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Keepers of the Quaich

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Category: Single Malt News

Here’s an article from Travel Retail’s On-line Digest (written by Doug Newhouse). I particularly like the portrayal of whisky-making as a fine art. Some items included are a 1946 Macallan and one of the 60 Johnny Walker bottles made for Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee of 1952 which retails for $198,500 (it’s worth it just for the bottle/decanter combo). If you might be passing through the Changi Airport you can participate in the extension of this event or perhaps a North American stop may be on a future “tour”. –Chancellor Bop

DFS and CAG launch MOS Mark II event
Written by Doug Newhouse
Friday, 09 March 2012 05:49

The established partnership between the Changi Airport Group and DFS Group is to stage Master of Spirits II for serious connoisseurs and collectors in Singapore between March and April.

This second expression of the successful DFS Group signature theme is expected to attract passionate connoisseurs and collectors from around the globe to interact with ‘the world’s rarest and most exclusive spirits’ at the highly anticipated Master of Spirits II. This latest event will kick off DFS Group’s Master Series for 2012 and comes exactly one year after the Master of Spirits theme was successfully launched at Changi Airport’s CIP Terminal One. At that event, passengers were able to view and purchase a special selection of the rare wines and spirits’ products that were featured at the event, following an earlier prestigious launch.

Philippe Schaus, Group President of Merchandising and Marketing for DFS Group, said: “This event is a dream rendezvous for connoisseurs and collectors to awaken their imagination and share a moment with the undisputed masters of fine spirits, wine and Champagne.”

the macallan 1946

He added: “As the world’s leading luxury retailer, we are thrilled to work with the industry’s most prestigious brands and offer their most exclusive and rare collections at the Master of Spirits II.”

Adding his comments, Harold Brooks, President of Global Merchandising for DFS Group said: “This year, we selected 84 products from 50 of the world’s top brands as well as a number of very rare and exquisite specialty wines; together these items are worth millions of dollars in value. “This includes many of the world’s most exclusive collections, limited editions and numbered selections, many of which were created exclusively for Master of Spirits II.”

Johnny Walker Diamond Jubilee

DFS adds that some of the products on show simply exude ‘supreme exclusivity’, such as the Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubilee blended by John Walker & Sons. This is described as ‘an exceptionally crafted limited edition of 60 crystal decanters, distilled by appointment of Her Majesty the Queen in tribute of the 60th Anniversary of her reign.

DFS says that ‘other masterpieces’ are treasured for their preservation of traditional brewing technique, with Luzhoulaojiao National Salute not only a premium Chinese spirit, but a historical gem amongst the very first group of liquor to be honoured as ‘a national intangible cultural heritage’. The retailer adds that certain masterpieces are also valued for their connection to the arts, such as the 1946 Macallan with Platinum Prints which celebrates the two very different but highly revered art processes of photography and whisky-making. Each Macallan 1946 bears a printed label from the work of renowned photographer Albert Watson.

DFS added: “Finally, some of the masterpieces presented at Master of Spirits II are vintage wines which are loved for their magnificent taste – the Cheval Blanc 1986 is a stellar ‘first growth’ of Saint-Emilion which is ample-bodied yet subtle, mellow, yet delicate and sure to be unforgettable,” it says.

The luxury retailer says that this journey of luxurious discovery at the Master of Spirits II will begin on March 31, where guests will be encouraged to experience master classes, exclusive exhibitions and an elegant gala gathering, as well as discover an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share a moment with esteemed masters, brand ambassadors, connoisseurs and guest speakers.

This ‘journey’ will continue through the month of April at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 where global travellers will have an unrivalled opportunity to share in the luxury experience. Changi Airport Group’s Executive Vice President Lim Peck Hoon said: “We are delighted to co-host the Master of Spirits II exhibition with DFS Group. As a major international passenger hub, consistently ranked as one of the best airports in the world, Singapore Changi Airport aims to deliver a memorable and first-class airport experience.

