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Thursday 30 December 2021



As time and demand catch up with the declining stock of aged whiskies worldwide, Master Blenders are bringing out No Age Statement (NAS) whiskies that are younger than the whiskies they are replacing, but decidedly more expensive. In Scotland, Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman and Bunnahabhain from Islay and Talisker from Skye have quite a number of expensive NAS Whiskies on the market, making the most of the peated-whisky boom. Benriach and Tomintoul from Speyside are also into peat as are Jura, Edradour, Springbank’s Longrow family and other distilleries, not only in Scotland but also across the globe. Highlander Glenmorangie, with its extra-maturation, innovative wood finishes and exotic Limited Edition Single Malts (SM) has more NAS expressions than age labelled and adds a couple or more every year. These are just a few of the 130-odd distilleries with 2016-17 NAS expressions in Scotland. The balance has evidently tipped towards marketing at the cost of the consumer.

In 2009, Seven years ago Chivas Regal, along with Glenlivet and Ballantine's launched a global campaign, “Age Matters… Look for the number. Know the age. Know whisky.” But today, they have the Chivas Regal Ultis, Extra and Mizunara Blended Malt NAS Whiskies to combat the JW Blue, Island Green, Gold Label and Double Black NAS Whiskies. Their Icon is more than three times the price of JW Odyssey Blended Malt. NAS is evidently more than just an acronym and cannot be wished away by mere pronouncements.

Chivas Regal started off as an extremely successful expensive 25 year old (YO) Blended Whisky in the USA in 1909, a quintessential symbol of early 20th century luxury. Chivas closed shop during Prohibition in the USA (1920-33) and reappeared there only in 1939 as the most expensive 12 YO, nearly twice that of its competitors, prompting the unique theory explained below. Chivas Regal 12 YO was the most expensive Blended Scotch in its class in the UK post WWII, but at a drop in price to accommodate a clientele slightly out of pocket due the war. The Chivas Bros 21 YO blend, Royal Salute, first produced in 1953 using most of the aged whiskies left over once the 25 YO faded into memory, was also the most expensive in its class.

The Chivas Regal Effect: One interesting note from popeconomics/marketing culture is the ‘Chivas Regal Effect,’ which occurs when a product sells more because the price of that product has been increased. The Balvenie 12 YO Doublewood has seen a price hike of more than 50% this year and a 15% increase in sales. Since people often equate price with quality, consumers, who otherwise would not have purchased a product, might choose it because it is more expensive (and thus ‘better’ quality). Wine (St. Emilion 1982 @ US$ 220-2,200) is a good example of this effect in the world of alcohol and LVMH in branded consumer goods. NAS whisky distillers were canny enough to implement this concept, which left many consumers in an ambivalent frame of mind, with some annoyed enough to hurl brickbats at NAS whiskies.

Glenlivet, which campaigned along with Chivas Regal in 2010, announced in 2015 that they would belaunching an NAS Whisky called The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve to replace The Glenlivet 12 in Germany and the UK. Pernod Ricard issued a statement: “The Glenlivet 12 Year Old remains, and will remain, the biggest reference in The Glenlivet portfolio globally and the core reference for the brand.” Necessarily so, since Drumin's George Smith built his life and the eponymous brand on this very word. As may be recalled, 21 other distillers in the Speyside region took Glenlivet to mean Speyside and tagged that word as part of their brand name. They added that some countries would stock both and other countries one or the other. As an explanation, they said that they felt they owed 'loyal fans' something new, a Long John Silver explanation, at best. Their other NAS, the Master Distiller's Reserve of 2011 has since sold out.

Ballantine's have two NAS Blended Scotch Whiskies, the time-honoured Ballantine's Finest and the new Ballantine's Hard Wired, first produced by Chivas Regal for owners Pernod Ricard in November last year (2016) to provide their 'loyal fans' some novelty with a masculine whisky (??) Ballantine’s Hard Fired whisky is named after the hard-fired finishing casks for this blend. The whisky is extracted from its second-fill American oak barrels, which are then charred by hard firing and refilled ̶ as soon as they simmer down ̶ with the very same extract and stored for 6-8 months. An interesting twist using a legal loophole: nothing is added to the contents, which would debar it from gaining the sobriquet 'Scotch Whisky', but the container is modified! All perfectly legal.

The furore stoked among some aficionados by the preponderance of No Age Statement whiskies may no longer be sustainable, now that it is known that stocks of malt whisky older than 11 years have been reducing by about 6% per year since 2011. Such an outcome was anticipated decades ago by prescient producers such as Ardbeg and Glenmorangie, where Dr Bill Lumsden is the Master Blender. As said, the increased demand for old age single malt whisky stocks have left the whisky baories running a little dry, but it is the perceived lack of transparency that has infuriated a few. The labels on the bottles and the artistic presentations on the cartons have little to reveal to those who believe that old is gold.

