News

Reviving Distilling

Belfast is set to get its first new distillery since 1936
By Rob Allanson
A new distillery and visitor centre planned for a historic Belfast gaol will be the first to be built in Belfast since the closure of Dunville and Co in the 1930s.

The Belfast Distillery Company (BDC) received planning permission from the local NI Assembly to build the distillery in A Wing of the old Crumlin Road jail.

The £4.8 million pound project, which could create up to 60 jobs, aims to be distilling malt whiskey by Nov 2013, using three 3,000 litre stills built by Forsyths in Scotland.

The BDC is expecting to have an annual capacity of 300,000 litres of new fill malt per year and will be maturing two thirds of this capacity every year. The remainder of the malt will be blended with grain new fill that will be sourcing elsewhere in Ireland on a long term contract basis.

The project is the brainchild of Belfast businessman and Lottery winner Peter Lavery, who has already produced brands such as Titanic Whiskey and Danny Boy.



Royal visit to Glen Grant



His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, recently opened the new bottling hall at the Glen Grant Distillery.

The realisation of the project took 18 months to complete and now places Glen Grant in the position of being the only Speyside distillery to bottle all of its products on-site. The whole

production process from barley to bottle now takes place at this historical distillery

During his visit the Prince observed the bottling process and met staff as well as those involved in the construction of the new plant. He was given a tour of the distillery and its innovative tall slender stills and purifiers.

He went on to meet local school children at the Glen Grant Visitor Centre and was presented with a bottle of the limited edition Glen Grant Five Decades single malt whisky, the latest expression from the distillery.

Dennis Malcolm, master distiller said: "Glen Grant has always led the way in single malt production since it was founded in 1840. From our unique stills to bottling plant we continue to grow in our founders' vision."

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Gruppo Campari: "The new bottling hall is another example of our commitment to Glen Grant and the Speyside region. We are very lucky to have an incredible and committed workforce, many whom have worked for Glen Grant for decades. It really was a great honour and pleasure meeting His Royal Highness for this important milestone at the Glen Grant distillery."



Single cask release



Tomintoul Distillery has recently released its first ever single cask edition of its award-winning malt range.

The distillery is located near to the village of Tomintoul, the highest village in the Highlands of Scotland in the prestigious Glenlivet Estate at the heart of the Speyside region.

This single cask release has been bottled in a decanter style bottle and is presented in a gift box. The whisky was distilled on the 30th October 1981 and has matured ever since in Bourbon cask number 5985.

Bottled in February 2013 at 53.9% ABV, the whisky has not been chill-filtered. Only 198 bottles were produced and each bottle has been individually numbered.



Nikka pop up



Japanese whisky producer Nikka opened a pop up bar recently at Smiths of Smithfield in May - with a stunning array of whiskies.

The company displayed 17 of its premium single malt and blended whiskies for sampling, the biggest line-up of quality Japanese whiskies ever assembled in a bar in London.

Among the 17 whiskies from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries was the award-winning Taketsuru 17 year old pure malt. It is named in honour of Masataka Taketsuru, Father of Japanese whisky, who established Nikka whisky following studies into Scotch whisky distillation in the 1920s.



Distell eyes new markets



The Distell Group, Africa's leading spirits, wines and ready-to-drinks business has acquired whisky producer Burn Stewart Distillers Limited, for more than £160 million.

This strategic purchase will allow Distell to capitalise on the continuing global growth in whisky consumption and give it access to scarce blended and single malt stocks from prime whisky-producing regions in Scotland, while also enhancing its global footprint.

The biggest brand in its portfolio is Scottish Leader, the pre-eminent blended Scotch whisky in its category in Taiwan. Distell Group MD Jan Scannell said that Scottish Leader, so well established in Taiwan, would give Distell a springboard into a country with a growing spirits appetite.



