Feisty UK distiller ramps up products

The United Kingdom is famous for its whisky. Well, part of the UK, anyway.

While Scotland has the edge with more than 100 operating distilleries, Wales has one -- Pendryn -- as does England. At least it's a start.

The market soon will see the debut of the latest product from England's first and only registered whisky distilling company. Good news for high-end whisky buyers, who have been greeting the company's initial offerings with praise.

The English Whisky Company (EWC), created four years ago by farmer James Nelstrop in Norfolk, in December released its initial expression. That was a three-year-old single malt called Chapter 6, produced at its St. George's Distillery. Its second product, called Chapter 8, was sold out pre-release.

Now, in June the EWC will began distribution of 4,000 bottles of a peated three-year-old malt called Chapter 9.

"The EWC's peated whisky is way up there and is of an exceptionally high quality," Jim Murray, international whisky critic and author of the "Whisky Bible" told the Reuters news service. Murray estimates he samples about 1,000 whiskies a year.

"A number of Scottish distilleries just don't achieve that," he said. "Partly, that is because EWC is a small company and they ensure what they are producing is of high quality and every cask counts. They are on the path to gold."

About 10,000 people are employed in Scotland's whisky industry. The NWC has 10 part-timers. Nelstrop's son Andrew is the managing director. (My favorite title at the NWC is held by Barbara Nelstrop, who is called "peacekeeper/buyer.")

The EWC expects to ship up to 50,000 bottles this year, thanks to a distribution deal with Gordon & Macphail. It also sells its products in a number of European countries.

The Nelstrop family relied on Iain Henderson, who worked for the Laphroaig distillery, for advice, while the EWC's distillery was built by Scottish firm Forsyths, regarded as perhaps the best in the nation. The distillery boasts England's largest freshwater source, the Breckland Aquifer, to produce the EWC's whisky.

Purchasing information is available on the NWC's website.

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