Whisky lovers enjoyed a triple treat as independent distiller Glen Scotia rolled out three limited edition single malts as part of this year’s Campbeltown Malts Festival.
The Campbeltown Malts Festival, which this year ran from 22-24 May, celebrates all that is unique and special about single malts from the region. In the Victorian era the town was home to more than 30 distilleries and known as ‘whisky capital of the world’.
Today Glen Scotia is one of just three surviving local distilleries and its award-winning whiskies are known for their distinctive Campbeltown character.
The Glen Scotia 25 Year Old Single Malt, launched during last year’s festival, was recently crowned a Double Gold medal winner at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018, along with the Glen Scotia 18 Year Old Single Malt, which was also a newcomer in 2017.
Making its debut as part of this year’s event was the Glen Scotia 2000 Single Cask Festival bottling. Selected by a panel which included whisky expert Charles MacLean, just 147 bottles of this beautifully balanced 18 Year Old, which combines maritime notes with a buttery vanilla sponge base, have been made available and they can only be purchased directly from the distillery, priced at £150.
Guests at the Glen Scotia Whisky Dinner, which launched the festival on Tuesday 22 May, each received their own exclusive single malt. The Glen Scotia Whisky Dinner Single Cask bottling was distilled in 2010. It combines subtle peat with a sweet spiciness before a salty and distinctly maritime finish.
The sold-out event, which paired local produce with a selection of Glen Scotia drams, was held at the Ardshiel Hotel. The hotel’s bar is renowned internationally for its extensive collection of single malts.
Finally, making its first international outing at the festival was the Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2018 Limited Edition Ruby Port Finish, priced at £45. Distilled in 2008 and matured in first fill bourbon barrels before being finished in Ruby Port casks for six months, the non-chill filtered liquid was then bottled at cask strength – 57.8% ABV.
Peated and smooth, this limited edition 10 Year Old Single Malt is sweetened by red fruits before delivering a long finish tinged with a dry saltiness. Only 6,000 bottles have been made available worldwide, with orders already in from markets including Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Iain McAlister, Distillery Manager at Glen Scotia, said: “We enjoyed welcoming visitors old and new to Glen Scotia as part of this year’s Campbeltown Malts Festival. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to discover our award-winning Glen Scotia single malts and the distinctive character associated with Campbeltown, which is the smallest of Scotland’s five Scotch producing regions.
“This year’s festival was extra special as it followed our recent double golds at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018. We’ve long championed craftsmanship at Glen Scotia, and our time honoured traditions are now being recognised as more and more people seek to engage with craft drinks and discover new brands.”
In addition to releasing new expressions, Glen Scotia distillery laid on an expanded festival events programme this year.
On Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 May the distillery hosted dunnage tastings as well as free distillery tours. Cooperage demonstrations and tastings were also available, while local stalls offered a variety of craft items and produce.
Demand for Glen Scotia’s distinctive single malts has soared following the launch of a new Global Travel Retail range and the introduction of the ‘Glen Scotia Grand Tour’, an experiential event designed to offer whisky lovers the chance to experience the essence of Campbeltown.
Held in London’s Borough Market from 15 – 17 March, the Glen Scotia Grand Tour aimed to transport whisky lovers to the Glen Scotia distillery on the Mull of Kintyre and replicate the experience of visiting the distinctive Campbeltown Whisky region. It is set to be rolled out to the US later this year.
With the Help of Bonhams, Malt Marketing Looks into the Subject of Rare Whisky
Bonhams Whisky Dept
What do tasters look for in a particularly exceptionally collectable batch of whisky?
As with most products, reputation, scarcity and exclusivity are very important. Ultimately a point of difference from the expressions that are more readily available all year round, perhaps a unique maturation story or a limited production run.
Do whisky collectors tend to be investors with excellent wine cellars already or is it a different type of investor entirely?
There’s bound to be some overlap. The appeal of investing in a bottle of something highly revered, limited and of the highest quality applies to both categories. It is worth remembering that collecting whisky is a relatively recent phenomenon. The first stand alone whisky auctions, for example, were held in the late 1980s. Until then, whisky was routinely lumped in with other spirits and often included in wine sales. Since then, interest has soared. The highest priced bottle in the first ever dedicated whisky auction held in Glasgow in 1989, for example, was £3,300 for an unusual blended scotch. Earlier this year, a bottle of Glendiffich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve was sold in New York for $94.000.
What tips do you have for first time whisky collectors looking to start a portfolio?
This depends to some extent on your motivation. If it’s to drink, then buy what you like drinking and gradually refine your palette as you become more experienced. If it’s to collect, the usual advice is to buy the best you can afford but, of course, some collectors will be buying to plug gaps in their collections.
If it’s an investment, do your homework as you would with any purchase. Start with the main range, available in any good whisky specialist. Then progress on to a Distillery exclusive bottling – this is a great place to start as by their very nature they are limited. These are available at a range of price points to suit any budget.
And, of course, exercise the normal precautions. Forgeries, for example, are not common but if you are in any doubt consult the relevant distillery. They are usually happy to provide information to anyone who asks.
How should a collector store their whisky safely?
Whisky should be stored out of direct heat or sunlight, so as not to undergo evaporation. Corked bottles should be storedupright, avoiding contact between the cork and the spirit inside..
How long should collectors hold onto their rare whisky before they could sell and see a return on their investment?
This is a difficult question to answer because it totally depends on the bottle in question. As with anything bought specifically as an investment, it is sensible for the investor to keep a close eye on the performance of his or her portfolio. There are now many magazines and blogs devoted to whisky and whisky collecting which offer statistics and advice. Whisky auctions provide another source of information. By studying the movement of prices over a period, and talking to the specialists collectors can gain some idea of how their portfolio may perform if brought to market. It’s worth adding that auction houses are usually careful to stick to the facts and not to make specific investment recommendations – that has to be for the judgement of the collector.
With international brands now able to command impressive premiums, is the home of whisky still Scotland?
Absolutely! Japanese, Irish, American, Canadian whiskies are great but whisky is synonymous with Scotland and Scotland with whisky! The romance and history of whisky is entirely bound up with Scotland (it’s called Scotch – sometimes – for a reason) and it’s difficult to see how that will ever lose its appeal.
Do you see whisky collecting as becoming a rival to wine?
(There really isn’t much more to say here that isn’t said above – it’s too similar a question)
What has made whisky so collectable in recent times?
A whole variety of reasons. A greater appreciation and understanding of how much love, time and craft goes into creating this wonderful spirit. A broadening of its appeal – consumers are increasing willing to try new spirits – particularly spirits with genuine heritage and provenance and most importantly a robust and complex taste. It is also, of course, the case that some buyers, especially at the high end of the market, see whisky as an investment rather than as something to drink and the seemingly inexorable rise in prices is fuelling demand among this group.
What is the future of the whisky investment market?
Cast iron predictions are never sensible in any walk of life but over the past 10 years the upward trajectory has remained remarkably smooth with new markets opening especially in the Far East. Since the sale of The Folsom Collection in 2010, for example, prices in Hong Kong have continued to rise with collectable single malts in particular of greater demand. In Edinburgh and New York, prices have been driven up by competition from buyers located in the Far East and USA in addition to the continued interest from European buyers. The fact that Bonhams and other auction houses are registering 90% sold across the range of prices suggest continued demand – but nothing in life is certain and investing in whisky requires the same level of common sense as anything else.
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