River Dee Trust Toasts Whisky Donation

November 12, 2020

(photo: renowned whisky writer Charles Maclean)

The River Dee Trust has raised a glass to one of its biggest single donations, as it forges ahead with one of the most ambitious nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms.

The Deeside Distillery in Banchory is donating its very last four casks of whisky spirit to the Trust. One of the world’s most renowned whisky writers, Charles Maclean, has described the potential of the Deeside spirit as “superlative” and “better than gold” as an investment. He admitted the young spirit was so good, he misidentified it as a fine, 18-year-old Speyside malt. The first of the casks will be auctioned at a special event next year.

Sandy Bremner, Chairman of The River Dee Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful for this donation. It’s a challenging time for all charities, and we have committed to planting a million native trees to help cool the river as it faces dangerously rising temperatures. This donation will help us continue our work to save our iconic wild salmon and restore the whole ecosystem.”

Of the four casks of spirit being donated to The River Dee Trust, three are 250-litre ex-Oloroso. The fourth is a 200-litre Virgin American Oak cask - the only one of its kind ever produced by the distillery.

Charles Maclean has been described as “Scotland’s leading whisky expert”. He was elected Keeper of the Quaich in 1992 for his “services to Scotch over many years” and granted the rare honour of being elected Master of the Quaich, the industry’s highest accolade.

After tasting the Deeside Distillery spirit which had been left to mature in an Oloroso cask for just three years, he said: “It’s terrific, I’m amazed, really astonished at the quality of the young spirit.” With a smile, he admitted that it was so good, it led him to make one of the biggest mistakes of his whisky-tasting career. He said: “Tasting it blind, I guessed it was 18-years-old. Embarrassing!”

Deeside Distillery manager Liam Pennycook said: “We are delighted to be able to help the Trust deliver its vital work. The Dee is a magical river which touches the lives of so many people. We want to help the river through the challenges ahead, to make sure it’s in the best possible shape for those who love it now, and for future generations.”

The four casks are made even rarer by the fact that only 100 of them will ever be produced by the Deeside Distillery. Liam said: “We are developing a new, bigger distillery at Hill of Banchory. Due to regulations, we can’t move its name to another site so this will become a “lost distillery”. In every sense, this will be very special whisky.”

The first of the four casks will be auctioned at a special dinner being organised by Maryculter House to raise funds for The River Dee Trust. It will be held on Friday, September 24 next year, subject to Covid restrictions. For further information about the dinner, please contact Maryculter House on 01224 732124.