Tarbert Distillery to open soon

Tarbert Distillery for Isle of Harris

Tarbert Distillery

Luskentyre Beach Harris

An Isle of Harris Distillery is planned to start construction later this year and with the creation of 20 new jobs can only be a boost to the Islands economy.

Government Grant

This good news followed the announcement by the Scottish Government of a £1.9 million grant to fund up to a third of the total building costs of the new project, and is the lion’s share of a total £2.4 million that has been allocate to several industries, including Findlater’s Fine Foods, Linlithgow; Sandyford Abattoir, Paisley; Struan Apiaries, Conon Bridge, near Dingwall and TM Fresh Direct, Carfin. As reported by the Scotsman

The Isle of Harris Distillery has been in the planning for a while and is to be built on reclaimed land. The whole project would consist of the distillery itself, a warehouse and a car park. It is not clear yet whether or not a visitors centre is planned but I would be very surprised if a project of this size did not have one. Water will be drawn from two disused reservoirs on the East Tarbert Burn

Production Start

It is expected that up to 90,000 litres a year will be produced and the aim is for the quality market. Watch this space! Production is expected to begin sometime in 2015. With the 3 years required to actually call your drink whisky then in theory we could be trying the first dram as early as 2018 but I am sure that most of us will want to wait a while for something a bit longer in barrel.

Whisky Making in the Islands

The history of whisky making in the Outer Isles is a bit chequered with the major landowner (James Matheson from 1844) banning all distilling and closing the only existing, Shoeburn, distillery. This is ironic because it is asserted that James Matheson made his fortune selling opium to the Chinese.

The first legal distillery to open in recent years is the Abhainn Dearg distillery at Uig on the Isle of Lewis (not far from the impressive beach)

Abhainn Dearg

Uig Beach

This however is a much smaller affair than the Tarbert distillery. It consists of a few brick built and tin roofed buildings in a pretty isolated corner of the Island.

There is no visitor centre as such but visitors are welcome and you can now buy the finished product. When we dropped in in 2011 only the “Spirit of Lewis” was available, the basic spirit that of course could not be called whisky. We enjoyed this as something we had not tried before, but look forward to a nip of the real thing.

The distillery took a bit of work to get a licence, not helped by the fact that it uses a former illegal still from  North Uist!

Off on a complete tangent if any of you have read the Lewis Trilogy by Peter May then a lot of the action in the final book The Chessmen is set around the Uig area.

A Scotch Whisky Bottle Tax, Will it Work?

Scotch Whisky Bottle TaxA rather more serious post for today. A Scotch Whisky Bottle Tax has been proposed as a way of raising extra revenue.

Two economic advisors to the Scottish Parliament put forward this idea based on information from 2008 but also from estimates of 2011 figures. these show a year on year growth in the industry and its overall value to the Scottish economy. The proposed tax would provide a means of raising this revenue. What does it mean to you though?

This is when we get to the “dry” bit, that is with figures, not literally! The formulation for adding the extra tax is not quite so straightforward as it sounds.

What Would a Bottle Tax Mean?

For example if the tax was added to each bottle but the extra amount came off profits and was not passed on to the customer then the company would not pay as much corporation tax.

On the other hand if the tax was added to the cost to the consumer then this would probably lead to a drop in demand and sales and be counter productive. These two factors are what the advisors were trying to take into account, along with a figure for the level of the bottle tax.

Biggar Economics (the group behind the research) estimate da 0.43% drop in sales for every 1% increase in price, which does not sound enormous but when you consider that upwards of 1.3 billion bottles of Scotch Whisky are shifted every year then it is not just a drop in the ocean.

From the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20946409

Graeme Blackett’s analysis suggests the following impact if a bottle tax were absorbed by profits:

A 10p per bottle tax would raise £135m and reduce corporation tax revenue by £31m – with a total revenue of £104m.

A 50p per bottle tax would reduce corporation tax by £155m – with total revenue of £520m

A £1 per bottle tax would cut corporation tax by £310m – leading to a total tax take of £1.039bn.

