Archive for March, 2009

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.


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