gavin smith

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Whisky News, November 2006

by Gavin D Smith

Whisky Club

Whisky Shop boss Ian Bankier is launching a national whisky club this month, under the GlenKeir banner. GlenKeir is the name used to date by the Whisky Shop for its exclusive bottlings, and 'GlenKeir Treasures' are filled
from the cask in the shop premises, and have proved highly popular with customers. Expressions have included Aberlour, Ben Nevis Deanston, Ledaig and Macallan. According to Bankier, whose chain of outlets has been expanding significantly during the last few years, "What we have found in our English shops is that customers, particularly men, are intimidated by malt whisky because they don't know much about it. It's a bit like where wine was in the '60s. A lot of people didn't like it, a lot of people didn't know enough about it, and a lot of people wanted in. It's not a highbrow thing; it's really for people who want to learn about the product." For more information see

Glenavon glory

   On 29 November Bonhams auction house in London will be offering what has been described as possibly the oldest bottle of whisky in existence. It is believed to have been distilled at Glenavon distillery, near Ballindalloch, on Speyside and is thought to date from before 1858. The label reads 'Bottled by the Distillers,' and the distillery was recorded as operating in 1851, being licensed the following year to John G Smith, son of the founder of Glenlivet.

According to Charlie MacLean, whisky consultant to Bonhams, "What is certain is that the Smiths closed Delnabo in 1858 and consolidated all their distilleries at Minmore, the site of the present Glenlivet distillery. Since the label reads 'Glenavon' and 'Bottled by the Distillers' it implies it was bottled before the move to Minmore." The bottle is said to have belonged to the same Irish family for several generations and is estimated to fetch between 5,000 and 10,000 when it goes under the hammer. In the meantime, serious collectors will doubtless be pondering on whether or not this is the Real Glenavon before deciding whether to put in a bid.

Coastal images

Old Pulteney Single Malt whisky has teamed up with the Sunday Express newspaper to launch Britain's largest maritime photography competition, entitled Wish You Were Here. Brand owners Inver House market Old Pulteney as 'The Genuine Maritime Malt,' hence this competition to find the highest quality, most creative images depicting any aspect of the British
coast. The winner will receive a cash prize of 2,500, have their photograph published in the Sunday Express, in Amateur Photographer magazine and displayed at the Friends of the National Maritime Museum's Canvas Club Maritime Art Exhibition, as well as on It will also be developed as a postcard. Additionally, the lucky photographer will win a trip to the Old Pulteney distillery at Wick, in Caithness, in order to fill a unique bottle of Old Pulteney, which will be signed by the distillery manager. The closing date is December 17, and further information is available in the Sunday Express newspaper or from Victoria Calder, tel: + 44 (0) 141 248 6007.

Malt Whisky Yearbook

   The Swedes have long been great aficionados of Scotch whisky, and this month we review two books that are the work of Swedish whisky devotees. Ingvar Ronde has edited the 2007 edition of The Malt Whisky Yearbook, and again this is a triumph of good and imaginative writing, photography and design. Feature contributors include Ian Buxton, Charlie MacLean, Dominic Roskrow, Taylor Smisson, Gavin D Smith, David Stirk, Ian Wisniewski and Hideo Yamaoka. Between them these writers tackle subjects as diverse as emerging whisky markets, whisky maturation, whisky marketing, Japanese malts and Scotch grain whiskies. These features provide a textual backbone to supplement the updated A-Z of malt whisky distilleries, new bottlings and numerous sections of invaluable statistics and general whisky information. The Malt Whisky Yearbook is an essential companion for anyone interested in the subject. Once again, it is very competitively
priced, and if I have a criticism it is simply why didn't anyone think of doing this years ago? Thank you Ingvar! 12.95,

Buxrud's Book

Swedish scientist and whisky fanatic Ulf Buxrud has written the definitive guide to Diageo's Rare Malts. Rare Malts, Facts, Figures and Taste documents the information and statistics relating to a fascinating piece of whisky history. According to its author, "It is also an attempt to mirror the arduous work and joy surrounding the rise of cottage trade that became an industry." Buxrud's infatuation with whisky began at the European Club in Abadan, Persia, when he was 15 years old, and his first dram was the Black & White blend. He subsequently became a passionate devotee of The Macallan, and now has a magnificent collection of whiskies and whisky-related literature at his home in Malmoe. His new book portrays all the distilleries involved in the compilation of the Rare Malts Selection series; a collection of outstanding
examples of the makes of thirty-six distilleries. Each portrait contains histories and technical data, some never previously published. The portraits include flavour profiles, tasting notes and comments, while a special segment deals with tasting methodology and another gives a deeper insight into whisky nomenclature. In addition, the full story of the Rare Malts Selection series is told in detail. Undoubtedly one for the specialists, but a beautifully produced volume, and a handsome addition to any whisky library. Quiller Press, 30.00.

New Cardhu

   A new premium single malt expression of Cardhu has been launched by Diageo, and will initially be sold only in Spanish and Portuguese markets. Cardhu Special Cask Reserve has been aged in rejuvenated American oak casks, and each small volume batch is carefully selected and numbered as shown on the bottle and carton. It carries no age statement. According to the marketing director for the Classic Malts Selection, Nick Morgan, "This new single malt carefully preserves the familiar distillery profile of Cardhu. But the decision to use old, hand selected casks, carefully rejuvenated, has been totally vindicated by this whisky's complexity, smoothness, richness and maturity. We've been delighted by its reception from expert tasters as well as from consumers." Daigeo's official tasting notes for Cardhu Special Cask Reserve describe it as "A deep-coloured, well balanced malt whisky of exceptional flavour and smoothness, in which all of Cardhu's luscious ripe fruitiness is balanced by a delicious spicy dryness."


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