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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: distilleries

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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The Nightcap: 6 July

Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to…

Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to get an update from the world of booze. Bring on The Nightcap!

This week brought with it a new month as well as a whole new cohort of booze goings on – and of course a new Dram Club box for our subscribers, too! We took a sneak peek inside those packs of tastiness on Sunday.

On Monday we looked back to Fèis Ìle 2018 when Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills shared his plans for the distillery expansion project, and got part three of Annie’s Bourbon Series – this time it was Rob Samuels from Maker’s Mark in the spotlight.

The Glencairn glass has become synonymous with spirits (whisky in particular), and on Tuesday we met the family behind the business. Sales are soaring – it seems we can’t get enough fancy glassware to hold our boozes!

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Annandale Distillery Scotch whisky comes of age!

The only thing more exciting than a new distillery is a new distillery’s first whisky coming of age! We popped over the border into Scotland to meet the Annandale Distillery…

The only thing more exciting than a new distillery is a new distillery’s first whisky coming of age! We popped over the border into Scotland to meet the Annandale Distillery team on a very special day…

What a difference a century makes. It’s 1918, and the Annandale Distillery, a historical Johnnie Walker production site, has just produced its final drop of spirit. Founded way back in 1836, the distillery is about to fall into disrepair, then dereliction. Located just 10 miles or so from the English border, what once made Annandale a convenient alternative to Island whiskies for blenders has seen it forgotten as other routes opened up. The distillery will soon be picked apart for salvage, its stills shipped off to Speyside. It’s a bleak scene.

Until David Thomson and Teresa Church come along. Fast forward to 2007 and the pair buy the dilapidated distillery, all crumbled stone and sylvan, sinuous weeds. Thomson grew up in nearby Dumfries and, buoyed by a passion for single malts and a background in sensory science, sets about the restoration project alongside Church.

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John Crabbie & Co 2.0: Edinburgh’s son returns to whisky distilling

Five months after resurrecting the historic John Crabbie & Co. whisky brand with the launch of two single malts, Halewood International revealed plans for an Edinburgh distillery – the old…

Five months after resurrecting the historic John Crabbie & Co. whisky brand with the launch of two single malts, Halewood International revealed plans for an Edinburgh distillery – the old stomping ground of Crabbie himself. Despite his Scotch kudos, surprisingly little is known about this influential character. MoM delves into the past, present and future of Crabbie Whisky…

When Halewood announced plans to invest more than £7 million in a new Crabbie distillery in Leith, industry ears pricked up. Though best known for its green ginger wine and ginger beers, the brand’s roots lie in whisky: it was founded a few short years after Blair Athol and Highland Park. Now, it’s the third contender in a race to build the first new distillery in Edinburgh for almost 100 years.

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Happy 120th birthday, Glen Moray! Part 1: The innovator

Last week we travelled up to Speyside to join Elgin-based distillery Glen Moray for its 120th birthday celebrations. But far from looking backwards, we discovered a disruptively modern trailblazer with…

Last week we travelled up to Speyside to join Elgin-based distillery Glen Moray for its 120th birthday celebrations. But far from looking backwards, we discovered a disruptively modern trailblazer with a whole host of unexpected developments going on behind the scenes…

1897: William McKinley became the 25th US president. Horror classic Dracula by Bram Stoker was published. The UK got its first-ever official bus service. And the Glen Moray distillery fired up its stills for the very first time.

Booze-making on the site can actually be traced back to 1830: before the first stills arrived, the land, tucked in on the edge of Elgin, was home to the Elgin West Brewery. The first spirit ran on 13 September 1897, and from day one the distillery’s made use of some pretty unusual casks – more on that later. Exactly 120 years after that first distillation we retraced the founders’ steps through the distillery, and then partied in style…

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Raise a glass! Scotch whisky distilleries attract more visitors than ever

An incredible 1.7 million of us headed to Scotch whisky distilleries in 2017 – were you one of the growing numbers of whisky tourists? Checking out a Scotch whisky distillery in…

An incredible 1.7 million of us headed to Scotch whisky distilleries in 2017 – were you one of the growing numbers of whisky tourists?

Checking out a Scotch whisky distillery in the flesh is the dream of many – and more of us than ever are making a journey to Speyside, Islay, the Highlands and/or beyond. Over 1.7 million people checked into a Scotch distillery in 2016 – that’s an impressive 8% year-on-year increase.

Even more excitingly, over half of the 123 distilleries across Scotland now welcome members of the public – a thrilling figure if, like us, stillhouses and maturation warehouses rank as highly as far-flung beaches when it comes to dream holiday destinations.

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