The Angels’ Share

Started by port perran, September 04, 2023, 04:47:25 PM

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port perran

Part Five

Jimmy slept somewhat fitfully that night. He was a little apprehensive about meeting up with Big Bert.
Bert was, no doubt, a small time petty criminal but Jimmy had much greater aspirations. Nevertheless, after careful thought, Jimmy decided that although he had no need to become involved with any of Bert's schemes he thought that, if nothing else, Bert might just be able to provide some useful background information.

Having come to a decision to meet Bert at eleven, Jimmy slept much better for the last three hours or so before he woke at eight.
He enjoyed an unexpectedly good breakfast cooked by his landlady, Mrs Parr, before setting off to explore the town of Wadebridge.

At eleven, on the dot, Jimmy entered the Penny Farthing to find Big Bert sitting at a table at the far end of the bar nursing a pint of which he had already consumed two thirds.
This time the landlord was much more communicative, welcoming Jimmy, who ordered a half of bitter, and remarked on the mild weather.

Jimmy took his drink and sat down at the table opposite Bert.

"So Bert, let's get straight to the point as I have a train to catch at twelve fifteen, you have some sort of proposition for me I gather?"
"Just thought you might be interested in a bit of info", muttered Bert in reply, "I know a lot of people around here and throughout  Cornwall. I've heard a lot of good things  about that distillery over at St Agnes but I'm a beer man, I know nothing of whisky except that word has it that they are making some good stuff and good stuff means good money".

Jimmy listened, keen to learn what Bert had to say but not so keen to become too involved, especially at this early stage. "Go on Bert. Tell me more".

Bert looked down at his empty pint pot. "Another pint here landlord if you please" said Jimmy looking over to the landlord who was reading his copy of The Western Morning News.

Bert continued "I've heard a whisper that the whisky people are storing their barrels over at a place called Tregonning. It's in an old store shed with an old ice store next door. I've heard tell they call it a dunnage store or summat. Anyway, my mate tells me it's none too secure. How's about we help ourselves to a few bottles? They probably won't even notice if we don't take too many".

Jimmy sighed to himself. He had no intention of becoming involved in such a minor little, small time escapade. He had  much grander ideas,  but it was good to know that the distillery are using a warehouse away from their main site.
No doubt he'd learn all about it this afternoon in any case when he visits the distillery. He might even suggest that they increase security at the warehouse.

"Well Bert, that is interesting news. It's not something that I'd normally get involved with but let me think about it if you don't mind. Right now though I'm afraid that I must dash, my train will be due shortly".
Big Bert seemed, somewhat surprisingly, to accept Jimmy's response so the Scotsman left, leaving a few pennies on the bar in payment for another pint for Bert.

Jimmy's train was right on time leaving Wadebridge (for those interested it was hauled by an N Class SR mogul), arriving at St Agnes halt, which is adjacent to the distillery, at one thirty where he was met by Ross McLeary.
The two men chatted amicably as they made their way towards the impressive looking distillery.

Jimmy was looking forward to the afternoon, eager to absorb as much information as possible. He was genuinely interested in what was happening at the Cornish distillery.

A view of the distillery

I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

Graham

Glad I've stumbled upon this, looking forward to reading about the adventures of Jimmy.

keithbythe sea

This story is developing at a cracking pace.  :thumbsup:

dannyboy

Quote from: keithbythe sea on September 08, 2023, 07:26:50 AMThis story is developing at a cracking pace.

No it's not.  ;) . It is nearly 24 hours since the last instalment!  :( . Only joking Martin, I appreciate that you have to eat and sleep, which takes time.  :)
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.
If a friend seems distant, catch up with them.

port perran

Part Six

First a photograph

The distribution yard at the St Agnes distillery in 1963 at the time of Jimmy's visit. Note how busy it appears to be.
Will Jimmy be impressed?
What will he be thinking?
Where is this all leading?


The distillery visit

Jimmy couldn't have wished for more.

His tour of the distillery was thoroughly interesting and involved a complete run through of the entire process. He marvelled at the ingenious shape of the two copper stills especially designed to produce a nice light, floral spirit.

It was fascinating to learn that local water is used from a small stream that runs down the valley into St Agnes and that ninety percent of the barley originates from West Devon.

The distillery opened on a commercial basis in 1958 with the first spirit flowing in October of that year.
The first casks were filled in October of 1961.
Thus by 1962/63 there are large supplies of three, four and five year old whiskies building up.
In terms of maturity this is still very young whisky which greatly increases in character if left to mature for ten years or longer but the "novelty value" of it being "Cornish Whisky" means that it is, even at a young age, a very saleable product.

