Celebrities and Their Love for Whisky

Gabrielle Union Picture

A Day with Gabrielle Union

February 22, 2016 is held as National Margarita Day. Yeah, it’s a great event to get the week started. Actress Gabrielle Union will have her self celebrating in the launching of the Lime-A-Rita Fiesta Ready campaign. The campaign aims to revive “the margarita moment”. It is the fun and colorful social mood that happens when drinking the classic margarita. Lime-A-Rita will be officially launched with a pop-up fiesta at the Grand Central Terminal in NYC with Gabrielle Union.

Gabrielle Union Picture

Gabrielle Union. By www.sexycelebrities.us

Furthermore, there are great things to enjoy like the robust Lime-A-Rita portfolio samples. Also, consumers are able to get a chance to immerse at Lime-A-Rita atmosphere with experiential activations, series of social media activities and a ball pit for adults.

Drake and Other Celebs on Spirits

Popular Rapper Drake on the other hand had announced via Instagram a whisky project that he is involved – the Virginia Black. In his Instagram is an image of stylish logo popped up with the caption “After that legendary moment what else is there to do but celebrate with class. Virginia Black coming soon…”

Before the rapper Drake got involved into venturing into spirits, Puff Daddy also got affiliated with CÎROC Vodka and owns DeLeón Tequila. While Jay-Z owns Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Champagne, Ludacris also had his Cognac brand Conjure launched in 2009. And last year was Snoop Dogg had Cucca Fresca (a premium Brazilian cachaca) endorsed.

Whisky Events…

Talking about whisky, on February 24 there will be Whisky Live. It is an annual tasting event in NYC at Chelsea Piers (Pier 60). The event is a part of a worldwide tour.

The said event presents 300 of the best whiskies in the world for the guest to indulged and enjoy on. The presentation would be along with stories to be told by master distillers, brand ambassadors and industry experts.

Also various brands will be featured like Beam, Heaven Hill, Ardbeg and Yamazaki. Boutique spirit brands like Balcones, High West, and Tuthilltown Spirits of New York will also be featured.

More to enjoy would be the hand mixing up signature cocktails of New York’s top whisky bars bartenders. On the event would be coming the master distillers and global brand ambassadors. Guests will be able to get a chance to unlimited free taste, great dinner buffet and entertainment and souvenirs to keep from the said terrific whiskey event of the year.

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Speyside: What You Should Know

Speyside Festival

Want to know a fun fact? The only time alcohol is allowed in the House of Commons is during Budget Day. According to Parliamentary tradition, the chancellor may drink whatever he wishes to drink when making a budget speech; most of them opt for whisky. Rumor has it; Kenneth Clarke was partial to drinking Glenfarclas from Speyside while giving his speeches.

A Festival in Speyside

The 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will be taking place from Aril 28 to May 2. If you’ve tasted the various whiskies produced in this part of the world, you’d know that delivering a serious speech while drinking a dram is difficult.

If you ask me, Speyside whisky is somewhat like a lover. It needs to be treated kindly and respectfully, looked at and admired, and of course, tasted. Where you drink it is also of significance, particularly with expensive malts, as you’d want to savor the flavor while taking in your surroundings.

There are a lot of Speyside available with a handful of good places to enjoy a dram. Aside from that, there is no shortage of experts who will give you an idea about their favorite dram; where it’s produced and its little history.

Speyside Festival


History of Whisky Distillation

A few years ago, distilling whisky was rather tricky. With primitive equipment, lack of expertise and knowledge, you’d probably end up with a lethal spirit. As distillation processes have been improved over time, advancements were seen. Apparently, monks had significant knowledge about distilling which explains why they are often seen happy and peacefully quiet. Soon, whisky has become a tradition in Scotland and was served in many social gatherings.

However, all things come with a price. Taxmen soon wanted shares from the profits. This resulted to stills that were produced underground. If we believe rumors, the remote Braes of Glenlivet had over 200 illegal stills operating during the major whisky smuggling era. There were 3 major whisky roads that started there which allowed smugglers to transport their goods to cities in the east and south. Evading taxmen and smuggling whisky has become a part of life after the English Parliament was established in 1644.

