White Label – Follow Up

A while back we had some interest in bottling practices behind certain scotches. Please see: White Labeling Single Malts for the original article.

I contacted the Vintage Malt Whisky Company Limited and they were extremely gracious in their response to some of my quesitons:

“Many thanks for making contact with us and for your interest in our Ileach Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. I am delighted to hear that you are writing an article on Ileach for your website.

The distillery of origin of Ileach is a closely guarded secret and known only to a select few people within our company. We are in a very fortunate position to have a consistent source of supply of top quality malt whisky from one of the very best distilleries on Islay. I can tell you that Ileach is bottled at a minimum of 5 years old and the spirit is matured in a mixture of ex sherry butts and ex bourbon wood.

We currently bottle Ileach at 40% vol and Cask Strength (58% Vol) and occasionally we will produce limited volumes of a 12 Yrs Old.

The Ileach has won a gold award at the International Wine & Spirit Competition and in 2008 the Cask Strength version was named World Whisky of the Year runner up in Jim Murrays Whisky Bible.”

White Labeling Single Malts

Are some distilleries bottling their whiskies under multiple labels for sale as a different malt? Are they selling younger unbottled whiskies to other companies for the purpose of distributing as a new single malt?

November’s scotch, The Ileach, has led me realize that this may be the case. This practice may in fact be relatively common.

Contributors to some of my research sources (the Internet) mention the taste comparisons between these mystery scotches and some even mention that it comes directly from the Lagavulin distillery.

I was not able to find very much company information on the Ileach’s distillery at the time of my review, in fact I was surprised that it didn’t appear to be bottled by a distillery at all: “bottled by The Highlands and Islands Scotch Whiskey Company“. Michael from Halifax, who has inspired me to do a little research into this, had tasted a whisky bottled as Cooper’s Choice which he believes to be a “LaPhroaig 10 year old under” the  Highlands and Islands branding.

I understand the practice that goes on when crafting a blended scotch and that the single malts included are most often a mystery to the public, but singles being ported around and bottled by third parties is a little more intriguing to me. I don’t believe that it has to be dishonest however. If these bottlings are different (in age and other factors maybe) than the ones distributed by the original distillery then maybe we’re gaining a palate of new tastes that we would not have otherwise experienced.

After all, one of the reasons I enjoy scotch so much is the complexities as well as the subtlies in the differences noticed between distilleries, bottlings and even between sips. I am not saying that these are poor quality scotches. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed the Ileach and it’s unrepentant brashness.

Nevertheless I am curious about this and have submitted an inquiry to the Highlands company and will update as with any information I can get.

As always your comments are welcome!

Happy Robbie Burns’ Day

230px-robert_burns
Robert Burns - January 25th, 1759 – July 21st, 1796

As some of you may already know, the celebration of the birth of Robert Burns is right around the corner. Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist born on January 25, 1759. He is (unofficially) the national poet of Scotland and from some of his works a great lover of scotch. You may know of him through one of his more popular works Auld Lang Syne.

Now, you don’t have to celebrate Scottish traditions to enjoy their finest spirits, but for me my true introduction to Scotch Whiskey stems from the first time I dawned my kilt to celebrate this man’s works and life.

I was invited by my father to the yearly celebration put on by our local Burns’ Club and had heard that some people would bring a flask of scotch to share at the table. This sounded like a fun idea so I got some ideas about what type of scotch I should buy and headed out to the local liquor store. There I purchased a bottle of Glen Morangie10 Year Old. Now posed the problem of “how do I get this expensive liquor into my flask without spilling it”. I’ve learned my lesson and have since bought a funnel in an effort not to waste any more scotch.

At the event there were several open scotch bars at which they served Oban, 14 I think, which I immediately loved. We then commenced the ceremony, watched the pipers, dancers, toasted the Lassies and witnessed the cutting of the haggis. After dinner the flasks came out and I sampled an additional 4 varieties of scotch that night. Needless to say, on my first encounter I was overwhelmed with the uniqueness between the different scotches. I believe I was hooked from that point forward.

So this January 25 enjoy a wee dram, and if you’re in a pub and see a man in a kilt come in great him with a Gie her a haggis and buy him a peck o’ malt.

Why Do Many Scotch Distilleries Start with “Glen”

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that many of the famous scotch distilleries follow the same naming convention: Glen as a prefix then something behind it. Someone asked me this very thing last month; Why do all of the scotches start with Glen?

Well, not all of them start with Glen, but a large number of the most successful ones do. Glenmorangie, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Glen Garioch, Glenfiddich to name a few. So why is this term used so often in the name of distilleries. Glen does not mean “scotch” and it does not mean “distillery”.

I’m sure you know that the definition of glen is a narrow valley. It can also be a general term to refer to an area of countryside. So, since scotch is often classified by and is often so diverse by the region in which it is produced, it’s not in surprising that the distilleries are named after the rivers they sit beside.

Glen Morangie sits near the Morangie Forest, Glen Livet is on the Livet River, Glen Garioch is with in the committee area of Garioch in Aberdeenshire and so on.

It seems that, within these distilllery names, Glen is just a general term used to identify the area of land being described. I’m sure it’s also a convetion that was just adopted early on when scotch distilleries, as we know them today, were first coming to fruition.

McClelland’s Drink Recipes

These recipes were discovered while researching April 2009’s Scoth of the Month. The folks over at mcclellands.co.uk have taken the time to put together a cocktail for each of the regions they distill in.

These recipes were discovered while researching April 2009’s Scoth of the Month. The folks over at mcclellands.co.uk have taken the time to put together a cocktail for each of the regions they distill in.

HIGHLAND Blazer

50ml Highland whisky
25ml Grand Marnier
2 Dots of Orange Bitters
12.5ml Gomme
4 Orange skins (Cosmo size)
2 Cloves
Glass: Brandy Balloon
Method: Blazer style

Region: HIGHLAND

Whisky: HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT 
 

SPEYSIDE Daisy

25ml Speyside Whisky
25ml Calvados
Br Sp of Sweet and Dry Vermouth
Dash of Grenadine
25ml Grapefruit Juice
Glass: Rocks
Method: Shake and single strain over cubed ice
Garnish: Grapefruit Twist

Region: SPEYSIDE

Whisky: SPEYSIDE SINGLE MALT

LOWLAND Promise

37.5ml Lowland Whisky
2 Br Sp of Amaretto and Cherry Brandy
12.5ml of Lemon and Lime Jucie
Dot of Angustora Orange Bitters
Glug of egg white
Glass: Rocks
Method: Shake and double strain over cubed ice
Garnish:Lemon Twist

Region: LOWLAND

Whisky: LOWLAND SINGLE MALT

ISLAY Smokestack

37.5ml Islay Whisky
12.5ml Gordons gin
Br Sp of Honey
25ml of Fresh pressed Apple Juice
2 Cardomon pods
Glug of egg white
Glass: Rocks
Garnish: 2 Dots of Angustora Bitters
Method: Muddle down Cardamon seeds(empty out of the skin and discard)
add liquids , stir in honey till it dissolves shake and triple strain
over cubed ice

Region: ISLAY

Whisky: ISLAY SINGLE MALT

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Scotch Barbecue Sauce

Scotch Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup mild flavored (light) molasses
1/3 cup Scotch (highland park 15 yr. old works great!)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until sauce thickens and flavors blend, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover, chill)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

adapted by Julie Johnson from a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine July 2000