the whisky blog

February 27, 2009

Gordon & MacPhail Wins Global Whisky Retailer of the Year

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 1:28 pm

Whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail has been awarded the title of Global Whisky Retailer of the Year for a single outlet at the Icons of Whisky Awards 2009. The awards, which were hosted by Whisky Magazine at Whisky Live London, aim to recognise the very best from all areas of the global whisky industry.

Established in Elgin in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail’s retail shop stocks over 800 different whiskies and attracts customers from throughout the world to its crowded shelves. Browsing through the selection of whisky, many of which are very old or extremely rare, many customers feel this is the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of whisky.

The shop also stocks a wide variety of wines, spirits and groceries as well as housing an excellent delicatessen. As well as owning a retail shop, the company has grown into one of Scotland ’s leading independent whisky specialists through wholesaling, bottling and its own distillery in nearby Forres. The company has remained proudly independent and family owned throughout its long history and has championed Single Malt Whiskies since its inception.

After picking up the award, David Urquhart, Joint Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail said, “Our retail shop has been an integral part of the local community for almost 114 years and stocks a wide variety of whiskies and other high quality goods. Winning this award is testament to our terrific team at the shop and their commitment to delivering the best possible service to customers from throughout the world.”


February 25, 2009

Bruich is the Laddie

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 5:41 pm

This is a report on the tasting held by Glasgow’s Whisky Club on Tuesday, February 24. It first appeared on the club’s blog, Still Life

First tasting of the new year and it turned into a belter. Some 18 souls braved the back part of the Cask and Still for an evening with David Keir, who brought along some Arran, Tullibardine and a brace of Bruichladdichs, one of which the club dug deep into its inexhaustible coffers to purchase. First up was the Arran 10, a light, citrusy dram, served at 46%. It improved after being left in the glass for a while. The 1993 Tullibardine was next, finished in a Muscatel cask, but its older brother, the 1988 bourbon cask, was an absolute smasher. Sweet, peppery with a decent finish. The Arran single cask, also from a bourbon, had sweet toffee and was a big improvement on the standard 10. Retailing at £45-£48 a bottle, it would be worth spending some redundancy money on. Next was the club’s own purchase, the Bruichladdich Golder Still. Limited release of 4866 bottles, and retailing for around £120, it matured in ‘squat’ bourbon casks, which apparently gives the spirit more contact with the wood. More sweet toffee and well worth acquiring as a collectible, if you’ve also got the cash to get the partners – The Blacker Still and Redder Still. Final dram was from the 2001 Resurrection series, a seven year old with a 10ppm peat level. Some £37 for one of 24,000 bottles. Also worth a collecting punt. Many thanks once again to David, club member, Sales Manager with distributor Malcolm Cowen, and all round good guy. Someone buy his flat please. He needs the dosh to buy more whisky!

February 20, 2009

Dram with a bee in its bonnet

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 10:42 am

The annual vintage cask selection is an eagerly awaited event at The Balvenie Distillery and this year a small swarm of beekeepers visited the distillery in Speyside, , to help Malt Master, David Stewart, select two very special casks over 30 years old to become The Balvenie Vintage Cask for 2009 .

A key characteristic of The Balvenie is its distinctive honeyed flavour and the beekeepers were invited to put their finely tuned noses and palates to the test to identify the casks that best exemplified a mature example of The Balvenie single malt’s signature honeyed complexity.

Honey judge Fiona Dickson of The British Beekeepers’ Association and Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart select The Balvenie vintage single malt Scotch whisky for 2009.

Tim Lovett, President of the British Beekeepers’ Association, Honey Judge, Fiona Dickson and Ayr-based beekeeper Phil McAnespie joined The Balvenie’s long serving Malt Master, David Stewart for the  selection process. Between them they singled out two casks from 1978 – cask numbers 6248 and 2705 – to become the new Vintage.

More than 30years of maturation had resulted in them attaining an exceptional depth of flavour and smoothness. David said: “The panel quickly identified the subtle layers of complexity we look for in vintage Balvenie. The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 offers those distinctive honey notes, together with subtle oakiness, citrus fruits and a spicy vanilla sweetness”.

