Sunday, 16 August 2015

This week in whisk(e)y #21 - Macallan Rare Cask, Haig Club HK Launch,Suntory space launch, Whisky rumble and more...

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week or so (including other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph, Hendy & or I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...


Introducing The Macallan Rare Cask
It's hard to believe it's been almost 2 years since we attended the Australian launch of Macallan 1824 series, but hey, time flies when you're having fun and drinking whisky.

The next release in the growing series, also a NAS whisky, is the "Rare Cask", which has just been launched in Hong Kong. Unfortunately Steph and I were overseas (touring Scottish distilleries, including The Macallan, amongst other adventures) so missed the HK launch party, but we hear it was a fantastic event. Here's a bit more about the release...
"Rare Cask is the very embodiment of The Macallan’s commitment to exceptional wood management.  Crafted from the desire to showcase complexity and depth, Rare Cask comes from the broadest spectrum of casks, 16 different profiles, ever identified by the Master Whisky Maker and from the most extensive range of cooperages in Spain. 

In celebration of the launch of The Macallan Rare Cask in Asia, The Macallan hosted a series of events including press conference, media interviews, exclusive tastings and a VIP dinner from Tuesday 7th July 2015 to Friday 10th July 2015 at Central Plaza, Hong Kong.  With participation of over hundreds of sophisticated overseas guests and media, key opinion leaders, whisky connoisseurs and collectors to attend this regional launch event, The Macallan invites guests to savour one of the latest addition to their range of finest whiskies.  For this special occasion, The Macallan selected a repertoire of its most representative expressions for discerning spirit enthusiasts to appreciate.   Mr. David Cox, Director of Fine & Rare Whiskies presented the four exquisite styles of whisky and hosted the unveiling ceremony of The Macallan Rare Cask.
 
Rare Cask is meticulously created by our Master Whisky Maker from a small proportion of maturing casks at The Macallan distillery.  These casks are handmade from Spanish and American oak; and are the best in the business.   Wood defines the flavour of The Macallan, with over 60% of the character comes from the cask it is aged in.  But as the name suggests, there is more to this story.  Rare Cask is truly rare.  This rarity comes from the fact that some of the casks used in the creation of this whisky will never be used again.

Bob Dalgarno, the Master Whisky Maker is responsible for creating Rare Cask, testing his knowledge and skill to create a whisky worthy of The Macallan name.  “Rare Cask is about firstly identifying a selection of casks which can truly be called rare.  Each of the cask styles result in different character, so each imparts their own distinct influence on the final whisky.”

With a rich mahogany red hue, The Macallan Rare Cask showcases two of The Macallan’s greatest strengths, exceptional oak casks and natural colour, which are combined with knowledge, skill, passion, commitment and creativity.  A whisky produced through meticulous dedication to wood."

The line "This rarity comes from the fact that some of the casks used in the creation of this whisky will never be used again" suggests the casks used could be third (or even fourth?) fill casks, but that's unlikely to be the case given the rich dark colour on this release (keeping in mind The Macallan use no caramel colouring in this whisky). Whatever the composition, from all reports this is another high-quality NAS release from The Macallan, and seems to be carrying quite a bit of age too. We hope to have tasting notes up soon.



William Grant & Sons Named Scotch Whisky Producer of the Year at ISC 2015
Being big fans of William Grant & Sons on this blog, we can't say we were overly surprised at this news, but it's still nice to see the (still) family-owned company kicking goals, with a whopping 53 medals awarded at this year's ISC (not to mention winning two categories outright).

Quoting the press release:
"William Grant & Sons, was awarded the highly prestigious Scotch Whisky Producer of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) awards which took place at The Honorable Artillery Company, London."
(Which just happens to be the same venue where we attended Whisky Live London earlier this year) 
"The Company was lauded by the judging panel for “continuing to prove itself a leader in the Scotch category.”
In the individual product honours, Monkey Shoulder won best Scotch Malt Whisky aged up to 20 years and Glenfiddich 21 Year Old won best Scotch Malt Whisky 21 years or over. This was in addition to the 53 gold, silver & bronze medals awarded to William Grant & Sons brands this year.
The International Spirits Challenge is one of the most authoritative, respected and influential spirits competitions in the world. The competition is founded on a rigorous and independent judging process, which serves to encourage the high calibre of spirits entered into the competition each year. Receiving more than 1,000 entries from nearly 70 countries worldwide, the ISC is a truly global competition." 

