Category Archives:Whisky Thinking

Oranges
Nov. 25.

Colouring, regulations, what to take in your #Scotch

WCI barley in glass (640x426)

Where to start…..

 Colouring:

This is part of the mindset that introduced round tomatoes and straight carrots. Everything must be the same, otherwise people will be confused….. well, yes and no.

We know all the arguments for it –  yada yada yada – however, things are changing. People are seeking education in whisky. To differentiate #Scotch in this world market we NEED to focus on education and heritage. 

People who are interested in quality #Scotch whisky know/learn that this is a crafted product, there will be variations in batches. 

This is the same as the small food producers and farmers markets. People now seek out the home grown, the tasty, the “normal misshaped” vegetables. It is the same for #Scotch. 

Soon, the big companies will produce whisky without colouring… hell – even Dalmore have brought out a non chill filtered, uncoloured whisky. It is like everyone making peated whisky; from Bunnahabhain to Bruichladdich….

There will be two tiers to the market, as there is already… churned out coloured, chill filtered, cask flavoured? whisky.. and non chill filtered, non coloured whisky made with taste in mind from the go get. You decide which market gets bigger. You buy the product you want to drink.

It’s like the story with the wee girl and the two wolves fighting inside her, which one wins? The one you feed.

Regulations: 

Same story here, it’s a two tiered arena. We have the focussed #Scotch makers in the new players – Ardnahoe, the Clydeside, etc.  and we have the distillers – Eden Mill, Glasgow and others. It’s like comparing apples and oranges – and pears! 

These companies have entirely different business models. You can be a distiller and a whisky maker. Or you can be a distiller, and a whisky maker and make other stuff too.  Or you can be a distiller and make other stuff.

The laws protecting #Scotch do not need to change to help the innovators. The innovators are focussing on a different thing. If anything we need to protect #Scotch more. It needs the Champagne protection. 

Making other things is encouraged, working with the whisky spirit is encouraged… this is something “other”, and, can be looked after and treated as such.

#Scotch, in the traditional making sense needs to be very protected. 

What to take in your whisky?:

Oh heavens! Seriously..?? I can’t believe this stupid argument is rearing it’s ugly head, again….

You take WHATEVER THE FECK YOU WANT IN YOUR #SCOTCH. 

You just keep drinking it.. and keep us all in a job that we love.

Thank you for drinking – add your cola, your milk, your ginger ale… your more #Scotch!! 

Just keep drinking!

Slàinte!

ps I remeber the days when we called it Whisky… Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009

Bunna Feis Bottle 30 Anniversary
Jun. 07.

Fèis Ìle 30 Years Anniversary Bottling

Feis Bot 8

Official Bottling from the Fèis Ìle Committee

13 YO Marsala Cask Finish Bunnahabhain

46.3 % abv. (alcohol by volume) non chill filtered.

Hand labelled and Handfilled by Fèis Ìle committee members. Only 100 bottles were filled. Roughly 80 bottles were for sale.

We call this the Locals Bottle ~ as mainly locals ~ and a few lucky visitors bought it.

It is a STUNNING dram. I love it.

Colour is antique gold, a well loved wedding ring.

Nice bubbles around the side of the glass upon pouring ~ the liquid is fine, not heavy. A mouthfeel of satin rather than velevet.

A thin band of gold floated on top, there was lots of space between each teardrop or legs.

Honey and Peaches.

 Stewed raisins.

Toast and Marmalade.

Then,  a fresh floral nose. I thought of candyfloss clouds – and salmon!

Roses, bananas, wet wood and redcurrants. A very fuzzy warm buzz to the alcohol. No strong nose burn at all.

A scent of pears and fruits coming in from the left. Then American cream soda & burnt tyres in the middle – the layer of Bunnahabhain is found!

The dram is confident, sweet and tumbling. Lovely mouthfeel. A sweetness to the back of the tongue. Then a stronger band of flavour and a long, cosy finish  streaming down to linger in your chest.

 You feel like a huge, fuzzy skinned, round, sun warm peach is filling the inside of your mouth.

A reminder of fresh pears and some kind of white blossom – maybe Hawthorn blossoms.

In the heart is seasalt, slightly creamy and heavy, there is vanillin,  and a hint of oily fishiness –  this gives the dram it’s strength in body.

 Again, a second nose bringing apricots and smoked fish.

There is a lacy, flowery overlay. To the right comes again,  a signature Bunnahabhain note of  american cream soda.

This is not a heavy dram. But, neither is it light. It is like an adolescent teetering on the brink of adulthood – all the optomistic power, without any of the pain! A perfect balance.

There comes again a briny tint, a slight fizz in the mouthfeel.

I pour another glass….

This is a stunning, warm hearted dram celebrating

30 Years of warm hearted friendships of Fèis Ìle.

Here’s to the next 30 Years.

Slàinte!

Whisky for Girls-page-001
Mar. 27.

Whisky Marketing is so off piste..d

There are two types of people, Buyers & Drinkers. They are  emphatically NOT the same thing ~ although, like a good conundrum, they CAN be the same thing!

The marketing demographic for the new whisky drinker is the 28 year old, uber cool, hipster type. Probably with a beard, maybe with a cagoule…. and that’s just the girls….

The problem here is that this dude doesn’t BUY much whisky…. this character just drinks it. 

 This character is found at whisky festivals making the most of drinking not buying. Any whisky they do buy is on supermarket special, then, having it on show to impress, they are unlikey to share.  The bottle will last for eternity. 

There are two type of buyers ~ the buyers of GLASSES of whisky in bar, and the buyers of  BOTTLES. Some people are both. The hipster buys a good dram for themself  in a bar, to show off ~ they do not buy a round. But they will only buy one. The rest of the time they drink what others buy them.

