They traded right up until 1940 when World War II caused production to be ceased and all casks to be sold.
The original recipe was recorded in Richard Day’s cellar book from this time, and resurrected in 2010 by Alasdair as the Tweeddale blend batch 1.
During this tasting session we tried this batch plus the 3 following batches. The recipe is altered slightly each time to include a different grain and to swap out one of the malts. These malts are tapped from the same casks for each batch and are therefore aged for one extra year.
Alasdair talked us through some of the history and production methods from the different blends.
"Every batch of The Tweeddale is unique as it was when my Great Grandfather and J&A Davidson blended it before me. There are nine whiskies from nine distilleries in the blend. So for batch one I went out and bought 9 casks of aged Scotch Whisky; a single grain and 8 single malts (Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay).
For each batch 1 use all of the grain and all of one of the malts. The seven remaining malts have been used in all four batches. The required quantities for each batch are drawn from the single casks and the quantity remaining in the cask continues to mature. The Islay cask is going to last for quite a few batches – it only makes up 2% of the total blend but that's enough to add that wee hint of smoke and also to "dry" the blend out a little. Some of the other casks will be replaced before long but there is enough of the seven for a 5th batch at least. Swapping out the single casks will all add to the unique limited edition nature of Tweeddale. For me the opportunity to purchase "new" cask for every batch allows me to produce a different limited edition of The Tweeddale each time.
Batch 1 and 2 were non chill filtered and bottled at 46%. My great grandfather use sherry or rum to colour the whisky and this is recorded in the original recipe. However the SWA regs would not allow me to do the same and still call it Scotch Whisky. In order to adhere to the original recipe I used colour for batch 1 and for batch 2. Building on the feedback from the 1st batch and the desire for every batch to be unique, batches 3 and 4 are natural colour, 46% and non chill filtered.
I am also bottling the single lowland malt aged 14 years and the single lowland grain aged 16 years both components of batch 4 under The Tweeddale name this week. Both single cask bottlings.
In short this is how scotch whisky was traditionally produced over 100 years ago, long before the first single malt brand was bottled in the 1960s. Matthew Gloag in Perth, John Dewar & Sons in Perth, the Chivas Brothers in Aberdeen and John Walker & Sons in Kilmarnock were all Licensed Grocers and would have produced there blends in this way but not these days."
- Alasdair Day
Each malt whisky in the blend is drawn from a single cask. The grain whisky is 10 years old, the eight malt whiskies range from 10 years old to 21 years old. Predominantly lowland Scotch Whisky it also contains Highland, Speyside and Islay malts. 1200 bottles of this were released.
Nose – nicely balanced with spiced apple pie, honey, citrus, vanilla, grain, and floral notes.
Palate - smooth with the freshness that comes from younger Whisky. A nice balance which delivers what was promised on the nose. Grain, vanilla, apples, spices, honey, oak.
Finish – Medium - short, spice fades with a slight oak tang which underlies the fruity sweetness.
In batch 2 seven of the eight malts are from the same casks as batch 1. The eighth malt is from a new cask and it is the same grain from a sherry butt again but 15 years old instead of 10 years old as it was in batch 1. The malts are aged from 12 years old to 21 years old. One of the malts in batch 2 is 14 years old from a different cask. 1600 bottles have been released.
Nose - Creamy grain, honey, nutty, earthy honey.
Palate - Sweet and rich nice and creamy. Some peat, sweet fudge, banana, spicy fizz.
Finish – Medium - Long and sweet finish, with sherry and mild oak.
In batch three the same single grain is 18 years old from two different refill sherry butts. Seven of the malts are from the same casks as batch 1 & 2 but a year older (13 to 21 years old). The core malt is 14 years old from different casks. Still with 2% Islay but a wee bit more subtle than the hint of smoke evident in batch 1.This release has natural colour and is non-chill filtered. 2700 bottles released.
Nose – Sherried oak, apples, plums and sweet sticky dates. This evolves nicely with a drop of water.
Palate – Smooth honey and melon. Rich, creamy grain with ginger, sweet apples and peat.
Finish – Long, sweet and well balanced finish. The best so far.
In this final batch (4), the core malt is a Lowland aged 14 yrs old and was matured in an Islay cask. The grain is 16 yrs from a refill hogshead (not an ex sherry butt as with the first 3 batches. Only 1420 bottles were released of this batch.
Nose – This shows it's Islay credentials right away. Coastal nose of sea salt, peat, smoke and vanilla.
Palate – beautifully balanced, slightly restrained in a good way. Salted caramel, prunes, figs, sherry, spices, peat and smoke.
Finish – Long and slightly drying. Peppery bite.
If you are interested in finding out more check out @robbiesdrams and @tweeddaleblend on twitter or visit www.tweeddalewhisky.com/