For the past 5 years, drinks writers (and now whisky bottlers!) Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley have hosted an awards ceremony intended to turn the whisky judging world on its head—or at least put it poolside with a drink in its hand. Jeil (or Noel, as they are affectionately referred to at MoM HQ) designed their Best in Glass Awards to celebrate whiskies that are accessible, delicious, and newly released. The annual Best in Glass Awards were held on 12th December 2012 at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London. After a gruelling afternoon of a two-course luncheon (wink!) and blind tasting of ten whiskies, one whisky emerged victorious from the collection to be dubbed the champion of the Best in Glass Awards 2012!
I’m sure you’ll all remember the frankly fantastic couple of bottlings launched by the irrepressible duo from Caskstrength Neil and Joel in the past year or so?
First up was an Arran – a delight of a whisky with a frankly absurdly low outturn of only 92 bottles. This astonishing bottling rapidly sold out, and is now changing hands for hundreds of pounds on auction sites.
Second was an astonishing Benriach, matured for an impressive 16 years, and finished for 4 of those years in a Pedro Ximenez cask. This too, sold out in incredibly short order.
After ‘A’ for Arran, and ‘B’ for Benriach, must come ‘C’.
And…we’re back! That’s right folks, we’re now shipping to the USA again! It was scary there for a moment, but this brave little eagle has personally agreed to fly all of your packages across the Atlantic ocean for just a few kippers a day!
Like a striding colossus of the whisky industry powered by pure inspiration, awesomeness and zeitgeist*, That Boutique-y Whisky Company have brought you not one, but seven brand new releases, as well as a second batch of Aberlour.
Without any further ado:
You bought loads of Highland Park for Christmas, and each of you who did earned a chance to win an amazing trip to the Highland Park Distillery in Orkney! Now that you've cracked open the bottle (or gifted it to a loved one) to enjoy while drafting your resolutions for 2013, it's time to announce the lucky chap (or chappette) who's going to Orkney.
I like the Langham Hotel.
I like the Landau restaurant within the Langham Hotel, recently taken over by Albert and Michel Roux Jr. especially as there's a lunch menu which will allow you change from £80 for two people… We'll get onto the whisky in a bit. Patience.
I *really* like the hotel's bar – Artesian, the meeting place for the launch of Glenmorangie's newest addition to their Private Collection. Ealanta. In the last couple of years Artesian has come on leaps and bounds under the supremely competent stewardship of Head Bartender Alex Kratena.
It's possible to get one of the best Martinis in London at the bar in Artesian—The Langham Martini (and for almost £20 including service, it wants to be) and on Wednesday evening I did just that.
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.
We at MoM Towers love whisky. Can’t get enough it. We also love the USA (yes, it’s true!), and we have a special place in our collective, malty heart for Craft Distillers. So, when we first heard about an American, whisky-producing craft distillery, our minds were blown. Blown, I tells ya! This was well before we even had a chance to behold the amazing beards of Chip Tate, Head Distiller at Balcones, and Jared Himstedt, the Production Manager at the Distillery. Once we saw what these chaps were sporting and making, we knew we would be hooked.
Chip Tate started up Balcones in 2008 and snatched the glory of producing the very first Texas whisky. Balcones is named for the fault line that runs through the south-western part of the state through Waco, Texas where the distillery is located. A dramatic illustrated interpretation of the Balcones Fault can be found in the logo and is truly representative of some of the flavour profiles found in their whiskies: ground-breaking and earth-quaking.
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.