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Ewan McGregor & Glengoyne

Moonshine!

More on Glenora

Atomsmasher boffins probe duff whisky deluge

Carlsberg and the Economic Crisis

Combined heat and power for whisky distillers

2009 CAMRA Vancouver Awards

JD Wetherspoon slashes food and drink prices.

Best of the year bottles that make spirits bright

Canadian PhD student and Skunky Beer

Sake Surges in the US

Beer sales frothy despite flat economy

Agua Azul (Spirit of Agave) Released and Available

Balvenie release rum cask 17 yo

Pernod Ricard sees whisky sales soar

St. George Spirits New Still Up and Running

Rare whisky goes on auction at Harrods

Thousands of whisky cases stolen

Whisky fuelled car reaches top gear

In Brief

The Older the Better

Balvenie Release Vintage 2008

New ladies' vodka worries doctors

New Whisky at Balvenie

On a quest for the best beer

Saké raises its international profile, right here at home

Don’t Miss the Eclipse at Whisky Live

Cactus Restaurants Ltd. Welcomes Chef Rob Feenie as New Food Concept Architect

Bottoms Up to Saving a Buck

 

Ewan McGregor & Glengoyne

Source: Glengoyne Newsletter

Date: December 14, 2009

Ewan McGregor and Eva Green signed bottles of Glengoyne raise hundreds for charity

Bottles of Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Whisky, personally signed by movie superstars, Ewan McGregor and co-star Eva Green raised hundreds of pounds for local charity, The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. 

Auctioned at a local seasonal food and drink festival at Edenmill Farm last weekend, the bottles of Glengoyne 10 Years Old and Glengoyne 17 Years Old raised £150 and £220 respectively. 

Ewan McGregor and Eva Green signed the bottles during the wrap party at Govan Town Hall, for their new film, The Last Word, which was hosted by Glengoyne Distillery and chef Tom Lewis. Tom had been a personal advisor on the film, welcoming Ewan into Monachyle Mhor's kitchen to prefect his culinary skills for his chef character in the new film.

A charity close to the Glengoyne team's hearts, The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre provides all the radiotherapy and much of the chemotherapy, for patients with cancer in the west of Scotland. Opened in 2008, the state-of-the-art Beaston centre also offers holistic therapies and support to cancer sufferers and their families, as well as carrying out essential research in the fight against the disease. 

 

 

Moonshine!

Source: imbibe Magazine

Date: April 2009

 

For a great article on Moonshine, click here

 

Title: More on Glenora

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/06/11/novascotia-glenora-scotch.html

Date: June 11, 2009

Is it finally over? Check out the story here.

Title: Atomsmasher boffins probe duff whisky deluge

Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/05/atom_boffins_whisky_malarkey/

Date: 5th May 2009

Whisky aficionados are using radiocarbon dating to verify the age of expensive vintages, according to reports. Boffins at the National Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, tasked with checking out various top-end tipples, say that fakes are more common than not.

Dr Tom Higham, talking to the Telegraph, said that he and his team can get best precision with drams distilled since the extensive atmospheric atom-bomb tests of the 1950s. The old-time enthusiasm for letting off nukes above ground heightened levels of atmospheric carbon-14, allowing radiocarbon dating to get a good fix on whiskies made from barley grown in the Cold War era or later.

"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," Dr Higham told the Telegraph.

"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," he added.

Apparently Higham and his team test samples of whisky by burning them and then bombarding the resultant exhaust gases with charged particles so as to measure levels of carbon-14. In one high-profile case they recently unmasked a putative bottle of 1856 Macallan Rare Reserve which had been expected to fetch £20k at auction. However it turned out to be merely fifty-year-old rubbish made in 1950.

In South Korea, all premium whisk(e)y has a government-approved RFID tag on it, allowing drinkers with suitably-equipped phones to check up on the provenance of their chosen alcoholic treat. However this doesn't seem as authoritative a method as having some boffins check it out with an atomsmasher.

Read all about it from the Telegraph here. ®

 

Title: Carlsberg and the Economic Crisis

Source: Canacord Capital "Morning Coffee" Newsletter

Date: February 27, 2009

Carlsberg has shrugged off concerns about the economic downturn to launch a limited edition beer worth 250 Euros per bottle. Only 600 bottles of the jet-black beer, brewed in Carlsberg’s Jacobsen Brew House in Copenhagen, have been released for sale, the brewer said this week. The beer is the second in Carlsberg’s Vintage Trilogy and is being targeted at high-end restaurants and connoisseurs around the world. Brewmaster at Jacobsen Morten Ibsen dismissed concerns that the timing of the launch coincides with the worst global economic crisis for at least 80 years, as the beer has already got listings in top restaurants in Copenhagen.

Each Vintage bottle is labelled with one of five hand-stencilled lithographic prints made by Chilean-born artist Marco Evaristti. Dominant flavours are vanilla, cocoa and mocha, according to Ibsen, who added that the beer works well with seafood, particularly oysters, as well as Parma ham and crème brûlée.

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Title: Combined heat and power for whisky distillers

Source: Renewable Energy Focus

Date: January 27, 2009

A joint development between Helius Energy and The Combination of Rothes Distillers Limited (CoRD) and will see the installation of a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) plant at CoRD.

The CHP unit will use a combination of distillery co-products and wood chip to generate 7.2 MW of electricity, which can be used onsite or exported to the National Grid in the UK.

Helius Energy’s strategy is based on the provision of two sizes of biomass-fired renewable electricity generation plants – large plants of over 60 MWe in size and smaller scale GreenSwitch™ 5-8 MWe.

As part of the project, a new GreenFields™ plant will be built alongside a GreenSwitch CHP unit turning the liquid co-product of whisky production, known as Pot Ale, into a concentrated organic fertiliser for use by local farmers.

The solid grain product removed from the mash tun, prior to fermentation of the liquor, is known as draff. Pot Ale is a high-protein co-product removed prior to final distillation of the spirit.

The GreenFields™ process takes the co-products from distillery operations (including process water, pot ale and draff) and turns them into inputs such as biomass fuel, liquid soil conditioner and animal feed.

The project was awarded the Best Environmental Initiative Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2008 in December, and has received planning permission from Moray Council.

The plant, which represents an investment of around £35 million, is expected to take 18 to 24 months to construct and could be the first of its kind to use draff and pot ale as a biomass fuel alongside wood.

http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/articles/biomass/bus_news/090127_helius.html

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Title: 2009 CAMRA Vancouver Awards

Source: CAMRA Newsletter

Date: January 19, 2009

CAMRA Vancouver members concluded their annual poll recognizing the best in local beer. The results of the vote are:


Best Local Brewpub
  Gold: Dix BBQ & Brewery
  Silver: Central City Brewing
  Bronze: Yaletown Brewing

Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant
  Gold: The Alibi Room
  Silver: The Whip Restaurant & Gallery
  Bronze: The Wolf & Hound

Best Local Liquor Store
  Gold: Brewery Creek Cold Beer & Wine Store
  Silver: Firefly Fine Wines and Ales
  Bronze: BCLS Signature Store (39th & Cambie)
 
Best Local Beer Event
  Gold: The Whip Real Ale Sundays
  Silver: CAMRA On a Mission to Mission; Feast of Five Firkins (tie)
 
Best BC Brewery
  Gold: Phillips Brewing Co., Victoria
  Silver: Storm Brewing Ltd., Vancouver
  Bronze: Crannóg Ales, Sorrento; R&B Brewing, Vancouver (tie)
 
Best BC Beer
  Gold: Central City Empire IPA
  Silver: Storm Black Plague Stout
  Bronze: Crannóg Back Hand of God Stout
 
Best BC Seasonal Beer
  Gold: Yaletown Oud Bruin
  Silver: Steamworks The Grand espresso stout
  Bronze: Granville Island Winter Ale

 

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Title: JD Wetherspoon slashes food and drink prices. Beer down to 99p a pint. Happy New Year!

