Saturday, 19 December 2015

This week in whisk(e)y #27 - Malt Masters Hong Kong returns, Starward investment from Diageo, PDT comes to Hong Kong, Suntory's limited Christmas releases, Limited edition JW Blue and new Chivas 12yo bottle design

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...

Malt Masters Hong Kong returns
Sure to be even bigger and better than last year, Malt Masters Hong Kong is returning in 2016, to be held at Conrad Hong Kong on 27-28th February, 2016.

Steph attended last year and had a great time, especially at the masterclasses (which for 2016 will be announced on 3rd January). With 50+ distilleries, 10 masterclasses, unlimited drams and various pairing events (including food and cigars - both sure to be hits in Hong Kong), we're sure 2016's festival will be an even bigger hit than 2015's.

Tickets are $800HKD per person and include one "Dream Dram" token, unlimited regular drams, a Glencairn and canapés (at the time of writing, discounted tickets for the Sunday were still available for $600HKD). Tickets are available from Gormei now.

Suntory Whisky Celebrates the Art of Giving this Christmas (Australia)
Last year we broke news of a new Suntory x Akira Isagawa collaboration (straight from Akira himself, who we found ourselves sitting next to at the 2014 Suntory Whisky Sydney launch), which turned out to be a special release of various Suntory whiskies wrapped in a furoshiki - a traditional Japanese scarf. Whilst the collaboration with Akira doesn't seem to have continued this year, the furoshiki has - returning for Christmas in selected Dan Murphy stores.

"Available as a gift with purchase in the lead up to Christmas in selected Dan Murphy’s stores, the luxury furoshiki embodies the respect with which gifts are bestowed to friends and family in Japan during the holiday season.
Like origami, furoshiki is considered an integral part of Japanese culture. For 2000 years, furoshiki served as a special pouch to hold personal items. Today, the ancient custom has become fashionable in Japan as a beautiful eco-friendly, lasting wrapping for gifts.
The 2015 furoshiki was created in Japan and is inspired by the Tanabada Festival of sakura, or cherry blossom, famous throughout the world for their delicate and striking beauty. 
“Suntory Whisky is the perfect gift, and the furoshiki completes a Suntory Whisky present in effortless style. We will even have staff on hand to hand wrap the furoshiki for customers, as well as tastings of the Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve in selected stores.”
Just 400 furoshiki have been produced, and the limited edition scarves will be available in selected Dan Murphy’s stores* around Australia this weekend 4th – 5th December, and the 18th – 19th December as a gift to wrap any purchase of the House of Suntory’s Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve (RRP AU$88)"
No doubt these won't last long, given the popularity of any limited edition Japanese whisky these days...

Please Don’t Tell (PDT) comes to Hong Kong
Now this we're excited about. Please Don't Tell, or "PDT", the legendary New York bar (often credited with initiating the modern "speakeasy" style bar trend), is coming to Hong Kong in the form of a pop-up bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental from 5 to 30 January, hosted in collaboration with Diageo World Class.

Steph and I visited in 2012, and I can still remember the taste of their fantastic Benton's Old Fashioned today. Needless to say we'll definitely be going along to this one... (they're even keeping the phone booth!)

