Hey Canada

On behalf of the SWA, Glenfiddich wants to apologize to all of Canada with some free whisky.

OK, not really.

But Glenfiddich will be hosting a series of “exclusive private tastings” in and around the Canada metro area. Yeah, that’s a joke. I know Canada isn’t a city.

The first of these “Taste and Talk” events will take place on June 24th at Six Steps Lounge in Toronto.

Guests will have a chance to meet modern-day world explorer Colin Angus and taste a range of single malt Scotch whiskies from Glenfiddich, the most awarded single malt Scotch whisky in the world. Please see the evite below for more details on the event, Colin or the Glenfiddich brand.

I know the graphic is bigger than the site and is cut off, so right click and view the image in a new window, luddite.

Anyone interested in attending the event can RSVP to glenfiddich@ddbcanada.com to reserve a ticket – but do it quickly as space is limited for this exclusive event.

The Whole Scottish/Canadian Situation

I’ve basically stayed out of the debate over Glen Breton, because I think it’s silly and was a dumb fight for the SWA to pick.

My gut feel is that they had to see it through simply because they could not afford to appear to be picking on India over their use of Scottish sounding names, whilst letting the Canadians off with a free ride.

The biggest downside for the SWA is the potential for the Governments in countries where they are bringing action basically tell them to bugger off…which is what happened here. This reduces their moral high-ground and reduces their ability to pursue in other countries. These start to look like “nuisance suits”.

My friend Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich always has his own view on what is going on in the world of Whisky and, in this case draws the very keen connection that you can’t say you are attempting to save the world from confusion over names, while, at the same time creating additional confusion with the use of the unfortunate term “Blended Malt”. A term to which I have been a staunch opponent.

Pot Kettle Black
by Mark Reynier
The owner of The Glenora Distillery in Cape Breton is celebrating the end of a long legal battle with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Glenora Distillers International Ltd., won a major victory when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal by the SWA that could have blocked the company’s trademark Glen Breton Rare. For nine years and through four levels of court challenges, the Scotch Whisky Association has fought to protect the Scottishness of he word “Glen”.

“We have no objection to the production of single malt whisky in Canada,” said the SWA’s David Williamson. “What is of concern, though, is any product that tries to take unfair advantage of Scotch whisky’s international reputation by adopting a Scottish-sounding name.”

Unsurprisingly the word “Glen” figures in an area colonised by Scots. Glenora, whose main product Glen Breton Rare single malt takes its name from its hometown of, er, Glenville, a small hamlet just south of um, Inverness – in, er, Nova Scotia.

Williamson said: “We’ve been working to protect Scotch whisky around the world for many, many years. There is evidence that the market was confused by [Glen Breton's] trademark. Consumers thought they were buying a Scotch whisky, but they were really getting something else.” So really no different in principle to the SWA’s own blatantly deceptive title ‘Blended Malt’ where consumers are apparently not at all confused as to whether they are buying a Single malt or a Blended whisky.

The legal costs have hurt the small company (no doubt an intentional tactic) and more costs may be on the way as the SWA sourly seek to continue the affair: “We’ll be opposing applications to register the marque in any country where confusion is likely in the future.”

Of course Glenora Distillers International Ltd does not need to register its trademark in every country that it wishes to trade in. Perhaps the company’s owner should trademark his own name instead – now THAT would really cause consternation: Scotts Single Malt Whisky.

Hans Offringa Reviews 99 Drams of Whiskey

Listening to people who are passionate about and understand the finer nuances of flavors and aromas is always an enjoyable pastime for me. When they write about it with panache and humor, taking you on a virtual tour in their perception of the world of whisky, it is even more agreeable. When you have turned the last page, you crave for more.

This is what I felt after having finished 99 Drams of Whiskey, subtitled The Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink.

Kate Hopkins is a celebrated food blogger and columnist. Her website Accidentalhedonist.com bears testimony to that. Time Magazine considered it one of their 50 Coolest Websites. I am glad she decided to dedicate an entire book to my favorite drink, instead of using her blog, releasing snippet by snippet over time.

On the dust jacket’s blurb Kevin Erskine, aka Mr. Scotchblog, nails down this book perfectly in one sentence, “part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book.” It seems the author slips in and out of history as easily as she and her spiky travel companion slip in and out of planes and cars on their quest for the perfect shot.

Seemingly, since the historical parts are very well researched. The avid whisky reader might recognize many facts, but the way in which the author intertwines Irish, Scottish, Canadian and American whisky history is unique and a dram good read.

