Diageo’s Famous Archive Visit
It was early March when Nicola and Jim received an e-mail from Patrick Roberts (Cognis Public Relations London) detailing an invite from Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Scotch Knowledge and Heritage Director and Christine McAfferty, Diageo’s Archive Manager to visit the world leading Diageo Archive, based in Glenochil House Menstrie, which also shares this site with Diageo’s Technical Centre Europe.
This was an invite that both of us could not say no to, “we would love to join you on this Archive visit “.
On Thursday 30th March we made our way to the Grange Manor Hotel in Grangemouth around 4.30 pm we checked in and went back to the hotel bar to wait for the rest of the guests.
Jim and Nicola had a dram and quickly got chatting with the other guests, who were :-
Graeme from Edinburgh Whisky Blog, Richard from Loch Fyne Whiskies and Donald Colville from Diageo.
We were all soon invited through to a private bar where we met our hosts Pat Roberts and Christine McAfferty, here we all sat round the large table which was set out with tasting glasses and water. Firstly all in attendance introduced themselves and we then had informal presentation including a video of many of the old adverts and historic images of many of the Diageo brands.
Donald brought out a few bottles for us to taste, some very, very old Johnnie Walker Red Label and and exceptionally old bottle of Old Mull Blended Scotch Whisky from 1917, which had a lovely nose and very characterful taste and finish.
Prior to going through for dinner we were all given a dram of Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky 45.8% Alc/vol. This award winning Malt is powerful and loaded with peat and sea spray with plenty of smoky sweetness, finishing with a nippy pepperiness on the tongue and not a dram for the faint hearted, so if you love a peaty Islay Dram you are sure to love this dram. Talisker is one of the Whiskies in Diageo’s Classic Malt range.
We all then proceeded through to a private dinning room, where we enjoyed a lovely evening meal which Jim washed down with a very fine Chablis, but the highlight was when our great hosts opened a couple or three bottles for us to enjoy and taste after dinner, and these were :-
Glenury Royal 36 Year Old 1968 Distillation Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 51.2% Alc/vol.
I found this dram to be quite complex with a fruit and perfume with a touch of spice on the nose, the taste was juicy and mouth watering barley sugar with a wee hint of smoke but not too strong, a smooth dram with a finish being warming with cooked fruits coming in.
Nicola thought this dram to be absolutely her favourite of the entire evening, it had a real feminine floral nose with a hearty amount of oak and dark woody notes. A touch of sweet vanilla and tropical fruits and orchard friuts. Overall a very complex and rewarding dram. Fresh, light and fruity with a old worldly afterthought.
This fabulous dram comes from a distillery that is now demolished and that is a pity, so once you finish a bottle there will be one less in the world and can never replaced.
Brora 25 Distilled in 1983 – 25 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Natural cask Strength, 56.3% Alc/vol.
Jim poured a wee dram and nosed it first to find a little woodiness and some oranges and is that a wee bit of smoke I sniff, and freshly cut Christmas cake, on the palate I found it to be a sweet vanilla taste with a creaminess and a touch of liquorice and honey, this then leaves a smooth and drying medium to long finish.
Nicola picked up her glass and nosed this dram to find the nose was quite light with a little smokiness, some citrus and a nuttly fruit loaf was in there. The taste was light with a high concentration of sweet vanilla and honey, but there is still a lingering citrus taste there couple with the hint of smoke, finish lingered for a while and ended at the perfect moment.
A wee snippet about this fine old but closed distillery is that in 1819 when it was founded only cost £750.00 to build. How many bottles of Brora could you buy today with £750.00
Now this is one for Jim, on the nose was antiseptic soap, sea spray some vanilla and citrus aromas just before the peat/smoke enters the frame, on Jim’s palate he found again, the bonfire/bar-b-que sitting outside the hospital ward, so sweet and smooth with plenty of oak woodiness, the delightful and long finish had sea salt and tar just sitting on your tongue, and absolute delight of an Islay dram. Certainly my favourite of all today’s tastings.
Nicola just poured the littlest of drams and felt it unfair to go any further so passed her glass to me. (remember Nicola is not the best fan of the heavy peated Whiskies.)
So dinner was over and everyone sat around chatting about the evenings tastings and looking forward tomorrows visit to Diageo’s Archive. Slowly some of the guests were heading up to their rooms, but many of us sat in a quiet corner pouring ourselves drams from the above Malts and discussing all things Whisky, and sorting all the wrongs of the world, a great end to a excellent evening, a BIG THANKS to all our hosts.
Almost everyone made it down for breakfast on this Thursday morning where we all enjoyed a full Scottish and many a cup of coffee / tea prior to getting on our coach and heading off to Menstrie and Diageo’s Archive.
We arrived just a short half hour after leaving our hotel and driving through a forest of Diageo’s Bonded Warehouses we arrived at the Archive, we were split in two groups and started on the amazing and informative tour.
We went from room to room to find that in the next room there were items/bottles/images/promotional materials and advertising point of sale materials better than the last room, Nicola and Jim found the Archive staff, Joanne McKerchar, Alia Campbell and Heather Malcolm led by Christine McAfferty are a joy to chat too, their knowledge and enthusiasm for there work appears to be never-ending.
The materials held in this fabulous Archive are for the use of all Diageo staff and is part of the induction for new members of the Diageo family, where they can provide high-resolution images and copies of any records held.
After this tour we headed back to the hotel for a spot of lunch, we all chatted about the wonderful Archive, we then said our fairwells and swapped Buisiness Cards.
For any of our readers who have any promotional, point of sale, sponsorship, packaging, old company/brand material and wish to donate them to the archive please contact them at :-
Scotland, FK11 7ES
Some of Diageo’s brands are :-
* Beer: Guinness, Tusker, Smithwick’s, Red Stripe, Harp Lager, Kilkenny, Kaliber (non alcoholic), Windhoek
* Scotch Whisky: Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s, Cardhu, Justerini & Brooks (J&B), Bell’s, Black & White, Caol Ila, Vat 69, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Singleton, Haig, Royal Lochnagar, Glen Elgin, Knockando, Dimple & Pinch
* Vodka: Smirnoff (Smirnov in Russia), Cîroc, Silent Sam, Popov, Ketel One
* Gin: Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Gilbey’s, Booth’s
* Rum: Captain Morgan, Bundaberg, Pampero, Myers’
* Bourbon: Bulleit
* Canadian Whisky: Crown Royal, Seagram’s
* Irish Whiskey: Bushmills
* Tennessee Whiskey: George Dickel
* Schnapps: Black Haus, Goldschläger, Rumple Minze
* Mixed drinks: Archers, Pimm’s, Jeremiah Weed
* Liqueurs: Baileys, Sheridans, Yukon Jack, Godiva’s
We (The Whisky Boys) had a great two days and were so impressed by the quality of the drams last night and certainly a big highlight was the tour round the Archive, but we really enjoyed the company of the other guests and the enthusiasm and knowledge of our hosts, so another BIG THANKS to all at Diageo, and we both hope to meet you again in the near future.