Rent a country house for the weekend and go on the whisky trail
If you make a decision to stay in a country house in England you wouldn’t expect to visit a whisky distillery. Yes, if you chose to stay in weekend country houses in Scotland, that would go without saying but Norfolk, Suffolk or London? You wouldn’t expect to do any local ‘nosing’ now, would you?
Angels’ share – the whisky lost in evaporation during ageing – around 3% a year.
You may not realise that English whisky is thriving
Just a couple of months ago work began on a brand new distillery in the Lake District. You might think this is just small time enterprise. Well, you would be wrong. Although the distillery is all plans and bulldozers right now, it should begin production in June 2014. The Lakes Distillery will be producing not a few hundred bottles of the spirit but up to as many as 1 million bottles per year and 90% of these will be destined for Asia and other emerging whisky markets. So why not have a taste as you enjoy a relaxing break in weekend country houses up and down the country.
Hogs Head – The 250 litre/63 gallon cask most commonly used in maturing whisky.
Not only will the Lakes be producing whisky but gin and vodka too. If you are in a hurry to try that will have to wait a while as it takes a minimum of three years for the whisky to mature. No, it won’t be Scotch but it will taste quite similar as the water comes across peaty foothills as it does in Scotland. To find out more about tasting notes there is plenty of information online and to discover a wonderful property in Cumbria try Lazonby Hall for the ultimate in a weekend country houses for a pause in the proceedings.
From surplus barley to a 150 000 bottles
You don’t have to go so far north, however to enjoy a distillery visit. In fact if you stay at Christmas Hall in Suffolk you could take a hop, skip and a jump to Norfolk and sample the whisky sold by the English Whisky company. If you can’t get there then Marks and Spencer stock this as its own label whisky. This is matured for five years which kind of literally puts the cap on expansion right now as it all hangs on the timings of maturation. Why did this Whisky company begin? It was an experimentation with surplus barley that is a 150 000 bottle business right now. Amazing what happens in the country.
Cask strength – when the whisky has matured it’s around 50/60% abv and then reduced with water.
The London Distillery Company opens for business
There is even a company in Battersea, London called, unsurprisingly The London Distillery Company who actually managed to cask their first whisky three months ago. This was a real coup as the famous Lea Valley distillery shut its door over a century ago, back in 1903.
In fact the story goes back much further than that when a Mr Ralph Dodd, who was what one might term an entrepreneur decided there was nothing for it but to set up a distillery to combat the poor quality of spirits that were being made at that time. The London Distillery Company have taken his vision into the twenty first century and aim to make spirits that are pure products without adulteration.
If tastings are your thing then there are plenty of interesting emporia that will educate and advise if you want to know more about this noble spirit. However, if you think a country house, a few friends, a dinner part and a bottle of whisky might be just the thing one weekend, here are a few ideas for you..