Distiller’s Friday Roundup – August 23rd, 2019

by Mikael Mossberg & Stephanie Moreno
August 23, 2019

In the ongoing saga of Kentucky distillery catastrophes, last week, Castle & Key’s water treatment facility failed. An unknown amount of untreated waste water dumped into the nearby creek, killing fish and discoloring the water. In other news, Amazon is under investigation after reporting by Wine-Searcher. The publication revealed that Amazon was operating what appeared to be a fake liquor store in Los Angeles in order to hold the necessary liquor license for its on-demand alcohol delivery operation. In new spirits news, Highland Park Valfather is the latest release from the Edrington-owned brand. The brand claims that it is the peatiest whisky that the distillery has ever released. Finally, MGP announced the third Remus Repeal Reserve Straight Bourbon. Check out the details and more new releases below.

Castle & Key dumps untreated wastewater into Glenns Creek

In another bit of troubling news for Kentucky bourbon distilleries, Castle & Key’s water treatment facility failed last week, dumping an unknown amount of untreated and oxygen-depleted waste water into nearby Glenns Creek.

The Kentucky Division of Water responded after reports of water discoloration and dead fish started coming in. Castle & Key was able to halt the discharge by 4pm, roughly two hours after the initial reports came in.

Castle & Key dumps untreated wastewater into Glenns CreekDistillery Grounds at Castle & Key / Photo Credit: Castle & Key

This incident comes on the heels of a fire just down the road at a Jim Beam warehouse that destroyed 45,000 barrels of aging bourbon and caused a massive run off into the nearby creek. Sadly, the affected creek in that incident was also Glenns Creek.

The distillery will be issued a notice of violation, though the specific penalty won’t be announced until officials can meet with the brand and determine what caused the malfunction.

Amazon appears to be operating a fake liquor store in Los Angeles

In February 2019, Amazon Prime began offering on-demand alcohol delivery in Los Angeles. The liquor license requires the holder to operate a public facing brick and mortar store if it wishes to offer on-demand alcohol delivery services.

The license further stipulates that the store must be open for at least half the hours that the warehouse makes deliveries, and that the store hours must be available at the entrance to the store. Furthermore, products must be “made conveniently available for inspection” by customers.

Amazon appears to be operating a fake liquor store in Los AngelesAmazon Warehouse / Photo Credit: fortune.com

Reporting from Wine-Searcher, and later LA Mag, revealed that the location is little more than a corner office in a huge Amazon warehouse where customers are not able to browse the selection or even purchase products with credit cards.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has opened an investigation into the matter after Wine-Searcher brought the issue to its attention.

Last week Distiller shared news of Amazon’s plans to open a similarly tiny “liquor store” in San Francisco.

Cognac Export Growth Continues For 5th Year In A Row

For the fifth year running cognac exports have continued to grow, reaching new levels of both volume and value. Over the past 12 months 211.1 million bottles of cognac were shipped, with a value of 3.4 billion euros. Over the same period last year, 205.9 million bottles were shipped, beating the previous record of 200 million bottles the year before.

Cognac Export Growth Continues For 5th Year In A RowCognac Export Growth Continues For 5th Year In A Row

Of the total 211.1 million bottles shipped, 94.3 million made their way to the United States, which is cognac’s largest export market by a fair margin, followed by Singapore and China. Exports to the rest of Europe were down this year by an overall -4.6% in volume.

An additional ~25,000 acres of new vines are being planted in preparation for further demand in the coming years. Cognac fans in both North America and the rest of the world should expect even more releases on the horizon.

Highland Park Releases Peatiest Whisky to Date

Released globally in August 2019, Highland Park Valfather is the final whisky in the limited edition Viking Legend Trilogy following Valkyrie, released in 2017, and Valknut, released in 2018. Whisky maker Gordon Motion introduced a higher amount of locally-produced peated malt for the trilogy. In fact, Valfather is said to be the peatiest whisky to date from the distillery. The whisky matured in refill casks and is bottled at 47% ABV. The SRP for Valfather is £60 ($72).

Highland Park ValfatherHighland Park Valfather

MGP Announces Third Remus Repeal Reserve Straight Bourbon

Remus Repeal Reserve Series III Straight Bourbon is the third release in the series created to commemorate Prohibition Repeal Day. The straight bourbons are distilled by MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana from two high-rye mash bills.

Remus Repeal Reserve Series III Straight BourbonRemus Repeal Reserve Series III Straight Bourbon

The breakdown of the bourbon is as follows:

– 12% was distilled in 2007 from a mash bill with 21% rye.
– 78% was distilled in 2008 from a mash bill with 21% rye.
– 10% was distilled in 2008 from a mash bill with 36% rye.

This limited release is set to launch on November 13, the birthday of the brand’s namesake, George Remus, “the king of bootleggers.”

It is bottled at 100 proof and priced at $84.99 in markets which already stock George Remus products. These markets include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Fourth Batch of Dingle Single Malt Released

Released in August 2019, Dingle Single Malt Batch No. 4 is a marriage of single malts which aged in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry (both oloroso and Pedro Ximenez), and ex-port casks. All the whiskey was triple-distilled at the Dingle Distillery located in Dingle in Co. Kerry on the west coast of Ireland. The distillery was founded in 2012 and produces 100% of its spirits on site. In addition to single malt and single pot still whiskey, the distillery also produces a pot-still gin and a vodka.

Batch No. 4 is bottled at 46.5% ABV and has an SRP of $99.99.

Dingle Single Malt Batch No. 4Dingle Single Malt Batch No. 4

Overproof Rhum J.M. Agricole Blanc White Rum Launches

The Agricole Blanc selections from Rhum J.M. are produced from estate-grown cane that’s harvested each spring after a full year’s growth. Within an hour of harvest, the brand has fresh-pressed sugarcane juice which is then allowed to undergo a natural fermentation for 36-48 hours. The fermented juice is distilled in a Créole copper column still to 70% ABV. The rhum then rests for at least three months in stainless tanks. It is then reduced to bottle-strength with volcanic, mineral water sourced from the estate.

There are several proofs available for the brand including an 80 proof, a 100 proof and now a 110 proof version which was released this month. Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc White Rum 55% is sold in liter-sized bottles. SRP $36.99.

Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc White Rum 55%Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc White Rum 55%


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