“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.



It’s Back. But Legal.

Months ago I alluded that John would be resurrecting his Spice Tree Whisky. That time is now.

If you are new to the world of Whisky you may be saying “The Spice Tree“? What the hell is that?

Read my original Story on The Spice Tree: The Spice of Life (October 2005)

The original Spice Tree created quite a following due to its flavour profile, so after the Scotch Whisky Association forced us to stop making it, I was determined to find a more “acceptable” way to achieve the same style,” explains whiskymaker John Glaser. “It’s taken almost four years, but we’ve done it.

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Glenglassaugh 250 Club

I received a beautiful packet inviting me to participate in the Glenglassaugh 250 Club.

This is the opportunity to participate in the growth of the newly re-opened Glenglassaugh distillery by purchasing a newly-filled cask.
(I‘ve previously written about the upside & downside of cask purchases inA Wise Investment?)

A maximum of 250 memberships will be available each year – once the 250 annual memberships are sold, the list will be closed until the next year.

Membership does not simply include the cask (details below) but also:

  • A personalized VIP Distillery Tour for the member & 3 guests.
  • A Bottle of Glenglassaugh new make spirit.
  • Unlimited free use of the @%) Club private facilities during the maturation period.
  • A signed copy of the Glenglassaugh – A Distillery Reborn by Ian Buxton
  • A limited edition print of the distillery
  • A 10% discount on distillery purchases

Ok. Onto the details.

The following casks are available

  • 1st fill ex-Port Pipe (580 litres) @ £6,500
  • 1st fill ex-Sherry Butt (500 litres) @ £6,250
  • 1st fill ex-Sherry Hogshead (250 litres) @ £3,000
  • 1st fill ex-Port Hogshead (250 litres) @ £3,000
  • 1st fill ex-red Wine Barrel (210 litres) @ £2,500
  • Re-charred Wine Barrel (210 litres) @ £2,500
  • ex-Bourbon Barrel (190 litres) @ £2,500

For more info (and your own ownership prospectus) contact the distillery

Glenglassaugh Distillery Company Ltd
Portsoy, Aberdeenshire,
Scotland AB45 2SQ.
Tel +44 (0) 1261 842367
Fax +44 (0) 1261 842421
A vertical tasting of 3 Glenglassaugh whiskies is coming.

Dewar’s Discovery Gift Set

Hey kids, It’s a early Scotchmas idea….

The specially designed gift set consists of three 200-millileter bottles of Dewar’s top scotches, including the Dewar’s 18 Founder’s Reserve, currently being released for the first time in the United States in limited quantities. Dewar’s 18 is flanked by Dewar’s 12 and Signature, the top-shelf luxury scotch.

The custom- sized bottles come in a genuine leather case that can later be used to hold small items and even cigars.

The Dewar’s Discovery Gift Set retails for $100 and is available nationwide at local spirits outlets.

The bigger they come

World’s Biggest Bottle of Whisky unveiled

By Alexander Lawrie

A TINY Scotch whisky distillery has made the Guinness Book of Records after producing the world’s largest bottle of whisky.

The massive bottle of single malt was filled by hand with105 litres of 14-year-old Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet Scotch.

And when full, the giant five foot container holds the equivalent of 150 standard bottles.

The monster whisky bottle, which will be on permanent display at the Clockhouse in the village square at Tomintoul village, was the brainchild of the Tomintoul distillery and a local whisky shop.

And after filling the gigantic bottle, the huge cork had to hammered into place with a massive mallet.

Duncan Baldwin, Tomintoul Distillery’s brand development director, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in achieving this record as ratified by Guinness Book of World Records.

“It was quite nerve-racking, filling and labelling such a large vessel by hand and especially so when sealing the bottle with the largest cork I have ever seen as it had to be hammered in with a mallet but the exercise went very well.

“It should be a great talking point for Tomintoul Distillery, the village and its visitors.”

Tempest in a (tea) pot (still).

