January 7, 2006
...is a vote for freedom. Or something like that. Here's the deal - The Scotch Blog has been nominated for an award from the Accidental Hedonist in the "Best Blog Covering Wine, Beer or Spirits" category. Don't worry - we're not bitter that we weren't even nominated. Really. Not at all.
Anyway, we think Kevin does a great job keeping us posted on the doings that are transpiring in the world of Scotch, so head on over to the Accidental Hedonist and throw him a vote. How could you not, after everything he's done for you? Plus, there are a bunch of other categories too, so if you're a foodie, vote for your other favorite blogs too. Make sure to get your vote in before midnight PST on January 18, otherwise you're SOL.
December 29, 2005
Sometimes a story comes along that sort of makes things click into place. Kevin over at The Scotch Blog just got his hands on a copy of the "The Blue Label Book," a large and expensive treatise from Diageo, the folks who own Johnnie Walker Blue. It's big. It's blue. It's expensive-looking. It's supposed to make rich people want to buy an expensive Scotch. But here's the problem...it doesn't actually say anything about Scotch.
It is a beautiful piece of work with a tri-fold blue linen cover and gold-edged pages. It has one of those built-in ribbon bookmarks generally reserved for bibles and great master-works. Yet, it is singularly uninteresting - whether to a Scotch aficionado like myself, or to a busy CIO of a Fortune 50 company, like the original recipient.
Let me quote from the Introduction:
"You are holding something rare. It's called the Blue Label Book and it's brought to you (personally) by the ultimate luxury Scotch, Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Rare because, like the whisky itself, we feel only a select group of individuals worldwide are capable of appreciating what the pages of this strictly limited-edition Blue Label Book have to offer.
The book goes on to show the "best seat in the house" for a number of worldwide venues - various theaters, opera houses, restaurants and the like, interspersed with paintings of well-dressed, beautiful people enjoying (presumably) Johnnie Walker Blue.
There are only four paragraphs on a single page that refer to Scotch in the entire book.
Well to be honest, I may well be wrong about that as I quickly became bored with the book and put it aside. The high-powered exec that this book was originally meant for (presumably to mesmerize him into buying a $200+ bottle of Blue) didn't even give it a second glance.
Why would Diageo spend so much money to put out a book about Scotch that's not about Scotch? We're guessing it's so they can justify the price tag. "We have to charge $200 for it...did you see our marketing budget!?"
If you need us, we'll be drinking our White Horse, getting ready for New Year's. You can read the rest of the story at The Scotch Blog.
December 6, 2005
There's been a lot of buzz out there lately about hugely expensive bottles and/or casks of Scotch that have become available. We should know...we covered Johnnie Walker's $27,000 bottle (or was it $28,000?) a while back. We're pretty sure we'll never be able to afford that level of high-end booze (it's OK...we're drinkers, not collectors anyway), but we didn't really think about what these bottles had to say about Scotch and the people who drink it. However, we just found a very thought-provoking piece from Kevin over at The Scotch Blog that puts these kinds of promotional bottles and their possible impact into light.
He mentions a bottle of $48,000 Glenfiddich, the $28,000 Johnnie Walker, bottles Dalmore 62 that went for $44-$55,000, and is concerned about the perspective it puts on Scotch drinkers on the whole and how Scotch is perceived.
While I understand that positive exposure and free press are a great thing, in this context, and in my estimation, it simply reinforces the widely held misconception that Scotch is for silly old rich men, Dot Com millionaires or Traders with expense accounts.
I wonder if there is a correlation between the release of the "most expensive" stories and a noticeable increase in sales? I also wonder if such stories have the effect of solidifying any "for the old & stodgy" perception that Scotch may have amongst the general public.
Read the full story, along with interviews of notable Scotch luminaries, at The Scotch Blog
. While you're at it, we'll be plowing through a bottle of White Horse in protest.
