Whisky buyer, collector or investor? You need to know about Cask Trade.

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There’s a new whisky cask trader in town and it’s dubbed the first, truly ‘trustworthy marketplace for trading exceptional whisky casks’.

Introducing Cask Trade: founded by entrepreneur and angel investor Simon Aron with help from our very own Drinker, Colin Hampden-White and several other famous whisky masters including Lee Tomlinson ‘The Trader’ and Dr. Theo Empleslidis MD, ‘The Oracle’.

As a passionate whisky collector for over 25 years who has seen astronomical gains in the value of some whiskies over the years, Simon had been burned many times by sellers in the past, becoming frustrated with false promises and dishonest dealing. Now was the time, he decided, to create a much more open and honest marketplace for investors, bottlers and collectors. 

An expert-led approach

Thanks to their crack team of experts team of masters, Cask Trade offer unparalleled whisky trade expertise to their clients and guarantee the most stringent checks and processes, so customers can rely wholeheartedly on the quality, provenance and ownership of any whisky they buy. All customers can ask to receive samples of their whisky or to visit their cask whenever possible and Cask Trade only sells whisky it owns itself, in whole casks.

“We are not brokers but stockists,” says Aron. ‘Our aim is to build a true, and safe, marketplace… We are six experts covering all angles of the cask whisky trade and we have clients from all around the world. Having traded thousands of casks, our knowledge of whisky and its value is our most valuable asset. Throughout my 25-years’ of collecting I suffered from all sorts of false promises which I will never subject my clients to.”

To view a live stock list, register an account today at casktrade.com.

The first live auction website dedicated to exceptional whisky

As an extra plus, customers also have the option to put their casks into Cask Trade’s new quarterly online auction to sell, either to other customers or eventually, back to Cask Trade themselves. With complete transparency, a low buyers’ fee of 15% + VAT and no sellers’ fee at all, customers get the actual hammer price. The first auction will take place in October 2019 and will then be hosted four times a year. See more at auctionyourcask.com.

For more information on whisky cask investment, Simon and his team offer frequent editions of Cask Trade’s Cask Investment Guide

23 Unusual Facts About Whisky

Visit Islay with a Rabbie’s tour.

Our friends at Rabbie’s, our travel partner for our Scotch whisky travelogue series on Amazon Prime, have given us 23 fun facts about whisky. How many of them did you know already?

Bernard Shaw described whisky as liquid sunshine, and we can’t help but agree. Although the sunshine can be a little bothersome the next morning when you’ve indulged in one too many glasses.

Mark Twain begs to differ, however, as he’s famous for boldly declaring “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

What could we possibly have to tell you about whisky that you haven’t heard from these great poets, playwrights and avid whisky drinkers? You’d be surprised. Whisky has a long history and its makers and consumers are fond of a good blether. 

So whether you’re a whisky aficionado or have only just begun your love affair, you may be surprised by a few of the following facts:

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  1. Whisky or Whiskey - what’s the difference? The Irish spell it with an ‘e’ whereas the Scots spell it without one. This is due to the variations between Scottish and Irish Gaelic.

  2. The New York Times famously used the word ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e’ to encompass all forms of the spirit from all locations. This caused so much outrage amongst readers, they were forced to change their style guide to reflect the appropriate spelling for their regional distribution.

  3. Many distilleries store casks of whisky belonging to other brands and distilleries in their warehouses. This way, if a fire or catastrophe occurs, they won’t lose all their stock. 

  4. The term whisky in Gaelic translates to ‘water of life.’

  5. When whisky is stored in barrels for maturation, approximately 2% of the liquid evaporates per year. This is called the ‘Angel’s Share’ as this portion of liquid gold seemingly disappears into the heavens. It keeps the angels in good spirits.

  6. Moonshine is typically un-aged whisky with a high alcohol content, which is made illegally. It’s called moonshine because it would be created under the light of the moon, hidden from the eyes of the authorities.

  7. A bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, 60-year-old was sold for £848,750 in 2018, setting a new world record for the most expensive bottle of whisky.

