distillers’ Charity, the philanthropic arm of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, in collaboration with Sotheby’s.

Colin with his Proposer and Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers
(Colin with Jonathan Driver, his Immediate Past Master, previously Proposer and Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers. Taken at the Signet Library in Edinburgh).

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is a Livery Company of the City of London granted Royal Charter in 1638. There are currently 110 City Livery Companies, each numbered according to precedence, primarily based on the date of foundation. The Distillers’ Company is ranked number 69.

Colin was the founding editor of Whisky Quarterly and is a judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition and the World Whisky Awards. In 2016 his contribution to Scotch whisky was recognised and he was made a member of the Keepers of the Quaich. In the same year, he was elected Chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers.

Colin is a presenter on the global TV Show: The Three Drinkers on Amazon Prime.

Cask Trade is delighted to be represented within The Worshipful Company of Distillers and looks forward to supporting its mission and charitable endeavours in 2022 and beyond.

For more interesting updates and information from our Masters, be sure to check out our ‘News’ page

An Insight into the World of Casks

An Insight into the World of Casks

Myriam

Having grown up in Speyside, whisky has been a part of Myriam’s heritage from a young age. What started out as a distillery tour guide job at Glenfiddich soon turned into a full-time career in whisky, from the family-owned Glenfarclas distillery, to independent bottler Elixir Distillers, to widely acclaimed William Grant & Sons. With export sales and single cask bottlings as her focus over the last seven years, Sales & Marketing Manager for Cask Trade, Myriam, gives us an insight into the world of casks and current trends.

2021 in review

At Cask Trade, we buy and sell casks on a daily basis, working with a huge variety of suppliers and customers which include both trade and private clients across the globe. We are fortunate to be working with close to 100 well-established distilleries in Scotland, which is the core of our business. We also sell world whisky, including Irish whiskey and bourbon, and rum casks.

In terms of trade customers, the cask market is showing strong growth as many continue to repeat purchase and buy multiple casks from different distilleries, ages and styles. There continues to be an increase in new trade customers globally and demand continues to outstrip supply. Some trade customers are looking to buy only a few casks a year while others are well established independent bottlers looking for hundreds of casks.

In terms of private clients, repeat purchases are common, as customers look to gradually build a diversified portfolio of casks over time. Some are already starting to see returns on casks they bought in the last year, and very much enjoy the experience of owning a tangible alternative asset that not only performs well but has provenance and heritage. Most customers already have an interest in whisky and are knowledgeable about it. They enjoy the journey of owning a cask, learning about the distillery heritage, receiving a sample, and selling it on, or sometimes even bottling it for private consumption under their own label.

Rum casks

Trends

As one might expect, whisky matured in ex-sherry casks are popular among both trade and private clients. Around 90% of the stock we sell is in ex-bourbon casks, as sherry casks continue to be scarce. Many trade customers are choosing to buy bourbon cask matured whisky and rerack into first-fill sherry hogsheads in the latter stages of the maturation for around six months to one year. This changes the style of the whisky and can increase its desirability and value too.

Sherry casks are a popular style of whisky not only because of the fruity flavour profile and darker colour it gives to the final product, but they are also valuable as a commodity. Sherry butts are often favoured by those looking for a long-term investment, as due to their 500-litre size they mature at a slower rate, therefore losing less volume and ABV % over time than hogsheads (250-litre) and barrels (200-litre).

A general trend that I’ve seen is that there are more and more casks on the market with undisclosed brand names i.e. Secret Islay, Secret Speyside, Orkney Malt, Whitlaw, Williamson etc. This phenomenon has been occurring for a few years now and although it may be difficult to understand at first, it is something we are well accustomed to in the trade. A secret distillery name means there is no specific brand name or distillery associated with the cask, which means that the price point is lower for the same quality of liquid. This encourages intrigue to sample the whisky and guess where it comes from and also gives way to creativity too. Often trade customers like to buy multiple casks so they can do a cask series i.e. Secret Speyside matured in an ex-bourbon barrel, a sherry hogshead and a bourbon hogshead. What matters to trade is the quality of the whisky, not necessarily just the brand name. Last year we bought and sold more secret distillery casks than ever before!

