Auchroisk Distillery (pronounced ar-thrusk) opened in 1974 to take advantage of the post-war whisky boom, mainly to make Malt whisky fillings for the famous J&B Blend. Today production is still going strong and the distillery is operating 24/7, with production up to 5.8 million litres. Located in a remote part of Speyside, this Diageo distillery is renowned for having a quite nutty/spicy character. The character of the whisky comes from a very interesting production technique, which involves rapid mashing and a short fermentation, followed by a rapid boiling in the wash still. This is certainly unique and we’re not aware of any other distillery which produces its spirit this way.
The first single malt bottling was actually in the mid-80s and was interestingly the first example we have of ‘finishing’. The whisky spent 10 years in a bourbon cask, before finishing off for two years in a sherry cask. However, this wasn’t adequately promoted or marketed, so both the technique and the brand itself never gained any traction. Since then official bottlings have been few and far between, with just a 25-year, 28-year and 30-year limited-editions released.
Auchroisk Distillery, despite being fairly unknown, is clearly of great value to its owners Diageo, as they have it in full-time production and very little of it is released as official bottlings. Essentially this is a very unique Malt whisky in terms of its character, so there will be interest from the Independent Bottling market, of which we counted close to 600 on Whiskybase over the years. A distillery that has cult status amongst the enthusiasts is never a bad thing. Look to hold onto Auchroisk Distillery casks until they are 10 to 21 years old, would be our advice.
Mannochmore Distillery is the sister distillery of Glenlossie and is situated right next door. Ownership is in the hands of the giant Diageo company and the distillery exists to make malt for the Haig & Dimple blended brands. Unlike its sister, this is one of Scotland’s newer distilleries, which has been in operation since 1971. Today capacity is up to a very healthy six million litres and the distillery runs seven days a week, with quite a long fermentation time of 100 hours. The style of whisky itself is quite light, delicate, and floral and is clearly of that Speyside style.
The attraction for investors here is the growing global army of single malt enthusiasts, who want to try and collect every single distillery. Mannochmore Distillery whisky is very rare and very hard to find. Again Diageo have rarely bottled anything and so independent bottlings are very thin on the ground. Make no mistake though, the liquid is good and the write-ups from the whisky writers and consumers alike, have all been impressive. A 37-year expression from famous independent bottler Cadenhead has been well received, so clearly it ages well.
If any casks do become available, then it’s certainly worth looking at from a portfolio approach and they may well be undervalued.
Capacity: 6m litres
Fermentation: 55 Hours
Casks Used: Bourbon
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: None entered
Independent bottlings: Around 375
Core Range: None – several limited edition official bottlings
Tamdhu Distillery, like many Speyside distilleries, was opened in 1897 during the late Victorian whisky boom period. Situated in the heart of the region, just outside the village of Aberlour, it would be fair to describe Tamdhu as a late bloomer. Somewhat surprisingly, the distillery was closed in 2009 by the Edrington Group, but was rescued a couple of years later and reopened by Ian Macleod Distillers.
Before that though, its chequered history throughout the 20th century consisted of being mothballed and reopened. When it was producing whisky, it was to make Malt fillings for the blends Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse, and single malt bottlings were very rarely seen. However, under Ian Macleod, everything is rapidly changing. Firstly, they have accelerated the policy of re-racking everything into sherry casks, which has completely transformed the image and perception of the brand. A core range now consists of 10, 12 and 15-year, with a 50 year released in 2017.
The style of the whisky is very classic Speyside and the last sample we tried had rich, sherry notes, tropical fruits and nuttiness, with an underlining crème brulee sweetness. It was truly delicious. Production has been ramped up to three million litres per year and there are certainly big plans moving forward.
From an investment perspective, this Malt is undervalued and is a great addition to any portfolio. To the whisky enthusiasts and independent bottlers in the know, there is great demand for this Malt. The general public hasn’t caught up just yet, but that will certainly change. Our advice is to try and make a long-term play here because we think the value will accelerate rapidly upwards, as the investment into Tamdhu Distillery and brand by Ian Macleod, starts to reap benefits.
Owner: Ian Macleod Distillers
Capacity: 4m litres
Fermentation: 59 hours
Casks Used: Mainly sherry 1st & 2nd fill , some bourbon.
