Going solo: single cask whiskies


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Photo credit: Danny McManus

The Scotch whisky industry has been built on a bedrock of blends. Yet single cask bottlings are becoming more prevalent. Barbara Drew MW explains what single casks are, and why they’re so special.  

Whisky, it’s said, is about the art of the blend. Around 90% of all Scotch whisky is blended whisky and there is great skill required to produce it. Blended whiskies are made up of spirits from different distilleries, created in stills of all shapes and sizes. These spirits are then aged for differing lengths of time in a multiplicity of casks. The resulting blend of up to 100 different whiskies leads to a liquid of depth, complexity and breadth. It takes decades for blenders to master their art and choosing, or training, a new blender is a nerve-wracking decision for any distillery. 

But even single malt whiskies – representing just a small proportion of overall Scotch whisky production – are blends. This could be a blend of different ages of whiskies, with spirits that have been sat gently ageing in cask for 20 years adding depth and complexity to spirits which are 15 years old. It could be a blend of different finishes to add complexity. Or simply a blend of multiple barrels to create a complex and layered spirit. The key is to maintain a classic house style, no matter whether a spirit is 40 years old, or 14 years old.  

So what, then, are we to make of single cask whiskies? Where do they sit in the great pantheon of Scotch whisky styles? And where is the skill in opening up a single cask and tipping it into a bottle? 


I put these questions to Scott Adamson, blender and global brand ambassador for Tomatin, a beautiful distillery situated in the Highlands of Scotland, around 20 minutes north of Aviemore.  

This is a distillery that is no stranger to blends, once producing enormous volumes of mellow whisky, that provided the backbone of elegant blends such as Cutty Sark. In the 1980s though, as blended whisky fell somewhat from favour, they shifted their focus to single malts – the same beautiful liquid, but blended only with other casks of Tomatin and bottled under their own name.  

Despite the shift, the decades of expertise at Tomatin remained invaluable. They remain skilled, not just in blending, but in producing a spirit that is delightfully adaptable, taking to different casks and ageing periods with ease.  

At first glance then, a single-cask release seems at odds with this history and skill. But Scott disagrees. Whilst each cask provides an additional ingredient in the final whisky, there are a handful of casks which, when tasted, are absolutely complete. He stopped short of using the word perfect, but it seemed on the tip of his tongue.  

Finding these perfect casks that contain liquid that is in itself complex, rounded, full of character, expressive of the distillery and yet unique is certainly no easy task. Of the around 70,000 casks of whisky currently maturing in the warehouses at Tomatin, fewer than 50 were picked out last year as being special enough to warrant bottling as single casks. The skill required to identify those casks – to taste through, over the course of many weeks, the 70,000 casks and find those 50 standouts – is truly remarkable.  

What’s more remarkable is that each single cask is 100% unique. Whilst each shows the Tomatin character, they are also of their own making. Unique liquid, not to be found in any other bottle. They’re an opportunity to taste the style of the distillery, in perfect completeness. They’re a moment in time, and one that, once tasted, once finished, is gone forever.  

One such cask has been bottled exclusively for Berry Bros. & Rudd. Dating from 1995, it was bottled in June 2023, making the liquid 28 years old exactly. Aged in ex-Bourbon casks, the resulting spirit has a rich aroma of toffee popcorn and apples. The long ageing has brought out tropical notes too, and hints of dried mango. The spirit feels rich and smooth on the palate with the alcohol so seamlessly integrated it is barely noticeable. A whisper of sweetness appears on the finish and a hint of coconut. With water, the spirit opens up more citrus notes, with orange and lemon character.  

Tasting this whisky places me perfectly back in the Highlands. This may not be a blend, but it encapsulates the essence of everything Tomatin work towards. It tastes like the most magical blend of everything Tomatin do. Without any blending required.   

Read more of our articles on spirits here.

Category: Spirits

Provence rosé for rain or shine


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Refreshing, bone-dry rosé is often associated with sunny al fresco feasts. But Victoria Bull from our Buying team believes a bottle of our Own Selection Provence Rosé is equally delicious huddled with a good friend under an umbrella. Below, she tells us more about why our rosé is one of her firm favourites – and why a little rain shouldn’t put anyone off reaching for the pinks.  

