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Chivas: Age Matters

by Angus     23. November 2012 15:28

Chivas Brothers have recently launched a new global educational campaign entitled ‘Great Things Take Time’.

To declare such a grand concept – Chivas treated us to a delicious lunch, courtesy of Mark Hix, at Brown’s Hotel to explain why age is important – undoubtedly because they have a lot of old whisky that needs selling, and selling is what we do. I am always happy to listen so I settled down to be wooed by these giants of blending.

According to their research only 10% of whisky consumers understand what the age statement on a bottle of whisky means, and 94% of people believe an age statement is an indicator of quality. This is understandable; it’s not immediately apparent, or indeed, at all apparent on the bottle that the age statement refers to the youngest whisky inside. Plus, it’s easy to see why older whisky should be better; older whisky is more expensive, if it’s more expensive surely it should be of a higher quality – that’s a fair assumption to make. However, this got me thinking as we tasted our way through the Chivas range with Master Blender Colin Scott: does age matter?

We were then ferried to the grotto of antiquities that is the Victoria & Albert Museum to watch a debate addressing the question whether age matters or not take place. The debate took place between historian Bettany Hughes and Peter Aspden from the Financial Times, however their inclination to agree with one another lended a bias to the argument that age does matter (remember old whisky is at stake here). Despite this what they had to say was interesting.

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Win a VIP Highland Park Distillery Trip

by Angus     20. November 2012 15:07

If you really want to understand a whisky, you need to visit the distillery where it's made and meet the people that make it. This has never been more appropriate than of the legendary Highland Park Distillery, whose whisky is inspired by the rugged terrain of the Orkney Islands that once played home to the Viking invaders. So, we decided to team up with these Orcadian distillers to arrange a little competition for you – with an absolutely massive prize.

If you purchase a bottle of the esteemed Highland Park Single Malt Whisky before five hundred bottles have been sold or before the 15th December – depending on which comes first – you could win a spectacular two-day trip up to the Orkney Islands to visit their famous distillery.

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company New Releases

by Ben Ellefsen     13. November 2012 14:29

Well that last batch of Boutique-y whiskies certainly sold quickly. Terrifyingly quickly in fact.

Apologies to all those who didn’t get one from the first edition of the Ardbeg, Macallan or Caperdonich – but fear not – the second batches of all of these are now here, and available for purchase. You’ll notice that all three of them have the new batch number, new ABV, and a minor change to the illustration on each of the labels just to keep it interesting. You’ll also notice that the Caperdonich is cheaper than last time. Don’t say we never do anything nice for you.

We’re working on getting you another Port Ellen release* – more details on this as and when we’re successful.

So – now on to the next whiskies to be added to the series. It was pointed out to me today that completely by accident, we’ve selected 4 Speyside Whiskies, all beginning with ‘a’ and ‘b’. Not planned, just a weird coincidence…

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Brand New 30, 40 and 50 Year Old Whisky

by Ben Ellefsen     26. October 2012 17:04

For those of you hitherto unfamiliar with them, our ‘Secret Bottlings’ series of Single Malts have long been a staple of our core range of Master of Malt branded whiskies. They provide exceptionally well-aged whiskies at a price that seems utterly unthinkable in today’s world of 5-figure 50 year olds, and six figure 54 year olds.

The secret with these whiskies has always been that we’ve released them without the name of the distillery present on the label, hence preserving the distillery in question’s brand equity, and allowing us to buy them at a fraction of the price that would be possible if the distillery’s own name was on it.

A bit more on that, because I’ve just read it back, and it sounds suspiciously like marketing bullshit. I’ll expand:

If a distillery (let’s call it Glenyummy) has a certain number of customers (X) for its standard 12yo whisky, the chances are they’ll have a customer-base of about 0.05X for their 18yo expression, 0.0005X for their 30yo expression, and 0.0000005X by the time they hit anything over a few hundred quid. More...

The Vesper Cocktail – An Open Letter To Commander Bond

by Ben Ellefsen     25. October 2012 12:33

Published today – an open letter from Tunbridge-Wells-Based manufacturer, The Handmade Cocktail Company to Commander Bond.

The letter reads:

Dear Commander Bond,

I write to you today in the gravest of circumstances.

It has been brought to my attention that you have been seen - in public no less - consuming that most un-gentlemanly of concoctions. Lager-beer.

