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18 years old

40 %         
Distilled 1971

Bottled 1989
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin.

19 years old
Distilled 1972
Bottled 1991
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

10 years old
43 %
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh

CAPERCAILLIE (Tetras urogallus).
Once extinct in Britain this, the largest member of the grouse family, was reintroduced to Scotland from Sweden in the early 19th century. Attempts at reitroduction to other areas of Britain have been unsuccesful.
The courtship display of the male is magnificent, tail cocked and fanned, beak pointing upwards and accompanied by some extraordinary vocal sounds. Groups of birds display communally in an area called a 'lek'.
They live mainly in Scotland's coniferous woodlands and nest on the grounds, often between roots of trees. During courtship the male is very aggressive and has been known to threaten deer, sheep and even humans.
'The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a charitable organisation whose aim are to promote the conservation of the wildlife of Scotland. A donation will be made for each bottle sold'.

12 years old
43 %
Distilled 1980
Bottled 1992
Balmenach Distillery, Cromdale, Moray

Sometime in the early 19th century, after walking in the Cromdale hills with his 2 brothers, James McGregor settled and established Balmenach distillery. Spring water from beaneath those same hills is still used to produce this rich flavou¬red Single Malt Scotch Whisky of exemplary quality.

10 years old
63,6 %        
150th anniversary bottling
Distilled April 1981
Bottled March 1992
No Filtration
No Colouring
No additives
Wm. Cadenhead, 32 Unionstreet,

19 years old
Distilled 1973
Bottled 1992
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

61,7 %                
Cask Strenght
Distilled 1978
Ian MacLeod & Co Ltd, Broxburn

27 years old
46 %      
Limited Edition
Distilled in 1973
Bottle No. 0160/2150
Balmenach Distillery, Cromdale

Tasting notes:
Pale gold, wet straw colour.
Warming, a fresh tobacco note initially fading into medium bodied oakwood, slightly sweet.
A mouth warming prickle to tip of tonque introduces a pronounced oakwood note that gradually blends into a glowing vanilla sweetness. Light to medium character with overtones of white wine and fresh fruit.
A plesant aftertaste with hints of samt air and a delightful finish.

30 years old
50.1 %       
A Rare Vintage Bottling
Distilled January 1972
Matured in Port Wood
Bottled in 2002
Cask Strenght
Hart Brothers Limited

Aged 25 years
58,5 %    
In Celebration of the
Distilled 1977
Bottled 2002
Genummerde Decanters
Inver House Distillers Ltd.

17 years old
43 %    
Distillation Date: November 1989
Bottling Date: March 2006
Cask Type: Refill American Hogsheads
Proprietors: John Crabbie & Co, Ltd
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin

Complex with fruit and spice elements, rounded with a drying smokiness.
Beyond Grantown-on-Spey, in a stretch of land known as the Haughs of Cromdale (meaning a series of valleys), is Balmenach Distillery.
This area was notorious for illicit distilling and Balmenach was one of the first distilleries in the Highlands to become legitimate after the Licensing Act of 1823

Aged  27 years
53,1 %    
Distilled 14th September 1983
Hoghshead no 2411
Bottled 23rd March 2011
239 Numbered Bottles
Bladnoch Distillery, Wigtown

46 %
1 9 8 8
Matured for 24 years                   
Speyside Single Malt
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask no: 2795
Bottled: 20/09/13
252 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chill Filtered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL

Aged  23 years old  
53.1 %               
Date distilled: 3rd  April 1989
Cask type: 2nd Fill ex - Sherry Butt
Society Single Cask: 48.31
Output: one of only 262 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith,  Edinburgh
" Honey and flowers in a
knicker drawer"

We, the Tasting Panel, verify that the Scotch Malt Whisky inside this bottle has been
passed under some of the most scrupulous noses in the world and approved for re-
lease as a Society bottling.
Only single cask whiskies that promise to intrigue, entertain and delight our members
are selected, true to our motto: “TO  LEAVE  NO  NOSE UPTURNED “.
The nose ranges from Battenberg cake, caramel and honey ro beeswas  polish, floral  incense
and aromatic  wood (new pencils, knicker drawer) more cereal like with water.
The palate has velvety chocolate, Mayan cocoa, buttered toast, salty toffee, wood smoke
pepper and chilli.
The rich, rewarding nose delivered marzipan, caramel, chocolate digestives, Battenberg
cake, honey and beeswax polish; someone detected floral incense, someone els a tin
of Lakeland pencils and the Lady – poet was rumamaging in het knicker drawer.
The unreduced palate had velvety chocolate and Mayan cocoa – also buttered toast,
caramel and salty toffee – then light, sweet smoke, woody notes, pepper and chilli.
The reduced nose produced more cereal notes ( honey nut clusters) syrup, bread dough
and green leaves.
The palate now had warmtoffee flavours, buttered brioche, Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut
and mild poppadom in the finish.
The distillery is near Cromdale.

