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September 2 2015

The “Hell’s” Angels’ Share: Speyside Distillery goes full throttle with launch of Beinn Dubh black single malt

Some news from Speyside Distillery…

It was not so much the Angels’ Share, more the “Hell’s” Angels’ Share as Speyside Distillery crossed to the dark side to launch its new black whisky – Beinn Dubh – at Europe’s biggest Harley Davidson motorcycle rally today (30 August, 2015).

Thunder in the Glen Fallen Angel

Thunder in the Glen Fallen Angel

The single malt was unveiled to over 3,000 motorbike enthusiasts who gathered in Aviemore in the Cairngorms – the home of the tiny boutique distillery – for the annual Thunder in the Glens event.
Speyside Distillery CEO John Harvey McDonough says there was no better platform to launch Beinn Dubh than at the biker rally, which draws Harley enthusiasts and visitors from all over the UK and Europe.
He adds,

“Whisky drinkers know all about the Angels’ Share – the term for the whisky that evaporates into the atmosphere during maturation – but with the launch of our new whisky at a motorbike rally, it’s possible that the angels who were looking over Beinn Dubh were wearing black leathers and biker boots.
“Visitors to Thunder in the Glens have been able to sample Beinn Dubh over the weekend, and the feedback is that it’s a heavenly dram. The colour of the whisky – a very rich ruby-black – has been a real talking point.
“We feel honoured to be part of this fantastic event. There has been an incredible atmosphere in Aviemore, and we are delighted that our new friends from Thunder in the Glens have been among the first people in the world to sample this new single malt.”

Beinn Dubh was the name given to Ben Macdui – the highest peak in the Cairngorm mountain range – by Professor Norman Collie after his solo climb to the summit in 1891. It translates from Gaelic as the black mountain – a reference to the mystical and spooky atmosphere Prof Collie encountered on Ben Macdui.
Speyside Distillery wanted to recreate the essence of the black mountain in a bottle, and Beinn Dubh was born. It gets its unusual colouring because it has been finished in toasted port casks from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Speyside Distillers Ltd managing director Patricia Dillon says,

“Like the mountain, the whisky is dark and mysterious. It is very much the whisky of the Cairngorms – the water used in its production is from the Black Mountain itself, and the malted barley is sourced locally.
“We are deeply passionate about the Cairngorms and our links to this area: the landscape, the history and the people are very much part of the distillery’s story. The Cairngorms is a truly magical place and I can understand why thousands of bikers come to Thunder in the Glens to ride through this beautiful area.”

George McGuire, rally co-ordinator for Thunder in the Glens, says visitors were intrigued by the brand new expression from Speyside Distillery.

“It’s a fantastic dram and the colour is so unusual; no one has ever seen anything quite like it. If any whisky was to represent the Cairngorms – this incredible part of Scotland where people come from all over to ride – then it is Beinn Dubh,”

he says.

Beinn Dubh’s taste is deep and dark: rich fruits, currants and chocolate dominate at first, but these gradually give way to both bitterness and sweetness. Beinn Dubh is 43% ABV and the 70cl bottle has an RRP of £50.

Speyside Distillery near Kingussie has been in production since 1990 and is operated by Speyside Distillers Ltd. For further information about Beinn Dubh, visit www.beinndubh.com.

August 19 2015

Clean, Green Distilleries and Sustainable Alcohol Production

Thank you to @MariaRamos1889 for writing another excellent guest post. This time it concerns the environment and clean, green distilleries.

Mankind has partaken in the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. In recent years, however, traditional distillation methods have come under scrutiny as a result of widespread pollution and other environmental concerns associated with climate change. Luckily, there are numerous forward-thinking firms in the business to promote and enable a cleaner alcoholic beverage production cycle.

Don Q's Water Reclamation Facility

Don Q’s Water Reclamation Facility

Beer consumes quite a bit of water: up to 10 liters for each liter of finished product. Additionally, refrigeration contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas levels. The bottling process also requires a substantial amount of energy because glass must be heated to a high temperature before it can be properly molded. Brewers can partially reduce their environmental impact by using cans, which are often recycled, instead of glass bottles. While cans have traditionally been the preserve of cheap, mass-market beers, there are a few craft and specialty beers that are shipped in cans, such as Oskar Blues and New Belgium. Organic beers, like Wolaver’s and Samuel Smith, comply with guidelines limiting pesticide and chemical use. Even an organization as large as MillerCoors, a joint venture of SABMiller and Molson Coors, is trying to act in a more environmentally friendly manner by pledging to use only 3.5 liters of water per liter of beer produced.

Vodka and other spirits must go through a distillation process, which consumes a lot of energy and requires the input of green-unfriendly chemicals. Furthermore, some types of liquor, especially rum and gin, create waste products that must be disposed of. From the years 2002-2008, the Bacardi Corporation ran afoul of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for dumping thousands of gallons of waste into a river in Puerto Rico.

