Hands-On Whiskey Distilling Workshop
September 7 – 12, 2014
There are only 5 spaces left for the Hands-On Whiskey Distilling Workshop in New Holland, MI. Register NOW to be part of this event!
Welcome to WhiskyIntelligence.com where we'll be gathering information on the whisky industry and scotch whisky news in the form of press releases, newsletters, events, tasting notes and comments.
Hands-On Whiskey Distilling Workshop
September 7 – 12, 2014
There are only 5 spaces left for the Hands-On Whiskey Distilling Workshop in New Holland, MI. Register NOW to be part of this event!
Largest Beverage Distillery West of the Mississippi announced
BUTTE, Mont (August 14, 2014)—Montana’s Entrepreneurs of the Year 2013, and owners of Headframe Spirits, John and Courtney McKee opened Headframe Spirits in 2012, currently they operate two distilleries in Butte, MT, and are now announcing plans to open a third facility in Butte with the capacity to rival that of large distilleries in Kentucky and Indiana.
Last summer, Headframe Spirits entered into a year long project with Butte Silver Bow Community Development, the Community Development Block Program, and SMA Architects to evaluate three potential sites in Butte suitable for our needs of producing a full size barrel of whiskey every seven minutes. Although a value added agricultural manufacturing facility, the goal of site selection included the need to create ties between agriculture, history, manufacturing, and tourism.
With preliminary engineering and architectural work complete and a suitable site selected, Headframe intends to enter into negotiations with property owners – Butte Silver Bow County and Atlantic Richfield Company with the goal to take over 20 acres of a former industrial site, The Kelley Mine Yard, to redevelop it into the largest distillery west of the Mississippi.
This project incorporates Headframe Spirits’ proprietary continuous flow distillation technology to produce beverage alcohol both for Headframe Spirits’ own brands and for bulk sale into the beverage alcohol industry as well.
All attempts will be made to maintain the history of the site, with production and restaurant space located in the historic hoist house. Barrel storage, packaging, shipping and receiving will be located in the 54,000 square feet Kelley garage building.
We also envision this site built out to act as an eastern anchor to Historic Uptown Butte, America, with a strong emphasis on tourism, outdoor event space, and economic development for our place in the world. Onsite overnight bungalows and the restaurant were incorporated into the master plan in order to promote a more fully integrated experience onsite and in the Uptown.
Headframe Spirits anticipates that this project will create approximately 50 new long-term jobs through this venture and ownership will be maintained in Butte.
For additional information, please contact Headframe Spirits at www.headframespirits.com.
About Headframe Spirits
Montana’s Entrepreneurs of the Year, and owners of Headframe Spirits, John and Courtney McKee, are active participants of economic development in Butte, and hold great responsibility in giving back to their community. Four years ago they started their business and named it Headframe Spirits in honor of Butte’s historical past. They now operate two distilleries in Butte, Montana with plans to break ground on the third in 2015, making Headframe the largest distillery west of the Mississippi and providing hundreds of job opportunities to the Butte community. For more information, please visit www.headframespirits.com.
Join us Friday, October 3rd at 6pm, for an extraordinary evening of food, drink, and conversation, as we finally tap into the one and only barrel of whisky that we’ve had quietly aging over the past seven years.
The evening starts in the distillery with Whisky samples and hors d’oeuvres.
Here you will learn how the whisky was made. We will walk you through the reduction process of spirits, and learn why our slow chilled batch methods make a difference to the smoothness. Then it will be time to engage the nose and the palette. After receiving samples of 3 proposed finished strengths at 40, 44 and 48%; you will then be the judge of your perfect whisky once you’ve learned a few tips for tasting.
This customized whisky offering will be available for you to order at this event only. Once we bottle the remainder of the whisky at our preferred blend, it will be released slowly until sold out, much like the time it took to make it. It is the first, and likely the last whisky we will make.
Once your tastes have been teased by this fine libation, we will move into the bistro for a pig roast feast, and finish with mile high apple pie. Other spirits (including the whisky), cider and wine will be available for purchase with your dinner in the bistro.
