Thursday, March 09, 2006



The Famous Grouse has a special offer for rugby fans this weekend. At TFG Experience at Crieff there’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see, touch and be photographed with the Calcutta Cup.

There will be various competitions over the weekend between 10am and 4pm each day – and the chance to try the new-ish 10-year-old blended malt.

The company’s tasting notes are as follows:

Appearance: golden, clear and bright
Aroma: soft, mellow with a ripe orange hint
Taste: soft, mellow oak with chocolate orange
Finish: long, rich and medium sweet

There’s a special offer on at the moment – order a bottle from the distillery at £19.99 plus p&p and get a free tasting glass for every bottle. Just call The Famous Grouse Experience on 01764 657025 or go online to


Two centuries of tradition at Highland Park on Orkney have been broken with the death of Barley, the distillery cat, as it has been decided by bosses not to find a replacement.

However, staff at the distillery, established in 1896, are already making arrangements so that the last moggie will be able to keep a
watching eye over the Kirkwall site.

Barley, a 15-year-old ginger tom, was a fond favourite with locals and tourists and received a sackful of Christmas presents and cards. He passed away following a road accident this week.

Assistant brand heritage manager Patricia Retson said: "Barley was a real character and there are many tales surrounding his time at the distillery. He was very friendly to tourists, but this warmth did not extend to dogs - he was renowned for terrorising the former distillery manager's hound, which once had to be carried from the distillery, as he was too frightened to move.

"His favourite spot was on top of the money till in the Highland Park shop, and many tourists thought he was a toy, so they got quite a shock when they touched him on the back."

Always a great companion, in particular to the production operators on night shift, Barley was the last in a line of generations of distillery cats at Highland Park - his predecessor was Malt and before that the resident cat was Peat.

All of the cats were named by workers to reflect key ingredients that go into making "the best spirit in the world."

"As a mark of respect to three of the most recent cats at Highland Park, we have plans to commission a local artist to make a statue which will be displayed in the courtyard, as they will always be part of the distillery's heritage," added Patricia.

"But we have decided not
to replace Barley due to health and safety regulations, though we are sure such a 'feline friend' will be sadly missed by visitors. The decision was not taken lightly as it is two hundred years of tradition that will be broken."

Monday, March 06, 2006


Glenfarclas has been named Distiller of the Year at the whisky industry’s Icons of Whisky dinner.

The award, now in its fourth year, was organised by Whisky Magazine and announced at an industry dinner held on the eve of Whisky Live in London. The prestigious award was presented to the company that has shown the most commitment to the development of whisky at all levels.

The magazine selected a shortlist, which included nominations from across the world. The list included Chivas Brothers, Diageo, Glenrothes, Inver House and Nikka, as well as Glenfarclas.

Key personnel from within the industry were invited to vote for the company they thought most deserved the award. Glenfarclas scooped it 'for being consistently good and staying true to its core values'.

Commenting on the win George Grant, Brand Ambassador for Glenfarclas said: “I am delighted. Having produced our whisky for over 170 years, we are not a new kid on the block and it is fantastic that those within the industry recognise that we have continued to produce consistently good quality whisky.”

Sunday, March 05, 2006


It was a night that will be spoken about as long as like-minded souls gather for a dram. Glasgow’s Whisky Club’s first tasting of 2006 was a memorable event. From tall tales to ice cream toddies, it was an evening that crackled with surprises, laughs and of course, some of the finest drams we’ve yet tasted.

Ably led by Gerry Tosh, HP’s Brands Ambassador, club members were taken on a tour of arguably Orkney’s finest export, taking in along the way, a history lesson, a geography lesson, a chemistry lesson and a social commentary on the Orcadians and their unique way of life.

We heard of Cyril, the distillery peat cutter since he was seven, banging the hell out of a heavy metal object on the peat field at Hobbister Hill … only to discover it was an unexploded bomb! And we were left wondering if Gerry Tosh was a spinner of yarns when he told the story of the malted barley, which gets such rough treatment on the ferries bringing it across the storm-tossed Pentland Firth, that it needs to lie down quietly for three weeks before it has settled enough to be used!

Those who were there will need little reminding of the quality of the drams tasted, but for those who couldn’t make it, the offerings were the 12YO, 15, 18, 25, and 30, with a single cask laid down in 1991 and destined for the Swiss market. Only 494 bottles were produced. It was drawn from the cask last week and was dark with hints of brine and chocolate. ABV was 56%.

For many the highlight of the night – and the feature that reflects the fun and informal nature of our whisky tastings – was the incomparable pairing of 25-year-old Highland Park and a loving spoonful of Mackie’s finest Scottish ice cream. A few purists raised their eyebrows when this concoction was produced, but changed their minds when the ice cream wrapped itself around the malt in a delivery system that perfectly married the vanilla ice cream with the soft and sweet taste of the malt. Chust sublime, as Dougie would say!

And as Gerry and the rest of us said at the end of the evening: Skol!!!

Stop Press: On Friday, March 3, at Whisky Live! in London. Ken Storrie and his team learned the Pot Still had been named Whisky Magazine's Whisky Bar of the Year. Yet another accolade, and yet again, well deserved.