22 Jul. 06

The new release of Ardbeg, the Ardbeg 1965 The Envy of Islay is now available for sale on the Ardbeg webshop ( The marketing aspect around this bottle is quite impressive. In order to buy one of the 261 bottles at £2100, you will need to win the right to buy the bottle first!

Also, a new website dedicated only to this bottle has been created for the occasion, including a few movies (

Personally, I think they could have done without all this and thus, offering the bottle for sale at a lower price.

18 Jul. 06 New Highland Park:

It was not that way at the St Magnus Festival in the middle of June. The St Magnus Festival was founded in 1977 by Orkney’s distinguished resident composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Festival brings a feast of music and other arts to locations throughout the Orkney Islands. Offering a unique mix of world-class performance and community participation the Festival is, like Highland Park, simultaneously local and international. The 30th St Magnus Festival celebrates the life and work of Orkney’s great poet and storyteller George Mackay Brown, whose presence and writing graced the Festival from its inception until George’s death in 1966. To mark this released is a limited edition 12 year old bottling with a unique label. We only produced 500 for the festival.

18 Jul. 06 Found on the web:Fydle guitars are making guitars using timber from casks used for storing single whiskies or constructed from washbacks. Play music and enjoy the whisky.
16 Jul. 06 An exclusive whisky priced at around £2,000 per bottle goes on sale this week.
At just under 40 years old, the single malt is the rarest ever released from its distillery on the Scottish island of Islay.
Only 261 bottles of Ardbeg 1965 are going on sale, of which 100 will be released to UK retailers.
It comes in a hand-blown glass bottle which comes with a numbered wax seal to prove its authenticity.
The bottle itself contains a sprinkling of Islay sand in its glass.
Despite its price tag, the 41.3 per cent ABV drink is likely to attract a high level of interest from whisky lovers, according to Andre Dang, Harrods food spokesman.
"There is a demand for it simply because there are a number of connoisseurs who love collecting something very rare and very prestigious - and then there are the people who actually drink it. This will probably be extremely popular," he said.
Campbell Evans, the Scotch Whisky Association's director of consumer affairs, said the Ardbeg 1965 would be sought-after by whisky enthusiasts.
"The person buying this - if they choose to drink it rather than collect it - would expect a smoky whisky with the aroma of the sea and saltiness coming through it," he said. Source:
07 Jul. 06 A BILL to protect Scotch whisky from foreign imitations will be one of the first pieces of legislation to be passed after the next Holyrood elections - whoever is in government.
The Scotsman has learned that Scotch whisky producers have secured the support of all the main parties for a bill to define different types of Scotch whisky to protect it from non-Scottish imitations.

At the moment, "Scotch" is protected as a geographical product but the regional variations and the different types of whisky are not. The industry wants to avoid the sort of complicated legal battles it has had to fight in the past against Highland Chief Malt Whisky, made in India, and Lowlands Blended Whisky, made in Spain.
It also does not want to go through another Cardhu controversy, when Diageo produced a Cardhu "Pure Malt" - neither a single malt, nor a blend - infuriating much of the rest of the industry in 2003.
The Scotch Whisky Association believes the best way to do this is to enshrine a series of definitions in statute, setting down exactly what is meant by Speyside, Islay, Highland, Lowland and Campbeltown malts.
The association also wants to establish agreed definitions of "Single Malt", "Single Grain", "Blended Malt", "Blended Grain" and "Blended Scotch".
The association and the Executive established a co-operation agreement at the end of last year which has now progressed to proposals for legislation.
If these are agreed and established by Holyrood, they will be used as the benchmark definitions in most courts around the world, simplifying the legal process and making it easier for Scotch whisky producers to discourage foreign imitators.
It is also likely that Holyrood-established definitions would be used as the European Union's technical dossier for whisky.
A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "These proposals are important to the industry because they will help protect Scotch whisky from foreign competition and will help promote clear information for the consumer.
"This legislation has important international implications and we would hope, because of the importance of the Scotch whisky industry to Scotland, that this would attract cross-party support."
The proposals have been studied by the Scottish Executive and both government parties now appear likely to back them.
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We are supportive of measures to protect Scottish whisky producers and are currently weighing up possible options for the near future."
A Tory spokesman said: "The Scottish Conservatives have always been supportive of greater clarity of labelling on food and drink. This protects the consumer and one of Scotland's most important industries."
Angus Robertson, the SNP MP for Moray, the country's biggest whisky producing area, said the bill would get the SNP's full support. "If you can't get definitions on the statute book in the country of origin, it's very hard to persuade other countries to do so." Source:

04 Jul. 06 The Edrington Group´s results for the 12 months ended 31st March, 2006 are:
· Group turnover UP 3.7% at £263.4m (2005: £254.m)
· Operating profit UP 6.5% at £71.9m (2005: £67.5m)
· Profit before tax (excluding exceptional items) UP 8.6% to £65.4m (2005: £60.2m)
· Dividend UP by 8.3% to 14.4p (2005: 13.3p)

· Strong performance from core Scotch whisky brands (after increased investment)
· Sales of The Famous Grouse now over 3 million cases; No.1 in Scotland
· Cutty Sark expands international footprint and premium range of brands
· Exceptional performance from our super premium malt, The Macallan
· Increased contributions from group’s other single malts, Highland Park and The Glenrothes

Commenting on the results, Ian Curle, chief executive, said:
“ The company has a clear strategy to invest in its core brands (The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, The Macallan and Highland Park) and their continuing success, both at home and overseas, is providing a firm foundation for the future.
" Our success in the last year reflects the success of this strategy. Our core brands continue to grow, with brand contribution increasing significantly, allowing us to increase our investment in advertising and promotion in international markets in order to increase sales and market share."
24 Jun. 06 Benromach raises a glass to status as first organic malt whisky
GORDON & MacPhail, the Elgin-based whisky distiller and distributor, expects to boost turnover by about 10 per cent on the back of strong initial sales for what it claims to be the first certified organic Scotch whisky.
Benromach Organic, which launched earlier this month, is the first whisky to be permitted to carry official organic certification, as awarded by the Soil Association.
Speymalt Whisky Distillers, which trades as Gordon & MacPhail and last year achieved a turnover of £15.5 million, won the race to be first to be able to sell whisky with the coveted organic marque by using "hand-selected virgin American oak casks" made from wood imported from certified wild forests in Missouri.
Benromach Organic Speyside Singe Malt, distilled in Forres, is the first in which the entire process - raw ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling - is certified organic.
David Urquhart, UK sales director of Gordon & MacPhail, told The Scotsman that the firm had already sold 60 per cent of its non-export consignment of Benromach Organic and that it was aggressively pursuing supermarket listing deals, including one with the high-margin UK chain Waitrose.
The firm's predictions for strong brand growth for its new organic whisky rest on in-house research into the stratospheric growth of the organic food and drink sectors worldwide.
In the UK alone, organic sales have exploded, from £200m in 1998 to over £1bn last year.
Ian Chapman, marketing controller at Gordon & MacPhail, said that, while rival whisky companies were known to have laid down organic whiskies, being the first to market with a Soil Association approved product was in line with the 110-year-old firm's "great history of innovation".
He added: "In the whisky business you need a crystal ball, to predict what consumers will be looking for years in the future. We looked at those growth forecasts and decided to make our move.
"We started laying down our first all-organic whisky in 2000. We have always had very exacting standards about what we think is ready to bottle and what isn't but we thought this was ready. It's the advantage of being a small company, you can react quickly to launch an innovation that you know is going to appeal to your consumer base."
A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "Scotch Whisky is of course already a totally natural product protected by law and that is part of its strong consumer resonance. We expect a growing interest in organic-certified products."
Benromach's own tasting notes for the new whisky describe it as "sweet, charred oak aromas with fresh fruit notes (bananas and pineapples). An earthy, toasted aroma also present. The palate exposes sweet, vanilla and toffee flavours".
23 Jun. 06

Mined over Matter
The Royal Navy's bomb disposal team have delivered a mine to a west coast distillery.
Some months ago Lieutenant Commander John Law and his elite Northern Diving Group were called out to deal with the small matter of a World War II mine found on a beach close to Bruichladdich distillery on the Isle of  Islay .
Once the mine had been safely detonated, the team was invited by Bruichladdich Distillery Manager Duncan MacGillivray,  a  member of the Coastguard team in attendance, for a dram to ‘steady the nerves’. 
“After the CIA, the Yellow Submarine – the Bomb Squad turning up at the distillery was all we needed”  recalls Managing Director Mark Reynier, on seeing the Bomb Disposal convoy pull in to the  courtyard.

