Johnnie Walker goes to Beirut: Update

UPDATE: I spoke with Laura Peet of Diageo, and the banner is indeed real.

She explained that Diageo is sensitive to their local markets,
understand what is and is not acceptable in those markets, and they use
their iconic advertising to connect with and support local consumers
(and yes, admittedly, to advertise).

She mentioned that when looking at an ad like this with our eyes, we
may question its taste, but in the local markets this ad
has been viewed as being supportive of the area and the Lebanese people.

I did search around the Internet and it appears that web-sites which
focus on Beirut and Lebanon have been receptive and appreciative of
this particular ad.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Lebanon has a substantial
Catholic population and is not a wholly Muslim country as many people
believe, so an ad for an alcoholic beverage is not beyond the pale.

Johnnie Walker goes to Beirut

Martin S. (from my alma mater Johns Hopkins) asked if I had seen this ad, which is apparently draped on a building along the road to Beirut.

I’m not sure how I feel about this…

Is it meant to be an uplifting homage to the strength of the people of Beirut; or a crass commercial attempt to fit an ad campaign into an unfortunate situation.

Were I in charge of advertising for JW in the Middle East, I think I would have tried a different tactic.

What do YOU think?

Scotch Whisky Advertising/History Lesson

Tempus Publishing was kind enough to send me a review copy of Still Going Strong: A History of Scotch Whisky Advertising by John Hughes. Before I tell you about the book I wanted to pick a nit…

The problem I have with the book? In truth it is not really a History of Scotch Whisky Advertising, but instead a history of Distillers Company Ltd Blended Scotch Whisky Advertising.

If you were not aware, Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) was formed in 1877 and would later become a substantial chunk of the company known today as Diageo (a historical timeline is provided at the end of this story).

The book includes chapters on the Distillers Company Ltd, as well as Johnnie Walker, Black & White, Haig, White Horse and Vat 69 – all Diageo blends. There is a single chapter entitled "Other Blended Whiskies" – which covers a number of defunct Diageo/DCL labels.

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Mailing List

A reminder to people to sign up for the mailing list.

Just to the right under "Stay in Touch…" click on "…Join the mailing list"

Be sure to include where you live, as I occasionally send out emails to people in specific cities about local information and events.

I promise never to sell or give-out your email address, and any emails will come directly from me.

Remember, joining the mailing list is different than "…get new stories via email" which uses FeedBlitz to send The Scotch Blog stories (the day after they are published here) directly to your mailbox – another useful service.

7 Casks, 7 Tastes

I’d like to talk about sampling whisky directly from cask samples – something most of us never get to do.

On a recent trip to visit the blending lab at Compass Box, I had a chance to try samples from 7 different casks which had been treated with 3 different toasting levels. Other than the toast of the wood, the contents of the casks and length of maturation was identical.

The thing that surprised me most was that all of the samples, even those from similarly toasted casks, each had it’s own nose and taste characteristics – no two samples were alike.

I’m going to talk about the differences between those cask samples – I didn’t take extensive tasting notes since you’ll never be able to buy bottles from these individual casks. I’m also specficially not going into details about the whisky or the wood, as John has to keep some secrets. So don’t ask.

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Free Stuff – Glenfarclas


Ah Summer comes to a close and so does the weekly hat give-a-way. This will be the 12th hat I’ve given away. But I still have a few things laying around as we resume the monthly give-a-way schedule.

Here’s the question…

Glenfarclas achieved a notable distinction this year. What was it?

UPDATE: Scott B. of Connecticut, USA was the first to answer that Glenfarclas was selected the Distillery of the Year by Whisky Magazine

Remember the rules:

  • Be the first person to email me the answer.
  • You can only win if you have not won "Free Stuff" before.
  • Include your Postal/Zip Code.
  • I will notify the winner and let you know the shipping cost.
  • I will NOT notify you if you did not win.
  • The winner must respond with payment within 48 hours, or the offer goes to the next person who responded.
  • Payment is by PayPal only.
  • No hat substitutions.