Aged  8 years  
62,7 %                                           
Society Single Cask Code: No.48.35
Date Distilled 7th Aug 2003
Cask Type: 1st Fill Barrel / Ex Bourbon
Outturn: One of only 230 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"Let the summer arrive!"

We, the Tasting Panel, verify that the Scotch Malt Whisky inside this bottle has been
passed under some of the most scrupulous noses in the world and approved for re-
lease as a Society bottling.
Only single cask whiskies that promise to intrigue, entertain and delight our members
are selected, true to our motto: “TO  LEAVE  NO  NOSE UPTURNED “.
Citric notes of frsh limes and pink grapefruit followed by creamy lemon meringue pie.
To taste neat, hot and sharp like a tropical fruit punch. Much more approachable with
Water, freshly cut grass and ripe pineapple and the taste is that of an iced lime and dandelion tea.
First impressions on the nose are citric aromas; pink grapefruit, lemon zest and lemon
oil then turning more soft and creamy into lemon meringue pie followed by wood sap
and vanilla.
The taste neat is hot and sharp like a very strong tropical fruit punch with a juicy mouth
feel similar to a Starbust candy and slightly peppery finish.
With water, much more approachable, freshly cut grass, ripe pineapple and like a male fragrance with lemon as the base note possible “Dior Homme Sport”. The taste now
Light, soft with a slightly savoury, leafly and herbal but also refreshing note like a iced
lime and dandelion tea.

VINTAGE  1 9 8 8
25  years old
46 %                        
Distilled: 18/10/88
Matured in a Hogshead
Cask no: 2804
Bottled: 15/10/14
322 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL.

Aged 9 years
58.2 %                            
Date Distilled:8th March 2004
Cask Type: First Fill Barrel / ex Bourbon
Society Single Cask No: Code 48.38
Outturn: One of only 249 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"Sparkling summer effervescence"

We, the Tasting Panel, verify that the Scotch Malt Whisky inside this bottle has been
passed under some of the most scrupulous noses in the world and approved for re-
lease as a Society bottling.
The nose is summer – fresh and fruity (pear sorbet, sherbet, apple slices, kiwi, elder-
flower cordial, lemonade) turning creamier with water(vanilla ice crea, crème brulee)
The palate is sweet (sugar puffs, honey) with sparkling effervescence – sherbet, space dust, lemon, apple and Cremola Foam.
Only single cask whiskies that promise to intrigue, entertain and delight our members
are selected, true to our motto: “TO  LEAVE  NO  NOSE UPTURNED “.
The nose was really fresh and fruity – pear sorbet, sherbet, apple slices, kiwi, lemonade,
elderflower cordial and Caribbean fruit salade – also honey, vanilla, white pepper and
Flumps. More of the same with water – but now becoming creamier – vanilla ice cream
and crème brulee – the overall effect quite summery. The unreduced palate was amazingly
sweet (sugar puffs, Ovaltine, iced gems, runny honey, fruit scones) but with a sparkling,
fruity effervescence – sherbet, space dust, Cremola Foam, leon puffs.
In reduction – strawberries and cream, apple, tarte tatin with custard and mango skins.
The distillery is near Cromdale

Aged  26  years  
49.2 %                                 
Date Distilled: 30th March 1988
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead / ex Bourbon
Outturn: One of Only 241 Bottles
Society Single Cask: CODE: 4 8. 4 9
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"Herbal enough to please a gerbil"

