The launch of Finn Thomson Whisky

PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own. 

Finn Thomson Whisky

Finn Thomson has been a bit of a mystery up until this launch. When I arrived in sunny Perthshire I was surprised to meet the whole Thomson family who were clearly excited to finally share their stories and whiskies with other people. During our visit we got to hear more about past generations of Thomsons and their connection to the Perthshire area and the whisky industry. Turns out the family have been sitting on some quite incredible casks and have now decided to enter the whisky world to present their private whisky collection to the world. And Finn is now their Master Bottler.

On our first stop we walked to an open forest clearing by the Grandtully Loch where a bonfire and barrels with glasses and bottles were waiting. First up was a tasting of a 9 year old Blair Athol which had a lovely wood meets chocolate tone and paired wonderfully with Cadbury Fruit & Nut. Rumours say that the loch also holds old whisky stills that previous distillers had to get rid of. Wouldn’t it be incredible if they were found?

Our next location was a little grove by a grassy field nearby to where the Grandtully Distillery one would have been in action. Whereas the Blair Athol would’ve been a part of The Core Collection, this next whisky – a 34 year old North British grain whisky – belong to The Rare Collection which consists of whiskies aged for at least 30 years. This lovely whisky was probably my personal favourite of the ones we tried and had a lovely sweet and fresh toffee popcorn character! The third and final category of Finn Thomson Whiskies is The Crown Collection and I’ll speak more about one of these whiskies a little bit further below…

After a lovely lunch at Ballintaggart Farm we returned to Grandtully and went for a short walk across the road to have a look – and have a dram – at Bendarroch House. A 32 year old Auchentoshan with grassy and malty notes that mixed with a hint of banana was waiting and we got to hear more about the 19th century Thomsons. I’d highly recommend having a look at the Finn Thomson Whisky website if you, like me, have a fascination for history as the story of the nine generations is quite captivating.

The whole day had been organised in various “Chapters” which was a clever way of highlighting the previous generations of Thomsons, locations and whiskies to tell their story.

The Beneagles Blended Whisky

Back at The Grandtully Hotel we got to meet Michael Thomson, Finn’s grandfather and hear more about him as well as he joined the family business after previous generations had become grocers and then blenders, as so many did back in the day during the 1900’s and also earlier in Scotland. He told us more about the Beneagles blend which Peter Thomson had named his house blend in 1922, just two years before the renowned Gleneagles opened. The blend featured a high proportion of Macallan in its day after good relationships between the Thomsons and the distillery and we were lucky enough to get to try a dram from the few bottles that had been kept since 1984. Hopefully there will be future releases of Beneagles, however it’s likely to not feature as big proportions of Macallan as the older ones considering their new status as a single malt in the world. I must say I really enjoyed this fruity blend, which didn’t have much bottle funk at all and I loved seeing the branding and old label as well.

They had also set up a little collection of whisky memorabilia which ave now become collectors items and I was amazed to see and hear more about Michael’s involvement with the Beneagles Thistle and the Rose chess set which I’ve spoken about on my tours back when I worked at The Scotch Whisky Experience. These chess pieces could be collected when flying first class with Air Canada (if I remember correctly), only one piece per flight and the pieces are Scotland vs England featuring characters like Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce and Queen Elizabeth I. And yes, they contained whisky!

The 50 Year Old Glenlivet

Before dinner we headed along to a little farm that was very non-conspicuous on first approach. We headed through part of the sheep’s pen to a partly overgrown graveyard that was hidden in the back. Here we saw the gravestones of some of the earlier generations of Thomson which really highlighted what a connection the family have to this area. Just by the graveyard there was also a little white painted stone shed, which was revealed to be St Mary’s Highland Church once we stepped inside and saw this incredible 16th century building which features one of the older ceiling paintings in Britain, dating back to 1630’s. I definitely felt quite emotional standing inside and admiring the surroundings, knowing so many would’ve stood here before me.

But the ceiling wasn’t even the star of the show as we had all gathered for a ceremony that would be the start of Finn Thomson Whisky. After some lovely speeches, name signings and a quiach toast to future success with the help of this 50 year old Glenlivet from the 1970’s matured in first fill sherry hogsheads. It had some fascinating note of eucalyptus and leather and just look at that colour. I’m always amazed when a whisky this old isn’t overly woody and still has a freshness about it.

The Grandtully Hotel & Ballintaggart

During this trip we had an overnight stay at the Grandtully Hotel – you can find my review of the hotel here – where we also had dinner and breakfast. Our lunch was enjoyed at the Ballintaggart Farm, the sister venue of The Grandtully which had a lovely view over the valley.

The dinner was a cleverly put together menu inspired by the Thomson family and future Scottish cuisine in a contemporary way which was also paired with whiskies such as an 2009 Red Wine Finish Inchgower, a 1987 Dufftown, a 2008 Pedro Ximinez Mannochmore and a wonderful 2006 Caol Ila. Ballintaggart and The Grandtully Hotel certainly know how to put flavours together in an innovative and delicious way.

Rafting on The River Tay

After breakfast the following day we also had the opportunity to go rafting on the River Tay!

We met up with Steve from Free Spirits who got us our wetsuits, life vests and helmets before we jumped in to the Landrover and headed up to Aberfeldy where we all got on the raft. This part of the Tay was pretty calm and there were only a few white water bits so it would definitely suit families as well. Steve was very knowledgable and entertaining throughout the experience and showed us a few of his tricks and games (which got more than half our party ending up in the water!) and before we hit the rockier bits of the river we all got the chance to go for a dip as well and the water was surprisingly comfortable.

✦ Want to read more about distillery visits?

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Check out my Instagram @swedishwhiskygirl or @scandinavianabroad to see even more photos and follow along on future adventures.

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Moa Nilsson

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