“The Scotch Blog”

Unfortunately I let the URL www.thescotchblog.com go…

Worse someone registered it – and worse yet – his name is (or he calls himself ) “Kevin”.

I hope that no one thinks  that Kevin is me – or that The Scotch Blog is related in anyway to this The Scotch Blog.

It’s not.



Scotch Whisky Glass.com

Fellow Richmond, Virginia resident Ken Blankenship wanted to let people know that he recently launched SCOTCHWHISKYGLASS.COM, a new GLENCAIRN Glassware website.

For a wide selection of GLENCAIRN whisky glassware, including the Traditional GLENCAIRN Tasting Glass in unetched and Distillery etched Logo form, Cut Crystal, Nosing Copitas, IONA Water Pitchers and Whisky Accessories.


Whisky Explorer’s Club

Doug Stone of For Scotch Lovers wrote to let me know about a new endeavour:

I wanted to let you know about a very exciting club I’m about to launch, called the Whisky Explorers Club.   The goal of the club is two fold: 1) to introduce members to exciting whiskies from around the world without any preconceived notions as to what they’re tasting and 2) to get them to share those experiences with other whisky drinkers.  There are going to be three membership levels to the club, but regardless of which level members choose, all will have the following core benefit which is aimed at achieving the club goals:

Six (6) times a year each member will receive four (4) tasting sample bottles of  whiskies from around the world. These whiskies will arrive in generically-labeled bottles, with no brand or age identity.  Members will also receive instructions directing them to our website, where they will be required to input their own tasting notes for each whisky, after which they will provided with the name of the whisky they tasted.

For more information click here


A snazzy black case showed up last last week.

In it were several bottles of whisky as well as an empty bottle, a mixing flask, a glass funnel and a tasting glass.

It’s part of the Johnnie Walker Black Label Centenary Journeyman Blending Event webcast I was invited to participate in tomorrow.

It’s great that producers are finally starting to embrace – and figure out how to use – the web as a marketing tool.

It opens up new opportunities for social connection and promotion. And of course, while this is an invite-only event (due to the physical components) webcasts allow for that one-to-many marketing reach – in a completely interactive way that print/broadcast and even viral videos cannot offer.

For the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Johnnie Walker Black Label, we’d love to have you join us as we blend single malt whiskies along with Johnnie Walker Black Label Master Blender via a by-invitation only webcast on September 29th at 3pm Eastern Daylight Time.

2009 marks the 100th Anniversary of Johnnie Walker Black Label. In honor of this momentous occasion one of the Johnnie Walker Master Blender’s – Andrew Ford – will be traveling from Scotland for a rare private event. He’ll be hosting a live webcast blending exercise and we’d love for you to participate in it.

You will be taken through a series of single malts, nosing and blending these fine spirits from around the various regions of Scotland, from the comfort of your home or office. You’ll even be able to submit questions via the webcast.

Sounds like fun. I may live blog about it over on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/realerskine), but I may be too busy mixing up my own bottle of JW Black.

It’s tomorrow at 3pm (Eastern Daylight Time)…and I’ll surely have a follow-up post here.


Singlemalt TV brings you the Bourbon Festival

If you didn’t get a chance to get to the Bourbon festival this year, don’t fret. SMTV was there.

Here’s one of the reports.

Last week Singlemalt TV took their full show on the road, working round-the-clock from
a historic former library in downtown Bardstown as preparations for the 18th Kentucky
Bourbon Festival commenced. Camera crews worked to capture all the offerings of
Bourbon Country, shooting at distilleries and on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail in the
days leading up to the festival.
After filming a live webcast each morning, camera crews set out on assignment to
various locations around the region. Upon returning from each location, crews turned
over their footage to a video editor working from the Bardstown headquarters who
meticulously cut each segment for a nightly show. For six days and nights Singlemalt
TV’s on-location staff worked to deliver exclusive up-to-the-minute coverage of the KBF
as it unfolded, maintaining their exacting broadcast-caliber standard throughout.

Much Needed Humour Injection

I get a lot of emails from folks starting the “next big blog” – and I generally ignore them.

Today I received this email:

We have started a blog called “The Malt Impostor”, and our goal is to provide humorous alternative tasting notes for single malt scotch (and perhaps later, other malted beverages). We’re not in the business of doing real tasting notes–we’re just having fun riffing on some of the more pretentious notes we’ve seen out there.

We have a handful of posts, all of scotch in miniature “airline” bottles, and we’ll be posting more notes regularly.  We’d love it if you’d come and take a look.

I took a look and I liked what I saw. Funny and indeed poking fun of the growing number of sites popping up and offering up their pretentious notes.

Take a look. Let’s hope these guys stick with it…because the Whisky world needs a lot more fun and a lot less pretension.


It’s got to stop

The always outspoken Mark Reynier turns his ire towards the plethora of Spirits awards…

These events, masquerading as consumer advice, are an out and out revenue earner for the associated magazine behind the event. With each entry being between £100 and £250, the bigger companies flood the entries with a pallet loads of samples to ensure winning something.

And Mark doesn’t stop there.

Competitions and festivals are sprouting up everywhere – they are big money – and sums that are eagerly paid by a crazed industry addicted to squandering vast amounts for more worthless medals than an African despot.

Funny. And becoming sadly true.

I think the most prestigious awards have got to be the ones handed out by the Malt Maniacs – though the Maniacs do gravitate toward more esoteric tastes – or our own Drammies…which have become the “People’s Choice awards” for the Whisky world – yet neither awards get played up as much when a single “expert” declares his favourite – usually, I think, directly associated with advertising dollars.

