1 October 2014

Whisky Insiders Interview - Jeff Arnett

Jack Daniel's

Master Distiller


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I joined Jack Daniel's 13 years ago as the quality control manager after spending my first 10 years in food & beverages manufacturing with another company.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There have been many, but the thing I'm most proud of is the continued growth and increasing popularity of Jack Daniel's whiskey during my tenure as master distiller.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
Before joining Jack Daniel's, I was a member of the Tennessee squires association and a huge fan of the brand. My first memory was ordering a 'Jack and Coke' in college.

What does whisky mean to you?
For many people, including myself, whiskey is more than a drink choice. It makes a statement about who you are and the things you value as a person. I think Jack Daniel's attracts people who value authenticity and independence and those traits are both important to me as well.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
In five years, I hope Jack Daniel's will be surpassing a well-known Scotch company to become the largest and most loved whiskey brand on the planet.

What was your last dram?
My last dram was a glass of Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select served neat.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
I tend to enjoy whiskey either before or after dinner so that I can enjoy each sip to the fullest. Among the Jack Daniel's family of whiskies, I tend to drink Gentleman Jack the most with my meals. It's light vanilla and soft oak notes pair well with fish, chicken and pastas.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
My favourite time to enjoy any whiskey is after work and my favourite place is anywhere my family and friends are.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whiskey horizon?
American whiskey is definitely hot right now and much of this growth is happening in bourbon style and Tennessee whiskey. We expect rye whiskey to also experience a renaissance and have already begun distilling and maturing a high rye content whiskey at Jack Daniel's.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Although Jack Daniel's single barrel is my personal favourite, I think I would have to choose our Old No.7 Black Label if I could only have one. It's been my tried and true choice in whiskey for the last 25 years.

Many thanks to Jeff Arnett. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!

23 September 2014

Old St. Andrews Tweet Tasting

Continuing our hugely successful teaming throng of Tweet Tastings, we’re delighted to announce that on the evening of October 15th we’ll be sampling a bounty of blended delights from the Old St. Andrews whisky range.

On the night a specially invited ensemble of whisky enthusiasts will be sampling a gaggle of Old St. Andrews distinctively bottled blended Scotch whisky delights, and we’d absolutely love for you to join us by following all the evening’s dramspankery!
So to find out more about this brand that has fabulous lip-smacking flavours at the heart of every sip, join us with a dram in hand over on Twitter from 7pm on October 15th via #OSAWhisky
If you have any Old St. Andrews whisky wares at home, we'd also love for you to pour and tweet your thoughts on the night.
Until then Happy Dramlaxing!

18 September 2014

Win a copy of the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015

It has to be said that there’s no shortage of annual releases and events in the whisky calendar, and in addition to all the committee and special releases, shows and fests, one of the undoubted highlights for me is in book form and the autumn launch of the latest edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook.
This year’s edition marks the 10th anniversary of what has become the essential whisky read for enthusiasts and newbies alike, and as ever has been meticulously put together and edited by Mr Whisky Yearbook himself – Ingvar Ronde.
In addition to a wealth of features including articles from such distinguished whisky writers as Charles MacLean, Dominic Roskrow, Ian Buxton and Gavin D Smith, this year’s edition covers 361 distilleries from around the world and features more than 250 tasting notes.
Ahead of the release of this year’s edition on October 1st, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with The Malt Whisky Yearbook, to offer two of our readers the chance of winning a signed copy of the book.
To be in with a chance of winning a copy all you need to do is Click Here and email us your contact details along with the following phrase that dramming pays:
"Make my whisky year a blinding belter with this right rollicking rollercoaster of a whisky read"
*Remember to mark the subject line of your email with: MWYB2015 Comp
If you’re not already doing so follow us on Twitter via @TheWhiskyWire and RT one of our related competition tweets for another chance to win!
If you’re too eager (and I can’t blame you) to get hold of this year’s edition you can pre-order now by Click Here.
For more info on The Malt Whisky Yearbook visit: maltwhiskyyearbook.com
Competition closes at 23:59 on October 3rd 2014.

11 September 2014

Quick Fire Whisky Tasting Notes #41

Kininvie 23 Year Old
(Batch 2)
Nose: Warm vanilla fudge, Häagen Dazs Pralines & Cream, retro white candy cigarettes, slightly over ripened bananas, sherry poached pears, oven baked peaches, Hipp Organic red fruit & apple compote, blackberries, lime zest, a steamed treacle sponge pudding, wood spice and a finesseful, flouncing, floral freshness.
Palate: Peach cobbler drenched in vanilla custard, Waitrose key lime pie, stewed prunes, orange zest, Bonne Maman damson plum conserve, Mcvities ginger nut biscuits, cinnamon sticks, freshly grated nutmeg, ground black pepper, wood spice and the very timely arrival of an After Eight dinner mint.
Finish: A sweet, spiced and all things nice kind of a long linger-ette of a finish.
Summary: A very impressive first UK solo release for a distillery that has been somewhat of an unsung dramming hero, with all its whisky wares up until now used solely as component parts in William Grant & Sons blends. Now a brand in its own right, it's most definitely one to keep an eye on!

10 September 2014

R.I.P James Nelstrop

James Nelstrop 1945 - 2014

Yesterday we reported via our sister website The Whisky Business that The English Whisky Co. had announced the very sad news of the death of it's founder James Nelstrop, who died at the age of 69, following a brief but courageous fight with cancer.

