Only 60 bottles of the Diamond Jubilee scotch, made by Johnnie Walker distiller Diageo, have been produced for sale, and are being offered to known collectors of rare and expensive whiskies. Another single bottle will be given to the Queen.
Thanks for writing! Huge fan of Porters, myself. Not quite as thick as stouts, but warming on a cold day. Probably the best porter I’ve ever had was a smoked chai tea porter from Smuttynose, made for a cask festival I went to at Brazenhead bar in Brooklyn.
I’m also a huge IPA fan (of course), and Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA out of Colorado is probably my favorite.
Also a big wheat beer fan, and I’m a believer in Schneider Aventinus, and Schneider Edelwiess.
Chuck Cowdery points us to an interesting marketing tactic from Heaven Hill. In honor of the 2012 Presidential Election here in the states, Heaven Hill is releasing a bourbon for your political alignment. Meet Red State and Blue State Bourbons.
Of course, it’s all for a good cause. For every “like” each bourbon acquires on Facebook, Heaven Hill will donate $1 to the VFW Foundation. What’s more, Heaven Hill plans to track sales of each bourbon across all 50 states and use those numbers to predict the results of the upcoming election.
As Chuck Cowdery says, “the irony of both bottles containing the exact same whiskey is probably unintended.”
(FWIW - remember this isn’t the first time an American distiller has hopped on a Presidential Election to sell its whiskey. Maker’s Mark tried something similar last election cycle.
If you’re reading this, you probably like whisky. Want a chance to make some?
The Glenrothes wants to know “what’s your vintage moment.” Share your story in 1,500 words or less, and you could win a trip to Scotland to help make the 2012 vintage of Glenrothes.
This one is for the geekiest of whisky geeks. Sensory and Chemical Analysis of ‘Shackleton’s’ Mackinlay Scotch Whisky
I assume that like most hobbyists, whenever I go to a bar I have never been before, I check out their whisk(e)y and beer selection. I haven’t been going out to many new places lately (or going out for that matter, I guess), but I recently went to Bloodhound in San Francisco to watch the end of the Cal Stanford game.
The funny thing about trying to scope out whisk(e)y behind an only somewhat lit bar is that you become the reason brand and product managers stay employed. By virtue of bottle shape and bottle label, even in a dark and noisy bar you can do a pretty good job of playing “name that whisky.” This is where I found myself on that Saturday night after dinner.
On my initial pass, I did not notice anything out of the ordinary. I ordered a Blood and Sand (side note: it wasn’t an amazing cocktail, Alembic makes a killer one). On my second pass, I did another look, and saw something out of the ordinary. I asked the bartender if I could see the bottle (which I’m sure he loved on a busy Saturday night).
On the shelf was a small, slim 200ml bottle carrying some clear liquid and Japanese text. The bartender took down the bottle, looked at it strangely, and poured himself a glass.
The bar had a bottle I had never seen before! The “name that whisky” brought out quite a surprise. The whisky was a white dog version of Hitachino Nest White Ale, brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, imported by a B. United International in Connecticut. After the bartender poured himself a dram he poured me one and I took it back to my seat.
The taste? Umm. Well. I wasn’t in any position to be accurately tasting anything. It was extremely fruity (perfect for SF - hey!) and tasted like a really sharp (not smooth) white dog. I didn’t love it. I went back to the bartender after to discuss and he said he thought it tasted like ‘grappa’ - at the time I agreed.
I haven’t been back yet to retaste, but will do so at some point. Even though I didn’t love the whisky, I loved the find. So keep your eye out when you’re in a bar, you too might find a new bottle that instructs you to “PLEASE ENJOY RICH FLAVOR AND TASTE.”
Man. Where have we been? Lots of places, and this post is not where we will discuss all of that. However one of the places we have been is San Diego. The job that fuels the purchases and enjoyment of my whisky passion has had me traveling down to San Diego for the past few months. This past week I decided to make it my mission to see some daylight and enjoy the fruits of San Diego’s craft beer scene. San Diego is home to Stone Brewing, Green Flash, and Ballast Point, makers of the phenomenal Sculpin IPA.
