FOR generations of whisky connoisseurs the “manager’s dram” – the prime cask picked annually by a distillery boss – has been top of their Hogmanay shopping list.
But, in a major break with tradition, a Banffshire-based distillery has thrown open the doors of its warehouse to allow a senior member of the production staff to pick her favourite dram to be sold on the festive market – at £290 a bottle.
A new single cask bottling, chosen by production manager Mhairi McDonald, is being released by Glenglassaugh Distillery in Portsoy as part of an innovative scheme in which members of staff receive the keys to the warehouse to search out their favourite dram.
The first in the series of whiskies, chosen by members of the distillery staff, was released in November 2011 and was the choice of account manager Ronnie Routledge.
Ms McDonald, 26, has been working since last year at the distillery where a quarter of the workforce are women. She is the first female from the workforce to be chosen for the honour.
She said: “When choosing the cask, I didn’t start out with anything particular in mind. I just wanted to find something a little different to the Glenglassaughs we had bottled before, and something which suited my own personal tastes.
“The first step was to take a look at our stock list to keep an eye out for some of the most unusual casks that we had in the warehouse. I picked a few out, took some samples from the casks and then, much to the envy of everyone else in the team, sat down to nose and taste them.
“I eventually chose the barrel from 1978. This expression of Glenglassaugh really lets the complex fruity flavours shine through; it reminds me of cinnamon apple crumble. It is fresh and fruity, but with a comforting spicy sweetness.
“The Chosen Few range is special in that it enables each member of staff to choose a cask of Glenglassaugh which not only expresses Glenglassaugh’s style, but their own as well. We are all different and so each bottling will allow us to show a different side of Glenglassaugh.”
A distillery spokeswoman said: “Mhairi is the latest member of the team to reach into the darkest depths of the warehouses to select her best-loved expression of Glenglassaugh, and has opted for a fine example of single malt aged in a bourbon barrel.
“The bottling is part of the distillery’s Chosen Few range. The first in the series was released last year. This latest expression is a 33-year-old Highland single malt bottled at cask strength, and only 275 bottles of Mhairi McDonald’s Chosen Few have been made available for release.