A Comprehensive Guide to Whisky Tasting & Appreciating

A Comprehensive Guide to Whisky Tasting & Appreciating

 

Let’s set the scene…Your eagerly-awaited package from Cask Trade has finally arrived – the cask strength whisky samples are finally in your possession. Now it’s time to nose, taste, and appreciate. There is, however, more to whisky tasting than you think, and certainly, a few dos and don’ts to get the maximum appreciation when tasting this wonderful spirit. Below is our guide to help you on your journey of whisky discovery.

THE SETTING – The key here is to find the most neutral environment you can. The kitchen, for example, can be a very poor place to taste whisky, especially if there are lingering smells of cooking, coffee etc. Another pitfall is smoke, so steer clear of all cigars and cigarettes in this moment.

THE TIME OF DAY – The best time of day to appreciate whisky is actually in the morning! The reason for this is that this is when your palate is freshest and hasn’t been dulled by various meals and liquid consumption. Therefore, to truly discover the intricate flavours of these wonderful whiskies, try to taste mid-morning rather than late at night. If you wanted an excuse to drink alcohol in the morning, now have it!

THE WHISKY TASTING GLASS – The shape and quality of the glass is incredibly important in enhancing your enjoyment of tasting whisky. At Cask Trade we use Glencairn glasses in our Regent Street tasting room and for all our events. The design curves inwards which funnels and concentrates the flavours of the whisky. This style of glass is widely available and inexpensive. As an alternative, a small wine or port glass could be substituted but avoid large red wine glasses, tumblers and shot glasses.

THE WATER – We suggest a bottle of mineral water at room temperature. Ice and chilled water should be avoided as they will suppress the flavour of the whisky. Tap water can be quite variable, so is not recommended.

Pouring whisky

STEP 1- THE COLOUR

Before you start the whisky tasting it’s time to assess the colour and viscosity. If for example the whisky has been aged in a sherry cask, then look for different shades of a reddish mahogany hue. A pale golden colour will indicate a bourbon cask. Whilst age can certainly deepen the colour of the whisky, it isn’t the most reliable indicator as other factors, such as the age of cask the whisky is matured in. Pour the whisky into the glass and hold up against the light.

We find that making notes helps the process, especially if you are tasting a significant number of whiskies. An important point of difference is that many whiskies that have been bottled, have been coloured with small amounts of tasteless caramel. Whisky companies do this because the whisky does not age uniformly in the casks, so by shading the colours between batches, they get a consistency of colour. At Cask Trade you are only tasting the real, pure, unadulterated whisky, straight from the cask.

STEP 2 – THE VISCOSITY

Long legs or short legs is what you’re looking for here. Swirl the glass around and you will see what is known as the ‘legs’ tumbling down the glass. Longs legs are a good indication of high alcohol content (which should be the case with cask strength whisky), whilst slow-moving legs indicate a whisky that is quite oily.

Whisky tasting

STEP 3 –THE AROMA/NOSE

Our nose can detect literally 100’s of flavours, whilst our tongue can only detect five! Therefore, the nosing of the whisky is so key to appreciation. We suggest you start by bringing the glass slowly towards your nose and then gently smell the whisky. With high strength whisky you have to be careful, as you may anesthetise your nose. If this does happen, a useful trick is to sniff the back of your hand and this should ‘reset’ your olfactory bulb, which is responsible for your sense of smell. At this point, we recommend that you don’t swirl the glass anymore as this can release more ethanol notes, which is not what we are aiming for.

Continue to gently nose the whisky by moving the glass away and towards your nose, not forgetting to try nosing with one nostril and then the other. Again, we recommend that you make notes as you go along. We should also point out that there are no wrong or right answers here, as the aromas you are picking up are going to vary from person to person. Read the tasting notes for the same whisky from two industry experts and see how completely different they can be.

Helpful tip – If you are tasting more than one sample from different regions, then start with the non-peated, sweet, fruity, Speyside distilleries and finish with the most earthy, spicy, peaty, Highland/Islays.

