John’s HK Office Tipples – Braeval

John’s HK Office Tipples – Braeval

John and his dram

Braeval bottled by The Good Spirits HK, 1997/2021 58.4%, supplied by Cask Trade

From time to time I will share with you whisky lovers about drams I have at the office – we definitely do not promote worktime drinking – except when drinking is part of the job…!

Indie bottlings have long been a field where drinkers and connoisseurs hunt for something “special” – may it be flavour profile, cask type, or even label design, indie bottlers never fail to amaze us. Last month we talked about how rare it is to see an indie Balvenie, today we are going to explore something more recent.

Braeval Distillery, originally known as Braes of Glenlivet, is considered quite unique and has rarely been seen as a single malt until recent years. The stills at Braeval Distillery feature thin swan necks and upward sloping lyne arms – designed to create a light style of distillate. Let’s see how this affects the performance of the whisky!

Enough talking, let’s go back to the whisky:

Nose: Wildflowers, Fresh Peach, Honey, Vanilla and a little bit White Oak

Palate: The floral aroma lingers, Honey, Banana and more Yellow Fruits

Finish: Juicy fruits along with a hint of warm oak spice

To find out more about John and our new Hong Kong office and offerings, get in touch today.

John’s HK Office Tipples – The Balvenie

John’s HK Office Tipples – The Balvenie

John and his dram

The Balvenie bottled by Robert Watson, Imported by Intertrade, 1975/1985 “Overproof”

From time to time John Wong, who’s heading up our newly-opened Hong Kong office as Director of Sales, will share with you whisky lovers about drams he has at the office. We definitely do not promote worktime drinking – except when drinking is part of the job…!

“What? A Balvenie indie bottling?” – This may be the first thought in your mind for our veteran whisky lovers. It is indeed uncommon for you to spot an independent bottling carrying the Balvenie name now. Things were a little bit different back then. This is a 10-year-old Balvenie “direct from the cask” distilled in 1975, bottled at 57.5% ABV. Ironically, this old bottle seems to fit the checkboxes for a modern-day whisky lover. “High strength”, “big name”, “straight from the cask” … Sometimes I do wonder, since when have the drinkers become so fascinated about certain “keywords”, and why?

I honestly think there is no correct answer, but one undeniable fact is the advancement in information technology. This has certainly promoted transparency in the whisky business. Whisky lovers around the world can now easily discuss and share information on almost everything about whisky. From new releases and distillery announcements to ultra geeky debates about production methods, or even insider stories. Transparency is essential to cask trading as well. After all, you would want to know as much as possible about what you are buying, sampling, or even bottling!

So, for the sake of transparency, it’s time to break the sad news. Today the Balvenie cask is like a unicorn – how great would it be, if you could see one yourself, right? Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. There are teaspooned casks available on the market from time to time that are believed to have a considerable amount of Balvenie liquid in it. Also, a rising star in the bottling world, Aldunie, shares some of those Balvenie genes! Aldunie is the teaspooned blended malt from Kininvie Distillery. It is at the same site as Balvenie and Glenfiddich (they all belong to William Grant & Sons). The mashing and malting of Kininvie takes place within Balvenie distillery. The Aldunie liquid carries the classic light and fresh Speyside character. You can often detect notes of honeysuckle, pears, and red apples!

Enough talking, let’s get back to the whisky:

The nose is so vibrant and powerful – even after almost 40 years in glass! The bottle ageing polished the high strength liquid. There is no alcohol attack, instead it is full of pears, stewed apples, and dry hay. With time, it gives pecan pie and dried pineapples. The palate is explosive with candied stem ginger, green apples, and other yellow fruits. With a long and almost everlasting finish! This is the ideal whisky for both veterans and modern-day whisky lovers alike.

To find out more about John and our new Hong Kong office and offerings, get in touch today.

Ben Nevis Distillery Focus

Ben Nevis Distillery Focus

 

Ben Nevis distillery lies just outside Fort William in the dramatic landscape of the West Highlands and under the shadow of the mountain of the same name. The distillery can trace its history back to 1825 but in all honesty, it had quite a chequered, difficult history until it was bought by Japanese distiller Nikka. This was a very savvy move as Nikka had been buying malt from the distillery to blend into its own brands of Japanese whisky. Production is now up to two million litres with a fermentation time of 48 hours and under Nikka a visitor centre has opened and the whole place has enjoyed a makeover.

