Distiller’s Friday Roundup – October 19th, 2018

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October 19, 2018

Halloween is right around the corner, have you decided what your costume will be? If you’re like me and you put off that very important decision until the last possible minute, you could instead spend this Friday catching up on what’s going on around the world of spirits. The Keepers of the Quaich swelled their ranks a bit more, Irish Distillers are expanding like crazy, Elon Musk is doing something with tequila, Douglas Laing & Co created my favorite packaging of the year with Remarkable Regional Malts With a Twist, and Michter’s, Johnnie Walker and Laphroaig are all releasing very old and very expensive whiskeys. Jump on in!

Keepers of the Quaich Add Five New Masters and 45 New Keepers

If you’re not familiar with the Keepers of the Quaich, it’s an organization founded in the mid 1980s to recognize individuals who have made large contributions to the Scotch whisky industry. You can’t apply, you have to be nominated and invited. To qualify as a Keeper one must have worked in the industry for at least five years. To qualify as a Master of the Quaich one must have been inducted as a Keeper over 10 years ago and have made an “exceptional contribution” to the Scotch whisky industry.

Keepers of the Quaich induction ceremony and new mastersKeepers of the Quaich induction ceremony and new Masters / Photo Credit: Keepers of the Quaich

Since it’s founding just over 2,700 individuals have received the honor. At the most recent induction ceremony on October 8th, the Keepers of the Quaich added 45 new members, and named five new Masters at a private ceremony at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl. The new Masters include: Gerald Erdrich, president of Kammer-Kirsch, GmbH; David Freeborn, managing director at Dalemaine FZE; Alistair Hart, sales director of Hart Brothers; Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard; and Louise Higgins, vice president of marketing and innovation at Diageo Caribbean and Central America.

“Scotch whisky was, and remains, the first global spirit and Keepers of the Quaich exists to recognise and celebrate the exceptional contribution of people working in all aspects of the industry, all over the world,” says Peter Prentice, chairman of the society.

On a totally unrelated note, I co-founded Distiller over five years ago and am a really big fan of receiving awards and recognition. Just in case any Keepers of the Quaich random people were curious. Moving on…

Irish Distillers Announces €150m Investment and Expansion

Back in the mid 1960s, John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son and Cork Distilleries Company merged to form Irish Distillers. While you may not be familiar with the name on its own, you’re certainly familiar with what they do. Jameson, Midleton, Power’s, Redbreast, Green Spot and several other brands are all produced by Irish Distillers.

The Irish Distillers expansionThe proposed Irish Distillers expansion / Photo Credit: Irish Distillers

This week the company announced that over the next two years more than €150 million will be invested into Midleton Distillery, the maturation site in Dungourney and the bottling plant in Dublin. The vast majority of that investment is going towards expanding and upgrading the distillery and the maturation site. Irish Distillers plans to build eight new maturation warehouses, install new equipment to expand capacity and purchase new land to support further development.

This is fantastic news for anyone who enjoys premium Irish whiskeys, because the producer of some of the finest Irish whiskeys the world has to offer is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Elon Musk Is Making Tesla Tequila … Maybe

In a hilarious (read that as sarcastically as you’re able) joke last April Fools’ Day, Elon Musk tweeted that his electric vehicle company, Tesla, had gone bankrupt and that he’d been found black-out-drunk surrounded by “Teslaquila” bottles. I told you it was funny.

Elon Musk’s proposed Teslaquila bottleElon Musk’s proposed Teslaquila bottle / Photo Credit: Elon Musk

Now it seems that Tesla has officially filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Teslaquila” (presumably to snatch up that winner of a name before someone else beats him to it).

The trademark covers a “distilled agave liquor” as well as “distilled blue agave liquor”, prompting speculation that the company could produce both a mixto tequila and a 100% agave tequila.

Whether or not this is real or just another very funny joke remains to be seen.

Remarkable Regional Malts With a Twist

Douglas Laing & Co was founded by Fred Douglas Laing back in 1948, which makes 2018 the 70th anniversary. As part of the celebration the company is releasing a commemorative Remarkable Regional Malts bottling: Remarkable Regional Malts With A Twist. It incorporates single malts from all of Scotland’s whisky producing regions. It aged for 10 years and is bottled at 48% ABV with no color added or chill-filtration.

Remarkable Regional Malts With a Twist Remarkable Regional Malts With a Twist / Photo Credit: Douglas Laing

Only 5,000 bottles will be produced, and the labels are individually numbered. One of the best parts of the whole product is the packaging, though. The tube rotates which allows their character Big Peat’s head to sit atop the body of Scallywag’s dog body, or Timorous Beastie’s mouse body to line up with The Epicurean’s top-hatted-head.

Admit it, that’s fun.

Laphroaig 28 Year

This limited edition single malt from Laphroaig was first matured in a gaggle of selected casks of varying sizes—from butts to quarter casks—for 27 years. For the final 12 months of maturation the whisky is married in sherry butts. It’s bottled at 44.4% ABV and will become available in October of 2018.

Laphroaig 28 YearLaphroaig 28 Year

The suggested retail price is $799. Good news for any of you who were worried that it might be too expensive.

The John Walker Master’s Edition

This release is a blend of rare whiskies from six different distilleries that existed during the lifetime of John Walker (1805-1857), the founder of Johnnie Walker. Five of those distilleries are now closed. The blend is made using single malts from Glen Albyn, Glenury Royal and Blair Athol (the only distillery still open), and single grain whiskies from Caledonian, Cambus and Port Dundas. All of the whiskies were aged for a minimum of 50 years. The cask used to marry the whiskies is made of 100 year-old staves.

The John Walker Master's EditionThe John Walker Master’s Edition

This rare blend yielded just 100 bottles. Each one is hand-numbered and presented in a black Baccarat decanter housed in a cabinet made by N.E.J. Stevenson, Cabinet Makers by Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen. It will be available in October 2018 for a cool $25,000.

Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Is Back

The last time the world saw Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon was in 2016. Now, Master Distiller Pam Heilmann and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson are bringing it back.

Michter's 20 Year Kentucky Straight BourbonMichter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon / Photo Credit: Michter’s

“One of the most exciting aspects of my job is when I sample older barrels. These barrels were really special and we are thrilled to share this year’s 20 Year Bourbon release with our consumers,” says Wilson.

This bourbon is bottled at 114.2 proof (57.1% ABV) with a suggested retail price of $700.

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye

With a name like “Small Batch Rye” you would be forgiven to assume that this is somehow an American or Canadian product. Instead, it’s the first whiskey that is 100% distilled and matured at the Kilbeggan Distillery in Ireland since restoration was completed in 2010. It features a mash of malted barley, unmalted barley and about 30% rye, harkening back to the late 1800s when many large Irish distillers used rye in their mashes. Around the time of Prohibition, and the Irish War of Independence, rye all but disappeared from Irish whiskeys.

Kilbeggan Small Batch RyeKilbeggan Small Batch Rye

The whiskey will be available in the United States in mid-November of 2018 with a suggested price of $34.99 per 750ml bottle and is bottled at 43% ABV.


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