Lindores Abbey, the latest scotch whisky distillery in the Fife countryside, has released a limited-edition expression of its Aqua Vitae (AV) to celebrate the inaugural Lindores Abbey Chess Stars Tournament.
Held over the bank holiday weekend, the match remarkably featured four of the biggest stars in the world of chess: Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin and Ding Loren. The Norwegian world number one, Carlsen, was the overall winner.
‘This is the equivalent of having a five-a-side team with Pele, Messi, Ronaldo and the like,’ says distillery owner Drew McKenzie-Smith about the tournament line-up.
Unlike other aspirational whisky producers Lindores has opted against the well-trodden gin-whilst-we-wait route, and, in the spirit of the site, released an aqua vitae. The brand reflects the first written reference to aqua vitae in Scotland, which mentions a monarch purchasing aqua vitae from Lindores Abbey in 1494.
The regular AV release macerates dates and raisins, with herbs and spices in the spirit, including sweet cicely which has been grown on the grounds. This recipe has been adapted from an ancient recipe used by the monks.
The Chess Stars release, however, undergoes a further process, being aged in Thiron wine casks in homage to the Thiron monks who founded the abbey back in 1191.
Designed to be enjoyed neat or over ice, the 40% abv spirit retains some natural sweetness from the maceration of dates and raisins, brought to prominence by the wine cask influence, and holds a strong herbal edge not unlike Chartreuse.
Brand ambassador Murray Stephenson says, ‘Both spirits are very unique and hold up well as a neat serve. I often feel simple is best and a dry ginger makes for a stunning highball, pairing well with the spice notes in the spirit.'
Stephenson believes consumers are turning towards the savoury appeal of the malt spirit, and rightly sees cocktails as the route to education.
‘For the limited-release Chess Stars blend, my suggested serve would be 25ml Thabill, 25ml white port, stirred down with ice, again served over plenty of ice but this time topped with a good quality tonic water. Garnish with a sprig of burnt rosemary and you have another stunning and refreshing way to enjoy a botanical malt spirit drink.’
Available only from the distillery or on their website, the run is limited to 500 bottles.
Currently, the distillery has spirit in a huge variety of casks, including STR, ASB and ex-sherry butts. The oldest is approaching 18 months with no plans as yet to release a young whisky.