The Whisky Show 2022: New Kids On The Loch

From Old & Rare [WLP] to New & Numerous. there are so so many new distilleries coming online and many subsequently appearing at this year’s Whisky Show, one simply can’t do them all. Managing six, I spent a fair bit of time at some of these stands, yet in festival conditions, not only does the palate fatigue but information overload quickly sets in. With that in mind, take these fragments of observation & information with a bag of salt.

HOLYROOD

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I’ve a soft spot for Holyrood after visiting the distillery shortly after it opened in the summer of 2019 [WLP].

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They didn’t have anything to try in those first few weeks, so this is my first opportunity to try some of their spirit runs.

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I work my way through a handful of experimental mash-bill new makes, all bottled at 60% [500ml]:

  • Brewer’s x WB78.50[2]: Rounded, regulation new make made from two yeasts – ‘M’ strain & Brewer’s US05.
  • Crystal Malt WB81[1]: Sweet savoury and fibrous.
  • Chocolate Malt WB0: More of a subtle [10%, like the Crystal Malt] execution in comparison to Spirit of Birmingham’s heavier chocolate malt style [WLP].
  • Made By Edinburgh WB82[2]: A combo that includes the Crystal Malt and Chocolate Malt using yeasts M Strain and Edinburgh Ale. With this mash bill favoured, Holyrood already has whisky at three years of age maturing in a variety of cask types including fino, manzanilla, and amontillado sherry wood, for example. I’m told this variation style won’t be released as a single malt until it’s reached at least 10 years.

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Holyrood’s experimental approach is creating characterful results without being wacky or over the top. The key word, I’m told, is ‘caution’. That being said, there’s one more spirit to try that catches my eye – a peated new make made from Japanese Sake Yeast [WB0], bottled for World Whisky Day 2022.

  • N: All the potent cheeses [Manchego in particular]
  • T: Surprisingly less funky than the nose.
  • C: An exciting discourse.

[Not scored]

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WIRE WORKS, WHITE PEAK DISTILLERY

White Peak’s first distillation occurred in the summer of 2018 meaning they have 4-year-old whisky already. Currently selling around a 1/5th of their stock, they’ve plenty back for the long[er] game. Here’s a recent release of there’s:

[White Peak] Wire Works Necessary Evil Finish [2022]  Ob. Batch #5 [2059 bts] 51.3% WB85[3]

Made in collaboration with Derbyshire’s Thornbridge brewery, the Necessary Evil is a stout finish.

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  • C: Just about picking up on the 6-8ppm, this is a focused, sweet, weighty, vegetal number. Very decent.

Scores 84/85 points

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Takeaways:

  • Craft and authenticity
  • Heritage and regeneration
  • Environment and design

Eyes on White Peak. Further reading: whitepeakdistillery.co.uk

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SPIRIT OF YORKSHIRE

It’s been four years since I visited Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery [WLP]. How time flies!

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Spending most of my time here catching up with master distiller, Joe Clark, here are two from SoY:

[Spirit of Yorkshire] Filey Bay Flagship [2022] Ob. Bourbon Casks 46%WB82.28[39]

  • C: Currently still just a 5yo, the whisky from SoY is coming on nicely.

Scores 83 points

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[Spirit of Yorkshire] Filey Bay Yorkshire Day [2022] Ob. Special Releases [1500 bts] 55% WB85[2]

  • C: A Special Release indeed. Bravo Mr Clark, a fine drop.

Scores 86 points

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ARDNAHOE DISTILLERY

After a heartwarming visit to Ardnahoe this year, it’s a pleasure to be finally trying, not just spirit, but whisky already.

Ardnahoe 03yo [2022] Un-Ob. Single cask sample abv unknown

  • C: Initial impression: not dissimilar to Ardnamurchan in style, indications are highly positive for the future. Look out for a [5yo?] release in due course.

[Not scored]

There’s more from Hunter Laing coming up.

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COPENHAGEN DISTILLERY

There’s much talk of Copenhagen at this year’s festival, predominantly for its maverick approach to spirit making [as well as +/-£500 price tags]. We’re talking biodynamic barley inoculated with koji, +/-10-day ferments, low-temperature closed-system distillation,… the distillation of oysters from different regions/countries!! SW: ‘It’s more lab than distillery‘.

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As for the name: calling a distillery in Copenhagen, ‘Copenhagen Distillery’, is like calling a distillery in Speyside, Speyside Distillery is it not?! Many of you will remember Speyside Distillery’s full rebranding in 2020 [WLP], moving away from calling their whisky Speyside Distillery or just Speyside, to Spey,… and not to be confused with Glen Spey! Food for thought.

