A fulfilling time

A fulfilling time

Owning your own cask of malt is arguably the ultimate whisky experience. Having selected his cask type Dominic Roskrow travelled to Glengoyne to fill it with new spirit.

News | 18 Jan 2008 | Issue 69 | By Dominic Roskrow

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We’re a motley crew for sure. Bleary-eyed, wet, bedraggled. Expectant and excited. And undoubtedly as happy as any human being has the right to be.We’ve only known each other a few hours but we’ve shared a meal together, consumed considerable amounts of fine whisky, put the world to rights and argued about the merits of defensive rugby during the recent world cup (to the bemusement of the European contingent among us).Now we’re standing in a constant and persistent drizzle wrapped up in anoraks on a dull winter’s day. And you know what? None of us could care less.In fact, I don’t think any of us has noticed. For in a moment we are going to put down our glasses of Glengoyne Cask Owners’ Malt and one by one we’re going to fill a cask with new make spirit and embark on a journey that will bind us together for the next decade or more.Filling your own cask of whisky with a group of other people is like adopting a new family. They’re your oak folk, your cask mates, people who now share a special birthday with you and who you’re already planning to meet up with on anniversaries years hence.And you share with them that smug knowledge that one day you might swap drams and debate whose cask performed best. And of course it’ll be yours.I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks, ever since I sat down one summer evening and tasted cask samples to select my cask. And there was plenty to be excited about: Glengoyne is a small, pretty and friendly distillery; it makes whisky that is rich, clean and flavoursome; and it is owned by a company with a sense of humour and a passion for malt. Oh, and it’s easy to reach so regular visits to check on my baby aren’t out of the question.Our filling is to take place early so we stay close to the distillery the night before where we’re joined by amiable distillery manager Robbie and cask selection manager Valerie Marsh for dinner.As I say, a motley crew to be sure. The group contains a Dutchman and a German, and representatives of the intriguingly named Anglo- Norwegian Society. There are enthusiastic amateurs, serious whisky buffs who have tasted malts that the rest of us can only dream about, and one or two serial purchasers who have already invested in casks elsewhere. Thomas Ewers from Germany has bought no less than three casks.But for none of us is the magic of the moment diminished and the serenity of the distillery, the tumbling waterfall where we toast the occasion with another decadent morning dram, and even the rain all contribute to the wonder of it all.The filling itself is, ironically, the most mechanical part of the experience. A cask is filled remarkably quickly and with no frills or ceremony. You are reminded that Robbie and his colleagues are working for a living and not playing bit parts in our whisky fantasy.The plan is to stay in touch, to monitor and report my cask mates’ whisky journeys and to report back on how each cask is developing.By the time you read this my spirit will already be two months old: more than five per cent of the way to legally being whisky. Not that I’m counting of course.
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