Diageo’s PRO Nick Morgan agrees, “There’s increasing demand for Scotch malt whisky, but it is a finite product, and in the face of increasing demand, it becomes increasingly difficult to guarantee a supply of aged stock.” Companies – including Diageo – are responsible for the notion that age = quality: “When the rush towards single malts occurred some 40 years ago, the easiest thing to create a credential was putting numbers on bottles. It justified higher prices and gave them 'integrity'. The industry decided to teach people that age equated to value and now it’s bouncing back on us. The bond of trust between consumers and distillers is breaking.” That said, he thinks most critiques are based on ill-informed views emanating from puritans who don't understand the working of the whisky industry. Must comments are driven by impetuous ignorance. This is one factor that I, from past experience, must agree with.

“We’ve successfully been releasing NAS whiskies for20 years with Glenmorangie and Ardbeg and they are doing very well,” says Lumsden, who has blended a plethora of successful NAS whiskies for both LVMH brands. His theory is simple: if you have the makings of a good whisky, all you need is good wood to make a good barrel or acquire a bespoke barrel. The Ardbeg Kelpie, Corryvreckan, Uigeadail, Ardbog, Galileo, Supernova, Perpetuum, etc., from the Islay stable and the Glenmorangie Signet, Bacalta, The Tarlogan, Dornoch, The  Duthac, Companta, Astar 2017 and many more from the Highlands distillery have kept their tills ringing while accumulating awards galore, proving his posit. Their Ardbeg Uigeadail, a cask strength multiple award winner, reportedly has 6 and 15 YO SMs in its make up, as I've heard so often. Lumsden, however, states that it contains only 8-12 YO whiskies. He should know more.

For Glenmorangie, he makes copious use of the Devil's Cut, or ‘indrink’, the liquid absorbed by the wood during maturation mainly in the Sherry industry. Some distillery workers used to make “swish” by putting hot water into the barrel and rinsing out as much of that whisky as they could for “unofficial” use. Today, distillers use steam to deliberately extract the remaining whisky from barrels, then blended that back in with the rest of the whisky to get a slightly woodier taste. But canny Master Blenders leave the Devil’s Cut intact. Nearly 60L of Sherry awaits the whisky in a 500 L Sherry barrel finish, in a 2 YO Sherry barrel. He adds a note of caution, “Regardless of what you are doing, young whisky in bad wood will be ruthlessly exposed.” GlenDronach, MacDuff, Macallan, Highland Park, Aberlour, Glenfarclas, Dalmore, Ardbeg, Tomatin, Balvenie, Strathisla, Glengoyne, Knockando, Bruichladdich, Glenlivet, Kavalan, Yamazaki and numerous other distilleries are producing excellent Sherry finish whiskies, both NAS and with Age Statement.

There is palpable fear among consumers that the arrival of a new NAS whisky presages the death knell of a much-loved bottling: Macallan’s 1824 Series spelled the end of the 10, 12 and 15 YOs; The Founder’s Reserve is replacing The Glenlivet 12 YO in the UK and Germany; The Talisker 10 may soon disappear, now that the Talisker Skye has followed Talisker Storm, Dark Storm, Neist Point, 57° North and Port Ruighe into the NAS market. Morgan denounces the ‘rumour’ vociferously.

People from the industry like Morgan believe that NAS whiskies were born out of necessity and make life easier for distillers and blenders. The flexibility of producing NAS whiskies gives them much greater creativity when producing a blended single malt – 99% of single malts are ‘blends’ anyway. It is undeniable that age-statement SMs and Blended Scotch are increasingly becoming rarities in an NAS world. Almost 80% of Scotch whisky sold does not have an age statement. All basic Blended Scotch brands rarely spell out their age, although there are many that do, including 3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 year olds and more. Almost all 12 & 12+ YOs do, barring a handful. Also, creating NAS whiskies is one way of preserving stocks of aged whiskies for the popular age-stated brands, a concept hard to digest, but true.

George Grant, Sales Director, J&G Grant, disagrees. “Twenty years ago we told people what made Scotch whisky different from Cognac and Rum, etc., and why we were putting an Age Statement on the label: We wanted the customer to understand what they were buying. Of our 71 brands, only one is an NAS (?). When we ran out of aged stocks, we pulled our 30 and 40-year-olds off the market until we had enough. Compared to Cognac with its vague terms like XO and VSOP, I think age statements have been a huge strength for Scotch." So how can one turn 180° and tell the same people that one's whisky no longer carries an age statement? The interesting aspect I foresee is that in another few years, these distilleries will have aged stock again, lots of it. How will they cloak this change? Rediscover age statements and put them back on? Or carry on regardless, blending SMs in the €100-200 and more price range?

