Just for Sweden

April 2, 2009

Our Swedish neighbours have a wee affinity for the Scottish tipple and often get special bottlings. Two very different distilleries are offering their wares purely to the Swedes this Spring.

The first one out is a very special Glengoyne expression – Glengoyne Swedish Oak Finish 16 Years (46.2% abv).

This is (I think) a dual cask bottling comprising of 660 bottles only available through the Swedish monopoly stores – Systembolaget. The price is to be 679 SEK (532 NOK/£58/€61) when it hits the stores in May. The plans for this edition started when Glengoyne in 2007 bought two casks made from Swedish oak from the Thorslundkagge Cooperage in Dyltabruk (Central Sweden, some 120 miles west of Stockholm).

The other is a limited edition whisky bottled at Cask Strength – Bowmore Laimrig (50,3%). Laimrig is gaelic for pier (or wharf, jetty, quay or landing according to Wiktionary). A total of 4.500 bottles have been made and are awaiting release, this also in May.The price for this one is 559 SEK (437 NOK/£47/€51). The whisky itself is 15 years old and has matured for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-Oloroso casks for a period of 5 years.

Tasting notes: Dark amber colour, the nose brings a sweet aroma of Oloroso Sherry, figs and cocoa with a finely tuned smokiness and a hint of saltiness. On the palate it’s dark chocolate, sherry and dried fruits (rasins) with a lovely, long and lingering finish with smoky notes.

Fifty-Fifty-Fraud: Update

March 25, 2009

Last august I wrote about what I felt was fraudulent behavior from Thomas Cook Airlines – the sale of a vatted whisky made by Douglas Laing specially for Thomas Cook Airlines – The Fifty-Fity Malt Whisky, Laphroaig and Macallan (ie a vatted malt). This was mostly due to their own-made “Systembolaget prices”, which in all Scandinavian countries just happened to be 1000 kroner over TC’s price.

Had a bit of a doubt of the reality of this price and finally it’s been proven. As of April 1st this bottling will be made available in Sweden, through the state monopoly – Systembolaget. The price in Sweden, fully taxed, will be 649 SEK (£54.75/€59.35) – one whole Swedish krone less than Thomas Cook. But Thomas Cook still claims that the Systembolaget price is 1650 SEK – they’ve even got it written up as a “Special Offer”!

Still a bit steeply priced for a vatted malt though.

News from Norwegian Duty Free

March 24, 2009

For some reason or another the main Norwegian Duty Free stores have chosen April as the month for “change”. So in the weeks leading up to the magical date shelves will begin to empty and brands will disappear from one day to the next – all to make room for the new additions.

This is also the date when prices change, even thought there was a bit of a price jump just before Christmas (explained with the strong Euro), but no decrease for Scottish whiskies – despite the weak Pound. According to my information a couple of whiskies will increase a couple of NOK’s, a couple will decrease a bit while most stay the same as they are today.

On to the disappearing and new malts:

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The Macallan wants you(r cash)

March 18, 2009

Sweden is a important market for whiskies in general and malts more specifically. Edrington, through their marketing division – Maxxium, arranged last year a very special trip for a few Swedes (and one or two Norwegians I think) – and doing it again this year. Last time it was to Orkney and Highland Park, while this time it’s off to Speyside and The Macallan Distillery.

But first a bit of a recap: The first trip was called “Return of the Vikings” and included a specially chartered flight from Stockholm to Orkney (with a whisky tasting en route), two nights accomodation, dinners, tours, lots of whisky and a “very speical” bottling of Highland Park called – “Return of the Vikings”. All that cost a mere €1200. Participants felt a bit cheated a few months later when the Highland Park Ambassador’s Cask #4 was released, as it was the same cask – though this cost a mere £225 (€284 with the rate at that time). This created a bit of noise which resultet in the participants receiving a further bottle (35cl) called “Return of the Vikings 2″ – this time with a expressed guarantee that the rest of the cast would not be bottled as a single cask bottling.

This brings us onto this year’s trip.

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Whisky and men

March 8, 2009

Men are simple creatures. We have simple needs. We live by simple principles.

1) Do not insult a man’s work. A man’s work is his personal footprint in history; his achievement in life. It puts a roof over his head and provides for his family.

2) Do not mess with a man’s woman. She’s his love, his life, the mother of his children and the person he takes orders from.

3) Do not take away a man’s whisky. Because after putting up with the work and the wife day in and day out, a man, any man, if there’s any justice in this world, on any given day, deserves a drink … or 10.

Nicked (and sort of taken out of context) from the Bangkok Post.

Distillers for sale

March 8, 2009

The Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya is feeling the pressure from banks to pay back some of the money he borrowed to buy companies such as Whyte & Mackay. After trying to entice Diageo buy a minority stake for several months he’s now given up. According to The Times he’s considering putting the entire company up for sale.

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Non alcoholic whisky?

