SCOTLANDâ€™S HIPPEST WHISKY GEEK BLENDED WHISKY: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY?
VISITOR CENTRES GALORE
he sun has finally come out and with Staycations all the rage this summer we’ve highlighed some great Distillery Visitor Centres to visit in this issue of the magazine nine in total. Not only do you get to learn about whisky, but you get to find out all about Scotland too. One person who is very familiar whisky distilleries is our interviewee this month Blair Bowman - in fact he visited 60 distilleries in one day earlier this month...and he was still standing! He also has plenty going on. See what he has to say on page 18.
The latest from the world of whisky.
As usual we have plenty of whisky news and information on whisky-related events. But we also have some ideas for Father’s Day gifting on page 28. Sean Murphy explores why blended whisky is not as popular as it should be. It’s a an interesting read on page 15. Of course, last but not least, we also have some tasting notes on whiskies worth trying this summer Slainte Susan Young, Editor.
15 Blends a missed opportunity?
Sean Murphy explores why blended whisky is not as popular as it should be.
18 There is no stopping Blair Bowman
PJ O’Neill caught up with Scotland’s No 1 Whisky Geek
22 Visitor Centres Galore
Nine to visit and an indepth look at the new-look Isle of Arran Whisky Visitor Centre
28 Father’s Day Gift ideas for your whisky loving father 34 What’s On
Interview: Blair Bowman Editor Susan Young Editorial Lisa Clifford, Sean Murphy, PJ O’Neill Sales Executives Lucy McGovern & Sylvia Forsyth Production Lorraine Gourlay, Dougie Wagstaff Dogs Tootsie & Lucy A Wee DRAM is published by Media World Ltd. Upper Floor, Finnieston House, 1 The Stables Yard, 1103 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8ND Tel 0141 221 6965 Email email@example.com The publishers, authors and printers cannot accept liability for errors/omissions. Any artwork will be accepted at owner’s risk. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the copyright holder and publisher, application for which should be made to the publisher. Articles published in this magazine
LIONS GET SET TO ROAR WITH NEW WHISKY AND RUGBY PARTNERSHIP Whyte & Mackay is backing the The British & Irish Lions 2017 Tour to New Zealand. It’s the Glasgow-based brands, biggest ever international sport partnership. The British & Irish Lions boast a heritage stretching back to 1888 while Whyte & Mackay is renowned for its lion logo, which has been in use for over 170 years. You may have seen the recent advertising campaign for the brand – ‘Surprisingly Smooth’ which features dapper lions. The British & Irish Lions are the best of the best rugby players, selected from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales – an ethos that parallels, say the company, Whyte & Mackay’s blending process. One of the first promotions to compliment the sponsorship is now running in supermarkets which sees customers who purchase a bottle of Whyte & Mackay in with the chance to win tickets to experience the Tour in New Zealand, plus one of 25 official Lions replica jerseys.
Ardbeg day plunges deep under the sea at greenwich Islay malt Ardbeg is already planning its 2017 Ardbeg Day celebrations. On 3rd June, the Distillery will pay homage to the sea surrounding Islay and the mythical sea creatures that live beneath. The organiser say that participants in Ardbeg Day will be plunged deep under the sea to help celebrate the launch of the new Ardbeg Kelpie, a limited-edition bottling created to celebrate Ardbeg Day 2017. It is the distillery’s first whisky with a heart matured in virgin oak from the Black Sea coast. The organisers are promising a day filled with mystery, food, games... and of course, Ardbeg Single Malt... the location however is not Islay but the Greenwich Yacht Club in London! Tickets will be available to purchase from https://www.moethennessy-selection.co.uk/ ardbegday2017 for £40 per person. Meanwhile Ardbeg Day will also be celebrated at the distillery on Saturday 3rd June 2017.
NEW VISITSCOTLAND MAP HIGHLIGHTS WHISKY MOVIE’S SITES
New look and a new name Johnnie Walker Platinum Super-premium blended whisky Johnnie Walker now has a Platinum Label in the shape of its relaunched 18 year old blended whisky – it also has a new look. As you might expect from a ‘Platinum’ whisky it is priced at the premium end of the market at £84 for a bottle. However if you bear in mind this super-premium whisky is made up of a blend of up to 18 different whiskies, each chosen for their depth of flavour and character, you can understand its price tag. Nick Temperley, Head of Diageo Reserve GB, said, “Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years is crafted using our unrivalled reserves of mature whiskies. The myriad of flavour is unlike any other, giving this Scotch an unparalleled quality. We know there’s a real consumer demand for 18-year-old whiskies, and hope to see the new name and packaging resonate well with our customers.” The launch of Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years is supported by a short film which follows Master Blender Jim Beveridge in his pursuit of the ultimate 18-year-old blended Scotch whisky https://youtu.be/rWqYaKeKIAE
Ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of the folk in Whisky Galore? Now you can. VisitScotland has created a map highlighting the locations used in the new film version of Whisky Galore! The movie, which is based on the 1947 novel by Compton Mackenzie and stars Gregor Fisher, Eddie Izzard and Sean Biggerstaff, is now on general release. But while Alexander Mackendrick’s 1949 comedy was shot almost entirely on location in the Outer Hebrides, where Barra stood in for the fictional islands of Great Todday and Little Todday,.Gillies MacKinnon’s version makes use of outstanding locations throughout Scotland, from the Borders up to Aberdeenshire, from Ayrshire to Glasgow and across to the East Neuk of Fife. Filming locations, including the Aberdeenshire villages of Portsoy and Pennan, St Abb’s Head in the Scottish Borders and the Central Bar in West Dunbartonshire are highlighted. The map is available for download at www.visitscotland.com/films. A printed version will be available in selected VisitScotland iCentres.
NEWS WHAT’S YOUR DRINKiQ?
