Auchentoshan gets Real Purty

Auchentoshan is the latest whisky to get a modern makeover.

AuchrebrandCompared to the older bottle (pictured below), this is a real beaut. I'd never been a fan of the old label – I felt it was too busy – too much text, too many graphical elements and too much gold.

But the redesign looks oddly familiar. Hmmm…Where have I seen this before? A smaller, high-placed rectangular  duo-tone label with accompanying color coded age statement, with an embossed graphical element at the bottom of the bottle?

Wait a second – it looks like it may be a little too derivative of the Highland Park repackaging.

Apparently the bottle has changed as well, but I've only received the picture and cannot tell how far they've moved from the traditional bottle. But according to the press release they've also chosen to go with a Highland Park-like oval bottle.

The new bottle shape and packaging design is a radical move from its
former traditional look.  The design embraces its traditional heritage
with the use of a thick base bottle to keep its weight and premium
status, while the oval bottle shape is more simple and stylish to
easily hold in one hand. 

Karen Murray, marketing manager for Auchentoshan:

“We’ve made
bold changes to the packaging design and introduced some new
expressions to widen our market appeal and ultimately drive long-term
and sustainable growth. 

“It was important for us to consider
existing single malt enthusiasts in the design development, while at
the same time creating a look that would appeal to first time malt
drinkers.  The result is a design which incorporates both traditional
and contemporary elements.”

The new packaging will be hitting the shelves shortly. There's no mention of it, but such a design change usually is accompanied by an attempt to "premiumise" the brand – usually equating to a higher price.

There are also some new expressions in the offering – Auchentoshan is introducing a "Classic" & and new 18 year old; while focusing on a 12, Three Wood and 21 year old line-up,

Established in 1823, Auchentoshan – meaning ‘corner of a field’ in Gaelic – is one of only three remaining working lowland distilleries in Scotland.  The distillery can be found nestled at the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills overlooking the famous River Clyde which runs through the heart of Glasgow in the west of Scotland.

The new line up (tasting notes from Morrison Bowmore).

Apparently a no age statement expression. This was one of my predictions for the industry – launch no age statement lower price point "entry level" versions.

The Classic is soft, rich and creamy with a pale gold appearance.  It has a rich vanilla and coconut smell with a hint of green apple and a tang of citrus zest.  To taste it has a sweet vanilla cream, fresh green apple skin and a little mint.  It has a wonderful fresh floral zesty finish.

RSP – £20.99

12 Year Old
Another move I predicted – away from 10 year old flagship to 12 year old flagship.

The 12 year old is smooth, fresh and nutty with a golden honey appearance.  It has a Crème Brulee smell with a burst of citrus and the signature nuttiness and green leafiness of Auchentoshan.  To taste the palate is smooth and sweet with hints of tangerine and lime.  To finish, it is a gingery and slightly drying with a pleasant lingering nuttiness.

RSP – £24.99

Three Wood

The Three Wood is intense, sweet and complex with a rich golden bronze appearance.  It has a blackcurrant, brown sugar, orange, plum and raisin aroma with a fruit and syrup taste.  The finish is fresh and fruity with long lasting oaky sweetness.

RSP – £34.99

18 Year Old

The 18 year old is zesty and refreshing with deep golden summer barley appearance.  The nose is fresh tobacco leaf then sweet with a hint of caramelised sugars, green tea and toasted almonds.  At first the palate has a floral freshness with sweet barley sugar which gently ebbs to reveal a tangerine zestiness that leaves the palate alive and refreshed.  It leaves a long, lingering and well balanced dram that invigorates the mouth.

RSP – £49.99

21 Year Old

The 21 year old is elegant and perfectly balanced with a bright copper appearance.  It has ripe gooseberry notes together with sweet vanilla and oak that combines with a freshly cut barley flavour.  The taste is light chocolate and soft green fruit, with a twist of old oak and honey.  It leaves a long and lasting finish demonstrating real depth and character.

RSP – £69.99

Now THIS is fun.

I took Canadian Club to task for the "Your Dad Drank It" ads as being stupid and misogynistic.

I recently came across this commercial (Australian?) for Jim Beam Bourbon.

How’d I miss this the first go around?

From the same parent company. This one is, by comparison, fun.

Update: Another one in the series…(Thanks Michael)

Your Dad was not a fag. But apparently you are.

Canadian_club_your_mom Canadian Club, a product of Beam Global Spirits* is about to roll out a new ad campaign.