STEP 4 – THE PALATE

Our palate can only pick up only five different flavours; sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and savoury. This is why when we have a cold, our food tastes quite bland. However, the tasting and drinking is the fun part, so take a small sip of the whisky and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds, swirling it from one side of your tongue to the other.

Again, at this point, we find it useful to take notes as you’re going along. Try to pick out the different types of fruit, sweetness, nutty, smoky, earthy, floral, spicy flavours that you are detecting. Also, assess the texture and mouthfeel. Is it full-bodied, or light and thin? Does it have a creamy texture? Do the flavours and texture change in your mouth?

Drinking whisky

STEP 5 – THE FINISH

How is the finish? Does the flavour linger in the back of your throat, or does it dissipate quite quickly? In essence, is it a long or short finish?

STEP 6 – THE REPEAT

Now’s the time to repeat the whole process and drink some more whisky! However, this time we recommend that you add a tiny drop of water. The water causes a chemical reaction and opens the whisky up, allowing more flavours and aromas to come to the fore. Try adding a little more water each time and notice the differences until you get to where you reach a point that suits your palate. This can actually change from whisky to whisky, depending on your own preference, and the individual reaction of each whisky to the water.

THE REFILL – How to taste whisky is certainly subjective and it is all about your own appreciation and how you like to drink it. We hope you find the above a useful guide, to maximise your enjoyment in tasting our cask spirits. Our customers are regularly invited to our special tasting room on Regent Street London to sample some of our very special casks. We hope to see you there soon.

If you’d like to visit us and you’re interested in purchasing a cask, feel free to book a whisky tasting with the Masters. Contact us here.

Scotch Whisky Growth – Will it continue?

Scotch Whisky Growth – Will it continue?

 

It’s clear that in the last 10 years, Scotch Whisky sales have grown exponentially. This has led to the price of bottles and casks at all levels of the market increasing in value – the laws of supply and demand are evidentially at work. The question that investors must ask though will this growth continue? The answer we think is yes, and in this article, we will articulate why the future continues to look very bright for the world’s favourite spirit.

Firstly, to paraphrase a former US defense secretary, let’s ponder the known unknowns. Scotch whisky is a global product with over 170 export markets, and it has certainly faced adversity in various forms including wars, political instability, government tax policies, economic recessions, and unforeseen global pandemics. However, taking all this into account we’re still confident the growth trend is going to only go in one direction for the foreseeable future, and here is why…

India

INDIA

Currently, there are over 50 million whisky bottle sales in India but Scotch Whisky only accounts for about 2% of this (the majority is very cheap Indian whisky). The stumbling block here is the eye-watering 150% tariff imposed by the Indian government. Complicating matters further, are the extra variable regulations and taxation from all 28 Indian States. This in effect, creates a very complex, expensive marketplace. When you consider that the average salary in India is a lot less than in the UK, it is clear, that only the wealthier tiers of the population can afford Scotch Whisky.

However, the good news is on the way. Having left the EU, the UK government is now free to pursue its own trade policy, and negotiations with the Indian government are at an advanced stage to vastly reduce this tariff. When this happens, combined with India’s 1.4 billion population and rapidly growing number of middle-class, we expect Scotch Whisky sales to rocket upwards.

China

CHINA

Sales of Scotch Whisky have grown tenfold in the last 20 years in China, and whilst the tariff is very low at 5% there are major challenges in this market. Number one is the issue with fake whisky, which takes away a large percentage of sales and the reluctance of the authorities to enforce penalties on the bootleggers. However, the positives for this market are that the Chinese consumer is now much less tolerant of these shenanigans and is starting to demand the real liquid.

Another optimistic trend is the growth in Single Malt Whisky and older more Premium Blends. The Scotch Whisky companies are investing a lot into China and it’s hard to see anything but very positive growth for the years to come. China also has a huge population of 1.5 billion, so even a small percentage increase in consumer demand will have a significant increase in total sales.

