Whisky sponge, for those unaware, is a satirical site for an industry that badly needs satirising. They can be fairly hit and miss, but when they get it right, its really great. Recently they launched a couple of bottlings and made a standard self deprecating, lightly amusing post to accompany them. So far, so normal. The post really defends itself in a way that really no-one but the author asked. I don’t think anyone would really get on their high horse about someone releasing a couple of casks. Their choices, a £400 glen moray and a £200 unnamed distillery were poor, in my opinion, but hey, whatever. There’s plenty of ridiculously overpriced whisky out there and I’m too jaded to really get worked up about it. I’m sure some sucker will buy it. The point that did get my goat, was the attempt to justify it:
I like Taylor Swift. I think 1989 is a great album and I listen to it regularly. I regularly defend diageo and Macallan are one of my favourite distilleries. I wouldn’t class myself as a hipster. I don’t live in East London, know nothing about coffee and I own nothing released on the warp records label. I’m not cool and I don’t prefer the early stuff. I am, however, a bit fed up with whisky at the moment. There. I said it.
Macallan re-launched their age statements after their stripper range fell from its high heels flat on its arse. However, they brought it back at prices that are laughable. They want you to pay £75 for Macallan 10 sherry cask. A 10 year old 40% bottle. £75. That puts it up against the amazing Glendronach Allardice, Glenfarclas 21 or a bottle of Benriach 10 with a bonus bottle of talisker 10 on the side. I know prices are crazy at the moment but The question has to be… who is buying this shit?!
We are at an impasse. Literally. The train doors will not open. Pressing the shiny green button is entirely futile, the doors remain firmly closed. Half of our train will soon be speeding towards sunny Wolverhampton. The other half will remain fixed in Milton Keynes. We are currently located in the half that is a train to no-where. No-one wants to remain fixed in Milton Keynes. Being a seasoned train traveler I know for a fact that if the button doesn’t work it’s a simple matter to pull the doors open. They’re designed for this. In fact, there may even be a sticker on the doors advising you to do so. I try to gently encourage my friend to push on, lest we be left behind in Milton Keynes. “Fear not fellow traveler, these doors are designed to open with the merest of pulls, we shall soon be merrily on our way down the carriage”. That is what I say in my head. What comes out is nearer “lloooooookkkkk, jusssssssssss force the faaaaaaaking thinnnnng”. Robin is not convinced. He decides we need instead to exit the train, and re-enter further down. Cue a trainspotting style dash down the platform, only very slowly, and very wobbly. To think, just a few hours earlier I’d been on a different train full of such excitement…
I don’t care about Brora 2.0 because brora is shit, and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot with no taste buds drinking the kool aid because Serge told them to. However, Port Ellen, is good. Really good. I’ve been lucky enough to try various expressions over the years and whilst it’s not always great when it is on, it’s seriously good.
Diageo have decided to create a brand new distillery on Islay, call it “Port Ellen” and hope nobody notices that its a completely different distillery. Just calling something the same name doesn’t make it the same. Trying to emulate something else doesn’t make it the same. Nothing about “Port Ellen” will be the same. Presumably they’re keeping the maltings so it won’t even be in the same place! What. The. Fuck.
“Hi, we’re diageo, we’re going to do a cheap knock off of our own product and hope no-one notices”. Surely this is a fake whisky too far.
Champagne has Clos De Mesnil. Burgundy has Romanee Contee. Islay has Port Ellen. Bourbon has Pappy Van Winkle. Producers that are stars, released in very limited quantities with bottles on the secondary market that change hands for more money than any liquid really has a right to do. Supply and demand determines that to get hold of pappy you either need to be extremely rich, or extremely lucky. Even for those lucky enough to get hold of a bottle at retail price, I wonder how many hold their nerve and open it rather than flip it. Fair play to those who do open and share them, you are very much whiskies good guys and I salute you.
People who say “age is but a number”:
1) NAS supporters
Am I equating NAS supporters with sexual predators? Yes. Yes I am.
In the world of wine you have this weird concept of the biodynamic calendar. It’s utter bullshit, but there are people who earnestly believe that some days are fruit days, and some days are root days. They say that on root days, nothing tastes good. On fruit days, everything is better. I’ve been to wine tastings where (whilst I believe this theory is bullshit) I kinda understood it. Stuff that should have been amazing just wasn’t. Today, possibly, was one of those days.
Think of a whisky snob. For me it conjures up a stuffy, plummy voiced person, bespoke Saville row suit (more Gieves and Hawkes than Kilgour), lots of rules about how you have to do this or do that, they’d probably tell you that if you put ice in your whisky they’ll kill you. They’d probably do something stupid like throw whisky on the floor to “season the glass”. They’d be Robert Paterson. How is he not treated as the clown of whisky? The Ronald McDonald of Dalmore? He gave himself a nickname of “The nose” for God sake. What more does it take?!
It’s three am. Dressed in a bright white blazer I am dancing, alone, on stage, at my local goth/biker bar, to 90s rock legends hole. I guess sometimes you just really need to celebrate!