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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

The London Distillery Company, London, England (Ver 1)

I have previously visited a closed distillery (Stitzel Weller in Kentucky, see link below) so why not vsiit one that is not even built yet?  That is what is I did in September 2012 when I visited the fledgling London Distillery Company and was given a personal tour of the former dairy cold room, located in Battersea, that will be home to the first artisinal whisky distillery in the UK.   As I have mentioned recently in my blog entry Living The Dream, the founder, Darren Rook, raised the capital for this project via an internet 'crowd funding' website in 2012.  It turns out this is not only the first London distillery in over 100 years and the UK's first craft distillery but also one of the first 200 or so companies funded in this way.  I am running out of words like "cool" and "exciting" to use about this project and I am really happy to be personally associated in a small way with it, through my own, very minor, investment.  The building work has commenced and when I return after Christmas they expect to be in production of both whisky and gin (this is London afterall) and offering "proper" tours, which I can't wait for.  I have a tour booked for December 28th.... and will update this entry after that.  As they were not operational there were no samples to try at the end of the tour, however Darren did take me to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London along with the distiller Andrew and intern Marco for a dram or two to make up for that.  Just over 3 years from now, November 2015, we will be tasting their whisky for the first time. 

 

http://www.somanywhiskies.com/distilleries/item/332-stitzel-weller-kentucky-usa

 

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Macallan, Speyside, Scotland

Macallan, Speyside, Scotland The Macallan is the distillery in Craigellachie where many of the myths espoused by other distilleries come to die.   It is a place of contrast and contradiction and I loved it. 

The distillery visitor's center is small and it is a place for whisky lovers to pay homage, not for the tourists.  No café or other family facilities, people come here to see the whisky being made and to buy from a very wide range of products available including many that cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.  The tour is very informative and goes into great depth into some of the areas of whisky production that others skirt over, particularly barley varietals (Macallan favours the less popular Golden Promise) and wood.  In fact they have an entire wood exhibit.  I don't mean the exhibit was made of wood, but a detailed exhibit on the types of wood used in their range and even goes in the detailed biochemistry of oak to explain the impact on the taste and aromas of their whisky. 

But what strikes you walking around the site is the industrial nature of the site.  This is not your quaint, Victorian, artisan, highland distillery, this is first and foremost a whisky factory with huge modern warehouses looming over you on the hill behind the distillery like the dark satanic mills of the famous hymn Jerusalem.  They use different mash tuns, different styles of wash backs (some steel, some wooden) and they even have two different still houses on the site with some still direct heated while others are steam heated.  All the sorts of variations in process that many other distilleries claim to reject and say would greatly affect the nature of final spirit seem less important to Macallan who produce a single malt, The Macallan 18 year old, sometimes called the Rolls Royce of Whisky (admittedly usually by them), and many consider one of the best single malts in the world.

Interestingly, despite being now reported as the second largest global brand of single malt whisky in sales, behind the Glenfiddich and ahead of Glenlivet, the success and globalization of brand Macallan does not seem to generate the angst and backlash Glenfiddich occasionally does within certain parts of the whisky community.  Discuss.

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