At Ballast Point, I enjoyed the mighty Sculpin, a seasonal wet hopped ale called Schooner, and a sour ale called Sour Wench. Most interesting is that I struck up a conversation with Chris who was working the taproom, and we got talking about BP’S distillery operations. They already make some rum and gin, so I asked about whisky. Turns out we are about a month or so away from the release of some Ballast Point whiskey - both bourbon and a whisky version.
It has already been aging about 5 years and the release will be in the couple of hundreds of bottles - think even less than the Anchor Hotaling release. Color me excited. The picture above was snapped of the whisky barrels aging in the Ballast brewery when Chris turned around.
This all but lost “rare old” recipe for blended Scotch whisky is a tale of two expeditions—one to bring it to its frozen resting place beneath the floor boards of the base hut located at Cape Royds, Antarctica, and a second one to recover it from there. Ernest Shackleton was one of the great explorers of his age and was able to secure not only funding for the 1907 Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole (provided in part by Edward Guinness of the Irish brewing family), but also provisions of whisky from the Mackinlay blending company plus quite a bit of brandy. Shackleton’s story of adventure, strife, discovery, and leadership (and boozing) has been recounted much lately, and so here I’ll focus on the results of the expedition undertaken by Al Fastier and his team from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust to examine and conserve the 33x19 ft. Cape Royds base hut. They continued Shackleton’s story by unearthing (de-icing?) the crate containing 23 bottles of a style of blended scotch that was popular during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. But the story goes on from there…
While the histories of archaeology and whisky do have overlaps through time, rarely has there been such a clear and away and intruiging case of this as the discovery of Shackleton’s lost bottles. But because they are archaeological finds first and foremost (legally, anyway), their recovery was of potentially limited value to whisky drinkers— I mean, you can’t simply open, serve, and ingest an archaeological artifact. But maybe if you’re Richard Patterson, master blender at Whyte & Mackay, you can…. Under UNESCO international heritage law no artifactual find can be removed from its country of origin unless it is an approved sample for scientific purposes. Well, the Antarctic Heritage Trust responsible for the preservation of Antarctic material culture, based in New Zealand, worked with Whyte & Mackay (who became the owners of the Mackinlay brand) until they were able to reach a deal in which three of the artifacts in question could be treated as scientific samples.
And thus began a process similar to what can be termed ‘experimental archaeology.’ Generally, a researcher engaging in this approach to archaeology will find an artifact (or building, etc.) and attempt to duplicate it, using what they perceive to have been the tools and methods available to the ancients, and trial and error until the end product is identical (or nearly so) to the artifact. Thusly, this generates a better understanding of the ancient processes of production (and so, the true end result is not the duplication, but the knowledge gained from achieveing it). With the Mackinlay’s bottles, Richard Patterson and his crack team may have been interested in discovering the nuanced differences between whisky production a hundred years ago and today…
But the true end goal here was to create what is certainly no longer available— the early 20th century Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky that Ernest Shackleton provided to his expedition and stored beneath the floor of his base hut. Ten of the eleven bottles that the conservation team thawed in New Zealand were perfectly intact, enabling Patterson’s team to engage in an effective combination of laboratory, visual, and olefactory analyses.
By looking at the “cask extractives” present in the liquid Patterson was able to determine that Mackinlay’s aged the scotch in sherry-seasoned, American white oak casks. Through the chemical components of the phenols present the lab team discovered that the peat was cut from bogs in the Orkney Islands (home to the Highland Park distillery). In order to reproduce the flavours and aromas detectable in the original spirit, Whyte & Mackay blended various Highland and Speyside malts such as Glen Mor and Dalmore, as well as several others, that had been aged anywhere from 8 to 30 years. I’ve heard that the very lucky few who were able to taste the original(!), such as Dave Broom, have indicated that the replica does indeed live up to Shackleton’s own.
Both stories go on well past this point, and I implore everyone to delve further into both of them as well as other experimental booze recreations (such as Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch, for instance). But it’s time to raise a glass and taste some history. We’d like to thank the good people at Whyte & Mackay for providing the sample, but also Matt and Karen at WhiskyForEveryone for going through all the trouble to send it from the UK to sweet home Chicago. Cheers guys.
