My Visit to the Lowland Bond

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

A couple of months ago

an article on this blog – Experiencing Whisky Investment: Lowland Bond Facility Visit – looked at a significant step taken by Whisky 1901.

This saw the company secure warehouse facilities to store and mature all casks held in its portfolio. The process of moving all these casks from all four corners of Scotland is now well underway and will help to add further peace of mind to investors.

My visit to the bond

Recently, I was invited by Aaron and the team to visit the Lowland Bond and see the facility first hand. What Whisky 1901 offers is certainly not the norm for a cask investment company. Often casks are spread around several locations and remain inaccessible to those that own them.

Aaron’s previous article talked about the many benefits for Whisky 1901’s investors. Here, I will share share some further information about the warehouse and a few personal thoughts.

The location

The Lowland Bond is in the town of Glenrothes in Fife, less than one hour’s drive from Edinburgh. It is operated by Edinburgh Whisky, an Edinburgh-based independent bottler that has now expanded to include whisky cask management. The building inherited was formerly used to manufacture and repair components for oil rigs. It is a huge space.

The warehouse has the capacity to hold 20,000 casks. It is currently home to just over 7,000, some of which belong to Whisky 1901 investors. The facility holds casks containing new make spirit and aged whisky for several local distilleries, plus other cask investment companies and whisky brokers. There is also a state-of-the-art security and fireproofing system.

The racking system at the Lowland Bond is impressive. It reaches up to the ceiling in the vast warehouse and claims to be the tallest in the world at 14 racks high. This beats anything in America (10-12 racks in Kentucky) and Scotland – the tallest is at Macallan with 11 racks. The system allows easy location, access, and management of all casks.

Cask management

When casks arrive at the facility, they undergo a rigorous cask health check. This includes assessment of the staves and heads, plus manual gauging of the spirit fill level and alcohol strength. Everything is recorded and a barcode holding all information is generated. This data will eventually go onto a new Whisky 1901 portal, which is in development and will be available to cask owners.

Gauging figures are also manually chalked onto each cask for reference. The initial log-in procedure is backed up by weekly checks that look for any leakage, damage, or other irregularities. Fill levels and alcohol strength are also regularly checked. Especially if either level drops below a certain point. The angels’ share (the evaporation of the spirit from the cask) at the site averages 1-2% per year. ABV strength averages a 0.8% drop annually.

Peace of mind

Everything at the Lowland Bond is overseen by James Zorab, the Site Operations Manager and guide on the day of my visit. Aaron and I were joined by a Whisky 1901 client who owns several casks. These had been in the warehouse and extracted for us. Then the client was given the opportunity to open, smell and draw a sample from each cask, before we headed to the lab upstairs for an impromptu tasting.

It cannot be stressed enough what a unique offering this is for a cask investor. Even in my work I do not get the opportunity to access casks like this. Let alone smell and taste the contents.

The Lowland Bond seems an excellent and well-run facility that should give peace of mind to any cask owner. If you get the opportunity to visit your cask, make sure you take it.


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