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Whisky News, October 2010

Eyes on Roseisle

Diageo's new, 40 million, state-of-the-art malt whisky distillery at Roseisle, near Elgin, was officially opened by the company's chief executive Paul Walsh earlier this month. With a capacity of 10 million litres of spirit per annum and the ability to produce 'light' and 'heavy' styles of Speyside whisky for blending purposes, Diageo's 28th malt distillery is now in full production, having begun trials in February 2009. Making Roseisle as 'green' as possible has been a major    distillery
factor in its design and construction, and Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo Scotland notes that "The Roseisle malt whisky distillery represents one of Diageo's biggest investments into the Scotch whisky category and forms part of our 100 million three year investment program in the development of Scotch. This official opening is a true celebration of the fantastic expertise and knowledge that we have in our business." Look out for whisky-pages' in-depth focus on Roseisle next month.

Try Before You Die

Even before you open it, there are signs that Ian Buxton's new book 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die is not entirely conventional. The cover does not feature picturesque, soft-focus Highland distilleries or glasses of amber liquid. Instead, Chris Hannah's cover design is an in-your-face array of brightly coloured bottle silhouettes, impossible to ignore on any bookshop display. And the contents are fairly in-your-face, too. There is a pleasing irreverence to this book, which is absent in far too many 'list-style' whisky books, which treat their subject as though it is the secret of life rather than a drink in a bottle. Accordingly, the entry on Knob Creek Bourbon includes the comment that its name is "...mildly titillating for UK readers in a vaguely smutty sort of way," and the BNJ (Bailie Nicol Jarvie) blend is described as "...the unwanted runt of the litter in the Glenmorangie stable." Referred to by the publishers as Ian Buxton 's 'Desert Island list of whiskies,' this is actually not the writer's 101 'best' whiskies, but rather, as he explains, "It is simply a guide to 101 whiskies that enthusiasts must seek out and    book jacket
try - love them or hate them - to complete their whisky education." Obviously, the '101' format is far from new, starting with 101 Uses for a Dead Cat, back in 1981, and Roger Protz wrote the best-selling 300 Beers to Try Before You Die, published in 2005. Surprisingly, though, nobody had previously translated the concept into a whisky-related title. '101 Whiskies' features drams from all over the world, including Scotland, Ireland, the USA and Japan, but also, less expectedly, Canada, India and Sweden. Don't believe Charlie MacLean's declaration that "Taste them all and you'll live forever," but do buy this provocative, witty, informative, argumentative, excellent little book. 12.99 - www.hachettescotland.co.uk

Tracing Buffalo

Buffalo Trace Distillery, located near Frankfort, in Kentucky, is Whisky Magazine's 2010 Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year," and there has been a distillery on the site since 1787. Buffalo Trace has recently unveiled its Oral History Project, a compilation of interviews with people associated with the Buffalo Trace distillery, such as Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T Lee and descendents of Colonel Albert B Blanton and Pappy Van Winkle. For more than two years, Buffalo Trace distillery has worked with the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries to collect    buffalo-trace
what a company spokesperson describes as "...the memories of the distillery's friends and family to serve as a virtual time capsule for future generations." All the video interviews are housed on the Nunn Center website: www.nunncenter.org/buffalotrace, and they tell stories such as how Elmer T Lee had a hand in creating Blanton's, the world's first single barrel Bourbon; the memories of Alice Blanton as she visited 'Uncle Albert' on the distillery grounds where she learned to roller skate; and how Mark Brown, President and CEO of Buffalo Trace distillery, feels that Elmer T Lee is the "grandfather he never had." In addition to the website, Buffalo Trace plans to offer computer stations in its Visitor's Center for viewing the oral histories by early next year.

