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Embrace Whisky Uniqueness with Firkin Whisky Company.

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Born in Japan, nurtured in Scotland, and savoured worldwide, the Firkin Whisky Company offers a refreshing take on Malt Whisky. With its distinctive name and playful tasting notes, Firkin brings a touch of eccentricity to the world of whisky. At Firkin, it's all about enjoyment, light-heartedness, and poking fun at the pretentiousness that sometimes surrounds whisky. So, sit back, pour a dram, and let's explore what makes Firkin truly exceptional.


Meet the Founder: Mike Collings


Mike Collings, the man behind Firkin, boasts an impressive whisky pedigree. Having played a pivotal role in creating renowned brands like Johnnie Walker Blue & Green Labels, The Classic Malts, Rare Malts, and more, his track record is nothing short of remarkable. With over 40 years of experience in the whisky industry, Mike Collings decided to embark on a unique journey: creating a one-of-a-kind single cask single malt whisky. The result? Firkin – an awesome whisky like no other.

commitment to excellence starts with its meticulous cask selection and maturation process. Each cask is unique due to its location and wood type, making the selection process an art rather than a science. The whisky matures in custom double oak casks seasoned with soulmate wine, and it's ready when it's truly ready.


Created with Soulmate Wines


The innovation doesn't stop at wood selection. Firkin combines American oak from first-fill Bourbon casks with new Limousin oak with a custom char. Master coopers craft these unique barrels, which are then matched with a fortified wine to complement and enhance the whisky's flavour. This combination results in a depth of flavour that sets Firkin apart from the rest.


A Rare and Downright Drinkable Craft Whisky


What sets Firkin apart is not merely its craft but also its dedication to ensuring a unique depth of flavour. Unlike other bottlers, Mike Collings tests each cask every six months, ensuring that Firkin whisky attains its exceptional character. The result is a handcrafted premium whisky that tastes nothing short of extraordinary.


Firkin 49


Tullibardine Distillery, founded in 1949, the same year as Mike Collings, the Firkin Founder, is the source of Firkin 49. The distillery, situated near the Ochil Hills, provides the foundation for this exceptional whisky. By taking a 2012 Tullibardine matured in a first-fill Bourbon barrel and enhancing it with two types of sherry, Firkin has created an outstanding whisky with a unique profile.


Tullibardine's history dates back to the 15th century, and the distillery's story is one of resilience and revival. After several challenges, including floods and fires, Tullibardine found its footing in the whisky world. Firkin 49 is a testament to the distillery's journey and its enduring commitment to producing exceptional whisky.


Imagine the dance of flavors that emerges from a 50/50 combination of Amontillado and Oloroso sherries. It's a fusion that paints a portrait of uniqueness on your palate. As you sip, you'll find yourself enveloped in a creamy, rounded, and nutty embrace, with tantalizing notes of dried fruit weaving through the tapestry of taste.


Firkin Islay: A Fusion of Smoke and Sweetness

The much fabled about island of Islay, off the rugged west coast of Scotland, is renowned for its bold, smoky, and peaty whiskies. At the north-eastern tip of this picturesque island lies the Caol Ila distillery, a place of great beauty and historical significance in the world of Scotch whisky.


In 1846, Caol Ila was established by Hector Henderson. However, its initial years were marked by uncertainty and change. After a mere eight years of operation, Henderson sold the distillery to Buchanans, whisky brokers based in Glasgow. It appeared that Caol Ila's journey might be short-lived.


Contrary to its rocky start, Caol Ila soon found its footing and began to thrive. This transformation was driven by the growing demand for peated whisky, especially by blending houses that were pioneering Scotch whisky's global success. Caol Ila's smoky and peaty character made it a sought-after ingredient in the blending of Scotch whiskies.


In 1871, a census shed light on the close-knit whisky-producing families on the island. Douglas Johnstone served as the distiller at Caol Ila, while his uncle worked at Lagavulin, and his cousin was employed at Laphroaig. It's safe to say that Christmas Day gatherings for the Johnstone family were likely filled with whisky-related discussions and tastings.


Caol Ila's Unique Style


Caol Ila whisky is celebrated for its lighter peat style, complemented by floral notes and a touch of pepper. This distinctive character raises a question: why does Caol Ila, with a similar malt bill to its cousin at Lagavulin, produce a more delicate style? Lagavulin is known for its intense, BBQ-like smokiness, after all.


