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Five new Scotch distilleries we can’t wait to explore

With around 30 new Scotch whisky distilleries in the planning or construction phases, it’s an exhilarating time to be a dram fan. Here, we’ve picked out five of the most…

With around 30 new Scotch whisky distilleries in the planning or construction phases, it’s an exhilarating time to be a dram fan. Here, we’ve picked out five of the most hotly-anticipated producers preparing to join the fold…

The last few years have been a ride, haven’t they? Scotland’s best-known distilleries are expanding, new players are making waves and old favourites like Port Ellen, Brora, and Rosebank are en route to resurrection.

While there are many more Scotch whisky distilleries in progress and no doubt plenty others to be announced over the coming year – we’ve picked out five we’re particularly excited about. What’s yours? Let us know where and why in the comments below…

port of leith distillery

Port of Leith Distillery (it doesn’t quite look like this yet)

Port of Leith Distillery, Edinburgh

We’ve had a soft spot for Port of Leith Distillery for a little while now. A whisky crush, if you will. Not only will the Leith-based site be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery for more than 100 years, but its ground-breaking design means it’ll be Scotland’s very first vertical distillery too. It’s expected to be up and running by autumn 2020, with the first whisky bottles slated for release in 2023, but that hasn’t stopped co-founders Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling from giving us a flavour of what’s to come. Last year the duo released Port of Leith Distillery sherry, sourced from Bodegas Baron in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and Lind & Lime Gin, produced at nearby The Tower Street Stillhouse which will later house the Port of Leith’s whisky development programme. Expect unusual yeast strains, fermentation experiments, and a whole new world of flavour.

Clutha Distillery

Clutha Distillery

Clutha Distillery, Glasgow

Situated at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay development on the south side of the River Clyde, Douglas Laing’s project Clutha – meaning Clyde in Gaelic – isn’t just a single malt whisky distillery. Oh, no. The £10.7m building will also house a bottling complex, visitor centre, whisky laboratory, whisky archive, bar, bistro, and corporate head office. The family-owned business plans on producing whisky with a heavy sherry influence that will differ from traditional Lowland styles: think macerated fruit, dark fruit, chocolate and cocoa character. Last year, third generation family member Cara Laing told MoM to expect a “down-to-earth, very honest distillery” that focuses on “everything from the barley to the finished bottle”.

Cabrach Distillery

Cabrach Distillery as it will look when finished

Cabrach Distillery, Moray

While the stills at Inverharroch Farm in the Highlands – home to Cabrach Distillery and its accompanying heritage centre – are new, the 150,000-or-so bottles of single malt they’ll produce each year will “made with historical methods” according to “the blueprint of an early 19th-century distillery”. The project, operated by The Cabrach Trust, aims to essentially produce Cabrach whisky as it would have been produced in the area in 1820, when wild, remote and rural Moray was at the centre of illicit whisky-making and smuggling. Cabrach Distillery is expected to release its first mature bottling in 2024.

Ardgowan Whisky Distillery

Ardgowan Whisky Distillery visualised by digital artist Tom Barnett

Ardgowan Distillery, Inverkip

Lowlands liquid with a maritime touch is what the good folks at Ardgowan Estate (around 30 miles from Glasgow, FYI) plan on serving up at their site, which will nestle across a cluster of ancient farm buildings on their Bankfoot site. The original Ardgowan Distillery was founded in 1896 in Greenock, and made grain spirit and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed during the Second World War. A £12 million distillery and visitor centre, Ardogowan 2.0 will produce three separate whisky styles – heavily peated, lightly peated, and unpeated – which will be available for sale as four, five, and seven-year old drams. In September 2018, the team released their inaugural whisky, the Ardgowan Expedition: a 20-year-old blended Scotch made with liquid that has travelled to the South Pole and back.