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: 2020 World Whisky Awards – Gold Medal – Worlds Best Single Cask
Independent bottlings: Around 500
Core Range: 10, 12, 15 and numerous limited editions
Balmenach Distillery (Translation – The Middle Farm) lies in the southern part of Speyside in a remote location inside the Cairngorm National Park. If you find this distillery by accident, then it’s safe to say that you are lost! First opened in 1824, it is remarkable that with nearly 200 years of history, there have been virtually no bottlings from this distillery and outside of the whisky enthusiast world, nobody has ever heard of it.
This begs the question, why? The answer is in fact very simple and quite obvious – Balmenach is one of the most sought-after Single Malts for the blending houses. These types of rare malts are known as top dressing malts and they will lift the flavour in virtually any blend you add them to. Blended whisky still accounts for over 85% of the global market and while this is still the case, it’s hard to envisage much of this wonderful whisky ever becoming available.
The production consists of a very long fermentation using small stills and a worm tub condenser. This is a very ‘old school’ style of whisky making, which produces a very meaty style, similar to Mortlach and Benrinnes. Since 2001, ownership has been in the hands of Inver House, who have only launched several very limited-edition 27-year & 28-year-olds.
For investors, this is a distillery that will offer you great exit strategy opportunities. Firstly, the whisky ages very well, especially in sherry casks. Combined with the rarity of any kind of official bottlings means that the Independent Bottlers will be very interested when you decide to sell. The demand for these casks is high and the supply is low, therefore basic market forces will make this a very savvy investment indeed.
There is evidence that some form of distilling has been going on in Jura for centuries. The current Jura Distillery can trace its history back to 1810, but after going through several name changes and ownership the distillery was closed and dismantled in 1901. The real story of Jura actually started in 1963 when Scottish & Newcastle breweries reopened the distillery and commenced production. The new stills installed were 7.7 metres tall (2nd tallest in Scotland), and with stainless steel washbacks and a relatively short fermentation time, the new style of Jura could only be described as quite light, salty, nutty and delicate.
From the 1990s a small amount of peated whisky was produced and today they blend this in to just add a wisp of smoke to the modern Jura style. Whyte & Mackay took over ownership in 1996 and can be given a lot of credit for their investment, expansion and innovation of the brand. The core range today consists of a NAS called Journey, a 10-year, a 12-year, a Seven Wood and the very well-received 18-year which is finished in red wine casks. Besides this, there are now a whole plethora of limited-edition and Travel Retail special editions, and we think it’s safe to say that Jura is now firmly established in the upper ranks of Single Malt brands.
For investors, this distillery ticks a lot of boxes. This is an opportunity to buy into a well-known established brand in which the owners are investing heavily (Dalmore is one of the sister brands). The whisky clearly ages very well in every type of cask imaginable and our advice would be to hold onto this cask until it is 18-years-old where the demand from the Independent Bottlers will be highest. Jura is a great addition to any portfolio.
Region: Highlands (Islands)
Owners: Whyte & Mackay
Capacity: 2.4m litres
Fermentation: 54 hours
Peated/Unpeated: Unpeated / 5% peated.
Casks Used: bourbon, sherry, red wine, chinkapin, port.
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: Isle of Jura 1988 – Gold Medal at 2020 IWSC awards
Independent bottlings: Around 650
Core Range: Journey NAS, 10-year, 12-year, Seven Wood, 18-year.
We currently have a delicious selection of 2010 Jura Sherry Butts on our current stock list.To find out more about investing in Jura casks, contact The Masters today!
The Whitlaw Hills sit behind the famous Highland Park Distillery and therefore the name Whitlaw is regularly used as a pseudonym for the brand. This is a rare opportunity to own a cask from a top-tier distillery whose popularity has just exploded in the last 30 years. The peat in the Orkneys is very different from the mainland and is composed of moss and heather, which produces more of a light smoke interwoven with aromatic and fragrant notes. Whitlaw Distillery’s style is a sweet, honeyed, and spicy malt that can be quite fruity with a long slightly smoky finish. This whisky is truly delicious.
