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News | 24 Apr 2009 | Issue 79 | By Rob Allanson

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Debate continues to surround proposed new Scotch whisky regulations being promoted by the Scotch Whisky Association and the United Kingdom Government.Not, on this occasion, the hotly-debated ‘blended malt’ title but a more detailed argument about what should constitute single malt whisky, with the new rules requiring single malt to be produced in pot stills.Nothing contentious there you might feel, but Loch Lomond Distillers of Alexandria would beg to disagree. They have been producing, perfectly legally, single malt in a copper column still using an all barley wash.This offers process efficiencies, better utilisation of raw materials and uses less energy for a given volume of spirit and, says Loch Lomond, produces a clean, light, grassy spirit of a medium-weight Speyside character ideal for blending.A greener way to produce whisky. You’d assume that distillers would welcome this with open arms. Not so. The SWAhas refused to recognise the process as single malt, claiming it “does not reflect traditional Scotch whisky distillation and practice”, yet Loch Lomond points to references to this type of distilling taking place more than a century ago, while the Lomond still, invented in 1955, is allowed under the new regulations.Around the world other distilling industries employ a similar technology and, as Nikka’s Coffey Malt has proved, can produce award-winning whisky of an outstanding character.Some Irish whiskey is also made in this way and finds an enthusiastic following.However, a spokesman for the SWA told us: “The UK Government considered all the representations made to it during the consultation on the new regulations and has concluded that such a practice is not traditional.We believe that is the right conclusion.“That some distillers have previously made such a product is not in itself an indication of what is traditional. Rather, the question revolves around what is traditional practice in relation to the production of single malt Scotch whisky. We are in no doubt that most consumers who know anything about single malt expect that it is a malt whisky made in a pot still. It is irrelevant what distillers in other countries do – we are talking about practice in the Scotch Whisky industry.“Lomond stills were also specifically considered during the Government consultation.Their use over a period of time meant that they have been considered as a traditional production method and they qualify as a pot still for the purposes of making single malt Scotch whisky.” John Peterson, Distilling Director at Loch Lomond, remains unimpressed.He said: “We have a method that produces a very good new malt spirit and are being penalised because we are innovators.If our industry can’t encourage innovation I find it sad. The reason we’re doing it is to make the process better and the energy savings are considerable, but we just get slapped down.“We don’t want to mislead the consumer – simply to be allowed to market ‘column still single malt’. We use 100 per cent Scottish malted barley in a copper still in a Scottish distillery and changes in the rules should reflect current industry practice not take a retrospective view that is effectively a restriction on trade.“The SWA insist that this is called grain whisky. It’s not. If anything that’s an even more misleading description.” The row looks set to rumble on with the positions of the two parties being incompatible.However, with Government and most of the rest of the Scotch whisky industry on its side the SWA view looks most likely to prevail.Loch Lomond will continue to produce its spirit, provisionally named Rhosdhu but plans to launch it as a single malt, however modestly, will have to be shelved. All the output of the controversial column still will be used in Lomond’s blends and private label brands.With an annual output of some 12m litres of grain alcohol and 2.5m litres of pot still single malt and a forecast rise in production to 17m and 4m litres respectively, Loch Lomond Distillers is Scotland’s most significant producer not in membership of the SWA.WHISKY WEEK DATES SET 6TH TO 12TH SEPTEMBER 2009
Whisky Week, part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, is an exciting series of dinners throughout Scotland culminating in Whisky Live Glasgow on Saturday 12th September.Whisky Week is organised by Whisky Magazine and Scotland Magazine, and if you ever needed a reason to visit Scotland, then this is it. Whether the Highlands or Lowlands, Speyside or the Borders, Whisky Week combines whisky tastings, food and whisky matched dinners and the opportunity to visit distilleries in the finest whisky celebration imaginable – in a series of dinners called the Whisky Experiences.You can attend one event or all seven,and Whisky Week is designed to open up Scotland to those who love whisky and want to experience it first-hand.VENUES AND DATES
Whisky Experience Edinburgh Sunday 6th September Caledonian Hotel Whisky Experience Perth Monday 7th September Crieff Hydro Whisky Experience Speyside Tuesday 8th September Glenfiddich Distillery Whisky Experience Inverness Wednesday 9th September Drumossie Hotel Whisky Experience Oban Thursday 10th September Oban Distillery Whisky Experience Glasgow Friday 11th September Auchentoshan Distillery Whisky Live Glasgow Saturday 12th September Thistle Hotel TICKET OPTIONS