According to a story in yesterday’s Telegraph US urged to boycott Scottish products after Lockerbie bomber’s release there is a movement afoot to “boycott Scottish Goods”

“US citizens are being urged to stop buying items ranging from Scotch whisky to kilts and petrol sold at BP-owned outlets as well as to cancel planned holidays in Britain to register their protest.”

I must point-out the obvious – that BP is based in London – a city which is NOT part of the Scottish empire. Yet.

While the large global Haggis conglomerates are worried, the Scotch companies aren’t phased at all.

And they shouldn’t be. I haven’t heard ANYTHING about this boycott movement – until I read it in a UK newspaper.

Is this a manufactured story? They point to an obviously amateur single page web-site called BoycottScotland <http://www.boycottscotland.com/>.

And best I can tell, THAT domain is registered out of Canada – So maybe this is simply ANOTHER Canadian plot to drive a wedge between the UK and the US.

I’m pissed about the guy being released, but i don’t see the usefulness of calling for a boycott – and have no expectation that this one will in anyway be even remotely successful. But it’s obviously a slow newsday around the world with the pick-up rate of the story  – but no evidence of any impact of this boycott.

Disclosure: I went to Syracuse University and had friends and acquaintances who died in that bombing – including a good friend from High School, Denice O’Neil.

Scotch as Investment

Today’s story comes from a today’s – The Toronto Globe & Mail.

They were doing a story on the new Glenfiddich 50 year old, currently selling for $16,000 a bottle, apparently William Grant is taking a different approach and not marketing this to the whisky drinker or even the whisky collector – but instead to the investor.

I was asked my opinion for attribution I told him that I feel now the same way that I did back in December of 2005 “World’s Most Expensive Scotch” when I said:

While I understand that positive exposure and free press are a great thing, in this context, and in my estimation, it simply reinforces the widely held misconception that Scotch is for silly old rich men, Dot Com millionaires or Traders with expense accounts.

I wonder if there is a correlation between the release of the “most expensive” stories and a noticeable increase in sales? I also wonder if such stories have the effect of solidifying any “for the old & stodgy” perception that Scotch may have amongst the general public.

All in all, I would really like to know if these stories are a net positive or a net negative. Both for the companies mentioned as well as the sector as a whole.

I’m guessing that the short term bump in brand recognition is not worth the long term effect. But I’ve certainly been wrong before. So lucky for me (and for you) I have access to people in the industry who can and will share their viewpoint with us…

I finished up that story with the opinions of a view industry friends and they are still interesting reading.

From the Globe & Mail story:

An acquired taste, smooth returns
Makers of Glenfiddich release 50-year-old single malt that will sell for $16,000 a bottle – though it could be worth more in a few years on the ‘whisky market’

From the story:

“Like any investment, it’s only worth something if someone else wants to buy it at a later time,” said Kevin Erskine, a Virginia-based author who runs The Scotch Blog and has written a book about single malt Scotch. “And whisky drinkers aren’t usually investors. They’d buy it to drink it. So it goes back to these generally being publicity stunts. And you’ll see the distilleries argue over who has the most expensive bottle, like it’s some point of honour.”

I was immediately proven correct by this Twitter and Blog Post from Whyte & Mackay’s Richard Paterson (@the_nose):

“You call that an expensive whisky? I’ll give you an expensive whisky… http://bit.ly/ivfCO

Read the Full Globe & Mail story here

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.

Famous Grouse Master Blender retires after 40 years.

The Famous Grouse recipe to be passed on to the next generation

John Ramsay, Master Blender for The Edrington Group has announced that he will be retiring from his position on 31 July 2009. Following a two and half year handover, Gordon Motion, will take over as the company’s new Master Blender.

The position of Master Blender is unquestionably one of the most important and complex roles held in the whisky industry, highlighted by the fact that only six such positions exist across all of the major Scottish distillers.

Master blenders are most well-known for their unique skill in the fine art of nosing whisky. In any one day John can nose up to 600 samples to check their quality and consistency. This requires a very acute sense of smell, and means that the Master Blender has to make some personal sacrifices – namely not wearing aftershave or eating garlic as they impair the senses and taking every measure possible not to get a cold!

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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.