There are many reasons to justify NAS whiskies, but in some cases the whisky hasn’t come up to expectations in terms of quality. Taking younger but good SMs and blending them with older ones is not a problem, since technological advancements over the years have markedly improved distillation and wood management techniques, but the whisky still needs to be satiating in a market where the customer is king and has become picky and demanding. Reviews of single malt Scotch whiskies between August 2015 and July 2016 confirm that age is a good indicator of quality – but not necessarily a perfect one. Whiskies 6-11 years of age are capable of scoring as high as far older whiskies. In other words, age does tend to improve whisky – but exceptional younger whiskies are capable of very high scores. “People should make a judgement on quality alone and not be swayed by the importance of age,” says Euan Mitchell, MD at Arran Distillers, a distillery that is just 21 years old and already pushing for NAS Whiskies.

I am not prepared to accept Mitchell's "summing it all up" statement. There are far too many brands out there, veritably slugging it out in a tight market, a major portion of which is reserved for the VIP Brands. If NAS whiskies will actually help ensure the long-term survival of those classic age-statement whiskies – I’ll gladly raise a toast to it. But I cannot get over my nagging fear that there is bound to be the less scrupulous distiller or private bottler who will cut corners. Such products that do not meet quality standards dictated by their price must be brought to book. But how? Who will dictate or define standards, as one man's uisge could be another man's hooch?

Macallan is an active proponent of NAS Whiskies, so I’ll let Ken Greer, Creative Director at Macallan, who faced derisive remarks on the introduction of the Macallan’s 1824 Series, have the last word. He says that his Master Blender has carte blanche in picking out any whisky for bottling in every category. This is done when he feels that the whisky is at its peak, like picking an apple when it is ripe, and not on some pre-decided date. For Greer, Scotch Whisky is about exceptional quality. It is about the integrity of the Scotch Whisky owners, distillers and producers, who, as guardians of that precious elixir, make sure that the right quality goes into the appropriate bottle at the right price point, whether it carries an age statement or not. Nobody will try to to hoodwink some poor soul. That remains to be seen, doesn’t it?

Saturday 18 December 2021



While drinking too much alcohol is never a good idea, it can be part of a healthy diet when you drink in moderation. What you drink does matter, though: Certain alcoholic drinks contain a large amount of sugar, which decreases their value in your healthy eating plan. Other types of alcohol don't contain sugar, which makes them a better choice if you enjoy a drink on a regular basis.

Sugar in Alcohol


A 4-ounce pina colada is one of the alcoholic beverages with the most sugar. It contains 28 grams of added sugar, though it all comes from ingredients other than the alcohol. A 4-ounce daiquiri has 6.7 grams of sugar, again none of it from the actual alcohol. Gin, rum, whisky and vodka don't contain any added sugar. Beer doesn't have added sugar either. A 1.5-ounce shot of creme de menthe contains a whopping 21 grams of sugar. A 5-ounce glass of red or white wine contains about 1 gram of sugar, which comes from the grapes rather than from added sugar.

Dangers of Sugar

You need some sugar to fuel your body, but it should come from healthy foods, such as fruit, rather than foods that contain added sugar such as desserts. Too much added sugar puts you at a higher risk for weight gain and dental decay. It'll also elevate your triglycerides, which raises your chances of developing heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic website, women shouldn't consume more than 6 teaspoons of sugar each day and men shouldn't have more than 9 teaspoons. That's equal to 24 and 36 grams, respectively. Choosing beer, wine or hard liquor rather than mixed cocktails can help you consume far less sugar.

Current Recommendations

Drinking in moderation might actually be beneficial to your health. For example, drinking a glass of red wine can lower your risk of heart disease. That doesn't mean you can drink as much as you want, however. Women shouldn't have more than one drink per day and men should limit themselves to two drinks. One drink is equal to 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, such as whisky or rum, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. Regularly drinking more than this can lead to weight gain, just as eating too much sugar can. The calories in alcohol are empty calories, which means that the drinks don't also contain essential vitamins and minerals so the calories aren't contributing anything to your health. Over time, too many of these empty calories can cause you to put on excess weight, according to the USDA.

Non-Dietary Considerations

Drinking too much alcohol causes you to become intoxicated, which can make driving dangerous. Being drunk also increases your risk of dangerous and violent behaviour. Alcohol misuse is associated with 88,000 premature deaths each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Regularly drinking too much alcohol is also associated with an increase in your risk of developing breast, colon and liver cancer. You'll also be at a higher risk for cirrhosis of the liver and high blood pressure.

Calorie Count Alcoholic beverages are often high in calories, and most provide no real nutrients. Alcohol contains more calories per ounce than carbohydrates or protein. When you combine alcoholic beverages with high-calorie foods, you may end up eating more than you would have if you had eaten those same foods while consuming a nonalcoholic beverage. If you do drink alcoholic beverages, choose wisely, as some are much lower in calories than others.

