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Tag: Kilchoman

The Nightcap: 4 February

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February…

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

February might be a short month but if this week’s Nightcap is anything to go by, there’s still plenty going on. It doesn’t make sense to be wasting any time, let’s see what we got up to on the blog this week before we get to the stories that caught our eye. 

We set out welcoming some cracking MoM exclusives, including Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel whiskeys, before we picked out some perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day, From Champagne to cream liqueurs and wonderful whisky. Elsewhere, we visited the revamped Cardhu Distillery and spent some quality time with the Thinking Drinkers, made a cocktail for Her Maj, and welcomed Wire Works whisky with some cracking video content. A corker of a week, if we do say so ourselves…

Now, let’s get to it, The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Heaven Hill’s considerable portfolio is getting even larger

Heaven Hill adds a FEW more brands 

American whiskey giant Heaven Hill got into the spirit of the January transfer window and splashed out Samson & Surrey, a Miami-based spirits portfolio started by two former Bacardi executives. The purchase includes  Bluecoat Gin, Widow Jane Whiskey, Mezcal Vago, Tequila Ocho, France’s Brenne Whisky, and FEW Spirits. Terms of the deal were not announced, the news came via FEW founder Paul Hletko. According to Hletko, his business will continue to operate from its warehouse at the end of an Evanston alley and the changes will be in the realms of distribution, sales, and marketing. “For FEW, it should be business as usual. We’ll continue doing what we do. We’ll just do it with the sophistication and market access of a Heaven Hill behind us,” he explained. Heaven Hill Brands include Heaven Hill (naturally), Elijah Craig, and Evan Williams. Now there’s all kinds of potential for fun after some big spending. Which is something of a theme in this week’s Nightcap as… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

This is what we can expect from Guinness’ triumphant London return

Guinness returns to London with £73 million brewery  

… Diageo does some splurging of its own by pumping £73 million into a new Guinness microbrewery and culture hub in London’s Covent Garden. We’re guessing the results of Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh have been pleasing. The upcoming venue, named ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ is set to open in Autumn 2023 and will create up to 150 jobs and train a further 100 bartenders annually. The new 50,000 sq ft venue, which first brewed beer back in 1722, will have just enough space for events and local community initiatives, as well as being the southern UK hub of Diageo’s ‘Learning for Life Bartending and Hospitality Programme. Dayalan Nayager, managing director, Diageo Great Britain, said: “We’re excited to create a new home for Guinness in the heart of London. ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ will strengthen London’s hospitality community and be a must-visit destination for thousands of visitors to enjoy”. Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, who has visited the site, added: “This multi-million-pound investment is a crucial vote of confidence in our capital. 300 years after brewing the first beer in Old Brewers Yard, it’s fantastic to see Guinness breathing life into our hospitality and tourism industries and creating more jobs and training opportunities in central London.” It’ll be great to see Guinness back in the capital for the first time since the old Park Royal brewery closed in 2005. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

The one flaw with Kilchoman is there’s never been enough great whisky to go around. This should help.

Kilchoman ramps up production with £22.5 million funding 

More spending news! Kilchoman Distillery has agreed a deal with Barclays worth £22.5 million, allowing it to invest in new production facilities and farming on Islay. The distillery aims to produce 40% more whisky within the next 12 months. The owners have already started work on a new warehouse and extra staff have been hired to cope with demand, making it a major employer on the island, with 40 people now working for the business. The bank’s loan will also allow Kilchoman to increase its presence in France, Germany, the US and China, four major markets for the brand. Kilchoman general manager, the magnificently-named Islay Heads, explained the deal: “It has been pleasing to deal with the team at Barclays who were informative about the whisky industry and genuinely interested in the business and our staff. For us it was all about getting the right package in place and developing a long-term relationship. Barclays listened to any points we made and came up with a deal not driven by ticking a box but meeting our needs for a straightforward credit facility to meet our ambitions.” Andy Hall, head of Barclays corporate banking, central Scotland, added: “Despite the challenging economic conditions, the production of our national drink remains an expanding industry and we are pleased that Kilchoman is now one of several independent distilleries in Scotland where we are supporting their ambitions for growth in Scotland and beyond”. It’s fantastic news, and it’s not even the last big spending story this week…

The Nightcap: 4 February

Dan Szor will soon own the largest producer of English whisky

PLUS The Cotswolds Distillery announces whisky expansion

… because there’s going to be a significant expansion in the production of whisky at The Cotswolds Distillery as well. Christ, it’s a spendy Nightcap, isn’t it? The plans, which include a new dedicated distillery for its whisky, will soon make it the largest producer of English whisky. The site near Shipston on Stour in the North Cotswolds will eventually produce 500,000 litres of pure alcohol per year and the distillery will be commissioned over the Summer of 2022. Despite the challenges the hospitality industry has faced in the last couple of years, the Cotswolds Distillery has achieved significant growth allowing it to venture into new markets, expand, and bring some big names. These include Lynsey Eades, formerly of Remy Cointreau, as international sales and global travel retail director, as well as consultancy from industry veterans Ken Grier and former director of Scotch whisky at Diageo, Richard Watling. “Since the launch of Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky in 2017, its spectacular growth in popularity has proven its ability to drive our premium brand both nationally and across key international markets,” says founder Daniel Szor. “The long-term nature of whisky production, combined with our ambition to remain at the forefront of the fast-growing English whisky movement for years to come, is behind our decision to significantly upscale our whisky production”. We’re looking forward to seeing the new and improved Cotswolds, having been very impressed by what’s come out of the distillery so far. Exciting times… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

It’s great to see so many brands embracing responsibility

Nc’nean lands high scoring B Corp accreditation

Remember last week when we were congratulating Maker’s Mark on its B Corp accreditation? Well, now we can add Nc’nean to that shortlist of accredited producers. In fact, the Highland distillery is doubling the number of Scotch whisky distilleries to hold the certification having also met all those rigorous social and environmental standards we talked about last week, with an extremely high score of 135.6. It’s not surprising if you’re familiar with the brand’s environmental ethos, the distillery is powered by 100% renewable energy and is certified organic, sourcing barley exclusively from Scotland. Nc’nean whisky is also bottled in a 100% recycled clear glass bottle and in July 2021, it became the UK’s first whisky distillery to be certified net-zero for its own operations (scope 1 and 2), beating the Scotch whisky industry target of 2040 by 20 years. This is one impressive producer of whisky, folks. Good thing the spirit is tasty too, so we should see plenty more of them in the future!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Save us a seat

