Craft Beer Clan of Scotland eyes speciality beer market with new JV

19 July, 2016

The Craft Beer Clan of Scotland has kicked off its new brewing venture with craft brewer Williams Brothers of Alloa by launching a series of whisky barrel-aged beers. 

The Craft Beer Clan, whose parent company is Glasgow-based independent wholesaler JW Filshill, has linked up with Williams Brothers to form Clan Brewing Company.

The new company has produced four beers using barrels from four whisky regions: Speyside, Highlands, Lowland and Islay.

The beers have spent nine months maturing in the casks, with each recipe carefully developed to complement the character of the regional whisky casks.

The four beers, all 8% abv and priced at £5 each, include: Spruce Ale, a full-bodied smoky ale, which has been aged in Islay casks for almost a year; Imperial Stout, which is dark and packed with flavour, balanced by sweet sherry and raisin flavours derived from a short period in Lowland whisky casks; Red Rye Ale, is described as a “wonderfully complex ale” that has been finished for a long time in Speyside whisky casks and finally, Golden Ale, which is finished in Highland Whisky Casks to add flavours of sherry and fruitcake.

Less than 2000 cases across the four expressions were packaged from the first batch. The second and third batches of the four brews – double the size of the first – are now maturing in whisky barrels and will be packaged later this year to meet demand.

The company is headed up by craft beer veteran Chris Miller, who grew Harviestoun Brewery into one of the UK’s leading craft beer producers. Whilst in his role as managing director at Harviestoun he launched the world’s first co-branded whisky-finished beer, Ola Dubh, in partnership with Highland Park Distillery.

“This series of four whisky barrel-aged beers shows off Scotland’s regional whisky variations, the variety and depth of beer styles plus the brewing excellence of Scotland’s craft brewers,” said Miller.

Miller, who is also director of both Craft Beer Clan of Scotland and its parent company JW Filshill, has formed the new venture in partnership with Scott Williams, founder and brewmaster of Williams Brothers Brewing Co, and international whisky expert, Charles PB MacLean, the author of 18 whisky books.

The Clan Brewing Company has already received a “healthy number of orders”, according to Miller, and about 80% of the beer will be exported to key markets overseas where there is strong demand in Scotch whisky and Scottish brewing.

The company has already set up export agreements with markets in Japan, Singapore, Beijing and Hong Kong.

In the UK the four beers are currently being sold through The Whisky Shop’s 20 outlets.

Rachel Athey, membership and commercial director at Scotland Food & Drink, commented on the launch: “This exciting new range from the Clan Brewing Company draws on the provenance of Scotch whisky and complements our vision to make Scotland international known as ‘A Land of Food and Drink’ and grow our industry to £16.5bn by 2017.”

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