The statue of Booker Noe at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.This is where you’ll find extended versions of WhiskyCast interviews, along with audio and video from special events that were too long to include in a regular episode of WhiskyCast. The original idea behind WhiskyCast was to gather oral histories of whisky, and this is a place where you can listen and learn more about the “water of life”.

Interview: The Craigellachie Hotel’s Kevin Smith & Lyndsey Gray

The newly-renovated Quaich Bar at the Craigellachie Hotel in Craigellachie, Scotland. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie.November 22, 2014 – Speyside’s historic Craigellachie Hotel has been a fixture in the town of Craigellachie for 120 years. Last year, Piers Adam bought the hotel, and invested £3 million ($4.7 million USD) in a complete renovation. The final step in that process was completed earlier this month when the hotel’s legendary Quaich Bar re-opened. The Quaich has been considered one of the world’s best whisky bars for many years, but as with the rest of the hotel, was in need of some tender loving care.

While local craftsmen and artisans took care of the decor, Quaich Bar manager Lyndsey Gray worked with longtime whisky writers Dave Broom and Charles MacLean on the whisky selection. On November 19, 2014, WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie sat down with Lyndsey and the hotel’s general manager, Kevin Smith, to discuss the renovation.

 

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted during a press trip sponsored by Dewar’s, but as with all stories on WhiskyCast, we retained complete editorial control over the content. 

Links: Craigellachie Hotel

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Interview: Inver House Master Blender Stuart Harvey

Inver House Master Blender Stuart Harvey leads a tasting for whisky writers in Edinburgh October 28, 2014. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie. November 14, 2014 – Stuart Harvey has spent the last 11 years at Inver House as the Master Blender for the company’s entire range of Scotch whiskies, including four different single malts and the Hankey Bannister, Catto’s, and Inver House blends. That’s a lot of different styles of whisky to keep track of, including award-winners such as the Old Pulteney 21-year-old single malt and the Hankey Bannister 40-year-old blend.

The Hankey Bannister range, along with a vintage bottle that served as the model for the Hankey Bannister Heritage Blend. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie.WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie had the chance to sit down with Stuart Harvey over dinner during an Inver House press trip for a group of whisky writers in October of 2014. During this extensive interview, Stuart discussed his development as a blender, along with the unique characteristics of each of Inver House’s five malt whisky distilleries (Old Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn, and Balmenach), and the differences between blending for a single malt and for a blended Scotch whisky. The entire 40+minute interview is available here.

 

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted during a press trip in which Inver House Distillers covered travel expenses for its guests. However, WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie retained full editorial control over the content.

Links: Inver House | Hankey Bannister | Old Pulteney | Balblair | anCnoc | Speyburn

 

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Interview: Peter Grant Gordon & Andy Nash

Andy Nash, William Grant & Sons USA President Jonathan Yusen, and Peter Grant Gordon during the launch event for the Glenfiddich Original November 3, 2014. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie. November 9, 2014 – On November 3, 2014, WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie had a chance to sit down and talk whisky for a few minutes with Peter Grant Gordon and Andy Nash of William Grant & Sons. Gordon is one of the company’s directors and a descendant of founder William Grant, while Nash is the Scotch Whisky category director for the company’s USA unit.

The evening was focused on the launch of the Glenfiddich Original, but our conversation covered a wide range of topics from Irish Whiskey to the state of the Scotch Whisky industry as well as the Glenfiddich Original. We also discussed the company’s recent launches of Girvan Single Grain Scotch Whisky and the single malts from Grant’s Kininvie and Ladyburn distilleries, as well as the future in the U.S. for the company’s namesake Grant’s Blended Scotch Whisky.


Links: William Grant & Sons

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Interview: The Dornoch Castle Hotel’s Thompson Brothers

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November 7, 2014 – Phil and Simon Thompson have been managing their family’s Dornoch Castle Hotel since they were practically teenagers, and have created one of Scotland’s best whisky bars at the hotel. This week, the Dornoch Castle Hotel was named as Scotland’s Whisky Bar of the Year by the Scottish Licensed Trade News, and the Thompsons have developed their own reputation as two of the most outspoken whisky lovers — and critics — around. The Dornoch Castle has a few mainstream Scotch whiskies, but the bar is best known for older bottlings of those mainstream malts — because the Thompsons prefer those older bottlings to today’s versions.

Last week, I stayed at the Dornoch Castle as part of an Inver House Distillers press trip. After an evening at nearby Balblair Distillery, I found Phil and Simon behind the bar at the end of a long day. Our interview lasted nearly 40 minutes — far longer than we could run in a single episode of WhiskyCast, but their views on the state of whisky today are well worth listening to. They’re outspoken, occasionally profane, and don’t pull their punches. Our conversation covered everything from the ethics of whisky bloggers to the lack of support distilleries give to Scotland’s own whisky bars and which distillers make whisky better now than they did in past years — and the Thompsons rarely hesitate to name names.


The Thompsons hope to have their own distillery one day. Here’s hoping that they succeed…and are able to make whisky the way it was done in the old days.

Links: Dornoch Castle Hotel

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Inside The Travel Retail Market

One of the travel retail shops at Philadelphia International Airport. Photo ©2014 by Mark Gillespie. October 21, 2014 – Airports are investing a lot more money in travel retail these days, largely because the rent and revenue from retail sales can account for between 20 to 55 percent of an airport’s annual revenue. In other words, think of an airport as a shopping mall with a really big parking lot.

One of the questions we receive most frequently from community members goes along the lines of “I’m traveling through X airport…what whiskies should I look for at the duty-free shop?” Of course, we also hear “can I really save money at the duty-free shop?” and “why don’t US airports have any decent duty-free shops?”

Michael Payne can help answer many of those questions. Payne is the executive director of the Washington, DC-based International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores, and his members include most of the major airport retail operators around the world. Payne addressed the state of the travel retail market at this year’s World Whiskies Conference in New York City, and talked with WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie after his session.

 

If you have suggestions for airports with good duty-free whisky selections, we’d love to share them with other WhiskyCast community members! Just add a comment to this story with your recommendations.

Links: International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores

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Interview: “American Spirit” Author James Rodewald

"American Spirit" by James Rodewald. Image courtesy Sterling Epicure.October 12, 2014 – Veteran journalist and former Gourmet Magazine drinks editor James Rodewald spent more than a year visiting distillers around the United States for one of the first books covering the boom in craft distilling. “American Spirit: An Exploration of the Craft Distilling Revolution” isn’t a how-to guide, but documents the stories of individuals who thought they could make whiskies, brandies, gins, and vodkas just as well as the big corporate distillers — if not better.

Many of the subjects Rodewald profiles are familiar ones to WhiskyCast listeners, including Chip Tate, the Erenzos of Tuthilltown, Dave Pickerell, and other whisky distillers. During our conversation recorded on September 30, 2014 at The Dead Rabbit in New York City, James discussed how he found some of his subjects by asking other craft distillers whom they most respected, and discovered distillers he’d never heard of in years of covering the spirits industry. You’ll discover some of those distillers in this complete version of the interview (an edited version appears in Episode 501 of WhiskyCast).

 

“American Spirit” is available to purchase in the WhiskyCast Bookstore powered by Amazon.com.

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