March 6, 2009

A company based in Panama (in France Field, Colon Free Zone – according to their website) is launching what they claim is the worlds first non-alcoholic whisky. It supposedly tastes just like a standard Scotch and is purely “made from Natural Identical ingredients in accordance with the EEC regulation and from Artificial Flavors in accordance with the FDA Food and Drug Administration.” The company, which calls it self Scottish Sprits Ltd. (nice name for a Panamanian company, isn’t it?) plans to start production in April and plans to concentrate on Islamic countries.

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Norwegian News: March 2009

March 5, 2009

Not to much to brag about in the ways of new whiskies available in Norway in the month of March (sale start Saturday 7th). Only three new whiskies arrives this month, all on the “Blue list” – or the order assortement as it were, and all from the same distillery – Auchentoshan. The main reason is that Morrison-Bowmore has changed importers in Norway. Previously it was V&S Norway who imported Morrison-Bowmore’s product, but with Pernod Ricard’s purchase of the Swedish mother company this changed, so now the company Strom (InterBev/Altia) is the importer and putting some muscle behind the brand. This bring the total of Auchentoshans available in Norway up to 5 (the Three Wood is available at Vinmonopolet at the Select through most Duty Free stores). The going rate of exchange is 10,06 NOK to the £.

The new whiskies are:

auchentoshan12yowv

auchentoshan18yowvauchentoshan21yowvAuchentoshan 12 Years (449,90 NOK/£44.54) is the first whisky out this month. This replaced the previous 10yo when the new packaging was introduced. A richer and more sherried expression this, with hints of spices following the light fruity notes. A clear improvement in my book, though it would probably have been even better with a bit higher abv (it’s 40% abv). Not exactly cheap, but then again it’s Norway – priced on the same level as JW Green, Balvenie 12yo DW, Glenfiddich 15yo Solera and The Glenlivet 15 French Oak.

Auchentoshan 18 Years (699,90 NOK/£69.61) is a grand example of a aged lowlander. Rich and spicy on the palate with a sherried tone coming through after a while – even though it’s a 100% ex-bourbon maturation. Some very old casks have gone into this mix. Carries the extra 3% abv. compared to the 12yo very well (it’s 43% abv.). Quite good value for Norway.

Auchentoshan 21 Years (900 NOK/£89.51) is a classic avec-whisky, to enjoy after a good (but not to spicy) meal. Pour a glass, sit down in a recliner, light a cigar og pipe and comtemplate over things that were, are and might be – or simply just drink the stuff. A great example of that Auchentoshan needs to age for quite a bit before reching it’s potential, a world away from the Three Wood and the Classic. It’s bottled at 43% abv. Pricewise it’s about the same here in Norway as in Britain, even with the weak pound.

Show off with Balvenie

February 16, 2009

Got a great number of malts in your cabinet? Want the world to see them, and not just listed up in a forum post? Balvinie gives you the opportunity to “create a virtual whisky shelf” of their website: www.thebalvenie.com

Thousands of expression are ready to be assembled (both OB’s and IB’s) on your personal shelf, with comments and ratings. Compare your notes with other patrons of the site, amongst them several renowned whisky experts. A list of what malts to try next can also be made.

So if you want to show off your collection, or just need a handy place to keep you notes and ratings – visit The Balvenie Warehouse 24.

Getting there…

February 15, 2009

…but dragging their feet. After the infamous, for us here in the far north, Rosengren-case, Sweden was forced to accept private import of alcoholic beverages for personal use. A short time thereafter the ESA (no, not the space agency – the EFTA/EEA Surveilance Agency) said that Norwegian rules also had to comply with this.

After dragging their feet for a while and trying their best to postpone the inevitable Norway finally said thei would “look into” changing the rules. They then spent almost a year looking into what needed to be done and just before Christmas they sent out the new rules for comments.

In short they will:

  1. make it legal to receive alcohol from abroad without applying for permission first
  2. make it legal to purchase alcohol from abroad and have it shipped to Norway
  3. allow travellers to bring as much alcohol as they want into Norway

as long as

  1. proper taxes are paid (as of 2009 it’s 6,07 NOK per percent and litre, plus VAT of course (25%))
  2. see point 1
  3. you pay if you have more than 1 litre with you. This litre is the duty free allowance, the next 4 litres can be declared and paid for with the simplified rate (260 NOK/litre) while anything above has to be paid for using the normal taxes (point 1)

Some regulations are proposed:

  1. Times for delivering the beverages are, usually, to follow the times set for the state run Vinmonopolet
  2. Delivery companies must register themselves as a “alcohol approved delivery company”, and employees must go through training for this.
  3. Delivery employees must be above 18 (for delivering beer or wine) or 20 (spirits) years of age
  4. Delivery employees must make sure the receiving party is above the apporved age (18/20) and not drunk at time of delivery

That’s the short version of what the government has used 46 pages to say. All comments must be received by the proper authorioties by March 5th, and after the proposal with be refined a bit and go before Parliament – hopefully before the summer break. Most likely the new rules will be in effect from January 1st 2010 – after that: On-line whisky retailers, here I come!


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