So, if the marketing demographic are not buying whisky; who IS buying it?

JOE and JOLEEN BLOGS BUY WHISKY.

 They are the buyers and the hipster is the drinker. Yet the marketing objectives target the hipster……?

Same thing upon visiting distilleries. Hipster tours distilleries on the £6 tour. If any whisky is bought it is by whoever has taken them to the distillery with money from their parents.  The people on the expensive tours are not the hipsters. The people on the expensive tours are Joe & Joleen. But who cares for them?

The drinkers are the ones who fill in questionaires, they want attention, they want to be heard. These people are NOT the buyers. Not in the main. The buyers are the ones who come to the distilleries. The drinkers are too mean – Unless it is a festival, then they are there for the freebies. The buyers very seldom fill in market research or forms etc as they are far too busy living life and making money, so they can afford to buy whisky.

The buyers are an overlooked positivity. 

The thinking behind marketing to the hipsters is probably to capture their interests and they will stay loyal, and when they can afford to, they will buy the whisky to which they are loyal. 

Nope, doesn’t work. The hipster is too mean to be loyal. And by the time they can afford to buy whisky there is something new in fashion and as they are a hipster ~ albeit an old one, they want to be seen drinkng whatever is in fashion.

Loyalty with whisky buying is not the same psychology as loyalty in car buying.  A way to develop loyalty is to invoke emotion, invoke a feeling of belonging.  If you do this, people will turn to you, in the same way people will turn to an old friend.

So, what needs to be done is the whisky must be personalised. This cannot be done in isolation. A whisky needs a host. 

The host can be a place, or a person. For example, John Campbell is Laphroaig’s Host. He takes Laphroaig out into the world. People connect with him. They form friendships. Back home, Laphroaig Distillery itself is the Host ~ (and also, David Adams!) The buildings, the location, the friendliness of the staff , all these things act as ‘HOST’.

 Laphroaig have a very loyal following because there are different layers to connect to Laphroaig. Laphroaig do the hipster thing, but they humanise it and connect with the hipster’s family… because after all, they are the ones who buy the whisky the hipster drinks…

The only way to succeed is to share and connect with Joe and Joleen Blogs on a human level. Glasgow Distillery are great at this, they have Liam Hughes. He is the Host. People can’t yet visit Glasgow Distillery, but already people are bonded to it because Liam HIMSELF affords them a ‘place’ to connect to emotionally. 

Jim McEwan was a great host for Bruichladdich. Anthony’s boys are great hosts for Kilchoman when they are out on the road… (be better if their accents were Ilich though, but we can’t have everything…!.) And Kilchoman, itself is the Host when people come to the distillery. It is small and cute enough to be held in people’s mind and heart. People understand the farm distillery and connect on many levels. 

 If you are the hipster setting up a distillery and you are too mean to buy drink and share of yourself, no one will connect with you and your brand will be empty. All these achingly cool, uber trendy start ups will get nowhere unless the team have a real face, a real host. Rolling around with other uber trendy hipsters will not make any money what so ever, as, the other hipsters will be jealous and secretly won’t help  (we can make people ACT like they love us, but we can’t make them really love us…)

Another marketing “off piste d” is the outdated, childish concept of insulting the audience and believing they will still like you. This outmoded psychological programme was failing in the 80’s, even as it was being developed. Telling the audience that whisky buyers are stupid (not the assembled company as you are part of an elite squad….?!) but all others out there; is the pinnacle of an aggressive * large brand*  ‘hit them with a stick and they will like you’ marketing strategy. It is completetly wrong. And it is utterly boring. Not to mention offensive.   Joe & Joleen Blogs are the buyers of whisky –  putting food in our mouths – and we call them stupid….. ?? Everyone should take marketing lessons from Ratners arrogance.

It is this pseudo ‘whisky apartheid’ we are trying move away from.

 Marketing is filled up with spread sheets, data analysing and is so self referential, it has little bearing on what is really happening. 

Perhaps if marketing strategy was seen more as the initial presentation ~ like the catwalk fashions presented by designers, by the time the fabrics etc are brought to the public, they are shaped to meet the people on the street. 

Whisky brands could do the same. Develop multi tiered marketing strategies. One for the introduction of the product; the showcasing, the catwalk level;  one for the brand home, one for the people who are actually going to buy it and so on…

And, most importantly, employ people who actually know about whisky! 

Slàinte!

 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 12.

WHISKY IS LIQUID MUSIC

Malt is MusicBarenboim

 Listening to  recordings of  Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine born, Israeli pianist and conductor giving the Reith Lectures in 2006, I was reminded of how classical music and whisky resemble one another, both in their construction and in our relationship with, and to, each.

 Whisky and music both have notes ~ whisky has flavour notes and music has sounds notes, and both are experienced over an organised period of time.

 Both experiences involve the active participation of the ‘consumer’ ~  absorbing  music into ones body as sound vibrations penetrate the ear, and  absorbing whisky into the body as  tiny vibrating particles of matter ~ liquid molecules,  penetrate the mouth and aroma compounds penetrate the nose.

 Both experiences are extremely subjective as we bring our personal associations to each. We experience the true substance and simultaneously we experience our subjective experience of it.

 Both have past, present and future having being build on what went before, engaging with what just precedes the experience. In music it can be the silence before the first note and with whisky it can be the very air around one ~ whither inside or out. Both experiences are built on the skills and experiences of the past ~ building up the physical quality of the musical instrument, building up the quality of the fermentation and so on, learning from experience how to improve.

