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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10: Kirkwall Bay

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10

Behind the 10th door of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a mysterious single malt from the island of Orkney…

Some of the most interesting whiskies in Scotland aren’t famous brands, nor do they have the names of distilleries on them. Instead, they come from small bottlers and blenders who sniff out interesting whiskies and sell them under their own labels. One such company is Morrison and MacKay. It is based in Perth, a place with a rich whisky heritage. This [incredibly beautiful, you should visit] city on the banks of the river Tay was ideally located between the Highlands, home of strong-tasting malt whiskies, and the Lowlands, home of more delicate spirits, to produce, market and sell blended whisky around the world. Such great firms as Matthew Gloag & Son (of Famous Grouse fame), Arthur Bell & Sons, and John Dewar & Sons were all founded in Perth.

By the 1990s, most had left the city as the whisky industry consolidated. But Perth’s whisky tradition has been kept alive by Morrison and MacKay. The company was created by Brian Morrison from Morrison Bowmore, and Kenny Mackay, who worked with Morrison and previously for another old Perth firm, Peter Thomson. The Morrison and MacKay range includes Bruadar and Columba Cream whisky liqueurs (Scotland’s answer to Bailey’s), Old Perth blended malt (a revival of a Peter Thomson brand), rare cask bottlings and its own-brand single malts.

Which brings us on to the dram behind the 10th door of the Whisky Advent Calendar…

Behold – it’s a single malt called Kirkwall Bay!

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10Father and son team Peter MacKay (left) and Kenny Mackay (right)

Kirkwall Bay comes from Orkney which means it was either distilled at Highland Park or Scapa. Sales director Peter MacKay, son of Kenny Mackay, wouldn’t tell us which but he did agree to answer some questions about the expression and the family business.

Master of Malt: Tell us a bit about Kirkwall Bay. What sets it apart?

Peter Mackay: Kirkwall Bay is an Orkney single malt with a very distinct style, typical to the whisky that is produced there. It has a wonderful character with gentle smoke and notes of cracked black pepper and sea salt. The term “small batch” is perhaps over-used nowadays in our industry but with Kirkwall Bay this is genuinely the case. We only produce batches of Kirkwall Bay with 10 casks or less, which compared to other similar products is very small. This smaller batch size allows us to maintain the quality level of Kirkwall Bay.

MoM: Why and when did you release this product?

PM: The product was released in October 2017. Our business in the past has been focused on single cask bottlings, our Càrn Mòr range which continues to thrive and grow. However, the only drawback with these products is that when they are gone, they’re gone! So, therefore, we wanted to develop some additional products that our customers could purchase all year round.

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10The scenic Orkney island, where Kirkwall Bay is made

MoM: Give us some ideas for how Kirkwall Bay can be enjoyed…

PM: Kirkwall Bay is excellent to have with a generous helping of Scottish smoked salmon. Or even as a splash when making Marie Rose sauce!

MoM: Tell us a bit about your role at the company.

PM: I joined the family business in 2010 at the age of 20 and now perform the role of sales director. I oversee the sales department of the company and directly work with some of our UK customers. I also travel to Canada, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy to develop the business in these countries

MoM: What trends/developments do you think we’ll see in the whisky industry in 2019?

PM: One trend I have been very pleased to see is the continued growth in young people getting a chance in all areas of our industry. I was very fortunate to be able to join my family business, but it makes me incredibly happy to see many other people of a similar age getting a chance in exciting and stimulating roles throughout the industry. Long may this continue!

Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10Kirkwall Bay

Nose: Oranges and lemons with some zest and blossom thrown in for good measure, followed by wood smoke and bracing sea air.

Palate: Lots of fresh fruit, green apple and peach, with malt and vanilla.

Finish: Almonds, spicy ginger and a rumour of coffee.

Categories : We're drinking...

6 comments on “Whisky Advent 2018 Day #10: Kirkwall Bay”

  1. Alison Dalby says:

    Would be a great prize for a Scottish friend of mine

  2. Peter Llewellyn says:

    Would love one of these. Awesome Christmas present

  3. Malgorzata Tomaszewska says:

    I am trying to win for my dad. Would be nice

  4. Dave Newson says:

    Hi,i am a complete “novice”as regards what is and what is not considered a “good” we dram. As far as my preference for a good whiskey is concerned [of which i have very little knowledge] i have found something in the blurry world of whiskey that has the “x factor” and that is the Kirkwall Bay. I couldnt initially remember its name and christened it the Kirkstone Pass, as a keen hill walker this jogged my memory as to its correct title.
    I was first introduced to the above through a very good work collegue who is as far as i am concerned the local encyclopedia of whiskey and it was through him that i managed to acquire my first bottle and now a second one just to confirm my first impressions [thats my excuse anyway]
    To me the Kirkwall Bay has a very fine and subtle taste,neither harsh or weak at its first tasting.
    It grabbed me from my very first tasting, i found it to have a very long lasting smoothness and an “after burner”of freshness to make you want to try another sip.
    As you can probably tell, i have found a whiskey that has completely seduced me in every way and as i dont leave any sort of feedback or comments on virtually anything it became a surprise to me that i have actually bothered to do so….[it must be good]
    I can only finish my comments to say thankyou …Kirkwall Bay your here to stay.

  5. Newckie says:

    ‘‘Tis but a dram, a drink to savour any day
    But the plaudits and the praise heaped upon the ‘Bay
    Might just make the masses go out and to try
    Thereby leaving fewer, for Newson and me to buy.

  6. Larry B says:

    This was day 12 in my advent calendar!

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