Myriam’s Whisky Wanderings

Myriam’s Whisky Wanderings

It’s been a while since I’d returned to Speyside, and my autumn trip to whisky country certainly did not disappoint! What a glorious season to visit some iconic distilleries nestled among the beautiful landscapes and the River Spey. Of course, there are not only distilleries to visit in this region, but also some serious whisky shops and world-renowned whisky bars.

Strathisla distillery

The first stop was Strathisla, the oldest licensed distillery in the highlands founded in 1786, and arguably the most picturesque distillery in Scotland. (I may be slightly biased, but it has been noted by the odd whisky publication or two…). Known as one of the main components of the Chivas Regal blend, Strathisla is also regularly seen as a fruity and sherry-rich 12-year-old single malt. We had a superb Strathisla 2009 barrel in stock which was sold to Hong Kong just last week!

Glen Keith distillery

Next up, Glen Keith – a sister distillery a stone’s throw away from Strathisla, also owned by Chivas Brothers. Glen Keith distillery has been at the forefront of innovation thanks to its key role in distilling trials. This has produced a variety of whisky styles for the Chivas portfolio. Among our new arrivals, we have a parcel of Glen Keith casks distilled in 1997, just a couple of years before the distillery ceased production for over a decade. These casks give a rare insight into a historic whisky style produced by Glen Keith distillery.

Aberlour distillery

Distillery tour number three was Aberlour, another gem and hugely popular whisky – this distillery is one to watch. They have also recently submitted planning for an upgrade which will see a doubling of their production capacity. Known for their core range 12, 16 and 18-year-old expressions matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, I’m a particular fan of their cask-strength whiskies matured in ex-Oloroso casks; without hesitation I scooped up a bottle of Aberlour a’bunadh from their visitor centre! Keep an eye on our stocklist for some Aberlour casks coming soon!

While in the town of Aberlour, one cannot resist a visit to the Dowan’s Hotel. Both establishments have an impressive collection of whiskies. If you need a pit stop between the Dowan’s, there is more whisky temptation at the Speyside Whisky Shop. They specialise in rare and collectible malts.

Macallan distillery

Last but certainly not least I had a stroll through Macallan, which rounded off the trip nicely. As if their signature sherry cask matured whisky was not legendary enough, Macallan has since rebuilt their visitor center and expanded the distillery in a stunning feat of elegant architecture. Sadly for us, Macallan stopped selling privately in the mid 90’s so casks of Macallan are few and far between. If you want to taste old Macallan it’s best to drink it straight from the source, or at The Craigellachie Hotel and Highlander Inn which are just down the road from the distillery. Combined, these world-famous whisky bars boast a selection of well over 1,000 whiskies!



Cask Trade’s Cask Crusade

Cask Trade’s Cask Crusade

Bonnie Edinburgh

When it comes to whisky you can never know too much; this is something Simon and Lee discovered whilst on their recent research trip to bonnie Edinburgh last week.

The excitement was palpable as they embarked on their whisky research trip with the intention of meeting with suppliers, blenders and warehouse keepers, as well as investigating bottling facilities and general cask management.

Whilst in Scotch-land they had the privilege of meeting with Master Distillers whose Whisky wisdom knew no bounds. The knowledge gained throughout the trip was bountiful!

There’s something special about being able to visit the distilleries and quality check the casks personally. Simon and Lee wasted no time in moving about the warehouses, regauging, re-racking and sampling as they went. Research shows that if it doesn’t need moving and can be monitored where it is, leave it be!

Following an untraditional lunch of haggis-flavoured spring rolls, bonbons and crisps they headed for the trip’s most exciting part; to welcome the delivery of their container holding individually selected sherry casks, shipped in specially from Spain. Simon said,

“This trip was really eye-opening for us. Usually we would re-rack using suppliers’ casks, but this time we purchased a container of sherry casks we’d personally selected. Let me tell you, the initial aroma just as the container doors opened was delightfully sweet; they don’t call them ‘juicy’ casks for nothing! A quantity of the original liquid still remains and continues to coat the inside in preparation for the whisky. This adds a delectable depth of flavour.”

Lee and the ginormous 600l cask

All casks are fresh sherry casks (except the Moscatel, which contained dessert wine) of various types, ranging from delicious Palo Cortado and Manzanilla butts, to Oloroso and Amontillado, PX Oloroso and even a ginormous 600 litre Moscatel puncheon (see above photo of Lee for scale)!

“Some casks are already set to be re-racked this week. A great feature we found was that each individual one has its own identification sticker that’s preprogramed in blockchain to show the details of the cask; including what type of liquid it previously contained, which bodega the sherry came from as well as lots of other interesting details.
The sticker is read via a secure app and is only accessible when the phone is held next to it. It’s very useful and very cool! We are so impressed with the haul we’ve ordered another container that’s due to arrive in November.”

At Cask Trade we ensure all our casks are good quality and we take considerable care at all stages of the procurement, from collection (one by one), to individually wrapping and pressure testing. All casks are aged, not seasoned.

Upon returning to the rest of the team on Monday, Simon reassured us that we would not go without and that we could expect to see some special bottles gracing the office shelves very soon… Slàinte Mhath!

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