Color: Pinot Grigio
Legs: average; slow but oddly big for the abv.
Nose: creamy and musty, with fleshy plums, white chocolate, sweet peat, ferns or moss, a little pepper, and distinct lemony notes. Water brings out some floral notes.
Palate: orange pulp, toasted malt, spices (white pepper), a good bit of peat ember, and maybe a hint of lavendar. Smoky.
Body: substantial, sweaty, and weighty.
Finish: medium or more, with sweet roasted peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Overall: As Matt (of WFE) mentioned to me, it stands up on its own, but it’s the story/ies of its recovery and recreation that set this historical recipe apart. But with a second tasting I gotta say that I really kinda like this thing, and I wish I had a full bottle. It’s interesting and exciting, but it also intrigues and satisfies with a citrus-and-smoky combination that highlights a fairly complex dram. Good work all around, in my opinion.
Other Opinions: As this is a blend of several Highland and Speyside single malts, there’s enough going on to give everyone plenty to write about. But the weighty, smoky style that Patterson recreated is apparent to all.
- Domonic Roskrow, at Malt Advocate, likes the lemony, smoky nose and the full, citrusy, peaty, and peppery palate, giving it a 92.
- The Whisky Boys give it 4 out of 5 “corks,” citing the fruit, smoke, vanilla nougat, a bit of chocolate, and “a touch of pepper.”
- Gal at Whisky Israel calls the crisp apple, toffee, smoked leaves, and “apricots dipped in rose water” on the nose with a powerful, smoky, and fruity palate of tea leaves with prunes and dark chocolate “splendid stuff.”
- Yossi at the JSMWS sees a Springbank mixed with bourbon-aged Port Ellen and finds it “well balanced, composed and thoroughly delicious.”
- And finally, our comrade in blogging, who made this post possible, Matt at WhiskyForEveryone does a masterful job (as usual) bringing you up to speed about the background of the original Mackinlay’s blend. He gets a lot out of this replica, giving the nose a moment to unveil layers of vanilla, butterscotch, green and tropical fruits, walnuts, burnt sugar, musty peat smoke, et al. Then for the palate Matt notes a tangy sweetness followed by creamy richness and then peat smoke and wood spice. ”A good dram in its own right.” I’m starting see the walnut really come through on the nose, now that you mention it.
Reminder: Thanks to Villeroy and Boch, to win a set of Villeroy and Boch glasses, insert your whisky and tweet: “Thanks @whiskyparty and @villeroyundboch Send me a glass and I will raise it and drink “
Villeroy and Boch Single Grain Lowlands Whiskey Tumbler
The box for this Villeroy and Boch whisky tumbler lists the whisky for which it is meant. It reads, “For light, mellow and fresh-tasting Scotch Whiskies with a fine fruity aroma to strong bouquet, such as Single Grain Whisky and Lowland Single Malt Whisky.” For this review, I used the triple distilled lowland Auchentoshan Classic single malt whisky at 40%ABV.
Size/Shape : The whisky tumbler edges out the Glencairn glass in height by about half an inch, and it is ALL bell, with a base that is only about 3/4 of an inch thick. The glass does look like a wine glass, though with a smaller mouth (the mouth itself is larger than the Glencairn glass, though).
Feel : Though it is mostly the bell that defines the glass, it does not feel dainty, rather it feels fairly hefty, solid and well crafted.
Drinking : Wow! Check out the nose on that Auchentoshan. It brings the muted nose from the Glencairn to sharp relief. And you have a huge bell from which to swirl and check out the legs. With the wider mouth, you can also stick your nose INTO the glass easier, even when sipping, which is nice. The whisky flows smoothly and slowly to the front of your mouth, delivering all the delicious baking spice, fruit, and butterscotch that you would expect from the nose.
