Australian for Whisky

Td2Hellyers Road Distillery is the largest single malt whisky distillery in Australia, but they’ve
only started bottling within the last 12 months. The distillery itself is actually located on Tasmania, an island best known (in the US, at least) as the home of the Tasmanian Devil.

And now for the geography portion of our program . . .

Tasmania is located approximately 240 kilometers off the coast of Victoria, almost directly south of Melbourne. Tasmania  has a population of around 500,000 with approximately 200,000 living in the capital, Hobart.
The island is
the smallest Australian state with a coastline of 3200 Km and a total
north south distance of approximately 300 Km.

Back to the good stuff . . .

Whisky Tasmania was established in 1997 in Burnie (on the north west coast of Tasmania far from Hobart) and trades as Hellyers Road Distillery. Hellyers Road Distillery is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Betta Milk Co-operative Ltd. Established in 1956, Betta Milk (100% owned by Tasmanian farmers) processes and supplies fresh milk to the Tasmanian market.

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Change is Good

A quick follow-up look at Blackwood Distillers web site shows that the children have been taken off; Riannon has been dumped, and the reference to bond sales and whisky in 2006 is gone.

Being the modest chap that he is, Ian Buxton likely won’t want to take credit for this; but these stories certainly had something to do with it, no?

The Scotch Blog
What’s the deal with Blackwood?
Ian And Blackwood (Part Deux) and the silliness of self-proclamations

Whisky Rumour Mill

The power of the (electronic) press :)

All Sweetness and Light

Mark Reynier of Bruichladdich has a different take on the recently approved EU regulations and points out a contradiction he finds amusing.

New European regulations may force Whisky distillers to include E numbers on labels, as a result of new rules on production and labeling agreed in Brussels.

The European Parliament has approved an updated legal definition of whisky, designed to prevent abuse, both at home and overseas, in the production of Scotland’s spirit. The Scotch Whisky Association welcomed the new definitions saying that it reflects traditional practice, making it explicit that ‘whisky cannot be flavoured or sweetened.’

Article (d) of the new definition states clearly that “Whisky or whiskey shall not be sweetened or flavoured, nor contain any additives other than plain caramel colouring.”

Plain caramel colouring is referred to as E150 – this permissible additive has been in use for decades as a method of standardising the colour and flavour of big brand whiskies and other drinks.But the colouring, from dark brown to black hue, is made “ by controlled heat treatment of sugar beet or sugar cane (with or without the presence of alkalis or acids)”.

In an apparent contradiction, under the new regulations, sweetnings that are not allowable in whisky appear to share the same production methods as the allowable E150.

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Breaking News: PC5 comes to America

Port Charlotte’s PC 5 is on the way to the US.

Only 200 cases will be available starting this August, with an SRP of $120 a bottle, and distribution will likely be clustered in Chicago & New York.

When PC 6 makes its appearance, there should be at least twice the number of available cases.

And in a coup, Wyatt-Zier (current Compass Box importers) has landed the importation contract for Port Charlotte whiskies (Bruichladdich whiskies are currently imported by WineBow – who will retain importation rights to that label.)

For more info contact Ken or Ron.

Is anything worth £1,000 a dram?

I was once again quoted in the Scottish Newspaper The Scotsman.

This time in reference to Johnnie Walker 1805, a bottling that makes the arguably over-priced Johnnie Walker Blue look like a cheap wine.

From the article:

The main
bar at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire where the rare Johnnie Walker
1805 has just gone on sale. It is claimed to be a very limited edition:
only 200 bottles have been made to celebrate the birthday of the
label’s founder.

scarcity value has been enhanced, the makers claim, by the fact the
majority of the nine malts used are from distilleries which have since
shut down. None of the bottles are on sale to the public: the
Gleneagles hotel has one, and another is behind the bar of Fifty, a
members-only club in London.

Want to try it for yourself? It’s selling at the Gleneagles for £1,000 a dram. And if you can afford that you’ll like want to stay in the Royal Lochnagar Suite at a mere £1,900 per night (but breakfast IS included).

You can imagine what I said…but if you don’t like to imagine, Read the article here.

Benromach Organic Approved for the US

PRESS RELEASE – July 2, 2007

Gordon & MacPhail, proprietors of Benromach distillery have launched, Benromach Organic Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  Hand made by just two men at Speyside’s smallest working distillery, Benromach Organic is the first bottled Single Malt Whisky released to be fully certified by the Soil Association of the U.K. The product has also been approved for sale in U.S.A.

The whole process – raw ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling – is certified organic to the rigorous standards set by the Soil Association.

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Ian And Blackwood (Part Deux) and the silliness of self-proclamations

Ian Buxton once again unleashes the fury at Blackwood distillers. This time the fury appears on the "Rumour Mill" portion of the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.

Ian takes aim at one of the members of the Blackwood team and their dubious assertions:

Here is an excerpt:

But what caught my eye this time, under the heading “The team”, wasn’t the tiny tots but the redoubtable Ms. Riannon Walsh, described as “Non Exec” and the “USA’s leading whisky expert”.

Now leave aside what Paul Pacult, John Hansell or a number of luminaries would make of that assertion and consider Ms Walsh’s own claims to fame.  Her own website describes her as author of “Whisky Dreams: A Culinary Journey Through the World of Single Malt Whiskies” and President of Cloonaughill Distillers Ltd. of Ireland.  Impressive credentials, indeed.

But sadly for such an enticing title, Whisky Dreams does not appear on either of Amazon’s US or UK sites . . .

You really want to read the rest of this . . . Read the full piece here.

What strikes me is why someone would want to make a claim that is A. disputable; B. disprovable, and C. nonsensical.