 Both experiences are vertical as well as horizontal as both build on the memory of what has gone before, ones association with  piece of music or a dram. Where one heard the music, where one tasted the whisky.  Both evoke memory. Both  stimulate emotion. And,  this is an interesting point ~ can whisky and music evoke emotion? Or do they stimulate latent emotion we already have?

 Both classical music and malt whisky used to be just ‘part of life’ and  now are regarded as ‘experiences’ ~  that mainly only the monied can afford.

 Ones enjoyment and appreciation of both whisky and music grow in relation to the more one knows about them. For example, having tried many whiskies and being aware of the ‘journey’ of the dram, one is more able to separate ones sensations upon drinking the whisky and therefore be aware of the physical construct of the dram. One can comprehend the experience of the dram in a  way that is already familiar.  It is the same with music. If one understands or knows the construction of the piece of music or is familiar with a style of music, one has greater awareness and is better able to ‘map’ ones experience  and hopefully relate more fully to it.

 Melody and harmony in music create a specific kind of tension. This can be found in the creation of whisky ~ there must be a balance between the notes, strengths and power of the new make spirit with the maturation. The tensions when balanced are what create a wonderful dram, and a wonderful experience of music. The magic of the universe is such, that,  if the notes and movements are right, the energy flows naturally and something greater than the sum of it’s parts is birthed.

 Mr Barenboim says the lesson to take from music is that life must combine transparency, power and strength.  All notes must be played at their power, but to form a great chord sound the various players must be heard together,  in a dynamic tension that holds all sounds as equal. This creates great strength of sound. If this does not occur, you have great power from one section  overwhelming another so there is no tension, and therefore no strength. Music will be totally uninteresting without this ~  it is the same with whisky. If the notes of peat, or cereal or vanillin are too powerful and overwhelm the other flavour notes, you have a heavy, flat whisky . If it does not allow the other notes to be heard it has no strength, only power ~ and this does not express the totality of of a great whisky.

 Music shows the inevitable flow of life, as does whisky, both are experienced in a linear fashion albeit both vertically and horizontally.  The experience of both is constant change. One cannot hold the sound or the taste any longer than it is meant to be held. This is like life ~ no matter how we wish for something to last longer or to hurry and pass, it will take as long as it takes!

 Slainte!

And thank you to Daniel Barenboim for sharing his wisdom in the great Reith Lectures.

Bruichladdich Nostalgia BAROLO 017

 

 

 

 

 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 05.

Terroir ~ in Gaelic, is Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land

Favours Galen & Ling

 

Barley grown in a field in Bridgend, Islay in 2013

TERROIR : of the land

Anyone who thinks there is no such thing as terroir misses understanding themselves and our world.  Barley, water, peat, yeast, copper, people ~all come from the land.

In making whisky ~ everything is provided by the earth, by nature herself ~ barley, earth to grow it in, people to sow it, tend and harvest it, water to soak it and let it germinate, yeast to react with the sweet barley water, wooden wash backs to ferment the wash in, copper stills to distil the wash and spirit in, peat to burn to toast the barley ~ all from Mother Nature. 

Stone built warehouses to keep the drams in, wooden casks for maturing whisky made from oak trees from all over the world, glass made with sand from ground down stones and shells for the bottles, and paper made from trees for labels and packaging. The people required at every step of the way, their skills, their attitudes, their passions and compassions ~ all from Mother Nature.

The weather conditions and geology which influence flora and fauna, which in their balanced relationship with each other made a perfect location for people to farm there ~ eg  Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.

Because they farmed there they grew barley. When they harvested they had grain for making flour, animal feed, to plant again the following year, and to make whisky.  People chose land that was fit for purpose. Their lives grew out of what was there. They were shaped by that land, and in turn produced that which was shaped by the land and the people of that land engaging in an interactive, reciprocal relationship.  Their society was formed by their habits in that land. Their interaction with that specific landscape and animals therein shaped how their language became, what food they ate, what they drank. 

So, concisely;  the geography, geology, flora and fauna created what would happen there; what settlements, what habits of human behaviour, what language, what skill sets, what creativity.

Next, the distilleries became bigger than the farms. There were piers where puffers brought coal for the fires to heat the stills, bringing casks to store whisky (in those days people made whisky from the outset) taking excess whisky away, bringing in extra barley; the moving and shaking of that place.

Each area created a different whisky as each area had different sets of characteristics ~ the characteristics were in the people, too; the habits they had in distilling, their traditions and customs of living, the specific skills they had, the shape of their buildings, where they were located in the landscape. The weather they received influenced what clothes they made, what food they ate, what they drank, when their streams went dry, where was best to store grain, the particular time things were done. All these particulars are shaped by the landscape in which they take place. And all these particulars allow the spirit of a landscape to produce something unique. The energies specific to a landscape produce things unique to that area.  This is what is meant by terroir.  In Gaelic, we call it

Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land.

 We believe Anam an Fhearainn matters  

~ not just in whisky: it matters in EVERYTHING.

Pronounciation : Anam an yerr-ane   ~  Anam (as in Adam)  ane (as in plane)

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Oct. 22.

DRINK WHISKY, SPEAK GAELIC

UISGE BEATHA  ~ water of life ~ whisky

Whisky for Girls Whisky Wheel

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 Cuibhle Blaise or Cuibhle Bhlas ~ FLAVOUR WHEEL 

 duilleagach ~ LEAFY 

 flùranach ~ FLORAL 

 measach ~ FRUITY 

 cùbhraidh ~ FRAGRANT 

 leathair ~LEATHERY  

 mar thombaca ~ TOBACCO 

 toit – fhiodha ~ WOOD-SMOKE 

 ioc-shlàinteach ~ MEDICINAL 

 ròiseideach ~ RESINOUS 

 giuthasach ~ PINE 

 bhanillan or mar bhanilla ~ VANILLIN 

 mil ~ HONEY 

 ìmeach or mar ìm ~ BUTTERY 

 cnòthach ~ NUTTY 

 rubaireach ~ RUBBERY 

 mar fhèoil ~ MEATY 

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SULPHURY ~ mar phronnasg

OIL-ASSOCIATED ~ co-cheangailte ri ola

SWEET TASTE ~ blas milis

WOOD ASSOCIATED ~ co-cheangailte ri fiodh

PHENOLS ~ phionoil

FEINTS ~ pheintean

ESTERS ~ eastaran

ALDEHYDES ~ aldehaidean

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 next week we will have a  video SAYING/PRONOUNCING them whilst doing a tasting..………. 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jul. 21.

