"Ruin" Scotch Whisky? I Don't Think So.

Almost 3 years ago, someone asked me about the requirement to bottle Scotch Whisky in Scotland.

I told them that there was, at that time, no requirement for Scotch Whisky to be bottled in Scotland. That was a true statement then and it is a true statement now.

Even at that time, the SWA was working on some legislation to ensure that Single Malt Scotch Whisky would have to be bottled in Scotland, but that would not affect the bottling of other categories of Scotch Whisky overseas. That legislation has never made it to law.

David Williamson of the SWA expanded:

As you are aware, there has never been a requirement in the legal definition of Scotch Whisky for it to be bottled only in Scotland. As Scotch Whisky has grown in popularity around the world over the last century, we have therefore seen Scotch Whisky, principally Blended Scotch Whisky, shipped for local bottling in certain export markets.

Over the years, overseas bottling developed in some markets because it was the only way in which imported spirits, such as Scotch Whisky, were allowed to operate on a level playing field with domestic spirit drinks. In contrast, bottled imported spirits would face tariff or tax discrimination, distorting competition in the market and denying local consumers choice. In other markets, Scotch Whisky has been imported in bulk for blending with domestic whiskies.

While it is likely that there would therefore be considerable legal difficulties in requiring that all Scotch Whisky now be bottled in Scotland, the situation is very different for Single Malt Scotch Whisky, as only very small quantities have been exported for local bottling in the past and any requirement to bottle in Scotland would only impact on trade to a limited extent. SWA members are therefore supportive of introducing such a requirement as part of the wider package of proposals that are currently being brought forward.

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

But all of a sudden, Diageo’s VERY REASONABLE, if not happily accepted, plan to move bottling operations from Kilmarnock to Fife is being attacked.

Yes, jobs will be lost in Kilmarnock…But new jobs will be created elsewhere. And Fife isn’t exactly China, is it?

In this economy*, lost jobs are not often replaced in other areas of the same country, are they?

When written as “DIAGEO’S plan to end Johnnie Walker’s historic links with Kilmarnock could be the beginning of a process that will destroy the Scotch whisky industry,” it sounds quite alarmist, doesn’t it.

“A spokesman for Diageo accused the MPs of overreacting. “We fully appreciate that emotions are running high, but we reserve our right to have undertaken a major review of our business in Scotland,”

I whole-heartedly agree.

As Douglas Fraser, business and economy editor at BBC Scotland, correctly states

Already, between 10% and 20% of Scotch Whisky – leaves Scotland in bulk rather than bottles. Diageo sends less than half that proportion.

So articles such as Diageo plans ‘could ruin Scotch whisky’ are alarmist and unnecessary – and fueled by a political over-reaction to the necessity of consolidating jobs in a down economy – which is ANY employers prerogative.

I am sure Diageo has been dreaming of moving more bottling “off-shore” and has a perfect excuse In this economy*. And nothing in the existing OR PLANNED law prevents them from doing so. But they aren’t doing that here, are they?

The politicians got caught with their pants down and the people whom they represent who may be losing jobs will not be happy – but when the only argument the opposition has is that Diageo is laying the ground-work for ruining Scottish historical significance of a whisky brand, they’ve already lost the battle.

When will people realize that Diageo isn’t a foundation of Scottish culture – it’s a large multi-national company – that exists to bring share-holder value. And while I have been an outspoken commenter against a number of their marketing practices, as a Diageo shareholder, business consultant and MBA, I understand and accept operational review and elimination of redundancies.

That’s Business, folks.
_________________________________________
* Vastly overused term.

Independent Bottler, Eh?

I recently had a chance to chat with Barry Bernstein of Premium Bottlers- Canada’s first and only Independent bottler.

The company was formed by two enthusiasts who were frustrated with the limited quantity of Single Malt Scotch available on the Canadian market.

