UK signs deal with African trade block for zero tariffs

14 September 2019

Following the UK referendum on European Union (EU) membership, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is scheduled to leave the EU on 31st October 2019. This has the potential to disrupt many businesses, but a new trade deal has been struck by the British government which will allow all UK businesses to continue to trade on preferential terms with the Mozambique and the Southern African Customs Union (consisting of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique) following the UKs departure.

Much of the coverage of this deal has been focused on Irish whiskey, but it is actually a much broader deal.

Echlinville Distillery

The focus on the deal with regards to Northern Ireland (NI) is because without this deal, Irish whiskey from Northern Ireland would have faced a tariff of 154 cents per litre post-Brexit, plus additional taxes, which it currently doesn’t face and would mean a sharp division in costs in the Irish whiskey industry. This would have had an immediate impact on large distilleries such as Bushmills as well as smaller, newer distilleries such as Echlinville and Killowen as they grow and expand into new markets.

William Lavelle, head of Drinks Ireland and the Irish Whiskey Association, said:

“South Africa is currently the fifth largest export market for Irish whiskey while sub-Saharan Africa is proving to be a major growth region for our category.

“Thanks to the existing EU agreement with the Southern African Customs Union, there are currently zero tariffs on Irish whiskey exports to South Africa and other markets in the union.”

Sliabh Liag whiskey distillery gets permission

13 September 2019

In late August, Sliabh Liag announced that they had received permission for the construction of a new distillery in Ardara, Donegal.

Sliabh Liag distillery

According to ,a href=’’>The Spirit Business, construction will begin later this year, with distilling operations expected to commence in 2020.

The site will incorporate a visitor experience covering the history of Poitín and include a tasting bar and shop although there will be no cafe or restaurant, with visitors encouraged to make use of local businesses.

The facility will have the capacity to produce 400,000 litres of pure alcohol annually, which equates to around 1,700 filled casks, and more than 1.2 million bottles of whiskey when sold.

With additional good news for Donegal, the new distillery will create jobs for at least 40 people.

Irish whiskey gets legal protection in world’s largest market for whiskey

2 September 2019

The Irish Whiskey Association has been awarded legal protection known as geographic indication status in the Indian market (the largest whiskey market in the world. This means that only whiskey produced in Ireland can carry the Irish Whiskey label in India.

Old Bushmills Distillery

Old Bushmills Distillery

Carleen Madigan, the Irish Whiskey Association’s legal adviser:

“Securing the geographical indication for Irish whiskey in India is another landmark for the Irish whiskey category.

“Like similar registrations achieved earlier in the year in Australia and South Africa, this is another major success in our efforts to protect the integrity of Irish whiskey on a worldwide basis

“We will now be able to take much tougher enforcement action against fake Irish whiskey products on sale in India.

“This protection will also enable us to maximise opportunities to increase sales in this crucial whiskey market as it is an important selling point for the Indian consumer knowing they can enjoy Irish whiskey confident in the quality and authenticity of the product.”

Whiskey Rebellion Trail Launched

12 August 2019

There is a number Whiskey Trails, in a number of countries, and a new one has been launched in the USA. Spanning a number of states, the Whiskey Rebellion Trail has been launched. The Whiskey Rebellion Trail is made up of four cities, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Baltimore, in addition to towns and rural areas in-between.

The Whiskey Rebellion Trail was created by a group of craft distillers and visitors’ organisations throughout the region to highlight the contributions of the region to the history of American spirits and the exciting rise of award-winning craft distilleries in the area over the last several years.

The Whiskey Rebellion insurrection in Pennsylvania in 1794

The Whiskey Rebellion insurrection in Pennsylvania in 1794

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First single malt distillery in the heart of Edinburgh for almost 100 years opening for tours

18 July 2019

For the first time since 1925, there’s a single malt distillery in the centre of Edinburgh; Holyrood Distillery and visitor experience sits in a 180-year old building next to Holyrood Park and within easy walking distance of Edinburgh’s main attractions.

The distillery has just announced they are open for tours in their new visitor centre.