Whisky for Girls Presents ~ Girls for Whisky

Women in Whisky  are standing on the shoulders of giants ~  Emily Pankhurst, Millicent Fawcett, Bessie Williamson, Sheila Burtles, to name but a few.

We owe a great debt to these forward thinking independent women. Emily Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett for fighting for our rights as women, Bessie Williamson for leading the way for women in distillery management, being one of the first, if not the first, woman distillery manager. She was manager, then in 1954 became owner of Laphroaig Distillery. Sheila Burtles is one of the pioneers who created the whisky flavour wheel ~ without which concept we would struggle to decipher or describe the notes in our lovely drams.

Today, Whisky for Girls would like to introduce some of the amazing women who continue this pioneering tradition and are working in and around the whisky industry, opening up a traditionally male dominated arena for the benefit of all.

 Without further ado I present……………………………

KELLY CARPENTER

 JOINT FOUNDER OF THE CANADIAN SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY.    http://www.smws.ca/

 Where do you live?    Calgary, Canada

What do you do?    My husband and I are the founders of the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Where did your interest in whisky come from?    I grew up around whisky as both my parents enjoyed it.

How long have you been drinking whisky?    I dabbled in it in University, and always kept a bottle or two around, but it was when Rob and I moved to Scotland for a year in 2004 that my interest and passion really started to take off.

What was your first dram/last/next dram?   First dram:  probaby a Chivas as that was what the folks drank.  Last dram:  last night, one of my favourite Society bottlings from a few years back, 33.70 “Keith Richards meets Socrates”.  Next dram:  probably another fabulous Society dram, but which one depends on my mood, the weather, the time of day… 

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?    In the next 10 years – I’d like to say early retirement, but realistically we hope to be running a well-established, successful branch of The SMWS and enjoying all the fun things that come with that, like traveling, hosting tastings and meeting great people who love whisky!

When are you coming to see us in Islay?    I’ve been to Islay twice – it’s such a neat place!  We’ll be in Scotland at the end of August but sadly a trip to Islay isn’t in the cards this time.  

What can the industry do to improve things for women?    If you mean in terms of getting more women interested in whisky, there’s already been a real shift in the demographics of who’s drinking whisky now. I see it all the time at tastings and festivals we attend where young, curious women are keen to learn about whisky, perhaps because their husbands/boyfriends/fathers/brothers drink it. It’s encouraging!  Within the industry, we’re seeing more and more women in significant roles like “distillery manager” and “master blender” which were traditionally held by men.  Social media is also playing a part as people like yourself and others share their thoughts through Twitter, Facebook, websites/blogs, etc.  Anything that women in the industry can do to alleviate some of the intimidation is key for women who are just starting to learn about whisky!

I think marketing and packaging play a big part too.  My husband always teases me because I will often buy wine based on the label design without too much concern for the contents (needless to say, that’s backfired on me more than a few times).  But the point is that women are highly visual creatures and certain brands are realizing that the shape of the bottle, for example, can attract curious new buyers.  When Glenmorangie redesigned their bottles a few years ago, they made them much more feminine-looking; almost reminiscent of a perfume bottle.  Women respond to that.  I’m encouraged by the number of women I see showing interest in whisky and I’m sure the trend will continue.
 
What’s next?    What’s next?  A dram, of course!  : )
 
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PENNY ELLIS

 DIRECTOR OF THE SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE WHISKY FESTIVAL    http://www.spiritofspeyside.com/

 Where do you live?  I live in Speyside in a small village close to the town of Forres.

What do you do?    My main role is owning and managing with my husband Knockomie Hotel in Forres. We are a small 15 bedroom Inn with a large selection of single malts and blended whiskies stocked in the Malt Library. Being located in the beautiful Speyside region we have over 20 distilleries close by. Many are open to visitors and have great visitor centres, that attract tourists and whisky enthusiasts from all over the world. I also a Director of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. The festival attracts visitors from as far away as Canada, Japan and India as well visitors from Europe and the United Kingdom. I also write a monthly Whisky Column for the Scots Magazine.

Where did your interest in whisky come from?   Having known Gavin, my husband, for over 25  years whisky has always featured in celebrations, and over the years through working for two whisky companies and also selling it at Knockomie, I have developed an interest in the ‘water of life’. 

 How long have you been drinking whisky?     I have been drinking whisky since my early twenties. When you are living in Edinburgh, it soon becomes apparent that when you are socialising with friends the subject of whisky comes up and everyone has an opinion!

What was your first dram/last/next dram?   My first dram was at Hogmanay one year and it was a Bell’s blended whisky. My last dram was a Glenlivet Nadurra, a stunning example of a Speyside Single malt.Nadurra is Gaelic for natural, and this cask strength 16 year old is matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks, it has a soft fragrant and floral nose with a gentle toffee sweetness and creamy palate, this will be a favourite of mine. For my next whisky, I would like to try Laphroaig Triple Wood, it looks very interesting and so it shall look forward to savouring a dram of it.