For full event details, see our website here
Tickets are $49 per person. Call us today at 250.743.4293 to reserve your spot, or register online at here . Don’t delay, as this one is sure to sell out fast!
Cameronbridge – the home of Haig Club
It’s fairly well known now that Diageo have released a new whisky – Haig Club. Not only is it a new whisky, but something a little different to most: a Single Grain Scotch whisky aimed squarely at people who aren’t traditional whisky drinkers or who don’t think they like whisky.
However, while most of the write-ups that Haig Club has received online have focused around the packaging and the stars (Messrs Beckham and Fuller) sitting behind it, rather than the liquid in the bottle. That’s quite understandable, as the people who Diageo are focusing on to buy it don’t really care so much about the geeky details. However, I do care about those details, and fortunately Diageo understand that there are geeky folk out there who want to know how the whisky is made. Earlier this year, I attended a briefing about the at-the-time-unnamed Haig Club, and learned a lot about how the whisky is produced. To fill in the gaps for my geeky brethren, here’s what I learned.
From the air it is a bit more beautiful than up close, unless you like heavy industry. Which I do…
Firstly, the whisky comes from Cameronbridge. It’s a distillery that’s been in the hands of Diageo and its forebears for a very long time, being established by John Haig back in 1824. It started producing grain whisky in 1826, using a continuous ‘patent’ still as designed by Robert Stein, the first Scottish distillery to do so. Unfortunately Stein’s design never really became popular, in part due to the possibility of catastrophic explosion when the horsehair-and-wood still was running, and a few years later a modified version created by Aeneas Coffey appeared. This was more reliable, and quickly became the standard style of continuous still used in Scotch grain production. Cameronbridge have been in production since then, with Haig a founder member of the Distillers Company Ltd in 1877, which in turn became United Distillers and then part of Diageo, when it was formed in 1997.
Grain distilleries are not the romantic, picture-postcard sites you often find in Scotland. They are very much industrial plants, and while some, myself included, may find such things beautiful, they are often not considered to be anything but factories. This is slightly unfair, as they produce a lot of whisky, and consistency of quality is of paramount importance.
Cameronbridge itself has grown considerably over the past few years and now produces 120 million litres of alcohol per year, making it (as of March, at least) the largest distillery in Europe. According to the figures in the Malt Whisky Yearbook from last year, that’s almost 10 times as much as at either top malt whisky producer Glenfiddich (13 million) or Diageo’s own Roseisle (12.5 million), and is more than the combined capacity of all of Diageo’s malt whisky distilleries (105.2 million). It’s a lot of alcohol: 40,000 litres per hour – they can produce as much in four hours as Kilchoman does in a year.
A column still. Simples.
The continuous still allows the distillery to produce such a colossal amount of spirit – they’re quite a different beast to the pot-stills of single malt distilleries. Rather than running in small batches, they can run continuously as the name suggests for weeks at a time – if you want to dig into how they work in more detail, head on over to our post all about them from last year.
The production stage before distillation is also a little different to that found in malt distilleries. Firstly, there’s the grains used: Cameronbridge currently uses a mix of 90% wheat and 10% malted barley. As wheat needs a bit more of a hand in releasing the starches that will later be converted to alcohol, it is cooked before being fermented. They do this in 17-tonne batches in a pressure cooker. It’s then piped to the mash tun, where it is mixed with the milled malt.
They do a particularly short mash compared to malt distilleries, lasting only 30 minutes, with a continuous spray of water onto the grain rather than distinct ‘waters’. As the wheat has already been cooked and the malt is predominantly there for its fermentation-helping enzymes rather than its starch, the short mash quickly extracts most of the available sugars. When the mash is finished, the entire contents of the tun are pumped to a fermenter, complete with the remains of the grain.
Each fermenter holds 300,000 litres and can accomodate about five mashes. Yeast is added when first mash is pumped in, with four more mashes joining it over the next ten hours. It is then left to ferment for 48 hours, which is quite deliberately the time needed to produce a maximum amount of alcohol without too much extra flavour – grain spirit is calculatedly not meant to have much of its own, generally relying on wood and maturation to produce flavour.
