March 2011 Newsletter

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The WSD Newsletter – March 2011

Afternoon all from Dufftown where it’s beginning to look like winter is finally over and the snow is now well and truly retreating from the hills – at least we hope it’s over.

New Releases

Adelphi Distillery

We have a gaggle of new releases from Adelphi:

Adelphi Ardmore 2003 8 Years Old - Another great smoky Ardmore

Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1979 31 Years Old - Sensational sherried Bunnahabhain.  Its extra age produces a well rounded and smooth whisky.

Adelphi Caol Ila 2001 9 Years Old - This is a huge and powerful Caol Ila

Adelphi Highland Park 1995 15 Years Old - A very complex Highland Park.

Adelphi Macallan 1993 17 Years Old - One of the best Macallan’s I’ve tasted from Adelphi.

AD Rattray

We’ve got a smattering of new releases from AD Rattray:

AD Rattray Caol Ila 2000 – A huge Caol Ila.  A little bit tamer than the cask strength Adelphi.

AD Rattray Miltonduff 1980 30 Years Old – This is a spring time bundle of tropical fruits.

AD Rattray Tamnavulin 1989 21 Years Old

Gordon & MacPhail

Gordon & MacPhail have been up to it again.  They have released a 1940 70 years old Glenlivet.  It’s very rare to get access to a whisky from the war years and this is a superb whisky.  I was lucky enough to be invited to Edinburgh Castle for the launch where we were allowed to give it a try.  It was an extremely windy day and that may have influenced my tasting notes below.

Nose: Polished leather (shoes polished yesterday and not warn), apricot jam, fruit pastels, candid orange peel, marmalade on hot buttered toast, bees wax, velvet, honey and cigarette boxes.

Taste: Brown sugar sweet, very full and rounded, spiced wood, orange bitters, candle wax and vanilla pods.

Finish: Extremely long with gentle spices, a touch of tannins, and a pleasant dryness.

A snip at £13,000.

G&M has also released a series of Glenlivets under its Private Collection label which is worth taking a look at.  The older ones from sherry casks are particularly good.


Not yet in stock, but will be shortly, are some new releases from Wemyss:

Smoke Stack – 1996 - Caol Ila – 324 bottles (Hogshead)

The Honey Pot - 1996 - Glen Moray – 270 bottles (Hogshead)

Ginger Compote -1996 – Benrinnes- 768 bottles (Refill Butt)

Orange Tree - 1989 – Glen Garioch – 264 bottles (Hogshead)

Mocha Spice - 1990 – Dalmore – 324 bottles (Sherry Hogshead)

Coming Up

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2011

Ticket sales are going well.  We have increased the number available for the Adelphi and Duncan Taylor tastings.  Adelphi sold out again but there are few tickets left for Duncan Taylor.  Click here to see what WSD events are still available.  Here are some updates on the events we are offering:

David Stirk is returning to the masterclass crew in Dufftown this year.  This has to be a must go to tasting for the regulars and new comers alike.  The Creative Whisky Company is a very popular independent bottler and their releases sell out very fast so David can’t confirm his line-up yet but it will include Aberfeldy 1983 and a Tomintoul 1966.

For those that like a bit of brain teasing and completion during the festival there is the whisky quiz at Strathisla.  We at The WSD are offering tickets which include travel by bus from The Square in Dufftown.  So come along and pit your wits against the celebrity teams and The Whisky Shop Dufftown All Stars which are to whisky knowledge what the Harlem Gobetrotters are to synchronised swimming.

Robin Laing will be giving a world exclusive preview of his new CD, “Whisky for Breakfast”.  The songs which are all by Robin and whisky related will be paired with the relevant whisky.  Breakfast rolls will also be available.

Steven McConnachie will be showing not only the full River collection in his tasting but also the brand new Castle Leod which is being heralded as one of Dalmore’s best special releases.

Whisky News

There seems to be mixed progress in the plans of the independent bottlers who are intending to expand into distilling.  The 2 that are strongly rumoured to be buying distilleries do not seem to have got ink on to contracts yet.  Duncan Taylor seems to have kicked their distillery plans into the long grass (or should that be barley).  The other independent with their eyes on building a distillery of their own is quietly pressing on and may be making an announcement soon – I won’t say more for fear of jeopardising my invitation to the opening.

Diageo seem to be expanding some of the expressions in their core range.  Singleton of Dufftown 18 years old is to hit the streets soon.  And look out for further new age expressions in some of their other ranges.  I think this underlines that rumours of Roseisle spelling the demise of several core Diageo malt brands were false.

At Williams Grants a new travel retail expression of Glenfiddich coming in at 19 Years Old is getting good reviews.   It is also available at the distillery shop where if you are lucky you may be able to pick up a bottle of Snow Phoenix.  A small batch returned from one of the overseas markets will be available only from them.  Maybe if they had put more into the UK market in the first place things would have been easier for everyone.  I won’t name the market that could not sell its allocation of Snow Phoenix (despite the efforts of the voice of Scotland returning with a suitcase full) but may be Snow Cuckoo Clock would have done better.

Here at The Whisky Shop Dufftown we are helping our friends at Maltstock by selling tickets for their 2011 gathering.  They do everything they can to keep their costs down so currently you are only able to buy tickets from them using a direct bank transfer.  For many UK banks this seems to be a bridge to far unless you want to pay a hefty fee so we are helping our by offering the option to pay for tickets by credit card.  And what’s more if you do buy a Maltstock ticket you will get a 10% discount from The Whisky Shop Dufftown for all whisky purchases valid until the end of September.  You didn’t need an incentive to go but now you have one anyway.

We are also offering free festival delivery for anyone attending the Islay Festival or Maltstock.  If you are attending either of these festivals then you can buy from us and we will deliver your purchases to you at the festival free of charge.  If you want to take up this offer please email us.