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?   Over the next 10 years I would like to develop my enthusiasm and passion for whisky further, writing more about. I have written a book, published this year called Distinguished Distilleries, it’s aimed at the whisky enthusiast or  tourist and takes you around Scotland giving a short insight in to 40 different distilleries. I would also like to introduce more women to whisky and offer more bespoke tastings aimed at women.

When are you coming to see us in Islay?    I very much hope to visit Islay this Autumn.

What can the industry do to improve things for women?   I think the industry is working hard to capture the female market and there are a number of brand ambassadors who are women and who are actively promoting and introducing women to whisky. Let’s all just keep up the good work!

What’s next?   For me, I will continue to run Knockomie and wherever I can I will learn more about our national drink and promote it to new and existing enthusiasts. I am intending to speak and do a whisky tasting at a Whisky Club in the North West of England, I hope this will be the first of many.

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 FEMKE TIJTSMA SIJTSMA 

 WHISKYGIRL    http://whiskygirl.nl/

 Where do you live?    The Netherlands in a small town in the north ,called Hallum. Here it’s famous for it’s cookies and rusk.

What do you do?   I run an online administration office in combination with cloud tools. My partner has his own company which I make part of.  My job is to take care of the administration and the marketing.

Where did your interest in whisky come from?    When I was 18, I fell in love with whisky.  I was staying at a friends place, He just returned from Scotland, and he brought some bottles home with him. We had a nice evening, chatting about his journey and there came the glass of whisky. As you may know, I’m curious, than and now.  From the first sip of the golden drink I was hooked. There was something that a seed has been planted and something was growing… a grow of whisky interest. I never tasted anything like it. All I know is, that this particular whisky came from scotland.

How long have you been drinking whisky?    Since I was 18. I’m 33 now… so around 15 years. The interest in whisky has never left me. But since a few years, the interest became bigger. I visit the Whisky Festival in Leiden ( now Den Haag) and I was amazed about the range of whisky,  I tasted whisky, where I didn’t knew  the existence. I met someone who  had a stand there. He told me about a whiskyforum.(hetwhiskyforum.nl) and there was an need of woman :-)…  My whisky interest has been pulled into an new dimension. When I got home, I went to the website and became a member. I’ve met a lot of interesting  people.

What was your first dram/last/next dram?   I can’t remember my first one, unfortunately  …. All I know it was fantastic and never tasted anything like it again. Maybe thats the drive to go on this whisky adventure. My last one was at the North Sea Jazz festival. I had the Highland park 12 yr at the Famous Grouse Bar. And my next? Visit my website….

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?    I hope my website and my name is known everywhere. When you say whiskygirl, no explanation is needed. Within a year or two I’d like to be part of a Whisky Festival.  Sometimes I’m joking about having my own whisky distillery and launching my own whisky… you never know. I’m working on a business plan. I’ve got lot’s of ideas for the next 10 years.

When are you coming to see us in Islay?     Between now and a year, I hope…. I’m planning a trip, but that takes time.

 What can the industry do to improve things for women?   Playing with the design of the bottles.  Other free things to go with it..  not only “man things”. We woman are upcoming in the whisky market.  And we’d like it a little bit different than most man.  I’m not saying, it has to be pink. But more sweet, sexy and smooth. Make room for a new image, to attract more woman. Now we haven’t got a very nice image…just picture google on Whisky and woman….  It’s a shame. For example. Just look at the washing advertising on tv. Where are all the men who are washing their clothes. Slowly there is a change in this image. So also in the whisky and women combination. 

What’s next?    Just keep an eye on whiskygirl. I may surprise you 

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ALWYNNE GWILT

 MISS WHISKY     http://misswhisky.com/                   Photo: imageRevolver

Where do you live?   London, England

What do you do?   Freelance Journalist and Blogger

Where did your interest in whisky come from?   I went to a tasting about four and a half years ago at a small whisky shop called Milroys in London. I thought I hated whisky as I’d had bad experiences when I was younger with horrid cheap blends, but that night my eyes were opened to the beauty of single malts.

How long have you been drinking whisky?   Since February 2008! A well-remembered evening!

What was your first dram/last/next dram?   Unfortunately, I don’t remember my first dram. My last was a secret one from Islay which I don’t know the name of as I am a judge in some whisky awards, so they don’t label the drams. My next one will almost certainly be another random Islay whisky – I’ve still got 23 to go!

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?    I hope to keep exploring the world of whisky, learning about new countries emerging onto the whisky scene and furthering the fact that us ladies enjoy a dram as much as the fellas do! But 10 years? Gosh, that’s a while yet. I’ve only been drinking it for less than five, so I can only hope to double my exposure in that time. Fingers crossed!

When are you coming to see us in Islay?   Oooo good question! I hope to get up there this autumn (maybe September?) if I can as I’ve still only driven through rather than properly visited Islay so it’s a big one on my list!

What can the industry do to improve things for women?    That’s a tricky one. I know so many amazing women who work in this industry who really love what they do and don’t see any difference between how they are treated and how the men are. Yes, there are loads more men working in the whisky world, but I think that is slowly changing. On the note of women who drink whisky and maybe trying to get more into it – I think that will only develop over time. The whisky world is a slow moving one but we’re seeing huge step changes in how it’s marketed and advertised and I think that will only increase the number of females, and younger (ie: below 35-year-olds) who drink drams.

What’s next?   I hope to just keep encouraging more people to discover whisky, whether female, male, young or old. I’m constantly doing this in my inner circles of friends and family, but hope Miss Whisky (my website) will encourage more women to get into it. Equally, I love hearing people’s stories, especially those of the women in the industry, and can’t wait to keep sharing those with the wider audience.