Mr. Lyan returns to East London with new bar

The multi-award-winning Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, has announced the opening of a new cocktail bar, Seed Library. It’s located in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch in East London, where he opened his first bar White Lyan, in 2013 and will fling its doors triumphantly open in March. It also hasn’t got a Lyan reference in the name, and won’t be trying to reinvent the wheel quite as much like its sister sites. Don’t expect as many mad scientist creations. Instead, a short, frequently changing menu will feature new takes on classic mixed drinks, such as the Sancho Leaf Martini and the Perilla Gin & Tonic, which will be joined by a curated list of low-intervention wines and a range of beers from craft brewers. A more chilled affair, by the sound of it. And if it’s as good as his other establishments, we’ll be popping by ourselves pretty frequently. Elsewhere, Mr. Lyan is bringing back his popular Sunday Lyan series for 2022, in partnership with Fever-Tree. Teaming up with some of the bars, restaurants, and brands, the series will celebrate the creativity and quality from across the industry and kicks off with Fierfield botanical spirit drink from J.J Corry Irish Whiskey on 6 February. The only question for us is, where does he find the time?

The Nightcap: 4 February

Rennie is man in-demand, for good reason too!

Rosebank announces Malcolm Rennie as new distillery manager 

The Rosebank revival is one step closer to reality as the Lowland distillery welcomed a new distillery manager ahead of the site opening later this year. And it’s someone who featured on our blog recently. Malcolm Rennie, fresh from helping to bring Lochlea to life, is bringing his 35 years of distilling expertise to oversee the production process, from the first fresh trickle of new make spirit through the stills, to cask selection and maturation. Working alongside Ian Macleod Distillers’ group distillation manager, Robbie Hughes, and malt master, John Glass to put all that experience to good use, which includes helping to revive a sleeping giant after helping to reopen the Annandale Distillery after 90 years. As for the distillery, construction delays as a result of the pandemic haven’t stopped its march forward and production is due to begin towards the end of summer. A new eye-catching sloping stepped roof has nestled around the distillery’s 108ft chimney, connecting Rosebank’s past with its future, while the mash tun, the process tanks, mill, and grist case have been installed, with three Forsyth stills to follow. The return of the much-loved Lowland whisky is not too far away now, folks.  

The Nightcap: 4 February

The Tio Pepe Challenge is back!

The Tio Pepe Challenge 2022 is open

After a two-year hiatus caused by that global pandemic thing, the Tio Pepe Challenge is back. Gonzalez Byass is laying down the gauntlet to UK bartenders to create a unique sherry cocktail. The winner gets to take on the rest of the world in Jerez in May. Bartenders must enter by 9 March with the top 10 competing in the final in London on 4 April. Entrants must not only come up with a cocktail but also demonstrate their knowledge of sherry. But never fear, if you don’t know your Amontillado from a Palo Cortado, Boris Ivan from Gonzalez Byass will be hosting free online masterclasses on 9/16/23 February at 12 noon. Or you can get down to Bar Pepito near King’s Cross on 23 February from 1-3pm, try some wines and practise your venencia skills – that’s the cup on a stick thing which you have to learn how to use if you want to be taken seriously in Jerez. Giacomo Bucciarelli, the 2019 winner, commented: “The Tio Pepe Challenge is a unique experience mixing incredible emotions amongst highest level professionals. Spanish culture plays a big part of the liquid journey every participant goes through. Definitely a game-changing competition!!” So bartenders, clean your shaker, dust off your cocktailing trousers, and let those creative juices flow. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

Congratulations, guys

Cardiff’s Lab 22 voted Britain’s best bar

On Tuesday this week, the great and good of the drinks world gathered at One Night Records in London to see who topped the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars. And beating the might of the London bars was Cardiff’s Lab 22 which emerged victorious after jumping 32 places in two years thanks to the menu of head barman Max Hayward. Despite not taking the crown, London bars dominated the top ten with Swift Soho coming in second and the Connaught, recently named World’s Best Bar, coming in third. Which begs the question, how can a bar be the best in the world but not the best in Britain? The highest new entry was at number four for another London bar Tayēr + Elementary, brought to you by Alex Kratena and Monica Berg. Top 50 Cocktail Bars publisher Christopher Lowe commented: “London has always been seen as a global leader for cocktails but as you’ll see from the 2022 list, other major cities across the UK are now catching up. Our newly launched website will help cocktail connoisseurs discover the best of the UK bar scene with many of these very much still under the radar.” Congratulations to the Lab 22 team. We can’t wait to sample to see what all the fuss is about.

The Nightcap: 4 February

We’re struggling to understand the point of this, frankly

And finally… Waiter, there’s a non-fungible token in my drink

Face it, at some point you’re going to have to learn what an NFT (non-fungible token) is. They are everywhere in the booze world and, no, they have nothing to do with mushrooms. In fact, we have an article on the very subject going out next week. But while we love a bit of tech at Master of Malt, it can be taken too far. Such as at Adam Handling’s Eve Bar which is offering London’s first NFT cocktail menu. We’ll attempt very briefly to explain this: for your money, which could be as much as £4,000, you’ll own a one-off cocktail recipe in the form of an NFT which no one else will have plus some actual stuff including a certain number of complimentary drinks at Eve Bar and a real-life or digital masterclass with your cocktail’s creator. The big question is: why? When you go out for a drink, you want a drink, you want it cold and delicious, and you want it now. What you don’t want is to own the digital rights to a unique cocktail. And while you’re at it, bring back cash. Harrumph, harrumph!

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Top ten Scotch whiskies for autumn

Whether it’s a blend or single malt, smoky or sherried, everyday or for a special occasion, we’ve got the perfect ten Scotch whiskies for autumn. How do you feel about…

Whether it’s a blend or single malt, smoky or sherried, everyday or for a special occasion, we’ve got the perfect ten Scotch whiskies for autumn.

