anCnoc’s Gordon Bruce tells tales of craft in new podcast
A new monthly podcast series from anCnoc whisky is set to lift the lid on the passion, process and personalities that go into making some of the world’s most expertly crafted products.
Knock Tales Whisky Podcast with Gordon Bruce will hear the Knockdhu Distillery Manager enjoy a dram and a bit of ‘craic’ with fellow makers and craft obsessives from around the world, getting to the bottom of Gordon’s favourite topic: making things well.
Listeners will hear Gordon fire up the mic from his distillery desk in Knock, Aberdeenshire on the first #WhiskyWednesday of every month, chatting to a different guest in each episode.
They’ll be exploring what drives people to make things the traditional way, with no compromise or shortcuts – including tales from Gordon’s own life dedicated to making anCnoc whisky.
The first episode will be available from Wednesday 3rd March on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and others, and will feature Gordon discussing all things single malt with Texan and fellow distiller Jared Himstedt from Balcones Distillery in Waco.
Founded just 12 years ago and leading the new wave of American single malts, Jared shares the story of what drew him to whisky, building Balcones Distillery from scratch, his love of recycled kit and what inspires him to make the very best whisky every day in the heart of Texas.
Their conversation is revealing. Whilst Knockdhu and Balcones Distilleries couldn’t be more different, when it comes to what matters as whisky makers, Gordon and Jared are of one mind: it’s all about community, collaboration, creativity and the huge kick they get out of producing a product that goes out into the world for people to enjoy.
Gordon says: ‘I find it fascinating to talk to people who, like me, are obsessed with the detail of how things are made and what makes a great product that stands the test of time. This podcast is all about my curiosity in how that’s done, and the little things that make a difference, and not just when it comes to whisky. I’ll be telling my own tales from Knockdhu, and chatting to people who put their heart and soul into making crafted products, whatever they may be, and the people who appreciate and celebrate them around the world.
‘Jared was a brilliant first guest, a man who shares so many of my beliefs when it comes to the importance of tradition, technique and the people at the heart of your production community. Anyone with an interest in whisky, creativity and what it takes to start distilling whisky from scratch is going to love hearing his story.’
The themes of craft and creativity continue into the artwork anCnoc has commissioned to accompany the new podcast: drawings of Gordon (accompanied by one of his beloved distillery dogs) plus each of his guests, captured by New York-based Scottish illustrator Peter Arkle.
Likewise, the podcast soundtrack features a special track that’s close to Gordon’s heart: ‘Wet Field Day’ by award-winning Scottish indie folk band Elephant Sessions, in which his son Mark Bruce plays guitar.
anCnoc is produced at Knockdhu Distillery, which sits in the shadow of the ‘Black Hill’ (Knockdhu in Gaelic) near Huntly in Aberdeenshire. It was established in 1894 by the pioneering John Morrison, after he spotted an abundance of the natural resources needed to make fine malt whisky in the area: pure spring water and plentiful supplies of peat and barley.
Today, Knockdhu is known as one of the smallest and most enchanting distilleries in the Scottish Highlands, producing a refreshingly modern single malt whisky with the most traditional skills and processes. The Black Hill continues to supply pure water for the whisky making process. The distillery’s two copper pot stills replicate the original 1894 design, their bulbous bases giving anCnoc its light, fresh, fruity flavour. Old fashioned worm tubs are used to condense the vaporised alcohol. And Distillery Manager Gordon Bruce, and his team, make up one of the smallest workforces in any distillery (including many dogs!)
ABOUT GORDON BRUCE
Born and raised in Wick, Gordon started working for Inver House Distillers in 1988 as a Mashman in his hometown’s Pulteney Distillery. Whilst there, he progressed to Stillman, Under Brewer and then Brewer before moving to Balblair distillery in 1994. In 2006 he became Manager of Knockdhu Distillery.
Drawn to the business by Inver House’s distinctive quality and diversity of whiskies, his career highlight is seeing drinkers enjoy anCnoc whiskies whilst knowing that he had a hand in their production. His day-to-day role involves a varied mix: whisky making, welcoming visitors from around the world, engineering and working alongside the enthusiastic and dedicated team that is based at the small, traditional, hands-on distillery.
A particular fan of anCnoc’s bourbon matured 16 Years Old and its 125th anniversary cask strength 16 Years Old, the brand’s popular peated variants are also a firm favourite, especially when drinkers “who don’t like peated whisky” are converted to a subtly smoked anCnoc expression.
His qualifications include a General Certificate and Diploma in Distilling and he is currently part way through a Master Distiller programme. A proud Keeper of the Quaich, he loves spending time with his wife, three brilliant kids, his new grandchild and his dogs.
ABOUT BALCONES DISTILLERY
Driven by a passion to create remarkable and authentic experiences, Balcones Distilling marries centuries of distilling tradition with the bold flavors of Texas. Balcones is synonymous with quality and innovation in the whisky industry, known for emphasizing high-quality ingredients and drawing influences from all over Texas to provide a dynamic and striking experience for all who engage with the whisky. Balcones distills all of its beloved spirits inside the historic Texas Fireproof Storage Company building in downtown Waco. At the heart of the distillery are four copper pot stills built by Forsyths, considered some of the best artisans in Scotland. To date, the distillery has earned over 350 national and international awards and accolades for their whiskies and spirits. Balcones will be available in 50 states by the end of 2021 and is one of the fastest growing whisky brands in the country. https://balconesdistilling.com
ABOUT JARED HIMSTEDT, HEAD DISTILLER, BALCONES DISTILLERY
Jared whetted his appetite for distilling first as a home brewer and a manager of Dancing Bear pub, a craft beer bar in Waco, Texas. He is the creative force, product developer, and head blender at the distillery, overseeing everything from label design to barrel selection since Balcones’s inception in 2008. Being involved in an industry steeped in both rich tradition and explorative innovation is part of what keeps Jared committed to the creation of fine whiskies—that, and “getting to work alongside some wonderful, thoughtful, diligent, and creative people.” When he can get away from the distillery, Jared can be found spending time outside with family, friends, good music, and good drinks, particularly the #1 Texas Single Malt, which is still an enduring favourite.