After fermentation, the now alcoholic liquid is pumped through to the stills and distilled to 93.8%, described as ‘very low strength’ compared to the legal maximum of 94.8%. This keeps some of the grain’s flavour rather than pushing it to be a neutral spirit. The spirit itself is a lot more flavoursome than you’d expect from tales of new-make grain spirit, with a distinctive character. We tried Cameronbridge’s spirit against that from North British, part-owned by Diageo and Edrington, and they were definitely different:
Cameronbridge Grain Spirit
Nose: Sharp apples and lemons with some darker fruit.
Palate: Sweet and sugary with lots of apple and pear.
Finish: A little bit of sweetness, but quite short.
North British Grain Spirit
Nose: Heavy and oily with meaty notes, rubbery touches and coal – ‘like a workshop’.
Palate: Sweet and oily, with a bit of tyre rubber and some apple-pie fruitiness.
Finish: Not a lot – oiliness and some lingering rubber.
After distillation, the spirit is diluted to 68.5%, a compromise between the accountants, who want to get as many casks from a distillation run as possible, and the blending team, who want the correct flavour development over time – while 63.5% is the standard for malt spirit, the extra 5% works with the grain spirit without too much impact. They mainly fill into American oak casks, both hogsheads and the smaller American standard barrels, and generally as a first fill, with some refill and rejuvenated casks also filled. The use of first-fill casks allows the spirit to extract compounds from the wood quickly, meaning that they both have grain whisky with sufficient flavour for use in their various blends, and also have casks that have been ‘seasoned’ and can then be used to mature single malt without swamping the spirit with woody notes.
Other than the soon-to-appear Haig Club, there is one other whisky currently available from Cameronbridge: the almost eponymous Cameron Brig. It’s a cheap and cheerful whisky that until more recently was about the only single grain available on the market. It’s a good place to start with grain whisky, being a solid example that won’t break the bank.
Nose: Golden syrup, custard tarts and a touch of bitter wood.
Palate: Toffee, sweetcorn, butterscotch, sweet orange and marmalade, and some darker flavours underneath – raisin and oaky spice. Water brings out some apples and pears, along with sweet orange cream.
Finish: Short and sweet with custard tarts balanced by bitter oak.
Comment: A good demonstration of the lighter, grain whisky style. Especially good in summer, from the fridge or maybe with a block of ice. Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn paired it with Maltesers the first time I tried it…
The Haig Club will be with us soon, but until then, Cameron Brig is a nice way to get acquainted with the distillery’s spirit. Watch this space – we’ll have a post about the Haig Club as soon as it’s available.
www.ralfy.com explains the 2014 Bonneville disaster with Whisky Review 481a – Bulleit 10yo Bourbon @ 45.6%vol
Competition Winner Announced
In partnership with Yachts and Yachting we launched a competition to offer our fans a chance to win an Old Pulteney goodie bag including an official Old Pulteney Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race jacket, blenders glass and 70cl bottle of Navigator, the Limited Edition Single Malt which was inspired by our Global Sponsorship of the Round the World Yacht Race. The competition received an overwhelming response and we are delighted to announce that our prize draw took place earlier this month revealing Julie Bartlett from North Yorkshire in the UK as the winner. Congratulations Julie and a big ‘thank you’ again to everyone that took the time to enter.
For more competitions and news from Old Pulteney follow our official Facebook fan page >
Our August extended auction is live
Ends on Monday 8th September!
This stunning bottle and box, produced to mark the 200thanniversary of John Walker’s birth is making a re-appearance this month. This extremely limited Johnnie Walker was never available for public sale as all of the bottles were given to people who, in Diageo’s words, “made a significant contribution to modern life.” Blended from nine whiskies all aged between 45 and 70 years old and limited to only 200 bottles, this is bound to be a hotly contested bottle this month.