Beer and Wine

Since alcohol is fermented sugar, there is a relation between the amount of alcohol and the number of calories. Therefore, if you drink something with a lower alcohol content, you are consuming fewer calories – assuming that both drinks are ‘dry’ (without residual sugar). Beer and wine tend to have the lowest number of calories per ounce among alcoholic drinks. Light beers have the fewest calories, with many containing fewer than 100 calories for a 12-ounce bottle, although some contain almost as many calories as regular beer. Red and white wine are also relatively low in calories, with between 100 and 125 calories per 5-ounce glass. Regular beer contains about 140 to 200 calories per 12-ounce bottle. Dessert wines are higher in sugar and may be reinforced or "fortified" with additional alcohol, bringing them up to about 165 calories per 3.5-ounce glass. Interestingly, a glass of champagne comes out relatively low on the calorie count.

Statistics from the NHS puts the calorie content of a 5% ABV pint of beer at 239kcal – roughly the same as a Mars bar. The average calorie content of a 175ml glass of 12% ABV wine is 133kcal. Logic would therefore dictate that beer might prove to be more fattening, but once again the evidence seems to be unclear at best. A 2015 review of studies cited by the BBC found that neither wine nor beer drinkers tend to gain weight in the short-term. The long term is definitely deleterious to both shape and health.

Hard Liquor

Hard liquor usually has more calories than beer or wine. Each fluid ounce of 80-proof distilled spirits, including rum, gin, whisky and vodka, contains 64 calories, making the typical 1.5-ounce serving about 96 calories. Liqueurs tend to be higher in calories, because they're higher in sugar. For example, a 1.5-ounce serving of chocolate liquor has 105 calories; the same-sized serving of coffee liquor has 175 calories.

Mixed Drinks

Mixed drinks tend to have the most calories of all, but some are better choices than others. A 4-ounce mimosa contains 80 calories, a 5-ounce wine spritzer or an 8-ounce rum-and-diet-cola about 100 calories. A 5-ounce bloody Mary and an 8-ounce Tom Collins both contain 120 calories, a Manhattan has 130 calories, a 3-ounce green apple martini contains about 150 calories and a 2.5-ounce martini or an 8-ounce whiskey sour contains 160 calories. Oversized cocktails, or those containing high-fat ingredients such as heavy cream or coconut cream, can be substantially higher in calories.

Recommended Consumption

Alcohol should only be consumed by people of legal drinking age and in moderation, which means women should have no more than one drink per day and men no more than two. Pregnant women should not consume alcohol and neither should those who have a history of alcoholism.

Can You Get a Beer Belly From Liquor?

A beer belly is just a term for the excess of abdominal fat around the middle, but it doesn't only occur from drinking beer. You can actually grow a belly from any number of foods and drinks. What matters is how many calories you consume, not necessarily where the calories come from. Because hard liquors alone have fewer calories than a beer, it might take longer for a beer belly to grow, but it's always possible when you're taking in more calories than you burn.

Beer Belly

A beer belly is really just the excess of abdominal fat. Beer doesn't necessarily have to be involved for you to develop the infamous beer belly. Drinking beer can certainly contribute to the growth of abdominal fat, according to Mayo Clinic, but it's the calories not the beer itself that causes this to happen. The average 12-ounce beer contains about 153 calories. If you drink too many beers, all those calories will likely translate to weight gain, which often happens around the middle. Many people enjoy unhealthy snacks, such as hot wings and potato skins, while they're having a beer or two. Those calories contribute to the development of a big gut, as well.

Liquor & A Beer Belly

Any type of alcohol can play a role in the formation of a beer belly, according to Mayo Clinic. Straight shots of hard liquor, such as vodka, rum, tequila and whisky contain about 64 calories per ounce, so it'll take longer for the calories to cause a beer belly, but it is possible. Mixed drinks that contain hard liquor can have similar amounts or many more calories than the average beer, however, and that means that liquor might be even more to blame than beer. A pina colada, for example, contains 245 calories, and a daiquiri has about 112 calories. Wine might be the exception, the Clinic notes. Wine may not contribute to a beer belly the same way liquor does, but further research is needed to determine if that's true and why it's the case.

Dangers of a Beer Belly

You might be self-conscious about your beer belly, but you should also worry about the implications it has for your health. The abdominal fat characteristic of a beer belly is called visceral fat. Carrying around excess amounts of visceral fat raises your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard Medical School. Too much visceral fat can also put you at a higher risk for colon cancer and sleep apnea. 

Tips and Considerations

If you have a beer belly, make an appointment with your doctor to create a plan that will help you lose the excess weight and improve your overall health and well-being. Because beer and alcohol can contribute to a beer belly, restrict your intake of both. Cut back to an occasional beer, shot of liquor or mixed cocktail. That will help you reduce how many calories you consume, which can translate to weight loss and the elimination of your beer belly. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise as additional ways to help you lose your belly.

Are Sugar-Free Beverages Dangerous?

Artificially sweetened beverages may lead to weight gain instead of weight loss. One potential reason for this is that people overcompensate for the calories saved by drinking these beverages and end up increasing their daily caloric intake. The sweeteners may increase sugar cravings, and thus the consumption of more sweets in the diet, which is another potential cause for weight gain. A third theory is that when you eat a sweet food that doesn't contain the calories your body expects to accompany the sweet taste, it isn't as satisfying, and this may cause food cravings as your body seeks out those expected calories.

