Archive for March, 2015

Africa – the next big whisky market? – Big Whisky Market News

AA paul in whisky area

Africa – the next big whisky market?

We all know the big whisky world markets, North America, South America, Europe, Aisia, Scandinavia, Russia etc etc. but what about Africa? Africa is a continent NOT a country, a billion people. It is 54 countries. And changing by the day it seems. Poverty and a rich top shelf (like anywhere) blend in a hot religious and ethnic mix. Famine, wars and poverty are the daily norm, a growing middle class, so what chance whisky?

Johnnie Walker have found their way. Diageo and Pernod Ricard are the giants. Diageo established itself through a Guinness brewery in Nigeria in the 1960’s. Whisky is the most popular alcohol in Africa and Scotch the most popular whisky. Diageo sells to the premium markets in Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and plans to extend into Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique. Who knew there were whisky markets there? Certainly not me. My view of Africa as a whole is probably blighted by the news media; poverty and war. So who are the players and where do they play? As afore mentioned, the big boys are already in.

Nairobi ; A bar in the Westlands district – pool tables, flat-screen televisions, and middle income 20-somethings. drinking Scotch.   A Johnnie Walker tv ad, shows an African dressed as “Johnnie Walker” in red tailcoat and cravat, carrying an iPad, hostesses with glasses of Red Label. A Johnnie Walker app going on about the character of the dram a flavour experience no other ordinary whisky can match, it says, c’mon JW, they may be up and coming, may be getting more wealthy and able to afford the dram, but they are not daft! According to research, as many Africans get richer, they drink Scotch, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. Johnnie Walker is doing even better: sales doubled in east Africa in 2010, to 790,000 litres. By global standards, Africans don’t drink much whisky. Each Nigerian sups a third of a glass each year on average. A Frenchman gulps doon 40. Diageo has a 20-storey ad on the side of a skyscraper in Nairobi showing JW Black. Africans will drink it to show off (like many a place), with its patronage on culture, whiskies with distinctive labels do well. A bottle of JW Red in a Kenyan market goes for $11 (obviously they do not have to pay the sassunach tax).

Countries such as South Africa, Angola and Morocco offer an opportunity for growth in whisky sales. Tanzania and Ethiopia have emerging Scotch Whisky markets where Scotch is an aspirational drink. The opportunities are great but the challenges even greater methinks. Protecting consumers from counterfeit products, ensuring recognition of Scotch Whisky as a drink made in accordance with the Scotch Whisky Regulations. For instance, a haul of smuggled whisky was discovered at the port in Libya’s capital, Tripoli. It is also illegal to drink alcohol in the Muslim North African. Ethiopia has a good club, Addis Ababa Whisky Club. A fellow Angel Hans Offringa told me a story of North Africa, he was offered bottles of “John Walker”, with the exact same logos and design as JW!

Let’s move south … Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and double matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery situated near the foothills of the Bainskloof Pass in Wellington – a 45 minute drive from Cape Town, where South Africa’s first Single Grain whisky is created. In 1850 James Sedgwick, captain of the clipper “Undine” and the pioneer after whom our whisky distillery is named, sailed into Table Bay and decided to make it his home. Nine years after settling at the Cape, he established “J. Sedgwick & Co, purveyor of quality liquor, tobacco and cigars” and in 1886 the company purchased a distillery in the picturesque town of Wellington. The rest, as they say, is history.

And guess what? Aye there is always a Scot aboot; Scot, Andrew Geddes Bain built the Bainskloof Pass which winds across the Limietberg, connecting the town of Wellington to the interior. The Pass was completed in 1853, named after the pass builder Andrew Geddes Bain, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is crafted from only the finest South African grain. It’s then distilled and double matured, living its first three years in first-fill bourbon casks before released and re-vatted for a further two years in first-fill bourbon casks. Another award winning brand sneaking out from here is the Three Ships range, tried em, good! Still in SA; WhiskyBrother, Johannesburg’s first speciality whisky store and part of our Angels network. Specialising only in whisky, this new store offers famous blends to lesser known independent single malts, in-house whisky geeks assist with in-depth info and offer recommendations based on taste preferences. WhiskyBrother aims to offer the largest range of whiskies under one roof in South Africa.

To end this wee trip to the Dark Continent, let’s build on some real positives. This year we are looking after a pipe band from Jo Berg; South African champion grade 2 and grade 4 pipe bands of The Transvaal Scottish Pipes and Drums. They are here to take part in the “Worlds” in Glasgow this August. The world champion pipe bands competition attracts bands from the world over (we are also looking after bands from Canada and USA). Whilst here, they will also be making a visit to Tullibardine distillery in Perthshire and sampling many drams in and around Glasgow – look out for them at the Pot Still. Last year we enjoyed the company of 6 guys from Kenya on a whiskey tour of Ireland, including Tullamore, Kilbeggan, Jamesons distilleries etc, plus many tasting events in and around Dublin, they went home … happy! Even came back to us asking about purchasing casks! Finally, there were the fantastic couple from Jo Berg (again) who won a prize with Diageo, who hired us to design and undertake a Diageo distillery tour for them; Oban, Talisker, Blair Atholl among the visits – in the middle of December, not what they were used to.

So, how to end? I am not privy to the big boys plans and only tell my stories from information gained on tour, chatting to fellow Angels and contacts in the industry. But I am sure there will be an explosion of whisky (and whiskey) into the continent not so far away, if it has not already happened. It can’t be long before a new distillery opens up or a new independent arrives. We welcome the day. Now, after all this heavy thought, it’s late, am going to settle down with a nice bottle of THREE SHIPS 10 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT. Launched in 2003 as a limited release, I was lucky enough to be “gifted” this on my birthday, slainte!

PAUL MCLEAN writes for

Smokehead Is On Fire at Ambrosia Awards 2015 – Scotch Whisky News

AA Smokehead

Smokehead is on fire at Ambrosia Awards 2015

Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky is celebrating after picking up a duo of Gold awards at this year’s prestigious Ambrosia Awards, held during IndSpirit on 16 January, 2015.

Amongst hugely esteemed company, the rich and powerful malt scooped gold in the Product of the Year category and another in the Excellence in Packaging (Graphics) category.

The annual awards are held as part of Asia’s biggest trade event, IndSpirit, which took place this year at Leela Ambience, Gurgaon, India. Both events are coordinated by Ambrosia Magazine, India’s only AlcoBev publication.

Commenting on the awards, Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers (who own Smokehead), said: “We are delighted that Smokehead has won in these prestigious categories, especially as we were up against such tough competition. Smokehead is vigorous and unapologetic about its big, intense and peaty flavours ensuring that it stands out from the crowd.”

He continued: “India is one of the fastest growing and most exciting markets for whisky and we are very grateful to get this high profile exposure.”

IndSpirit is a trade event aimed at bringing together the opinion leaders of the spirits, beer and wine world to discuss issues about this emerging market and share knowledge with the trade. It offers the best platform to national and international spirits, beer and wine producers to showcase their products and culminates with the awards ceremony.

Smokehead is a fiercely independent, mysterious and boisterous malt of the highest quality. Shunning traditional whisky packaging, Smokehead’s tactile metal presentation tin demands attention and maximises its impact using embossed and debossed techniques to heighten the 3-D ‘reality’ of the pack design, creating a premium tactile feel.

Bottled at 43% ABV, Smokehead is a rich, seaweedy and intensely peaty Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, not for the faint hearted.  With immense fresh and fruity flavours that burst with notes of sherry, iodine, toffee, smoke and sea salt, Smokehead hits the palate like a cannonball!

New Blackadder Bottlings Arrive in British Columbia – Scotch Whisky News

New Blackadder Bottlings Arrive in British Columbia

We are excited about the latest batch of Blackadder to arrive in BC!

 AA Blackadder 1

Raw Cask Peat Reek 59.8%

RAW Cask offering of the incredibly popular “Peat Reek” series. Selected only from casks of whisky produced using malted barley that has been heavily impregnated with the phenols and creosols of a gently smouldering peat fire. Multiple layers of Islay smoke to discern and enjoy.

 AA Blackadder 2

Legendary Cask Strength 1988 23 YO

This bottling is from a mature single cask of what is today classed as Blended Malt Whisky. The whisky in this Legendary bottle comes from only two of the most highly respected distilleries on Speyside, aged and matured twenty three years married together in cask. The high end blend.

 AA Blackadder 3

Black Snake Vat 1. 3rd Venom

Solera style aging! Aged single malt whiskies (from non-disclosed distilleries) are married into a vat, and then are transferred to a PX or Olorso sherry cask for finishing. When the whisky is ready, two thirds of the cask is bottled and labelled as a “Venom”. The remaining third then meets the next vatting resulting in a subsequent strain of “Venom”.

For further enquiries please email Nick at Fountana Beverage

News from The Famous Grouse – Scotch Whisky News



March has been another busy time for the team at Scotland’s Oldest Distillery.  We’ve featured just some of what’s been going on in this article but to find out more why not take a look at our blog and catch up with all our latest news?



As a departure from the more traditional distillery tour we have just launched 5 new experiences allowing our visitors to engage with whisky in new and innovative ways.
Find out more about our new experiences here


Global Icons of Whisky Awards

The team are delighted to be included in the top 3 whisky visitor attractions in the world. Find out the full story about this prestigious event here

Aberlour – A’Bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt at K&L California – Scotch Whisky News


  • Aberlour – A’Bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt 750ml ($64.99)
    96-100 points Wine Enthusiast: “Intriguing and challenging bouquet of aromas of roasted nuts, old leather, black pepper, old oak and dried fruit. Palate entry is aggressive in spirit, but sweet and pruny; midpalate is drier and features tastes of leather and grain. Aftertaste teems with oak resin, hard cheese (meaning, rancio), candied nuts, candied fruit and dark honey. Add mineral water.” (12/2009) 90 points Whisky Advocate: “Amber, with shades of ruby. Notes of complex honey-drenched fruit (sultana, marmalade, peaches, apples), toffee, treacle, and hint of mint. Full, rich texture and lush body. Long, warming, moderately spicy finish. (Vol. 17, #2)” Wine Spectator: “Brave the cask-strength heat and be rewarded by a malt that’s welcoming and complex. Sherry and cherry dominate at first, but a cereal-granola-honey quality and a licorice note flirt from behind the curtain. The essential candy element returns on the finish. ” (02/2011) K&L Notes: Pronounced “a-boon-arh,” which means “the origin” in Gaelic. Made the way whisky was produced in the 1800s, A’bunadh from Aberlour is not chilled-filtered and is bottled at a cask strength 59.5%. Slowly matured in rare Oloroso sherry butts, this malt is filled with rich, smooth, complex flavors.

K&L Wine Merchants
Phone: 877-KLWines (toll free 877-559-4637)
San Francisco, Redwood City, Hollywood CA


Silent Distilleries Masterclass at Hard To Find Whisky – Scotch Whisky News


Silent Distilleries Masterclass at Hard To Find Whisky

Hard To Find Whisky in Birmingham offer one of the largest of whisky collections in the UK on display, not only that but they run daily whisky masterclasses too. The Silent Distilleries masterclass is only £100 and you get to try legendary malts like Port Ellen, Brora, St Magdalene, North Port-Brechin 1981 and Millburn 1975. The masterclasses are available Monday to Saturday from 10am till 5pm there is no need to book, simply turn up at the store.

Hard To Find Whisky
www.HTFW.comOur brand new retail store located in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is now open.  We have over 3,000 Whiskies on display along with hundreds of Whisky gifts.  Walk-in Whisky Masterclasses are available all day from only £20 per person.

Parking is available right outside and our knowledgeable staff will give you their undivided attention.

No. 1 Spencer Street, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham City Centre, B18 6DD – Telephone: 08456 803 489


The Myth, the Mafia and the Magic: The History of the Edradour Whisky Distillery Scotland’s Smallest Distillery – Scotch Whisky News

AA Edradour_Cameron_BookCover

The Myth, the Mafia and the Magic:

The History of the Edradour Whisky Distillery Scotland’s Smallest Distillery

By Andrew Cameron 

A fascinating insight into the eventful history of Scotland’s favourite small whisky distillery

  • A fascinating history of the people that made Edradour – from early days of illegal distilling to its control by the US mafia and now one of few independent distilleries in Scotland
  • Best read with a wee dram by your side, the story of Edradour is the story of 300 years of whisky in Scotland – from illicit distilling in the 18th century to a major worldwide industry
  • A great gift book for any whisky enthusiast

The Edradour Whisky Distillery is the smallest and longest-running distillery in Scotland and receives over 50,000 visitors a year from all over the world. As the last remaining 19th century distillery of its size, visitors get a true sense of how a distillery worked in the early 1800s – and the essentials of distilling have not changed since then. Everything at Edradour is on a small scale; production levels for an entire year are the equivalent to what a big distillery produces in a couple of weeks, but the whisky is much sought-after and is exported to over 30 countries around the world.

The Edradour distillery is loved by visitors and whisky fans around the world, but how did it manage to survive when similar distilleries were closing? What plans are there to preserve its charm, whilst ensuring its future? This fascinating book is an insight into the whisky trade in Scotland, as well as the distillery itself, and is a must-read for whisky drinkers.