Ardross Distillery

Shadowy figures lurking at Ardross Distillery

Ardross Distillery, Inverness

Located in the Averon Valley, 30 miles north of Inverness, Greenwood Distillers’ Ardross Distillery is set on a 50-acre farm complex that dates back to the 19th century. The two-storey still house, tun room, mash house, milling area, blending and product development lab, vaulted cask storage area, tasting room, marketing suite, offices, and staff accommodation will split across steading buildings, farmhouse and cottages that once made up Ardross Mains Farm. Keen to get distilling, the folks at Greenwood recently unveiled Theodore Gin, created with guidance from olfactory expert and perfumier Barnabe Fillion. Our very own Jessica popped along to the launch in London read all about it here.

That’s it, folks! Five new Scotch whisky distilleries we’d love to visit. Which next-gen distilleries are on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below, on social.

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Whiskey to return to Donegal with Ardara Distillery!

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey…

Irish whiskey (and gin) fans, we bring you good tidings. Sliabh Liag Distillers has unveiled plans for its new Ardara Distillery in Donegal – yes, Ireland looks set to get another whiskey maker!

The company has acquired the Show Field in Ardara, and will be formally submitting a planning application to Donegal County Council for the new distillery this week. This is the beginning of its ambitious plan to return whiskey distilling to Donegal for the first time in 177 years. Now that’s a long old time. Company directors James and Moira Doherty and James Keith stated that the construction of Ardara Distillery is scheduled to start later this year (subject to planning approval, of course), and if all goes to plan distilling operations will commence in 2020. Exciting stuff!

The brand already produces some familiar names, including Dúlamán Irish Maritime gin, and also The Legendary Silkie Irish whiskey. The company is also planning to create a number of new brands at the new distillery. We can expect to see a couple of peaty treats, such as Ardara and Sliabh Liag single malt and pot still whiskeys, which will remain faithful to the style of 19th century whiskeys from the county.

With a €6 million investment, Ardara Distillery will employ at least 40 people, and will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year. That’s the equivalent of around 1,700 filled casks, and over 1.2 million bottles of whiskey. Our mouths are already watering.

It’s not just the whiskey itself which is impressive here. The company has put a lot of thought into the design of the new Ardara Distillery building, with a particular focus on how best to complement the village and its natural surroundings. CornerStone Architecture has been called on for the task, and has designed a building that will make use of traditional shapes and materials. It will be “truly unique but will look very much part of the town”, according to Gavin Shovelin of CornerStone.

Ardara Distillery

The shiny proposed Ardara Distillery!

The An Dúlamán gin still, named Méabh, currently resides just outside the village of Carrick at the existing production site, and will be moved to the Ardara Distillery so whiskey and gin are both under one roof. A visitor centre has also been planned, and featuring a Poitín museum, exhibition space, tasting bar and shop. In a rather interesting but admirable move, there will be no café or restaurant, as the directors wanted to encourage visitors to make use of all that the local village has to offer.

“The design of the development is a mix of contemporary and traditional finishes which complement the village of Ardara,” said James Doherty, Sliabh Liag Distillers managing director.

“It is important to us that local businesses benefit from the foot fall, and if we can get visitors walking in the village, increasing their dwell time, then it’s so much the better for the entire community.” We wholeheartedly agree. As well as supporting the village itself, a large portion of the land surrounding the new distillery will be kept as an open green space for anyone to enjoy. Sliabh Liag Distillers clearly has huge respect for its natural surroundings and community, and it’s great to see a company so invested in preserving both.

There was a public consultation in Ardara yesterday (2 April) and the Planning Application is due to be submitted tomorrow (4 April). We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

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St George Spirits: The home of dynamic distilling

California’s St George Spirits knows no bounds when it comes to distilling invention. We travel to Alameda to meet the team. Across the Bay from the contrasts of San Francisco…

California’s St George Spirits knows no bounds when it comes to distilling invention. We travel to Alameda to meet the team.

Across the Bay from the contrasts of San Francisco – the confines of the street grids and the expanse of sky, the nostalgia and the novelty, the big business and the homelessness – is a startling stretch of nothing. After the colour, the noise, the sharp undulations of the city, arriving the St George Spirits Distillery in Alameda is disorienting.

