Whisky Legend Frank McHardy Takes Us on a Spirited Journey of Whisky-making
Whisky Legend Frank McHardy Takes Us on a Spirited Journey of Whisky-making
Frank McHardy

Good day Frank, you might have been within the whisky business for over 50 years. May you inform us somewhat extra about your first steps on this business?

I began as a member of the yard group at Invergordon Distillery the place I labored from 1963-1966. Subsequently, I moved to Tamnavulin Distillery in Glenlivet from 1966 -1973 as a basic course of employee whereby I used to be concerned in all processes of distilling and warehouse operations. In 1973, I used to be appointed because the Assistant Supervisor at Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay and stayed on until 1977. I then moved to Campbeltown in late 1977 to affix Springbank as a Distillery Supervisor till 1986. From 1986-1996, I used to be the Head Distiller at Bushmills Distillery in Northern Eire the place I honed my abilities and information in whisky making for 10 years. Ultimately, I moved again to Springbank Distillery in 1996 because the Distillery Supervisor and was later promoted to Director of Manufacturing. In 2013, I made a decision to retire from full-time employment and I’ve change into an impartial whisky guide so far.

With such an illustrious profession spanning from Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn and Kilkerran, which of those locations would you say helped to form and outline your profession?

Initially at Invergordon, it was most likely about getting a job simply to get by life like another younger lads. I feel my preliminary curiosity in distilling was shaped throughout my time at Tamnavulin, the place course of staff had been concerned in all features of distilling and warehouse operations. However as for shaping and defining my profession, every of those distilleries that I’ve labored in, added expertise and information to me. Particularly at Bushmills, I’ve realized concerning the significance of utilizing wooden and the laying down of shares for future utilization and gross sales. I ultimately utilized these abilities and experience throughout my time at Springbank.

There’s this false impression that older whiskies are higher than the youthful ones, does this maintain water and what’s one different false impression that you simply want to debunk?

Picture: The Whisky Retailer

I wouldn’t say older whiskies are higher than the youthful ones. Nonetheless, older whiskies normally present extra flavour and stability as a result of prolonged maturation. Don’t get me improper. Among the youthful whiskies may also be excellent, besides that plenty of the flavours and traits of those younger whiskies have a tendency to come back from the cask that they’re matured in. I at all times believed that round 60 per cent of the flavour of any whisky comes from the cask it was matured in. Therefore, age shall not be used as a benchmark for good whisky, however quite the kind and high quality of casks used to mature these whiskies.

The opposite false impression that individuals at all times get is that Single Malt is at all times higher than blends or grains. I can’t agree with the above assertion and once more, I might stress that it actually relies on how lengthy, and the way good the cask was used to mature the whiskies. There are excellent blends and grains whiskies on the market as effectively.

In your opinion, what makes a superb bottle of whisky?

For my part, what makes a superb whisky (particularly malt whisky) is absolutely the kind of casks getting used to mature the whisky, and on the similar time, I’ll at all times search for whiskies which were bottled at a minimal energy of 46 per cent alcohol by quantity (ABV).

Personally, I might additionally favor my whisky to be not less than round 12 years outdated. Cause is that the product has not been chill filtered nor had any synthetic colouring added. I consider that the method of chill filtering detracts from the pure flavour of the product. Single malts that had been bottled at 40 per cent alcohol will most likely have been chill-filtered and had colouring added. Having stated that, I do consider that among the older whiskies’ alcohol energy within the cask can have dropped beneath 46 per cent ABV. On this occasion, I can’t be so cautious concerning the whisky being chill filtered as it’s going to nonetheless be thought of as “cask energy “.

Inform us somewhat extra about this particular Whisky Bottling challenge that you’ve got launched into.

Picture: The Whisky Retailer

At present, I’m working with The Whisky Retailer in Singapore on a number of fascinating initiatives and one in every of them is about hand-selecting and sourcing single cask malts and grain whiskies to be bottled beneath the Signature Reserve Frank McHardy collection.

Along with The Whisky Retailer, you might have launched a Signature Reserve’s Frank McHardy collection the place there are 12 unique bottles that you’ve got picked, inform us somewhat extra concerning the course of behind this choice.

