Archive for February, 2009

Gouden Carolus Single Malt Whisky

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

For those of you who don’t know, I wrote about beer long before I started writing about whisky. In fact, Malt Advocate was originally On Tap, a beer publication (but that was a long time ago). I still drink more beer than whisky and I still review beers for All About Beer magazine.

So it was with great interest that I received a note today from Ali Bosmans of the Het Anker brewery in Belgium. I love Belgian beers. In fact, the two beers on tap at my house right now are Chimay Tripel and Dupont’s Avec Les Bons Voeux. (This is probably more than you need to know about me and my love of Belgian ales. Sorry for the digression.)

I’ve been to Belgium a few times, touring breweries. I toured the Het Anker Brewery in 1994. This is where the delicious Gouden Carolus beer is made. It turns out that they are now making single malt whisky. The first series of releases were made at a different distillery (that makes Genever), but they are installing pot stills at the brewery and will be making their own whisky at the brewery. Here’s the info from Ali:

I know, you know a lot of beer…So I think you certainly know the Gouden Carolus and Cuvee van de Keizer etc…  from our brewery “Het Anker” in Belgium. All high quality beers! In 2003 we decided to do a test… we distilled the Gouden Carolus Tripel mash and let it sleep in first fill Jim Beam casks.

Last year we bottled the first edition. At the end of 2008 we decided to release a limited edition “Connoisseur’s Pack”.

The whisky is so successful that we decided to build our own pot still distillery. (The first whisky we made is distilled by Filliers in column stills.)  Our new distillery will have pot stills: a  5000l wash still and a 3200l spirit still producing 538 L spirit/day.We will be the first in Belgium to do so. The first middle cut will take place at 31 December 2009 at midnight!

I know that we export a lot of beer to the States, and we also have a good reputation. So, I think that in 3 years time we will also export the Gouden Carolus Single Malt.” And maybe one day (it is a dream) I will come to the WhiskyFest Chicago or San Francisco to present this NEW Belgian product!

We would love to have you join us at WhiskyFest, Ali, pouring your new whisky. It’s something we can look forward to.

Mackmyra is coming to the U.S. Soon!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

This great, young distillery from Sweden is coming to the U.S. For those of you who tasted some of their products at WhiskyFest New York last November, you know that this distillery is already making some very interesting whiskies. Here’s some information I just received from Lars Lindberger of Mackmyra regarding their plans for the U.S.

At WhiskFest New York last year we started a project where the goal is to sell our whisky on Manhattan by January 2010. And last week our Marketing Director and our Sales manager visited NY to meet with importers, stores, restaurants, the Swedish embassy etc. We are visiting other markets as well, but the US-market is one of the most interesting for us right now and starting point is New York.

We’re not launching with a big office in Empire State Building and Paris Hilton on the release party ;-). We are doing this the Mackmyra way: working slowly to try to understand the market and get to know our future customers. And then release a volume that matches the interest.

So there you have it. Something worth looking forward to for all of us here in the U.S. I already tasted and rated their first “official” release on my blog. Perhaps those of you overseas (or bootleggers from the U.S.) who also tried some of their releases might want to also add your thoughts.

Reduced WhiskyFest Chicago ticket price, plus a free subscription to Malt Advocate!

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

These are challenging times. We realize that every single hard-earned dollar matters to you. But we still want you to come to WhiskyFest and enjoy yourself, and we don’t want you to miss a single issue of Malt Advocate magazine.
So, we have decided to reduce the WhiskyFest Chicago General Admission ticket price to $95 (a $20 savings) and also throw in a complimentary one-year subscription to Malt Advocate for anyone buying a ticket (an $18 value).
Go to the WhiskyFest Chicago page of the Malt Advocate website here for details about WhiskyFest Chicago and to sign up. You can apply the free subscription towards a new subscription (for you or a friend) or to extend an existing subscription. You will be given a form to complete when you go through registration the night of the event.

I hope to see you in Chicago on April 1st. (No fooling!)

