A Wise Investment?

I’ve long been fascinated with the idea of buying a cask. In concept it’s a solid deal – buy a cask full of new-make spirit at today’s prices and when it is ready you’ll have more whisky than you can shake a stick at.

Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Isle of Arran, and Tullibardine are distilleries that currently offer casks to the public. BenRiach is not a pro-active seller of casks, but do sell a limited
number of casks to private individuals.

(This story is about buying casks directly from a distillery. There are independent bottlers and brokers who may offer to sell you a cask, but I do not address them here).

It’s easy to see why the smaller distilleries make such offers: It’s a way for a new distillery to get a quick infusion of cash. Imagine waiting 10 years before you saw a penny of income from your product – 10 years is a long time to wait to see cash flow from a distillation – but that’s exactly what many distilleries face, unless they are producing for one of the blends. And many of the independents have effectively been shut out of that market.

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Ask The Collector – January


And now another installment of our very popular “Ask The Collector” column in which Sukhinder Singh of The Whisky Exchange answers questions about the value of collectible whisky.

The Collector is usually published on the last Friday of each month. We generally respond to questions within a day or so (completely
dependant upon Sukhinder’s schedule).

Remember, when you are in London, you can visit The Whisky Exchange in Hanwell or at their satellite shop at Vinopolis near the Borough Market. And of course you can always visit The Whisky Exchange on-line.

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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It's Burns Night!

Tonight, all over the world people of Scottish heritage will celebrate Burns Night.

Below are some resources for you to learn more about Robert Burns, why he is celebrated and some about of the traditions associated with his night…

BBC Scotland
BBC – Food Section
Rabbie Burns.com
My Supper with Rabbie
Robert Burn.org – Burns Supper Guide
The Great British Kitchen
How to organise a Burns Supper
Scotland is the Place

Some of the worst haggis I’ve ever had has been at a Burns supper, but it’s more about the opportunity to get together with others and celebrate your heritage.

Even if you are not of Scottish lineage – it’s a great time. If you are looking for a Burns Supper in your part of the world, try Google. you might be surprised what shows up.

Whisky Blog Graveyard

It’s amazing how cough medicine will make your mind wander.

In my case it made me think of all the emails I’ve received from people telling me how they were searching the Internet, found my site and want to "exchange links". Or how some budding Michael Jackson wants to announce, with great fanfare, that he has launched the greatest "whisky blog" since… well you fill in the rest.

Sitting home sick on a Saturday gave me some time to do something I rarely have time for…checking out the (horribly named) blogosphere to see what else is out there.

I guess this looks easy – coming up with new stories – sometimes 3 or more a week. Serge certainly makes it look easy – he makes me look like a slacker with multiple posts a day. Where does he get the time to drink all that whisky…and THEN write??? :)

But seriously this really is a lot of work…as many people find out. Especially if you choose to do a bit more than simply repost news stories from other sources (I never quite understood why someone thinks there’s a value in that). But I digress courtesy of NyQuil.

Some of the sites I came across have an interesting viewpoint. Some are excellent writers. Some of them abuse the English language and shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard. Most of them didn’t last very long.

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John Sutherland Passes On

This sad news from our friends at The Glenrothes

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that John Sutherland, the Distillery Manager at Glenrothes, died at the weekend. John was taken into hospital last week, initially to Elgin then to Aberdeen and Edinburgh. He went home at the end of the week, apparently never really felt well, and died at home on Saturday morning.

John was so much more than the distillery manager. First and foremost a true friend, John was a great character – larger than life, with a fantastic and wicked sense of humour. He was an active and devoted ambassador for The Glenrothes, fully involved both at the heart of its production and as an evangelist on a global level.

I’m sure you will be as shocked and devastated as we are, as we will miss him immeasurably. It goes without saying that our thoughts are with John’s Family.

We will of course let you know of the funeral arrangements and will be liasing with John’s family on behalf of everyone at Berry Bros.

Can I ask that you kindly let other people know who may have met John at Rothes or elsewhere, and whom I have missed off this note.



Luke Tegner
Brands Director: The Glenrothes


Image001Nick and Lizzie Chase, who took the Bruichladdich Distillery Academy with me back in September announced the birth of twin daughters Olivia and Catherine, born January 10th.

