Both Rob Allanson and I are motorcycle buffs. But that lucky bastard gets to take a trip around Scotland visiting distilleries on a Triumph Bonneville SE.

From tomorrow, Thursday 4th June through Wednesday 10th June, they’ll be traveling to the farthest reaches of Scotland collecting whisky for a one of a kind bottling.

Distilleries to be visited:
Highland Park – Orkney (north)
Kilchoman – Islay (West)
Bladnoch – Lowlands (South)
Glen Garioch – Highlands (East)
Glenturret – Highland (central point)

Two men and two Triumph motorbikes will set off today (Thursday June 4th) from the most northerly distillery in the British Isles on an epic whisky road trip.

Using the compass points, Whisky Magazine Editor Rob Allanson and BBC Scotland’s Tom Morton aim to visit the most extreme distilleries collecting whisky to create the ultimate bottling. A third rider, using another classic British bike name, Royal Enfield, will be providing photographic coverage.

Journey’s Blend will take the intrepid pair nearly 1,000 miles through some of Scotland’s finest landscapes and towns as they select the ingredients for this one-off special blend.

The journey will see the duo leave Orkney to head to one of Scotland’s newest producing distilleries on Islay, Kilchoman, then travel to Bladnoch in the south before heading north east to Glen Garioch; these distilleries represent the furthest points on Scotland’s distilling map. The trip ends at Glenturret Distillery, home of the Famous Grouse and Scotland’s oldest and most central distilleries, forming the hub of the compass.

Whisky guru and master blender for the Edrington Group John Ramsay will meet the pair there and has agreed to create the final bottling, one of the last projects he will work on before retiring later this year. A proportion of the proceeds will be going to the Parkinson’s Society and the bottling will be launched at Scotland’s greatest whisky tasting event, Whisky Live Glasgow, on Saturday 12th September at The Thistle Hotel, Glasgow.

For more information and interviews with the team please contact Whisky Magazine Editor Rob Allanson on +44 7595 936 766 or email

Whisky + Arthur's Chat + You = Money for Parkinson's Research

This in from Arthur Motley.
Good Cause. Good Event.

If you are on Facebook, you can read it here.

I am hosting a series of whisky tastings in Edinburgh every Monday from July 20th until the end of August (except the 10th).
Location: The Saint (a great new Stockbridge pub from the people behind Bramble Bar)
Street: 44 St Stephen Street
City/Town: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Those dates then:

  • 20th July – Beginners
  • 27th July – Beginners
  • 3rd Aug – Specialist (some rarities!)
  • 17th Aug – Beginners
  • 24th Aug – Beginners
  • 31st August – Beginners
  • Why would you do such a thing?
    I went to university with James Bowthorpe, who is cycling around the world. See more at or find out exactly He is not doing this to break a record (but GO JAMES GO!) but to raise money 1.8 million for Parkinson’s Research. He’s a third of the way round the world but what with cycling 120 miles a day he’s not finding the time to
    fundraise (I know, it’s just plain lazy) and is some way off his target. I felt it was the least I could do, given that he’s gone all heroic on us.

    What’s a whisky tasting?
    Each night will have 5 delicious whiskies and probably the odd bonus thrown in here and there.

    I chat, explain each dram and tell hopefully funny anecdotes. It’s pitched to the interested beginner drinker so you need not know anything about whisky (that’s the point). It will be informal, relaxed and entertaining.

    Who the hell do you think you are?
    I am web and whisky manager for, a respected Edinburgh retailer. Before that I bought whisky for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and have also written the odd article here and there. Although tasting presentations are not part of my job I’ve had fun presenting my favourite drink in places as diverse as Glastonbury Festival, The Guardian newspaper and The Tinners Arms (my Dad’s Cornish pub). I have no loyalty or commercial connection to a whisky brand, which means I can say what I like (no marketing guff tonight thanks!)

    …Sign me up! How do I attend?
    It’s £20 a ticket and we have capacity for 25 people. If you’re interested click ‘Maybe Attending’ or ‘I am attending’ and I’ll get in touch a little nearer the time to explain how you pay for entry by a direct donation to the charity. The specialist tasting will feature rarer and more expensive whiskies so will be a little more expensive.

