Tennent Caledonian - Aged With Whisky Oak
Tennent Caledonian Whisky Oak Aged Beer is a truly “Golden” heritage commemorated at Wellpark, Scotland’s oldest Brewery.
2014 was a grand year of history, culture and sport across Scotland, welcoming international visitors to The Year of Homecoming, Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
A pertinent year indeed then for Tennent’s to launch their new Premium Beer, reflecting a history of brewing of over 450 years, “blending the past with the present to create the future”.
“Tennent’s Beer Aged with Whisky Oak” has been carefully crafted to combine their age-old expertise of traditional ales with the woody warmth of Scotland’s national drink, “uisge beatha,” the water of life.
To find out more about the origins of the Tennent Caledonian brewery and its legacy today, we recommend a visit to the ancestral home of the company -Wellpark Brewery, Duke Street, Glasgow. Taking a guided tour is the best way to learn everything you need to know about the production of beer from mashing and malting to canning and bottling.
At the Visitor Centre a timeline and vintage ephemera traces the history of the brewery through the centuries – old photographs of workers, transport and trucks, an original stone bottle from 1900, and colourful advertisements.
It’s an inspiring story, highlighting the entrepreneurial vision and pioneering spirit of this famous family of master brewers.
The original brewery was founded in 1556 by Robert Tennent, a farmer and professional Maltman. The family continued brewing beer, generation after generation until Hugh and Robert Tennent developed the business into a commercial industry.
H&R Tennent’s beer received “Royal” approval from Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army when they visited the brewery where “each and every man was refreshed and heartened by the brew,” after their long march from the Highlands.
Over the next fifty years, now managed by Hugh’s sons, John and Robert, the brewery expanded in size and renamed Wellpark.
By the late 18th century, a cargo of strong ale was exported to America, especially to quench the thirst of expatriot Scots.
The brewery would soon develop to be the single largest exporter of beer in the world, with over one hundred markets including India, Singapore and South Africa. Robert’s son, Hugh was an astute businessman with a modern understanding of brand marketing - Tennent’s Red T logo became a registered trademark as long ago as 1876.
On a visit to Bavaria, Hugh was introduced to its typical light, sparkling beer and he immediately decided to produce a unique German-style lager at Wellpark. This ambitious plan was described in the local press as “a madman’s dream” at a time when heavy, dark ale was the popular choice of beer in Scotland.
After patenting the “stopped bottle,” Tennent’s lager was first produced in 1885, soon acclaimed worldwide winning the ‘Highest Possible and Only Award of Honour, Chicago’.
Not only was Tennent’s the first in the UK to brew lager, the company also pioneered the design of the beer can in 1935. Modern innovation matched by traditional brewing technique has always been at the heart of global success.
Wellpark today is a high production site for brewing, kegging, bottling, canning, packaging, warehousing and distribution. As well as Tennents Whisky Oak aged Beer the Brewery produced the renowned Tennent’s Lager, Caledonia Best, Tennent’s Original Export and a light lager with a refreshing lemon taste.
The Brewery tour goes inside the purpose built, £4 million bottling plant, which was opened by Alex Salmon, Scotland's First Minister, in March 2012.
To observe the final stages of the beer production at close hand is like graceful choreography in motion– (the machinery is noisy but ear plugs are supplied). In this vast space - the size of an aircraft hangar - the bottles are transported at high speed along miles of conveyer belts, racks and rails through the filling, washing, labelling and packaging process for both UK and export markets.
There’s a rotating schedule of production four the different beers throughout the week where, at capacity, it can reach 80,000 bottles an hour!.
It is here that you will see the new “Tennent’s Beer Aged with Whisky Oak, ” rolling off the bottling line. Aimed at the mature drinker, it’s an iconic blend of traditional beer with the smoky essence of whisky for a true Scottish brand identity.
Beer with a whisky dram “chaser” is a traditional Scottish tipple, as Compton MacKenzie (author of Whisky Galore) concurs: "Beer does not taste like itself unless it is chasing a dram of neat whisky down the gullet, preferably two drams."
This inventive Whisky beer has been created by a small experienced team under Head Brewer Keith Lugton, who has worked at Wellpark since 1977. The secret recipe is a blend of traditional Bavarian yeast, Scottish malted barley, four distinctive hop varieties from Bavaria, Slovenia and North America, (Tettnang, Aurora, Zeus and Summit) which add aroma, flavour and bitterness. Another essential ingredient is the clear fresh water drawn from Loch Katrine.
The fermentation process takes a minimum of three weeks while the beer is slowly aged and matured over single malt Whisky-infused oak chips.
The result is a golden honey colour, not unlike whisky itself. The aroma is quite fruity from both the hops and malt whisky. And then the taste, richly flavoured, smooth and smoky with the sweetness of vanilla and just a soft hint of Scotch malt whisky.
The bespoke black and gold label with a small iconic T logo reflects a contemporary yet classic brand.
An attractive tulip-shaped glass has been specially designed to enjoy this whisky beer – swirl the amber liquid, nose the scent and sip slowly to appreciate the complex smoky, oaky flavour and lingering after taste.
Paul Condron, Tennent's Marketing Director, commented:
"Tennent's Beer Aged with Whisky Oak has been an exciting project for us all at the Wellpark brewery. Tennent's may be synonymous with lager, but historically, the most successful ale brewer in Scotland. As the oldest and largest brewery in Scotland we feel we are in a great position to combine our beer heritage with the nation's other favourite drink, whisky. Reaction to the beer has been extremely positive both at home and in international markets".
A beer drinker’s review of “Tennent’s Beer Aged with Whisky Oak”
"Fills the glass with amber color and a small white head. The aroma is combination of malts, it's woody, grassy with just a pinch of that whisky flavour. The taste starts nicely with a very moderate bitterness. The body is balanced and finishes with a minimal amount of sweetness. Very nice, enjoyable and smooth. Could have a couple more!"
- Marko, The Beer Advocate, March 2014.
In Scotland this speciality whisky beer will be available exclusively at a selection of luxury Scottish hotels within the Connoisseurs Scotland collection, including the Torridon, Inverlochy Castle and Gleneagles. Also at the 5 star visitor attraction The Royal Yacht Britannia and through The Whisky Shop. www.thewhiskyshop.com
The list of international distributors for the export market already includes Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
Tennent's Training Academy
During 19th century the Scots-American steel baron Andrew Carnegie used his wealth to fund libraries and art galleries. Meanwhile, in Glasgow, Hugh Tennent as a wealthy industrialist was a generous benefactor for local churches and schools.
During 21st century Tennent’s continues the educational work, investing £1 million in 2010 to establish a Training Academy at Wellpark. With spacious, fully fitted kitchens and state of the art teaching facilities, it is aimed at students in the hotel, bar, restaurant and catering trade.
Courses cover cookery, wine & spirits, bar and management skills with hands on training, practical experience. The Cook School also offers leisure classes from Spanish tapas and Italian cuisine, cocktails and whisky tasting.
The Academy is an important new venture, putting investment back into the industry, to ensure the training of the next generation of Hospitality professionals.
The legacy of the Tennent family's sense of tradition and pioneering spirit continues, as they say, "Blending the past with the present to create the future".
Facts and further information:
Tennent’s Visitor Centre:
Wellpark Brewery, 161 Duke Street, Glasgow. Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9-5pm.
Tennent’s Tours: www.tennentstours.com
Bookable in advance. Mon-Fri, 2pm. Thur, 6pm. (Private Group bookings also available).
Tennent’s Training Academy: www.tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk