Arbikie launches first rye Scotch in over 100 years

Arbikie Highland Estate, the family-run 'field to bottle' spirits producer, has officially launched a brand of Scottish rye whisky, thought to be the first of its kind for more than 100 years.

Arbikie owners, David, Iain and John Stirling. Picture: Arbikie

The Angus-based distiller has announced the arrival of a limited batch of Highland Rye Single Grain Scotch Whisky, believed to be the only rye whisky produced Scotland in over a century.

Laid down in 2015, the whisky is made from a combination of Arantes rye, Odyssey malted barley and Viscount wheat.

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Arbikie said the spirit “stays true to the family’s farming heritage” as it is produced from crops grown on the family’s Highland estate, allowing it to trace every ingredient used back to the field.

A limited batch of 998 70 centilitre bottles of the rye whisky will be sold in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America through luxury retailers, such as Harrods, with a recommended retail price of £250.

Arbikie announced in December last year that it had ­bottled an experimental batch of pot-distilled Scottish rye, which could not yet be classed as whisky as it had not aged for three years.

The distiller, which launched in 2014 with Scotland’s first potato vodka, produces vodka, gin, rye and whisky on its 2,000-acre estate based near Inverkeilor, north of Arbroath.

Iain Stirling, director of Arbikie Highland Estate, predicted other whisky makers would soon follow suit. He said: “The rising demand internationally for our ‘field to bottle’ products has been on-going.

“Our Highland Rye has caught the imagination of our export partners across the globe due to our provenance as we both grow and distil.

“As a young business we’re delighted to be a catalyst for a new whisky category, Scottish rye whisky, with much older distillers like Bruichladdich and Diageo,and new ones like Inchdairnie and Lone Wolf, we believe, preparing to follow.

“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.”

Whisky consultant Blair Bowman called the return of Scottish Rye Whisky “incredibly exciting”.

He added: “Arbikie’s ‘field-to-bottle’ methods are truly innovative and I commend their dedication to provenance and tractability.”

The family-run firm said it is focused on growing its export business “through innovation and luxury offerings”.

In October, Arbikie announced it had secured distribution deals on a rolling basis in Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Germany, which represented its “first major foray” into the European market.