Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summertime whisky

Hot temperatures and whisky are not a good mix for me. If it's hot the whisky stays in its cabinet. Summer is more of a beer period for me. I know several people who claim to enjoy whisky on ice in summer, and they even say they find it refreshing, but it doesn't work for me.
In fact it goes further than just whisky, anything stronger than wine is out during summer. The high levels of alcohol give me a warm sensation, and I just want to cool off.
So beer it is, or water, or chilled white wine, ...
Why this post? Well, as much as I like whisky, as much as it is my passion, there's a time and place for everything, and to me, the people drinking whisky in summer, just long for winter. I on the other hand enjoy the summer, which has its own charms.
Summer's just the time to enjoy all the other great drinks.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Finish anxiety

In this year's whisky bible Jim Murray expresses serious concerns about finishes. He acknowledges the marketing potential and the fact that great new products may come from it. But he laments the fact that a lot of bad finishes are being brought to the market. At the same time he fears finishes may distract from the true distillery product.

There is indeed much ado about finishes lately. But I think the anxious standpoint of Jim Murray may just be a bit too negative. It is true that bad finishes are being brought to the market. But distilleries who do this will soon face the commercial consequences, because the malt market is one of malt lovers who know what is good and what isn't. The larger problem is those independent bottlers, who seem to have no qualms whatsoever to bottle anything they can get their hands on, slapping on a finish just to make it seem a bit more special. Of course I am aware that certain independent bottlers are quite careful about what they bring to the market, since they know their reputation is very important. Nevertheless there seem to be bottlers who don't seem to care as much. They are the larger part of the problem, because they also hurt the distilleries, who never have consented to how their product was marketed.
The consequences are already becoming obvious : distilleries grow more and more protective of their brand name, and I expect more and more distilleries to protect their brand names more rigorously. This may hurt the malt market more than the finishes themselves. For any connoisseur the output of independant bottlers forms a major part of their interest, mainly because it greatly expands the available flavours of whisky.

Finishes themselves aren't a bad thing. It's the bad publicity an independent bottler may bring upon a distillery which may lead to a much more narrow market. Purer, yes, but also poorer.

I'm sure the last on finishes hasn't been said.