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Issue 95 - The Big Distiller

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011


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The Big Distiller

in the Scotch whisky 'mainstream' nobody has more respected reputation for innovation than Dr Bill Lumsden, head of distilling & whisky creation for Glenmorangie plc; owner of the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg single malt brands. Gavin D Smith reports

?Lumsden is a scientist by training and as one of the leading pioneers in the study of wood in relation to whisky maturation, he has been at the forefront of the ‘finishing' programme spearheaded by Glenmorangie, in the first place with its Port Wood Finish. “Our new product developments are hardly ever marketing-led; they are nearly always distiller-led,” Lumsden says. “Essentially, there are three potential areas for innovation with Scotch whisky. The most obvious, and the most exploited, is maturation. You can make use of a wide range of casks allowed by the Scotch Whisky Association, such as wines, Cognac, even ale. But overall, I think ‘finishing' has been thrashed to death. “The second is about marketing and packaging, but by itself I think that's a pretty weak proposition, and certainly not something to excite hairy-arsed distillers like myself! I also think consumers now are too discerning to fall for that sort of thing.

“The third possible area for innovation is in relation to the primary production stage. There are a lot of areas to explore, but obviously this means you have a long lead time in terms of bringing the product to market.” He makes the point that when you are dealing with well-established whiskies such as Glenmorangie and Ardbeg: “Some of the way-out things we may like to try just can't be done. We have to protect the equity of the brand. It's always vital that you maintain brand integrity and brand credentials. “By contrast, ...

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