Auchroisk Distillery (pronounced ar-thrusk) opened in 1974 to take advantage of the post-war whisky boom, mainly to make Malt whisky fillings for the famous J&B Blend. Today production is still going strong and the distillery is operating 24/7, with production up to 5.8 million litres. Located in a remote part of Speyside, this Diageo distillery is renowned for having a quite nutty/spicy character. The character of the whisky comes from a very interesting production technique, which involves rapid mashing and a short fermentation, followed by a rapid boiling in the wash still. This is certainly unique and we’re not aware of any other distillery which produces its spirit this way.
The first single malt bottling was actually in the mid-80s and was interestingly the first example we have of ‘finishing’. The whisky spent 10 years in a bourbon cask, before finishing off for two years in a sherry cask. However, this wasn’t adequately promoted or marketed, so both the technique and the brand itself never gained any traction. Since then official bottlings have been few and far between, with just a 25-year, 28-year and 30-year limited-editions released.
Auchroisk Distillery, despite being fairly unknown, is clearly of great value to its owners Diageo, as they have it in full-time production and very little of it is released as official bottlings. Essentially this is a very unique Malt whisky in terms of its character, so there will be interest from the Independent Bottling market, of which we counted close to 600 on Whiskybase over the years. A distillery that has cult status amongst the enthusiasts is never a bad thing. Look to hold onto Auchroisk Distillery casks until they are 10 to 21 years old, would be our advice.
Mannochmore Distillery is the sister distillery of Glenlossie and is situated right next door. Ownership is in the hands of the giant Diageo company and the distillery exists to make malt for the Haig & Dimple blended brands. Unlike its sister, this is one of Scotland’s newer distilleries, which has been in operation since 1971. Today capacity is up to a very healthy six million litres and the distillery runs seven days a week, with quite a long fermentation time of 100 hours. The style of whisky itself is quite light, delicate, and floral and is clearly of that Speyside style.
The attraction for investors here is the growing global army of single malt enthusiasts, who want to try and collect every single distillery. Mannochmore Distillery whisky is very rare and very hard to find. Again Diageo have rarely bottled anything and so independent bottlings are very thin on the ground. Make no mistake though, the liquid is good and the write-ups from the whisky writers and consumers alike, have all been impressive. A 37-year expression from famous independent bottler Cadenhead has been well received, so clearly it ages well.
If any casks do become available, then it’s certainly worth looking at from a portfolio approach and they may well be undervalued.
Capacity: 6m litres
Fermentation: 55 Hours
Casks Used: Bourbon
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: None entered
Independent bottlings: Around 375
Core Range: None – several limited edition official bottlings
Tamdhu Distillery, like many Speyside distilleries, was opened in 1897 during the late Victorian whisky boom period. Situated in the heart of the region, just outside the village of Aberlour, it would be fair to describe Tamdhu as a late bloomer. Somewhat surprisingly, the distillery was closed in 2009 by the Edrington Group, but was rescued a couple of years later and reopened by Ian Macleod Distillers.
Before that though, its chequered history throughout the 20th century consisted of being mothballed and reopened. When it was producing whisky, it was to make Malt fillings for the blends Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse, and single malt bottlings were very rarely seen. However, under Ian Macleod, everything is rapidly changing. Firstly, they have accelerated the policy of re-racking everything into sherry casks, which has completely transformed the image and perception of the brand. A core range now consists of 10, 12 and 15-year, with a 50 year released in 2017.
The style of the whisky is very classic Speyside and the last sample we tried had rich, sherry notes, tropical fruits and nuttiness, with an underlining crème brulee sweetness. It was truly delicious. Production has been ramped up to three million litres per year and there are certainly big plans moving forward.
From an investment perspective, this Malt is undervalued and is a great addition to any portfolio. To the whisky enthusiasts and independent bottlers in the know, there is great demand for this Malt. The general public hasn’t caught up just yet, but that will certainly change. Our advice is to try and make a long-term play here because we think the value will accelerate rapidly upwards, as the investment into Tamdhu Distillery and brand by Ian Macleod, starts to reap benefits.
