Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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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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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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.

Arran goes 20

February 4, 2009

arranmad20wvArran distillery is the latest distillery in bottling 20cl-bottles. A marvelous idea for those of us who with to sample as much as possible without having to buy a whole bottle everytime (this is quite important for us who live in town without a proper whisky bar) – I belive the tecnical term here is “ticker”.

One of the premier sources of 20cl-bottlings have been Douglas Laing with their Advanced Samples range, in addition to Diageo, Wm. Grant & Sons and a few others.

The first round of expressions, and let there be many more, is of two cask finishes: Madeira and St Emillion. They are available from Loch Fyne Whiskies at £14 a bottle (50% abv.).

Ailsa Bay officially opened

February 2, 2009

ailsa_bay_distillerywvAlthough it’s been in production for a while, since September 2007, it’s now had it’s official opening. Doing the honours was the UK’s own Prince of Whisky, Charles the Prince of Wales. After the official opening Charles filled one of the four casks that will be put aside for later bottling for the Prince’s Trust. So there will be a chance to get a hold of a bottle of malt from this distillery in some years.

Alisa Bay is owned by Wm. Grant & Sons and is located inside the comapy’s Girvan complex, where Ladyburn also was in operation between 1966 and 1975. The distillery took only 9 months to build and started production without so much as a mention. The distillery has steinless steel fermenters and four pairs of stills, based on the design of the stills at Balvenie. The whisky is, as with the company’s Kininvie Distillery in Dufftown, destined purely for blends. The aim is to produce a spirit in style with Balvenie.

This also brings the total of active Lowland distilleries up to a total of five: Glenkinchie, Auchentoshan, Bladnoch, Daftmill and now Ailsa Bay.

Where have all the ‘Fiddich’s gone?

January 31, 2009

Recent travels abroad have made me wonder why products from Wm. Grant & Sons aren’t available anymore. A couple of enquiries and talking to the sales people in the store revealed the story behind the removal of Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Grant’s from Norwegian Duty Free stores.

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Whisky sales in Norway, 2008

January 29, 2009

Whisky has never really been “in” in Norway, that honour has been reserved for the French brandy, Cognac. But slowly it’s been building a following that drinks no matter what. This has been proven the last year, and specially after the infamous “Credit Crunch” started. According to the 2008-figures, sales of whisky increased by 1.5% while Cognac was down 5.5%. The sales of malts are up 2.8% to 91,722 liters in total, giving a malt share of 6.7% (up from 6.6% in 2007).

Of the top 250-brands of spirits sold in Norway in 2008, whereof 28 are whiskies and a mere 7 are malts. These 7 malts account for 47.5% of the total sales of malts in Norway. Not surprisingly the winner is Glenfiddich 12yo, with Glen Moray 8yo and The Glenlivet 12yo trailing.

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Laphroaig Cask Strength to change

January 4, 2009

Finally got around to see the Laphroaig Christmas Card (this year it was a video with distillery manager John Campbell). One of the main items of news for the new year was that they will change the way the bottle the 10yo Cask Strength-expression. Until now they’ve tried to keep thestrength and flavour more or less consistent, something that is hard to say the least.

This policy has now been given the boot, and Laphroaig will start bottling the 10yo CS in two annual batches, with the batch number clearly stated on the label (like the Aberlour a’Bunadh). So flavour and strength will vary from batch to batch, something that will make the avid drinkers try to sample the all. I know I probably will.

If you haven’t seen it: Laphroaig 2008 Christmas Card (Video)


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