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If you are an avid reader and a lover of whisky, or simply one of the above, then you may have come across Distilled, a book that uncovers some of the world’s best artisan spirits.

Distilled takes you on a journey through different drinks and different places, giving insight and expertise every step of the way.

And now its authors, Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley, have taken their expansive knowledge and decided to turn it into their own distilling business.

This all started in 2010 with the launch of Harrison and Ridley’s Caskstrength Creative, a company that aims to launch some unusual and lesser known drams into the world.

Starting with their A-Z series, they went through the alphabet in releases of little known and interesting drams.  To do this they trawled their way across Scotland in the hopes of finding something special.

One of the most interesting releases from Caskstrength Creative was perhaps their collaboration with Diageo for the letter D.  This blend was a mix of drams from Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie and Dufftown and included a label that had a QR code for a 3D printable container and 3D glasses.

This release was truly innovative, combining the old and the new and creating something great.

In their latest piece of the project, Harrison and Ridley have once again scoured the hills of Scotland in search of truly unique drams.

Their new company, Exile Casks, seeks to discover casks that have simply been forgotten about.  Not because they aren’t but because they have simply been overlooked, or have been set-aside for customers or blends that aren’t around any more.

These are literally “exile” casks that can no longer find a home.  Harrison and Ridley are hoping to give them that home.

In their search for Scotch to fill their bottles, the creators only had one piece of criteria, “The single most important thing is the flavour and quality of the liquid. Simple as that really!”

This gives us a glimpse into the ethos of Exile Casks, which places an emphasis on taste over gimmicks.  Their motto is “Discover. Liberate. Enjoy”, which pretty much sums up the wonderful simplicity of the endeavour.

But how does that measure up in the actual release?  The first bottle to come from Exile Casks is The Trojan, retailing at £65 and only available from

This is a 25 Year Old from Speyside that carries all the typical characteristics of the region, and to great effect.

It opens with a nose full of nuts and dried fruits, with pecans and raisins coming on strong.

These are joined by plums and a rich caramel.  These is a spicy undertone full of ginger and cinnamon that cannot be ignored.

The palate moves on with more dried fruits and plenty of spice.  It is warming and comfortable in terms of mouth feel, full of sherried sweetness.

There is a slightly leathery appeal to the palate that invokes eras gone by and volumes in mahogany libraries.  This fills it with character and refinement.

The finish lingers for a decent length and is warming and fruity with a little dash of caramel.


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