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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And the winners are…

The world has been waiting – the votes are in – it is time to announce the winners of the 2006 Drammies.

I’d like to thank all of the people who took the time to send in their nominations. I’ve included some of the more interesting comments included with the nominations (green, italics).

Without further ado…

FIRST…The Special Mentions

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Scottish Miscellany

A story in The Herald today touts the importance of whisky to the Scottish economy.

and drink is Scotland’s most successful export sector, accounting
for £3.6 billion –
with £3 billion of that figure being spirits! This means that of the £18.6bn of total exports during 2005, (excluding oil
and gas), fully 16% was alcohol related!

The US remains the most lucrative
single country for Scottish products, accounting for £2.1 billion
of the market compared with
£9.1 billion for all of the European Union countries. Must be all those little stuffed highland cattle dolls we buy.

On a note that hits even closer to home for Edinburgh residents, it was announced that there would be would be outdoor bars at this year’s Hogmanay street party for the first time in the event’s 14-year history. Hooray!

outdoor bars will be set up along Princes Street to sell drink to the
100,000 revellers expected to celebrate New Year in the city center. The bars will be slinging drinks from 8.30pm on Hogmanay (We call it New Year’s Eve – I like Hogmanay better) until 12.30am on
New Year’s Day.

Further proof that I need to permanently move to Scotland: Party-goers will also still be allowed to bring their own alcohol in plastic bottles to the event.

Jack Law, chief executive
of Alcohol Focus Scotland,

"Having bars at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party may not make a
great deal of difference to how much people drink because they are
already allowed to take in whatever alcohol they want. But at any such
where alcohol is sold it must be done in a legal, safe and responsible way to minimise harm for those attending."

And tomorrow – we announce the winners of the 2006 Drammies!!!!

Speyside's Smallest

There are a growing number of Independent Bottlers who have added a single malt distillery to their stable: Signatory has Edradour; Murray McDavid has Bruichladdich; Angus Dundee has Tomintoul and Glencadam; and Ian Macleod has Glengoyne. But Gordon & MacPhail was one of the first.

Gordon & MacPhail was established in 1895 in Elgin, Scotland, as a purveyor of wine, spirits and groceries, blending and bottling whiskies in the best tradition of Scottish grocers.

Within months of opening, the founders James Gordon and Alexander MacPhail were joined by apprentice John Urquhart, who in 1915, would assume the role of senior partner.

With John’s takeover, Gordon & MacPhail would begin to focus more and more on the whisky side of the business – and focusing on the bottling of single malt whisky while others concentrated on blends.

It wasn’t until 1993 that the company decided to get into the production side. It acquired the Benromach distillery in the pretty town of Forres (west of Elgin) – but it was another five years before production started.

As you may have guessed from the title of this article, Benromach is the smallest distillery in Speyside.

I had a chance to chat with Michael Urquhart, Director of Gordon & MacPhail as he led me through the Benromach line…

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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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Article on Glenrothes 1979

Someone emailed me to let me know that there was an article about Scotch in Men’s Vogue.

Men’s Vogue?!?!? That isn’t really a magazine, is it?

Regardless, there was a link – and the link is real – the author of the story was part of a group invited to sit down with Ronnie Cox (Director of the Glenrothes) and go through a tasting of the Glenrothes line, capped with a dram of the "new" 1979 Single Cask.

Aside from the inexplicable “whiskey” spelling (usually the work of the ill-informed editor), there was one iffy statement:

“A $1,000 dollar bottle is actually not that outrageous these days: Last year a South Korean collector paid close to $75,000 for a bottle of 1926 Macallan.”

A fine example of logical fallacy – just because some fool paid $75,000 doesn’t make $1,000 “not that outrageous”. But I’ll forgive the author for hyperbole.

Aside from those small issues, the article is extremely well written and quite informative.

Check it out: Single—and loving it

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.

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DoceonPress gets a new look

PayPal sucks. It’s incredibly unreliable and the Customer Service is HORRIBLE.

As a result of that suckiness, DoceonPress has had to find a new payment transaction partner – and they’ve decided to give GoogleCheckout a trial.

They also took this opportunity to design a new (hopefully) more user friendly format.

To celebrate PayPal Freedom Day, and the launch of the new store they are offering a 20% off coupon now through the end of the year.

At checkout (The Review and Place Order Screen) click on Enter a coupon, promotion code or gift certificate, enter "NEWSTORE" and your discount will automatically by calculated.

They are also actively seeking to carry more books, gifts and other whisky related items, so check back over the next few weeks to see if there’s anything else for sale.

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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Announcing the Nominees

The world has been waiting – the nominations have closed – and it is time to announce the nominees for the 2006 Drammies. We had a fantastic response to the request for nominees.

We tried to be a little bit different with our categories, and frankly we were surprised by some of the nominees. Other nominees were not big surprises at all – especially in the "Innovation" categories.

And now that we have our nominees, the selection panel will be sequestered until they reach a decision. We’ll KNOW they have reached a decision as they will release a puff of white smoke – then we’ll announce the winners on December 22nd. Everyone will celebrate. Then we’ll forget about all this until next year.

You may not agree with the nominees, but the people have spoken.
Besides, that’s why there are so many different awards – sooner or
later one of your favorites will win one.

First a recap of the categories:
















Best Packaging

Most Innovative New Product
Innovator of the Year
Bang for the Buck
Distillery of the Year
Best Distillery Tour
Most over-rated Whisky
Most under-rated Whisky
Best New Product


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