However, if all the cost of the tax were handed over to consumers, the analysis suggests:

A 10p rise per bottle would cut demand by about 6m bottles, it is estimated. Counting less corporation tax, excise duty and VAT would leave £128m in revenue.

A 50p rise for consumers, would cut demand by 31m bottles, and the tax take could be £626m.

A £1 tax would reduce demand by 61m bottles, resulting in tax revenue of £1.222bn.

There are a lot of unknowns in all this and of course the distillers might choose to mix the loading for themselves and the consumer.

My Thoughts

Personally a Scotch Whisky bottle tax leaves me with mixed feelings, anything likely to raise the price of my favourite tipple is not at all welcome.

What do you think? Please feel free to comment or share with your friends.

Going Green, Fuel From Whisky to Drive Your Car

Whisky fuel for carsIt may soon be possible to drive your car on fuel from whisky. Yes you did read that right and no someone is not going to take a bottle of your favourite dram and pour it into your tank!
Fuel made from whisky is already being developed as part of a new initiative between Tullibardine Malt Whisky Distillery and Celtic Renewables. The future prospects are quite exciting for the industry as I will show later.

What Fuel is Produced and How?

The fuel produced from the whisky is in actual fact produced from the waste products that are a result of the whole process. For every gallon of whisky manufactured there are eight gallons of waste liquid ale and alongside this there is also all the waste left over from the malted barley that goes to make up this ale.
Celtic Renewables’ scientists have developed a technique whereby bacteria produce biobutanol from the waste products and this is the final fuel. Or it will be when all the ingredients are added to make it suitable for a car engine.

Biobutanol has the same energy value as petrol and cars do not need any modifications to run on it.

Why is it Important for the Whisky Industry?

The waste products from whisky have always presented a bit of a problem for distilleries. The barley waste (draff) does go to form cattle feed but the whole thing does present an overall expenditure of some size. Tullibardine is one of Scotland’s smaller distilleries but even they spend upwards of £250,000 a year on waste disposal. For some of the really big distilleries the potential savings are enormous.

The advantages for the environment too are pretty good since the whole process is from an obviously renewable resource. The amount of waste from the manufacture of the 1.8 billion bottles of whisky a year that come out of Scotland is certainly not insignificant.

Sometimes the whisky industry does not always present the greenest public face but now and again it manages to get it right the use of surplus energy from Bowmore to heat the municipal pool is one such example and this looks to be potentially another.

The Tullibardine Distillery and Whisky

The Tullibardine distillery is relatively young in Scotch whisky terms. It was established in 1949 at Blackford in Perthshire but mothballed by its owners Whyte and Mackay in 1995. It was sold to Tullibardine Distillery Limited on 2003 who reopened production, Wikipedia claims it was sold on to Picard Vins et Spiritueux in 2011 but the website declares that they are an independant firm. (Wikipedia is not always to be trusted as I hope you realise).

The distillery has a visitor centre and I hope to be able to drop in on them fairly soon as I will be driving the A9, almost past their front door, in a few weeks time. Sadly since I will be driving then I will not be able to fuel myself up on whisky, though I may invest in a bottle from the shop to sample later!

Any of you been to Tullibardine? I would love to hear your experience and if any of you want to know more about making fuel from whisky waste then fire away. I will try to point you in the right direction.

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Donald Trump Glenfiddich Whisky Madness

Donald Trump Glenfiddich Whisky Madness

Donald Trump

It would seem that one of the worlds richest men, Donald Trump, has decided to take on Glenfiddich, the world’s biggest single scotch malt whisky producer! Hence the Donald Trump Whisky Glenfiddich Madness title to this post.

Why you ask would he decide to do this. The answer has to be just plain bad temper and sour grapes. I personally cannot see any other reason. So what is it all about?

Glenfiddich is the sponsor of the Spirit of Scotland award, which is voted for by members of the public and was this year won by Aberdeenshire fisherman Michael Forbes. This was actually a bit of a surprise because it was widely expected that Olympic Gold medallist, Grand Slam winner and Wimbledon finalist Andy Murray would pick up the prize.