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Back to Copenhagen Distillery, it’s hard not to love John & Marcus. Their energy passion enthusiasm is infectious. Also, they had many a colourful spirit for us to try. With much chatter, written observations are scant.

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Copenhagen New Make [2022] [Un-]Ob. abv unknown

  • C: After an idiosyncratic nose, the arrival is relatively more regular followed by an unfolding finish.

[Not scored]

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Copenhagen RAW Edition [+/-2022] Ob. Batch #2 [btl #159/888] 51.6%

  • N: ‘Bubblegum-fruitiness on Acid’.
  • T&F: Unique mouthfeel indeed,… [Method & Madness] chestnut oak vibes.
  • C: To understand/appreciate what’s going on here, “you have to take your whisky hat off”, says John.

[Not scored]

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Copenhagen REFINED Edition [2021] Ob. Batch #1 Cask Strength [btl #101/422] 54.9% [500ml] WB84.83[8]

  • N: ‘Refined’, perhaps, but not in a way you might be used to.
  • T: Bitters, all the [Angostura-like] bitters.
  • F: More and more bitters.
  • C: Unique [and decent] stuff from a distillery using unique fermenting, distillation, and maturation techniques. However, puzzling shoulder shrugs for the dumfounding price tags remain a constant feature amongst Copenhagen’s potential customer base.

[Not scored]

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Copenhagen RAW [2022] Un-Ob. Negroni Cask Finished 62%

Did he really say Negroni-cask finished?

  • C: Wonderfully off-the-wall flavours. Even if the juice is a bit bonkers, I see why peeps are making noise about Copenhagen. It’s the no-holes-barred experimental flavour-driven approach I am admiring.

[Not scored]

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Copenhagen Emmer [2022] Un-Ob. Wheat Run 62%

Did I understand this right,… made from the first row/top of the wheatsheaf which contains the hardest/lowest-yielding kernels?

  • N: Uncooked flapjack.
  • T: Touch of chestnut oak.
  • F: For Fi, it’s Schnapps all the way,… “with a drop of maple syrup”, I add.
  • C: Made, “just for fun”, says Marcus.

[Not scored]

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Copenhagen Bay Leaf Gin [2022] Ob. [600 bts] 45% [500ml]

  • C: Using just five natural flavourings, this is a refreshingly different gin. [Not scored]

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Copenhagen Agave Syrup Spirit [2022] Un-Ob. abv unknown

Aged for 2 hours – over the course of a lunch break – in a 100-litre cask to cure it [the cask] for future use. This is the resulting liquid residue, for academic interest.

  • C: My mind, and perhaps palate, is blown. [Not scored]

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Run by master distiller Lars Williams – The Caracticus Potts of whisky making – let’s ignore the prices [for now] and enjoy the ride.

Further reading:

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ARDNAMURCHAN DISTILLERY

Aside from numerous AD/ releases that have been well documented and celebrated over the last few years, there was one particular bottle I was keen to try from Ardnamhurcan. Fearing this would be a palate destroyer, I deliberately left Ardnagherkin until last. There’s even a ‘gherkin warning’ sticker on the label.

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Ardnagherkin was aged in an ex-Adelphi cask that had been emptied in preparation for receiving spirit from the new [Ardnamurchan] distillery [WLP]. However, spirit production was delayed longer than anticipated. Unbeknownst to the distillers, this unattended lone cask picked up a bacterial growth before finally being filled. Here’s the result:

Ardnamurchan 2015/2022 06yo Ob. ‘From Ardnagherkin’ cask #672 59.9% WB84.79[16]

  • N: Though one may well pick up on flavours such as salt & vinegar crisps and farmy Manchego,… this is not as bonkers [on the nose at least], once you’ve been prepped. Having said that,…
  • T: ,… oh boy, that is mezcal-ey. Plenty of curious weirdness ensues.
  • F: Incredibly, it does finally settle back from Ardnagherkin to Ardnamurchan by the finish.
  • C: A fabulous freak, a mezcal-to-whisky gateway perhaps?

Scores 85 [not impossible to score] points

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Dornoch 2019 03yo Un-Ob. Cask #154 [btl #1/1] 66.06%

Now loitering around the fabulous Elixir stand [coming up], Phil Thompson pours this into my glass.

  • C: Entitled Highland Mezcal, this one could give Ardnagherkin a run for its money, though it’s far less bonkers to taste than the nose might indicate. Then again, after Copenhagen, nothing seems quite as wacky as it once might have been.

“You guys are craftsmen”, I say to Phil in my end-of-day merriness. Ever-modest, “we just let nature do its thing” he replies. Nature is making beautiful spirit up there in Dornoch.

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Enough. It’s time to recalibrate the palate!

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