Tag Archives: whisky women

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
May. 30.

FEIS ILE ~ BOWMORE

Bowmore Distillery Open Day ~ The day kicked off for Whisky for Girls with a  food and whisky pairing masterclass with the great Rachel Barrie, Master Blender at Bowmore.

 As I hadn’t had time for breakfast, I was, as in the title of Robin Laing’s song, having ~ Whisky for Breakfast  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivIFaaDNux4&feature=colike 

Rachel and Chefs, David from Rufflets Country House Hotel and Craig Millar @16 West End made us an amazing breakfast.

They took elements of the dram and took the same elements in food form ~ so we had :

Bowmore 12 years, a balanced dram with vanilla and fresh meaty saltiness, which has an underlying layer of something crisscrossing with toastey smokey flavours

and we ate it  with vanilla cream, fresh clam and crispy bacon.

The food really was the manifestation of the dram! How clever I thought. I really like Heston Blumenthall and the way he desconstructs food flavours then remakes dishes.  Rachel and the chefs did this dish and the whisky in a  very similar way.  But the great thing was that, many times I have had clams and bacon and probably had a dram with it too ~ but I really tasted the same flavours and textures in the whisky and then in the food this time, because Rachel and the chefs made me aware of it.

So in the first instance of this class I learned to look at the world and experience food and whisky in a new way ~  Not a bad start to anyones morning!

The class took us through a 15 year old Bowmore, a 17 year old Bowmore ~ the managers favourite, and a wonderful dram from 1985, natural cask strength at 52.3%, which was honey, rich and chocolatey with a smell of old wooden fence posts and some saltiness coming in. This is a sweet, honey like, complex, strong yet light airy open whisky. An absolute delight. This dram was paired with a chocolate sweetie and a sliver of vanilla biscuit sprinkled with freeze dried raspberries.

 I can safely say that it was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had!

Next Whisky for Girls met Margaret and Islay Campbell in the reception centre. Islay used to be the Manager of Bowmore, so it was nice to see him and Margaret still supporting the distillery.

 A wee while later I met up with Whisky Bard Robin Laing and he gave me a taste of his own bottling of pink whisky from somewhere else ~ and again I was draming out the back of a car!

(This is the real festival, where the drams are unexpected and unusual and belong to an individual) ~ experience it where you can…..

We met up with  whisky dogs ~ Meg, Jess and Murdo. Whisky for Girls have seen them at nearly every open day this Feis, so we felt they deserved their picture in the paper ~ so to speak.

 

Next we wandered up to the lounge where everyone was tucking into whisky cocktails, we met the Chief of Staff ~ Ginger Willie himself,  and  four guys who tell it like it is ……………………

 Later, I had a great conversation with @islaybart  and his friend about draming not tasting. Sometimes people get so caught up in analysing the drams they forget to drink them!

That’s where Whisky for Girls come in ………….. we have SLOW DRAM WHISKY TASTING which  reminds people that their whisky is here to be drammed, not dissected!

 Bart and his friend ~ the whisky drammers.

Bowmore Distillery Open Day ~ elegant, quiet (because they sold all their bottles before the open day!) and still going on ~ Islay Pipe Band and Skerryvore are calling……………………………

Slainte!

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Apr. 23.

Women @ the whiskylounge London Whisky Fest

WHISKY FOR GIRLS ~ DRAMING FOR THE DISCERNING

Whisky for Girls enjoyed our time at the London Whisky Fest. We met lots of great people  and drank lots of great drams.

I was on a Women & Whisky panel with the wide eyed expert from Jameson, Dierdra McBeth,  the power keg  Helen Stewart from Scotch Malt Whisky Society and the workshop was hosted by the elegant Alwynne Gwilt from Miss Whisky.

Before the panel began I wandered around the hall speaking with some of the women who had come along to the festival itself.

Whisky for Girls wanted to know more about the London ladies whisky demographic! 

First off I met with Melanie and Mona, both from London. 

Mona is on the left.  

I asked them if they had tried whisky before.

~ Yes, both were whisky drinkers. Melanie had been introduced to whisky by her father and Mona was introduced by her friends – namely Melanie!  Mona has been drinking whisky for about 3/4 years. She likes a Jameson with ginger ale, or ice and water. Melanie has been drinking whisky for ages and likes Chivas Regal for everyday and Laphroaig for special occasions!

How impressive that the first women I spoke with were so knowledgeable about, and drinkers of, the uisge beatha! 

Next off I spotted a glamorous group of four friends in the corner. They were like the girls from Sex and the City!

 From the left the girls are ~ Ameera, Melanie, Mary Ann and Christolene. They were mostly beginners, but Melanie has some experience of whisky because her Dad drinks it ( there is a theme here somewhere….)

For Mary Ann it was her first experience and Christolene described herself as a novice. They had come along as the festival had been on a special deal offer and they thought it would be a good day out, something new to try.

I told them I was on the Women and Whisky panel running later in the day, and that  I had a lovely bottle of deep rose coloured whisky called Black Art with me ~ and lo and behold Ameera and Melanie turned up at the workshop to try it! It was lovely to see them. Also, the lovely partner of the London Distillery Co. turned up. Thanks girls, I hope you enjoyed the drams we showcased  (which were Redbreast from Jameson, Black Art from Bruichladdich and Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society)

Next along I met a wonderfully unusual lady called Kate Dicey. SHE had dragged her partner/husband Alan to the event ~  not that he was complaining!

Kate Dicey lives in Kent but has Scottish blood. She is from a Scottish family.

She has been drinking whisky for forty years ~ an inspiration to us all!! She drinks whisky at home and away, prefers the grain over the grape and her favourite dram is a Caol Ila cask strength 25 years.

And she runs a wonderful costume making business for amazing hats, bridal wear, historical & fantasy clothing,  and it’s called Jolly Dicey.

Here is the link     www.jollydicey.co.uk  

The business tagline is  Costumiers to the Discerning ~ 

I’ve decided to paraphrase it,  and call Whisky for Girls ~ Draming for the Discerning!

Slainte to all the amazing ladies who turned up for the event. I wish I had time to have spoken with everyone ~ but I think time in London goes faster than time in Islay.

Never mind, we will see you at the next whisky festival ~ where ever it is.

After all it’s WHISKY FOR GIRLS ~ DRAMING FOR THE DISCERNING!!!

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