We, the Tasting Panel, verify that the Scotch Malt Whisky inside this bottle has been
passed under some of the most scrupulous noses in the world and approved for re-
lease as a Society bottling.
Only single cask whiskies that promise to intrigue, entertain and delight our members
are selected, true to our motto: “TO  LEAVE  NO  NOSE UPTURNED “.
The nose, delicately herbal and floral (camomile, jasmine, basil, Melissa) also has lemonade,
vanilla and new furniture – waxy in reduction. The palate is bittersweet – watermelon and
agave syrup counterpointing humbugs, tarragon and menthol – orange sherbet and sponge cake with water.
We enjoyed delicate herbal and floral fragrances on the nose (Melissa, camomile, sweet
basil, jasmine, rose, eucalyptus) – beyond that we caught pleasant hints of vanilla, le-
monade, orange and new furniture.
The palate was maily bitter – sweet – watermelon and agave syrup sweetness rubbed along with lemon barley water, mint humbugs and various leafly, herbal flavours (menthol, tarragon, fennel, peppery nasturtium).
The reduced nose was better, now incorporating definite waxiness ( candles, waxed canvas,
lipstick) plus marmalade and floral freshness.
The palate also improved with water – sponge cake, limoncell, chocolate, candied angelica
and orangesherbet fizz all danced around in a mouth – watering sensual delight.

VINTAGE  1 9 8 8                             
26  years old
46 %                           
Speyside Single Malt
Distilled: 09/11/88
Matured in a Hogshead
Bottled: 19/03/15
291 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL


Cromdale, Granton - on - Spey, Morayshire. Licentiehouder: John Crabbie & Co, Ltd. Onderdeel van United Distillers Ltd. Eigendom van Guinness.

James McGregor stichtte Balmenach in 1824 en zijn produkt had al snel een meer dan lokale reputatie.
Na de dood van James McGregor kon zijn weduwe de zaken niet aan, ook omdat ze zelf de grootste klant van haar bedrijf was.

In 1878 kwam John McGregor, haar zoon, terug uit Nieuw Zeeland om de familiezaken te redden.
Men kon toen 233.550 liter spirit produceren per jaar.

Het bedrijf zelf was heel ouderwets, omdat Jon McGregor niets wilde veranderen omdat dat de smaak zou kunnen beinvloeden.
In 1890 werd John's weduwe pachter, en haar zoon, James, ook teruggekeerd uit Nieuw Zeeland werd de eerste directeur van Balmenach Glenlivet Distillery Ltd, gevormd in 1897.
Het kapitaal was £ 10.
Na de recessie in de whiskyindustrie, ingeluid met het frauduleus bankroet van de Pattisons in 1899 werd het kapitaal teruggebracht tot £ 39.000 in 1905.
Tijdens het bewind van James McGregor werd de distilleerderij gemoderniseerd. Ook werd er een zijlijn van de spoorweg aangelegd naar Balmenach.
Balmenach werd hard getroffen door de eerste wereldoorlog. James McGregor verkocht met hulp van Sir James Calder en Peter Dawson de distilleerderij, landerijen en voorraden aan Macdonald Greenless & Williams Ltd, te Leith, Peter Dawson Ltd te Glasgow en James Watson & Co, Ltd te Dundee.
Deze blenders werden alle drie wat later overgenomen door The Distillers Company Ltd.
De aandelen werden in 1930 overgenomen door de Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd.
In 1937 - 1938 werd Balmenach aangeloten op het electriciteitsnet.
Gedurende de tweede wereldoorlog was Balmenach gesloten.
In 1950 werd alle machinerie electrisch.
In 1962 werden er twee ketels bijgebouwd tot totaal zes.
In Februari 1964 werd het Saladin systeem ingebruik genomen.
In 1978 werd een installatie gebouwd om veevoer te maken.
Op 31 October 1968 stoomde de mini locomotief voor de laatste keer uit, even voor de Speyside spoorlijn voor vrachtvervoer ophield te bestaan.
Balmenach werd gesloten in 1993.
Op 2 December 1997 koopt Inver House de distilleerderij en de produktie werd op 2 Maart 1998 weer opgestart.
De zes met stoom verhitte ketels kunnen 1,3 miljoen liter spirit per jaar produceren.

Balmenach nestled neatly at the foot of the Haughs of Cromdale
Balmenach Distillery sits on historic soil: on the nearby hill of Tom Lethendry stand the ruins of an old castle where in 1690 the Jacobites took refuge after the battle of the Haughs of Cromdale.
The remains of an old private branch railway that was laid down in 1897 are still there. A geared locomotive was used to shunt casks, coal and barley for malting to and from Cromdale Station.
In 1936 a new pug replaced the existing engine.
The 'Balmanach' locomotive steamed out of the distillery for the last time on 31 October 1968, a few days before the Speyside line was finally closed.
The floor maltings were replaced by Saladin maltings in February 1964.
Housed in the malt barn, 42, sixty tonne malt bins have enough storage to hold over two thousand tonnes of malted barley, enough for two hundred and fifty eight tonne mashes.
The Porteus mill is forty years old.
Ninety metres of copper pipes are used to create the copper coils that plunge into the water filled tubs, named worm tubs, because of the spiral shape of the coil immersed in the water, it is said that this type of cooling system can play a significant part in the production of a heavier spirit.
The cooling water used in the worm tubs is collected in a separate dam to that of the process water.