Increased Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Drinking diet soda isn't necessarily a good idea for people at risk for Type 2 diabetes. While a causal relationship hasn't been proven, a study published in "Diabetes Care" in January 2009 found that drinking diet soda at least once a day was associated with a 67 percent higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and a 36 percent higher risk for developing metabolic syndrome compared to not drinking diet soda.

Risk of Preterm Labour

Pregnant women may want to be particularly careful and avoid artificially sweetened beverages. A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in June 2010 found that drinking this type of beverage may make you more likely to deliver prematurely. These results are preliminary, however, so further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

Other Potential Risks

You can save calories by mixing alcohol with diet soda instead of regular soda, but this practice may make you more likely to become intoxicated, according to a study published in "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research" in October 2011. Sugar helps slow down the release of alcohol from the stomach, so removing the sugar from the drink means the alcohol hits your bloodstream more quickly. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked by some studies to potential increases in the risk for low birth weight, cancer, migraines and liver problems, although these results are still controversial and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers artificial sweeteners to be generally regarded as safe.

Tuesday 7 December 2021



To celebrate the ones who keep walking, Johnnie Walker has created a bold new look for four of their most celebrated Scotch whiskies: Johnnie Walker Red Label, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

This is a rather surprising definition. From time immemorial, their core whiskies were the 10 YO Red and the 12 YO Black Label expressions. This grew as the era evolved, and the excellent Swing was added. Then the Red Label went NAS, but remained eminently drinkable, right up to the 1980s. In a surprising move, it next underwent a sea change to emerge undrinkable. Apparently, the management had consigned it to the boondocks as an NAS whisky solely for mixing. The 15 YO Blended Malt Green Label was next to appear. Then came its prized expression, the NAS Blue Label. Two more followed suit, the Gold and the Platinum Labels. Both were 18 Years old, an odd confusing decision at the managerial level.

Confusion reigned for some years and the Green Label was withdrawn, while the NAS Island Green Blended Malt was introduced, mainly in Travel Retail. The 18 YO Gold Label was replaced by a Gold Reserve, initially a 16 YO and later, an NAS whisky. In between came the Double Black Label, again NAS. The 15 YO Green Label blended malt was brought back with some changes to the recipe. Platinum Label was withdrawn and reintroduced as Johnnie Walker 18 YO. Finally, the XR-21 made its debut! The new expressions are the same old JW expressions, bottled differently and far removed from the original designs of the Walker grocer family of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

A limited-edition design on the outside, same old blends within. This bundle includes four basic brands as Limited Edition bottles: One 70cl bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label Limited Edition, one 70cl bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label Limited Edition, one 70cl bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Limited Edition and one 70cl bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Depths of flavour. I keep hoping that the original JW Red Label 10 YO would resurface for some period of time. These whiskies have been examined at great length here.

Monday 6 December 2021


 Makuto Azuma's Masterpiece for Glenmorangie

In the 1730s, a brewery was built in the Scottish Highlands on the Morangie Farm, and a hundred years later, it was refurbished into a distillery we all know and the product of which we enjoy: Glenmorangie. Their Spirits are not created equal - they are raised as aristocrats. The water comes from the pristine spring of Tarlogie and the magic that happens is a result of teamwork of dedicated whisky creators, first known as the Sixteen Men of Tain. These knights of Whisky distill the potion in the tallest stills in Scotland, creating a lighter and more refined Whisky. The exquisite purity of single malt Scotch whisky produced by the Glenmorangie distillery is testament to a tradition that dates back to 1843. On the south side of the Dornoch Firth, the Men of Tain follow the mystical art of turning barley and water into this famously complex and alluring whisky. The vintage Highland single malt Scotch whisky’s floral notes are reminiscent to a flower in bloom, reimagining whisky through the language of flowers as the whisky’s floral notes dance on the tongue.

Imagine the blooms of jasmine, geranium and narcissus bounding through a whisky bottle. Part of Glenmorangie’s Limited Edition Range, the 18 Years Old begins with the distillery’s new make spirit, crafted in stills as tall as a giraffe to allow for what’s described as more space for taste and aroma. Next, the spirit is aged in bourbon casks for 15 years. Then roughly 30% is transferred into Oloroso sherry casks for three more years. After 18 years, these casks are reunited to create the single malt whisky’s taste, gilding the fruity floral delicacy for which Glenmorangie is renowned with soft and luscious flavours of vanilla and coconut. This gentle process of maturation takes place in stone-built, earth-floored warehouses to ensure time-honoured perfection.

Makuto Azuma is a famous Japanese flower artist and botanical sculptor who co-founded Jardin des Fleurs. When he got his first whiff of Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Year Old, he immediately thought of flowers in bloom, probably the rich, rounded aromas of dried fruits, and honey that turn into geranium, tube rose, and jasmine notes as they develop. Makoto tasted the softness and sweetness, complimented by Oloroso Sherry cask hints, and created a beautiful floral masterpiece of a sculpture featuring almost 100 different blooming flowers at his Tokyo studio. The art piece was called Dancing Flowers of Glenmorangie. Today, you can get this unique masterpiece imprinted on the bottle.

ABV: 43%

Colour: Deep gold; rich and full.

Nose: Rich, rounded and sweet with dried fruits and a complex floral fragrance. Initially, the aroma has nutty, caramel and vanilla overtones followed by hints of walnuts, honeycomb and dates. Complex floral notes emerge with geranium, jasmine and narcissus. With water, deep oak notes are released, revealing a balsamic character, softened by vanilla. The hallmark Glenmorangie fruity complexity emerges as rich apricots and dates, interwoven with hazelnuts.

Taste: The mouthfeel is silky, smooth and rounded with a full flavor. The taste is balanced between the flavors of honey, malt and flowery scents, followed by Oloroso nuttiness such as hazelnuts and walnuts. Dates and figs emerge in the background with a hint of wood smoke.

Finish: The finish is long and enticing, with the sweetness of dried fruit and subtle dryness of Oloroso nuttiness.

Suggested Retail Price: £90

Awards: Glenmorangie 18 Years Old received a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2021, and a Gold Award at the International Spirits Challenge 2021.

Glenmorangie’s Tourism Offering: The Lighthouse & The Hotel

Apart from the 18 YO expression, multiple developments to the Distillery like a lighthouse and its hotel nearby, Glenmorangie House, enrich the experience whisky loving travellers encounter in the Highlands of Scotland. Glenmorangie’s offer includes taking visitors beyond the historic distillery to hosting guests in the boutique hotel and culinary destination, Glenmorangie House.

This summer, both the distillery and the hotel saw a bold transformation, enhancing the overall whisky-led experience in interiors inspired by the whisky making process. The distillery’s new innovation hub was opened in September , after a multi-million-pound expansion of the historic site. Glenmorangie has been pushing single malt boundaries for decades, with its whisky makers endlessly experimenting to dream up delicious whiskies for more people to enjoy. Glenmorangie has opened the doors to a ground-breaking innovation distillery, where they can let their imaginations run wild.

The Lighthouse was inspired by the “What if...?” approach of Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Whisky Creation. Spurred on by his many whisky world-firsts and wondrous limited editions, he conceived the Lighthouse as a sensory playground. Inside this building, the first of its kind, he and his team will seek to redefine every aspect of their craft, and bring a kaleidoscope of delicious new flavours to Scotch whisky.

Named for its landmark approach to whisky, the Lighthouse distillery is a shining beacon on the Highland coastline, at the heart of the distillery. Looking out to sea like an actual lighthouse, the towering 20m-high glass stillhouse can be seen for miles around. Its design is dramatically different from the traditional stone buildings of the main Distillery, established more than 175 years ago. But it reflects their single malt’s creativity – even down to the fragments of whisky casks embedded in its walls.

Within its still house stand two signature copper stills, which enable Glenmorangie’s delicate, fruity spirit. But these new stills have a host of modifications, making all kinds of innovation possible. And above the stillhouse is a purpose-built sensory laboratory, where Dr Lumsden can play with his experiments in the most unexpected ways. The 20-metre-high glass still house is a striking addition to the picturesque whisky distilling site set alongside Tarlogie Spring. The distillery’s hospitality arm, Glenmorangie House is a 20-minute drive from there on an elevated patch of coast overlooking the Moray Firth. First acquired in the ‘80s as a venue for entertaining corporate clients before being made a hotel for guests to the distillery in the ‘90s, this former farmhouse lies within sprawling grounds, also home to ruins of a 13th-century castle and surrounded by fields yielding the barley used for some of Glenmorangie’s whiskies.

Glenmorangie House & Hotel


Glenmorangie uses a number of different cask types, with all products being matured in white oak casks which are manufactured from trees growing in Glenmorangie's own forest in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, United States. These new casks are left to air for two years before being leased to distillers Jack Daniel's and Heaven Hill for them to mature bourbon in for four years. Glenmorangie then uses the barrels to mature their spirit. The Original range will mature entirely in ex-bourbon casks for ten years. At this stage, a pentafurcation takes place. About 70% of this new make is extracted to become the ten year old Glenmorangie Original single malt whisky, while the remaining 30% of the new make for the Extra Matured range of bottlings are transferred into casks that were previously used to mature other products such as wine, port or sherry for finishing.