Driving down West Midway and onto Monarch Street, you feel like you’ve landed on a different planet. The scale is extraordinary; cavernous buildings set back from the road, each in acres of space, barely another car to be seen. The proportions, the flatness, the emptiness are the opposite of the city across the water. I was half an hour ahead of schedule when my Lyft pulled up outside St George, one of the last buildings on the island. I’d enormously overestimated the time it would take to drive over from the city, and was feeling as worried about my early arrival as I was surprised by Alameda’s quiet. It all felt mildly post-apocalyptic.

St George Spirits

Storm incoming: the view from St George back to San Francisco on a grey day. We promise the city is there somewhere

The weather didn’t help. A winter storm was about to roll in; sensible types were already safely harboured from the forecast deluge. My driver had inadvertently, or perhaps intentionally, dropped me on the wrong side, keen to get back over the bridges into the city before the worst of the weather. The St George building was as huge as all the others, and I wondered if anyone would hear my knock. They did. A warm, friendly welcome greeted me, completely at odds to the starkness outside; one of the distilling team led me through the impressive 65,000 sq ft production and warehouse space. There were two banks of gleaming stills, vats and tanks galore, and near-floor to ceiling racking – more on all that shortly. It somehow felt far smaller on the inside that it did from the outside, stack after stack of maturing spirits filling the vast space to the brim. Out the other side, right by the really rather obvious entrance I should have arrived at, was a generous visitor area, with two bars and a shop at the far end. Windows down the exterior wall provided a glorious view back to San Francisco, with all its towers. There’s nothing between the distillery and the city except for a wash of wetland, the Bay itself, and an expanse of concrete which turned out to be a disused runway.

St George Spirits roof

St George barrels and the original WWII hangar roof

“This is World War II construction, an old aircraft hangar,” confirmed Dave Smith, St George Spirits head distiller and vice president, an animated yet softly-spoken fellow who joined the team nearly 14 years ago. He seemed genuinely pleased to see me despite my poor timekeeping, and welcomed me with literal open arms. “The last squadron stationed in the hangar prior to the base’s retirement was Atkron 304, known as the Firebirds, which were made up of Grumman A-6 Intruders.” The scale of the buildings now makes sense, and when I looked into the site afterwards it turns out it was a Naval air base that only closed in 1997.

‘Creating a movement’

St George Spirits dates back to well before the airfield closed, though in a different location. Jörg Rupf, widely considered to be the father of American artisan distilling, set up St George way back in 1982 – long before hipster beards and ubiquitous quirkiness overran the territory marked ‘craft’. He travelled to the US on an assignment from the Ministry of Culture in his native Germany, but it was San Francisco, and his family heritage as Black Forest brandy makers, that shaped his course. It started with eaux-de-vie, pear in particular, made in a tiny “20ft by 20ft” room, Smith told me. Times might have changed when it comes to production scale (the team moved to the current site in 2004) but fruit brandy remains an integral part of the St George offering today.

St George Spirits

St George Pear Brandy in front of the distillery – a starting point for the brand

The breadth of the distillery’s product portfolio is one indicator as to why a visit to St George Spirits is high on the bucket list for so many drinks lovers, myself included. And that’s where we began, hunkered down at one of the gleaming bars as the storm swept in across the Bay. As he poured St George Pear Brandy, Smith was keen to stress just how much of a catalyst Rupf was for the US spirits scene. “Jörg was really thoughtful about helping other distillers,” he said. “He really had a sense of ‘all ships will rise’; he created a movement.” Under his mentorship, other distillers set up shop, and he shared his expertise in fermentation and distilling, especially with regards to eaux-de-vies and fruit spirits – drinks totally new to the market, at the time. It’s a category that makes perfect sense for California, with its lush fruit harvests.

And that’s what you get with Pear Brandy – a hit of fresh lushness. It’s made with Bartlett pears, and a lot of them: there are 30-35lb of pears in each bottle. Why Bartlett pears? “We want small fruit, so the essential oils are very concentrated,” Smith said. The cinnamon spice, pear drop notes develop during a two-week fermentation, with the spirit eventually made in a 250-litre pot still. “Our job as distillers is to be expressive of the raw materials,” Smith stated. It’s this pear spirit that is the base for so many other St George products, including the All Purpose Vodka. That vibrant pear note is like a signature sillage you pick up throughout the portfolio.