Asia Pacific

ASIA PACIFIC

Market trends have predicted the fastest growth for Scotch Whisky in this region than any other in the world. Higher disposable incomes in the Asian Tiger economies of countries like Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore are expected to be the main driving force. One interesting trend is the growth in Single Malt Whisky and the Whisky Enthusiast market in general. In many countries Blended Whisky leads the way and establishes the market, then as the consumer becomes more knowledgeable the demand for older whiskies and Single Malt brands increases.

Economic growth in this region is expected to develop faster than anywhere else in the world, therefore even if Scotch Whisky just grows in-line with GDP, the increase in sales will be very significant indeed. The UK government is also signing several FTA’s in this region including in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and is expected to be invited to join TTIP in the near future. (The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership).

South America

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA

Similar to Asia, this region has incredible growth potential. Brazil and Mexico have become large Scotch Whisky markets and countries like Chile, Argentina and Columbia are growing fast. Consumers in this region see Scotch Whisky as very aspirational and when they reach a certain level of income, they want to be seen to be drinking the famous brands, almost as a status symbol. There are plenty of economic and political challenges in this region (see Venezuela) but the positives are certainly outweighing any negatives at present.

USA

USA

This is the most valuable market in the world for Scotch Whisky and spirits in general – again there are many positives to consider. The 25% extra trade war tariff that was imposed on Scotch imports has now been suspended for five years, which should mean that sales will pick up again for 2021.

The UK and US governments have started negotiations on a long-term free trade agreement which will at some point be finalised and signed.

Again, this will accelerate the sales growth in Scotch Whisky in its most important market. The US market is very mature with many knowledgeable consumers who purchase the older expressions of Single Malt Whisky. Good growth in this market will put increased pressure on the more mature aged stock, thus increasing prices.

Africa

AFRICA

In recent years, South Africa has become a very important market fuelled by the rising number of middle-class people in that country. Africa overall has great growth potential but is starting from a very low base in terms of sales.

However, the potential upside is huge and whisky companies have started to invest in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Angola. This is the hardest region to predict, but due to the expanding number of middle-class consumers, the signs do look very positive.

Eastern Europe

RUSSIA/ EASTERN EUROPE

Despite the challenges of 2020 the two largest markets of Russia and Latvia still managed to grow by 14.2% and 11.9% respectively! The future certainly looks bright in this part of the world. Trends here show that wealthy consumers see Scotch Whisky as a real aspirational status symbol. Denied to most consumers trapped behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ they are certainly making up for lost time. Russian consumers are increasingly drinking more Single Malts like Macallan and are attracted to the older luxury brands in general.

CONCLUSION – Currently, Blended Whisky accounts for about 85% of all Scotch Whisky consumed, with the rest mainly made up of Single Malt. The long-term global trend shows that the real growth will come from Single Malt Whisky and the Premium Blends. This will put more pressure on aged stocks and will keep the price inflation moving at a healthy rate. Consumers are becoming increasingly aspirational and are drawn to brands that have real history and heritage.

This is the ace card for the Scotch Whisky industry as this is something they have in abundance, and the marketing and packaging of these brands has improved immensely over the last 10 years. Whilst there are a number of smaller new distilleries opening all the time, the demand for their whisky is at present unclear. However, sourcing casks from the many established distilleries has become increasingly harder as the demand goes up.

Finally, with all the FTAs that the UK government are currently signing and that are in the pipeline, this can only help the future sales of a global export like Scotch Whisky. To conclude, when looking at the global market all the long-term trends are heavily pointing upwards, and even scratching beneath the surface reveals that the growth potential is huge, especially in many of the emerging markets. We feel that despite the incredibly challenging 2020 all the indicators point to the Scotch Whisky Industry continuing its success, and the economic pressures of supply and demand pushing prices and investments higher for the short, medium, and long term.

Sources: Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch Whisky Industry Review, British Government.

To find out more about Scotch Whisky Investment, contact the Masters today.

Whitlaw Distillery Focus – (Highland Park) 

Whitlaw Distillery Focus – (Highland Park) 

 

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.

