Where can I get JMR?

A number of people have asked me where they can get one of the new Easy Drinking Whisky Company’s whiskies.

David "Robbo" Robertson sent me a list of places where you can now pick it up.

There are a lot of places to buy some, but currently they are all in California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, and Texas:

California
Hi Time Liquors Costa Mesa CA
St. Germain La Jolla CA
Dick’s Liquors La Jolla CA
Jackson’s Wines & Spirits Lafayette CA
Mesa Foods Margarita CA
Beltramo’s Wines & Spirits Menlo Park CA
Moraga Wine & Spirits Moraga CA
K&L Wine Merchants Redwood City CA
Fred’s Liquors San Clemente CA
K&L Wine Merchants San Francisco CA
D&M Wines San Francisco CA
Handymart Simi Valley CA
Old Oaks Liquors Thousand Oaks CA
James Station South Weldon CA
Colorado
Argonaut Liquors Denver CO
Illinois
Cardinal Liquors Carpntsvlle IL
Sam’s Chicago IL
Warehouse Liquors Chicago IL
Kimbark Wine & Liquors Chicago IL
Jake’s Liquors Chicago IL
Red Lion Chicago IL
Sheraton Chicago Hotel Chicago IL
Price Rite Liquors Elgin IL
Squire Liquors & Tobacco Rolling Meadow IL
Weatherway Liquors Schaumburg IL
One Stop Liquors St. Charles IL
Armanetti Willowbrook IL
Gold Crown Liquors Chicago IL
UnCork It Chicago IL
Bonefish Grill Algonquin IL
Sam’s Wines & Spirits Downers Grove IL
Foremost Liquors Downers Grove IL
Greenbrook Plaza Liquors Hanover Park IL
Don’s Wine & Liquors Hoffman Est IL
United Liquors & Cigar Roselle IL
Cardinal Liquors Schaumburg IL
Spirits & Such Liquors Schaumburg IL
Toni’s Skokie IL
Cardinal Liquors Streamwood IL
Foremost Liquors Villa Park IL
New York
Park Avenue Liquors NY NY
South Carolina
Bill’s ABC Beaufort SC
Frank Bond Spirits/Wines Beaufort SC
Belfair Fine Wine & Spirits Bluffton SC
Bill’s ABC Bluffton SC
The Toddy Shop Charleston SC
Kroger Sav-On Columbia SC
Absolute Spirits Columbia SC
Morganelli’s Columbia SC
Northeast Liquors Columbia SC
Veer Columbia SC
Clemson Spirits Columbia SC
Frugal MacDougals Fort Mill SC
Atlantic Discount Spirits Garden City SC
Tony’s Liquor Store Greenville SC
Left Lead Liquors Hilton Head SC
Lake Wylie Package Lake Wylie SC
Blue Ridge Wine & Spirits Landrum SC
Belle Station Wine & Spirits Mt. Pleasant SC
Arrowhead Liquors Myrtle Beach SC
Pawley Island Wine & Spirits Pawleys Island SC
Fernwood Store Spartanburg SC
Bill’s Liquors Summerville SC
Market Place Spirits Sumter SC
Texas
Baywood Liquors Friendswood TX
Reba’s Package Store # 2 Sealy TX
Space City Liquors TX
Big Daddy’s Wine & Spirits #1 Arlington TX
Dillon’s Liquors Baytown TX
Roma Discount Beverage Mart Baytown TX
Libations Liquors Bryan TX
The Beverage Oasis College Station TX
The Vintage Shop Columbus TX
Buy Lo Liquors Commerce TX
Big Daddy’s Liquors Beer Wine Dallas TX
Centennial # 9 Dallas TX
Centennial # 12 Dallas TX
Centennial # 14 Dallas TX
Centennial # 16 Dallas TX
Centennial # 24 Dallas TX
Centennial # 25 Dallas TX
Last Drop Liquids Deer Park TX
Hill’ s Discount Liquors # 3 Dickinson TX
Big Daddy’s Wine & Spirits #2 Ft. Worth TX
Lazy Larry’s Ft. Worth TX
Metro Liquors Ft. Worth TX
Two Bucks Discount Beverage Center Ft. Worth TX
Economy Liquors Galveston TX
The Cellar Highland Village TX
Booz Wine & Spirits Houston TX
Captain’s Liquors Store # 2 Houston TX
K & C Liquors Houston TX
Le Chateau Liquors Houston TX
Space Liquors Houston TX
UP Liquors Houston TX
Val Discount Liquors Humble TX
Bottle & Brew Huntsville TX
Reba’s Liquors Katy TX
Sunny’s Liquors. & Cigars Katy TX
D & B Discount Liquors La Porte TX
Hill’s Discount Liquors # 1 La Porte TX
KJ Fine Wine and Spirits Lake Dallas TX
Coyote Package Store League City TX
San Leon Liquors San Leon TX
Hill Liquors Store # 2 Seabrook TX
Ricky’s Liquors Spring TX
Centennial Fine W & S # 20 The Colony TX
Dave’s Discount Liquors Beer & Wine The Colony TX
Trinity Disc. Liquors Trinity TX
Frank Dicortes Bad Bear Liquors Waco TX