About the Author

Andrew Cameron is a business writer, journalist, blogger and scriptwriter. His enthusiasm for whisky was an inevitable rite-of-passage for the son of a Glaswegian. His love of Edradour began in 2006 when he was asked to write a script for a DVD about the distillery. He found the history so fascinating that he went on to write a short book about it as well. He is currently writing a biography about the Victorian actor, Sir Henry Irving.

The Myth, the Mafia and the Magic is available at all good bookshops and online booksellers

Twitter: @EdradourBook

Published: 28th March 2015

International Whisky Day 2015 – World Whisky Day News


International Whisk(e)y Day 2015

Today’s is the most important day in the whisky calendar! 27th of March 2015 marks the seventh annual celebration of whisk(e)y around the world. ​It’s International Whisk(e)y Day! ​For those that don’t know already, ​International Whisk(e)y Day​ is a global celebration of whisky originally set up to honour the late ​Michael Jackson​: ​“On this date let every whisk(e)y lover annually raise a dram – wherever in the world he or she may be – to honour the many unsung heroes of the past and present, who have been crafting the King O’ Drinks for centuries and will hopefully continue to do so till the end of time.“

International Whisky Day is entirely non-profit and exists through volunteers and donations from those who believe in the cause. Everyone is encouraged to get involved and together we hope to raise a lot of money for ​Parkinson’s UK​ and other charities which help people suffering with the disease as Michael did.

There are lots of fun ways you can get involved but the simplest and most fun is to submit a ​#WhiskyDaySelfie​ of you and your chosen dram for the day. Maybe give a little tasting note or let everyone know who you’re sharing it with.


Host a tasting, share a bottle, have a night at the pub, raise a quiet dram at home or open that special bottle you’d been saving with your nearest and dearest. Share your celebrations, on Facebook, Twitter or wherever, with the following hashtag, #WhiskyDay2015.

Whatever you do, have fun, drink responsibly, spare a thought (and some cash) for Parkinson’s charities, and make sure you share photos with Malt Maniacs and friends.



Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America March Outturn Offerings – Scotch Whisky News


March Outturn Offerings 

Cask No. 95.15                       $185

A Graceful Tight Rope Walker

Speyside, Spey

The initial nose had a whiff of varnish and pine reminiscent of the Big Top. A delightful balancing act ensued between grapefruit and marmalade, and the sweetness of Danish pastry and sultana cake with star anise. The tastes teetered with orange chocolate liqueur, Turkish delight and blackcurrant cordial delivering a spicy, lingering aftertaste. With a drop of water, it relaxed with mellow sticky toffee pudding with caramel icing poised between cooler notes of fennel and menthol. The finale flourished with chocolate chews, orange and damson syrup with black tea. Stage exit with balsa wood and hessian.

Drinking tip: For mulling and musing over

Colour: Copper belt buckles

Cask: Refill barrel

Age: 23 years

Date Distilled: June 1990

Alcohol: 57.4%

USA allocation: 150 bottles 

 SMWS Green Logo II

Cask No. 2.90                         $105     

Flower meadows and patisseries

Speyside, Spey

The nose told us that scythes had just been through the flower meadow and that children had just been through the patisserie (vanilla slice, fruit scones, strawberry jam, caramel, butterscotch and fudge). The palate balanced delightful sweetness (toffee, crème caramel, Danish pastry with vanilla icing, jam) with tart gooseberry, lemon, lime and cranberry – an unusual leather, liquorice and pine after-taste tingled the tongue. The reduced nose found blackcurrant, heather honey and digestive biscuits; the palate was now green, grassy and self assured, with custard cream sweetness and mouth-coating fruits dusted in fine ash. The distillery is uphill from the Packhorse Bridge.

Drinking tip: An anytime dram – but especially in the garden, with no thought of working.

Colour: Angel’s curls in the moonlight

Cask: Refill barrel

Age: 10 years

Date distilled: November 2003

Alcohol: 60.2%

USA allocation: 60 bottles

 SMWS Green Logo II

Cask No. 5.42                         $130 

Bathed in a bakers shop


One panel member came over all broody, reminded of bubble bathed babies wrapped in fresh towels. Others found it very juicy, bouncing with green grape, apple chews and lemonade lollies. Ginger gave a lively spritziness to taste, baby was then soothed by vanilla Angels Delight, and peanut butter on bagels. The addition of water opened spearmint, elderflower soap and brioche on waxed paper. Mother hen found her baby swaddled in a newly laundered crochet blanket, while the rest found sweetly iced christening cake decorated with white lilies, lychee and pea shoots. A bonny, blooming bairn!