The IB and Canadian Liquor Law

You are likely familiar with the concept of an Independent Bottler (or IB) who sources casks of whisky (usually, but not always, fully matured) from brokers or directly from distilleries. They then bottle, label and market the products – usually to specialty shops, you seldom find them in your corner liquor shop.

PblabelThese casks are often – but not always, hand selected by the IB and usually, but not always, bottled as “Single Cask”

Canada’s “interesting” liquor laws create special problems for a company like Premium Bottlers – the interesting law I am talking about dictates that a spirit marketed by Canadians must contain at least 1% of spirit (not necessarily whisky) which has been produced in Canada.

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Here's Johnnie

I always look forward to pieces by Will Lyons in Scotland on Sunday.He recently did a piece on Johnnie Walker that goes beyond the usual reporting on facts and figures and gets to the heart of the real story.

Love it or hate it, Johnnie Walker is the face of Scotch whisky to much of the world. And as much derision as I give Diageo for some of their marketing practices, the JW brand follows the "Erskine Prescription" for whisky marketing – desist "castles and kilts" marketing and focus on lifestyle and taste – and Diageo has done a bang-up job of this over the years.

Here are the first few paragraphs of this great story….

Here’s Johnnie

Sunday, September 2, 2007
William Lyons

IT WAS a damp, bleak November morning seven years ago when Ivan Menezes, global marketing director for Diageo’s spirits division, unveiled a £100m marketing push for the group’s flagship brand.

It was to be the group’€™s first ever global advertising campaign and came on the back of a lengthy period of stagnation for Johnnie Walker and a fall in sales. The new adverts marked a significant departure from the traditional Scotch advertising that relied on Highland glens, roaring log fires and cut-glass tumblers full of whisky. In their place were images of Harvey Keitel confronting his stage-fright and Ramon Kelvink, a French tightrope walker, crossing from one New York skyscraper to another.

Fielding questions from the assembled press pack, Menezes denied that the new campaign, which was to focus on South America, was taking Scotland out of Scotch.

€œ"We are losing older drinkers by the bucketful," he fulminated, "but only gaining new ones by the thimbleful. We will all benefit from everyone focusing on building brands and making their brands relevant to younger consumers. We are going to revitalise the category by relevant brand building."

Fast forward to last Thursday morning and it was very much mission accomplished. Delivering full-year results to the City, Paul Walsh, Diageo’s chief executive, bullishly announced that Johnnie Walker had enjoyed a record year. Exceeding all expectations he told the market that whisky drinkers had spent £3.5bn on more than 15 million cases in the past year.

This one brand now accounts for half of Diageo’s Scotch whisky sales and £1bn of £7bn group turnover. At any one time there are seven million bottles waiting to mature at its 27 distilleries in Scotland, making it the third largest spirit and wine brand in the world. To put it another way, 178 glasses of Johnnie Walker are now consumed every second.

A day later, speaking by telephone from Amsterdam, Johnnie Walker’€™s global brand director, Ben Anderson, echoed his sentiments.

"It now truly is a global brand. It is drunk in more than 200 countries and is the number one selling Scotch by a country mile. With our sponsorship of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One team we are exposed to more than four billion people around the world every year. It is fair to say Johnnie Walker sits firmly alongside the world’s iconic brands. You see this in people’s reaction to Johnnie Walker from Sao Paulo to Shanghai. It’€™s just phenomenal; there is a real passion for this brand."

Read the rest of the story at Scotland on Sunday….

Edrington strategies seem to be working

The work that Edrington has been doing with their brands seems to be bearing some fruit. Here is a recap and commentary on the Edrington Group’s results for the 12 months ending 31st March, 2007 and announced on July 4th 2007.

The Famous Grouse
The Famous Grouse, already popular in Scotland is starting to take off in other places, including the US. I became a big fan of the Grouse while in Scotland, where FG is the number one selling Scotch.