How do you feel about autumn? We have to come out and say that it might be our favourite time of the year. The trees are turning golden, and the days are getting shorter, but there’s still a little warmth in the air. It’s the sweet spot from a sartorial point of view too, no more sweating in shorts, but the bulky layers of winter haven’t come in yet. 

But the nights are getting cold, making it the perfect season to enjoy a warming dram to take the edge off the evening chill. So, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Scotch whisky including a classic blend, a couple of sherry bombs, some fruity mellow bottlings, Islay smokies, and two highly-aged limited editions for those feeling fancy.

So here’s to autumn, “season of malts and mellow fruitfulness” as Keats might have put it if he worked in the content team at Master of Malt.

Ten Scotch whiskies for autumn

J&B rare

J&B Rare 

J&B Rare is one of those whiskies so ubiquitous, you probably don’t even notice it behind the bar. Which is a shame because this is probably the ultimate Highball whisky. Just blend with soda, ice and maybe a dash of orange bitters for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. One sip and you’ll never go back to G&Ts.

What does it taste like? 

Yes, it’s light but there’s depth here too with appley fruit joined by richer notes of malt, cedar, vanilla and walnut with a lift of orange zest. Perfect with soda.

glenrothes-18-year-old-soleo-collection-whisky

Glenrothes 18 Year Old Soleo Collection 

The Soleo Collection was named after the process of sun-drying grapes for the production of sherry in Jerez, and as such you should expect plenty of sherry notes throughout the range. This 18 year old single malt features a very high proportion of first-fill sherry seasoned oak cask matured whisky at its core

What does it taste like?

On the nose there’s peaches and pears with dried fruits, honey and tobacco, and the palate is sumptuous and creamy. Definitely a malt full of “mellow fruitfulness”.

dalmore-15-year-old-whisky

Dalmore 15 Year Old 

The Dalmore gets its character from a heavy new make aged first in bourbon and then sherry casks. But not just any sherry casks, this 15 year old is aged in barrels that previously held luxurious Matusalem, Apostoles and Amoroso wines from Gonzalez Byass for a rich unctuous taste.

What does it taste like? 

Think Terry’s Chocolate Orange with fruitcake, baking spices, stem ginger in syrup, coffee and orange peel. It makes a cracking fireside dram.

A perfect Burns Night dram!

Darkness 8 Year Old 

If you like a sherry bomb then you’ll love the Darkness 8 Year Old. It’s a single malt from an undisclosed distillery aged in ex-bourbon casks before spending a few months in custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks. Small casks make for a vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, leading to more cask influence. In other words: sherry city!

What does it taste like? 

More sherry than a vicars convention in Jerez. Candied orange peel, dried cherry and chocolate peanuts on the nose, with powerful raisin, prune and oak on the palate. 

tomatin-14-year-old-port-wood-finish-whisky

Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Cask Finish 

Located on the edge of Speyside, Tomatin is a distillery that deserves to be better known especially as it’s turning out whiskies as good as this one. This is a 14 year old expression aged first in bourbon barrels before finishing in Port casks which impart a wine-like sweetness to the whisky.

What does it taste like? 

Dark chocolate dipped in strawberries with white pepper, crushed almonds, walnuts, Victoria sponge and a centre of oak.

Top ten: peated whisky under £50

Caol Ila 12 Year Old 

An Islay classic that we just can’t get enough of. Caol Ila 12 Year Old has beautifully measured and mellow smokiness that allows all kinds of complex flavours to come together beautifully. Its fresh, coastal and briney elements will transport you to the sea while the fruity, citrus notes add great depth. 

What does it taste like?

Rubbed peppermint leaves, damp grass, lemon peels at the harbour, boiled sweets and elegant smoke.

kilchoman-saligo-bay-whisky

Kilchoman Saligo Bay

A new bottling from Kilchoman on Islay is always something to celebrate. This was previously travel retail only but we’ve managed to snaffle a few bottles. It’s an enjoyably smoky single malt which has been matured in bourbon casks before being bottled up at 46% ABV. The name comes from one of the rocky bays on the west coast of the Hebribean isle

What does it taste like? 

One the nose there’s roasted almonds, rock pools, oak, and honey. Take a sip, and there’s a sea breeze quality to it, with apple and caramel.

arran-10-year-old-whisky

Arran 10 Year Old

This distillery was founded by former Chivas MD Harold Currie, the first on the isle of Arran on the West Coast since 1837. It might be the entry level whisky but this ten year old aged entirely in bourbon casks tastes pretty special, showing off the fruity, floral distillery character.

What does it taste like: 

Nutty and biscuity with fresh apple and lemon fruit plus floral summer hedgerow and honey notes. It’s packed full of character and really over delivers for the money.

balblair-12-year-old-whisky

Balblair 12 Year Old

Another massive favourite with the team here at Master of Malt. This Highland distillery, which featured in the film The Angel’s Share, makes cracking malts across the range. This 12 year old is the baby of the bunch, aged in ex-bourbon double-fired American oak casks, and it’s superb.

What does it taste like? 

The soft mango and peach distillery character really shines through, supported by spicy cedar and nutmeg, honey and barley. A great introduction to a great distillery. 

singleton-of-dufftown-21-year-old-whisky

Singleton of Dufftown 21 Year Old 

And finally… we’ve included two fancy ones in case you’re pushing the boat out. The first is from Dufftown and was chosen by master blender Maureen Robinson and aged in a combination of Oloroso-seasoned European oak and ex-bourbon casks. The result is a gloriously rich and mesmerising dram with exceptional balance.

What does it taste like? 

Gorgeously rich with notes of dates, dried apricots, orange peel, honey, toffee, honey and ginger, with an incredibly long finish. 

bruichladdich-that-boutiquey-whisky-company-whisky

Bruichladdich 28 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) 

A 28 year old single malt from the Bruichladdich Distillery, which means that it was distilled before the great Laddy revival of 2000 when the future of this great distillery was looking very uncertain. It was made in the classic unpeated style and slumbered nearly three decades in oak before it was bottled by the boffins at TBWC.

What does it taste like? 

It’s a powerful drop, make no mistake. There dark chocolate and cherry jam coming together rather like a Black Forest gâteau with baking spices and toasty oak. 

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Win a VIP trip to the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay!