St George Spirits

All kinds of distilling options at St George

We tasted our way through the vodka line with California Citrus and Green Chile Vodka. It’s here that the St George philosophy to showcase raw materials really hits home. The spirit is made with five different chilies (jalapeños, serranos, and habaneros, then red and yellow bell peppers) in a mix of infusions and distillations, depending on what flavours, textures and heat levels each technique extracts. “We separate these things out, and then recombine,” he explained. “I can use alcohol as a solvent, I can distil, I can infuse… But I don’t want things to be complex for the sake of being complex.” The creativity, the technicalities, the detail… it’s mind-boggling. And this is just for one bottling among 20 or so – not including limited-run expressions.

Transparent production

We moved on from the vodkas to the trio of St George gins, each distinct, each characterful, but each clearly St George. We start with Dry Rye, which, as the name implies, uses 100% pot-distilled rye spirit as a base. It’s juniper-forward, with just five other botanicals: black peppercorn, caraway, coriander, grapefruit peel and lime peel, combining for a rich, warming hit, but never overpowering the rye character. “We’re trying to find things that are expressive, and that have a statement to make,” Smith said. Next is Botanivore, Smith’s “botanical leader” made with a whopping 19 botanicals with a mix of infusions, macerations and distillations. It’s deliciously complex on the palate, still with that vital juniper but with a St George eccentricity, too.

St George Spirits gin

The trio of St George gins

Next up: Terroir Gin, which was actually the first St George gin, Smith explained. It was master distiller and president Lance Winters who came up with the concept. “He was picking up his son from summer camp, when he had the idea,” he detailed. When you taste the gin, you can picture the scene: the mountains, the forests, the sea. It’s California in a bottle, an evocative, aromatic gin made with Douglas fir, California bay laurel, coastal sage and other local botanicals. The flavour is earthy, outdoorsy, and especially effective with a building storm as a backdrop.

Time to segue into whiskey. First stop: the latest batch of Breaking & Entering, an intriguing expression that blends sourced bourbon and rye with some of St George’s own California malt whiskey. “We want to be really transparent that we’re not making it all in-house,” Smith stated. “And as none of the four grains are more than 51%, there really isn’t a category that we can label it as.” The rye, barley, corn and wheat mashbill is balanced so that none is prominent, but all is delicious. The 2018 edition was bursting with rich, pastry notes, jammy red fruits and dash of menthol, all wrapped up in a sweetcorn smoothness. A treat, indeed.

Just one of the very many barrel types

The final thing we tasted before stepping back into the distillery was St George Single Malt, a fascinating expression that Smith described as a “brandy made from grain”. Winters’ background is brewing; combine that with the eaux-de-vie obsession that underpins operations, and this starts to make sense. The barley at the base of this bottling is malted in multiple ways, including smoking some over beech and alder wood. Different barrels, from ex-Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee, to Port pipes and both French and local wine casks, contribute all kinds of flavours. Maturation spans from four to 19 years. You’d expect it to be bonkers, but it works. It’s batch-produced and changes each year, but the 2018 expression was like a sweetly-spiced hot chocolate, with zesty orange top notes. Lovely stuff. And that’s just part of the portfolio; after the distillery tour we sampled the Raspberry Brandy, Aqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie, California Reserve Agricole Rum, Raspberry Liqueur, Spiced Pear Liqueur, NOLA Coffee Liqueur, Bruto Americano bitters and Absinthe Verte, complete with a mischievous monkey on the label. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a range from a single producer. Tasting the whole lot in one morning was quite an experience.