Interestingly,  Jimmy learned that the Rundle family who own the distillery have been producing whisky on a much smaller, non commercial basis but under license, since the late 1920s.
Much of this older whisky is still stored away meaning that stocks of twenty, twenty five and even thirty year old casks are available.
Jimmy marvelled at the economic foresight that the Rundle family had shown in building up such an investment.

The distillery have, over the years, used various casks for maturing their whisky but generally have utilised a combination of virgin European oak, American oak and ex, first fill, bourbon casks.
Latterly though the distillers have been experimenting more with ex Oloroso sherry casks and red wine casks for finishing the ageing process.
The very latest experiment involves the use of peat smoked barley in small quantities to produce a slight smokiness to the whisky.

Jimmy was fascinated and intrigued. These Cornish distillers seemed to be taking a highly innovative approach to whisky production but were managing to keep their produce, for now, somewhat under the radar.
He could sense a very bright future for the distillery  but, of course, he was also interested in how he could also profit from it. All sorts of ideas and schemes were formulating in his head.

Later in the afternoon Jimmy found himself in the tasting room with a flight of six St Agnes whiskies in front of him. Some were from the current releases but others were from the stored and well aged stock.

He was to sample :
St Agnes – Select (Aged 5 years)
St Agnes Gold (Aged 4 years)
St Agnes Distiller's Cut (Aged 3 years)
William Rundle Reserve (15 years old)
William Rundle Reserve (24 years old)
William Rundle Original Select (Aged 31 years)

By this time William Rundle and his wife Annie had arrived to join Jimmy, Ross McLeary, Tom Biggins and William Murdoch-McLeod.
William Rundle, actually Sir William, and his wife Lady Annabelle have owned the distillery since William's father, Sir Thomas Rundle, passed away in the early 1950s.
The Rundle family have been well respected farmers/land owners in Cornwall since at least the 1750s.
It was Sir Thomas who originally floated the idea of whisky distillation in Cornwall and had dabbled with production on a small scale but it was to be William who took production to the next level with construction of the distillery.

Jimmy was a little overawed by meeting Sir William but was quickly put at ease by the owner's relaxed manner "My wife and I hate formality" said Sir William introducing himself and his wife, "We much prefer to be known as Bill and Annie, all of the  staff here call us by our first names".

Everyone was desperately keen to hear Jimmy's opinion on each of the whiskies. Bill and William Murdoch-McLean in particular were incredibly impressed and amazed by his ability to identify the various aromas and flavours.
Jimmy, for his part, recognised the fact that these were all very fine whiskies. He particularly liked the 5 year old and the 31 year old singling these two out for special mention.

There followed detailed discussion around the various whiskies and the future of Cornish whisky  which culminated with Bill and Annie inviting everyone over to the dunnage store at Tregonning where Bill suggested they sample the oldest whisky a 37 year old cask laid down by the late Sir Thomas in 1928 and thought to be the very first cask produced by the family at the old Trevaunance warehouse. The whisky has remained in the cask since it was first distilled with none having ever been bottled.

Jimmy was fascinated and intrigued as they all set off, by train of course, for Tregonning.


I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

Chris in Prague

An excellent story developing quickly.

Bigmac

does anyone remember the Mad magazine ?

Sometimes an issue would feature a long, interesting, involved story--spread over several part pages in the magazine. As the plot got more involved--at the foot of a page it might say  "continued on page 83"

But there was no page 83.
i used to be indecisive...but now i'm not so sure.

Chris in Prague

Quote from: Bigmac on September 08, 2023, 08:19:35 PMdoes anyone remember the Mad magazine ?

Sometimes an issue would feature a long, interesting, involved story--spread over several part pages in the magazine. As the plot got more involved--at the foot of a page it might say  "continued on page 83"

But there was no page 83.

Oh, yes. I remember those. An American schoolfriend used to have those magazines at home.

port perran

Part Seven

Jimmy was getting used to the protracted railway journeys in Cornwall, it always seemed to take forever to get from one place to another.
St Agnes to Tregonning was no different. In late afternoon it  took some 90 minutes to cover a distance of just 22 miles.
Bill and Annie Rundle could, of course, have used their two Daimlers but they are both great advocates of local public transport which they use whenever possible and so the train it had to be.