Output: 2007:1,5 million litres of alcohol
Cask Storage:3 dunnage warehouses
Water Source:Springs in the Cromdale Hills
Malt Source:Various
Malt Type:Unpeated
Malt Storage:2.000 Tonnes
Mill Type:Porteus
Grist Storage:8 Tonnes
Mash Tun Construction:Cast iron copper dome
Mash Size:7.6 Tonnes
No. of Wash Backs:6
Wash Back Construction:Oregon Pine
Wash Back Capacity:39.500 litres
Yeast:Mauri Cream
No. of Wash Stills:3
Wash Still Charge:10.000 litres
Heat Source:Steam Pans
Wash Still Shape:Boil Ball Ogee
No. of Spirit Stills:3
Spirit Still Charges:10.000 litres
Spirit Still Shape:Boil Ball Ogee

Inver House
Ontstaan door een management - buy - out, onder leiding van Bill Robertson en Angus Graham, die £ 8,2 miljoen investeerden.
November 2001 werd Inver House voor £ 56 miljoen gekocht door Pacific Spirits, onderdeel van de op de Virgin Islands gevestigde Great Oriole Group van de Thaise zakenman Charoen Sirivadhanabakdi.
Manager van Pacific Spirits is Ooi Boon Aun.
Robertson en Graham ontvangen samen £ 37 miljoen en ook de 130 medewerkers ontvangen geld, sommigen £ 50.000.
Inbegrepen in de koop zijn de vijf distilleerderijen Knockdhu, Speyburn, (Old) Pulteney Balblair en Balmenach.

November 2009 starting:
Gin Caoran
Balmenach starts producing gin called Caorunn  is Gaelic for rowan berry and uses locally grown plants including rowan berry, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion and cool blush apple.

A novel copper berry chamber , made in 1920 has been transformed by Simon Buley, distiller at Balmenach

Caorunn is made is made of pure Scottish Highland water, 6 traditional- and 5 Celtic Botanicals and infused in a berry chamber

Deerstalker Whisky
The Deerstalker brand was first owned by a wine & spirit merchant from Edinburgh named J.G.Thomson. He noted the importance of trade marks and realising that these proud, forthright men opitomised the Highland spirit, registered the name and a label with the character of a Deerstalker in 1880, just five years after trade marks came into being.

Since that time it has been trade marked in every major country . J.G.Thomson’s offices were in the port for Edinburgh (Leith) and became known as The Vaults. The building remains to this day and is now home to the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.

Exports took place from the Vaults to all corners of the globe. The brand then changed ownership in 1994 and trades today under The Deerstalker Whisky Company.

Stalking and Whisky
The stalking of deer in the Scottish Highlands is as much a tradition as the distilling of whisky itself, and may be traced back to the 1700’s. Most estates employed stalkers, fiercely independent men, who were respected for their knowledge of the ‘mountains’ and their abilities to track the native red deer.

Deerstalkers achieved notoriety in the Mid 1800’s when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert rebuilt Balmoral Castle & settled for much of the year in the Highlands fishing and stalking; characters such as John Brown became known far outside the Highlands. Whisky, already established in Scotland now became ever more popular south of the border partly as a result of the bond between the royal family and the Highlands.

Stalking deer in the Highlands has a long and noble tradition and is today a necessary activity for controlling numbers of red deer and for providing much needed income into Scottish estates. There remain today many professional stalkers who have inherited the skills of their forefathers, and provide a valuable contribution to the economy of the region.

It is appropriate that a whisky should be named after a profession so closely associated with the source of the national drink.

Balmenach was one of the first illicit distilleries in Speysideto take out a licence in 1824, following the introduction of the Excise Act a year earlier. Today the distillery produces a rich, meaty single malt for the variety of blends made by owner Inver House Distillers.

