As a reasonably established member of Whisky Squad I recently took up the offer of a Saturday “field trip” to The London Distillery Company (or TLDC for short) in Battersea. The first whisky distillery in London for over a hundred years – the former Lea Valley Distillery, in Stratford, east London apparently ceased making the spirit in 1905 – is the brainchild of Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Glenmorangie alumnus Darren Rook and investor (and former microbrewery owner) Nick Taylor.
I’d previously met Rook at last October’s TWE Whisky Show when TLDC was still little more than a business plan and was intrigued to see how far the project had progressed. Situated in a former dairy in a remote corner of Battersea, next to Ransome’s Dock, TLDC now boast two stills (Christina the gin still and Matilda the whisky still) and four mash tuns and washbacks (two of each I think). There’s also room for a dedicated spirit still (Matilda will serve as both wash and spirit still for the time being), some limited barrel storage (the rest will be kept in a bonded warehouse somewhere in London) and desks made from wood reclaimed during the dairy conversion.
Apologies for the recent blogging hiatus here at Alt-Tipple Towers. The back end of 2012 turned out to be bit fraught for a variety of reasons and so this already delayed post was pushed back further and further. Still, its emphasis on the products of new wave world and micro whisky distillers (a topic I’m very keen on) meant I felt it was worth resuscitating despite being started last October. So here we go.
Unexpected good fortune in early October 2012 saw me in attendance at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show at Vinopolis wine complex near London’s South Bank and what a superb day out it was.
A barely remembered entry of my name and email address into an online raffle on the Whisky Marketplace price-comparison website won me two Sunday tickets, worth a cool £99 each, to the capital’s biggest whisky event. With my whisky-loving friend Cliff in tow I headed to London Bridge and joined the queue heading in at noon.
I’d heard of Whisky Squad long before I finally attended one of their tasting evenings. As a regular drinker at my favourite Clerkenwell pub The Gunmakers until my work moved to the West End last year, I’d several times been kept from sitting in the back room because it had been booked out, according to pub landlord Jeff Bell, by “a bunch of folk drinking whisky”. Or some words along those lines.
Strangely, given that I’m a considerable enthusiast for beer’s distilled cousin, I didn’t enquire any further at the time. As such, I only recently came to full awareness of the Squad through some random web surfing and avowed that I’d get along to one of their £15 sessions ASAP.
Whisky Squad events are extremely popular with those in the know and demand commitment to reserve a place, tickets going on sale online for the (usually) two or three events a month at an appointed time and data and typically selling out in minutes.
Welcome to The Alternative Tipple, an assortment of anecdotes, observations and musings on the subject of alcoholic beverages, the places and ways in which they’re consumed and the culture that’s grown up around them. And what those things mean to me.
Posts relating to beer and whisk(e)y will form the bulk of my meanderings, simply because they’re the drinks I gain the most pleasure from, spend the most time with and most actively seek out. They’re also the domains where I’m able to cast my net widest. From IPAs to Islays, rauchbiers to rye whiskies, and porters to pure pot stills, there’s more than enough to keep me going for some time to come.