Merry Christmas from Whisky Intelligence!

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Remembrance Day: Lest we forget

Compass Box ~ Speaking out against racism

I’d like to start with something plain and simple: We are, and always have been, against racism.

And while some would have wanted us to speak sooner on the action we are taking, we believe that a considered, informed response is far more valuable than a knee-jerk reaction.

After listening long and hard to those with a deep understanding and often first-hand experience of racial injustice, and after being inspired to study, think and discuss this situation as a team, we are acting.

We have agreed on a course of immediate action, including setting up a strong HR policy focused on anti-discrimination. This is one of five new principles that will guide us going forward. I believe businesses today have an important role to play in the fight for a just society, and we will take that responsibility even more seriously.

You are welcome to read our plans in full, but we wanted to highlight here another new principle that has become even more vital in recent days – we will encourage people to use the power of their vote to spark change.

Every voice deserves to be heard. Yet, especially as we have seen this week, even that most fundamental of rights is not universal. This must change. Those who can vote, must. And we all need to speak up for those whose voices are stifled.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. To find out more about our plans, please get in touch with me directly at:

The team and I really want to know what you think.

John Glaser
Company Founder

“Twenty Five years is an age” by Paul Mclean of MCLEANSCOTLAND Guided Whisky Tours

Twenty Five years is an age

Seeing in 2022 MCLEANSCOTLAND will be welcoming 25 years in the tourism business, the last decade and a bit in the whisky tourism. Looking back, I didnee aim to be a whisky tour operator, I envisaged bringing people to Scotland, to see what a fantastic country it is, all its’ castles, lochs and glens, palaces and peoples, our culture and eventually a drop of whisky to celebrate the trip.  Many years ago it all changed in favour of whisky tourism and ever since, whisky has been my life – sad but true!  Thinking on this, I came up with a wee list of what can be available in the 25 year old bracket … here we go;

Laphroaig 25 Year Old The Bessie Williamson Story – honours the first female distillery manager to own and run a Scotch whisky distillery in the 20th century (all you folks now screaming Cardhu! Read on). Williamson accepted a summer job at Laphroaig in 1932, working under owner Ian Hunter. Following Hunter’s stroke in 1938, she took over responsibility for US distribution. She is thought to have been among the first to anticipate the coming trend for single malt Scotch and is credited with positioning the Laphroaig whiskies for the American market. John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, said: “Laphroaig is a globally recognised whisky thanks to Bessie”. It is well documented that Bessie was universally loved and respected by her colleagues at Laphroaig and the people of Islay. The 43% ABV expression has been aged in refill American oak hogsheads and refill barrels, resulting in a whisky with “lingering warmth and unmistakable character”.  The whisky comes with a book that details the story of Williamson’s legacy, along with tasting notes and a message from Campbell, available exclusively in global travel retail for an RRP of £700 (US$861). Laphroaig is owned by Beam Suntory. I would love this dram, Liz would probably leave the room!

OK, THE IAN HUNTER STORY BOOK ONE: UNIQUE CHARACTER – John Campbell, Distillery Manager LAPHROAIG 30 YEAR OLD A series to celebrate the legacy of Ian Hunter, the last man of the Johnston family to own and manage this iconic distillery, between 1908 and 1944. I know Ian Hunter, but he was a lead man in Mott The Hoople!

Douglas Laing Timorous Beastie 25 Years Old  Only 1,600 bottles of Timorous Beastie 25 Years Old will be released through specialist retailers, priced at £150 (US$187) per bottle. The whisky was mostly matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, and has been bottled at 46.8% ABV without caramel colouring or chill filtration. Cara Laing, director of whisky at Douglas Laing, said: “Timorous Beastie 25 Years Old is a beautifully balanced marriage of single malts distilled in the Scottish Highlands. This expression carried the trademark Timorous Beastie vanilla and honey style – as a result of being matured predominantly in ex-Bourbon casks – as well as an orange tang and sweet spiciness, perfect for autumn evenings.” Timorous Beastie 25 Years Old is priced at RRP £90 (US$112).