2022 Berry Bros. & Rudd Provence Rosé by Château la Mascaronne 

On an evening in July, I sat with an old friend, squeezed onto the corner of paving stone that I like to call my garden. We were having a long overdue catch-up, and gloriously awaiting us was a chilled, unopened bottle of our Own Selection Provence Rosé. A joyful evening of merriment ensued. Our conversation grew more fascinating, and our laughter ever louder, as the supply of rosé slowly dwindled.  

But it wasn’t long before the inevitable droplets of rain came. Small puddles formed in our bowls of homemade hummus, while the last shards of crisps slowly turned soggy. We persevered. “It will pass!” we cried. “We’re in England, after all. Oh look – there’s some rosé left.” Only when the rain was clearly falling persistently, and we were drying streams from our cheeks, did we think of finding shelter. Rosé is synonymous with sunny afternoons and glamorous al-fresco dining – but who needs sunshine? In my opinion, you appreciate a bottle of rosé more without it. 

But how does this rosé differ to any other one might pluck from the shelves? At face value, I can find rosé difficult to choose. Most Provence rosés, although pleasant and dry, are often – to put it frankly – too bland for me. You can find something lovely and fruity from regions such as Spain and the Loire, but you might encounter too much residual sugar – especially if you are aiming for a lower price-point. Or another scenario: you take the plunge and splash out on a fine rosé, only to find that someone else has drunk most of the bottle anyway.  

This Own Provence Rosé is the perfect solution. It is perfectly balanced. There is enough fresh fruit on the nose to offer instant appeal, while a textured mouthfeel and savoury note adds interesting complexity. The aromas of wild strawberries and fresh redcurrants are so inviting, complemented by a delicate twist of mandarin peel. There is a slightly herbal character on the palate, with notes of dry sage and oregano. Along with its clear acidity and pleasing mouthfeel, it is simply crying out to be tasted alongside a variety of dishes. I like to showcase this wine alongside food with a slight kick, such as a fresh Thai salad or guacamole. There is enough body to perfectly balance the squeezed lime and heat. A versatile wine, it would be perfect with a picnic – whether it’s inside or out. 

There’s another reason this wine is a firm favourite of mine: the sustainable focus of Château la Mascaronne. The winery is not only certified organic, but it has a commitment to encouraging biodiversity in the vineyard. Increased biodiversity means stronger, more diverse ecosystems, which in turns leads to a more varied nutrient profile in the soil. Soil is often the unglamorous hero that we overlook. A healthy soil is where mycorrhizal fungi thrive; they work alongside the vines, delivering nutrients and helping them prosper. Ancient olive trees also grow beside the picturesque vineyards, from which a delicious olive oil is produced – something I would be very keen to try.  

As we head into cooler evenings, do not despair. Grab a friend and open a bottle of this uplifting, delicious wine. May it transport you straight to an olive grove in beautiful, sun-soaked Provence. Or may you be perfectly content in the garden with a warm jumper and a large umbrella. 

Here at Berry Bros. & Rudd, we have expanded on the Provence Rosé’s sustainable credentials by removing the capsule from the bottles. This also draws our eye to the sustainable facts written on the cork through the neck of the bottle. Each cork removes 288 grams of carbon dioxide from the air – so you can uncork with a clear conscience. 

The 2022 vintage is now available with a saving of 20% here

Category: Miscellaneous

La Place de Bordeaux: a world of wine in our cellars


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Recently, we welcomed over 40 producers to our cellars for a unique customer tasting. They came from all corners of the fine wine world, from Chile to New Zealand – and many places in between. Their wines are currently being sold via La Place de Bordeaux. Below, you’ll find a few highlights from the tasting, giving you an idea of what to look out for in our ongoing offer.  

It’s a beautiful evening in early September. Down in our Napoleon and Sussex Cellars, a huge selection of wines from around the world are arranged neatly by region, ready to be poured over the course of the evening. The people pouring the wines are none other than representatives from the producers themselves, and they come from regions as varied as Chile, China, New Zealand and Austria. All the wines on offer are currently being sold through La Place de Bordeaux, a sophisticated distribution system that allows wineries across the globe to sell their bottles through the Bordeaux négociants. Over the next few hours, what follows is a lively evening of exchange: customers tasting their way around the cellars and learning about extraordinary new wines straight from the producer. 

