Fake Whisky Recipe

A while ago we had a thread about how to make an authentic looking “Fake Scotch” . . . for those occasions when you want to display a prized (but empty) bottle of Scotch.

If you’ve seen the show Mad Men (a drama which takes place in a Madison Avenue Ad Agency in 1961- and easily the best thing currently on American television), you’ll know that they drink.

A lot.

Mostly Scotch.

Here is the basic recipe for what the Mad Men prop-masters are using to make their “fake Scotch”.

  • cranberry juice,
  • grapefruit
    juice, and
  • iced tea.

Weird, huh? Not really sure of the ratios . . . but this will give you all a fun project for the weekend.

Tullibardine for sale???

As usual, Will Lyons is ahead of the crowd with the latest news in the Scotch whisky industry.

This time the question is “Is Tullibardine for sale?”

My secret source says:

This is a puzzling affair. Michael Beamish insists the distillery is not for sale and that he is reacting to interest. But I know several companies that have received sales particulars.

Predators circle Tullibardine distillery
William Lyons
Scotland on Sunday
20 Jul 2008

THE management team responsible for rejuvenating the Tullibardine whisky distillery is in discussions with Swiss bankers in a move that may lead to a sale of the Perthshire-based firm.

It is understood financial adviser UBS has received three approaches for the distillery, close to the Blackford home of Highland Spring. Although negotiations are at an early stage, sources say a deal would value the firm at more than GBP 15m. Tullibardine was mothballed for a decade until it was rescued by a four-man consortium of entrepreneurs which bought the operation in 2003.

Backed by Barclays, the quartet acquired Tullibardine for an undisclosed sum from Jim Beam Brands, now Whyte & Mackay, which had decommissioned the facility in 1993 because of overcapacity.

The news comes amid a time of unprecedented interest in the mid-tier of the whisky industry, with speculation surrounding a series of deals for similar sized distilleries.

Read the rest of the story at Scotland on Sunday

Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza – Fall 2008 Schedule

For the FOURTH year in a row The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America
would like to extend a  discounted admission to the 2008 U.S. Single
Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Tour for readers of The Scotch

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

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is once again happy to offer a
discount for tickets to our Single Malt & Scotch Whisky
Extravaganza 2008 Tour.

“Member’s Price” is $115.00 per ticket. (Our Non-member’s ticket
price is now $130; therefore, this offers a $15 discount on tickets for
this year’s events) This price will be honored to anyone who calls in
for a ticket and mentions that they saw the event advertised on The
Scotch Blog

All Events 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Registration begins at 6:30 pm

Jackets Preferred

Society Members/The Scotch Blog readers: $115
Non-Member Guests: $130


You MUST mention The Scotch Blog when placing your ticket order. Tickets by advance purchase only: 800-990-1991.

WWW.SMWSA.COM Must be 21 years of age.

Fall 2008 Schedule

Union League Club of Chicago
65 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

Taj Boston
15 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116


J.W. Marriott Hotel
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Union League of Philadelphia
140 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
Jackets Required (No Denim or Athletic Attire)

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL 33314

Rainier Club
820 Fourth Ave.,Seattle, WA 98104
Jackets Required (No Denim Or Athletic Attire)

Fairmont Hotel
950 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401

Dewar's whisky boss Gray set to go

Dewar’s whisky boss Gray set to go

William Lyons

Business & Money Scotland on Sunday  13 Jul 2008

THE boss of Dewar’s, the Scotch whisky firm owned by Bacardi, is to leave his job amid a restructuring of the business.

Garry Gray, who last August announced a GBP 120m expansion of the whisky firm, will leave his position at the end of the summer.

In a letter to staff seen by Scotland on Sunday, Dewar’s chairman John Broadbridge said his role will be replaced with an operations director.

He said: “We thank Garry for his contribution to the development of John Dewar & Sons and wish him every success in whatever he chooses to do in the years ahead.

Full Story

The Single-Malt Independents

Hi Kevin,
Hope you’re doing well. Here’s a column I did for The Wall Street Journal trying to explain independent bottlings to those who might be understandably confused by the proliferation of bottles labeled with the same distillery names.

The Single-Malt Independents

The Wall Street Journal
July 12, 2008; Page W7

The Macallan is one of the best-known and best-loved
single-malt whiskies, with prices to match. A bottle of The Macallan
18-year-old Scotch generally retails for around $140. So it must have
been distressing for the distillery’s management when Costco started
selling 18-year-old Macallan-made whisky for $60. The bottles are
labeled with the discount house-brand “Kirkland” at the top; but just
below, in letters nearly as large, are the words “Macallan Distillery.”

Plenty of chatter on Web bulletin boards has
questioned whether the Kirkland malt could be proper Macallan whisky —
perhaps, some speculated, this was a batch gone wrong that the
distillery offloaded at a discount. Not so. It was just that 20 years
ago, Macallan had excess capacity. “We were still producing more liquid
than we could sell,” according to Patricia Lee in Macallan’s marketing
department. “We sold the surplus new-make spirit to independent
bottlers to store and bottle in their own time under their own label.”

[Drinks photo]
Dylan Cross for The Wall Street Journal

This might seem like shocking carelessness with one’s
brand equity — imagine if Coke sold off excess syrup, letting anyone
and everyone market independent versions of Coca-Cola. Ms. Lee allows
that “it does cause some confusion.” But Scottish distillers have been
doing business this way for well over a century.

