Whisky Illuminati, an independent bottler specialising in premium single cask Scotch whisky, today unveils what it believes to be an industry first with the launch of the Solaria Series: a three-part bottling of five Speyside single malt whiskies.
Offering something genuinely unique to whisky enthusiasts, the Solaria Series will give consumers the opportunity to explore how Scotch whisky evolves in the cask over time, thanks to its three-part bottling which will be released over the next four years. Following the first edition (1:3) release in 2019, there will be a second release in 2021, with the final batch set for release in 2023.
In edition one of the Solaria Series, only 150 bottles from three of the Sherry Butts, 120 from another lower fill Butt and 100 from the Hogshead will be released. The remaining whisky will stay in the cask for a further two years before Edition 2:3 is released, followed by Edition 3:3 in 2023.
The Solaria Series comprises five single malt Scotch whiskies from Speyside distilleries:
Each release was matured in first-fill Spanish Oak Sherry Butt casks, with the exception of the Solaria Series from Craigellachie Distillery, which was matured in a first-fill Spanish Oak Sherry Hogshead cask. Described by Whisky Illuminati co-founder, Keith Bonnington, as a “rare first for the Scotch whisky industry”, each of the 2011 Vintage Single Casks bottled as part of the Solaria Series were hand selected by a panel of experts with over 200 years of industry experience.
Bonnington noted: “This is a unique opportunity for whisky drinkers to buy into a developing cask of single malt Scotch whisky, and to fully appreciate how the character evolves in the wood over a period of four years.
“We selected 100% first fill ex-Sherry Casks from Spain to mature the new-make spirit, with the aim of drawing out maximum impact from the wood to deliver the depth of flavour and colour desired over time.”
Bonnington added: “Our policy of bottling at natural cask strength without adding colour or chill-filtering means that each whisky is bottled at between 63% and 68% alcohol by volume, exactly as they appear right now in the cask. To fully enjoy the multitude of complex flavours, gradually adding water to taste is encouraged.
“How they develop in the oak over the duration of the three releases is completely in the hands of mother nature and that anticipation of their natural development is what makes this series so exciting.
“What is certain, is that these 2011 Vintage casks are made from the highest quality European oak, sourced from one of Spain’s finest Sherry Bodegas, and I’m confident that the whisky will develop and mellow marvellously over the next few years”.
The launch of the Solaria Series follows Whisky Illuminati’s inaugural Candlelight Series, which was released in 2018 to high acclaim from many leading whisky writers and experts², and sold internationally in markets including China, Taiwan, South Africa and the United States.
The Solaria Series will be available to purchase from select specialist whisky retailers this month, August, including Master of Malt and Selfridges, at a UK RRP of around £120 each. Buyers of the first release will automatically be offered the opportunity to purchase the second and third editions upon release.
Gordon & MacPhail, the single malt Scotch whisky creator, has unveiled a new addition to its ‘Private Collection’: Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery. At 70-years-old, it is the oldest expression from the Speyside distillery ever bottled.
The latest release closely follows the acclaimed 50-year-old Gordon & MacPhail 1968 from Caol Ila Distillery, the oldest single malt ever bottled from the Islay distillery.
The rare and exclusive Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery was matured in Cask 2154, a first fill Sherry butt filled on 11 June 1948 – six years before barley rationing restrictions were lifted following the Second World War. Only 210 decanters of this highly sought-after whisky are available to purchase.
The ‘Private Collection’ comprises a selection of rare single malts from celebrated, little-known, or closed distilleries personally selected by members of the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail.
Members of four generations of the Urquhart family nurtured Cask 2154. John Urquhart selected the cask with his son, George, back in 1948. George oversaw storage of the cask in the fabled Warehouse No. 5 at Glen Grant Distillery. His eldest son, Ian, monitored the whisky and, in May 1968, arranged for the Sherry butt to be moved to Gordon & MacPhail’s Elgin warehouse. Ian’s nephew, Stuart, the company’s Operations Director, selected Cask 2154 for bottling on 19 October 2018.
Stephen Rankin, Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige and member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, reflected: “Our family has matured single malt whiskies for 123 years, each generation passing on its knowledge of how to combine spirit and oak to create exquisite whiskies. Four generations of my family have carefully nurtured Cask 2154 over its 70 years to produce this unique whisky.
“My great-grandfather, John, selected the first fill Sherry butt in 1948 to fill with new-make spirit from Glen Grant. My family has patiently watched over this cask, regularly monitoring and sampling the whisky, recognising the right moment to bottle it at its ultimate peak. This masterpiece epitomises the skill and craft involved in matching a cask to new-make spirit, as well as our dedication to creating unique and intriguing whiskies.