Mackmyra Whisky Distillery

Mackmyra Whisky Distillery


Mackmyra Swedish Whiskey has built a new production facility that aims to counter the energy waste typically encountered in distilling. The six-story building takes advantage of gravity to move ingredients, rather than relying on oil-guzzling machinery. Heat recovery mechanisms mean that waste heat can be recycled, reducing the consumption of energy. Similarly, DonQ is a rum producer that has been making a name for itself by using its waste for compost and irrigation purposes and by recycling energy from excess steam in distilling. Larger companies have gotten involved as well – for example, Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits producer, announced an ambitious plan this year to cut its global water usage in half. “As Diageo’s footprint has expanded, particularly in emerging markets, I firmly believe that managing water responsibly will be core to supporting the future growth of our business,” said Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes in a statement.

The egregious carbon usage associated with wine consumption is largely a consequence of shipping product all around the world, with problematic bottling and packaging as a secondary source of environmental harm. Here is makes sense to stay local – people on the eastern coast of the United States would do well to purchase European wines while those west of roughly Ohio or Louisiana could help reduce CO2 emissions by instead buying California vintages. In terms of eco-friendly packaging, French Rabbit Wines in Sausalito, Calif. is a winery that employs sustainable farming practices as well as a type of packaging from Tetra Pak that doesn’t require as many resources.


One aspect of alcohol production that’s largely outside the hands of producers is agriculture. Breweries and distilleries often use food products, like barley, oatmeal, sugarcane and potatoes, as inputs. The way that these crops are grown thus has a great impact on their environmental consequences. According to Alberta Energy Providers, poor agricultural practices alone account for between 10 and 12 percent of all human-created greenhouse gas emissions. Going even further, years of overgrowing and overwatering ultimately contribute to a destructive cycle of desertification and deforestation. It’s therefore important that transformations in energy use and sustainability shouldn’t be limited to the alcohol trade but should be spread to wherever food is grown.

Because the alcoholic beverage industry touches upon so many sectors of the economy – agriculture, packaging, transportation and refrigeration, to name just a few – changes in how drinks are made can have far-reaching repercussions. Customers can drive environmental sustainability by purchasing beer and liquor from those companies that have demonstrated their commitment to green technologies and procedures. While their initial impact will be limited, the advantages will start to accrue as alcohol suppliers start leapfrogging each other in the employment of green techniques and encourage their business partners to do the same.

June 14 2015

The Finest Drinks on Offer at these World Class Casinos

The Finest Drinks on Offer at these World Class Casinos

There are lots of things which make the city of Las Vegas the perfect party city. One of them is its relaxed alcohol licencing laws that allows patrons to continue drinking all night long without fear of somebody yelling “last call!” Whilst there are some amazing drinks on offer in Las Vegas, there are also some excellent casinos each with their own signature drink dotted around the globe.

Here are five of them:

Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo Casino (photo by Dennis Jarvis)

Monte Carlo Casino (photo by Dennis Jarvis)

The Casino de Monte-Carlo is legendary for its luxury and opulence and cannot be missed off on a list of the world’s finest casinos. With 12 different bars and clubs on site, there is bound to be something to suit every taste. The Sea Lounge Bar, for instance, serves the 21-year-old Royal Salute as well as the J.W. Blue Label; they aren’t cheap, but if you’re lucky your winnings will cover the bar bill.

MGM Grand, Las Vegas

The MGM serves ‘The Last Drop’, a 1960 Scotch Whiskey of which only 1347 were made, in its Whiskey Down gaming lounge. With blackjack tables and video poker, it is the perfect spot of relax and unwind by playing a few games and tasting some of the 100 different whiskeys on offer. Continuing the whiskey theme, they also offer mint-infused whiskeys in their specialty cocktails as well as Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve double Oak, and Four Roses Single Barrel.

Home, your house

Thanks to the advent of online casinos, it is now easier to play your favourite games online using the likes of the VIP club at Slotocash to practice without needing the expense of flights and accommodation. Of course, the budget should accommodate for some world-class alcohol to sample at home and enjoy whilst you play from the comfort of your sofa.

Crown Casino, Melbourne

Melbourne’s Crown Casino is home to the exclusive 28 Skybar Lounge which offers its patrons stunning views across the Australian city. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Dandenong Ranges. Unsurprisingly, there is an extensive range of drinks available. The bar offers a range of whiskey, from a wide budget range including Jack Daniel’s and Jameson to the Chivas Regal 25 yrs.

Whiskey Collection (photo by Ian McKellar)

Whiskey Collection (photo by Ian McKellar)

The Palm Beach Casino, London

Located in the heart of Mayfair, the Palm Beach Casino offers a wide selection of top-quality wines at its bar. If you favour red wine, they offer the 2004 Chateau Malescot St. Exupery for £45 a 37.5cl bottle or £85 for a 75cl one, which is a popular favourite amongst wine aficionados. If you prefer white, they offer wines from France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand including the 2010 Puligny-Montrachet for £85 (75cl) and the 2009 Meursault for £70 (75cl).