The party arrived at the rather grand village station in Tregonning at 4-45 and on Bill's insistence they  would walk the three quarters of a mile or so through the village to the old so called dunnage warehouse on the Summercourt road.
Their walk, on this pleasant evening took them past the Railway Inn which was just along the road from the station. The pub was busy with several people making use of the outside benches.

As they walked past  they heard someone shout out "Jimmy lad. What are you doing here? Come on in and have a pint with us".

Jimmy was momentarily taken aback. As he looked over his shoulder he saw Big Bert standing in the doorway, pint in hand and swaying slightly.
Jimmy quickly excused himself from the distillery party and taking Bert by the arm he marched him into the bar.
"Not now Bert, I'm on important business I'm afraid. I'll see you in the Farthing tomorrow and fill you in".
Rather surprisingly this seemed to satisfy Bert who rejoined his friends at the bar allowing Jimmy to catch up with the folk from the distillery.
He made an excuse that Bert was someone staying at the same digs as him in Wadebridge.

"You're staying in digs in Wadebridge?" said a surprised Bill Rundle, "We can't be having that. Annie, surely you know somewhere better for young Jimmy? How about the Cedars hotel in Aggie [St Agnes]. They have some rather nice rooms I believe. Can you fix something up?"

"Of course darling", responded Annie as the group continued up the hill towards the warehouse,  "I'll arrange something first thing tomorrow. We can't have young Jim roughing it".

As they approached the warehouse Jimmy, every watchful as one had to be growing up in the Gorbals, caught a glimpse of someone running up the adjacent lane and slithering down the grassy bank towards the somewhat ramshackle building.
"So that's why Big Bert was in the pub back there" he thought to himself.

Jimmy had to act quickly. No doubt Big Bert and his friends were attempting to rob the warehouse to obtain some bottles of whisky to sell on.
Jimmy had fully intended to explain to Bert when he saw him tomorrow that there would be no bottles stored there, only large casks, but it was too late. He hadn't expected Bert to act so quickly.

What on earth could he do?  The last thing Jimmy wanted to happen was for Sir William and the others to Become suspicious of him. It wouldn't take much for one of the potential robbers to implicate him in some way.

Jimmy suspected that the person slithering down the bank had been sent up from the village pub to warn others who were possibly already in the warehouse.

Suddenly, Jimmy had an idea........


The train from St Agnes arriving at a busy Tregonning.
The Railway Inn is behind the Pickford's lorry
I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

Nbodger

Don't stop there
Now in suspenders until the next episode  :-X

dannyboy

Quote from: Nbodger on September 09, 2023, 06:19:49 PMNow in suspenders until the next episode  :-X

Please don't tell me you have joined the @Trainfish club!  ;D
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.
If a friend seems distant, catch up with them.

port perran

I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

port perran

Part Eight

Meanwhile in the Railway Inn, Big Bert was becoming rather agitated.
"Why was Jimmy Johnstone hobnobbing it with that posh lot?", he muttered to his pal Dave, "And where are the others? I only hope young Tom managed to get up to the warehouse before Jimmy and his gang got there. What do you think Dave?"

"I dunno", was Dave's reply, "it's all your fault  anyhow, putting your trust in that Scottish laddie when you know next to nothing about him".

I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

cornish yorkie

 :hellosign:  :greatpicturessign:
  Sorry a bit late to the party,no worries caught up now though with a glass or two of Gentlemen Jack, (one of my favourites).
  Excellent storyline Martin with the superb photos  :thumbsup:
 :beers: stay safe regards Derek
ONLY ONE RULE ENJOY

port perran

Part Nine

Jimmy and the others were making their way up the hill away from Tregonning with good views across towards St Austell Bay away to their right in the far distance.
They were only about two hundred and fifty yards from the warehouse but there was a twenty foot high bank to their left separating the lane they were walking up from the slightly overgrown path where Jimmy had seen the lad running past before slithering  down the grassy bank.

It was a lovely sunny early evening, one of those evenings where the air is clear and it's possible to see for miles. In fact, it was easily possible to view the horizon way beyond the distant shoreline.
Jimmy could just make out a couple of  largish boats way out to sea.

Knowing that he had to distract everyone else before they got any closer to the warehouse, in order to give Bert's associates time to exit discretely,  he suddenly called out to everyone, "What a fabulous view out to sea. It's given me an idea", he said directing his gaze  to Sir William in particular.