The Famous Grouse, our flagship brand, exceeded three million cases
sold for the first time in 2006/07.  The brand has been the market
leader in Scotland for the last 27 years and it is pleasing to report
that it has also improved its position within the UK, its largest
market. We continue to invest significantly behind The Famous Grouse in
international markets and the brand has grown and developed its premium
positioning in all of the key territories: Europe, The Americas and
Asia Pacific.

Priced right and quite smooth it’s a great house blend for your bar. I’d suggest stashing a few bottles because when a company talks about "premiumising our portfolio of key whisky brands" it generally means they will be raising prices.

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What's the deal with Blackwood?

There are questions in the whisky community about Blackwood Distillers. The Scotch Whisky Review just released their own humorous take on the lack of actual distillation taking place at the company, and Ian Buxton, frequent TSB contributor has his own thoughts on the subject.

He asks the questions that a lot of people have been banging around – "What the hell is the deal with Blackwood Distillers?



Is no one else bothered by the activities of Blackwood Distillers?

Quite remarkably this company is still promoting themselves as “Blackwood Distillers of Shetland” with the claim “From the remotest region of Scotland, come pure natural spirits…”

That must be darkest Airdrie (some 15 arduous and remote miles from Glasgow city centre) where, under a private label contract, InverHouse Distillers make most of Blackwood’s white spirits.  (For those unfamiliar with the geography of Scotland, Shetland is a group of islands in the far North, nearly 400 miles from Airdrie and involving a 12 hour sea crossing.)

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Animal Farm

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

George Orwell, Animal Farm


Packshot
Irreverent, quirky, independent, are just three of the terms used to describe the eccentrically named whiskies Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose. The terms apply equally well to the brands’ owner, drinks marketer Alex Nicol.

A former COO of Whyte and Mackay, Alex took on the two brands when he left the company in mid 2005. Alex says:

These brands are typical orphan brands discarded by large companies for being unworkable into International brands – and too quirky to succeed in their portfolio.

So Alex set up Spencerfield Spirit, a home for parent-less brands.

Sheep Dip – a blend of single malt whiskies – and Pig’s Nose – a blended scotch – are perfect for a small company such as ours, dedicated to providing a quality alternative to mainstream brands. It’s that simple”.

Alex has four rules for raising his orphan brands. “No 1, achieve the best possible product quality. No 2, avoid discounting. No 3, work only with partners who share your business philosophy”. And the fourth? “Have as much fun as you can doing it and try not to go bust”.

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We scoop everyone. Again.

On May 7th, here on The Scotch Blog, Sam Simmons announced that Edrington would stop selling JMR whisky in the UK markets.

From May 10th’s edition of  "The Herald":

Efforts to rejuvenate whisky are scotched

Meanwhile, JMR Easy Drinking Whisky Company,
founded in 2003, has withdrawn its range of three blended malt whiskies
- the Big Spicy One, The Smokey Peaty One and The Smooth Sweeter One -
from the UK market after disappointing sales.

The company, backed by Edrington, had hoped to "demystify" the world
of Scotch and make the sector more palatable to outsiders. Its three
founders, brothers Jon and Mark Geary and master blender David "Robbo"
Robertson, claimed they had "chucked out the Scotch whisky rule book"
through their quirky and irreverent approach to marketing.

However, the company yesterday (TSB ed. – May 9th) confirmed it has
thrown in the towel in the UK market. Founder director Mark Geary said
it will instead be focusing on the US market.

Yeah, that’s right. You heard it here first on May 7th:).

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In the Company of Easy Drinkers: The JMR Eulogy

Today’s guest writer, Sam Simmons first fell in love with the water of life 5 years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland where he ‘researched’ whisky as the poet laureate of the Edinburgh University Water of Life Society and later pursued further ‘research’ as president. He has hosted whisky tastings in many countries, for fun as well as fund-raising (Amnesty International), and continues to act as an amateur whisky educator and propagandist. He currently lives in London where he has worked for Sukhinder Singh and the Whisky Exchange, is desperately trying to finish a PhD on Ezra Pound, fascism, and modernist literary aesthetics, and records his Malt Missions as Dr. Whisky.