Royal Salute unveils new 25 Years Old  Pernod Ricard has unveiled the latest addition to its Royal Salute range — a 25 Years Old whisky, The Treasured Blend, exclusively for duty-free stores and available from November 2019. It is the first 25-years-old expression in the Royal Salute portfolio and The Treasured Blend has been created by master blender Sandy Hyslop. The Royal Salute Treasured Blend is contained within the iconic porcelain flagons the brand is famous for and embellished with a gold detailing and sapphire jewelled stopper. Each flagon is numbered. Royal Salute 25 Years Old is available exclusively in GTR from November 2019 for a RRP of US$260.

Bruichladdich Black Art 7.1: the casks were selected from 1994 were matured for 25 years. It was the year when Bruichladdich was closed, so this whisky is a witness of the last months the distillery’s production before it was mothballed and waited for its revival in 2001. Head Distiller Adam Hannett chose casks for the Black Art 07.1 – a bit of mystery has to be kept for a Black Art bottling. What we know is the number of bottles this release it limited to: 12,000 bottles are available of the Bruichladdich Black Art 7.1. The new Bruichladdich was bottled uncoloured and un-chillfiltered at 48.4% ABV.

What is possible, very possible;  Tullibardine 25 Year Old 70cl / 43% Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Distillery Bottling. A stunning aged dram from Tullibardine, the top of their relaunched 2013 range. Honey, spice and fruit packed in with cream toasted oak. £122 ish, can you beat that?

Glen Moray 25 Year Old 1988 Port Cask Finish (70cl, 43%) £159.95   A 1988 vintage, 25 year old Glen Moray single malt, which has been treated to a Port cask finish before bottling. Comes with a handsome presentation box and a scroll. Aye, we do have one of these beauties in the cupboard!

Well, hopefully something there for everyone, will we be getting them all? Easy – no.  But looking around on our travels for something that will make us happy, who knows, it may even be a Lidl or Aldi bottle!  There are many 25 year olds out there, this has just been a sample smattering of what you could get – if lucky. You may notice an obvious bottle missing? We have no time for the hellishly over-priced and over-loved Macallan, sorry Edrington, until your prices get real, we shall no bother with your drams. We will also be celebrating by selecting our own 25 year old dram, an exclusive for friends, family and travel guests to enjoy as we bottle this for exclusive drinking – we might even make this a superb 25 year old, 25 bottles only! Currently working on this with industry contacts.

“The Irish who got away – or, never heard of” by Paul Mclean of MCLEANSCOTLAND Guided Whisky Tours

The Irish who got away – or, never heard of

The escapee Irish, the divels in the pack, how did they escape? With family over there in the Emerald Isle, I do visit as often as possible, all parts of Hibernia get a calling, from the Republic in the south to the six counties in the north – so many new places to visit these days. I must get a small group together with pal Mark driving (so I can drink) and get a tour started. Lickin ma lips, I wrote this …

Dungourney 1964 Pot Still is from the Old Midleton Distillery, distilled in 1964 and bottled in 1994, this 30 Year-Old is a limited edition pot still whiskey. It is named Dungourney, after the river that had fed the old distillery. In 1994, the Master Distiller, Barry Crockett – any relation to davey? –  made a rare discovery when making his rounds of casks at the Old Midleton Distillery (in warehouse number 11 ) where his father, Max Crockett, had been Master Distiller. It was a cask not identified on his stock charts. The cask had been laid down 30 years earlier, in 1964, and had escaped enumeration on the commissioning of the new distillery and thus we have Dungourney 1964 Pot Still Whiskey. Some sources say there was just one cask but given that this has been matured in ex-Bourbon barrels and the production run was more than 1200 bottles then there were more likely 3 or more barrels – who really knows, eh Barry.

