Archive for July, 2008

Whisky with a “sweet gloopy mouth-feel”

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

It’s not every day I get a press release promoting a whisky with a “sweet gloopy mouth-feel”, but that’s exactly what happened a few days ago.

The Famous Grouse is showing its plumage. Several years ago there was the introduction of a premium “Grouse Gold”. More recently, the brand owner introduced The Black Grouse–a smoky version of Grouse. Now, there’s The Snow Grouse, a whisky designed to be drunk extremely chilled, from the freezer. 

The image and press release both say that this a blended grain whisky. There’s no mention of malt whisky at all. Having consumed more than my share of grain whiskies over the years, I have a pretty good idea how this will taste, but I am keen to give it a try.

Aged vodka?

The whisky companies have been trying for decades to tap into the twenty to thirty-something crowd and regularly try new and inventive ways to market whisky to achieve this. Grain whisky, in very rudimentary terms, could be viewed as “aged vodka”. (Yes, I know I am oversimplifying to make a point here.)

I’m surprised not one has tried this marketing angle before. (Or maybe they have and I just missed it.) We’ll see how this plays out.

Glen Moray, Glendronach, and now (possibly) Tullibardine?

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Scotland on Sunday yesterday reported that Tullibardine might be the next distillery up for sale. As stated in the article:

The directors of Tullibardine insist there is no ‘for sale’ sign at the distillery but after receiving speculative approaches the board has decided to consider them seriously.

Tullibardine has a new importer to the U.S.  I just received two new releases from them: a 1993 sherry wood finished whisky and a 1988 vintage. I am happy to see that is seems the distillery is beginning to make progress here in the U.S. Hopefully, the sale of the distillery will not impact this, as these last two releases have really shown the potential of this distillery.

On a side note, the distillery was mothballed for close to a decade (starting around 1994) so there will always be a challenge for the current owner or a future owner to work around this production gap.

First Glen Moray, now Glendronach

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

The cat’s out of the bag. Only a week or two after Glenmorangie plc announced plans to unload the Glen Moray distillery, Pernod has confirmed that it is selling Glendronach.

I was told by a very reputable inside source back in April that Glendronach was about to be sold when I was touring Speyside, but I vowed to keep my mouth shut until its owner went public with it.

I think there’s a lot of potential with the distillery. There have been some great bottlings, including a delicious 33 year old released a couple years back and an amazing 19 year old (for the U.S. market) back in the 1990s.

Lets hope the new owners of both these distilleries show us what kind of great whiskies they can produce.

WhiskyFest SF, very rare whiskies, good cause

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

If I can create an scenario where thousands of dollars are raised for charity, whisky enthusiasts get to taste some incredibly rare whiskies, and whisky companies can promote their best stuff, then everyone wins. That’s exactly what will occur at WhiskyFest San Francisco on October 10th, 2008.

I love publishing Malt Advocate and hosting WhiskyFest. But, if I may be honest with you, sometimes I feel like I should be doing more for society than just turning people on to great whisky. My parents are missionaries and they gave up their careers to help less fortunate people throughout the world.

I have a family raise and support, so missionary work isn’t in the cards for me at the moment. But, this is why, starting several years ago at our annual WhiskyFest New York event, we established a charity table where I, along with many generous whisky companies, donate rare whiskies for charitable causes. Attendees, for a small donation, get to enjoy a wee taste of an amazingly rare whisky. Over the years, we have raised tens of thousands of dollars for several different charities at WhiskyFest New York.

This is only our second event in San Francisco. Hopefully, as our event grows, so will the donations. So far, we have lined up two very special charity tables: one from The Macallan, the other from Glenfarclas. What both of these companies are donating is amazing, and all of us at Malt Advocate magazine are very grateful. Below is a summary of what each distillery is offering:

Macallan
Current and past Master Distillers and Managing Directors will each create one unique bottle of Macallan. The contents inside each bottling will be offered one dram at a time to lucky attendees who provide a donation to charity.

Current Master Distiller Bob Dalgarno, past Master Distillers Frank Newlands and Sandy Curle, along with former Managing Director Willie Phillips all will be participating. They will each use their talents to create one bottle of Macallan whisky to their liking and specification. Each will be bottle #1 of only 1, never to be reproduced or replicated ever again. 

 Glenfarclas
For everyone who simply can’t afford to purchase a bottle of The Family Casks spanning 43 vintage from 1952 to 1994, we have a special treat for you. Glenfarclas is donating one bottle from each decade to our charity table at WhiskyFest San Francisco on October 10th.

