My bottle of Laphroaig Select is here!! Photos and review to follow soon :)
The end of calendar year 2014 sees The Glenlivet overtaking Glenfiddich as India's largest selling single malt. This data comes from International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR) and shows that The Glenlivet's 12 YO expression has a market share of 25.2%, and Glenfiddich 12 YO follows at 24.8%.
The same study publishes that Glenmorangie 10 YO's shares grew 23%, and in disappointing news- Laphroaig 10 YO lost 32%! Part of Laphroaig's loss is to do with its parent company, Beam. Beam has been restructuring its local operations recently, and perhaps that has caused some distribution irregularities.
But India's market is big enough for all, for single malt sales account for a miniscule 1% of the total whisky consumption in India. The agenda for all is to make people realise that Black or Double Black label is not the pinnacle of uisge beatha!
A big shout out to my man Beeku Bhopali for spotting this report on Times of India. And a big thumbs down to TOI for not knowing that it's always written THE Glenlivet, never without THE!
Just browsing through some of MasterofMalt's new arrivals, as I usually do. And I came across 2 malts that had me drooling right away (not that there weren't more). Of course, this is the epitome of window shopping, for an Indian ordering alcohol from foreign shores would have to pay import duty of a whopping 150%!
Now many of you would possibly know this, and still others might research things well before doing what I did- order 2 bottles of Laphroaig from their website and get it delivered to me here, in Gurgaon. I did it almost entirely on a malt-frenzied whim, and received the shock of my life when the DHL delivery guy asked for the 150% in cash. My will gave out and I asked him to come the next day, seeking to stall the crisis facing me.
Enter good guys Laphroaig. I wrote to them, confessing ignorance of the import duty and asking them if they could take the bottles back. Their reply was swift and kind, they agreed to take the bottles back and credit the money back to me- but I would have to bear the delivery charges. I thought this to be a fine, fair deal. And in a world of shitty customer service it was a refreshing lean towards helpfulness.
Anyway, getting back to the article, these are the two malts that had me drooling today and wishing that the 150% import duty would go away-
This is Ardbeg's 2014 special edition, and it's going to be launched on Ardbeg Day - 31st May. Auri stands for gold and Verdes for green, and it's a name used to refer to Brazil's sports teams. It's a loud shout-out to the upcoming World Cup, but it also refers to Ardbeg's traditional green bottlings and gold maltings. The chaps at Master of Malt have their tasting notes up here, but I prefer not to read those unless I've had the malt myself first.
World Whisky Day Blend-
Lest my blog leads you to believe that I dismiss blendeds as unworthy, the second malt that has me salivating is the World Whisky Day 2014 blend- created by the event's organiser Blair Bowman. This is one, I fear, I shall never get to taste.
But the one thing that gets me about blendeds- I would enjoy the experience so much more if I could learn what single malts/distilleries contributed to it. But that's a mighty tough job to do, and even Google is pushed to the limit trying to provide answers.
On the eve of BJP's election victory, I tweeted Mr. Modi and recommended that he forgo a cup of tea and have a wee dram instead. Keeping in mind his personality and the famed chappan-ki-chhati, I recommended the PC11 by Bruichladdich- a strong, smoky malt that is sure to hit the throat well.
It got me thinking of whisky recommendations, and I wondered what malt could be commended to Mr. Rahul Gandhi. His party has suffered its worst defeat ever, and the jokes on him do not stop coming. I imagine the mood at his home to be sombre, with dark clouds gathered.
Bearing that in mind, I recommend he takes a dram of the Talisker Dark Storm. It's harsh, stormy notes would be good for a critical introspection, and its nostalgic wafts of rough seas will blend well with his own post-defeat moods.
Every spirit has its own glass, the one recommended piece of crystal for its fine consumption. But for centuries there was no such glass for whisky, and people were having it in everything from regular tumblers to delicate wine glasses. The Glencairn whisky glass seeks to change all that.
Owned by Glencairn Crystal Ltd. in Scotland, the glass was originally designed by Raymond Davidson- the company's managing director. But it saw the light of day when his sons retrieved it from an old filing cabinet and took it to the master blenders of some of Scotland's largest distilleries. Once their endorsement was acquired, the Scotch Whisky Association declared Glencairn to be whisky's official glass. The world's most complex spirit could now be savoured in a proper glass.
Glencairn's roots lie in traditional whisky nosing glasses or copitas used by blenders around the world. Its tapering mouth allows for ease of drinking while guiding the aromas towards the nose. The wide bowl allows for appreciation of the whisky's colour, and the solid base is designed to be easy on the hand.
Make no mistake- this is whisky's definitive drinking glass. And in 2006 it even won UK's Queen's Award for innovation. For those of us in India, I've found 2 options so far:
1. Walk into Keshav Prakash's The Vault in Mumbai and pick up a twin-pack for Rs. 2,025.
2. Order one glass at a price of Rs. 1,963 from zansaar.com
Slainte! My dram is the Laphroaig 10 YO.
It's quite difficult to get much information about William Peel on the internet. Its Speyside distiller has no website of its own, and I could not even find it listed on the exhaustive MasterofMalt index.
I did not spend much time with this malt, sharing a single bottle between many friends. Thus this is more an encounter than a full-fledged review. I certainly would love to revisit it, as its calm Speyside notes were quite palatable indeed.
On the nose, the malt is apricot, butter and pepper-syrup. I found wafts that I previously identified with the splendid BenRiach 21 YO. Adding even a little water blunted the nose considerably, but certainly gave it a very Speyside-ish nutty character.
On the palate, taken straight, the whisky is syrupy, floral and light. Hints of vanilla emerge better when a splash of water is added, which also rounds the malt up well like any Speyside produce. It is to note that this malt is non-chill filtered, which makes it strange that it is bottled at 41% ABV. Non-chill filtered malts are usually 46% ABV and upwards. The finish is long and distinct, leaving a dry-citrusy aftertaste in the throat.
The labelling of this whisky tries to suggest that it is a Glenlivet, but it only refers to the region where it is distilled. It is not to be confused with The Glenlivet, but that takes nothing away from its own distinct, quite satisfying character. I would like a bottle of this in my collection, for the more relaxed, low-key evenings with just a few friends.
Eye- dark barley, possibly caramel-coloured
Nose- apricot, butter, pepper
Palate- syrup, vanilla, light floral
Finish- long, citrus
Over at Fastcodesign, I came across the works of artist Ernie Button- titled Vanished Spirits. It features mesmerising photographs of the residue left at the bottom of a glass of whisky after one drinks it. Head over to the original article to look at the photos, all of which do indeed look like strange, alien worlds. It's hard to pick a favourite, but I do like how Lagavulin's residue looks like the inside of a tree trunk. Featured below is Lagavulin: