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Scotch Whisky Association Releases Data on Exports and Value for 2008

The Scotch Whisky Association just released some data on the exports and value of those exports for the 2008 calendar year.  This data is NOT broken down into whether the whisky is blended or malts, but there are a couple of interesting things that peeked out.  There’s not a whole lot of data in this set, and when there is a lot of data, it isn’t very fresh by a couple of years (except that it’s cool to see that the entire whisky exports to Azerbaijan in 2007 was 1 liters worth at a value of 469 pounds).

2008 Whisky Exports by Volume

2008 Whisky Exports by Volume

But, I digress.  The first chart is the top 10 countries by total volume of exports (in 70cl bottles, which is a little smaller than the 75 cl bottles we get in the states).  What’s interesting to see here is that most of the countries dropped off by quite a bit (double digit percentage change drop) except for Singapore, South Korea, South Africa and Germany, which all had low single digit increases.  France is number 1, USA is 2, which is a little strange considering that USA has 304,059,724 people and France has 61,538,322 people.  France has 1/5 the number of people, but drinks more scotch whisky by volume.

Whisky Exports Based on Value

Whisky Exports Based on Value

Now, looking at the second chart, which is the top 10 countries by total value of exports (in british pound sterlings), you see that USA is 1 and France is 2.  What does that mean?  Well, it could mean that France drinks cheaper whisky than folks in the US drink.  If you compare the past years, you’ll also see that while USA dropped in value (percentage change of -11%), France screamed up in value of exports (+22%).  But, remember, their volume dropped.  So, USA dropped in both volume and value.  France dropped in volume (though it’s still 1), but just destroyed in value gain over previous years.  That must mean that the French have started drinking way more expensive whisky (or, there is some serious inflation in the French economy right now).

Hope you like the charts.  When I get more data, I’ll do more.  Overall it’s interesting to see that though total volume has decreased from 2008 to 2007, total value has increased.  People are paying more for whisky – whether or not that reflects prices increasing for the same product, or people just purchasing a higher quality product at a higher price, we do not know.   The BBC has more on the story.

tasting notes: Caol Ila 10 year from Gordon & MacPhail

G&M Connoiseurs ChoiceGordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 10 year (dist. 1995)

Alc/vol: 46%
Color: just-slightly-bronzed gold
Legs: med. beads, slow drop
Nose: buttery pastries in paris, a crackling fireplace in winter, dark chocolate, ripe red fruits, and oranges, all wrapped up in an ocean breeze
Palette: coal, spices (nutmeg), more chocolate (milky now), and a sweetness like buttered veggies (butternut squash seems to be it) grilling over a charcoal flame
Body: a bit oily and quite fulfilling in the mouth; lots of texture (can a mouthfeel have “complexity”? – I think so)
Finish: a long, lingering chocolate éclair eaten in front of the fire
Overall: I was happily shocked when I first tasted this, and the retaste confirms everything: a well cared-for independent bottling of an often underestimated Islay. While it is as enjoyable to me as anything, it doesn’t quite have the complexity of a Talisker 10, Ardbeg 10, or Highland Park 18. Nevertheless, this dram is absolutely a peaty, smokey treat.
Score: 8.9/10

Best in Blog: Port Askaig, Caol Ila, and Previews of the Islay Festival of Malt & Music

Seems like everyone in the whiskysphere is either gearing up for the Islay Malt & Music festival, buzzing about the release of Port Askaig. Here’s the lowdown from some of our favorite whisky blogs:

