Exclusive 3 Day Dickensian-style Tribute

The Experimental Cocktail Club is celebrating Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with an exclusive three-day Dickensian-style tribute featuring a tailor made selection of 1850’s inspired cocktails, served in an atmosphere that’s right out of Dickens’ marvellous literary work.

Tuesday 7th February, the actual day of Dickens’ birth, to the Thursday 9th February, guests can sip on a Scotch based cocktail: the Pickwick Club Cocktail or an immensely popular hot gin punch in 19thcentury England: the Bleak House Punchor, or even better warm up with a hot gin punch: the Oliver’s Twist cocktail!
What: Dickens’ 200th anniversary party
Where: London ECC Chinatown, 13A Gerrard Street London

When: 7th February – 9th February, 6pm-3am, free entry but please note there is £5 cover charge after 11pm


A formidable toast to Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday in true Dickensian-style at the ECC Chinatown

There will also be the chance to sip on “Medwin” – a 19th Century tipple of gin and warm water.

Expect a cosy, relaxed atmosphere with the bar team wearing Dickensian attire.

If you’re feeling a bit peckish, snack on roasted chestnuts from the “Chestnut Shop” just outside ECC and special savory pies from “Goddard’s Pies”, a truly British pie maker established since 1890.

To complete the Dickensian feel, you will be surrounded in vintage books.

The music will be especially designed for this marvelous occasion with a live band on Tuesday night. DJ’s are planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

To make a reservation, please email:reservation@chinatownecc.com



Oliver's Twist - "Please Sir, i want some more"
Hendrick’s Gin, madeira, port, pineapple, clove, cinnamon, star anise, pepper, demerara sugar – Served warm in a teacup
Hot gin punch was an immensely popular drink in 19th century England, especially among the lower classes, Dickens himself was quite partial to a serving before bed. Here, Hendricks have given the recipe a modern twist.

Glenfiddich Distillery Tour

The third distillery of my Scotland tour was a visit to the world’s most awarded Single Malt Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich. Taking a short walk from Dufftown, the malt whisky capital of the world, in rather blustery conditions, we arrived to a rather picturesque setting. With mowed lawns, lakes and wide open spaces, it was as if you were walking in to someones front garden! Greeted by Katya, our tour guide for the morning, we started out with a brief talk on Glenfiddich itself, including the history of William Grant and his dream in 1886 of creating ‘the best dram in the valley’. She explained that William Grant had the use of one stonemason to build the distillery, using 750,ooo stones and only a year later, with the help from his 7 sons and 2 daughters, Glenfiddich distillery was up and running with the first drops flowing from the stills on Christmas Day 1887. To expand the ever growing vision, Charles Gordan (William Grants son-in-law) in 1909 travelled from as far as Lahore in Pakistan to the vast empire of China and to countires like Brazil and Hong Kong inbetween to make sure that Glenfiddich could be enjoyed by everyone world wide (over 180 countries enjoy Glenfiddich to this day). Glenfiddich is still owned by the William Grant & Sons company, with 5th generation Peter Gordon taking the helm since 2008.

The Glenfiddich Distillery

We made our way to the ‘Lauter Tun’, where Katya showed us the malt that Glenfiddich use. Specialist maltsters are used due to the high demand, where barley is steeped in fresh water for two days. The reaction of germination occurs where it is then left for four to five days before being dried. Glenfiddich then take delivery of the malt barley and taken to be mashed. The malted barley is grinded into grist which is then poured into huge ‘mash tuns’. These huge steaming vats combine Robbie Dhu spring water from the nearby Conval Hills where it is then slowly rotated using a set of mash knives that lift and sift the mash to ensure the sugar doesn’t settle. The hot spring water completes the conversion of the starch to sugar, which dissolves into the water, producing a sweet liquid called ‘wort’. The whole process takes around six hours later. The next stage involves the draining of the mash tun and once cooled, it is pumped to the fermentation room. Katya mentioned that the ‘draff’, which is the left over barley from the mashing process – is sold to local farmers to feed to their cattle.