Guest Blogger: Willie Tait from Isle of Jura

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

As I promised in my previous email, here’s the debut of our guest blogger: Willie Tait. He’s not sharing too many secrets with us (just yet), but he was nice enough to let us know what he’s up to, tell us about a new Jura Collection, and how you can win one.

Next up: John Glaser from Compass Box Whiskies.

Here’s Willie:

willietait1Hi all

John has asked me to contribute my thoughts to his ever growing blog.

So after much thought, and a few glasses of my favourite whisky Jura, I am now ready to venture in to the strange and wonderful world of blogging!

Scotland, like the rest of the world, is going through a wee recession. I use the word wee, the way I would say a wee dram. But in true Scots fashion, we are doing our best to ignore it and continue to enjoy life and of course our whisky.

I am sitting writing this “blog thing” whilst trapped in the house by the snow which is wonderful to look at, but less wonderful to live with when trying to get from A to B (wherever that may be).

But the snow and forced entrapment is providing wonderful inspiration for me as I try and emulate the success of our country’s most famous wordsmiths, that of Robert Burns.

Here in Scotland we are celebrating 250 years of his life with a massive year long party called the Homecoming. It’s basically an open invitation for all to come to our beautiful country and enjoy the best hospitality and events in the world. Visit  for full details.

Rabbie (as he is known to close personal friends like me!) and his words are as appropriate today as they were all those years ago. “I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, Has broken Nature’s social union” could be a rally call for the green movement and is more than just a message to a mouse written more than 200 years ago!
Talking about works and readings, a great new book [Goodness Nose] is just out written by Whyte and Mackay’s very own Master Blender Richard Paterson. The book gives the reader a wonderful insight into the world of whisky, and also details his own colourful and entertaining life. More importantly he says nice things about me in the book – that’s worth a read all on its own.

I am pleased to say that Jura Single Malt continues to delight scotch whisky drinkers around the world And it is wonderful for me to see new Jura expressions being released. However, what is also very important to me, being a distiller, is that Jura retains its true identity. More and more brands are turning out so many new expressions that there is a growing chance that they may loose there identity.  Please be assured that any new expression of my beloved Jura will continue with its rich heritage, building on the success of our core products – the 10yr, 16yr old and of course Superstition.
At the Islay whisky festival – or as I prefer to call it, the Jura whisky festival – we always bring out a very special whisky to mark the occasion. Last year we crafted the Jura Elements which proved to be another great Jura success.

This year we will be launching a new Jura collection which promises to be majestic and take the brand to new heights. I am giving you the exclusive chance to win the entire collection worth approx US$500. All you have to do is guess the name given to the new collection. I have given you a wee clue in this blog, and go to for further inspiration.

So, after you have given some thought as to what the new collection might be called, post your guess in the comment section below. I’ll be checking this blog posting and the comments. (I might even comment myself!) I will announce the winner at the end of May this year. If more than one person guesses the name of the collection, I’ll pick a name out of a hat. I also have two signed copies of Richard’s book for the two runners up.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Malt Advocate for my 2008 lifetime achievement award. Although warmly received, it’s a pity we are always too old when we receive such awards to truly enjoy and make the most of the actual awards ceremony! But I am also pleased that I am the youngest person ever to receive this award, and I am still alive to blog about the privilege (my wee joke).

Aye Willie

PS Thank you to John for the invitation to acquaint myself with your readers and share my simple but I hope entertaining thoughts.

Okay everyone. Anyone have a clue what the Isle of Jura distillery would call their new collection? If you have an idea, post it below. Willie will be lurking.

Hi all

Technical glitches (resolved), and a reward for you!

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

When it comes to technology, we have to take the bad with the good. We made two major changes to our business over the weekend (all for the better, I might add). Our completely redone website, went live on Friday. No problem there. Then, on Sunday, I upgraded the look of What Does John Know and also upgraded to a newer version of my blog software. No problem there either.

However, the links to the blog were changed. Many of you who were using the old link to WDJK  found yourself getting an error message, beginning Monday morning. And the section of the Malt Advocate home page linking to WDJK also disappeared. But, we got everything back on track by Wednesday afternoon.