For a small donation to charity, WhiskyFest San Francisco attendees will be able to taste a wee dram a Glenfarclas whisky from one of five different decades. Details on the specific vintages will follow.

This may be your only opportunity to taste one of these very special whiskies. This is an extra special treat for those of us in the U.S., given that The Family Casks whiskies were never sold in the U.S.

I hope I can convince you to come to WhiskyFest San Francisco (from wherever you live) and enjoy this special evening with us. Details on our website at: http://maltadvocate.com/whiskeyfest-sf.asp

Very special Glenfarclas announcement

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

For everyone who simply can’t afford to purchase a bottle of The Family Casks spanning 43 vintage from 1952 to 1994, I have a special treat for you. Glenfarclas is donating one bottle from each decade to our charity table at WhiskyFest San Francisco on October 10th.

For a small donation to charity, WhiskyFest San Francisco attendees will be able to taste a wee dram a Glenfarclas whisky from one of five different decades. Details on the specific vintages will follow.

This may be your only opportunity to taste one of these very special whiskies. This is an extra special treat for those of us in the U.S., given that The Family Casks whiskies were never sold in the U.S.  I am psyched!

For more information on WhiskyFest San Francisco, go to http://maltadvocate.com/whiskeyfest-sf.asp

The REAL scoop on Springbank

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Steve Fox, my contact from Springbank’s US importer, Preiss Imports, just spoke with Neil Clapperton, managing director for Springbank. I just spoke with Steve. Here’s a more clear and concise explanation of what Springbank is doing and why.

Springbank is closing down for approximately six months until January, when they plan to start back up again. When they do, it will be two shifts per day, not the maxed out three shifts per day as they’ve been doing. They are calling it an extended outage, so we will leave it at that. Also, seven people are being made redundant.

The reason behind the temporary shutdown?

  1. Work on a boiler and other maintenance issues
  2. They have been producing more than their projected sales growth
  3. Limiting warehouse space
  4. A desire to grow at a gradual pace
  5. Drastically increased price for barley and fuel

And I was told that all those rumors of Springbank being up for sale are false.

So, we can now put all this behind us and find something else to obsess over.

And there is some good news here too. A Springbank 18 year old is slated to be released early in 2009! Something to look forward to.

Glen Moray being sold

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

It was announced today through various media sources that Glenmorangie plc is going to sell its Glen Moray distillery and focus its efforts (and finances) on Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. It is also going to move its headquarters to Edinburgh from its existing location in Broxburn.

Glen Moray has always been the Bridesmaid to Glenmorangie. Maybe its new owner will show us what this distillery can really do. I particularly enjoyed some of the older vintages of Glen Moray over the years.

Rocks, Waves and Peat…oh my!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Bruichladdich is re-organizing some of their whiskies to create a more cohesive, easy to understand portfolio spanning three different peating levels. Details, as described to me from the press release I received, follows:

Bruichladdich have released three dramatic new versions of their successful multi-vintage range of single malt whisky.

Each cuvée is masterfully assembled by whisky legend Jim McEwan from several  ages of

Bruichladdich single malt, from different cask types and  diverse whisky characteristics. The concept was originally inspired by Champagne’s Remi Krug: “With a  single vintage, it is God who decides on the quality. But with a multi-vintage, I am  God.”

The three new bottlings are Rocks, Waves and Peat, each designed to show the full repertoire of Bruichladdich style and peat flavour – the whole gamut of Islay whiskies. MD Mark Reynier says: “They had evolved haphazardly. We have brought them together under one umbrella, new bottlings, each with it’s own distinct identity and flavour profile:”

“Rocks is the classic aperitif cuvée – minimal peat, so deliciously fresh and fruity – with a surprisingly sophisticated  flavour profile thanks to the French oak cask influences.”

“Waves is mildly peaty at  around 15ppm, beguilingly elegant with oodles of Bruichladdich finesse and fruit. A real anytime of day dram.”

“Peat  does what it says on the tin. It replaces the 3D range, has been toned down a bit with an average peatiness of around 35ppm. Plenty of peat but with out the medicine.”

UK Retail prices around: Rocks £24, Waves £30 Peat £30. Double that for approximate price in US Dollars. I will provide better details on pricing and availability as I get them.

As a side note, you might find my Wordwide Whiskies column in the new issue of Malt Advocate magazine very timely. The title of the column is: “The New Age of No Age,” with the pull quote saying: “How do whisky companies sell whisky without an age statement? The give the whisky a name! Preferably it’s a name that describes how the whisky was made and how it tastes.”

You’ll be seeing a lot more of this as whisky companies decide what to do with all the spirit they are producing right now once the spirit becomes legal whisky in a few years.