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Master of Malt Blog

Category: Video

Have a nose around Aberfeldy Distillery!

We paid a visit to Highland distillery Aberfeldy – AKA the Home of Dewar’s – for a good old explore. The results? Six videos, so you can check it out,…

We paid a visit to Highland distillery Aberfeldy – AKA the Home of Dewar’s – for a good old explore. The results? Six videos, so you can check it out, too!

Aberfeldy is a small town of about 2,000 people. It’s huddled in a valley near the source of the River Tay, and sits on a crossroads. Walking through, it feels very typically Scottish – it’s got a pretty high street, people are friendly and you don’t have to go very far to find a decent pub. Also, it’s got a distillery.

Aberfeldy Distillery is unusual though, mostly because it’s probably better known as the Home of Dewar’s, the blended Scotch brand. At least on the tourist trail anyway. From the start, the branding is all Dewar’s. And actually, it’s refreshing to find a single malt distillery celebrating the blend it is such an integral part of. There’s none of that ‘single malts are just better’ nonsense here.

Aberfeldy Distillery Dewar's

#HomeofDewars – and Aberfeldy

“Aberfeldy has a great, rich history and story centred round the Dewar’s family,” said Matthew Cordiner, Dewar’s Aberfeldy distillery brand ambassador. And that’s the real ethos of the distillery – it doesn’t just celebrate the whisky (although of course it does), but there’s a huge focus on the family and the history behind it all, too. And there are stories galore.

After stopping by the Pitilie Burn (gotta have a decent water source), we check out the milling. And, of course, there’s a classic Porteus malt mill! On-site maltings stopped in the 1960s, so pre-malted Concerto barley is now delivered by lorry.

Then it’s tun time. The vessel was only designed to handle 6.5 tonnes of grist, but the team manages to produce 7.5 tonnes each time. “We’re actually over-producing,” Cordiner detailed. In total, Aberfeldy makes 3.4 million litres of spirit a year.

Fermentation is really where you start to see the Aberfeldy, as we know it, come to life. The long 72-hour average fermentation brings out that sweet, honeyed note. The distillery has eight larch washbacks and two stainless steel ones, installed three years ago.

Time to check out the stillhouse! Aberfeldy has two wash and two spirit stills, with two shell and tube condensers. In 2014, the distillery switched over to a biomass boiler.

Aberfeldy doesn’t really mature on-site, but there are some casks you can check out…

And voilà! If that’s given you a taste for Aberfeldy, you can visit the Home of Dewar’s all year round!

Matt and our ace video team!

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Brendan McCarron tastes Ardbeg’s core expressions

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron…

Recently, we were fortunate enough to spend a few hours with one of the most entertaining men in whisky, Brendan McCarron. Now, we have produced four short films where McCarron gives a masterclass around each core expression. 

If you like your whiskies wild and smoky, then you’re probably an Ardbeg drinker. This Islay distillery inspires a fierce loyalty among whisky fans. So, when Brendan McCarron joined in 2014, he knew that he was taking on a big responsibility. Before Ardbeg, he has had an interesting career in whisky. A chemical engineering graduate, his first whisky job was with Diageo. He worked as distillery manager at Oban, before moving to Islay to run Caol Ila, Lagavulin and the Port Ellen Maltings.

Brendan McCarron Ardbeg

Brendan McCarron explaining whisky through hand gestures

Then he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, an invitation to join the team at Ardbeg and Glenmorangie (which are both in the LVMH stable). McCarron’s official job title is head of maturing whisky stocks. He works alongside Dr Bill Lumsden (they described themselves at the recent launch for Glenmorangie Allta Private Edition as “like the two Ronnies, only not funny”) and is being groomed to succeed the good doctor when he retires.

We have produced a long interview with McCarron where he talks about the responsibility of working for a cult distillery like Ardbeg, his plans for the future and tells us which is his favourite expression, as well as a short Q&A. Below are four short films where McCarron gives us a mini masterclass on each of the four core whiskies in the Ardbeg range: 10 Year Old, An Oa, Uigeadail and Corryvreckan.

Slainte!

Ardbeg 10 Year Old –  The classic expression is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 46% ABV.

Ardbeg An Oa –  Named after a peninsula on Islay, this is aged in a mixture of Pedro Ximénez, charred virgin oak and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 46.6% ABV.

