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Whisky News

A Perth-based whisky auction website that sold a bottle for £825,000  aims to become the global market leader for sales of Scotland’s national drink.

Whisky Auctioneer made headlines around the world when a rare Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami 60-year-old achieved the record hammer price earlier this year.

Iain McClune set up the operation just seven years ago after a career at whisky merchant Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh.

Navigating the world of whisky can be very confusing. Here's a beginner's guide to bourbon, Scotch and more.

Whisky, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash (barley, corn, rye or wheat) is typically aged in charred oak casks, giving it its distinctive brown colour. But unlike beer there is a lot of seriousness attached to this alcohol. So much so that it is often intimidating to wade into the waters of whisky.

Scotland’s illicit whisky stills and hidden smugglers bothies are to be unearthed to tell the true tales behind the drink that has defined a nation.

Glenlivet Distillery and National Trust for Scotland will bring together the results of archival research and archaelogical digs across Scotland to illuminate the stories of our illegal whisky making past and its people in the new Pioneering Spirit project.

It’s called sunken scotch. And it’s practically a category unto itself: whisky rescued from the cargoes of a wrecked ship, resting for untold periods of time below the tides. Every few years tales of brown spirit raised from these depths grab headlines, while the liquor itself fetches top dollar at auction. The latest example happens to be scotch salvaged from perhaps the most famous shipwreck of the modern era. And it’s expected to earn as much as $20,000 in an on-going auction.

Last October, a single bottle of scotch shattered the record for most expensive wine or spirit ever sold at auction. The Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old fetched a staggering $1.9 million USD. Why so much? Well, the 1926 vintage malt was drawn from a legendary barrel, prized by collectors for its near-mystical characteristics. Just a year earlier, liquid matured in that same oak sold for $1.2 million at a London auction house. Since 2018, no less than six examples of that 1926 spirit have cleared the million dollar threshold.

Glenkinchie Distillery near Pencaitland is announcing a new partnership with East Lothian based Hoods Honey with the bee experts installing three hives in the distillery garden.

The beehives are set to house a colony of up to 65,000 bees each during the summer peak of July and will help pollenate the distillery garden as well as nearby farmland and the gardens of the surrounding local community.

Whisky Ambassador managing director Jo Graham talks about the worldwide popularity of Scotch and why she set up an accredited whisky-tasting course.

Fancy yourself a whisky connoisseur? Well, you can now make it official with the world’s first online-accredited training course to become a Scotch pro.

As we all adjust to home working, Glasgow-headquartered course provider The Whisky Ambassador has adapted its industry-recognised seminar of the same name in order for it to be done from the comfort of the couch – and anyone can take part.

Tomatin Distillery held a virtual whisky festival to raise much-needed funds for its charity partner, Maggie’s Highlands.

The event, which was live-streamed on Tomatin’s own YouTube channel on May 9, saw more than 5000 individuals tune in across the globe.

The Highland distillery partnered with several other whisky brands to share their expertise and insights and managed to raise more than £8000 for Maggie’s through the virtual event.

On the third Saturday of May every year, whisky fans around the world celebrate World Whisky Day.

A global phenomenon started by University of Aberdeen student Blair Bowman (now a whisky author and consultant) in 2011, WWD has hosted and facilitated thousands of events around the world over the years, across all 7 continents.

With the recent boom in interest in Scotland's national spirit, here is a look at some of the distilleries that could be making waves over the next few years.

It's an exciting time for whisky fans with more and more incredible production sites popping up across the country.

From the Borders to the Outer Hebrides, here are a some of the most interesting whisky distilleries that have opened up - or started producing - over the past few years.

In yet another example of how necessity is the mother of invention, Ewan McIlwraith and Sandy Fraser, the organisers of the Highland Perthshire Whisky Festival, have come up with a unique on-line way to hold the festival without the crowds – the Self Isolation Whisky Festival.

This will be the first interactive festival where the audience can see smell and taste the whisky, with sample packs being posted out prior to the event.

When Scotland and its Scotch industry came under threat, distilleries responded swiftly to the crisis and managed to turn production from drinks to hand sanitiser for the fight against coronavirus.

Only now is the scale of the operation coming into focus, with the Scottish whisky industry expected to help supply nurses and doctors on the NHS frontline in the UK with 50 million litres of hand sanitiser over the next eight weeks, and this is outwith care homes also being supplied.