Source: http://www.hotukdeals.com/item/308413/wetherspoons-slash-food-and-drink-p

Date: January 13, 2009

Leading pub chain JD Wetherspoon is to slash prices on some drinks and food, offering a pint of beer for less than £1, down to 1989 prices, the company revealed.
The company, which operates 713 pubs across the UK, said the price reductions on some beer, bottled lager, wine and spirits will run "indefinitely".
A number of meals will also be offered at £2.99, said the firm, which opened 20 new pubs in the last few months of 2008, creating hundreds of new jobs, despite the economic downturn.
Wetherspoon's chief executive John Hutson said: "People enjoy going to the pub. However, we appreciate that the economic downturn means that they now have to be more careful with their money.
"We believe that our new food and drink prices will allow people to enjoy a visit to a Wetherspoon pub without it costing them too much.
"Unlike most sales that start in January, our offers will not be ending within days, but will run indefinitely."
Greene King IPA will be cut to 99p a pint, as will a bottle of San Miguel, the company announced.

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Title: Best of the year bottles that make spirits bright

Source: Jurgen Gothe, Georgia Straight

Date: December 23, 2008

As a confirmed lover of good bourbon, I was delighted to find no fewer than six in the government liquor stores’ premium whisky release in November. While I would have loved some of the Eagle Rare 17 Years Old, the $160 price stifled the urge. But the Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Years Old ($73.95) was within the budget, and the pleasure it delivered (and continues to deliver with a second and third bottle!) is wonderful. A sweet and oaky nose starts it off, then there’s a round, full, and complex palette of flavours. It’s intense and bold but soft in the finish; beautiful and sweet, as only fine bourbon can be.

 

From the Missouri-based Earth Friendly Distilling comes 360 Vodka ($49.99), the first of three vodkas on this year-end list. This is four times distilled, five times filtered, and frighteningly ecocorrect, from label paper to glass to closure. A clean and bracing flavour, smooth as silk, and ideal iced and straight.

 

If you like your vodka with a hint of citrus, this is quite astonishing: Hangar One Citron Buddha’s Hand ($64.99) may be the best-flavoured vodka to come down the pike in more years than just one. The name is derived from the citrus fruit you can occasionally see in places like Urban Fare. It delivers massive lemon-zest flavours and a fresh, totally natural-tasting edge, and the bottle has a way of emptying in record time. Could we ask to see some of the same California distillery’s Kaffir Lime or Mandarin Blossom versions one day?

 

And if you’re into “60,000 years of cool”, as the brochure has it, then Sïku Glacier Ice Vodka ($46.99) can be your tipple. (If you’re a 100-mile dieter, however, this may not be for you.) Ice from a Greenland glacier is crushed and shipped to Denmark, thence to the distillery in the Netherlands. Then, the quintuple distillation and a patented process that apparently turns the ice directly into vodka, without it ever becoming water in the process. Whistle-clean and sharp on the tongue. We found it fine with tuna and fresh rosemary pasta sauce. A splash in the sauce didn’t hurt, either.

 

No shortage of new gins this year, either-straight and flavoured. The two toppers were Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin ($42.34) and Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin ($48.99 for a bottle that’s 50 millilitres shy of the standard 750). My first bottle of Martin Miller’s seemed to evaporate; I suspect the dog. The mission statement convinced me even before the initial taste: “distilled by obsessive gin makers in England’s Black Country and made for obsessive gin connoisseurs around the world”. Among the 10 botanicals-headlined, as it is with most gins, by juniper-is a preponderance of coriander, which gives it a unique and highly appealing taste. It’s another one that takes a journey: after infusing and distilling, it wanders off to Iceland for soft and lovely water that gives it its soft and mellow mouth feel.

But the biggest surprise-and an instant hit-was the acclaimed crème de cassis–maker Boudier’s Saffron Gin, with its electric tangerine-flake colour and just a hint of saffron to tantalize the tongue. Spicy but subtle, best enjoyed neat after a couple of hours in the freezer. When the bottle’s empty, it makes a nice vinaigrette container. Or a candlestick.

 

Grappa fanciers should hoover up Okanagan Spirits Pinot Gris Grappa ($45 for 375 millilitres), a silver-medal winner at last year’s World Spirits Awards and redolent with “traces of grapefruit and green apple”-words straight from the lips of the still master. Subtler than most Old World grappas, it’s clean and knife-edged fresh-picked-grape tasting. The same producer has domestic aquavit called Aquavitus ($29.95), which runs rings around the imports tastewise and is cheaper, but for reasons best known to our monopoly can’t seem to get itself listed in the government stores. Who’s protecting whom here, then?

 

Canada’s first all-malt whisky comes from Nova Scotia’s Glenora, whose Glen Breton Ice is a costly indulgence ($50 for 250 millilitres) but a uniquely Canadian one, so give one to your cousin in Britain, the one with the massive booze cupboard. It spends 10 years in former icewine barrels before being sent into the world. It’s “cask strength”, which means 57.2 percent alcohol, and it’s definitely for thimble sipping, with maybe an eyedropper of water added.

 

November’s premium whisky release brought a batch of Bruichladdich, from the First Growth Series: limited-edition malts that spend 16 years in Bordeaux barrels, each priced at $119.99. The Yquem is the first and so far only one I bought, and it is stupendous. Rich, sweet, and magnificently mellow, to be savoured in teaspoon measures. Serious budget tweaking may yet motivate me to go back for the other three-Haut Brion, Latour, and Margaux-for a matched set.

 

A quick tour of the best brews starts with Duchy Originals Organic Ale ($3.50 for 500 millilitres), which has a bright ruby colour; a well-balanced, decadently rich body; and an intriguing hint of bitterness. This is from the line of food-and-drink products begun by the Prince of Wales almost 20 years ago.

 

KB Signature Series Double Chocolate Ale ($7.88 for 650 millilitres, in a handsome box) was developed by the brewery in collaboration with Purdy’s Chocolates, whose extra-dark goes into the recipe. (It’s given an extra shot just before final fermentation.) You may well have had chocolate ales or stouts before, but I’m betting you’ve not had one so full yet so subtle.

 

Fat Cat Brewery continues to find friends for Bunny’s Black & Tan ($4.72 for 650 millilitres), still listed in the system as one of three brews from the Nanaimo-based brewery. It has long been a favourite in this corner, and its big and bracing flavours make it a fine food companion.

 

St. Peter’s Organic English Ale ($4.60 for 500 millilitres) is crisp and lemony, with a good hit of hops and light effervescence. Another one that will happily grace a dinner table or a picnic basket, if picnic time ever comes again.

 

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Title: Canadian PhD student and Skunky Beer

Source: http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1135

Date: December 29, 2008

A Canadian PhD student from the University of Saskatchewan has a mission: saving beer from bacterial contamination. She’s a member of ‘one of only two labs in the world that studies beer spoilage.’ And she jokes about what she’s doing: ‘It’s a good conversation starter. I’ve gone through so many years of school and I’ve studied medical microbiology and all this and that — and now I’m saving beer. (People) tease me about it, but they actually find it quite interesting.’ But what she does is no joke, and her research has been sponsored by breweries such as Coors or Miller. …

FOr the full Article, Click here.