Present Day

Today, on the other hand, is a different story. While Speyside is known as the home of Scotch whisky as well as more than half of the distilleries in Scotland, many of which are organizing special events during festivals that sell out quickly; hence, booking in advance is important. Highlights to festivals include tastings in various distilleries, fine dining experiences, live music, and challenges to find the best whisky in town that would go well with bacon roll.

Where to Stay during Festivals

A highly recommended accommodation among tourists is the Craigellachie Hotel on Victoria Street in Speyside. Sounds familiar? This historic hotel, which has been elegantly upgraded without losing its old-style charm, has become popular among celebrities including Noel Gallagher and Kate Moss. The hotel gives off a vintage and relaxed vibe and a bar that serves over 700 whisky bottles, making it a rather fun place to chill.

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Knockdhu Distillery Introduces a Trendy Whisky

ancnoc blas whisky

Knockdhu distillery, located in the Speyside region of Scotland, has released a trendy whisky called the new anCnoc Blas Scotch. Although we all have varied taste preferences, this incredible whisky is stating a fact: this release is a collaborative project between Knockdhu and Patrick Grant (a fashion designer from Scotland) who was responsible for designing the packaging as they are making a non-age statement expression.

According to Knockdhu distillery, “Blas” means “taste” in the Gaelic language. It reflects the tastes of Grant as he spent more than a year in designing the print that you can see on the packaging with a little help from the fans of anCnoc who sent images and messages on social media that inspired the final design in many ways.

ancnoc blas whisky

In appearance, Blas is golden and honeyed. On the nose it is densely sweet and fruity with notes of lemon and candied orange peel. Photo by menswear223.rssing.com

“I spent a lot of time at Knockdhu not only taking in the landscape and surrounding areas, but getting to know the people that work there and the methods that they use. Everything in the print is from the hill, the village of Knock or within the distillery itself and tells the story of the making of Blas. I’ve tried to interpret anCnoc’s history and tradition in a modern way, and hope this is translated through the aesthetic of the bottle,” says Grant.

To give you a little bit more idea on the actual whisky in the beverage, it has 54% ABV and is drawn from Scotch matured in American and Spanish oak barrels, bottled without chill-filtration and coloring. It has a sweet and fruity smell with a hint of lemon and orange peel. Its bitter chocolate and vanilla tones give it complexity and weight. Blas has a full, oily taste with an initial burst of warm lemon tart, followed by hints of rum raisins and dark chocolate. There are notes of freshly cut grass that gives balance and freshness. It has an after taste of bitter-sweet cocoa.

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The Canadian Club Brand Heritage has a Rich History

Canadian Club Brand

The Hiram Walker & Sons head office has witnessed a lot of business deals over the years. You can see an old picture in the corner of what seemed like a gangster with a cigarette in his lips. He’s being surrounded by whisky and money while holding an Uzi proudly.

“You could be sitting in Capone’s chair,” said Tish Harcus while passing a flask-shaped bottle. It is turdy and is made to fit into a jacket or boot. “They used to be called rum runners.”

With this certain bottle, Canadians began coining the term bootlegging.

The Canadian Club Brand Heritage Center is technically situated in Windsor, Ontario, in the former Walkerville town.

Tish harcus, the brand ambassador for the company, has been working in the building for approximately 28 years already. One way to describe the lady is that she’s colorful and a walking whisky-drinking encyclopedia.

According to Tish, along with the temperance movements in the United States, Hiram Walker (an American entrepreneur) had set up a shop in Windsor in 1858 as its distance is just near his home in Detroit; however, it was on the other side of the Detroit River. In this part of Canada, he could legally distill spirits.

Canadian Club Brand

Different flavours of whisky are lined up at tasting event at the Canadian Club Brand Centre. Image from windsorstar.com

As the 1800s concluded, Walker had already built an empire. He put up shops, schools, and homes for his 6000 employees, who were paid in Walkerville’s own currency. Their salaries, on the other hand, eventually go back to Walker because of his many business ventures in the town. He was as wealthy as the Rockefellers, having the inventor and businessman Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford (The owner of Ford Motor Company) among his friends.