Honey judge Fiona Dickson often tastes up to 300 honeys in a single competition and was surprised at the similarities between judging a honey and single malt whisky, noting: “When selecting honey I look for the correct balance between sweetness and flavour and we drew upon the same skills in selecting The Balvenie Vintage Cask.”

The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) works to promote and further the craft of beekeeping and to advance the education of the public in the importance of bees for the environment. The plight of the honey bee is now of worldwide concern and without beekeepers to look after them there would be no honey bees in the UK.

Hand bottled, The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 is expected to go on sale from May. It will retail at £450 a bottle.

February 14, 2009

Whisky is the jewel in the crown for Pernod Ricard

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 7:21 pm

A STRONG performance from its Scotch whisky business, including double-digit gains at Glenlivet, and the acquisition of Swedish drinks company Vin & Sprit, have helped Pernod Ricard deliver bumper interim profits of 1.2 billion (£1.1bn). As part of a markedly more upbeat statement than bigger rival Diageo on Thursday, Pernod Ricard yesterday revealed that sales of Glenlivet rose 12 per cent, Chivas Regal 6 per cent, and Ballantine’s 5 per cent. First-half profits at the group – Scotland’s second-biggest whisky producer – were up by 24 per cent. Christian Porta, chairman and chief executive of Chivas Brothers, Pernod’s Scotch whisky and gin business, said: “Overall our Scotch whisky brands have continued to perform well during the first half of our financial year despite the more challenging economic environment in which we operate.” Chivas Bros has 26 sites in Scotland, including its Paisley HQ, employing a total of 1,500 north of the Border. It has 20 per cent of the Scotch market compared with Diageo’s 30 per cent.

Read More at The Scotsman

February 13, 2009


Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 5:55 pm

Cupid’s arrow has struck at leading Scottish drinks company Whyte & Mackay as the Glasgow-based organisation launches a global search to find star crossed lovers whose combined surnames together form Whyte & Mackay and who are planning to get engaged this Valentine’s Day

Guaranteed to tug at the heart strings of whisky lovers around the world, Whyte & Mackay is offering the lucky couple the opportunity to spend time with the brand’s internationally renowned Master Blender Richard Paterson. He will create a personal bespoke whisky just for the happy couple which will be served on their big day to all their loved ones friends and guests.

This will be the first time Whyte & Mackay has ever produced a bespoke whisky for a wedding (or weddings!) and will involve Paterson mixing and matching different whisky stocks to create a very special and rare blended whisky designed to meet exactly the taste of the lucky couple.

Whyte & Mackay will also gift the couple with a bottle of the rare tipple every year on their anniversary – a truly unique gift – for as long as they stay married.

Richard Paterson said: “Marriage is about the perfect partnership – the union of two people who together, complete each other. To celebrate this, we are looking for a couple who are planning to get engaged on Valentine’s Day who have the names Whyte & Mackay.

“As a wedding gift, I will create a personalised whisky using the traditional Whyte & Mackay Double Marriage process with one blended malt and one blended grain which complement each other to create a fantastic and memorable drink. The casks will feature the couple’s names and they will be invited to the whisky bond to inspect their own blend. Finally, when the wedding date is set, the two will blended together for the final loving Double Marriage.

“This is a completely unique gift and is perfect for whisky enthusiasts.”

Richard joked: “However, touch wood, should the couple split up and get divorced then arrangements will be made for their blend to be stored in our archives until such times as another Whyte & Mackay are betrothed.”

Any couples whose surnames together are Whyte & Mackay and planning to pop the question this year should contact with proof of surnames and proof that the proposal took place in 2009.

Glenmorangie buys new storage site

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 3:21 pm

PREMIUM whisky distiller Glenmorangie’s plans to build a multimillion-pound bottling and office facility in West Lothian took a step forward yesterday when the company announced that it had agreed a deal to buy an 11-acre site for the development.
The acquisition of the site in Livingston from Edinburgh-based Miller Developments is conditional on the distiller securing detailed planning consent from West Lothian Council.
The cost of the site for the planned facility at the Alba Business Park in Livingston has not been disclosed. However, the company says it will form a key part of its £45m investment programme which also involves relocating its headquarters to Edinburgh and a major revamp at the Highland distillery where the brand is made.
The company says 120 staff will be employed at the new bottling facility.
It is expected the majority of employees at Glenmorangie’s existing facilities in Broxburn will relocate to Livingston, seven miles away, when construction of the new facility is completed in the summer of 2010.