Just when you thought we were done, we’re back again. Once more we’re sending two lucky people to Islay, this time in the company of Kilchoman. In distillery terms, Kilchoman…

Just when you thought we were done, we’re back again. Once more we’re sending two lucky people to Islay, this time in the company of Kilchoman.

In distillery terms, Kilchoman is still something of a new kid on the block. Just 15-and-a-bit years ago it became the first new distillery on Islay for 124 years. But in a short time, it has established a reputation as Islay’s fabulous farm distillery, ensuring the beautiful island on which resides shines through every dram through the use of locally-grown grain malted in their own floor maltings. This is a genuinely small-scale, craft operation that eschews volume and cost in favour of flavour. And if you’ve tasted Kilchoman’s whisky, you’ll know it was worth the effort. 

It’s a distillery that really should be on your bucket list. Luckily, the independent family business has partnered with us to give you a chance to visit and enjoy a number of whisky-based activities to boot. We’re back with another competition and for anyone who loves their Islay whisky, the prize is a dream trip. Let’s break down exactly what you stand to win.

Win a VIP trip to the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay!

Want to head here? Now’s your chance!

What you’ll win

  • Return standard or economy flight travel for 2 people from Glasgow airport to the distillery in Islay, Scotland;
  • Travel from Islay airport to the Kilchoman distillery;
  • Complimentary coffee, complimentary lunch at the visitor centre;
  • Complimentary VIP personal tour;
  • Complimentary warehouse tasting;
  • Complimentary coffee and cake picnic on Machir Bay;
  • Standard accommodation in Islay at the Machrie for 1 night for 2 people (subject to availability and to be arranged by prize provider), including dinner and breakfast;
  • Complimentary round of golf OR spa treatment OR time in the Still House distilling Kilchoman with the team.
Win a VIP trip to the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay!

It’s your chance to see what makes this distillery so special

How to enter

I’m sure most of you know the drill by now, but for anyone new (welcome, by the way, please stay and check out the many other delights of our blog) all you need to do is purchase a bottle of whisky from the Kilchoman range for a chance to win. There’s no limit on how many bottles you can buy and this method of entry comes with the bonus that you win regardless because, even if you don’t find yourself heading to Islay, you still have some delicious Kilchoman whisky to enjoy!

Best of luck to all of you who enter!

Kilchoman Sanaig Loch Gorm

One of these bottles could win you a trip to the distillery!

MoM Kilchoman Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 12:00:01pm 01 July to 23:59 15 July 2021. Date and travel restrictions apply. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details. 

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Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 7: Kilchoman

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 7: Kilchoman time! So we’re taking a look at the history of one of the newer distilleries on the island but one…

It’s Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021 Day 7: Kilchoman time! So we’re taking a look at the history of one of the newer distilleries on the island but one that has had a huge impact on Scotch whisky in its short life. 

Somehow we’ve got to Day 7 of our Master of Malt Islay Festival 2021. To be honest, we’re flagging a bit but never fear, when there’s a dram of Kilchoman on the horizon our spirits lift and we’re ready to put out some more high quality content.

Today, we’re delving into the story of Islay’s newest distillery that has actually released some whisky, looking at how Kilchoman has gone from new kid on the block to justified and ancient (that’s enough ‘80s musical references), and seeing what the team has planned for Fèis Ìles this year. Don’t forget to listen to our Islay memories playlist on Spotify or watch the above clip of Anthony Wills talking to MoM.

What’s going on today:

Unlike some distilleries (naming no names) which are playing their cards close to their chests when it comes to Feis action, the team at Kilchoman has published a full list of all the online malty goodness going on. They’re dubbing it 360° Fèis Ìle – full details can be found on website or go to: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more information. Sadly tasting packs and the Fèis Ìle 2021 distillery bottling are all sold out but you can tune in. And there’s still plenty of Kilchoman goodness on the Master of Malt website.

Here’s a little taster of what to expect;

12 noon – Kilchoman ‘DNA’ Live Tasting 

A tasting of some of the core range including Machir Bay, Loch Gorm and Sanaig all at cask strength. Plus a preview of the 11th Edition of the 100% Islay release which is “distilled from our 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 barley harvests” and “matured for a minimum of nine years in 26 bourbon barrels and seven Oloroso sherry butts.” 

1pm – On the Farm 

The general manager at Kilchoman, Islay Heads (yes that really is his name), talks through how different barley varieties and fields affect the flavour of the whisky. Followed by a live Q&A.

2pm – Malting and Peating 

Fancy learning about how a traditional floor malting works? Of course you do, well maltman Derek Scott is on hand to show you how it’s done, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions too.

The Nightcap

The new shiny Kilchoman stills

3pm –  In the Stillhouse 

Now we move on to the next stage of the process as production manager, Robin Bignal, will give you a behind the scenes tour of the stillhouse from milling and mashing to fermentation and distillation.  And yes, you can ask questions. 

4pm – Maturing in the Warehouse 

This sounds fun, Anthony Wills talks all things cask maturation and delves into the dark corners of the warehouse. What might he find? Whisky probably. 

5pm – Vatting and Bottling 

And for the final part of the 360 degree tour, bottling hall manager Michal Besser takes you on a tour of perhaps the least glamorous, but extremely vital, part of the whole process. If you have a question about chill filtering, now is the time to ask. 

But that’s not all. There are still two more tastings to get through. Phew!

6pm – ‘Through the Ages’ Live Tasting 

Tune in for a tasting of our before following the journey of maturation with samples of 2006, 2011 and 2016 casks.

7.15pm – ‘Experimental Casks’ Live Tasting 

This sounds like enormous fun. A tasting of some unusual casks that whisky has been entirely aged in. No finishing here. Featuring Cognac, Calvados, Port and STR (shaved, toasted and charred) casks. If only those pesky tasting sets weren’t sold out. 

Kilchoman Distillery new stillhouse

Founder Anthony Wills at the opening of the new stillhouse and visitor centre

Kilchoman’s history

Kilchoman is such a fixture on Islay’s whisky scene that it’s easy to forget how unusual it was when it first opened in 2005. Back then, it was the island’s first new distillery for 120 years. Since then it’s been joined by Ardnahoe and there’s a tenth on the way courtesy of Speciality Drinks. 

