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The Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Islay


We visited Ardbeg first, and got an incredibly in-depth tour from distillery manager Mickey Heads. Our first impression was how shockingly small the operation is, at least in comparison to their marketing budget. Ardbeg only operates a single pair of stills. To put that in perspective Glenlivet has 28 pairs.


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The Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Campbeltown


After a long drive across the lowlands and down the Campbeltown peninsula we arrived in the town of Campbeltown. Once the mecca of Scotch whisky with over 35 distilleries in the town, the number has dwindled down to just 3. Two of them are owned by the Wright family, Springbank and Glengyle. Founded in 1828, the Springbank distillery is a special place for Scotch lovers.

Campbeltown Scotland Binny's

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The Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Speyside and The Highlands


Family owned since 1895, G&M is one of Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers. They’re also a wine, spirits and beer wholesaler. Their operation is very large, spanning several acres. We got a chance to see one of their warehouses and it was a sight to behold. They use a tall, racked warehouse as opposed to the short, dank dunnage warehouses. There are some real gems in their warehouses and they have some of the oldest casks in the business. In fact, they’ve bottled the oldest single malt ever bottled, a 70-year-old Mortlach. We had the privilege of tasting two different Macallan casks from 1940 while we were there. They were both surprisingly vibrant and fresh when we expected woody and tired. We’ve got plenty of G&M cask samples we’re tasting through and considering and will update our picks in an upcoming post.

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A Tour of Scotland Distilleries



I was recently in Scotland on vacation with my girlfriend Kimberly, and we were able to visit a few distilleries. We started off in Edinburgh where we visited a place called the Scotch Whisky Experience. They have a fun interactive tour that shows you how whisky is made. After the tour they bring out samples of whiskies from Speyside, the Highlands, the Lowlands and the Islands to show the difference in taste between these regions. Then they bring you to a room that holds the Largest Bottle_bloglargest Scotch Whisky collection in the world. This collection was built by whisky connoisseur Claive Vidiz. It took over 35 years to build and holds 3384 bottles of Scotch Whisky. Needless to say, this puts my collection to shame. Then we finished the tour in the tasting room where they have the largest bottle of whisky on display. This bottle stands 4 feet 9 inches and holds 105.3 liters (about 150 bottles).


Our next stop was in the Scotch Whisky capital of the world, Dufftown. First stop Aberlour. We tried samples of the Aberlour a’bunadh, Aberlour 12 year and Aberlour 16 year. The 16 year in particular stands out for me. This was well rounded and has a nice complexity from both the ex-bourbon and sherry casks.


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Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Scotland Days 2 and 3



The meat of the trip starts with a Gordon & Macphail tasting. Plenty for the panel to look at, I’m bringing back the following for consideration (out of 40 whiskies):


Clynelish 1997 Refill Sherry Hoggie
Dailuane 1998 Refill Sherry Hoggie (2 casks)
Miltonduff 2004 Refill Bourbon ASB (2 casks)
Mortlach 1998 FF Bourbon ASB
Mortlach 1998 Refill Sherry Hoggie
Tormore 2000 Refill Bourbon ASB
Caol Ila 2006 FF Bourbon ASB (of course)


Gonna be no sweat getting a few out of these.



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Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Brett in Scotland 2013


Roseisle Distillery


First stop: Roseisle, the new Diageo monolith. This is either the largest or second largest distillery in Scotland, depending on whose marketing suits you want to believe. This place is gigantic. 13 million Liter capacity. Besides being large, it’s a technological marvel, with the ability to pump out malt with any flavor profile, by manipulating mash times, ferment times, copper contact, and so on. Theoretically, they could produce all the malt needed to construct a Johnnie Walker blend. Despite its size, you malt fans shouldn’t feel threatened – Diageo is also expanding most of their other distilleries in Speyside.


Roseisle Maltings


Next is Roseisle Maltings, which is so massive it can churn out  600 tonnes of malted barley in less than a week. This facility, plus the Ord and Brughead facilities, supply all the malt needed for Diageo’s Speyside and Highland distilleries. Another interesting note, the Roseisle Maltings is 100% energy neutral for heating needs – meaning they use the waste from the malting process to fuel the facility.


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Scotland 2011


St. John 'O Groats in the background, at the northernmost part of mainland UKBen Rinnes

After 8500 air miles, nearly 1000 driving miles and one narrowly missed volcanic erruption, the Scotland 2011 trip has wrapped up. This year the journey began on the east coast in Aberdeen, and took us as far north as the Orkney Islands, as far south as Pitlochry and as far west as Inverness. Distilleries visited included Highland Park, Scapa, Glenglassaugh, Glenfarclas, Edradour, Braeval, Allt a Bhainne, Glenallechie, Longmorn, Glen Elgin, Glen Spey and Benrinnes. Over the next few weeks I will get into more detail about some of those stops, but since the purpose of this trip is to source casks for our single cask program, here’s a preliminary report of what is being considered for 2011:


Gordon & Macphail

Craigellachie 1993 – 17 year (refill Bourbon)

Glenallechie 1999 – 11 year (refill Bourbon)

Glenburgie 1996 – 14 year (FF Bourbon. Sorry, couldn’t find a maple syrup and butter bomb this year!)

Mortlach 1998 – 12 year (FF Bourbon)

Tomatin 2001 – 9 year (FF Bourbon)

Scapa 2000 – 11 year (Refill Bourbon)

Bunnahabhain 2000 – 10 year (FF Bourbon)

Caol Ila 2004 – 6 year (Refill Bourbon)



Linkwood 1998 – 12 year (Sherry Hoggie)

Linkwood 1995 – 16 year (Hoggie)

Braeval 1998 – 12 year (Bourbon)

Imperial 1995 – 15 year (Hoggie)

Mortlach 1998 – 13 year (Hoggie)

Mortlach 1991 – 19 year (FF Sherry Butt)

Caperdonich 1994 – 16 year (Hoggie)

Glenlossie 1992 – 18 year (Hoggie)

Tamdhu 2004 -7 year (FF Sherry Butt)

Bunnahabhain 1997 – 13 year Heavily Peated (Hoggie)

Bunnahabhain 2001 – 10 year (Sherry Butt)

Bunnahabhain 2005 – 6 year Heavily Peated (Bourbon)

Bunnahabhain 2006 – 5 year Heavily Peated (Hoggie)

Laphroaig 1995 – 16 year (Bourbon)

Laphroaig 2000 – 10 year (Hogshead)


Original Bottlings

Edradour 2003 – 8 year (FF Bourbon)

Pulteney 1995 – 16 year (3 samples, FF Bourbon)


We have plenty of great potentials as we go to round 2. That means sitting our tasting panel down, rescreening the samples brought back and gathering pricing for everything. Many barrels we don’t select exclusively for Binny’s will still make it here as general US releases; they were certainly all good enough to make it through the first round!

Drawing Barrel Samples at SignatoryGordon & Macphail Barrel Sampling

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