At current, there are 14 unique bottlings of those single casks. All these casks have been hand-picked on my own from varied sources of my contacts. If I discover a cask which fits the vary of bottling beneath my title, I’ll proceed to request a pattern from the cask. Nosing and tasting the whisky is the one approach of constructing certain that this whisky is of my commonplace. If I’m glad with the whisky, solely then will we resolve to buy the cask. Subsequently, I might say these 14 bottles undergo my very strict choice earlier than the golden liquid is bottled. (Laughs)

Why have you ever determined to work with The Whisky Retailer on this particular challenge and inform us how is that this vital in your profession?

It began when Khoon Hui and Joyce got here to the Springbank Whisky faculty once I was the Director of Manufacturing at Springbank then. After sharing a number of conversations and a fruitful time with them, I felt like I might resonate with their ardour for whisky. Subsequently, this very particular reference to them made me resolve to work with the couple to place collectively this unique collection. Furthermore, I feel this has additionally given me the chance to place all of the information I’ve gained throughout my profession in whisky to good use.

Whisky assortment has been on the rise lately, what are your ideas on gathering whisky as a type of different funding?

Picture: The Whisky Retailer

The gathering of unique whisky bottles has been round for over 50 years. Again then, there have been solely a handful of collectors who actually loved a superb dram or two of the liquid gold and shared these drams with their shut buddies. Nonetheless, quick ahead to immediately, there are rising numbers of collectors or “collectors”, which I feel are extra like resellers. The principle goal of those resellers gathering the bottles is to purchase and flip them to resell at the next worth within the open market.

Alternatively, they might ship the bottles to numerous public sale websites as effectively. By and huge, there are those that purchase whiskies and hold them for long run enjoyment, whereas others look to make a fast revenue on their authentic buy. Whichever the case is, I’ve no actual view both approach however wouldn’t depend on bottles to extend in worth to such an extent as to be an alternate funding.

What’s one private tip that you simply want to share with our readers on the best way to get pleasure from whisky?

Having fun with whisky could be very a lot a private factor and everybody has their very own preferences. For me, if I’m consuming a single malt, I would favor so as to add somewhat sprint of excellent high quality nonetheless water to cut back the alcohol content material to round 46 per cent. My desire is to not add any ice because the flavour will get diluted and whisky will ultimately change into extra singular in style quite than the complicated single malt that you simply had wished for. Even when I’m consuming blended whisky, the identical rule applies. Nonetheless, I might get pleasure from among the youthful blends with ice and a few mixers resembling dry ginger ale. Subsequently, all of it boils down to every particular person desire in addition to the kind of whisky you want to take pleasure in.

You’ve met so many individuals alongside your whisky journey, might you share an fascinating anecdote that you’ve got encountered?

Picture: The Whisky Retailer

I actually have met lots of people related with the whisky commerce, and attended quite a few whisky reveals all through the world. I feel one in every of my lasting recollections was once I visited Japan. This was not lengthy after the 2011 tsunami, and our importer took us on a tour the place we visited among the tsunami-affected areas in Japan. The best way that the Japanese folks had been clearing up the devastation will at all times have a deep-rooted impression on me.

One other fascinating reminiscence occurred a while again throughout Whisky Reside Japan. My different two colleagues and I had been watching Richard Patterson (Grasp Distiller of Dalmore) doing his standard presentation on stage. The three of us then determined that for a little bit of enjoyable, we’d stand behind him the place he couldn’t see us and mimicked each motion he did. He questioned why the viewers had been laughing and when he circled and noticed us, he had some selection phrases to say however noticed the humorous aspect, and determined to show a blind eye to it.

For those who might title one one who has an affect in your life, who would that be?

If there is just one selection and never somebody from the whisky business, in fact my spouse could be the one which made a big impact in my life (laughs). But when we’re talking about those that I’ve met throughout my profession within the business, I feel that Brendan Monks from Bushmill (Irish Distillers once I joined) taught me quite a bit concerning the sourcing of casks and cask administration. I’m very grateful for him.

What do you want to see extra within the whisky business within the upcoming years?

I want to see extra of the small distilleries approaching stream and producing a product constructed from pure processes with no actual emphasis on the very best yield attainable. I feel that custom is one thing that ought to by no means be forgotten even on the expense of upper yields.

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