From the beginning, Kilchoman’s owners, the Wills family, wanted to do things a bit differently using barley grown on the island and malted in their own floor maltings. And it worked, the first releases had whisky lovers in raptures over Kilchoman’s elegant, light-peated style. 

Indeed, the whisky proved so popular that the distillery began plans for expansion in 2018. It involved building an entirely new still house with identical equipment to the current one, doubling capacity to 480,000 litres of pure alcohol annually. This opened in 2020 along with a new visitor centre. We were meant to visit but the Islay weather had other ideas. Then Covid struck and as such we haven’t seen the expanded distillery in all its glory. Something we hope to remedy as soon as possible.  

 

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New Arrival of the Week: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2021 release

Here’s a much anticipated new whisky: it’s the 2021 release of Kilchoman Loch Gorm, a heavily-sherried single malt from the cult Islay distillery. It’s not going to hang around. Kilchoman…

Here’s a much anticipated new whisky: it’s the 2021 release of Kilchoman Loch Gorm, a heavily-sherried single malt from the cult Islay distillery. It’s not going to hang around.

Kilchoman is such a fixture on Islay’s whisky scene that it’s easy to forget how new it is. It was the island’s first new distillery for 120 years when it opened in 2005 with its first release back in 2009. It’s since been joined by Hunter Laing’s Ardnahoe in 2019 and Sukhinder Singh (for it is he) from Speciality Drinks submitted plans for a 10th distillery last year.

The Nightcap

The new shiny Kilchoman stills

Grain-to-glass distillery

From the beginning, Kilchoman’s owners, the Wills family, wanted to do things a bit differently using barley grown on the island and malted in their own floor maltings. Just how things used to be done. None of this would matter were the bottlings not up to scratch, but right from the first releases, whisky lovers have praised Kilchoman’s elegant, light-peated style. 

Kilchoman has proved so popular, that the distillery began plans for expansion in 2018. It involved building an entirely new still house with identical equipment to the current one, doubling capacity to 480,000 litres of pure alcohol annually. This opened in 2020 along with a new visitor centre. We were meant to visit for the grand opening but as often happens on Islay, the weather intervened and flights and ferries were cancelled. Still, we have been reliably informed that it’s all working splendidly, and will once again be open to the public on 17 May.

Sherry cask release

There are now a range of expressions from the popular Machir Bay, made from bought-in barley to the 100% Islay, made using only island-grown barley malted in-house. The distillery generally uses ex-bourbon casks but one of the most-anticipated releases is the limited edition sherry casks release called Loch Gorm, named after the freshwater loch by the distillery. And now the 2021 version is here!

It’s a vatting of 24 Oloroso sherry casks filled in 2011 and 2012. These aren’t just any casks, but 500 litre European oak butts from Bodega Miguel Martin in Jerez. They were seasoned with Oloroso sherry before being filled with 50ppm peated Kilchoman new make. After a minimum nine years ageing, they were vatted together and bottled at 46% ABV.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm

Kilchoman Loch Gorm on Loch Gorm

Anthony Wills comments

Founder and master distiller Anthony Wills explained why it’s a little bit different: “Although we have always filled the bulk of our spirit into ex-bourbon barrels, the Loch Gorm releases have shown how well our peated Islay spirit can combine with sherry casks, something that’s not always an easy task.” He went on to describe the taste: “Rich bold flavours with a breadth, depth and balance of character that sets it apart, the 2021 edition is packed with juicy fruit, macerated lemon and sweet chargrilled BBQ smoke.”

Sounds pretty tasty, doesn’t it? Only 17,000 bottles and we’ve managed to get hold of a few. It’s strictly limited edition, so once they’re gone, they’re gone and we will be Loch Gormless.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2021 release is available from Master of Malt. While stocks last.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Smoky clove and a hint of cumin, balanced by sultana and prune, plus a touch of roasted almond.

Palate: Enjoyably chocolatey at first, though soon enough the dry, earthy smoke builds and comes to the fore.

Finish: Cherry, roast chestnuts, a smidge of medicinal peat.

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Join our Islay celebrations on Instagram Live!

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of…

Just because we won’t be heading to Islay this year, doesn’t mean we can’t keep the festival spirit alive! Thanks to the magic of Instagram Live we’ve organised a series of interviews with the island’s distilleries that features tastings, chats and Q&As.

This is usually the time of year where we would pack our travel bags, camera kit and 10-litre bottles of midge insect repellent to head north to the beautiful Scottish island of Islay to revel in one of the highlights, if not the highlight of the whisky calendar. The week-and-a-bit from 22-30 May was sure to provide all the whisky-dipped merriment you could shake Dave Worthington’s pipe at.

But we have no intention of letting this period pass by without some recognition of an island that is home to some of Scotch whisky’s finest distilleries. Which is why we’ve put together the next best thing. Through the wonderful medium of Instagram Live, we’ve created our own virtual festival by teaming up with the island’s distilleries (and the fab folk at Jura, of course). We’ve put together a programme of tastings, chats and Q&As with your questions, comments and tasting notes to keep the Islay spirit alive and your tasting glass full from the comfort of your own home.

We thoroughly hope you enjoy our virtual Islay celebration. The schedule for the Instagram Live shows is listed below, complete with accompanying dram. Don’t forget, you can always embrace the Islay spirit whenever you like with Drinks by the Dram’s Islay Whisky Tasting Set! Why not order one for you and a pal and set up your own Zoom tasting?

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old

Day One

Who’s joining us? The Character of Islay Whisky Company and its head of whisky, Sam Simmons for a tasting. What a way to kick off proceedings!

What whisky will we be tasting? Aerolite Lyndsay 10 Year Old, Green Isle, Grace Île and Fiona Macleod.

When is it? Friday 22 May at 7:30pm

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Lagavulin will be joining us on day two

Day Two

Who’s joining us? Lagavulin and its distillery manager Colin Gordon for an evening dram and a chat. Grab a tasting glass and get your questions ready for Colin!

What whisky will we be tasting? Lagavulin 8Lagavulin 16.

When is it? Saturday 23 May at 8:30pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Head distiller Adam Hannett will join us for a tasting and Q&A

Day Three

Who’s joining us? Bruichladdich and its head distiller Adam Hannett for a tasting and Q&A. Bruichladdich also has its own Laddie Lock-In, while its ballot system to decide who can get their hands on its alternative festival bottling, Port Charlotte 16, has now concluded.