  8. Whisky doesn’t age once it’s bottled. So there isn’t much point in saving it for a rainy day, just crack it open when you feel like it.

  9. Whisky gains its colour from the barrel it’s aged in. Sometimes, for the sake of product image, brands may put caramel colouring in a batch to make the whisky look more consistent when bottled on the shelf. The additive isn’t supposed to affect the taste of the whisky. 

  10. Scotland relies on a constant supply of oak casks previously used to store bourbon in the US for maturing whisky.

  11. Much of the flavour of a batch of whisky will depend upon what was stored in the cask previously. Bourbon, sherry, rum and port casks all generate different finishing flavours.

  12. A Swedish distillery has just started using AI to help generate the perfect whisky recipe based on past and current consumer trends.

  13. Surprisingly, France and India are two of the biggest consumers of whisky, alongside the US. 

  14. The iconic American soda brand Mountain Dew was originally intended to be a chaser for sub-par whisky.

  15. Just as the Brits say “cheers”, the Germans shout “prost” and the Spanish yell “salood,” you’ll find the Scots chinking whisky glasses and saying “Slainte,” which means “good health,” as they share a dram with friends.

  16. Contrary to popular belief, nosing isn’t the act of sticking your conk in other people’s business. It’s what you do when you inhale the aromas of a fine whisky before drinking it.

  17. A copper dog is a device that was used by distillery workers to smuggle whisky home after a hard day at work. It’s copper pipe with a penny soldered on one end and a cork stopping the other. A wily employee would dip it into the cask to fill it with whisky, and then smuggle it home in his trouser leg.

  18. When the TV show Mad Men hit the air, it spurred a significant spike in orders for Old Fashions at bars worldwide. In some areas, the demand for Canadian Club almost doubled.

  19. Diageo, one of the world’s largest distillers, released a Game of Thrones collection of Whisky in 2019, in preparation for the final season of the hit TV show. They paired Scottish distilleries with the prominent family houses of the seven kingdoms. Each was matched up carefully, considering house traits alongside distillery history. Cardhu was paired with house Targaryen for its past of strong female ownership. 

  20. Ardbeg, a popular Islay distillery, sent vials of their whisky to the International Space Station in 2011 to see how the gravity in space would affect compounds of the whisky over time.

  21. The term ‘dram’ widely adopted in the Scottish vernacular, is believed to have evolved from an apothecary’s units of measurement.

  22. Keeping with the theme of whisky and medicine, during the prohibition era the only whisky legally imported by the US was scotch whisky, as it was often prescribed to ease many illnesses.

  23. And last but not least, Humphrey Bogart’s final words are rumoured to have been “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.” May we live and learn from Bogart’s mistakes.

Discover whisky for yourself on a tour with Rabbie’s here!

Glencairn Crystal: Is this the ultimate whisky tasting glass?

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We certainly think so and here’s why...

When you have a drink, you want to enjoy it to the max, right? Well, luckily for us, around thirty years ago, the Davidson family set up Glencairn Crystal, based in East Kilbride, with the aim of helping us to do just that. A brand for both the consumer and the whisky industry alike, they produce a mixture of products including bespoke packaging for some of the oldest and most luxurious single malt whiskies ever released. They are also, however, commissioned to create a variety of other products including high-profile decanters, some of which are even engraved with rare gemstones! 

The Glencairn Glass 

Amongst all their products, there is one that stands out: the iconic, Glencairn Glass. We chose this glass for our TV show, The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky as it is the best designed, most attractive whisky glass out there. They are also the official glass for whisky endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association, so it’s little wonder that over 65,000 of them are now sold per week globally.

Why is the Glencairn Glass so popular?

Before the Glencairn glass came along there were really only tumblers available for whisky drinkers which while serving their purpose as a holder of liquid, never really felt like they gave the whisky its full chance to shine. The Glencairn Glass however, has rectified this as its unique shape allows the aroma to collect towards the lip of the glass. With taste being 80% smell, this design ensures that the full impact of a whisky’s aromas and flavours are delivered in perfect balance. 