Well done, WG&S




Suntory sends whisky into space
Whilst not the first to send whisky into space, Suntory is certainly the latest to experiment with the “development of mellowness in alcoholic beverages through the use of a microgravity environment” (or "sending whisky into space"). Further details can be found in the press release below.
"Suntory Global Innovation Center is about to embark upon space experiments on the “development of mellowness in alcoholic beverages through the use of a microgravity environment.” This research will be conducted in the International Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module (nicknamed “Kibo”), with the cooperation of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

H-II Transfer Vehicle No. 5, commonly known as “Kounotori5” or HTV5, is scheduled to be launched from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center on August 16 (Sunday) carrying alcohol beverages produced by Suntory to the Japanese Experiment Module aboard the International Space Station, where experiments on the “development of mellowness” will be conducted for a period of about one year in Group 1 and for two or more years (undecided) in Group 2.

With the exception of some items like beer, alcoholic beverages are widely known to develop a mellow flavor when aged for a long time. Although researchers have taken a variety of scientific approaches to elucidating the underlying mechanism, we still do not have a full picture of how this occurs.

Our company has hypothesized that “the formation of high-dimensional molecular structure consisting of water, ethanol, and other ingredients in alcoholic beverages contributes to the development of mellowness,” and we have been conducting collaborative researches on this topic with research groups of Professor Shigenao Maruyama of the Institute of Fluid Science, Tohoku University and Professor Mitsuhiro Shibayama of the Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo, the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute and Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences. The results of these collaborative researches have suggested the probability that mellowness develops by promoted formation of the high-dimensional molecular structure in the alcoholic beverage in environments where liquid convection is suppressed. 

On the basis of these results, the space experiments will be conducted to verify the effect of the convection-free state created by a microgravity environment to the mellowing of alcoholic beverage.

The Suntory Group aims to use these experiments to help find a scientific explanation for the “mechanism that makes alcohol mellow.”

-Details-
▼ Experimental period
  Group 1: August 16, 2015 (Sunday) (planned) to September 2016 (planned)
  Group 2: August 16, 2015 (Sunday) (planned) to undecided date two or more years later
▼ Content of experiment
  One set of samples consisting of various alcoholic beverages will be stored in a convection-free state in Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station, and another set of the identical samples will be stored in Japan for the same period of time. 
▼ Samples
    Five types of distilled spirits differing aging periods and 40% ethanol: Total of six samples"

Exciting stuff.


Haig Club opens its doors to Hong Kong
Anyone who's travelled through an airport in 2015 will have likely seen an unusual, distinctive blue bottle that looks just a little too big to be a fragrance bottle. It's not, of course - and as most of you would know, it's Diageo's "Haig Club", a single grain whisky promoted heavily by David Beckham.

Whilst the bottle and association with Becks might be new, the Haig brand, and the Cameronbridge distillery in Fife where the whisky is distilled, have ties back to the 17th century.


Quoting the press release:
"The contemporary appearance of the square HAIG CLUB™ bottle draws on a history of innovative bottles produced by the House of Haig.  The blue glass bottle was inspired by the tradition of blenders using blue tasting glasses so the spirit can be reviewed on aroma and taste alone.

The unique flavours of the whisky itself are created by master blender Chris Clark carefully selecting mature whisky from Refill, American Oak and Rejuvenated casks producing a stunning Single Grain Scotch Whisky with a fresh, clean style showcasing butterscotch-smooth tropical fruit and unexpected, spicy backing harmonies.  HAIG CLUB™ is a whisky crafted to appeal to people who are new to whisky and whisky connoisseurs alike.

“I am incredibly proud to have been part of the creation of HAIG CLUB™,” said David Beckham. “I think we have made something really special. For me it has meant understanding how whisky is made and enjoyed and then working with some incredible people to write a new chapter for Haig.
To celebrate the Hong Kong launch of HAIG CLUB™, a cocktail reception was held in The Envoy, a bespoke cocktail bar on 23 July, hosted by Marketing Director Drew Mills. Trade partners and media friends were presented HAIG CLUB™  neat, paired with food, and in four cocktails tailor-made by newly crowned Diageo World Class Hong Kong Champion, Antonio Lai.  Antonio’s curated cocktails list captures the delicate flavours of HAIG CLUB™, showcasing the versatility and accessibility of the liquid.

From August to September, Envoy will be featuring two Haig Club cocktails – Yuzu Hour showcasing the tropical fruit note; and Haig-a-Horlick, a fun and creative cocktail highlighting the creamy notes of vanilla and butterscotch smoothness.

Great to see some more widespread recognition for single grain whisky (although we still think it looks a little bit like a perfume bottle...).


Glenfiddich's "The Original Grant" competition
Glenfiddich are running a competition in Australia at the moment, looking to find Australia's most original business. One of the five semi-finalists will be selected shortly.