Michael Forbes seems to have roused a bit of a rebellious streak in the population because of his strong opposition to Trump and his new golf course in Aberdeenshire. This course has been built despite very strong local opposition, with Forbes at the forefront of it.

Michael Forbes and Donald Trump have locked horns over this several times. Forbes had refused to sell some of his land to Trump and placed large protest signs on it demanding no golf course. The two have traded insults for some time over this disagreement.

The Edinburgh ceremony this week saw Forbes receive his award to much popular acclaim.

Glenfiddich were unrepentant and a spokesman said

“Top Scot is a totally open category in which the people of Scotland can vote for whomsoever they choose and Glenfiddich has no influence on this decision,” a spokesman said.
[The] Top Scot may be one of that year’s category nominees or may come from any walk of life. The person receiving the greatest number of votes, cast by the people of Scotland, wins the award.”
It added: “In the history of these awards, we are not aware of the Top Scot award causing any offence or upset to anyone and it is not our intention to do so now. These awards were set up to give the people of Scotland a vote and we must respect their decision.”

Glenfiddich Biggest Selling Malt Whisky

Worlds Best Selling Scotch Single Malt

This is not good enough for Donald Trump however and he has called for a boycott of all Glenfiddich products, and those of the parent company, William Grant & Son.

This has already happened in all the premises that Donald Trump owns, but I suspect that he probably bitten off more than he can chew, since as I said at the beginning the Speyside Whisky company is the most popular seller of Scotch Malt whisky in the world. Millions of drinkers are not about to give up their favourite tipple on the whims of a man like Donald Trump. In fact the people of Scotland have probably already passed judgement on him with their award to Michael Forbes.

MacAllan Whisky Title Photography 2012

The MacAllan Title Photographic

The MacAllan Whisky Title Photographic Competition has been won by Czech photographer Martin Faltejsek  according to Amateur Photographer Magazine where you can see the picture (sadly copyright stops me from putting it here) . The photograph by Martin called ‘Personality’ was one of more than 2,500 entries from over 1,000 photographers in  this competition that … more »

Dumbarton Whisky Black Fungus

Dumbarto Whisky Black Fungus

Whisky giants Chivas Regal have angered many residents of Dumbarton in Scotland after announcing that they are not responsible for the deposit of black fungus that is plaguing parts of the town according to the Lennox Herald. Whisky black fungus grows in, or near to, whisky distilleries and warehouses and is a real nuisance to … more »

Exhibition of Scotch Whisky At Scottish Parliament

Whisky Scottish Parliament

A scotch whisky exhibition is to be held in the Scottish Parliament as a celebration of Scotland’s National drink. The aim is to give the visitor an guide into the production of whisky through all its stages from field and stream to bottle so people can appreciate just how much work goes into it all. … more »

Lidl 33-Year-Old Malt Whisky For Christmas

Lidl 33-year-old Whisky Given 'Superstar' Status by Whisky Legend Jim Murray

Lidl Stores have announced the release of a 33yr old malt whisky, which would seem to be aimed straight at the  whisky gifts Christmas market. There is something really special about this one though. I has been described by renowned whisky expert Jim Murray as a “superstar”, after he got the chance to try a … more »

World’s Largest Pub Quiz

The World's Largest Pub Quiz

The world’s biggest pub quiz is planned for November 29th and will be to fund the charity Help The Heroes.

The sponsors of this mammoth event (when it is hoped 10,000 people will get involved) is the long established whisky firm of Arthur Bell. The aim is to raise over a million pounds for the charity in the UK.

www.bells.co.uk/helpforheroes/ is the place to go to find out more.

Help the Heroes is a UK based charity that is aimed at rehabilitating and providing extra help for returning soldiers who have been injured or otherwise affected in recent conflicts. It is providing excellent help and should act as a spur to our government to do more.

A really short post for this one but thought it worth putting up.


Jura Whisky Treasure Hunt

Jura Whisky Treasure Hunt

The Jura Distillery announced on Tuesday the 6th of November that it would be holding a treasure hunt in four cities in the UK, with 40 bottles of Jura Superstition Whisky as the prizes. The winners will be those lucky, or clever enough, to find one of ten pennies which will be hidden at certain … more »