Overall : Since receiving these glasses, I have gone back to this Lowlands glass continuously. The large bell really gives life to whiskies, and it’s a solid feel in your hand. The only things it has against it are that it’s hard to know how much whisky to pour into it (since it’s large), and it doesn’t really look like a whisky glass. The other single malt tumblers from the Villeroy and Boch collection look similarly shaped, with just shorter walls and less of an inward angle. At $50 for two, they are still an investment, but they help provide a tremendous amount of enjoyment of your whisky. If you have to choose, I would think that this tumbler might be the best investment out of the collection, just because of the greater bell size.
note: A big thanks to Debbie at Villeroy & Boch for sending us a few glass samples and for letting us give a pair of these glasses away to a reader. We apparently just like giving things away. If you want to be in the running, tweet us by 5 PM Sunday, June 12th, with the whisky you’ll be drinking with the glassware. We’ll figure out someone to send them to and DM you.
We like drinking whisk(e)y here. A lot. It seems the more you appreciate whisk(e)y, the more you care about glass out of which you drink. There are regular rocks glass, a gibraltar glass, a snifter, or one of any number of specialty glasses. These specialty glasses are the kicker, though. As I have gotten more into whisk(e)y, the glasses have brought a great deal to my experience. They have even helped my friends, as I can gift great glasses to them and hopefully help bring them the same geeky enjoyment I get out of whisky. It seems the standard nowadays is the Glencairn glass (Malt Advocate’s Industry Leader of the Year), and I both own and have gifted a few. But as whiskey becomes more popular, glasses and competitors to the Glencairn follow.
Villeroy & Boch, a publicly traded German ceramics/glassware company dating from 1836 (with individual origins back to 1748) sent us a few glasses to try out. With Father’s Day coming up on June 19th, they wanted to bring attention to the fact that their glasses could make a fine gift (and not to get too salesy, because I honestly hate that and it’s not what we’re about, but in looking for links for this post, I just discovered that their online store currently has all the glass pairs on sale for $28 with free shipping which makes these pretty awesome). They sent us the Canadian Whisky Tumbler from the American Bar series, a Single Malt nosing goblet and a Single Grain Lowlands Whisky Tumbler from the Scotch Whisky collection. All in all, these were three glasses out of their collections that contain 13 different specialty glasses and 3 different carafes.
Upon immediate impression after opening the box, the Villeroy & Boch glasses are large. And I mean huge. Check out the picture above. They dwarf other whisky glasses. They feel extremely nicely weighted and solid in the hand, but wow, they seem large. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing obviously, but when you’re used to somewhat dainty Glencairn glasses or heftier mid-height rocks glasses, these glasses do take you aback. The Single Malt glass and tumbler are more akin to wine glasses and the Canadian whisky tumbler is like a quadruple shotglass with a gorgeous weighted base. The glasses look extremely impressive, well crafted, and for lack of some better words, enticingly fancy next to your bottles of whisky. I will place up an individual review of each glass this week, but want to do this overall post so as not to make these too long. You can see a sneak peak of each of these glasses in the picture above (along with some of their specialty glass peers). In order, they are the Villeroy and Boch Single Malt Nosing Goblet, the Villeroy & Boch Canadian Whisky Tumbler, the Villeroy & Boch Lowlands Single Malt Whisky Glass, the Celtic Malts Spirits Glass, the Riedel Vinum Single Malt Whiskey Glass, and the Glencairn Nosing Glass.
I decided to review these glasses using (for the most part) the whiskies for which they called. For each glass, I also used a control of a Glencairn glass (my normal tasting glass) in order to compare and contrast. Overall, though I thought them a bit funny at first because of their size, I liked them a lot. They truly look and feel extremely impressive and step up the whisky glass game in a big way (they easily dominate the Riedel single malt glass). Though I like the look and feel of the Canadian whisky tumbler, I don’t think it’s a great whisky vehicle and aside from looking/feeling awesome, not worth the price of admission. I would gladly recommend both the Single Malt Nosing Goblet and above all, the Lowlands Single Grain Whisky glass. They both deliver an outstanding whisk(e)y drinking experience that I was surprised I did not get through the Glencairn. At $50 a pair, they are not cheap (and cost more than many bottles of the good stuff that we review), but they really do add a great deal to the whisk(e)y tasting experience and would make a great Father’s Day gift (or any gift, really - one of those things that you would love and want but probably don’t want to pay for yourself). Update: Based on the current store price of $28 a pair, I wholeheartedly recommend you jump on them. Please check back later this week for the individual review for each glass.