However, it has also been producing a Scottish gin since 2009. Caorunn (41.8% abv; £27) is a ‘Celtic’ gin – the name means ‘rowan berry’ in Gaelic – containing 11 Highland botanicals including bog myrtle, heather, Coul Blush apple, dandelion leaf and, of course, rowan berry

Early in the nine¬teenth century three brothers named McGregor left their home in Tomintoul and walked across the hills to Cromdale. One started a mill, one took a farm at the Mains of Cromdale and the third, James McGregor, a farm at Balmenach, where he established his business as a licensed distiller in 1824. His product enjoyed, even then, a more than local reputation. A ledger entry for 18 August 1824 recorded the sale of "10 gallons of aqua 11 over-proof", at 9 shillings per gallon duty-paid, to William Milne, of Broad Street, Aberdeen. Other buyers at this time included the Earl of Selkirk and the Duke of Bedford who, it may be presumed, ordered only the best.

The late Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, in his book Scotch, 1951, described how, after the death of his great-grandfather, James McGregor, "evil days fell on Balmenach. My dimming great-grandmother was extravagant. With whisky - strong whisky at that - always on the table or in a keg beside the dining-room door, the sons at home ran wild and died young". Another son, John McGregor, who had made a comfortable fortune by farming in New Zealand, was asked in 1878 to return and save the family from ruin. He succeeded in that object by taking over complete responsibility for the property.

Alfred Barnard published a description of Balmenach in The Whisky Distilleries of the United King-dom, 1887. He noted that John McGregor owned a thousand sheep and a hundred head of cattle on Balmenach Farm. The distillery was as yet untouched by technical innovation. There was no steam engine. The malt mill and the mashing machine were worked by water power. The still-house and its equipment, "like all other parts of this establishment. .. are of the most antiquated type. Never did we see such picturesque old pot stills and vesses ... and we were assured by Mr. McGregor that for no consideration would he change a single thing, as he attributes the quality of his whisky to his vessels, almost as much as he does to the splendid mountain water".

The annual output was 90,000 gallons (233,550 litres) "sold principally in England, Scotland and the Colonies, where it is of some reputation; it is rich and highly-flavoured, much used for blending and largely appreciated as a self whisky". Barnard tasted some 1873 whisky (as supplied to the Gairloch Hotel, Loch Maree, in 1878, for the use of Queen Victoria and her suite) and "found it prime, and far superior in our opinion to old brandy".

John McGregor's widow obtained a feu charter in 1890. His son James, another returned emigrant from New Zealand, became the first managing director of Balmenach Glenlivet Distillery Ltd., formed in 1897, with a capital of £120,000, to take over the business of John McGregor & Son. A recession in the whisky business began some two years later, and the capital had to be written down to £39,000 in 1905.

Under James McGregor's able management general improvements were made to the buildings and to working methods. A private branch line was laid down in 1897, and an Aveling Porter geared locomotive was purchased, to link the distillery with Cromdale Station, a mile away. The engine was used to shunt filled casks to the exchange sidings, and to bring in empty casks, coal, and barley for malting. By 1923 (and probably many years earlier) fireproof doors had been installed in all departments, there were four stills instead of two, and a Campbell oil engine, supplemented by the water-wheel, supplied driving power for the whole establishment.

Balmenach was one of many distillery companies hard hit by the restrictions on production imposed in the war of 1914-18. James McGregor and his associates sold out in August 1922, when the company was reconstructed with Sir James C. Calder as chairman and Peter Dawson as managing director. The shares were principally held by three Scotch whisky blending companies: Macdonald Greenlees & Williams Ltd. of Leith, Peter Dawson Ltd. of Glasgow and James Watson & Co. Ltd. of Dundee, all of which were later acquired by The Distillers Company Limited. DCL's subsidiary, Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd., bought all the shares in 1930.

The Aveling Porter steam railway locomotive was replaced in 1936 by a new pug built at Andrew Barclay's Caledonia Works, Kilmarnock. The water wheel and the oil engine went out of use after power was obtained from the national electric grid in 1937-38.

Balmenach was closed from 1941 to 1947. It accommodated a unit of the Royal Corps of Signals for part of this time, and was later used as an army store.
By the 1950's, all the machinery was driven by electric power, except for the malt mill, which was worked by a steam engine. The water wheel was still there, but no longer used. The four stills were externally heated by coal-burning furnaces. These were fired by hand until 1960, when they were converted to a mechanical coal stoking system. The number of stills was increased to six two years later. The mash-house was rebuilt in 1968 and all six stills were converted to internal heating by steam in 1971.

The floor makings were replaced by Saladin maltings which began production in February 1964. The barley and malt deposits, which tower over the older buildings, were put up at this time. A plant for the production of dark grains, a high-protein animal feedingstuff, from the solid matter left over from the mashing and distillation processes, was built in 1978.

