News

Insight

Distilling returns
By Rob Allanson
The Borders Distillery adds a new dimension to Hawick

In May of this year, the first whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837 opened its doors to the public. The Borders Distillery is located in the town of Hawick, famous for its cashmere and tweed, and operates from a complex of buildings on Commercial Road, the oldest of which dates from 1888.

The distillery has been established by The Three Stills Company, headed by four ex-William Grant & Sons directors, and some £10 million has been spent on its creation. Two pairs of Forsyth-built stills are in situ, giving an annual capacity of 1.65 mla, and according to co-founder John Fordyce: “We want a fruity and aromatic spirit that’s easy to get on with. The stills are fitted with ‘boil balls,’ but the lyne arms are descending, to stop the spirit being too light. It’s a totally manual distillery and everyone who works here will get trained as a distiller, so they will know the practicalities of whisky-making and will be answer any questions from the public.”

In addition to its complement of pot stills, the Borders Distillery is equipped with a ‘Carter Head’ still which produces gin, using new-make spirit from the pots, and miniature bottles of new-make will also be offered for sale in the distillery gift shop.

Explaining the company name ‘Three Stills,’ John Fordyce says that: “Ultimately we will have three types of still: the pot stills, the Carter Head for gin, and we’re also going to install a vacuum still which will allow us to produce small batches of white spirits.”

The first release of single malt is expected in around five years’ time, although Fordyce does not rule out a younger limited edition if the whisky shows early maturity.

Malt alchemy

Continuing its journey pushing the boundaries of malt alchemy, BenRiach Distillery has released Batch 15 of its cask bottling programme.

BenRiach holds some of the most experimental casks in Speyside, making it well placed to offer a multi-faceted range of casks in both unpeated and Highland peated styles. Each year, master blender Rachel Barrie selects a number of distinct casks which celebrate the distillery’s creative distilling and maturation heritage. Batch 15 includes 15 casks: 10 unpeated and five Highland peated – an eclectic mix including port pipes, moscatel hogsheads, sauternes barriques, rum barrels and virgin oak. Each bottle is filled exclusively from one of these individual casks.

Announcing the release of BenRiach Cask Bottling Release – Batch 15, master blender Rachel Barrie, said: “Batch 15 provides a rare opportunity to explore the many facets of BenRiach maturation in one batch, something us whisky makers are lucky to do every day. From the sweet side of Marsala wood to the exotic fruity side of rum and the barbecued smokiness of charred American virgin oak, there is a cask to suit every whisky lover’s palate. Now’s the time to explore, take your pick and find the cask you most enjoy!”

Johnnie Walker My Edition

Johnnie Walker is launching My Edition, an online whisky personalisation experience that enables people to purchase new and exclusive Johnnie Walker whiskies, matched to an individual’s flavour preferences.

Johnnie Walker My Edition – initially operating as a pilot – brings together years of whisky making expertise and taste-profiling technology to create a one-of-a-kind offering for Scotch whisky fans to enjoy themselves or give as a meaningful gift.

David Gates, head of Diageo Futures – the company’s innovation arm – said: “We have created an engaging, accessible and easy-to-use tool that asks consumers a series of simple questions. Based on the answers given, Johnnie Walker My Edition uses machine learning and proprietary algorithms to match the taste profile to one of a range of six new and exclusive Johnnie Walker blends. It allows people to explore flavour in a fresh and engaging way not offered elsewhere.
“Johnnie Walker My Edition will also help people who are new to Scotch discover the wide range of flavours found in Johnnie Walker whiskies. Personalisation runs through Johnnie Walker My Edition from the website’s very first question on flavour preference through to the customised labelling and engraving options that result in a bespoke look for each individual bottle.”

Once the ideal Johnnie Walker whisky has been identified by answering a series of simple questions, the iconic label can be personalised and a message engraved directly onto the glass bottle. The bespoke edition of Johnnie Walker will then be delivered directly to the recipient’s door.

There are six new whiskies in the Johnnie Walker My Edition range. Depending on user’s answers to the online questions, they will be directed towards the one that most suits their flavour preferences. The range includes: Light & Zesty; Rich & Complex; Fresh & Delicate; Rich & Smoky; Rich & Fruity; and Vibrant & Spicy.

My Edition was developed by Johnnie Walker in partnership with the Diageo Futures Team and technology partner Vivanda – specialists in real-time, personalised flavour discovery.

My Edition can be accessed by visiting www.johnniewalkermyedition.com. Bottles are priced at £75/€90 and have an ABV of 40%.

How The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve pushes the limits of modern Scotch

We’re always looking at the impact casks can have on the flavour of whiskies and Captain’s Reserve is our latest example. Selectively finished in high-quality Cognac casks, it combines the rich flavours of Cognac with the well-known smooth and fruity style of The Glenlivet. It’s a bold move for us, with the distinctive cask combination something that the industry has never seen before on such a grand scale.

Set to follow in the successful footsteps of Founder’s Reserve, the number one single malt innovation globally in the past five years [IWSR], Captain’s Reserve is the result of listening to our consumers and responding to increasing demand for new flavour profiles and finishes. Our expertise with the finish results in a complex and delicate flavour, capable of reinvigorating the single malt market and allowing us to continue challenging the category.

While The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve pays tribute to George Smith, founder of The Glenlivet, Captain’s Reserve celebrates George’s great-grandson, Captain William Smith Grant. Like his great-grandfather, Captain Bill was a determined, bold and visionary man. He was there to guide us through the challenging prohibition years, turning The Glenlivet into the definitive whisky and sparking a single malt revival across the UK and US.

This legacy continues to be a key part of our story today, inspiring everything we do. Captain’s Reserve is no different.
By offering a distinctive cask finish which helps to satisfy consumers’ curiosity and allows them to explore contemporary new tastes and flavours, its release is helping us to reassert our modern credentials as the definitive whisky, while also ensuring the longevity of the category.