Sell-out distiller’s dinner closes malts festival

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Words and pictures Mark Davey

Kintyre’s distillers hosting the 10th Campbeltown Malts Festival’s closing dinner were in top spirits.

This year’s Campbeltown town hall event last Friday welcomed gin distiller Beinn an Tuirc, which started operations in June 2017, and supplied Kintyre’s best for the apéritif gin and tonic.

This year’s festival began at Beinn an Tuirc, last Tuesday and during the dinner, its chief executive officer, Niall Macalister Hall said: ‘We had a very busy day with at least 50 taking tours.’

Explore Campbeltown’s Kate Watt opened the evening and welcomed everyone to the dinner. Mrs Watt had organised the seating plan more or less at random with at least one whisky expert on each table.

The Courier reporter ate alongside a Dane, three from Sweden, two Germans and a couple, the Monahans, from County Galway, visiting Campbeltown and the malts festival for the first time.

Vicki Monahan said: ‘Originally I am from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. The Courier reporter soon discovered he had been born in the same maternity home.

Mrs Monahan said: ‘We were recommended to come to Campbeltown by a Shannon airport meteorologist, Ian Considine, who writes the a blog: ‘Whiskey Weather’ with the tagline: ‘Wandering the wonderful world of whisk(e)y one dram at a time.’

To accompany the first course of either: a taste of the Old Smoke House including salmon and mussels or tomato and Kintyre gin gazpacho was the first dram a Kilbkerran 2006, 12-year-old triple distilled bourbon barrel cask sample.

It was introduced by J & A Mitchell’s head of production Findlay Ross.

Mr Ross told the diners, Frank Mchardy had been in charge of production and there had been a plan to quadruple distill the product but luckily that had not happened.

The main course of either roast leg of Ifferdale lamb or vegetable tartlet with Kintyre eggs and Mull of Kintyre cheddar was accompanied by a 51.5 per cent Glen Scotia Victoriana.

Ian Macalister from Glen Scotia described it as recreating a whisky from the Victorian era.

A 56.2 per cent Glenrothes, from Speyside nudged the Campbeltown offerings aside, to accompany the dessert choice of  either a cheeseboard or chocolate, coffee and Cadenhead’s classic rum trifle.

Cadenheads’ Mark Watt said: ‘As you all know there are two whisky regions, the capital of the world Speyside and Campbeltown the real whisky capital of the world.’

Springbank’s sales and marketing director, Ranald Watson spoke about using a re-charred sherry butt to produce the final sample a 1997 21-year-old. He said it has quite a lot of influence on a whisky thast has been described as ‘phenomenal’ by more than one connoisseur.

As the meal ended Rhuvaal struck up some barn dance tunes. Well lubricated diners readily took to the dance floor, although many left slightly before the 11.30pm finish time.

Gin distiller Beinn an Tuirc’s Niall Macalister Hall. 25_c22maltsdinner10

Iain Mcalister from Glen Scotia. 25_c22maltsdinner14_Iain_Mcalister

J & A Mitchell’s head of production Findlay Ross. 25_c22maltsdinner13_Findlay_Ross

Cadenheads’ Mark Watt. 25_c22maltsdinner16_Mark_Watt

Springbank’s director of sales and marketing Ranald Watson. 25_c22maltsdinner21_Ranald_Watson

2018 Malts Festival logo. 25_c22maltsdinner34_logo

Sarah Beresford and Emma Macalister Hall on the gin distiller’s table.  25_c22maltsdinner33_Sarah_Beresford_Emma_Macalister_Hall

Rhuvaal from left are: Arran Mcallister, Stuart O’May, Raymond Gosling, Niall Gemmill, Kimberley Campbell. 25_c22maltsdinner28_Rhuvaal