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  • Writer's pictureRobert McKain

Whisky Cask Coffee?

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

The story of how our barrel aged range came to be...

As the 7th batch matures we decided to go into the story of how our whisky barrel matured coffee became a Scottish coffee favourite.

Way back in the beginning we were roasting coffee in a wee horse stable on an organic farm in West Dunbartonshire. The farmer (Phil), bought in some whisky barrels to use as planters. This sparked a discussion about the joys of both coffee and whisky and how it would be amazing to combine the two flavours.

So how did we get from ideas over a cuppa on a rainy day at the farm to serving the 1st minister of Scotland with the now very popular Nippy Sweety Coffee? Mistakes! A lot of them, followed by some luck and the help of friends along the way.

Trial & Error: We had to figure out how to make the stuff

Initially we tried various ways of infusing the beans with whisky flavours.

Dropping them into the barrel after roasting - nope! too overwhelming.

Adding flavour to a blend - too synthetic

Dousing the beans in whisky - don't remember, one for the drinkers out there to try

Ageing the green beans in a whisky barrel - Yes! This was the one, but there were still lessons to be learned along the way.

How we tested the batches

After spoiling 60 kilos of lovely single origin Arabica we decided to study up. We used our knowledge of coffee tasting to pair beans with specific malt whiskys and learned the best length of time to age the beans for flavour was around 2 months.

This included daily agitation of the beans so it was a common sight on the farm to see us rolling whisky barrels around the yard, also learning cooperage as a bi-product of having to open the casks daily to test roast and check humidity was not too high.

Getting the coffee our customers wanted

We spoke to our customers and asked their opinions about how they would react to a whisky infused coffee. Most were delighted, some were repulsed. This is the nature of Nippy Sweety. We learned that although coffee drinkers tended to like the idea, they also didn't want a strong flavour throughout. At this point our friend Sam at Drygate bar in Glasgow kindly stepped in to supply us with whisky barrels that had been used to make beer too. This allowed us to mature our beans under less extreme conditions and perfect the art of pairing the coffees with the booze.

The end result

As this is written we are on batch 7 of Nippy Sweety. This time we've used a whisky cask from Glenlivet (1991) and no beer alongside a Brazilian Fazenda Pantano FairTrade coffee bean.

The results speak for themselves. Batches 5 and 6 sold out within days. Our local Delis are stocking bags around central Scotland and we've gone a bit viral on social media.

If you'd like to try arguably the best coffee in Scotland then check our site for the latest batch or drop into to your local stockist.

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