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Fierce Beer and Banchory distillery Burnobennie team up in bid to ‘revolutionise’ whisky making

L-R Liam Pennycook and Dave McHardy.
L-R Liam Pennycook and Dave McHardy.

Banchory-based Burnobennie Distillery has announced a collaboration with Fierce Beer in a move it says will continue to “revolutionise the process for producing its spirit”.

In what is claimed to be an industry first, Burnobennie and Fierce are adopting a beer-driven approach to distilling an exclusive single malt whisky.

The proceeds of the cask sales will go towards the River Dee Trusts’ #milliontrees campaign with two thirds of the casks already sold during a pre-sale campaign.

The collaboration aims to be the first in a series with world-leading brewers to showcase advanced brewing in whisky making.

Process making

Most distilleries develop the barley beer (or wash) for its single malt at 5% to 7% alcohol.

However, Burnobennie is instead using an “amplified” beer wash with higher alcohol content at 14% resulting in an increase in flavour, the company said.

L-R Burnobennie director Liam Pennycook and  Fierce operations director Dave McHardy.

The wash is distilled twice and then used to create a single malt whisky which will then be sold as a limited-edition casks.

Experimental malts

The Burnobennie team has experimented since 2017 with dark roasted malts.

Its first 18-month-old single malt was described by whisky expert Charles Maclean as tasting like an 18-20 year old spirit.

The distillery has based its success on focusing on the outset of the distilling process which is brewing the wash.

‘True magic happens’

Burnobennie Distillery co-founder Liam Pennycook said: “We are incredibly excited to work with Fierce to create a truly unique whisky in aid of the #milliontrees initiative.

“By sacrificing the industry standard yield, our super concentrated wash uses 50% less water, less energy and a reduced carbon footprint – this is allowing us to work towards being fully sustainable in our distilling process.

“We believe the core of whisky making should be developed from the mashtun and our amplified wash – this is where the true magic happens.

L-R Dave McHardy and Liam Pennycook.

“There is a common industry perception that up to 85% of the flavour comes from the cask.

“We want to showcase that flavour should begin in the spirit and can be balanced by the ageing process in the cask.

“We are delighted to have Fierce work with us – we match their ethos of focusing on new techniques and flavours so it was a natural collaboration for both of us.”

Fierce Beer success

Fierce Beer has become one of the north-east’s craft-brewing success stories since Dave Grant and Dave McHardy co-founded the business in 2016.

Six years on, the multi-award-winning brewery has built a thriving direct-to-consumer business, owning bars in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Fierce Beer’s founding duo: Operations director Dave McHardy, left, and managing director Dave Grant.

The brewery produces 800,000 litres of beer a year and was recently crowned Scottish Brewery of the Year.

Fierce Beer operations director Dave McHardy said: “When we had the chance to work with the folks at Burnobennie Distillery we jumped at it.

“It’s great to see another local business who thinks the way we do. They are looking to be innovative in the way they deal with a traditional process, which is the way we look at things in brewing.

“And to be involved in taking a modern brewery perspective on the mash and implementing that into a whisky, it’s a very exciting project.”

Community support from Burnobennie Distillery

Burnobennie has been supporting The River Dee Trust which aims to plant a million native trees along the Dee’s tributaries.

The distillery has already produced a rare and old whisky series to support the #milliontrees campaign by commissioning a painting by artist Peter Howson.

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