Should Dufftown be Recognised as a Whisky Region?

If Campbeltown can get re-recognised as a whisky region then is there a case for Dufftown being recognised as one? Let’s look at the facts.  Dufftown has 5 working distilleries which have the capacity to produce some 28 million litres of pure alcohol per year.  So there is a lot of distilling going on.  There is also Kininvie which is currently not in production which has a capacity of 4.8 million litres.  You can also see the shells of 2 former distilleries at Parkmore and Convalmore and the site of the now demolished Pittyvaich.  Historically there were many more in and around Dufftown and including on the slopes of the Convals and Benrinnes.   Leaving Kinninvie aside, if Dufftown was a region in its own right then it would be 3rd by capacity easily out stripping Cambeltown, Lowlands, Islands and Islay.  It would be equal 5th with the Lowlands on number of distilleries.  But then maybe not.

Local News

The Royal Oak pub has taken a huge step down its planned rejuvenation.  It now sports purple walls, chrome, mirrors and new stools.  It’s divided the local population a bit but it certainly looks smarter.  We are still recovering from the draft Guinness being removed and replaced with Stella.  Don’t worry, surger Guinness is available and all-in-all it’s probably just as good.

The Masons has also had a face lift.  The place has been revamped and a much improved restaurant is now open daily for lunch and dinner.  A great addition to the eating options in Dufftown.

At the end of February we threw a party at La Faisanderie to celebrate 5 years of my ownership of The Whisky Shop Dufftown.  The attendees were split in two with one half who could not believe it has been as long as 5 years and me, who still thinks it’s more like 10. We toasted to the next 5 years with The Whisky Shop Dufftowns exclusive Glenfarclas 1971 40 Years Old which is at cask strength and available soon to buy.  It is sublime so a great time was had by all.  Thanks to all who could make it and didn’t use a poor excuse like being in Korea – you know who you are!

Focus on Adelphi

Adelphi Distillery was established by the Gray brothers, Charles and David, in 1826 on what had been a two-acre orchard. It stood just south of the Clyde's Victoria Bridge on the northern edge of the Gorbals.  The Gray family operated the distillery throughout its existence, but around 1880 its ownership was acquired by Messrs A. Walker and Co, who already owned two big distilleries in Liverpool and Limerick respectively. Walkers injected new capital and expanded the works to include a large Coffey still to make grain spirit.  In 1886, the Coffey still and four pot stills were all in full production, with an annual output of 516,000 gallons. It had ten 16,000 gallon washbacks, with two more under construction. Three wash charges held 45,000 gallons in all, the wash stills 6,000 gallons each and the spirit stills 4,500 gallons each. It had six steam engines - the largest a massive brute of 80 horse power - and six boilers ranging in size up to 28 by nine feet in diameter. The whole was dominated by huge circular chimney with a flared top.

The distillery was bought in 1902 by DCL.   One morning in November 1906 disaster struck the distillery.  One distillery worker was supervising the horses and carts queuing at the draffhouse to be loaded up with spent grains stored in the draff tank when a loud bang was heard.  One witness described the noise as sounding like a cannon shot.  One of the wash chargers had toppled from its iron pillar supports releasing 45,000 gallons of hot wash from some 60 feet up which in turn toppled two more full washbacks on the platform below.  A torrent of wash and debris smashed in to the draff tank on the ground floor destroying it.  Many of the queuing farm workers were caught in the torrent and swept away with their horses and carts.  A boiling tidal wave poured into the nearby streets destroying the local bakehouse and flooding many shops.   The resulting tide marks were 20 feet above floor of the draffhouse and 10 feet up on the buildings on the street outside.  level and reached more than 10 feet above street level on the granary wall outside.   Perhaps it was a miracle that only one person was killed.  DCL closed the malt distillery in 1907 although grain whisky production continued until 1932. The remaining buildings were demolished between 1968 and 1970 with the distillery chimney coming down in 1971.

In 1993, the great-grandson of Archibald Walker, Jamie, revived the Adelphi name as an independent bottler.  Jamie was determined not to sacrifice quality for volume, and he was equally adamant that this should be continued when he sold the company in 2004.  Keith Falconer and his neighbour in Argyll, Donald Houston, had approached Jamie on a recommendation, to buy a hogshead of whisky.  In fact, they liked it so much they bought the company.

The team was rounded off by Alex Bruce.  Whisky is in Alex’s blood.  His mother, an Usher, is a direct descendant of Andrew Usher who is credited with pioneering blended whisky, and his father, Lord Elgin, is a patron and former Grand Master of the Keepers of the Quaich.   Alex was also made a Keeper of the Quaich in 2006. He has trained with Remy Martin and J&B, and latterly headed up a new office for Friarwood Fine Wines in Scotland.

Continuing in the family theme Alex has been joined by his sister Antonia, whose background is also in the wine trade, to help deal with increasing sales and Alex’s wife, Vicky, often helps out at whisky fairs and other events.  Alex clearly sees his family as a resource and we wonder when their daughters will be press ganged.

Remaining completely independent, Adelphi is able to offer bottlings from an extensive range of distilleries with Charles Maclean chairing their nosing team.   Adelphi continues to go from strength-to-strength and has recently opened a new warehouse and office complex which it shares with a wine company.  I was lucky enough to be shown round recently and I am geeky enough to be excited by the smell of a new warehouse.  They are well on their way to getting their own bottling line started as well.

Best Wishes

We wish Donald Colville the best of luck in his new job at Diageo as a Global Scotch Brand Ambassador.

And congratulations to Euan Shand of Duncan Taylor who is to wed later this year.  You are a brave lady Mojdeh.