We would like to pass on our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family of the man who was the trailblazing pioneer of English whisky!

28 August 2014

Quick Fire Whisky Tasting Notes #40

Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old
Sherry Cask
Nose: Sherry soaked sultanas and raisins, stewed prunes, warm glugs of honey, candied mixed peel, toffee apples, cinnamon infused poached pears, Cadbury’s Crunchie bar, sugared almonds, Waitrose treacle tart, McVitie's Jamaica ginger cake, wood spice, struck match, hoisin sauce and a pleasantly protruding pinch-ette of cayenne pepper.
Palate: Sweet oozing oodles of wood spiced infused Oloroso sherry, Cadbury’s Bournville Old Jamaica Chocolate bar, grilled pineapple rings, oven baked peaches, orange zest, stem ginger, spiced honey, toasted walnuts and a pan of warm salted demerara caramel.
Finish: A right rollickingly rich, sheer sherried, sumptuously spiced, long lush lingering finish.
Summary: As a huge fan of the standard 15 Year Old Single Barrel, it has to be said that the Sherry Cask doesn't quite share the same 'tightrope walker' level of balance and is a little rough around the edges, but that aside it still makes for a good honest drop of dramspankage.

18 August 2014

Whisky Insiders Interview - Rob Allanson

William Grant & Sons

Global Ambassador for Grant's Whisky


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Well I've now been the Global Ambassador for Grant’s Whisky for four months, early days but a very exciting time to join the team. Before this I worked for eight years with Whisky Magazine covering the industry.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Other than landing a dream job with William Grant and Sons, one of the things I was most proud of was the redesign of Whisky Magazine. This involved a few months of going to and fro, between me and Whisky Magazine’s Art Director Paul Beevis, and I am still incredibly impressed with what we came up with. It was a real marker in the sand for the magazine, "you know we're here and this is our direction and style". We just wanted to shake the physical nature of the magazine up a little, which turned out to be the biggest redesign to date in terms of lay out and paper stock.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
Well I think it was either Highland Park or Bushmills Black Bush, both were favourites of my grandparents and parents so that was what was in the house. I remember being bowled over by the taste sensation, hot, spicy and sweet.

What does whisky mean to you?
For me it is quite a lot of things about marking moments and occasions, where whisky becomes part of the mix rather than taking centre stage to friendships. There is nothing better that pulling out something special and sharing it with a good friend. Those moments should be a reminder to never lose the joy of things. The world and whisky are full of wonder and amazement; there are breath-taking things out there, just remember to pack a hipflask!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Well I would hope I am still working for Grant’s in this capacity, still out educating people and spreading the blended whisky word. There is nothing like that light bulb moment where someone finds something they like. I have seen this a lot when you tell people to add water to their whisky to reduce any burn they feel and then ‘bing’ they have found their way into whisky, it becomes accessible and understandable.

What was your last dram?
It was a Manhattan made with Grant’s Family Reserve, vermouth and chilli pickled cherries.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Ah now, food and whisky, great bedfellows. I have done a few pairings and whisky dinners with my great friend and Dublin pub owner Seaneen Sullivan, but one she put together for a Grant’s Brand Ambassador workshop recently totally blew me away.

This was not your average sit down and dryly go through a range tasting interspersed with food, we served up Grant’s Family Reserve with soda water and bitters; and even revived the boilermaker using Brewdog’s 5AM Saint.

Seaneen worked with the drinks I had in mind and used the food to amplify and highlight flavours in the whisky. To be honest you cannot complain about candy floss with 18 Years Old Grant’s atomised over it.

Because I am lactose intolerant a lot of the chocolate and cheese pairings are out for me, unless they are goat’s cheese. So the pairing menu Seaneen put together was incredible and is now responsible for some of my favourite pairings. It was so well thought through, each element was balanced and a perfect fit with the whisky. Who can say no to bacon jam and Grant’s Family Reserve... rich, unctuous and deliciously smoky.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
There have been a lot to be honest, but the ones that always stand out are drinking with friends. Whether it is on the back of my dad’s boat watching the sun go down over Windermere, sitting under a sunset with a warming BBQ, smoking cigars and drinking setting the world to rights, sitting up late nights with friends on sofas just having fun, listening to music and enjoying life. All responsibly of course.

I did some recording in the Balvenie maltings with the band I play in. It was a very special few days doing things that I love; whisky and music. The whisky of choice was not what you might be expecting. It was an old Canadian Blend called Crazy Horse.

There also those moments of drinking in warehouses at the distilleries. They can never be replaced, and I heartily recommend them.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I have a feeling that the grain category is about to become increasingly hot. The recent Girvan and Haig releases I think are just the start of something. People seem to be understanding it more and more; it’s almost like whisky’s version of rye.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Oh now that is a question. It changes dependent on the time of year, place, my moods and who I am with; also indoors or outdoors, cooking or eating. Too many combinations but thankfully there are a lot of expressions out there to help fit the moment. So I think the answer is to keep a well stocked cabinet.

The current house pour is Grant’s Family Reserve, followed by a new travel retail expression we have launched called Voyager. A little bit more peat that the usual Grant’s expressions. Honestly I think the answer is the one that is open on my sideboard. It can be anything from light and airy lowlanders to big sherry bomb Japanese whiskies and all shades in between including well made blends such as Grant’s.

Many thanks to Rob Allanson. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!