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Title: Sake Surges in the US

Source: WTOP.com

Date: January 2, 2009

An interesting article about how Americans have been drinking only the low-grade sake, until recently. About 10 years ago, Asian food trends boomed. Asian and Asian-fusion restaurants flourished, non-Asian restaurants served dishes with ingredients such as miso, wasabi and edamame, and grocers offered more ethnic fare.  Also,

the Japanese began turning their noses up at sake. In Japan, young drinkers view sake as old fashioned, favoring beer and wine instead. As a result, sake consumption has fallen sharply since 1995.

To survive, premium sake (pronounced SAH-kay) brewers in Japan turned to Americans and began working with importers, who introduced sake to the fine wine market.

For full article, click here.

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Title: Beer sales frothy despite flat economy

Source: Viet Nam News

Date:  December 30, 2008

 

HA NOI — The beer and alcoholic beverages market this year will reach a growth rate of 12-14 per cent despite the high inflation and economic downturn, according to the Viet Nam Alcohol, Beer and Beverage Association.

Bia hoi, or draught beer, remains particularly popular with Vietnamese drinkers, says the association, with 1,500 to 5,000 litres imbibed daily. Meanwhile, sales of bottled beer for home consumption are also up – as are prices: a 24-bottle case now retails for VND30-50,000 more than last year.

Hang Buom Street, famous in the capital city of Ha Noi as the centre for beer, soft drink and candy sales, maintains its hectic atmosphere. Vendors there say the rising retail cost of a case of brew reflects the higher wholesale costs they’re paying.

"All costs have risen from 30 to 70 per cent, so the price of beer is going to go up, too," said a vendor.

Still, consumers keep guzzling. At Tet (Lunar New Year), no one forgets to add beer, especially bottled beer, to the menu, and consumers buy masses of beer to serve to visiting friends and relatives.

With Tet only about a month away, beer manufacturers have announced promotions to attract consumers.

Halida’s promotion programmes, giving everyone 18 or older who buys Halida beer a chance to win gold, are worth nearly VND4.4 billion (US$258,000).

Viet Nam is viewed by brewers as an enormous market, with 33 million people aged 20-40 and an average beer consumption of about 18 litres per person per year – about 16 per cent of the consumption in Ireland and half the level guzzled in South Korea. Vietnamese beer companies are targeting an average consumption here of 28 litres a head by 2010.

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Title: Agua Azul (Spirit of Agave) Released and Available

Source: St. George’s Spirits News Letter

Date: December 2008

The Agua Azul agave spirit is available now in the tasting room in 3 renditions: Cristal (Unaged $60/750mL), Reposado (Aged 6 months in American Oak $80/750mL), and Añejo (Aged 12 months in French and American Oak $120/750mL). Distiller Lance Winters describes the fun:

"This project was an uphill battle/labor of love/tremendous pain in the ass/heartbreaking work of staggering genius from the beginning. It took serious wrangling to be able to get permission to get agave shipped out of Mexico. Then the real fun started. In Mexico, years of experience and common sense dictate that the agave piña be run through a series of roller mills to extract an easily handled juice. As eau de vie distillers, common sense goes out the window, as our years of experience dictates that the agave piña be used in its entirety. At this point, the piñas go from being charmingly overgrown pineapples and turn into sea turtles from hell.

"Our German equipment engineer (sounds like he'd be credible) assured us that our pump would be able to handle cooked agave piñas with no problem ("mach die keine zorgen" or something like that...). The pump gave up trying within moments. Machetes were employed in hopes that a reduction in the size of the piñas would appease the pump. (I always think of machetes now when I drink agave-based spirits.) Too slow. We bought chainsaws. They stopped working in 3 minutes. We tried a hammermill that we use to process quince. Nope. Then we went all "Fargo" on the stuff and rented a commercial tree chipper. We're still trying to get our deposit back.

"What finally made the piñas borderline workable was a commercial dog food mill. The agave was then fermented in fifty open-topped macro bins. It had to be loaded into the stills using buckets and emptied using pitchforks. Imagine emptying forkfuls of steaming, 200-degree furballs out of beautiful copper potstills. That was my life in November of last year. Weeks of pain and suffering, resulting in 377 gallons of the most amazing rendition of agave spirit I've ever had."

 

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Title: Balvenie Release Rum Cask 17 yo

Source:  Balvenie Web Site

Date: November 22, 2008

The Balvenie RumCask 17 Year Old was matured first in traditional oak whisky casks before spending a second period of maturation in rum casks shipped from five thousands miles away in Jamaica.

The long maturation in traditional oak whisky casks gives this 17 Year Old its characteristic Balvenie vanilla notes, while the finishing period in rum cask adds a further layer of richness, warmth and spice. The result immediately evokes the warm climes of the sugar cane growing area of the Tropics - an intensely floral and fruity nose and a beautifully sweet taste with subtle spiciness, enveloped in a gentle silky oakiness.

 

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Title: Pernod Ricard sees whisky sales soar

Source: Article Courtesy of The Herald

Date: 19 Sep 2008

Drinks giant Pernod Ricard reported soaring sales of its key whisky brands over the last year but the lack of an expected Olympics-related bounce saw its shares shed 9.9% yesterday.

 

The firm sold a record 4.5 million cases of Chivas Regal whisky as sales soared 10% in volume terms and netted the company an extra 11% in revenue. "For a brand that has been in the market this long the double digit growth is very impressive," managing director Pierre Pringuet said, noting that it saw rising sales across the globe, including in China where a subdued market has been blamed on the impact of May's Sichuan earthquake.

 

Ballantine's also had a strong year, rising 9% in volume terms and 11% in revenue. This was a "marvellous turnaround," Pringuet claimed. The brand was boosted by a 40m (£31.5m) global advertising campaign and the sponsorship of a golf championship in Korea.

 

The Glenlivet, whose Speyside distillery is earmarked for expansion, also had a record year, selling 600,000 nine-litre cases, 10% up on last year, with revenues increasing 14%, as sales rose in its core US market.

 

Christian Porta, chairman of Pernod's UK operation Chivas Brothers, said: "We have continued to see strong growth with our super, ultra premium and prestige brands, categories where we are the global leader." He said that the older versions of its whisky brands had been particularly successful.

 

Pernod Ricard is focusing its marketing efforts on its 15 main brands as it targets the top end of the market and reported that increasing the price of its Mumm champagne drove sales as its luxury image was restored. Pringuet said: "This is a demonstration that the dearer it is the more we sell of it."

 

But the company acknowledged that the Beijing Olympics had not delivered the expected sales boost it was expecting. "The Olympic Games did not have the positive effect we expected on consumption," Pernod finance director Emmanuel Babeau said.

"It even had a negative impact as people stayed at home to watch the Games and went out less."

 

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Title: St. George Spirits New Still Up and Running

Source: St. George Spirits-Hangar One Newsletter September 2008

Date: August 27, 2008

The brand new 1,000 liter still is finally up and running! After some manufacturing, shipping, delivery, and set-up delays (yikes), the new still is off to a good start running bigger batches of absinthe. The larger still won't speed up the production process, which is 3-months from start to bottle, but will allow us to make bigger batches. This will hopefully mean that we will be able to get closer to satiating your thirst for the green monkey.

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Title: Rare whisky goes on auction at Harrods

Source: Article Courtesy of Talking Drinks and http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

Date: August 20, 2008

The first ever bottle of Jura 40 year old whisky is to be sold at a silent auction at Harrods.