March 4 2015

The Bourbon Boom

I was contacted a few weeks ago and asked if I was interested in a guest blog post about the Bourbon documentaries as there has been a fair few of them recently.
Of course I said yes, and here it is.
Thank you to @MariaRamos1889 for writing this excellent post!

The Bourbon Boom:
5 Documentaries Showcasing America’s New Favorite Spirit

In recent years, craft liquor distilleries have sprung up across the country like so many small geysers spouting whiskey and bourbon. Bars designed to look like speakeasies, increasingly popular as well, serve dark spirits to younger and younger clientele – a growing number of them female. Programs such as Mad Men have also helped to bring old-school drinks like the Manhattan back in style. Given the mini-renaissance bourbon and whiskey are currently experiencing, it makes sense look at a few films charting their rise to new heights.

Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers (2002)

When the production and distribution of alcohol was prohibited in the United States, bootleggers and criminals built an empire around the illegal rum-running industry. American history was forever changed, even after liquor became legal again. This History Channel documentary focuses on the secret history of American distilleries – many of which had their humble beginnings in someone’s uncle’s bathtub. Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers includes rare footage and photos to help showcase America’s past and present relationship with illegal alcohol and focuses on how whiskey can and has been illegally produced for decades.

Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky (2012)

This BBC documentary explores the origin and history of Scottish whisky and the alcohol addictions that have arisen alongside it. Because urban life in Scotland was hard, the people turned to whisky to forget and avoid dealing with the difficulties they inevitably had to face. However, this came with a reputation that Scottish people still deal with today. Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky showcases this history and teaches us that there is a story behind this heavy drinking reputation and it isn’t just caused by lack of will power.

Bourbontucky (2015)

Bourbontucky is a new documentary from DirecTV’s Audience Channel that explores the traditions and processes behind the making of Kentucky bourbon. It explores Kentucky’s role in bourbon history, and interviews top-notch distillers and bourbon aficionados to give viewers a closer look into the culture of the Bluegrass State. Kentucky bourbon is more than just another hard liquor to these folks, their passion for grain alcohol borders on religious fervor.

Made and Bottled in Kentucky (2003)

Dating back to the 18th century, the story of Kentucky bourbon is almost as old as the state itself.  Made and Bottled in Kentucky dives the oldest bourbon-making traditions, charting its rise and fall from public favor throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to tours of old and new Kentucky distilleries, this documentary gives us interviews with some of the best – Kentucky’s premier historians, bourbon distillers, and industry leaders who tell us their own stories surrounding the Kentucky bourbon experience.

Great Scotch Whisky (2006)

This documentary gives us a tour on the history and process of distilling whisky in Scotland, proudly showcasing the hardworking Scottish spirit. Many have considered the making of whisky to be an “art form” and this is clearly seen throughout the documentary. Travel to Scotland in Great Scotch Whisky and learn about the remarkable traditions and values that are imbedded in the old tradition of creating whisky.

The cycles of popular culture can be fickle; how long whiskey and bourbon remain at the forefront of craft cocktails remains to be seen. However, no matter its airtime on television, or its popularity with the younger generations, whiskey and bourbon are ingrained in the fabric of America.
The tradition of whiskey and production and the families that preserve the love of the spirit are unlikely to go anywhere.

Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

July 29 2014

Balls of Steel – Cool Your Whisky For a Cause

There are many different ways to cool your whisky, from the standard method of ice to chilled stones and more.
The other day I was contacted by a company that has come up with an alternative, Balls of Steel.
These are literally, balls of steel and not just a cool product name.

As well as being rather cool looking, the company that came up with them, “OriginalBOS“, are also raising money for a great cause, testicular cancer research, so another reason to give them a look.

Here’s what they had to say:

While there are many types of whiskey, there is only one way to drink it: chilled.

Balls of Steel are stainless steel whiskey chillers that allow you to enjoy your drink without diluting it the way water does. These stainless steel balls will allow you to drink your whiskey the way it was made to be enjoyed. You will no longer have to deal with the unwanted dilution that drowns out the flavors when your ice melts.

Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel

Inside each ball is an arctic core, developed by OriginalBOS, which allow Balls of Steel to get cold fast and stay cold longer. Place the balls in the freezer for at least 90 minutes and then drop them in a glass to enjoy whiskey at the perfect temperature.

Chilling whiskey is not the sole purpose of Balls of Steel. Just by purchasing Balls of Steel, you are supporting mens’ health. For every purchase, OriginalBOS donates a portion of its proceeds to testicular cancer research.

Now you can enjoy your perfectly chilled whiskey and have Balls of Steel.

Balls of Steel are available for purchase at www.OriginalBOS.com

What are Balls of Steel? from Original BOS on Vimeo.

Get your set at: www.OriginalBOS.com

DISCLAIMER: I received no compensation, monetary or otherwise for writing this post. I just thought they looked pretty cool and wanted to spread the word.

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