Thursday 27 February 2014

The Wild Rover's "CCWC" inaugural event - Glendronach

Originally mentioned back in October last year, Sydney's The Wild Rover have now launched their "Campbell Corner Whiskey Co-Operative" (CCWC), kicking things off this Monday just passed with a Glendronach tasting led by Douglas Cook of the distillery.

Without going into too much detail (see the post from October for the specifics), the Co-Operative allows anyone to join for a one-off $25 fee, and provides them with a card of 50 whiskies to work through (at very reasonably prices). Once done, the holder of a completed card is able to purchase some pretty rare and interesting drams at cost price. There are a few such drams already, including a 21yo Teeling and the 12yo Bushmills Distillery Reserve (available only from the distillery), with plenty more to come, potentially including a Port Ellen. In what I personally think is a solid move, the bar will reserve these drams only for members who have completed their card - you can wave as much cash as you like at them, they won't sell you a dram unless you've completed the card.

The CCWC will also see regular events, the first of which was this one from Glendronach (distributed in Australia by the lovely folk from island2island).

I'll admit Glendronach is a distillery I wasn't too aware of until quite recently, but after continually hearing about the quality of their drams from a number of reputable sources, I figured there must be something good there. My first taste of Glendronach (the 15yo) last year confirmed it.

I had a brief chat to Douglas before the event kicked off, and learnt that despite his title of "Regional Sales Manager", the distillery has such a small staff that his role is a lot more encompassing than the title suggests. Douglas occasionally plays a hands-on role in various facets of the whisky production and distribution, as well as his main role of spreading the word of Glendronach throughout Europe, Australia, NZ and Asia (in particular Taiwan - Glendronach's largest market).

Having been through periods of ownership by Teachers and Pernod Ricard, in 2008 the distillery was brought back into private ownership as part of the BenRiach Distilery Company. It was at this time the distillery chose to focus on sherried whiskies - recognising a gap in the market being addressed by very few other distilleries at the time.

Douglas, clearly passionate about the Scotch whisky industry and who (I suspect) could talk for hours about its intricacies if given the opportunity, taught us a number of interesting facts including:

  • The origins of Glendronach's popularity in the 1820s, thanks in part to word of mouth from, uh, ladies of the night.
  • Scotland produces on average 40 bottles of whisky, every second.
  • All 1.5 million litres of Glendronach produced annually is aged on-site at their distillery in the North East of Scotland.
  • Whilst the majority of Glendronach is aged in Oloroso and/or PX casks, they have released Sauternes and Tawny Port releases in the past, and may, possibly look at a peated release in the future.

After an introductory cocktail of Glendronach 12yo and home-made ginger beer (which was delicious, but perhaps a little spicey given we were about to taste some complex whiskies), Douglas talked us through the 12yo, 15yo and 18yo (to be covered in a separate tasting post) which I have to say were each fantastic.
Douglas, the island2island team and the guys from The Wild Rover did all they could to make this a fun and informative event, and I'd have to say they pulled it off very well. If they keep it up the CCWC could well become a staple on the Sydney whisky event calendar, like Shirt Bar's Scotch Club.

The next CCWC will be on 10th March - a tasting of Kilchoman by owner and master distiller Anthony Wills.

The Wild Rover can be found at 75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW.

 - Martin.

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