It’s a scary place, the brain of Ben.
It consists mainly of Alan Partridge and Father Ted episodes, cocktail recipes, and rain-man-esque recall of horsepower and torque figures for most production cars. There’s also usually something in there about whisky.
What I can tell you about the brain of Ben though, is that these Boutique-y whiskies have recently been upgraded from ‘a bit of fun’, to ‘something with a lot of potential’.
Because of this, you’re going to see a pretty decent number of new releases from brand spanking new distilleries over the next few weeks / months, and if the results of some of the recent whisky auctions are anything to go by, I think we’ll see them selling out in pretty short order.
News just in: We've brokered a deal with Santa's top reindeer breeder to provide our elves with the fastest mode of transport in all the land. Thanks to our new herd of reindeer (and a sleigh we found in a garage) we’re able to extend our final order deadline for Christmas Eve delivery to the UK mainland until midday on Sunday 23rd December!
Call us insane if you please, but if you’re the kind of person who buys your Xmas presents when you get that flash of inspiration at the very last minute, you can still buy your gifts from us until midday this coming Sunday.
Pop over to our Christmas gift page to find those final stocking fillers or gifts for relatives you may have forgotten about (we won’t tell).
If you still need to grab wine to accompany Christmas dinner or even whisky and brandy to cap the day off with – order now to be in time for the night before Christmas.
Have a great holiday!
The London Distillery Company has just released their first product – the TESTBED1 Gin Set. A pack of four gins made to four different recipes which demonstrate the development process undertaken to create a new London Dry Gin.
The London Distillery Company was founded in 2011 by Darren Rook, who was then joined by Production Manager Andrew Macleod Smith in May 2012. Most excitingly, they will also be producing their very own whisky, making them the first distillery in London to do so in 100 years. Whilst we’re eagerly awaiting this, they've embarked on the TESTBED Gin project to keep us thoroughly entertained.
It’s fair to say that I’ve been a fan of the guys from Fluid Movement (the team behind The Worship Street Whistling Shop, Purl, and the new Dach and Sons) for a while now. In fact, I reviewed Purl almost 18 months ago here should you care to read about it.
It was a somewhat off-the-cuff suggestion that we ‘do something together’ made whilst at the Whistling Shop about this time last year which has ultimately led to the situation of us jointly launching the first retail product from this team of really very clever chaps.
So, without further ado – I give you ‘Cream Gin’. The main ingredient in the Whistling Shop’s signature cocktail – The Black Cat’s Martini.
This really quite marvellous concoction is the brain-child of The Whistling Shop’s erstwhile head barman, and all-round mixological genius, Ryan Chetiyawardana.
In the name of journalistic plausibility, and to make for a better read, I briefly forgot all about the extensive NPD conducted for the product, and the fact that I now know more about vanillin content and fat globule homogenisation than any man has the right to, and caught up with Ryan for a brief Q&A:More...
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.
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.
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…
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...
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?
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... More...