Paranormal investigators adore distilleries. Often old, echoey buildings combined with a permanently sozzled (back in the day) workforce? Who’d have thought that these conditions would be ripe for countless tales of ghosts and ghouls. From the headless horseman of Bowmore, Tomatin’s ghost dog, Glenronach’s “Sherry Lady” and Glenmorangie’s “White Lady” to the Isle of Jura’s frankly staggering tale of Laird Archibald Campbell, whose response to being caught establishing an illicit still in a cave on the island was to indicate that “the ghost made me do it”. Unexplained noises, doors closing themselves and sudden cold chills – all things which provide plenty of inspiration for product development and distillery tour chit-chat.
Today’s spectre comes in the form of Biawa ‘Byeway’ Makalanga – a Rothes-based spirit who is often remembered to this day with a ‘toast to the ghost’ before each tasting at the distillery.
Byeway was supposedly ‘rescued’ by Major James Grant (owner of Glen Grant distillery), uprooted from his home of Zimbabwe and taken to Rothes as Grant’s pageboy. So far so colonial. Later in life, Byeway would go onto win two medals in WW1 and become the only African butler to play for a Scottish football team. Becoming a regular fixture at games even after his playing days ended, Byeway earned a complimentary stand seat and a free cup of half-time tea each match. Ah, times were simpler then.
Major Grant shuffled off his moral coil in 1931 and despite his wishes for Byeway to be looked after, the servant found himself homeless following his return from WW2 to discover that Glen Grant House was being sublet to the still workers. After being forced to move to Lossie, he died in 1972 and was buried in the graveyard that is located over the road from Glenrothes. His hauntings supposedly commenced from 1980 onwards with the installation of a new No.3 still. Little did the folks at Glenrothes know, but the distillery works had damaged a ley-line which passed under Rothes Castle and the distillery’s buildings. Someone also likely looked into a mirror and intoned “Candydram” five times.
But, no problems – iron rods were hammered into the damaged ley-lines, thus correcting the imbalance of energies. Case solved. Pesky kids. In the years since, the tale has persevered – likely as a fun aside for those attending a tasting at the distillery. And the story is now immortalised on the label of Boutique-y Whisky’s Speyside #3 bottlings.
Following last Advent’s Speyside #3 8 year old Batch 1, we’re back again at “Scotland’s most haunted distillery” for Batch 3. This time around, we’re operating at the tender age of 6 years for a release of 1,277 bottles. Delivered at 49.3%, these will set you back the quite reasonable sum of £34.95 from Master of Malt.
Nose: Satsumas, orange oils and quince jelly (the familiar distillery style of tangy, slightly sweet and sour orange) are joined by oven baked buns and freshly griddle waffles, whilst dried fennel provides a herbal/anise note. Reduction reveals a buttery quality with all-butter dough, flaky pastry and creamy toffee.
Taste: Cider apples and crunchy toffee apples are joined by piquant stem ginger whilst orange-drizzled French crepes, olive oil cake and toffiffee sit with praline crunch and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Dilution expresses golden syrup, a sugar dusted stack of pancakes and touches of charred oak.
Finish: Medium in length with residue orange-eque notes alongside shaved chocolate and persisting herbal anise.
Speyside #3 6 year old Batch 3 is unchallengingly plain sailing. But it’s also effortlessly crisp and focussed. Quality distillate allowed to shine in a resonate cask. If you’ve not yet taken the plunge into Boutique-y or indeed into IBs in general, this expression is a ghoulished well-priced gateway.
Looking more more phantom, shades and apparitions? Head over to OCD Whisky and see what Sorren has got for you today.
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