To 'e' or not to 'e' – Part 2

I’ve been pretty vociferous that whisky should be spelled based on the local spelling of where the product is from and not (as some [looking at you Chuck Cowdery :)] think – that it should be spelled based on where YOU happen to be.

Let’s revisit the lively argument: To ‘e’ or not to ‘e’

Well, seems like the New York Times finally agreed with me…

New York Times forced to drop the ‘e’ in whisky
By Alexander Lawrie

SCOTLAND’S whisky industry is celebrating after a respected US newspaper was forced to change its spelling of the country’s national drink from whiskey to whisky.

For years Scotch experts have been fuming at the paper’s erroneous spelling of whisky with a superflous ‘e’.

But now the newspaper has decided to amend their style guide following “aggressive” complaints in a piece they carried about Speysidemalts.

An article appeared in an edition of the New York Times last month sparking a barrage of letters of complaints about the misspelling.

And editors at the US newspaper have now decided to see sense and amend any future copy that includes the word.

Whisky experts in this country are now delighted that their perseverance has finally paid off.

A spokesperson for the multi-national giant Diageo – who own the J&Band the Johnny Walker brands – said: “There is clearly a hard and fast rule for Scotch Whisky which should be spelt without an ‘e’, and the New York Times is to be congratulated for accepting that fact.

Read the rest here

Spencerfield keeps the spirit of James Anderson, Father of American Whisky, alive


As America celebrates Washington’s birthday next week, Scotland raises a toast to James Anderson, Father of American Whisky.

From Spencerfield Farm on the banks of the Forth, farmer and distiller James Anderson set sail for America in 1791 with his wife and seven children. There he advised George Washington to get into the whisky distilling business and helped America’s first President become the country’s biggest producer of whisky.

Spencerfield Farm is still in the whisky business today. The Spencerfield Spirit company produces and distributes two brands of whisky, Sheep Dip malt whisky and Pig’s Nose, a deluxe blend to the States.

In 2005, husband and wife team, Alex and Jane Nicol, launched Spencerfield Spirit, an independent drinks company, fighting to save orphan brands for the iconoclastic whisky drinker.

‘Orphan’ brands are once famous brands neglected by large companies because they are not seen to be profitable.  The first two whiskies rescued from obscurity by Spencerfield Spirit are Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose.

Both whiskies achieved cult status in the 70s and have been lovingly recreated by Richard Paterson, Scotland’s only third generation master blender. The phrase Sheep Dip is slang used by farmers for whisky and Pig’s Nose takes its name from an old farming saying ‘as soft as a pig’s nose’.

Alex Nicol of Spencerfield Spirit explains: “Whisky belongs on Spencerfield Farm and we are very proud of our links to the story of America’s whisky.

“Using his knowledge and experience of farming and distilling, James Anderson left our land in Inverkeithing and became Farm Manager for George Washington, encouraging him to open the first rye distillery at Mount Vernon.

“The distillery, in West Virginia is a classic replica of what small country distilleries looked like in Scotland at the time and under Anderson’s guidance, it became an overnight business success.

“We are following in his footsteps by keeping whisky deeply rooted to Spencerfield Farm and honouring his memory by bringing whisky from his homeland to his new found home in the States.

“As Washington is regarded as a symbol of the USA, we believe that James Anderson deserves recognition in Scotland for his entrepreneurial achievements, making him the undisputed Father of American Whisky.”

Professor Michael Moss from Glasgow University who has carried out vast research into the history of Scottish Whisky supports this claim.

“James Anderson was born at Spencerfield in 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rising.  The next forty years witnessed a total transformation in Scottish agriculture as new ideas spawned by The Enlightenment were introduced.

“James Anderson, as a tenant farmer or tacksman, could count himself a pioneer of these improvements.  Intelligent men educated in parish schools, they were often well read and their views were accurately described by the Scottish Bard Robert Burns, born 250 years ago on 25 January.

“Farms on the fertile lands of the east coast were well-suited to growing barley for London brewers and much more importantly the Scotch whisky trade.  In 1788, Scotland’s ‘great distillers’ led by the Haig and Stein families faced ruin, precipitating a financial crisis very similar to that we are experiencing today with the failure of HBOS and RBS.

