Stand and deliver
It’s not every day you get the chance to help create a quality Scotch blend or to watch a master craftsman at work – so when William Grant & Sons asked me to join Brian Kinsman to do just that it was too good a chance to miss.
I nearly did miss it though – my flight to Aberdeen was delayed nearly four hours and I arrived just in time for the blending session.
William Grant & Sons has found an old recipe that dates back to June 11, 1912 – exactly 100 years ago to the day – so the plan was to use as many of the original whiskies as possible to recreate the blend, which is called Stand Fast.
It was a truly fascination exercise. Using an array of grains from different distilleries, including three that are now closed, and including a heavily sherried and sulphury sample, we made a blend using a mix of just three malts – from Glenfiddich and from Balvenie, both of which Brian had prepared earlier and which included malt of various ages, as well as a very earthy and peaty Highland Park.
The blend contained about 40 per cent malt and had a distinctive Highland earthiness and a surprisingly feisty finish.
There wasn’t any chill-filtering a century ago but Brian and global brand ambassador Ludo Ducrocq came up with a novel way of removing the fatty particles which cause clouding – egg white. Over a few days the egg hoovers up the congeners and the resulting deposit can apparently be easily filtered out. I’m not too sure about this as I have an egg allergy, but it made for an unusual twist to proceedings nevertheless.
We finished just in time to get to the Highlander in Craigellachie to catch England play France. Ludo, who is French, recorded the match and didn’t want to know the score, so we spent dinner and several late night drinks hinting that England had won 6-0.
Boys will be boys…
Ready to rock and roll
Just two days left to go before Compass Box’s John Glaser and I attempt to conduct eight tastings in eight cities over 700 miles and 24 hours.
How do you train for a 24 hour trek like that? Not sleep in practice so you’re tired before you even start? Or try and sleep more so that you’re at maximum energy for the big day?
The William Grant trip and subsequent drinks in the bar meant that the second option was never on the cards.
We start at one minute past midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning at The Whisky Shop in Inverness and will be in Edinburgh for 4am. We’ll be joined by Whisky Shop head office heavyweights Andrew and David, who will be driving us.
The plan is to finish up in Brighton before midnight on Friday night. And it means that I’ll be listening to England beat Sweden in the back of a van in the company of an American and two Scots.
Oh Lordy mama!
A busman’s holiday…
My family has stayed at the lodges above Aberfeldy distillery three times now and every time it has been wonderful;. This visit, though, was the best of all. The weather was decidedly better than down south, we had great walks and discovered some great pubs. Perfect!
And then there was the inevitable trip to the distillery for a meeting on the last day. The family spent a happy hour at the Dewar’s World of Whisky, my 11 year old once again proved to be a far better blender than I am, and ambassador Stephen Marshall sent me off with an array of wonderful whisky including Aberfeldy 21 year old and Dewar’s Signature. A great way to end a great week.
I returned home to find a gift from Diageo of all people – an unsolicited sample of both the Talisker 25-year-old and the Talisker 30-year-old. Both were enjoyed over the weekend – and both were wonderful.