Whiskies Named After Prime Ministers

The Gladstone Axe Whiskies

Online retailer Caskshare has released another small batch of whisky to mark Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister.  It is called “THE BIG LIE”.

It’s described as “A Dishonestly Blended Scotch Whisky”. And allegedly approved by Larry the Downing Street cat.

The £55 whisky is from an unknown location, aged for an unknown amount of time, mirroring the ambiguity of Boris’s time in office. Says its makers:

“Playing with the idea that certain parts of the whisky industry can also be shrouded in mystery, the brand has decided to celebrate the unknown of both worlds; whisky and politics, in this limited edition release.”

It is perfect for the Cabinet. But it’s not the first whisky to be named after a Prime Minister.

Gladstone Axe Malt Whiskies are blends of 14 single malts created in honour of William Gladstone, four-time Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria by Elwyn Gladstone, his great great-great grandson and owner of Biggar & Leith.

Gladstone liked to fell trees as relaxation and kept his axe collection in the Temple of Peace at his home in Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, Wales.

The Gladstone Axe American Oak is an easy blend of single malt whiskies aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels. Elwyn, whose whiskies will be available for tasting at the forthcoming Croydon Whisky Festival, says:

“The Black Axe is a mixable blend of single malt whiskies with just a hint of smoke from Islay malt.

“There’s been a huge growth in smaller UK whisky festivals over the past few years. From Kendal to St. Albans (Summerton Club) as well as the Midlands and the Indy Whisky Love Fest!  We’re definitely part of that movement.”

Sydenham’s Richard Foster is the organiser of the 2nd Croydon Whisky Festival, being held on April 1st at Stanley Arts. This year, Croydon is the London Borough of Culture.

“Croydon Whisky Festival is one of the most progressive, diverse and accessible events in the UK whisky calendar.”

Foster, who also organises the annual English Whisky Festival in Birmingham, says:

“I grew up in Croydon. It always gets such a bad rap, but it’s a melting pot of cultures and a hugely entrepreneurial borough when you scratch the surface. I wanted to prove that anything, even a whisky festival, could be a success in Croydon.”

After working in television production (Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railway Journeys) and corporate videos (Rolls Royce and Next), Foster landed a job at the in-house agency for Diageo, working with brands like Talisker and Johnnie Walker.

“We’d often distribute the remains of bottles after photo shoots and it was here that I rapidly got to taste lots of the Diageo brand whiskies, including some older and more expensive expressions I wouldn’t have been able to afford at the time.

“Every year great new whiskies come out in the UK and not just Scotland. And they need to be showcased. Just like English wine. English whisky is rapidly earning a reputation for excellence.”

He started running whisky tastings for fun at Ignition Brewery, a social enterprise in South London employing people with learning disabilities to brew and serve great beer. In 2021 he set up Exploring English Whisky, a membership group bringing people closer to English Whisky products.

“One of the most exciting areas of this part of the business is our growing collection of casks which members can purchase shares in via Still in Cask.

“Everything else we do is local to South London, The nearest whisky distilleries are Bimber (Acton), East London (Tower Hamlets) and Copper Rivet (Chatham).”

At the Croydon bash, £40 (£35 early bird) secures a free tasting glass and a sample of every single there. There will be whisky cocktail masterclasses with Glassmates, blending demos with Compass Box and tastings with whisky royalty, Ian Wisnieski.

Forty international brands will be present. The UK is represented by Penderyn (Wales), The Spirit of Birmingham, Shropshire’s Henstone Distillery, The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD). White Peak in Derbyshire and GlenWyvis in Upper Dochcarty, Dingwall.

Please visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk for tickets to the Croydon Whisky Festival 2023.

Author Bio:

Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.

Photographs courtesy of Gladstone Axe Whisky and Caskshare

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