    I am using my own whisky collection as the initial pouring stock but am hoping that the industry and other whisky fans might be kind enough to contribute the odd bottle so I don’t give away my entire pension plan. I will if I have to though.

    For the sake of clarity, I am paying all my other expenses myself.

    - Why should the industry contribute?
    I know, us whisky workers are endlessly approached for bottles for charity events. That’s why I’m not directly hassling contacts I know well and hoping kind industry people will come to me. That’s Plan A anyway, don’t make me come get you.

    - Why should whisky collectors contribute?
    Michael Jackson was the foremost beer and whisky writer of his generation but sadly died in 2007 of Parkinsons Disease (any malt fan knows this). With his enthusiasm and talent he did as much as anyone to turn whisky into the valued commodity it is today. Collectors and drinkers who were inspired by MJ to hoard a few single malts have a lot to thank him for. You could go the hassle selling all your bottles on ebay and make a buck or two, or you could send me a bottle and I will attempt to make other people fall in love with malt. More expensive/rare bottles will be used in a rarities tasting to maximise the amount of money we can raise. MJ was an exceptionally kind person.

    If you’re interested in donating please e-mail me on

    No Kid Hungry

    Notice how I haven’t been writing here much? Yeah sorry about that.

    Trying to have a personal life, combined with consulting and travel have really made "The Scotch Blog" a red headed step-child. It may be surprising to some of you, but The Scotch Blog is a side-line of a side-line – and NOT my primary focus in life.

    ANYWAY, I wanted to give a shout out to a great charity "Save Our Strength" which has the noble ambition of trying to prevent any child from ever going hungry. If you don’t support that, you are a complete and utter bastard.

    SOS also has a number of fund-raising initiatives. One of those is called "A Tasteful Pursuit":

    Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit® presented by
    Lexus is a unique dinner series that features the nation’s hottest
    chefs joining together to make sure no child in America grows up
    hungry. As they tour the country, these amazing chefs create delicious,
    multi-coursed dinners paired with ultra-premium wines at some of the
    country’s finest dining establishments. Guests enjoy the company of
    these chefs during their dinners and participate in auctions featuring
    one-of-a-kind culinary, travel and lifestyle items.

    In 2007, the culinary community’s collective talent, generosity and
    dedication helped raise $600,000 for our efforts to surround children
    with the nutritious food they need to learn, grow and thrive.

    The 2008 tour will include award winning chefs from around the
    country and make stops at some of the hottest culinary destinations.

    This Thursday, I’ll be attending The Tasteful Pursuit taking place in Washington DC at Charlie Palmer’s. This one also happens to be co-hosted by my very good friends at The Balvenie.

    Look for me if you are also attending, If not, see if there’s a Tasteful Pursuit event near you. If not, seriously consider supporting the charity

    some other way.

    An Open Letter to the Whisky Community:

    I’ve been lucky enough to have met Michael Jackson on a few occasions…meeting him for the first time some 14 years ago at a beer tasting he conducted at the BrickSkeller in Washington DC.

    Like many of you, his writing was my first "formal" introduction to the world of whisky – and all of his books grace my cabinet (some of them actually signed :))

    While my own writing on the subject will never match up to his – his work did motivate me to put pen to paper (er, finger to keyboard) and start this little site about whisky.

    As some of you know Michael recently announced his long-term battle with Parkinson’s – Johanna Ngoh would like to let everyone know about a fund-raiser she’s organizing in conjunction with the upcoming Spirit of Toronto. She is soliciting donations for a silent auction to benefit Parkinson’s research and wants all potential donors to know that their generosity is appreciated and will be acknowledged in the auction catalog both online and in print.

    As most of you are aware, whisky writer Michael Jackson announced before Christmas that he has been dealing with Parkinson’s Disease for the better part of a decade. While this is challenging enough in and of itself, it is distressing that the symptoms of his condition were mistaken by the gossip mill to be the effects of intoxication. It takes years of hard work to build a professional reputation of Michael Jackson’s stature and such misinformation can only serve to damage a livelihood in this industry.