 “When I realised there was no danger of imminent disaster, I asked if we could have  our very own mine in the distillery’s courtyard  for fundraising -  and the Northern Diving Group were only too happy to help us out.”

 The giant Mk 17 World War II buoyant mine – provided by the mine team at the Defence Munitions Centre in Crombie – stands more than six feet tall including it’s sinker, weighs one tonne and is topped with some rather noticeable orange paint – making it really stand out from the crowd.

 It has a collection box attached to the front to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – a charity at the heart of the community of Islay, which is home to one of the west coast’s largest and busiest lifeboats.

 Lieutenant Commander John  Law, Warrant Officer Steve Strange and Australian Navy exchange diver Brad Eames attended  the Bruichladdich Open Day  during the 2006 Islay festival to deliver and formally present  the mine.(...)

“The Northern Diving Group has been delighted to supply this mine which will hopefully raise loads of cash for the charity. We were made to feel incredibly welcome and will, no doubt, pop in next time we’re over on an emergency call out.” (...).

20 Jun. 06 SWA spreads drink sensibly message
THE Scotch Whisky Association is to trumpet its efforts to promote responsible attitudes to alcohol at a gathering of 100 alcohol policy experts in Tokyo later this week.
The conference - which aims to promote self-regulatory best practice in the Asia Pacific - is to be hosted by the Washington-based International Centre for Alcohol Policies which has invited the SWA to give a presentation on its 2005 Code of Practice on Responsible Marketing and Promotion.
The code, which is seen as one of the toughest in the international spirits industry, sets out minimum standards for all international Scotch whisky commercial communications, backed by an independent complaints process. Source:
15 Jun. 06 DRINKS giant Diageo is launching a new single malt brand for a "new generation of malt whisky drinkers".
The 12-year-old Scotch, called The Singleton Of Glen Ord, will go on sale this month in selected Asian markets. Source:
Comment: Singleton was the name used for the single malt of Auchroisk.
14 Jun. 06 The new website of Springbank is now online:
12 Jun. 2006 The new website of Bunnhahabhain is now online:
09 Jun. 2006 "YOU'RE not going to do the 'Britain's most northerly distillery' stuff are you?" is Caroline Whitfield's opening gambit. "That's not what we're about - really it isn't."
Don't play the "niche market" card with Shetland's Blackwood Distillers CEO either.
"Niche is a dangerous concept, implying a minor part in a big portfolio – not my vision of what Shetland can do."
Blackwood Distillers – already producing top-selling brands of gin and vodka – is in the process of converting a former military base in a remote part of Shetland into a whisky distillery.
RAF Saxa Vord in Unst, was situated at the outermost edge of the most northerly part of Shetland – nearer to Norway than Scotland. Its strategic location is no longer relevant in post Cold War times, but for 60 years the base had been the island's economic mainstay. Last year's closure were a devastating blow. For Blackwood Distillers it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
"The economic aspect of doing this at Unst is that when we move in, we're aiming for a straight one-to-one swap when it comes to locally based jobs", says Whitworth, who emphasises that no public funding is involved.
No prizes for guessing that the sheer audacity of Whitfield's approach is the reason investors took a chance on her in the first place.
It has been four years since the Oxford graduate with a background in law and a career in global marketing moved to Shetland with her husband and family.
"We wanted somewhere safe to bring the children up," she says. "I've got a Scandinavian background and my husband is Scottish, so we compromised."
Previous promotional work for the drinks industry proved fortuitous.
"Something that soon sprang to mind was the land was 52 per cent peat and it rained on average two days out of three – perfect conditions for distilling."
Whitfield was amazed to find no distillery there already.
"I went to the local museum and found out Shetland had been a hive of activity for gin smuggling over the centuries, but no history of commercial spirit distilling. I thought 'what an opportunity' and got my thinking cap on."
Shetlanders were enthusiastic about the idea but weren't convinced the massive capital sums could be raised. Some were familiar with Whitfield, who organised working holidays in Shetland for drinks industry contacts. By the end of 2002 a company had been set up; shareholders consisted of private individuals who decided it was a chance worth taking.
The huge outlays involved in setting up a whisky distillery are being offset by selling white spirits (which don't need maturing). Working capital is being provided by Blackwood's Nordic Dry Gin, Shetland Nordic Vodka, and Jago's Vodka Cream Liqueur – a sort of alcoholic ice cream, with natural vanilla and local double cream.
"For all our products we use natural and home-grown ingredients," says Whitfield. "We flavour with sea pinks, wild water mint, cassia bark and orris root."
The company's operational base at Nesting, ten miles from Shetland's main town of Lerwick is ideal for growing the botanicals used in their white spirits, and she intends to keep that side of the business separate from the whisky production in Unst. Meanwhile, the commercial success of their initial venture has gone a long way to raising the £5 million needed to convert the former Royal Air Force base and make whisky production a commercial reality.