The exact circumstances of this sighting I have been unable to ascertain - the employee in question ran into my office quite incoherent before crouching in the corner, and having to be chemically ‘calmed’ by our nurse. Contained within his ramblings however, there was definitely something about a train, a bar, and some arms made of ice?

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Old Pulteney 40 Year Old!

by Michael Orson     23. October 2012 12:21

Prepare your faces for glee and/or delight, for we bring glad tidings all the way from Caithness (the north-eastern tip of the Scottish mainland – presumably very wet and cold). We’ve had word from the Old Pulteney distillery that today (well, 11pm last night, to be precise, but today for most of us) we can, at last, announce the launch of the oldest official single malt the distillery has ever produced…

Earlier in the year, Pulteney 21 year old was named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible. It’s a pretty astonishing single malt, all things considered, but what else would you expect from the northernmost distillery on the Scottish mainland. That far north, the weather and the terroir play a huge part in the flavour of maturing spirit; a windswept seafront seasons the whisky and gives it real provenance. There’s also the effect of the unusually shaped spirit still, the U-shape and bulbous neck of which account for a particularly oily spirit. Dave Broom calls Old Pulteney “eccentric”, and I think we’re inclined to agree...

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New Product: Rumbullion! Navy Strength (or ‘how to nearly blow your fingers off’)

by Ben Ellefsen     18. October 2012 15:12

So. We launched our Navy Strength Bathtub Gin about a month or so ago, and it’s already doing really rather well. It’s kind of a given that we had to follow this up with a Navy Strength version of the incredibly popular vanilla-and-christmas-spices-laden spiced rum – Rumbullion! It’s almost* like there’s some sort of planning going on.

For the Navy Strength version of Rumbullion, we’ve taken the same basic recipe, and simply scaled up the vanilla, sugar and spice content in line with the ABV (ie – it’s not intentionally spicier and punchier, like the Bathtub is). The reason for this is pretty straight-forward – Rumbullion! is already a pretty aggressively spiced little number as it is, and the Navy Strength version was more than capable of standing up to the initial ABV at the same proportional concentration.

Incidentally - if you’ve not tried the Navy Strength Bathtub Gin yet – it’s sort of like being kicked in the face by a Gin-Soaked Santa Claus. Really quite fantastic, and absolutely laden with Christmas spices - it don’t ‘alf pack a punch.

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Categories : News | Rum | Tasting Notes


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New: Antique Cocktails from The Experimental Series

by Ben Ellefsen     15. October 2012 15:45

So – a few weeks back you may remember we launched a couple of ‘experimental’ cocktails - the Hanky Panky and the Boulevardier. The good news on this front is that the Hanky Panky has rapidly earned itself a promotion to the exalted ranks of the main series of the Handmade Cocktail company’s core offering, such was its popularity. I’ve just got to do a bit more mucking about with it (I’ve been experimenting with some of the fresh oak barrels we’ve recently acquired, and it takes exceptionally well to a bit of this – so it’s going to get some oak influence methinks) and with any luck it’ll be out before Christmas.

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FEW Spirits – Distilled in Evanston, Illinois

by Angus     10. October 2012 10:06

If there was ever a word so god damn awful it’s guaranteed to send a shudder down your spine it is the dreaded p-word – prohibition *a wolf howls in the background and you get the feeling you are being followed by a man with an axe*. 

This was the boozeless condition that afflicted the United States of America for thirteen parched years thanks to the tireless campaigning of the American Temperance Movement. 

The Movement advocated the ‘Noble Experiment’ to save society from the horrors of alcohol abuse throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and they succeeded in 1920 with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act which completely banned the sale of alcohol in the U.S.A. 

This led to a decade and three years of corruption and violence across America as mobsters and moonshiners sought to bring alcohol illicitly to the understandably thirsty public before the Amendment was finally repealed in 1933. 

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250,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka

by Ben Ellefsen     2. October 2012 12:25

*sigh*

Well, it had to happen didn’t it?

There were absolutely bound to be some people so warped, so twisted, that the 100,000 Scovilles Naga Chilli Vodka we launched at the beginning of the year wasn’t hot enough for them. Words fail me.

Capsaicin (the active compound that provides chillies’ heat) is said to be addictive (it causes the release of dopamine amongst other brain-chemistry-related treats), and this doubtless goes some way towards explaining the mindset of this small but vocal minority of nut-jobs.

It’s probably worth pointing out a few of the people for whom it emphatically was hot enough; Philip Schofield for one:

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