Annual Scotch tasting

My annual Scotch Tasting – an invite only event for between 8 and 12 of my personal friends – took place a few weeks ago. The long term attendees have developed a taste for Scotch over the years, but are by no means regular Scotch drinkers – so I try to mix it up each year with new and interesting things – some things they’ve likely never been exposed to before.

The Whiskies

This year I presented seven whiskies in the following order.
(Remember, when hosting your own tasting, it is a good idea to present the whisky by
flavor, from lightest to strongest):

Famous Grouse – I wanted to show these guys that there is nothing wrong with a blend – as long as it’s a good blend. And Famous Grouse IS a good blend. I wanted to show how a quality blend can have complexity and still be under $20 a bottle. We tried the Famous Grouse neat and then as a mixed drink, with a lightly flavored Ginger Ale (Canada Dry). Great both ways.

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My bottle is bigger than yours

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At the Park Grill dinner I attended during the New York Whisky Fest, Michael Urquhart of Gordon and MacPhail was discussing the range of G&M available in the US:

The challenge we have is that 700 ml is not a permitted size, so we have to bottle at 750. Here we have about 155 different expressions so it’s quite a wide range – whiskies from all different areas of Scotland. But if you were able to have the laws changed to have a 700 ml bottle permitted, your choices would increase by three-fold overnight.

He was referring to was the fact that the “standard” bottle in the US is a 750 milliliter (ml) bottle while in Europe the standard is 700 ml.

I wondered…”Why do we use 750 ml bottles here in the US and why don’t we simply import the 700 ml bottles.” After all, 50 ml, isn’t a large amount of liquid – in fact, it is equivalent to the contents of a standard “airplane” or mini bottle and equates to just a single (good-sized) dram or 1.69070113 ounces. So what’s the issue?

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Ask The Collector – February


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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
dependent 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

Still getting way too many questions without pictures or posted as comments. These emails/comments will not be answered. Sorry!

  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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2007 Scotch Whisky Extravaganza

For the third year in a row The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America would like to extend a  discounted admission to the 2007 U.S. Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Tour for readers of The Scotch Blog.

That’s right, Once again readers of The Scotch Blog pay the same admission price that members of the SMWS pay.

Read on for the schedule and how to get the discount:

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Show me the money

If there was any doubt to the growing popularity of Scotch whisky, Diageo put that to rest last Thursday when they announced a £100 million investment in Scottish operations.

That’s a lot of money by anyone’s accounting – especially when you consider that it is 1/5 of what Mallya and Imerman have been quibbling over the acquisition price for all of Whyte & Mackay.

Big Plans
Cameronbridge, the Fife-based grain distillery is in for an expansion; warehouse and packaging operations will get £20 million; and biggest news of all – the plans even include include the construction of a new Highland malt distillery.

As you know, any investment in Scotch is, by definition, a long-term investment – a new distillery won’t see the potential for profit for at least 3 years – longer if Diageo has designs to bring a new "major brand" to market.

Exciting times.

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Isle of Arran

At Whisky Live Paris I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Euan Mitchell (Director of Sales) and Douglas Davidson (Managing Director) of Isle of Arran.

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Euan Mitchell:
The distillery opened in 1995 – the first middle cut of spirit was taken at 2:29pm on the  29th of June 1995, if you want to get specific. We celebrated the 10th anniversary last summer, but we delayed the launch of our 10 year old until spring of this year to ensure a good volume of stocks.

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Wink and a nod

Wickedly smart. Bitingly funny. Loads of caustic wit.

These are just some of the terms that might be used to describe the
Scotch Whisky Review, now under the stewardship of Dave Broom and
Marcin Miller – there some other well-known malcontents who contribute -
but I’m pretty certain these two guys are behind the really
mean-spirited knocks.

Though the web site leaves an awful lot to be desired this is forgivable as it is
apparent that these guys spend the vast majority of their time coming
up with the excellent content.