Ardbeg Uigeadail – The name comes from the water source used by the distillery. It is aged in oloroso and ex-bourbon casks, roughly half and half, and bottled at 54.2% ABV.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan – Named after a fearsome whirlpool about 40 miles off the coast of the island, around 30% of this expression is aged in new French oak barriques and the rest in ex-bourbon casks, and it is bottled at 57.1% ABV.

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Come along and explore Craigellachie!

It’s a Speyside distillery with a cult following and an intriguing production story (yes, we mean those worm tub condensers). But what is Craigellachie actually like behind the scenes? We…

It’s a Speyside distillery with a cult following and an intriguing production story (yes, we mean those worm tub condensers). But what is Craigellachie actually like behind the scenes? We zipped along to spend a couple of hours exploring!

If you like weighty, meaty whiskies with a fragrant edge, you’ll already know all about Craigellachie. Situated in the Speyside town of the same name, the distillery, which is part of Bacardi’s Dewar’s portfolio, works hard to maintain its beefiness. When we stopped by for a quick visit, it was immediately apparent that every stage of production had been meticulously planned to max out those sulphur notes that give Craigellachie its signature style.

Craigellachie

The glorious stillhouse at Craigellachie

“We’re encouraging less copper contact than most distilleries for that meaty, robust character,” said Matthew Cordiner, Dewar’s brand ambassador, of the distillery that dates back to 1891. Today, this approach starts with the 100% Concerto barley (actually peated ever so slightly – not to give a smoke, but to make sure those big earthy notes are there from the very beginning). “Everything is about allowing those bigger notes to come through.”

There’s a 47,000-litre mash tun, which leads on to eight Siberian larch washbacks, where Craigellachie’s 56-hour fermentation runs take place. The resulting 8% ABV wash heads to one of the two 23,500-litre wash stills and the 28,000-litre spirit stills.

The Craigellachie washbacks. Fermentation is just one factor than influences the distillery’s robust character

Then it’s on to the famous Craigellachie worm tubs. To get to them, you have to head out on to the roof. Yes, really. Forget about condensers you’ve seen before: these worm tubs are ENORMOUS.

How do they work? Actually, really quite simply. The hot vapour from the stills is inside those huge ‘worm’ pipes. It’s cooled by the water in the surrounding giant tank. Back in the day, loads of distilleries would have used this process to condense spirit vapours, but with smaller, more efficient shell-and-tube styles now available, the worms have been largely weeded out for sleeker models.

Craigellachie worm tubs

Worm tubs!

Not so at Craigellachie – the worm tubs live on, and so does the distillery’s mega meaty character. But don’t let us tell you about them. In our video, Cordiner chats us through them in all their glory.

Craigellachie Bridge

Dramming by Craigellachie Bridge

After our whistle-stop tour (you can check the distillery out for yourself in more detail in our virtual reality video, top), we headed down to the famous Craigellachie Bridge to enjoy a dram. And it was a special dram – a 21 year old bottled specially for the town’s famous hotel. It might have been a cold, rainy day but that robust character kept us warm!

Thanks for having us, Craigellachie!

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Join us as we check out Glenglassaugh Distillery!

Part of the trio of Scotch whisky distilleries sold to Brown-Forman in 2016, Glenglassaugh is a treasure trove of sweet-yet-seaweedy drams matured by the sea. We stopped by to have…

Part of the trio of Scotch whisky distilleries sold to Brown-Forman in 2016, Glenglassaugh is a treasure trove of sweet-yet-seaweedy drams matured by the sea. We stopped by to have a nose about.

Located on the edge of Speyside, almost equidistant between Inverness and Aberdeen, Glenglassaugh is a distillery with a chequered history but a bright future. It was built way back in 1874 and has changed hands many times, even enduring periods of closure – unfairly overlooked in favour of its rivals in the Speyside epicentre further west. After 22 long years (its longest silence) its potential was spotted by Dutch investor Scaent Group in 2008 who snapped up the site and reopened it shortly after. Billy Walker’s The BenRiach Company took the reins in 2013, before American whiskey giant Brown-Forman, thirsty for Scotch whisky, acquired Glenglassaugh, along with BenRiach and GlenDronach, in 2016.

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Join us on our Wolfburn adventure!