Tastings at Berry Bros. & Rudd have a unique sensory richness. The constant glug of wine poured into outstretched glasses; the thrum of chit-chat; hungry fingers reaching repeatedly for slices of charcuterie and cheese, artfully balanced alongside a glass of something delicious. This must surely be one of the best ways to discover new wines. To hop from table to table, spanning continents, hearing directly from each producer on what makes their wine so special (it certainly saves on the cost of an around-the-world ticket).  

There were so many fantastic wines to choose from, whether you favour complex whites, elegant reds or golden sweet wines. Many of them were delicious on the night and showed great promise. But despite being all too drinkable now, these are wines made to age. Lay them down for a decade, and your patience will be rewarded with some truly glorious wines.  

Five highlights from the evening

Cloudburst, Australia  

Located in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, Cloudburst produces fresh, elegant wines that reflect their lush, rain-swept growing environment. Ultra-low intervention is the philosophy here, and owner-winemaker Will Berliner follows organic and biodynamic methods with great passion.  

Cloudburst’s 2021 Chardonnay and 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon were both tasting brilliantly on the night. The Chardonnay is already a real treat, with delicious layers of ripe fruit, toast and salted butter. The Cabernet, on the other hand, is pleasingly powerful yet has an almost Burgundian elegance to it. 

Almaviva, Chile 

Almaviva is a collaboration between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Concha y Toro, born in 1996 with the goal of producing fine Bordeaux blends in Chile. It is situated in the central Maipo Valley, which is now renowned for the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.  

The 2021 Almaviva is dark, ripe and spicy, with delicious notes of blackberry, pepper and cigar box. It was especially tasty alongside a cracker heaped with soft cheese.  

Inglenook, USA 

Established in 1879, Inglenook is one of the oldest wine estates in Napa Valley (and today owned by Francis Ford Coppola). You might think this makes them veer towards tradition, but Inglenook’s wines are remarkably fresh and pure, standing out against the oaked styles of the region. Californian warmth matched with elegant poise.  

The 2021 Blancaneaux, the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2020 Rubicon were all tasting wonderfully on the night, perfectly demonstrating the estate’s philosophy of purity.  

Klein Constantia, South Africa  

Another long-running wine estate, Klein Constantia traces its history back to 1685 – predating Berry Bros. & Rudd by over a decade. Today, it’s celebrated for its exquisite sweet wine, Vin de Constance. 

The 2020 vintage is made from pure Muscat de Frontignan fruit, and it is utterly delicious. It springs from the glass with notes of dried apricot, fleshy nectarine, honeysuckle, ginger and raisins, shimmering with a regal golden hue. It’s a real pleasure to taste.  

Bibi Graetz, Tuscany 

Florentine Bibi Graetz was an artist and sculptor before turning his focus to wine, and these creative foundations inform his approach to winemaking. His philosophy is centred on the local grape varieties of Sangiovese, Colorino and Canaiolo, married with an artistic approach and an experimental spirit.  

The 2021 Colore and the 2021 Testamatta are both delicious red wines characterised by a wonderful freshness, yet with a beguiling grip to them. Bright red fruits, a touch of salinity and a hint of herbs and spice; alongside a good hard cheese, they are gloriously drinkable.  

Browse all the latest releases from La Place de Bordeaux here

Category: Miscellaneous

Our 325 Ride


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Earlier this month, a 36-strong peloton of colleagues, producers and friends took on an extraordinary challenge: cycling 325 miles to Champagne, to raise £325,000 for My Name’5 Doddie. Here, we hear from the brains behind the ride and our Buyer, Davy Żyw, on the reasons behind the ride and the challenges they faced day-to-day on the road. You can still donate here.

I joined Berry Bros. & Rudd in October 2017, and shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with MND.

Motor Neurone Disease is an evil condition, affecting one in 300 here in the UK.  It’s degenerative, it’s paralysing and it’s terminal. It kills off your neurones, stopping all motor functions as sufferers’ muscles waste away, which cannot be rebuilt. Cruelly, it leaves your mind intact, to consciously review your failing health. Average life expectancy from diagnosis is just two years. There is no treatment and no cure.

These are hard facts for anyone to handle, but fortunately for me I have (relative!) youth on my side, and my symptoms have been slower to progress than many living with the disease.