Distillation is very slow and steady and this contributes to a rich full-bodied new make spirit which has a reputation of aging particularly well in Sherry Butts. Here at Cask Trade HQ we rave about the Ben Nevis 10 year old which is rare praise indeed. In fact, it is very hard to find much Ben Nevis on the marketplace in general. Ben Nevis has certainly benefited by the rise and rise and rise of Japanese whisky as much of its Malt goes into producing some of these famous Japanese brands so there is certainly a fair amount of reflected glory. From an investment point of view, it is good quality malt and still very fairly priced. If any casks became available then snap them up especially if they are a sherry butt.

Fact File

Name: Ben Nevis 

Founded: 1825 

Region: Western Highlands 

Owner: Nikka Japan 

Capacity: 2m litres 

Stills: 4 

Fermentation: 48 hours 

Peated/Unpeated: Unpeated 95% / 5% Heavily peated with a phenol ppm of 40. 

Casks Used: Mainly bourbon 

Current Sales: N/A 

Recent significant awards: 2018 Triple Gold medal at the IWSC awards. 

Independent bottlings: Around 1350 

Core Range: 10 year only. 

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

Check out our Ben Nevis Virtual Distillery Tour here.

Knockdhu Distillery Focus

Knockdhu Distillery Focus

 

It was probably destiny that a distillery was going to be built on the Knock Estate by Huntly in Aberdeenshire. With a high-quality water source, surrounded by fields of barley, a peat bog close by and a newly opened railway station to connect with the world. Therefore in 1893, the Knockdu (which means ‘The Hill’) distillery opened. Production up until 1988 was very stop-start with the distillery closing and reopening several times. During WWII it closed and was used to house Indian troops! It’s a fairly small distillery which for many years flew under the radar a little bit compared to some of the famous big celebrities down the road in Speyside but recently it has started to make a name for itself. This century they have increased production with about 25% of that heavily peated.

When we tasted it we found it quite sweet and floral with a gentle sweet smoke on the pallet, a very easy drinking malt with a dryish finish. They have entered a lot of the global competitions in more recent years and their 12 and 18-year expressions have started to pick up a significant number of awards. If you’re looking for a Malt that is starting to climb the ranks and could get promoted to the premiership then Knockdu is seriously worth looking at. As a final note, the distillery usually trades under the name ‘AnCnoc’ as Knockdhu was being confused with the unrelated Knockando distillery.

Fact File

Name: Knockdhu (anCnoc) 

Founded: 1893 

Region: Highland 

Owner: Inver House 

Capacity: 2m litres 

Stills: 2 

Fermentation: 65 hours 

Peated/Unpeated: 75% Unpeated / 25% Heavily Peated with a 45ppm 

Casks Used: Bourbon & sherry 

Current Sales: N/A 

Recent significant awards: 2019 World Whisky Awards – Gold Medal Peatheart 

Independent bottlings: Around 50 

Core Range: 12, 18, 24 year. 

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

The Cask Trade Trilogy

The Cask Trade Trilogy

Introducing The Cask Trade Trilogy

We are delighted to introduce you to The Cask Trade Trilogy, a limited edition trio of casks available in three unique expressions. (Limited to 1 per customer).

Using new make spirit distilled at the award-winning Speyside Distillery in Kingussie, Scotland, we will create three distinct whisky expressions– Bourbon, Sherry and Port Matured.

The Journey Begins

From the moment this classic Speyside spirit is filled into cask it starts to develop and take on the flavours ingrained in the wood. After three years the whisky will begin to evolve and gain the milestone of single malt status when you will be invited to take your first taste. From here you can choose to bottle it after five years or continue on the maturation journey.

A passionate purchase

The creation of this Trilogy is a first for Cask Trade and a truly exceptional opportunity for whisky enthusiasts and investors alike.

Like you, we are fanatical about whisky and believe the marrying of the liquid with the wood to create three different flavour profiles will be an extraordinary experience.

