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Issue 83 - Coming of age

Whisky Magazine Issue 83
October 2009


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Coming of age

The first English whisky for more than a century will be bottled this side of Christmas, our man went to taste the 33 month old spirit.

“I've either done something brilliant or something very stupid.

I was contacted by Gordon Ramsay's FWord to supply some English whisky to be tasted on a programme before Christmas. I have no idea who's tasting it or what they're going to do with it.

“What if they spit it out in disgust?

It could either go really well and be brilliant for us, or it could be a disaster. We just don't know.” The words of St George's Distillery managing director Andrew Nelstrop are as good a reflection as any of the atmosphere at the distillery.

For more than 100 years England hasn't legally sold whisky but as the all-important three year mark approaches, it'll be reached in early December, there's a palpable sense of excitement, a certain degree of confidence and just a dash of apprehension.

The collective term is, I think, cautiously optimistic.

It says much about the confidence levels that Nelstrop allowed any spirit go to such an irreverent programme without having any control over its fate.

The apprehension comes from the fact that the world of whisky, particularly in the North, is watching and waiting. It's one thing for the Welsh, the Scandinavians and the Indians to make malt, but something else again when it's the English. The Norfolk distillery even has St George slaying a dragon on its logo and label.

But there lies the answer to Nelstrop's dilemma about Gordon Ramsay & Co. If they spit his whisky out, he should accuse them of Scottish prejudice and invite the public to d...

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