The distillery's miniature railway locomotive steamed out of the distillery for the last time on 31 October 1968, a few days before the Speyside line was finally closed for freight traffic. It must have been a sad occasion. The men who operated "Balmenach" had taken great pride in keeping it immaculately clean, highly polished and in superb mechanical order. The engine was presented to the Strathspey Railway Museum at Boat of Garten in 1977.

The distillery occupies a site of about 10 acres (4 hectares). Process water comes from the Cromdale Burn, fed by springs in the Cromdale Hills, and collected in a dam, and its cooling water from the Aultchuuirn Burn, collected in a separate dam. Each supply is owned by Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. The lease of Balmenach Farm was given up in 1978.

SMD owns 18 houses for occupation by employees at Balmenach, including the former residence of the McGregor family. Part of this house was converted into a reception centre for visitors in 1981


Capacity: 2.800.000 Ltrs
Output: 2.000.000 Ltrd


Balmenach is licensed
to James MacGregor, who operated a
small farm: Balminoch


Balmenach - Glenlivet Distillery Company
is founded


The MacGregor's sells the distillery
to a consortium consisting
by Peter Dawson,
James Watson and Macdonald
Distillers Company Limited
(D.C.L.) takes over


Balmenach is transferred to
Scottish Malt Distilles (S.M.D.)


New stills are added to six


Floor Maltings replaced with
Saladin box


First official bottling, a 12 years
old expression


May, Balmenach is mothballed


Inver House Distillers buys Balmenach
from Diageo


Production starts again


Pacific Spirits a Thai company takes
over Inver House for
56.000.000 pound


A 27 - and a 28 years old are launched


To commemorate
Queen Elisabeth's Golden Jubilee a
25 years old is launched


International Beverage Holdings
takes over Pacific Spirits U.K.


Caorunn Gin is launched
Capacity: 2.800.000 Ltrs
Output: 1.900.000 Ltrs

Company Overview
Founded in 1964, Inver House Distillers is the Group's wholly owned Scotch Whisky subsidiary. Within its portfolio there are five distilleries - Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn and Balmenach - each producing its own distinctive, individual single malt whisky.

Inver House is also highly active in the warehousing and blending of Scotch whisky, with its main warehousing and head office being centrally located in Airdrie. This is perfectly placed to service the international marketplace with warehousing for 500,000 barrels of whisky plus state of the art blending and laboratory facilities.

Inver House produces more than just whisky, currently distilling the premium brand, Caorunn Gin at Balmenach Distillery and also produces vodka brands from its Airdrie site. From its range of whisky, gin, and vodka Inver House invites you to enjoy this unrivalled collection.

Inver House Distillers was established in 1964 as a subsidiary of the American company, Publicker Industries. In the 1970's the Scotch Whisky industry faced competition from other spirit categoreis and coupled with the death of its American Chairman, Publicker Industries did not focus its business interests in its Scottish subsidiaries. As a result of this, the malt and grain distilleries at the Scottish site in Airdrie became surplus to requirements and were closed in 1985 and 1986.

The substantial warehousing, blending and office facilities all remained, and do so to this day, as do the state of the art Gin, Vodka and Cream Production Facilities.

However, following the takeover by the management team in 1988, and the revival of the Scotch Whisky industry, Inver House Distillers purchased 5 highly regarded malt distilleries over a period of 9 years. Since then Inver House has gone from strength to strength in its commitment to a worldwide market. This continued commitment was recognised in 1992 with the granting of the Queen's Award for Export Achievement.

In October 2001, Inver House entered a new chapter when it was purchased by Pacific Spirit (U.K.) Ltd, now International Beverage Holdings Limited (InterBev) - the international arm of Asia's leading drinks business, the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) with an outstanding portfolio of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wine and beer categories.

Being part of a larger group ensures the company's continued success in an increasingly competitive market place.

In 1999 Dennis Malcolm was happily moving towards retirement after a successful forty-three year career in the distilling industry. It had been a very satisfying career beginning as a shift worker in the early 1960s and ending, both the century and his career, as the General Manager of Seagram's nine distilleries. It seemed as if all that he could achieve had been done.

But then Malcolm received an unparalleled retirement gift from Graham Hutchins, then the General Manager of Inver House - an offer to manage Balmenach Distillery in Cromdale, located between Grantown-on-Spey and Bridge of Avon, the distillery sat mothballed among the Hills of Cromdale in a secluded spot just east of the A95.

