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Scottish farm distillery Arbikie launches first Scotch whisky made using rye for over 100 years

A Scottish farm distillery, famed for its 'field to bottle' spirits, has announced the launch of the first mature Scotch whisky made using rye for over 100 years.

Arbikie Highland Estate, which has previously produced successful vodkas and gins, has entered the Scotch whisky market with the launch of its ‘Highland Rye’ Single Grain Scotch Whisky.

Arbikie’s Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky was laid down in 2015 and uses a combination of Arantes Rye, Odyssey Malted Barley and Viscount Wheat.

Fully compliant with SWA rules, it is categorised as a single grain instead of a single malt due to the fact it is made using rye (52 per cent), wheat (33 per cent) and malted barley (15 per cent) instead of malted barley on its own.

The whisky, which is owned and distilled by the Stirling brothers in Lunan Bay near Arbroath, adheres to the family’s farming heritage with all crops grown on the farm meaning every ingredient used in the making of the Highland Rye can be traced back to the field it was grown in.

John Stirling, director of Arbikie Highland Estate commented: “We are absolutely thrilled to launch Scotland’s first Rye Whisky in over 100 years. Records show a distillery at Arbikie in 1794; a time when they would have only used crops grown on the family farm.

"We’re bringing this tradition back to Scotch Whisky with provenance, terroir and traceability of ingredients at the heart of everything we do. Growing rye requires long periods of dry weather, which can be challenging, however our farm team has done an excellent job.

Arbikie distillers Kirsty Black and Christian Perez-Solar. Picture: Arbikie

"Whatever we’ve produced over the years, from potatoes to vodka, our values of sustainability, innovation and quality have been the foundation, and our Highland Rye Whisky embodies everything our family has been doing since we started farming 400 years ago.”

The copper pot distilled Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky has been matured in first-fill charred American Oak casks and finished in Pedro Ximénez casks with no colouring and no chill filtration.

In a case of Multiple Discovery, several other distilleries had also been looking into producing a rye spirit, with Bruichladdich on Islay and InchDairnie in Fife having also laid down casks of the unconventional grain spirit however, Arbikie are the first in the industry to release an actual whisky.

Arbikie master distiller, Kirsty Black added: “We’ve been working on our Highland Rye for years and it has posed some challenges from a growing and distillation point of view. The flavour profile is orange marmalade, cloves and maple syrup. The main differences between our Highland Rye and American Rye is that traditionally American Rye uses corn in their mash bill, and usually malted rye.

"At Arbikie we have used unmalted rye, malted barley and wheat. The ageing process is also significantly different due to temperatures in the US and Scotland respectively.”

Priced at £250 (for a 70cl Bottle) and with only 998 bottles available globally, there is set to be high demand for the new whisky with premium retailers such as Harrods stocking the exciting new product.

The Rye whisky has already received positive reviews from experts in the Scotch whisky industry with author and whisky consultant Blair Bowman stating: "It's incredibly exciting to see a return to Scottish Rye Whisky. I know that the new Arbikie Rye is going to wow Scotch and Rye drinkers around the world.

"Arbikie's 'field-to-bottle' methods are truly innovative and I commend their dedication to provenance and tractability."

• READ MORE: Arbikie bottles first batch of Scottish Rye spirit to be sold in aid of charity


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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