Coleraine 34 year old Irish Single Malt a very rare Irish Single Malt produced from the closed Coleraine Distillery. The distillery itself was converted from a manorial mill and started producing malt whisky in 1825. The distillery ceased production in 1964 and was completely shut down in 1972. This whisky was distilled in 1959 and matured for 34 years and bottled in 1993 from a single cask at cask strength. A limited edition of only 400 bottles. I last saw this at €4,000, does anyone care to share a sample with me?

Jameson Pre Prohibition, is a Jameson Pure Old Pot Still produced by the Old Jameson Distillery in Bow Street, Dublin. The bottle dates back to 1915, a pre Prohibition Whiskey that has made its way back onto the Irish Market. My question is, how? Where is it? How much is it? Does anyone know anything about it?

Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey This is a new release from the Connacht Whiskey Distillery which has been carefully blended. This is a 4 year old grain whiskey with a port finish at 43%.  Ballyhoo is light in colour with a gentle sweet vanilla and almond nose, finishing with a spicy kick. It’s a limited edition and one I cannee find!

Burke’s 14 Year Old Single Malt Single Cask. A first release from the (Mr Teeling) Great Northern Distillery, whiskey that was distilled elsewhere 14 years ago – who knows where? This is a single cask release and very limited in numbers. Bottled at 59% and currently exclusive to the Celtic Whiskey Shop, Dublin, any comments? Jack Teeling himself. “Now that we’re in production, our core role in Irish whiskey is innovation,” he says. “Now we can have fun.” I have been there on a visit, met the famous man himself and enjoyed my stay – family are doon the road

Ciaran Mulgrew the founder of The Quiet Man. You may be wondering where that name comes from. His father, John Mulgrew, spent 50 years working as a barman in the pubs of Belfast. I have been chattin to Ciaran many years now, his da, he said “He had this quiet way about him which people seemed to respect”. So when Ciaran started making whiskey years later, there was only one person to name it after: John Mulgrew, The Quiet Man, or in Irish, ‘An Fear Ciuin’. To this day The Quiet Man remains Irish owned and operated, and proudly independent, it’s no hard to get hold of, but I wanted to add it to my list, mentioned this to Liz, “never seen or heard of it” was her answer to my “you must have seen the film”, och well. It’s to be found in Derry, aye; Derry Mark!

The Lakes Distillery – very reserved by Paul Mclean of Whisky Tours ~ Mclean Scotland

The Lakes Distillery – very reserved

Dhavall Gandhi is their whisky maker, “The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1” by the way is an artistic exploration of maturation and blending; of flavour evolution and defining a sherry-led house style. We were lucky, we had samples for our delicate taste buds sent to us from the kind folks at the distillery. I was just about to smack this round my gums, when I thought of an alternative; I had guests on tour with me, all the way from California, why not ask them to try it and give me their thoughts … this is what we did. So what did our guests think?

Veronica and Bob fae San Francisco ; strong and delicious, would sell well in USA, sherry/wine taste, they both thought it was wonderful, Bob with a drop of water, veronica neat. This dram was powerful; illegal in Norway @ 60.6% a stunner, I really liked it, saying something from me for a below the border dram. A single malt, full bodied matured in PX and red wine casks American, French and Spanish oaks, non chilled, like Highway Star; Deep Purple – a long finish!

To add to the blog … The Lakes Distillery celebrates their first single malt selling out, by releasing The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.2.

Following the sale of all 5,992 individually numbered bottles of their first widely available single malt whisky in just five weeks, The Lakes Distillery has unveiled the second release in The Whisky maker’s Reserve series.The Whisky maker’s Reserve No.2 has evolved in keeping with The Lakes’ increasing sherry-cask influence. Without an age statement, The Whisky maker’s Reserve No.2 is a new, intense and robust single malt, bottled at cask strength – 60.9% ABV – and matured in the finest, meticulously sourced PX, red wine and bourbon casks. With only 4,788 bottles available in the UK, the nose is rich and complex with dry fruits and treacle, creamy layers of wood spice, comforting vanilla on the palate, and a long and luxurious finish. Non-chill filtered for a richer mouthfeel and fuller flavour, each bottle uses only the natural colours derived from the oak casks. Released on the 17th October, The Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.2 has a suggested retail price of £65 and can be bought from where you can also discover more about The Lakes’ holistic approach to whisky-making.