We entered the fermentation room where lines of wooden ‘washbacks’ house the wort. All of the washbacks are made from Douglas fir and stand at 5 metres high. Yeast is added to the wort  which raises the temperature from around 19°C to about 33°C. The resulting carbon dioxide gas created by the reaction creates a hot frothing head to the wort. This creates a layer of foam that takes up around a metre from the top of the washback and has to be kept down with mechanical beaters. After spending around 64 hours fermenting, a ‘wash’ is created, with an ABV of 8-9%.

The inside of the mash tun

Katya then showed us to one of the warmer rooms on the Glefiddich site, the still house. 14 copper pot stills are housed in the heart of the Glenfiddich distillation. She explained that if any of the stills become damaged or are deemed out of action, a cast of the still is made so that the exact same still can be made again for continuity of the flavour each one produces. Each still is heated by ‘directed firing’, a huge flame that is located underneath the still, which causes the alcohol from the wash to rise and turn into vapour. As the vapour rises, its guided towards the neck of the copper still and is collected in the condenser. Cold water condenses the vapour into an intermediate liquid, known as ‘low wines’. The low wines contains around 21% ABV and are pumped to smaller ‘spirit stills’ and heated again. The vapourised alcohol rises again and trickles down into the spirit safe. Here, the spirit can be controlled and the stillman then decides the ‘heart’ of the distillation which is chosen for maturation. This new batch is reduced to around 63% alcohol with the natural spring water from the Robbie Dhu springs, and then filled into oak casks.

Katya took us to one of the warehouses, a damp, dark and very cold store that housed row upon row of various aged casks. Glenfiddich only use one time filled sherry and bourbon barrels because the oak helps mature the whisky and create subtle flavours. Katya mentioned that they sometimes char the inside of the cask with a blast of fire to re-open the grain of the wood. This aparantly allows the Scotch whisky to interact more easily with it. Also, around 2% of the whisky is evaporated each year because of the climate that Glenfiddich endures.

The Glenfiddich Washbacks

When the spirit has matured to requirement, the casks are emptied and the whisky is ‘cut’ using pure Robbie Dhu spring water. This reduces the alcohol by volume once more to around 40% ABV and then nearly all of the Glenfiddich range is then bottled on site at Glenfiddich.

The final part of the tour was to enjoy the work that Glenfiddich create. We entered a rather grand room with a round table laid out in the middle. Here, 12yr, 15yr, 18yr and 21yr waited for our approval. So below, I present to you my tasting notes on each:

Glenfiddich 12yr – 40%

A pre-dinner drink, on the nose it gave off a fresh pear aroma with a lemon and lime citrus follow through that gave the 12yr a rather fresh smell. Upon tasting it gives you an instant mouth-watering sensation with the pear coming through stronger with a sweet surrounding. Hints of malt are thrown in for good measure although the pear is clearly the dominant flavour. A slight spice tingles your mouth but it gives a smooth finish that lasts for a good few seconds.

The Glenfiddich Pot Stills

Glenfiddich 15yr – 40%

The Glenfiddich 15yr is matured in three casks – sherry, bourbon and new oak and the process is called the Solera system. Because of this, the aromas coming out are softer than the 12yr, with hints of vanilla and honey blended together. You get a warm tingle to begin with when tasted, with the sherry oak flavours coming through followed by the ginger and cinnamon. It leaves you with a pleasant smoothness with a sweet spicy end.

The Glenfiddich Solera system is a unique process amongst Scotch whisky. Glenfiddich 15yr from sherry, bourbon and new oak casks are married together into a large Solera vat, made of Oregon pine. The vat is always kept at least half full, so when topped up, it gives a consistent whisky quality.

Glenfiddich 18yr – 40%

On the nose, the 18yr gives you a rich fruit aroma with an almost spiced rum effect. The spice becomes a little gentler upon tasting  with the flavours of the fruit coming out with the mix of oak to give this a slight warm yet gentle short finish. With a little splash of water, you get a smoother drink although the spice remains.

