Archive for January, 2010

The next two days in New York: cool stuff. And when I return, more cool stuff.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

There are things I like in my job, and there are things I don’t. The next two days are the former.

During the next two days, I’m having lunch with the distillery manager of Glen Grant, which is finally being imported to the U.S. I’ve already tasted their new whiskies, but it will be nice to meet with him. I am also meeting with the people in charge of Glenrothes, Glen Grant, Suntory Yamazaki, Cutty Sark, Tullamore Dew, Wild Turkey, and more here in the U.S.

I’m also meeting with Dr. Bill Lumsden, the genius behind Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. And I’ll be having lunch with the brand managers for The Macallan and Highland Park.

And in between all that, I am planning on enjoying a cigar with a very well known cigar enthusiast.

Then, on Wednesday, I a plan on tasting more “not yet released, and previously released” Maker’s Mark bourbons with Kevin Smith, Maker’s Mark’s Distillery Manager.

Stay tuned…

I have a lot of writing to do, but this looks very tempting…

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Yep, it’s the new Maker’s Mark bourbon that I blogged about here. After I talked with Master Distiller Kevin Smith, he sent me this sample of it. And he sent me a 375 ml bottle of the standard Maker’s Mark to compare it to. Both are sitting on my desk next to me. (Click on the image for a better view of it.)

The problem is, if you want to read about the Malt Advocate Whisky Awards which I am promising to post up starting February, I have to write them up sometime soon. And then get them to my copy editors.

But it’s 4 pm and I’m getting kind of thirsty.

Okay, one more hour of writing and then it’s time for me to make my mark on Maker’s Mark. I’ll let you know my thoughts on it in the near future.

What are you drinking tonight?

16th Annual Malt Advocate Whisky Awards to be announced HERE first, beginning February 1st

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The Malt Advocate Whisky Awards exist to recognize excellence in the world of whisky. Now in its sixteenth year, these awards are the oldest and longest-running annual whisky awards program.

The awards are always announced in the first issue of Malt Advocate each year. Subscribers will get this issue around March 1st. But, for the first time ever, I’ll be announcing the awards here first, beginning February 1st. They will then automatically be fed to my Twitter (@JohnHansell) and Facebook accounts.

The advantage of publishing the awards on this blog is two-fold:

  1. The awards can be announced quicker on social media than in print media and will reach a larger audience.
  2. Announcing the awards in a blog platform allows for further discussion and interaction between whisky enthusiasts, press, and trade.

Unlike other publications who seem to have endless awards, we only have 11. Each day, I’ll post up the award winner, along with the write-up which will eventually appear in Malt Advocate.

The dates the category winners will be announced are:

February 1st:  Best Buy Whisk(e)y of the Year

February 2nd:  Artisan Whiskey of the Year

February 3rd:  American Whiskey of the Year

February 4th:  Canadian Whisky of the Year

February 5th:  Irish Whiskey of the Year

February 6th:  Scotch Whisky Blend of the Year

February 7th:  Scotch Whisky Single Malt of the Year

February 8th: Pioneer of the Year

February 9th: Industry Leader of the Year

February 10th: Distillery of the Year

February 11th: Lifetime Achievement Award.

On February 11th, I will also be announcing our “Top Ten New Whiskies for 2009.” (Not officially an award, but more of a recognition.)

The only requirement for eligibility is that products must be sold in the U.S. in the 2009 calendar year. Posting the awards here first is something I am very excited about, and I look forward to your reactions.

Highlights of the new blog design

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I thought I would take a moment and go over some of the enhancements of the new blog design. Many of these enhancements were at your request. Thank you for your input.

(And by now, nearly all of the glitches have been ironed out. If you find one, let me know.)

Here are some of the enhancements:

  • You can now comment directly to someone else’s comment (and directly under their comment).
  • When you comment, you can also be notified, via email, of any additional comments to that post, by ticking the query box when you comment.
  • The text area is wider, so you don’t have to scroll down as far to read the same amount.
  • There’s now a direct link to my Buyer’s Guide whisky review archives at the top, along with other useful Malt Advocate and WhiskyFest links.
  • All the references on the right column are hidden (“Recent Tweets”, for example). Just click on them to expand them.
  • You can now subscribe to my posts via an email feed, rather than an RSS feed.
  • Another nice feature is the “recent comments” option on the right column. Click on it and you’ll see the most recent 15 comments that were posted, which will help you to get caught up with “who’s been saying what”.
  • The site is visually more appealing.
  • And one thing that you might not care about, but we do: the site now supports banner advertising. :)

One thing we couldn’t fix: WordPress doesn’t allow you to edit a comment after you post it. If I see a typo, I’ll go in and correct it for you. Or, you can bring it to my attention and ask me to edit it for you.

