Whisky Magazine Issue 129
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What happens when the spirit leaves the safe
Whisky – it's all about oak really, isn't it? Okay, so you've got your pure sparkling burn water and your finest barley floor-malted in the old-fashioned way, and you've got your expert brewer and your master distiller and all that burnished copper; but without that long, slow, microbiological love making session between spirit and cask, what have you got? Well, not whisky, that's for sure.
But you might just have something...
It's not unprecedented for a new distillery to issue a limited-edition bottling of new make – Kilchoman's Two Year New Spirit springs to mind, and Glenglassaugh's reopening in 2008 was followed by a number of different new make releases – but always as a postcard to the fans, an update on progress, even a collector's item; never as a brand in its own right. Until recently the only exception has been Loch Ewe, which in its quest for 18th Century authenticity scarcely ages its spirit at all. But then Loch Ewe is egregious, more of a living history lesson than a commercial distillery; owner John Clotworthy never meant to set an example for others to follow, and for many years nobody did.
Innovation and experiment, though, are as critical to the character and indeed to the survival of craft distilling as they have always been to microbrewing; and reaching back into the distant past for inspiration is not only fascinating in itself but has also turned out to be a natural direction of travel for some craft distillers – as indeed it has for many mic...