Ticket prices are £85 for each of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Whisky Experiences and £65 for each of the Inverness, Oban, Perth and Speyside Whisky Experiences, with special offers for those who want to three or six of the Experiences. To find out more just visit www.whiskymag.com/whiskyweek Sleeping giant wakes Warm, rich oak and sherry sweetness. Deep amber gold.Rich mahogany. Spiced mulled wine and pear. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange. Fruit compote and glacier morello cherries.Walnut cake and mocha. Viscous and syrupy.An astonishing smorgasbord of complex tastes, colours and character is at the heart of the new GlenDronach portfolio of single malts which have been re-launched following a £250,000 investment by its new owners, The BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd.The GlenDronach Distillery in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, is famous for producing richly-sherried single malt whiskies. The much anticipated relaunch sees three malts – a 12, 15 and 18 Years Old – make a welcome re-appearance on the market.Managing director and master blender Billy Walker (pictured) was instrumental in awakening the sleeping giant. He said: “This is the beginning of our strategy to re-package and re-launch GlenDronach in markets worldwide.We’ve taken it back to how it was originally, promoting it as one of Scotland’s original sherried whiskies.” Distillery manager Alan McConnochie said: “Whisky connoisseurs have been waiting patiently for our new core range and it’s exciting for all of us at GlenDronach to be part of bringing this iconic brand back to life. I hope my tasting notes are interesting.“The classic GlenDronach 12- Years Old is matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry casks.” Film delights International film star Clive Owen helped unveil a new film concept announced by Irish whiskey giant Jameson.The Jameson Film Experience was launched in Dublin recently as part of the 2009 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and it is hoped that this concept will be rolled out to other markets around the globe this year.The theme for this event was the graphic novel genre of films.Clive Owen, the star of this initial event, joined an onstage interview with Mark Dinning, Editor of Empire magazine.Owen and Dinning discussed Clive’s performance as Dwight in graphic novel classic Sin City, released in 2005.The live interview also included questions streamed on AV screens around the venue from Irish film directors, singers and TV personalities. Michael Jackson book A small band of merry whisky writers gathered in Groningen, the Netherlands, recently as part of International Whisky Day.The group used the day to launch the Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser title celebrating Michael Jackson. Asimilar event was held in London at the same time to mark Michael’s birthday and to launch the book.Martine Nouet, Dave Broom, Charlie Maclean and Hans Offringa told anecdotes about life with Michael on the road, after which they toasted with the audience and presented the book. In the glass was, of course, the Michael Jackson blend, crafted by Berry Bros Doug McIvor.TITBITS
Open day Glengyle Distillery in Campbeltown is due to have an open day on May 21st showcasing the work of the distillery.Tours will be available of both Glengyle and its big sister Springbank with the chance to join masterclasses (£5 a head) with the legendary Frank McHardy and Stuart Robertson.Entry will be free and the gates open at 11am. For more information or to book a class email info@springbankwhisky.com Bring in Spring There are plenty of cocktail recipes out there but when it comes from the mind of Southern Wine and Spirits’Allen Katz you know you have to try it.Using the smooth Michael Collins blend,fused with honey, apple juice and Sauvignon Blanc wine, this is the perfect glass to toast the Spring in.Michael Collins Honeysuckle 1 1/2 parts Michael Collins Blend 2 tsp honey 1 1/4 parts Sauvignon Blanc wine 1 1/2 parts fresh apple juice 1/4 part passion fruit syrup 1/4 part fresh lemon juice Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a thin apple slice.Tune in and dram There’s more to enjoy than the single malt whisky when it comes to Scotland’s ‘home-grown’goods, as a meeting of two national brands promises to demonstrate.Glengoyne, one of Scotland’s longest established independent distilleries, has forged a unique partnership with Tannoy, one of the world’s oldest and most recognised loudspeaker manufacturers – also based in Scotland,having manufactured premium quality hi-fi speakers at their current Coatbridge site for more than 35 years.This fusion of two major Scottish brands is celebrated in a special event aimed at showcasing the best of what each company has to offer, under the banner of ‘Scotland’s Finest’. Tannoy will be unveiling their latest and much anticipated premium hifi loudspeaker range – Definition Series – while Glengoyne will be presenting some of their most exclusive specialist bottlings.Among these special whisky offerings will be a unique and rare 40yo limited to just 250 bottles.It all happens in Glasgow on the evening of 15th June at the city’s leading hi-fi boutique, Audio Salon, located in The Townhouse, Park Circus. Email scotlandsfinest@tannoy.co.uk for further information on the evening’s itinerary.
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