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Whisky News, August 2012

Laddie Goes to France

The biggest Scotch whisky story of recent months is the acquisition by Rémy Cointreau of Bruichladdich distillery on Islay for £58 million. This is significantly more than analysts had predicted the distillery would sell for, with most offering a figure around the £43 million mark. Although owners of the world's second-best-selling Cognac brand, Rémy Martin, The Laddie's new proprietors do not currently possess a Scotch whisky, and with their Cognac selling notably well in China, they no doubt intend to push Bruichladdich in that country and other Asian markets where they already have a significant company presence. The USA is another strong arena for Rémy Cointreau, and will also doubtless be targeted with Bruichladdich, whose sales in the States rose by 33 per cent during 2011. Rémy Cointreau was established in 1990-1991 by a merger between Rémy Martin and Cointreau, while Bruichladdich distillery was purchased from JBB Greater Europe plc by a group of investors headed by Mark Reynier for £6.5 million in 2000. According to Bruichladdich chairman Sir John Mactaggart, "It has been an exciting and demanding eleven and a half years breathing life back into Bruichladdich. The sale of the company clearly induces several mixed emotions, which I am sure will be widely shared. But one needs to remember that we succeeded in saving, building and establishing - once and for all - the worldwide renown of Bruichladdich. Rémy Cointreau's offer fully recognises the value of the Bruichladdich brand we have created, its potential, the quality and reputation of the whisky stocks we have laid down. "From non-existent sales and a derelict distillery in 2001, to over 55,000 cases and a thriving company in 2011, and Bruichladdich is on course to double in the next couple of years. As with any business expanding at such a rapid rate, there comes a time when further substantial capital investment will be required to support long-term growth, and this cannot easily be generated by the business itself, or without significant extra shareholder funds. It is of great comfort that Rémy Cointreau truly appreciates the very special nature of Bruichladdich - the place, the brand, the spirit and our people."

Glenfiddich app Your Fingertips

The world's best-selling single malt, Glenfiddich, has released a free-to-download iPhone app, available from the Apple Store. According to a company spokesperson, "The app brings the world of Glenfiddich to malt enthusiasts through four interactive elements, which include: 'Virtual Distillery', 'Dram Directory', 'Glenfiddich Distilled' and 'Malt Mastermind'. "It is fitting that the original pioneer of the malt whisky category has led the way in bringing its fascinating real-world distillery visitor experience to a wider audience. Glenfiddich's 'Virtual Distillery' experience takes the visitor on a virtual tour of its historic distillery in Dufftown, utilising point-of-view video to enhance the reality of the user experience. Brand Ambassador Jamie Milne provides unique insights into each stage of the process, while visitors observe Glenfiddich's long-serving craftsmen at work in the century-old still houses, mash rooms and warehouses where this award-winning whisky is made. "'Dram Directory' is perfect when out and about; using the iPhone's built-in geo-location technology, the app gives details of the nearest bars and restaurants where Glenfiddich can be enjoyed. There's also an option to invite friends along to share a dram through the 'Join Me Now' button, which connects with friends through Facebook, text message, e-mail or Twitter." Meanwhile, 'Glenfiddich Distilled' offers a plethora of information about the distillery and its history, while 'Malt Mastermind' allows users to answer a range of multiple-choice quiz questions relating to all things Glenfiddich.

Lotta Bottle

big bottle The Famous Grouse has achieved a world record for the biggest bottle of whisky in the world. The bottle in question stands five feet five inches tall and holds 228 litres, or 9,120 drams. It was filled with The Famous Grouse blend over a period of three hours earlier this month, coinciding with the brand's 107th birthday and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret distillery in Perthshire. The bottle was hand-made in the Czech Republic by glass manufacturer BOMMA and travelled more than 1,200 miles from Svetla, near Prague, to its new home, where it will now be a permanent feature. The Famous Grouse took the world record from Jack Daniel's, which entered into the Guinness World Record Book last year by producing a 184-litre bottle filled with its Tennessee whiskey.

Jameson's Urban Jungle

bottle Jameson, the world's leading Irish whiskey brand, has launched a new, limited edition bottle that, in the words of the good folk at Irish Distillers, "Captures urban iconography from some of the world's most exciting cities, while also highlighting some of the best bars to visit in these cities." The Jameson Great Urban Escapes bottle is available exclusively through travel retail channels, for a limited period from this month. Irish Distillers says that "It is aimed at urban explorers who choose adventurous city breaks over beach holidays. The contemporary bottle is adorned with logos and emblems from the top districts of seven cities across the world, including Dublin - the home of Jameson - London, New York and Stockholm. "It also highlights 11 top bars in these cities that locals would recommend you visit and where Jameson is a whiskey of choice. Bars featured include The Rusty Knot in Manhattan, Queen of Hoxton, in London and Le Pompon, in Paris. To support the launch, a city guide app has been created that will provide travellers with an insider's guide on what to see and do in four of the chosen cities." International Brand Director for Jameson, Nick Blacknell, notes that "With 16 per cent volume growth year-on-year, the travel retail sector continues to be a significant focus for Jameson and its international growth plans. With the Great Urban Escapes bottle we want to capture the independent spirit displayed by consumers who are increasingly taking adventurous city breaks and offer them alternative sites to visit that will further enhance their urban experience."

Ballantine's 40

bottle shot Ballantine's, the leading ultra-premium whisky in the Asia Pacific region, has launched Ballantine's 40 Year Old, which owner Chivas Brothers rather boldly claims to be "The most exclusive blended Scotch whisky ever created." According to a Chivas spokesperson, "Ballantine's 40 Year Old has been created to fulfil founder George Ballantine's aspiration to produce the most exceptional and exquisite whisky 'only when the time is right.' Using small amounts of a rare inventory of aged whiskies, Master Blender Sandy Hyslop has blended together, by hand, a unique luxury Scotch in the famed Ballantine's style." Ballantine's 40 Year Old is a permanent addition to the brand's range, though only 100 numbered bottles will be released globally each year, with a minimum price tag of £4,466 ($US 7,000). Master Blender Sandy Hyslop says that "This 40 Year Old blend is something I believe George Ballantine would be proud to put his name to. It has been an honour to realise his aspiration and to contribute towards this significant moment in the history of Ballantine's Scotch whisky". Ballantine's Global Brand Director Peter Moore adds that "Ballantine's 40 Year Old epitomises everything Ballantine's Scotch has stood for since the days of George Ballantine. The culmination of a unique heritage of producing high-aged whiskies, Ballantine's 40 Year Old will appeal to those who appreciate the experience of tasting such an exceptional whisky which is a unique part of Ballantine's history."

Spey Royal and Seaham Hall

holding bottle Seaham Hall hotel in County Durham, north-east England, has secured rights to sell Spey Royal Choice; an unspecified single malt previously only available from the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. Speaking at a recent event to mark the new collaboration, Barry Donaghey, managing director of Seaham Hall (right), said that "This is an historic day for Seaham Hall and one that cements a truly special relationship between the hotel and Spey. We are absolutely thrilled to have the exclusivity of being the only venue outside of Historic Royal Palaces to sell Spey Royal Choice and know our guests will enjoy this beautiful single malt. "The wine cellar at Seaham Hall contains many old Spey casks and memorabilia from throughout the ages, chronicling the connection with the whisky. It provides a fantastically atmospheric setting for tasting sessions, where guests can learn about the fascinating background to this significant licensing agreement." The historic brand, which was established in 1770 by John & Robert Harvey, was first linked to Seaham Hall in 1815 when Lord Byron presented his friends with a cask of Spey whisky to celebrate his wedding at the venue. One of the recipients was His Majesty King George III, who received his whisky at his home at Kew Palace. A replica of the cask remains on display there to this day. Visitors to Seaham Hall can see the hatch through which Spey whisky was reputedly smuggled out of the venue to be transported to America during Prohibition, and the brand was rumoured to have been Chicago gangster Al Capone's favourite dram. Spey's managing director John Harvey McDonagh, explains that "Spey Royal Choice is a replica of the Spey whisky that was sent by Lord Byron to George III. It is aged for 35 years and has a gorgeous flavour, due to being stored in sherry casks from Spain. We hope the people of the North East and beyond who visit Seaham Hall will enjoy our exclusive whisky and learning about the interesting past it pays homage to."

And finally…

soup Glenglassaugh distillery is located near Portsoy, on the Moray Firth coast, close to the village of Cullen, famous for a Scottish delicacy by the name of Cullen Skink. The Skink is a soup made with smoked fish, potatoes and milk, but during the recent Cullen Skink World Championships, local chef Paul Buxton added a unique ingredient to his entry, namely a large measure of Glenglassaugh Revival single malt. We are informed that bowls of the malt-infused Skink will normally sell for £100 a time. Here at whisky-pages we will probably stick to our customary lunchtime mug of Baxter's Royal Game Soup (£1.30 in the Co-op) as accompaniment to our tension-relieving half pint of The Dalmore Trinitas - and you thought there were only three bottles…

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