A CRAFTY NEW LOOK FOR THE BENLEVA Drumnadrochit’s Benleva Hotel will soon reopen as a Craft Beer Hotel. The hotel, which has a bustling bar and restaurant, has also revamped its 11 bedrooms. All rooms are fitted with powerful mains showers, free view TV, Free WiFI and tea & coffee making facilities. The bar, which has just opened , obviously has a good whisky range, after all its sister hotel is the Lochside in Islay, but it is also in the process of opening a brewery in its garden. The hotel may be 300 years old, and a former manse, but today it has been brought bang up to date by new owner Neil Morrison. The hotel offers tasty food together with a fine selection of wines, Scottish real ales and malt whiskies.
The Lismore: A world famous whisky bar in Glasgow, Scotland. with over 300 malt whiskies on display and live traditional music sessions through out the week.
THE LISMORE lios mor
The Lismore Bar 206 Dumbarton Road Glasgow
DRINKiQ is a new e-learning tool, launched by drinks giant Diageo, to provide consumers with the information they need to make positive decisions about drinking responsibly and tackle myths about drinking alcohol. The tool is available from today on DRINKiQ.com in the UK, US and Australia, with localised versions rolling out to 20 other countries in the coming months. The new, mobile-friendly, online tool is the first of its kind within the alcohol industry, using interactive learning and tests to give people information about: l What is in your drink – including alcohol content across different types of alcohol l What alcohol is, how it is processed and the different ways it can affect your body l How to keep track of your alcohol intake – including tips for hosting at home, or out socialising l How to pour a standard measure of beer, wine and spirits via an interactive exercise l The truth about common myths around alcohol Amanda Ursell, Nutritionist and Health Writer, said, “For those of us who choose to drink alcohol, the new DRINKiQ resource helps us understand the units and calories in all types of alcoholic drinks and shows how each drink compares with others. It is perfect for anyone who wants to better understand what they are drinking – and who seeks advice on drinking moderately and responsibly so they can make smarter choices about what to drink and when.” To access DRINKiQ e-learning, please visit https:// www.drinkiq.com/en-gb/drinkiq-course/whatsyour-drink-iq/.
Old Forester takes starring role in new Hollywood blockbuster, Kingsman: the golden circle
Old Forester, America’s first bottled bourbon, has partnered with upcoming film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle due to be released on 22nd September 2017. The film is a sequel to the 2014 instalment, and is directed by Matthew Vaughn. It stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Mark Strong, and introduces new cast members Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, and Julianne Moore. The film sees British secret service agents, Kingsman head Stateside to meet their U.S. based cousins, Statesman. Old Forester’s involvement goes beyond just product
placement– The Statesman agents are based in Louisville, Kentucky at a distillery with several of them also acting as Master Distillers. To coincide with the release of the film, Old Forester will introduce Old Forester Statesman, which will be on sale from September nationwide. Campbell Brown, President of Old Forester said, “Old Forester Statesman, the bourbon we’ve created for the film is a balanced whisky at 95 proof – it’s unbelievably smooth, with a long finish and we’re looking forward to bringing it to the UK later this year.”
Chinese create World’s Most Valuable Spirit Brands Chinese spirits brand Baijius is now more valuable than whisky/ whiskey, according to new research from Brand Finance, one of the worlds leading valuation and strategy consultancies. It revealed last year Baijiu accounted for 23% of the total brand value of the Brand Finance Drinks 50 behind Whiskey/ Whisky on 37%. However this year, the tables turned. Whiskey/ Whisky’s share has dropped to 28% while Baijiu’s has surged to 37.5%. Baijiu brands include Moutai, (which is the world’s most valuable brand) Gujing Gong Jiu the fastest growing brand this year, Wuliangye, Luzhou Laojiao and Yanghe. Now you know! Johnnie Walker remains the world’s most valuable Whiskey/Whisky brand by a considerable margin with a brand value of US$4.5 billion
MICHEL ROUX JR. AND The Balvenie has launched its second instalment of The Craftsmen’s Dinner, hosted by Michelin starred chef, Michel Roux Jr., which tells the stories of four exceptionally skilled craftspeople through a series of short films, demonstrating that true craft is not about what you make, or where you make it, but how you make it. The series follows urban cheese makers, Wildes Cheese; the familyowned car producer Morgan Motor Company, who embrace new technology whilst preserving tradition; artisan bakery Wooster’s, who restored the old family mill; and Bermondsey Street Bees, who champion food sustainability from a central London rooftop. The stories that emerge highlight the common values between the different craftspeople, Michel Roux Jr. and The Balvenie; who all share an intimate understanding of their trade and a desire to leave a mark through their produce, taking no shortcuts. Series Two of The Craftsmen’s Dinner is now live on https://www.youtube.com/ TheCraftsmensDinner
Multi-award Winning Whisky Bar and Restaurant
Multi-award Winning Whisky Bar and Restaurant
THE BALVENIE REUNITE The search is on for Experimental Bartenders
Over 300 whiskies Online whisky shop - worldwide delivery Come on down for the ultimate Scottish experience... Fresh Scottish food served all day Live Scottish music every night Come on down for the ultimate Scottish experience... 119 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG T: 0131 556 3095 www.whiskibar.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The search is on to find the World’s Most Experimental Bartender. Whisky brand Glenfiddich is looking for the next maverick to take the crown. It’s a global search by the company which hopes to recognise and reward individuals who collaborate with artists, outside of the traditional drinks world, in order to create a more surprising, inventive drinking experience. Last year, Nathan O’Neill of New York’s NoMad Hotel took the title for his collaboration with Chef John Taube. The pair co-created a new generation of cooked Glenfiddich cocktails, inspired by the sous-vide cooking technique. Following on from the success of last year, the competition requires bartenders to collaborate with a master of another field to co-create something unique, inspired by Glenfiddich. Finalists from countries around the globe, including the UK, will then be invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender Academy in Scotland, where they will compete to win the priceless opportunity of bringing their idea to life, supported by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich Global Brand Ambassador, Struan Grant Ralph, comments, “Our award-winning whiskies are sold in the world’s finest bars, existing in a space where the demand for co-creation has never been higher. This competition is an opportunity for maverick bartenders to extend the boundaries of the whisky industry – collaborating with masters outside of their trade to create an entry that meets both of their passions, while meeting the hunger for a serve that challenges the industry norm.” The search for the next World’s Most Experimental bartender starts now, with the closing date for entries in the UK being the 12th June 2017. For more details on how to enter and for the full terms and conditions of the competition, please visithttp://www.glenfiddich.com/uk/explore/ experimental-whisky. All entrants must be over 25 years old . 9
Whisky Cocktails A dram on the rocks or an adventurous whisky cocktail, how do you drink the nation’s favourite tipple?