The concept of the campaign? Your Dad was much cooler than you are.

Yep that’s right – they are saying it’s cool to drink whisky BECAUSE your dad drank it, not despite it.

They are also saying that your Dad was probably more of a man than you are.

According to the press release:

The thought-provoking campaign challenges consumers to embrace their dads classic masculinity, most visibly expressed through their choice to drink Canadian Club whisky cocktails. In launching Damn Right, CC invited Beam Global employees to search through their photo albums to submit images that epitomize the campaign.

Eh. I’m not buying it.

The message I get from the attached ad? Your Mom likely wasn’t your Dad’s last either. <click on the picture to read the ad>

Some of the headlines created for the ads (seriously):

"Damn Right Your Dad Drank It"
"Your Dad Was Not a Metrosexual"
“Your Mom Wasn’t Your Dad’s First”
"Your Dad Never Got a Pedicure."

I always try to be helpful, so I thought I’d offer up some more "Dad was awesome" ideas for future ads:

For the "Dad was tougher than you" ad placement

  • Damn right your Dad never wore a seat-belt.
  • Your Dad was twice the man you’ll ever be.
  • When your Dad was your age a DUI was expected.

For the "Dad was a sex machine" ad placement

  • Your Dad didn’t use condoms when he was in Saigon.
  • Before Paternity Tests.
  • Damn right your Dad was getting more than you – DESPITE the leisure suit and side burns.
  • Ah, the days when STDs could be cured with penicillin.

For the "Things were just plain better back then" ad placement

  • When men were men and cars got 3 miles per gallon.
  • You Dad never picked up maxi-pads on his way back from picking the kids up from Soccer*
    • *And your Dad never picked the kids up from Soccer
  • Your Dad never had to cuddle.

For the "Misogynist" ad placement

  • Daddy only hit Mommy because he loved her.
  • Dad didn’t call it "Date Rape" it was just a "Date".

Ad sites like Adrants are loving the campaign:

Are we seeing a full-on return to the glory days of the hard liquor
cocktail when beer was for factory workers and wine was for sissies?
Can we now go back to the three martini lunch, pinch asses in the
afternoon and have three more martinis at night while watching Mad Men?  We might not get any work done but it sure sounds like fun.

Adrants also reports that the campaign was created by BBDO and ads will appear in Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, with additional placements in Playboy, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Outside and Men’s Fitness in December and into 2008.

Well it IS a different approach.

* Disclosure: I am a shareholder in Fortune Brands, parent company of Beam Global

Ratings revisited and the horror of "Edvertising"

I hate ratings.

We’ll get to whisky in a bit, but first, take a walk with me into the strange and unbelievable world of wine critique.

The triumvirate of wine publications.

Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator. These magazines aren’t sold for their editorial content. They are sold on the numerous, abridged reviews they do each month, to people who are apparently incapable of making wine purchasing decisions on their own.

Taste, review; taste, review. They churn through wines (apparently by the case load) for each monthly issue – slapping each wine with a breviloquent single paragraph review and a rating . . . allegedly on a scale from 0 – 100.

Yes, the scale is 0 – 100, but apparently it’s ass water if it scores below 80, and "Wines receiving a rating below 80 are not reviewed".

I wonder – "why not?" Aren’t readers of these magazines just as interested in what NOT to buy as what to buy? I’d wager the answer to that question is "Yes".

So why wouldn’t a magazine that prides itself on being the final word in wine critique actually do some critiquing???

Could the impact of (potential) lost advertising sales be a factor in not mentioning the unmentionables? Of course it could.

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Columba Cream Responds


Unless something REALLY big pops up, this will be the only story this week.

A few months (September 6th) ago, I did one of my news wrap-up stories (Whisky Season = News Stories) which included a short clip on how Columba Cream was having issues with its plans to take on Diageo’s

That story was a summary of a story from The Scotsman called Columba Cream Plan Hits The Rocks.

I just received a response from Jamie Morrison of the Scottish Liqueur Centre, who took some issues with my story and attempted to clarify some statements. It’s great to get more information and I thank Jamie for writing me.

Below is his email, my response to some of his comments as well as the text of the original story.

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Houston, we have an (image) problem. (Part 2)

Pass the Courvoisier

When I was growing up Cognac was considered to be more of an old
fuddy-duddy drink than Scotch. And compared to the pronunciation of
‘Courvoisier’, ‘Bruichladdich’ seems simple.