To this end she's joined forces with another Highland entrepreneur, Frank Strang.
"It was purely by chance that I met Frank, who's ex-RAF and passionate about the place. He knows about the commercial side of things when it comes to converting the premises. Having him on board means I can concentrate on my side of it. I’m determined to produce a premium product here."
She intends to use bere barley – an ancient strain grown in Unst as far back as 5,000 years ago.
"We're going to do our own thing here, and we hope we'll provide an economic incentive for local farmers to produce grain for us," Whitfield adds. "In the meantime we're working with the Orkney Agronomy Institute and existing suppliers and aim to have our first batch distilled and barrelled by April next year."
Whisky can't legally be called whisky until it has matured for exactly three years and one day.
So in April 2010, we can look forward to our first taste of Shetland whisky.
The name for this new special concoction is still under wraps.
"It will be a local decision – an old dialect name," says Whitfield. "Something unique, to suit a unique place and a unique product."
02 Jun. 2006 The price of the Ardbeg 1965, 42.1% OB is going to be release this month. Only 261 bottles will be released worlwide. According to a French website (, the retail price will be €2800 in France! If you have an empty bottle for sale, please let me know :-).
25 May 2006 Chivas takes China newspaper to court
CHIVAS Brothers, which is owned by the world's second-biggest Scotch whisky producer, Pernod Ricard, has gone to court in China to rebut a front-page Shanghai newspaper story claiming the firm sells inferior, younger whiskies in the country labelled as 12-year-old Chivas Regal.
The firm and its sister company in China are demanding an apology from the International Finance News, which said almost all the 700,000 cases of 12-year-old Chivas Regal shipped to China each year were mislabelled, and have not been aged that long.
The claim is groundless, said a spokeswoman for Pernod Ricard (China) Trading Co.
"All Chivas Regal 12 sold in China is the same as the Chivas Regal 12 sold in the rest of the world," said Kathie Wang, saying the company has documents from the Scottish Whisky Association and various government bodies proving the drink is produced and labelled according to both countries' laws.
The International Finance News is standing by its story and has countersued, demanding an apology for alleged defamation, the paper's lawyer, Zhang Yi, told the Associated Press. Neither side is seeking damages, Zhang said.
Both sides submitted evidence during an initial hearing on Tuesday, he said.
Pernod Ricard recently revealed that sales of Chivas Regal were up 10 per cent in the nine months to the end of March as total sales of its spirits and wines rose two-thirds to £3.12 billion. The company also produces The Glenlivet.
23 May 2006 No moonshine as Glenlivet unveils plans to recreate limited 'illegal' whisky
A WHISKY-making technique last used by "moonshiners" in the Highlands two centuries ago is to be revived at one of Scotland's leading distilleries.
Once commonplace among whisky smugglers, distilling via a "sma' still" has been illegal since 1824, but now, with the agreement of the government's excisemen, the Glenlivet Distillery on Speyside is to recreate the technique and produce one of the most exclusive single malts in Scotland.
Until the early 19th century, more than half the whisky consumed in Scotland was produced by clandestine stills, hidden away in almost every hill and glen.
At the present-day Glenlivet Distillery in Banffshire - one of the first legal distilleries to be established in Scotland - Jim Cryle, the retired master distiller, turned the clock back yesterday to begin the first legal distillation from a "sma' still" in almost two centuries. Source:
12 May 2006 Ardbeg Single Cask no. 4699, distilled 1975, bottled 2006, 40.9%, 121 bottles is now for sale at Ardbeg for £250
12 May 2006 PERNOD Ricard, the second-biggest Scotch whisky producer, yesterday announced that sales of its spirits and wines rose two-thirds to 4.57 billion (£3.12bn) in the nine months to the end of March.
The figure compared with sales of 2.73bn in the same period a year earlier, and was heavily influenced by Pernod's acquisition of Allied Domecq last summer.
Stripping out Allied, organic growth was 4 per cent for the first nine months of the financial year, and 1.5 per cent for the third quarter.
Pernod said yesterday that its premium brands had all performed strongly: Chivas Regal sales were up 10 per cent, The Glenlivet was up 14 per cent, Jameson ahead 14 per cent, and Martell up 8 per cent.
The company said: "Sales value of Pernod Ricard's 12 key brands thus increased by 7 per cent, which represents an organic growth significantly higher than the 1 per cent volume growth, reflecting the premiumisation of the portfolio."
Spirits drove the strong performance, showing 5.3 per cent growth, while the wine business declined 2.9 per cent.
Pernod reaffirmed it expected full-year earnings per share at the top of a range of 7.25 to 7.60, compared with a restated 6.6 in 2004-5, and said it would pay an interim dividend on 2005-6 earnings of 1.12 euros on 5 July.
One analyst said: "These are pretty decent figures, although not stellar."
09 May 2006 SCOTCH whisky remains the world's most powerful part of the spirit and wine sector - while Scotland itself is now the most powerful country of origin for the products, according to a new report.
The Power 100 2006 report, published today by Intangible Business - the respected independent brand valuation consultancy - researched nearly 10,000 brands in the spirit and wine sector to come up with its top 100 most powerful, defined by a brand's ability to generate value, based on share of market, growth, price positioning and the number of markets in which it is sold.
Diageo - which has its production headquarters in Edinburgh Park - topped the league table for the most powerful brand owner, with Glasgow's Edrington Group in at world number 11.
Diageo-owned Smirnoff was named the world's most valuable brand, followed by Bacardi, with Diageo's Johnnie Walker in third place, with an estimated 8.2 per cent of the world whisky market.
Pernod Ricard's Ballantine's whisky was the other Scottish name in the top ten. The top five was completed by Martini and Stolichnaya vodka.
Scotch whisky accounted for 13 of the top 100 brands - Ballantine's was closely followed by Chivas Regal (11), Dewars (13), and J&B (16). Grants appeared at 27, Famous Grouse at 32 and 100 Pipers at 36. Bells was at 53, Glenfiddich 63, Cutty Sark 77, and Drambuie 94.
Whisky is deemed the world's strongest overall spirits brand, ahead of vodka, rum, flavoured spirits and still light wine.
Scotland led Russia, the US, France and Cuba as the five most powerful countries of origin.
04 May 2006 LONDON (Reuters) -- Smoky, honey, body, sweetness, medicinal, tobacco, spicy, winey, nutty, malty, fruity and floral.
For anyone trying to pick the perfect single malt whisky, these are the 12 "cardinal flavors" identified by a Scottish academic to tickle the tastebuds of connoisseurs around the world.
After sampling malt whiskies at almost 100 Scottish distilleries, Dr David Wishart is still standing -- and his classification has won official endorsement from the Scotch Whisky Industry.
"This is our national drink and it is Scotland's biggest export after oil. The industry employs about 40,000 people and it should be taken seriously," the honorary research fellow at the University of St Andrews told Reuters.
The world's thirst for Scotch certainly shows no signs of abating.
The latest figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association showed exports up four percent last year to 2.36 billion pounds ($4.34 billion), with Asia the big growth market.
Now, after Wishart's assiduous analysis, imbibers have an easily applicable guide to the taste and style of single malt whiskies, previously just classified by region.
"The industry has endorsed it," Wishart said.
Now 62, Wishart was introduced to the joys of cask-strength single malt by his father when still a student. He narrowed his list down to the distinctive dozen after eight years of research into the observations of master distillers across Scotland.
It appears this month in his book "Whisky Classified: Choosing Single Malts by Flavour," published in seven languages.
"I went through well over 1,000 tasting notes by other whisky writers and publications," he said.
"I wouldn't claim to be the world's best whisky nose."
23 Apr. 2006 LAST week, the East Kilbride company Glencairn Crystal won a Queen's Award For Enterprise for the Glencairn Glass, which is designed to enhance the whisky-drinking experience. No Esso tumbler this; the glass is a thing of beauty. It sits on a plinth of crystal, opening out into a big-bottomed bell, before tapering at the rim.
If a glass can be sexy, the Glencairn is. In a certain light, at a Frank Sinatra time of the morning, after a few too many shots from the bartender while the pianist plays a melancholy air, it might be mistaken for Ava Gardner, so gentle and persuasive are its contours. But those curves are not designed to remind whisky drinkers of the fatal femmes who drove them into the saloon, they are made that way to facilitate "nosing", to enhance connoisseurship, allowing an appreciation of colour and bouquet, before the uisge beatha is sloshed into a spittoon.
I write as a recently fallen teetotaller and born-again whisky drinker. For more than 20 years I was a one-man band of temperance, working my way from ginger beer and lime to fresh orange juice that was never fresh, and on to a pointless diet of flat Strathmore. I had my reasons for not drinking, but the sense of them seemed to dissolve in middle age. Latterly, it began to seem like a kind of liquid anorexia, and a public assertion of my pathological resistance to pleasure.
