The railway routes and locomotives that fuelled Scotland’s great proliferation of whisky distilleries in the late 19th century have inspired some new drams.
The railway is the subject championed in the latest whisky collection released by award winning independent bottler Cask 88.
The Glasgow & South-Western Railway, represented by a 10 year old single malt distilled at Auchentoshan, and the Caledonian Railway, represented by a 15 year old single malt distilled at Deanston, are the final routes to join the series of single cask Scotch whisky expressions depicting five of the major Scottish railway operators from history.
Available for general sale this week, each whisky in the Scotch Express series is sourced from a distillery that lies along the classic railway route depicted on the bottle. The expansion of rail connected these distilleries to transport routes to service their needs, allowing them to thrive, while opening them up to the world.
Watercolour label artwork from celebrated railway artist Robin Barnes brings new life to the locomotives that once ran these rails.
The final two bottles that complete this five-bottle set are a 10 Year Old Single Malt distilled at Auchentoshan (51.7% ABV; 80 bottles available; £85), a triple distilled, sweet and citrussy dram to celebrate the Glasgow & South-Western Railway; and a 15 Year Old Single Malt distilled at Deanston (46.0% ABV; 100 bottles available; £115), a full-bodied expression celebrating the Caledonian Railway.
Cask 88 TV presenter and Head of Content Sam Laing said: ‘Learning about the big five railway companies of Victorian Scotland for these five releases really brought that time period to life for us.
‘There must have been such excitement at the time – the world becoming more accessible, new technologies doing unimaginable things – and right in the middle of all of that, Scottish whisky was spreading its own fame to become a drink that Scotland was justly proud of. We’re still reaping that legacy to this day!’
Of the several whisky distilleries located in Glasgow, Auchentoshan is the best known and longest established, sitting on the north bank of the river Clyde since 1817. The Glasgow & South Western Railway faithfully served the communities of Scotland’s southwest, and so Auchentoshan whisky may well have found an easy path to the rest of the world by running on the old G&SWR lines that connected Glasgow to the bustling international port of Ardrossan. Robin Barnes’ label artwork for this Auchentoshan 10 Year Old depicts the Whitelegg 540 ‘Baltic’ 4-6-4T, departing from its home base at Glasgow’s St Enoch railway station.
The Caledonian Railway arose in 1845, a merging of smaller lines that would eventually grow to challenge the North British Railway for supremacy over Scotland’s most lucrative routes. The most iconic of the Caledonian’s express engines was the 4-6-0 class 903 ‘Cardean’, illustrated heading south to Carlisle by Robin Barnes for the label of the Deanston 15 Year Old. The Deanston distillery is located in the picturesque town of Doune, formerly served by the Caledonian. Deanston distillery is known for long fermentations and slow distillations, giving a very full-flavoured whisky, with a substantial waxy body and long finish.
These bottles complete a series that also contains a 10 Year Old Single Malt distilled at Blair Athol (53.8% ABV; 100 bottles available; GBP 75), to celebrate the Highland Railway, a 12 Year Old Single Malt distilled at Fettercairn (54.3% ABV; 100 bottles available; GBP 75), to celebrate the North British Railway, and a 11 Year Old Single Malt distilled at Benrinnes (51.7% ABV; 100 bottles available; GBP 85) to celebrate the Great North of Scotland Railway.
The Cask 88 Scotch Express collection are available to purchase through the Cask 88 website for worldwide delivery.