The One Signature Blend is a new blended whisky from The Lakes Distillery. The last time I was doon there was a few years back now, with Liz on a day trip with an overnight, we don’t venture doon into Saxon land too often. This signature expression has The Lakes Single Malt at its heart, together with select Scotch grain and malt whiskies from the Highlands, Speyside and Islay.  A complex and balanced whisky with hints of stone fruit, light spice and honey-roasted nuts (not I might add Nobby’s Nuts). Bottled at 46.6% ABV, it is non-chill filtered with natural colours derived from the oak casks. Released on Monday 30th September, the recommended retail price is £39 and it can be bought from Where do you find this distillery?  Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick, in The English Lake District, it currently attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. Twice named ‘one of eight distilleries to visit before you die’ by the World Whisky Day campaign, the visitor centre, bistro and tour holds the Visit England’s Gold accolade and was voted the Icons of Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year 2019 by Whisky magazine. Well, we would suggest making your own mind up there, everyone who reads my blogs will know, my thoughts on awards.

The Alternative Whisky Bible by Paul Mclean of Whisky Tours ~ Mclean Scotland

The Alternative Whisky Bible

As in many avenues in life, there is always an alternative – here is mine.

Paul McLean is the world’s most renowned independent whisky expert (in his own mind).  His Alternative Bible is the world’s newest whisky guide, with Paul having visited more distilleries in his own lunchtime than any other person who has ever lived including his dad (who is a whisky angel). Without fear or favour, after tasting many new whiskies, a thoroughly researched guide to all the whiskies he may have tasted. In terms of whisky, this is the alternative gospel. It has to be said, Paul buys all his own bottles, unless nice people at distilleries give him “drivers share” wee nips, he has no bias, no friends to please, no bulging bank account nor brown envelopes. My best (favourite) whisky of 2019 is a hard choice, high on the list is the fabulous Glendronach 18 year old. I do love a sherry finish and I have scored this 100/100. Why? Because each whisky is different, each person tasting has different tastes and likes/dislikes, I am not trying to be one person telling the world what is the best whisky to drink. I also am a fan of the Glenlivet 50 year old, happily consumed at the distillery library as a gift, thanks IL. A new dram to enter the best whiskies would be a cheap bottle – does it matter what cost? – Tamnavulin sherry finish, I bought, aye – bout, a 1 litre bottle at Tesco for £30! Cheap whisky, but not as we know it Jim. Strange as it maybe, some of my favourite drams seem to appear in my own top ten (or top hundred) consecutive years! Unlike certain other books/novels. I am not a Scotophobe, no, I like Irish, Japanese and other whiskies from around the world, but do think Scotland produces the best, but that’s just me.

No whiskies were hurt in writing this bible, none were thrown away, some were tasted and admittedly never tried again (not to mention names, but there is one from Texas, guests brought me, it was so bad I wouldnee even offer it to a Campbell! It was named after a creek in Texas, my mums name actually, so bad so it was, I now use it in summer months to get all those kamikaze flies of my windscreen). As mentioned, my dad is a whisky angel, my mum Rebecca is an angel, she didnee drink. I hear you ask “where can we buy this alternative bible?”answer; nowhere, I do not wish to make money out of telling the world what in my own mind, is the best dram in the world – even if everyone knows it isnee (I am under the illusion that people can make their own mind up). There are so many good whisky books out there, Ingvar, Charlie, David, Hans etc why would you waste good money on a book that is obviously biased as hell, even the devil doesnee buy that book! Use your money wisely, spend on the drams YOU like and the books that give good information. Aye, I have connections with the grand distillery upstairs, my dad, a pal Speyside, my Priest, and in my own mind, I am the best whisky drinker in the world to tell you what you should be drinking. Excuse me now please, I am away working on the best dram for 2020. PAUL MCLEAN.  Ps; I buy my own shirts too!

