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28/09/2015

BI Cask Update – London Distillery Company

by Isabel Graham-Yooll (Spirits Buyer)

Any excuse for a quick midweek visit The London Distillery Company, London’s first whisky distillery in over a century…

As soon as Darren Rook and Joseph McGirr from The London Distillery Company told me they were running our spirit off the still I dashed across London to have a taste. Having returned from the distillery I can report that they’ve had an extraordinary success. The new make spirit is absolutely stunning… and in truth it’s exactly as it should be; no expense has been spared in their pursuit of perfection.

London Distillery still

This Single Malt was inspired by pre-war production methods, crafted using original 1920’s distillers yeast and a heritage barley variety called Maris Otter. In 2015 we had some of it organically grown and malted at the world famous Warminster Maltings - in the traditional way - by hand, on floors. Maris Otter was actually hugely successful when it was introduced in 1966 but gradually fell out of favour as more efficient breeds came into vogue. Now this rare heritage Maris Otter barley is about to celebrate its 50th birthday.

London Dristillery floor malt

When I visited the distillery in late September our Maris Otter spirit was coming off the still at about 65–70% abv. I arrived as the middle cut from second distillation was coming straight off the still and falling elegantly from a steel pipe so I dipped in and had a taste. I can confirm it is absolutely fantastic – we definitely backed the right horse!

Next the spirit will spend a week or two in a marrying vessel before being filled into cask. This one-of-a-kind Single Malt can then be aged for as many years/decades as desired, in premium American oak 220-litre casks or “hoggies”. Each is filled to the customary 210-litres at 63.5% alcohol by volume. There will be approximately 300–400 bottles’ worth at the end of ten years - the quantity depends partly on evaporation but mainly on bottling strength as it starts at 63.5% yet can be legally reduced to 40% abv, if preferred.  However, the distillery views this as an investment and is keen for our clients to sell their casks back to them when it’s ready for bottling…

Hogshead barrels

Only a handful of hogshead casks are available to buy, exclusively from us. I will eventually get samples of the new make for those of you who have already bought a cask. We have just the last few casks remaining so it would be great to give them each a good home.

Of particular interest to future historians is that The London Distillery Company is moving premises in January, so our 2015 Maris Otter Cask has become a true one-off. You can buy our 2015 Maris Otter here.