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Issue 66 - Small Stills

Whisky Magazine Issue 66
September 2007


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Small Stills

Ian Buxton looking at the rising phenomena of distilling spirit from the comfort of your armchair,shed or garage.

Personally, I blame Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The least he could have done, if he couldn't have remained a Continental playboy, was to have won his battle for the British throne. That way, we might never have had the vicious clampdown on private distilling that followed Culloden as part of the general suppression of Highland culture .

More and more legislation followed and the man from the ministry got used to the idea that everything that passed through a still had to be measured, monitored, controlled – and taxed to the edge of existence.

A few distilleries got burnt down, but within a few generations we all fell into line.

Today, of course, living in Brown's Big Brother Britain the idea that we might produce our own spirits can scarcely be mentioned.

In a society driven by the twin diktats of big business and New Labour's authoritarian control freaks the prospect that the citizens might actually be trusted is too much to contemplate.

But as I discovered recently they order things very differently in Austria, southern Germany and Italy. Just across the Channel our European cousins enjoy a flourishing artisanal distilling industry that works quite literally on a domestic scale.

Yes, that's correct – miniaturised distillery operations in people's basement, kitchen or purpose-built distillery annexe, no bigger than your garage!

So I went to a garage in Germany to take a look - Irmgard and Edmund Marder's garage as it happens, where they keep their Holstein still (it's...

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