November 6, 2005
Yes, you read that right...$27,000. We're not exactly cheapskates, but we can't imagine buying a bottle of whisky that costs more than our car. The scotch, which was put together to commemorate the "200th birthday" of founder Johnnie Walker, is a blend of nine rare types of whisky.
Only 200 bottles of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label 1805 Anniversary Pack have been produced as a tribute to the founder, John Walker. The blend is made from whiskies at least 45 years old and come predominantly from distilleries that no longer exist.
Another interesting point is that this scotch isn't really meant to be drunk - it's meant to be bought by collectors and kept in a safe. We ask you...where's the fun in that? For more information about the 1805 blend, read the article at Drinks Business Review
, and learn more about Mr. Walker himself at Johnnie Walker.com
November 4, 2005
86 Proof, 16 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch
$40 plus for 750ml (Update: $40 was a misprint...we meant to type $100 plus. But what's $60 more for good scotch, right?)
Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Initial Thoughts: We've said it multiple times that all scotch tastes the same to us, and it just so happens that we like that taste, but we had an experience last week that made us eat our words. After dining in a local pub, we asked our server to bring us a scotch we'd never tried before and he instantly perked up. He said he had one variety he liked so much he bought a bottle for the bar because he felt so strongly that they should stock it. He brought it to us, and we couldn't understand what he said when he told us the name. After some back and forth we turned on our hearing aids and realized he was saying "Lagavulin."
We took one whiff and we were instantly in love with the stuff before even taking a drink. Lagavulin is an Islay scotch, a region known for creating peaty whisky, but this stuff had a deep peat smell the likes of which we'd never experienced, and a rich amber color. Between the two, we were given the warm feeling of a campfire. The taste was a combination of sweetness and smoke, and very rugged, sticking around long after we swallowed. We made our server write down the name for us so we could use it for our first scotch review.
Cocktail Recipes: Bite your tongue!
Finishing Thoughts: We'd never had an Islay whisky before, but we've read about it and we're familiar with names like Laphroaig, another scotch from the region. And while we loved Lagavulin, we're scotch novices, so we got in contact with Kevin Erskine, the man who wrote the book on single malt scotch. He was kind enough to share a few thoughts with us, which we've included below:
There has long been a religious war of sorts between fans of Lagavulin vs. Laphroaig, though the discussion is much like the Coke versus Pepsi debate -most people couldn't tell the difference between the two in a blind taste test. As a result either can be considered to be a definitive Islay malt. For example Michael Jackon gives Lagavulin higher points, while Jim Murray gives a slight edge to Laphroaig.
That being said The Lagavulin IS excellent - garnering 99 points from the Beverage Tasting institute, 97 points from Wine Spectator and 95 points from Michael Jackson. This is a whisky to work your way up to. The peat can overwhelm the average palate, and the finish is smoky and sustained. It's been said so much, it's almost a cliche - Lagavulin is an acquired taste, people either love it or hate it.
Well, we're novices and we loved it. Kevin also went on to note that there is a shortage of the Lagavulin, which we assume contributes to higher prices and could make it tough to find. But if you do find it, especially in a bar where you can order by the glass, we recommend you give it a try.
For a plethora of information about a wide variety of scotch whiskies, visit Kevin's site, The Scotch Blog.
October 28, 2005
We keep hearing whispers about Jon, Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky. And honestly, everything we hear, we like. We've also checked out their website, and while we don't always believe everything we read on the Web, we like the cut of their jib. For one thing, they consider their scotch to be "whisky with jeans on." For two, they recommend enjoying their whisky with a burger and fries, instead of foie gras or whatever else you might expect scotch drinkers to eat.
According to their recent press release:
The whiskies will appeal to family and friends who like the idea of trying something which has become a favourite amongst industry insiders. Jon, Mark and Robbo have a refreshingly simple approach to whisky drinking: “We believe our whisky is the best there is for us and the great thing is we’ve chucked out the rule book, so drink it where you like, when you like and how you like, it’s for enjoying not worshipping,” says David ‘Robbo’ Robertson.
