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Ardbeg Supernova 2014, COLA and the power to see the future

Ardbeg Supernova 2014

Something that’s popped up while speaking to m’colleagues recently is our lack of ability to see the future. There seems to be an assumption from drinkers that those who work in the booze industry, especially retail, know all the news from the industry. While that’s flattering it’s not particularly accurate, with hundred of new products appearing across the booze spectrum each month it’s quite hard to keep up with all of the new releases. Fortunately there are a number of tools that help us seem a little more informed, one of which is courtesy of the US government – COLAs Online.

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Żywiec Bock

Zywiec Bock

I’ve commented in the past on how easy it is to pick up a fairly random selection of Polish beers from the random shops near my flat, one of the benefits of living in one of the most traditionally Polish areas of London. However, until now it’s been Polish beers from Poland, generally with little English on the can unless they’re a slightly larger brand that has made its way in via larger scale import channels. While trawling the shelves of yet another corner shop (there are a lot of corners around the Hanger Lane Gyratory) I came across something that was slightly different – a style that I’ve not see before from a Polish brewer: Żywiec Bock.

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A (Below) Average Bottle of Whisky – Tesco Everyday Value Blended Scotch

Tesco Everyday

It worries me where simple questions can lead. “What is an average bottle of whisky?”, I innocently asked myself recently when the Scotch Whisky Association produced their yearly pre-budget report on how damaging spirits duty is to their industry. While I’m on the fence on lower alcohol duty, and am still working out what I think of Minimum Unit Pricing, I always like to see what the SWA say about the world of whisky, especially when they’re pushing for duty to be lowered in budget. One of this year’s headline numbers was that 79% of the price of an average bottle is now tax. “That sounds like a lot,” I thought to myself, leading inevitably to my earlier question – “What is an average bottle of whisky?”.

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Trooper – Iron Maiden Beer

Robinson's Trooper - Iron Maiden Beer

There’s an unsurprising amount of booze tied to music. From Slash, Lemmy and Frank Sinatra’s love of Jack Daniel’s, to AC/DC’s recent forays into the wine market, there’s always someone ready to stick an artist’s name on a bottle or advert and reap the rewards of association. There are fewer situations where the artist in question is actively involved in the making of said booze, and one of those rare times leads me to the subject of today’s post – Robinson’s Trooper, Iron Maiden’s beer, and Bruce Dickinson, one of my favourite people in the world.

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Proof

Proof

I shouldn’t be allowed to use the internet. An offhand comment can lead me into an obsessive bout of searching and the combined evils of Wikipedia and Google Books can lead to danger.

I bloody love Google Books.

When Peter Lemon of The Casks innocently wondered on Facebook why US Proof is double the alcohol by volume percentage rather than the old British measure of about 1.75 times, he probably didn’t realise what he’d done. The seed of research was planted, and here’s all I now know about proof.

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Dalmore Distillery

Dalmore Distillery

Over the years I’ve very much become a city dweller – in a few months time I tip over into having lived in London for over half of my life. With that comes a specific hole in my otherwise huge list of talents: I don’t know how to drive. As such my recent sojourn in Scotland has been full of buses and trains, and my distillery visits have been selected around a restriction of using public transport. Pleasingly I was finally able to make it to one of the easiest distilleries to get to by train – Dalmore.

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Jolly Toper Tasting for Marie Curie

20140223-185954.jpg

One of the lovely things about the whisky industry is that you get to meet people spread all over the world. My semi-frequent visits north of the border mean that I know a bunch of people around Edinburgh and one of those is Mark Davidson of Cadenhead’s, my travelling companion for the 2013 Victoria Whisky Festival.

He runs the Jolly Toper whisky tastings in Edinburgh, and I’ve been annoyingly good at missing them whenever I visit. However, with my biannual pilgrimage to my family’s timeshare cottage in Aviemore on the horizon I decided to start my journey north a few days early and stop in at a charity tasting that Mark was running.

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Another Take on NAS Whisk(e)y

The recent NAS mini-furore has inspired a bunch of bloggers, with the EWB post that kicked things off picking up a response from me, Oliver Klimek over on Dramming, Cask Strength, Gal and also my usually silent chum Jason B Standing. However, it’s also pulled out an anonymous post from the travel retail sector that appeared on Gal’s blog and now this – another anonymous post.

An acquaintance of mine who produces NAS bottlings pinged me and asked if I’d mind posting up some thoughts. It’s a rather different take to most of the other comments. Take it away mystery guest poster…

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In Defence of No Age Statement Whisky

Before we start, go and have a read of Lucasz’s post over on the Edinburgh Whisky Blog. I’ll wait. Now, a clarification before I begin – I agree with pretty much everything he says, and rather like the piece. However, it’s written from the opposite end of the positivity spectrum to where my brain sits. Scarily, for those who know me, I’m generally an optimist, and that optimism spills over into the world of whisky. So, as a companion piece rather than a response to Lucasz’s post – A Defence of No Age Statement Whiskies. Well, sort of…

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Hello My Name is Vladimir – BrewDog

Hello My Name is Vladimir

One of the annoying things about the prolific nature of BrewDog’s releases is that they happen with just about the exact required regularity to fit in with my beer drinking schedule. Almost every time they send out a new email announcing their latest minor variant on a previous beer, collaboration or rerelease of something they made a few years back and which is now remembered with fondness, I’ve just finished my last stack of beers from them and there’s a hole in my cupboard ready to be filled with a shareholder-priced pile of Punk IPA. However, my latest order was quite large (thanks to a sale) and the latest email fell upon a full cupboard and was, at first, sadly sent to the trash folder.

Fortunately, I now have a BrewDog bar down the road. One that does beers for take-away with a discount. A discount that means it’s just about cheaper to buy two bottles from the bar rather than online, if you include postage. Although only just. So,  Step forward the latest beer from the Hello My Name is… range - Hello My Name is Vladimir.

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