Quoting the press release:
"Iconic whisky brand Glenfiddich is excited to announce the finalists of The Original Grant competition in its nation-wide search for Australia’s most original small to medium sized business (SME). The competition was inspired by the June 2015 launch of ‘Glenfiddich The Original’, an exclusive re-creation of the original 1963 Glenfiddich Straight Malt, which was the first ever single malt to be released worldwide.
Since its creation, the family-run Glenfiddich Distillery has become synonymous with pioneering spirit. William Grant even carefully selected each of his 7 sons’ professions to ensure they mastered a specific skill to build the business into what it is today. After five generations, the legacy of William Grant & Sons lives on as the traditional techniques of production and underlying values have been passed down to each successor, playing a significant part in the company’s global success.
Competition entrants were required to answer “What makes your business original?” and garner entry votes from their respective social media communities. The 5 businesses to generate the most votes have been selected as the finalists. These include:
1.      Oscar Razor is the only father-daughter-run shaving subscription service in the country. Offering German-made razor blades, the business is resolute in its commitment to quality, cost, and convenience.
2.      100% Australian owned, Naturally Wild provides naturally raised, hormone free and naturally fed game meats from Outback Australia.

3.      The Whisky Order takes previously out of reach whisky malts and makes them available to whisky-lovers without committing to the purchase of a full bottle.

4.      Work Club is a Sydney based co-working office that brings businesses together in the same space, driven by the idea that by surrounding yourself with like minded entrepreneurs, creative sparks will fly and help to improve your business.

5.      Specialising in premium spirits, local liquor store Sea Breeze Cellars not only carries over 800 spirits but sells rare and collectible items.

Mark Little, William Grant & Son’s Malt Marketing Manager says, “Owing to its humble beginnings, Glenfiddich is passionate about supporting Australian SME’s, and recognises how crucial innovation truly is to success. Originality can be hard to come by these days and these businesses deserve to be acknowledged for their differences and for their contributions.”
In early August, Glenfiddich will announce the winning business that best exemplifies William’s unwavering passion and innovation that still continues to drive the business today.

The winning organisation will receive invaluable business advice from Dan Gregory, a Behaviour Researcher and Strategist and regular panellist on ABC TV’s The Gruen Transfer, and business partner Kieran Flanagan at The Impossible Institute, valued at $15,000. The yearlong ‘Stones for David’ program helps small businesses to punch above their weight and grow their brand in a category disruptive way.

William Grant & Sons will also reward the winner with a ‘Glenfiddich The Original’ tasting kit and a whisky specialist to host an exclusive celebration with staff and guests, valued at $1,500.

For more information on the finalists visit: http://www.glenfiddich.com/au/explore/the-original-grant/"

Best of luck to all entrants.




Let’s get ready to rumble . . . whisk(e)y style
Living in Asia certainly has its benefits, but sometimes, an event in Australia comes along that really makes you wish you were there. Like this one, for example...
"On Tuesday 1 September, arriving in Sydney for the first time all together will be Fred Noe, seventh generation Master Distiller of Jim Beam, John Campbell, Distillery Manager of the legendary Laphroaig Islay malt distillery, Dan Tullio representing Canadian Club, and Hiroyoshi (Mike) Miyamoto, Global Brand Ambassador for Suntory Whisky of Japan.
These whisk(e)y experts will be coming together in Australia to debate a question for the ages… who makes the world’s best whisk(e)y?
For centuries the answer was simple – it was the Scots, even though the Irish claimed it was their invention right back when the Celts ruled the world. Oh, for those days of the dram… But as with so many things in this hyper-connected, trends-driven, crazy new world, everything has turned on its head.
Last year the world’s most authoritative whisk(e)y guide proclaimed that the Japanese were making the best in the world. The Americans fought back with a whole new wave of high-end, single batches of bourbon and whiskey. The Canadians claimed (as they always do) that they actually do it better than the Americans, but the Americans just shouted about it more, and well the Scots are fighting back like Braveheart with a belly full of 15 year old Laphroaig and a tub of face paint.
It’s a right proper whisk(e)y rumble. This September for the very first time in Australia, four of the world’s great whisk(e)y experts from four of the world’s great whisk(e)y brands will descend on Sydney to try to resolve the issue once and for all. Or, as is more likely to be the case, drink a lot, talk a lot, argue a bit and have an enormous amount of fun celebrating the great diversity of whisk(e)y in today’s world.