In the Company of Easy Drinkers: The JMR Eulogy

When I lived in Ottawa working to earn my Masters degree, I spent one wild night downing glass after glass of Gibson’s Finest with a woman, who I can say without trepidation, was one of Ottawa’s finest. But other than that lovely occasion, my Masters had very little to do with whisky. It wasn’t until I pursued a doctorate in Scotland that whisky really grabbed a hold of me. Masters of drink (and brothers) Jon and Mark Geary, along with Master distiller David Robertson had created a product that was to play a large part in my years in Edinburgh as a Master of Arts, in pursuit of a Doctor of Philosophy.

Sadly, while I still write paragraph after paragraph, edit footnote after footnote, and work to spend more time in libraries than in pubs to finish this dissertation project as old as the Easy Drinking Whisky Company itself, Jon, Mark, and Robbo is calling it quits… at least in the UK.

Yes, you read it here first (just like Kevin’s coverage of the innuendo and rumours in the run-up to the announcement of David Robertson’s move to Whyte & Mackay). If there is one place on-line where it is safe to beat the official presses it is the Scotch Blog. Yeah, I could’ve done it on my blog, but, for starters, my format is a little dry for this venue.

But what if the styles were merged… Malt Mission, history and tasting impressions AS WELL AS straight news with blunt comment… What would it look like?

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Welsh Whisky Company

At Whisky Live London, I had an opportunity to speak with Gillian Howell of The Welsh Whisky Company about, the first Welsh single malt in over 100 years.

Gillian is quite unusual in the world of whisky. 1. She is Welsh, 2. She makes the only Welsh whisky currently in production; and 3. She is the only female distiller of whom I am aware.

KE – Tell me about Penderyn

JH – Basically, we reignited a tradition in Wales. It’s a brand new distillery, but over 150 years ago there was distilling in Wales. But due to temperance movements, and the fact that the guy who knew how to run the distillery died in an accident – the combination of those two things basically killed the Welsh whisky industry. This company was started by six people sitting in a pub, where most good ideas come from, talking about whisky. "Scotland’s got it, Ireland’s got it, why not Wales?" So that was it.
The seed was planted as it were and the first distillation took place on September 14th  2000.

KE – Is there anything unique to Welsh whisky?

JH – Yes. We use a completely unique distillation process, different from Ireland, different from Scotland.

KE – How so?

JH – In Scotland you have two pot stills, and you distill from one to the next. In Ireland they’ve got three. While at Penderyn, we’ve got one.

KE – But you are double distilled, right?

JH – No. Only once. We’ve incorporated a fair bit of new technology onto the still. The guy who designed it is called David Faraday (a descendant of renowned British scientist Michael Faraday), who examined stills around the world, and created this one by combining the most efficient parts of existing stills. A "super-still" if you will.

It produces an incredibly clean whisky, coming out at almost 92% on a single distillation. In comparison to Scotland where the double distillation produces between 70%-80%. The higher the alcohol content, the cleaner the spirit is.

And when you put the spirit into cask, it absorbs whatever has been in the cask previously. But the cask also leeches out some of the less desirable flavors, but with a higher alcoholic content, there are  fewer less desirable flavors to be removed, this gives the cask less work to do, and it matures more quickly. The spirit you are tasting now, what would you put as the age ?

KE - It’s light, I’d say between 6 – 8 years.

JH – That’s only a 4 year old.

KE – I wouldn’t have guessed that, but tell me, why release at 4? To get into the market?