Drinking tip: A christening perhaps?

Colour: Cava spritzer

Cask: Refill hogshead

Age: 13 years

Date distilled: October 2000

Alcohol: 59.5%

USA allocation: 90 bottles

 SMWS Green Logo II

Cask No. 7.109                       $105

Take the MilkyWay

Speyside, Lossie

On first sniff, bananas, peaches in syrup, orange blossom and orange barley sugars. Vanilla and juicy oak begged us to take a sip, but not just yet. Cloudy lemonade fizz, spicy wedding cake mix and creamy nougat sweetness tempted further. “Wow!” went the taste. Top quality American oak gave flavours of lemon and sugar pancakes, Edinburgh rock, blueberry muffins, cherry bakewells and hot buttered malt loaf. Water stirred aromas of white chocolate and raspberries. Intense vanilla, frangipane and Juicy Fruit gum raised eyebrows while someone was reminded of holidays in Portugal with Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts). Cooling Softmints, Turkish delight, MilkyWays and toasted coconut to finish.

Drinking tip: Add water and enjoy with pastries

Colour: Brass door knob

Cask: First-fill barrel

Age: 10 years

Date distilled: September 2003

Alcohol: 59.7%

USA allocation: 141 bottles

 SMWS Green Logo II

Cask No. 73.67                       $180 

Orchard meadow picnic dram

Speyside, Deveron

The main nose character carried butter, cake and vanilla (Victoria sponge, custard, buttered fruit scones); panellists also identified flower meadows, various fruits (banana, mango, citrus), pine-wood, furniture polish and considerable spice (aniseed, clove, chilli). The palate was citric and fruity (sherbet lemon, apple strudel, Haribo sours, blackcurrant jam), with Dr. Pepper, cinnamon, ginger and humbug spice. The reduced nose became even more attractive – apple orchards – sunny days – picnic of lemonade, stroop waffles and Terry’s chocolate orange. The palate developed lively flavours of bitter lemon, rhubarb and custard sweets, gummi bears, grapefruit and butterscotch. The distillery lies two miles from Keith.

Drinking tip: An aperitif, especially in the summer time

Colour: Warm, buttery gold

Cask: Refill barrel

Age: 22 years

Date distilled: March 1992

Alcohol: 50.1%

USA allocation: 140 bottles

BenRiach Distillery Company Named Global Whisky Distiller of the Year in 2015 ”Icons of Whisky” Awards – Scotch Whisky News

BenRiach Distillery 

The BenRiach Distillery Company has been named Global Whisky Distiller of the Year at the 2015 Icons of Whisky Awards.

The announcement was made last night during a ceremony at London’s Waldorf Hilton on the eve of Whisky Live London.

This latest award follows hard on the heels of BenRiach winning the “Icons of Scotland” Whisky Distiller of the Year earlier this year.

First held in 2007, the World Whiskies Awards are Whisky Magazine’s awards, searching for the very best whiskies in the world.

And BenRiach had double cause for celebration last night, as it won Best Speyside Single Malt for the BenRiach 16 years old produced at its Elgin distillery.

The winners were decided in online voting by writers, whisky producers and other industry leaders along with the editorial staff of Whisky Magazine.

They were selected from three regional rounds of Icons awards covering Scotland, the US, and the Rest of the World.

This year’s competition saw more than 300 whiskies put through their paces during three rounds of rigorous tastings to win the coveted titles of the ‘World’s Best’

Founded in 2004 under the leadership of whisky veteran Billy Walker and his South African investors Wayne Kieswetter and Geoff Bell, the Edinburgh-headquartered company has grown with impressive speed, acquiring BenRiach that year and turning it into one of Scotland’s most admired distilleries.

It acquired GlenDronach Distillery in 2008 and Glenglassaugh Distillery in 2013 as well as a bottling plant at Newbridge outside Edinburgh. All three distilleries produce unique award-winning whiskies with extraordinary depth, balance and character.

Billy Walker said: “It’s a pretty amazing achievement for a small privately-owned independent company to win this prestigious global award. I’m especially proud that it highlights the innovations we’ve created at our three distilleries and it also quite properly recognises the high-quality, committed team we have built at our four locations.

“We’re currently trading in some 40 countries worldwide with other emerging markets entering the negotiation stage, so I believe the future for all our brands is tremendously exciting.”

In August the company posted record pre-tax profits of £8.9m for 2013 boosted by unprecedented demand for its high-end whiskies in Asia, North America, Russia and Europe.

AA Benriach IOW15_Distiller

Powered by WordPress