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time…

Last year we headed north. Very north. To the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland: Wolfburn! And with Burns Night on the horizon, now seems like the perfect time to reminisce over the trip…

Welcome to Wolfburn Distillery! In late 2018 we headed north of the border to discover one of Scotland’s newer whisky makers. Located on the outskirts of Thurso, the production site as we know it was founded in 2012. But that’s not the start of the story.

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Building Brand Wales at Aber Falls Distillery!

We took a trip to Aber Falls to discover North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years – and found incredible landscapes, a deep-rooted passion for the region, and…

We took a trip to Aber Falls to discover North Wales’ first whisky distillery in over 100 years – and found incredible landscapes, a deep-rooted passion for the region, and an abundance of delicious gins along the way, too!

“Look at Japan, what they’ve done. Welsh whisky could really come forward with a bit of a similar model to those guys,” James Wright, Aber Falls managing director, is not lacking in ambition. It’s a bold claim, especially when you consider the international following that Japanese whisky has. Such is the demand that age statements are now a rare and very expensive thing. Could Welsh whisky ever really reach such heights?

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In Pictures: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill Distillery

In the first of our new occasional series we showcase one of the UK’s most visually striking distilleries: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill! What would any discerning gin enthusiast enjoy most?…

In the first of our new occasional series we showcase one of the UK’s most visually striking distilleries: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill!

What would any discerning gin enthusiast enjoy most? The chance to expand their gin knowledge? An opportunity to uncover the secrets, skill and artistry behind world-famous brands? A window into how their favourite spirit is made? A distillery tour, of course, where you can do all these things and more!

If you need a good place to start, then we have a suggestion… Hampshire’s Laverstoke Mill, where Bombay Sapphire gin has been made since 2014. You can learn about the brand’s history in the heritage room, see the botanicals used to create the gin in the iconic glasshouses and dry room, say hello to Mary and Thomas* in the Dakin Still House, and enjoy the dedicated bar (yay!) and gift shop (double yay!!).

Interest piqued? Why not take a look at the distillery in pictures right here – so you can get an idea of the treat you’re in for if you do stop by and visit.

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GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is back!

Rejoice, whisky fans! Much-loved expression GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is making a much-anticipated return. We travelled up to Scotland to taste the new liquid – and it was well…

Rejoice, whisky fans! Much-loved expression GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is making a much-anticipated return. We travelled up to Scotland to taste the new liquid – and it was well worth the trip.

July 2015 was a black month for Scotch whisky lovers. Just over three years ago, it was announced that GlenDronach’s 15 year old Revival single malt was being discontinued. Aged in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks and first launched in 2009, The Revival had become a cult whisky among the cognoscenti. There were whisky-scented tears all over the internet when the distillery’s owners, the BenRiach Distillery Company, announced its demise citing lack of maturing stocks. But you can now dry those eyes as we can exclusively reveal that GlenDronach Revival 15 Year Old is back!

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The Nightcap: 3 August

Down tools, unplug the laptops and close those books, folks. It’s Friday, it’s the weekend and The Nightcap is here with your latest measure of boozy news! Helloooooo Friday! You’ve…

Down tools, unplug the laptops and close those books, folks. It’s Friday, it’s the weekend and The Nightcap is here with your latest measure of boozy news!

Helloooooo Friday! You’ve made it to the weekend. Well done, one and all. And, as has become custom here at MoM Towers, we have The Nightcap here for you – our handy distillation of the week’s biggest drinks stories in one easy-to-digestif post.

But first, let’s recall the week that was over on the blog!

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The Lagg Distillery on the Isle of Arran Nears Completion!

The Lagg Distillery on the Isle of Arran has been in the works since 2016, we’re more than a little excited at the prospect of enjoying whisky from a brand…

The Lagg Distillery on the Isle of Arran has been in the works since 2016, we’re more than a little excited at the prospect of enjoying whisky from a brand new distillery!

For over 150 years there were no distilleries on Arran, once a hotbed of whisky-making – now there are two. Well nearly. The first is run by the aptly-named Isle of Arran Distillers and was opened at Lochranza in 1995. Their second distillery at Lagg in the south of the island started development in 2016 and is now nearing completion. The steelworks have just gone up and as you can see from the photo below it is now starting to look like a distillery, either that or a particularly ambitious house on Grand Designs.

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