The new make finished in Sauternes sweet white wine barrels will be sold as Nectar d’Or whisky. This used to be a 12 year old but is now NAS. The new make finished in Sherry casks for two years more will be bottled as LaSanta 12 YO whisky, whereas the new make finished for four years in Port pipes will be bottled as the Quinta Ruban 14 YO. The earlier version was bottled at 12 years. These form part of the regular range of products Glenmorangie makes. A fifth NAS expression has recently been introduced, meant entirely for mixing. Glenmorangie also obtains small batches of other casks for finishing and release of Prestige (11), Private (10) and Limited Edition(3) bottlings from these.

Friday 26 November 2021



Built between the rivers Leven and Ore near Windygates in the Kingdom of Fife, the Cameronbridge distillery dwarfs all other distilleries in Scotland, both those for malt and grain whisky. The distillery takes its name from the bridge that crosses the River Leven on the distillery grounds. With a production capacity of circa 100,000,000 litres of alcohol per year, the Diageo's wholly-owned grain plant Cameronbridge not only provides the backbone of many of the company's blends, it produces the liquid for the Cameron Brig and Haig Club single grain whiskies.

Cameronbridge is the largest grain distillery in Europe. It can also lay claim to be the oldest. Its story also involves two of the most remarkable – and strangely overlooked – distilling dynasties in whisky, the Haig and Stein families. In 1826, Cameronbridge became the very first Scotch distillery to produce grain whisky in a continuous still. However, this was not a 'Coffey still', at least not yet - instead, it was a much more primitive version, invented by one Robert Stein (John Haig's cousin). This version of the continuous still was just a series of pot stills that were arranged consecutively.

The first record of a Haig making whisky was in 1655, when Robert Haig was hauled up in front of the church elders for daring to distil on the Sabbath. In 1751 his great-great-grandson John married Margaret Stein whose family members were already making whisky at their distilleries in Kilbagie in Clackmannanshire and Kennetpans in Kirkliston. Four of their sons became distillers, opening their own plants in central Scotland and Ireland. The youngest, William, founded Kincaple and Seggie in Fife; the eldest son John founded Cameronbridge in 1824.

Their daughter, also named Margaret, had married a local lawyer John Jameson in 1788. The Jamesons moved to Dublin to run a new Stein family distillery in Bow Street which had been opened in 1780. Contrary to popular belief, the Jameson Irish Whiskey company was not actually founded in 1780, but in 1810 when John Jameson bought the distillery from his wife's cousins, the Steins. The original Jameson Distillery in Bow Street is now home to the Jameson Visitor Centre. The Stein, Haig, and Jameson families were significant figures in the whisky market from that time forward.


It was a time of rapid growth in production and also in new methods of making whisky. The Lowland distillers had long been large-scale producers, but had been limited by technology and law to producing their whisky from pot stills. Things were changing however, and in 1829 John installed the patent still which his cousin Robert Stein had invented and was operating at his own Kilbagie distillery. One of the Stein stills was used until 1929.

Soon after, Irish engineer Aeneas Coffey had improved Stein’s design with his own patent still. John Haig immediately installed one of them as well. When Alfred Barnard visited in the 1880s, two Stein, two Coffey and a pot still (to make ‘pot still Irish’) were operational. Though considerably larger in scale, today the same Coffey design is still used at Cameronbridge.

This pioneering move by Cameronbridge changed the course of Scotch whisky history, though Haig continued making malt whisky at the distillery. That finally ended in 1929 with the removal of Cameronbridge’s pot stills, and it has been grain all the way ever since. Today the distillery’s three column stills pump out an ocean of alcohol, split between grain whisky for blends and neutral grain spirit for the likes of Smirnoff, Gordon’s, Pimm’s and Tanqueray, the world leader in Gin. Surplus neutral grain spirit has a ready demand for numerous applications the world over, including medicine.

In 1865 John joined in an alliance with eight other grain distillers and in 1877 this was formalised into the Distillers Company Limited [DCL]. Haig joined with the owners of Port Dundas, Carsebridge, Glenochil, Cambus, and Kirkliston to control 75% of Scotland’s grain capacity. This not only allowed the new firm a dominant – eventually monopoly – position in supply, but the ability to fix prices. DCL would, in time and after many mergers, evolve into Diageo.

Cameronbridge remained as the powerhouse of DCL’s grain division and, with the closure of Port Dundas in 2010, is now Diageo’s sole wholly-owned grain plant and from 1998, production of Gordon’s and Tanqueray gins and Smirnoff vodka has also been based here. It was expanded further as part of a £40m investment in 2007.

It was unusual insofar as for many years it was the only one of the grain distilleries to have its own brand – Cameron Brig. Although other distilleries would try their hand at this, only Cameron Brig survived. In 2014, the distillery was given greater prominence as the provider of the whisky for the David Beckham/Diageo single grain brand Haig Club.


Dimple Haig first came to market rather late in 1893 at a time when demand for blended Scotch whisky was exploding in all directions. Its successor, the triangular dumpy bottle with a dimple on each face (Dimple Pinch) became the deluxe, sophisticated brother to the standard Haig & Haig blend within a lustrum, while in the US it has long been known as Dimple Pinch and is so named. It consists of over thirty malt and grain whiskies.


