Each week, we bring you the latest whisky news on WhiskyCast, but a lot can happen during the week. Now, you can keep up with whisky news as it happens here on WhiskyCast.com!
Diageo plans to invest approximately $2.4 million to expand its company archives at the company’s facilities in Menstrie, Clackmannshire, Scotland.
The archive contains about 500,000 different items, ranging from vintage whisky bottlings to memorabilia and historical artifacts from Diageo’s facilities around the world. The expansion will include a new reception and library area, along with additional storage space. The archive expansion is needed because of the need to store historical material linked to Diageo’s recent acquisitions, including the Scotch whiskies produced by India’s United Spirits. It’s not been decided whether the archive will house elements from Whyte & Mackay, since the United Spirits-owned unit is likely to be spun off as part of the acquisition and already maintains its own archives in Glasgow.
As we heard from Diageo’s Joanne McCutcher in Episode 325 (July, 2011), the Diageo archive is not generally open to the public, but is available for research by historians on an application-only basis. The archives supply historical material for the visitors centers at many of Diageo’s distilleries.
The project still requires approval from local officials.
Scotland’s newest distillery has gone into full production as Wolfburn Distillery started filling its first casks on January 25. The distillery becomes the northernmost distillery on the Scottish mainland, located in Thurso about 20 miles north of Wick in Caithness.
Wolfburn’s history dates back to 1821, when the Smith family built the original Wolfburn distillery several hundred yards from the new facility. At one point, Wolfburn was the largest distillery in the region, but closed sometime during the late 18th Century. Construction began on the new distillery in August, with Shane Fraser being hired away from Glenfarclas Distillery in Speyside to serve as Production Manager, and then some. Shane and the only other employee, Matt Beeson, do everything from checking in malt shipments to brewing, mashing, distilling, and filling casks.
The first bottling of whisky from Wolfburn is expected in 2016. To hear an interview with Shane Fraser, listen to Episode 410 of WhiskyCast.
Heaven Hill has announced that longtime Master Distiller Parker Beam has been diagnosed with the early stages of ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” He’ll continue to work at Heaven Hill as long as possible, and the company is planning to donate $20 from each bottle of this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection whiskey to the ALS Association, with a goal of raising $250,000.
Parker celebrated his 50th anniversary in the whiskey business at a celebration on October 23, 2009 at Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, Kentucky. Here’s his entire speech from that evening.
Of course, we wish Parker and his entire family all the best!
An Cnoc is adding a new 22-year-old expression to its core range of Highland Single Malts distilled at Knockdhu Distillery near Huntly in Aberdeenshire.
The 22-year-old bottling uses predominantly American Oak ex-Bourbon casks, with some Spanish Oak ex-Oloroso Sherry casks as well. It’s bottled at 46% ABV, with no chill-filtering or caramel color added.
The new expression will be available in the UK, along with the USA, Japan, Taiwan, Sweden, Russia, Germany, and Denmark. 950 cases are being made available in the initial release at a suggested price of $135 USD.
The new expression joins the longtime 15-year-old Single Barrel in The Balvenie’s lineup, but will have a different flavor profile from the older whisky. Malt Master David Stewart selects the casks for bottling in both expressions, but chooses casks with sweetness and subtle vanilla notes for the 12-year-old. Each cask is slightly different, and no more than 300 bottles will come from each individual cask.
The Balvenie Single Barrel, Aged 12 Years is bottled at 47.8% ABV with no chill-filtering, and will be available at a recommended price of $69.99 USD.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company is releasing 5 new Single Malt Scotch whiskies and their first Blended Malt exclusively through Master of Malt.
The lineup includes whiskies from Auchentoshan, Deanston, Braes O’Glenlivet (Braeval), Bunnahabhain, Clynelish, and “Blended Malt Number One-Batch 1”. It’s the first Blended Malt release for the label, and is one spoonful of whisky away from being a single malt. Almost all of the whisky in the cask came from one distillery, but before it was made available to a broker, a spoonful of malt whisky from another distillery was added. That makes it officially a Blended Malt Scotch Whisky and keeps the original distillery’s name from being used on the final bottling.
The Balvenie has announced plans for Malt Master David Stewart’s latest Tun 1401 release. Batch #7 will be available in global travel retail starting in March, and is bottled at 49.2% ABV.
Tun 1401 is the special vatting tun at The Balvenie where David Stewart combines rare casks for each release. Batch #7 is a vatting of nine American oak Bourbon casks and two European oak ex-sherry casks. It follows Batch #6, which was released in North America last October. Look for Batch #8 to be released in the UK and European markets later this year, if the customary rotation for Tun 1401 releases continues.
I’ll have tasting notes here on the WhiskyCast web site as soon as I can arrange for a sample.
According to The Whisky Advocate’s John Hansell, Diageo plans to reopen the mothballed Stitzel-Weller Distillery on Louisville’s west side. Diageo has not confirmed the report.
Stitzel-Weller was opened by the Van Winkle family in the suburb of Shively in 1933, and owned it until 1972. It closed in 1992, when the company now known as Diageo moved production to the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. Diageo has used the Stitzel-Weller warehouses for whiskey maturation since then, but concerns over asbestos contamination in the distillery have been the primary reason for not reopening the distillery.
There has been increased activity at the distillery, where the main office building has been turned into a showcase for Bulleit Bourbon. As we heard in November of 2011 from Tom Bulleit during WhiskyCast Episode 345, the “Bulleit Bourbon Experience” is being used for trade education, with plans to open it to the public eventually.
More details as they become available…
Beam has agreed to sell several of its minor Canadian whisky and vodka brands to St. Louis-based Luxco, for $65 million. Beam intends to focus on its premium spirits brands and several brands recently acquired since the breakup of Fortune Brands into three separate companies a year ago.
The deal includes the Lord Calvert and Canada House Canadian whisky brands, along with the Bellows blended whiskey and Bourbon lines. The Calvert and Bellows names are also used on gin, vodka, and other spirits. Beam will continue to produce and bottle the brands through the end of 2012.
Luxco’s brands include Rebel Yell Bourbon Whiskey.