Well, the title speaks for itself. Without further ado, here’s some of the very best facial hair of WhiskyFest:
I honestly didn’t know if I would survive Whisky Week: six days of thoughtful tasting, hearty eating, and outright shameless boozing. But with a little bit of restraint I was able to navigate through the myriad of scotch sessions, whiskey dinners, and partying all the way to Friday’s Whisky Fest. And then beyond to the Ardbeg Committee meeting on Saturday (Alligator!). And was it ever worth it. I’ll be writing a series of posts covering the various angles of the main event and the week that led up to it, but here I’ll start with a basic review of some of the more interesting tables at Whisky Fest. For those who care not for elaboration, let me say now that it was awesome. Let me also thank Ms. Joan McGinley at Malt Advocate for providing a press pass (no, I didn’t pay to go, but now that I know how cool it was, I honestly would have had I the extra cash and been without such… esteemed press credentials).
I’ll begin at the chronological beginning, when I waltzed in for the VIP hour. Since the line for Simon’s Laphroaig (and Ardmore) table was already of significant length and girth, I decided to steer toward more open waters (of life). …Where I found some of my favourite whiskies of the nite. While I did my best to remain coherent (yes, un/fortunately I did some spitting), some of my tasting notes were definitely of the dubious variety and I’ll be quoting here from my notepad to ensure proper reporting of the WF experience, nonsense and all.
After enjoying talking with John Glaser about Compass Box and especially their aged grain whisky, Hedonism, which I certainly recommend to anyone as an educational experiment, I found the Old Potrero Rye (think Anchor Brewing) table.
The Old Potrero 18th Century expression uses both new and used toasted oak barrels; I found the nose nice and jammy, the mouth complex with butterscotch laid over an array of spices, and the finish excellent with rye bread and caraway seed. A real treat, and highly recommended.
The BenRiach 1995 Single Cask, peated and finished in a Pedro Ximenez sherry butt, was a rare bottle that went quickly. Subtle smoke on an oddly muted nose was easily upstaged by “grilled cherries” (what?), creamy vanilla, and a touch of smoke on the palate. The 1995 Glendronach PX was perhaps a better vehicle for the sticky sherry finishing, sporting a waxy nose with crayons and “something from my youth” (yikes) plus a jammy palate with sticky sweets.
During the VIP hour I was able to try both of the new Octomore releases—v. 2.0 and the Orpheus v. 2.2. At 140 ppm phenol content, the v. 2.0, aged in ex-bourbon barrels, tasted of burnt, buttered biscuits with a “real rubber fire” on the nose. The Orpheus, however, is aged in those same barrels but finished in Chateau Petrus casks. And wow: a smokey, fleshy, fruity, and briney nose plus viney, winey, and sutbly fruity flavours that build on the palate toward an intense rush of smoke that takes over on a wave of anticipation. Great stuff. Too bad it’s such a limited release, but that’s why we go to Whisky Fest, afterall.
The Wemyss offerings were all fairly interesting, including the “Speyflower” 21, distilled at Tormore (grassy, lemony nose; chocolate and toffee on the palate; light yet rich somehow), and the “Smoke Bluff” 12, distilled at Caol Ila (salty and fruity nose with a hint of bbq; a nuttier, phenolic palate). Good people.
And then at some point in the evening I took a reprieve and enjoyed the relatively lavish feasting options, including pulled pork, carved butt of beef, various fancy salads, other fancy stuff, and a whopper of a chocolate bar (cake, fudge, other types of chocolate, different chocolate things, etc.).
Well, although some of the best bits of the night are yet to come, I’ve gotten to a good stopping point both chronologically and thematically. And so that will do it for the first installation of my Whisky Fest coverage… but in about a week I’ll be revisiting some of the best, rarest, and most unreleasedest whiskies of the nite. Up next: the mustaches of Whisky Fest (and the hot women who could care less)!