To fully appreciate the nuances of The Review an insider’s knowledge is required -
and the writers are unapologetic in that the SWR is, in fact,
an insider’s joke.

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The 3 "T's" – Toronto. Tasting. Trout.

Trout Unlimited Canada is pleased to announce their 3rd annual Single Malt Tasting Fundraiser.

Join  Trout Unlimited Canada in preserving coldwater habitats within local watersheds with an enjoyable and informative evening, including:

  • sumptuous pre- and post-tasting hors d’ouevres
  • cash bar
  • live & silent auction
  • complimentary draw for TUC Artist of the Year print
  • a lively ‘tour’ of Scotland’s famous Glenfiddich Distillery by knowledgeable and entertaining Ian Millar, Chief Brand Ambassador, and
  • a formal guided tasting of exclusive Glenfiddich single malt scotch whiskys.

Trout Unlimited Canada is a not-for-profit conservation and education organization.  Founded in 1972, TUC’s focus is on volunteer-driven, member-based resource conservation.  TUC Chapter members volunteer their time and effort to preserve cold-water habitats within local watersheds. Tax receipt issued for a portion of ticket.

When: Thursday, March 1st, 2007
Reception and Silent Auction begin at 6:00 p.m.; formal guided Tasting begins at 7:00 p.m.

Cost: Tickets are $150 each, or $1,200 for a table of 8

Where: The National Club, 303 Bay Street, Toronto.

Buy Tix: Call or e-mail Kim Blain at (905) 333-3264/toll-free
1-877-733-1994 or Fax (905) 333-1964.  Visa,
Mastercard, Amex or cheque accepted.

Last Call on the Malt Whisky Yearbook

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What the hell are you doing?
It’s February and you STILL don’t have a copy of the 2007 Malt Whisky Yearbook????

This really is an indispensable guide – attractive, well done and packed with information.

The list price for the MWY is £12.95 – with the ever plummeting exchange rate that was approximately US $24.62 the last time I wrote about the book here. Today it’s $25.55! And
if you order from the MWY site, you’ll pay an additional £3.95 shipping
to the US or Canada (now US $7.80) for a total cost of $32.13 $33.35.

And if you order through Amazon – OH WAIT – You can’t. They don’t have it!

The Scotch Blog is the only place in the U.S. (that I know of) that you can buy the 2007 Malt Whisky Yearbook.

As if that weren’t enough, I’m down to my last 10 copies – and I very likely won’t be getting any more – and if I do, I’ll have to charge more to make up for the decline in the damn US dollar. ( And here I am headed to the UK twice in the next 2 months!)

Your cost (which includes shipping & handling in the United States) is still $27.50. Plus for just $2.50 more you can also get one of the Famous Grouse/Scotch Blog T-Shirts (also limited quantities).

(The shirt is only available in one size – Large.)

You can also order the T-Shirt for just $4.95 which
includes Shipping & Handling (US only).

Outside the US? email for shipping costs.

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One last thing

I have ONE Malt Whisky Yearbook which was slightly damaged in transit. The upper back edge was banged up a mite. From the front you wouldn’t even notice it.

If you order that one, you get a free Famous Grouse T-shirt, and a free Connemara Irish Single Malt Whiskey mini key chain flask. What a deal! Just email before ordering and tell me you want "the deal".

Order through DoceonPress

Blend it like Bleech-em

Apparently, a certain large multi-national liquor conglomerate has decided that blending "high quality" Scotch malts with Indian made malt and grain whiskies, is a good way to help ease into the Indian market.

This will certainly keep costs down on the production side as well as on the shelf – so you can’t argue with the concept from a purely financial perspective.

But, of course the purist will contend that this product will be an abomination. Clearly, if the intent was to mix the Scotch malt with Indian molasses-based "whisky" (which is prevented from being sold throughout the world because it fails to meet the definition of whisky as an alcoholic beverage made from grains), I’d completely agree.

In this case it’s a little more complex. Clearly the product will not be allowed to be labeled as "Scotch".

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