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AMANDA LUDLOW

 

CO FOUNDER OF THE WHISKY LOUNGE    http://www.thewhiskylounge.com/

 Where do you live?    York

What do you do?    I organise Festival side of The Whisky Lounge and I am the Commercial Director of The Great Whisky Company which specialises in distributing interesting Whiskies to the on and off trade exclusively and our first client is Berry Brothers and Rudd

Where did your interest in whisky come from?   My Daddy and my husband

How long have you been drinking whisky?    6 months

What was your first dram/last/next dram?    Bushmills Black Bush, Jameson’s Select Reserve and Berry Brother 1980 Coal Ila

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?    More drinking of mine malts in small amounts, more learning and converting others to do the same

When are you coming to see us in Islay?    Hopefully at the end of July start of August

 What can the industry do to improve things for women?    the industry is welcoming from my point of view I think we need to educate women to the beauty of whisky if we succeed in doing that they will be joining the industry in droves

What’s next ?   Right now organising the TWL Liverpool Manchester and 10th Anniversary Festival in York 13th October.  Planning for 2013 with TWL Festivals in France 2013 and Belfast 2013, possibly a new distillery project, plus 2 new clients for The Great Whisky Company in the Autumn all fingers crossed.

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ALLISON PATEL

 OWNER AT LOCAL INFUSIONS AN IMPORT/EXPORT COMPANY http://thewhiskywoman.wordpress.com/

Where do you live?    New York City, USA

What do you do?   I run my own spirits import/export company, Local Infusions, where I focus on independent craft producers.  I search the globe for unique, hand-crafted products, focusing mostly on whiskies produced in non-traditional countries and manage my blog. I am also preparing to launch my own whisky, Brenne, a French Single Malt that’s been finished in Cognac casks. When I first met with this 3rd generation Cognac distiller 2 years ago, I learned that he was making whisky as a side project.  He had no interest in marketing and selling it so I set up a partnership with him and offered to create the brand around this beautiful whisky and handle all of the sales if he continues to make it. There is nothing like it on the market and I can honestly say it is the most approachable whisky I have ever tasted.  I’m so excited to be launching it in NYC first this Fall!

Where did your interest in whisky come from?   My husband!  Every night after dinner he would relax with a good single malt.  I didn’t think I liked whisky so I tried everything else looking for my own night cap.  Then one night we were in lower Manhattan at a bar called Vintry Wine & Whisky and having just returned from South Korea, he had a new-found love for Japanese whiskies.  He ordered a Yamazaki 18yr, I took the first sip and never gave him back his glass!  I was hooked and never looked back.

How long have you been drinking whisky?    Since the Summer of 2008

What was your first dram/last/next dram?   First was Yamazaki 18, Last was Mackmyra Special 07, Next … something later on tonight!

 Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?    Hopefully still running my company.  I’d like to be able to look back and see an integration of craft whiskies all around the world.  I know there is a supply & demand issue and one of the appeals of “craft” is that it’s limitedly produced – but I don’t think every product needs to be in every market.  However, I do believe that every country has pockets of consumers who are passionate about whisky, eager to learn, experience & share and I’d like to be one of the people that can help bring these amazing, global craft whiskies to them. 

When are you coming to see us in Islay?    Does tomorrow work? 😉

What can the industry do to improve things for women?   Not separate us from the men.  I think whisky separates the boys from the men, but not the women from the men! 😉 It doesn’t matter to me if your male, female or somewhere inbetween; if you enjoy your brown spirits, then that’s what it’s all about!  Don’t “dumb it down” or start putting rainbows and glitter on your labels to try to attract more female consumers.  Just focus on making something that tastes great. Period.

What’s next?   Launching Brenne!

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 MYSELF! ~ RACHEL MACNEILL

 Photo ~ imageRevolver

OWNER OF WHISKY FOR GIRLS & WILD AND MAGIC ISLAY TRAVEL CO http://www.whiskyforgirls.com/home/

Where do you live?    Isle of Islay, Scotland

What do you do?    I run Whisky for Girls company which  started just for fun, as a joke really, as a way to introduce my friends and other women to whisky,  and like all great jokes it took on a life of it’s own. Whisky for Girls integrates people,  drams, the process, the elements and the humour and graft and shows it to people and acts as a bridge between just whisky focussed things and peoples lives.  Whisky for Girls has whisky tours to Islay for women and men,  Slow Dram Whisky Tasting, and is developing an online whisky club. I also have Wild and Magic Islay travel co., Wild and Magic Islay Apparel and Whisky for Girls Jewellery.

Where did your interest in whisky come from?  When I was teenage we used to go into the distillery at night after a dance and visit the boys on night shift. We would have a cup of the wash to warm us up, or a drop of something stronger! and I would make them take me round (and then round again) the distillery explaining everything to me.

How long have you been drinking whisky? Since I was a teenager

What was your first dram/last/next dram?    First dram was probably a White Horse, the blend from Lagavulin which was in it’s hay day away back then. Last dram was a Laphroaig 10 year old found in the back of my kitchen cupboard the other night in a honey jar! and next dram is probably going to be a Kilchoman 100% Islay

Where do you see yourself going in relation to whisky in next 10 years?   I want to learn lots more about maturation and blending. I find it so fascinating. I want to learn all this stuff then write about it in an accessible way for women (and men) so to demistify whisky, but by doing so one actually really appreciates the natural magic of it all.

What can the industry do to improve things for women?   More images of women and whisky in the media. Less guff about golf (for example) and exclusive clubs, don’t just advertise your stuff in whisky magazines, take it to the mainstream,  less big secret talk using words that sounds cool and are not explained to the less knowledgeable  to maintain a feeling of power in the talker! Making whisky connected to everyday things and stuff that people do ~ music, books, food, dance, sport, talking, poetry, parties.  Less guff about tasting and more about drinking with friends. Remembering that the drink comes from the elements and everyone is connected to the elements, so all people can connect with and drink whisky. Get whisky into spas and beauty parlours and bridal shops…… (maybe not hairdressers, though) it’s endless!