New-make casks are another trend which is popular and this is something we have seen happening on the market in general as a lot of the new distilleries are providing cask programmes. We supply new-make casks from time to time but so far only from one distillery whom we have been working with since the beginning of Cask Trade. It’s important to note here that new-make is typically a long-term investment which does not make it suitable for everyone. We believe it is important to buy from a distillery that has an established reputation and has already released bottlings on the market which helps us better determine its value in future. Many younger people are looking to invest and are open to long-term investment so new-make fits this profile well, as it’s a very accessible starting point in terms of value.

Casks

Whisky styles versus price

For the first cask purchase, often the lower value price points of the younger whisky casks are the most popular around the £2-£3k range. That being said, clients aren’t afraid to spend significantly more depending on the distillery and cask. Prices per cask vary depending on the age, cask type, volume & ABV % and notably the availability of casks on the private market, as well as the distillery’s global reputation and popularity. Naturally, if the cask is rare, this demands a premium, but this is not to say that all casks from well-known distilleries are expensive, it depends very much on their age and availability. More often than not there is more demand than supply, and with some distilleries, it is more difficult to access stocks than others.

Many of the distilleries we work with are rising through the ranks and gaining more global reputation through the premiumisation of their brands. A change of distillery owner may also have a significant impact on the brand, for example, when Glenrothes distillery was bought over from Berry Brothers by Edrington in 2017. Glenrothes was already an established brand with a stand-out quality single malt, but now as the sister distillery of Macallan, it gives the brand further recognition and prestige by association. Many distilleries have changed owners over the years and this is something that supports a balanced portfolio of casks as you just never know which distilleries will be the rising stars of the future.

Most customers will buy more than one cask and they understand the value of a balanced portfolio which includes casks from different distilleries, ages and cask types, allowing for brand diversity, and flexibility in the exit strategies and investment timeframes. Casks between six to 12 years old are popular as these casks are still relatively young, and therefore high fill levels and high strength. This means that they can mature for many years allowing for medium to long-term investment.

Glenlivet distillery

An older cask requires more management i.e. periodic regauging (checking the strength and volume of the cask) and of course, it comes at a higher price point too. If looking for a short (2-4 years) hold then these older casks are often better suited as you can exit at older ages i.e. 15 years old and above which fetches a higher value. The general trend is that for the most part clients are looking for a medium (5-7 years) to long-term (8-10 years+) investment timeframe.

In terms of trends in the trade, there have been more Non-Age Statements and younger single malts from as young as five years old being released from distilleries across the board. There has also been a growing number of independent bottlers globally and many distilleries releasing single casks or limited editions of lesser-known single malts. In general, we see brand premiumisation in both official releases and independent bottlings of an increasing number of distilleries.

Independent bottlers aren’t afraid to bottle younger whiskies and therefore broaden their appeal for those wishing to try single cask whiskies that won’t break the bank. By comparison, old & rare is increasingly sought after and again both official releases and independent bottlings are championing this category, with many rare bottlings selling out in minutes. Demand is strong across all age categories, be they young casks or old & rare. What matters is the quality of the liquid, and if you’re buying from a well-established distillery, you are buying into a recognised brand that produces sought-after, quality whisky.

Glenallachie Distillery

My best sellers

Caol Ila is always a favourite with Ben Nevis a close second, followed by GlenAllachie. Other classic frontrunners include Bowmore, Springbank, and anything from Islay!

Many of the well-established distilleries are gaining more popularity as they premiumise their brands like Glenrothes, Glen Garioch, Aberlour and Benriach to name a few.

Among the secret distillery casks, Whitlaw or Orkney Malt (Highland Park) and Williamson (Laphroaig) are hugely popular.

Rum casks

Scotch whisky alternatives

Customers who previously only bought Scotch whisky in early 2021 are now also buying world whisky (particularly Irish whiskey and bourbon) and rum on an increasingly regular basis. This is a global trend as we see trade customers from Europe, USA and Asia buying rum and world whisky, and occasionally some cognac too. Since the beginning of the year we have been buying and selling rum on a regular basis and we believe that the rum category is definitely one to watch!

We are Cask Trade.

For more interesting insights and information from our Masters, be sure to check out our ‘News’ page or get in touch with Myriam at: myriam@casktrade.com

Whisky Heroes – Ronan Collins

Whisky Heroes – Ronan Collins


Ronan Collins

Introduction

Hi, I’m Ronan Collins. I spent time travelling the world doing wee odd jobs and then I fell into bartending at Trailer Happiness and then Dandelyan, before becoming the Pernod Ricard Irish Whiskey Ambassador. I now run my own spirits and consultancy business called ‘It’s Ronan’, collaborating with fantastic people around the world.

Q&A:

Can you remember your first dram?
I do actually remember it. I was 21 and travelling through New Zealand. Myself and some friends had finished skiing in Queenstown and went back to our place which had a hot tub. One of the American lads pulled out a litre bottle of Teacher’s Blended Scotch… I have yet to try that same dram again.

What attracted you to the industry?
I was living in South Africa as a surf coach and during one of the slower days, I was watching the movie Crazy, Stupid Love. There is a scene when Ryan Gosling’s character makes Emma Stone’s character a drink in his house, with sugar, bitters, ice and all sorts of things. I Googled what it was (an Old Fashioned) and the internet had so many debates about how it was made and its history – at that point, I thought booze was booze or Teacher’s. Two weeks later I left South Africa for Dublin to follow in the footsteps of Ryan; cocktails and whiskey.

Can you share some memorable moments of your career or with whisky?
One of the most memorable was working in Dandelyan in 2017 on the night the 50 Best Bars was announced. We got named as the 3rd Best Bar in the world jumping from 50 on the list. Long story short Ryan (Mr Lyan) sabered a jeroboam of Champagne with a knife and I gave a layback of this to Dave Wondrich across the green Dandelyan bar top. That was pretty memorable.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to whisky?
Don’t listen to anyone. Make your own mind up and be open to everything and never disregard a whole category – variety is the spice of life

How much should someone spend on a bottle of whisky?
Always within your own means. Never hurt your bank for the sake of booze – some of the best drops I have ever had were due to the people I was with.

If you could only drink one whisky for the rest of your life which one would it be?
I will stick with Irish – Method & Madness 28 Year Old Ruby Port Cask Single Malt. I still dream about it.

Who do you consider to be a whisky hero?
I am not sure there is enough space for all of the names, but anyone who has their own voice and is filled with passion and knowledge is usually gravy in my book.

What is your favourite whisky bar in the UK and globally?
I love the Duke of York in Belfast. The building is steeped in history and it has a back bar to match – it really is one of a kind and the best in the world. There was a great one in Speyside in Craigellachie with a pool table, I am ashamed that I can’t remember the name and I am sure I will get grief for it. It was honestly amazing.

Desert Island dram?
If Method & Madness 28 Year Old Ruby Port Cask Single Malt is there I will be happy; if not, I expect chilled Champagne.

What do you enjoy drinking when you aren’t having a whisky?
I am partial to a wee gin martini or two but I will never turn down a bottle of Champagne.

What are the future challenges for the whisky industry?
The need for more detail on the labels on where the liquid has been distilled and matured etc. This will give more transparency and provenance.

Whisky Heroes

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Scotch Malt Distillery – English Translations

Scotch Malt Distillery – English Translations

 

For this week’s article, a bit of fun. Today, there are a growing number of Single Malt distilleries in Scotland – over 130 at last count… Most of them with the exception of Scapa & Jura have Scottish Gaelic names. Have you ever wondered what their English translations are? Below is a glossary of some of your favourite distilleries, just in case you ever wondered. Some will take you by surprise… (We’ve added a little commentary where needed).

  • Aberlour  – The mouth of the Chattering Burn. (You can hear voices in the stream running next to the distillery – we promise!).
  • Allt a Bhainne – Burn of Milk. (Burn is a small stream – this is Scotland’s starkest-looking distillery, but a great name and the whisky is good).
  • Ardbeg –  Small Height. (You’d expect something better for all their cult worshippers!).
  • Ardmore – Big Height.
  • Arran – Place of Peaked.
  • Auchentoshan – Corner of a Field. (You’ve got to wonder why marketing teams never make use of the English name?).
  • Aultmore –  Big Stream.
  • Balblair – The Farm on the Moor.
  • Balmenach – The Middle Farm.
  • Balvenie – Beathans Farm.
  • Benrinnes – Promontory Mountain.
  • Benromach – Shaggy Mountain. (Love it!).
  • Benriach – Speckled Mountain.
  • Blair Atholl  – Plain of the New Ireland.
  • Bowmore – Big Hut. (Black Big Hut 40-year doesn’t really have the same ring to it!).
  • Brackla – Speckled Hillslope.
  • Brora – The Bridges River.
  • Bruichladdich – Bank of the Shore.
  • Bunnahabhain – Foot of the River.
  • Caol Ila – Sound of Isla.
  • Caperdonich – Secret Well. (Great name).
  • Cardhu – Black Rock.
  • Clynelish – Sloped Garden.
  • Cragganmore – The Big Rock. (Translation makes sense).
  • Craigellachie – Rock of the Stoney Place.
  • Dailuaine – The Green Meadow.
  • Dalmore – The Big Field.
  • Dalwhinnie – The Meeting Place.
  • Deanston – The Hill Fort.
  • Edradour – Between Two Waters.
  • Fettercairn – Wooded Slope.
  • Glenallachie – The Valley of the Rocky Place.
  • Glenburgie – Valley of the Fort.
  • Glendullan – Valley of the Stone.
  • Glendronach – Valley of the Blackberries (This would make a great independent bottling…).
  • Glen Elgin – Valley of Little Ireland.
  • Glenfarclas – Valley of the Green Grass. (Sounds great in both Gaelic & English).
  • Glenfiddich – Valley of the Deer. (Another great name explained by their packaging).
  • Glen Garioch – Valley of the Rough Ground.
  • Glenglassaugh – Valley of the Grey Place. (Sounds great!).
  • Glengoyne – Valley of the Wild Geese. (Evokes a great image).
  • Glen Grant – Valley of the Grants. (Named after the founders).
  • Glenlivet – Valley of the Smooth Flowing One. (Named after the River Livet – great name).
  • Glenmorangie – Valley of the Big Meadows. (Paints a lovely picture).
  • Glen Moray – Valley of the Sea Settlement.
  • Glen Ord – Valley of the Rounded Hill.
  • Glenrothes – Valley of the Rothes. (Named after the family which owned the land).
  • Glen Scotia – Valley of the Scots. (Freedom!).
  • Glenturret – Valley of the Little Dry Stream.
  • Jura – Doriads Island. (Old Norse).
  • Knockdhu – Black Hill.
  • Lagavulin – Hollow by the Mill.
  • Laphroaig – Hollow by the Big Bay.
  • Ledaig – The Small Slope.
  • Royal Lochnagar – Loch of the Laughter. (Great name).
  • Longmorn – Morgan’s Church.
  • Macallan – Fillan’s Plain. (Or Tellytubby Land as some refer to it…).
  • Mannochmore – The Place of the Monks.
  • Millburn – The Stream of the Mill.
  • Miltonduff – Duff’s Village. (Duff is someone’s name).
  • Mortlach – Big Hill. (Is that it? Sounds better in Gaelic!).
  • Oban – Little Bay.
  • Scapa – Boat. (Old Norse language which is prevalent in the Orkneys / Shetlands).
  • Spey – Thorn.
  • Strathisla – Valley of the River Isla. (Certainly Scotland’s most beautiful distillery).
  • Talisker – Sloping Rock. (Makes sense when you think of the rugged landscape of the Isle of Skye).
  • Tamdhu – Black Hill.
  • Tamnavulin – Mill on the Hill.
  • Teaninich – The House on the Moor.
  • Tobermory – Mary’s Well.
  • Tomatin – Juniper Hill. (They should make gin!).
  • Tomintoul – Little Hill of the Barn.
  • Tormore – High Hill. (Arguably deserving of a better name, considering how great the whisky is and how stunningly beautiful the distillery is!).
  • Tullibardine – Hill of Warning.Some great names there – Glendronach, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie & Aberlour are just some of the great English translations. Of course, there are several that simply sound much better in Gaelic!

For more interesting insights and information from our Masters, be sure to check out our ‘News’ page.