To reward you for having to endure this (and I hope I haven’t lost any of you), I have a special treat for you. I’m Miami right now (South Beach, to be precise), staring out at the ocean from my hotel room and watching sunbathers and boats go by. (I couldn’t take the cold weather anymore, so it was time to burn some Marriott points I accumulated.) I’ll be here until Monday. While I’m gone, I’m starting something new and (I think) really cool here on WDJK: guest blogging!

I want to keep making WDJK better. I am thinking that you might be getting tired of listening to me all the time. I’m lucky enough to have many friends in the industry–distillery managers, master blenders, etc. I have asked some of them if they would like to post up a guest blog. I have several who already said “yes,” and I have two lined up for the remainder of this week while I am down here in Miami. They are Willie Tait from the Isle of Jura distillery and John Glaser of Compass Box Whiskies. So, watch this space!

Enough blogging for today. It’s time to put on some suntan lotion and join my wife and daughter on the beach.

The New York Times finally gets it

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Eric Asimov, who does a wonderful job writing about beer, wine and spirits for The New York Times, has finally convinced this highly esteemed newspaper that Scotch whisky and Canadian whisky is not spelled with an “e”. You can read about it directly from Eric here in his blog, The Pour.

All this came to a head back in December when Eric wrote an article on Speyside single malts in his column for the NYT and they made him spell whisky with an “e” (i.e., whiskey), which he knew was inappropriate. You bet he got a lot of comments after that article was published, but he used it as ammo to convince the NYT of something that most of us already knew: that Scotch and Canadian whisky do not have the “e” while Irish and most major American whiskeys (including most bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys) do.

Great job Eric!

WDJK has a new look!

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Wow, quite a few days. Over the weekend we went live with the new Malt Advocate website. Have a look here if you didn’t check it out yet. (And BTW, we’re still ironing out some bugs, including the feed to this blog and listing of recent blog postings, so please be patient.)

Today, as you can see, we upgraded the appearance of “What Does John Know?” I hope you like it. I’ll continue to tweak it over the next couple of weeks.

Review: Bruichladdich (Port Charlotte) PC7

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

I reviewed the new PC7. Then, I tasted it next to PC5 and PC6. Here are my thoughts. 

Bruichladdich (Port Charlotte) PC7, 61%, $150
Aged in a combination of sherry and bourbon oak.  Bold and fresh, bursting with testosterone. Notes of damp kiln smoke, tar, wet sheep, roasted chestnuts, and pine forest bedding, along with more subtle pear, expresso, anise, and brine. Sweet notes of vanilla, fig cake and maple syrup serve up balance and complexity. Appetizing brine and tar finish. It’s more mature than last year’s PC6. Earthier and less fruity too! Plus, I feel that the sherry notes in PC7 integrate better than the madeira notes from PC6. But my favorite still is the original PC5 for its purity, balance, maturity (for its age) and pristine character.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89

There’s a new Malt Advocate website. Have a look!

Friday, February 6th, 2009

It’s been months in the making, but Malt Advocate magazine’s completely revised and greatly enhanced website just went live. Have a look here.

Some of many enhancements include:

Improved navigation to provide a better user experience
A searchable Buyer’s Guide database
A greatly enhanced shopping area and shopping cart
A new “Whisky 101 section”
A live whisky news feed 
A listing of my five most recent blog postings with a link to this blog
A link to our new WhiskyFest blog, featuring timely WhiskyFest updates
A weekly whisky poll on timely topics

Go check it out and tell me what you think. And since it is brand new, we tried to iron out all the bugs, but if you find one, please let us know and we’ll fix it. Thanks!

How has this recession affected your relationship with whisky?

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Are you still buying whisky? Are you still buying “the good stuff” but buying fewer bottles? Maybe you looking for lower-priced bottles (i.e. better values). Or maybe you’re still spending the same amount on whisky but cutting back somewhere else in your budget.

Please share your strategy in these challenging times.