Shape of the Bottle Update

I had one more theory on the Shape of the Whisky Bottle pop in from the bottling expert at the Easy Drinking Whisky Company via Dave "Robbo" Robertson.

Here are our considered thoughts from our bottling expert.

To be honest, it is a tradition, now widely associated with "traditional" Scotch Whisky design. It probably has resonance in the "bulbous" shape of the pot still. In fact it makes the bottle slightly more difficult to make, not easier, because of the transition of radii. There is a slight advantage in the design in that it allows a little more empty space in the neck (which we call vacuity) thereby allowing a slighly higher fill up the neck, which will look more attractive under the capsule. Not all bottles have a bulb…in fact we have deliberately tried to be different with some of our designs, but a straight neck does look more austere, and more modern I think, and the bulb is softer and more gentle to the eye. Therefore it is more appropriate for older malt whiskies. There is a limit to what you can actually do with a neck!!

Regards,
Mike.

Thanks Mike & Robbo!

Another 20 year old hits the street

In its continuing quest to turn the Scotch whisky world on its ear, Bruichladdich has released yet another 20 year old expression.

This one is nicknamed Islands – the name is taken from the fact that the whisky is aged for 20 years on Islay in American oak barrels and then finished in hogsheads which previously contained Malmsey wine from the island of Madeira.

The packaging simply refers to the expression as Twenty Year Third Edition. The latest edition joins The Twenty and The Twenty Second Edition (also known as Flirtation).

The island of Madeira’s sublime subtropical climate – average highs range from the mid-60s to mid-70s year-round – has long made the island a favorite winter getaway for Europeans.

Malmsey Madeiras are created using the Malvasia grape and are the richest styles of Madeira (8%-10% residual sugar) with rich flavors that are balanced by a touch of acidity. Malmsey is an excellent dessert wine with rich desserts made with dark chocolate or tropical fruits, or try it on its own.

According to Master Distiller Jim McEwan:

The result is a dark, alluringly decadent malt. Intensely rich, raisins, black cherries, burnt orange, and fruit cake flavours that linger seductively.

The base spirit was distilled in 1985, and aged for 20 years. The spirit is then finished in the Madeira casks for a short time – however, Bruichladdich has chosen NOT to refer to the expression as a “finished” Scotch.

Mark Reynier says:

This is no clumsy, marketing-led ‘finish’; we don’t even refer to it on the label. It is a subtle refinement obtained from closely understanding both the whisky and the wood.

The last thing we want to do is change the style of a highly successful spirit. This additional cask evolution exploits the greater variety of flavours of European oak.

We now have three versions of Bruichladdich Twenty – the same bloodline, different generations. We want people to enjoy the choice, and talk about their own favourite. I find that very exciting. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.

Bottle20yrs3rdedition

Read Scotch Blog, Get Discount

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a "private membership club dedicated to the discerning appreciation and consumption of the most rare and unique of single malt whiskies; unfiltered, single cask, single malt Scotch whisky."

The SMWS, in conjunction with Robb Report, also hosts a touring Annual Whisky Extravaganza.

From the brochure:

Enjoy a connoisseur’s evening with Robb Report readers and other whisky enthusiasts. We will feature a tasting of more than 60 rare and exceptional single malt and Scotch whiskies, including an assortment of exclusive Society bottlings and complimentary cigars from the humidors of Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon and Playboy by Don Diego after dinner.

