in the parish of peats masthead
scotish life magazine special subscription offer
whisky art

Scotch Whisky by John Lamond

A spirit of unity has broken out amongst a small group of Scotland's smaller whisky distillers; their collaboration has established The Independent Craft Distillers of Scotland.

Following the earthquake and tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan in March of this year, Euan Mitchell, the Managing Director of Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd., said, "Many in our industry are like me and travel regularly to Japan. We have made friends and contacts with Japanese whisky enthusiasts."

Japan has long had a close connection with Scotland, from the shared culture of malt whisky distilling to the shared culture of malt whisky drinking. The Scots and the Japanese even spell "whisky" the same way and the Japanese whisky industry grew out of Masataka Taketsuru's degree in Applied Chemistry at Glasgow University and his apprenticeship at Longmorn and Hazelburn distilleries.

"On seeing the scale and horror of the problems they are facing," said Euan, "we were moved to help, and other craft distillers immediately came onboard."

These distillers are Arran, BenRiach, Bladnoch, GlenDronach, Mitchell's Glengyle, Kilchoman and Springbank. They have never collaborated in this manner before and say that they are never likely to again. I, for one, am disappointed in that. Such cooperation in an otherwise very competitive industry is creative and should be encouraged. The contributed casks have produced some 2,000 bottles, the bulk of which will be sold by U.K. retailers. All profits raised from the sale of this unique bottling will go via charities to the victims of the disaster. With the support of suppliers and partners, including retailers, a conservative estimate is that at least £50,000 (about $75,000) will be donated to the relief effort.

The donated casks reflect a youthful, wayward character because Kilchoman and Glengyle are both young distilleries. The whisky has a green edge to the peat with tobacco, apple and spent fireworks surfacing on the nose, while the flavor is medium-dry, quite youthfully cereally and smooth with some spice, lingering well with a real belt of spent fireworks to the peat. Oh yes, the whisky is called "Spirit of Unity" and retails for £59 (about $88.50).

The full text of this column is available in the Autumn 2011 issue of Scottish Life.

Click here to preview our feature article on Andy Scott's Monumental Art by Shan Ross.

Click here to preview our feature article on Edinburgh's "New" National Museum by Keith Aitken.

Click here to preview our column on Scotland's Music by Edward Scott Pearlmal.

Click here to preview our reviews of Scottish Books.