Influences and inspiration

St George lays claim to a number of American-firsts in that list, including the Absinthe, which Smith described as “the worst kept secret in the Bay Area for about a decade prior to its official release”. Many defy category definitions (can you even make Rhum Agricole in California? The answer is yes, as long as you drop the ‘h’), and walking through the production space it all starts to make sense. The team here has an infatuation with flavour and a mastery of raw materials and process. There are five pot stills ranging in size from 250 litres to 1,500 litres, including hybrids with column options and an old Holstein, plus a coffee roaster dating back to 1952. If they can possibly make it in house, they will.

St George Spirits

Creation station: All kinds of stills

Grain for spirit currently maturing is floor-malted down the road at Admiral Maltings (“if you think about the real-estate in the Bay Area and what you need for maltings…” Smith says, as an aside). New cask requirements are met by Burgundy-style barrels. The California climate does hit the angel’s share – as much as 10% is lost in the first year, with 3-6% evaporating every year after that. We stopped for a taste of something really exciting – some California Shochu, followed by some unusual cask samples. It was a real treat, and there were yet more examples of surprising ideas coming out of this distillery.

Cali shochu, anyone?

In terms of newness, the stakes ramp up even higher in the St George lab. We stepped into the experiential space and the energy from all the ideas was almost tangible. On the left was a library of samples. Single distillates, infusions and more stack from floor to ceiling. There were two test stills, one 10-litre, one 30-litre, and all kinds of tanks, one even styled to look like Star Wars’ R2-D2. There’s stuff on every surface – you couldn’t call it clutter because it all felt purposeful, like the next big idea could be in any of those little bottles.

St George Spirits

Dave Smith gets the cask sample spirit flowing

“It’s what we’re influenced by, what we’re excited by,” Smith said. “We need to do more than what we did yesterday, increase our repertoire and techniques.” Not everything is successful, he added. But it doesn’t need to be. There’s clearly no fear of failure here, which goes some way to explaining why the range of St George spirits is not just delicious, but incredibly diverse.

St George Spirits lab

Experimental lab stills!

We headed out of the room and back to the bar. The storm was in full swing; rain pounding against the windows, the old WWII wooden roof hollering in the elements. You couldn’t even see across the old runway, let alone make out any shape of the city beyond. Smith looked around back towards the distillery as if taking it all in, and summed up what seems to be the St George philosophy: “We create things because we can.” And what better reason is there than that?

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Gordon & MacPhail reveals new whisky distillery details

Whisky distiller and bottler Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled further details for its proposed shiny new distillery in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. And we’re excited. At MoM Towers, we’re all…

Whisky distiller and bottler Gordon & MacPhail has unveiled further details for its proposed shiny new distillery in Scotland’s Cairngorm National Park. And we’re excited.

At MoM Towers, we’re all ears when it comes to distillery developments. Those giant ears of ours have been twitching with anticipation ever since Benromach parent Gordon & MacPhail said last year it was planning to open a second distillery. And now have an update.

Set to be built on the banks of the River Spey in Craggan, near Grantown-on-Spey, the proposed distillery has a strikingly circular design. It’s the work of architect firm NORR, and is meant to make the most of the stunning mountain and river views while hiding most of the operational side of spirits production. It’s even got a grass sedan roof (remind you of anything?) to help it blend into the environment.

Gordon & MacPhail's new distillery

Gordon & MacPhail’s super-modern proposed distillery

If the plans go ahead, the Craggan distillery (not its official name) will become the first of the new-wave distilleries to go live in the Cairngorm National Park.

How much whisky will it make? At first, 375,000 litres of spirit will flow, but capacity can increase to 2 million litres in the longer term – which would make it much larger in terms of output than Benromach.

Local residents were recently treated to an exhibition detailing the planned site, with more than 150 people popping in to check out the proposals. According to Gordon & MacPhail, the response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

“We’re really pleased at the number of people who came along to see our plans, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome,” said Ewen Mackintosh, Gordon & MacPhail’s managing director.

“People are saying how excited they are to see a distillery being proposed for the area as they believe it has the potential to support Grantown-on-Spey as a destination and encourage visitors to stay longer in the town.”

