Heriot-Watt and Ian Macleod create whisky

by Nicola Carruthers

Ian Macleod Distillers has launched a limited edition blended Scotch whisky in collaboration with students at Heriot-Watt University.

Ian Macleod and a team of four students from Heriot-Watt’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling collaborated to create the new whisky. Together, they looked for an ‘ideal’ method for finishing blended Scotch whisky in a virgin American oak cask, looking at four components: fill strength, blend formulation, time in cask, and toast/char level. The resulting three-year-old blend is composed of 45% Speyside, 15% Highland and 40% Lowland whiskies. The liquid spent three months finishing in a virgin American oak barrel, leading to an aroma of toffee and coconut with a warming base of clove and cinnamon. Sweet coffee and rich chocolate follow on the palate with a finish of spice and a lively oak character. The four students who took part in the project were: Euan Martin, Matt Priaulx, Kellan Cowan, and Jake Adcook. Each student won the Dr Chris Greig Prize for the ‘Best distilling project by a Scottish student’ in 2021-2022. Annie Hill, professor at Heriot-Watt University, said: “The students I have worked with have been given an experience that will help elevate their career in the whisky world. We have blended something really special and one that myself and Ian Macleod’s blending room are really proud of.” The launch marks the first collaboration between Ian Macleod and the university's International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, with annual limited releases planned as part of the project. The Scotch whisky producer has also gifted equipment to the university’s sensory suite to help the scholars in their studies. “Ian Macleod Distillers has a storied history in distilling and long-earned expertise in blending, so I think it’s fitting that we’ve had the chance to share this experience with the distillers and blenders of tomorrow from the Brewing and Distilling MSc at Heriot-Watt University," said Emma Newton, blender at Ian Macleod Distillers. “As a graduate of this programme, it has been a brilliant collaboration and the students should be proud as they’ve created a delightful dram.” Bottled at 44.4% ABV, Ian Macleod Blending Room 01: Heriot-Watt Release is available to purchase for £35 (US$40.40) from Ian Macleod's website. Last month, Ian Macleod Distillers released a 15-year-old Glengoyne whisky, matured in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

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