    Michael Jackson openly displayed visible symptoms of Parkinson’s during a recent interview with, an act that takes courage and character in my personal opinion. Watching him speak I became emotional but was also in admiration of the dignified manner in which he carried himself in spite of this obvious challenge.

    He spoke about his first experience with whisky which in turn brought me back to my first visit to a whisky shop in Montreal. It was an aimless, bewildered wandering until I came across a copy of the ‘Malt Whisky Companion’ that provided me with written guidance, in plain language, to the Babel of bottles displayed before me. Looking back I realize that this book was actually my portal into the unique and idiosyncratic world of whisky, and its assorted cast of characters among the trade and enthusiasts who populate this decent and personable community.  Like the author himself, the ‘Malt Whisky Companion’ is unassuming, unpretentious and a reflection of what makes the Scotch whisky trade special, and I am grateful to have had this book and its author as my original mentor on the subject.

    With all the above in mind, I was not content to simply feel pity and pour a dram so I made contact with both Michael Jackson and the Parkinson Society Canada. The result of these communications is that Charles and I are organizing Canada’s first whisky auction to be held by silent bidding at this year’s Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala on Saturday, May 12. Our goal is to gather a collection of 24 bottles of whisky with all proceeds being donated to the Parkinson Society Canada on behalf of Michael Jackson.

    The intention here is not to find a cure with one fund raising event but rather to collectively show appreciation and support of an individual whose work has cultivated a worldwide renaissance of whisky enthusiasm and self-styled connoisseurship. I appeal to you as a member of the whisky community to please contact me if you have a bottle of whisky that you don’t mind putting to a different sort of “good use”, but rest assured that I will be brazen enough to be contacting many of you personally!

    Best regards,
    Johanna Ngoh

    Single Minded, A Single Malt Whisky Journal

    Spirit of Toronto 2007
    Toronto’s Annual Whisky Gala

    The 3 "T's" – Toronto. Tasting. Trout.

    Trout Unlimited Canada is pleased to announce their 3rd annual Single Malt Tasting Fundraiser.

    Join  Trout Unlimited Canada in preserving coldwater habitats within local watersheds with an enjoyable and informative evening, including:

    • sumptuous pre- and post-tasting hors d’ouevres
    • cash bar
    • live & silent auction
    • complimentary draw for TUC Artist of the Year print
    • a lively ‘tour’ of Scotland’s famous Glenfiddich Distillery by knowledgeable and entertaining Ian Millar, Chief Brand Ambassador, and
    • a formal guided tasting of exclusive Glenfiddich single malt scotch whiskys.

    Trout Unlimited Canada is a not-for-profit conservation and education organization.  Founded in 1972, TUC’s focus is on volunteer-driven, member-based resource conservation.  TUC Chapter members volunteer their time and effort to preserve cold-water habitats within local watersheds. Tax receipt issued for a portion of ticket.

    When: Thursday, March 1st, 2007
    Reception and Silent Auction begin at 6:00 p.m.; formal guided Tasting begins at 7:00 p.m.

    Cost: Tickets are $150 each, or $1,200 for a table of 8

    Where: The National Club, 303 Bay Street, Toronto.

    Buy Tix: Call or e-mail Kim Blain at (905) 333-3264/toll-free
    1-877-733-1994 or Fax (905) 333-1964.  Visa,
    Mastercard, Amex or cheque accepted.

    The house(s) that Johnnie built

    No matter what I say about the Johnnie Walker Marketing campaigns, I can’t say a bad word about their charitable giving.

    How’s this: You get something free. Katrina victims get new homes.

    For every set of FREE personalized Johnnie Walker labels you order from, Diageo will contribute $5 toward building at least two new homes for displaced
    victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

    That’s right. YOU go to; YOU order FREE labels – which you get for free. Freely sent for Free. Did I mention they are free? And then DIAGEO contributes $5 for each order.