Ingredients: • 40ml Glen Grant • Appletizer (Sparkling apple juice) Method: Fill up with sparkling apple juice. Serve in a long drink glass on ice.
dash of water will release the flavours; however many different elements of a whisky can emerge with a clever melange of cocktail ingredients. Whether it’s a fruity sherry flavoured dram, or a smooth vanilla bourbon malt, the experts know exactly which ingredients will create a whisky marriage made in heaven. So why not ask your local cocktail afficionado if he can make at least one of the drinks below. You will not be disappointed.
The Gallow Hill Flip Ingredients: • 50ml Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask- Matured • 25ml Black Isle Porter • 1 tsp Taylor’s Velvet Falernum • 1 tsp Scottish honey • 1 tsp vanilla syrup • 1 whole egg Method Shake all ingredients first without ice to emulsify egg, then with ice to chill/ dilute. Garnish: All-spice dusting with chocolate twirl Glass: Goblet
The Distiller’s Dream
Whisky aficionados across the globe have noticed a shift in attitude towards the famous amber nectar. While anything other than water or ice used to raise an eyebrow, many drinkers are now enjoying a more contemporary take on the classic dram. Speyside distillers are moving with the times, and many of them regularly create bespoke cocktails using their world-renowned products. To truly appreciate a single malt, experts advise that a
Morning Glory Fizz Ingredients: • 50 ml Glenfiddich 12 year old • 20 ml fresh lemon juice • 25 ml sugar syrup • 20 ml fresh egg white • 5 ml Absinthe Method Add all ingredients except soda to shaker. Add fresh ice and shake it hard. Once shaken strain into glass. Add fresh ice to glass, leave space for soda. Add dash of soda to bring drink to top. Garnish: Orange Wheel.
New Sense of Scotland tour takes visitors on a 180° tour of Scotland’ Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, launched the new Sense of Scotland tour at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience in May. The revamped tour, which is a specially commissioned film, takes visitors on a stunning 180° panorama bird’s eye tour of Scotland’s five whisky-making regions. Filmed throughout 2016, it also demonstrates how the landscape and geography of the country contributes towards the final flavour of different Scotch whiskies. Visitors are then introduced to the art of blending in a recreated 19th century Blender’s Sample Room. In the beautifully styled surroundings, guests are taken back to 1870 and the birth of blending in Edinburgh, delving into both the history and alchemy of Scotland’s most famous export using the latest in audio and visual technology, including unique “holodrams” that bring the art of blending to life. Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said at the launch, “We know visitors want to try authentic, local flavours and specialities and that is why attractions like The Scotch Whisky Experience are a huge draw for tourists and local people.” The popular elements of the tour remain, including the fascinating barrel ride through the whisky distilling process, and the jewel in the attraction’s crown – the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky. Susan Morrison, director and general manager at The Scotch Whisky Experience, said, “Our latest changes to the tour use different sights and sounds to bring Scotch whisky to life, whilst also giving our visitors
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs and Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, on the tour. Credit Tony Marsh.
a sense of Scotland, the stunning locations in which different whiskies are made, and how this helps to make the drink so special.” The attraction has also increased the number of languages available to 18, with the additional of Brazilian Portuguese, Cantonese and Korean. From summer 2017, the tour will also be delivered in British Sign Language and American Sign Language through screens on the attraction’s new multifunctional audio guides.
AIMING TO PLEASE AT Islay Festival of Music and Malt The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is celebrating its presence at the Islay Festival of Music and Malt with the release of three peaty single cask whiskies For those travelling to the Islay Festival of Music and Malt (Fèis Ìle 26 May – 3 June 2017), The SMWS will launch three special single cask Islay whiskies exclusively at the event. The bottles will be available, while stocks last, online at www.smws.com/ and at the Society’s UK venues from Thursday, 1 June. However, those attending the festival will have early access from Friday, 26 May. The whiskies making
up the distinguished trio of rare single cask Islay whiskies are called ‘The Crowd Pleaser’, ‘Sweet Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Jazzy Jousting Hastlitude’. Helen Stewart, senior brand manager for the Society, said, “The eyes of the whisky world will be focused on Islay for Fèis Ìleand we wanted to release some incredible single cask whiskies in honour of the event. These three special whiskies reflect the variety of flavours within our Peated and Heavily Peated flavour profiles and are sure to appeal to fans of peaty Islay whisky.”
Award winning whisky bar with over 700 malts. Restaurant offering Scottish food made from the best regional ingredients. Whisky tastings and food matching arranged.