What whisky will we be tasting? The Classic Laddie.

When is it? Sunday 24 May at 6pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Caol Ila Distillery, as seen from the skies.

Day Four

Who’s joining us? Caol Ila and its distillery manager for an evening dram and a chat with Pierrick Guillaume.

What whisky will we be tasting? Caol Ila 12.

When is it? Monday 25 May at 8:15pm. 

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

We’ll be spending lunchtime with Laphroaig

Day Five

Who’s joining us? Laphroaig for a lunchtime taste and learn session with distillery manager John Campbell. It will also be hosting its own celebration, #LaphroaigLive from 18:15pm.

What whisky will we be tasting? Laphroaig 10.

When is it? Tuesday 26 May at 1pm. 

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The beautiful Bowmore Distillery who will join us on day six

Day Six

Who’s joining us? Bowmore for another lunchtime Live, with time with distillery manager, David Turner. We’ll have a chat about all things whisky, so ready your questions!

What whisky will we be tasting? Bowmore 12.

When is it? Wednesday 27 May at 1pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills will stop by to kick-off our Thursday with a bang

Day Seven

Who’s joining us? Kilchoman and its founder Anthony Wills will be kicking off the day with us. The distillery also has quite the online festival Programme, complete with live tastings and a distillery tour.

What whisky will we be tasting? Kilchoman Machir Bay, Loch Gorm 2020, the new Am Burach, 100% Islay 9th Edition, and the official Festival Bottling!

When is it? Thursday 28 May at 10.30am.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà

Day Eight

Who’s joining us? Bunnahabhain and its global brand director, Derek Scott, who will host a tasting with a very delicious dram, usually distillery-exclusive dram (it will also host its own 8pm tasting, ‘Fèis at home‘). 

What whisky will we be tasting? Bunnahabhain Toiteach a Dhà, Bunnahabhain 25-Year-Old, and the very exciting Bunnahabhain 2003 Amontillado Finish, which is usually only available from the distillery.

When is it? Friday 29 May at 5pm.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The scenic Jura Distillery makes delicious and subtle smoky whisky

Who’s joining us? Jura and Whyte & Mackay’s Gregg Glass, who will be online with us for an evening tasting. 

What whisky will we be tasting? Jura 10 Year Old.

When is it? Friday 29 May evening.

Fèis Ìle on Instagram Live

The stunning Ardbeg Distillery at night

Day Nine

Who’s joining us? Ardbeg and Brendan McCarron, head of maturing whisky stocks for Ardbeg (and sister distillery Glenmorangie) ,for an Ardbeg Day tasting. You can also join the distillery at 7pm on Facebook for its first-ever online Ardbeg Day!

What whisky will we be tasting? Ardbeg 10An Oa and Blaaack. 

When is it? Saturday 30 May at 3pm.

 

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Everything you wanted to know about peat

It’s been a smoky week on the blog with news of the expansion at Kilchoman and a new release from Ardbeg. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to take…

It’s been a smoky week on the blog with news of the expansion at Kilchoman and a new release from Ardbeg. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the ingredient that gives them their unmistakable flavour. So, here’s every question you’ve ever wanted to ask about peat, answered by whisky experts…

Ah, heavily-peated whisky. The great divider. The Marmite of the spirits world, if you will. For every die-hard Islay aficionado with a penchant for eye-wateringly medicinal, TCP-esque drams, there’s a bourbon connoisseur who wouldn’t clean their boots with the stuff. Such is life, and such is whisky.

Whatever your personal preference, you’re likely to have a few burning (ha) questions about the peat, specifically the mechanics involved in flavouring whisky with it. So, to quench your thirst for knowledge, we approached a selection of whisky experts to get the 4-1-1 on what is, essentially, thousands of years’ worth of decaying vegetation. Behold!

The floor malting at Benriach

Where does peat come from?

Peat is formed in cold wetlands from partly decomposed vegetation – shrubs, heather, bog myrtle, forests – over thousands of years, explains Dr. Rachel Barrie, master distiller at BenRiach Distillery. It tends to be found close to the coast, “having formed when seas flooded the landscape, trapping the vegetation,” she explains. “Cellulose, lignin and other plant components decompose slowly over a seriously long time, due to the lack of oxygen being trapped underwater.” Grass, wood and moss break down in the peat, making it a very good fuel, as well as a source of smoky aromatics. Peat is found all over the world, “but is especially prevalent in the Northern hemisphere in places like Canada, Siberia and in particular Ireland and Scotland,” adds Cameron Ewen, bar manager and senior whisky ambassador in Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel.

Does peat exhibit terroir?

Peat exhibits the ‘terroir’ of the plant material trapped and compressed under swampy wetland, decomposing over thousands of years, says Dr Barrie. “As well as plant material, it’s influenced by the water that flooded the land,” she continues. As such, the peat found in the north east of Scotland differs to peat found on Islay, due to the higher proportion of forests and less wetlands. Not only do the Western Isles feel the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, says Ewen, but the peat on Islay also has a higher proportion of seaweed. By contrast, “northern peat tends to be more floral with decomposing heather and gorse playing important roles in this peat,” he explains. “This will usually give the whisky a drier smoky character more akin to a bonfire. The peat dug from mainland Scotland is composed mostly of leaves, grasses and woods. This usually lends a very soft smoke to the whisky often due to the amount of peat being used.”

Peat cut in the Scottish Highlands

How is peat harvested?

Traditionally, peat has been dug by hand, says Anthony Wills, founder and managing director of Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery, with machines introduced more recently as demand has increased. First, the top layer of turf would be peeled away, and then a trench anywhere from 0.5 metres to 2 metres deep would be dug, says Ewen. “Peat was then cut out of this trench and stacked in the fields to dry,” he says, usually for about six months until it became brittle. “This peat is then used in traditional kilns – oven-like structures capable of holding tonnes of damp barley – and the peat is burned to produce an aromatic smoke that dries the barley and gives the final whisky its distinct quality,” Ewen adds.

How and when are ‘phenols’ released?