Glenfiddich 21yr – 40%

The Glenfiddich 21yr spends 4 months in a Caribbean rum cask to give a strong and intense banana and toffee aroma with hints of leather and a rich sweet follow-through. Upon tasting, it enters your mouth rather smooth with a slight smokiness and ginger and lime extracts. It leaves you with a long warmth after-taste with subtle spice hints.

The range of Glenfiddich

For other Glenfiddich expressions, click here.Yet another fantastic insight into the workings of a whisky distillery, where after visiting two already, both myself and my father started to understand the lenghty process that is endured to create something that is sometimes just taken for granted. I’ll be back!

Take a look at the rest of the photos taken at the distillery here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hendrick’s Unusual Month of Reverse Courtship

On the 29th of February each leap year, the normal rules of courtship are reversed, and women may freely pursue and propose to gentlemen of their choice. To celebrate this topsy turvy scenario, Hendrick’s Unusual Month of Reverse Courtship will be hosting a variety of events in the build up to this delightfully peculiar day.

Hendrick’s Commander of Special Operations Mr David Pipers, Leap Year Address to the Nation!

Offering guidance for ladies wishing to woo and gentlemen hoping to avoid, two schools will operate throughout the country:

  • Ladies School of Nuptial Conquest will teach the forgotten arts of courtship so that cunning ladies can seduce the gentlemen in their sights
  • Hendrick’s School of Scoundrels teaching the tricks of how to best avoid these advances in a polite and refined way

These two schools will be touring the finest bar room establishments in throughout February:

Tuesday 7th February

Bristol: Milk Thistle, Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, Bristol BS1 1EB (www.milkthistlebristol.com)

Wednesday 8th February   

Leeds: The Maven, First Floor, 1 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7DH (www.themavenbar.com)

Thursday 9th February     

Manchester: Apotheca Bar, 17 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1FS (www.apothecabar.co.uk)

Friday 10th February

Edinburgh: Dragonfly, 52 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LD (www.dragonflycocktailbar.com)

Monday 20th February

London: The Lonsdale, 48 Lonsdale Road W11 2DE (www.thelonsdale.co.uk)

Come the end of the month, Hendrick’s Preposterous Proposal Throne will be pop-up at a variety of London locations offering ladies an opportunity to pop the question and make an honourable man of their evasive partner.


To take part, register at www.hendricksgin.com

The Mixxa’s Drambuie 15 Old Fashioned

Last December, Paul ‘The Mixxa’ Martin released a new video showcasing a twist on the classic cocktail Old Fashioned using the relatively new Drambuie 15 (check out my article on Drambuie 15 here). Take a look below to find out what he did differently to create a fantastic, yet simple drink.

You can follow The Mixxa on Twitter and take a look at his website. Make sure you check back on The Mixxa’s dedicated page for upcoming videos as they’re released!

Ep’ 3 The Mixxa vs Salvatore D’amico

The Mixxa vs …. sees multi award-winning, world record-holding, author, entertainer & mixologist Paul ‘The Mixxa’ Martin take on the UK’s top mixologists in a range of head to head challenges to discover who is the best at mixing a specific cocktail. The choice of cocktail is down to Paul’s guest and the twist is that the winning cocktail is selected by the most important judges of all….. the British public. So, this is a simple matter of which they like the best.
In Episode 3, The Mixxa takes on Salvatore D’amico, head bartender at the Cinnamon Club in London.

If you want a chance of winning all the ingredients used in the winning cocktail, simply click here to subscribe and you will be entered in to the prize draw! Winner announced on Valentines Day!

You can also follow Paul ‘The Mixxa’ Martin on Twitter at @TheMixxa or website for past episodes and cocktails.

The Dalmore Distillery Tour


The second distillery of my Scotland tour was located in the North East Highland’s and a little town named Alness, home of The Dalmore.