  • At Malt Advocate, John Hansell reviews the 17 and 25 year old Port Askaig, bottled and sold by Whisky Exchange. From what I gather, these are independent bottlings of spirit distilled at Caol Ila (though the label looks thoroughly like an Ardbeg creation).
  • Cask Strength also got their hands on the 17 and 25 year old Port Askaig. Like Malt advocate, they too seem to prefer the 17 year to it’s older sibling.
  • At WhiskyFun, Serge takes things a little further and actually tastes the Port Askaig 25 next to four rare, independent bottlings of Caol Ila. The Askaig comes off rather well in the comparison.
  • The Whisky Exchange and Edinburgh Whisky blogs both inform us that Diageo has announced its bottlings for the Islay Festival: a first-ever official single cask bottling of Caol Ila 12 year, and a 14 year old Lagavulin.
  • Finally, our friend the Scotch Hobbyist gives his bottle of Laphroaig 15 year a try and decides that the old girl is growing on him just as she’s about to disappear off the shelves.

Ardbeg Supernova Sells Out, Sets Record, is once again, Really Peaty

Supernova, An Explosion Gone in a Second

Supernova, An Explosion Gone in 112 Minutes

Ardbeg Supernova, which WhiskyParty posted about before, has just sold out (or, at least the advance release).  You miss it, too?  The spirit that is 40% more peaty than Ardbeg 10, sold 3000 bottles in 112 minutes, online.  At a cost of 80 pounds, that’s 240,000 pounds in 112 minutes, or stateside, revenue of $3,242 per minute. If you like liquid measurements, 18.75 liters per minute (once again, stateside, you just drank 4.95 gallons of tasty uisge per minute).

Miss yours?  It is supposedly launching again tomorrow (May 6th).  Join their committee to try and get dibs.

Read the original article here.

Using Nuclear Bombs to Uncover Fraudulent Antique Malts

No, this is not a joke. Rather, it’s an interesting article about how carbon dating can help identify fake antique malts. Antique malts from the 18th and 19th Centuries will set you back tens of thousands of dollars, and counterfeiting is big business:

Researchers at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, which is funded by the National Environmental Research Council, discovered that they could pinpoint the date a whisky was made by detecting traces of radioactive particles created by nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s.

They can also use natural background levels of radioactivity to identify whiskies that were made in earlier centuries.

Dr Tom Higham, deputy director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, said: “It is easy to tell if whisky is fake as if it has been produced since the middle of the twentieth century, it has a very distinctive signature.

“With whiskies that are older, we can get a range of dates but we can usually tell which century it came from. The earliest whisky we have dated came from the 1700s and most have been from 19th century.

“So far there have probably been more fakes among the samples we’ve tested than real examples of old whisky.”

In one recent case, a bottle of 1856 Macallan Rare Reserve, which was expected to sell for up to £20,000, was withdrawn from auction at Christies after the scientists found it had actually been produced in 1950.

My question is this – in order to properly date the bottles, they need samples. So they need to open the bottles in some way. Doesn’t that automatically degrade the value of the scotch?

An Independent Bottling of Laphroaig 6 year: Signatory Un-chillfiltered

Laphroaig 6.5 year Un-chillfiltered, bottled by Signatory (dist. 2000)

Maturation: refill sherry butt
Cask no. 3671; Bottle 104/726
Alc/vol: 46%
Color: yellowish-amber
Legs: med-large beads, slow drip
Nose: big chocolatey peat at the fore, with oats and hay, then flowers, and finally a healthy slice of pecan pie
Palette: the peat and semi-sweet chocolate combo remains up front and dry, with a considerable chalk-eraser dusting of smoke on the mid-palette, balanced by an oatmeal maltiness and a hint of rhubarb tartness. All with a touch of medical bandaging woven throughout.
Body: big body; very dry, nearly powder
Finish: warming, long, with the powdery mouthfeel persisting
Overall: while not quite as phenolic or salty as the OB 10 year, smokier and peatier, perhaps. Deliciously dry, with a farms-at-sunset flavor. The sherry mixes in subtly, as if it imparted a hint of sweetness and then escaped quickly. A rival to the Quatercask, though not as complex. Only a scintilla of transmogrification by the sherry refill butt, this is very young Laphroaig at its best.
Score: 8.8/10