The tasting notes, placed in separate insets throughout the book, illustrate Kate Hopkins’ vast knowledge about flavors and her experience in verbalizing what our senses discern. The way in which she characterizes the drams tasted is sometimes wickedly funny. The travelogue part of the book serves literally as a means of transport between places visited, history retold, people interviewed and whisky savored.

Any complaints? Well, due to tight planning and bad weather in Oban, the travel companions couldn’t make it to Islay. I would have loved to read about encounters with Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier or one of the other great storytellers on that tiny but influential whisky island. Kate, please go back, don’t limit yourself to Islay but visit the other island distilleries as well. Then write a sequel: Savoring the Scottish Whisky Isles. Oh, and don’t forget to take Krysta with you!
Hans Offringa


More fall-out from WTO "agreement"

Imported liquor to cost more
The Times of India
11 Jun 2009, 2318 hrs IST, Abantika Ghosh, TNN

NEW DELHI: Your taste for fine wines and single malt whiskies just got a lot more expensive. Prices of imported liquor are set to go up by 25% to 30% with the Delhi government notifying its new duty structure for imported liquor last week. This will now replace the additional customs duty that was withdrawn by the Centre in July 2007 in keeping with WTO norms.

As per the new structure, there will now be a revised vend fee which will be 30% of the MRP for brands costing up to Rs 2,000 per bottle. For more expensive brands, it will be Rs 600 plus 20% of the MRP. There is, however, a sliver of good news brands that cost Rs 1,000 per bottle or less may see a minor reduction of MRP.

As per the revised structure, here’s a rough estimate in terms of absolute prices. A bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon Black which earlier was priced at Rs 2,200 will now come for Rs 2,540. Remy Martin Cognac is up from Rs 4,540 to Rs 5,348, Asahi beer will register a small hike of Rs 6 to now cost Rs 126, Dom Perignon Champagne will now cost Rs 14,210 as against Rs 11,800 earlier and a bottle of Glenfiddich 40-year-old Single malt Scotch whisky will cost Rs 3,66,140 against Rs 3,05,200 earlier.

read the whole article

Whisky & Jazz

Hans Offringa let me know over the weekend that his new book, “Whisky & Jazz” has been released. I’m looking forward to picking this up…as it brings 2 of my favourite things together.

It could only be better if it were to be called “Whisky & Jazz & Pizza”.

Jazz was born in a whisky barrel. — Artie Shaw

The Charleston Mercury and its parent company, the Evening Post Publishing Company, are pleased to announce the publication of Whisky & Jazz by Hans Offringa. Mr. Offringa, an international whisky expert, wrote Whisky & Jazz in Charleston with the editorial assistance of Jack McCray, noted jazz historian, jazz columnist for the Post and Courier and author of Charleston Jazz (Arcadia, 2007).

Hans Offringa ingeniously connects ten famous jazz musicians with ten excellent single-malt whiskies. The result is a collection of ten unique blends, each carrying a blue note as well as a tasting note, presented in a “sippin’ and tasting guide. The historical context in which jazz and whisky are placed makes this a publication that will appeal not only to whisky aficionados but also to those who love history and (jazz) music.

The images in the book are primary the work of Gijs Dragt, an award-winning designer and artist from the Netherlands. Mr. Dragt designed Whisky & Jazz and took the photographs of Scottish countryside and several of its distilleries. He and Mr. Offringa have worked together as a team on books and journal articles. The collaboration is part of a 30-year-old friendship.

Gijs Dragt paints stories with his camera, whereas Hans Offringa uses words to tell the legends and myths behind distilleries that make the King o’ Drinks. Together they make beautiful books, matured in friendship like a single-malt whisky takes time to mature in the cask.

The book touches many cultures. In particular, it honors the Deep South’s African-American contributions to creating jazz as the American music. It also showcases the European connections to whisky and the artistic elements of the man who has captured all of this in photographs.

This is Mr. Offringa’s second book in a series on how the senses mix with whisky; the first was A Taste of Whisky. He is the author of more than a dozen books, most about whisky. Widely sought as a speaker, he and his wife, Becky, write a fortnightly column for the Mercury as “The Whisky Couple.” The Charleston Mercury is the only newspaper in the world to have a regular column solely devoted to the enjoyment of whisky, so it is most appropriate that the Mercury is marketing and publishing Mr. Offringa’s book.

Since the Atlantic Ocean forms in the cultural capital of the South, Charleston, shouldn’t the ultimate pairing of American music and European whisky be published in the Holy City? The Mercury thinks so, too. In addition to being available at many retail outlets in the Lowcountry, the book is for sale online via www.charlestonmercury.com.

Jazz is not background music, it sets the mood, it opens the mind. A glass of malt does the same. So does this book. Thanks, Hans!Dave Broom, whisky journalist

"Imitation is the sincerest flattery…"

… but it’s still fucking annoying.