Kilkerran Road, Campbeltown, Argyll PA28 6JL Tel: 01586 552133 email@example.com
www.ardshiel.co.uk FACEBOOK .COM /A R DSHIELHOTEL
Lochranza Hotel Country Inn
Proprietors: George & Fiona Stewart
WHISKI ROOMS BAR • RESTAURANT • WHISKY SHOP Whisky Bar of the Year 2013/2014, SLTN Awards Fresh, local, scottish produce. Over 350 whiskies, premium wines and spirits. Daily Whisky Tastings. Private dining and events. Iconic views over Edinburgh. The Mound, 4-7 North Bank Street, Edinburgh www.whiskirooms.com firstname.lastname@example.org Bar & Bistro 0131 225 7224
Whisky Shop 0131 225 1532
Snacks, Tea & Coffee, Lunches, Dinners, Fresh Local Produce, Enviable Whisky Bar, Off Sales, Accomodation Lochranza, Isle of Arran KA27 8HL Tel: +44 (0) 1770 830223 Email: email@example.com
An award winning whisky and real ale pub in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. A typical traditional pub, with a mahogany gantry loaded with more than 370 whiskies. www.thebowbar.co.uk 80 West Bow | Victoria Street | Edinburgh EH1 2HH Tel: 0131 226 7667
• 5* Trip Advisor 2013 - 2015 • 5* Trip Advisor 2013 & 2014 • Drammie • Drammie Award 2017 Award2013 2013 && 2014 • Over 130 Malt Whiskies • Cosy traditional Over 130 Malt Whiskies • Cosy traditionalbar bar 51 Barnton Street, Stirling FK8 1HH 01786 447 191 Street, Stirling FK8 1HH • 5* Trip Advisor51 2013Barnton & 2014 • Drammie www.curlycoobar.com Award 2013 & 2014 • Over 130 Malt
01786 447 191 www.curlycoobar.com firstname.lastname@example.org 51 Barnton Street, Stirling FK8 1HH Whiskies • Cosy traditional bar 01786 447 191 www.curlycoobar.com
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY? By Sean Murphy
ingle Malt is King? Right now, as a statement, that’s hard to argue with, and yet when you break it down, you quickly realise just how much of a fallacy it is. So, other than the obvious, what is the real difference between a blended whisky and a single malt? The short answer? About several million cases in sales and a good PR job. Right now, single malts are the sexier product, but this hasn’t always been the case – they aren’t even the leading selling style of whisky in many countries around the world. In fact, though they’ve seen rapid growth since their introduction in the early 60s, single malt whisky still only makes up around 25% of export sales around the world, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. Like all good pop stars, the success of single malt whisky is built upon the hard work of other artists – which in this case are blended whiskies. Sadly, much like those great artists from other mediums who do all the hard work, so others can
go on to take the fame, blends have fallen by the wayside and – particularly in the UK – have been consigned to the same bin as the age old stereotypes that say whisky is an old man’s drink. That’s why I believe the case should be made for blends – they aren’t the poor relations of single malts, mass produced to sate the demand of other nations, they are, in their own right, something to be enjoyed and ultimately lauded by our great whisky producing nation. Marketers seem to be the prime architects in the decline of these once noble drams, reducing them to coverage on the odd billboard or having them appear around Christmas time in TV ads that would look better placed in the 70s. Even single grains, under the stewardship of a certain ex-footballer, (picutred above!) are getting more limelight from whisky company marketing teams, with snazzy bottles that look like they’d be more fitting on a shelf filled with aftershave, and slick ads with young, successful people “breaking the rules” at high society parties.
FEATURE So, where is the love for blended whisky? Why can’t we match the enthusiasm of other countries around the world for brands like Johnnie Walker, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal and Dewars? A lot of it comes down to the perception that blends are the whisky of the past, the type drunk in musty old man’s clubs by old rich men smoking cigars, in Chesterfield chairs. Or, according to the potent snobbery of some corners of whisky fandom, that they are mass-produced, low-quality whiskies that are better served with mixers than enjoyed neat like single malts. As a counter argument, I’d like to challenge these beliefs. First off, like it or not, blending is an art, and master blenders are artists. Anyone who has tried to make their own blend will tell you it’s bloody hard to find the right balance, never mind create something that’s actually enjoyable, yet these men
An award winning whisky and real ale pub in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. A typical traditional pub, with a mahogany gantry loaded with more than 370 whiskies. www.thebowbar.co.uk 80 West Bow | Victoria Street | Edinburgh EH1 2HH Tel: 0131 226 7667
and women do so, and have done for hundreds of years. The idea that blends are just for mixing is even more deplorable – there are some truly outstanding examples out there that contain some truly exciting whiskies that are perfect for being enjoyed neat from a Glencairn like a single malt. Rediscovering premium blends like The Dimple Pinch, Islay Mist, Royal Salute and Chivas Regal 15 or 18 year old can be a joy to behold. Even some of the bigger brands have sharpened up their acts of late, be it Grants with their delightful cask editions, Johnnie Walker with their platinum label, or Ballantine’s with their aged range. What’s more, some more recent companies have taken up the baton and brought the blend kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Step forward Compass Box, who have created some truly outstanding expressions like their Asyla, Oak Cross and Great King St whiskies, That Boutique-y Whisky Company with their excellent regular blended releases. All good whisky fans are lovers of experiences, most are excited by the prospect of trying the next big Japanese single malt, or the latest Single Pot Still whiskey from Ireland, so why then balk at the idea of trying a blend? It seems silly to cut off this Aladdin’s cave of delightful Scotch whiskies, when it’s another level of great drams to be experienced and enjoyed, and often for a fraction of the cost of now overly-priced single malts. Blends are just the next logical step up from the marriage of single malt casks and, like single malts, range from the OK to the incredible. Besides, without the noble blend, the industry would never have been anywhere as successful as it is – they were the catalyst that turned what was once a loose collection of croft distillers into the multi-billion pound industry it is today. So, next time you’re out drinking and someone offers you a blend instead of your usual malt, don’t turn your nose up and deride them for their “terrible choice”, maybe smile and swallow your pride, accept their kind offer of a dram that probably will taste a hell of a lot better than you’ve given it credit for. n
The Port Charlotte Hotel and Bar is located in one of Islay’s most beautiful Georgian villages, and has a beach-side location overlooking Loch Indaal. Our award-winning hotel boasts 10 rooms, a bar, restaurant and conservatory, and our residents’ lounge and public bar feature open fires where guests can unwind with convivial company and of course a malt whisky. In fact we also design bespoke whisky and culture tours for small groups all year round. The bar plays host to nearly 150 Islay malts including rare ones and local ales too. As well as its own Scottish art collection the hotel also offers live music two nights a week, throughout the summer season in the bar, which creates a great atmosphere. A few years ago we won the accolade Malt Whisky Bar of the Year from the Good Pub guide while the restaurant has just picked up a Trip Advisor accolade –‘Certificate of Excellence.’ The Port Charlotte Hotel is open all year round and between October and March has an excellent dinner, bed and breakfast rate. You can be assured of a warm welcome here.