Owner: Ian Macleod Distillers
Capacity: 4m litres
Fermentation: 59 hours
Casks Used: Mainly sherry 1st & 2nd fill , some bourbon.
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: 2020 World Whisky Awards – Gold Medal – Worlds Best Single Cask
Independent bottlings: Around 500
Core Range: 10, 12, 15 and numerous limited editions
Balmenach Distillery (Translation – The Middle Farm) lies in the southern part of Speyside in a remote location inside the Cairngorm National Park. If you find this distillery by accident, then it’s safe to say that you are lost! First opened in 1824, it is remarkable that with nearly 200 years of history, there have been virtually no bottlings from this distillery and outside of the whisky enthusiast world, nobody has ever heard of it.
This begs the question, why? The answer is in fact very simple and quite obvious – Balmenach is one of the most sought-after Single Malts for the blending houses. These types of rare malts are known as top dressing malts and they will lift the flavour in virtually any blend you add them to. Blended whisky still accounts for over 85% of the global market and while this is still the case, it’s hard to envisage much of this wonderful whisky ever becoming available.
The production consists of a very long fermentation using small stills and a worm tub condenser. This is a very ‘old school’ style of whisky making, which produces a very meaty style, similar to Mortlach and Benrinnes. Since 2001, ownership has been in the hands of Inver House, who have only launched several very limited-edition 27-year & 28-year-olds.
For investors, this is a distillery that will offer you great exit strategy opportunities. Firstly, the whisky ages very well, especially in sherry casks. Combined with the rarity of any kind of official bottlings means that the Independent Bottlers will be very interested when you decide to sell. The demand for these casks is high and the supply is low, therefore basic market forces will make this a very savvy investment indeed.
There is evidence that some form of distilling has been going on in Jura for centuries. The current Jura Distillery can trace its history back to 1810, but after going through several name changes and ownership the distillery was closed and dismantled in 1901. The real story of Jura actually started in 1963 when Scottish & Newcastle breweries reopened the distillery and commenced production. The new stills installed were 7.7 metres tall (2nd tallest in Scotland), and with stainless steel washbacks and a relatively short fermentation time, the new style of Jura could only be described as quite light, salty, nutty and delicate.
From the 1990s a small amount of peated whisky was produced and today they blend this in to just add a wisp of smoke to the modern Jura style. Whyte & Mackay took over ownership in 1996 and can be given a lot of credit for their investment, expansion and innovation of the brand. The core range today consists of a NAS called Journey, a 10-year, a 12-year, a Seven Wood and the very well-received 18-year which is finished in red wine casks. Besides this, there are now a whole plethora of limited-edition and Travel Retail special editions, and we think it’s safe to say that Jura is now firmly established in the upper ranks of Single Malt brands.
For investors, this distillery ticks a lot of boxes. This is an opportunity to buy into a well-known established brand in which the owners are investing heavily (Dalmore is one of the sister brands). The whisky clearly ages very well in every type of cask imaginable and our advice would be to hold onto this cask until it is 18-years-old where the demand from the Independent Bottlers will be highest. Jura is a great addition to any portfolio.
Region: Highlands (Islands)
Owners: Whyte & Mackay
Capacity: 2.4m litres
Fermentation: 54 hours
Peated/Unpeated: Unpeated / 5% peated.
Casks Used: bourbon, sherry, red wine, chinkapin, port.
Current Sales: N/A
Recent significant awards: Isle of Jura 1988 – Gold Medal at 2020 IWSC awards
Independent bottlings: Around 650
Core Range: Journey NAS, 10-year, 12-year, Seven Wood, 18-year.
We currently have a delicious selection of 2010 Jura Sherry Butts on our current stock list.To find out more about investing in Jura casks, contact The Masters today!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.