The first bottling of the single malt whisky, which is also the last remaining of the 98 bottles produced, is expected to be sold for more than £2000 - the reserve price that has been placed on it.

Harrods kicked off the auction last week with a themed Scottish day in the store which runs until the end of the month. ‘The Glorious 12th' event saw the first grouse of the season shot and transported from Scotland, alongside the Jura 40, and displayed in-store.

Richard Paterson, master distiller, said: "This is a very special whisky indeed. Filled to cask on November 12 1966, this whisky has been maturing on the beachfront of Jura for 40 years giving it great complexity in character. It was an instant hit when we brought it out last year and almost sold out immediately.

"The bottle we are auctioning is a very rare and collectable malt in beautiful packaging with documents to prove its authenticity. It would be a great investment buy, however I would not like to deter the receiver from opening it either, as it is also a fine dram of whisky."

Bids can be made in store until 23 September.

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Title: Thousands of whisky cases stolen

Source: Article Courtesy of BBCi and http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

Date: August 17, 2008

 

About 3,000 cases of whisky have been stolen from a lorry in Coatbridge, near Glasgow.

The trailer containing the alcohol was taken from a yard on Hornoch Road at about 2300 BST on Friday.

It is thought the load was worth £250,000 and included Dewar's Special Reserve, Aberfeldy and Glenlivet Malt.

The trailer and lorry were found, empty, in a lay-by on the A8 between Langbank and Port Glasgow at about 1700 BST on Saturday.

Strathclyde Police appealed to anyone offered cut price bottles of whisky to contact them.

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Title: Whisky fuelled car reaches top gear

Source: Article Courtesy of Evening Times and http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

Date: August 14, 2008

The BBC has attempted an unusual biofuel experiment on the whisky island of Islay.

TV's wine expert Oz Clarke and Top Gear's James May attempted to run a high performance racing car on a special distillation of Bruichladdich single malt whisky. The presenters were filming for Oz and James' Great British Adventure, a series that follows on from their educational wine tours in French and Californian vineyards.

The presenters managed to achieve a speed of 60mph in 3.5 seconds after filling a Radical SR4 racing car with three litres of Bruichladdich's quadruple-distilled X4 Islay Spirit.

"The exhaust smells much better than petrol", said Duncan MacGillivray, Bruichladdich distillery manager. "It's a sustainable biofuel; but at £26 a litre, the duty and VAT isn't.

"Fuel here is a whopping £1.50 - £1.60 a litre, so it's not a viable alternative just yet. The police even tried to breathalyse the car but fortunately they had the wrong type of tester."

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Title: In brief

Date: 8th August 2008

Source: http://www.offlicencenews.co.uk/articles/65633/In-brief.aspx?categoryid=247

Blavod Extreme Spirits has signed an agreement to licence the trademark rights for Jago's Vodka Cream. The deal means Blavod will pay Shetland Spirit Company 35% of the cream liqueur brand's "net contribution", minus promotional spend, for four years. After this period, Blavod may fully acquire the trademark for £1.

South African cream liqueur Amarula is bringing an African Oasis to Bedford Square in London for four days starting from Aug 6. The free consumer event will feature African music, art and crafts, and mixologist Ben Reed will be on hand to show how Amarula can be included in a range of cocktails.

Auchentoshan Distillery has created a new website as part of a £500,000 investment in its Lowland single malts. To celebrate the launch of auchentoshan visitors to the site can enter a competition to win a rare bottle of Auchentoshan 1957 - one of only 144 hand-numbered bottles in the world - worth £2,500. The site also features cocktail recipes, tasting notes, a blog from distillery manager Iain McCallum and an update on the new visitors' centre which opens in the autumn.

Whitley Neill gin has secured a listing in Oddbins. The London Dry Gin, which is independently owned and created by Johnny Neill, will be available in all stores from September with an rrp of £16.99. Five per cent of the proceeds from each bottle sold will go to Tree Aid, a UK-based charity that provides support to organisations in Africa.

Ian Macleod Distillers has repackaged its Langs Supreme blended whisky in an effort to give it a more premium image. "The design brief was to emphasise Langs' history, heritage, provenance and location, giving it greater shelf presence and product premiumisation," a spokesman said.

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Title: The Older the Better

Source: Bruichladdich web site

Date: June 11, 2008

Does whisky taste better the older it is? According to a team of Japanese scientists led by K. Koga it does, and it's better for your health too. And it's all down to the wood. 

Oak contains  the compounds known as  lignins and tannins. Maturing is known by the less attractive technical name of  'ethanolysis' -  the degradation by ethanol. This  results in the release of the oak compounds from the barrel. The non volatile components are mainly minerals, sugars derived from cellulose and hemicellulose, but one of the main components are  polyphenols: ellagic acid  and  gallic acid originate from the tannin,  and lyoniresinol from lignin.  They are responsible for the  fragrance and taste - as well as the coagulation of ethanol and water in natural  single malt whisky - and are often compromised in the process of chill-filtration. They are also antioxidants.

Ethanol, the main component of whisky,  is perceived by  the  stimulating  of the  sweet and bitter taste receptor cells and the  stimulation of the epidermal mucuous membrane  in the mouth. This happens through the denaturation of proteins and is transmitted to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Excessive stimulation is now believed to lead to the formation of radical oxygen scavenging activity - which is good news, not an underground political movement.
 

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are  very small molecules which are highly reactive. They are formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have an important role within our body's cells.  ROS must be continually removed from cells to maintain healthy metabolic function or in certain conditions ROS levels can increase dramatically.  The ROS need to be scavenged, and this is where antioxidants come in to play:
 

Polyphenols are Antioxidants. They are compounds that protect cells against the damaging effects of ROS. An imbalance between antioxidants and ROS results in Oxidative Stress, which leads to cellular damage linked to cancer, aging, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease and cataracts. Antioxidant polyphenols 'scavenge' the radical oxygen  providing protection against these diseases by contributing to the total antioxidant defense system of the human body. Vegetables, red wine, chocolate, green tea, olive oil, bee pollen and many grains are alternative sources.

But these cunning Japanese scientists have proven that the three polyphenolic compounds extracted from the oak casks are found in increasing volumes with age. Between a 10 year old single malt whisky and a 25 year old version of the same type the polyphenol antioxidants increased three times (lyoniresinol) to eight times (gallic acid).
 

Clearly, If you want to prevent  yourself from going doolalli, drink the oldest single malt you can find.  Or, drink young whisky that has been aged in top quality, fresh oak.

 

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Title:  Balvenie Release Vintage 2008

Source: Balvenie Distillery

Date: June 3, 2008

Dear Jackie,

I'm very pleased to tell you that The Balvenie Vintage 2008 has now been released. Selected by Malt Master David Stewart, together with a team of our very own Balvenie craftsmen, The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1976 is a bottling of two oak casks that had lain undisturbed for over 30 years. Visit my column to read more.

With a yield of just 433 bottles, which are expected to be quickly snapped up, don't delay if you fancy a bottle. Visit our online shop to find out more.

As a final aside, I'm very pleased to tell you that our Single Barrel 15 Year Old and last year's limited edition SherryOak 17 Year Old have won a gold medal at the 2008 San Francisco Spirits competition. Let's hope it's a good sign for the year to come.

Kindest regards,

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Rob MacPherson

Rob MacPherson
The Balvenie Distillery

 

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Title: New ladies' vodka worries doctors

Source: Canada.com

Date: March 24, 2007

 

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Igor Volodin believes vodka is no more harmful than chocolate. He is proud to be the first Russian to produce the spirit in a special women's version, designed to be sipped with salad after a workout in the gym.