To find out more about investing in Whitlaw casks, contact The Masters today!

Dalmunach Distillery Focus

Dalmunach Distillery Focus

 

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.  

Fact File

Name: Dalmunach 

Founded: 2015 

Region: Speyside 

Owners: Pernod Ricard 

Capacity: 10 million litres 

Stills: 8 

Fermentation: 56-62 hours 

Peated/Unpeated: Unpeated 

Casks Used: Bourbon & Sherry 

Recent significant awards: Non entered 

Independent bottlings: Around 50 

To find out more about investing in Dalmunach casks, contact The Masters today!

Bunnahabhain Distillery Focus

Bunnahabhain Distillery Focus

 

Bunnahabhain… We think it would be only right to start off with the pronunciation – Boon*ah*hav*enn – because let’s face it, if you’re not swinging a claymore sword around the Highlands you’re probably going to be slightly flummoxed. The translation of the name actually means ‘Mouth of the River’ and Bunnahabhain Distillery is located on Islay’s rugged north coast. It was built in 1881 by the whisky blenders Robertson & Baxter. Besides building the distillery, they also built houses and a community for their workers, plus a road with a pier to link to the outside world. It was certainly an impressive project. With the owners being blenders, it was clear that the destination for the whisky was only heading in one direction and Bunnahabhain became one of the central Malts for Black Bottle, Famous Grouse, and Cutty Sark. 

In the 1960s whisky boom production doubled and today they have a capacity of 2.7 million litres, which they split between roughly 1/3 peated to 2/3 unpeated. Interestingly they have really increased the phenol specification to 35-45ppm, (as a point of reference Laphroaig is 45ppm). Today, the focus is very much on building the brand as a Single Malt bottling, and under owners Distell International they have invested a lot of money with great success. The core range now consists of a 12, 18, 25, and 40-year-old, combined with numerous exciting limited-edition releases, such as the heavily peated Cruach-Mhona and the Eirigh Na Greine, which has vatted together Sherry, Bourbon, and Red Wine Casks. Evidence of this success is the fact that sales have risen 160% in the last few years and it is clear with the excellent repackaging and innovative marketing, that the brand equity is also rising fast.  

Another important factor for investors to consider is Bunnahabhain Distillery is very much revered by Indie Bottlers and so far there have been over 3000 Independent Bottlings to date! This itself is very significant because the bottling companies will certainly be interested in your purchased cask, and this can be a key part of your exit strategy. 

Currently, on our stocklist, we have a rare 2007 Bunnahabhian Sherry Butt. Our recommendation for investors here is that at 14 years old and with a current ABV of 59% there is a multitude of options open. The short-term option would be to wait until it is 18 years old, which is a very appealing age for most Independent Bottlers. Following that, the key milestone ages are 21, 25, and 30. As the current ABV is still fairly high, it is clear that there is a lot of life left in this cask. Our suggestion is to get this cask valued at each milestone age, starting with 18 years and deciding whether to exit or continue at this point. Using our Auction Your Cask sister site, set with a healthy reserve price, could be a very savvy strategy indeed. 

To conclude Bunnahabhain has certainly muscled its way into the top tier of distilleries in the last few years and with owners heavily investing behind its future growth, this has to be a welcome blue ribband addition to any portfolio.

We have 20007 Bunnahabhain Sherry Butts on our current stock list. To find out more about investing in Bunnahabhain Distillery, contact The Masters today!

 

Strathclyde Distillery Focus

Strathclyde Distillery Focus

 

 

Strathclyde Distillery is today the last grain distillery located within the city limits of Glasgow. Situated in the Gorbals, just south of the River Clyde, today it’s an important cog in the Pernod Ricard Scotch Whisky empire. Opened in 1927, the distillery went through several owners, before being bought by Allied Domecq, who used the grain whisky for their coveted Ballantine’s blend. After Pernod took over ownership in 2007 the whisky became a very valuable and integral part of their luxury Chivas Regal and Royal Salute brands. 

