A dram fine catch for River Tweed

Lorraine Hawkins of The River Dee Trust at Ednam House, Kelso for the Dalmore Whisky tasting.
Lorraine Hawkins of The River Dee Trust at Ednam House, Kelso for the Dalmore Whisky tasting.

THE Tweed Foundation could benefit to the tune of £100,000 from the launch of a bespoke whisky named after the famous salmon river.

The Dalmore Tweed Dram was officially launched in Ednam House Hotel, Kelso, on the banks of the Tweed last week, with a minimum of £4 from each bottle sold going towards supporting the Tweed Foundation’s work.

The Tweed Dram is one of four whiskies created by Dalmore to help raise funds for Scotland’s four most important salmon rivers, the Dee, Spey, Tay and Tweed.

Andrew Douglas-Home, chairman of the Tweed Commission and Tweed Foundation, spoke at the launch on Tuesday, which coincided with the opening of the rod fishing season on the Tweed.

He said: “I congratulate Dalmore with all my heart for this initiative.

“Four great Scottish salmon rivers and a great Scottish whisky is truly the essence of Scotland.”

The project follows on from the success last year of The Dalmore Dee Dram, created in partnership with the Dee Trust, and which sold out in just nine weeks, raising £35,000 for the trust.

John Beard, chief executive officer of Whyte and Mackay, which owns The Dalmore brand, said: “We are delighted to help raise money for Scotland’s big four rivers. They are not only loved by fishing fans and tourists alike, but they are also the lifeblood of smaller communities across Scotland.

“As our successful partnership with the Dee Trust has shown, this project is a fantastic way of providing a special dram to enjoy after fishing whilst also helping to protect these rivers which have been enjoyed by anglers for centuries.”

Guest speaker at the official launch was David Profumo, novelist and fishing correspondent for Country Life magazine. He spoke about his love of fishing on the Tweed, and also the need for anglers to do all they can to assist river trusts in maintaining and protecting stocks.

The highlight of the evening, with the exception of the whiskies themselves, was a highly entertaining talk by Richard Paterson, master blender at The Dalmore.

In addition to ‘advising’ the assembled group of ghillies, fishermen, hoteliers and invited guests on how best to nose and taste the four malts, which included threats of violence should any dare put ice in their drink or wrap their hands round their drams, he emphasised the benefits the project would bring.

Mr Paterson said: “Whyte and Mackay are delighted to be working with the four rivers,” adding, “I hope it will be a long term project. We need to preserve and respect the environment, not just the rivers and fish, but the whole environment.”

He also said that the project, the brainchild of Dalmore manager Jim Coates, had taken ‘months, even years’ to get to this stage.

Nick Yonge, director of the Tweed Foundation, said that a number of local hoteliers had already agreed to stock The Dalmore Tweed Dram and it would also be available in shops and online through a link from the Fish Tweed website.

“I expect it to be popular with all sorts of people who visit the Borders. It is a very good dram, very smooth and pleasant,” he said. “We expect it to be hugely successful.”

Explaining how the Tweed Dram came into being, Mr Yonge said: “This idea was driven by Whyte and Mackay, and in particular Jim Coates, the Dalmore manager.

“He was brought up fishing on the Tweed with his grandfather.

“He is an out-and-out fisherman and has fished on all the rivers who have had drams now dedicated to them.”

Mr Yonge added: “He wanted to do something for the rivers and got the Whyte and Mackay board to agree to this idea which will be a boost for them and also a boost for us.”

Each of the four whiskies is carefully crafted to represent and celebrate the unique river it represents.

And, although a Highland malt, The Dalmore Tweed Dram possesses a softness and subtleness more noted in lowland malts.

It has an initial gentle spicyness, followed by a stunning, lingering taste on the tongue. It is smooth and succulent, and its warm and inviting flavour made it a favourite amongst many of the whisky drinkers there on Tuesday, and converted a few non-whisky drinkers as well.

Mr Yonge, who admitted he was not a whisky drinker, was one of those converted.

He said: “I may be biased, but sampling each of the whiskies, I felt the Tweed Dram was the best.”

The money raised by the Dalmore Dee Dram has helped to open up 25 miles of river and important spawning grounds that have been blocked for as long as 100 years.

And, overall, The Dalmore rivers project promises to have even wider reaching conservation impact across all four rivers, helping to protect salmon, sea trout, otters, rare birdlife and many other plants and animals.

There was more good news for the Tweed Foundation on Tuesday, with the start of the salmon season declared by Mr Yonge as going off with a “bang”.

He said: “There was a huge number of spawning fish running the river.

“We now think they were delayed because of the cold weather last year - fish cannot spawn in cold water. We expect the big run of spawning fish to continue.”

At the launch, Mr Profumo presented David Foreman of Norham with the Tweeddale Trophy, sculpted by Eyemouth artist Jason Sweeney, for the first salmon caught of the season.