The SMWS would like to extend a discount to readers of The Scotch Blog to attend one of the upcoming extravaganzas!

Non-Member Guests pay $100.00, But Society Members and readers of The Scotch Blog can attend for the discounted price of $90.00

The dates are:

  • Washington, D.C. Wednesday November 2 – J.W. Marriott Hotel
  • Philadelphia Friday November 4 – The Union League of Philadelphia
  • San Francisco Tuesday November 8 – The Fairmont Hotel
  • Los Angeles Thursday November 10 – The Fairmont Miramar
  • Miami Thursday November 17 – The Biltmore
  • All events are 7:00 to 9:00 pm

I’ll be attending the Washington event.

Due to hurricane Wilma,  The SMWS does not have power at their office, so readers who are interested in attending any of the events should contact the SMWS via email or by phone at 954-349-7744.

You must mention that you are a reader of "The Scotch Blog" in order to get the discount!

Business Attire (No sneakers, denim or athletic wear). Reservations are limited.

Download RR0305SMWS.pdf

Scotch Exports Up (Mid-year report)

Over £1 billion worth of Scotch whisky was shipped out in the first six months of 2005 – it hasn’t been that high since 1997, which was also the high-water mark for the industry on a few fronts. (see Volume & value of exports from 1995-2004 below).

The value of the exports exceeded £1,011 million – up 3% compared to the same period in 2004. Volume was up as well – 429 million bottles compared to 420 million bottles in 2004.

Single malts were up 11% to a value of £160 million, as were blends – up 2% to £787 million.

A big chunk of the growth was to Asia with exports to China up 124% to £22 million, South Korea up 26% to £72 million, Thailand up 47% to £21 million, Taiwan up 25% to £44 million and India up 19% to £7 million.

Consumption in the US grew as well with 7% growth to £152 million, consolidating the US as Scotch whisky’s most valuable export market. No doubt in part to all the interest created by The Scotch Blog :)

Elsewhere in the world there’s excellent growth as well:

  • Russia up 80% to £12 million
  • Venezuela up 80% to £25 million, while South America as a whole is up 19% to £106 million

Europe continues its downward slide in consumption – exports in Europe as a whole are down -13% to £360 million, with prime export markets France and Spain down (-4% to £114 million and -16% to £110, respectively).

Gavin Hewitt, CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association says:

Distillers continue to invest with confidence in their Scotch Whisky brands. A rise in exports in the first half of 2005 demonstrates their continuing success and the worldwide popularity of Scotch Whisky. Over £1bn of Scotch has been exported in the first six months of this year, the first time in eight years that barrier has been broken.

Now as you’ll see from the tables below, while the US put over  £38 million more in the UK kitty than France did yet France consumed 9.7 million more bottles.

Something doesn’t seem right about that.

Export Value

Exportvalue162005

Export Volume

Exportvolume162005

Volume & value of exports from 1995-2004
Exports_1_1

Potpourri

I haven’t posted in a few days due to some recent travel. I had the pleasure of staying at the James Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not a large Scotch selection, but has a couple of plum choices, which can be enjoyed at an über-hip lobby bar.

Attended the North American Highland Games Championship which took place at the Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival this past weekend. If you’ve never had a chance to attend a Highland Games competition, I highly recommend it. Understanding that each event is directly related to a particular war-time activity makes it even more interesting.

It was at the festival that I had the chance to try Dewar’s Special Reserve 12 year old. Not bad for a blend, but like most blends it was lacking in character, a little too light on taste, and a little too heavy on finish.

I did get a chance to attend a single malt whisky tasting (incognito, of course), where the "host" didn’t pass on TOO much misinformation – but he also did little to make Scotch more appealing to the average person. It didn’t help that he was dressed in period costume, and used the cheapest examples from each region.

Other than that, nothing much going on right now:

  • Diageo was named one of the biggest polluters in Scotland. tsk, tsk.
  • John Glaser has been running around the US promoting his delicious Compass Box Whisky. I don’t have his schedule, but I know he’s done tastings in Boston and New York.

