Who invented whisky? The Scots and Irish have been slugging this one out for centuries. But there’s a case for saying it was actually Londoners. Records show King Harold making a barley-based eau de vie in north London as early as 1060. This would pre-date the first known example of Scottish whisky production by more than 400 years. London’s tradition of whisky distilling has been largely forgotten, but in the first half of the 19th century the capital was home to at least 6 whisky distilleries. Competition from the Scots and a dramatic crash in whisky prices, put nearly all of them out of business (Source : Darren Rook, founder of the London Distillery Company, Evening Standard 19.04.2017).
Now a new generation of craft distillers are on the brink of resurrecting that tradition and there’s a bit of a race on at the moment to be the first to relaese a London whisky, but there’s no rush. The important thing to remember is that making a good whisky takes time (you have to age a whisky for at least 3 years before you can call it that in the EU).
The ELLC (East London Liquor Company) has been working on a rye whisky which will hit the shelves late next year. They also have a single malt in the pipeline, too, as well as a range of more experimental whiskies ageing in everything from red wine barrels to chestnut casks. The wonderful thing is there is no precedent for London whisky that anyone can really remember, so they’ve pretty much got a blank canvas.
At the ELLC you can even brew and distil it yourself so you can rock up, grab yourself an Old Fashioned from the bar, amble downstairs to the warehouse, pull up a chair and spend the evening hanging out with your cask in East London. And you’d better make yourself comfortable, as you’re in it for the long haul… What you’re tasting now is just the start of the story!
East London Liquor Company : Unit GF1, Bow Wharf, Grove Road