Speyside farmers challenged to ‘meat’ the Japanese threat head-on

Ann Miller serving up a daily dram at a Keith farm (pic: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
Ann Miller serving up a daily dram at a Keith farm (pic: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

NEWS THAT A JAPANESE malt whisky was recently named the best in the world has prompted a fightback from Speyside – with a call for local farmers to take on the legendary Kobe Beef.

Japan is renowned around the world for producing the succulent and tender Kobe – so when it was revealed that their secret is feeding cattle a daily dram, organisers at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival called on local farmers to play them at their own game.

They are asking that home-bred cattle to be fed a daily dram of Scotland’s finest – and to match the practice of Kobe herds being played classical sounds by Japanese beef farmers, they add that treating our cattle to some upbeat, traditional Scottish music might also be worth a try!

Now Festival organisers are keen to test the theory – and are calling on local farmers in Moray and Speyside to help them.  Ann Miller, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival director, said: “We do not believe there is anywhere on earth that produces better malt whisky than Speyside – and millions of whisky drinkers agree.

“We were genuinely shocked and dismayed when Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world, but we are firm believers in the old adage of don’t get mad, get even – and that is exactly what we intend to do.

“All the signs indicate that introducing Speyside malt into a cow’s diet and using animal feed created from distillery by-products gives the meat a lovely, whisky-tinged flavour.”

Keith farmer tests the theory

That incredible discovery was made by Speyside farmers Ali Rolfop and Joe King, who have a herd of Aberdeen Angus Cattle. They were mucking out a byre one evening on their farm, Ure Gullybale, near the distillery town of Keith and poured a bottle of single malt Scotch into a water trough.

The farmer explained: “I’m a big fan of two of Speyside’s most famous products – malt whisky and traditional music – and so I decided to share these with our cattle. The next day, we noticed their coats were shiny and their eyes were bright.

“We’ve since been sharing a bottle of malt with them and we even have some local fiddlers come down to perform. We tasted the beef from the herd for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it is sensational – there is definitely a hint of whisky in the meat.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 28 to May 2 and is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere in the world. It comprises almost 500 different events, from distillery tours to whisky tastings, from ceilidhs to comedy nights, and from whisky themed dinners to outdoor events.

Ann said: “With all this focus on Japan, I suppose we are a little worried that the thousands of visitors who fly in from all corners of the globe to enjoy our Festival might be tempted to go there instead.

“But while Japan may have been able to produce some decent drams, it doesn’t have the history and heritage of Scotch whisky.

“We’ve been producing the best whisky in the world for generations – no beef about it – and while they have learned how to make whisky from us, we’re now learning from their farming techniques.”

Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival is also active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival or @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.