The extended Haig family dominated the industrial Lowland whisky scene and were well-placed to surf the boom. The distilleries concerned were primarily Glenkinchie and Linkwood for their single malts and Cameronbridge for their single grains.

At Glenkinchie, clear wort and long ferments pushed things towards lightness and fruit, while a glance at the enormous stills (the wash still is the largest in Scotland) immediately suggests masses of copper contact and reflux. The new make is rather sulphurous, but this facet disappears in the cask, leaving this light, fragrant whisky with just a hint of meadow flowers and lemon.

Linkwood is another of the light Speyside camp. The new make has the aroma of a spring meadow – mixing cut grass, apple and peach blossom.

Two of John Haig’s sons – Alicius and Hugh Vietch –established Haig & Haig in 1888 as an export business, overseeing the sale of the company’s whiskies in the US. Their work in the lead-up to Prohibition established the popularity of Dimple Pinch in the US. The 12 YO Dimple Pinch that came to the US circa 1900 as the deluxe, sophisticated brother to the standard Haig & Haig blend was a bestseller in the premium class, till overtaken by Chivas Regal 25 YO in 1910.

Whether the name inspired the bottle or vice versa is unclear, but Dimple has always been packaged in a distinctive lozenge-shaped three-sided bottle with pinched sides like a collapsed pot still. By 1900, Dimple was the second-best selling premium whisky in Colonial Asia after Phipson’s Black Dog, till overtaken by Johnnie Walker Black Label ~1925.

By 1939 the combination of the Dimple and Gold Label brand extensions made Haig the top-selling Scotch in the UK, while Dimple Pinch had recovered its pre-Prohibition sales in the States. While the brand disappeared in the UK (until the advent of Haig Club), Dimple was stilling selling over a million cases by the millennium when its key markets were South Korea, Germany, Greece and the US.

A Biomass Energy Plant was installed converting spent grains and pot ale into energy and supplying about 30 MW or 95% of new energy needed by the distillery. Carbon dioxide emissions have been cut back by 95%. A production water recovery system saves about 30% distillery waters. The waste water is so treated that the effluent disposal into the nearby River Forth has been cut down to 1 % compared to the system of the past. 10,000 homes and a local hospital are supplied the otherwise waste heat.

12 year old Cameron Brig Single Grain is said to be the basis of the Johnnie Walker 12 year old expression. The distillery plant creates the grain spirit used in brands such as Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s, Black and White, Haig and White Horse. Cameron Bridge Grain whiskies are also bottled by the independent Bottlers like Cadenhead, Duncan Taylor, Signatory, Scottish Malt Whisky Society and others. A distillery bottling called Cameronbrig (a NAS Single Grain Whisky) is also available.


Grain whisky production differs from the processes used to create malt whisky in several key ways. Firstly, the bulk of cereal is not malted barley, but unmalted wheat or maize, with a small proportion of malted barley included to promote effective fermentation. The use of unmalted cereals reduces costs.

Secondly, prior to mashing, the unmalted cereal is milled and fed into giant cookers, where it is heated with water. It is then pumped into large mashtuns, where the malted barley is added. From this point onwards, production mirrors the sequence familiar to malt whisky distilling, though the actual distillation process takes place in continuous, columns or Coffey stills, all of which operate on similar principles, and consist of parallel analyser and rectifier columns. These stills are able to produce much larger quantities of spirit than their pot still counterparts. The use of non-malted cereal and the sheer scale of operation make grain whisky considerably cheaper per litre than malt whisky.

At Cameronbridge, 4,000 tonnes of cereal are used every week and it is estimated that the distillery consumes as much as 15 per cent of Scotland’s entire wheat crop. Each of the three Coffey stills can turn out 4,000 litres of alcohol per hour, and is able to operate continuously for more than 200 hours before cleaning is required. While one of Diageo’s smaller malt distilleries, such as Oban, handles 36 tonnes of mash per week, Cameronbridge processes up to 30 tonnes of mash per hour.


The Haig Club Scotch Whisky RTD Cans


Haig Club single grain Scotch created a range of ready-to-drink (RTD) cans in partnership with David Beckham in 2020. The pre-mixed range comes in two flavours: Haig Club Clubman mixed with root ginger ale and lime, and Haig Club Clubman mixed with crafted cola.

Bottled at 5% ABV, the Haig Club RTDs are available to purchase from Supermarkets like Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s in the UK priced at RRP £2 (US$2.50) per 330ml can. This innovation with Haig Club provides low ABV pre-mixed drinks for convenience and are reportedly selling well with great taste and were particularly popular in summer.

According to the brand, the sweetness of the cola complements the whisky’s “smooth toffee, butterscotch and vanilla notes”, while the classic combination of ginger ale and lime gives drinkers a “zesty citrus” hit. The cans share the same striking electric blue packaging at the whisky’s distinctive square glass bottles that take design cues from the world of fragrance.