Guide Whisky Words: Whisky and Distilling in the United Kingdom Through the Victorian Age

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Four hogsheads were ordered at a cost of 1 shilling, while bolls of bere barley reached the distillery from all over the locality. All three were key markets for Campbeltown Malt, the name given to whisky from the area. No expense had been spared in the building of Dalaruan , a courtyard distillery designed for ease of access by horse and cart. Dalaruan progressed steadily, despite personal tragedy. A cholera outbreak in claimed the life of John Colvill. In correspondence with David Colville, Peter Reid describes a quarantine like environment and an understandable unwillingness to travel.

Ralph Langlands was the third founder of Dalaruan to die Charles Colvill had passed in aged 54 in , and his share in the company was sold to John McMurchy. Distilled in stills of small size, and made from peat-dried malt, there was a flavour about it peculiar to itself, and which was much relished by consumers of that kind of spirit. However, evidence showing the variety of still types used in Campbeltown, and different distillation styles, makes such a judgement premature.

When Barnard visited Campbeltown in , nine of the twenty-one distilleries working had three stills installed; one for wash and the others forlow wine and feints. Hazelburn had been founded by Dalaruan partner Daniel Greenlees, and they both shared three stills as a defining feature. Dalintober, built by David Colville and Peter Reid in , used 3-stills. The use of three stills might just have been for convenience, but it is more likely that the distillers at Dalaruan practised triple-distillation, along with other Campbeltown distilleries.

Dalaruan featured three pot-stills in the s; a 2,gallon wash still, and two others with a capacity of 1, and gallons respectively. Frustratingly little is mentioned about the practise, although the distillation expert Joseph Alfred Nettleton describes triple-distillation in relatively matter-of-fact terms, and the appeal of using full triple or partial-triple distillation like Springbank to produce a lighter spirit is understandable.

Triple-distillation would increase the reflux during the total distillation regime, and reduce the amount of less volatile constituents reaching the completed spirit. The technique would ensure a lighter finalnal spirit with a higher alcoholic strength than normal double-distilled batch spirit. It is not dissimilar to the distilling practise in Ireland, and the proximity and shared history of Kintyre and Ireland could have encouraged a shared distilling legacy. The recycling of the various fractions, and the deliberate extraction of strong feints from the second still, would affect the bouquet and strength of the final spirit; a higher alcohol content than the norm would be created, raising the number of complex flavour congeners in the final spirit.

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Triple-distillation was expensive and time-consuming, so its usage at Dalaruan was a choice of style and flavour over effiFeciency. Worm-tubs were also situated outside of the Still House, parallel to a lade which ensured a steady stream of chilled water to condense the fresh distillate. This ow of cold water coupled with the frigid Campbeltown climate would result in quicker condensation of the spirit within the copper worm, helping to create a lighter- bodied whisky. How long Dalaruan had been practising triple distillation is unclear, but it is unlikely that Robert Armour would have installed three stills during the initial building of the distillery.

Dalaruan was expanded and modernised at several points in its history, and Alfred Barnard visited Dalaruan in after it had recently constructed additional warehousing in its three-acre site. Barnard was introduced to Dalaruan by Charles Colville Greenlees in his officepce above the entrance archway, presumably with a welcoming dram!

Distillers and brewers had begun to use the Chevalier strain of barley in the late Victorian period, a two-rowed strain of barley as opposed to the four-row Bere favoured earlier at Dalaruan. Chevalier was more consistent and less volatile than Bere, resulting in mashes less prone to spoiling. Chevalier needed to be imported, but the sheer demand for barley from the Campbeltown distillers overwhelmed local producers; the 10, bags of barley that landed by steamer in for the distilling season were the norm, not the exception.

Chevalier was known for its relative resistance to disease, and recent experiments with Chevalier indicate it added malty notes when used. Made of clay, Bridgewater tiles were known for their exceptional heat conduction. Local peat was available, but the supply was regularly superseded by shipments of peat from the Hebrides and Ireland. Moss peats were the best in his opinion, for they could still dry in even the worst conditions. These peats would contain less wood measured in lignin levels and more sphagnum moss, adding a spicy, bracken-esque element to the Dalaruan whisky.

In July at approximately 1am, a re broke out in the Eastern kiln, and soon it and the adjoining stables were in ames. The re soon spread to the granaries and malt barns, and threatened to engulf the complex. Two watchmen on patrol sounded the alarm, but the re would have been overwhelming had the lookout of a moored warship, the HMS Northampton, not noticed the blaze. Over 50 Blue Jackets slang for British sailors and their commanding officers were sent to tackle the inferno. The granaries, stores, lofts and kilns were gutted, but the major distilling equipment survived — as did the whisky.

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Work within the distillery could be highly dangerous. A worker at Dalaruan , Lachlan McLachlan, was killed at the distillery in after his cravat was caught on a fan-shaft and he was pulled inside the machinery, crushing him to death. Dalaruan received its mains water from Crosshill Loch, as did the other Campbeltown distilleries. The loch was built by the Duke of Argyll explicitly to encourage the founding of distilleries by offering a clean and consistent water supply. Crosshill Loch is filled with spring water from further up Beinn Ghuilean, which flows over limestone before settling in the loch.

Limestone adds minerals like calcium and filters out impurities.

Historical Notes

Dalaruan was supplemented by two private 9-feet wells on its grounds which Alfred Barnard assured his readers in contained natural springs of the highest quality, principally for reducing the alcoholic strength of the whisky before it was put into casks for maturation. Kintyre was known for the breadth of its smuggling activity, with cargoes of casks containing rum, sherry and wine hidden on outlying islands before being taken inland.

Although primarily used as storage vessels, knowledge of the effect on whisky when stored in casks was known, hence this request from David Colville in If I had thought of it sooner I could have filled it with Dalaruan ; but it is now rather late. Dalaruan in its early years would have been filled into rum, sherry, beer, wine, fresh oak casks — whatever the distillers or their customers could lay their hands on.

Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, The :: Food & Drink :: Birlinn Ltd.

It was customary for clients to return their casks to the distillery once used, where they would be filled again. Although it was not a legal requirement to age whisky until , it was understood that some aging was required to improve the youthful spirit. The use of a rum cask by David Colville would impart hints of tropical fruit and caramel upon the light Dalaruan whisky contained within.

Many attribute the Irish with inventing whisky and then bringing the idea across to Scotland during medieval times. There is evidence of this migration occurring, but the true origins of the whisky remain unclear unless you are talking to an Irishman or a Scotsman ofcause! The word whisky is derived from the Irish form of Gaelic and means 'water of life'. Ireland is currently the fourth largest producer of whisky in the world, behind Scotland, America and Japan.


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These three distilleries produce a wide range of different whiskies under old distillery names, all of which use traditional recipes from these closed distilleries. Early history Ireland has the oldest officially licensed premises in the world at Bushmills. Its license was granted in by King James I. By the mid s, there were over distilleries operating all over the country, with the vast majority being illegal. This forced the government to act and they raised taxes on alcohol and actively shut down illegal stills.

By , the number of distilleries had been reduced to just over , although only 20 of these were actually legal. A number of those affected by the mass government crack down and closures, set off for america and some were the founders of the American whiskey industry.

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Further distilleries closed as the richer and larger companies took over, but the industry was still booming. This was fuelled by the desire for Irish whiskey in the UK market, where during the late Victorian period it was the best selling spirit. As the British Empire expanded then so did the popularity of Irish whisky.