By Rupert Wheeler

Orcadian Skies

Dark Origins and Aberdeen Angus
Well my first trip out of the office was a most rewarding experience and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Highland Park and in particular Daryl Haldane (Global Brand Advocate) for their hospitality. A number of us met up at Kirkwall airport on Orkney in early July and we enjoyed some of the finest weather that I think Orkney had seen for many a month or even a year. During the distillery visit I learnt much and especially enjoyed the tasting experience at the end of the day with Daryl giving a very interesting masterclass including Dark Origins their latest release. We were also lucky enough to sample a beef tasting masterclass run by Quality Meat Scotland under the expert tutelage of Laurent Vernet. A complete eye opener for me as I rarely eat beef.

We have after many weeks finally got all our contributing editors in place and I had the pleasure of meeting our North American contingent for the very first time on a Skype conference call which went extremely well. I hope that in the not too distant future I manage to meet them in person either here in the UK or Stateside.

With this in mind we are now running our annual Icons of Whisky awards and I have been invited by our contributing editor in India, Sandeep Arora, to participate in the Icons of Whisky India awards. I am very much looking forward to this as the temperature in Bengaluru in September will be temperate, thank goodness., mostly due to it being at 3,000 feet above sea level.

After last month's bumper issue we are back to normal but still packed with very interesting features.

I recently met up with Dave Broom our editor-at-large and Neil Ridley our England contributing editor to discuss and run through what features we should look at for next year. We discussed many ideas and some of the ones we agreed on will be brand new to the magazine which I hope that you readers enjoy. More of this anon.

The overall theme of this issue is Craft and Blends and we have covered these in different ways. Neil Ridley has suggested that we might have spawned an unregulated monster with the term 'craft distilling' and there is an argument that it's nothing to do with the size of distiller and more to do with skill. In conjunction with this, Neil's business partner Joel Harrison, has written a piece on the 'disappearing art' of craft blending. Joel will be writing an article for us in the next issue on the relatively new Irish Distillers Whiskey Academy at Midleton distillery in Ireland. You can see some of the features we intend to cover in the next issue on page 76.

With the huge increase in whisky production we look closely at what would happen if 'the wood runs out.' Gavin D Smith has taken on two distillery tours this issue, looking at Glen Grant and in particular a very interesting interview with Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm. He has also visited Aberlour. We intend to extend our distillery focus features by introducing an interview feature every time. It might not necessarily be with the Master Distiller but it will always be someone involved with production. We think that there are many people employed in the industry that do not necessarily get the credit that they deserve and we hope that we can engage with these people over the coming months.

Our bars guide is on Australia and has been written by Chris Middleton who lives in Australia and has written for us in the past. It is obvious that the whisky bar scene is rapidly expanding in Australia as well as Tasmania and we will be covering both these countries extensively in our next issue.

In the month of September there is usually in the UK a super Thursday when publishers come out with some of their best titles of the year for the build up to Christmas. We review Ian Buxton's new book 101 Legendary Whiskies which is the third and final book in the 101 series. We also have advance notice of a new book by Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison, Distilled. However the highlight for me will be the new edition of Dave Broom's World Atlas of Whisky which is probably the best whisky book on the market.