Eh. It is what it is.

Read the rest of Mark’s rant at the Bruichladdich Blog.

Jura Taste Challenge

Another marketing stunt. But a fun one:

Two of the world’s greatest drinks experts are set to meet face to face in a showdown designed to answer the age-old question: how should you take your whisky?

The issue of whether you should drink quality Scots whisky on its own, on the rocks or with a splash of water has divided drinkers the world over for generations.

A question that has sparked countless debates, split friends and divided families, this centuries-old conundrum is finally set to be answered in a showdown organised by the makers of Jura single malt whisky
In an attempt to settle the issue once and for all, Jura is to host an exclusive online video debate between Richard Paterson – master blender at the Isle of Jura distillery and widely recognised as the world’s best whisky blender – and Colin Field, who as head barman at the Ritz Paris is arguably the best cocktail mixer in the world.

Representing polar opposites in the argument over how good Scots malt should be enjoyed, the two men are primed and ready for what looks set to become an historic battle.

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. For years I’ve been forced to stand by and watch as barroom dandies sully the world’s greatest drink with a range of inappropriate mixers and sacrilegious frills, but enough is enough. Whisky is something that should be appreciated in the pure, God-given form that its distillers intended, and now I’m going to prove that once and for all,” said Paterson who believes you should not even mix the golden liquid with ice.

Field on the other hand thinks anything goes as long as it’s a quality experience. “Single malt is a drink for anybody, anywhere, anyhow. The purists can complain about it as much as they like, but with the right mixers and a splash of imagination, it can be conjured into a world-beating taste experience that will knock the spots off anything the whisky snobs might offer,” said The Ritz barman.

“Their time is over, and I’m going to show the world how a new generation of drinkers takes theirs.”

Scheduled to be broadcast online at 7pm (ed: I am assuming GMT) on Thursday, July 16th, the showdown will see Paterson and Field go head to head in a fierce struggle already being billed as the whisky world’s answer to Ali V Foreman. Set against the backdrop of Jura’s spectacular island scenery, each will be forced to summon every last drop of their considerable expertise if they hope to carry the day.

To see what promises to be a feisty broadcast please visit the Jura website on www.isleofjura.com on Thursday this week.

Watch the YouTube trailer.

Production over 25 years has been flat

According to a letter published today in The Herald the production of LPA (litres pure alcohol) of Scotch Whisky has not changed much over the past 25 years.

a total growth of 1.14% over the 25-year span, equivalent to an annual growth in physical volumes of 0.145%.

At least that’s what Donald Blair contends in a report published in September last year entitled The Global Scotch Whisky Industry: Hit or Myth – a 25-year study

I used independent research commissioned and published by the Scotch Whisky Association to estimate that, had the Scotch whisky industry matched general global economic growth during the 25-year period studied (conservatively estimated at around 1.5% a year in real terms by some researchers), there would have been around 16,700 new jobs necessarily created in Scotland to meet the increased global demand for Scotch. The jobs foregone through the industry’s minuscule growth in the past 25 years thus put Diageo’s potential 900 job losses in the shade.

The Whole Scottish/Canadian Situation

I’ve basically stayed out of the debate over Glen Breton, because I think it’s silly and was a dumb fight for the SWA to pick.

My gut feel is that they had to see it through simply because they could not afford to appear to be picking on India over their use of Scottish sounding names, whilst letting the Canadians off with a free ride.

The biggest downside for the SWA is the potential for the Governments in countries where they are bringing action basically tell them to bugger off…which is what happened here. This reduces their moral high-ground and reduces their ability to pursue in other countries. These start to look like “nuisance suits”.

My friend Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich always has his own view on what is going on in the world of Whisky and, in this case draws the very keen connection that you can’t say you are attempting to save the world from confusion over names, while, at the same time creating additional confusion with the use of the unfortunate term “Blended Malt”. A term to which I have been a staunch opponent.

Pot Kettle Black
by Mark Reynier
The owner of The Glenora Distillery in Cape Breton is celebrating the end of a long legal battle with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Glenora Distillers International Ltd., won a major victory when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal by the SWA that could have blocked the company’s trademark Glen Breton Rare. For nine years and through four levels of court challenges, the Scotch Whisky Association has fought to protect the Scottishness of he word “Glen”.

“We have no objection to the production of single malt whisky in Canada,” said the SWA’s David Williamson. “What is of concern, though, is any product that tries to take unfair advantage of Scotch whisky’s international reputation by adopting a Scottish-sounding name.”

Unsurprisingly the word “Glen” figures in an area colonised by Scots. Glenora, whose main product Glen Breton Rare single malt takes its name from its hometown of, er, Glenville, a small hamlet just south of um, Inverness – in, er, Nova Scotia.

Williamson said: “We’ve been working to protect Scotch whisky around the world for many, many years. There is evidence that the market was confused by [Glen Breton’s] trademark. Consumers thought they were buying a Scotch whisky, but they were really getting something else.” So really no different in principle to the SWA’s own blatantly deceptive title ‘Blended Malt’ where consumers are apparently not at all confused as to whether they are buying a Single malt or a Blended whisky.

The legal costs have hurt the small company (no doubt an intentional tactic) and more costs may be on the way as the SWA sourly seek to continue the affair: “We’ll be opposing applications to register the marque in any country where confusion is likely in the future.”

Of course Glenora Distillers International Ltd does not need to register its trademark in every country that it wishes to trade in. Perhaps the company’s owner should trademark his own name instead – now THAT would really cause consternation: Scotts Single Malt Whisky.