Ask The Collector – August

When I get questions on the value of Scotch bottles, I turn to the most knowledgeable collector I know, Sukhinder Singh, proprietor of London-based The Whisky Exchange.

Last month we introduced The Collector – you send in questions about the value of bottles of Scotch you have laying around, Sukhinder answers them, and then at the end of the month I post the questions here for everyone to read.

So if you have questions on a
collectible bottle you’ve discovered, send them in, and we’ll get them
answered. Use the “…Ask the Collector” link under “Stay in Touch…” over to the right.

Ground Rules

We are getting swamped with emails every
month! Believe me, we get a LOT of questions and only a small
percentage of them make it here – but we try to respond to everyone.

In order to help reduce the amount of work, I thought I’d establish some ground rules:

  1. Before emailing, please look through the
    old “Ask The Collector” stories, to see if a similar bottle has already
    been appraised. If we get another question about the value of a bottle
    of White Horse from 1990, I’m going to put my head through the screen.
  2. Some people have been leaving questions
    for Sukhinder in the comments. This is a no-no. I will assume any
    questions left in comments are for other readers to answer and NOT for
    Sukhinder – If you want Sukhinder’s expert opinion please use the “…Ask the Collector” email address in the link to the right.
  3. No questions will be considered without an included picture. I spend too much time asking people for pictures. Starting in 2007, I’m afraid we can’t respond to any questions which don’t include a picture of the bottle. In
    you don’t include a picture, you won’t get a response. Make sure your
    pictures include the fill level as well as the label and any
    distinguishing characteristics!
  4. If Sukhinder makes an offer to buy your bottle, please do him the courtesy of responding whether you accept his offer or not.
  5. Please visit The Whisky Exchange – either in person or via their website. Let’s support Sukhinder, as he is providing this valuation services for free!

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On the Road with The Malt Project – Part 2

Today we bring you part 2 of On the Road with The Malt Project by guest writer Jack Oswald.

At the end of the story there is another chance for one lucky reader to win an "I’m a Peat Freak! Are You?" t-shirt from The Malt Project.

Click here to read part 1.

On the Road with The Malt Project Part 2 – by Jack Oswald

So, it’s about this time that you ask “why are they doing this?”.
We’ve asked ourselves that a number of times.  The real answer is a
labor of love. I lived in Scotland for nearly four years, while I was
an Air Force Officer. Our two oldest kids were born there. (I guess
that’s why Jeff is a malt freak).  We’ve gone back to visit several
times and usually wound up at a distillery. My production associates
are all great single malt fans and we just felt it was something we
wanted to share with our viewers.  As we say on our web site “This is a Whisky DVD series designed for all,
from the novice to the serious connoisseur.  It’s valuable as an
entertaining visit to Scotland and as an educational reference
companion when you’re sharing your malts”.

At this point, you’re supposed to be asking, “What can we expect in
Volume Six?” Glad you asked.  It’ll be another two disc volume probably
titled The Islands, the Shores, and Campbeltown and off the beaten path

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200th Post

I’ve reached a milestone here at The Scotch Blog.

This is the 200th post. It’s taken 1 year and 1 month and 17 days to get to this point.
During that time I’ve:

  • Had over 100,000 visitors from over 90 countries
  • Visited 27 distilleries
  • Attended six whisky expos in three countries
  • Given away a LOT of shirts, hats and miscellaneous schwag
  • Published two editions of my book The Instant Expert’s Guide to Single Malt Scotch
  • Received email and talked with readers from all over the world (courtesy of cheap airfare and Skype)
  • Had the opportunity to meet too many people to mention

I hope I’ve entertained and informed – and I plan to continue to do so until either this stops being fun or people stop reading.

I drink other things

Today’s story isn’t here. It’s at Liquor Snob…  because it is not about Scotch.