Originally in The Herald

May was made for whisky

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 3:14 pm

A month long celebration of Scotland’s national drink is taking  place in May as part of the Homecoming Scotland programme.

The celebration is expected to attract around 30,000 drammers to participating distilleries and boost visitor numbers and businesses across Scotland. The Whisky Month guide invites visitors from the UK and around the world to explore Scotland’s landscape and culture through its national drink in a month long programme of more than 30 events.

The events include the newly extended Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the brand new Spirit of the West festival, a specially commissioned musical production of Whisky Galore and Feis Ile – Islay’s Malt and Music Festival.

Marie Christie, project director for Homecoming Scotland 2009, said: “Scotch Whisky is a unique aspect of Scotland’s rich culture and heritage which is celebrated across the world. Showcasing it through the Homecoming festivities provides us an opportunity to promote some of the country’s most distinctive communities and regions through a lively programme of activity.”

February 12, 2009

Jura Superstition launches ‘superstition of the day’ on Twitter

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 1:14 pm

Jura Superstition is launching its Twitter Superstition of the Day on Friday 13th – the most superstitious day of the year – at

Jura Superstition, made from 13 year old whisky,  first blended on Friday 13th and bottled on Friday 13th, will be ‘tweeting’ a Superstitious Fact of the Day – and encouraging Tweeters to send over their superstitions.

Teaser facts have been uploaded on the site, including ‘The fear of Friday 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia’ and  ‘paraskavedekatriaphobiais is a specialised form of triskaidekaphobia’ (the fear of the number thirteen). While it has not appeared yet, in years to come people may develop ‘peskyconstanttypistaphobia’ – a fear of Twitter users or ‘Twitterphobia’ – a fear of using Twitter.

Superstitions on Jura date back to when islanders had an aversion to cutting peat before May because it was unlucky – a superstition that has been kept alive to this day.

Jura Superstition is now spreading these superstitions, and those from around the world, using Twitter to bring them to a digital audience.

Follow Jura Superstition:

February 11, 2009

A Taste of Romance from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 3:40 pm

Love is in the air at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society as it marks Valentine’s Day with the launch of ‘A Chocolate Valentine’ special bottling to celebrate the most romantic day of the year.

This bottle is the first in a series of new cask releases throughout 2009 that carries a specially designed label which aims to bring the Society’s distinctive tasting notes to life. ‘A Chocolate Valentine’, cask number 125.18, has the aromas and flavours of a heady mix of dark chocolate to create a balanced and smooth taste which promises to linger all night long.

Described expertly by the Society’s Tasting Panel as ‘love at first sniff’, this single cask, single malt whisky is sure to ignite passion. The chocolate love affair is brimming with tantalising tastes of orange with a smoky undercurrent to keep many a lover warm on a February evening.

The elegance of the Society bottling uniquely details the exquisite taste of the whisky, with an enticing tasting note to tempt anyone to sample.

Paul Miles, managing director, said: “To celebrate this date, we wanted to launch a unique bottling and we expect ‘A Chocolate Valentine’ to be taken up quickly. The Society likes to mark Valentine’s Day in style – and what better way to do so, than with our own distinctive taste.”

For those tempted to find out more about what tasty whisky treats are available, they can visit, to see how the Society has introduced a whole new way to explore the world of single cask, single malt whisky.

Membership of the Society costs £100 for the first year, which includes the special gift of the exclusive Membership Box. Annual renewal thereafter costs from £49.50.

To apply for membership to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society visit or call 0131 555 2929.

Taking the plunge

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 2:02 pm

Today I took the plunge, and emailed my contacts book to announce my departure from newspapers after 40 years. From March 1 I’ll be a self-employed whisky writer!

I’m planning a whisky book but if you know of anyone who needs a whisky buff – and grizzled hack who knows the difference between a cask and a consonant – please let me know

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