Art for arts sake, whisky for my sake by Paul Mclean of Whisky Tours Maclean Scotland

Art for arts sake, whisky for my sake

Christmas is just around the corner. After tramping round the shops for pressies, it becomes time for the whisky selections to your favourite people. How many times have you read the headline “the top ten whiskies to buy”?  Forget that list, any list. Art lies in the eye of the beholder. The best whisky lies in the mouth of the drinker, each person (thankfully) has his/her own favourites, so if everyone is different, how can there be a top ten? By sales? Grandad’s present for years has been a good blend – his age and taste dictates maybe? Can you trust independent reviews?  They may earn commission from some of the retailers/distillers but never allow this to influence your selections! The best whiskies in my view, are the ones you like best. Regardless of price, brand, label or even the shape of the bottle. Why not try a blind tasting, use blue glasses so you cannee see the colour of the dram (even cups if you don’t have coloured glasses, egg cups are good), use a cheap superstore blend, a cheap single malt “on offer” bottle, a well known so called top ten dram and one you may never have tasted or heard of, an expensive one (affordable to your pocket), mix them once poured so you don’t know the order but don’t forget to number them to relate to what whisky it really is. Then get some pals/family to test! You may be surprised. We did just this on tour, the favourite dram came out to be a bottle of Tamnavulin Sherry finish @ £30 a litre! This is a good dram, it beat Macallan, Ben Riach, and ran a Glendronach to a close second.

The whisky bible, forget it, one mans’ view on the best whisky in the world, complete rubbish, he is one man, who is greatly influenced in his choices – does he have a better taste machine than every other person in the world? Aye right. Don’t waste your hard earned money on this slop, use what you would have spent buying it on a bottle, who knows, you may even like it! Do I have favourites? Aye to be sure, but not one, I like many, including Glendronach 18 year old, if you can get it. Dalmore King Alexander, Balvenie 40yo, many Ardbegs and Bowmores. I can go on. Whisky is made for drinking, not sitting on shelves, buy what you can afford, maybe rather than two/three cheapies, get one expensive for a change. Try out miniatures, drams in pubs, even shop tasting nights, a whisky festival. All of this helps you determine what YOU like, not what you are told to like (no mention of JW here if you live in Aisia). Liz has a few good ideas, “don’t tell me what it is” – if she likes it, she looks at the label, she also has the “woo hoo” test, if she drams it and says “ woo hoo”, it goes on here favourites list. Then again, you can save up and join one of our whisky tours, you get many samples drams daily with us.

So, whisky is like art, you like or don’t like an item, you think the price is right, or totally stupid (read Macallan here), it’s all about taste at the end of the day. Enjoy an expensive dram at home, savour it, dinnae swig it, take your time, the pub is there for swillin doon the pints with your pals. Don’t let cost influence you, or the colour of the dram or the bottle shape/design.

Whisky is for DRINKING SLOWLY and enjoying every sip. Have a good peaceful Christmas, drink aware. But the New Year resolution could be a revolution! PAUL MCLEAN

Haggis, neeps & tatties with a dram or three by Paul Mclean of Whisky Tours ~ Mclean Scotland

Haggis, neeps & tatties with a dram or three

This is an interview with a friend, a Swede (in Scotland this is a neep). I first met Ingvar when we shared a table at awhisky event in Helsinki many moons ago. We seemed to hit it off right away and have met every year since.  He started coming on tour with some pals of his (photo above – the usual suspects) researching the following year book. Now he comes alone, him and I, driving around, meeting distillery people and sharing good times. He is back in May 2020, right after his brother comes on tour with us – May is usually the “Swedish month” and no exception next year. Annoyingly, he is only two years younger than me but looks ten! Here is a wee chat with him … don’t forget my samples of drams!

What gave you the idea to publish a yearbook about whisky? (I know the answer, but readers maybe won’t).