Over the many years that this site has been in existence, I’ve experienced being quoted without credit; misquoted with credit; and innumerable times having entire stories reposted without any acknowledgment.

It’s the nature of the internet, unfortunately – the new media means that plagiarism is just a copy & paste away.

But I’ve noticed a growing number of sites that are glomming on to the arguably unique “The Scotch Blog” name.

So for the record:

“Scotch & Blog” have apparently become popular when paired together. “The Scotch Blog” www.thescotchblog.com is not associated with any other site which has adopted a variation on the name.

I don’t endorse them. I don’t support them.

I certainly didn’t create the concept of “blogging” about Scotch – but I strongly believe that if you can’t even come up with an original name, you are unlikely to have any other original thoughts.

To that end some quotes:

“Imitation is Suicide”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No man ever yet became great by imitation.”
– Samuel Johnson

“Posterity weaves no garlands for imitators.”
– Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

“Imitators are a slavish herd and fools in my opinion.”
– Jean de la Fontaine

“Get your own fucking name.”
– Kevin Erskine

Whose Next?

If you aren’t already reading “What Does John Know” (and if you’re not you should), there’s an interesting discussion going on with input from all sorts including Tim from The Whisky Exchange, the mysterious “Whisky Party“, Serge Valentin from Whisky Fun, Beer Guy Stephen Beaumont, John himself and of course me (because I can’t keep my mouth shut).

John asked:

Now that he’s (Michael Jackson) gone, who is out there to pick up where he left off? Let’s just focus on whisky for the time being. Obviously there will never be another Michael Jackson, but is there a clear, emerging leader who whisky enthusiasts can gravitate towards and respect?

My initial answer:

The question isn’t “Will” someone replace MJ. The question is “Does someone need to”. The answer is “No”.

The discussion has now turned to new media vs. the old paradigm of the printed whisky guide.

The discussion has been great and is not likely to slow down.
Join the discussion

(Oh and WhiskyParty has a good editorial on it as well)

Technology Meets Tasting

The Macallan is hosting a tasting of its core expressions at 81, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, next Wednesday, June 10th. Their brand ambassador Graeme Russell (@livingthedram) and his guests will be live-tweeting the entire experience under the hashtag #macallan.

We’d love for you to participate along with us at home and beginning at 7 PM EST, you can tweet along with us!

JOURNEY’S BLEND

Both Rob Allanson and I are motorcycle buffs. But that lucky bastard gets to take a trip around Scotland visiting distilleries on a Triumph Bonneville SE.

From tomorrow, Thursday 4th June through Wednesday 10th June, they’ll be traveling to the farthest reaches of Scotland collecting whisky for a one of a kind bottling.

Distilleries to be visited:
Highland Park – Orkney (north)
Kilchoman – Islay (West)
Bladnoch – Lowlands (South)
Glen Garioch – Highlands (East)
Glenturret – Highland (central point)


Two men and two Triumph motorbikes will set off today (Thursday June 4th) from the most northerly distillery in the British Isles on an epic whisky road trip.

Using the compass points, Whisky Magazine Editor Rob Allanson and BBC Scotland’s Tom Morton aim to visit the most extreme distilleries collecting whisky to create the ultimate bottling. A third rider, using another classic British bike name, Royal Enfield, will be providing photographic coverage.

Journey’s Blend will take the intrepid pair nearly 1,000 miles through some of Scotland’s finest landscapes and towns as they select the ingredients for this one-off special blend.

The journey will see the duo leave Orkney to head to one of Scotland’s newest producing distilleries on Islay, Kilchoman, then travel to Bladnoch in the south before heading north east to Glen Garioch; these distilleries represent the furthest points on Scotland’s distilling map. The trip ends at Glenturret Distillery, home of the Famous Grouse and Scotland’s oldest and most central distilleries, forming the hub of the compass.

Whisky guru and master blender for the Edrington Group John Ramsay will meet the pair there and has agreed to create the final bottling, one of the last projects he will work on before retiring later this year. A proportion of the proceeds will be going to the Parkinson’s Society and the bottling will be launched at Scotland’s greatest whisky tasting event, Whisky Live Glasgow, on Saturday 12th September at The Thistle Hotel, Glasgow.

For more information and interviews with the team please contact Whisky Magazine Editor Rob Allanson on +44 7595 936 766 or email rob@whiskymag.com

Lagavulin 16 available at unheard of price!

From “Boozy NYC”:

Lagavulin 16 is selling for $50 at Warehouse Wine & Spirit in NYC (East Village).

Usually sells for $90+.