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Meet The Maker: Ian Palmer, Inchdairnie Distillery

Crafted using uniquely tailored equipment, RyeLaw is the inaugural release from the Fife-based InchDairnie distillery. Douglas Blyde learns about the “Three M” philosophy driving it, and the “Knowledgeable Hedonist” it is intended to appeal to.

What inspired RyeLaw?

The inspiration arose from the distillery’s ‘Three M’ philosophy: Materials, Method and Maturation. Based on our single-minded focus on flavour, key features of production include the use of malted rye, malted barley, and the special rye specific yeast for our Materials, our hammer mill and Meura mash-filter combination (one of only two used in Scotland), as well as distillation in a bespoke Lomond Hill still for our Method. Finally, Maturation takes place in new charred oak casks formed from trees which can be traced back to a specific forest in the Ozark mountains, USA.

What is so special about your equipment?

Our core difference is the use of our hammer mill and mash filter, as opposed to the traditional roller mill and mash tun. We carry out our fermentation in outdoor washbacks exposed to all four seasons. We also use some winter barley as opposed to the more common spring barley. Both of our stills have two copper condensers allowing for more copper contact, resulting in elegant and complex whiskies.

How bespoke is the still?

Unique to InchDairnie, The Lomond Hill still was designed by myself and our partners, Frilli. This copper pot still features six bubble cap trays in its neck, allowing us to distil with particular precision.

Where is the distillery located?

We are in central Fife, just south of the Lomond Hills, where Scotland’s agricultural and industrial aspects converge. It was important to us that our distillery personality represented this. Our cereal is grown in Fife, the distillery is located in Fife, and all whiskies are matured on-site in Fife.

How have you reduced the carbon footprint?

This ongoing process takes time and investment. So far, our electricity comes from renewable sources. We are converting from natural gas to green hydrogen and have installed a hydrogen-ready boiler. Most importantly, though, we source our malting barley from Muntons, which is making strides in reducing the carbon footprint of its malting process. They also focus on supporting their farming supply chain to reduce their carbon footprint. The distillery itself is a funding partner for the YEN Zero project, which studies how to grow cereals with a lower carbon footprint, including closer to home. We are funding a local farmer-owned agronomical consultancy study that studies the impact cover crops may have on reducing the amount of artificial nitrogen used in the cereal growing process.

Who is your target consumer?

We coined the name ‘Knowledgeable Hedonist’ to describe someone who is curious yet considered, with a variety of interests, and appreciates innovative and high-quality spirits…

What is The Cask Club?

The Cask Club is InchDairnie Distillery’s private, members-only club curated for like-minded individuals with a specific interest in whisky. Every year, we distil only a finite batch of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter renditions, which will eventually form the InchDairnie Vintage. Only 30 casks are released each year for the Cask Club. Each year, only one type of liquid is released for the Cask Club programme and matured on our site for a minimum of twelve years. Being a cask owner is the only way to visit InchDairnie, and the Cask Club is an all-encompassing cask programme which includes private tastings for family and friends, bottling in the InchDairnie’s bespoke bottle along with a personalised label, two samples in a bespoke sample display case is sent each year to mention just a few benefits.

How did the design of the bottle come about?

The bottle design came about when we started to think about the bottle not just as a vessel but as a brand book. We wanted the bottle to talk about everything core to our brand, so essentially, the story is built into the bottle. The three ripples on the side of the bottle talk about our Three M’s. Our hammer mill inspired the metal neck, and the stopper is inspired by the two metals used in the distillery: copper and stainless steel.

What is LEBLANQ?

Since March 2023, InchDairnie has been the official global whisky partner with luxury cycling tour specialist LeBlanq, who believes in rewarding life’s hard work with the ultimate escapism – indulgent weekends of eating and drinking while taking in some of the world’s most beautiful cycling and culinary destinations. InchDairnie sponsors their ‘Tales of a Jersey’ fireside chats – an intimate moment where guests can listen to the cycling greats tell their stories about winning the Tour de France, all while enjoying a glass or two of RyeLaw. Not to mention, our unique approach to flavour is often something that the headlining Michelin-starred chef is inspired to work with, whether this be Nathan Outlaw, Henrik Orre or Nieves Barragan.

What other chefs have supported RyeLaw?

Ashley Palmer-Watts, who is director culinaire at LeBlanq, and David Hesketh, their Master of Wine, have been very complimentary about the work we do at InchDairnie.

Who is your distributor?

For the UK and Benelux, we work with Disaronno International, Kammer Kirsch in Germany, Haecky in Switzerland, Pot Still in Austria, and Wky Regal in Spain. We are also distributed in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, and now the USA.

When is your next release due?

In 2025, we will release our East Coast peated malt, KinGlassie.

Finally, who, ideally, would you enjoy RyeLaw with?

I owe a great deal to the people I worked with in my early days at Invergordon distillery. I learnt a great deal about whisky making in those days. It would be great to share RyeLaw with a little water in a large glass or poured over a large single ice ball with them.

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