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Special bits from our whisky lives

Just a few items that remind us of some of the occasions we had the luck to encounter.


Macallan A.D. 2006
Once Upon a Time ...
[posted Sep-9, 2017]

In 2006, Macallan decide to branch our from their sherry world, and introduce the Fine Oak lineage. And to support the sales of the new babies, they also opened their own distillery webshop!
As those were times before tablets, our Club's archive boast of a copy of the offering in the shop.
It makes for very interesting reading - just do your math what the prices have done in just ten years - not for faint-hearted !!


 
Macallan Webshop 2006 - Page 1
Remaining pages coming soon...

From Malta with ... Malt!
Malta and Kilchoman - an unexpected marriage
[posted Dec-03, 2016]

Well, let’s make a step back first. It’s rather “To Malta with …”
With our investigation unit!
When Jim Murray awards 95.5 points to a whisky, people start to pay attention. And when the whisky is young or has a special provenance, even more so.
This is what happened with Kilchoman 2 Isles Guze cask

But who or what the heck is Guze? 

Let’s begin with what it’s not:

  • Guze is definitely not the name of the other Isle (it’s called Gozo). 
  • Nor is Guze the name of a ruler of either of the isles.
  • Malta is not the cradle of (single) malt.
  • There are more than 2 islands Malts consists of. Our favourite one is Filfla J

Yet, we got some news – without guarantee – that may shed some light into the story. The pieces of information suggest that:

  • Guze is the name for a fortified wine produced in Malta by a company called Marsovin. 
  • The full name is Guze passito and it’s made from Shiraz grapes.
  • The correct local spelling is Ġuże.

  • There is a local wine & spirits specialist company called The Wine Boutique Franks, managed by Andrew Abela.  
    One of their retail outlets can be located in The Plaza shopping center in Sliema.
  • Almost two years ago, Mr. Abela agreed with Kilchoman distillery to finish their whisky in a cask after Guze. This single cask #688/2010 was introduced to the Maltese market in November 2015.
    When
    Whisky Bible 2017 was published in October 2016, the 262 bottles were sold out already!

 Kilchoman Guze  Kilchoman Guze   Kilchoman Guze - Malat tax stamp

However

  •  There are more types of fortified wine produced by Marsovin, one of them called Primus.
  •  A single cask Kilchoman finished in a Primus cask was introduced at the Malt Whisky Fair in Valletta recently, on Nov 18, 2016.
  • Besides the Franks boutique, this Kilchoman bottlings can also be acquired at The Master Cellar in Naxxar, Malta.

And

  • The Wine Boutique Franks owns a brand name Dominic & Prince.
  •  Whisky Bible 2017 mentions two Guze single casks. We were not able to track the other one (#678/2010) on Malta.
    WhiskyBase claim that this cask has actually been destined for Holland.
  • Governments getting hold of the alcohol taxes use various methods. Sticking a tax stamp onto the bottle's top (e.g. Italy, Czech republic or Slovakia) is the one whisky enthusiasts hate - you open the bottle and feel like the glue get's mixed with the whisky! Yet, if the government is not smart enough (in our digital age) to come up with a more elegant solution,  there is a nicer solution - see the last photo!

New Looks in Fast-Paced World
Re-packaging the name of the day
[posted Feb-14, 2016]

Almost all distilleries have re-packed their portfolio within the recent years. From customer perception angle, it makes sense - customers at least feel that something is happening, and very often the distillers try to distinguish themselves by a special bottle shape (Tamdhu, Tomatin), by tube type (Octomore), or by colour scheme (Brucichladdich). 

Of all those re-dressing stories, we seem to like most what Benromach have done - not only a new, edgy look. But also a very practical use of the box top, which can serve as a part of a configurable bar plinth and smartly uses the little booklets enclosed with individual bottles. 

Benromach    Benromach plinth

Scotch Whisky Exorcist
Whisky Bible 2015 available as of Nov-3, 2014
[posted Nov-14, 2014]

With almost a month delay contrasted to previous years, Jim Murray published his annual Whisky Bible. After crusading against caramel addition in the initial years of the tome, and against sulphured sherry casks later, he uses this year's edition as a wake up call to "fat, old" Scottish whisky producers - none of the Scotches made it among Jim's top 5 Award Winners!
Notice the cover photo, Scotch distillers! 