Holyrood Distillery Whisky Tour

There are four experiences available:

  1. Holyrood Distillery Tour which is approximately 60 minutes long, and is a fully guided and immersive experience of the entire distillery. You will be introduced to a world of flavour, testing how well you taste, getting hands-on with botanicals, learning about both malt whisky and gin production, and enjoying spirit samples along the way.
  2. Holyrood Gin Experience which is approximately 60 minutes long, and is led by an expert guide. You will be introduced to the process behind gin distillation, to the world of flavour-packed botanicals, and to the particular approach of Holyrood in the production of their own gins and gin liqeuers.
  3. Holyrood Whisky Experience – The Holyrood Whisky Experience is approximately 60 minutes long, and is led by an expert guide. The experience takes place in the whisky distillery and maturation room, where you will be introduced to the world of single malt whisky, but particularly to the process, ingredients and equipment used in Holyrood’s approach to single malt whisky production. You will also enjoy opportunities to sample from their specially selected whisky range.
  4. Jack Mayo’s Whisky Masterclass – This two-hour masterclass has been developed, and is led by, the Head Distiller Jack Mayo. Jack will guide you through the whisky distillery, including the behind-the-scenes production area, and will introduce you to Holyrood’s approach to production and distillation. After the tour, Jack will lead you through an exclusive tasting experience of Holyrood’s specially selected whisky range, and newmake spirit.

I’m going to see about booking a tour very soon; I’m just waiting to see if a couple of friends want to join me on a distillery day split between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Missouri Bourbon Whiskey regional designation signed into law

13 July 2019

On the 11th July 2019, Missouri Governor Mike Parsons signed into law a Missouri Bourbon Whiskey regional designation. The new law, House Bill 266, goes into effect on 28th August 2019.

Bourbon barrel made in Missouri

There are three key requirements for distillers to meet if they wanto label their product Missouri bourbon or Missouri bourbon whiskey:

  1. The product must be “mached, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled” in Missouri.
  2. The bourbon must be aged in oak barrels manufactured in Missouri.
  3. All “corn used in the mash must be Missouri grown corn”.

The first two rules come into force on the 28th August 2019, but they have until 1st January 2020 before the third rule comes into force.

The St Louis Today has full details on the story; unfortunately, they region lock so the article isn’t accessible for potential readers in Europe.

45,000 barrels of Jim Beam in Versailles, Kentucky on fire

3 July 2019

Three Jim Beam warehouses in Versailles, Kentucky, caught fire last night after a suspected lightning strike. This was first reported by WKLY (a CBS Affiliate who blocks traffic from the UK).

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Leith Distillery stillhouse open for gin tours

3 July 2019

The Leith Distillery has today announced that they are open for tours of their stillhouse

There are four tours available in August and I imagine they’ll sell out fast; I’m going to hold off for the moment as the current tour is of the gin distillation.

Leith Distillery Gin

I’ve been following the story of Leith Distillery as they plan to be producing Scotch whisky and this is the main type of distillery I like to isit (along with rum and brandy).

Pernod Ricard acquires Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky

29 June 2019

Pernod Ricard recently announced the acquisition of a majority share of Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rabbit Hole produced an an award-winning range of Kentucky spirits and is recognised for its “iconic, state-of-the-art distillery” in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. The brand’s Straight Bourbon and Rye whiskeys are crafted with a mix of carefully selected grains, distilled in copper Vendome column stills and aged in native oak barrels by Louisville’s hot summers and cold winters.

Rabbit Hole Distillery Spirits

Pernod Ricard is one of the large global drinks companies and already has a strong presence in Scotland, where it owns Aberlour, Strathisla (under the Chivas Brothers brand), The Glenlivet and Scapa, and in Ireland where it owns Jamesons (Midleton) as part of the Irish Distillers subsidiary.

Rabbit Hole is currently open for tours which I would not expect to change as the Scottish and Irish distilleries mentioned above are also all open for tours. Pernod Ricard has a wealth of experience to draw on so I expect to see Rabbit Hole continue to progress under the new ownership.

Scotch Whisky tourism has best year ever

26 June 2019

The Scotch Whisky Association last week reported that Scotch whisky tourism had reached an all-time high of 2 million visitors in 2018.