The phenols are released when the peat fire is burning and the smoke impregnates the moist barley grains lying on a floor above the fire, Wills explains. The phenol level is measured in parts per millions of phenols (PPM). How long the fire is lit determines the level of PPM in the final malt. “In the old days peat was used to dry the malt down to 5% moisture, but the result was a very peaty, salty, phenolic whisky that wasn’t very refined,” says Wills. “Peating levels have now been refined by distillers, and peat is only used at the first stage and then switched to a warm air drying system.” As those who have tasted Bowmore and Laphroaig liquids side-by-side, each distillery usually has a preferred peating level they require for their malt. However, this measurement is not entirely accurate by the time the whisky is bottled, because the PPM reduces over the course of the whisky-making process, Ewan explains. “At every stage some of the phenols are lost – this is most noticeable in the distillation and maturation phase,’ he says. During maturation, “some of the phenols are absorbed or evaporate off”, while other notes mellow out over time.

Kilchoman Islay

Burning peat at Kilchoman

Where does the peat burning tradition originate?

Historically the practice of using peat in whisky started through necessity, says Ewan. “Many distilleries were in remote parts of the country and as such, it was often impractical and not financially economic for distillers to use coal or oil in whisky production,” he explains. Peat had been used for centuries to heat bothies and blackhouses – traditional farmhouses – and this led to the practice being adopted by Scottish distillers. Those based further inland tended to use a mixture of coal, anthracite and peat, adds Dr Barrie, though the exact composition would have varied according to location, geography and terroir. That all changed in the 1970s, when natural gas was discovered in the North Sea and a boom of commercial barley maltings were built in the north and east. “With the readily available supply of natural gas, the larger commercial maltings rapidly became the most efficient, cleanest and scaled-up way to malt the barley,” she explains. “Without natural gas on Islay, peat continued to be the dominant source of fuel.”

In what other ways are distilleries using peat to flavour their spirits?

You don’t necessarily need peated barley to give your spirit a smoky taste. In fact, if you’re Daniel Szor, founder and CEO of England’s Cotswolds Distillery, you need only obtain an empty cask. “Our production director Nick and I went to visit our friends at Penderyn and were fascinated by one of their whiskies, which had been aged in a ex-Laphroaig quarter cask,” he explains. “As soon as we returned to the distillery, we ordered one from Speyside Cooperage and filled it with our unpeated new-make Cotswolds spirit.” After a year, says Szor, they were smitten. “ The cask provided just the right amount of phenols without overwhelming our delicate spirit, and the slight smokiness married perfectly with our rich and fruity Cotswolds spirit,” he says. 

 

 

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Kilchoman’s new stillhouse and visitor centre are open

Islay’s eighth distillery Kilchoman has doubled its production capacity with a new stillhouse extension that opened this week. We managed to grab a quick chat with founder Anthony Wills about…

Islay’s eighth distillery Kilchoman has doubled its production capacity with a new stillhouse extension that opened this week. We managed to grab a quick chat with founder Anthony Wills about the effect the improvements will have, how he replicated the Kilchoman character and why legacy is key.

On Friday 21st February, family, friends, colleagues and local businesses gathered at Kilchoman Distillery on Islay to celebrate the opening of its new stillhouse and visitor centre. Unfortunately, terrible weather meant that we couldn’t be there in person, but over 150 guests did manage to witness the new developments, which began in 2018 with the completion of a new malt floor and kiln. These founder Anthony Wills says have allowed the distillery to malt twice as much of its own barley. “We’ve gone from four-tonne batches instead of two. In future, this will allow us to share more of our flagship expression, Kilchoman 100% Islay”.

The £6 million project entailed creating a new stillhouse by extending out from the gable end of the original. It contains two new stills, a new mash tun and six additional stainless steel washbacks which doubles the capacity to 480,000 litres of pure alcohol annually, though the distillery has not yet decided what production level it will settle at.

Kilchoman Distillery new stillhouse

The new stillhouse in all its glory

The new stillhouse had become a necessity in recent times due to the continued increase in demand for Kilchoman. Without an increase in capacity, Wills says, Kilchoman would be heading towards a situation where its whisky would be sold purely on allocation. “We wanted to continue building on the success of the last 15 years without the risk of running out of whisky. I’m a great believer that if you are standing still in business you are going backwards,” he explains. “With my three sons very much part of the business, I wanted to make sure we had enough Kilchoman single malt to share with consumers around the world. In the first 10 years, we had proved that Kilchoman had a following and I didn’t want to be in the position of allocating our single malt going forward”.  

The investment amounts to almost an entirely new distillery in itself, however, Kilchoman was keen that the new equipment was a mirror image of the original stillhouse to ensure that signature Kilchoman character and strong island provenance was retained. “I spoke to Jim Swan before he sadly died and he was adamant that the only way not to compromise on the character and style of our new spirit was to build a replica of what we had before,” says Wills. “So we set about copying all the production equipment we started with in 2005. Two more stills, a mash tun and six new washbacks. This was the only way we were going to get exactly the same spirit character.”

One particularly exciting aspect of this development for nerdy whisky fans (our people) is that the new equipment will allow more experimentation during the malting and peating phases. “With the new production up and running we have started experimenting with sowing different barley varieties on the farm, processing unpeated, lightly-peated and heavily-peated malt, using different yeast varieties, different spirit cut points and isolating the spirit from each different run,” Wills explains. “We are excited to see how it affects the character of the spirit and I’m especially interested in the way different yeast varieties affect the character of the spirit”.

Kilchoman Distillery new stillhouse

Founder Anthony Wills at the opening of the new stillhouse and visitor centre

Two more bonded warehouses have also been built to allow greater room for cask maturation. The distillery has had to rely on using space in predominantly dunnage warehouses owned by Bruichladdich, Bowmore and Port Ellen, but Wills confirms that Kilchoman will continue to build more warehousing as demand dictates, commenting “I want to mature all our stock on Islay. This is important to our USP”.

The final phase of the current expansion project has been the completion of a new open-plan visitor centre that encompasses a shop area selling whisky and branded goods, glass windowed tasting rooms, a bar to enjoy your drams around a log burning stove and a café. In 2019 Kilchoman Distillery welcomed some 30,000 visitors and each year this number is rising, which is why Wills felt it was important for the distillery to have space to accommodate the increasing number of people making the trip. ““We needed to create a better experience for our visitors so we decided to build a purpose-built building behind the café,” he says. “We are very happy with the end result as we’ve managed to retain many of the original features of the stables. The new visitor centre will be open 7 days a week from the end of March so make sure to come and visit us soon!”