“It is not difficult to deduce that rather than face financial ruin, James Anderson old as he was, chose to brave the north Atlantic and seek a new life with is family in the United States.  If he had known that the French Revolution would have driven up prices of agricultural produce, he might have stayed; but that would have deprived Mount Vernon of its whisky distillery.”

For more information on Mount Vernon or The Spencerfield Spirit Company visit:

A perspective from Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group

You probably don’t realize how much grief “The Drammies” has caused me over the years…especially those pesky negative categories…

But I think that the industry deserves to feel the agony of defeat along with the thrill of victory.

To make it clear, the nominees are picked based on the volume of nominations and the subsequent winners (or losers as the case may be) are selected by volume of votes.

And, while The Scotch Blog is not a forum to lobby for votes, I do feel that I have an obligation to allow a forum for additional information and alternative views.

To that end, Ken Grier, Director of The Macallan, and I had a great call the other day – and I invited him to offer up some information on the Rankin project…

Whether you agree that the Rankin campaign was a brilliant idea or not, I truly believe that it’s important to understand the intent and thoughts behind the concept.

Without further ado…Take it away, Ken…

A perspective from Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group

I was interested to see that The Masters of Photography bottling had been nominated for a Drammie for Worst Marketing Campaign of 2008.  I would like to make my views known as to why I believe that it should in fact have been nominated for Best marketing campaign, and not the worst.

So everyone is clear on what we are doing with the concept and what they get for their money I would like to make the following points:

We operate with the highest integrity at The Macallan.  We would simply not put a new label on an existing whisky and sell it a higher price.

Each bottle is in fact a unique work of art and the price reflects this.  What you are purchasing is an original Rankin Polaroid image, unique to this pack together with a one off bottle label to match and signed certificate of authenticity from Rankin.  No one of these products is like another.  The photography here is wide ranging and comes from an array of images which not only contrast artistic nude studies of the model Tuuli with the distillery surroundings, but also photos of the distillery workers and still life and landscape studies.

At the projects inception our intention was that the product should be great value as we were offering an original Rankin Polaroid (these currently sell for up to $1000 each) as part of the pack.  This is your chance to enjoy Fine Oak 30 years old and own an original work of art at a very small premium if any.

Fluctuations in the exchange rate have obviously had an impact on the price equation but none the less it still represents extraordinarily good value for an original work of art from a world renowned photographer.

We deliberately set out to make this concept as accessible as possible for purchase by our consumers we believe that we have succeeded. The evidence to support this is that 62 of our own staff, ranging from Directors to workers in the bottling hall have bought one. This has been a higher staff take up than any other new product launch in our history.

Irrespective of whether or not you love it or hate it as an idea, I passionately believe that The Masters of Photography bottling has had a positive effect on Scotch Whisky.  In order to attract new drinkers and grow the category it is not just good enough to produce great quality whisky, you need to produce innovative new products that appeal to a new audience.  These need to enthral existing users and beguile new drinkers.

In addition I think it is all important that if you are assessing the effectiveness of a marketing campaign that you look at its performance versus its original objectives.

Our intent here is both to generate publicity for the brand and to recruit new younger and more stylish drinkers into The Macallan ‘club’ alongside our much valued and loyal drinkers.

We have facts to show that we have exceeded our objectives in all cases.  Firstly we have generated media value of almost $2 million of publicity in just three months of its launch in art, fashion and news press.

Secondly in our four launches and exhibitions to date in the UK, Russia, Greece and the USA, we have exposed the brand to over 1500 key opinion formers and affluent consumers who attended the launch events.  They may not otherwise have entered our world of single malt whiskies.

Thirdly, I have had over 300 personal expressions of praise and delight from press, trade and drinkers who adore the concept with only 5 negative comments to date, including this nomination. 

Finally we have left a rich photographic legacy which encompasses one summer in the life of The Macallan for those who follow us to cherish as they ensure that this wonderful brand continues to receive the acclaim it deserves.

We at Macallan are very proud of our innovative track record.  The Fine Oak range, the Fine & Rare collection and our partnership with Lalique to create our Six Pillars range of decanters are all examples of innovative new products we have brought to market. We will continue to plough this sometimes lonely furrow to the benefit of The Macallan brand and the Single Malt category for years to come.

One of the great things about blogs is that they allow freedom of speech and the right of reply.  Thank you for allowing me to exercise these rights and put forward my point of view.