Blended Scotch whisky Chivas is to evenly distribute a $1 million ($872,000) fund for start-ups amongst finalists – including one Scottish venture – due to the current global Covid-19 outbreak.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has asked for clarity on some measures announced to combat coronavirus.

In recent weeks, both the Scottish and UK Governments have revealed packages to help business during a rapid downturn in demand as the outbreak spreads.

The UK Government announced a grant scheme for firms as well as a £330 billion Government-backed loan initiative, with the Scottish Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop pledging to “replicate” the measures north of the border.

Glasgow, United Kingdom - Scotland's ability to manufacture (and consume) alcohol such as Scotch whisky may be world-renowned, but Scottish distilleries are today joining the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to a global shortage of hand sanitiser, which has seen barren supermarket shelves across Scotland and the United Kingdom as demand outstripped supply, some Scottish spirit makers have begun a novel form of alcohol production that, just days ago, would have been seen as laughable.

In these trying times it can be hard to find something to smile about.

Put your hand up – how many whisky distilleries have you been pronouncing wrong?

There’s no shame in it, unless you’re talking to James Russell of Cask Trade, who’s always more than happy to correct you.

Artisan Scotch whisky and gin producers helped fuel growth in the number of UK distillers by a fifth last year, according to research by business advisory firm UHY Hacker Young.

The total jumped to 246 as the demand for boutique whisky, gin, vodka and rum boomed among affluent drinkers for whom the likes of Grants, Gordons and Glens is simply not good enough any more.

The UK gin industry saw export sales increase by 9% to £672 million in 2019, while Scotch whisky exports grew 4.4% to £4.91 billion, according to the report.

The enduring mystique of Scotch whisky has been paramount to its global success.

Made On Earth – a new series by BBC Future and BBC World News – looks into the everyday items that have shaped global trade routes and left a lasting imprint in cultures around the world.

Beverage tycoons Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh have revealed revised plans for a new distillery on Islay after being advised to ensure it was in keeping with the style of its neighbours.

The co-founders of London-based Elixir Distillers had submitted an application in August 2018 to build a distillery with timber and copper cladding and a turf-covered roof.

But after talks with Argyll & Bute Council planners, they have had it redesigned with whitewashed walls and slate-grey roof like other Islay distilleries such as Bowmore, Laphroaig and Ardbeg.

The debate over the best way to taste and drink whisky is a timeless one. Decades ago, many Scotch drinkers passionately supported drinking whisky neat, perhaps with a drop of water, but nothing else. No mixers or ice, as that ruins the drink. Nowadays, whisky has changed it's image and went from an old man's drink to a modern, hip spirit to enjoy in cocktails, with mixers, with ice; basically, any way the drinker wants. This article will finish off with some great ways to begin drinking whisky and really get into the category, however, we'll first explore how to taste whisky like an expert, should you want to delve deeper into each expression.

Crime writer Ian Rankin will be the guest of honour when Fife Whisky Festival returns to the Kingdom next month.

The author, who was born in Cardenden, will speak at the whisky-themed dinner which opens the event at Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh.

The festival gets underway on Friday, March 6-8 at Cupar Corn Exhange.

The Scotch Whisky Association has revealed that US tariffs have already caused a “marked” decrease in exports, and if kept in place, will lead to a £100 million loss this year.

The chief executives of the SWA and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) have jointly called on both the UK and US governments to find a solution to the on-going trade disputes.

Scottish ‘field to bottle’ distiller Arbikie has announced the arrival of its second release of Highland Rye single grain Scotch whisky.

This is the second rye whisky released in Scotland in over 100 years, and the first four year old. Only 1220 bottles will be released, priced £250 each.

Arbikie’s Highland Rye was laid down in 2015 and, after ageing for four years, a selection of four casks have been carefully chosen for this release. Maturation was initiated in charred American oak barrels before being enriched in Armagnac barrels. The taste profile is of dates, apricot and caraway.

Taking place on 18-20 February at Seattle’s Westland Distillery, the event will see four panels discuss whisky’s role in agriculture, the role of innovation and “potential pathways ahead” for North American distillers.

Among the speakers at this year’s event are Cory Mason, master distiller at UK-based Oxford Artisan Distillery; Shinji Fukuyo from Suntory; Nicole Austin, Cascade Hollow Distilling Co; Ann Marshall from High Wire Distilling; and Steven Kersley of BrewDog Distilling in Scotland.