It brings to mind the angst of the Steve Carell character in "Little Miss Sunshine" over whether he, or his rival was "America’s Leading Proust Scholar".

Who gives a shit?


Even were we to ignore the fact that this is a self-proclaimed title, and consider for a moment that such a title should be granted by people who live outside of your house, by what measurement would the title "leading" be granted?

Amount of published written material on the subject? Respect of Peers? Number of Books sold? Industry Awards and accolades? Respect and admiration from the general public? Runs Batted In (RBI)? Height? Enemy Fighters shot down over the South Pacific?

Can Riannon lay claim to "leading" by any of those measures?

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The Scotch Blog is the Best!

It’s Saturday July, 14th and I’ve come to Can Can, one of my favorite
local restaurants (French-themed if you couldn’t guess), for a dinner of Moules & Frites (that’s mussels and french fries, savages).

They’ve asked
me to step away from the bar, as the Can Can girls are about to start
dancing. On the bar.

My night is looking up.  No, this isn’t an everyday occurrence. It’s
Bastille Day.


I’ve just picked up my mail from the office and in the pile is the
latest issue (#64 – August 2007) of Whisky Magazine, sent to me from my friend Elliot
Fishbein, owner of Town Wine & Spirits (Rhode Island, USA)

As some of you know, I moved my residence back in February and apparently one
of the things lost in the shuffle was my subscription (Yep, I pay for
my subscriptions, just like everyone else.)

Well the reason that Elliot has sent me the issue is that apparently Whisky Magazine says I’m the best.

My night is looking even more up.

The article is called "Blogging It" and despite the fact that "blog" is an integral part of this site’s name, I really dislike the term. It’s almost dismissive. But I digress. It’s The Scotch Blog, and I’m stuck with it for now.

Written by Richard Jones, the article declares that The Scotch Blog is indeed, the best. And I think it is pretty cool to be recognized by a leading industry publication.

The actual article must have been written some time ago as they reference stories from last Fall, but here we are, still going strong, months later.

Reproduced, totally without permission:

At the time of this writing, this is simply the best all-around Scotch whisky blog on the web.

Author Kevin Erskine provides frequent, well written, considered and often thought-provoking posts on a range of whisky related subjects. Recent examples of the more controversial variety include ‘Men Behaving Badly‘, a criticism of certain attendees at a recent whisky event and ‘Too Many Bruichladdich Editions?‘ questioning the number of releases from this Islay distillery along with a robust defence by Mark Reynier.

(ed. note – I actually wrote about the issue of too many Bruichladdich expressions in a story called ‘A Visit to the Laddie. Too Many Bruichladdich Editions was Mark’s response.)

The blog is an excellent source of up-to-date whisky news with such items as the reorganisation of distillery managers at InverHouse, the latest BenRiach wood finishes and the new-look packaging for Highland Park.

It also has features more commonly found on a traditional website / forum such as ‘Ask the Collector’, a chance to pick the wisdom of The Whisky Exchange‘s Sukhinder Singh on matters of rare whiskies and their values.

Kevin is a US based blogger so some of his entries on forthcoming tastings are only of interest to readers on his side of the Atlantic, but this is a minor criticism.

The Scotch Blog is an invaluable, informative and highly entertaining resource for Scotch whisky lovers everywhere.

Much thanks to Whisky Magazine; Richard Jones and Rob Allanson (Editor) as this is the type of recognition that makes writing The Scotch Blog worth my time. I especially like when terms like "well-written" are used to describe my work.

I’d also like to thank Sukhinder Singh for taking time to actually value the whiskies. He answers 10 emails for every one that makes it on the site.

Of course, I’d like to thank the readers, without whom, this would just be masturbation. In the mental sense of course ;)

Now, who do I talk to about getting nominated as a Keeper of the Quaich?

Other worthy sites mentioned:

The Daily Dram – Dormant since January 2007

Whisk(e)y 2.0 – Hungary represents

Whisky Fun – Malt Maniac Serge Valentin talks whisky and music

Whisky School – Also dormant since January 2007 – but James Thomson of Ladybank likes to come here and argue with me over my views on India :)

Rumors: Big Changes at Glenmorangie??

Some inside news
for you:
Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton  (LVMH), the France-based owner of Glenmorangie & Ardbeg, are revamping the Glenmorangie label and packaging.

Apparently it will be something "Very French" – despite the "auld alliance" such a move is likely to be upsetting to the people of Scotland – who made Glenmorangie Scotland’s number one single malt.

Even more upsetting (at least to these guys) is that fact that the three "top level" management guys are on the chopping block.

Stay tuned for more.

Edrington strategies seem to be working

The work that Edrington has been doing with their brands seems to be bearing some fruit. Here is a recap and commentary on the Edrington Group’s results for the 12 months ending 31st March, 2007 and announced on July 4th 2007.

The Famous Grouse
The Famous Grouse, already popular in Scotland is starting to take off in other places, including the US. I became a big fan of the Grouse while in Scotland, where FG is the number one selling Scotch.

The Famous Grouse, our flagship brand, exceeded three million cases
sold for the first time in 2006/07.  The brand has been the market
leader in Scotland for the last 27 years and it is pleasing to report
that it has also improved its position within the UK, its largest
market. We continue to invest significantly behind The Famous Grouse in
international markets and the brand has grown and developed its premium
positioning in all of the key territories: Europe, The Americas and
Asia Pacific.

Priced right and quite smooth it’s a great house blend for your bar. I’d suggest stashing a few bottles because when a company talks about "premiumising our portfolio of key whisky brands" it generally means they will be raising prices.

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