One the same weekend I attended Malt Masters HK, TimeforWhisky was also invited to a presentation of the Annandale Distillery project, organised by Eddie Nara, Co-founder and Chairman of Malt and Grain Whisk(e)y Society Hong Kong. Martin sure picked a busy (whisky) weekend to be away!
The presentation was led by Professor David Thomson, Founder and chairman of the Annandale distillery project. David’s lovely wife, Teresa Church who has worked closely with him in each step of the project greeted all guests and appeared genuinely interested in learning about the backgrounds of all attendees. The event was the first time Annandale’s new make ‘Rascally Liquor’ had been launched in Hong Kong.
David’s whisky passion developed and grew over time as his wife gifted him with bottles of whiskies for birthday and Christmas celebrations. He read about Annandale in the book ‘Scotch Missed’ by Brian Townsend and went on to purchase, renovate, and re-build the Annandale brand. Hailing from marketing, market research and brand development background, David and Teresa purchased the building in 2007, commenced restoration in 2011 and started production in late 2011. Conveniently located on the England-Scotland border, Annandale was one of the oldest legal distilleries in Scotland and was previously owned by 3 families, one of which was John Walker and Sons (1895-1918).
David took the group on a photo journey of the grounds and production process, and detailed the creation of the branding of the ‘Rascally Liquor New Make’ (63.5%) which comes in both peated and unpeated varieties. The peated new make aims to be smoky and complex and the spirit is currently being matured in second fill bourbon and sherry casks. The unpeated new make aims to be fiery and fruity, and uses different yeast to what is used in the peated process. Each will be sold as new makes to give consumers a taste of what is to come [Martin: and to no doubt provide some income until such time the distillery starts offering "whisky"].
The names and branding of each single malt (which will be ready for purchase and consumption in 3 years time) reflect both the rich maritime history of Annandale, as well as prominent local individuals including King Robert Bruce, the 7th Earl of Annandale who was also a warrior and liberator of Scotland; and Robert Burns, Poet, song writer and Baird of Scotland (and excise man of Annandale). The Man O’Swords (peated single malt) and the Man O’Words (unpeated single malt) will be sold at 46% alcohol by volume.
Despite not typically sharing Martin's enthusiasm for new make, I found myself enjoying these - especially the peated version. It will be interesting to see how these turn out as "whiskies" when they are released as such in 3 years time!