Susan Morrison, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), the body which represents the interests of the visitor attractions sector in Scotland.

The appointment was confirmed at ASVA’s recent two-day Autumn Conference at the Crieff Hydro Hotel in Perthshire.

Having spent her whole career in the visitor attraction sector, Susan has been Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Experience since 2018, following 14 years as a board director and 19 years as General Manager.

Cask Trade is to host the world’s first, live, online only auction dedicated to casks of whisky next month.

Sales of whisky have raised record-breaking amounts, most recently £7.6 million was raised at a Sotheby’s auction in London including several casks and an auction in Hong Kong in November raised £441,000 for a cask of Macallan 1989.

In an historic, world first, Cask Trade will host the first ever live, online auction for casks on 22 January 2020.

 GROUND was officially broken today at the Rosebank distillery, marking the start of its redevelopment under new owners, Ian Macleod Distillers.

The extensive, multi-million pound restoration, carried out by ISG, is expected to be completed in summer 2021, when the distillery will open its doors to the public and begin production once again. Situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Rosebank has been dormant for 25 years. It ceased production in 1993 when former owner UDV (now Diageo), mothballed the site and its maltings were converted into a restaurant.

The cask, an ex-Sherry hogshead filled with spirit distilled in 1989, was part of Bonhams’ Fine and Rare Wine and Whisky sale in Hong Kong on 15th November.

Its final hammer price (plus buyer’s premium) was HK$4.4m (US$572,000); apparently a new world record but just shy of the HK$4.6m pre-sale high estimate.

A record £4,000 has been paid for what is believed to be the most expensive whisky miniature ever sold at auction.

Sold by leading online auctioneer, Whisky.Auction, the single 5cl miniature of Old Orkney ‘0.0’ Real Liqueur Whisky from the long closed Stromness Distillery was bottled in the 1920s or 1930s.

The 30-year-old Sherry hogshead will feature in an auction hosted by Bonhams in Hong Kong on 15 November. The cask contains liquid distilled in 1989 and can be stored by The Macallan for as long as the buyer wishes. It would currently yield 261 bottles.

Bonhams estimates the cask will fetch between HK$3.6 million and HK$4.6m (approximately US$460,000-US$590,000).

A Scottish distillery has agreed an unprecedented five-year agreement for the supply of premium peated malt.

Following a £3.3m investment in a new peat kiln in Portgordon, Crisp Malt is stepping up its supply to the craft distilling industry, after reaching an agreement with Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh.

When whisky spends years resting in casks it’s vital that the vessel is in optimum condition to do its job. Yet the construction of a quality cask is far more complex than simply bounding a few staves together, writes Becky Paskin.

It’s a credit to the cask’s genius engineering that its shape and construction hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Used by breweries, wineries and distilleries the world over, the humble cask is responsible for slowly maturing some of our favourite beverages, adding sweetness and spice while mellowing the liquid at the same time.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s week-long celebration of its Leith origins concludes this weekend.

The festival, known as The Gathering, runs until Sunday 8 September at The Vaults and other iconic Leith venues.

The Gathering encapsulates what it means to be a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, with a jam-packed week of fun-filled whisky-themed events.

It’s time to dig deep in those pockets, search down the back of the sofa and smash open that piggy bank, because the world’s most valuable whisky collection is officially up for auction at Sotheby’s.

While some of us have been saving up for that elusive first home or a top-of-the-range sports car, others have had their eye on something a little pricier - $4.8 million worth of whisky to be precise.

When whisky spends years resting in casks it’s vital that the vessel is in optimum condition to do its job. Yet the construction of a quality cask is far more complex than simply bounding a few staves together, writes Becky Paskin.

‘The most valuable collection of whisky ever to be sold at auction’, expected to sell for at least £4million, is coming to Sotheby’s.

With collectors’ thirst for the finest and rarest examples of Scotch whisky increasingly reaching new heights, Sotheby’s will present The Ultimate Whisky Collection, comprising 394 lots, 467 bottles, and nine casks.

This is the company’s first single-owner offering of spirits. Showcasing the most comprehensive range of desirable Scotch whisky to come to the market from a private ‘cellar’, the collection is estimated to bring in the region of £4 million ($4.8 million).

An artificial tongue can taste subtle differences between drams of whisky and could one day help tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade.