In times of triumph an industry will tend to diversify and become as proliferate as possible, and whisky has seen a resurgence over the last few decades that has led to wild experimentation, brand expansion, and global extension. It is in this context that I tend to think about all of the finishings and other bizarre experiments (e.g., Octomore) now prevalent within the Scotch whisky industry. But another approach is to wonder if the more standard ex-sherry and ex-bourbon aging are just happenstances of history, and that the success of whisky sales is starting to correct these contingencies.
As Dalmore’s Mackenzie expression, named after the clan that once held ownership over the distillery, is aged for 11 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then another six years in Port pipes (a beverage that I’ve enjoyed since I was too young to legally talk about drinking it), I’ve taken this opportunity to muse about whether interesting agings and finishes are a welcome extension of the basic scotch repetoir or a money grab that defies the tradition and integrity of the whisky industry. But, like any good scotch drinker, at the moment of sipping all of these intellectual wanderings become moot and I realize that it just comes down to the whisky— everytime. I’m happy to have the opportunity to review this rare (and not cheap) offering by Dalmore; thank you to Laura Baddish and the Baddish Group for providing samples.
Color: when held up to the light there’s a purplish tint to this intruiging dram.
Legs: nice viscous droplets, but not so many of them.
Nose: fruity but weighty; loads of bramble, haws, clementines, blueberries, and well-oiled leather couches. Water brings out a comforting wine-cellar mustiness and fleshy stone fruits.
Palate: warm spices, cocoa, and drier fruits at first, with a touch of smoke, and then sweet fruit leather, and a warm, viscous cherry-pie filling. With water it is more chocolatey, with oranges slices up front, and still with a hint of cherries as it moves along.
Finish: spicey and oaky, but also resiny with marmalade; good length.
Overall: a fair question: does the extra Port aging add complexity or mask it, and can we tell whether it was intended to add depth to the spirit or to just add a big, exagerated flavour? Here it seems to complement the rich fruitiness of the Dalmore style, and it also lets the drier fruit and spices shine through. Nevertheless, it is quite Port-y and lively. But really, it tastes much like you’d expect a Dalmore to—a combination of rich, juicy, and dried fruit with spices and oranges—and the Port aging seems to give it an extra bit of a juiciness. It’s an expensive, limited edition bottling (only 200 bottles here in the US), and at $150-200 it’s more for the lux crowd than the budget-conscious drinker, but still worth the price of a dram in a bar or for a special occaison perhaps.
Other Opinions: all the usual suspects get all the usual suspects, plus some ginger notes and richness. There’s a lot of reviews out there, but here’s a handful of them:
- Ruben at WhiskyNotes had some similar thoughts as myself (citrus, spices, fruit), but also noted ginger, etc., giving it an 86/100.
- John Hansell gives it a 91, getting toffee, molasses, caramelized nuts, pancake batter, fig cake, and chocolate-covered citrus, with ginger, orange marmalade, and a polished oak and tobacco finish.
- Scotch Hobbyist likes the versatility and the extra kick compared to other Dalmores; finds oak, spices, and cherries on the finish and gives it a 90.
- Richard at Whisk(e)y Apostle says it’s a “must try,” noting the orchard fruits, ginger, smoke, sweet fruit, and chocolate.
Is that really a bottle of Green Spot? What? How did I get a bottle of Green Spot? I live in San Francisco. That’s nigh on impossible.
Let’s just say that good people know that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, writing and drinking whiskey. And those good people might have traveled to Dublin recently and thought, screw the postcard, let’s get this bottle of whiskey, drink half, and then give it away. Warms the heart, don’t it?
I’ll do a proper review later, but am pretty excited about the score of this limited pot-still Irish Whiskey. If anyone wants a taste themselves, best comment below (i.e., one that makes me laugh the most) will get sent a sample. Really. I’ll contact you based on the email that you put in when you write your comment.
Nose : slight paint thinner. overripe peaches. a touch of vanilla. honey.
Palate : very well balanced. some might say smooth. immediate sugary bananas. that vanilla is still there. caramel. a bit of green fruit. no astringency whatsoever.
Finish : a puckering sweet burn. with fruit cake and wood. some spearmint is in there, too.
Overall : This is a really tasty whiskey. It’s not the best I’ve ever had, nor the most complex. But it is sweet, gentle, tasty, and has more behind it than burn. It’s a whiskey that is approachable by people who aren’t into whiskey.