After walking the short 20 minute walk from Alness town centre, we were greeted by a stunning location. The Dalmore distillery is situated on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, and with the morning sunrise filtering its way through the crisp January sky, it was the perfect setting as the light hit warehouses, pagodas and barrels.

Matusalem Casks

Making our way to the visitors centre, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, Morag, who whisked us off to the Dalmore Custodian Wall. The Dalmore Custodians is members only, where you can find exclusive rare bottlings, events and information, and if your were one of the lucky first 1263 Custodians (the year the Dalmore stag was founded), your name will be etched onto their Custodian wall. Next to the wall, was the story behind The Dalmore, ‘The Death of the Stag’. A replica of the canvas that is housed in the Scottish National Gallery hangs proud as Morag explained how in 1263, a predecessor of the Clan MacKenzie saved King Alexander III from a rampaging stag. The King rewarded him with the Royal emblem of a 12-pointed stag that he used in his coat of arms, and would go on to use on every bottle of The Dalmore since.

Morag then proceeded to explain the history of The Dalmore itself, which turns out to be a rather simple affair. Established in 1839 by Sir Alexander Matheson, he built the distillery overlooking the Black Isle. 47 years later, the MacKenzie family purchased the distillery, and with their history dating back to 1263, the iconic 12 point stag came to life. Recently, the MacKenzie motto ‘Luceo non Uro’ or ‘I Shine, not burn’ has also been used by The Dalmore. The MacKenzie family owned The Dalmore for almost a century, until Whyte and Mackay took over.

Making our way to the ‘Lauter Tun’, The Dalmore use golden barley from the Black Isle, which is then ground into grist which maximizes the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Morie. The barley is fed into the lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Morie water. The resulting mixture is named the ‘wash’ where it is pumped through to one of the 6 metre deep washbacks made of Oregon Pine. After being steeped for several days, the wash is then pumped through to their unique flat top wash stills to start the distillation process. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of these giant structures, houses 4 of the flat top wash stills, where their being heated at 94°C. The vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to one of the four ‘cold water jacket’ stills. Pipes in the still pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they get the chance to control the condensed spirit.

Once we explored the distillation process, Morag took us to one of The Dalmore’s warehouses where, in a rather bitterly cold environment, rows upon rows of casks were housed. She explained that The Dalmore use only two kind of barrels to mature – American white oak bourbon barrels from Jim Beam, and Matusalem sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. The Dalmore is the only distillery permitted to source Matusalem sherry wood from Gonzalez Byass, giving it a unique blend of 30 years of oloroso sherry flavours. Morag also told us a fascinating story regarding The Dalmore’s New Years Eve celebrations back in 1999. The staff and their families were quite possibly making history as they gathered at the distillery and the chimes echoed, they produced what was very probably the first scotch whisky anywhere in the Third Millennium. 12 years later, the first casks are set to be bottled.

The Dalmore Distillery

The final part of the tour was to enjoy the work that Master Blender Richard Patterson and The Dalmore create. We entered a small room with a round table laid out in the middle. Here, 12yr, 15yr, 18yr and King Alexander III waited for our approval. So below, I present to you my tasting notes on each:

The Dalmore 12yr – 40%

Aged for 10 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. A nose of vanilla and honey with an orange citrus and a more subtle hint of vanilla, cocoa and marmalade on the palate.

The Dalmore 15yr – 40%

12 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years split into 3 thirds. One third in Apostoles cask, one-third in Amoroso and the last third in Oloroso. The final year is matured in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose it has an orange and marmalade blend, with hints of fruit cake. A well-balanced ginger and mandarin flavour on the palate, with chocolate hints coming through.

The Dalmore 18yr – 46%

Aged for 15 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 3 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose, fruit and spice blend well, with subtle almond and cinnamon aromas near the end. Vanilla, rosemary and hints of coffee present itself on the palate, with slight flavours of citrus and cocoa near the end.

