Distiller is going against the grain

Fife producer reintroduces rye to Scotch whisky

InchDairnie Distillery’s managing director Ian Palmer is behind the new release

A FIFE distillery has become what’s understood to be the first in more than a century to use rye in the production of Scotch whisky.

InchDairnie Distillery in Glenrothes, which opened in May 2016, began production of its first release, Ryelaw, last month.

The ‘rye whisky’ combines elements of both Scotch whisky and American rye whiskey, and is made using a high proportion of malted rye – the main ingredient in rye whiskey – along with malted barley used in Scotch. The spirit is currently maturing in new American oak casks until it is “judged to be ready for bottling”; InchDairnie said Ryelaw will officially be categorised as a single grain Scotch whisky.

The creation of Ryelaw marks what is thought to be the return of the use of rye in Scotch whisky for the first time in over 100 years. The new whisky was inspired by InchDairnie managing director Ian Palmer’s discovery in the 1908/1909 Royal Commission Report on Whisky and other Potable Spirits that rye was commonly used to make Scotch over a century ago.

Palmer said there are plans to produce a range of whiskies at the distillery, as well as an InchDairnie single malt Scotch whisky, which is expected to be available in 2029.

“Our intention with the distillery right from the start was to push the boundaries of flavour in whisky using a combination of our experience and new technology while remaining true to whisky’s traditions,” he said.

“Creating this ‘rye whisky’ is one of many experimental ideas we had in mind when we built the distillery and one of the reasons we chose to install specific equipment that others do not have, such as the mash filter and Lomond Hill still.

“We’ve spent a year researching and developing this and now we’re incredibly excited to be starting distilling. Rye whisky aficionados and malt whisky lovers will have to wait a good few years before we are ready to bottle it though!”