Highland Park’s early history is shrouded in mystery and there are conflicting opinions as to when it first opened, however, it is clear that by the latter half of the 19th Century the distillery was thriving, producing fillings for blends. It may surprise many that the first single malt bottling didn’t appear until the late 1970s but ever since then the distillery has gone from strength to strength. It’s safe to say that after the mythical cult of Ardbeg, Highland Park would come in a close second within the community. The marketing has certainly played a part in this, being cleverly themed on Norse gods and Vikings with a strong dose of Orcadian folklore thrown in for good measure.
From an investment perspective, a Whitlaw Distillery cask is a very welcome addition to any portfolio, assuming the price is acceptable. There’s currently a number of 2018 Whitlaw casks on our stock list – we would recommend holding it for at least eight years until the first milestone age of 10 years, but it would also be a great medium to long-term investment to wait until the cask was 12, 15, 18, 21 or even 25-years-old. Whenever you decide on your exit strategy there will certainly be a long queue willing to purchase. This rates as a strong buy.
It’s safe to say that Pernod Ricard can boast the most beautiful classical-looking distillery (Strathisla), the most beautiful art deco 20th Century distillery (Tormore), and now the prize for the most aesthetically pleasing modern distillery in Dalmunach Distillery. Built in 2015 on the site of the old Imperial Distillery, Dalmunach uses all the technology of the modern age and is incredibly energy efficient, using 40% less gas/electricity and 15% less water than the industry average. When your production is 10,000,000 litres per annum, then that makes a significant difference to costs and the distillery’s carbon footprint.
Many industry insiders were quite surprised when the historic Imperial Distillery was demolished, but credit to its innovative owners who recycled elements of the old distillery into the new construction.
At present, the plan for Dalmunach is to supply single malt whisky for famous blends like Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, and Royal Salute. For Chivas, the age of the youngest whisky in the blend is 12 years, whilst for Royal Salute it’s 21, therefore there’s still a lot of aging to do. However, so far about 50 Independent Bottlings have already come onto the market.
The fermentation time is 56-62 hours and the four pairs of stills are huge, with the wash stills at 28,000 litres and the spirit stills at 18,000.
For investors, already Dalmunach has shown itself to be very versatile for any exit strategy. The whisky clearly can be bottled young and it is quite exciting to think about how special it will be when it reaches its milestone ages of 10, 12, 15, and 18. The Independent Bottlers are already very interested in these casks.
Other factors to consider are the famous deep-pocketed owners, who know how to make great whisky and possibly at some point in the near future will start marketing and investing in developing the Dalmunach brand. We think that this is the time to closely look at Dalmunach before it becomes established in the pantheon of much loved Speyside distilleries.
Sales and Marketing Manager Myriam Mackenzie had the pleasure of returning to her Scottish roots on a recent trip to Scotch-land, where she enjoyed visiting a few fantastic distilleries.
Lindores Abbey Distillery
A recent visit to Scotland included a tour around Lindores Abbey Distillery in Fife. A relatively new distillery, founded in 2017, it is referred to as the spiritual home of Scotch whisky. The site and abbey ruins are steeped in history and lay claim to the first written record of whisky production dating back to 1494. Friar John Cor, a monk at the Abbey of Lindores, wrote a letter whereby he stated that by order of King James IV, he was instructed to make “aqua vitae, VIII bolls of malt”. Distillation of aqua vitae (meaning ‘water of life’ in Latin) was popular in monasteries at the time and later commonly referred to as ‘uisge beatha’ in Scottish Gaelic. Today, this historic spirit is widely known as whisky.
With a modest annual production of 225,000 litres which is set to expand further this year, the family-owned distillery shows clear dedication to heritage and craft. They use local barley grown in the surrounding fields which were under the original ownership of the abbey in the 15th century. This year saw the release of their very first whisky: the Lindores Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky matured in a selection of ex-bourbon barrels, ex-sherry casks and ex-wine barriques. A visit to the warehouse gives the impression that the owners are open to experimentation with different types of cask maturation. Among the typical bourbon barrels used in the industry, I also noted an interesting selection of casks of varying sizes from Spain, Portugal, and even Australian wineries. They proudly refer to their cask selection and ‘Kingdom of Fife’ barley on the label, but notably also their team of ‘Lindores people’, as well as a thank you to those who have contributed to their story by buying a bottle.