Touted as a glamour product for upwardly mobile women in booming Russia, Damskaya or "Ladies" vodka worries doctors, who fear a fresh wave of female alcoholics in a country already suffering one of the world's worst drink problems.

The Moscow Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry says Russia has 2.5 million registered alcoholics, but adds the real figure is seven times higher -- more than 10 percent of Russia's population of 142 million.

Yuri Sorokin, a psychologist running a Moscow rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and alcoholics, said 60 percent of those he treats for alcoholism are women, including the wives of Russian millionaires.

"I believe that female alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia. I believe it is as huge and hidden as the underwater part of an iceberg," he said. Adverts for the new "Ladies" vodka show the elegant, violet-tinted bottle wearing a pleated white skirt which is blown upwards to reveal the label. The images confront commuters on Moscow's metro, grab the eye on the street and leap from the pages of women's magazines.

"Between us, girls ..." runs the slogan on the adverts, which tout the product as an ideal tipple for hearty hen parties. "Women need a drink of their own," said Volodin, sitting next to an array of his "Ladies" vodkas, which comes in lime, vanilla and almond flavors, or just straight for cocktails. "In Moscow, there are pink taxis for ladies, there are light cigarettes," he said. "But there was no vodka, and we asked ourselves: 'Why?' ... More people suffer from diabetes in Russia than from alcoholism, but no one bans chocolate advertisements."

Sales on Russia's vodka market are estimated to be worth around $15 billion a year, with a total annual volume of some 2.2 billion liters, Volodin said. Annual market growth in value is seen at 15 percent, he said, thanks to rising incomes and higher sales of premium vodkas like "Ladies." Volodin heads the Deyros company, which has been selling strong spirits on the Russian market for more than 10 years.

"Ladies," launched in December, is produced at a distillery in Russia's second city of St Petersburg and retails at around 300 roubles ($12.5) in upmarket shops in big cities. Volodin is targeting successful, well-educated, married women with money.

"Of course, $12 per bottle is too expensive for a village woman," Volodin said, forecasting March sales of "Ladies" at 115,000 bottles and putting the 2008 full-year figure at over 2 million. "But we can't make bad vodka for women."

Volodin says his vodka is pure and free of by-products, like fusel oils, which can cause a heavy hangover. He says because of its mellow taste, it can be taken with salads and other light meals, even by those regularly working out in gyms.

Russia, buoyed by windfall revenues for oil, gas and metals exports, has enjoyed its biggest economic boom in a generation. Wages in the cash-laden economy have rocketed.  But high salaries and growing consumption of expensive alcohol have not led to moderation in drinking, said psychologist Sorokin. The joblessness and despair of Russia's wild capitalism of the 1990s have now been replaced by the psychological vacuum of the newly-rich, he said.

Olga, a woman in her 20s, was buying a bottle of "Ladies" in an expensive supermarket in Moscow for a party with her friends. "I saw the ad in the metro and decided to taste it," she said. "I just loved the design." Sorokin said he expected an influx of new patients in about six months. "When such strong marketing experts are involved, I will never be jobless," he sighed.

 

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Title: New Whisky At Balvenie

Source: Balvenie Newsletter, Rob MacPherson

Date: March 12, 2008

 

March 2008: The year has begun well at Balvenie. The Distillery shut down for a bit of a spruce up over Christmas, and it was all hands on deck, even for the maltmen who downed tools for a week to repaint the malt house themselves.

This month has also been quite a special one. As well as the release of an exclusive new single malt (more on that later), our Malt Master, David Stewart, has also selected this year’s Balvenie vintage.

Each year we choose a group of experts to help with the selection, and this time the panel was made up of five of our master craftsmen - Eric Stephen (warehouseman), Richard Anderson (cooper), George Garrick (maltman), Bill Duncan (mashman) and Dennis Mcbain (coppersmith) - who have over 200 years of whisky making experience between them. Together, they selected cask numbers 6568 and 6570, laid down over thirty years ago in 1976, before cooper Richard Anderson was even born. These casks have beautifully matured with a rich, fruity, vanilla sweetness and of course have characteristic Balvenie honey notes. Watch the website for more news on the Vintage Cask.

I also have some very exciting news about our new release, named The Balvenie Rose after the romantic history of the now ruined Balvenie Castle (in whose shadow our distillery lies). In the 15th Century, the castle was owned by the Fair Maid of Galloway, Margaret Douglas, but following the rebellion of the infamous Black Douglasses against the King, all of the family’s titles and estates were forfeit to the Crown. The King, however, was so taken with Margaret’s beauty, that he reinstated her at Balvenie Castle for the unusual annual rent of a single red rose. You can find out more about the history of Balvenie castle in the Heritage section of our website.

 

balvenie ambassador

The Balvenie Rose is a 16 year old whisky finished in port casks, which gives it its delicate rose hue. The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart describes the whisky as having ‘a distinctly floral aroma with hints of rose petals; and a sweet and rich taste bringing an abundance of fruit; raisins, sultanas, apricots and a little citrus all overlaid with gentle spice and delicate oak notes’. We’re so pleased with the result that we also decided to name a red rose in honour of this historic tale. We produced just 426 bottles of The Balvenie Rose, and they can only be bought from The Balvenie Distillery after a tour – something to look out for if you're able to come and visit us this year.

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Title: On a quest for the best beer

Source: Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun

Date: February 23, 2008

 

I'd never heard of CAMRA but when I mention it, a female colleague knows exactly what I speak of. My husband also knows exactly what it is, having been an expat in London. Go figure. Who knew an organization centred on beer would be so well-known?

CAMRA stands for Campaign for Real Ale.

"It's the beer equivalent of Slow Food," says Rick Green, president of the Vancouver chapter of CAMRA. The movement started in England in 1971 (by four drinking journalists buddies, wouldn't you know), lamenting the dumbing down of the beloved British brew culture and of their pubs.

"Industrial brewers were buying up small breweries and closing them down, and the same with pubs," says Green. Today, CAMRA is 84,000 strong in England and the largest single-issue consumer group in the U.K.

"A somewhat similar thing is going on here but we don't have the same history," says Green. "Here, most of the traditional breweries were wiped out during Prohibition in North America and only the large breweries survived. That's why we have such an abundance of insipid lager.

"Prohibition was a body blow. Start-up costs and liquor laws made it difficult to start up again. Today, 80 per cent of the beer market is dominated by industrial brewers. Yes, there are craft brewers, but it's a small portion. A lot of people have never even tried craft beers."

In Britain, they're trying to protect traditional beers and a pub culture, whereas North American chapters of CAMRA aren't protecting so much as promoting and pushing quality local and regional craft beers.

The "real ale" in the movement's name refers to naturally brewed ales with no preservatives, foaming agents or any other agents. Fruits and spices can be used for flavour, however.

Like Slow Food, CAMRA is a social movement, held aloft by sensual pleasure (eating and drinking, primarily). They have regular beer tastings, brewmaster's dinners, beer-pairing dinners, guest speakers with tastings, beer tastings, brewery tours and home brewing seminars. They publish beer guides and restaurant and pub guides. (See www.camravancouver.ca)

Recently, they had a pig roast at Whip Gallery with five brewmasters matching brews to five courses. There are regular "cask nights" at various brew pubs and restaurants (including Dix BBQ and Brewing, The Whip, Taylor's Crossing in North Van and Big Ridge in Surrey) -- designer beer fans say that's what real beer is all about. The beer is gravity-poured from a cask, unfiltered and unpasteurized and uncarbonated for the freshest pour ever.