JH - Yes, but also because of the way we make it, it was ready at 4 years. Most Scotch isn’t ready at 4 years. Jim Swan helped with the creation and hand selected the best casks, which is a big factor in the maturation. Jim selects which casks are ready to bottle. These were, in Jim’s estimation, read to go. We did want to get into the market though and we plan to slowly move the age up as our stock matures. Our plan is to have our standard bottling at 5 years – when Jim believes it will be at its peak, but we are also going to be laying down a certain percentage of stock for older whisky. I suppose like other companies, we may decide to release certain age labels. But most people think it is an 8 year old already. So it will be very interesting to see if the 6 tastes like 12, and so on.

KE – Tell me about the process.

JH – We use no peat, it’s aged in first and second fill ex-bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace, and when it’s ready the barrels are married and then put into Madeira casks for 6 months. When we first started we used some ex Scotch, as we didn’t have second fill ex-bourbon. We also have a few sherry casks in the mix and we are experimenting with different finishes.

KE – Let’s talk about the still. Is it a traditional pot still shape?

JH – Yes, but it has a column on top, and it is connected to another column. It’s completely revolutionary – there isn’t another like it in the world.

KE – What about Blends? Has anyone approached you about using Penderyn in a blend?

JH – Right now, we have such limited stock, so it’s more likely that we’ll bottle it all ourselves.

KE – When the first bottle actually hit the shelves?

JH – March 1, 2004. March 1st is St. David’s day, a national day in Wales, Prince Charles came down – brilliant day, so it’s been 2 years, now.

KE – Here’s the obvious question: You are Welsh, You are female, and you are working in a Scottish male dominated industry. How’s that working out for you?

JH – This is an unusual job to have to start with. So it is just another point of difference. The tradition is that the job was handed down from son to son in Scotland – when they started up Penderyn, they wanted to be different in how things were done. So why not go for a female.

————————

Let’s Talk Packaging

Penderynbottle2One reader asked why I focus so much on packaging. "Because it’s important." Says I.

All other things being equal, a consumer who is unfamiliar with two choices will lean towards the nicer package. This is a constant in marketing. Good packaging says quality. You ARE judged by how you dress.

And the folks at the Welsh whisky company get it.

The bottle itself is nothing to speak of, very much a transparent version of a standard "high-shouldered"  Cabernet bottle that has been stretched out a bit – elegant and attractive, but not remarkable.

But when placed in the "presentation frame" the bottle becomes magnificent. The elegant frame accentuates the clean lines of the bottle beautifully. The gold inscribed, black frame is the perfect contrast to the bright gold color of the whisky.

The packaging yells quality. So far, it’s a front runner for my 2006 "best packaging" award.

But, packaging can only help get that first sale – what’s in the bottle is what makes the second sale.

Penderyn’s official tasting notes, per Dr. Jim Swan:

Penderyn has an exceptionally balanced taste with an aroma of
cream toffee and fleetingly of fresh new leather. Then, as the initial
sensations fade, the finishing notes of tropical fruits, raisins and
vanilla emerge strongly and are long lasting.

My impressions:

Undiluted: A little spirity on the nose, which gave way to a young wine aroma, with unripe apples, and early grapes, slightly solvent, and a very light, early spring floral aroma. Surprisingly rich mouth feel, and a strong malt taste with pronounced oak spice – gives way to bourbon, a spicy bite and very light, dried fruit It does taste young, but definitely not 4 years young.

Diluted: It didn’t change the nose much, but the solvent became more pronounced. I tasted more sweetness with the dilution, but at the cost of some malt. Finish was long with more pronounced oak, spice and bourbon.

I preferred it undiluted.

Overall: Very balanced for something so young – but not complex. I don’t notice much of the Madeira, to be honest – except for spice in the finish. I liked Penderyn – and I would love to see where it goes in the next few years. I think this will be some incredible stuff with some more maturity. I’d also like to see it either with a stronger Madeira influence or none at all. I can’t decide. Either way, this is drinkable stuff.

(These notes were NOT taken at the Whisky Live London, show, but a month later in my study – Festivals are an excellent place to try new things, but a horrible place to take serious notes.)

