Irish whiskey has been having a renaissance over the last few years, springing back from the dark days of retrenchment and consolidation that, by the 1970s, saw the entire industry working out of just two sites, both of which were owned by the same company. Things are rather healthier nowadays, but given the high costs and long lead times involved in setting up a distillery and being able to sell something that’s aged enough to qualify as a whiskey, a lot of the new operations are still using spirit sourced from the New Middleton or Old Bushmills distilleries whilst they get their feet under the table, so to speak.
It is in this environment that the recent Dingles’ announcement of a permanent core line made entirely from spirit distilled and aged themselves is so interesting – other distilleries have been doing great things with the spirit they’ve sourced, but this release means that Dingle are joining the still relatively small club of Irish whiskey makers whose bottles are filled with a spirit that’s really their’s.
As someone who spends more of their time at the smaller end of the drinks industry scale, you have to take a step back when thinking about the big players. Chivas Regal is the fourth biggest-selling Scotch brand in the world, and producing at that volume is mind-boggling. At four and half million cases a year, they’re making about enough to sling a bottle at every individual in the UK. The logistics alone are beyond me, even before thinking about how to maintain your targeted consistency and quality. Then again, when you’re a brand big enough that you can just give away $1m a year to social entrepreneurs and partner up with Man U, it probably stands to reason that you can take the odd risk, or at least diverge from the straight and narrow. So, while I can’t tell if this Chivas Extra 13 collection is more than a stretching of the blending muscles and an excuse for some exciting limited-release packaging, I’m not going to turn down a look-see at a new angle on a trusty blended scotch like this. (more…)
First things first – merry Christmas! Hope you’re all in good spirits and the holidays are treating you well.
So, due to a combination of poor time management and poor health, there have been a few events that I really wanted to write up from the last few months that got left out in the cold. What with this being the end of the year and a time to reflect on things, I thought I’d partway rectify this sin of omission with a little Boxing Day round-up of some cracking booze I had the pleasure of sampling.
[NB: This is a embarrassingly late write-up – the launch was in early September. Never let it be said that I have my finger on the pulse]
After a steady refurbishment of the original site, London Fields Brewery decided it was ready to show itself off to the wider world and held a big do in the done-up taproom and brewery. I was rather curious about this relaunch, as the brewery was barely five hundred yards from my now-wife’s flat when we first started dating, and in those early days I dragged her there to see if I could persuade her of beer’s merits. So, with a mix of curiosity and nostalgia, off we trooped. (more…)
Apparently the fruits of a visit from Brooklyn Brewery‘s brewmaster Garrett Oliver taking a trip West, when he was in the UK a few months ago, this is a 5.2% dry-hopped sour brewed at Lost And Grounded. My experience of the main Brooklyn range tends more to technical solidity rather than jaw-dropping virtuosity, but Oliver is always interesting and their Bel-Air sour was an unexpected stand-out when I was in New York a year or two back. Lost and Grounded have a similar focus on process, unsurprising given the Little Creatures and Camden pedigree of co-founder Alex Troncoso, albeit aimed slightly more at German and Belgian styles. With the Bel-Air in mind, and both parties’ history of putting out dialled-in beers, I was very happy that a can fell into my lap.*