As an independent bottler, Andrew Laing is “bringing something else to the party”—unique bottlings of rare whiskies and other spirits
Take an Islay journey with Andrew Laing.
The glass of Scotch he pours has a vegetal, almost mezcal-like scent, with whiffs of salty, mineral sea and fishy kelp and a distinctly ashy after taste. It’s a blended malt representing the vivid flavours of five of the finest distilleries what is perhaps the most coveted of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions. And it’s exactly the kind of exquisite, unique bottling in which his family’s company specializes.
• 1.5 oz white rum (preferably Flor de Caña 4) • 0.75 oz banana liqueur (preferably Giffard Banane du Brésil) • 0.5 oz smoky scotch (preferably Ardbeg 10 year) • 0.75 oz lemon juice • 0.5 oz coconut syrup (see note) • 0.5 oz aquafaba
One of the most coveted bottles in Saturday’s 2019 Premium Spirit Release comes from a non-existent distillery on Islay… or does it? Welcome to the world of Independent Bottlers, brokers of rare, exclusive and unique Scotch and other spirits.
Last year, one of the hottest items in the BC Liquor Stores Premium Spirit Release—selling out in 24 hours—was the Port Askaig 100 Proof Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Offered again this year, it’s the spirit of Islay in a bottle: a nose full of spicy oak spice, with sea spray, smoke and dark earthy, kelpy flavours, bottled at a robust 50% ABV for rich texture. Yet anyone who’s been to the town of Port Askaig, on Islay’s east coast, will be puzzled: there’s no distillery there.
George S. Grant is part of the sixth generation of the family that bought the Glenfarclas distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region in 1836. Now the director of sales for the brand, he talked to The Alchemist about innovation, tradition and the distillery’s most famous drams.
There’s a lot of innovation in whisky and in Scotch today. Is the Family Cask series at Glenfarclas where your fans see that within your brand?
“We’ve seen the revamping of Scotch, or the experimentation side of things, I suppose. I’m not saying we do don’t it or haven’t done it, but it’s things we’ve done 60 or 70 years ago. Primarily, all of the Glenfarclas range is now 100 per cent aged in Oloroso sherry casks. Back in the 1960s we did an experiment where we filled 15 different types of sherry casks—fino, Manzanillo, Amontillado, Pedro Jimenez… About 20 years ago was the first time you started seeing finishing ranges on Scotch, and ever since then people have been jumping on the bandwagon.
• 1.5 oz Johnnie Walker Platinum Label Blended Scotch Whisky • 0.5 oz Lagavulin 16-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky • 0.75 oz Punt E Mes • 0.25 oz Jagermeister Herbal Liqueur • 2 dashes Bittered Sling Cascade Celery Bitters • 2 dashes Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters • 2 dashes Vancouver Island Smoked Sea Salt Water
Experience the magic of Islay, one Scotch at a time
The romantic Isle of Islay in Scotland’s southern Hebrides is best known for its moors, treacherous weather, high seas, early Viking settlements—and, yes, its whisky. For, buried within that dramatic landscape, exists rich soil redolent with peat, and a water supply heavy with briny minerals. No wonder, then, that Islay is home to some of the finest and most distinctive single malts in the world, among them, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin.