Ask The Collector – Fall 2007

We still get lots of requests for valuation of whisky, but many of
the requests are from people who can’t read. 2 basic rules are
consistently violated:

  1. Send a picture (of the bottle – yes, someone actually sent a picture of themselves)
  2. Before asking, take a look at the”Ask the Collector” article archive to see if your bottle has been valued previously. If I get another request to value a Chivas Regal Royal Salute Spode decanter, I’m going to go f’ing postal.


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.

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. If
    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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Getting engaged

No, I’m not getting engaged.

But you will be…

Remember that new site from Ian Buxton I told you about earlier this week?


Well it officially goes live on Friday, November 30th (St. Andrew’s Day)
BUT I’m giving you an opening night invitation.

<Click on the logo for the link>

Have fun. Play nice with the other kids…

Mailing List woes

My contact database decided to take a dirt nap (Note to self: avoid DayLite at all costs in the future). I decided to use good old Mac Address book instead. It syncs with my Nokia e61 and works just fine for such purposes.

I’ve been able to cobble together a good portion of the mailing list from old emails – but I know I’m missing some of you.

If you did NOT receive a mailing list email from me yesterday offering a discount on the WHISKY DVD as well as free Macallan hats and Famous Grouse t-shirts; you may want to consider re-registering (or signing up in the first place).

It’s simple. Just click on the link below.


I won’t sell your name or email. And only occasionally will I bother you with drivel.
I usually just use it to give a heads up to people and/or offer free stuff.

It very well could be the best email you’ve ever sent.

The future of the whisky community?

Ian Buxton is about to launch what could be the most ambitious whisky-focused portal ever.

I was asked to be a beta tester, and I can tell you first hand that the site brings together some of the best concepts from online communities: up-to-date news; "friends" and the ability to post messages to and about them; the ability to set up your own blog; and possibly the most interesting feature: Whiskipedia – a whisky focused "wiki".

You’ll also be able to post video – sort of like You Tube for whisky…but a bit more adult.

Ian expects to launch at the end of the month…with whiskipedia following by Christmas.  That should give you plenty to do over the holidays.

What’s it called? What’s the address?

Look for the official announcement in a few days…

Happy Thanksgiving

No story today.

It’s Thanksgiving here in the US. Meaning that people join their families, stuff themselves with turkey and watch Football.

I avoid my family, go for a hike in the mountains, eat a reasonable portion of turkey with friends and drink whisky.

And for that I am thankful.

Columba Cream rises to the top.

Last September I did a short blurb about Columba Cream based on a story by Will Lyons in Scotland on Sunday called Columba Cream Plan Hits The Rocks.

That short blurb was followed up by an email from Jamie Morrison and resulted in a Christmas story called Columba Cream Responds. The story detailed a lively back and forth and resulted in an even more lively string of responses.

This past week Jamie was eager to let me know that there was great news for the Scottish Liqueur Centre; namely that Columba has been faring very well with shoppers at Waitrose (a UK-based grocery chain) and has been picked up at all 186 Waitrose locations.

According to the Waitrose press release:

First launched in Waitrose’s two Scottish stores last year, Columba
Cream has proved so popular with customers that the supermarket will
sell it nationally.

Last Christmas the single malt cream and honey liqueur quickly became the top selling spirit in Waitrose’s Edinburgh branches.

Now thanks to the exclusive deal with Waitrose, the small
independent company that makes the drink – The Scottish Liqueur Centre
– it is expecting to double its turnover to £1million by the end of
this year.

Jamie also wanted me to know that Columba Cream was the biggest selling spirit (yes – outselling all other spirits, not just liqueurs) at the Waitrose stores during the 2006 Christmas holiday.

What’s more remarkable is that this was accomplished without resorting to the standard UK practice of deep discounting.

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To 'e' or not to 'e'

Steve Ury (who writes Sku’s Recent Eats) emailed to ask my opinion on a recent proposal by Charles Cowdery (author of Bourbon, Straight). To wit, the proposal is: when writers write about Whisk(e)y, they should ALWAYS use the spelling common to the country they live – meaning that Americans should write ‘Scotch whiskey’, while in the UK writers should feel free to use ‘Bourbon whisky.’ (read it here)

This is what I quite simply refer to as – a stupid idea.

If for no other reason than it shows a gross misunderstanding of the US regulations currently on the books – which use the "whisky" spelling. If I were to take Cowdery’s argument to heart, I would logically have to insist that we forsake the (purely arbitrary) "whiskey" spelling and revert all US produced whiskies to the ‘no-e’ usage.

But I’m not saying that at all.

In the end I classify such discussions as Sound & Fury arguments – (this of course is taken from [appropriately enough] Shakespeare’s "Scottish Play", Macbeth) in that arguments like this are:

A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

But, like an idiot’s tale, sometimes they can be fun to listen to for a brief time…

ANY way, Steve and I traded a few emails, and he crafted a well thought out, and balanced view of both positions. Read for the sound and fury.

Whisk(e)y Wednesday: To ‘e’ or Not to ‘e’
Steve Ury

you may know, there are two alternative spellings of my favorite
alcoholic beverage: whisky and whiskey. In Scotland, Canada and Japan,
they drink whisky. In Ireland and (mostly) here in the US, we drink
whiskey. Now, to the person whose only interest is in drinking the
stuff, who the hell cares how you spell it? But to those of us who
write about it, there is an issue. Should we spell the word according
to the type of drink we are writing about or should we pick one
spelling and stick to it? Recently, a suggestion to change the standard
practice by Chuck Cowdery erupted into a controversy that may soon rock
the whisk(e)y world.

Deep Background

The term whiskey is said to have evolved from the Gaelic uisge beatha,
meaning "water of life." Of course, the term "water of life" has been
used in many European cultures to refer to the local liquor: Aquvit in Sweden (derived from the Latin aqua vitae) and eau de vie in France refer to regional spirits in those nations.

the Oxford English Dictionary does not differentiate between whisky and
whiskey, using a single entry for both terms. It does, however, list
several alternative spellings which were used in the eighteenth
century, including whiskie and whiskee. It appears that no consistent
spelling was being used in the nineteenth century, with American and
English writers using both spellings interchangeably. The
standardization of the various spellings may not have occurred until
the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

The Current Practice

current practice among malt writers in the US and UK is to change the
spelling based on the type of drink being discussed. If it’s Scotch,
you call it whisky (e.g., Highland Park is a great whisky), if it’s
Irish, you call it whiskey (e.g., Bushmills is a fine whiskey)…etc.
This is the usage in both of the major magazines covering the area:
Whisky Magazine (British) and Malt Advocate (American).

simultaneously referring to two whiskies with different spellings,
Scotch and Irish for example, many writers use the term whisk(e)y.




Continue Reading >>

Bacardi prepares for growth; Makes Scottish land grab

Hey Kids.

I’m traveling to Kentucky today to visit Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam.

Bourbon? On The Scotch Blog??

Why the hell not. Maybe it’s time to change this site to "The Whisk(e)y Blog".

I’m also hoping to get a chance to visit one of the lesser talked about Kentucky whiskey institutions. Blue Grass cooperage? No. But maybe I’ll try to fit that in as well.
Stay tuned.

And remember Keep the feedback coming in for THE DRAMMIES. They don’t want everyone to know, but many in the industry like The Drammies the best because it represents what YOU like.

Plus, it has the coolest name of ANY whisky award.

On November 8th, Bacardi, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, announced the purchase of a 106 acre parcel of land, which will eventually be the site for a new "maturation, blending and storage facility" for their Dewar’s portfolio.

The land is located in South Lanarkshire, about 25 miles outside of Glasgow, between Douglas and Lesmahagow, and is to be acquired from Scottish Coal, part of Scottish Resources Group.

Dewar’s plans to develop the site to accommodate bonded warehouses and a bulk and blend center capable of housing more than a million casks. Plans call for having the first phase operational by January 2009.  Construction is planned to be undertaken in consecutive phases, starting in 2008 with an estimated completion in 2018.

The land deal is part of a previously announced $250 million investment in Scotch whisky production over the next 10 years. The investments are primarily to expand to keep up with the demand in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other emerging markets.

Jon Grey, Vice President, Bacardi Global Operations:

Buying this piece of land in Scotland—known worldwide for its premium whisky—is the cornerstone of one of the most significant investments ever in the Scotch industry. Bacardi has always invested heavily behind our brands and their heritage.

I don’t spend much time talking about Dewar’s, but it is important to note that is is the
number-one selling blended Scotch whisky in the United States, beating even Johnnie Walker.

Founded in 1846 by John Dewar Sr., John Dewar and Sons
Limited has grown from a small wine and spirits merchant shop in Perth,
Scotland, to become a global brand. Today, DEWAR’S is one of the largest whisky brands in
the world, and the top selling blended Scotch whisky in the United
States. The foundation stone of the portfolio is the WHITE LABEL blend,
which was first created in 1899.

The Bacardi blended Scotch whisky portfolio is broken into 2 distinct lines: Dewar’s & William Lawson.

The Dewar’s line includes the ubiquitous Dewar’s White Label; Dewar’s 12 Years
Old Special Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky
; Dewar’s 18 Years Old
Founder’s Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky
; Dewar’s Signature Blended
Scotch Whisk
y; and Dewar’s 15 Years Old Blended Highland Malt Whisky. While on the Lawson’s side there’s Willam Lawson’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky, and Willam Lawson’s Scottish Gold
12 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky

It’s a little confusing as Bacardi groups both the blended Dewar’s brands and single malt Aberfeldy under the "Dewar’s" umbrella.

On the single malt whisky side, Bacardi currently operates six five distilleries: Aberfeldy, Macduff, Aultmore, Craigellachie and Royal

The broader Bacardi portfolio includes (among others) the top-selling Bacardi Rum; the much over-hyped Grey
Goose vodka; the old guard Bombay gin; and the very tasty Bombay Sapphire gin.


The 2007 Drammies – Categories

Tsbnominee_1Holy Crap!

Has it been a year since we did The 2006 Scotch Blog Drammies???

Last year in mid-November I announced the categories – and asked for your nominations.

The response was over-whelming and the industry loved having a series of awards that was chosen by the public.

I did not allow ANYONE from the industry to self-nominate. And of course, we’ll continue that trend this year.

Continue Reading >>

Need a Job, whisky geek?

The Balvenie is looking for a Brand Ambassador for the US market.

Interested? Of course you are.

You know you want to quit your boring day job, give some meaning to your meaningless life,and travel the US teaching people about the tasty goodness that is whisky.

Check it out here.