Nor was it beneficial. A couple of years ago I changed dentists. I am accustomed to expressions of shock and awe when I open my mouth, as my smile resembles sunset at the Standing Stones of Stenness. Usually, dentists sigh like mechanics surveying the rust on the wheel arches of an old Mini Clubman, but this one was different. He informed me I had the teeth of an alcoholic, and was astonished that I didn't drink. Eventually it was established that my teeth had dissolved to Steptoe stumps as a side-effect of imbibing too many bottles of Schweppes and ice. "You must have drunk a lot of orange juice," he said, implying I would have been safer with turps.
Still, my collapse was gradual. A holiday in Cuba prompted a dabble with rum, as they don't really do soft drinks in Castro's paradise, and it's hard to impersonate Hemingway without a mojito. Sitting in a cane chair beneath the palms on the veranda of the Hotel Nacional I discovered a dangerous thing. In terms of their effect on the senses, spirits are less powerful than strong coffee. And, while coffee prompted psychosis and sleeplessness, cocktails were soporific.
Whisky was something else. Somewhere in childhood - around the age of seven - I had glugged from a bottle of Bell's, mistaking it for ginger ale, an incident which established an emetic aversion to the stuff. Of course, trainee drinkers understand that all alcohol tastes revolting at first. It can only be appreciated once the body has learned to tolerate each new brand of poison.
The significant moment in my whisky-drinking career came when I found myself on a tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. It is a peculiarity of state law that the distillery is located in a dry county. There are no bars, no off-licences. On my first visit to Lynchburg over a decade ago the distillery was not even allowed to sell whiskey (as they wrongly spell it) to visitors.
Well, commerce has inspired a degree of pragmatism. The licensing laws have been tweaked to allow the sale of souvenir bottles, as long as no sorrows are drowned on the premises. Actually supping with the devil is prohibited, unless one signs up for a "tasting course".
Faced with such an inventive approach to legislation, it would have been churlish to refuse. I duly took my place in the lecture theatre. Every student was given four or five glasses. The colour of the liquid progressed from transparent to amber: the richer colour representing the whiskey in its most mature state.
I drank them all, taking indecipherable notes about the importance of charcoal in the distilling process. It was a chastening experience. My favourite was the first glass. It looked like water, and tasted like molten lava. It was pure alcohol, more deadly than moonshine, and with none of the distiller's art applied to its flavour. By the time I got to the final glass - a single barrel malt made from the distilled vapour of virginal kisses - I could taste nothing, and cared less. I grabbed the distiller by the lapels and demanded he name his favourite Scottish malt. He demurred for a while, eventually offering Glenmorangie. "But it's a different drink," he said. "A very different drink."
It is. And I now know that Talisker is different again, as are Springbank and Highland Park and Caol Ila, and all of them are lovely in the right time and place. And while I know nothing about the scholarship of whisky apart from the fact that it is usually safe to opine that something tastes "peaty", even if you have never eaten peat, I do have some experience of those right times and places. They are times of shared humanity usually, often with exhaustion thrown in, and I have enjoyed them in moments of uncertain emotion in various locations; after a near disastrous, but ultimately thrilling hillwalk in the West Highlands, and with strangers on a farm in Derbyshire, who were friends before the Glenlivet was drained.
And now I feel inadequate. Lynchburg put me off connoisseurship, and at no time in my short drinking career have I paused to consider the architecture of the glass. Who knew that "nose" could be a verb? Source:
23 Apr. 2006 GLENMORANGIE, the Scotch whisky company, has come in for further criticism over its production of what a drinks analyst described as own-label "filth".
John Wakely, a former managing director of investment bank Lehman Brothers, said he was looking forward to the "nuclear explosions" that he claims will result when Bernard Arnault, boss of parent group LVMH, sees that Glenmorangie is supplying so much private, own label whisky to supermarkets.
LVMH, which owns global brands such as Moët & Chandon champagne and Louis Vuitton luggage, bought Glenmorangie for £300m in 2004. It was attracted by Glenmorangie's premium malt whisky brands.
But, as Scotland on Sunday revealed earlier this month, it is understood to be uncomfortable with its Broxburn operation that was built to churn out drink at low cost.
Speaking at the world's first-ever global whisky summit, held in Edinburgh last week, Wakely told delegates: "I know a lot about LVMH, and indeed relative to others, about their boss Monsieur Bernard Arnault. It was to many, a surprise that they bought it [Glenmorangie].
"Moet Hennessy felt they could do something with Glenmorangie. Of course now they discover they deal with the 'supermarkets' not for their brand but for the ultimate 'filth' - private label. This is bad.
"Can you imagine LVMH selling one of their own handbags for £500 through their own stores and then selling an imitation to Asda for £30? I look forward to the nuclear explosions this will result in."
Wakely, who has been analysing the drinks market for more than 20 years and is now a strategic consultant, also delivered a verbal tongue lashing to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for taking a heavy-handed approach to India.
He told delegates: "If I was the SWA, I would be getting awfully friendly with that nation and not issuing threats about trade liberalisation, sneering that their whisky is largely made of molasses and that it must not be allowed into the EU, in case the health of the consumers in this centre of the world would be damaged.
"Perhaps it shows the insecurity of the SWA that they would be threatened by such products."
Last night, a spokeswoman for Glenmorangie said: "The model of having a volume business in tandem with a premium branded business is used by many players in the Scotch whisky industry.
"We have operated this business model very successfully for many years. Moet Hennessy, together with other interested parties, had full access to all company data during the takeover process. This business model was fully understood. Moet Hennessy/LVMH's understanding of, and support for, our use of this model has not changed. No rift exists between the parent and Glenmorangie.
"The conjectures of an analyst who has had no contact with us for at least two years are entirely inaccurate. We are a thriving, successful and profitable Scottish company, which strongly supports Scottish employment and overseas sales."
Campbell Evans, consumer affairs director of the Scotch Whisky Association, dismissed Wakely's comments on India. He said: "For 40 years the Scotch Whisky Association has been seeking fair access to India. Despite repeated promises of reform these have failed to materialise, and the time has to come when stronger action is necessary. Despite that, we still hold out, and would much prefer, to find a negotiated solution to this problem.
"However, there is no doubt in our minds that the system is not compatible with WTO rules." Source:
22 Apr. 2006 EDRINGTON'S flagship single malt, The Macallan, is to launch a country-wide assault on the fast growing Russian market, as it builds on its industry-beating growth in the affluent Moscow region.
The Macallan is the leading premium single malt in a vodka-dominated market that, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, rose by 80 per cent in value terms in 2005. This growth was largely through the expansion of the high-end malt sector, which achieved 35 per cent volume growth compared with 25 per cent for whisky as a whole.
Edrington claims that The Macallan's growth has been at "three times the rate" of that enjoyed by Scotch whisky in Russia overall. Scotch sales amount to 450,000 cases a year, valued at £12 million.
Stewart MacRae, The Macallan's area director for eastern Europe, said: "In global terms Russia is still a relatively small market, but it's shooting up the SWA chart dramatically."
Having established a stronghold in affluent Moscow, The Macallan is putting "boots on the ground" in Russian cities from St Petersburg to Vladivostok in an "aggressive" drive to establish the Macallan brand, he said. "The stereotype of the big spending but undiscriminating Russian consumer is out of date. Our brand appeals to a new Russian taste for the understated."
21 Apr. 2006 ONE of Scotland's top whisky experts has stunned the industry by claiming the taste of single malt has nothing to do with its place of origin, and foreign drams can be as good as Scottish ones.
Dr David Wishart, of St Andrews University, who has been studying whisky for more than 40 years, is convinced that Scotland has no monopoly on producing the world's best dram.
The honorary research fellow studied the national drink from 94 distilleries from Scotland and around the world, and claims particular regions do not guarantee a whisky's flavour.