The unstoppable Blair Bowman Blair Bowman is well on his way to being the ‘Whisky Geek’ of the moment. PJ O’Neill caught up with him to find out all his news. 18
Blair Bowman is known the world over as the brains behind World Whisky Day, an idea he came up with whilst studying Hispanics at Aberdeen University in 2012. He was living in Barcelona at the time, and was only 21, but he noticed that World Gin Day was trending on social media. As an avid whisky fan he immediately searched for World Whisky Day online. To his surprise it didn’t exist, so, he snapped up the domain name, rushed off to set up a Facebook and Twitter and just two years later World Whisky Day was being celebrated through 250,000 attendees at events, across 40 countries worldwide. In 2015, Blair sold the rights to his creation and, although he remains very much involved in a consultancy role, he now has moved onto new ventures within the world of whisky - most recently he has been running unusual tasting events which involves trying whisky in dark... and he has just published a book. I put a few questions to the whisky maestro.
How do you feel about World Whisky Day now? Has it achieved what you hoped it would? “Definitely, the fact that it’s in media diaries and pretty much every major whisky brand has engaged with it. Distilleries do special things on the day and bars all over the world put on special events. It’s definitely achieved its goal of reaching new people because it was always about bringing new people in to the industry.” What did you learn? “The biggest thing I learned was to collaborate. Originally worked on my own, but everything I’m doing now is much more collaborative than just working alone. And I’ve certainly been collaborative on my first book, The Pocket Guide to Whisky: Featuring the Whisky Tube Map. How did your book come about? “I met Nikki Welch at an industry event and she’d created a wine tube map about two years ago and she showed me the map and I sort of said to her there and then, “Why isn’t there a whisky one?” So last summer we fleshed out the idea.” What exactly is it about? “It’s basically a tube map for a city; every line is a different flavour profile, every station a different distillery. It’s all based on flavour, not geography. You find the whiskies you already know and see how they relate to other ones. The idea is if you like a certain whisky then the stations on either side are going to be quite similar.” You’ve also been involved in some quite different event recently. Drams in the Dark? “That’s been my most recent experiement. Drams in the Dark are multi-sensory tasting sessions. Guests turn up and the room is in near darkness to begin with and then it becomes completely dark. We usually have five or six different whiskies and five or six different food pairings, very small, bite sized pieces of food, varied in texture, the idea being that if you shut off one sense it heightens the others.”
INTERVIEW What are the cubes you have created? I’ve created what I call Marinetti cubes. Marinetti was a futurist who wrote The Futurist’s Cookbook. He predicted that in the future we’d all touch sandpaper while eating our dinner and things like that. I’ve created these cubes with sandpaper on one face and silk on the other and I find there are always people who are very open to it and they find it makes a significant difference. “ Then what I tend to do on the final whisky is play a piece of classical music that’s got really dramatic crescendos that build up to dramatic drops that let people kind of experience the whisky in yet another way.” Have you always wanted to change people perceptions of whisky? “Some people find that whisky is an intimidating drink. It is a problem that’s more prevalent here in the UK. There’s a lot of stigma and a lot of old myths. It’s less like that abroad. They are more relaxed about it. I I think there needs to be more education about making whisky approachable because there’s definitely an intimidation factor, and that’s what I found out in the research for my book, a lot of people have one or two whiskies that they gravitate towards because they know that it’s safe but there so much out there to discover.” Do you think that the recent upsurge in new, smaller distilleries opening will help? I’ve heard there are up to 30, distilleries, either under construction or have broken ground or which will have started distilling in the next few years. It’s something I’ve been talking about quite recently, there’s almost a second tier of whiskies, that, because they’re quite small, are only going to produce so much in a year, so there’s always going to be this element of it being very limited, so I think there will be this second tier of products and that will be their Unique Selling Proposition, (USP) that they can be small scale. So the USP for a lot of them is location, why they’ve chosen to set up there, and that they are a limited production.” 20
Why did you decide to do a charity event covering 60 distilleries in one Day? I was approached by Willie Wallace who has masterminded the whole thing. He has been wanting to do this for years and has meticulously planned the route and practised it over several months. He asked me if I’d like to ‘front’ the world record attempt and I couldn’t say no when I knew that Just a Drop, the water charity that World Whisky Day has supported for several years, would receive the money raised from the charity raffle. What is your next big thing when it comes to whisky? It’s hard to say, I have a few other projects on the back burner that I believe will make a significant impact on the whisky industry when they are moved forward. So for now I’m going to be a bit coy and keep my cards close to my chest. What do you think whisky companies could do to get younger consumers more interested? Brands don’t seem to be aware that the next generation of consumers, the so called ‘millennials’, are drinking less than any previous generation. They are much more conscious of their online persona, for example they don’t want to be instagrammed getting drunk, they are also much more discerning. Brands should take heed and look at more innovative and simple ‘low abv’ serves to help bridge the gap. Drinks like whisky and ginger ale or whisky and soda water are fantastic gateway drinks into the whisky category. What do you think will be THE whisky drink of the summer? “I’m really enjoying Talisker Dark Storm, some ice and topped up with rhubarb soda. It’s lovely.” How much is your book and where can you get it? The book is £7.99 and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells and all major book shops.