In 1997 Inver House acquired Balmenach, an old traditional distillery where little had been done over the years to modernise it. Surprisingly, it was not Inver House's view to automate it or replace the old equipment. Rather, they saw the beauty in the old washbacks and stills and wanted a manager who saw the same beauty in the slightly faded lady. They wanted a renaissance at Balmenach and needed a renaissance man to do it. From the very beginning, Malcolm and Balmenach matched perfectly. He brought a life time of experience and training done in the traditional way.

Beginning as a cooper at Glen Grant in 1966, he worked his way through the distillery learning all the jobs and responsibilities as he progressed - cooper, brewer, distiller, and manager. In the course of his career, he saw distilling move from an early twentieth century process rooted in tradition and on-the-job training to a more stream-lined process based in technology and university training. He knew both the old and the new worlds; and, most importantly, he chose to keep the best of both. Dennis Malcolm's interest in Balmenach is not just professional; it is also personal.

Malcolm's wife is the great-great grand daughter of James McGregor, the founder of Balmenach. And the view of the Cromdale Hills is much today as it would have been for McGregor when he crossed the hills to establish himself as a farmer and distiller. The area was renowned for illicit stills and smuggling because of the available sources of water and numerous hiding places provided by the Cromdale Hills. As with so many other distilleries, documents list Balmenach as being officially founded in 1824, following the Excise Act of 1823.

The distillery stayed in the family until 1922 when it was acquired by three Scottish blending companies, and then later Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) in 1930. Eventually ownership passed to Distillers Company Limited (DCl) and later to United Distillers (UD), who mothballed it in June 1993. Inver House bought it in 1997 and began producing whisky in March 1998. When Inver House revived distilling, they also established the position of the General Manager for its five distilleries at Balmenach.

I rang Graham MacWiliiam, the General Manager at Balmenach to discuss all five of the distilleries he managed. During our conversation MacWiliiam strongly suggested that I revisit Balmenach and meet the new Distillery Manager, Dennis Malcolm. Because I knew that MacWiliiam only makes suggestions with good reason, I found myself on the road out of Cromdale and heading toward the hills beyond the town.

The distillery is tucked among the Haughs of Cromdale, and one can easily imagine the people and events that give rise to the exotic stories of its smuggling history. It is quiet, somewhat sheltered from the main road and village, and clearly a place where one can work, undisturbed. The physical plant was the same as I remembered it, yet it had a different ambiance. It had a vitality that I could not recall.

The nineteenth century buildings housed equipment that dated to fifty years ago, but the place was tidy, the buildings freshly painted, and the equipment cleaned and shined. Dennis Malcolm vibrates with enthusiasm about Balmenach and is eager to showcase what he considers to be "a delightful time capsule." He observes with long experience that "It is people, not machines, that make whisky." And nowhere is this more obvious than at Balmenach where people not only make the whisky; they also make the place.

Distillery workers know and work all phases of production so that personnel can be utilised depending on need. They are all responsible not only for the final product but also the maintenance and appearance of the place, which clearly reflects the pride of the people who work there. Time-honoured processes are immediately evident in the Mash Room. Here, grain, milled in the long-used Porteus Mill, pours into the classic cast iron mash tun covered by a copper dome.

Successful mashing at Balmenach requires the vigilance and judgment of the distillery people rather than computerised processes. The crucial extraction of the sugar from the barley necessitates the careful tweaking and adjusting of the old valves and temperature gauges in order to maintain the proper and steady temperature of three different waters. And as the mashman drains each water, he uses only his eyesight and experience to regulate the speed at which it is drawn off. If too fast, the sugar locks into the grain, if too slow, the water becomes too cool for the addition of yeast. The sugary worts then travel into the Tun Room for fermentation in the Oregon pine washbacks.

Many distillers recognise that the newer stainless steel washbacks contribute to the efficiency of a distillery because they are easier to clean, but some feel that a wooden washback provides a better fermentation. The temperature peaks slowly in a wooden washback and then flattens out, but the temperature in stainless steel tends to peak sharply and then drop. Even though wooden fermenters require more diligence and work to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, Malcolm prefers the wood for fermentation not only because it softens the place but also because it allows greater temperature control. Still, Malcolm concedes that the key to good fermentation is consistency and likes to rely upon the skill of his distillery people to provide it. Once the fermentation is complete, the wash, which shares similarities to sour beer, moves to the Stillhouse where the distillation will shape and form the whisky's flavour.