But now it’s the hip drink of the gangsta-wannabe – and every15 year
old can pronounce it. How’d that happen?

This from a 2003 Wall Street Journal Article:

Behind this trend are the likes of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Snoop Dogg
and other rappers who have embraced the pricey brandy with the 300-year
history as a status symbol. That has spawned a cult cognac following
among young urban blacks, who mix the liquor in new cocktails with
names like "Thug Passion" and "French Connection."…

The U.S. imported 3.7 million cases of cognac last year, up from 1.3
million in 1993, accounting for 36% of the world-wide market. Hennessy,
the biggest cognac brand in the U.S., with 53% of the market, says
young blacks now account for 60% to 85% of its U.S. sales.
That surge in consumption has helped the roughly 20,000 Cognac-area inhabitants whose livelihoods depend on the cognac trade…

Am I suggesting that someone make Scotch the next hip-hop status
symbol? Well, if your goal is to sell a lot of it quickly, by creating a
fad-based demand, then, er…yes. But there are better ways to achieve increased and longer-term sales without resorting to that tactic.

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Gift Pack Season

I love the Christmas season. Not for the reasons you are thinking (8 years in catholic school squeezed any faith out of me). No, I love going to the liquor store and seeing what gift packs have been cooked up by the liquor companies.

On a recent trip to my local VA-ABC (that’s the horribly named Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) to pick up bottles for an upcoming tasting (if you are curious: Famous Grouse, Scapa, Highland Park, Ardbeg and Old Pulteney).

Wandering around the shop I got to see what’s in this season:

Many companies stick with the easy way out and offer glasses: Herradura
Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, JW Black Label, Chivas
Regal, and Crown Royal all offer gift packs with one of two rocks
style glasses. Vodkas are big with martini glasses – Citadelle, Belvedere and Chopin; while
Stolichnaya takes a more Russian approach and offers 4 shot glasses. Corazon tequila decided to offer a choice of shot glasses OR rocks glasses.

Continue Reading >>

Houston, we have an (image) problem. (Part 1)

In the U.S. there is much confusion over what Scotch is, how it differs from Bourbon, and what makes it “Scotch” – and the industry working as a whole has done little to clarify the confusion. As a result, the average American is averse to most whisk(e)y beverages.

Word Association

I am told, with absolute certainty (by Americans), that “Scots don’t like the term
“Scotch” and it shouldn’t be used."

Really? Is that why the term is
printed on every single bottle?

The truth is that the industry should get on their knees and thank
the barley gods that Americans aren’t really clear on the terms “whisky” and
“Scotch” and don’t necessarily think of them as synonymous.

You DO NOT WANT Americans to think “whisky”. Why? Read on…

I asked about 50 people to email me the first 1 or 2 words that came
to mind when I mention the following words: Scotch, Whisky, Whiskey,
Tennessee Whiskey, and Bourbon. All of the respondents consume alcohol, but
are not single malt Scotch whisky drinkers. The majority drink high-end
white spirits as well as being fans of American micro-breweries,
Belgian, German & English beers.

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New Scotch Blog Shirts…

The Famous Grouse and I have teamed up to offer you this season’s must wear item.

This great shirt features The Famous Grouse logo on the front, along with one of the current ads – "On Ice" – on the back. But what makes this shirt really snazzy is the new The Scotch Blog logo on the left sleeve.

Sorry, but the shirt is only available in one size – Large.

While the shirt is not Free, it is pretty cheap. $4.95 which includes Shipping & Handling (and helps offset printing costs). As usual these are only available in limited quantities.

For an even better deal, order the Malt Whisky Yearbook and shirt together for only $30! (sorry, this MWY is offer only available to US residents).

Click here to order through Doceon Press

HP gets an extreme makeover

Hp_18smLast year Highland Park was selected "Best Spirit in the World" (though, of course, THAT accolade was granted by the same man who named Johnnie Walker the Distiller of the Year – so take such awards with a grain of salt).

But despite such silliness, Highland Park really is a fantastic whisky, and is easily in my top 5. The only problem with Highland Park, to my mind, was the packaging. I’ve always found it to be a little off-putting – all dark and moody like a teen goth girl, with obscure photos of meaningless scenery (which happened to be from Orkney, but could have been anywhere) – it likely wasn’t the first choice of a consumer not familiar with the brand.

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