But while their thinking may be new, they have a wealth of experience behind them. Firkin was founded by industry legend Mike Collings. Mike was very much the ‘magician behind the scenes’ during his time in the industry. But while you may not yet recognise the name Mike Collings, you’ll certainly recognise his work. Diageo’s Classic Malts and the Distillers Editions? Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar? Johnnie Walker Green Label and Blue Label? Yep, they’re all Mike’s handiwork.
The Firkin Whisky Co is built on everything Mike learnt during his 40 year career. And, it’s inspired by all the things he wanted to do. Far more than indie bottler, Firkin creates awesome whiskies using only the finest ingredients. First, they choose original spirits. Second, they invest heavily in the wood. And third, they select the perfect fortified wines. Let’s take a look at their process in more detail.
To this double-oak cask, Mike will add a fortified wine. He’ll choose a wine that either compliments or contrasts the whisky he’d selected previously. This conscious pairing is so important, he calls these ‘soulmate wines’, and it’s an approach Mike pioneered with the Distiller’s Editions. By ‘seasoning’ the double-oak cask with a soulmate wine, layers of extra flavour soak into the wood. Once seasoned, the wine is emptied and the whisky added. The cask is then stored away in the dark recess of a warehouse in Scotland, until its ready. And Mike is in no rush. If that’s six months, fine. If that’s a couple of years, fine. The only thing that matters is flavour.
Having tasted it regularly throughout maturation, once the whisky is ready, it’s bottled. All Firkin’s whiskies are bottled at their signature strength of 48.9%. Why 48.9% you may ask? Good question. When discussing the founding of Firkin, Mike was sitting in a whisky bar in Japan with a certain Robin Tucek of Blackadder Whisky. They debated bottling strength, one arguing for 48%, the other for 49%. And the solution to the debate? You guessed it, 48.9%. Firkin bottles their whiskies natural colour and without chill filtration for full flavour.
The Firkin Whisky Co has four key styles. Something to delight every palate. And something new, for everyone to explore. The Firkin Four are:
- Firkin Ten – rich, full and delectable. These whiskies are Mike’s picks of the classic 10 year age statements. They deliver a rich, full flavour. Madeira is the ‘go to’ soulmate wine for Firkin Ten. It delivers all those juicy, intense, dried fruit flavours.
- Firkin 49 – soft, nutty and moreish. The founder’s favourite dram. It started out with Tullibardine, founded in 1949 the same year Mike was born. Now, it’s a selection of softly spoken gentle drams to relax with.
- Firkin Rare – a smorgasbord of flavour. These are rare and unusual casks, something pretty special. There’s a variety of unique spirits and soulmate wines which deliver a cacophony of flavour.
- Firkin Islay – peat and smoke fest. These are a peat lover’s delight, but Mike has put his own spin on the classic Islay. Special soulmate wine pairings create layers of peat smoke and fruit sweetness.