Some upcoming Whisky events:

I’ll be at Whisky Fest, New York, See you there.

One more thing – there was a really great review of The Instant Expert’s Guide to Single Malt from the nice folks at LiquorSnob

I especially like this line:

The Instant Expert’s Guide to Single Malt Scotch is well-written,
painstakingly researched, and comes from a true love of scotch.

I couldn’t have paid for a nicer review.

If you are a novice who enjoys The Scotch Blog, why not pick up a copy?

LiquorSnob says:

One of our absolute favorite aspects of the book is that while it arms
you with the knowledge about how to make informed decisions about
single malt scotch, there is no attempt to tell you what you should
like. Don’t open the book looking for an exhaustive (and boring) list
of the author’s tasting notes designed to dazzle you with how much
scotch has coated his tongue. Instead the book focuses on giving you
practical information to help you learn how to get the most enjoyment
out of the "water of life.

If you are an old pro, buy the book for that special someone in your life.

If you are an industry insider, send me free Scotch or giveaways for faithful readers.

Oh, and the first 3 people who buy the book via www.doceonpress.com and put "keychain" in the notes/message field, get a free Dewar’s leather key chain.

More money than sense

This courtesy of Luxist:

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article about Jacques
Bezuidenhout, “chief mixologist” at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, who has
created a new range of four "million dollar cocktails" with prices
ranging from $80 to $650. For starters, Bezuidenhout recommends the $80
“Heavenly Dram” which mates Macallan’s 25-year-old single-malt Scotch, Garvey
Pedro Ximenez Sherry 1860, lemon juice and honey-flavored syrup.

From the actual SF Chronicle article Just what San
Francisco needed — a $650 cocktail
:

A better selling point is that Heavenly Dram showcases
the Macallan’s 25- year-old single-malt Scotch.  The depth of
character  —  smoke, citrus, dried fruit, cloves and toffee
—  makes it a difficult spirit to blend, yet Bezuidenhout has discovered
a worthy partner: Garvey Pedro Ximenez Sherry 1860. It tastes and smells like a
perfect raisin, and the sweetness counteracts the smokiness of the whisky
beautifully. He mixes the whisky and sherry with lemon juice and honey-flavored
simple syrup, chills the drink ever so slightly, and serves it in an oversize
martini glass.

Macallan 25 year old (generally around $400) is an
expression I have not had the pleasure of trying.

WERE I to try it, it wouldn’t be covered up by lemon
juice and sugar water. Nor would I take a well-sherried single malt and add
sherry. And in a martini glass no less.

It’s this kind of silliness that is created, not to
advance the category, but instead to give an outlet for middle-aged men with
too much money to try to impress their match.com 20-something date. Why else
would they be at the Starlight Room? (Disclosure: I lived in San Francisco
during the dot com hey-day and the Starlight Room was well known as a place for
gold-diggers to land a sugar daddy).

I didn’t even have to read the full article to come to my
conclusion, but there it is in black & white:

So who’s buying these drinks?

"Exactly who you’d expect," says Bezuidenhout.
"Mostly celebrities, musicians and wealthy men looking to impress their
dates."

So far, he says, only about half of the people who order
the cocktails actually care about the ingredients.

"It’s a status thing, and most people can’t afford
to indulge."

Half???? Give me a break. I guess that anyone who KNOWS
what Macallan 25 tastes like wouldn’t order some atrocity like this.

Woo, one of the coolest bartenders in the world, (at
Buckhead’s in Richmond, VA) and a lady who knows her Scotch, told me that she
sees the same thing. People going down price list and ordering the Balvenie 1971,
simply because it is the most expensive Scotch on the list. And then asking for
it to be mixed with something. Jeez.

More money then sense. A lot more.

On the other hand I’m all for taking advantage of people
who buy a drink on price alone, so why not charge them the $80, but use Johnnie
Walker Red instead? These idiots would never know.

 

And one for the ladies…

I came across this commercial for William Lawson’s blended Scotch.
For some reason women love a man in a kilt, so for the lady in your life I present this.

NOTE: 10/17/2005 – not sure if this link is working – it works for me on one computer but not another. Here’s another link. And another.