What was previously the Hiram Walker & Sons head office has been transformed into the Canadian Club Brand Heritage Center. Visitors can take a 90-muute tour for whisky-tasting and absorbing the Walker saga.

The beautiful chimes of the grandfather clock emanate from downstairs. Their art gallery showcases 8 Group of Seven paintings. Each room is made of dark woods and old-world furnishings, cooperage tools, photographs, hoary ledger books, and old Canadian Club bottles. Up to this day, bottles are still dredge up the Detroit River.

The basement houses the real gems, however. The archive room is filled with history. There’s an unopened case of over a century old whisky with the original playing cards scattered about. You can also see a secret tunnel that ran between the borders of the US and Canada as well. Whether the tunnel was used to run barrels during prohibition, we don’t know; but that’s a fair assumption to make.

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Cocktails and Healthy Drinking

healthy vodka

If you feel bad because: (1) you didn’t bother with a dry January, (2) you tried them and fell of the wagon, and (3) you are having a wet January and you want to turn a new leaf and become healthy, this might help you…

A bar in London is serving cocktails that are made with matcha green tea, aloe juice, sea weed, and wheat grass to make you feel better about drinking vodka in the middle of the week. Truth is the fact that they are said to contain anti-oxidants is enough to convince most of us to order a glass or two; be honest!

The bar I’m talking about is Shoreditch’s Rivington Grill, which labeled its January cocktail menu the “clean-living” collection. Their drinks were made with D1 potato vodka that is called Greener Colada and Flu-Fighting Mojito. No sane doctor would prescribe vodka cocktails when you’re sick. But when you aren’t, mixing vegetable juice with a little bit (or more) vodka may be better than drinking Red Bull.

“I wanted to create something that provided Londoners with a healthier way to enjoy cocktails this January, feeding obsession around superfoods but retaining the sense of fun and relaxation of alcohol,” said Francesco Lombardi, the bar manager.

healthy vodka

Hard Health Shot (Picture: D1 / Rivington Grill / Carrie Tang / http://www.carrietang.com)

Greener Colada

The Greener Colada is a “cleaner” version of the traditionally calorie-laden Pina Colada. It has matcha green tea that has antioxidants which boosts our metabolism. What makes this drink great is that it has low GI natural sweetener, agave syrup, and lactose-free coconut milk as replacement to a heavy cream.

Popeye Punch

Obviously, the Popeye Punch is made up of what Popeye eats: spinach. Flu-fighting ingredients, spinach and fresh ginger, has been mixed with an aloe vera base to give out a refreshing, classic and zesty Mojito.

Mary’s Bloody Healthy Remedy

This go-to hangover cure is given an additional boost as it is mixed with 2016’s hottest new super food: mineral-rich seaweed and laden with low-calorie chia seeds for added fiber, magnesium, and protein.

Hard Health Shot

Hard Health Shot is an exciting version of a nutritious wheatgrass shot, which features the vodka on the powerful concentration of the nutrients found in wheatgrass.

While all of these drinks can be ordered at the bar, you can also make them at home and serve them in parties if you want to save money. Their common denominator is the D1 Vodka. Aside from that, you also need to have a cocktail shaker as well as ice cubes.

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The Perfect Gift for Men: The Scotch Whisky Collection

Scotch Whisky

One of the many traditions in India is to exchange gifts in every occasion. The gift items actually reflect their status; which is why consumers nowadays want a touch of style and uniqueness. In the past years, the gifting industry in India has grown because of increasing disposable incomes, exposure to worldwide trends, and aspiration levels. Currently, it can be categorized as personal, festival, and corporate gifting.

A special dinner was hosted by the United Spirits Limited which was attended by popular personalities Chitrangada Singh, Lisa Haydon, Shibani Dandekar, and Nitesh Chhapru (Head of Marketing, Premium core Portfolio, United Spirits Unlimited). The company unveiled their Scotch Whisky Collection: An Exceptional Gift for men on all occasions.

Scotch Whisky

United Spirits Ltd. Unveil the Scotch Whisky Collection as an exceptional gift for men. Image(c):maliveandkicking.blogspot.com

The Scotch Whisky Collection consists of a premium range of Scotch whiskies: the Black Dog, Vat 69, and Black & White. They are an ideal gift for whisky connoisseurs who loves specially-crafted collectible gift packs. Whether you plan to relax with a Black Dog, or savor the famous Vat 69, or feel the warmth of Black & White, there’s definitely a perfect blend for every moment.

