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Manx Whisky Company – Isle of Man

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Manx Whisky Company – Isle of Man

When you think of whisky or whiskey, what places come to mind?

Is it the island of Islay or the beautiful scenery of Scotland?

The low central plains and coastal mountains of Ireland?

The bluegrass fields of Kentucky?

I don’t think any of you would think of the rugged coastline of the Isle of Man.

Situated in the Irish Sea, almost equal distance between the UK and Ireland the little island is home to Manx Whisky Company.

The company was founded by Magnus Grinneback and Scott Young. Ably assisted by their wives, Panida and Liz, this is very much a close-knit affair. Both Magnus and Scott have a background in the e-gaming industry, but a passion for whisky.

They are a fairly diverse group, with Magnus from Sweden, Panida from New Zealand, Liz from Ireland, and Scott being the only one of the group born on the Isle of Man.

Using alembic stills from Iberian Coppers Lda, they have both a 400-litre wash still and an older 100-litre version. The stills were handmade in Portugal. Distillation has been varied but seemed to be settled at x2, although, typically, they experiment with that too. In the early days, this was mostly x2.5.

Production takes place in a small garage unit with Magnus handling most of the production and even the odd renovation! Panida and Liz are social media, mainly Instagram although they have ventured onto Facebook recently too, with the former also being the chief taster of their new make spirit. Having tried that myself, I can testify that it is excellent and one of the best of the category I’ve tasted. Scott’s duties consist of kiln making and logistics and he is also their farm liaison officer.

Why would a small distillery have a farm liaison officer? That’s because their malt is 100% from the Isle of Man. The latest batch was acquired from Ballavell Farm there. Along with the use of Manx water, it’s fair to say they make every effort to use local markets. Even their labels were designed by local artist Ali Hodgson.

Casks are mostly acquired from Speyside Cooperage, one of the last in the UK who still crafts and repairs barrels using traditional methods. There have obviously been bourbon, the typical sherry of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez along with Amontillado and Palo Cortado firkins, and even a Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine barrel. Barrels of varying sizes have been used.

In terms of inspiration, Magnus looks to the revered Springbank who famously do everything themselves on site and Manx Whisky Company is trying to do likewise, even having two of their own tiny malting boxes. On the couple of occasions I’ve been lucky enough to visit their site, the malt from them has had a beautiful aroma. He is also a lover of Smogen, Ben Nevis, Edradour, High Coast, Daftmill, Glengoyne, and Bruichladdich.

Their first release was their Batch 001 in December this year. It was matured in a Pedro Ximenz firkin for its three-year lifespan. We had a bottle of it in our bar. As you can see from the photo below, that didn’t last long. It was little wonder. There was certainly significant interest in it from the local Manx community. Then people coming to the island were keen to get their hands on it too. An organiser of a well-known UK whisky festival was very disappointed to learn he couldn’t get his hands on a bottle. There were only 85 of them. Most of those were balloted. We were very lucky at my bar to have the only bottle that wasn’t, allocated to us to allow as many people as possible to try it. It was a roaring success and I expect their next release, scheduled for the forthcoming quarter, to be likewise. Having tasted it just prior to it maturing for the required 3 years to become whisky, I certainly think it will be just as popular.

At the most recent World Whisky Award, the company picked up 1 gold, for their Single Cask #9 in the Young Spirits category, and 2 silver medals, for another entry in that category and the other for their new make. They can be added to the silver and a bronze picked up last year for their new make and Young Spirit entry from last year.

So what next for Manx Whisky Company? Well, they’re currently working on various exciting projects including an Irish-inspired whisky, made from a mixed mash bill. Until now, they’d been using 100% malted barley. There’s also an ongoing attempt at growing heritage barley along with experimentation with yeast strains.

All of this makes for a very exciting future and makes Manx Whisky Company one to watch and, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, try.



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