The revival of rye distillation in Scotland can be attributed to the growing number of distillers who have been initiating the commercial rye distillations recently. Joining the rye whisky trend for a charitable cause is the Arbroath-based, Arbikie Highland distillery. It is the first distillery producing Scotch whisky, vodka and gin on a 2000-acre single estate on the east coast of Scotland.
Billed as Scotland’s first farm-to-bottle distillers, Arbikie has bottled a batch of its experimental pot-distilled Scotch rye, believed to be the first rye spirit made and released in Scotland in a century. This one-off bottling is to raise money for the Euan MacDonald Foundation which was set up to research, and help find a cure for the dreaded, motor neurone disease (MND).
The Arbikie Highland Estate was founded by the Stirling brothers – John, Iain and David in 2013. It became a fully operational distillery in 2014 that now produces a spectrum of spirits. Their father was ailing with the disease. This motivated them to collaborate with the trust, and raise money for its research by producing the first bottles of rye whisky in Scotland, and sell it to honour their father. Ian said, “Our father has motor neurone disease, so it felt right to support the charity looking into research”.
Arbikie’s special rye spirit is home –grown, and made from the farm distillers own crop. They’ve been harvesting a wide variety of rye since 2014. The two distinct bottles hail from there. The first, a Scottish rye Whisky is made from 52% unmalted Arantes rye, and 48% Odyssey malted barley. The second one is more of an American version of distillation with a higher rye content. Aged for 2 years in charred American oak barrels, the rich, spicy character can’t be missed even with its dry notes.
Arbikie with its innovative streak is unique and Director, John Stirling at the Arbikie distillery is keen to continue the legacy. Remarking on the release news, he said, ““As both Farmers and Distillers, Arbikie is in an almost unique position to be able to distil its family of spirits using the crops grown in the fields around our distillery. Producing our own whisky with full provenance and traceability has been a dream for us that we are now fulfilling. This is a key day in Arbikie Distillery’s history”.
In 2018, a limited total of 355 bottles are set to be released. However, the initial batch of 100 Arbikie Highland Rye bottles is marked at 48% abv, and available for purchase at £100 each. All proceeds from the initial release will be going to the Euan MacDonald Foundation for motor neurone disease (MND).