India and Japan produce excellent whiskies that are the equal of many produced in Scotland. Scotland has no right to be assumed as the place where you get the best whisky.
He said: "To say that a flavour is determined by where it is from is to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. The distilling process can be mirrored all over the world. India and Japan produce excellent whiskies that are the equal of many produced in Scotland. Scotland has no right to be assumed as the place where you get the best whisky.
"We must maintain high standards in distilling or other countries will take over as the best."
The academic has created his own "spectrum" of tastes to categorise Scotland's most famous export. He says the 12 defining characteristics of whisky are body, sweetness, smoky, medicinal, tobacco, honey, spicy, winey, nutty, malty, fruity, floral.
Dr Wishart uses these flavour signatures to place the drink into specific flavour "clusters" rather than to say simply where they originate.
He added: "For example, traditionally, the Islay is thought of as being peaty and strong tasting, like the Laphroig or Ardbeg, but there are now many mild Islays which taste more like traditional Speyside whiskies.
"There are also so many types of whisky cask, such as sherry, oak, or port that the flavours can be completely different from distilleries that are only a few miles apart."
But Dr Wishart's theories have been rejected by some in the Scottish Whisky trade who covet the country's reputation.
Gerry Tosh, global brand ambassador for Highland Park Whisky, said the whisky owed everything to its Orkney home.
He added: "The water for the production process of Highland Park can only be sourced from Cattie Maggie's Spring on Orkney while the peat used in the kiln drying process comes from nearby Hobbister Hill.
"It's misleading to suggest the fine malts produced in Scotland, can be replicated elsewhere around the globe. Source:
20 Apr. 2006 US-based Buffalo Trace Distillery has decided to bottle some of the 1,500 experimental whisky barrels it has been sitting on for 17 years.
 A limit of 400 bottles will be released for a number of the experimental ranges, which include unique mash bills, types of wood and barrel
The first three barrels, French Oak, Twice Barreled and Fire Pot Barrel, will constitute the beginning of more periodic releases, together know as the Buffalo Trace “Experimental Collection.”
Buffalo Trace’s master distiller Harlen Wheatley said: “It is very exciting to finally be able to offer these whiskies to our consumers. We love to push the envelope of whiskey making by exploring different ideas and methods we’ve never tried before.”
The Kentucky distiller’s collection will be packaged in 375ml bottles and retail for around US$46.35 each.
Brand manager Kris Comstock said: “Each of these whiskies is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. Any whiskey drinker will appreciate the differences between these experiments and other whiskies.”
19 Apr. 2006 IT'S enough to make any self-respecting whisky purist turn their nose up in disdain.
Senior executives from the world's leading whisky makers are gathering in Edinburgh for the industry's first global summit.
But while the choice of venue may please traditionalists, the choice of dram to be served at dinner is raising eyebrows.
The makers of such household names as Jack Daniel's, J&B and Glenkinchie will be joined by Japanese and Indian distillers at Edinburgh International Conference Centre this week to talk about challenges for the industry.
The social highlight of the event will be a glamorous black-tie dinner at the Balmoral hotel.
But instead of choosing Glenmorangie, Glenlivet or any of Scotland's celebrated single malts for the pre-dinner tipple, organisers have opted for a blended whisky. As one of the most prestigious blends on the market, Johnnie Walker Gold Label does sell for £50 a bottle. But the choice for the first World Whiskies Conference has surprised some within the industry.
Michael Hopert, 28, assistant manager of Royal Mile Whiskies, said: "I would have thought they would have offered something a bit more distinctive and unusual.
"I would have suggested a single malt that represents the different kinds of whisky that Scottish distilleries have to offer. Something like the Auchentoshan, which is made near Glasgow, or Ardbeg from Islay, one of my favourites."
Although malts are considered the creme de la creme in Scotland, blended whiskies account for around 90 per cent of exports.
Conference director Ian Buxton said the organisers did not feel a need to try to introduce delegates to new or unusual tastes.
"Those attending know their whiskies anyway," he said.
Delegates at the EICC will discuss ways of promoting Scotland's national drink in an increasingly competitive spirits market.
Tobacco experts will advise the 150 industry leaders on how firms can thrive in the face of advertising restrictions around the globe, as well as a likely obligation to carry health warnings in future.
Mr Buxton said Edinburgh was the ideal location for the first conference, given Scotland's role in the development of the industry.
A former Glenmorangie marketing director who now works as an industry consultant, he said: "It occurred to me that there were many similar changes that all companies faced - increased regulation and tariffs for example - and a global talking shop seemed like a good idea.
"We are trying to provide a forum for the industry to explore the problems and changes it faces to promote whisky better in the world spirits market.
"Here is a chance for whisky to reinstate its claim for global dominance. We'll be talking about the potential of new markets, with presentations on India and China, with people from the tobacco and luxury goods industries giving presentations on how we can apply that to our own industry."
A second city conference is planned in 2007, with the event expected to go on tour in future years as an annual event.
EICC spokesman Martin Bailey said: "We are very pleased to be able to host yet another first, not only for the EICC but for the city of Edinburgh."
17 Apr. 2006 Read today in Scotch!
A dram of 50-year-old Macallan single-malt warms the coldest heart.
The item: The Macallan limited-edition 50-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky, distilled in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands and bottled in a Lalique crystal decanter. This semi-centennial vintage, just released in January, boasts rich, complex flavors—dark prunes, chocolate, maraschino cherries, cumin, cardamom—and a lingering finish of sherry oak and a hint of peat smoke. It’s the spiritual equivalent of a roaring fire on a cold evening in the Cairngorm Mountains. Cost: $5,995 for a 750 mL bottle.
What makes it special: Patient perfectionism, no matter the expense. The scotch’s lifeblood is Golden Promise barley, a rich-flavored crop that produces so low a yield few farmers bother growing it. It’s distilled in extra-small copper stills to concentrate the flavor, and only about 16 percent of the brew was chosen to mature for five decades in handcrafted Spanish sherry oak casks.
Behind the brand: Founded in 1824 on the 18th-century Easter Elchies estate, The Macallan distillery overlooks the River Spey in northeast Scotland’s famous whisky-producing area. In 2002, a 60-year-old bottle of The Macallan (uncasked in 1986) brought $30,000, setting what was then a world record for a bottle of scotch. That same year the distillery tapped into its whisky reserve—the largest in Scotland—to release the Fine & Rare Collection, with 10,000 bottles priced from $750 to $38,000.
Who has some: Former President Bill Clinton is a Macallan fan, as are movie presidents Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas. In 2004, Craig Kilborn, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn all sipped The Macallan 25 Years Old during Kilborn’s final epi-sode as host of CBS’s Late Late Show. Other celeb Macallanites include Tom Brokaw, Nicolas Cage, Emma Thompson, and newly divorced Newlyweds Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.
Where to buy it: The Macallan’s only signature shop, the distillery store in Craigellachie, Scotland, is conveniently located next to the most valuable collection of Macallan anywhere. Locally, The Macallan’s less-exclusive vintages can sometimes be found among stores’ high-end whisky. Try Haskell’s or In Good Spirits in Naples, or The Liquor Store at Fiddlesticks in Fort Myers
12 Apr. 2006 Diageo launches Caol Ila Distillers Edition
Diageo has extended its range of single malt Scotch whiskies with the introduction of a ‘Distillers Edition’ expression of the Islay single malt Caol Ila.
12 Apr. 2006 WHISKY production was given the green light in Shetland yesterday after a local entrepreneur took over part of a recently closed military base.
Caroline Whitfield, chief executive of Blackwood Distillers, has teamed up with another Highlands entrepreneur, Frank Strang, to convert the RAF Saxa Vord base on the island of Unst into a distillery.
Whitfield said: "The economic devastation caused by the closure of the base was enormous and we are putting in as many jobs as the MoD is taking away. It is big news in the north of Scotland."
The decision to create the distillery in Unst - the most northerly inhabited island in Britain - will be welcomed by the inhabitants as it will provide work for most of those who lost their jobs through the closure of the RAF base.
"It looks as the potential for jobs is roughly equal to what's been lost," explained Whitfield. "It's a tremendous sadness to see the old base closed and all the heritage lost, so it's a bit of a phoenix from the flames quite quickly out of that."