Visitor centres If you would like to find out more about whisky then why not visit a few whisky distillery visitor centres this summer? Almost half of Scotland’s distilleries are open to the public so there are visitor centres galore, but we have picked out nine for you to consider:
Edradour Talisker Talisker Distillery Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8SR June to August: Daily 9:30am – 5pm Tours from: £10pp Time: 45 mins A more idyllic setting for a distillery, on the shores of Loch Harport, Skye, with views of the Cuillins, is hard to imagine. Five copper stills turn out the distinctive smoky-sweet Talisker single malt. Deep and elemental, Talisker is very much a product of its rugged, windswept home. Visit the distillery on the Minginish Peninsula, take in the dramatic views of the Black Cuillin, and discover why Talisker whisky distillery owes so much to the sea.
Edradour Distillery Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5JP April to October: Daily 10am – 5pm Tours from: £7.50pp Time: 60 mins Renowned as the smallest and most picturesque distillery in Scotland, Edradour is also one of the most visited, and for good reason. Situated roughly two hours away from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, you’ll be given the chance to tour this beautiful little distillery seeing the processes that haven’t changed since Victorian times before being given a few drams in the distillery’s old Malt Barn. Also make sure and take advantage of the distillery shop to access some of the limited amounts of excellent bottlings.
Benromach Benromach Distillery Company Ltd., Invererne Road, Forres, Moray IV36 3EB June to August: Daily 9:30am – 5pm Tours from: £6pp Time: 30 mins Benromach Distillery near the market town of Forres is part of the malt whisky trail and was bought by Gordon & MacPhail a number of years ago. At the four-star visitor centre you can see their three distillers at work as they orchestrate every second of the production by sight, sound and touch. Friendly tour guides will proudly show you around the boby mill, mash tun, 4 wooden washbacks, 2 copper stills, spirit safe, filling room, dunnage warehouses and visitor centre with many mementoes. And, of course, you can enjoy a tutored tasting of its gorgeous classic Speyside Single Malt Whisky. The distillery may be the smallest in Speyside, drawing its water from the foot of the Romach hills, but it also has one of the warmest welcomes.
ich Distillery d d fi n le G e h T Dufftown Banffshire, AB55 4DH April to October: Daily 9:30am – 4:00pm Tours from: £10pp Time: 1 hr 30 mins Founded in 1886, Glenfiddich is one of the largest, and one of the last, independent whisky distilleries in the country. More than 70,000 visitors make their way there annually. The distillery is still owned by the family of founder William Grant. Your visit begin with a short film recounting the story of the five generations of family ownership. Then you get a tour of the distillery and a visit to the still house and warehouses. The special conclusion to your visit is a tutored nosing and tasting of four world-renowned single malts. Located about a kilometre north of Dufftown, the distillery is very picturesque and boasts tall copper tuns, great wooden wash-backs and stone-walled warehouses filled with earthy, aged aromas.
rouse The Famous G The Famous Grouse Experience at the Glenturret Distillery Glenturret Distillery The Hosh, Crieff PH7 4HA
Auchentoshan Auchentoshan Distillery By Dalmuir, Clydebank G81 4SJ All Year: Daily 10am – 5pm Tours from: £10pp Time: 60 mins The closest distillery to Glasgow, Auchentoshan is a great little distillery to visit and it produces some of the country’s lightest whiskies. On the tour, you’ll get to take in the whole whisky making process including a look at that fascinating triple distillation process. You’ll also be given the chance to sample three of Auchentoshan’s own range as well as one from one of their stablemates – Bowmore or Glen Garioch.
April to October: 10am-6pm Tours from: £10.00pp Time: 60 mins The Famous Grouse Experience is located at Scotland’s oldest working distillery – Glenturret. Originally established as a single malt distillery in 1775, today The Famous Grouse Experience is the most visited distillery in Scotland (welcoming an average of 100,000 visitors every year). The distillery was fully refurbished in 2014 and was recently awarded UK Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year by Whisky Magazine. The new cafe and restaurant facilities, Wilde Thyme at Glenturret, give visitors a unique and memorable taste of Perthshire. The distillery offers the opportunity to learn how a single malt is made in the traditional way, as well as learning how some of the Glenturret single malt is then blended along with other grain and malt whiskies to create The Famous Grouse, the No. 1 whisky in the UK.
Glengoyne Glengoyne Distillery Dumgoyne, Near Killearn Glasgow G63 9LB
Laphroaig Laphroaig Port Ellen, Isle of Islay PA42 7DU March to December: Daily 9.15am – 5pm Tours from: £10.00pp Time: 60 mins Take a trip to one of the most famous distilleries around, Laphroaig, on the beautiful island of Islay. You can experience 200 years of Laphroig’s history in the museum and visit the distillery which produces one of the best known spirits in the world. The new bar which opened in April of this year is the ideal location to sample a peaty Laphroaig. Situated close to both Ardbeg and Lagavulin, you could visit all three.
March to November: 10am-6pm Tours from: £9.50pp Time: 45 mins Glengoyne distillery is just under 40 minutes from Glasgow – although you wouldn’t guess it from the views of the hills. When arriving you can enjoy a dram of the Glengoyne 12 Year Old, overlooking a lovely waterfall and, of course, the secret glen where it all began. You can follow the journey the spirit makes – through mashtun and washbacks to the swan-necks of the copper stills. You’ll discover how every ounce of flavour is captured before the spirit is sent to the cask. In the cool confines of the stone warehouse, you’ll see where the magic of maturation takes place. and how the whisky ages – from the difference the wood makes, to how the spirit deepens in colour over the years. After the tour, you might want to stroll up to the waterfall and the hidden glen – it’s a tranquil spot, the perfect end to the tour.