For the love of whisky

We have priced the casks keenly with passionate whisky enthusiasts in mind, offering you a fulfilling experience at an affordable price and one we believe is a good investment. The total Trilogy price is £5,000. We have included 5 years free storage and insurance for your convenience.

Trilogy Cask 1   

First-fill Bourbon Barrel

130 casks (100 Trilogy Sets)

£1,350

Available now

Bourbon barrels are perfectly suited to maturing Scotch whisky. The bourbon they previously held softens the oak, ensuring a smooth and subtle whisky. These barrels have been made exclusively from American oak, giving the whisky a honeyed and vanilla characteristic.

Trilogy Cask 2 

Second-fill Sherry Hogshead

100 casks (100 Trilogy Sets)

£1,750

Available now

The lingering flavours of the sherry are still present in the wood and these are shared with the maturing whisky. The profile is typically deep and sweet, fruity and nutty giving the whisky a distinctive colour and strong, rich flavour.

Trilogy Cask 3

Port Wine Barriques

100 casks (100 Trilogy Sets)

£1,900

Available June 2021

The port barriques impart the vibrant fruit-filled flavour profile of the fortified wine giving the whisky a subtle ruby hue, often resulting in a richness and sweetness.

Join us on this journey

This limited-edition, unique trilogy allows for each customer to purchase one cask of each expression.

Rest assured, we will travel on this journey with you arranging samples at the different stages of maturation to provide your unique tasting experience.

If you’re interested and want to find out more, get in touch today.

Small print/terms and conditions

Purchase of The Cask Trade Trilogy is limited to one per customer.

Insurance and storage is included in the price for the first five years of ownership, beyond which it is chargeable. No refund for storage and insurance will be given if the cask is sold before five years.

In respect of Selling on, bottling, labels & packaging the following condition applies: 

If the New Make spirit has been matured: 

  1. For less than 15 years from the filled date the label & packaging can state: “distilled at Speyside Distillery” and “Speyside Distillery” WITH written approval from Cask Trade
  2. For 15 years or more from the filled date the label & packaging can state: “distilled at Speyside Distillery” and “Speyside Distillery” WITHOUT written approval from Cask Trade

In both cases the label & packaging need to comply with the Scotch Whisky Regulations and any relevant guidance issued by the Scotch Whisky Association. 

If any of the casks are sold on by you the bottling, labelling, and packaging Terms & Conditions will need to be passed onto the purchaser. 

Casks cannot be traded or moved for the first three years from the filing date. 

Samples can be requested for an additional charge.

Estimates of storage prices and insurance post five years can be provided.

 

There’s Something About a Secret Speyside…

There’s Something About a Secret Speyside…

Secret Speyside samples

Psst!…Can you keep a secret?

Would you like to get your hands on secret Speyside 12-year-old whisky?

We are very excited to be able to offer a parcel of limited-edition casks from an unnamed Speyside distillery.

Secret Speyside 12-year-old

From December 2008, this special Speyside 12-year-old comes from an unnamed Speyside distillery.

What we can tell you is the cask influence on the whisky has been magnificent and it could come from any number of well-known distilleries in the region. The spirit is very good quality and really epitomizes Speyside malt whisky.

As the colour shows, it has spent 12 years in bourbon hogsheads and it has taken on a great nose and flavour.

Ready for drinking now, it will only get better with age!

Three varieties

The beauty of this whisky is the hard part is done for you. Matured in bourbon hogsheads for 12 years it has now been re-casked into three varieties. All 82 casks are now filled to the brim because the angels have already had their share.

Ideal for bottlers as well as investors who can opt to take it to 15 years (three-year hold) or an 18 years old (six-year hold). In fact, we believe it can go longer to 21 years because of the reset at 12 years.

Cask of whisky

Three cask varietals:

  1. Refill oak (hogsheads & barrels) – This will give the least oak influence, retaining the style and flavour for some time and continuing maturation much as it would have done had the casks not been vatted. It could be kept for several years and allowed to further mature. Because the whisky is ready now for drinking it can be bottled now or at any point in the future.

  2. First fill bourbon barrels – These will perhaps have the greatest influence on flavour, the bourbon barrels will add a lot of oak and vanilla flavourings. The fudge and oak spice qualities will grow with the distillate fading a little. These barrels would be great bottled anytime from 6 months – to 9 years into the future.