"Dix BBQ and Brewery has cask ale every Thursday," Green says. "It's a small-batch method of making beer. It's stored and matured in a firkin, a 40-litre cask. What they'll do every Thursday evening is bring the cask from the cellar and put it on the bar and it's served by gravity into glasses. It's completely natural beer and it will typically be cloudy. It's more flavourful and complex -- when you filter and pasteurize, it reduces complexity and flavour."

Green cooks and bakes with beer. "Last week I made some beer desserts. One was a Russian Imperial Stout cheesecake. It's a stout made by the Russians who took a liking to British stout but it would be spoiled by the time it arrived so they made a higher-alcohol version of that."

Beer and food pairings are similar to wine pairings except beer has wider possibilities, he says. He offers suggestions. With chocolate, try sweet fruit beers like Yaletown Framboise or an imperial stout like Phillips' The Hammer. With murgh musallam, a chicken curry, try India pale ale (Central City Empire IPA), a pilsner (Steamworks Pilsner), or a spiced beer (Granville Island Ginger Beer). With smoked brisket, he suggests a brown ale (Cannery Naramata Nut Brown) or smoke beer (Mt. Begbie Ol' Woodenhead Smoked Porter).

"There's a lot of buzz about food and wine. I'm convinced the same could be done with food and beer. I'm very much an advocate of that," he says. He's also big on beer and cheese. "It makes more sense than wine and cheese.

"There's a wider amount of flavours you can draw from beer to go with cheeses, particularly the funky cheeses. The other thing is, the effervescence cleanses the palate. In the last year, beer and cheese pairings have become popular," he says.

The next CAMRA event is at Alibi Room, today at 3 p.m., a chocolate and beer tasting with chocolates from Chocoatl and a variety of B.C. craft beers. (Call 604-623-3383 for this $20 event); following that, on Tuesday, there is a brewmaster's dinner at Big Ridge Brewing Company in Surrey ($35).

mstainsby@png.canwest.com

- - -

RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT CHEESECAKE

Rick Green found this recipe in Northwest Brewing News but made some alterations to suit his taste. He used Oreo cookie crumbs instead of the chocolate graham wafers and he reduced the sugar by half, to 1/2 cup. Russian Imperial Stout may be hard to find in Vancouver, he says, and a good substitute is Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. He's found it at Brewery Creek, Firefly and Viti beer stores. Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter would also work. And good quality chocolate is imperative. He used an organic dark German 60 per cent chocolate found at Choices Markets. To pair the cheesecake with beer, use the same as used in the dessert or a fruit lambic with the same fruit as you use in your garnish. Stout should be served at cellar temperature in a cognac snifter; lambic should be served like champagne, chilled in a flute glass.

1 1/2 Oreo cookie crumbs

2 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 kg (4 -- 250g packages Philadelphia) cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 lb dark chocolate melted in a double boiler

1 pint Russian Imperial Stout (room temperature, degassed)

4 large eggs at room temperature

Whipped cream, berries and mint leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F (or 300°F if using a dark pan). Grease the sides of 9-inch springform pan and cover bottom with wax paper. Mix crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl until evenly blended; press firmly onto the bottom of the pan with a fork.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, then add remaining ingredients (except eggs) at medium speed until well blended. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing each until just blended. Pour batter over crust.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until centre is almost set. Loosen cake from side of pan by running a paring knife around the inside edge. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before removing side of pan. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Slice and garnish with whipped cream, berries and mint leaf. Store any leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator.

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Title: Saké raises its international profile, right here at home

 

While seemingly every alcoholic beverage has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, humble Japanese saké has largely remained out of vogue and out of view. But now that’s starting to change. From a local artisan brewer to some of the city’s most exciting restaurants, an effort is underway to introduce premium saké — served cold and bursting with complex flavours — to the palates of Vancouver diners.

A local entrepreneur and the city’s restaurants champion a beverage whose spotlight moment has come.

When Masa Shiroki set out to produce Canada’s first premium domestic saké, his friends had their doubts. Although he had found success importing Japanese saké into the country, not even Shiroki’s product consultant knew what to make of his plan to convert a cramped 800-square-foot studio on Granville Island into a production facility and retail outlet. “When I first mentioned the space, he thought I was kidding,” Shiroki says. But he had a vision, informed by emerging trends in global cuisine and the evolution of Japanese culture.

Standing in that bare-bones space in Granville Island’s Railspur Alley, which opened under the name Artisan Sakemaker in early 2007, Shiroki recalls learning that consumption of saké in Japan had stalled and declined over the last couple of decades, its primary cultural and ceremonial associations having been steamrolled by the march of time. Historically, saké has been served at traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, on New Year’s Day, and as part of the ceremonies performed before construction of a new house. It was “inevitable that the saké industry in Japan recognize the need for change, to appeal to younger generations,” Shiroki says.

And yet, outside of Japan saké has grown increasingly popular since the mid-’90s, especially in Vancouver and other cosmopolitan North American cities. “The contributing factor of the phenomenon is due to the rising interest in Asian-style fusion cuisine,” says Shiroki. It’s also due to the evolving palates of drinkers — particularly wine aficionados searching out new frontiers — who are more curious than ever about the pleasures of premium saké.

Premium is the key word here, for this isn’t the vaporous, medicinal-tasting, hot saké that has been served for decades in Western Japanese restaurants. Shiroki explains that different grades of saké are defined by the degree to which the rice it’s made from is milled. By definition, premium sakés have to be made from rice polished to 70 per cent or less of its original size, whereas lower grades of saké are made from rice polished less than 30 per cent. The outer portion of the rice is discarded, leaving the starchy centre of the grain to be used for brewing. “The more [toward the] centre you go, the higher the starch content, which creates a purer alcohol that provides the cleanliness of the saké,” he says. The type of rice used is also important. Shiroki, for instance, uses only top-quality imported Japanese sakamai rice.

When he was invited to participate in the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in 2004, Shiroki found that attendees weren’t entirely ready to embrace the idea of cold saké, which is how premium brands are meant to be served — all the better to appreciate their beautiful, complex flavours and aromas. At subsequent festivals, the majority of consumers who have come to his booth are already educated about the virtues of chilled saké, usually as a result of dining out. (Shiroki also gives guest lectures to new sommeliers at the International Sommelier Guild.) Ten years ago, the only saké available at Tojo’s, one of the city’s most acclaimed and trailblazing Japanese restaurants, was an inexpensive California variety, always served hot. When Shiroki introduced his premium ímports, Tojo’s became his first customer. He estimates that Tojo’s now has the largest menu of premium sakés in Vancouver.

In Japan, saké is made once a year — usually in winter — and pasteurized. Shiroki’s Osake brand is hand-pressed in small batches year round to complement the seasonal flavours of our West Coast cuisine. His three craft sakes are made nama — or raw — without any preservatives, to retain their original aromas and flavours. Customers have compared his Junmai Nama saké to a full-bodied chardonnay, with flavours of Asian pear, melon, and citrus notes. “People are surprised by the fruity aroma,” says Shiroko, noting that they tend to expect a strong alcohol smell due to saké’s generally high alcohol content. (His products range between 14 and 18 per cent.) People often mistakenly believe his saké is distilled, but the fermentation process is closer to wine or beer, which takes four weeks in a low-temperature setting.

Shiroki also credits Vancouver’s soft water, with its perfect amount of minerals, as the main reason why his saké is more wine-like than those produced in Japan or California. Saké’s major ingredient is water, thus playing a crucial role in the final product. 