New Indian whiskies



This month saw the announcement that John Distilleries, one of India's largest distillation companies is to release two brand new permanent expressions of their well-received single malt. John have become a household name in India thanks to their Original Choice whisky, a molasses-based Indian whisky, which sells in excess of 10 million cases a year and these new releases represent a substantial innovation for the company into the world of malt whiskies.

Entitled 'Brilliance' and 'Edited', the whiskies will draw their core flavour profiles from the previously available single cask releases John Distilleries have successfully launched into the UK market. Head Distiller Michael John held a tasting of the new releases in London, explaining the approach that the distillery has taken with the whiskies. "We've been producing single malt in Goa since 2006 and our new expressions are made using of barley grown in India." According to John, the whisky is matured for around four or five years, but due to the huge losses from each cask every year (around 12 to 13 per cent, due to the average warehouse temperatures reaching 30 degrees) the whiskies develop considerable complexity and balance in a short period of time. "It's unlikely we can mature anything for longer than eight years," continues John.

Brilliance, bottled at 46% and priced in the sub-£40 category has an exceptionally clean character, with light orchard fruits, vanilla, milk chocolate and barley sugar sweetness, backed with a zesty and malty mouthfeel. Edited, is the distillery's first foray into a peated whisky, using around 15% 20-25ppm peated malt in its construction. Also bottled at 46%, and priced at around £43 it continues with the light and fruity

theme, but is underscored with a fragrant smokiness.

Michael John also outlined the distillery's plans to release a more heavily peated expression in the future, alongside a number of one-off single casks offerings.



The Scotch Whisky Experience celebrates 25 years



Edinburgh's top Whisky visitor attraction, The Scotch Whisky Experience, celebrated 25 years in the capital recently with the unveiling of a specially-designed commemorative Quaich.

The Quaich has been designed and handcrafted by luxury Edinburgh jeweller and silversmiths, Hamilton & Inches, and will go on display at The Scotch Whisky Experience for the remainder of the year.

The highly ornate, one-off piece has been created to mark the milestone and features an elaborately

designed lid, set with a 275 carat citrene stone and gold plating on the inside.

Home to the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky, The Scotch Whisky Experience is celebrating its silver anniversary this year with a number of events, including the launch of a limited-edition 25 Years

Old blend and the creation of an alumni group, to help chart the history of the attraction and the people behind its success.

Susan Morrison, director and general manager of The Scotch Whisky Experience, said: "Quaichs and whisky have gone hand-in-hand for hundreds of years, so we are pleased to mark our silver anniversary with this exquisite piece of work. The team at Hamilton & Inches understood what we were looking for in the piece and the results are truly stunning.

"The Quaich will go on public display for the rest of 2013 and we hope it proves as popular with our visitors as our record breaking collection of Scotch whisky."



Revamped Talisker



The world-famous Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye recently opened its doors to its spectacular new visitor centre following a £1million redevelopment.

Talisker is the only distillery on Skye and is a leading tourist attraction on the island, welcoming almost 60,000 visitors last year. The major investment has significantly extended the visitor centre and dramatically enhanced the offering for visitors to the iconic distillery.

Distillery manager Mark Lochhead said: "We are absolutely delighted with the investment we have made here at Talisker and with the new facilities we have created. Talisker is going from strength to strength as a brand and the distillery is growing in popularity with people coming from all over the world to visit the home of our iconic single malt.

"The new visitor centre gives us a wonderful stage to tell the story of Talisker with its rich history and heritage and also to give our visitors a really high quality experience which matches the unique whisky we make here."

The investment has seen the creation of a new welcome area for visitors and a spectacular enhanced viewing gallery in one of the distillery warehouses. New tasting rooms have also been created in which visitors can savour the whisky in surroundings which reflect the heritage and provenance of the whisky.

Talisker is Diageo's busiest distillery visitor centre welcoming 59,767 people in 2012, up by more than 10 per cent from 54,303 in 2011. It is also one of Diageo's leading single malts, delivering net sales growth of 20 per cent in the company's recent half year results.