For those of you who don’t like bare-chested men in kilts,  while I’ve never had William Lawson’s, Jim Murray rates it pretty highly:

William Lawson’s Finest: 83
William Lawson’s Scottish Gold (12 yo): 88
William Lawson’s 21 yo: 90
William Lawson’s Founder’s Reserve (18 yo): 95

As an aside, Johannes van den Heuval, who writes Malt Madness wrote some very kind things about The Scotch Blog, but he also wonders:

There really is just one thing left on my wish list – scores that would actually tell me which whiskies Kevin likes best himself

Drink what you like

Here’s what I tell people – I know what I like, but I don’t know what you like, and Scotch whisky is a very subjective thing. I think my "job" is to get people interested and trying Scotch. I don’t want to sway them or put some prejudice in their heads.

So, you will rarely see my opinion on a scotch on The Scotch Blog, nor will I assign a rating to something.

I’d rather point you to other, more esteemed resources (Like Jim Murray). If I ever judge a whisky, I will be sure to say. "This is my own personal opinion."

And readers are ALWAYS welcome to email me and ask my opinion – but I view the Scotch Blog as a very business oriented site. To promote Scotch whisky to a new audience. And I hope I’m doing that!

Resource Round-up

I’ve been threatening to do this for a while, and I finally have time.

Below are links to some of the best resources I’ve come across for the bon-vivant, whisky connoisseur and premium-liquor newbie.

Liquor SnobAll the news that’s fit to drink

This is a site in the mold of Gizmodo and Luxist (2 of my favorite, non-Scotch sites) – multiple posts per day on a variety of alcoholic beverage related topics. Good stuff – not specific to Scotch, but good stuff.

Whisky Classified

This is the official site for Dr, David Wishart’s excellent book "Whisky Classified – Choosing Single Malts by Flavour" The site is just a sampling of Dr. Wishart’s research, you really need to get the book to fully appreciate the concept.

Whisky Magazine

Whisky Magazine is a great magazine. Dave Broom and Michael Jackson are regular contributors along with Charles Cowdery, who in my estimation, is America’s foremost Bourbon expert. The site allows you to search on any of the published stories, but you’ll only get a taste – to read the full article, you’ll need to get the hard copy. Still, there’s a lot of information on this site. They just released their 50th issue and sponsor the international Whisky Live events.

Malt Advocate

Malt Advocate is the foremost barley-focused magazine in the US. Covering Whisky, Whiskey, and Beer, it’s a great read. As a matter of fact, my issues of Malt Advocate and Whisky Magazine generally come in the same day (or darn close), and I read them cover-to-cover that night. Jim Murray, Maichael Jackson, and Charles Cowdery are frequent contributors to Malt Advocate.

Malt Advocate sponsors the Chicago and New York-based WhiskyFest events (New York is coming up on November 9th, 2005). The Malt Advocate web site doesn’t have as much information as Whisky Magazine, but Malt Advocate offers a weekly e-Mail based newsletter called WhiskyNotes.

Malt Madness

The amount of information on Johannes van den Heuvel’s Malt Madness site is almost overwhelming. They have a nice beginner’s guide, profiles of numerous distilleries, and extensive tasting notes. Johannes also adds a weird Dutch sense-of-humor to the whole thing, never taking himself, or the subject completely seriously. Good reading, good fun.

Radio Whisky

The world’s first whisky-related podcast comes to us from the great northwest. Washingtonian Tony Dirksen offers up whisky appreciation in short, easily digestible, 3-4 minute segments. I subscribe to the show via iTunes, and enjoy each new episode.

One to keep your eye on…

I know that Jim Murray has a good man working on a new version of The Whisky Bible site. There’s not much there now, but I expect it to be one hell of a resource once it is completed. Jim’s Whisky Bible series of books are a must-have resource.

That should get you started. Have fun…

Please send me some of your favorite whisky resources for future postings.