Glenfiddich MOJO

Having recently selected its 1978 Vintage Reserve expression by consultation with a 'nest' of Twitterers, the ever-innovative Glenfiddich brand has announced a musical collaboration with singer/songwriter Richard Hawley, whose latest album 'Trueloves Gutter' won the 2010 MOJO Best Album Award. During the summer, Hawley spent time at Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, preparing to write some unique pieces of music inspired by the art of whisky-making. The tracks will be released later this year, and a spokesperson for Glenfiddich owners William Grant & Sons Ltd says that "Richard will be taking inspiration for them from the distinguished history of one of Scotland's oldest, independent, family owned distilleries - home to some of the whisky    album cover
industry's longest standing craftsmen (some of whom have worked at Glenfiddich for more than 40 years)." Richard Hawley declares that "I'm passionate about this country's traditional, authentic history and the time spent in Scotland, learning about Glenfiddich's pioneering approach to whisky making and talking to people who have worked there for years and years, has given me some wonderful ideas for some new songs." Jamie Milne, the UK brand ambassador for Glenfiddich, comments that "This partnership is a true first - an innovative fusion of whisky and music - and a unique musical exploration of Glenfiddich's history, the way our whisky is made, its taste and impact on the senses, and its cultural relevance. Richard writes beautiful lyrics; wry, human observations of amazing places and passionate people - and the breathtaking scenery around Dufftown and amazing characters who work at the distillery should provide plenty of inspiration." The new tracks will be performed by Richard Hawley at a one-off concert later this year, and released exclusively, with a limited number available to download, at www.glenfiddich.co.uk.

Slow: Whisky at Work

First we had 'slow food' and now we have 'slow whisky.' The Stirlingshire distillery of Glengoyne, owned by Ian Macleod Distillers, has declared its intention to invest upwards of 1m in a marketing campaign based on the concept of 'SLOW.' The brand has recently announced a 25 per cent increase in cased sales, which could, in theory, have led for calls to speed up the creation process in order to guarantee future supplies of the popular single malt. Instead, however, the new campaign focuses on Glengoyne's distillation speed, which is claimed to be slower than that used to produce any other Scotch whisky. According to Ian Macleod Distillers, "Glengoyne attributes its high quality, smooth tasting malt to its slow distillation, which is about one-third the normal rate. Slowly distilling the spirit allows more contact with the copper stills, removing unwanted sulphur, which can result in bitterness, and encouraging the formation of esters - creating Glengoyne's distinctive apple fruitiness. The increased copper interaction also helps draw more flavour from the slowly handcrafted Spanish Sherry oak casks during maturation." The campaign is supported by Glengoyne's 'Ten    bottle
Slow Truths,' a set of facts that are said to be central to life at the distillery. The Slow Truths contain facts about Glengoyne's distillation and maturation processes, as well as insights into life at 'Scotland's most beautiful distillery.' A spokesperson claims that "The Slow Truths have been handed down over the generations at Glengoyne, and the wisdom imparted to every visitor. By sharing the Slow Truths Glengoyne is encouraging drinkers to adopt a slower lifestyle, helping them to slow down, take things easy and spend time appreciating the finer things. A new advertising campaign keeps the message simple and eye-catching, highlighting the core Slow Truths and positioning Glengoyne in a unique way, sustaining its point of difference." Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers says that "The Slow philosophy has worked well for Glengoyne for over 175 years, as great recent sales figures show. We have mastered the art of producing the 'Real Taste of Malt,' using methods handed down over the generations, including the slowest distillation process of any Scotch whisky distillery. Slow is about taking the time to do everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible, quality rather than quantity is at the heart of everything the distillery does." For more information make a leisurely visit to www.glengoyne.com

And Finally...

History has a pleasing way of coming full circle at times. When blended Scotch whisky was in its infancy, back in the latter years of the 19th century and early years of the 20th, one of the most indispensible accessories on any bar counter was the soda siphon. Now, it seems, Japanese whisky drinkers have discovered a love of whisky and soda. In terms of single malts, soda works best with the peaty beasts of Islay, and never ones to be left behind by new trends, here at 'whisky-pages' we have been eagerly Hoovering up all the remnants of Islays left in sample bottles to the accompaniment of a litre of Schweppes. At this rate, it may soon be time for the Octomore and Irn Bru...
   syphon

  

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