We think this could be one of the rarest Glenlivets ever bottled. This special bottling of 36 bottles of 18 year old Glenlivet was given to Major Ivan Straker on his retirement as the Chairman of Seagrams in 1993. Major Ivan Straker is perhaps better known as the man ‘who saved the Grand National’.
He worked for the company between 1962 and 1993 and on his retirement was awarded 36 of these bottles. After much research and discussion we are fairly sure that the majority was consumed in his own homes with only one bottle appearing at auction since 1993.
This bottle was gifted to a friend who has kept it hidden away until this point…this could well and truly be one of two bottles remaining of this Glenlivet.
There is no registration fee, our commission structure is very competitive and we offer worldwide shipping. For our terms and conditions please click here.
With over 10 years of experience in the whisky industry, Whisky Auctioneer specialises in auctioning whisky whether it be fine, old, rare, collectable or affordable. Formed in 2013 and based in Perth, central Scotland, we aim to be the most comprehensive website for the buying and selling of whisky online.
At first we couldn’t believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental gasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed to import from abroad. Then the folks at Cut Spike sent us a sample of their two year old Nebraskan single malt whisky made from 100% malted barley on a pot still crafted in Rothes, Scotland. Fermented at the brewery next door to Cut Spike in La Vista, the malt was matured for two years in new American oak with varying levels of char. The result is an incredible hybrid: soft, barley and vanilla-laden whisky that tastes somewhat like your standard Scottish single malt, but has its own unique character simultaneously. It’s the kind of whisky that you taste once and enjoy, but then the next day suddenly crave intensely. It impresses you instantly, yet doesn’t really reveal its full character until weeks later. The new oak blurs seamlessly into the malty mouthfeel, adding a richness on the finish normally not tasted in standard Scottish selections. Cut Spike is a major accomplishment for American distillation, pure and simple. – David Driscoll, K&L
Joe Manekin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 15, 2014
Here is our latest entrant in American craft whiskey, a very tasty, skillfully made whiskey from Nebraska. Nebraska? Yes, Nebraska! As mentioned earlier, this is stylistically a Bourbon-meets Sherry-barrel-aged Single Malt. Lovely richness, lots of sweetness and spice from new American oak barrels, but most importantly, the balance, drinkability and elegance of a well made single malt Scotch. These folks clearly studied how things are done in Scotland, and it shows. Very cool new whiskey that is well worth a try!
Gary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 15, 2014
This rich, layered whisky shows just how good young craft malt can be. I am not a believer in paying a high price for young stuff just because it comes from a small hands-on distillery. It has to be in the bottle, and the Cut Spike has the stuffing to justify the price. It is rich and textural without being over the top, and has layers of complexity that caught me by surprise. If you are interested in seeing how good a new distiller can be, check it out!
Shaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 14, 2014
Fantastic! This didn’t really take too long to grow on me, I was hooked at the first waft of the wonderful vanilla and malty aromatics. Long and rich with a great touch of sweetness–who knew the Nebraskans had been hiding this gem? It’s definitely Scotch-like, but with a wonderful, smooth, rich twist that more than hints at its American roots.
David Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 14, 2014
When the guys from Cut Spike first sent us the sample of their whiskey, they said, “Take your time with it. It grows on you.” I would pass that advise along to any K&L customer who buys a bottle. The first time you taste the Cut Spike single malt you’ll likely say, “That’s pretty good.” It’s later, however, that you start to really fall in love with the flavors. The new oak adds a dimension that’s somewhat between Scottish single malt and Bourbon, but the finish is so rich and integrated that it does indeed remind you of something like Glenmorangie. Personally, I think the Cut Spike whiskey is tremendous, but I can imagine others not being nearly as enthused. It ultimately will come down to personal interest and preference, but I love knowing this whiskey was made 100% in the USA with Scottish techniques and a little American new oak char. That makes it all taste better in my glass.