A beautifully presented distillery inside and out, when you visit it you instantly feel you are part of their story. The still room has an impressive view which overlooks the abbey ruins and the visitor centre contains local historical artefacts, including some of the original pillars of the abbey. The tour involves a great deal of history too which is what ultimately inspired the building of this new distillery and community at Lindores. In the words of the late whisky writer, Michael Jackson, “for the whisky-lover, it is a pilgrimage”.
Isle of Harris Distillery
Located in the Outer Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Harris Distillery was founded in 2014 by a group of investors who shared a passion for whisky, the island community, and the landscape of Harris. Among them, a former marketing director for Glenmorangie who now manages the distillery. The core values behind this unique enterprise represent the rich heritage and warm hospitality of the island. Known as ‘the social distillery’, they seek to employ people with connections to Harris or from the island itself and train them in the art of whisky-making. This brings much-needed employment to a modest island population and it’s beneficial for tourism too. Harris distillery now welcomes over 100,000 visitors a year.
Everything about this community-driven project has been carefully crafted, from the distillery layout to the final product. When you walk into the warehouse, there’s a sense of creativity and individuality as well as a homage to tradition. The casks bear the emblematic Harris logo as well as the hand-written messages and names of the investors who bought the first casks laid down by the distillery. Also in the warehouse is an art installation of staves, another thoughtful addition and dedication to those that helped fund the beginnings of the distillery. I’m proud to say ‘The Mackenzie Spirit’ is engraved into one of these staves!
Today the core product is Harris gin; a smooth refreshing gin made from nine botanicals with locally harvested sugar kelp, presented in an iconic bottle that is inspired by the sea. Yet to come, is the whisky – a non-chill filter natural colour whisky which is to be named the Hearach (translating as a person from Harris in Scottish Gaelic). There is no release date yet for their whisky, all we’re told on the tour is that ‘we’re not in a hurry’. In the meantime, you can taste the peated new-make spirit made from concerto barley and at the end of the tour you are offered a dram of Highland Park 12-Year-Old as a nod to the style of whisky the distillery aspires to create.
Last week Cask Trade HK hosted a fantastic and insightful whisky tasting event at Tanner De Witt.
Sales Director John Wong and Exec Alan NG were in their element as they delved deep into the whiskies’ histories and presented their knowledge on a variety of Speyside expressions, explaining to guests the joys and opportunities of cask ownership. Attendees were treated to some delicious drinks, including the ‘Talisker with a twist Highball’ and drams of ‘Ancient’ and ‘Modern’ Talisker.
A pair of delightful cask samples drawn from 2008 Glen Moray and Linkwood casks, followed by a classic eight-year-old Glen Moray bottled in the 1990s. A 1994 Secret Speyside matured in a sherry puncheon was the last dram featured in the tantalising tasting line-up.
Following the success of the event there is already talk of another one due to popular request, so watch this space…
To find out more about John and our new Hong Kong office and offerings, get in touch today.
Whisky & Biltong Evening with The Hebrew Order of David Barmitzvah Project
Last Sunday, September 5th the Masters teamed up with the Hebrew Order of David Barmitzvah Project at the lavish Hartsbourne Country Park to host an evening of whisky tasting and biltong – truly a match made in heaven…
The event featured a decadent spread of shawarma and salads, as well as a guest appearance from England Cricket Legend Graham Gooch. The tasting itself consisted of a variety of four very different Cask Strength single malt Whiskies and was expertly lead by Cask Trade’s Brand Executive Phil Huckle, who guided the guests on a journey of Whisky Discovery.
Attendees were treated to a dram of a Glen Moray 12-year-old, a Royal Brackla 14-year-old, a 10-year Armore, and a 13-year Orkney Islands single malt, all of which were sampled along with a side of humour as Phil entertained and educated the crowd.
MD Simon was at the helm of the charity auction, allocating a variety of exciting prizes to the highest bidder. Cask Trade donated a few prizes that the team really wished they could bid for themselves, including a guided Whisky and Cheese pairing night for six guests in our Regent Street tasting room, a bottle of delicious 27-year-old Glen Garioch, and a divine 25-year-old Mortlach.
A special thank you to Masters Jess Simmons and Joel Luumi who helped keep the whisky flowing throughout the evening and to organiser Laurence Gishen. Slàinte!