Scotch distilleries traditionally did not themselves
bottle or market their whiskies. They sold it by the barrel to brokers
and blenders who mixed them to create blended whiskies such as Chivas
Regal, Johnnie Walker and Dewar’s. For decades, just about the only way
to get a bottle containing whisky from an individual distillery — that
is, a single malt — was from an independent bottler. Many of these,
such as William Cadenhead, were liquor and wine merchants who bought
barrels of whisky for their shops and offered them, unblended, to their
customers. Savvy Scotch drinkers learned to look for these single malts
because they had quirky and compelling character lacking in even the
best blends. Were it not for independent bottlers, there might never
have been a single-malt revolution. Thanks to the success of the
independents, the distillers realized they should start bottling their
malts and create marketable brands of their own. “Independents molded
the industry,” says Euan Shand, managing director of one such firm,
Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd. “Multinationals who bought into it are
reaping that benefit.”

And reaping a few headaches too. Take Caol Ila
(pronounced cull-EE-la), a lovely, well-balanced malt from the peaty
island of Islay. It’s only in the past five years that drinks giant
Diageo has decided (and a very good decision it was) to make the whisky
one of its core, premium brands. But Diageo has had to contend with a
surfeit of Caol Ila on the market: In the 1970s, the distillery
expanded to six stills from two, and it long had plenty of excess
spirit to sell to the brokers. Now that Diageo is investing serious
money to promote the malt, umpteen independent bottlings have hit the

I had to visit only two local liquor stores to come up
with three independent bottlings of Caol Ila, a 10-year-old version
from Gordon & MacPhail’s “Connoisseurs Choice,” and 14-year-old
versions from Murray McDavid and the Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky
Co. Ltd. None were Costco-style bargains — in fact, the 12-year-old
official distillery bottling was the best buy. Nor were any of the
bottles second-rate examples of Caol Ila. They were like fraternal
twins — not quite identical, but with interesting personalities of
their own. The Gordon & MacPhail was slightly drier than the
official Caol Ila; the Murray McDavid, stored in sherry casks, was much
sweeter and fruitier; the Signatory had a bright, fresh quality.

The official bottling remains the best bet for “the
majority of our drinkers [who] look for consistent character and
quality,” says Diageo’s global malt director, Nick Morgan. And there’s
a lot to be said for consistency. When you’re spending $50 or $60 for a
bottle, you may not want it to be a crap shoot. But the risk is small
— most of the independent bottlings I’ve bought over the years have
been perfectly worthy. Not that I haven’t run into the occasional
stinker — pallid stuff from an exhausted barrel that had been recycled
too many times. Even so, if there is a single malt you love, it’s well
worth exploring the variations to be found in independent bottlings of
the brand.

But do it while you can: As demand for single malts
has grown, distilleries have become shy about supplying intermediaries.
“It’s a sign of the times that major distillers are no longer willing
to sell casks to the independents for private bottling,” says Mr. Shand
of Duncan Taylor. “I believe the multinationals will slowly squeeze the
lifeblood out of the independents.” Diageo’s Dr. Morgan doesn’t
disagree: “As distillers recognize the importance of their single-malt
brands,” they will increasingly want “to protect their brand equity and
control the quality of the final product.”

Anticipating a drought, the middlemen are looking to
guarantee their supply. As Alistair Hart of the independent bottler
Hart Brothers slyly puts it, the “poachers have turned game keepers.”
Gordon & MacPhail led the way, buying the Benromach distillery in
1993; Signatory now owns tiny Edradour; Bruichladdich is humming under
the ownership of the Murray McDavid crew; and independent blender and
bottler Ian Macleod Distillers Limited is proprietor of the stills at

Now that bottlers are on the other side of the
branding divide, how eager are they to do business with other
independents? Not very. Says Gordon & MacPhail marketing manager
Ian Chapman: “Production of Benromach under Gordon & MacPhail’s
ownership is owned and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail.”

TESCO has some real balls. And not in a good way.

Tesco released a press release – resulting in some UK news stories – about how “THEIR” 12 year Old Highland Single Malt had “beaten some of the world’s most famous whiskies to
take top prize in the drink industry’s answer to the Oscars.”

Well, as a judge on the IWSC Scotch Whisky panel, I’m happy that the IWSC is considered to be the equivalent to the “Oscars”. However, For Tesco to take credit for winning an award for a whisky they did not create and then thumb their nose at the producers is simply appalling.

Quotes like this:

Dunn, Tesco’s senior spirits buyer, said: “Our range of own-label
whiskies are made for us by well-known distillers and are extremely
popular with customers.

“This award will come as a real shock
to the centuries-old whisky industry, which is not noted for its keen
appreciation of supermarket varieties.

“To beat world-renowned
whiskies such as Laphroaig and Glenmorangie is some achievement and
will hopefully help encourage all malt lovers to try our brand.

award underlines what our customers already know – that our own-label
offerings are more than a match for the world’s leading single malt
Scotch whiskies.”

Shit like this makes me glad that companies like LMVH have decided to get out of supplying whisky at cut rate to chains like TESCO – a practice which undermines the whisky market.

Read the story

By the way – that whisky was produced by Whyte & Mackay

More BIG changes at Glenmorangie – Breaking News


Today Glenmorangie announced some changes which equal the scale and scope of their recent repackaging/reformulation.

A two-year plan which includes:

  1. They are moving headquarters to Edinburgh. The existing Broxburn HQ will (apparently) be sold to Diageo. Does the bottling facility go with HQ sale? No word yet.
  2. Glenmorangie (Tain) & Ardbeg (Islay) distilleries will be the recipients of a combined £45 million investment.
  3. They are selling the Elgin-based Glen Moray distillery. Glen Moray is used primarily for Blended Scotch whisky.

This heralds the 2nd step in LVMH’s move away from commodity blended whisky and firmly entrenches them as a premium Single-malt only concern.