My first whisky trip to Scotland was in summer 1980. I toured Speyside with a friend and we went to Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Strathisla and Glenfarclas. I was instantly hooked and malt whisky became a hobby of mine. Many years later, after having worked in different areas but mainly publishing, I was in a position where I wanted to do something different in terms of work. I noticed that there was a huge amount of Yearbooks on the market, targeting every conceivable topic (dogs, cars, guns etc) but nothing about whisky. Finding myself in need of such a book and with a background in publishing I decided to go about and publish one myself, hoping that there would be other whisky enthusiasts struggling to get a summarized, yearly update on the whisky market. And thankfully there were.

How did you start with these high profile writers for the book? Charlie Maclean included. Especially on the first book, you must have been a novice then.

I was a novice in the sense that I did not know any of the famous gurus of the whisky world. I called a guy named Ulf Buxrud, a famous collector of Macallan, who happened to live in my town. I knew that he had helped start up a number of whisky clubs in Sweden and he was also a Keeper of the Quaich. I told him about my idea of doing a Yearbook and asked if he could help me with some contacts. We had lunch and the day after I could send emails to people like Michael Jackson, Charlie Maclean and Helen Arthur, asking them if the would be willing to help me get this Yearbook idea started by writing articles for the first edition. I´ll always be grateful to Ulf for opening the doors to the whisky illuminati. In the following years, these great writers have become personal friends.

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2020 edition is a revised book with new information on more than 400 whisky distilleries from all over the world., I know, I was with you last year for some of the research, how do you ensure you get the latest info?

Actually, the number of distilleries in the latest edition is not “more than 400” but precisely 591! The vast majority of these new distilleries have been established in countries outside of Scotland. This year, I actually went back to my first edition of the Yearbook (written in 2005) to see the development of distilleries in certain countries over the years. In 2005 I had a combined number of malt whisky distilleries in USA, Canada, Australia, England, France and Germany of 16. In the latest edition that number had risen to 292! And in Scotland, 33 new distilleries have opened between 2000 and 2019 and don´t get me started on Ireland! Obviously there is a need for a Malt Whisky Yearbook me thinks.

How long does it take to complete the book each year?

Usually I start working on the next edition of the Yearbook in early February and then it is published beginning of October. Having said that, my research for every Yearbook is an ongoing thing. I always make notes when I stumble on something new worth writing about.

Stupid question really, but you know me by now, how do you select the cover image?

Not a stupid question – have been asked that a lot. Usually I fancy very detailed pictures (inside of a cask, a bung or a small part of a still) just to make it stand out from most of the other whisky books where a glass of whisky on a black background is the cover (I know, I’ve done that myself once because it´s actually quite cool).

Each year you select a different region, next year is Speyside, do you personally have a favourite region to visit?

I love Speyside because it´s very convenient if you wish to visit a number of distilleries in a short period of time – they are everywhere! I also adore doing a combined trip to the western parts where you can visit some of the isles, add a few mainland distilleries and also get some fantastic views of an amazing landscape. Having said that, going north of Inverness is also rewarding with, admittedly, fewer distilleries but breath taking views. Extending the trip to Orkney makes it a stunning journey!

What other books have you written/published?

So far I have published 21 books on whisky (six of them in Swedish) but have also managed to do three books on birds – another hobby of mine.

You live in Malmö, Sweden, how different/similar to Scotland is it? (I keep threatening to visit, one day).

Malmö (the southern tip of Sweden, opposite Copenhagen) is quite different from the highlands but I suppose it could remind you of the lowlands. A rural countryside with fields of barley, wheat and sugar beets. The weather is quite similar with mild, rainy winters (and occasionally snow) but probably a bit warmer in the summer compared to Scotland.

What is the nearest whisky distillery to you?

The nearest distillery is Spirit of Hven on the island of Ven in the sound between Denmark and Sweden. Actually, we have had a summer cottage on the island for the past 40 years and our closest neighbour is Henric and Anja Molin, the owners of the distillery. Every summer I go to the distillery to have a walk around and a chat with Henric. He´s doing some amazing things not just with traditional whisky from malted barley but also rye and corn. Very innovative and exciting!