The Dalmore King Alexander III – 40%

This is the only Single Malt with 6 different finishes – Matusalem, Sauvignon Blanc, Amoroso, Jim Beam, Oloroso and Apostoles. Fresh flowers and exotic fruits being released on the nose, with vanilla and zest of oranges coming through. Red berries and hazelnut, almond, rich citrus and vanilla produce a very smooth, sweet flavour on the palate.

I feel that I need to apologise for the briefness in my review of The Dalmore distillery. Compared to the in-depth writing of my visit to Auchentoshan, it may feel a little rushed. This was down to a rookie error on my part, my notebook was left back at the B&B. I have therefore lacked the specifics regarding the intricate workings of The Dalmore, however, I’m sure that if you have read this far, you will let me off this once! I do intend to return to The Dalmore in the near future, and my tasting notes cover the core range of what The Dalmore offer, where if you purchase any of the four available, you will not be disappointed.

For more information on The Dalmore, see my review of the brand here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Liquorists Return of the Rum Trail

Last night was the first installment of the year in The Liquorists busy calendar, the aptly named ‘Return of the Rum Trail!’. Following the same concept of their previous trails, we were to be enjoying 5 different spirits, 5 different cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Always a daunting prospect, but challenge accepted!

Spiced Mojito at The Liars Club

Starting the night in Manchester’s Northern Quarter tiki bar, Keko Moku, we were joined by Barry, of Epernay fame, who would be our host for the evening. With around 15 of us for what The Liquorists call ‘more a gathering than a crowd’, Barry introduced to us the concept of rum, a little history and what this sugar cane drink we had in our hands was all about. No sooner had we nosed and tasted the tot of Bacardi 8yr and a piece of dark chocolate, which for me softened the edges a lil, Barry was handing out the rum classic Daiquiri complete with sugar rim. No sooner had we finished, we were hopping around the corner to our next venue, Hula Bar.

Mai Tai at Hula Bar

Appleton VX was the choice of spirit, and making our way to their underground haven via a wall tank of fish, we were greeted with both a tot of Appleton, and caramalised pineapple chunks. Whilst taking in the surroundings of what literally is a beach hut, another classic rum cocktail in the Mai Tai was being handed round as Barry explained the history of Appleton to the gathering.

Mojo’s was the next port of call, with their Rhum Room, a stunning upstairs bar with a backbar to die for, offering us the Venezuelan Santa Teresa rum to sip while their Venezuelan rum punch were being hand crafted for our pleasure. The rather long and refreshing cocktail was complimented well with dried figs, mango and pistachios.
Venezuelan Rum Punch at Mojo Rhum Room

From Venezuela back to Cuba, Bacardi and their spiced offering of the newly released Oakheart was next to showcase itself at The Liars Club, with an offering of a spiced Mojito being served while we munched on caramalised ginger pieces. All that was missing was the Hawaiin shirts! (still regretting not wearing my rather stylish bright yellow shirt, but there’s always next time).

Our last bar for the night was in one of Manchester’s tapas bars Sandinista. The Cuban Havana 3yr was sipped, while Espresso Martini cocktails were brought over to us amid stuffed peppers with cheese, platters of nachos with melted cheese, patatas bravas, olives, garlic bread and albondigas (meatballs).
A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Barry by all in attendance. And it truly was. Three friends joined me last night, one a veteran of the last two trails, just to experience something that I keep talking about long after.
With a busy year ahead for The Liquorists, you can expect to be hearing a lot more from me regarding this fantastic concept!
Check out The Liquorist’s Facebook page for more information and tickets.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.








Drambuie Burns Night Cocktails

Make Burns Night Extraordinary with Drambuie

Drambuie tempts cocktail enthusiasts to celebrate Burns Night with two extraordinary recipes inspired by an aptly named classic cocktail – the Bobby Burns.