Everyone came to a halt, gazing  in the general direction of St Austell Bay.
"What's on your mind Jimmy lad?" said  Sir William.
"Well Bill, I'm thinking that as you have great plans to market St Agnes whisky more widely, why not start to think about the overseas market? I know from my time at Auchentoshan that many of the great Scottish distilleries are looking at India, Japan and the United States along with several European countries so why don't you try to get ahead of the game as it were. I've heard tell that you've already arranged for a crate to be despatched to a place called Sonmel courtesy of  your friend Lord Pugh and I gather there is a possibility of another consignment going to a small place in, of all places, Scotland, so why not start to think bigger?"

Sir William looked on with interest, "Well, Jimmy, you are remarkably well informed. Food for thought indeed but can we press on to the warehouse? I'm starting to feel rather thirsty and I think I've got a real treat in store for you".

Jimmy's little plan had worked perfectly. The five minute delay would surely allow Bert's assistants to get themselves well clear of the scene.

The party  continued on their way shortly arriving at a somewhat dilapidated wooden door in the side of a deceptively large granite building which was almost completely covered with ivy and bracken.
Jimmy was relieved to see that the door was firmly shut.

On entering William Murdoch-McLean reached round behind the door to find a rather ancient light switch which he flicked on.
Immediately the building was illuminated, albeit dimly, by the single light bulb hanging from a cord in the middle of the ceiling.

Jimmy was amazed. The room contained at least fifty barrels together with perhaps ten of the bigger hogshead barrels.

As he  was taking in the scene he was led to the rear of the building where another door led outside then down ten or so well worn granite steps to a smaller round building containing yet more barrels.
"This is the old salt store", explained Tom Biggins, "It's in here that our oldest whiskies are stored including a few real gems purchased and laid down by Sir William's father many years ago. We have four barrels from the long closed Ladyburn distillery, two at thirty five years vintage, one at forty and one at, wait for it, fifty years plus we have two forty year old barrels from Auchtermuchty  that are both 41 years old".

Jimmy was amazed. He'd heard tell of the Ladyburn barrels being in Cornwall but not of the two from the legendary Auchtermuchty distillery.
Tom continued, "And that's not all, we also have some early examples of our own spirit aged thirty five, thirty four and thirty yeears. You have, of course, already sampled the oldest St Agnes whisky, the thirty seven year old, up at the distillery the other day".

Jimmy calculated that the whisky in this room alone must be worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Ross McLeary chipped in, "Most of the barrels in this room have, to the best of our knowledge, never been sampled. I don't suggest we try them all right now but how about we just try a dram of the forty one year old Auchtermuchty?"

Jimmy's eyes lit up in anticipation. He wondered what his Uncle Tom would make of all of this.

Ross produced an ageing vallinch from an old cupboard in the corner then expertly removed the bung from the barrel before carefully  slipping the vallinch into the liquid in order to remove just enough to fill six  glasses, also from the cupboard, one each member of the party.

Everyone present possessed a reasonable, if not good,  palate for whisky but all eyes  were fixed on Jimmy as he nosed the bright, golden liquid in his glass before taking a sip.

There was a long, long pause before Jimmy placed his glass down onto a small rickety table, "That is quite, quite exquisite" was his initial reaction, "Possibly, no, definitely, the finest dram I have ever tasted. The nose is simply sublime. Scottish heather, vanilla and crushed almonds with a touch, just a touch, of crushed ginger. The taste is even better with wild raspberries and other Summer fruits dominating but with vanilla, oak and crushed raisins as a backdrop. And the liquid is oh so very smooth and velvety".

As Jimmy finished speaking the others, relieved but not at all surprised, that the whisky had met with his approval, burst into a round of applause before sampling the contents of their own glasses.

Everyone present was equally impressed with the quality of the whisky they had just tasted.

All too soon, however, and  with time rushing by, it was time to catch the train back to St Agnes. But just before they all left the warehouse Sir William turned to Jimmy saying "Young man, I have a proposition for you. Please will you come to my office in the distillery at two tomorrow afternoon?"

Jimmy immediately realised what the owner had in mind but played it very casually, "Of course, Bill", remembering that Sir William favoured informality, "I'd be pleased to hear what you have to say to me".

And so it was that the group left the warehouse for the walk back down the hill to Tregonning station.
Before they left though William took care to make sure that the door was bolted and securely locked.

The train left Tregonning at eight thirty with an expected arrival at St Agnes of ten o'clock.

Jimmy, of course, would be alighting at Wadebridge. He had important business to conduct  with Big Bert tomorrow and he had strong suspicions that Bert wouldn't be at all happy to hear what he had to say.


The train for St Agnes about to depart the bay platform at Tregonning
I'll get round to fixing it drekkly me 'ansome.

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