Another new element, briefly indicated in the book, is the Tasting Club. We had the privilege to get an indication about Jim's plan during our dinner at Whisky Live Prague a month before publication. You want to taste some of the whiskies Jim writes about in his Bible? Just watch which of them have the note WB15/xxx at the end of the tasting note! And monitor his website - he is still fine tuning his go-to-market model!





Mr Master Blender
An Evening with The Blenders, May-14, 2014, The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh
[posted May-30, 2014]

After judging over 400 whiskies as part of the prestigious International Spirits Challenge, master blenders made themselves available to chat with public during a cozy evening in the fantastic atmosphere of the Scotch Whisky Experience at the Edinburgh Castle. The showman of the evening was – as usually – Richard Patterson. However, our attention has been devoted to someone we consider the most respectable Master Blender in whole Scotch whisky history, to David Stewart of William Grant’s.

Mr. Stewart started with the company back in 1960s, right when Glenfiddich started to push onto the market the single malt whisky. He has been instrumental to keep the quality and spectrum of different expressions through the dramatic expansion, making Glenfiddich the mostly sold Scotch single malt worldwide, and reached the magic threshold of one million 9-liter cases yearly in 2011. Keeping consistency and interesting portfolio in such a volume is far from easy. And what Mr. Stewart has done with Balvenie in terms of experimenting with various expressions, is just amazing. He handed over the daily job at Glenfiddich to Brian Kinsman in 2013 (one of his first creations was the Snow Phoenix), yet is fully active at Balvenie distillery until now.


You can see a short tribute video to Mr. Stewart’s fifty years at the company here.


First Whisky Live in South Africa
With Dave Broom in Johannesburg
[posted Dec-02, 2005]

Dave Broom is a regular whisky writer with numerous books under his belt, big proponent of Japanese whiskies, and doesn’t shy away from other spirits like rum of cognac.

At the opening of the Whisky Live 2005 in Sandton, he delivered his Masterclass with some interesting expressions (at that time) like the new Welsh Penderyn or 33yo old-generation Balblair.


Beer and Whisky Apostle
Personal breakfast with Michael Jackson
[posted Apr-12, 2001]

A very personal experience that, unfortunately, cannot be repeated any more.

Michael Jackson is one of the very first journalists who started to write books on whisky, and was first who had the courage to mark individual whisky expressions, published in his six releases of the Malt Whisky Companions.

During the World of Whiskies Expo in San Francisco on March 24, 2001, Michael Jackson held a Masterclass. Still relatively a novice to the world of whisky, it was great to hear that drinking booze can be called “research”. Very liberating !

By coincidence, I was accommodated in the hotel of the Expo itself. Coming for breakfast the following morning, one table was occupied by a single person – yes, it was Michael. He agreed that I join him, and – once he found out which country I come from – good part of our discussion revolved around beer. What has stuck in my mind was a very warm discussion between a whisky guru and an amateur, and a very bohemian-like personality of Michael, kind of an artist.

Since that moment, I knew whisky would become an intensive hobby!


Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion – various Editions including US and German versions:



Note: 
At the same event, a young chap was offering an unusual liquid - a blended grain whisky. And if I tell you it had a very strange name, you already know that this was one of the first events for the most creative innovator who just had left UDV/Diageo and started his own blending company! I was too "green" at that time to judge what was coming from his lab in later years!


Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Memebership 001
[posted Jul-12, 1999]

Back in 1997, Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) had been relatively an unknown entity on the Continent, described by the co-founder Philip Hills in his book Scots on Scotch. So it was not such a surprise that one of our club mates has become the first ever member of SMWS from Czech republic, with a very special membership number CZ000001 (the administrator of the Society apparently expected an influx of new members from Czechia, looking at the number of zeros; or they just had a Scottish sense of humor …) 

Many things happened since – branches have been established in many European countries (and across the world), the Society has been bought by Glenmorangie plc, the numbering of distilleries has become well guarded secret hidden to members. What you see on the pictures was part of the Welcome pack - after having paid the Society entry fee, of course; we speak about Scotland, after all

[added Sep-12, 2016]

We came across a fresh distillery list used by SMWS in the book of Iconic Whisky, and thought we would share it with you:

SMWS - List   SMWS - List