Drambuie’s unique blend, created a little over a decade before the bard’s birth, marries aged Scotch whisky with spices, heather honey and herbs. As an enhancement to cocktails served to honour Robert Burns, Drambuie brings an unexpected depth of spice and flavour to a classic.


Rusty Bobby Burns

Rusty Bobby Burns – recommended by Jamie Stephenson, Drambuie Global Brand Ambassador

Ingredients –

15ml Drambuie
30ml Blended Scotch (e.g. Dewars 12 Year Old)
15ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Method –

Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass 

Garnish –


The Rusty Bobby Burns is inspired by J.R. Sheridan’s1901 cocktail bible, How to Mix Fancy Drinks. Make this true classic ‘Rusty’ with a dash of Drambuie – bringing a depth of flavour and intrigue to the timeless recipe.


Rusty Robert Burns – by Bruce Hamilton, Drambuie UK Brand Ambassador

Ingredients –

50ml Drambuie 15 Year Old
20ml Sweet Vermouth
5ml Absinthe
5ml Maraschino
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Method –

Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass

Glass –


The Rusty Robert Burns brings something a little special to the original recipe by using Drambuie 15 Year Old – a connoisseur’s expression of Drambuie that balances the secret elixir with the finest 15 Year Old Speyside malts. The depth of flavours coming from Absinthe and Maraschino, marry perfectly with the soft Speyside malt character of Drambuie 15. Most often served neat or over ice, in this recipe we’ve used 15 Year Old to create a unique cocktail in honour of Scotland’s favourite bard.


* This article is recreated via W Communications *

Auchentoshan Distillery Tour


Last week, myself and my father made the 4 hour trip to Clydebank, Glasgow to visit my first ever whisky distillery – Auchentoshan. Why Auchentoshan? Well it’s the only whisky producer in Scotland to use triple-distillation, and one of only 5 distilleries in the Lowland area. Legend also has it, that you need to start in the Lowlands to truly open your palate up to the delights of Scotch.

The Auchentoshan Distillery

Located close to the River Clyde, the rather picturesque setting of the Auchetoshan distillery invites you in via their visitors centre. Here you can sign up for one of four tours available, from a classic tour to the ‘Ultimate Auchentoshan Experience’ tour, and if you have a spare £200 available, you can even explore the delights of Auchentoshan ‘after-hours’. We selected to go for their ‘Classic Tour’, and while waiting to see if any others will be joining, sat in their auditorium as a short film was played introducing Auchentoshan to those who were not too familiar. It turned out, granted it was the middle of January, that we were the only two up for the tour at this time, so we were greeted my Mehj, our tour-guide for the hour.

Lauter Tun

Mehj started by explaining the areas of Scotland and the categories that now define the Scotch whisky industry, as well as the two sister distilleries that are asscociated with Auchentoshan – Bowmore and Glen Garioch. A brief history of Auchentoshan followed, explaining that the name ‘Auchentoshan’ means ‘corner of the field’. The distillery was officially granted a license and opened in 1823, although there is evidence that a distillery was operating on the same site from the late 1700s. The distillery has changed ownership on several occasions in its history, including a spell under Scottish brewing firm, Tenants during the 1960s. The current owners are Morrison Bowmore, who took control in 1984 and were subsequently taken over 10 years laer by Japanese drinks company Suntory. With a ressurgance in recent years, consumption can now be granted to the US, Canada, Nordic countries as well as Russia.

Auchentoshan use malted optic barley which spends 2 days soaked in water and then gently kilned. The barley is then ground into grist which maximises the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Katrine. The barley is fed into a lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Katrine water first at 63.5°C. The second filling is at 74°C and left fr 1 1/2 hours, and the third at 94°C (the heat helps turn the starches into sugar). After two fillings, its ready for fermentation (the third filling is used as the first water in the next mash).