Yes, Lizzie was pregnant while taking the course.

A Man's Drink

I do blather on and on about getting more women involved in drinking whisky.

But a new Irish whiskey product from William Grant & Sons is positioning itself squarely as a man’s drink…and I’ve got no problem with it. I haven’t tasted it yet. Haven’t even seen a bottle yet. But the ad campaign is hysterical.

Just as Hardee’s (an American fast food chain) has unabashedly embraced the masculine by using attractive women (including one particularly titillating commercial showing Paris Hilton washing a car and eating a burger), The Knot, has targeted men – not with sex – but by selling a beverage that a "real man" will drink; along with some truly original commercials to support the position.

Featuring "Mickey" the product’s crotchety Irish spokesman who reprimands you to drink responsibly and "not like some blithering idiot".

One commercial offers "A Proper Toast":

"Here’s to you. Unless you you are some kind of giggling idiot, who likes to ‘high five’, drink light beer and talk rubbish."

While you are not likely to see these commercials on TV anytime soon, you CAN see them on YouTube as well as on the product’s website Shot of the Knot. Here’s my favorite:

TheknotThe Knot will be test launched in February, in Boston, Wisconsin, Upstate New York and New Jersey; on-premise only (that means at bars & restaurants) due to limited supplies.

When it is available at off-premise (that’s retail) the price will be $24.99 for a 750 ml.
50% abv
More info as I get it.

Happy Birthday Emily!

It’s my daughter Emily’s birthday today.
Happy Birthday!

Islay's Farm Distillery

On my last visit to Islay, I managed to take a morning off from the work at the Bruichladdich Academy and run over to the west side of the island to visit Kilchoman. This was not my first visit to Kilchoman, but it was my first chance to sit down with Anthony Wills, managing director.

Kilchoman – keeping in the best traditions of the Gaelic language, isn’t pronounced exactly like it is spelled; but this one is easier than some – simply ignore the superfluous "c" – with no particular stress on any syllable.

kill – ho – mun

The distillery grounds, still partially under construction (as of my visit), are very attractive. The main production equipment is housed in an original, though extensively renovated, mill building while the visitor centre shop and cafe are in what was originally a cattle barn.

A small gourmet shop is also on site, and the continuing construction speaks to the imminent arrival of several more boutique shops. (Update: Anthony tells me that a flower shop and gift shop have joined the gourmet shop since my visit – all three are owned separately from the distillery).

The distillery tries to be environmentally friendly recycling the
fast majority of refuse: the draff going to feed the farm’s
cattle, while the waste from the stills is spread on the fields as fertilizer.

The first distillery to be built on Islay in 124 years, the distillery officially opened on June 3rd during the 2005 Islay Whisky Festival, however it wasn’t until December 14th 2005 that Kilchoman filled their first seven
casks – and they did not distill again until the end of March 2006.

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Goodbye Whisky 101

Almost a year ago to the day (January 16th, 2006) I announced Whisky101, a new forum for the discussion of whisky and other adult beverages.


Mostly because I notice that
the existing forums, while a great place to find like-minded folks,
tend  to be co-opted by the "whisky-know-it-all." They don’t present a
forum for the novice to feel comfortable asking questions.

But we faced problems right from the start:

  • I was using a free hosting service which proved to be incredibly unreliable. I realize how hard it is to participate in something if you are not sure it is up from day-to-day.
  • The free hosting came at a cost – advertising embedded in the threads. Thoroughly obnoxious.
  • Back-ups were disabled. The free hosting provider didn’t want people walking away and taking all of their intellectual property I guess.

I figured it was a nice experiment, but doomed to fade away – even though the occasional person stumbled across it and registered.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Graeme Wallace who asked if I’d be interested in working with him to set up a forum for an online magazine he is developing. I said yes, and we’ve spent the past week or so getting it ready for you.

We are ready to announce the Fine Expressions forum.
The URL is forum.fineexpressions.co.uk (make sure you remember the .co.uk!)

The format is quite similar to the old Whisky101 to start with – and I’ll be making changes based on your suggestions. And unlike other sites, there’s no reward for posting – no ranks achieved by making post after post.

So give it a shot. Register. Start posting.
Do it now before all the really goofy login names are taken.