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Record-breaking Scottish rowers release limited edition whisky blended by Charles McLean - with proceeds going to charity

Collectors are expected to race to buy the limited edition whiskies, with all proceeds going to charity.

Published: July 16, 2020
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A trio of Scottish ocean rowers have teamed-up with their Dad, world-leading whisky expert Charles MacLean, to create two limited edition whisky blends in a bid to save lives in Madagascar.

Six months ago team Broar - Ewan (28), Jamie (26) and Lachlan MacLean (22) - became the first three brothers to row any ocean, and the youngest and fastest trio to ever row the Atlantic.

The limited edition whiskies

On Friday 17 July at 10am the team are launching two limited-edition whiskies, which were “pillaged” from 17 distilleries on the West Coast of Scotland during Broar’s’ first training row. The campaign has been named Whisky for Water.

The team of experts who blended the whiskies were led by writer, Whiskeria reviewer and star of The Angels’ Share, Charles MacLean, and includes Whyte & Mackay master blender Richard Paterson.

Each bottle contains a small amount of whisky which accompanied the Broar team during their 35-day row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean in the Atlantic Campaigns Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Just 168 bottles of MacLean’s Pillage, a blended malt, and 299 bottles of MacLean’s Spillage, a blended Scotch, will be available to buy.

The rarity and high-quality of the blends has prompted Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Whiskies to prepare for a rush of interest from collectors across the globe.

They predict the bottles could be sold “within hours”. But for those who aren’t able to snap up a bottle of either Pillage or Spillage, 700 x 5cl miniatures of Spillage will be available.

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Charity partnership

Proceeds from the sale of the whisky will enable Argyll-based charity Feedback Madagascar to build “Broar holes”, providing clean water for life to more than 3,000 people in this impoverished country ,where 20 per cent of deaths of children under five is from water-borne diseases.

Youngest brother Lachlan travelled to Madagascar two years ago where he saw for himself the real difference Feedback Madagascar was making to communities.

He said: “The experience of making the whisky gave us a real insight into Dad’s world. It’s no wonder people across the world are so enchanted by the flavours and stories behind Scotch whisky.

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"The overwhelming generosity of the 17 West Coast distilleries which donated to our cause is a credit to the entire industry.

“Every dram will save lives; whisky is quite literally being turned into clean water.

“We know better than anyone how high Dad’s standards are, and he’s very proud of this whisky.

"Ever since we sat down with Feedback Madagascar and dreamed up the 'Whisky for Water’ campaign, we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of people from Scotland and beyond and we’ve loved every minute of working with our Dad to hopefully make even more of a difference.”

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The whisky has been a year in the making and was collected during Broar’s first training run.

Charles, who missed greeting his sons on the arrival from their world record-breaking row because they were more than five days quicker than anticipated, said: “What a blender is trying to do is make something that is more than the sum of its parts.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time that all the distilleries on the west coast have collaborated and we’ve tried to balance the personalities of the different whiskies to create two unique, attractive and very rare blends.

“This whole adventure - helping my boys get organised for the row, watching them break three world records and working with them to create these whiskies - has been a life-changing experience for them, and for me. I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Team Broar overcame seasickness, battery issues, storms, dehydration and exhaustion to reach Antigua in just 35 days.

With their efforts, they’ve already raised more than £140,000 to be split between Scottish children’s charity, Children’s 1st, and Feedback Madagascar.

These whiskies are anticipated to raise almost £100k, which would allow Feedback Madagascar to build at least 18 new Broar holes.

Jamie Spencer OBE, managing director of the charity, said: “The vast majority of the rural population of Madagascar doesn’t have access to clean water, and dirty water is a killer.

"In this instance whisky really is 'the water of life' - especially under the deadly shadow of Covid-19. Broar’s inspiring efforts and every bottle bought will transform peoples' lives forever.”

Arthur Motley, purchasing and sales director at Royal Mile Whiskies, added: "Not only is this the first blending project of one of the most respected names in Scottish whisky and a limited edition, but all the proceeds will go to charity.

"Given those factors and the exquisite taste of both whiskies, we think the bottles could sell out within hours."

The whisky will be available from 10am on Friday July 17 at Royal Mile Whiskies.


Pillage (168 available) - £275

Spillage (299 available) - £95

Miniature (700 available) - £25

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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