Daftmill Distillery needs no introduction. It’s releases sell out on allocation via their agents Berry Bros and Rudd. There will be a full interview with Francis for subscribers in the future.
Q.You are quite unique in having a distillery on a working farm, and only distilling seasonally. Demand outstrips supply – have you been tempted to distill more frequently?
A. All the time, but there are only so many days in the week. If we wanted to ramp up production I would need to make changes to the way we operate and at the moment I don’t want to do that.
Q.Where does the meat from your cattle go? Is there a restaurant that you can eat your beef and drink your whisky together?
A.We sell our cattle through the auction market in Stirling as there is no longer a market local to us so they don’t always go to the same buyer Hugh Black & Sons Stirling or D Campbell & sons Callander are a couple of the butchers that buy them. We occasionally sell one direct to the local butcher but he has not had any for a while now.
Q.What are your thoughts on those that collect whisky as opposed to drinking it?
A.Our whisky is made for drinking but whatever makes you happy. If you get as much pleasure sitting in your attic looking at a bottle as I do from tasting then go ahead. Life is not often that black and white though as most collectors are also drinkers and some collectors don’t even consider themselves as a collector they are just behind on the drinking
Q.What is the biggest mistake you have made distilling?
A.Not sure what the biggest mistake is we have certainly made lots of little mistakes. Buying a reconditioned boiler was one and having more washback capacity would have been nice.
Q.What challenges did you experience when starting Daftmill?
A.Again there wasn’t one huge challenge just lots of things that you had to overcome. Planning permission seemed to take forever. It’s funny how you quickly forget it all though as ever day brings new challenges.
Q.How often do you taste the whisky in the barrel and do you have favourites you are very excited about?
A. Not as often as I should probably. Access to some casks isn’t easy. Having favorites tends to lead to disappointment often you think a cask is good and will be brilliant in 6 months or a years time but when you come back to it you find it is decidedly average and some other cask you never paid much attention to is now much better.
Q.What should you not do when setting up a distillery?
A.Think a gift shop and tea room is going to provide the funding to run a distillery for however many years till the whisky is ready.
Q.Tell me about yourself and your interests outside of whisky and farming?
A.Outside interests would be whisky and farming.
Q.Tradition is good but if you had free reign without restrictions what would you do differently?
A.Not sure I would do much differently to be honest. The geek in me would like to see what we could do with GM yeasts or brewers enzymes. Other countries that are not bound by the Scotch Whisky rules don’t make radically better whisky in my opinion. I would have liked to call it Scots whisky rather than Scotch just to be different but thats not allowed now.