HP, Arran, Wemyss & a Quintessential Dalmore

No, not the sauce but Highland Park. Adding to their range, the Orkney distillery is to launch the first of a new set of whiskies in August. It’s called the Keystone Series and the first one is named Hobbister after the Hobbister Moor from where Highland Park cuts its peat – one of the keystones of HP production. Within the cask make up they are using some casks which contain100% peated whisky. The regular HP uses 20% peated floor-malted barley using Hobbister peat and the rest (80%) is non peated. I am told they were keen to release something which is more peated than normal – just for interest. Trees have a hard time surviving in Orkneys often huge winds so the peat is formed from decaying heather and other plants but no trees as you might find in some other peat-cutting areas. Some of the peat is reckoned to have formed about 9,000 years ago. There is no age statement and the cask make-up is largely US oak sherry casks and bourbon wood.

HP Hobbister 1

There will be a run of 1200 bottles which can be purchased only at the distillery or to members of HP’s online Inner Circle. So, if you find yourself on a jaunt to Orkney anytime soon, try the distillery or get those digits hitting the keyboard and sign up to Inner Circle. Hobbister is £75 a bottle,   51.4% abv and will be available from 13th August. The next 4 in the series will be released throughout 2017 and feature hand-turned floor maltings, sherry casks, cool maturation and cask harmonisation.

Second on the list for this month is a new book from publisher and whisky writer, Neil Wilson. It’s “The Arran Malt – An Island Whisky Renaissance”.

The Arran Malt cover

As you might guess it’s all about the Isle of Arran Distillery – its founding and development, but a lot more besides. I love the history of distilleries and families and this delivers. The book also tells of Arran’s distilling history in previous centuries but which was then lost till this distillery was founded only some 21 years ago. It’s interesting to look back at something so new in Scotch. Neil chronicles the objections of the NIMBYs who didn’t want their lives disturbed by such a venture. They must be thankful for the benefits to island economy now and the peace of the island wasn’t shattered after all.

One thing I do particularly like is that the book features a lot about the people who were –and some who still are – involved there. People matter massively in distilleries and their local communities and it’s good to see them recognised here. The book also does not shy away from mentioning the occasional criminal element who could have done irreparable harm to the operation and the people who work there. Plans for Isle of Arran’s new distillery in the south of the island, where a new peatier malt will be made – are also covered. There’s lovely photography and it’s printed on great paper which makes it a satisfyingly tactile experience. One to read with a dram or good whisky cocktail to hand and available from Amazon, Book Depository and “all good bookshops” at £19.99.
Speaking of a dram to hand, some new Single Cask Releases bottlings from Wemyss Malts arrived late June, just in time to miss my last blog. They kindly sent me samples of three of them to try – “Arbor in Bloom” – a 1995 Speyside from Glen Grant; Lemon Buttered Kippers- a 1997 Bunnahabhain from Islay and Briny Tangle- a 1990 from Bowmore, also on Islay.

Wemyss Arbor in Bloom

Each one of them is bottled at 46% vol. I won’t go into detailed tasting notes here. Each one has its merits, the Bunnahabhain being unusual due to being a peated version, but my favourite was the Glen Grant from this trio. That could change with mood and weather, though!

This week I’ve also been interviewing Richard Paterson for Whisky Advocate magazine’s website. Hopefully that will be posted soon. Earlier in the month a press release arrived to advise that construction has now started on the long-planned distillery at Lindores Abbey in Fife. More on that in due course.

Lastly, a nod of congratulation to Kilchoman Distillery on Islay whose Sanaig expression has just won the award as “Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky (No Age Statement)” at this year’s International Wine & Spirits Competion. A singular achievement for such a wee place – and it’s not the only award they’ve won this year.

If you’ve had your summer break, I hope you’re fired up for the rest of the year and if you’re still to have it, I hope it’s enjoyable. I’m just back from a few nights in Austria where the local mozzies by the lake obviously enjoy good Scottish blood. Will be back with you with any other news before end of August.

Slainte mhath,




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