    Math is not my strong-point, but multiply the $5 by each order; carry the 2; divide by 20…yes, just as I thought…everybody wins here.

    Read more…

    Continue Reading >>

    Johnnie Walker Gets Charitable

    Holy Crap! I’m about to say something nice about Diageo :)

    I grew up in NYC and there you had 2 choices. Mets or Yankees. And
    since the Mets were in Queens, I went with the Yankees. Some of my fondest memories growing up are associated with the Yankees. My dad worked
    on the renovation of Yankee Stadium, and I got to run around on the
    field during the reconstruction – one of my brothers still has the
    bleacher bench my dad brought home one day.

    During the renovation we would schlep to Queens to watch the Yankees (they played at Shea Stadium during the renovation), and I’d get to sit in the Press Box and play with the Scoreboard after games. (A friend of my Dad’s worked the score board at Shea). Good Times. But once again, I digress.

    JohnniewalkerOn Opening Day, Tuesday, Diageo announced plans to donate $100 to Recording Artists, Actors, and Athletes Against Drunk
    Driving (RADD) every time a Yankee player walks at me beloved Yankee Stadium –
    all through the 2006 season.

    In my book, Scotch & Baseball were made for each other (OK maybe not, but I’d rather have a glass of JW Red than an $8 Miller Lite), and I’m glad to see Diageo supporting responsible drinking – especially in regards to Scotch consumption.

    As you may know, the corporate symbol of the Johnnie Walker brand is the "Striding Man" Johnnie
    Walker himself, and the new Johnnie Walker campaign encourages you to "keep walking". So this is a clever fit.

    In a cool move to raise awareness about drunk driving (and a great public relations move), Wade Boggs, Hall of Famer and former Red Sox and Yankees third baseman handed out NYC
    Subway MetroCards before the Yankees game on April 11th to encourage adult fans to
    enjoy the game responsibly and get home safely.

    Said Boggs:

    I’m proud to help launch a program that reminds everyone not to drive
    drunk. This is a subject that I’m passionate about,
    particularly when it is delivered with such a positive voice.

    Chris Parsons, Vice
    President, Scotch Marketing, Diageo:

    This program is a huge opportunity for Diageo and Johnnie Walker to raise
    awareness of our efforts against drunk driving. As we approached the start of
    the baseball season, we saw the opportunity to promote responsible drinking,
    and we’re thrilled to work with Yankee legend Wade Boggs to help us do so.

    Let’s hope the Yanks are walked a lot this season. And hit a lot of homers too.

    Wade Boggs greets fans on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

    Glenfiddich 1937 Auction Tonight

    Tonight at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, a bottle of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937, will be auctioned off to benefit City Harvest, which seeks to end hunger in New York. This bottle is the only 750ml bottle of the 1937 ever produced (The standard bottling in the UK is 700ml). The spirit was aged in cask for 64 years and bottled in 2001.

    1323_lo The auction kicks off at 7pm with cocktails; bidding starts at 8pm and the event should be over by 9pm.

    Vanderbilt Hall is a large hall right off of the center 42nd street entrance.


    An Auction for The World’s Oldest Bottle of Whisky – Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937
    As part of New York’s Tartan Week celebrations (a week-long series of activities highlighting Scottish culture and heritage), Glenfiddich has partnered with City Harvest to auction off one of the four remaining bottles of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937. In fact, because it has to be imported into the United States, a special bottling was created so the bottle on display is the only 750 ml bottle of the Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 ever made. This one-of-a-kind bottle will be sold to the highest bidder (reserve price is $19,000) with proceeds donated to City Harvest. Just a few years ago, a 700 ml bottle from the same cask sold for almost $80,000, so this night should truly be one to remember. The event will be held on April 4, 2006, in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal, with cocktails at 7:00 pm and the auction at 8:00 pm.

    Glenfiddich Malt Master David Stewart notes:

    Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 is a truly unique and exquisite malt whisky of exceptional character. As well as being the oldest Scotch whisky in the world and a very collectible piece, if you can afford to share it with your friends, it would make for the most wonderful taste experience.

    Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 was distilled in the same year as the Coronation of King George VI, the same year JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ was first published and Walt Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was first released as a full length animated feature film. At the time, The Glenfiddich Distillery was one of only six distilleries open and producing whisky in Scotland.

    KME – There is no cost to attend, but you need to get on the list by calling 212 982-8300 x 111

    Palin's Pillage for Charity

    Michael Palin – Monty Python and globe trotter – is supporting the 2005 Islay Pillaged Malt Charity Bottling.

    The bottling is a mix of whisky from all the distilleries on Islay: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Laphroaig, Lagavulin as well as from the Isle of Jura distillery

    Each distillery was ‘raided’ by crew of modern-day Vikings – who pillaged 40 liters of 12 year old cask strength whisky from.

    Once they were done, the crew rowed and sailed with their precious cargo to Ireland’s Antrim Coast, 20 miles away, in a force eight gale across the treacherous North Channel to claim another 40 liters from the Bushmill’s distillery in Northern Ireland.

    Michael Palin commented:

    This is the drink that gives pillaging a good name. There are few things I’d row though Force Eight gales for, but a malt whisky from Islay, Jura and Ireland are three of them.

    The whiskies were left to marry for several months at Lagavulin before being bottled at the Bruichladdich Distillery this week.  The proceeds of all 500 numbered bottles go to the Children’s Hospice Association of Scotland and of Northern Ireland.

    Palin, tasting bottle number 1, added:

    This Pillage Malt is terrific stuff.  Forget Ambrosia, this is what the Gods should be drinking.  Never has more trouble been taken to provide a fine whisky. Do whatever you can to pillage the 2005 Pillaged Celtic malt. And make a lot of children very happy too.

    The Pillaged Malt 2005 is certain to become a collector’s favourite. Event organiser Kevin Campbell hopes to raise £50,000.

    Bids start at £100. You can place your bid on a bottle by downloading a bid form.

    Read more here.

    Charity & Whisky Gang Thegither


    A team from Whisky Magazine is set to walk, cycle and row its way round Islay and Jura in a bid to raise money for charity.

    The ambitious two-day triathalon is a follow up to last year’s Speyside walk, which raised more than £5000 for Make Poverty History.

    The team (editor Dominic Roskrow, former Editor Marcin Miller and Annabel Meikle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society) will set out from Jura Distillery and visit Islay’s eight distilleries as part of the event. Distillery staff are supporting the triathalon by joining in for part of the two day event. The team will also be collecting samples of whisky aged more than 20 years from the island to put together a special vatted whisky for future auction.

    Dominic says:

    After the success of our Speyside walk last year we thought it would be good to do something on Islay and Jura, I was due to go over to preview the festival anyway, and so this seemed a novel way to visit all the distilleries on the two islands and to do some good at the same time.

    The team has been given huge back up support from the islands themselves and have appointed Christine Logan as events organiser. Whisky Magazine journalists Ian Buxton and Martine Nouet will also be on hand and the walk is scheduled to finish at Ardbeg, where a team of journalists are being
    entertained by the distillery.

    So all in all it will hopefully turn in to a big party and a major celebration of all things Jura and Islay.

    The full itinerary is:

    DAY 1

    • Walk from Jura Distillery to the ferry and over to Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain (10 miles)
    • Cycle from Bunnahabhain to Bruichladdich and Kilchoman Distillery (32 miles)

    DAY 2

    • Row from Bruichladdich to Bowmore (3 miles)
    • Walk from Bowmore to Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg (14 miles)

    The 20 year old whisky collected last year in Speyside has been put in to two special decanters by Glencairn Glass having been married by Whyte & Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson. One decanter sold for £350 the other is being auctioned at Whisky Live New York.

    If anyone is interested in pledging, you can do it in one of two ways.

    1. Please contact Dominic directly with your pledge, or
    2. Anyone who is interested we can do a combined The Scotch Blog pledge – contribute through Pay Pal and I’ll forward whatever we raise to Dominic.

    Let me know!