The entrepreneurs will invest about £5 million into the project - capital to convert part of the base and working funds to build up and produce the stocks while the whisky matures.
Whitfield said the distillery hopes to produce between 40,000 and 50,000 cases a year, once it is up and running. With the first whisky due to go into barrels in April next year, the first produce can officially be sold three years and a day later - in April 2010.
"We will probably hold the majority by far until it is older, with probably a bigger release at five years, which is a blink of the eye in whisky terms," she added. When it comes to naming the whisky, Whitfield explained they are going to consult locally, now the decision to commit themselves to the project has been taken. "We are looking at old dialect names because it is a Norse - rather than Celtic - place so we want something that reflects the unique origin of the place," she added.
"We will probably be announcing that before August."
10 Apr. 2006 New Ardbeg!
A new Ardbeg, the Still Young has been now released by Ardbeg on their website. The price is £29.99 or £2 more than the Very young.
10 Apr. 2006 ONE of India's most prominent businessmen, and a leading joint venture partner of Scottish & Newcastle, has stepped up his attack on the Scotch Whisky Association, claiming at the weekend: "We are no longer a British colony."
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman of United Breweries, in which S&N has a 37.5 per cent stake, was cranking up a long-running dispute with the Scotch whisky trade body about imports and exports of whisky on the subcontinent. He was speaking after flying in as a guest of S&N for the Grand National, which the group's subsidiary, John Smith's, sponsored.
Mallya, who has a major India spirit business apart from the tie-up with S&N, said: "India is not a British colony. This imposition of British imperialism is unacceptable. I say that not as a business man, but as a member of the Indian parliament.
"The SWA has been at loggerheads with us for ten years. Their attitudes and policies are unacceptable and imperialist."
The SWA has been waging a campaign against punitive taxes to get its members' products into India. Mallya has countered that by stopping exporting Indian whisky to Europe.
Mallya, with S&N's Australian chief executive, Tony Froggatt, sitting alongside him, accused the SWA of "pontificating" and "double standards" from a weak position.
Mallya said: "There are two sides to every coin; if they want to get into my country, they need to let me into theirs."
Mallya, an unusually colourful maverick in a traditionally staid Indian business world, added: "The SWA wants to dictate, but a level playing field must apply."
A key complaint of the SWA had been that Mallya could potentially pass off Indian whisky as Scotch.
But he said: "I'm willing to say it is Indian whisky, I'm not saying it is Scotch."
Mallya's business produces 720 million litres of alcohol a year - two-thirds of which is spirits. He said he also had a political duty to push the dispute because his country was "primarily an agrarian economy" from which the drink was produced (...). Source:
02 Apr. 2006 GLENMORANGIE boss Paul Neep is believed to be under pressure from Bernard Arnault, chief executive of French luxury goods parent LVMH, in a simmering rift over cheap supermarket whisky.
Sources in the industry claim Arnault is unhappy that Glenmorangie is damaging the two firms' brands by continuing to produce own-label whisky.
Drinks industry sources say Neep, Glenmorangie's chief executive, has stepped up production of own-label whisky for Asda and Sainsbury at the company's blending and bottling plant in Broxburn, near Edinburgh.
LVMH, which owns global brands such as Moët & Chandon champagne and Louis Vuitton luggage, bought Glenmorangie for £300m in late 2004, netting a £105m fortune for the Scottish firm's controlling Macdonald family.
The French group was attracted by Glenmorangie's pricey malt whisky brands and is understood to be unhappy with its stewardship of a plant which was built to churn out drink at low cost.
One industry analyst suggested growing discontent among advisers to Arnault could heap more pressure on Neep, as well as finance director Iain Hamilton and sales director Simon Erlanger.
He said: "In my opinion there is a problem at Glenmorangie. Neep, having a large bottling plant at Broxburn, has to run it to capacity to achieve maximum savings, thus he is contracting extra business to do this. I don't think Paris would be happy with this.
"My hunch is that they want to get their own people up there."
Glenmorangie bought the Broxburn plant from United Distillers 10 years ago as part of a move from its historic home in Leith. Recent accounts show production line jobs were cut to 230 in 2005 from 243 the year before, most of whom work in Broxburn.
A source at the company claimed the remaining staff have been asked to produce more low-cost whisky to keep the site profitable.
One industry source said: "The plus side is that the plant is very efficient, but the downside is that it is very capital intensive and needs to run at full capacity to cover the overheads."
Glenmorangie is unpopular among distillers because the cheap whisky which it produces undercuts the premium prices which makers of the big brands would like to command. Those makers include Diageo, which has a 34% stake in LVMH.
The source said: "There is a dichotomy. On the one hand, LVMH and Glenmorangie are positioning themselves as a luxury brand. But on the other hand they are supplying cheap own-label whisky to various supermarkets.
"I can see why they do it for overhead recovery, but the own-label market in the UK is not profitable."
A spokeswoman for Glenmorangie played down industry talk of a rift. She said: "Paul and the guys are in Paris all the time, and we work closely with LVMH. I would be surprised if this was the case."
She added: "We have a plant, and we need to fill the plant. We've got the branded business, but we have the other business going through that helps with the overheads. But we have not been actively seeking new volume business."
29 Mar. 2006 A dram good reading night
A WHISKY and book tour is set to arrive in the Capital.
The Glenfiddich tour is a series of free events in bars featuring authors reading excerpts from their books.
The Edinburgh events will take place at the Black Swan, in Leith, on April 12, with author Alan Bissett, and in the Opal Lounge, George Street, on April 25, with Michael Smith. Both start at 8.00pm. Source:
27 Mar. 2006 Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 will be Sold to Highest Bidder
EDISON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 27, 2006--William Grant & Sons, Inc. announces the auction of the world's oldest whisky, Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937, on April 4, 2006 in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal. As part of New York's Tartan Week celebrations, a week-long series of activities highlighting Scottish culture and heritage, Glenfiddich has partnered with City Harvest, a noted New York-based charity, to auction one of the four remaining bottles of this exceptionally rare spirit.
Source: Baltz & Company
 A single cask yielded only 61 unique bottles of this exquisite Scotch whisky. Import laws required a special 750 mL bottle to be made; the item for auction is therefore the only 750 mL bottle of the Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 ever produced. The spirit came into being in 1937 when oak cask 843, hand-made by distillery coopers, was filled with liquid from stills at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, and laid down in a dunnage warehouse to mature. The spirit was slowly aged in cask for 64 years and bottled in 2001, resulting in a liquid of deep, robust character. With a rich walnut color, nose of toffee, cinnamon and cloves and sweet, cedar-y palette, this extraordinary Scotch whisky brims with complex yet subtle notes.
This one-of-a-kind spirit will be sold to the highest bidder with proceeds donated to City Harvest, a charity charged with ending hunger in communities in New York. The lucky buyer will own a piece of history, as Cask 843 has lived through monumental world events including World War II, man landing on the moon and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 was distilled in the same year the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic, JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' was first published and Walt Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' was first released as a full length animated feature film.
Glenfiddich Malt Master David Stewart notes, "Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 is a truly unique and exquisite malt whisky of exceptional character. As well as being the oldest Scotch whisky in the world and a very collectible piece, it would make for the most wonderful taste experience." Source:
24 Mar. 2006 PERNOD Ricard, the second-biggest Scotch whisky producer, yesterday said last year's acquisition of Allied Domecq was proceeding on track as it uncorked a 70 per cent rise in profits to 767 million (£530m).
The company, the world's No.2 wines and spirits group behind Diageo following the acquisition of Allied, revealed that whisky sales were going well, with Chivas volumes up 13 per cent and sales up 18 per cent. The Glenlivet volumes were up 10 per cent and sales up 12 per cent.
Pierre Pringuet, deputy chief executive of Pernod Ricard, said the company had already achieved 40 per cent of the target 300m cost synergies from the acquisition of Allied and would achieve the total by the end of the financial year on 30 June 2006.