Isle of Arran Distill Lochranza, Isle Of Arran, KA27 8HJ
Isle of Arran Distillery, Arran’s first distillery, has a state of the art visitor centre which has recently been totally revamped to make it even more of an attraction. It’s a past winner of Scottish Field Magazine’s Visitor Experience of the Year 2014 & 2015, and its dedicated team love welcoming new and returning visitors to their home. Check out: • Its CASKS Cafe which serves locally sourced and seasonal fresh food. The ideal place to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery and panoramic views. Hot food is served until 3.30pm. •T he guided tours. The Oak, Copper and Gold Tours are all available at varying prices and you’ll learn about whisky making from the well-informed guides. • The tasting at the tour end. The fabulous exhibition which is set around a thirty-foot indoor waterfall. You can experience a little bit of history in the making. www.arranwhisky.com Opening Times: March – Nov 10-5.30pm/7 days a week 26
Father’s Day June 2017
The Glenlivet is inviting you to Say #CHEERSDAD Do something different this Father’s Day and join our celebration of fathers and father figures everywhere. Tell him what he and his legacy mean to you by sharing a message and photo and see it transformed into your very own personalised video that will be sent directly to your inbox – the perfect gift for our heroes, mentors, protectors and friends. Log onto https://www.theglenlivet. com/en-gb/fathers-day/ to find out all about it.
The Wee DRAM has selected some gifting ideas for dads that enjoy whisky.
The Glover 18yo
The perfect gift for whisky drinkers, these innovative glasses give your table setting a unique look as well as making an interesting talking point. Cleverly designed to look precariously wobbly, by Scandinavian designers, Sagaform, they’re actually perfectly balanced and large enough for a generous serving. John Lewis £20 for six. 28
Fusion Whisky and Adelphi Distillery have released a 4th edition of The Glover whisky, a fusion whisky that celebrates the achievements of “Scottish Samurai” Thomas Blake Glover, which is made from a captivating blend of Scotch and rare Hanyu whisky from Japan. The 4th Edition of The Glover sees a little more sherry cask influence than in the previous release,. The 4th released of The Glover is an 18 year old, with a 49.2% ABV. Only 1406 bottles have been produced, with an price of £145.
B enromach exclusive vintage single cask If you really want to treat someone why not splash out on a Benromach 1975 – which has just been added to the Speyside distillery’s Heritage range. Only 162 bottles are available worldwide, and with an ABV of 49.9%, this malt say the company “has hints of white pepper, cocoa and dried tobacco.” David King, International Sales Director, explains, “Our exclusive Heritage single malts celebrate different aspects of Benromach’s history and traditions. After 41 years in a carefully selected refill American Hogshead, the character is both unpredictable and intriguing. I’m confident that whisky fans will be eager
to savour this precious single malt that comes steeped in Benromach’s history.” It is presented in a bespoke decanter-style bottle with the contours and coppercolour of the neck and shoulder line depicting Benromach Distillery’s stills and it is accompanied by a hardback book which delves into Benromach’s history, as well as providing whisky fans with some fascinating stories about the craftsman who, for generations, have tended to the spirit. The limited edition Benromach 1975 is available from specialist whisky retailers at around £1,250.
T alisker joins forces with Oliver Sweeney Diageo Reserve has announced a series of premium gift packs for dads across the country. For instance its Talisker malt whisky has partnered with British shoemaker, Oliver Sweeney to create a bespoke gift set. Presented in a stylish, solid oak box the set includes a 70cl bottle of Talisker’s signature 10-Year-Old whisky and a pair of limited-edition Talisker ‘Made By The Sea’ Oliver Sweeney leather boots, accompanied by a branded sterling silver etched hipflask and traditional styled compass. Talisker is a whisky truly born of its origins on the remote Isle of Skye and this gift set has been designed with the rugged island in mind to inspire the adventurous spirit in modern malts drinkers. The gift box is available to purchase online at oliversweeney.com/talisker, Price: £595.
GlenDronach 2003 Single Cask 13 yo
The Green Welly Stop Exclusive £69.99 This GlenDronach release is the third single cask we have received from the Distillery, the previous two have both been distilled back in 2003 before this release bottled at 13 years old. This current release, we believe is the best at 56.5% vol.
THAT’LL DHU NICELY. Debate rages over the distiller’s art but one name unites devotees and dabblers alike: Tamdhu.
Arguably the world’s finest 10-year old single malt whisky; established on Speyside 1897, reborn on Speyside 2013 (in hand-selected sherry casks no less).
So, once more, all can enjoy Tamdhu’s fresh, rich, spicy notes and pure natural colour.
Go on, carpe dhuem.
Rediscover Tamdhu at tamdhu.com
Enjoy your dram responsibly.
Edinburgh played host to the Tales of the Cocktail Tour recently and there were events galore. William Grant & Sons, brand partners, kicked off the week-long event by hosting the official ‘Welcome to Scotland’ party at Edinburgh’s iconic venue, The Caves. The Scottish themed evening, brought together some of William Grant & Sons most loved brands to reinvent the dull and conventional with Monkey Shoulder, Drambuie and Glenfiddich all playing a role. During the day William Grant & Sons hosted some of the week’s most coveted seminars to share trends, ideas and insights with bartenders from all over the world while in the evenings, festival goers enjoyed (as you can see) a series of after parties, exploring the diverse local cocktail culture through brand experiences.
Vote for your favourite whisky bar
CUTTER BOAT SETS SAIL TO SING?! A restored cutter boat owned by independent scotch whisky company Murray McDavid and built in 1954, is setting out on the first ever singing voyage, taking opera ‘doon the watter’, to the marinas down the Clyde. Interestingly, the boat already has a remarkable link with singing. It was built by the father of Scottish singer Niven Miller, famous in the 1950s for his operatic style. This June, as part of Scottish Opera’s Pop-Up Tour, songs from Pirates of Penzance and Bubble McBea will be performed on board the beautifully restored Murray McDavid. Children and members of the public will be given the chance to enjoy opera on the water with the The Murray McDavid on the Clyde bringing opera to a new generation. Murray McDavid’s Managing Director, Edward Odim, is delighted to be supporting Scottish Opera’s Pop-Up Tour, ‘It’s very exciting to work with Scottish Opera and to be part of such an innovative project. I fell in love with opera when I was young and it means a great deal to me to help bring opera to others, especially children.’
