Another month or two rolls by and the world of whisky keeps throwing out some interesting and bizarre bits and pieces.
First up, the Scotch Whisky Association has been making some big headlines in the UK about the contribution of Scotch whisky to the British economy.
“Scotch whisky contributes almost £5bn to the UK economy and supports more than 40,000 jobs, according to research commissioned by the industry. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the sector now accounted for 25% of total UK food and drink exports. Its report also suggested that the industry’s direct economic impact had grown by 21% since 2008, to £3.3bn. It found it added more value to the economy than shipbuilding, iron and steel, textiles or computing.”
Which is actually a fair point to shout about, if you ask me. Off the back of that, there’s been criticism about the high levels of taxation on bottles of whisky.
“Scotch whisky makers have attacked Chancellor George Osborne for crippling them with “unfair” tax. They have complained that for every bottle sold in the UK 79 per cent of the price paid is tax. That means for a £12.50 bottle of Bells £7.90 is taken in duty and £2.08 in VAT.”
It’s not limited to Scotch, either. How’s that relevant to us? Well, the industry is trying to sell more whisky abroad, where duty is far lower than in the UK. Mind you, if the whiskies are anything like this, then the export markets can keep them. All of this brings me to this piece in the Telegraph, which says that supermarket own-brand whiskies are as good as the original bottlers’ releases:
“A new taste test has found most supermarket malts are just as good as both the traditional and more expensive “designers” ones. It means revellers celebrating Scotland’s national poet on Sunday don’t need to tot up a large drinks bill, one expert says. Martin Isark, a whisky expert who carried out the research, claims own label whiskies priced as little as £20 are as good as Scotch costing twice as much. He said supermarket whiskies are often made in the same distilleries as more pricey branded bottles and rarely taste different.”
Nothing new there, I guess, and one of the reasons it’s worthwhile exploring independently bottled whiskies from all producers. Speaking of overpriced whisky, David Beckham is still touting the tasteless Haig Club in this interview with GQ.
“I’ve never been a big whisky drinker – I’ve never been a big drinker in life in general – but whisky is something that really interested me. It’s surprising to people as well, because I’ve never really gone into the fact that I do like whisky. It’s kind of a hidden thing. I’m not going to sit here and say I know everything about whisky that’s out there. But I’m learning, and in the last two or three years I’ve learnt a lot.”
Almost makes me feel bad for what I said about it. On the subject of celebrities, the Balvenie have wheeled out celebrity chef and “culinary bad boy” Anthony Bourdain.
“Scottish whisky distillery Balvenie has teamed up with Anthony Bourdain for a “multifaceted collaboration that will bring attention to some of America’s finest craftspeople,” Balvenie announced in a press release.”
Sounds like they’re following the trend that the Dalmore started a little while ago. Finally, let’s end on a cheery note.
The iconic still that sat outside Bruichladdich distillery is moving on.
“It has gone for the best of all reasons – because it is to be brought back to life again. Along with another surplus still that was being stored in Port Charlotte, the icon is en-route to the coppersmiths to be refurbished before being transferred to Waterford in Ireland where it will provide Mark Reynier with an interim solution for his new still house.”
Reynier being former Bruichladdich CEO, who found himself without a home when the distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau in July 2012. It warms the cockles of my heart to know that a little bit of Bruichladdich is going over there to help him out. Also, given how influential the shape of a still is in producing a distinctive quality of whisky, that’s really a lot of Bruichladdich that’s going over there.