Nc'nean 'Young' recipe spirit

What makes the ‘young’ recipe spirit so good for short ageing?

Great question! Young recipe is the main output of Nc’nean. It’s 80% of annual production and it’s the recipe our distillery was designed around. Everything is in place to maximise complexity and spirit quality straight off the still.

The main elements are:
1 - Hyper clear wort. We recirculate our wort back over it’s husks until it’s as clear as possible. That clarity gives our yeast an ideal base to develop both a wider range, and more total, secondary metabolites (esters, aldehydes, etc… delicious stuff basically).
2 - Yeast blend. We use two yeast strains in every run. One high yield yeast with traditional Scotch flavours, and another yeast usually associated with wine, which really boosts the variety of flavours produced.
3 - Long fermentation. We give our yeast time to work. 5 runs a week, 3 at 114 hours and 2 at 65 hours, all blended together into a single weekly run. Longer runs create more complexity.
4 - Clean distillation. There’s loads of things here that make all the difference. Tiny stills, lots of copper contact, tight cut points, incredible distillers… Put simply, the team do a really good job.
5 - Great casks. We work with the best cask suppliers to get the best quality casks. Simple.

On top of all this, we only use organic Scottish barley at Nc’nean. The main benefits of this are of course for Scottish agriculture and wildlife, promoting better farming practise and biodiversity in Scotland, but we also feel there’s a positive impact on our whisky. Organic barley produces natural yields that pack more nutrients into each grain, which allows for more development in fermentation, producing more interesting flavours and textures. We’ve never run non-organic barley through our set up, so we don’t have any comparative samples to definitively prove this, but I certainly believe being organic helps us make better whisky.


Thanks Matt.
Its great to learn a bit about how Nc’nean achieve their amazing results. Im a big believer in long fermentations and non-distiller yeasts.
What’s the other 20% of production? Why would you make anything else?

Definitely. Whilst it obviously has a big effect, good whisky is so much more than the quality of the wood you age it in, so it’s great more and more distilleries are starting to pay attention to all the other variables.

As for the other 20% of production, we split this two ways. 10% is “old” recipe, which is a single yeast, long fermentation recipe that we normally run in the summer. It’s designed for longer term maturation and there’s no formal plan for it yet, we’re just going to wait and see how it tastes, probably in around 10 years time.

The other 10% is the experimental side of our distillery. We use these runs for yeast trials and other experiments. This normally takes the form of a three yeast blend using something unique. We’ve trialed yeasts designed for rum, Champagne, Chardonnay amongst a few others. We’ve also run partnership experiments with other alcohol producers that are looking really promising, all really exciting stuff.

This all feeds back into the purpose of Nc’nean. We want Scotch whisky to continue to thrive as a category, and that’s only going to happen if; one - the industry becomes more sustainable (hence our biomass boiler, zero waste distillery, fully organic spirits, recycled bottles, a million other things we do…) and two - if we can draw a wider audience of people into whisky, which we hope both our liquid and our innovative attitude can help to do.


All super admirable!!

Loving everything about Nc’Nean so far.

Only thing I’ve not done is tasted the liquid.

Cant wait.

Thanks man! I’m going to be in your neck of the woods in the next couple of weeks (assuming you haven’t moved), so I’ll endeavour to change that for you!

Music to my ears. Love a good dram swap

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Hey Matt, can I share this great explanation on social media?

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Of course Danny, the more eyes and ears, the better!