The answer lies in the stills used at Caol Ila. They are filled to only around 33% of their capacity, intentionally under-filling them to encourage more reflux. This results in a lighter, more delicate peat style, setting Caol Ila apart from its peers.


The Magic of Firkin's Casks


Firkin's approach to crafting Caol Ila whisky involves the use of American first-fill bourbon and new French Limousin oak staves. These staves are combined and then charred on the inside, creating custom casks. The double oak cask method results in an exceptional flavour profile that harmonizes perfectly with the Marsala wine.


The Caol Ila whisky produced through this process is an explosion of flavour. A waft of peat and smoke is the first sensation to greet your senses. But dig a bit deeper, and you'll discover the rich malt and creamy oak that hold this whisky together. It's a whisky that offers an array of sensations: the warmth of burning embers, the smokiness of a bonfire, and a hint of mellowed sweetish oak. With a peppery and lively spirit, it's a chewy, smoky, and distinctly Firkin Islay experience.


Firkin Rare Aultmore 2010 Tawny Port: A Unique Speyside Gem

Speyside's elusive single malt Aultmore, often destined for blends, emerges as a rare gem in the world of whisky, thanks to Firkin Rare's craftsmanship.


In this extraordinary creation, a 2010 Aultmore meets a tawny port within one of Firkin's signature custom casks.


The story of Aultmore began in 1895 when Alexander Edward, a scion of distillers, founded the distillery. Born into a family deeply rooted in the art of distillation, Alexander's father had overseen the Benrinnes Distillery.


Aultmore initially relied on a water wheel for power, an unusual choice for distilleries at the time. When the wheel needed maintenance, a trusty steam engine stepped in, yet the water wheel remained, a testament to resourcefulness.


Aultmore set a precedent for longevity and utility, with the steam engine serving faithfully for over seven decades. Today, it stands as a silent guardian, ready to spring to life if ever called upon. Cloaked in fog and mist, Aultmore once thrived as a hub of illicit distillation, passing down its secret craft through the generations.


Though Aultmore's destiny often leads it into Dewar's blended whisky, it's a rare treat to encounter it as a single malt. This scarcity prompted the creation of the Firkin Rare whisky, ensuring that the world could savour the greatness of Aultmore.


The Aultmore-Tawny Port Fusion


But why pair Aultmore with Tawny Port? Tawny Ports mature in casks, developing a lighter body, a silkier character, and captivating flavours. These flavours merge seamlessly with Aultmore's spirit within Firkin's custom casks.


These casks are a fusion of American first-fill bourbon and fresh French Limousin oak staves. After the staves unite, their interiors are meticulously charred to perfection. This double oak cask gives birth to an extraordinary flavour profile, harmonizing the essence of Aultmore with the richness of Tawny port.


The outcome is a dram that encapsulates the best of both worlds, an exquisite Firkin Rare experience meant to be savoured.


The aroma tantalizes with fresh red fruit and oak spice, enticing the senses. The palate delivers an exquisite combination of red fruit, creamy malt, spirited brightness, and a hint of cinnamon.


Firkin Ten: An Adventure in Speyside Whisky

Firkin Ten Benrinnes Speyside 2008 Madeira is an exploration of flavours and a testament to innovation. By marrying scotch from the Benrinnes distillery in Speyside with the rich and tangy Portuguese Madeira wine, Firkin has created a whisky that pushes boundaries and delights the senses.


Located at the foot of Ben Rinne’s hill, the Benrinnes distillery has faced its fair share of challenges throughout its history. From floods and fires to bankruptcy, the distillery's resilience is a story worth celebrating. Despite these setbacks, Bendiness emerged stronger, crafting exceptional whisky that continues to impress.



The Role of Firkin French Limousine Oak Staves


In France, there are five official forests where oak is sourced for barrel production, with Limousin being one of them. The oak is carefully cut into staves, which are then dried for two years. After drying, these staves undergo a custom char process, resulting in a light toast with hints of sweet oak and mocha. The loose-grained nature of Limousine oak allows its characteristics to meld seamlessly with the whisky, adding depth and complexity to the flavour profile.


By adding Madeira to Firkin's custom cask, the whisky gains creamy, tangy, and spicy notes, creating a rich and lively flavour profile.


Firkin Ten is the whisky you turn to after a challenging day or when you seek a moment of reflection. It's bright, lively, and filled with a delightful array of kitchen spices. This whisky is here to uplift and intrigue you, reminding you that life is indeed Firkin good.


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Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of The Firkin Whisky Co.


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