The profits contribution from the acquired Allied brands, including Ballantine's whisky, was 486m, Pernod said, in line with expectations. Pringuet said more than 50 per cent of group profits now came from the Asian and American markets, two of the fastest-growing spirits and wine markets in the world.
Christian Porta, chairman and chief executive of Pernod's whisky subsidiary Chivas Brothers, said the purchase of Allied had pushed the parent group's share of the Scotch whisky market up to 21 per cent from 13 per cent, compared with Diageo's 32 per cent. The group employs nearly 2,000 in Scotland.
Porta said he believed the aim was to continue the rates of volume and sales growth at the Glenlivet and Chivas Regal, and try to replicate this with acquired Allied brands like Ballantine's and Beefeater gin.
Pringuet, meanwhile, remained cool on the prospects of a London listing for the shares given its big UK investor base following the Allied purchase.
"We don't expect any drawback [from not having a London listing at present]. They can invest in Paris," he said.
He said it was an increasingly globalised world and that Pernod now had nearly 90 per cent of its sales outside France.
Overall Pernod sales rose two-thirds to 3.27 billion. Pernod said that, despite some distribution problems of Allied Domecq brands in the Americas, destocking in Spain and Mexico and higher advertising, it increased its operating profit margin to 23.5 per cent of sales from 23 per cent in the same period of 2004.
Pernod lifted its projection for full-year earnings per share growth, from a restated 6.6 euros in 2004-5, to the top of a previously given 10 to 15 per cent range.
The company cautioned the second half would be weaker than the traditionally strong pre-Christmas period and would not be flattered by brands like Dunkin Donuts and Scottish brand Glen Grant whisky, disposed of in March to help cut the debt it took on to finance the Allied Domecq deal.
The company said net debt was 8.77bn at the end of the year, down more than 1bn since the Allied acquisition. Debt reduction should accelerate in the second half, thanks to 1.5bn from the disposals. Source:
23 Mar. 2006 Board quits after Glen Grant is swallowed by Campari
GLEN Grant Whisky's entire board of directors has resigned following the completion of the sale of the Moray whisky brand to Campari.
The Milan-based drinks giant also bought the smaller Old Smuggler and Braemar brands from Pernod Ricard in a combined deal worth 130 million (£87m), of which 115m was paid for Glen Grant. As well as the brand rights, the sales includes the 160-year-old Glen Grant distillery in Rothes and all other assets of the company.
Although Campari announced it had signed an agreement to purchase the brands in late December, the deal has only just been completed following approval from regulatory authorities.
The sale was the final part of a series of disposals by Pernod Ricard following its £8 billion acquisition of French giant Allied Domecq midway through last year.The sales were required by the European Commission.
All six Glen Grant Whisky directors have now resigned, including finance director Anthony Schofield.
Four new directors have been appointed, with French-based Georges Chasseuil appointed as managing director.
While the deal is the first time Campari has entered the Scotch whisky market, Glen Grant is the leading brand in Italy, a market which traditionally drinks less mature whisky.It is also the world's second largest malt whisky brand, producing more than three million litres a year.
Campari chief executive Enzo Visone said: "We are proud to have concluded another important deal that not only enables us to strengthen our position in the spirits segment further, but also to mark our entrance into the key Scotch whisky segment, one of the most important spirits categories in the world, a segment with great potential internationally as well as in the domestic market."
In a statement, Pernod Ricard said the deal would allow it to continue to reduce debt, and it wished its former employees well. Established in 1840 by John Grant, Glen Grant developed a single malt whisky 15 years ago which now commands strong sales in continental Europe.
The sale attracted significant interest from bidders last year. While the less mature whisky malt cannot be sold at the premium of other brands, it was seen as a rare opportunity to buy such an established brand.
Old Smuggler and Braemar are smaller, blended brands. Both are popular in eastern Europe, while Old Smuggler has strong sales in the United States and Braemar is also sold in Thailand.
Campari, which sells a wide range of wines as well as spirits such as its self-branded Campari and Skyy Vodka, achieved turnover of more than 809m (£542m) last year. Source:
21 Mar. 2006 McConnell toasts rise in exports of whisky to China
EXPORTS of Scotch whisky to China increased by 84 per cent last year, Jack McConnell, the First Minister, revealed today during his visit to the country.
The figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) show 2005 was another record year for exports to China, with the equivalent of 20 million bottles being shipped there.
The exports were valued at £46 million - compared with £25 million in 2004 - making China the industry's 15th largest market by value.
Mr McConnell revealed the sales rise to Chinese business leaders at a reception in Beijing, hosted by the SWA, whose entire global export figures will be published this week. The First Minister said: " China and Scotland are both nations with a proud distilling history and it is high praise that sales of Scotland's national drink continue to soar in China.
"Rising sales show that Scottish whisky continues to be a high-quality product, recognised and enjoyed the world over."
Gavin Hewitt, of the SWA, added: "Scotch whisky is an ambassador for our country in new emerging markets such as China."
Mr McConnell said the food and drink sector was vitally important to Scotland's wider economic ambitions.
Places such as China offer huge potential for Scots firms with world-class products, he added, saying this was why the Executive had expanded its global business support agency, Scottish Development International, in the country after his 2004 visit.
"Already we have helped 87 Scottish firms working in China, a 74 per cent increase on last year," he said. Source:
16 Mar. 2006 - ROYAL SALUTE 50 YEAR OLD SELLS FOR USD$30,000 -
One of the most valuable bottles of Scotch whisky in the world was sold today in Auckland for USD$30,000. The bottle of Royal Salute 50 year old, made by Scotch whisky producers Chivas Brothers, was bottle Number One from a batch of 255 produced in 2003 to celebrate the anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the 50th birthday of Royal Salute Scotch Whisky
The famous bottle number one was presented to Sir Edmund Hillary KG ONZ KBE in 2003 as the ultimate tribute to his achievement, 50 years to the day that he reached the summit of Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay. The bottle is being bought from Sir Edmund by makers Chivas Brothers with the proceeds going to the Himalayan Trust for development work in Nepal.
Christian Porta, Chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, commented:This is a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of Scotch whisky history. Royal Salute 50 year old may never be matched again and remains the oldest blended Scotch ever produced and sold commercially. We will return it to Scotland with pride.
Sir Edmund Hillary commented; It was a great honour to be presented with bottle Number One of Royal Salute 50 year old at the official Everest Jubilee celebrations in Kathmandu 2003. I am extremely grateful to Chivas Brothers for their donation the Himalayan Trust. It is a truly generous tribute.
Created in 1953 as a tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II in coronation year, Royal Salute is the worlds leading super premium blended whisky winning many awards for the quality of its 21 year old Blended Scotch. In the same year as its creation, Chivas Brothers laid down whiskies that 50 years later were blended and released as Royal Salute 50 year old, described by some whisky writers as priceless*.
16 Mar. 2006 Pernod Ricard has completed its series of sell-offs following its acquisition of Allied Domecq last year.
The French wine and spirits giant said yesterday (15 March) that it had completed the sale of Glen Grant, Old Smuggler and Braemar to Italian drinks group Campari. Glen Grant’s brands, inventory, distillery and associated assets cost Campari EUR115m (US$138.8m), while Old Smuggler and Braemar’s brands and inventories have gone for EUR15m.
“After the sale of the minority shareholding in Britvic, that of Dunkin’ Brands as well as the transfers to Fortune Brands of the brands Canadian Club, Courvoisier, Sauza, and Maker’s Mark, the sale of Glen Grant, Old Smuggler and Braemar completes the disposal programme of the group following the Allied Domecq acquisition, thus enabling the Group to continue to reduce its debt,” Pernod said.
Pernod was asked by the European Commission late last year to sell the three Scotch whisky brands, following its US$13.2bn takeover of Allied.
15 Mar. 2006 Glenfarclas Distillery is relaunching its whisky portfolio with a packaging overhaul.
The Scotch whisky company said today (15 March) that its rebranding, including a line drawing of the distillery, an adjustment to the Glenfarclas italics logo and a new Grant family monogram, will improve the brand’s impact.
The monogram uses the initials of the J&G Grant family, who have managed the distillery for five generations. The new packaging will be used on the distillery’s 15-, 21- and 25-Years-Old Single Highland Malt Whiskies.