The technology is capable of picking up on the differences between the same brand aged in different barrels, with more than 99 per cent accuracy and can tell the difference between those aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.

A new whisky celebration is to be held in the north of Scotland this autumn.

The first Whisky Colours Festival will be held from 10 to 14 October. It is a celebration of all things whisky and is centred in Dufftown, the malt whisky capital of the world.

A spokesman for the organisers said: ‘We have been inspired by the vast range of whisky colours that are mirrored in the beauty of the phenomenal autumn scenery in and around Dufftown with the woodlands displaying their stunning colours and the bright golden barley in the fields.

Scientists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have developed an artificial tongue capable of distinguishing between different brands of whisky, a potentially useful tool to combat counterfeit whiskeys on the international market. The researchers describe their device in a new paper in Nanoscale.

There is an exploding demand for expensive rare whiskies, so naturally there has been a corresponding increase in the number of counterfeit bottles infiltrating the market. A study last year subjected 55 randomly selected bottles from auctions, private collectors, and retailers to radiocarbon dating and found that 21 of them were either outright fakes or not distilled in the year claimed on the label.

There has been a big surge in Scotch Whisky exports over the past year, according to buoyant figures issued some weeks ago by the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association). For the first time annual figures have topped the £5.5 billion mark, which is quite a boost on the £4-plus billion not long ago.

Isle of Arran Distillers has opened a second Scotch whisky distillery on its home island.

The privately-owned company, which produces the Arran Malt Scotch whisky range, started production at the new Lagg distillery in March. Construction on the site began in 2017.

The Lagg distillery, on the south side of Arran off the west coast of Scotland, includes a visitors centre targetting growing levels of whisky tourism at the company's first distillery in Lochranza.

Attention whisky lovers, London is set to get its own whisky hotel.

The award-winning Black Rock whisky bar has announced plans to expand its basement bar into a four-story property that will feature a blending room and three lodges where guests can stay overnight.

The decision to expand the range of casks used to mature Scotch whisky has been broadly welcomed by distillers, but there’s plenty of devil in the detail.

Maybe he was lost this time; perhaps he knew a shortcut he’d not told us about. I started to suspect the former. After all, he was new to this job and hadn’t driven in this part of the world before, so it only seemed fair to give some advice – which he declined to take. His body language was sufficient in way of reply: ‘I’m the driver,’ it said. ‘Let me do my job ferrying you from one distillery to the next. You just sit there.’

The whisky market will be worth more than £2.4 ­billion by 2022 as Scotch sales increase, according to forecasts by Edrington-Beam Suntory UK.

The Glasgow-based spirits specialist predicts that the whisky sector will grow by £138 million in value in the coming three years, representing 6 per cent growth over the period.

There is so much more to Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail than just distilleries and drams.

Whether you’re a whisky connoisseur or not, the trail offers something for everyone. Set up to promote the local malt whisky industry, the collection of impressive visitor attractions – and the picturesque places between them – draw huge numbers of tourists to the Moray Speyside region each year.

The annual Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) members' day is taking place in Edinburgh on Wednesday. In her speech, SWA chief executive Karen Betts is expected to outline her vision for the industry up to the year 2050.

She will tell the gathering: "2050 isn't far away, particularly for an industry that thinks in decades rather than in years. She will add that by 2050, she expects Scotch whisky "to remain the world's pre-eminent whisky".

Ranging from Highland Park on Orkney in the north to Bladnoch in the Borders in the south, there are over 120 whisky distilleries in Scotland.

Here are 13 of the most picturesque, you’ll want to visit again and again.

Turnover in Scotland’s food and drink sector has grown to a record £14.8 billion, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary said.

Fergus Ewing announced it had grown by £836m from 2016 to reach its highest ever total the following year.

For a span of several months last year, Jim Murray, a whisky writer and reviewer, was unable to walk, stand, and even sit comfortably because of a simple and very telling mistake: for upward of twenty years, he’d spent full days spitting whisky out of his mouth into a spittoon that sat on his right-hand side. His whisky-spitting motion had become so one-sided that he’d shriveled a muscle in his back and thrown his spine out of alignment.