The collection was launched to solve the dilemma of gifting for men, which was hosted by Anuradha Menon who kept the audience entertained with witty comments. Celebrities Lisa Hydon, Shibani Dandekar, and Chitrangada Singh commented that the Scotch Whisky Collection made it simpler to buy gifts for men.

Meanwhile, Nitesh Chhapru said, “The gifting market in India has become a billion dollar industry and is still evolving. People are now looking at more innovative and personalized options while purchasing their gifts. Keeping this in mind, we have launched The Scotch Whisky Collection: An Exceptional Gift with the finest of our Scotch Whisky blends to celebrate all occasions.”

United Spirits introduces you to a premium blends for gifting during the festive season that would surely delight men and whisky connoisseurs.

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Enjoy Irish Coffee: A Whisky-Based Cocktail

Irish Coffee

The Irish Coffee: a delightful combination of sweet, whisky-laced coffee with whipped cream. Simple, indulgent, and very delicious! I bet you’d add it as one of your “comfort” drinks.

In the early 1940s, a man named Joseph Sheridan had made the best decision anyone could make somewhere in the middle of a notoriously cold country of Ireland. He was the very first person to ever mix the Irish whiskey with rich, black coffee. Legend has it that a flight from Shannon Airport got cancelled and Joseph, the local bartender there, decided to provide the freezing passengers comfort by serving a special drink. And oh, did he lift their spirits up!

Even though the drink was first made in Ireland, it became very popular in San Francisco. Stanton Delaplane, an American travel blogger, drank the airport specialty and immediately fell in love with the drink. After many failed attempts and persuasion with bartenders to float the cream in the same way, the Irish Coffee cocktail was finally crafted and included to the menu of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco during the early 1950s. As what most people say, the rest is history.

How to Make a Perfect Irish Coffee

There are no top secret ingredients when it comes to making an Irish coffee. But contrary to what most people believe, it is actually not as simple as mixing a shot of whisky to a cup of coffee. It is a well-constructed caffeinated drink that should be made with proper care. Dale DeGroff, a renowned mixologist, believes that the “key” to creating a great Irish coffee is how you treat the cream. According to him, it would be best to hand-whisk the cream so that it has the right amount of stiffness to float beautifully at the top of the coffee and the booze.

The secret would be to make sure that the coffee is very hot and the cream is very cold (and most importantly, carefully whipped at the right amount). Whether you put sugar in your coffee or not, it is important here and not only because of the flavor! Without sugar, the cream will not float the way it should be, so don’t attempt to cut back on it. Once crafted, the drink shouldn’t be stirred; the hot drink must be drunk through its cold cream. Warning: you’ll have a killer mustache after every sip.

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee. Image from food.ndtv.com

The Recipe of the Irish Whisky

  • Fill a tall glass with boiling water, leave to stand and pour the water away.
  • Carefully whip the cream until there are no bubbles left and it has just started to thicken and formed ribbons beneath the whisk. Place back in the refrigerator.
  • Dissolve 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar in 2 tablespoons of hot water in a pan and boil. Add 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee and stir. Remove from hit and stir in 50 ml of Irish whisky.
  • Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pre-heated glass. Take the 50 ml cold unsweetened cream out of the fridge and whisk again. Pour it over the back of the spoon until you hit the rim of the glass to prevent from sinking.
  • Add a little nutmeg over the top and serve.

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The Whiskey Business: Nostalgia, Drinks, and Food

whisky business

Having a name like Whiskey Business, a drink called Milli Vanilli, condiments placed in metal Ninja Turtles lunch boxes, and the song “Wannabe” in the sound system; it’s really obvious what the newest bar at Wicker Park is going for — a nice 90’s throwback! This makes us want to post throwback photos of family vacations in oversized T-shirts and click on stories like “10 Things You Never Knew About ‘FRIENDS’”.