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Fun Facts! 

  1. If you stacked every Glencairn glass ever made, it would stretch to the international space station and back 3.5 times!

  2. If you lined up every Glencairn glass ever made, they’d reach a width of over 1600km, more than the entire length of New Zealand.

  3. If you filled every Glencairn glass ever made to the brim with whisky, there’d be enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools. That’s 5 million litres!

Glencairn Crystal works with 600 distilleries and ships to 95 countries so if you too are interested in getting your hands on the gold standard of whisky glasses head over to glencairn.co.uk

By Sophie Furukawa

One Drink, Three Ways: The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask


One Drink, Three Ways is the signature feature by The Three Drinkers. Join The Three Drinkers’ Helena, Aidy and Colin as they take one bottle and create a trio of phenomenal serves which you can enjoy anytime, anywhere. From rums and whiskies to gins and wine styles, the three help you get the most out of your glass. It’s time to get liquid on lips.



The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask: a whisky with rich, spicy notes from ageing in both American and European sherry oak casks. The Three Drinkers each share their favourite ways to taste it….

Helena’s Choice: The ‘Mac-Hattan’


A twist on a classic Manhattan, I love this rich, christmas-cake scented whisky mixed with a little orange and chocolate bitters. I found this recipe while shooting episode four of our Amazon show, The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky. It won the taste competition hands down! Simply add all liquid ingredients to a shaker, shake, pour and add garnish. Ice optional. I prefer it without or with one massive chunk.

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The ‘Mac-Hattan’


25ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

25ml Orange liqueur

25ml Red Vermouth

3 Drops Chocolate bitters

Dried orange wheel to garnish

Aidy’s Choice: The Macallan Highball


Perfect as the weather starts to get a little warmer, this Macallan highball is zesty and refreshing with a bitter, spicy kick. Simply pour the whisky and fino over lots of ice into a highball glass, add the lemon juice and top up with your favourite tonic water. Dangerously delicious!

The Macallan highball

The Macallan Highball


25ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

25ml Fino Sherry

Juice of half a lemon

Tonic water to taste

Lemon rind to garnish

Highball glass

Colin’s Choice: The Macallan. Straight up.


Those who know me are aware that I’m a bit of a whisky purist, and when The Macallan is involved, I like to sip it straight. If it’s the first whisky of the day however, I may add a tiny drop of water just to cut the initial nose burn. No ice. No garnish. No problem.

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The Macallan


50ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

Glencairn glass

You can find The Macallan 12 Year Old on Amazon or Master of Malt for circa £52

A Look at Cardhu Distillery

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Speyside has many pretty distilleries. It also has some very large and very small distilleries. Distilleries which are easy to find and those which aren’t. Cardhu is none of these. It is a medium sized, not unattractive and slightly off the beaten track but not difficult to find. But find it is worth doing.

A little over five miles off the A95, Cardhu looks like a typical distillery. Large white buildings surrounding not one but two pergola roofs. This distillery was built in 1885 to 1886. But the story didn’t start there. The original Cardhu was built in 1811 by John and Helen Cumming at Cardow farm on the Mannoch hill. This was a very small still producing enough spirit to sell to the locals and travellers passing through the area. It must have become commercial enough as John took out a licence in 1824 under the new licence act. Cardhu continued under John and Helen until 1846 when John died aged 72 and his son Lewis took over the lease on the farm. The distillery remained with Lewis for another twenty six years, producing small amounts. The distillery itself was no bigger than a small cottage. In 1872 Lewis died and Helen’s daughter in law Elizabeth Cumming took over the management of the distillery. It is known that Elizabeth ran the distillery very well and was a well-known character in the whisky world at that time. Just two years after Elizabeth took over, Helen, who distilled the first batch died aged 97.

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Such was Elizabeth’s success, that in 1885 a new piece of land was purchased and over the next two years a bigger new distillery was built. The old stills were sold to William Grant for £120, he was building Glenfiddich Distillery in Duftown.

With greater production, much of the whisky was sold to John Walker & Sons of Kilmarnock who were using it in their blended whisky. In 1893 Elizabeth and her son John sold the distillery for £20,500 to John Walker & Sons on September the 19th. Shortly afterwards in 1894 Elizabeth died. Her son John built a new home further down the Spey in Aberlour called Dowans.

In 1899 a new station was built at Knockando, this made the distribution of Cardhu much easier and cost effective. Two more stills were added to the previous two, a larger mash tun was installed and the building extended to accommodate more wash backs. A few years later more improvements were made by the Walkers. They added a building to dry draff in, a steam engine was installed as the boiler and condensers replaced the old worm tubs. The distillery ran smoothly until the First World War. In 1917 all distilleries were ordered to stop production to conserve stocks of barley for food. This forced closure lasted until 1919. The distillery began distilling again and continued for the next forty years with little improvements, but in 1960 large improvements were made. In June the majority of the distillery was demolished to make way for better equipment giving a higher output, and greater economy. The Character of the whisky reputedly stayed the same. In 1971 Two more stills were added to make six in total, and coal stopped being used when all of the stills were converted to internal heating by steam using an oil fired boiler.


Little has changed since then. The name changed in 1981 from Cardow to Cardhu, The word "Cardhu" derives from the Scots Gaelic Carn Dubh, meaning "Black Rock" and The distillery is known as the spiritual home of Johnnie Walker.

As Cardhu was bought by John Walker & Sons to secure supply for their blend, so it is today under the ownership of Diageo that sbout 70% of Cardhu is used for blending to help create Johnnie Walker and 30% is bottled as single malt whisky. Cardhu is most popular in southern Europe, especially Spain and Greece. A visitor centre was built and opened in 1988 and is open all year around.

Regular expressions:

Cardhu Amber Rock Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl

Cardhu Gold Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl

Cardhu Special Cask Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky 70 cl

Cardhu 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl

Cardhu 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky 70 cl

Cardhu 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky 70 cl

By Colin Hampden-White








The Three Drinkers team up with Rabbie’s to offer whisky tours around Scotland

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The team behind Amazon whisky travelogue show ‘The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky’ have teamed up with the popular tour company Rabbie’s to offer whisky tours around Scotland.

“‘The idea behind the series was to inspire people to travel to Scotland and to taste whisky, perhaps even for the first time,’ says Helena Nicklin, one of the show’s presenters. ‘With the programme now in 167 countries and territories worldwide, it makes perfect sense to team up with Rabbie’s - the experts in their field for whisky tours - to offer a natural next step for our viewers.”

The partnership joins the dots for viewers inspired by the show, which is now streaming live on Amazon Prime, to easily book a wide range of whisky and tourism experiences from 1 to 8 days around Scotland from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow.

"From etiquette to the provenance of the ingredients, we love to help travellers discover Britain and Ireland's drinking culture,” says David Scott from Rabbie’s. “When we saw Three Drinkers, we knew this was a great opportunity to form a partnership. Their show introduces people to some of our country's finest products, and we help customers enjoy these flavours at their source without having to worry about the drive home!"

A competition to celebrate the partnership

Rabbie’s and The Three Drinkers are celebrating the partnership by giving away a series of luxury, 8-day whisky tours around Scotland in competitions for both Europe and the USA. Each tour will take in Speyside, Islay and Edinburgh, giving a true flavour of the country.

The first competition (Europe) goes live on Wednesday 15th May and runs for six weeks.

Prospective winners need to check The Three Drinkers or Rabbie’s social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) for details of how to enter. Competition dates 15th May - 21st June 2019.

See the tours on offer at https://www.thethreedrinkers.com/scotland-whisky-tours

Meeting Donn & Willie from 'The Exceptional'

Don Sutcliffe and Willie Phillips

Don Sutcliffe and Willie Phillips

 The ‘Exceptional’ blends are getting a reputation for being just that. Colin Hampden-White meets the two that make the three in the range.

There is a lot of whisky in the world: excellent malts, delicious blends and a growing number of grain whiskies. So why would anyone try and create another one, let alone three? Thankfully, two men decided they wanted to because their creations are not only very good and complement the existing whiskies on the market, but they also have a blend that in many people’s opinion is one of the best in the world.

These whiskies are known under “The Exceptional” brand. For once, the name does describe the contents in the bottle. Made by the Craft Distillers company, these whiskies are the result of a collaboration between two men from very different whisky backgrounds. Don Sutcliffe was a whisky marketing man, working on the west coast of America, and Willie Phillips was managing director of a whisky distillery for 23 years. They met both working on the Macallan brand 25 years ago when they struck up a strong friendship, which has lasted well beyond retirement. They had always wanted to work on a project together so, with access to some of the finest whiskies on the planet and with the help of Master Blender Bill Arthur, they started to develop The Exceptional brand. The three whiskies they have are all blends: a blended grain, malt and a complete blend of grain and malt.

Who’s behind The Exceptional?

Don and Willie are very different characters. When Don is excited about the whisky he creates, the descriptors are, as you might expect from someone from the USA, exuberant. Willie, on the other hand, is a little more laid back in his praise, describing the grain blend as “not bad” and The Exceptional Blend as “good”. After a few drams, however, his real thoughts on the blend come through and he describes it as “probably the best blend he has tasted”. So, in reality, a “not bad” from Willie is a “pretty bloody good” for most of us. It’s this drive for excellence that shows in the whisky. Once in full flow talking about their creations, both Don and Willie are clearly very proud of the liquid and excited about getting as many people as possible to try it.


The blends

These blends are all small-batch bottlings simply because the whiskies they draw from are very mature and, in some cases, very rare, with some of the casks even coming from closed distilleries. All the whiskies, once blended, are left in first-fill oloroso casks to marry before bottling at 43% abv.

For batch two, the grain blend included whiskies from the Loch Lomond and North British distilleries, but also a cask of 33-year-old wheat whisky from the Carsebridge distillery, which closed in 1983. The blended malt included whiskies from Glenfarclas, Ben Nevis, Allt A’ Bhainne, Auchroisk, Glenallachie,Westport, Speyside, Macallan and three great Speyside distilleries whose names we can’t divulge. Many of these whiskies are more than 20 years old. The Exceptional Blend uses a mixture of the casks used in the blended grain and the blended malt.

A different kind of blend

These small-batches whiskies are unlike most blends. Because of the rarity of the casks and the different whiskies sourced for each blend, they are not made to be consistent year in, year out. The blends will change with each batch. If the quality of the blends can be kept and the flavours remain as good as their previous batches, then their existing reputation and already loyal followers can only grow.

The Blend has been earning a great reputation among all sectors of whisky drinkers. Whisky writers Charlie MacLean and Greg Dillon both said it was “one of the best blends I’ve tried”, distiller Lora Hemy considered it “the best blend I’ve tried in many, many years” and thought the blended malt “has elegance as well as power and depth”.  She added, having tasted the blended malt, “This is probably the best blended malt I have tried”. These glowing references to the whiskies were all given before the cost had been revealed, and it is the price point of this range of whiskies that is as impressive as the whiskies themselves. There are many very good blended whiskies on the market – the private collection by Johnnie Walker is frequently lauded and is a fabulous blend created in different styles every year; it retails for in excess of £500. There are famous blends, such as Blue Label and Royal Salute, which are nearer the £200 mark. This makes it all the more remarkable to find such high-quality and drinkable blends in The Exceptional whiskies at a little over £80.


These whiskies bring the world of rare flavour within reach of almost all whisky drinkers. With that thought, these whiskies will, as time goes forward, sell increasingly quickly. One can only hope that Don and Willie are able to continue to source great casks so that they can keep up with the demand, or at least resist price increases beyond those of the casks they have to buy as they see the secondary market values of their whiskies increase.

Creating this small-batch blended whisky is a far cry from the past when Don and Willie were responsible for a lot more liquid and the brands were household names. If the quality of the whisky was the guide, then The Exceptional whiskies would create as much of a buzz. Let’s hope there’s enough to go around.

By Colin Hampden-White