There are other enhancements you will notice as you navigate through the site, but I wanted to bring these main ones to your attention.

Dave Broom: Malt Advocate’s new Scotch whisky columnist

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Last year we were thrilled when Dave Broom agreed to start writing feature stories for us. He’s one of the best in the business.

I am proud to say that Dave has now agreed to write a Scotch whisky column in ever issue of Malt Advocate. His first column will appear in our Summer issue, which mails late May. (It’s too late to get him in our Spring issue, which  is already designed.)

If anybody knows what’s going on in Scotch whisky, Dave does. He’ll be our “eyes and ears” and report back with his insights and findings.

This Scotch whisky column, combined with Lew Bryson’s American whiskey column, means that we’ll have the two largest whisky markets thoroughly covered.

I can honestly say that we have the the finest group of writers we’ve every had since the inception of Malt Advocate 19 years ago.

New Maker’s Mark bourbon!

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

No, it’s not April Fools Day. Kevin Smith, Master Distiller of Maker’s Mark bourbon, just called me. And boy is he excited. (I’m excited too!) There will soon be a new Maker’s Mark on the market.

I have been very vocal about wanting to see something new from Maker’s, and it looks like I’m going to get my wish. In fact, he’s sending me a review sample!

Here’s the scoop on this new whiskey. According to Kevin, their desire is to produce a whiskey that’s still in the Maker’s Mark style, but with more intense flavors. After doing some research on different options, they have settled on enhancing the whiskey’s flavor with toasted oak staves.

Using oak staves is not new to whiskey. Compass Box used toasted oak staves when aging their whiskies for The Spice Tree whisky. (That is, until the Scotch Whisky Association found out about it. Now he’s using toasted oak barrel heads.)

Basically, they are taking Regular Maker’s Mark out of the barrels and into the receiving tank like they would normally do. But instead of sending the whiskey to the bottling line, they insert toasted oak staves into the original barrels and then put the bourbon back into the barrel for several month of additional aging.

The new whiskey hasn’t come out yet. In fact, they don’t even have a name for it. (For the time being, it’s just Maker’s Mark Profile #51.) Will it be a regular item? That’s the plan.  Kevin said he likes the flavor profile of this new whiskey at 94 proof, and that’s probably what the whiskey will be bottled at.

I should have my review sample by Friday at the latest, so stay tuned!

The new blog design is up. Tell me about the glitches.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I’ll go over all the changes and enhancements with you soon. Right now I just want to know about the problems.

If you see that something isn’t working correctly, post up a comment here and we’ll look into it.

Thank you!

If you’re bored…

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Okay, Post #5 on this cold rainy day. Does that mean I can take tomorrow off from blogging?

I didn’t know this was published until a reader told me about it. A few months ago, I was asked a few questions about new trends in whisky for Delta’s Sky magazine. Someone flying last week read it and told me about it. They got most of it right…

If you want to see it (and you’re bored), there’s a digital edition of Sky. Here’s a link to the page with the whisky info on it. Of course, you know most of this stuff already.

An administrative note

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

As I mentioned before, we’re in the process of revising the blog, preparing for video blog posts, and other fun things. Some of the “behind the scenes” activities will take place this week in preparation for this.

So, if anything strange happens this week (you don’t hear from me for a day or so, some of the functions go haywire, or something else unpredictable happens), you’ll know why.

I put up four posts today on a very cold and rainy Sunday here at the New Jersey shore (where we’re spending the weekend), so that should keep you going for a while.

Find a great whisky deal? Let us in on it.

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

I’ve noticed that the threads on various posts (like this one) regularly discuss where you found a whisky (rare or not) for a great price. Why don’t we start a thread where we can let our fellow WDJK readers know about a great deal.

Share your great finds with us so we can benefit too. (Retailers: please, no self-promoting.) What did you find, how much was it, and where did you get it?