We like the sound of it, and we've heard talk that Jon, Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky is available here in the states. We haven't seen any of the three varieties - The Rich Spicy One, The Smooth Sweeter One, and The Smokey Peaty One - in our liquor store yet, but we'll keep looking.
Read the full press release here, or learn more at Jon, Mark and Robbo's site.
Update: We found a list of liquor stores that carry Easy Drinking Whisky, currently only in California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, and Texas, at The Scotch Blog.
October 20, 2005
The Instant Expert's Guide to Single Malt Scotch
Vital Stats: 68 Pages of information on single malt scotch, from malted barley to mouth
Author: Kevin Erskine
Publisher: Doceon Press
Typical Price: $8.95 at Amazon
Initial Thoughts: When it comes to the world of scotch, we've always been on the outside looking in. Because of our scotch inexperience we never felt confident enough to go out and buy a bottle of the good stuff, and because we weren't confident we remained inexperienced. That's not to say we didn't enjoy a nice glass every once in a while, on a recommendation or a whim, but single malt scotch wasn't something we were comfortable buying.
That's why we read Kevin Erskine's book from cover to cover the moment it arrived in our mailbox. It's a slim book, but chock full of all kinds of information, including things you would expect like whisky basics to how and where scotch is made. The book is filled to the rim with interesting facts we'd never encountered before about the origins of scotch, and a discussion of distilleries by region. One of our favorite pieces of trivia was about the symbiotic relationship between scotch and bourbon (here's a hint: it has something to do with the barrels they're aged in).
Continue reading: "Instant Expert's Guide to Single Malt Scotch Review"
October 11, 2005
Trying to get into the world of scotch, but scared off by the drink's hoity-toity image? Enter Monkey Shoulder, a blend of three scotch whiskys bottled in a small batch of bourbon casks. They're calling it a "triple-malt," and this drink seems specifically designed to be entry-level. We're not sure how widely available it will be, nor can we find American prices, but they had us at "Monkey Shoulder." Learn more at MonkeyShoulder.com.
Plus, if you want to bone up on scotch so you can do your kilt-wearing friends and family proud, take a look at the Instant Expert's Guide to Single Malt Scotch.
We found Monkey Shoulder via Luxist
October 9, 2005
There are a few movie scenes that are truly classic - the goodbye at the end of Casablanca, the wedding sequence in the Godfather, the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars. And then there are some movie scenes that are indelibly burned on the retinas of men everywhere - the train scene in Risky Business, the threesome in Wild Things, the fridge scene in 9½ weeks.
But one of the biggest cultural icons among sexy movies scenes has to be the interview scene with Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. Even now, 13 years later, you can mention that movie to nearly anyone, and they will know exactly what scene you're talking about. William Lawson's Scotch is betting on this with the release of their new TV ad called "Scottish Instinct."
In the video, Stone and a companion are in the lobby of a swanky hotel, and a young scotsman in a kilt sits down across from them. What happens next is a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Stone's most famous scene, which you can watch here at IFILM.
We don't know much about William Lawson...we know they're owned by Bacardi, they're a blended scotch, and they're starting a funny advertising campaign, but that's about it. You can learn a bit more about William Lawson's scotch right here, at their refreshingly low-tech site. Most booze sites are very Flash-heavy, and their is good old HTML...they must have used up all their Flash with that Scottish guy's kilt. Ba-dum-bum.
September 21, 2005
We were never very interested in school, but we've finally figured out the reason why - boring classes, girls wouldn't talk to us and there was no scotch there. Whisky School, on the other, seems much more our speed. Caring teachers, applied chemistry, snazzy green coats, the works, all in a real, working distillery.
Plus, you get to learn about scotch. And smell scotch. And drink scotch. And bring home a bottle of the scotch you made. We don't see a down side. Well, except for the fact that we'd have to find our way to Scotland somehow, but we'd manage.
Read more from the Whisky School website below.
Continue reading: "Three Words: Scotch Whisky School"