"In a first of its kind event in the bar world, PDT will be recreated inside The Shell at MO Bar. Guests will step into the bar through a hidden entrance, in a phone booth located upstairs. Once inside they will find a space that faithfully recreates every detail of the New York original. Jim Meehan, bartender, founder of PDT, author of the PDT Cocktail Book, and Jeff Bell, current head bartender of PDT and WORLD CLASS USA Bartender of the Year 2013 will be behind the bar making cocktails.
Martin Newell, from Diageo RESERVE in Hong Kong said: “WORLD CLASS is on mission to inspire people to drink better. Supported by the world's biggest bartender competition, WORLD CLASS aims to elevate the drinking experience of consumers by training and inspiring bartenders around the world and working together with bars, restaurants and hotels to elevate and foster a fine drinking cocktail culture. By bringing PDT, one of the world’s best bars and home to some of the world’s best bartenders to Hong Kong, we are giving local bartenders and consumers alike an opportunity to experience a truly unique drinking experience.”
Inside PDT there will be an exclusive menu of 12 drinks, these will be a mix of PDT classics and new creations crafted just for Hong Kong. Some of the drinks they are bringing to Hong Kong include the: ‘Benton’s Old Fashioned’ (Don Lee, Winter 2007) made with bacon infused Bulleit Bourbon, bitters and maple syrup; ‘Cardinal’ (Jeff Bell, Spring 2014) a rosy hued aperitif using Tanqueray No. TEN gin, a bittersweet aperitivo known as Casoni,, Italian red vermouth and a touch of grapefruit and lemon; and ‘1-2 Punch’, a Scotch and beer combination using the Singleton of Glen Ord, lemon, grapefruit, citrus oleo-saccharum topped with a crisp lager.
A menu of hot dogs will be offered alongside the cocktails, inspired by Crif Dogs, the hot dog stand that serves as the entrance to PDT in NYC. Richard Ekkebus, Culinary Director of Amber, has created his own hot dog and a menu featuring hot dogs from leading Hong Kong chefs; part of the proceeds of each hot dog sold will be donated to charity.
PDT HK opens inside MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental on the 5th January, it will be open from 5pm to 1230am Tuesday to Saturday until the 30th January."

For reservations, contact MO Bar by phone: 2132 0077 or email: 

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Special Release: Celebrating the Year of the Monkey
Following two previous annual releases (celebrating the Year of the Horse and Year of the Ram editions, Johnnie Walker is launching a third special release Blue Label, to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

"JOHNNIE WALKER® BLUE LABEL™ Special Release: Year of the Monkey continues the tradition of Chinese calligraphy with blue brushstroke and golden hints. The bottle design features the energetic and joyful nature of monkey leaping fearlessly. When placing four uniquely white porcelain bottles side by side, the canvas unfolds to a stunningly beautiful visage, depicting monkeys leaping into the New Year with great joy and a daring spirit.
Drew Mills, Marketing Director of Diageo Brands noted, “JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL Year of Monkey Special Release truly marries the best of Chinese ceramic art with the very finest blend of Scotch whisky. This classic combination introduces unrivaled creative elements to the global whisky market, and I’m confident it will quickly become the premier choice for discerning collectors.”
JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL Special Release: The Year of Monkey will be available for sale at retail outlets in January 2016. (750ml/bottle)."

Chivas 12 year old re-design
We noticed something during our recent visit to the House of Chivas in Hong Kong. In the "Heritage Room", which charted the history of Chivas Regal back to the early 1900s through as series of bottle displays, what we've known as the "current" 12 year old bottle was not in fact, the last bottle on display. That honour went to this guy - the revised, 2015-onwards 12 year old.

"The new Chivas Regal 12 Year Old bottle retains the round generous shape for which it is renowned, while its shoulders have been raised higher to reflect the brand’s pride as one of the world’s leading Scotch whiskies. The brand signifier is now included as a more prominent, organic feature of the bottle, and the signatures of founders James and John Chivas have been added to the glass to display the value of brotherhood at the heart of the brand. The label has evolved to present a simplified and more vibrant look. 
The outer carton has been re-designed retaining the icons that hold depth of meaning and provenance to Chivas’ rich heritage, and select areas have been embossed and debossed to add a texturalised element to the packaging."
Same same, but different? We like it.

Congratulations Starward Whisky - $10m AUD investment including a minority stake from Diageo
Not so much a press release - more so a congratulations. Starward whisky (from the New World Whisky Distillery, whom we've become good friends with over the past few years) have recently announced the closing of an investment round of more than $10million AUD, including a minority stake taken out by Diageo

Let's just let that sink in a minute - spirits behemoth Diageo, who own brands such as LagavulinTalisker and Johnnie Walker, have taken out an investment stake in an Australian whisky distiller from Victoria who only filled their first barrel in 2010.

(We first heard about this a month or two ago, but now that it's been publicly announced, we're happy to be able to share the good news! The full press release can be found here.)

Clearly Diageo, see what I've been seeing in Starward all along - absolutely fantastic whisky. Look out for a write-up on a masterclass we helped host in Hong Kong (Starward's first international masterclass), which gave a few lucky Hong Kongers a taste of a number of stunning releases.

Well done David & team!

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


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