Alfred Barnard described the stills at Balmenach in 1887 as "picturesque old Pot Stills"; and like Barnard, the modern day visitor enters the Stillhouse and views the stills from a gallery. An impressive collar decorates one of the wash stills with etched engraving, which commemorates Qu'een Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The distillery commissioned the still, more than twenty-five years ago, and displayed it in Hyde Park as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations. later, DCl installed the still at Balmenach; but sometime afterward, the collar was removed, and the little still's part in history was forgotten. But the present team at Balmenach found the discarded collar in a storeroom and shined it so that its lettering was once again legible.

They restored it to its pride of place in time for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee in 2002, which was marked by a limited bottling of Balmenach twenty-five year old. The restored collar is the only distinguishing feature that sets off this still from the other, fairly small, copper pots that march across the floor of the Stillhouse. All six of the copper stills have a boil ball above sharply angled shoulders and tall necks that allow more reflux action. The long necks and boil ball allow the heavier vapours to fall back into the still so that only the lighter vapours travel over into the Iyne arm. Most interestingly, Balmenach continues to use copper worms rather than the condensers employed by so many other distilleries. The worm curls nearly a hundred metres in its bath of cool water from the Cromdale Burn and tapers down from a fourteen inch diameter, where it connects to the still, to a three inch diameter, where the whisky appears at the base of the worm tub. Many distillers feel that using a worm to condense the vapours into whisky allows a longer contact with copper and slowly pulls out the distillation. But one can only feel that at Balmenach, with its reverence to its past and its traditions, people are also paying homage to the ghosts of smugglers who hid their small pot stills and condensing worms in the hills surrounding the distillery. The whisky that drips from the copper worm ages in used sherry and bourbon casks, and all cask filling and ageing occurs on site. No trucks transport this whisky to other warehouses for maturing; instead, all the Balmenach whisky ages in warehouses with dirt floors at the place where it is distilled.

In the time-tested method, the whisky takes on the characteristics of the place where it matures and contributes to the flavour profile of Balmenach. As much as the processes at Balmenach adhere to old traditions, the warehouse, more than any other place, seems to combine old practices and new innovations. Dennis Malcolm may have committed himself to preserving the traditional techniques at Balmenach, but he is not afraid of, or adverse to, innovation. Warehouse workers still stencil the distillery name and year of distillation on the heads of each cask, instead of using bar codes, simply because everyone deems it good to maintain the old methods. And all the cask heads are painted white, instead of black, only because it brightens the warehouse. Yet, an innovation also marks each one of these casks that otherwise appear caught in II time-warp.

On close examination, a series of indentations mark each of the bung staves. Distillers re-use casks several times before discarding them. Each time the warehouse men empty and refill a cask, they repaint the cask head in order to indicate that it is a first-fill, second-fill, and so on. Unfortunately, each distillery uses a different series of colours so that the distillery workers find it impossible to know the history of the cask unless it originates from one's own distillery.

At Balmenach a punch mark appears on the bung stave (the last one replaced) each time the workers refill it. When five indentations mark the cask, a slash divides the punch marks, the cask is re-charred, and the marking system begins on the next stave. Significantly, this tracking process, developed by Malcolm, is now in use at all five of Inver House's distilleries. Fortunately the thousands of casks maturing at Balmenach will ensure that its whisky will be more readily available in the future. For the present time, however, Inver House has released a twenty-seven year old Balmenach that is distinctly fruity and less sherried than some of the previous bottlings.

The lighter sherry notes allow other flavours to emerge including summer fruits of raspberries and rhubarb, vanilla, and anisette. People at Balmenach eagerly await the ten year anniversary that will mark when the first whisky distilled by Inver House will reach its ten year maturation. The anniversary will certainly mark the culmination of efforts to distill a whisky "the old fashioned way" using wooden wash backs, copper worms, and the skills of workers who nudge and watch old valves and gauges. Everyone here takes satisfaction and pleasure in preserving traditional methods and making the faded lady shine once again.

They understand the timehonoured processes of distilling and also understand the future for this place is in preserving its past. At the end of our time together, Dennis Malcolm locked the warehouses; and looking over the distillery, he remarked, "This place is not fancy, but it glows, like a fire at night. And the distillery says, 'It is old. It is reliable. It is quality'.

processes of distilling and also understand the future for this place is in preserving its past. At the end of our time together, Dennis Malcolm locked the warehouses; and looking over the distillery, he remarked, "This place is not fancy, but it glows, like a fire at night. And the distillery says, 'It is old. It is reliable. It is quality'

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