It was a dreich autumnal afternoon in 2022 when Lizzy Rudd and I hatched the plan to cycle from London to Champagne, as part of the company’s 325th anniversary celebrations. After a quick search, we discovered that, with only a short detour, it would be a rather neat 325 miles from No.3 St. James’s to Pol Roger in Epernay.

Planning, rallying, and campaigning ensued – not to mention recruiting for cyclists from all across our business. We weren’t sure how many people would sign up. 325 miles in four days, covering two countries, with over 3000 meters elevation, is a daunting challenge for even the keenest of cyclists.

Our plan was to arrive at our friends at Champagne, Pol Roger Epernay on the evening of Sunday 10thSeptember. We had a route of 325 miles to cycle, over two countries – this would take over four days in the saddle. Many of our group were brand new to bike riding, others were very experienced, some were new to the company and others longstanding employees.

But all of us were united by this brilliant business, and the support for our chosen charity.

Day One: London to Dover

Our newly formed peloton of 37 cyclists gathered at first light on Thursday 7th of September – billed to be the UK’s hottest day of 2023.

Nervous, caffeine induced energy was coursing through our ranks, as we busied ourselves with filling bidons of electrolytes and pockets full of flapjacks. After months of training, fundraising, campaigning, bike fittings and lycra-clad catwalks, it was time to clip in and roll out into a golden dawn at No.3 St. James’s. From the safety of home of our historic cellars, we were all cycling into the unknown – a distance greater than many of our group had cycled before.

We floated through the golden morning of Westminster, Central London putting on a fine show. Then the reality of rush hour enveloped our group in traffic. Red lights and car horns punctuated our escape of London. 

We finally broke out into the country lanes of Kent which provided some well needed leafy shade, testing our fresh legs on sharp hills of the Downs. 95 miles later – some 11 hours after we departed – we rolled into Dover to a chorus of seagulls, ready for a good night’s rest.

Day Two: Dover to Arras

Day two started with an early ferry crossing to Calais. Watching the white cliffs of Dover fade into the morning mist, we knew the next time we’d see chalk soils would be in the vineyards of Champagne.

Our route serendipitously traced an ancient geological strata of Cretaceous chalk band, which connects the Champagne region with much of the South Coast of England.

Queuing for a full English breakfast in the ferry canteen resulted in one of our group receiving a €10 donation from a fellow passenger, bringing us a little closer to our £325,000 target as we neared the French coast!

We offloaded from the ferry and regrouped in a Calais Bistro, locals eyeing our group inquisitively over their bierre blonde in the mid-morning sun. After an early start, we were all eager to get on the road, confident in our abilities after a long first day. We threw caution to the red weather warnings flashing up on the French TV in the bistro, and set off.

After navigating roundabout after roundabout, the peloton ate up the miles on the smooth tarmac of French roads.

I could feel the strength in my neck and shoulders begin to wain soon after we left. My relationship with MND is combative. Since my diagnosis I refuse to let it defy my actions, and I fortify myself by fitness and a positive outlook. But despite my best efforts to fight its effects, the muscle wasting in my upper body meant that the 11-hour previous day had sapped any strength I had to remain upright on my bike.

I dropped behind the group, as I couldn’t lift my head to see the road. Before I fell off, or caused an accident, I pulled the plug, watching my fellow riders zoom away. After a quick medical assessment, my bike on the roof rack, I got into one of the support vehicles.

I was devastated. Despite my training, my medication, my personal fortification, the disease had beaten me down that day. I felt helpless and feeble, knowing that everyone else had the strength to push through to complete the day when I could not.

I was terrified that this would happen again over the following days, which signalled not only that I wasn’t in control of my symptoms, but also that they are progressing faster than expected – despite my best efforts to own my narrative. From the back seat of an air-conned SUV, notwithstanding the pain in my neck, I could not be prouder of the peloton who rallied and fought through the sticky heat of industrial northern France to complete day two. The halfway point.

We all fell asleep to the sounds of Pierre Bettinger of Champagne Leclerc Briant singing “La Marseillaise”, after France’s victory over New Zealand.

Day Three: Arras to Saint-Quentin

Day three arrived, with a shorter 100km route ahead. We were joined at this point by my friends Xavier, Christophe and Vianney from Champagne Mailly, Chateau la Nerthe & Ornellaia, who injected fresh legs and energy into the group.

