I have spent 37 years in the Royal Marines and had a fantastic career that took me all over the world serving in far-flung parts of the globe including the Arctic, Antarctic, Middle East, the Americas, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. I have always been an avid whisky fan but the story really starts during my second tour with 45 Commando based in Arbroath, Scotland. The Officers’ Mess has a decades old tradition that dictates an officer leaving the unit presents the Mess with a bottle of single malt not currently in its collection.
It was well known that the Mess had an extensive selection, but to verify this the Scottish Whisky Association was invited to come and inspect it. A representative was duly despatched and he confirmed that we had nearly the largest private collection in Scotland – second only to the Gleneagles Hotel!
At the end of his visit, a few of us were offered a whisky tasting. We spent a very pleasant evening going through samples that characterise the five regions of Scottish whisky. Once we had tasted the regional examples and could pick out the characteristics of each region, he informed us that he was going to teach us how to become “master blenders”. We followed his suggestions and each blended our own flavours based upon the previous five whiskies we had sampled. Hey presto we were then presented our Master Blender….for a day certificate!
Commando Spirit is born
Another 20 years passed and I would often blend whiskies using a decanter. However, on my 53rd birthday, Amanda, my wife, gave me a small oak barrel or cask. The barrel held about a litre and on the front was engraved ‘Rory’s barrel aged Commando Spirit est 1965’.
A week later she presented me with an engraved decanter and two matching engraved tumblers, so that once I had blended my whisky I had somewhere to store it enabling me to blend the next batch. Thus Command Spirit was born and my blending became serious(ish)!
As I approached my retirement from the Royal Marines, in early 2021, I was introduced to a young innovative distillery along the Forss River on the cliffs of the Pentland Firth, in Caithness, Scotland – North Point Distillery Ltd. Working in partnership we have created Commando Spirit blended whisky.
Commando Spirit is an elite flavoured spirit that encourages a culture of positive wellbeing and comradeship evoking memories of the original Commandos that were raised during WWII and trained in Scotland. Designed as a drink to be shared amongst friends and oppos it is a whisky for all occasions. Drink it neat, with ice or water, or make a cocktail with it. The key is to enjoy it with others.
We are grateful to both serving and former members of the Royal Marines, including the Royal Marines Association, as well as Army and Navy Commandos plus friends for their support in bringing the Commando Spirit to the community. In honour of past and present Commandos we will donate monies to Commando charities for every bottle sold.
Rory Copinger-Symes CBE