The Cornish Whiskey Story
Cornwall’s first whiskey in 300 years was born from a handshake between two independent family businesses; St Austell Brewery and Healey’s Cyder Farm which, incidentally, is also Cornwall’s only brandy distillery.
The idea was initially the inspiration of St Austell Brewery’s Head Brewer, Roger Ryman, who has nursed his passion for whiskey since cutting his teeth in the Scottish drinks business several decades ago. It’s a partnership that brings both expertises in brewing and distillation together for the first time in England.
Made with Maris Otter barley grown in southeast Cornwall, and clear, soft spring water. The wash was first mixed at St Austell Brewery’s traditional Victorian brew-house, before being transferred to Healey’s Farm and passed through a double distillation in a unique, traditional copper pot still. At only 1200 litres, it’s the smallest legal still in the country and ensures longer interaction between the spirit and the copper.
The best cut was then collected and filled into high quality American bourbon charred casks where it has gained character and colour as it has rested in the steady, Cornish climate for seven years. The humid peninsula air and mild Cornish climate have provided the optimum maturing conditions to produce a unique whiskey of exceptional quality.
The result is in a quality whiskey, with notes of spice, honey and barley combined with delicate fruits and hints of cocoa and caramel before a late vanilla finish, to make this whiskey “faultless and almost beautiful beyond words” as Jim Murray, leading whisky commentator and author of the best-selling Whisky Bible, described and as “among the best debut bottlings of the last decade”.
So here it is and ready to launch the limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt 7 Year-old Whiskey, and first bottle, signed by the producers, will be auctioned on ebay.co.uk (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/170697841402) in a wooden presentation box in aid of Cornwall Community Foundation and the St Austell Brewery Charitable Trust. The auction finishes at 4.30pm on Monday 26th September.
David Healey, founder of Healey’s Cyder Farm said “In Cornwall we like to take our time in order to get things right. It’s taken 300 years to craft Cornwall’s first premium whiskey, and seven years to age it – and it’s well worth the wait. And we’re really pleased to be able to support local charities through the launch”. James Staughton, St Austell Brewery’s Managing Director and great-great grandson of the Brewery’s founder Walter Hicks added “fine quality spirits have always gone hand-in-hand with good ale and pubs so I was very excited when our Head Brewer Roger and David Healey came up with the plan to create our own unique Cornish whiskey. We are all delighted with the results which help consolidate Cornwall’s position as a leader in the UK drinks sector.”
Limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt Whiskey – cask number 29 – has been bottled unfiltered at cask strength (61.3% ALC.).
Available in 50cl bottles in a wooden presentation box with two glasses exclusively from Healey’s Cyder Farm (01872 573356) and the St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre (01726 66022), priced at £150 (plus delivery charge for UK mainland only) and online at www.healeyscyder.co.uk or www.staustellbreweryshop.co.uk.
Healey’s Cyder Farm
Healey’s Cyder has a strong reputation for producing award-winning cyders, from Healey’s Classic and Reserve to Rattler, which has an enviable loyal following. The Healey family bought the 150-year-old farm in the 1980s and began resurrecting the largely forgotten art of cyder making within Cornwall. Founder David Healey and his team painstakingly planted and tended over 3000 trees, to create what is now one of the largest cyder orchards in Cornwall. Healey’s is also Cornwall’s only distillery, handcrafting superb vintage brandies, in addition to the new whiskey. Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the farm has been recognised as one of the ‘Nation’s Favourite Farm Attractions’ by the English Tourist Board, with over 400,000 visitors per annum. Guided tours take place to see the cyder makers in action and free tastings take place in the shop. Healey’s Cyder is a member of ‘drink-aware’.
St Austell Brewery
The St Austell Brewery Company Limited was founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks, who mortgaged his farm for £1,500 to set up his business in St Austell. This year they celebrate their 160th anniversary – one of the oldest businesses in Cornwall. The company remains in private hands with numerous Walter Hicks’ descendants involved as shareholders, employees and directors. They are one of the longest established of only a few independent family brewers left in the UK and are totally committed to continuing brewing and to retaining their independence. The pub estate began in 1863 when Walter Hicks bought the Seven Stars Inn in St Austell. This pub remains part of their thriving and growing estate which spans Cornwall, the Scilly Isles, Devon and Somerset. Still family owned, today St Austell Brewery is one of Cornwall’s largest private companies with 1,000 employees and 174 pubs. They brew award-winning cask and bottled ales – the best-known real ales include Tribute, Proper Job and Admirals Ale. The Walter Hicks Wine Merchants subsidiary also supplies an expansive range of fine wines to restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars throughout the South West of England.