Our route gave us quiet roads. Rolling through agricultural fields, we passed through silent villages awoken by the buzzing of bikes and barking dogs. And war graves, after war graves. They were a constant reminder that this landscape is still healing from the devastation of World Wars One and Two.

By the afternoon, the heat was too much for some – 40oc according to my Garmin. My neck was twinging, but compared to the previous day I felt restored, and so grateful for the support of my fellow riders.

This support extended to all of the peloton, as on day three we had our first crash of the trip. And despite a nasty bash and dose of road rash, our fallen rider refused to get into the support vehicle. Last on the road, he painstakingly pedalled into camp in St Quentin to rounds of heartfelt applause.

The England-Argentina rugby game gave some distraction in the evening, but we were all excited and fearful for the fourth and final day. At 105 miles, it would be a grande finale – our longest ride of the trip. And for many, the longest cycle of our lives.

Day Four: Saint Quentin to Épernay

We started before dawn.

Tired legs pushed through quiet miles, as the white gold light of dawn cast long shadows across the creamy tarmac. The morning’s landscape was punctuated with war memorials, picturesque villages and inviting lakes.

Lunchtime provided a respite from the heat and time in the saddle, everyone feeling the fatigue of our efforts. But collectively we found new strength, forged over miles and miles, the making new of friendships, many individuals surprising themselves with their own resilience.

As we entered the Marne Valley in the afternoon, it became hillier, roads busier with tractors towing trailers of freshly picked grapes, and we knew we were getting close.

Roadside vineyards were filled with harvest workers, who shouted words of encouragement as we whizzed past. The view of Reims Cathedral signalled our arrival into Champagne.

We took a direct route through the capital of the region, aiming for our final pitstop at Champagne Mailly. We regrouped, cooling down with a glass of UKC, rejoicing safely in the knowledge we were going to make it. But our final test was climbing the steep hills through the deep forest of Montage de Reims, before a steep descent into Épernay.

The finish line approaching, we accelerated down the hill past the spiritual cradle of Champagne, and the resting place of Dom Pierre Perignon, Hautvilliers Abbey. Lizzy and I led the peloton up the neat cobbles of Avenue de Champagne, whose wide boulevard is lined with the palaces of many of Champagne’s greatest names, the 35 other riders all in formation behind us. 

It’s a memory I will forever cherish. Even after four days of cycling and with 325 miles in her legs, Lizzy had the strength to power up the last climb. To the roars of praise from the riders behind, we turned into the gates of Pol Roger where owner Hubert de Billy, and our incredible support teams were waiting. We were done.

Sunday evening: the sun was setting on the day, and on our long journey from London. Rays of tangerine light bounced off wet cheeks and the polished flutes of Pol Roger, as our peloton embraced, kissed and cried. Tears of joy and exhaustion brought us together in this special moment, united in the shared suffering of a long four days in the saddle.

Looking around that group, the pride in our own and each other’s achievements dulled any pain in our legs, or necks. The sunlight, the smiles, the free-flowing Brut Non-Vintage all added to them positive energy amongst us. It was palpable.

325 miles, two countries, four days, 12 punctures, new friendships forged, and countless litres of electrolytes consumed.  These are four days I will never forget. The road pushed us out of our comfort zones, and mentally and physically challenged us all. We set off from No. 3 as a group of determined colleagues, and we arrived into Pol Roger as a peloton of friends. We’ve been united by this life-affirming experience and our support of the MND community – those like me, whose future is uncertain living with this terrible disease.

To date, we have raised £344,500 for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Every pound we raised will go directly to aid research into treatments, and help those living with the condition. And I cannot be more grateful to my fellow riders, the producers who joined and my resplendent employer, Berry Bros. & Rudd. First, for enabling us to achieve an incredible sum for charity – but also for the pride the company has allowed us to have, and the culture it has created. It is a rare privilege to work for a business where kindness, support, generosity of spirit and family values runs at its core.

We are not only custodians of the greatest wines and spirit reserves in the world, but also custodians of each other. We support our own, and look after one another as we have over 325 years of business. And long may it continue. Thank you to every rider, Zeus Events, our incredible support crew and to everyone who donated. Together, and only together can we make a difference. The money we raise will get us closer to banishing MND to the annals of time.

If you’re able to, you can still donate to the ride: we’ve know hit over £345,000 in donations, which will make an incredible difference. Donate here.

Category: Miscellaneous