We travelled to our very own Kingsbarns Distillery in the East Neuk of Fife to meet with our distillery manager, Peter Holroyd. Peter is a vital cog in the Kingsbarns machine, using his passion and expertise to assist in the production of our award winning whiskies such as our flagship spirit, Dream to Dram.
How did you get to the stage of making whisky?
Well, I’ve always had a love of food and drink, in fact when I was a wee boy I wanted to be a chef. When I realised you could do a Brewing and Distilling course at university, I jumped at the chance to do it. I studied the Heriot Watt Brewing and Distilling course and then I worked for a couple of breweries making beer before a slight change in tack into making whisky. I joined Kingsbarns in 2014.
What is it about whisky that captivates you?
First and foremost it’s the flavour and aroma of it; whisky is a nostalgic drink, it brings back memories of childhood, people and experiences I’ve had in the past; that’s what makes it quite special for me. It’s also such an iconic product, it’s the drink of Scotland. It’s a mix of so many things; tradition, history, technology, science, and tourism. You can get so many different flavours from so many distilleries which are using the same ingredients, that’s what's captivating, there's always so much more to learn about it.
Do you think regionality is still important in whisky?
There is definitely historical significance in the different regions of whisky. Historically it was probably more related to blending and what blenders would use and how they would use different regions to give an accent to a whisky. I think perhaps today it's maybe a little less relevant, you have some distilleries in the lowlands making peaty whisky, whereas in Islay you can get some whiskies that are a touch floral. So things have been a little bit more mixed up but that’s not to say that location isn’t relevant. I think where a distillery is sited has got to have some bearing on the taste, whether that be from the water source that it’s using, the location of the barley fields or even the microclimate of where these casks are maturing. Remember that wood is breathing the whole time, so I think there's got to be some significance to the provenance of a product. I know for us at Kingsbarns, that’s certainly something that we’ve been very, very passionate about, when we’ve been striving to drive as much of the locality into the dram as we possibly can.
If you could have a dram with anyone living or in the past throughout history, who would it be?
That’s quite a tough question. I would probably say my grandmother because I never managed to meet her and it would be interesting to hear some stories I reckon, so that’s who I’d have a dram with.
To find out more about Peter and his job at the distillery, check out Behind the stills.
WRITTEN BY KRISTEN MCGHIE