November 14th, 2016
Clynelish Distillery is located in the northern Highlands of Scotland, a stone’s throw from the coastal village of Brora and the A9 highway. It is owned by the giant drinks firm Diageo.
The history of Clynelish is replete with stark contrasts – power and disenfranchisement, prosperity and poverty, and new versus old. In many ways, the distillery’s saga mirrors Scotland’s last two hundred years. Above all, it recounts the birth and evolution of a little-known but essential malt whisky site.
A person time-traveling back to early 19th-Century Sutherlandshire would encounter a land similar to many contemporary, autocratic Third World nations – a place where the welfare of commoners fell beneath the footsteps of the fortunate.
October 10th, 2016
Lagavulin. If ever a name evoked a whisky’s character. Let’s face it. The English translation of the original Gaelic Lag a’mhuilinn, ‘hollow by the mill’, simply doesn’t do justice to the distillery or its spirit. But Lagavulin... That sounds like a breath of magic!
The Lagavulin Distillery occupies a picturesque site located in the prime distilling area on the southeastern coast of the Isle of Islay in Scotland, opposite the crumbling ruins of Dunyvaig Castle. It (along with the Caol Ila Distillery and a large industrial malting facility at Port Ellen, both also on Islay) is owned and operated by Diageo, the largest spirits producing firm in the world.
September 12th, 2016
A whimsical hodge-podge of granite-stoned structures stands amidst the rich farmland of Aberdeenshire, near Percock Hill. Two tall-necked pagodas rise from the compound’s central area – a sure indication that whisky business is taking place inside. This is Glengarioch (Gaelic for ‘valley of the rough ground’, and pronounced ‘Glen-geery’), one of the few Highland distilleries able to trace its roots all the way back to the 18th Century.
Most Scotch drinkers are aware of the exalted position single malts occupy within the hierarchy of Scotland’s spirits. And many may know of the important role grain whiskies play in blended Scotches. But what of the grain whiskies themselves? Is there yet another realm of spirituous delights flying under the radar? The short answer is, “Yes.”
As the Holiday Season nears, Scotch lovers are faced with something of a challenge – how to offer their guests with more sensitive palates quality malt Scotch whiskies that won’t offend, but that will also satisfy the demands of more experienced imbibers who might be gathered.
Yes… There are people who appreciate a good malt but just can’t get their taste buds around drams of Lagavulin or Laphroaig!
Fortunately, when it comes to meeting this challenge, there’s true ‘gold’ to be had. Let me guide you to a small number of distilleries, provide you with a few (hopefully) interesting facts about them, and profile some of their whiskies. These Scotches are sure to please. And, with one exception, they won't bust the bank.
Time to read on, and taste!