William Grant & Sons UK’s Glenfiddich 12 and 15 Year Old single malt Scotch whiskies have been given a distinctive new pack design to complete a core range overhaul.
The redesign of the 12 and 15 Year Old expressions completes a core range refresh, which began with the redesigned Glenfiddich 18 Year Old, launched in November 2014.
The new Glenfiddich 12 and 15 year old bottles feature a more confident and dominant Stag and feature product information presented on a cream band which is more representative of the category. They are presented in premium presentation boxes, embossed with the instantly recognisable Glenfiddich gold stag and finished with luxurious gold foil detail.
Sarah Harding, Senior Brand Manager, Glenfiddich comments: “This is an exciting time for Glenfiddich and we are thrilled with the refreshed core range. Glenfiddich is a superior whisky so naturally we want its presentation to match the quality of the award winning liquid. The prestigious new look will hopefully capture and reflect our whisky making credentials and the brand’s authenticity and family heritage.”
The new range will be available from September 2015.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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.