“Through Master of Spirits II, we hope to guide travellers on an enthralling journey to discover DFS Group’s exquisite and diverse selection of masterpieces on display at Changi Airport.” DFS concludes that Master of Spirits II in Singapore is the first stop in 2012 for its Master Series, which also includes ‘Masterpieces of Time’.

I received this email from Abhainn Dearg. They are justifiably proud of their initial 3 year old bottling. Abhainn Dearg is the brand new “Highlands Island” distillery currently building its stocks.

The three years waiting is almost over and the first release of Single Malt from Abhainn Dearg Distillery can be pre-purchased via the website from this evening.

There are only 2011 bottles in total and are for sale at £150 each with postage, packing and insurance of £12.50 UK, for those in Europe or further afield, please contact the distillery for shipping costs.

Each 500ml bottle will be individually signed by distillery owner Mark Tayburn
Bottles are numbered and each bottle is comes in a stylized teak case with an Abhainn Dearg wooden plaque on the front

46% Volume
Non Chill Filtered
Natural Cask Colour
Single Cask Bottling
Bottled by Hand

If you wish to reserve a bottle, please do so quickly as stocks will soon run out!

Kind regards,


Abhainn Dearg Special Edition 3 year old

As was reported at our 10Q2 meeting by Brother Bluff, on-line retailer and store of tremendous single malt knowledge Master of Malt is now offering single dram ordering options for several spirits including some single malts. Although their aim is to eventually offer a dram size (“Try before you Buy”) ordering option for all spirits in production they are not limiting the “Drinks by the Dram” offering to spirits which are in production.

Although this does allow us access to silent and even dismantled distilleries not all rare and “out of production” runs like Springbank 21 will available. Yes, I will spoil the fun right off and let everyone know that Springbank 21 is NOT available as of this posting as a Master of Malt “Drink by the Dram”.

I went through the list of what is available and, although I won’t tell you how to spend your money and that I have no idea what the shipping costs to the US might be, here are some drams that I would recommend:

  • Imperial 18 Chieftain’s Choice (Ian McLeod) £4.95 ; a mothballed Speyside
  • Kinclaith 35 1969 (Signatory) £34.35 ; a very rare dismantled Lowland
  • Port Ellen 27 1983 Cask Strength Collection (Signatory) £9.15 ; famed dismantled Islay
  • Port Ellen 30 1979 Old & Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing) £13.85 ; famed dismantled Islay
  • Rare Ayrshire 34 1975 Cask Strength Collection (Signatory) £7.75 ; a very rare, dismantled Lowland (Ladyburn distillery)

A link to the “Drinks by the Dram” section of Master of Malt has specifically been added to the right-hand menu for your convenience.

I just got a notification that the brand new Abhainnn Dearg Distillery, on the island of Lewis and Harris, has made their very first “spirit”, ‘The Spirit of Lewis‘, available for purchase in the UK; 500 500ml bottlings. Here is my short summary of their announcement – which I have included in its entirety for your reference below.

  • First bottling from Abhainn Dearg
  • First commerical spirit distilled in the Outer Hebredies in 170 years
  • Likely has not matured 3 yrs which is why it’s called a “spirit” and not “Scotch”
  • Available only in the UK, and possibly to mainland Europe by special order, but not the US

Abhainn Dearg Distillery is proud to announce that the The Spirit of Lewis, New Spirit, is available to buy online in the *UK today! Abhainn Dearg is a new distillery, this is our first sale of ‘The Spirit of Lewis’ and the first bottling of an Outer Hebridean spirit in almost 170 years.

This is a limited release where every bottle has been filled, labeled, corked and sealed by hand. Each bottle is signed by Mark Tayburn, who’s dream it was to build a distillery on Lewis and create a Single Malt, the dream goes on. Thank you all for your continued patience.