You have been a writer and publisher for twenty years, what did you do before that? (again, I know, but maybe you don’t)  There is talk of a DJ, can you explain the DJRonde?

OK, let´s start with the DJ thing (although I would’t call it that. Those are your words). I did a series for six years on national radio playing English and American dance band music from the 20s and 30s. A total of 260 shows covered the likes of Bert Ambrose, Lew Stone, Jack Hylton and Nat Gonella (if anyone remembers those names). After my graduate as an MBA in economics I worked for an electrical company but left after six years to start up a chain of retail stores selling equipment for the outdoors. Meanwhile I was working in publishing, doing campaigns for tourists wanting to spend their vacation in Sweden. My business partner and I sold off the outdoor chain some twenty years ago and while I pursued the whisky writing business, Peter became a baker in Edinburgh and opened up a bakery and a chain of outlets called Peter´s Yard which became quite famous.

Working from home as I know you do, how distracted can your lab become? (Ingvar has a black Labrador)

My lab (Vilda) doesn´t distract me at all. On the contrary, she´s an integral part of the Yearbook work. She lies faithfully in her bed by my desk (like any lab would do) until it´s time to take a walk. And she keeps me from sitting too long by my computer with the risk of contracting a bad back.

I know you share a hobby (a mad one) with your brother,  bird watching since the early 1970s. Do you tweet?

Haven´t got the faintest idea what you mean – there´s nothing mad about bird watching. But apart from that, you´re absolutely right. I’ve been a bird watcher since I was thirteen and I suppose you could call me a twitcher, however nowadays I don´t jump into my car to drive 200 miles in order to secure yet another new species. For the past ten years or so it´s been more about micro birding which means that you try to see as many species as you can in the surroundings of your own home town. Possibly a combination of not having that much time to go birding and trying to be environmentally friendly.

You are a fan of The Boss, when did this start?

It all started in 1980 when I attended a concert of his in Copenhagen. Have seen him live around twenty times since then and still consider him one of my three rock and roll heroes with Bob Dylan and Van Morison being the other two. Hopefully he will be in Sweden for yet another concert with the E Street Band  in the near future and I´ll be there!

You are also a big fan of Star wars – you know it’s no real don’t you?

(Suggest we skip that question)

And, you love Scottish history, have you ever thought of a book on this subject?

I do love Scottish history and I actually added a small chapter about that in one of my latest books on whisky but to write an entire book on that subject I feel I need to know a lot more. Perhaps after having done another 5 or 6 trips with you, then I could do it.

Having been all over Scotland in your research, I was amazed last year when we went through Glencoe/Rannoch Moor at your reaction, is there any other location that gave you that reaction? We need drive to Applecross Ingvar!

The passage across Glencoe last year was amazing! Stunning views for at least an hour drive. I actually had the same kind of reaction the first time I went to Orkney. Yesnaby cliffs, Italian chapel and Skara Brae were fantastic. Applecross is still on my bucket list so yes, let´s go there soon.

How long do you think you will continue with the Malt Whisky Yearbook?

Very easy to answer. I´m now 62 and I´m seven years older than my wife. In Sweden we generally retire at 65 but I wouldn´t want to sit around the house in my slippers doing absolutely nothing while my wife is still working. So my plan is to carry on with the Yearbook until I´m 72 and then retire at the same time as my wife does.

What do your wife and daughter think of the whisky king and his fame? Let’s face it you are famous.

Even though they are a bit proud of what I’ve accomplished with the book (not to mention the fact that I was inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich a couple of years ago) neither of them enjoy whisky so to be honest I definitely don´t feel like a celebrity at home. I guess the same goes for Brad Pitt, George Clooney and the likes of them.

Don’t forget to send me the distilleries we are to visit in May, I need get my plans worked on. Should be less driving this year, grand! We should be calling on people we both know well, looking forward to this.

