Myriam’s Distillery Focuses – Lindores Abbey & Isle of Harris Distillery

Myriam’s Distillery Focuses – Lindores Abbey & Isle of Harris Distillery


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

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.

Lindores Abbey Distillery

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

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.

Isle of Harris Distillery

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.

To find out more about investing in Whisky Casks and to speak to the Masters themselves, contact the Team today!

Water of Life, by the Water – Josh’s Whisky Wanderings

Water of Life, by the Water – Josh’s Whisky Wanderings

 

Josh exploring Scottish distilleries

I’m not sure Hemingway ever actually said ‘Write Drunk, Edit Sober’, but I must confess most of my (strictly amateur) fiction writing has been its strongest when inspired by a strong dram. I think it was inevitable that when I organised my first ‘Writing Week’ in 2017 (now an annual event) that the words would flow as the whisky flowed – and that I’d save rereading anything back until armed with a coffee the next morning.

My first trip grew out of a desire to see if I could write a book, rather than just loudly proclaiming after a few whiskies that I wanted to write a book. I wanted to find somewhere completely separate to my daily life in South-East England, but still somewhere I could speak the language, with a nice writing desk with a view of some water, and ideally a host sympathetic to me enjoying a cigar or two whilst typing away. Needless to say, there weren’t many places that offered it all!

Views from the Air B&B

Sometimes, though, the stories of our lives have a funny way of writing themselves, and so it was that I found the B&B in Aberdour, Fife, that would become my annual base, hosted by Celia who quickly became a lifelong friend. I started each day with a walk around the water, had a large breakfast, and usually lit my first cigar around 9:30 am. I’d write solidly throughout, working the same hours on my passion project that I worked on my career back in London, pausing occasionally to appreciate the crashing of the waves or to see if the weather was allowing me to see Edinburgh across the water (30 minutes by train) or restricting my vision to the end of the garden – usually both several times each day.

Johnnie Walker

I’d start pouring Whisky straight after lunch and usually wrote most in the afternoons – a dram at 2 pm, another at 6 pm, and a double after dinner, was usually my rule. My first year I bought a bottle of Glen Scotia Double Wood and used it to complete the first draft of my first novella, in 2018 a bottle of Johnnie Walker 18 helped me write a small collection of short stories, and in 2019 I wrote my second novella with a bottle of Dalmore Cigar Malt. I switched the Whisky up a bit in 2020 (writing the first four episodes of my first Sitcom) and 2021 (back to short stories) and took an array of miniatures and sample bottles filled with different drams for each day.

Perhaps reflective of my good fortune to move into the Whisky Industry in my Professional Life this last trip certainly featured the most impressive liquid.  From my case of miniatures the highlight was undoubtedly a Sherried Springbank from 1992 (my birth year!) – a very kind gift from Sir Colin Hampden-White, which I paired with a special cigar gifted to me by Simon. It seemed fitting as Springbank is his favourite distillery!

Josh's trip staples

Usually on these trips I scarcely look up from my writing desk, but with Celia selling up and retiring I knew this would be my last time in Aberdour and added on a couple of days to try to explore a little more of Scotland. On the Friday I ventured into Edinburgh and very quickly broke my ‘no new Whisky bottles until after moving house’ rule (I blame Cadenheads…) so felt it was safer to dive into Sandy Bells and start buying by the Dram again. I was blown away by a Single Cask Aberfeldy but the real star of the show was the Port Charlotte Valinch which I can still taste now and frankly haven’t shut up about since!

On the Saturday I visited my friend Colin Campbell, who took me to my first Whisky show some years ago and who ultimately is responsible for turning my interest in Whisky into a fully-fledged lifelong passion. Colin and I haven’t seen each other since he moved back to Scotland last year so there was much catching up to do, and naturally a visit to Deanston Distillery was essential! We had an incredible time in the Warehouse 4 Tasting Experience, and my favourite Whisky was actually the first one we tried – a 2013 Refill Bourbon Barrel. It was lovely to find this often overlooked Cask Type being allowed to sing and really let the character of the distillery shine through.

Deanston Distillery

Once again I broke my ‘no more bottles’ rule in the gift shop (oops), although I suppose now everybody knows my enthusiasm for the Deanston Barrels on our stocklist is coming from first-hand experience! Colin and I later made a list of all the distilleries we want to visit in Scotland (basically, a list of all the distilleries in Scotland and a few we’re going to try to save by inventing time-travel) and once I was back to Aberdour and savouring my last view of the water I thought not only of all the time I’ve enjoyed North of the Boarder, but of how many visits I no doubt still have to come.

I don’t think I can ever really say goodbye to Aberdour or to Scotland, rather I repeat myself (as I’m prone to doing) ‘That’s me away the noo…’

Enjoying a dram

To find out more about investing in Whisky Casks and to speak to the Masters themselves, contact the Team today!

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.

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!

Slàinte,

Myriam

To find out more about investing in Whisky Casks and to speak to the Masters themselves, contact the Team today!

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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