With Chicago WhiskyFest this weekend, I realized I never posted about some of the giveaways from the 2010 WhiskyFest. Last WhiskyFest, I posted about all the SWAG (stuff we all get) I got in 2009. And there was a LOT of really great stuff to be had. Obviously these festivals are more about the whiskies (which I do think took the highlight this year), but it still doesn’t hurt to give away some stuff to establish a brand connection with your consumer. For this year’s WhiskyFest, I aimed to collect SWAG again, but really wanted to do it in more of a laid back way (I do believe I drank too early and drank too often back at the 2009 event - it made me anything but laid back). So, this year I actually got less SWAG. Is it a sign of companies cutting back? Or maybe it’s just a sign that I probably made a big fool of myself back in 2009. Either way, the take from the evening is below, using the same categories from last year’s post.
The 2010 SF WhiskyFest Awards are - 1)The Most Creative Swag, 2)The Most Useful Swag and last but not least, the highly sought after 3)The Best Swag of WhiskyFest 2010. Now without further ado…
The Most Creative Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010 Award Goes To…
Dalmore / Whyte and MacKay for their Fake Nose/Eyeglasses.
So, though this is a pretty useless piece of SWAG, it’s dead on with message. Whyte and Mackay have been doing some great things lately (see Shackleton’s whisky, the Dalmore MacKenzie) and their brand at this point revolves around the charismatic Richard Paterson, or “The Nose”. Their master blender is a force with which to be reckoned in the whisky world, and drawing attention to it while providing some levity is quite creative. Congratulations to you on your award for The Most Creative Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010. The other item pictured here is the tote bag from Malt Advocate magazine that come with entrance to the festival.
The Most Useful Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010 Goes To…
Dewar’s for their Cigar Case, Cigar Cutter, and branded Zippo lighter.
Apparently Dewar’s wants to be known as a cigar malt. They really want you to smoke cigars while you drink their malt. Maybe it’s me, but I think that represents a bit of the old guard mentality as to who is actually enjoying and drinking whisky. However, giving this out as SWAG at a festival is pretty awesome. A real zippo lighter as a giveaway (and not even a sign your name for some marketing type giveaway) is quite generous. I don’t even smoke and I’m psyched to have this - it went right into my camping gear bag (with, obviously some lighter fluid and extra flint). Congratulations to you on your award for The Most Useful Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010.
The Runner-Up for The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010 Goes To…
Malt Advocate for giving every registered user a Glencairn glass from which to drink (2 Years Running Award Winner)
When you’re running around trying to appreciate different whiskies, it really makes a big difference to have something appropriate from which to drink. MaltAdvocate giving every attendee a respectable glass from which to drink really draws a stark differentiation between it and other festivals. It’s fun that I now have a glass that says WhiskyFest 2009 and one that says WhiskyFest 2010. I feel it helps me remember my time there and shows that the festival appreciates my attendance as much as I appreciate the festival. MaltAdvocate should continue to be recognized for taking this step at their festivals, and that is why they are the Runner-Up to the Best Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2010.
And The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010 Goes To…
Ardbeg, for Providing Everyone Attending their Free Masterclass with Ardbeg New Make.
Should whisky really be considered SWAG at a Whisky Festival? Well, when Ardbeg brings the goods like they did, then I would say yes. At their workshop, they let everyone try a single cask from 1974, and some Ardbeg New Make. New Make?!? 68.7 percent New Make right off the still?!?!? When else would we ever be able to try something like that in America? The fact that they freely gave it out, along with tastings of a single cask offering from 1974 really stands out. Most other companies just taste you through their standard lineup. Ardbeg changed it up in a very unique and generous way for the American market. For this, they win the Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2010.
There were other SWAG items (pictures below) including pens and keychains (worthy repeats from the Glenrothes and newcomer Amrut), but overall less SWAG than last year. One has to think that companies are putting their money into making better whisky, or I covered a lot more ground and got a lot more stuff when I had more to drink.
I look forward to the next one in October. Thanks to all the whisky companies and Malt Advocate for providing such a great event.