  3. Second fill sherry hogsheads – Having been used in the finishing process previously these casks will retain much of their ability to give flavour and colour, without completely overwhelming the spirit. We would expect these to begin to mature after 12-18 months and continue for 9+ years.

Samples of the original whisky are available to taste. These samples won’t have changed much as they were only filled in the first two weeks of March 2021.

Originally distilled at 63% ABV, now at 57.6% ABV. This is cask strength typical, classic Speyside single malt.

Available from £4,000 per cask (£37.50 per RLA).

Interested to hear more about the secret Speyside? Get back to us soon before word gets out. Shhh!

Tasting Notes

Nose:
Sweet at first with a cereal note mixed with vanilla fudge and red apple. Touches of apple skin and honeysuckle come through after a short while and sweet oak. There is very little nose prickle, and the whisky is smooth and well balanced. With a little air, there are hints of dried apricot and the vanilla fudge is joined by sponge cake. There are more savoury aromas of gorse flowers and a touch of oiliness when left to air for a while.

Palate:
Very smooth and rich on the palate for a high strength whisky. Viscous and mouth-filling with a lovely mix of sweeter vanilla, honey and floral notes with spice and a touch of chilli heat. The oak comes through towards the back of the palate and is sweet and well balanced. Some baked fruit sits through the mid-palate bringing all the components together.

Finish:
This whisky has a very long finish for a 13-year-old. Predominantly spicy with sweet toasty oak. The chilli heat persists right the way through the finish which has waves of sweet and savoury flavours until it becomes dry at the very end.

Conclusion:
A complex, rich and balanced whisky already, especially for a 12-year-old Speyside. It has a great mouthfeel and a very satisfying palate and finish. It could be bottled now and will only gain complexity in cask.

Tasting Notes by Sir Colin Hampden-White.

 

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.

Speyside Distillery Focus

Speyside Distillery Focus

Nestled inside the magnificent Cairngorm National Park is the Speyside distillery. Opened in 1990 Speyside distillery didn’t show up on anybody’s radar until the new owners took over in 2012. Since then they have released some very exciting expressions. From a 12/18 and 27-year-old to 12-year-old peated cask and a 12-year-old port cask. However, what investors should certainly pay close attention to are their three cask strength versions. Tenne (Port finish), Trutina (Bourbon), and Fumare (Peated – Bourbon cask). These expressions will tell you how well this whisky ages in the cask.

Speyside Distillery

Recently we introduced an opportunity for investors to purchase what we called The Cask Trade Trilogy. This consists of three casks of Speyside new-make spirit aged in three different casks. To view Sir Colin Hampden-White and Phil Huckle taste indicative samples of the tasty trio click here. Speyside distillery really is producing some fantastic liquid!

The distillery is currently producing about 600,000 litres per year with a fermentation time of between 70-120 hours. We would describe their whisky as quite light in style but with a wonderful depth of flavour. Brand Executive Phil’s tasting notes when trying their bourbon cask talked of lots of floral, honey, citrus and grassy notes.

Branded SPEY Casks

From an investor’s point of view, not only is Speyside a rising star that is bound to surprise people in the future, but it is incredible value for money. Also, it is becoming increasingly popular in the all-important Asian market and right now is already very popular in Taiwan. We can’t recommend this distillery enough!

Fact File

Name: Speyside 

Founded: 1990 

Region: Speyside 

Owner: Speyside Distillers 

Capacity: 600,000 litres 

Stills: 2 

Fermentation: Varied 70-120 hours 

Peated/Unpeated: Unpeated 

Casks Used: Bourbon, sherry, port. 

Current Sales: N/A 

Recent significant awards: 2021 San Francisco World Spirit Awards – Gold Medal Spey Trutina, Silver Medal Spey Fumare. 

Independent bottlings: Around 150 

Core Range: Tenne NAS, Trutina NAS, Fumare NAS, 10, 12 Peated Cask, 12 Port Cask.

We have a range of Speyside casks on our current stock list. To find out more about investing in Speyside Distillery casks, contact The Masters today!