Gordon & MacPhail's new distillery grass roof

Round, round baby… and with a fancy grass roof

The Urquhart family, which owns Gordon & MacPhail, also went along to the presentation. “We are a longstanding family-owned business with strong roots and commitment to the north of Scotland,” said Stuart Urquhart, Gordon & MacPhail operations director. “Building and operating our second distillery is part of our generational plan to grow a long-term sustainable business, whilst continuing to be part of the fabric of the local community.”

Let’s hope the plans get the go-ahead!

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The Dublin Liberties Distillery is open!

The Irish capital now has three working distilleries! We travelled to the opening of the newest, Dublin Liberties, to meet head distiller Darryl McNally and taste the new make spirit….

The Irish capital now has three working distilleries! We travelled to the opening of the newest, Dublin Liberties, to meet head distiller Darryl McNally and taste the new make spirit.

The Irish whiskey revival steams on. On Tuesday, Simon Coveney, Irish minister of foreign affairs and trade, officially opened the newest whiskey-maker on the block: the Dublin Liberties Distillery. “Irish whiskey is one of the fastest-growing spirits in global markets and one of the leading lights of our food and drink export industry,” he said. “I am delighted to turn on the Dublin Liberties Distillery stills today, as the first liquid gold flows into casks for expert maturation with the promise of a premium, uniquely Irish product.”

Master distiller Darryl McNally, added: “Making whiskey is my passion, my lifeblood, and to be doing it in the heart of Dublin’s historic distilling district is nothing short of a dream come true for me”. We were given a guided tour by McNally on the night of the launch party.

The distillery is so new that it smells like a car fresh off the production line. So far, the team has only used two of the three stills. According to McNally: “The quality of liquid is unbelievable after two distillations, but haven’t done a third yet.” He let us try some, and it was packed with sweet cereal notes and incredibly smooth, clearly full of potential. The three stills were built by Carl of Germany to McNally’s exacting specifications.

When it comes to the raw materials, “it’s all about quality and provenance”, McNally said. The distillery uses water from an underground spring found by boring 30 metres beneath the city, and the barley comes entirely from two maltsters in Ireland. The team runs two-tonne mashes – according to McNally, double what a craft producer would make (though a long way behind what he was used to at Bushmills where he worked from 1998 to 2015). The mash is given a 60-to-72-hour ferment using distillers yeast.

Darryl McNally Dublin Liberties

Darryl McNally and his ‘Disney’ casks

Not all will be triple-distilled. “I want to grow the category, to innovate, so will do some double-distilled and some peated expressions,” McNally continued. “One of the reasons I left Bushmills is they wouldn’t let me innovate,” he joked. Dublin Liberties currently has capacity to produce 700,000 litres of pure alcohol per year, which works out at about 2.1 million bottles of single malt. He will continue to buy in grain whiskey for blends.

One thing he won’t make is a single pot still expression. “I’m aiming for an old-style Irish whiskey, pre-1850 malt tax,” he told us. Other distilleries have already approached him and asked about whether Dublin Liberties will make some malt whisky for them. The current, confirmed plan? To produce malt whisky for Dublin Liberties brand but also The Dubliner and The Dead Rabbit, a collaboration with the renowned New York bar. All three are currently made with malt sourced from other Irish distilleries, “but I am not allowed to tell you which ones”, McNally said.

While visiting the distillery we also got to try some exciting new Dublin Liberties expressions, which Master of Malt will be receiving soon. McNally agreed when I suggested that some customers might expect a whiskey called ‘The Dubliner’ to be distilled in the city. But of course, we won’t see any Dublin-distilled whiskey for at least three years, perhaps longer (though enthusiasts will be able to buy casks in advance).

The distillery cost around 10 million to build. It’s owned 75% by Quintessential Brands, the company behind Thomas Dakin and Greenall’s Gin, and 25% by Eastern European drinks company, Stock Spirits. Dubliner and Dublin Liberties are currently sold in 30 markets, with sales totalling more than 37,000 cases in 2018. The brands’ biggest export markets are the US, Russia, Germany, Australia and Eastern Europe.