Currently, Shiroki makes 1,000 bottles each cycle, and he plans to do 10 cycles a year. In addition to the above-mentioned Junmai Nama, his other varieties are the black-label Junmai Nama Genshu, an undiluted saké with tropical fruit notes, and the blue-label Junmai Nama Nigori, a cloudy saké that has a good amount of the fermenting mash (mooromi) left inside to add a hint of natural sweetness. 

Not only is Osake served in finer restaurants around town, but Shiroki’s sakekasu, which is a byproduct of the leftover fermented rice, is used at restaurants such as C, Rain City Grill, Aurora Bistro, and many Japanese restaurants as a versatile ingredient integrated throughout their menus. Shiroki’s hope is that Japan will learn from the success of saké’s popularity in North America and begin to transform it to suit modern tastes, including its popular use in cocktails. “A reverse cultural exchange may be due to happen,” he boldly says.

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Title: Do you really need another beer? He hopes so

Source: Globe and Mail

The challenge: How to persuade Canadians to buy imported beer, an already crowded market segment

The plan: Tap into expats through inexpensive guerrilla marketing campaigns and event sponsorship

The payoff: Access to one of the nation's largest market segments - beer drinkers

John Vellinga knows something isn't quite right with his business. According to the most recent census data, about one million people of Ukrainian descent live in Canadian - but since 2001, he has managed to sell them only 88,500 cases of beer from their homeland.

"If it only had to do with the value of the product and the quality, this should already be a top-five seller," says Mr. Vellinga, who runs his importing business from Oakville, Ont. "But that's not what it's about - it's about marketing and the tastes that people have gotten used to. They've gotten used to hamburger, and they aren't sure they like steak any more."

Mr. Vellinga started Multiculture BEVCO in 2001, when he and his wife, Katherine, returned to Canada after living in Ukraine for five years. As the owner of a management consultancy in the Ukraine, he had met with some executives at Baltic Beverage Holdings AB (BBH Ukraine), the country's No. 3 brewer, and worked out a deal to import Slavutich beer to Canada, in a bid to capitalize on our large Ukrainian population. In 2004, he added the brewery's Lvivske brand to his list of imports.

Along with the beer, Mr. Vellinga markets Ukrainian arts and crafts and other goods for expatriates -everything from handcrafted Ukrainian eggs to computer keyboards with Cyrillic keys - through his website, ukiestore.com. But his imported Ukrainian beer - Multiculture's main attraction - can be found on store shelves in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

Ontario consumers guzzled by far the largest portion of his brew last year, downing about 65 per cent of the 16,750 cases he sold, or some 167,500 litres.

While Ontario may be leading the pack, overall sales of Ukrainian beer in Canada are paltry in comparison with the numbers racked up by imports from other countries. In the No. 1 position sits the Netherlands; Canadians bought 46 million litres of Dutch brew in 2003, according to Statistics Canada's most recent survey. The United States was in the No. 2 position, at 45.9 million litres, while Mexico was third, at 44.2 million litres.

Even Polish beer, No. 10 on the Statscan list, with 2.9 million litres sold, outranks the Ukrainian product. "There are roughly the same number of Poles in Ontario as there are Ukrainians. But the Poles drank about 350,000 cases of Polish beer," Mr. Vellinga says. "We look at that number and we think, 'Wow, if we could do anywhere close to that, we should sell at least 150,000 cases a year across the country.' And that's just on the ethnic side, without even thinking of the average Canadian."

What our experts say

Shih-Fen Chen, an associate professor of international business at the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, knows a thing or two about the international beer trade. After reviewing Mr. Vellinga's plan to sell Ukrainian beer in Canadian stores, he wasn't very upbeat about the prospects.

"If you look at the selection in any beer store, you are going to see more than 100 different brands," he says. "Even getting displayed in a store is a challenge. And even if you do convince them to carry your beer, you still need to convince the consumer to buy that product. If you have 100 brands in a store, the chance of being picked by a consumer is one in 100 if they are picking randomly."

Prof. Chen says that Mr. Vellinga's most promising customers are Ukrainian-Canadians who already know about the beer, and there is little sense in engaging in an expensive advertising campaign to persuade other Canadians to give it a try. "The Ukrainians were already customers [of the beer] at home, and when they move overseas you can follow them," he says. "You can see that in Toronto's Chinatown, with Chinese beer. But if they want to sell to [other] Canadians, I see big problems."

Peter Chernyshov, chief executive officer of BBH Ukraine, says if Ukrainian beer is going to be successful in Canada, Mr. Vellinga must "build distribution, and create market awareness of his brands using commercials and visuals."

Easier said than done, says Prof. Chen. But if advertising is going to be a priority, he suggests guerrilla marketing may be a clever way to put the beer in the spotlight. Guerrilla campaigns exist outside of traditional media outlets and count on word-of-mouth to get a company's message to would-be customers. For example, Labatt ran a campaign that encouraged friends to send and sign e-mail petitions encouraging the Ontario government to add another long weekend in June.

"Mr. Vellinga needs to tell a good story about the brand," he says. "People drink a beer not only because they love its taste, but because they appreciate the meaning of its brand. Look at Coors - everyone knows it's a beer from Colorado using water from cool Rocky Mountain streams. They need that kind of intriguing story to get attention."

As part of a campaign, he suggests Mr. Vellinga should find an image or symbol - such as a sport, animal or piece of literature - that represents Ukraine, and then link it to his beer brand. It's a piece of advice that holds true for any business trying to sell cultural items in a society that doesn't have many reference points. Finding the right symbol, though, will not be easy, because Canadians don't think of beer when they think of the Eastern European nation.

"Beer must have a good country image," he says. "If you say I'm going to buy beer from Germany, people will assume it's good. Beer from Belgium? That sounds good, too. But whether a beer coming from Ukraine sounds good or not, that is an issue that could be argued by a lot of people."

The best thing about guerrilla marketing is it can be low cost, something important for a small importer trying to break into a tough market. While Mr. Vellinga said the brewery plans to start helping him with his marketing expenses, the two sides "haven't gotten to the point where we've budgeted yet." As a further complication, any money he does receive will likely be tied to increases in volume.

It's essential that Mr. Vellinga target Ukrainians if he's going to take advantage of this rewards-based marketing situation, so Prof. Chen suggests he sponsor events important to the Ukrainian community. For example, when Canada's National Ukrainian Festival gets under way this August in Dauphin, Man., Mr. Vellinga should make every effort to ensure revellers are celebrating by clinking bottles of Slavutich against bottles of Lvivske.

This is important, he said, because the brand he is trying to sell in Canada isn't terribly popular in its home country. Mr. Chernyshov says the brewery holds 21 per cent of the market share in Ukraine. "Increasing business here is quite a challenge if you can only grab 21 per cent of the market back home," Prof. Chen says. "Canada and the U.S. are the most challenging markets in the world for beer."

Jim Brickman is the founder of Waterloo, Ont.-based Brick Brewing Co. Ltd., one of Canada's largest independent brewers. When Baltic Beverage executives visited this country late last year, they sought him out to provide some advice about the Canadian market. The Ukrainian brewer started with Brick because it wants to align itself with the country's microbreweries, believing that its products are higher quality than those offered by the North American giants.

"We brew craft beer, just on a very large scale," Mr Chernyshov says.

Whether that's true or not, Mr. Brickman's advice was simple - brand awareness will make or break any product. Especially beer.

"To come in with a brand that is virtually unknown outside of the Ukrainian market is a tough go unless they want to be aggressive and spend some money," Mr. Brickman says. "My advice is to come in here and prepare to lose money for many years. At least."

