Tag Archives: Scotch

Whisky for Girls-page-001
Mar. 07.

WHISKY AS MEDICINE in the Realm of Women

Barley in glass & Heather (426x640)

WHISKY AS MEDICINE in the realm of women
For cleaning wounds
For removing ticks
Hot toddie for cold
For toothache
In baby’s milk to soothe
To warm one up
For shock
Mum used to give me whisky in my coffee after walking the dog on a winters morning.
Consumption of distilled spirits gradually lost its association with spiritual symbolism and medical treatment and instead became a public health issue as abuse of spirits (often of dubious quality) became rampant.
Nevertheless, reverence for fine spirits has endured as a testament to their ancient origins and mysterious powers.
Whisky as medicine # Laphroaig as medicine ~ natural soporific ~ my Grandmother always had dram at night.
Connection to baptism by fire. Gnostic Christian Cults. Spirits could preserve human flesh – seemed to confirm notion that they could confer long life and immortality when drunk.

Slàinte!

We use the phrase Slàinte Mhath! (Good Health) when we toast each other with a dram. Charles MacLean tells that one does not use the toast Slàinte Mhath! unless one is drinking sprit. It is too powerful for association with beer. Or lesser alcohols.

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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
Jun. 21.

The Future of Whisky Making

Bruichladdich Nostalgia BAROLO 017 (2) (1024x959)

I have just watched a programme about Dan Barber and Blue Hill Dining.

This restaurant and philosophy illustrate an old, new way of looking at dining and food production. Basically, they are trying to make people think about flavour and good husbandry in food production. This means the bottom line in the business is not economic.

Last week I was in Barcelona and visited Vilarnau Cava Cellar.

They are in the second year of the three year programme to become organic  Cava producers.

This eco friendly  way of thinking about food and drink is the future. And if we want to protect our planet and ourselves we need to start thinking about this kind of thing in whisky making.

Bruichladdich Distillery are away out in front with their thinking in relation to this point.

They are working with individual farms in Islay and have fields of barley grown for them in different areas of Islay. They intend to distill these crops of barley individually, so the micro provenance of the barley can be traced to specific areas of Islay. This is a fantastic idea. Bruichladdich’s stapline ~ ‘We believe Terroir Matters’ is so important. Wine makers understand this consciousness only too well. Why people dismiss or underestimate this in whisky making is beyond me.

Bruichladdich are out in front with this thinking, but more needs to be done. We need more organic whisky, more individual fields growing barley.

Kilchoman Farm Distillery are at the forefront of this new, old thinking also. They have just agreed to buy the farm of Rockside upon which the distillery is situated. This is a fantastic thing. Now they will be able to grow their own barley, on their own farm and produce their own whisky. This is how distilleries came into being in the first place. Farms ‘stored’ their excess barley in whisky. This is the same way we store excess milk in cheese, and store summer berries in jam.

Barley

Whisky making is part of the cycle of life. The yearly turn of the seasons. Whisky making has its place in the cycle of the year ~ It is when it became a commercial concern that it became a year round event.

The whisky industry needs to become more organic, more closely connect itself to the growing of the barley. I was struck whilst at Vilarnau Cellar that it was really a vine farm. They think about the land and the agriculture, whereas in whisky we think about the process.

I believe that the future of quality #Scotch Whisky making is in attention to  Anam an fhearrain ~ in attention to Terroir.

I believe we need to pay more attention to ingredients.  How and where they are grown and sourced. We need  to develop a system  that works from the land to the glass with a  far more environmentally aware consciousness than we do at present.

Slainte! To the sustainable future of #Scotch Whisky Making

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Mar. 16.

#BWSA ~ Cheese Making & Whisky Making are the same (sort of….)

Searching in the rain for Sgriob-ruadh Farm, home of Isle of Mull Cheese, I took a lift from Chris, who turns out to be the owner of the place.

ChrisMull Cheese Farm (540x960)Sgiob ruadh Farm (1024x710)

They make Whisky Cheese, amongst others, and a more natural, harmonious pairing one is hard pushed to find.

This place is eco friendly and self sustaining. It runs by itself, for itself, in a very old fashioned, completely up-to-date, circle of life, sustainable way.

Circle of Energy (783x1024)

They feed their herd of 130 Ayrshire cows draff from Tobermory Distillery.  They milk 100 cows at a time, twice a day, every day of the year.  They make cheese 3-5 times a week, so the milk must be stored.

The milk comes out the cows’ udders at 32°  C, but needs to be stored at 5 ° C. The heat difference is stored in the water of a swimming pool at the farm, which is available for guests to use.

How excellent is this? Swim in a pool heated by cows milk ~ Cleopatra was never in it…..

The process begins by adding cheese culture to the milk to boost it’s natural bacteria, rennet is also added to encourage curdling. It then separates into curds and whey.

The whey is used as food for the pigs, but Chris has a new plan involving Juniper and distilling…….

Cheese makingSleeping Cheese (1024x681)Awake 7

The curds are kept and salt is added for preserving. It is squeezed into buckets and pressed for two days. Muslin and Cheesecloth bandages are wrapped on and the cheese is pressed for another day. What comes out at the end is a Truckle of Cheese. It takes 270 ltrs of milk to make a 26 kg Truckle of Cheese.

Only ‘keeping’ cheese is pressed. The magic of cheese, as of whisky, is that it is a living product. Very minute changes in the recipe can make a huge difference to the cheese/whisky at the end.

The cheese is dipped in scalding hot water to form a skin around it to seal it. It is also wrapped in two layers of muslin. It is stored on wooden shelves in a cellar for up to 18 months. 

Each cheese is turned every two weeks, the temperature in the cheese cellar needs to be between 12° -15° and there must be constant air movement. The cheeses go throught different stages and need to be closely monitored and cared for, the same way we look after our whisky casks.

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When a truckle is first stored it weights around 26Kg, but over time the moisture evaporates,  at the end it weights 25 kg. A cheese can lose up to 2% moisture in a year. This loss is similar to whisky casks stored in a warehouse ~  we call this ‘The Angels’ Share’.

Whisky making was traditionally done on farms, as part of the circle of life. An excess of good grass in the summer translates to much milk, and so this is stored in cheese. An excess of barley translates to creation of malt which is then used to make uisge beatha ~ whisky.

Cheese

Visiting the Mull Cheese Farm Sgriob-ruadh (red furrow) reminds me of the ways of the past, when whisky making was a natural part of life, not the commercial leviathan it has become.

I hope  we will see a return to very small stills and people making uisge beatha for domestic consumption ~ similar to cider making in Somerset.

 That my visit to Sgriob-ruadh has re enforced my domestic stills philosophy is strangely fitting, considering Chris Reade told me that she and her husband came to Mull from Somerset….

Slainte!

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