I asked Brett Pontoni of Binny’s Beverage Depot his thoughts:

Its actually pretty well made, a touch young, but not overly spirity, this stuff is going to be killer in another 2-4 years, right now its still solid.  Kind of mindful of a lowland with more weight than you would guess from the color.  The wood regimen that Jim Swan designed must work, because I would normally be suspicious of a "spirity" character in a whisky 4-5 years old, it is bright and racy, but not dominated by alcohol.

For you sticklers, Penderyn is pronounced pen-DARE-in.

Availability

Officialy introduced here on March 1, 2006, Penderyn is bottled at
46% abv, non chill filtered, with a price point of $70 (Binny’s). 

Penderyn is slowly working its way into the U.S. – imported by Monsieur
Henri, Penderyn is available in 6 states so
far…watch this space for more.

In addition to Penderyn, the Welsh Whisky Company produces Merlyn Cream LogoLiqueur, Brecon Vodka, and Brecon Gin. The company remains privately owned and the next major goal is the construction of a visitors center at the Penderyn Distillery.

"The" Whisky Glass

It was after I had completed this story that it was announced that Glencairn Crystal was awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Congratulations!


TastingglasssketchI love the Glencairn tasting glass – its the glass I use for all of my personal tasting notes.

If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then it is obvious that others love it as well – there have been a rash of imitators since the glass was first introduced in 2001.

But none, in my estimation, are the equal of this glass – and most are simply variations on a theme.

About the glass:

The glass was designed with a tapered mouth to focus the aroma while at the same time being open enough to make it easy to drink from. This was married to a robust base that is comfortable in the hand and allow gentle warming of the liquid to open it up, resulting in a stylish attractive glass, a base to keep the hand clear of the liquid and it has no cuts or decoration that would obscure the colour while at the same time being easy to drink from.

I originally met Raymond & Scott Davidson, of Glencairn Crystal, in London, but it wasn’t until we met up in New York, that I got a chance to talk to them in detail about the genesis of the Glencairn Glass and the imitators.

Kevin Erskine - Let’s talk about the Glencairn glass and why it’s better than any other glass on the market…

Raymond Davidson – First, let’s talk about how it came about. I’ve been a whisky drinker all of my adult life. I’d go in a bar, select whatever whisky I wanted, and I’d always say to the barman "Would you mind putting that into a wine glass please?" So I’m doing this for years and I think – This is crazy – I’ve got a crystal business – I should do something about this.

And that’s when we came up with this. And once I was satisfied with it, I was quite happy – and I let it go – I forgot about it, as I do with many things.

My oldest son, Paul was in the warehouse 10-12 years later, found the glass in the warehouse and said "What’s this?" I told him all about it, and we decided to revisit it, by getting master blenders from 5 of the biggest whisky companies involved.

My original design is slightly smaller than the one we produce today – because I like small measures – plenty of them, but smaller.

KE - You introduced it in 2001 and it’s caught on quite well. Certain unnamed people use it in their book to describe the perfect tasting glass.

Scott Davidson – Wise man.

KE - What about the imitators? I don’t even "get" the Riedel glass, You can’t hold it properly, and I don’t like the turned out lip.

RD – Everyone has their preferences, as you can see from our display, we’ve been supplying all sorts of shapes of glasses to the industry – we sell more of the standard whisky tumbler, which comes in all shapes & sizes: tall, fat, slim, heavy, light, and so on. And that’s fine. They are absolutely perfect if you want your whisky on ice or with coke.

But if you want whisky on its own, then this is the whisky glass I would recommend. This glass was designed to guide the drinker to nose before he drinks… and I think that’s part of its success.

SD – All glasses have a place. They are all trying to help with the education process. We like this glass (Glencairn) which was created in the right environment – master blenders got behind it, the Scotch Whisky Association supported it, all the right people helped develop it – all to make sure that the glass was right for the whisky consumer.