The fermentation process happens in 6 metre deep Oregon Pine washbacks. Steeped for 5 days, it creates 35,000 litres of fermented wash at 8% ABV. At the end of the 5 days, the wash is pumped through to the first of three copper pot stills, the wash still. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of the three pot stills houses is where the uniqueness of Auchentoshan begins. Heated at 94°C, the vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to the condenser. The left over ‘pot ale’ is then sold as fertiliser. Pipes in the condenser pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they now get the chance to control the condensed spirit. The actual spirit distillate begins life as something known as fore-shots. This is the remnants of the previous distillation combined with the current distillation (the fore-shots don’t make it any further – they’re recycled through the spirit safe into the feints receiver).


After eight minutes of fore-shots, the spirit starts to runs clear. This is known as the ‘new make spirit’. This ‘new make spirit’, is collected in the intermediate spirit receiver until the alcohol content drops to 80% ABV. The last process is known as ‘off spirit’, which is a second cut. This ‘second cut’ is recycled by redistilling. The ‘new make spirit’ makes its way to the intermediate still, at 19% ABV and around 16,400 litres. Again heated up, the alcohol vapour travels up and through the lyne arm, and cooled in a condenser where it is then pumped through the spirit safe and into the feints receiver. Finally, they take the high strength feints and distil 2600 litres in the spirit still. After passing through the spirit safe for the third time, it hits the spirit receiver at between 80 and 82.6%. Here it is now ready to be cask filled at a strength of 63.5%.
The Auchentoshan distillation process takes the fermented liquid from 8% ABV to 80%, a unique number resulted from the triple-distillation instead of the more usual double-distillation that usually reached just 70% ABV.

Bourbon barrel in the Auchentoshan warehouse

Mehj then took us outside into the bitter cold and through to one of the warehouses where we were able to see first hand the rows upon rows of cask filled barrels. Auchentoshan use American bourbon oak barrels from White Turkey and Jim Beam at a cost of £80 and £100 per barrel. Spanish sherry casks are also used – Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez at around £800 a barrel. American oak is used to blend in flavours of caramel and vanilla, as well as to give it a sweetness, while dark, rich flavours and citrus notes are released from the Spanish casks. The darkened, cold warehouse housed casks raging from ages 6 to 50 years old, and Mehj explained that the older the barrel, the less that would be in it. Why? Natural evaporation causes the alcohol and water to be released. After taking in the age that was surrounding us, we headed to the warmth and Mehj led us to Auchentoshan’s purpose built bar where we enjoyed a dram of 12yr and Three Wood. Below are my tasting notes on each –

Auchentoshan 12yr and Triple Wood

Auchentoshan 12yr – 40%

Matured for 12 years, an instant burst of citrus flavours hits your nose, with a destinct toffee aroma floating rather quickly behind. Very smooth on the palate, with raisin and nut blending nicely with a sweetness lingering soon after, with a small hint of ginger.

Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43%

Matured in three different cask types, American bourbon to Spanish Oloroso sherry and finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, a nose of deep sweetness, orange and raisin mix extremely well, with a heavy dose of black currant to finish. The palate has some dry fruitness of raisin, with fresh lemon and butterscotch dancing slowly resulting in a long oak finish.

Two fine starts to the Scotland tour, and a rather in depth teaching of how Auchentoshan differ from all the rest. It’s great to see in person the size of the wash backs, the copper pot stills and the magic of a whisky warehouse, and I can finally truly grasp and appreciate the work that goes into creating a spirit that we can all safely say, has been around for donkeys years.

Check out the rest of the photos from the Auchentoshan distillery here, and my article on the brand, including other Auchentoshan expressions, here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

4 Distilleries in 4 Days

For 4 days next week i’ll be touring the land of Scotland where i’ll be taking in the sights of Auchentoshan, The Dalmore, Glenfiddich and The Balvenie distilleries. Expect a full review of the tour when i get back, but until then, follow me on Twitter (@drinksenthusist) or Facebook (search for Drinks Enthusiast) for up-to-the-minute updates as and when i can.

Make sure you sign up to the site to get a first hand look at the reviews as well as a whole bunch of photos.

See you soon!