Over the years there has only been a very small number of official Strathclyde Distillery bottlings. There have so far been over 200 Independent Bottlings including a very well-received one from the Boutique-y company. When tasting the whisky we have found it incredibly smooth, with notes of buttery toffee, caramel, vanilla, and coconut. It truly is a very delicious, well-made whisky. 

For investors, this style of whisky is becoming ever more popular amongst those with discerning tastes, and therefore the Independent Bottlers who provide for them. This has great potential for a long-term investment strategy, as there is clear evidence that the whisky will mature well over a longer period, well past 30+ years for certain. For anyone looking to have a well-balanced but diverse portfolio of casks, then a high-quality grain whisky like Strathclyde is a must-stock.  

NB… Asian investors may well be attracted to the fact that this is the grain whisky that is a big part of the Royal Salute and Chivas Regal brands. 90% of Royal Salute’s global sales are in Asia and Chivas is the No.1 Scotch whisky brand in China. (Royal Salute Tribute to Honour, which contains 50-year-old Strathclyde in the blend, retails for £150,000 per bottle)

We have 2010 Strathclyde Hogsheads on our current stock list. To find out more about investing in Strathclyde Distillery, contact The Masters today!

Secret Islay

Secret Islay

 

 

The rumours are true! We now have some very high-quality 30-year-old whisky from a famous Secret Islay distillery, which has got the staff at Cask Trade salivating with excitement. Sir Colin Hampden-White had the extremely ‘difficult’ job of sampling a dram of this very special liquid. You can watch his tasting video here.

So why will these casks be called ‘Secret Islay’? Well, it all comes down to naming rights. Some distilleries are very happy to have their name on the casks and subsequently for the Independent Bottlers to promote their brand, whilst others want to protect their core range bottle offering, so they take away the naming rights. Obviously in this case we can’t reveal the distillery name. However what we can say is that it is a very famous well-known distillery, which makes incredible whisky!

It could be the distillery that has a huge cult following, with its disciples travelling from all over the world, to make a pilgrimage to its hallowed gates. Its special releases cause so much excitement, that the cultists will camp out for days to get hold of a bottle. 

It could be the distillery with the very high phenols which pioneered the peat freak phenomenon, which also certainly has its own share of devotees and is arguably the most famous distillery on the island.

Finally, it could be the other member of The Kidalton Three. Possibly not as smoky as the other two members but with a huge reputation in terms of quality and diversity of casks used. 

One thing to be absolutely sure, of from an investor’s point of view, is that this is a rare opportunity to buy one of the most sought after, most famous whiskies, in Scotland. Your exit strategy is certain, as there will be a whole host of other investors and eventually Independent Bottlers, lined up to get their hands on this whisky. We don’t envisage it staying very long on our stock list. There is though one potential pitfall we feel compelled to mention, which is the temptation to bottle and drink your cask might be overwhelming. You know what to do. 

To find out more about our Secret Islay whisky, contact The Masters today!

Tamnavulin Distillery Focus

Tamnavulin Distillery Focus

 

Before the whisky region of Speyside (where the Tamnavulin Distillery is located), all the distilleries in this area were collectively known as ‘the Glenlivets’. This came about because in the mid 1800s many distilleries actually just called their whisky ‘Glenlivet’ to trade on the name. A court case on behalf of the Glenlivet owners meant that all the distilleries had to use a suffix so until the 1980s you would see names like Macallan-Glenlivet, Aberlour-Glenlivet etc.

Tamnavulin Distillery opened in 1966 under the name Tamnavulin-Glenlivet, but considering they are the only other distillery that sits on the River Livet besides its famous neighbour, they certainly had every right to use the name. Initially they just made fillings for blends but sadly from 1995 to 2007 the owners mothballed the distillery.

After reopening it is only in more recent years that the Single Malt bottlings have been released. The style of the whisky is quite light and biscuity due to the half-dozen very large stills and relatively short fermentation time of 48 hours. Interestingly, from 2010 to 2013 they did make a small amount of heavily-peated spirit which is very rare for Speyside.

