A profile of Rachel Barrie

20 November, 2013

Rare gift

Barrie clearly has a rare gift for isolating and explaining how flavours and smells come through in her whiskies and her knowledge and enthusiasm are a hallmark of her tastings. Consider how she describes Glen Garioch’s production: “Another unusual characteristic is the extremely short spirit cut, one of the shortest in the industry, running from 75% to 69% abv.  

“This almost eclectic combination of long lyne arm and extremely short spirit cut in distillation creates a unique alchemy in the stills at high alcohol strength; it encourages significant reactions to take place in the highly active vapour phase of distillation as the vapour reacts with the copper to promote lots of apple and pear fruits and long-chain waxy esters, activating malt spices, and creating complex meaty and honeyed malt flavours. “The result is a richly fruity, complex and spicy new-make spirit with deep malty notes, milky lipids and meaty/leathery base notes.  

“All these flavours remind me of the smells of growing up in the Garioch district, surrounded by barley fields, the commanding and undulating body of the Bennachie mountain range, picking apples and berries in the summer months, the sweet smells from the local milk dairies and my grandfather’s beehives and juicy fruit-laden greenhouses.” If that doesn’t have you reaching for the decanter, I don’t know what will.


As well as leaving a legacy in her malt creations, Barrie may have bequeathed a second-generation expert on the sector in the shape of one of her three sons. “My middle son is nearly 12 and has just done a project on distilling for school. He’s showing a significant interest in the industry. I do hope one of the three joins.”

Barrie also has a passion for playing jazz and classical piano, running half marathons and collecting vintage motorbikes – and she likes to imbue her whiskies with elements of the things that fire her.

“I create whisky but I fuse it with science, with food, with art and things I love that help bring it to life. “I feel like I am home now. I’m 44 years old this year and there’s a sense of having arrived.”

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


Tess Posthumus

Challenges stack up for hospitality

Tess Posthumus hates to be a doom-monger, but the reality is that many bars are facing a decidedly tough time.