“For six generations my family have taken the quality of the whisky we produce personally,” said George Grant, brand ambassador and sixth generation of the family who own and manage Glenfarclas. “Please be assured we have not changed what is in the bottle, simply improved the packaging so it is now more reflective of the quality of Glenfarclas.”
The relaunch will be supported by a sales and marketing programme to include events in London, Edinburgh and Speyside, and advertising and promotional activity. Source:
Note: Glenfarclas was elected distillery of the year 2006 by the Icons of the whisky and the first label redesigned was the 15 YO whisky at the end of 2005.
10 Mar. 2006 Games bid shows bottle
WHISKY firm Whyte & Mackay has produced 800 specially-commissioned bottles to support Scotland's 2014 Commonwealth Games bid.
The firm, which is Hibs' shirt sponsor, employs 200 staff in its Leith plant. The bottles will be distributed by the Scottish Commonwealth Games Bid Team at this month's Games in Melbourne. Source:
5 Mar. 2006 WHYTE & Mackay's ambitious plan to focus on premium brands risks being derailed as bidders for its Highland grain distillery refuse to meet its asking price.
Industry sources say the £180m price tag for Invergordon Distillers, the largest grain distillery in Europe, is proving a stumbling block in managing director Bob Brannan's attempts to sell it.
French spirit firm La Martiniquaise and Trinidad-based CL Financial are interested in acquiring the distillery, but are not prepared to pay what sources call the "hugely aspirational" asking price.
Given the small margins involved in grain whisky, potential bidders are unlikely to want to pay more than £100m, with a price of £90m more realistic.
Invergordon has a capacity of between 20 million and 35 million litres of alcohol a year. Given the margins of own label, this would produce sales of £2m a year. Industry sources say the headline price of £180m is unrealistic. The reason this figure has emerged is that with so few grain distilleries in Scotland, they are strategically important.
Whyte & Mackay is keen to offload the distillery, whose main focus is the production of own-label spirits for supermarkets, as part of its £100m restructuring that will channel investment towards the drinks firm's premium brands. Brannan was recruited last year from William Grant to undertake a shake-up of the spirits business. In November he appointed Richard Hayes as global marketing director from Allied Domecq. Brannan has admitted that although the own-label business remained important to the group, it would become a smaller proportion of the overall business.He is presently charged with a four-year £100m marketing and re-branding campaign. The flagship Whyte & Mackay brand, which has just over 3% of the UK whisky market, has undergone another makeover.
Although the company says it is in no rush to sell the distillery and is only "listening to offers", a failure to secure the deal could derail chief executive Vivian Imerman's strategic plan to focus on premium malt brands.
Investment bank Citigroup has been appointed to handle any sale of the distillery, which sits on the shores of the Cromarty Firth and has its own deep water port. Last night, one industry source said: "The main problem with this deal is the headline price, which is hugely aspirational. Given the relatively low margins involved with own label, buyers are keen not to overpay. A price south of £100m is more realistic."
Paris based La Martiniquaise, run by Jean-Pierre Cayard, which owns Glen Turner single malt and the big-selling Label Five, has emerged as the most likely buyer. The fourth largest spirits company in France opened a whisky storage and bottling plant in Livingston.
Sources say the Invergordon distillery would be a natural fit, enabling it to ramp up its production of blended whisky. Livingston already has the capacity to produce five million cases a year.
A move by Trinidad-based CL Financial would be much more speculative and would signal a move back into own label. According to industry insiders "they are still deciding whether to go ahead or not".
CL Financial owns three whisky distilleries in Scotland: Bunnahabhain on Islay, Deanston in Perthshire and Tobermory on Mull, and have the blended whiskies Black Bottle and Scottish Leader. Source:
2 Mar. 2006 TOKYO (AFP) - Heavy drinkers and men who never have a drop both commit suicide at 2.3 times the rate of those who enjoy only a few drinks a month, said the study released by the health ministry.
Heavy drinkers were classified as men who knocked back the equivalent of six glasses of wine or three double-shots of whisky a day more than once a week.
However, the researchers cautioned that drinking more moderately would not necessarily decrease the risk of suicide as other factors such as stress were also important.
Also, some teetotalers are recovered alcoholics.
"Those who quit drinking may have done so for reasons such as severe illness or depression," Akechi Tatsuo, associate professor at Nagoya City University Medical School, wrote in the paper.
The study conducted by Tatsuo and other researchers looked at the behavior of 43,000 men between age 40 and 60 across Japan for a decade from 1990. A total of 168 of the men in the study committed suicide.
© 2006 AFP Source:
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has today expressed the industry’s
disappointment at India’s failure to take the opportunity of the Federal
Budget (28 February) to make any progress towards reforming its
discriminatory import regime for spirits.
Market access to India for Scotch Whisky and other imported spirits
continues to be unfairly restricted by a discriminatory fiscal regime,
which is contrary to international trade rules. The overall duty burden
faced by Scotch Whisky ranges from 212% to 525%.
Speaking after the Indian Budget, Peter Wilkinson, the SWA’s International
Affairs Director, said:
“It is disappointing that India has failed for the second year in a row to
take any steps to align its discriminatory import and domestic tax regime
for spirits with WTO rules. Domestic interests appear to have outweighed
international commitments and, as a result, market access continues to be
unfairly restricted by a protectionist tariff and tax system. Indian
consumers are being denied the opportunity to buy international spirits
brands at an affordable price.
"With the European Commission currently investigating India's import regime
for EU spirits and wine, the industry continues to support its efforts to
reach an early negotiated solution on fair market access. If this does not
prove possible, we will have to weigh our options and may be obliged to
press the EU to take these issues to WTO dispute settlement.” Source: SWA
26 Feb. 2006 Double-strength whisky will be breath-taking
A SCOTTISH whisky distillery is preparing to produce the world's strongest dram.
Islay's Bruichladdich distillery will tomorrow aim to recreate history by reviving the tradition of a quadruple-distilled single malt.
The result will be as strong as absinthe, at about 80% alcohol compared to the 40% for whisky that has been distilled twice. The drink is aimed at whisky connoisseurs, but has raised concerns among the health lobby.
The super-dram is the revival of a whisky tasted by the author Martin Martin on Islay in 1695.
In The Western Islands of Scotland, Martin refers to a quadruple-distilled whisky and wrote what is likely the world's oldest surviving whisky tasting note: "The first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life."
Jim McEwan, the whisky's distiller, said: "It should be very similar to the whisky tasted by Martin. It will be very floral, but most importantly it will take your breath away."
But a British Medical Association Scotland spokeswoman said: "Given the concern about binge drinking and its impact on health, it is hard to see the purpose of a product like this."
23 Feb. 2006 Japanese drinks group Suntory has reported a steep rise in earnings in 2005 thanks to the sale of its stake in Allied Domecq.
Suntory yesterday (22 February) posted a net profit of JPY26bn (US$222m), a leap of 51% on the year, after selling a 3.42% stake in Allied following Pernod Ricard’s acquisition of the UK drinks giant. Suntory said it received JPY22.1bn for the holding.
Revenues rose 4.3% to JPY1.4 trillion but alcohol sales were up only 0.6%, as the company’s beer business continued to struggle.
Operating profit was up 6.7% to JPY64.6bn
21 Feb. 2006 Cheers at Whisky Shop
THE Whisky Shop chain has been named Independent Spirits Retailer of the Year at the UK Drinks Retailing Awards.
Judges were impressed by chief Ian Bankier's store design and plans to grow.
20 Feb. 2006 UK Scotch whisky producer Ian MacLeod Distillers has launched Smokehead, a brand aimed at drinkers of malts from Islay.
The company’s head of marketing Iain Weir said Smokehead was “not a subtle flavour,” with notes of sherry, iodine, toffee, smoke and sea salt.
He added: “It’s like a cannonball - an explosive rollercoaster of peat, smoke and spice with some delicate sweetness!”
The company said on Friday (17 February) that consumer research had found that those who loved Islay malts were “extremely loyal” and it had decided to reach out to them with Smokehead.
“We expect to create a very strong brand ideally suited to the new generation of adventurous malt whisky drinkers who are looking for an exciting, accessible and innovative modern brand, which does not use old-fashioned Scotch whisky imagery and heritage,” Weir said.
The design includes the use of a variety of adjectives, including robust, outrageous, monstrous and boisterous on the bottle’s main front label.
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