What’s next? I’m writing a whisky book which I hope will be ready next year ~ but I’m not exactly speedy so we will see.  I want to develop Slow Dram Whisky Tasting (very appropriate….) and go out and do tastings for people all over the world. I want to bring more women (and men) to Islay and take them round the distilleries. I think it’s great for people to see the dram being made and to taste it in the distillery. I made whisky at Bruichladdich and I signed the log book in the still house ~ it was a great feeling!

 

 

THANK YOU TO ALL THE WONDERFUL WOMEN WHO TOOK PART IN THIS ARTICLE ~ YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION, AND AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO DRINK WHISKY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jul. 20.

BRUICHLADDICH IS BREAKING HEARTS

Don’t be broken hearted about Bruichladdich.

 

What an amazing job Bruichladdich have done in winning hearts and minds. Their customers feel an intense loyalty and have a huge feeling of ownership. They are like football club fans.

Football clubs change all the time. New players, new managers, new strategies and yet the fans stay with them, stay loyal. The fans are staying loyal to something inside themselves, it is from within themselves the passion is generated. The club is merely the medium which allows this intrinsic feeling expression.

 Bruichladdich Distillery has managed to generate the same love and passion. Indeed, they are like a football team with their very, very tight corporate branding image ~ their team T shirts, and with McEwan as the charismatic club manager.

 

Distilleries are set up to make money. People may have a passion for their chosen way of making money, but if they weren’t going to make money they wouldn’t do it.

Schroder and MacTaggart both invested in Bruichladdich, these are estate owners in Islay. Schroder is Schroders private bank ~ have you ever heard of a banker with passion or sentiment? If Bruichladdich Distillery wasn’t seen as a good money making investment Schroder would never have invested. There is no sentiment or love of Islay  in a bankers investment portfolio!

 Jim McEwan is retiring next year ~ retiring from Bruichladdich that is. McEwan has plans of his own ~ he is on the next stage of his life journey with whisky. He is planning to travel the world with a Spirit Aid show. He will be like a rock star, he will be like ‘The Boss’ but singing the praises of Scotch Whisky.

Mark Reynier’s family are growing up, his children are moving off the island to be educated, his personal life is changing.

These men involved with Bruichladdich are business men. They saw a great opportunity, they showed the world what they could do. They were unusual and quirky ~ yes, because they had to be, they worked with what they could afford. They were innovative ~ yes…. How do we generate an income while we wait for our whisky to mature? Lets make lots of different expressions, let’s do this and do that, so we have a product to sell. (I’ll not tell the joke here in this serious article, about Iain Allan’s dog, and the gate of the distillery, then the creation of a new expression!)

They had to do something to generate an income for themselves. And in doing so they opened up the world of whisky. Never a truer example of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ than Bruichladdich. No one can wait 10 years for a return on their new project ~ unless one is a nuclear power station perhaps.

 Bruichladdich’s best thing (apart from their drams ~ and McEwan, of course) is their brand image. How clever to make something as tightly branded as say, Coca Cola or Nike, appear so rural and authentic. I’m not saying it is not authentic, but to create such a defined ACCESSIBLE homespun corporate image is very, very clever. Bruichladdich made people fall in love with them. They used the rules of corporate branding to create an image of exactly the opposite. It’s like Ardfin Gardens in Jura  ~ Peter Cool worked very hard to achieve the feeling of a wild, untamed garden. This is far harder to achieve than merely making a tidy, conventional garden.

As Martha Beck says, the future is small, individual, unusual, different things. We all have access to everything now. People are jaded. They want unique, special, crafted things. The business thinkers of the world know this. This is forward thinking, seeing future trends.

We can push into new markets such as Brazil and Africa and sell large amounts of gut rot to poor people, which, shamefully, numerous large spirit producers will. But the future of Scottish Malt Whisky is in small unique brands, and Remy Cointreau have seen this in Bruichladdich. Remy Cointreau do not have a champagne house on their portfolio and I think Bruichladdich can fulfill that unique, quality role for them.  Bruichladdich, or indeed Bruichladdich and a new Port Charlotte combined cannot make much difference to Remy Cointreau’s bottom line. There is not the physical space or transport infrastructure to generate huge amounts of spirit. And if that is what Remy want to do they would have bought a large Coffey stilled plant on the mainland. Islay Whisky is a distinct brand in itself, one has to pay just for access to that now.

Remy are looking to the future. It’s not the customer who has to worry about change of ownership, it’s the workers at the distillery ~ let’s hope Remy will at least pay lip service to the family orientated way this working environment has been run for the last 10 years or so.

Bruichladdich has been an adventure for Mark Reynier, Jim McEwan et al, albeit a heartfelt one, but at the end of the day these guys don’t stand still. They had a business idea, they took it to THEIR chosen level of fruition, and like a football club, or a river, or the concept of royalty, Bruichladdich will flow on, ever changing, ever the same.

If they were romantic, sentimental idealists they would have never managed to turn £6 million into £48 million in 10 years ~ The people at Bruichladdich Distillery truly are alchemists!

 Bruichladdich Is Dead. Long Live Bruichladdich

 

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SLIDERIMAGE 2
Jun. 14.

A Close Encounter with Malt Whisky

 

 

Gold, amber, copper, silk, velvet …..

some of the words heard frequently at the Islay and Jura Whisky Festival ~ eight days, nine malt whisky distilleries, dozens of drams.

