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Whisky News, October 2006

by Gavin D Smith

Whisky TV

The first internet television channel devoted to Scotch malt whisky has recently been launched. Singlemalt.tv went live at the end of September,   
and is a 24-hour online channel, embracing features and news items, as well as a number of series. It has been developed by Australian film producer Rob Draper, who anticipates significant advertising interest, and subscribers are expected to pay around 20 per year to use the service. Singlemalt.tv is hosted by whisky writer and consultant Charlie MacLean, who says "This is an idea whose time has come. Never has there been such global interest in Scotch, particularly Scotch malt whisky. What better medium to inform and entertain about the subject?" Rob Draper declares "Internet television is the future. So far the interest has been phenomenal. Singlemalt.tv is not an internet site, it is a television channel broadcast through the internet. I have done a great deal of work on internet television, going back to 1997, and it really is the future of television and the internet. "We are going to do very high quality programming, and my goal is to make it intelligent programming for people who want good entertainment, want to be informed, and want to have fun. Based on the response so far, I really believe there is a market for it." See www.singlemalt.tv.

Ardbeg goes begging

   The iconic Islay distillery of Ardbeg is on the lookout for a new manager following the departure of Stuart Thomson. Stuart and his wife Jackie moved to Ardbeg in 1997, "to breathe new life into a distillery that by all measures was nearly lost forever," as Thomson puts it. "The transformation in those nine years has been quite extraordinary, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching our beloved
Ardbeg grow from a whisky known by a few to a malt increasingly recognised across the world." According to B A Nimmo, Head of Communications for Arbeg's parent Glenmorangie Company Ltd, "Stuart has resigned for personal reasons. During his time at Ardbeg, Stuart, along with the Ardbeg team, worked tirelessly and passionately in developing both the distillery and the brand. "The company is very sad to see Stuart leave Ardbeg but we understand his reasons for making this decision and would like to thank him for his significant contribution to the business over the years. We wish him every personal success for the future. We have not yet appointed a new manager, however, the company will begin the recruitment process for this shortly."

Washington's Whiskey

His Royal Highness, The Duke of York joined members of the Scotch Whisky Association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, American master distillers and various public officials at Mount Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia, on 27th September. The occasion was the official dedication of George Washington's Mount Vernon distillery (pictured right), and the Scottish contingent was present in Virginia to celebrate the close connection between the distilling enterprise of the first US president and an influential Scot. "Scotland and   
the USA have long shared a passion for making whisky," said Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association. "We are delighted to celebrate the Scottish connection that brought distilling to Mount Vernon. The partnership between George Washington and James Anderson, his Scottish-born farm manager, was instrumental in creating one of the most successful whiskey distilleries in early America." During five years of archaeological excavations and an investment of $2.1 million, the distillery has been authentically rebuilt by a team of restoration architects, craftsmen and historians using 18th century building techniques. The reconstructed distillery is the only historic site in the USA that will illustrate the early American distilling process from seed to barrel, and it will also serve as the 'gateway' to the American Whiskey Trail. See www.americanwhiskeytrail.com The distillery was originally constructed in 1797, adjacent to Washington's gristmill on the banks of Dogue Creek in Fairfax County. James Anderson installed his son, John, as distillery manager, and the enterprise became one of the largest whiskey distilleries in early America producing 11,000 gallons in 1799, worth the substantial sum of $7500.

Whisky Conference

   The dedicated website for the World Whiskies Conference 2007 is now up and running, according to Conference Director Ian Buxton. "This global whisky business summit," as Buxton describes it, is staged at the Edinburgh International
Conference Centre on 18th and 19th April next year, and Buxton is currently seeking proposals for presentations and papers. This year's inaugural Conference included a lecture on responsible drinking from Frank Coleman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and an examination of the ongoing debate about the desirability of 'own label' business by analyst John Wakely. Further details at www.whiskyconference.com

Dram Fast Malt

Never out of the headlines for long, Bruichladdich can now claim to be the fastest growing single malt distillery brand in the world, according to the Scotch Malt Whisky Industry Review 2006. The annual review, published by stockbrokers Charles Stanley, lists Bruichladdich as the 27th best-selling single malt distillery brand worldwide, and 16th in the UK. Sales have increased by more than 500 per cent, and the Islay distillery now sells in excess of 24,000 cases of whisky per year.   
Bruichladdich boasts a sales team of just three, headed by Sales Director Andrew Gray, who notes "We have been successful in developing sales through a combination of innovation, good distributors and exceptional whisky. "As we become yet more profitable and more stock comes on line, we could build Bruichladdich into a major drinks brand. Long term anything is possible - we certainly won't be constrained by our vision." That vision sees Bruichladdich releasing no fewer than eight new expressions this autumn, in line with its strategy of offering variety and individuality to its customers.

Whisky Reading

   Another must-have for the whisky bibliophile has just hit the shelves. The Scottish Whisky Distilleries is published by Black & White, and is the work of Edinburgh-based Misako Udo, a freelance tour guide mainly dealing with Japanese coach tours visiting Scotland. Udo has a keen interest in Scotch whisky and distilleries, and during her 16 years as a guide has compiled a detailed history of each one. Udo says "When I first started doing tours I had five or six books that I referred to and I'd carry them around with me. Then I started compiling my own file, originally just for me and my colleagues. But then people became interested in it, and that is where the idea for the book came from. There's such an interest in the technical details of whisky now and that's why I think a book like this can do so well." Udo moved to Edinburgh in 1988 to study English and to find out more about whisky, and subsequently enjoyed a brief spell running a restaurant in the Grassmarket, boasting
nearly 1,000 single malt whiskies. In 2002 she opened 'M's' and went on to self-published just 300 copies of her book, which sold rapidly and are already collectors' items. The Scotch Whisky Distilleries, 25.00, Black & White Publishing.

  

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