The shape of the bottle

I received an interesting question from a reader:

Dear Kevin/Scotchblog,

I have a simple curiousity about the bottle designs of the various single malts. Particularly, why do most have a similar shape in the neck area with a slight ‘bulb’? Is this just a design that developed into a bottle trend or is does it have a technical/scientific reason? Any light you could shed would be helpful. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Scott

I’ve never come across any mention or discussion of the particular shape of the traditional whisky bottle in any book, so I thought maybe, I’d missed something…

So, I thought I’d ask some of the experts to see if they knew of any concrete reasons for this. Several experts simply said "Beats me." But some others thought they’d take a whack…

Mark Reynier, Managing Director, Bruichladdich Distillery

It was an old  bottle design that has become standardised for mass production. Probably, in the past with hand blowing, the neck bulge had something to do with  glass strength in the neck of the bottle and for receiving a standardised cork stopper. Today they are produced in moulds.

KME - Bruichladdich does not use the "bulb" – their bottle is very much like the original whisky bottles (see Macallan photo below)

Dr. David Wishart, Author, Whisky Classified gives us this great history of the bottle as well:

The origin of the glass bottle is as a serving vessel, used by the upper classes and by merchants from the mid-18th century. Whisky (and wine) was supplied in a cask or stoneware jar, and was decanted into a clear glass vessel (the decanter, the job being performed by a "bottler", hence the title "butler"). When supplied by a merchant it would be stoppered for transit, with a deposit refundable when returned. Clear glass was taxed at 11 times that of black or green glass, and was therefore the preserve of the wealthy.

The first whisky bottles were re-used wine bottles, e.g. Macallan. They took off in the whisky boom of the 1890s when whisky began being sold by the case for export. They started to be mass produced by glass factories after a glass-blowing machine was invented by Arnall and Howard Ashley in 1887. The bottles were cast in moulds, which presumably followed the style of the decanters used by the upper classes.

The advantage of the sealed bottle for export was that it could be properly stoppered and sealed, thereby reducing the scope for dilution or replacement by unscrupulous intermediaries. During US prohibition, Captain William McCoy, a smuggler based in the Bahamas, supplied such good quality Scotch compared to the illicit bootlegged US alternative, that patrons of Chicago speakeasys dubbed his sealed bottles the "Real McCoy".

As to the shape of the neck, I can only speculate that it evolved from the decanter in a bulbous form for easy and safe gripping by the butler, and has remained that way ever since.

Dominic Roskrow, Editor, Whisky Magazine

I really don’t have a clue beyond to say that if you look at early bottle making, the long neck style seemed to develop out of that early glass-firing process. So you’d assume it was the easiest way of making a pouring bottle – so it’s been imitated as much through tradition as anything else. And of course there are a growing number of different bottle shapes now – suggesting that the science isn’t so important.
Really not sure though…

Dave Robbo Robertson, Easy Drinking Whisky Company

Here are our considered thoughts from our bottling expert.

To be honest, it is a tradition, now widely associated with "traditional" Scotch Whisky design. It probably has resonance in the "bulbous" shape of the pot still. In fact it makes the bottle slightly more difficult to make, not easier, because of the transition of radii. There is a slight advantage in the design in that it allows a little more empty space in the neck (which we call vacuity) thereby allowing a slighly higher fill up the neck, which will look more attractive under the capsule. Not all bottles have a bulb…in fact we have deliberately tried to be different with some of our designs, but a straight neck does look more austere, and more modern I think, and the bulb is softer and more gentle to the eye. Therefore it is more appropriate for older malt whiskies. There is a limit to what you can actually do with a neck!!

Regards,
Mike.

Kevin Erskine, The Scotch Blog

My own SWAG of a guess is that it is a combination of being an easy to hold handle AND having some design function to maximize airflow. I also have a suspicion that the bell shape, mimicked by today’s whisky taster glasses, gathers the aroma of the whisky to give you that first great whiff after opening a bottle.

Well there you have it – if there is any real reason for the "bulb" it’s been lost over the ages.

Today it’s likely just a matter of tradition as many distilleries use the bulbous neck (with wide variations), while just as many do not.

I’d like to thank the experts for taking time out of their day to ponder this question.

And thanks for asking a great question, Scott.

—————————————————————

1034_lo

One of my favorite bulbous neck bottles is used by Balvenie.

100_0585

Some distillers use the bulbous neck (Glenfarclas, Laphroaig, Talisker)

100_0586_1

While some do not (Glenfiddich, Bruichladdich, Oban)

Macallan1841

One of the earliest known whisky bottle, an 1841 Macallan. Just a reused wine bottle – no bulbous neck.