“Thanks to the notable influence of the Sherry butt on the spirit over the years, the elegant whisky displays flavours of dried fruit, orange zest, and cracked black pepper whilst maintaining a long, smooth charred oak finish. The remarkable 70-year-old malt also has delicate smoky notes, a reminder that, in 1948, the distillery would have been using traditional practices on their floor maltings and local peat as a fuel.”
Bottled at cask strength (ABV 48.6%), the amber coloured single malt is presented in an exquisitely engraved, hand-blown crystal decanter. The stunning whisky is framed in a striking wooden presentation case, with doors which smoothly slide open to reveal the precious contents.
In April 2018, Gordon & MacPhail streamlined its portfolio of single malt Scotch whiskies. Over recent months, the company has unveiled several remarkable ‘Private Collection’ releases: Gordon & MacPhail 1968 from Caol Ila Distillery and Gordon & MacPhail 1954 from Glenlivet Distillery.
Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery will be available for purchase worldwide from selected specialist retailers* (UK RRP £17,500**).
For more information, please visit www.gordonandmacphail.com.
*Gordon & MacPhail 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery will be available to purchase in the US in spring 2019.
**Prices in international markets may vary due to local taxes and import duties.
A distillery brand home manager who has been delighting visitors for five years about Benromach Speyside single malt Scotch whisky has become a Keeper of the Quaich at an exclusive ceremony at Blair Castle in Perthshire.
Susan Colville was invited to join the international and select society which recognises those who have shown outstanding commitment to the Scotch whisky industry.
Susan, who was born and raised in Speyside, joined the Forres-based distillery in 2013 to lead a dedicated team of guides who deliver a highly personal and up-close experience to thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
Throughout 2018, as Benromach celebrates its 20th anniversary since production restarted, Susan has been driving an exciting programme of activity. She began by leading the team that staged the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival opening gala dinner in May and is helping to host colleague and trade events throughout the year.
Susan was thrilled to be honoured by the Keepers of the Quaich She said: “This has been an incredible year at the distillery, and to receive this accolade during our 20th anniversary is particularly special for me.
“As one of only a few distilleries in Scotland where every whisky is handcrafted without any automated equipment, we’ve worked hard to deliver tours and tastings to our visitors that are truly unique. Since 2013, we’ve seen a 40% increase in visitor numbers from across the globe.”
Susan, who lives in Elgin, Speyside with her husband and daughter, was determined to pursue a career in the Scotch whisky industry from an early age having been inspired by her father who worked for over 30 years as a distiller at Glenrothes Distillery.
Beginning her career as a tour guide at Glenfiddich and Glenfarclas Distilleries over the summer holidays, she then moved to Edinburgh to work for Royal Mile Whiskies. With a natural disposition for customer service and a love of Scotch whisky, Susan relished the opportunity to develop her knowledge and hone her sales skills.
Sales and marketing roles with Douglas Laing, AD Rattray, Wemyss and Glenglassaugh saw Susan travel the world, conducting countless masterclasses and tastings to an audience keen to learn and enjoy Scotch whisky.
Susan was acknowledged by her industry peers in 2012 when she was presented with the Young Ambassador of the Year accolade at the Icons of Whisky Awards. Following this recognition, Susan was named Visitor Centre Manager of the year at the World Whiskies Awards in 2015.
The venue for the Keepers of the Quaich ceremony – Blair Castle – is home to the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army. The banquet is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Castle, famous for its ceiling decorated with 175 deer antlers.
Keith Cruickshank, distillery manager at Benromach, commented: “Susan’s tireless commitment and significant contribution to our wonderful industry makes her an outstanding candidate to become a Keeper of the Quaich.
“She is a terrific ambassador for Scotch malt whisky and is truly deserving of this honour.”
Last month, Benromach Distillery, which attracts more than 13,000 visitors per year achieved its Five Star Visitor Attraction status from VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme.
The Macallan has launched Rare Cask Batch No. 1, 2018 Release, the first of three releases during 2018. This first batch introduces new packaging for Rare Cask, designed to provide consumers with even more insight into the whisky making process, with more detail revealed on this complex spirit.
Rare Cask exemplifies the ‘art of the cask’ and The Macallan’s unrivalled dedication to using only the best quality wood – a process carefully managed from acorn to cask. Only the finest sherry seasoned casks are hand selected by The Macallan whisky makers at the perfect point of maturation, to create this remarkably rich and unique expression.
This process of hand-selecting the casks is highly skilled and complex, requiring a balance of cask knowledge and creativity. Less than 1% of the casks maturing in The Macallan reserves meet the strict criteria for this distinctive whisky and 100% are first fill sherry seasoned oak casks, with the perfect balance of European and American oak delivering rich flavours and a natural mahogany red colour.
Batch numbers and the year of release will now feature on the new packaging, adding to the element of collectability. Rare Cask Batch No. 1, 2018 Release is one of three batches to be released this year, with four planned for each subsequent year. Each limited release batch represents the volume of only 50 oak sherry butts.
Nick Savage, The Macallan Master Distiller, said: “The rarity of Rare Cask lies in the limited number of first fill sherry seasoned casks. This whisky truly exhibits the art of cask selection and the role of our Whisky Making Team to hand pick the casks for each batch. The casks give the greatest contribution to the character and are the only source of the rich mahogany colour. It is one of The Macallan’s most complex yet balanced whiskies that we’ve created, with soft notes of rich oak, vanilla and chocolate.
“Rare Cask’s flavour has been created to be savoured and shared with those who appreciate a single malt with a rich depth of a complexity and perfect balance. With the release of yearly batches, Rare Cask can also be a memorable way to celebrate or mark a special year or occasion.”
The Macallan Rare Cask Batch No. 1, 2018 Release is presented in a redesigned pack to align it to the new bottles recently unveiled across The Macallan’s range of single malt whiskies. The new design now also features deeper reds and subtly incorporates wood grain to pay tribute to the incredible cask story. A new lighter background inside the pack emphasises the rich mahogany whisky and the pack is encased within a premium gift box, featuring a gold badge highlighting the Rare Cask name, as well as the batch number.
Each batch of The Macallan Rare Cask will be a limited edition release. The Macallan Rare Cask Batch No. 1, 2018 Release has an estimated retail price of £230.
Whisky Makers Notes:
Colour: Mahogany red
Aroma: Soft notes of opulent vanilla and raisin pique the nose, giving way to a sweet ensemble of apple, lemon and orange
Palate: Oak resonates, timeless, polished and rich. Vanilla and chocolate lead the finale along with a light citrus zest
Finish: Full and warming
For further information visit www.themacallan.com
Edrington, the international premium spirits company, has revealed the new distillery and visitor experience for The Macallan.
The new distillery and visitor experience is located on the stunning Easter Elchies estate, which has been home to the leading luxury single malt since 1824. From humble beginnings, the brand has risen to become the leading international single malt by value and enjoys leading positions in some of the world’s most significant Scotch whisky markets including The USA, Taiwan, and Japan.
It is the first distillery on Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who were selected to lead the project after an international competition.
Edrington is investing £500 million in the brand of which the £140 million distillery is the centrepiece. This programme increases investment in whisky, warehousing, and particularly in The Macallan’s signature sherry-seasoned oak casks.
The project was announced in 2012 and the build began in December 2014. The first whisky ran through the stills in December last year and the visitor experience will open its doors to the public on 2nd June. It is expected that visitor numbers will double in the first year and continue to rise thereafter.
The new distillery will enable production of The Macallan to increase by a third if required. The new stills were crafted by Scottish coppersmiths Forsyths, who have been making the brand’s distinctive, ‘curiously small’ stills for The Macallan since the 1950s.
Elgin-based Robertson Construction has delivered the complex architectural design, working with 25 contractors to bring the vision for the new distillery and visitor experience to life. During construction, up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades were employed on site.
The striking piece of contemporary architecture is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape, which has been classified as an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’.
The undulating timber roof structure is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components.
Ian Curle, Chief Executive, Edrington, said: “This is an exciting occasion for Edrington and The Macallan. The unsurpassed quality of The Macallan is in high demand and we face the future confidently with this new distillery. It’s an authentic, abiding, ambitious investment that will match consumer expectations for generations to come.
When the doors open in June, we expect this new Macallan enterprise to deliver significant benefits for the tourism industry, Scotch whisky exports, and the economy.”
Ken Grier, Creative Director, The Macallan, said: “As The Macallan has grown globally it has been very important that we make sure we can sustain demand for this wonderful amber liquid. We’ve taken exceptional care in making sure that the spirit that is produced in the new distillery is identical to the spirit that we produced in our previous distillery. This is the beginning of a really exciting new chapter in the evolution of this wonderful brand that is The Macallan.”
Graham Stirk, Senior Partner and Lead Architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners commented: “The Macallan estate truly is a special place; a place we have come to love and respect hugely. The vision was always ambitious but this enabled us to challenge our own thinking to create something so dramatic and awe-inspiring. It has been an honour to play our part in shaping the next chapter for The Macallan.”
For further information visit www.themacallan.com
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