Dublin Liberties

The handsome Dublin Liberties stills

“Darryl is a constant source of ideas, and combined with his unrivalled distilling skill, there’s no limits for Irish whiskey,” said Shane Hoyne, chief marketing officer for Quintessential Brands. “It is also fantastic to be partnering with a company of Stock Spirits’ calibre. Their involvement will also provide an opportunity for the brands to expand further in to new regions such as Poland and the Czech Republic. Right now, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the team’s achievement in building this fantastic distillery but with much more to come from us this year.”

There are now 22 distilleries in Ireland in various states of readiness, with another 22 planned. “Some won’t survive; the route to market, that’s hard,” McNally remarked. Nevertheless, he is bullish about the category: “We need more distilleries, Irish whiskey is about to go off the Richter scale, and we will run out.”

The Dublin Liberties Distillery is geared up for tourism with a big bar, lots of branded merchandise, and windows into the stills so you can see the whiskey distilling. The team even has half-barrels attached to the walls which McNally described as “a bit of Disney”. The whiskey will actually be aged in County Wexford.

This part of the city looks set to become a mecca for whiskey fans from all over the world with Teeling right next door, Pearce Lyon nearby and, soon, Diageo’s Roe & Co revival.

It’s great to see Irish whiskey back in Dublin where it belongs.

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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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Rebel Rabbet: where brewing, botanicals and whiskey distilling collide

What if you could take the best aspects of beer, whiskey, and gin production, and combine them to make one killer category-defying hybrid spirit? London Distillery Company’s Matt McGivern and…

What if you could take the best aspects of beer, whiskey, and gin production, and combine them to make one killer category-defying hybrid spirit? London Distillery Company’s Matt McGivern and Dylan Bell have done just that – and more besides – through their experimental side project, Rebel Rabbet…

If your average distiller happened upon a 103-year-old Irish whiskey mash bill recipe, he or she might be tempted to resurrect the brand, recreate the spirit to the letter (or thereabouts), and pocket the profits.

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The Nightcap: 31 August

Happy Friday, folks! Here’s The Nightcap to help you roll on into the weekend armed with a plethora of booze news. Always handy if you’re looking to impress down the…

Happy Friday, folks! Here’s The Nightcap to help you roll on into the weekend armed with a plethora of booze news. Always handy if you’re looking to impress down the pub/on a hot date/out in a bar*…

Welcome to the weekend, team! Step away from the workload and pick up a dram. You deserve it. Friday evening is here! (Apologies as always if you’re a non-nine-to-fiver and are indeed working at the weekend… join the vibe when you can.)

It’s been a short week here at MoM Towers thanks to the summer bank holiday Monday. But that hasn’t stopped us bringing you all manner of news over on the blog this week.

On Tuesday we unveiled our latest competition of much excitement – win a VIP trip to Speyside and discover The BenRiach Distillery! Then on Wednesday we got hold of Pernod Ricard’s annual report and crunched the numbers to see how the likes of Jameson, The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal performed over the last year.

Yesterday we had a blog double whammy: Annie talked us through all things aquavit in her beginner’s guide, before we shed a little bit more light onto Diageo’s Special Releases 2018 line-up. Not long until the full reveal: check back on 12 September for details of all 10 bottlings in full.

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Scotch whisky visitor numbers hit record high!

Love visiting distilleries? So does everyone, it would seem! The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has crunched the numbers and it turns out we collectively made a record 1.9 million visits…

Love visiting distilleries? So does everyone, it would seem! The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has crunched the numbers and it turns out we collectively made a record 1.9 million visits to Scotland’s whisky distilleries in 2017!

1.9 million people is the equivalent of the entire population of Latvia, or of Guinea Bissau. Or the same as everyone in Cyprus visiting a distillery twice. It’s also an 11.4% rise year-on-year, and a figure 45% higher than 2010’s visitor numbers. That’s a hefty increase.

And it also puts whisky distilleries squarely on the tourism road map. The National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle are the top attractions outside London, and they both attracted 2 million visitors each in 2017. The distilleries are catching up!

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