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Title: Don’t Miss the Eclipse at Whisky Live

Source: Guardians of the Glenlivet

Date: February 13, 2008

Whisky Live London, the UK’s premier whisky show, is being staged on 29 February-1 March. And this year there is a very special reason for Guardians of The Glenlivet to attend.

EclipseEclipseEclipse

The Glenlivet Eclipse is a new 21Year Old single cask edition, and we are making 50 bottles exclusively available to Guardians as a special Whisky Live offer. This limited bottling from one hand-selected cask (No 12549) took place on 3 August 2007 and commemorates the rare annular solar eclipse of May 2003 that was visible from Glenlivet. Cask strength 51.6%.

Eclipse can only be purchased from The Glenlivet online shop, with Guardians then collecting their order from The Glenlivet stand at Whisky Live London. Because of the anticipated high demand for this rare collector’s item, we are restricting purchases to a maximum of three bottles per person.

The price per bottle is £70 (inc VAT).

Guardians who reside outside the UK are eligible to purchase Eclipse if they can arrange for someone to collect the whisky on their behalf – assuming, that is, they cannot do it themselves. The cut-off date for all orders, while stocks last, is 22 February 2008. [See below for how to order.]

To collect their bottle(s) of Eclipse from The Glenlivet stand, Guardians must present a print-out of the email confirming their order and a standard item of ID. Eclipse, being a special bottling, comes without a box or any other secondary packaging so you might also want to bring along something suitably protective in which to carry it.

All Guardians, whether in pursuit of the Eclipse or not, will be welcome at The Glenlivet stand where, on presentation of your membership card, there will be a dram of something special for you to enjoy. So do bring your Guardian’s card with you and make yourself known. As well as meeting some of the key personnel from the distillery, you will be able to sample and purchase other expressions of The Glenlivet.

There is plenty to see and do at Whisky Live London (www.whiskylive.com) and some great whiskies to taste. Though you may find that this year The Glenlivet Eclipse puts everything else in the shade.

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Title: Cactus Restaurants Ltd. Welcomes Chef Rob Feenie as New Food Concept Architect

Source: http://www.cactusclubcafe.com/news/chef-rob-feenie-joins-cactus

Date: February 5, 2008

Cactus Restaurants Ltd. today announced the appointment of Chef Rob Feenie to its senior executive team as the new Food Concept Architect. Canada’s first Iron Chef will work with the senior management team to shape the restaurants’ growth and product development, creating innovative new dishes and continuously improving long time favourites.


“We are excited and thrilled to have one of Canada’s top chefs join our team. Chef Feenie shares our vision and passion for excellence in the restaurant industry,” said Richard Jaffray, President and CEO of Cactus Restaurants Ltd. “Our team of chefs and management is looking forward to working closely with Chef Feenie to create an exceptional food and dining experience for all of our customers.”


Chef Feenie will also be closely involved in the training and development of young chefs with Cactus Club Cafe, one of the largest employers of chef apprentices in Western Canada. His appointment is immediate.

 
“I am excited to be working with a British Columbia-based company that is as visionary as Cactus Restaurants,” said Chef Feenie. “An industry leader, Cactus demonstrates its industry leadership through its affiliation with both the Green Table Network and Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. The company’s globally inspired menu and status as one of Canada’s top employers are indicators of its dedication to excellence. I am really looking forward to being a part of the Cactus team.”

About Chef Rob Feeni

Chef Feenie is one of Canada’s most recognized and acclaimed chefs. His interest in cooking began during high school exchange program in Europe. He attended Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver and then studied with some of the top chefs in B.C., the United States and Europe. Both nationally and internationally Feenie has also developed a reputation as a chef-consultant. He opened Accolade Restaurant in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Toronto and undertook the monumental task of restructuring the dining experience at Le Regence in the Hotel Plaza Athene in Manhattan, pulling the restaurant "right out of the doldrums" according to the New York Times . He is often called upon to represent Canada, traveling as an Ambassador for Canadian and British Columbia food products and wines, and sharing Vancouver 's culinary talents with the rest of the world.


In 1995 Chef Feenie opened his own restaurant in Vancouver and went on to critical and public success including being awarded the prestigious Relais Gourmand designation, four stars from the Mobil Travel Guide and the AAA Diamond Award. In July 2004 Chef Feenie was invited to New York by the Canadian Consulate to create an extravagant lunch and dinner at the famous James Beard House in celebration of Canada Day. Chef Feenie has published three cookbooks, starred in New Classics with Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada, and in 2005 was the first Canadian to win on the popular television show, Iron Chef America, by defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

 

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Title: Bottoms Up to Saving a Buck
Source: Epicurious Wine Newsletter
Date: January 24, 2008

Soothe your holiday-battered budget and kick off the New Year by conserving cash. Frugality doesn't have to mean deprivation, though, especially when it comes to good vino. This month's roundup showcases bottles priced under $15 to enjoy on Tuesday with take-out, at this weekend's movie night, or during the upcoming Super Bowl festivities.

Whites:

2006 Concannon "Selected Vineyards" Chardonnay, Central Coast, California ($10)
Crisp but packed with ripe fruit flavors, this affordable white captures Chardonnay character. Serve it with sweet potato fries and turkey burgers.

2007 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($12)
Young and zesty, the wine's lemon/lime ping is accented with a hint of fresh herbal aromas. Perfect with chips and salsa, it's a party wine that will remind you of summer sun.

2006 Snoqualmie "Nearly Naked" Gewurztraminer, Columbia Valley, Washington ($10)
An off-dry, floral, full bodied white made with fruit that has been sustainably farmed. Try with chicken skewers topped with peanut sauce or vegetable curry.

Reds:

2006 Georges Duboeuf Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France ($12)
Beaujolais is much more than Nouveau and this juicy red shows the smooth, silky quality of Gamay grapes. Light tannins and vibrant red berry fruit combine to make it an ideal match for tangy ribs.

2006 Veramonte "Reserva" Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($15)
Pinot is pricey but Veramonte serves up a deal in this spicy, richly-styled red from the cool, coastal region of Casablanca. If you're picking up Chinese takeout and want to sip a red, this is the choice.

2005 Vale do Bomfim "Reserva," Douro, Portugal ($12)
From the famous Port house of Dow comes a unique, dry red that's one of my favorite values. A combination of Portuguese grapes Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, it's earthy and slightly wild. Slather a toasted roll with mustard and add grilled onions and sausages then dig in.

2005 Promessa Rosso Salento, Puglia, Italy ($10)
Another terrific bargain from the team who craft the affordable cult wine, A-Mano in Puglia. Promessa - a blend of Negroamaro and Primtivo grapes - is rustic, ripe, and full. Whether you're noshing on meaty pizza or a veal chop, I guarantee you'll love this wine.

2006 Gnarly Head "Old Vine Zin", Lodi, California ($12)
A big-shouldered Zinfandel with dark, ripe fruit flavors and peppery kick, this delicious red hails from decades-old gnarled vines grown in the emerging Lodi region. Grab a big bowl of chili and settle in for the night.

2005 Magnificent Wine Company, "Steak House" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington ($10)
After one sip you will want to make this elegant yet hearty red your house wine. Fun packaging keeps the mood light but the wine is serious juice. Sure it goes with steak, but you'll want to pour it solo, too.

2005 RedTree Petite Sirah, California ($9)
Jammy and fleshy, this gridiron power-red is one to stock up on for the big game. Whether you're serving platters of pastrami sandwiches or burger sliders, it's an easy-drinking wine a made for hungry crowds.

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