Peter Harris, the last Distillery Excise Officer retires this month, he was based in Elgin, convenient for the Speyside Distilleries, soon the team at Regional HQ will be in charge. Although the days of Excisemen patrolling the hills are part of history, it’s still the end of another era. What of this era? Is it to be one where technology creates bulk quantity and in reality well matured whisky is just awakened to run the gauntlet of the bottling plant? CCTV watching over, Big Brother, security for both men and machinery.

As we start our journey we hope to be joined by new distilleries, where wood, barley and water can be seen, touched and tasted. Those distillers who will take the road back to where it began, with a passion for the real dram, produced in Scotland.

If you’ve played with the new Distillery Filter much you will have noticed that one of the “Operational Statuses” for the distilleries is “Building Stock”. As I look out on the single malt landscape over the last 10 years and then turn and look into the next 10 years, one of the exciting things that I see is the onset of brand new distilleries producing single malts. As you know, however, one of the requirements for a spirit to be scotch is that it must age a minimum of 3 years. Yet, as you also know, standard single malts, which are mature enough for discriminating palattes, are typically aged 10 or 12 years. So, these new distilleries have a challenge of establishing a brand yet telling their customers not to show up with their money for 10 years. This is why I have included the “building stock” operational status. Until they’ve released that first standard distillery bottling at around 10 or 12 years I will not be updating their status to “Active” as they are literally building up their stocks for bottlings far down the road. Little did we know that single malts were such a “young man’s game”!

Since there are quite a few of them I wanted to provide a summary to perhaps picque your interest some in these new arrivals on the single malt scene. Here are the ones that I believe are, in fact, building stocks and are real, serious, and viable distilleries that will be showing up on our radars in 5-10 years, you can take a look at these new operations as well as some less-firm distillery projects here:

– Kilchoman an Islay
Owned by the Kilchoman Distillery Co Ltd, the distillery was built and started producing spirits in 2005. As seen in my previous post, Kilchoman is an “artisan” distillery using locally grown ingredients from their own farmland. They are striving to produce the new signature taste of Islay by delivering a highly charactered single malt. You can see more about them here.

– Port Charlotte an Islay
Owned by the Bruichladdich Distillery Co, who is introducing their new brand with the heavily-peated PCx series of bottlings, the distillery is in the process of becoming much more than a brand extension of Bruichladdich. The new Port Charlotte distillery is sometimes referred to as the “Phoenix distillery” as it is currently in the rebuilding process using the old Lochindaal distillery building and the stills from the Inverleven distillery.

– Abhainn Dearg a Highlands Island
Owned by Mark Tayburn, the distillery was built and started producing spirits in 2009. This distillery, located on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, is particularly exciting I think because it is a brand new “Island malt” from a new isle. The Isle of Lewis and Harris is west of Skye and Abhainn Dearg will be the westernmost distillery in Scotland. You can see more about them here.

– Daftmill an Eastern Highland
Owned by Francis and Ian Cuthbert, the distillery was built and started producting spirit in 2005. Daftmill will easily be the smallest distillery in Scotland, producing a mere 20,000 litres/yr, and is practically a “micro-brewery”. I think the Eastern Highlands are an interesting region and one that the KOTQ should really know more about than our collective “Glen Garioch experience” so it is exciting to see a brand new Eastern Highland on the scene. You can see more about them here.

– Glengyle / Kilkerran a Campbeltown
Owned by J & A Mitchell, the distillery was revived and started producing spirits in 2004. Glengyle is part of the Springbank family of distilleries but is its own operation and enterprise. I believe it will be producing a single malt under the brand name of Kilkerran. You can see more about them here.

– Roseisle a Speyside
Owned by Diageo, Roseisle is a huge distillery and the first large one built in Scotland since the 1970s. The distillery was built and started producing spirits in 2009 and, I believe, will mostly be used to supply Diageo’s blended scotch whiskies.

One last thing before I leave this topic, some of you may remember some news or talk about a new distillery opening on Shetland, an island north of the Orkney Islands, called Blackwood. Unfortunately, the news is not as good on this front as it appears that the Blackwood distillery is no more and there are no known plans to revive it.