Without citing actual statistics, it is rather safe to say that the worldwide demand for whiskies has risen significantly over the past five years. This demand has fuelled established distilleries to manage and increase output by building new facilities or launching age-independent bottlings. Some brave souls even took the plunge and set up a brand new distilleries.
Out of all the new distilleries that we’ve read about, we’re really intrigued by one that’s located in Dornoch, Scotland.
This distillery, located in the Highlands near the Glenmorangie distillery, is owned by Phil and Simon Thompson. The brothers have been in in the whisky trade for a good number of years. They have been running the respected and award-winning whisky bar at the family-run Dornoch Castle Hotel and have earned their spurs in whisky making at the Balblair Distillery and Strathearn Distillery.
In early 2016, the brothers revealed their plans to build a distillery within the Dornoch Castle Hotel grounds, in the Old Fire Station.
Inspired by Old School Whiskies
Phil and Simon Thompson, at the distillery
According to their website, they are inspired by whiskies made during and before the 70s. So, a distillery will give them tools to create “something new, inspired by the old ways”, or whiskies with old school fruitiness.
To achieve this, they will be using materials similar to the ones back in those days.
The barley, of ancient varieties, are organically grown. They contain more protein, fat, thicker husks, but less starch. They produce great flavours, but have nearly half the yield of modern barley varieties. These barley are then floor malted using traditional methods.
The Thompson brothers will also be using obsolete strains of yeast, which act slowly with the wort and has a 30 per cent less yield compared to modern malting varieties and distillers yeast.
Apart from the ingredients, the distillers will also be using vintage processes like having long fermentation times in traditional, wooden washbacks and using direct gas on pot stills without antifoam.
Because of the lower yields of the materials as well as inefficiency of the processes, the production will take a longer time and it won’t be cheap.
Wisdom (and Resources) of the Crowd
The brothers will be relying on the community to crowd fund their distillery.
You can contribute as little as £50, for a bottle of their first general release gin (they go into gin production to get their distillery off the ground) and an official Dornoch Distillery T-Shirt). Or purchase an octave cask (carries 46 litres) along with a slew of memorabilia and cask owner’s benefits, for £2000.
The distillery have all the necessary papers and facilities in place. If everything goes according to plan, producing will start in August 2016.
Whiskies made before the 1970s have always been highly regarded by serious enthusiasts and whisky experts because of their fruitiness and complexity.
Who knows? If the demand for old school whiskies from the Dornoch distilleries hit the roof, it might spark a major rethink by the major brands and conglomerates. We can only stand to benefit.
All pictures from dornochdistillery.com.