gavin smith

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Whisky News, June 2011

by Gavin D Smith

Not so Chivalrous

chivalry bottle Scotland's second-largest distiller Chivas Brothers Ltd has recently launched a £250,000 lawsuit against the makers of Scotch whisky's favourite glassware. Glencairn Scotch Whisky and founding director Raymond Davidson are being sued on the basis that Glencairn's Chivalry Special Reserve brand of blended whisky copies the labelling and silver packaging of the multi-million selling Chivas Regal. Chivas also alleges that Chivalry is "…of comparatively poor quality." Undaunted, Glencairn and Davidson are counter-suing Chivas Brothers Ltd for using the word 'chivalry' during a high-profile 2008 advertising campaign, and insist that they have "no desire" to pass off Chivalry whisky as having any link to Chivas Regal. The origins of the litigation go back to 2008, when Chivas offered to purchase the Chivalry brand for £50,000, but when negotiations stalled, Chivas went ahead and launched a promotional campaign using the slogans 'Live with Chivalry' and 'Chivas Live with Chivalry.' At the time, Glencairn was no longer selling its Chivalry blend, but proceeded to re-launch the product to "…protect their position and their interest" in the brand. Glencairn now wants Chivas to hand over any profits they made as a result of the alleged advertising infringement. The battle between Chivas and Glencairn is due to be joined at the Court of Session later this month, and will be followed with interest by all sections of the Scotch whisky community.

Midleton multiplies

pot still Following on from Irish Distillers' recent announcement that a greater emphasis is to be placed on 'single pot still whiskeys' in future, as reported here last month, the Pernod Ricard subsidiary has declared its intention of spending EUR 100m doubling the capacity of its Midleton distillery in County Cork. With the new focus on single pot still whiskey and the best-selling Jameson brand continuing to boom, the next two years will see Midleton's potential output cranked up from its current maximum of 33 million litres per annum to over 60 million litres. As part of the distillery expansion, Midleton will increase its capacity for single pot still whiskeys from around 10 million litres of alcohol per year to 22 million litres, and warehousing will also be expanded. In April, Irish Distillers acquired land at Dungourney, some nine kilometres from Midleton, where it intends to build up to 20 warehouses. The company currently has 38 on the Midleton distillery site and has been adding two new warehouses per year to the stock during the past several years. Midleton's Master Distiller Barry Crockett says that "Even 12 or 18 months ago, we were not expecting to have to increase our capacity at Midleton so quickly." Jameson's net sales rose by a remarkable 22 per cent during the first nine months of Pernod Ricard's fiscal year, ending on 31st March, and Irish Distillers' CEO, Alex Ricard, declared that demand for Jameson, which has recently reached one million cases in the US alone, is "marvellous."

Jura visitor centre

distillery Isle of Jura distillery has seen a growing number of intrepid aficionados making their way to the Craighouse site in recent years, and owners Whyte & Mackay Ltd have responded by creating a new, £100,000 visitor centre. The growth of interest in the distillery itself reflects the fact that Jura single malt is now the third-best-selling malt in the UK, with year on year growth of 60 per cent across its key markets. According to the distillers, "The Jura Distillery Visitor Centre, on the same site as the former distillery shop, offers visitors a glimpse into the history and legends of Jura along with an opportunity to savour an authentic taste of single malt from the distillery. The centre also serves as the base of operations for the distillery's tours. " The Visitor Centre takes its inspiration from the island's legends and symbols, reflecting its literary, cultural and mythical heritage in West of Scotland folklore. Designed to replicate a traditional Hebridean bothy, there is a tasting unit which will serve rare Jura expressions alongside its core range, and a tasting table with a copper Diurachs' symbol set into the centre. Photos of Diurachs past and present adorn the gallery wall, including key figures from the distillery's 200 year history, bringing to life many of the associated myths and legends." Distillery Manager Willie Cochrane adds that ""Many of those who make the effort to visit Jura do so because of our fine whisky and the rich culture of our remote island. Having a visitor centre that reflects the history and culture of our island, whilst matching the quality of our single malt, will provide our guests with a truer experience of what Jura is all about. More importantly, they will hopefully be more inclined to buy some of our fine whisky and share the magic of Jura with their friends and family!" For more details visit

Walker's Whisky House

interior Johnnie Walker - officially the world's best-selling whisky brand - has just opened 'The Johnnie Walker House' in Shanghai's Sinan Mansions. It is described as "…an embassy for whisky culture." Scotch whisky sales are currently growing at around eight per cent per annum in the Asia Pacific region, with a great deal of energy and expenditure being focused on the region. "Diageo is the leading Scotch business in Asia Pacific," says Gilbert Ghostine, President, Diageo Asia Pacific. "With the launch of the Johnnie Walker House, we are bringing Scotland to China by creating a flagship 'home' for Scotch whisky. Our ambition is to help Chinese consumers discover the status and rich heritage of Scotch whisky. This is a game-changing moment for Johnnie Walker in China as we open the ultimate luxury venue for our consumers and demonstrate our commitment to building the Scotch category in China." Johnnie Walker Brand Director for China, Siew Ting Foo, adds that "The vision of The Johnnie Walker House is to firmly establish Scotch whisky as part of a sophisticated and luxurious lifestyle and to inspire the next generation through the voices of inspirational leaders. It presents us with the unique opportunity to share the pioneering story of Johnnie Walker and to start a new chapter of whisky culture in China."

And finally…

poster Johnnie Walker may have its 'Whisky House' in Shanghai, but The Balvenie single malt now has a 'Whisky Den' in London. Described by a Balvenie spokesperson as "…an interactive pop-up venue for visitors to experience the brand's whisky making process," guests are able to "…navigate their way from room to room, as though they were inside a giant whisky tun." The spokesperson adds that "The brand has designed each space to reflect the individual characteristics of each expression in The Balvenie range and the 'crafts' that create its honeyed taste. Features include seats which 'grow out of the walls' and 'indoor fields of barley,' while 'rare' single cask expressions and 'deconstructions' of selected whiskies are available for visitors to nose, taste and discuss with The Balvenie's UK ambassador Andrew Forrester." Forrester says that "The exciting thing about The Whisky Den is that it is designed to evolve with the influences of those who visit it - so you can drop by one day and experience something totally different a few days later, or another week down the line. It's a totally interactive space and a great place to explore Scotch whisky." Curiously, though we at 'whisky-pages' have yet to experience The Whisky Den in all its glory, we have sometimes been known after a particularly rigorous session of selfless nosing and tasting to have the sensation that seats are growing out of the walls, and who has not woken up at one time or another feeling as though they were inside a giant whisky tun? The Whisky Den is free to enter and open daily from 1pm until 8pm, with tutored tastings on Saturdays. It is located on Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E.

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