Murray is a principled whisky taster. He achieved some notoriety a few years ago for admitting during an interview that he does not kiss anyone during the writing of his annual whiskey tome, Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible. He says the germs run the risk of making him sick, which would trash his tasting schedule of up to 30 whiskeys a day. When I watched him give a tasting on Texas bourbons recently, he nearly inspired an uprising among a cadre of Southerners by barring any swallowing at all for nearly two hours, and also stringently enforcing a “no talking” rule. “Listen to the whiskey,” he said. Eventually, most of the Texans came to heel, and later began self-policing in so zealous a manner that it was obvious they’d become disciples.

Scotch Whisky’s contribution to the UK economy has grown by 10% since 2016 to £5.5 billion, according to a new report by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The report, which builds on research carried out by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), also reveals Scotland’s national drink generates two-thirds of all spirits Gross Value Added (GVA) in the UK.

The industry has also been buoyed by record exports reaching £4.7 billion in 2018, and several new distilleries beginning production and opening their doors to tourists.

The Macallan Boutique is to be the first-ever permanent, monobrand luxury spirits boutique at Dubai International (DXB).

Edrington EMEA Travel Retail and Le Clos – the Dubai-based fine wine and luxury spirits retailer – is writing the next chapter in their record-breaking partnership with the unveiling of a new luxury retail concept for The Macallan.

The Macallan Boutique design is a bespoke concept which draws heavily from the passion, vision and beauty of The Macallan Estate, including the new £140m distillery and visitor centre in Speyside, unveiled last June.

Along with a strong focus on consumer engagement and storytelling, the boutique will also feature exclusive products, complementing Le Clos’ world-class portfolio of fine wines and spirits.

The most extensive and famous private whisky collection in the world is set to stay in Scotland for another ten years.

The Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection has been the focal point of the Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile since it first went on display in 2009.

The Scotch whisky industry is to spend £1million on tackling alcohol misuse over the next decade.
 
Through the Scotch Whisky Action Fund, the industry is committed to providing consumers with the information they need to make informed and responsible choices about the consumption of alcohol; and to working to reduce the harms caused through excessive drinking.

The European Commission has approved a geographical indication (GI) protecting the methods of producing Irish whiskey.

The Irish government submitted a technical file outlining specifications for producing spirits that can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in October 2014.

It’s being advertised as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is hosting a first-ever auction of two rare vintage bottles of Macallan Fine and Rare Series scotch 

“We were extremely fortunate to receive these highly sought-after products, which are very difficult to find across the world, let alone in the U.S., and we look forward to making one or two scotch enthusiasts very, very happy,” said Tim Holden, PLCB chairman.

Scotland’s Bladnoch distillery, as it gets ready to open its doors later this year to visitors, is continuing to release older single malt whisky expressions. The latest of these is a new 17 year old Scotch that was finished in ex-California red wine casks.

The new Bladnoch 17 Year Old, according to those behind it, is a limited edition release which was first filled into ex-bourbon barrels in 2001.

Angela Cochrane und Kirsty Olychick betreten als erste Frauen einen Bereich der Whiskyindustrie, der bisher noch immer ausschließlich in männlicher Hand war: Sie beginnen eine Ausbildung zum Küfer (oder vielmehr wohl zur Küferin) an der Cambus Cooperage von Diageo in Clackmannashire.

Einen Caol Ila, der mehr als 30 Jahre im Fass verbracht hat, wird man nicht gerade kistenweise bei sich daheim stehen haben. Eigentlich schade, dass das nicht geht, denn mit einer langen Reifung tendiert Caol Ila dazu, umwerfend komplex zu werden, ohne dabei die ausgeprägte Rauchigkeit zu verlieren. Nicht immer, aber doch oft genug, um große Augen zu bekommen, wenn man solche gereiften Abfüllungen sieht – zum Beispiel auf Messen. Das sind dann Zeitpunkte, wo man auch mal für einen Dram tiefer in die Tasche greifen kann.

The final 20 bottles of the Duke of Rothesay’s own whisky will be auctioned off to raise money for the Ballater community. They are Royal Lochnagar 30-year-old single malt from the Duke’s 1988 cask, which was produced at the local distillery. The recent auction of bottle number one of the Prince’s single malt raised £9,100, and the foundation is releasing the remaining bottles for auction this month.

Every whisky event I work, there is at least one bloviating male who explains whisky to me. Every auction, conference, and fundraiser—I stand at my booth, hired to conduct tastings, and educate the consumer on what they’re drinking. This type of man is quick to tell me what he does, but never asks about my job. He assumes he knows more about whisky than I do. Men who do not understand what I do have explained my job to me, scores of times...

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