The developments couldn’t have come at a better time as far as Wills is concerned. “He believes the future of whisky and especially Islay malt is very positive. The category is still seeing growth and we are confident this will continue,” Wills says. “However, the recently implemented tariffs in the USA and coronavirus will present its challenges. I’m delighted we launched Kilchoman 15 years ago when very few new distilleries were being opened. The challenges are much greater for all the distilleries around the world that have recently started.

Kilchoman Distillery new stillhouse

Guests enjoyed the new visitor centre at the opening event

Wills had mentioned in the press release that these changes came at a time when he thought he might take a step back. It’s notable that these developments have taken place as his sons take on a greater role and the family presence increases. “The big thing for myself and my wife was about leaving a legacy for my sons to take to the next level. I believe family-run businesses have more of a connection with their customer base and I would like to see Kilchoman growing as a family business well into the future,” Wills explains. “Kilchoman was always about growing a business and leaving a legacy to my three sons to take on when I eventually step back….that isn’t happening anytime soon!”

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Ronnie Lee – the man who mends mills

This week Ian Buxton celebrates a true whisky hero, a Welshman without whom Scotland’s distilleries would literally grind to a halt. What about those malt mills, eh? They’re just about…

This week Ian Buxton celebrates a true whisky hero, a Welshman without whom Scotland’s distilleries would literally grind to a halt.

What about those malt mills, eh? They’re just about the first thing you see on any distillery tour but, once you’ve heard the guide’s regulation story about their age and how they outlived the company who made them, you move on.  

It’s a shame. Painted, usually, in that distinctive shade of dark red, sturdy, planted four-square in the mill room, ready to receive another load of malt, these quiet occupants of an unobtrusive corner of the distillery just do their job in a modest and under-stated way.  A malt mill would never shout or draw attention to itself you feel, happy to do an honest day’s work and then await the next consignment to be turned into grist.

But if you take a second, harder look you might see a simple plaque discreetly fixed to the side with the legend RONNIE LEE, MILLWRIGHT and a telephone number.  One day I couldn’t bear it any longer; I was puzzled and intrigued; I had to ask: “Who is this bloke Ronnie Lee?” 

R. Boby

Plate from an old Boby mill

“I have no idea,” was my host’s honest, if unhelpful reply (but then he was a marketing type). I began asking production folks – real whisky people. To a man, they smiled.  “Ronnie Lee,” they said. “You must know Ronnie Lee.” Embarrassingly, I didn’t and the more I learned the worse I felt. So, I set to tracking him down because everyone told me that, though he wasn’t their employee, Ronnie Lee was a vital part of their team. From Diageo to Kilchoman, Chivas Brothers to Rosebank, he keeps the mills running. Without his unique service those antique rollers might seize up and fail, whisky could not be produced – indeed, a great national disaster would befall Scotland.

So I called the number and found myself on an industrial unit alongside a chicken farm in Chepstow – about as far from the glamorous world of luxury seen in whisky’s current imagery as may be imagined. This is where old-school engineer Ronnie and his two sons are based and where the world comes when a mill – possibly more than one hundred years old – needs some TLC. 

These fine pieces of machinery, be they the familiar Porteus design or that of their less well-known rival Boby, were built to last.  Their solid construction and simple, yet well-proven design has stood the test of time and, entirely fortuitously, speak to our present-day concerns about sustainability and the responsible use of resources.

A beautifully-restored Porteus

A beautifully-restored Porteus mill

But how long can they continue to run? The answer may well surprise you. I was certainly taken aback when Ronnie proudly shared with me his latest project: the restoration of a Boby mill, found in an Australian brewery and saved from scrap, that he believes was manufactured around 1855-60.

It may well be the oldest surviving example of a malt mill anywhere in the world and, following 80-100 hours of skilled and experienced cleaning and restoration, it will certainly work again and looks good for another 150 years of service (though, strictly speaking, non-commercial use as it lacks the anti-explosion guard fitted to later models).  Perhaps it will become a display piece, tribute to some far-sighted Victorian engineers as Robert Boby Ltd of Bury St Edmunds.

And how has it happened that Ronnie has found himself in this highly specialised niche? He grew up near his present Chepstow home and, after school, was apprenticed to the motor trade, quickly passing through a dozen or more jobs before embracing self-employment.  Back in 1995 he was contracting to Buhler, a Swiss mill manufacturer, installing their larger systems in flour mills (there aren’t many in distilleries, though you can see a mighty example at Glenfarclas). 

Ronnie Lee with an old Boby mill

The man himself with an old Boby mill

By this time, Boby was being closed down and the old Porteus company was owned by Briggs of Burton (a name you’ll find on mashtuns and other larger pieces of brewery and distillery equipment). But the heyday of the Porteus mill was the 1960s and by 1972/73 manufacturing had ceased. Maintenance and spare parts became more and more of a problem and eventually Briggs were unable to support what was by now, for them, an obsolete product. 

Ronnie was able to acquire the original Boby plans and drawings (he could build you one from scratch) and armed with these and Porteus’ withdrawal from the market, it was natural for him to step into this gap. His affinity with old machinery and his ability to coax new life from their aging cogs and gears has ensured his unique place in whisky. So, in a world which lauds distillery managers as rock stars, spare a thought and raise a glass to Ronnie Lee, the man who mends the mills and a true whisky hero.

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We put your Kilchoman questions to Anthony Wills!

Join us as we put your questions about Kilchoman to distillery founder Anthony Wills during Fèis Ìle 2019! Fèis Ìle 2019 was pretty rainy – but that didn’t stop whisky geeks…

Join us as we put your questions about Kilchoman to distillery founder Anthony Wills during Fèis Ìle 2019!

Fèis Ìle 2019 was pretty rainy – but that didn’t stop whisky geeks across the island having a great time. One of the soggy days was Kilchoman – we caught up with the distillery’s founder Anthony Wills!

For more videos from Fèis Ìle follow the tag on the blog, or keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be posting videos every day up until 28 June!

Kilchoman Anthony Wills

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