The Balvenie Distillery

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) conducted it’s annual survey which revealed visits were up 6.1% year on year and 56% more than in 2010; spending at visitor centres was up by 12.2% to £68.3m with an additional £7.4m compared with 2017 and 154% more than in 2010. This is put down to the continued industry investment in world-class tourist centres.

Over 20 different nationalities visited distilleries last year, with Germany and the USA providing the largest number of Scotch Whisky tourists with increased visits from France, Spain, and the Netherlands were also reported, as well as India and China.

I’ve been visiting distilleries since 2012 and it is noticeable that there are both more distilleries with visitor centres and that the general standard of distillery tours has improved. I’ve been doing my part with continued visits too; I toured 22 Scotch Whisky distilleries last year.

The full story from the Scotch Whisky Association can be read here.

68 Scotch whisky visitor centres open to the public

21 June 2019

According to a recent infographic posted by the Scotch Whisky Association, there are 68 whisky distillery visitor centres open to the public:

Scotch Whisky Tourism 2018

I’ve been to a, current total, of 68 Scotch whisky distilleries, but not all of them (thinking Knockdhu, amongst others, have a visitor centre). Tours at these distilleries need to be prebooked.

Visiting distilleries has never been more popular than it is now and , even from 2012, tours are getting better and more consistently better year after year.

New Scotch cask rules aim to add ‘flexibility’

17 June 2019 has an exclusive today from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). The rules for change which barrels can be used to mature or ‘finish’ Scotch Whisky.

Whisky Barrels

The new rules are now law with the changed section now reading:

‘The spirit must be matured in new oak casks and/or in oak casks which have only been used to mature wine (still or fortified) and/or beer/ale and/or spirits with the exception of:

  • wine, beer/ale or spirits produced from, or made with, stone fruits
  • beer/ale to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after fermentation
  • spirits to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after distillation

and where such previous maturation is part of the traditional processes for those wines, beers/ales or spirits.
Regardless of the type of cask used, the resulting product must have the traditional colour, taste and aroma characteristics of Scotch Whisky.’

Although the changes mean that a wider range of casks can now be used for distilling Scotch Whisky, the rules are still quite strict and do still maintain that only oak casks can be used (unlike in Ireland where the rules merely state wooden).

Full details of the changes and their impact can be read at the source at

Work starts on resurrecting Rosebank distillery

16 June 2019

Work has started on resurrecting the Rosebank distillery which was closed by Diageo in 1993. Bought by Ian Macleod Distillers Limited, family-owned independent distillers who own Glengoyne, they are starting a large-scale project to return the distillery to production which will see some parts of the distillery preserved and others completely transformed.

Rosebank Chimney

The good news for people, like myself, who enjoy visiting distilleries, is that the plans include a visitor centre and tasting room.

More details of the plans are available on the Rosebank website.

Spirit of Yorkshire distillery has whisky

15 June 2019

Over the last few years, quite a large number of new distilleries have been founded. One of the is Spirit of Yorkshire in England.

Different rule apply to whisk(e)y around the work; in England, spirit can only be called whisky once it has been aged in an oak barrel for three years. The Spirit of Yorkshire’s first casked distillate has now reached that milestone and can now be called whiskey Continue reading

Cooper King Becomes Latest Distillery Making English Whisky

14 June 2019

Cooper King distillery in Yorkshire, England, today announced that they had distilled their first whisky.

Cooper King logo

Cooper King is a self-built distillery which, from opening, was operating as a gin distillery, but always intended to be a whisky distillery. As many of the new breed of whisky distilleries, they distilled gin as it is away to quickly raise additional funds as gin does not need to be aged as whisky does.

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Distilleries To Visit

6 May 2016

This site is initially going to focus on the distilleries which I have visited and also the ones I intend to visit.

These will predominately be the ones in Scotland and probably Ireland.

Through time I will introduce details of distilleries elsewhere in the world (most likely dreaming of visiting them as I do).

if you have details of distilleries which are open to the public, which I haven’t listed, please send the details to me using the contact form.