Update No3 11th february 2016

Here is a scary thing for you.  Our production will cost over  3 times as much as it could if we were to make a standard style of modern single malt whisky.

I don’t like to talk about exact production specifics as we’ve put years of research into understanding old style production… Even though I doubt there are many people out there with the frame of reference, the means and the madness to put it all together at such a high running cost.

How can it cost so much more and why would we possibly want that?

From J. Marshall Robb's book, Scotch Whisky. Published 1950.

From J. Marshall Robb's book, Scotch Whisky. Published 1950.

For starters our barley cost is over triple the cost of modern varieties as the farmer can only yield 3 to 4 tons per hectare (up to 8 tons per hectare for modern varieties) this is then floor malted by real people.

A bit like this but in colour.

A bit like this but in colour.

The heritage varieties are also organic certified which comes at a premium.  I see this as insurance against the possibility that a market may ban products which used certain pesticides and herbicides in the future.  That and I believe there is no future for humanity without good soil.

No future for humanity without this kind of thing either.

No future for humanity without this kind of thing either.

So the cost of the barley has tripled but these old varieties have more protein, fat and thicker husks but less starch.  All good for flavour.  Not so good for yield levels.

Let's not even talk about the mashing experiments I have lined up as I still haven’t quantified the yield cost of “the old Highland style”.

In combination with slow acting, inefficient old yeasts varieties we will be looking at a decrease in yield of up to 30% compared with modern malting varieties and distillers yeast.  Luckily we have access to a vast library of old obsolete yeast...  At a cost each time we want to play with a new one

Glen Mhor 1937! Tell me your secrets!

Glen Mhor 1937! Tell me your secrets!

With yeast, it's not always what they do that is important, it's what they don’t do.

Don't do this with yeast.

Don't do this with yeast.

Did I mention very long fermentation times in wooden washbacks? As we earn our own strains of bacteria, they’ll trade us some yield for some flavour and the longer we run our fermentations, the greater the effect.

experimental, makeshift wooden washbacks. 

experimental, makeshift wooden washbacks. 

We’ll be under filling our stills, reducing production capacity, and running them on direct fire without antifoam meaning we’ll get punished for mistakes but a badly run distillate won’t make it into cask.

Nope.

Nope.

Since we were going organic for the barley and all out on flavour we tracked down respected, small organic producers to supply us directly with barrels (for full organic certification you have to use new oak or barrels that previously contained organic certified produce).  This hasn’t cost us much more financially but has involved a lot of work and logistics.  Supplies are limited and needed to be secured in advance with deposits.

more of this sort of thing please (Ardmore bottled circa 1929)

more of this sort of thing please (Ardmore bottled circa 1929)

It’ll all be worth it if from this low yield hell we can obtain whisky heaven.