All of the other glasses are trying to do a similar job – make sure you get a chance to nose the whisky, and all help in the education process – I can’t say anything bad against any of them.

KE - Before your glass came out, everyone used a sherry copita. So basically everyone now says "The Glencairn Glass – a brilliant idea, let me change it slightly, and do my own. "

SD – It can be a bit irritating, lots of people are trying to come up with an idea – the problem is, these are all their own ideas, there is no fundamental reason behind it – it’s all an augmentation of what we created.

But they are not doing anything really different, and the market sees that – and the imitators don’t step on our toes enough to be an issue. And they’ll likely burn out – they follow the market – they are not market leaders.

KE - There is one new glass , which looks ridiculous, like a miniature "Hurricane" glass. I don’t believe the odd shape adds to your tasting experience.

SD – And that’s the whole point, when you drink from the Glencairn glass, it’s all about an experience that we can ensure you’ll get from professional tasting all the way to the bar – which is where we want it to be. When people say "I want a whisky, and I want it served properly" we hope you’ll get it in a Glencairn glass.

This glass is comfortable in your hand – nobody is disputing that it does the job, so we think we got it right.

KE - And this glass is solid, all the others feel like you are going to shatter them.

SD – But that’s good for business!

KE - Maybe you should make this one thinner…

SD – The point is, those glasses are being created for niche markets, Riedel is big in wine, so feel that they should be in whisky…but it is an expensive glass aimed at a high-end market.

KE - Let’s talk about the bar market; the Glencairn is a solid glass, and bars are looking for good, but sturdy glassware. Are you getting penetration directly into the bar and restaurant market?

SD – Oh yes. A lot of bars in Scotland have contacted us directly. Vodka is the number one drink in Scotland – it defies understanding. We want to get more people drinking whisky when they are out – people with money, those who like premium drinks, a lot of them are moving over to whisky – but as you know, the tumbler is just not the right glass to serve whisky in. There are all of these smashing single malts – but if it is served in the wrong glass, it’s a problem. Every bar that we meet with ends up buying the glass.

RD – If someone orders a whisky, and then don’t intend to put in a mixer or ice, then we want them to be offered the appropriate glass. It gets the message across.

We then talked a little bit about Glasgow, which recently instituted a silly ban on glassware in bars.

KE - Marketing: You’ve done very well by word of mouth alone. Aside from a couple of whisky magazines, you haven’t gone crazy with marketing spends. The glass hit a chord with people.

SD – That’s right. We’ve been really lucky to have fantastic industry support. And places like France where we sold a ton last year – they jumped on it on day one. The U.S. has been a little slower because it’s so segmented.

KE - As much as I love this glass, I’ve been wondering if, like beer, different whiskies shouldn’t have different glasses – just as pilseners, Belgians, pints, etc. each have a specific glass style. Maybe there’s no single glass for everything.

SD – Possibly. I mean there can’t be a glass for everything and for everybody.


By the way, I draw a strict delineation between tasting and drinking. I always use the Glencairn glass for tasting – that is, trying whiskies with an eye towards taking notes – when doing so, I want to take as many variable out of my tasting as possible – and using the same glass every time, removes one major variable.

I do (sometimes) use other glasses when simply drinking – which is trying a whisky for the sheer enjoyment of it. But there is a reason you’ll get a Glencairn at the major shows. It is simply an awesome, and indispensable part of the whisky experience.


About Glencairn Crystal
Glencairn Crystal is a family owned company based in East Kilbride, Scotland. We have been supplying cut-crystal and glassware to the world for over 25 years. Specialising in decoration we have established ourselves as the best in the United Kingdom for engraving and printing. Our portfolio of clients includes large blue chip organisations as well as Government institutions. Our level of attention to detail and customer service has earned us a reputation for reliability and consistency. We are also the number one supplier of crystal and glassware to the Scotch whisky industry as well as the UK’s largest corporate gifts & incentives provider.