Usually the boat is used to promote the Murray McDavid whisky brand; hosting whisky tastings for whisky lovers and offering trips on the River Clyde and out to the ‘Whisky Isles’ on the West Coast of Scotland. It is berthed in the heart of Glasgow, alongside the Riverside Museum, and can be hired out. If you would like more information about the Murray McDavid boat or to make a booking, please contact enquiries@ murray-mcdavid.com.
MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL FOR ERISKAY A new Midsummer whisky festival titled On the Rocks will take place on the island of Eriskay in June (24th & 25th). The festival will include the Outer Hebridean Premier of the new Whisky Galore film, which is being shown on the island seventy years after the ship ran aground. The island also boasts the Am Politician pub (named after the ) SS Politician ship in the film which will be the venue for some of the festival’s events as will the Eriskay Hall. The festival is being co-sponsored by sle of Harris Distillery and independent bottler Duncan Taylor who will serve its Whisky Galore Speyside malt and Politician blend at the Am Politician bar. Events will include sessions by Gaidhlig traditional singers from Barra and Uist, including a rendition of Gairm Na h-Oidhche by Mairi MacInnes, who features on the film’s soundtrack, as well as performances from piper and whistle player Alana MacInnes and fiddler Eilidh Shaw. Alan MacKenzie, Islands manager for VisitScotland, said, “This festival encapsulates what makes the Outer Hebrides such a draw for visitors from all corners of the globe. ‘It’s also the perfect fit that the island’s first whiskythemed festival is launched during Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology.” 33
WHISKY WORLD... 26th May – 3rd June
16th – 17th June
FÈIS ÌLE, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt All over Islay
Spirit of Skye Festival Aros Centre, Isle of Skye
Expect a warm Hebridean welcome and great craic as you explore the distilleries and sample whiskies with the island’s famous peaty flavours. Distilleries galore are participating. The festival also offers a taste of the unique island culture, with the programme featuring Gaelic and traditional music as well as events covering golf, history, natural heritage and more. There’s even a Clootie Dumpling Ceilidh! Tickets start at £12. For more information and to book http://www.islayfestival. com/online-bookings/ 10th June
Whisky and Chocolate Tasting WHISKI Rooms Shop 4 N Bank St EH1 A Whisky and Chocolate Tasting for the beginner and expert alike. Classically when chocolate has been paired with whisky- it tends to be boring plain dark chocolate. Nice enough but the organiser are doing something different this time. They have paired 4 great drinking drams with 4 very different chocolates, sourced from a local Chocolatier producing wonderful organic chocolates to delight all. Tickets £25 For more information: http:// www.whiskishop.com
This is a brand-new festival which not only celebrates great whisky but Scotland’s finest gin, beer, music and food too. Featuring major drinks brands, local experts, creative masterclasses, ceilidhs, live music, local produce and two of Scotland’s finest chefs. Whether you’re a drinks connoisseur, a food lover or simply looking for a good time with friends, there’s something for everybody at the Spirit of Skye. Tickets start at £5. You can book online at http://spiritofskye.com 17th June
Edinburgh Whisky Festival by the Whisky Lounge The Assembly Rooms 54 George Street Edinburgh EH2 2LR 12:00 – 21:00
The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh is where you can find the Edinburgh Whisky Festival, a one-day event which will delight whisky fans. Included in the price of your ticket is the sampling of whisky from all of the exhibitors. There are also some rare and more exclusive whiskies available to purchase, or you can educate your senses at whisky masterclasses. Your ticket price includes: all the whiskies sampled in the main hall. Tickets from Eventbrite at £32.14 https://
www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ edinburgh-whisky-festival2017-tickets-33885124319 1st July
Arran Malt and Music Festival Arran Whisky Distillery Lochranza Isle of Arran
Held at Arran’s only whisky distillery in Lochranza, the Malt and Music Festival is a day-long celebration of Arran’s food and drink culture. The Festival will open at 11am and entrance this year is free of charge. You will have the opportunity to take short guided tours of the distillery and there will be stalls and its famous whisky bar where you can try some rare expressions by the dram. There will also be food stalls where you can try some of Arran’s delicious local produce -the burgers are legendary! Ther are also hourly mini tastings in the Tasting Bar. The Mini Tastings in the Tasting Bar are hourly and are £15 per person. 22nd July
The National Whisky Festival The Corn Exchange,
Edinburgh. Saturday, Session 1: 12pm-3.30pm Session 2: 4.15pm-7.45pm Tickets: £40 http://nationalwhiskyfestival. scot - See Tickets, Tickets Scotland Taste whisky at over 40 stands during your 3.5 hour session .
A family business in its third generation - established 1965
* notvalid valid on on discounted items -â€“expires *not expiresJANUARY JANUARY31ST. 31st 2017 2018
Whisky retailers since 1974
we our Single Malt Scotch Whisky and make it the time-honoured way.
Using the natural ingredients, our distillers orchestrate every second of the distillation process; there are no short cuts to perfection. Every cask is hand-filled, hand-weighed and hand-stamped before maturing for many years in our traditional dunnage warehouses. Why do we make it this way? Because it creates a
gorgeous classic pre-1960s Speyside character:
beautifully balanced with a light touch of smoke. Discover more at benromach.com
Best Speyside Single Malt 12 Years and Under
please enjoy benromach responsibly.
Wee DRAM Magazine June 2017 - Issue #16