FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING NC'NEAN
1. WHERE CAN I BUY NC'NEAN PRODUCTS
Any UK based customers can buy our spirits right here from our website. Our spirits are shipped direct to your door in only cardboard packaging, and shipping takes 3-5 working days. To find out more about our shipping and returns details, click here. You can also find our Whisky and Botanical Spirit at lots of small independent spirits shops throughout the UK, as well as larger stores like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Exchange and Berry Bros and Rudd.
2. CAN I BUY YOUR PRODUCTS FROM OUTSIDE THE UK?
If you are based outside of the UK, you cannot buy our spirits directly from our website, however you can try other spirits websites such as Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange. We are also stocked in plenty of spirits shops and bars across Europe, specifically in Germany, France, The Netherlands and Italy. For Germany, ask at your local retailer or click here to order online. For France, visit your local caviste or contact our importer L’Explorateur du Gout. For Italy, ask at your local retailer or email our distributor, Gemma wine, for direct shipping. For the Netherlands, there are lots of online and bricks and mortar retailers in the Netherlands that stock us (Google can help you find them), but if you cannot find one that suits, please email our distributors (Bresser & Timmer) and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
3. CAN I STOCK YOUR PRODUCTS IN MY BAR/SHOP?
We love being stocked in shops and bars all over the UK, so please get in touch with Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org for any information on trade orders and listings. He will be more than happy to help.
4. CAN I HAVE SOME FREE SAMPLES?
If you have a shop or bar and are looking to stock our whisky or Botanical Spirit, you can request a sample from Matt by emailing email@example.com. Remember to include information about your business and he will be more than happy to help. Unfortunately we don’t offer free samples to those who aren’t looking for a trade account.
5. IF I HAVE ORDERED SOMETHING FROM YOUR WEBSITE, IS IT POSSIBLE TO CHECK ON ITS PROGRESS?
Of course. Orders made on our website are usually shipped within 1-2 business days. Once your order is shipped you will receive a shipping confirmation which will always contain a tracking number. If you ordered a single bottle your order will come on a Royal Mail Tracked 48 Service, if you ordered more than one bottle your order will come on a DPD next day service. Please check your emails to find the tracking info, and if you’re having trouble don’t hesitate to get in touch with Cindy or Sasha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. HOW LONG DOES DELIVERY TAKE FROM YOUR WEBSITE?
Orders placed from our website will usually be with you between 3 and 5 business days. If your order has not arrived after 5 business days, please get in touch at email@example.com and we can help.
7. HOW MUCH IS UK SHIPPING FROM YOUR WEBSITE?
UK shipping for orders under £120 costs £5. Click here to find out why we charge £5 for shipping. Delivery on orders over £120 is free.
8. CAN I RETURN PRODUCTS BOUGHT FROM YOUR WEBSITE?
If for any reason you would like to return a product, you can so within 14 days of delivery. You can find more info on our returns policy by clicking here.
9. IF I AM BUYING YOUR SPIRITS FOR A GIFT, CAN I ADD A GIFT MESSAGE?
Lots of people often buy our spirits for gifts so we have added a handy little gift message tool on our website. Just add your chosen product to your basket, and when the basket pops out you’ll be able to add a gift message in the white box below the products. This message will be printed on the delivery slip in the parcel. Don’t worry, we never include prices of products on the delivery slip.
QUESTIONS ABOUT WHISKY
1. HOW IS WHISKY MADE?
Rules around the world vary, but generally speaking whisky is a grain based distilled spirit. Your chosen grain is used to make a kind of beer (we call it wash in Scotland), which is then boiled in a still. The steam that rises from this boiling liquid is captured and condensed back to liquid and due to “magic” (Read “Raoult’s and Dalton’s laws”) will contain a higher percentage of alcohol. We call this “New Make Spirit,” which we then aged in wood for a while and… boom, whisky.
2. ARE WHISKY AND SCOTCH THE SAME THING?
Like Cheddar is a variety of cheese, or Merlot is a variety of wine, Scotch is a variety of whisky. Whisky is the parent term for grain based spirits aged in wood, and Scotch is a specific kind of whisky that follows some more, fairly strict, rules governing its production - including that it must be made in Scotland.
3. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOURBON AND SCOTCH?
Bourbon is a variety of whisky that must legally be made in the USA.
Scotch is a variety of whisky that must legally be made in Scotland.
Bourbon must be predominantly corn based (at least 51%) and aged in new oak containers (though there’s surprisingly no rules on container size, or how long you “age” for). Generally speaking, Bourbon is sweet and easy going
Scotch can either be made with 100% malted barley (single malt) or with any other grain (grain whisky), with both of these being aged in an oak cask no larger than 700L for a minimum of three years and a day. Scotch tends to be more diverse in flavour and style.
4. WHAT IS SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Delicious. But to go into a little more detail;
-100% malted barley spirit
-Distilled in copper pot stills
-Aged in oak for a minimum of three years and a day
-Made in Scotland (that last one is fairly obvious)
There’s a bunch of other details too, but that loose framework ties all Single Malt Scotch together.
5. WHY IS SINGLE MALT WHISKY MORE EXPENSIVE?
Quality of ingredients, complexity of process, and the resulting deliciousness creating a demand that’s hard to keep up with! Single malt’s range widely in price for a number of factors but the simple fact is, making it is not easy, but most of us would say it’s worth it.
6. CAN MY WHISKY GO OFF?
Not unless you do something really silly with it. If the bottle is un-opened and kept away from too much sunlight, it’ll last for a very long time indeed. Decades, perhaps even centuries. Once opened, it might eventually change subtly over time, but even then we’re talking years and it won’t every truly “go off”. Most of this is dependent on how much. Air space is left in the bottle. A good rule to live by, if you’re down to the last third of a bottle, drink it within a couple of months before cracking open something new.
7. CAN WHISKY BE CORKED?
Technically speaking yes. But in reality, almost definitely not. A “corked” whisky (or any alcohol for that matter), will have an unpleasant, wet cardboard/moldy aroma, due to “cork taint” (and not a broken cork, which whilst annoying, is not going to affect taste or aroma)
Cork taint is mostly down to a pesky little compound called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) which is formed when compounds in the cork come into contact first with chlorine (making TCP), and then with both moisture and a microscopic funghi. This used to be a big problem, specifically for the wine industry, as they used chlorine in both cork manufacture and in the bottle sterilisation process. Plus, TCA is much easier to detect in wine.
However nowadays, chlorine is not widely used at any stage of whisky packaging production, making for formation of TCA a very rare occurrence, and on top of that, you’d need quite a lot to be present in something like whisky, who’s other strong flavours overpower TCA.
8. HOW SHOULD WHISKY BE SERVED?
Whisky can be served any way you want it to be. Many people believe there are strict rules about how whisky should be drunk, but we don’t really adhere to any of them. Though we love drinking whisky neat or mixed, our favourite way (especially for Nc’nean whisky) is to drink it with soda, over ice, with a sprig of fresh mint. We call this a Whisky Six and you can get the recipe here.
9. HOW IS WHISKY AGED?
New Make Spirit (the clear, high ABV spirit that comes off the still) is reduced to casking strength and filled into an empty oak cask. We fill our casks with New Make Spirit at 63.3% ABV and then roll the casks up to our warehouse for maturation. The vast majority of our casks are either 200L ex-Bourbon casks from America, or 230L STR-Red Wine casks from Europe. STR stands for “Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred”, a process that adds a lot of potential complexity to our spirit. This spirit is then aged for a minimum of three years and a day before it’s called whisky, at which point we begin to taste each cask to find out how it’s developing and if it’s ready to be bottled.
10. IS YOUNG WHISKY BAD?
No. Especially if, like Nc’nean, you go out of your way to create great tasting spirit from the off. Every decision we’ve taken in our distillery set up is designed around creating a bright and fruity whisky that tastes great at a younger age. Organic barley, hyper clear wort, unusual yeast blends, tiny pot stills, tight cut points, the very best casks… all of this takes extra effort, but makes a spirit that’s delicious straight off the still (so much so that it inspired the creation of our Botanical Spirit!). So even at three years and a day, we make outstanding whisky, even if we do say so ourselves.
11. WHAT IS PEAT? AND IS ALL WHISKY PEATED?
Peat is a build-up of partially decayed vegetation that you can cut out of the ground and burn as fuel. It’s very pungent, varies in intensity depending on where it was formed and what it’s made up off, and was historically used widely in Scotland as a heat source. That wide use saw it implemented in whisky production when malters started to use it to dry their malted barley. Peat gives off large amounts of rich smoke, and this impregnates the barley with smoky flavours (notably phenols), which then makes its way into the final whisky. This practice was wide spread across distilleries in Scotland, but due to a number of reasons, slowly fell out of favour for many, who moved to barley dried by warm air, losing the smoke and its flavours.
Some, of course, continued using peat, as the flavours imparted by its smoke were fundamental to the taste of their product. This can best be seen on the island of Islay, where the majority of its distilleries still make a “heavily peated” spirit as standard.
Peat smoke has never been an option for Nc’nean, as it goes against our core principal of creating sustainable whisky. Peat bogs are natural carbon sinks, so cutting them up and burning them to add an extra, smoky flavour would not be ideal for either our whisky or our planet.
12. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHISKY AND WHISKEY?
An “e”. The spelling difference is a historically complex issue, and the more you look into it, the more contradictions you’ll find. To put it as simply as possible, in the late 1800’s Irish distillers started adding the “e”, most likely to try and differentiate themselves from their Scottish counterparts. And, likely due to large Irish immigration, America started adding the “e” too. Scotland, for the most part, left out the “e”, and as the quality of Scotch whisky began influencing some (notably Japan) and the remnants of the British Empire influenced everyone else, most countries followed suit.
Either spelling is correct, language is descriptive, not prescriptive.
13. SHOULD I DRINK WHISKY WITH WATER?
It’s your whisky, drink it however you want as long as you enjoy it. If you like a drop of water to help release some of the richer flavour compounds, go for it. If you like a larger splash to ease off the intensity, that’s great too. If you like to pack the glass with lemonade, then go right ahead, I bet that’s delicious. We make whisky to be enjoyed, rules are for boring house parties.
14. IS IT OK TO ADD ICE TO MY WHISKY?
100%. Once again, it’s your whisky, we strongly recommend you drink it however you like it.
15. IS SIGNLE MALT BETTER THAN BLENDED?
Different would be the best way of putting it. Blended Scotch Whisky’s are a combination of different single malts and grain whiskies from across Scotland. Single malt’s are rich, intense and bold, grain whiskies tend to be softer, lighter and easy going. Combining the two normally creates a more approachable, and often very consistent dram.
The vast majority of single malts will also be blends, just blends of different casks from a single distillery. Both blenders of Single Malt and Blended Scotch have the same goal of creating something delicious and balanced from the casks available to them.
QUESTIONS ABOUT WHISKY AND SODA
1. DOES WHISKY AND SODA TASTE NICE?
We think whisky and soda is delicious. It’s a light and refreshing more savoury alternative to a gin and tonic. Drinking soda with whisky is also a lovely low calorie option for an aperitif, and a lovely way to kick off any evening. We suggest two parts whisky, four parts soda, over plenty of ice with a sprig of fresh mint. Click here for our whisky and soda recipe, The Whisky Six.
2. HOW DO YOU MAKE A GOOD WHISKY AND SODA?
Whisky and soda (or a whisky highball) is really easy to make. We suggest pouring two parts whisky and four parts soda over plenty of ice, and garnishing with a sprig of fresh mint. Click here for our whisky and soda recipe, The Whisky Six.
QUESTIONS ABOUT BOTANICAL SPIRIT
1. WHAT IS A BOTANICAL SPIRIT?
Botanical spirits are usually similar to gins, but can’t be called a gin because they don’t align with all the rules. There are three rules surrounding what makes a spirit quality as a gin which you can read about here. Our botanical spirit is similar to a gin, but doesn’t qualify because of the base alcohol we use (our malted barley spirit) before we distil it with botanicals. We do however use some traditional gin botanicals including juniper and coriander, as well as some local Scottish plants to make our Botanical Spirit. You can find out more about how we made it here.
2. HOW SHOULD I DRINK BOTANICAL SPIRIT?
Our Botanical Spirit can be drunk in many ways, but our favourite way with tonic, just like a G&T. We suggest pouring it over plenty of ice, with tonic and a dash of angostura bitters. We also like to add a slice of fresh grapefruit to our signature serve. Find the official recipe here. As well as with tonic, you can use our Botanical Spirit in place of gin in many classic gin cocktails which you can take a look at here.