By Dominic Roskrow

A world in motion

The whisky industry seems to be rising to the challenge of attracting new drinkers while keeping the experts happy saysDominic Roskrow
In the distillery focus in this issue, Ian Buxton describes how Glengoyne has introduced a half day tour which includes a blending class and the chance to make your own blended whisky.It costs £100 but I bet it’s a big success. Why?Because it’s just the latest logical progression in a trend that sees whisky enthusiasts wanting more and more from their distillery visits. Aproportion at least will be happy to spend more for the five star treatment and the chance to enjoy an exclusive experience.One of the hardest tasks the whisky industry faces is how to attract new drinkers in to the world of whisky by making it easy and accessible while at the same time trying to keep those of you who have done the standard tours sufficiently engaged by continually having to create something new.But it seems the industry is rising to the challenge, and whether it be Bruichladdich or Bladnoch’s whisky school, the advanced tours being offered by the likes of Aberlour and Balvenie, or the chance to fill your own bottle from the cask, we are being offered more access to distilleries than ever before.These are exciting times because there is a genuine sense of dynamism in whisky at the moment, particularly in Scotland. At Jura Distillery, for instance, they are just finishing off the refurbishment of the accommodation block, and soon enthusiasts will be able to stay actually on the distillery site.Bowmore, too, has given a facelift to its cottages and is in the process of having its visitor centre overhauled.And it’s no different in Speyside. The Macallan has converted the old distillery manager’s house in to accommodation space, has given a facelift to Easter Elchie House and can now entertain in the grandest manner imaginable, and is in the process of installing an interactive exhibition in one of its warehouse. At The Glenlivet, too, work is underway to upgrade and refurb its visitor facilities. And on it goes.What is most pleasing is that much of it is aimed at a new audience as much as the existing one, and the additions are clearly designed to carry on the fine work started by the likes of Dewar’s World of Whisky, the Famous Grouse Experience and Glenfiddich.For attracting new customers these places clearly work. I know – my wife came away from The Famous Grouse with a taste for its 10 year old vatted malt having never shown even an inkling of interest previously. She, in turn, encouraged her girlfriends to try a little whisky tasting at home. None of them had ever tasted good whisky.This balancing act – of providing a stepping stone for the novice whisky drinker while keeping the experienced aficionado happy does present a challenge but the two trends can exist side by side.Watch too, for whisky coming from unexpected new directions. After the news that Norfolk, England, is to have a distillery comes news of a distillery planned for the Lake District in the North West of England.And this month we have tasted an independent bottling from the same region.An English whisky revolution anyone?