The Isle of Islay, off the West coast of Scotland, during the last week of May every year, is the place to be.

The Feis Ile agus Diura began as a celebration of the music and malts of the islands, and quickly became appropriated by the distilleries as their week. Each distillery hosts an open day. Visitors participate in whisky master classes, food and whisky pairings, barbecues, boat trips, and talks and tastings by blenders, managers and warehouse keepers. Music; local and otherwise, is played through out the day and nights, and dozens of delicious malt whisky expressions are sampled, analysed, discussed and enjoyed.

Many visitors return year after year. Friends are made with people from other countries, with people from Islay,  distillery workers are greeted like long lost relatives. Visitors feel a sense of belonging to their favourite distillery. There are clubs the guests can join. One of the distilleries gives club members a square foot of distillery land. Visitors build miniature wooden houses, and plant trees and flags, on their squares.

This year the sunshine pouring from the sky matched the liquid sunshine poured into the countless glasses held by visitors from Germany, Holland, America, New Zealand, to name but a few.

Islay has a population of around four thousand, Jura has a population of around one hundred and twenty. During festival week these figures more than treble, and unless you have booked accommodation well in advance, you’ll not get a bed for love nor money.

 

Islay is called ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, she is also named ‘The Whisky Isle’. Islay is a bewitching, fertile island, the most southern of the Westen Isles, being found twenty two nautical miles from Ireland.  Her seven established distilleries hug the sometimes rugged coastline, and, Kilchoman, the new built farm distillery is about a mile inland.  In Islay, at any given time, it is impossible to be further than a handful of miles from the sea.

The neighbouring island of Jura is rugged, with the western side of the island being beautifully uninhabited. Jura has her distillery in the village of Craighouse, where one will also find the village shop, post office and hotel.

Ileachs (collective noun Ilich) ~ people from Islay, say that the only inhospitable thing about Jura is the midges ~ one Islay girl is quoted as saying: ‘the midges in Jura wear tackety boots!’

Jura whisky has a style of it’s own, being distinctly different from the characteristically more ‘peated’ Islays. The generic brand, Islay Malt Whisky, is famous the world over. Whisky lovers and enthusiast flock to the islands each year to purchase the limited edition Festival Bottles.  People even queue over night to ensure a purchase.  Locals are bemused and amused by the enthusiasts, and in measure respectful and scornful of the avid collectors who appear sometimes to have more money than sense.

The whisky is old, new, fresh, fruity, peaty, golden and plentiful. Anyone who says they don’t like whisky hasn’t yet found their dram.

In the past, whisky could be rough, coarse, and perceived as a man’s drink. Now, it is sophisticated, classy, complex, and a sensate experience enjoyed in equal measure by both sexes. Indeed, one Islay distillery boasts that they produce, ‘The world’s sexiest whisky!’

The week of the Islay and Jura Whisky Festival is an occasion to immerse oneself in malt ~ literally. The air around one smells of vanilla, spice, peat smoke, fruitcake. The liquid one drinks is velvet smooth with a short finish, dry with an amazing complexity, strong, light, soft and as varied and different as the dozens of people around you sharing the experience.

Some people call this liquid and this experience:

 Malt Whisky.

The Ilich have a better name for it ~

 they call it the Water of Life ~ they call it Uisge Beatha.

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Apr. 14.

Cut Glass Whisky Tumblers

It’s not that sitting at the fire drinking whisky from wide based cut crystal tumblers is a mans activity ~ on the contrary this is something that women could be very good at ~  it’s just that we are used to seeing media representations of men carrying out this act.

The received image is of a male drinking whisky. In a kilt. Beside a fire. So we unconsciously associate whisky with men. The old  romantic Victorian  image of Scotland, the shortbread box image, the image of the ten pointer stag on the hill, the ghillie in the kilt bringing the deer down on the pony.  All these images still  linger around whisky.

Away back in the day,  the whisky drinkers were the alcoholics and the Italians. ( The Italians, with their love of style and quality rated Malt whisky long before others discovered it’s beauty) Twenty, thirty years ago people only associated whisky with old men and flat caps. It wasn’t fashionable.  It is now. Whisky had an image change. We got adverts with cool  guys sitting on the machir in armchairs discussing a dram, we got the witty ubiquitous grouse tiptoeing around with a Saltire across it’s beaky, wee face. 

Whisky became a cool product. You weren’t old fashioned if you drank whisky, you were a classic male! (flat cap or no)

And the story of whisky is changing again  ~ it is also becoming a drink for women

  Many women drink whisky, talk whisky, know whisky. In New York, in Japan ~ in Islay! All over the world women are sampling  Laphroaig 10 year old, an Inaugural 100% Islay,  a  Superstition and loving them.  The image of whisky, the whisky story is broadening to include women. Some of the best blenders are women ~ Rachel Barrie

Maureen Robinson. The manager at Lagavulin Distillery is a woman. There are women hosting whisky tastings and writing about whisky ~ myself for one,   Miss Whisky, Libation Diaries with Carmen  http://libationgirl.blogspot.com/    &  http://misswhisky.com/  &     http://textisles.com/2008/08/07/whisky-and-women/

Why is this? Why has this  change come about? Why are more women getting into whisky? One could be cynical and say that the marketing people just want a new market. It’s all about money.  Well, yes. But that’s not the whole story. I think it’s more exciting than that.

I think that whisky is a powerful drink, and as women are regaining their power in the world it suits them to drink whisky. As women are becoming financially better off,  they can afford to buy whisky. Malt whisky is not cheap, it is a luxury item.  Whisky is an empowering drink, and as women become empowered they drink whisky!

Sounds like a good theory to me……   I’m away to sit at the fire, drink whisky and be empowered!