Whyte & Mackay For Sale – Again

From the B’Laddie B’Log

Mallya is to sell a 49 per cent stake in Whyte & Mackay.

Mallya is also  seeking a strategic partner in the parent company, United Breweries, with a possible sale of up to 14.9 per cent to Diageo.

The  whisky company was acquired  in May 2007 for £595 million from Vivian Immerman in a deal  that, at the time, was considered by many to be primarily a whisky stock investment deal between two savvy businessmen.  The large stocks of maturing whisky were valued then at around £364 million, making up around 60% of the purchase price. 

Today, the value of those stocks alone, according to a spokesman, has increased by £92 million to £456 million pounds. Or at least had done before the downturn. It is hoped that the price of the 49% share in Whyte & Mackay will reflect this increased stock value.

Announcing the nominees for the 2008 Drammie Awards

Let the voting begin.

  • Please vote for Only one nominee in each category.
  • Keep It clean
  • Voting Goes through March 6th 2009
  • Winners will announced soon afterward…

All of the italicized comments are taken from nomination submissions. None of them are my editorials…

Submit votes to drammies at thescotchblog dot com.

Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign


•    Glenmorangie Signet
Absolutely LOVE the Glenmorangie SIGNET packaging

•    Elements of Islay

•    Ardbeg Blasda
The bottle is a departure from the traditional Ardbeg, but so is the whisky it contains.  The “A” being visible through the bottle is a nice touch.

•    Tuthilltown’s Hudson Bay
I love the stout little bottles, never mind that they’re half the whiskey you get in a normal bottle

•    Bruichladdich Octomore

•    Highland Park 40 YO
Beautifully crafted and reflecting the authenticity and style of the brand

Bang for the Buck


•    Highland Park 18 yo

•    Balvenie Signature 12 yo

•    Rittenhouse 100

•    Famous Grouse

•    Bulleit Bourbon

•    Black Bottle

Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year


•    Glenmorangie
Dr. Bill Lumsden and the Glenmorangie folk who have not paused for reflection for a nanosecond, creation after innovative creation. Fearless in the face of whisky whining on plenty of online forums and real world fests.

•    Glenora
Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia. From their David vs Goliath fight with the SWS, to Glen Breton Ice

•    Compass Box
Consistently innovative.

•    Heaven Hill
They’ve raised the bar on aged American whiskey with the 27 year old Parker’s Heritage and 21 and 23 year old Rittenhouse Ryes.

•    Stranahans

•    Bruichladdich
Seems boring. But still these guys just keep on going. So many new interesting products last year.

•    Ardbeg
I have misgivings about the number of bottles, availability etc. – but 3 new, innovative releases (Corry, Blasda, Rennaissance)  all at acceptable prices – an improvement on last year with the Mor thing.

Most Innovative New Product


•    Elements of Islay

•    Glenmorangie Signet
In the world of Scotch whisky, there is simply nothing to compare this whisky to. Innovative and interesting.

•    BenRiach’s “Fumosus” range
Even if the names suggest that the Walker clan have been reading too much Harry Potter, they’re doing wonderful things with their peated Speysides.

•    Ardbeg Blasda

•    Octomore

•    Black Grouse
A nice twist on an all time favorite.

Best New Product (whisky)


•    Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

•    Karuizawa 1971
Wow! Not just great Japanese whisky – but great whisky!

•    Octomore

•    Balvenie Signature

•    Parker’s Heritage 27 Year Old
It redefined my concept of bourbon

Best New Product (Non-whisky i.e., book, resource, web site, etc)


•    Whiskipedia

•    Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009

A great blog with a refreshingly youthful, independent outlook.

•    Whisky Dream by Stuart Rivans

•    Goodness Nose by Richard Paterson

Most under-rated-whisky


•    Bulleit Bourbon

•    Clynelish 14

•    Scapa 14

•    Amrut

•    Glengoyne 17

Worst Marketing Campaign


•    Macallan Rankin
Putting the price of a bottle of Fine Oak 30yo up by £500 just because it might have a nudie picture on it is an outrage.

•    (rī)1 (Rye One) by Jim Beam
Obnoxious on every front.  Ridiculous name and ad copy in a club-ready bottle at an inflated price.

2008 Drammie nominations are forthcoming.

Stay Tuned