Fife Whisky Festival
Fife Whisky Festival kicks off this Friday and it’s sure to be a richt belter!
Taking place in the exquisite Corn Exchange there’ll be over 30 distilleries and independent bottlers present from all over Scotland and beyond.
Before we get onto my favourite distilleries that’ll be represented at the festival let’s take a wee moment to appreciate the spectacular venue – The Corn Exchange.
Built in the 19th Century, The Corn Exchange is a staple of the town of Cupar. It was initially built as a place where samples of corn were sold and auctioned and served as a public hall when not used on market days. Cupar Corn Exchange Company Limited, who were housed in The Corn Exchange building, is the oldest incorporated company in the whole of Scotland. Fancy that eh!
Let’s take a look at the main attraction - Uisge-Beatha or The Water of Life. Here are my favourite distilleries that will be exhibitors at the festival.
Personally I love anCnoc due to their unapologetic approach to making whisky with their perfectly executed combination of modern and tradition delivering complex and refreshing liquids.
This 18 year old Highland single malt from Knockdhu distillery is matured in a combination of Spanish ex-sherry casks and America oak ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at 46% abv free from chill-filtration and colouring.
The nose has gentle spice and sweet dried fruits, with chocolate, ripe oranges and leather. The plate full-bodied with aromatic spices, fruit loaf and lemon sherbet followed by a burst of vanilla, honey and caramel finished with peppery and hot notes, becoming sweet and smooth.
This Highland malt from Knockdhu distillery is a limited edition released in collaboration with Scots-born illustrator, Peter Arkle, with packaging inspired by his visit to the distillery. 'Bricks' takes its cue from the walls of the dunnage warehouses and the warning signs scattered around them.
Nose has honey, lemon, apples and vanilla with a touch of leather and orange zest. The palate is spicy and vibrant with citrus, sherry and dark chocolate, with a long and smooth finish with orange and sherry aspects.
Arran Distillery has been producing some stunning whiskies and this is due to the natural conditions on the island that has a direct influence on the distillation. They say that Arran Whisky is the island bottled and I have to say I totally agree.
The oldest expression in the core range from the distillery on the isle of Arran, this single malt is a balance of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks to give exceptional depth.
Baked peaches in syrup with toasted almonds delight the nose with vanilla and light cinnamon powder. The palate has a mix of sweetness and spice with baked peaches and citrus with a deeply satisfying finish with smooth golden syrup characteristics.
This 21-year-old Island single malt was distilled at the Isle of Arran Distillery off the west coast of Scotland. This is the first time a 21-year-old expression has been released by the distillery, which was founded in 1995, and it is a limited edition of just 9,000 bottles.
Sweet and rich notes are on the nose with dark chocolate, grapefruit and ginger on the palate. The finish is long and warming with roasted hazelnuts and soft spices.
Bunnahabhain is a fantastic Islay distillery and if you haven’t tried one of these brilliant whiskies I strongly recommend them. Standing at the mouth of Margadale Spring on the shores of the Sound of Islay, Bunnahabhain translates to ‘mouth of the river’.
This single cask expression was distilled at Bunnahabhain on Islay in December 2001 and matured in a sherry cask (#3687) before being selected for bottling exclusively by Loch Fyne Whiskies in May 2018. Bottled at 16 years of age and presented at a strength of 57% abv, only 850 bottles have been produced.
According to Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2019, scoring 86/100:
"just suck on that amazing honey: it is as though the sherry butt was filled with English summer flower honey... sheer ecstasy"
Bunnahabhain has large stills which are only filled to 58% of their capacity, which gives the whisky its signature light style, evident in the 18 year old.
Nose has sherried fruits and nuts carried on a coastal note. The palate; salted caramel and barley, sherried fruitcake and gently spiced oak. The finish has a slight sea breeze carrying warm spices. Long finish with a rich sweetness, sticky toffee pudding.
Fettercairn are a distillery that pride themselves on using the purest, clear mountain water to cool their copper stills so that “only the finest vapours rise for collection”. Their unique cooling rings also help capture the pure characteristics Fettercairn whiskies are known for.
Matured for almost three decades in ex-bourbon casks, this 28 year old Highland single malt was distilled at Fettercairn near the Cairngorm mountains. Bottled at 42% abv, this expression forms part of the distillery's new core range.
The nose is fruity with melon, pineapple and banana, before warming ginger and liquorice. The palate has lemon peel and black pepper with walnuts and vanilla. With a coffee apricots lingering finish with a sweet balsamic note.
This 40 year old single malt was distilled at Fettercairn in the Scottish Highlands in December 1977. Aged in white oak ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Apostoles sherry casks, only 818 bottles of this limited edition have been produced, each one at a strength of 48.9% abv.
Honey, molasses and ginger greet the nose before toffee apples and treacle. The palate has liquorice and balsamic with a citrus and raisin counterpoint atop tofee, honey and brown sugar. Tropical fruits and soft spices finish.
Jura have never shied away from change and have evolved to keep up with the times, which is truly something to be commended. Just last year they re-blended and re-packaged the Jura Signature Collection and the result is a fantastic array of expressions.
The oldest expression in Jura's new signature range, this 18 year old Island single malt is matured in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and enriched in Premier Grand Cru Classe red wine barriques from France.
The nose has sweet toffee and cinnamon spice. Palate is rich and deep with Black Forest fruits and some smoky aspects. The finish has bitter chocolate and freshly brewed espresso characteristics.
This Island single malt from Jura's eponymous distillery is crafted using no less than seven different types of cask: American white oak ex-bourbon, Limousin, Jupilles, Vosges, Allier, Troncais,and Les Bertanges barrels.
A whisper of smoke and some juicy peach notes are on the nose. The palate has candied orange peel and liquorice with great depth. Sweet notes fade to a gentle smoke finish.
A truly outstanding distillery based in Campbeltown, once proclaimed ‘whisky capital of the world’. Did you know Springbank whiskies are the most handmade in Scotland with every single step of the whisky making process taking place on one site – the only Scottish distillery to do this!
First distilled in December 1989, we have been holding onto this Springbank cask for more than fifteen years, waiting for the very best time to drink it. That point has arrived. Our customers will simply love it. It is extremely rare, with just 211 bottles filled from cask 591, each one presented at a strength of 40.07% abv.
Jim Murray awarded this expression a score of 94.5 in his Whisky Bible 2019, noting that its "amazing silk-like qualities make this probably the softest whisky launched in 2018".
It is a big, soft, archetypal Springbank that delivers an encyclopedia of aromas and flavours, from honeyed sweetness to spiced ripe fruit with a long, warming and delicate finish.
Produced at Campbeltown's oldest operational distillery, this cask strength 12 year old single malt has been matured in a combination of 70% sherry and 30% bourbon casks before bottling at 56.3% abv, with limited availability worldwide.
The nose has glazed cherries and coconut with marzipan, treacle, honeycomb and cloves. The palate; vanilla balanced with black pepper, alongside dark chocolate, cinnamon, liquorice and a touch of smoke. The finish is classic Springbank with dunnage warehouses, sea salt, almonds and caramelised sugar.
Tickets are still available for the opening dinner and the second session of the festival on Saturday evening. Get your tickets here