Paul’s story of the world championship pipe bands weekend, August 2014; PAUL MCLEAN;
I arrived into Glasgow on the Thursday, checked into my hotel in the city and wondered off to take in the sights. A few bands were playing, entertaining the crowds on the main shopping street, some street entertainers and plenty of noise and hubbub! After a wee while (it was warm and sunny) I decided to rest up and do some research (whisky). Research continued at Horton’s bar and Waxy O’Connors before dropping into the Pot Still. Glasgow’s famous Pot Still Pub hosts one of the finest collection of malt whisky in Scotland. Lovers of a good Scotch come from all over the world to this wonderful pub. The attraction? The hundreds (literally) of malt whiskies on display on the impressive gantry. It is not unusual to see Americans, Germans, Swedes, Danes, Japanese and Irish jostling with Glaswegian regulars and Paul at the bar for service from the cheery staff. The Murphy family give everyone a warm welcome, a smile and…if you’re lucky… some recommendations from the gantry. The Pot Still is a popular haunt of journalists, stars of stage and screen such as actress Susannah York, comedian Phil Kay and musician Lloyd Cole have all been spotted enjoying the unique atmosphere of The Pot Still as it’s at the heart of Glasgow’s Theatre Land.
While sipping my first dram, I started chatting to Ken Misch from San Francisco, he is Drum Major with the L.A. Scots pipeband, also a whisky lover. We drammed while we chatted, he knows many of the people in piping and whisky as I do, even Andy Grant! From Port Ellen dram (superb) to a 1954 Mortlach, Glendronach and Glengoyne Teapot, it was a good session – he bailed out after the teapot! I stayed for one more (Irish) then moved back to the hotel for a wee siesta! Met up with Ken again at Waxy’s around 7pm, gave him a bottle of teapot, enjoyed a few more drams, met more of the band, then departed for my hotel. No the end of the story, my hotel room came with a wee extra; a free bar from 5pm – 10.30pm, I made the most of it.
Friday arrived, still sunny – for a while, so wandered along to the Glasgow Green arena, where Grade 1’s were competing in the play offs. Met up with many bands, Ken, some whisky people I know, watched the cooper at work, took in a burger and some sights, many photos taken – see facebook; McLean whisky tours. Tired on my feet, I dondered back to my hotel and the bar! Spoke to my pal Andy Grant (DM with grade 1 band Denny & Dunipace) on the phone, he arrived just gone 5pm, we hit the free bar! At around 9.15 we went back to my posh room, where I had more wine, lots of whisky to sample – we did! He went away with a few samples, some of the4 drams he had no heard of before. A rest, then at 10.45 another pal turned up, just home from abroad, working as he does with a whisky company. John arrived with samples – great stuff! A few fast sample drams, then to Waxy’s (again), two drinks here before closing, a long whisky chat and farewells. Back at the hotel, I reckoned I had two more drinks in me, I had one, then fell asleep!
Saturday. The main event! Looked at of the hotel window … rain. At ten o’clock I jumped a taxi to the green, it was still raining. Wandered aboot checking out the bands, so many more people here than yesterday, many thousands more! The bands had many spectators watching, the food outlets were busy, I managed a smoked salmon butty, had a slug from my hip flask; Clynelish 16 year old, spotted big Andy, had a chat, was he ok after last night? Seemed so, started watching the drum majors, a venison burger, it has to be done. Followed by a dram. It was raining. More hiding under tents from the rain/showers, then it rained heavy, real heavy, so took shelter again at the cooper demo. Met up when the rain slowed down with more friends, The New York Metro pipeband, we were supplying their band coach again – we work with pipebands on accommodation and coaching each year. Had a chat with them, Mike, Michael and Dan, sharing a few hip flask drams; 16 yo Clynelish was the favourite.
World Champions 2014; Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. The band was founded in 1945 in the townland of Drumalig, a few miles from Carryduff on the outskirts of Belfast. The band won the World Championships in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, becoming the first band to win all the Major competitions in a single year more than once.
Each year MCLEANSCOTLAND offer a Pipes & Drams tour, to coincide with this huge event; http://www.mcleanscotland.com/worlds2013package.asp another tour will be offered for 2015.
It was a good blend of pipes & drams, yet again! Bring on 2015 worlds!
PAUL MCLEAN of http://www.mcleanscotland.com/