Myriam In Scotland – The Dramathon, Glen Moray & GlenAllachie

Myriam In Scotland – The Dramathon, Glen Moray & GlenAllachie

Sales & Marketing Manager Myriam once again returned to her Scottish roots in a recent trip back to the land of Scotch. The phrase, ‘do it for the ‘dram’ was definitely the mantra of the trip, so whether it was in aid of the Dramathon, a distillery tour, or simply for the purpose of warming the cockles by the fire, whisky was undoubtedly celebrated throughout the holiday.

The Dramathon

“When staying in Speyside, the common assumption is that the sole purpose of visiting is to tour its world-famous distilleries. While for many this is true, there is a lot more to Speyside than malt whisky, but for sure it’s always a pleasure to combine an appreciation of whisky with the spectacular landscapes the Highlands have to offer. The main reason for me visiting this year was to run the Dramathon, also known as the Speyside Single Malt Marathon, which involves running through an impressive number of distilleries along the iconic River Spey.

Outside Tamdhu Distillery

I remember the very beginnings of the event when I was working at Glenfarclas in 2014. Two enthusiastic runners came to the distillery to meet George Grant (6th generation of the family-owned Glenfarclas distillery) to pitch him the idea of running and ‘responsibly dramming’ their way through a route on the Speyside Way. The trail was to start at Glenfarclas and finish at Glenfiddich as a way of promoting tourism through a wacky combination of whisky appreciation and running.

It may seem like an unlikely pairing at first, but in other ways, it makes sense. Speyside is home to more than 50 distilleries, which is close to half of the total number of distilleries in Scotland, making it the greatest concentration of malt whisky producers compared to every other region. The area is also known for the Speyside Way; today a scenic walking trail of 137km, but historically, a vital network, the 19th century Strathspey Railway line served the whisky distilleries of Speyside for over 100 years.

The Dramathon route

Offering an idyllic countryside backdrop for a marathon incorporating the river Spey, the historic Speyside Way and the Malt Whisky Trail, it turns out that whisky and running in Speyside is a winning combination. What better way to motivate yourself than running through stunning surroundings and some of the most iconic distillery names in the whisky industry from start to finish.

With four different trails available, the ‘Full Dram’ (42km), ‘Half Dram’ (21km), ‘Wee Dram’ (10km) and the team of four relay option, there is something for everyone. Taking part in this event, you get a real sense of community spirit, with many locals supporting you at different stages along the way. I ran the ‘Half Dram’ which started at Tamdhu and continued past Knockando, Dailuaine, Dalmunach, Aberlour, GlenAllachie, Craigellachie, The Macallan, The Balvenie and Glenfiddich distilleries.

The finish line at Glenfiddich is nothing short of exceptional, with its beautifully designed architecture; the malt barn, visitor centre, still house and warehouses all surrounding you. To top it all off, a well-deserved goodie bag is presented to each runner containing a medal made from an oak stave, a generous selection of miniatures from Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Monkey Shoulder, The Balvenie and GlenAllachie, and of course, a Dramathon branded Glencairn glass to drink them in!”

Glen Moray

Today an established traditional brand, Glen Moray, originally a 19th-century brewery, was converted into a distillery and began making whisky in 1897. Marketed as a single malt as early as the 1920s when it was bought over by the owners of Glenmorangie, it took the mantel of the firm’s ‘budget’ malt which made Glen Moray widely accessible as a good quality malt at a fair price. Now owned by La Martinquaise since 2008, Glen Moray also supplies fillings for blend, notably Cutty Sark, in addition to its core range of single malt releases and regular appearances in independent bottlings globally.

With a flair for experimentation, Glen Moray is widely known as one of the first distilleries to mature its whisky in ex-wine casks. Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy, Barolo, Madeira, Sauternes, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and even Rhum Agricole and cider casks are among some of the innovative cask finishes released in recent years.

Glen Moray Distillery

In the early days, Glen Moray’s goal was to supply a widely affordable and accessible malt. This marketing strategy seems to have stuck, as production has ramped up from three million to five million litres per annum, and with the Glen Moray 12 Years Old available at most supermarkets for around £30. Perhaps this has led to the brand being the unsung hero among so many of its Speyside competitors.

That being said, it seems as though it has not yet reached the status of a ‘collectors’ whisky. Whatever its reputation, in my mind what is certain, is that the cask-strength single cask releases reveal an exceptionally high-quality malt. A typical Speyside style with soft, fruity, and honeyed notes, the independent bottlings are in a realm of their own. For those that are looking for something surprising and underrated, give Glen Moray a try, you will not be disappointed by the single cask releases.”

Glen Moray Distillery

We have 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2014 barrels & hogsheads on our current stock list. We’re always happy to talk whisky, so why not start your investment journey with Cask Trade and Glen Moray today?

GlenAllachie

“GlenAllachie was founded in the heyday of the 1960s whisky boom, purpose-built to supply fillings for the growing global demand for blended Scotch whisky. The base spirit is light, honeyed and floral, typical of the Speyside style, and exactly the type of versatile spirit that is desired by blenders. Until recently, the entirety of the distillery’s four million litre annual output was produced for blending. Owned by Pernod Ricard from 1989, for many years GlenAllachie was never a recognised brand in its own right. Instead, it formed a key part of the Chivas Regal blend, contributing to the success of one of the giants of the whisky industry.

Today the distillery tells a very different story since it was bought over by the independent GlenAllachie Distillers Company in 2017. With blending requirements now a thing of the past, these days GlenAllachie solely focuses on single malt age statements and smaller batch limited editions as a full redevelopment of the brand and the whisky has been well underway. At the production stage, fermentation is longer than most, over 140 hours, which adds fruity esters and more complexity to the final product.

Glenallachie Distillery

During maturation, the spirit starts its life in ex-bourbon casks, to then be transferred into sherry casks, or other types of ex-wine casks used in the finishing process near the end of the maturation. These methods have paved the way for GlenAllachie to develop a house style of deliciously fruity and dark-coloured whiskies, typically finished in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez sherry casks, like for example, the award-winning GlenAllachie 15 Years Old.

These are not new techniques but the depth of expertise, from the production stages to the selection of a range of sherry casks, wine casks and even Chinquapin virgin oak, to name but a few examples, which has led to a complete transformation of the quality and reputation of the whisky. At the head of this independent venture, distillery manager Billy Walker, previously from Glendronach, Benriach & Glenglassaugh distilleries, has successfully revived a little-known distillery into a brand with a whisky enthusiast cult-following on a global scale. If you haven’t tried the GlenAllachie 15 Years Old yet, it’s probably time to add one to your Christmas shopping list.”

Glenallachie Distillery

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

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!

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!