Today the owners Whyte & Mackay have started to release limited amounts of Single Malt with most of it aged in Oloroso Casks. For investors, it’s worth bearing in mind that Tamnavulin Distillery’s sister is Dalmore and the owners know what they are doing in terms of wood policy and luxury brand marketing.

In the last two years they have released some well-received expressions finished in Grenache, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon casks. Tamnavulin casks are very good value for money so under the guardianship of Whyte & Mackay (who have openly stated they are shifting the priority from Blends to Malts), now is the right time to invest.   

We currently have a range of 2009 Tamnavulin Hogsheads on our stock list. To find out more about investing in Tamnavulin Whisky, contact The Masters today!

Strathmill Distillery Focus

Strathmill Distillery Focus

Strathmill Distillery is hidden away in the small town of Keith in Speyside. It is one distillery that sometimes slips under the radar due to the fact that hardly any of it ever gets bottled as a Single Malt. Strathmill opened like many in the late Victorian era and its history has been quite unremarkable. Interestingly it was owned by the gin company W&A Gilbey for about 70 years before becoming part of what is now known as Diageo.

Its main function was to make malt for the famous J&B Rare Blend. With J&B being a very light style of whisky it might explain why Strathmill is fitted with a purifier pipe running from the lyne arm to the condenser. This essentially produces a much lighter style of spirit with a slightly oily character which would make sense when you think about the character of the J&B blend.

Production capacity is around 2.6 million litres and they vary the fermentation time between 65 and 120 hours using two pairs of stills. For investors, the attraction here is the rarity in finding any Single Malt from this distillery to drink. Diageo have bottled very little and you can find a 12-year with the whisky specialists if you’re lucky. Clearly, the Independent Bottlers would like to get hold of more casks of this to satisfy the curiosity of their legions of Malt Enthusiasts around the globe.

This tells us that there will be a strong exit strategy in place so if the price looks right, it would certainly be a useful addition to any portfolio. Every Strathmill Distillery expression we’ve seen has been aged in Bourbon Casks and the write-ups for the 23-year and 25-year expressions have been very favourable, so it clearly ages well.

Tasting notes: Expect to find a light, spicy, dry, and peppery style. Vanilla and grassy notes also come to the fore.

To find out more about investing in Strathmill casks, contact The Masters today!

Tomatin Distillery Focus

Tomatin Distillery Focus

 

Tomatin Distillery in many ways has had quite a remarkable rollercoaster history. Located in Inverness close to the Western edge of Speyside, the distillery opened up in 1897. Post-World War II it underwent a huge expansion going from two stills up to 23 and making it Scotland’s largest distillery. However, the timing was awful as Scotch whisky had just gone into decline and by 1985 the distillery had gone bankrupt and into liquidation.

The saviour arrived from an unexpected source, as the distillery was bought by company Takara & Okara and it was the first Japanese foray into Scotch whisky. Under Japanese ownership, the Tomatin Distillery production was downsized and there has since been a slow evolution from making fillings for blends into becoming a well-known Single Malt brand. In recent years they’ve established a core range of a NAS; a 12, 18, 30 and 36-year-old with many, many limited-editions released.

In 2010 Tomatin Distillery started making a limited amount of peaty whisky called Cu Bocan, then in 2018 a very rare 50-year-old expression was bottled (£10,000 RRP!). Today production capacity is about five million litres with a varied fermentation of between 55 and 110 hours. They’re aged in a variety of casks and like many distilleries, you can find many different finishes.

One important point to highlight for investors is, it is clear that the distillery is taking their foray into establishing themselves as a premium single malt brand very seriously. An example of this is how much they are investing in their wood policy and the fact that they now age their whisky in a significantly high percentage of first-fill bourbon and sherry butts. The progress of Tomatin Distillery has been slow and steady, but the liquid has certainly improved since the dark days of the 80s. This has meant that they have slipped under the radar a bit so adding the odd cask of Tomatin could be a very savvy long-term play for any portfolio. The value is still certainly there.

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