A week in whisky: rum, oddities and the cask

Scottish Field drinks blogger Peter Ranscombe takes a look at what’s been happening in the world of whisky over the past seven days…

AHEAD of International Rum Day on Sunday, Islay single malt whisky brand Smokehead has released “Rum Rebel”, which spent time in Caribbean rum casks.

The latest incarnation follows on from “Sherry Bomb”, which was finished in fortified Spanish wine casks.

The brand has also created a “Smokito” cocktail using its rum-finished whisky.

Iain Weir, Smokehead’s brand director, said: “When our rich, smoky, salty Islay Smokehead collides with spicy, sweet Caribbean rum casks, carnage is inevitable.

“Like all our Smokehead whiskies, ‘Rum Rebel’ is not for everyone – this whisky is for the fearless.”

Cask 88 sails into rum

Staying with rum, and whisky bottler Cask 88 has launched its first bottles of the sugar-based spirit, with three single casks from Guyana and Nicaragua.

Demerara Distillers supplied 20- and 21 year-old barrels from Guyana, while Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua – which rose to fame with the world’s first carbon-neutral, Fair Trade-certified spirit – created the range’s 19-year-old rum.

Patrick Costello, a director at Edinburgh-based Cask 88, said: “Our Scotch whisky drinking clients are always looking for something new to excite the palate and so we’ve had our eye on rum producers in the Caribbean for some time now.

“We feel the category shows a level of complexity and refined flavour that is reminiscent of Scotch whisky, and has the potential to command the attention of the world.”

Analysts at International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR) said sales of high-end rum rose by 8.3% between 2014 and 2019, compared with a 0.6% increase for cheaper rum, suggesting drinkers are developing a taste for premium bottles.

Fans pick next Glengoyne single cask

Glengoyne distillery is inviting its fans to pick the barrel that will be used for its next single cask whisky.

It’s selling kits containing four samples from its eighth warehouse and will hold an online tasting on 28 August to discuss the options.

A public vote will determine the winner.

Robbie Hughes, Glengoyne distillery manager, said: “Having helped to pick the four casks on offer, I’m truly excited to see and hear the reaction to these rare and unique drams.

“Some of the liquid in the sample kits may have never been released for sale, so this truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that we’re excited to offer our community.”

Nc’nean sells its first bottles for charity

Nc’nean, the organic distillery on the Morvern peninsula, is auctioning its first ten bottles of single malt to raise money for charities.

The sale, which begins today and runs until Monday, is being hosted on the Whisky Auctioneer website.

The business was launched in 2013 and began distilling its spirit in 2017.

Annabel Thomas, Nc’nean’s founder, said: “Our first ever whisky has been a long time coming and we are tremendously excited to auction off Bottles #1-10 of Ainnir on Whisky Auctioneer.

“I think it’s really important to give back to the community that has supported us along our spirits journey, so this charity auction is a fitting tribute to both local, sustainability and industry organisations.”

Awards round-up

And finally, a look at who’s celebrating this week after winning prizes.

Whyte & Mackay “Light”, the whisky distiller’s “light spirit drink” blended with Scotch and sherry, took gold at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

Richard “The Nose” Paterson, the company’s master blender, said: “It was a great test to the art of blending, and is a testament to the incredible skill and passion of our team that knew how to create a quality spirit, with incredible taste.”

Meanwhile, Isle of Raasay distillery’s gin has taken home a bronze medal from the International Spirits Challenge (ISC).

Co-founder Alasdair Day said: “Raasay juniper, rhubarb root, sweet orange peel, and our malt spirit used as our tenth botanical are just some of the flavours you can expect.”

Read more whisky news and reviews on Scottish Field’s whisky pages.