Way less driving. Will keep you posted!

#FreeTheWhisky ~ The Liquor rules and regulations have yet to change in British Columbia – Whisky News

“An injustice against one is an injustice against all.”

On the morning of January 18, 2018 three liquor inspectors from the BC Liquor Control and Licencing Branch (BCLB) attended Fets in a rented U-Haul van, filled with empty boxes. They entered the premises, requested the attendance of the Vancouver Police Department, and after briefly interviewing one of the owners of the establishment, they seized (over a period of several hours) 242 bottles of Scotch whisky, all of one brand; The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. They did so without a search warrant, and they did not advise the owner that Fets was being investigated for an offence, for which she could be jailed if convicted.

Simultaneous raids were conducted in Victoria at Little Jumbo and the Union Club as well as The Grand Hotel in Nanaimo. All 4 establishments were Scotch Malt Whisky Society Partner Bars and the only whisky taken at each location were the SMWS bottles.

Believing the actions of the BCLB to be improper, Fets refused to accept the penalty imposed by the BCLB and requested a hearing. Fets requested documents related to the investigation and this was refused by the BCLB; a subsequent Freedom of Information request was heavily redacted and arrived after the submissions deadline. Finally, following the hearing, on June 6, 2019 a delegate of the General Manager of the BCLB (in other words, the same organization that laid the charges makes the decision on whether their actions were lawful) issued a 64 page written decision confirming their view that the actions of the liquor inspectors were lawful, and confirming the monetary penalty against Fets in the amount of $3,000. Fets applied, as required under the Act, to have the decision reconsidered. The BCLB upheld the original decision and therefore Fets has appealed the decision to the BC Supreme Court under a judicial review application.

The General Manager’s decision, if not varied or rescinded, will set a dangerous precedent for all liquor licensees in British Columbia. In summary, the decision confirms as acceptable the following practices of the Branch and liquor inspectors:

When a licensee is faced with enforcement action, the Branch only needs to disclose to it the documents that help it prove the contravention. It is not required to produce any other
documents from its files that may assist the licensee in avoiding the contravention;

The General Manager’s delegate is not required to maintain an “open mind” during an enforcement hearing. It is acceptable for he or she to make up their mind at the very outset of the hearing, before evidence and submissions are made;

Liquor inspectors who observe liquor that in their opinion is kept contrary to the Act, can return at any time without a search warrant to seize it;

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees individuals the right to be free from unreasonable (warrantless) searches and the right to be informed of the potential for jail time, does not apply to the enforcement of British Columbia’s liquor licensing regime; and

Liquor inspectors can rely on the “mandatory cooperation” powers contained in s.42 of the Act to conscript evidence from licensees that may be used in a prosecution of an offence for which imprisonment is a potential penalty.

All licensees should take notice of this dangerous and potentially precedent setting decision. Although currently it is only Fets Whisky Kitchen dealing with the fallout, soon it will be other bars, restaurants and LRS’s who may face warrantless searches of their premises, and procedurally unfair hearings. British Columbians deserve better.

To date the costs fighting this exceed $40,000 and Fets is committed to an additional $30,000 to take this to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. These costs do not include the value of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society whiskies that were seized, those were valued, at the time of seizure, at more than $40,000, and all are irreplaceable. Fets is cautiously optimistic that the courts will side in Fets’ favour, but the government, with unlimited resources, can appeal the ruling. All funds raised are going towards this fight and any additional or excess funds will be put towards our lobbying efforts to see the implementation of the recommendations Mark Hicken laid out in the 2018 Liquor review. We will pledge any other remaining funds to the BC Hospitality Foundation.

Thank you for your support and together we can hold the government accountable to the Charter and amend our province’s archaic liquor laws.

Help us with this fight Here

If you wish to better understand how the decision could impact your establishment, or are interested in participating or assisting in a potential judicial review of the decision please contact our lawyer Dan Coles at or Owen Bird Law

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