It will be an epic showdown. After all, whisk(e)y is the world’s hottest spirit right now, and in Australia whisk(e)y growth is nothing short of a phenomenon. Fittingly, the four whisk(e)y greats come together in the same year the renowned Jim Murray “Whisky Bible 2015” named Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 “Best Whisky in the World,” and the prestigious 2015 San Francisco World Spirits competition awarded Knob Creek “Best Bourbon” (overall).
“As Jim Murray has claimed, Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 is the best in the world,” said Mike Miyamoto. “I look forward to sharing the beauty of Suntory Whisky with the other representatives at The Rumble, and smiling when they nod in agreement, or at least appreciation.”
Meanwhile, the great Laphroaig from the island of Islay has just re-released its iconic 15 Year Old Single Malt to celebrate its 200th year of distilling. Anyone who thinks the Scots will go down without a fight hasn’t been to Scotland.
“We’ve been distilling the world’s most richly flavoured Scotch Whisky for 200 years, so I look forward to teaching these newer whiskies a thing or two,” said John Campbell in anticipation of The Rumble.
And Canadian Club? Well it just happens to be the fastest growing spirits trademark brand in Australia[i] - it is approachable, fun and delicious and, well let’s be honest… everyone likes the Canadians.
“Canadian Club is an iconic Canadian brand, and the leader in the category in its own country; definitely something to drink to,” said ‘Godfather of Canadian Whisky,’ Dan Tullio. “Our product stands the test of time and is still relevant to drinkers today, which is why I know our whisky will stand heads above the others at The Rumble.”
7th Generation Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe is a legend, simple as that. And he can’t wait to show Aussies why Bourbon whiskey from Kentucky is the best.
“The Rumble is the perfect setting to really hash out who has the best whiskey,” said Noe. “Whiskey is now produced all over the world, and each country has its own set of distillation rules as well as its own unique whiskey. There is no question that Bourbon whiskey from Kentucky is hands down the best.”"

No doubt Hendy's going to enjoy this one...




Jack Daniel's rallies Australia in world's first bar built on tour
September is approaching, and in the world of American whiskey, that can only mean one thing..."Jacktember".
"September can mean only one thing for Jack Daniel's fans - the chance to celebrate the birthday of the legendary craftsmen whose name has become synonymous with whiskey lovers all over Australia. To mark the occasion, Jack Daniel's is toasting the great man with its biggest and most ambitious celebration yet - and it needs the help of Australians to bring it to life! 
Because no-one is sure of his exact date of birth, Jack's birthday is celebrated for the whole month of September, with events getting bigger and bigger every year. In 2014, Jack Daniel's created the world's first crowd-sourced bar in Sydney to celebrate Jack's birthday and honour his craftsmanship, style and uniqueness. This year, it's being taken to a whole new level with the creation of the world's first bar built on tour, completely crowd-sourced by fans. 
Supported by Mack Trucks Australia, Jack Daniel's will hit the road this Spring with a regional tour taking in six regional cities and towns across New South Wales and Victoria. Fans will be given the opportunity to join dedicated workshops in each town, build props and furniture for the bar or donate materials/items and make a contribution to the legend of Jack in their own way.
Electricians, carpenters, joiners, technicians, finishers, artists, designers and regular Joes are all being sought to donate their time and expertise to turn the idea into reality. The reward? Whiskey! That’s right fans are literally working for Jack, not to mention a chance to get their hands on an invitation to celebrate Jack's birthday in style - in the very bar they have helped to build.
Curious and crafty fans can get involved in any of the tour workshop locations including: 
·        Wollongong - Towradgi Beach Hotel:         Thursday, 10 September 
·        Queanbeyan - Walsh's Hotel:                 Friday, 11 September 
·        Wagga Wagga - Kooringal Hotel:         Saturday, 12 September 
·        Wodonga - Birallee Tavern:                Sunday, 13 September 
·        Shepparton - The Overland Hotel:         Monday, 14 September 
·        Geelong - Grovedale Hotel:                 Tuesday, 15 September

"The Bar That Jack Built" will be open to the public in Sydney and Melbourne for two three-day Jack Daniel's birthday extravaganzas at the end of September - Federation Square, Melbourne from 18-20 September, and Parramatta Park, Sydney from 25-27 September. 
Marisa Murray, Senior Brand Manager, Jack Daniel’s added, “To celebrate the love that Australians have for Jack and the Jack Daniel's brand, stemming from the authenticity established by the man himself, we want to give as many fans as possible the chance to make his birthday an unforgettable occasion - that's why we're hitting the road! 
“We're calling on whiskey fans, tradies and all-round legends to help us put together "The Bar That Jack Built", and then celebrate by raising a Jack to Jack this September, making this his biggest and best birthday!” 
In addition to those who can help build the bar itself, Jack Daniel's is also looking for the hottest new bands, singers and entertainers that want to perform at Jack’s bar in Melbourne and Sydney. Of course they will be working for Jack too, in true crowd sourcing style. 
To get involved with the campaign and find out more information, head to https://www.facebook.com/JackDanielsAustralia."

Happy Birthday, Jack.



Thats all for this week. Until next time...

Cheers, 
Martin.

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