The well of profit from nostalgic young individuals runs deep and it’s quite easy for them to drink too much. Fortunately, Whiskey Business treads slightly in this niche that nostalgia has become a conversation piece for their customers. Remove the lunch boxes and rename the drinks and you’d still have the same appeal: a spacious bar with a great selection of whiskies and a come-as-you-are feel. Pajamas? Cool. Silky dress? Cool.

whisky business

Whiskey Business brings 115 whiskeys, 14 flavors of fries to Wicker Park. Photo by nyloveswhisky.com

What you should look forward to

Have your drinks made with any of their 115 whiskeys, from standards like Old Overholt and Bulleit to popular selections like Lock, Stock, and Barrel 13-year. They also have single malt scotches available all the way up to 25-year Laphroaig, Irish whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, and Japanese whiskeys as well. You can also have wine, beer, and other lighter spirits as you wish. A must-try is the Ginnie Cooper (a play of “”The Wonder Years” character Winnie Cooper) that is made with a gin called the Death’s Door, Carpano Bianca vermouth, lime, and cherry. It is tart but balanced. Or, opt for a Fireball shot.

Their food menu is aggressively bar, without the salads: Andouille sausage corn dogs; jumbo boneless wings in 5 flavors; a burger that is stuffed with mac and cheese; or the option of getting a bacon in a cup. On weekends, on the other hand, there’s bloody Mary skewered with the newly opened Cheesie’s grilled cheese.

Who is Behind the Establishment?

Chris Johnston, from Chicago, is behind both spots, as well as the Cheesie’s that is located in Lakeview, an infamous place for the drunk and the hungry. The vibe in this place is far less college, though you can imagine cranking up the volume on Spice Girls or Backstreet Boys and things getting rowdy.

You can practically see TVs everywhere in this place — above the bar, lining the walls, and on the rooftop, which opens when the weather turns. Typically, the air sports shows, and not politics.

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Irish Whisky: A Main Feature at Harrow Whisky Festival

Harrow Whisky Festival

A large numbers of whisky enthusiasts attended and enjoyed the INAUGURAL Harrow Whisky Festival held at Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow Weald last weekend. In the said event, over 40 distillers around the world presented each of their best whiskies.

The main feature of the festival was the tasting sessions, as dedicated Ireland Whiskey table presented the likes of Coley, Bushmills, Jameson, Connemara, Paddy and Inish Turk Beg. Such presentation of distiller’s banquet was held Friday evening and a whisky breakfast/brunch was also held on Saturday morning. The dedicated Ireland table with variety of Ireland whiskeys truly became a special attraction in the event.

Harrow Whisky Festival

Experts and enthusiasts. Photo – Malcolm McNally

The festival started with a night of music and entertainment. Since Grim’s Dyke Hotel is the former home of Sir William Gilbert (Gilbert & Sullivan) Irish and other music was also staged on that agenda. Part of the live music and entertainment were the presentations of Gerry Molumby from Triskellion Irish Theatre and Concert Productions and singer and multi-instrumentalist and Irish Post columnist Joe Giltrap.

A limited edition 15 Year Old Single Malt was one of the stars of the weekend; which was made by the Teeling Whiskey Company. The Teeling Whiskey Company was also the maker of ‘The Revival’ which produced it to mark the opening of its new distillery, the first in Dublin for over 125 years.

The stunning setting for the festival has been made possible through the best efforts of Grim’s Dyke Hotel as it also has a well-stocked whisky bar, which significantly boosted whenever whisky tasting or festival event is coming up. For people looking for their retail needs, there are ‘Hard to Find Whiskey’ company present in occasion like this to help them satisfy those needs and of course dedicated  Irish whisky table that they really need to experience.

Harrow Whisky Festival talks about quality whisky and other things like various insights from whiskey specialists, explorers, and bloggers as well as magazine writers. There are also generalized talks in the Drawing Room of Grim’s Dyke Hotel which will give everyone an idea of touring the scenic area of the place, new distilleries and the wildlife.

Of course, whisky festival celebration can never be more fascinating without mentioning the iconic kilt! Some of the speakers be wearing Highland dress, and  if you’re going to stay overnight and want to try a kilt, the hotel  have various sizes available for their guests– even if it’s just long enough for picture taking.

The Directors of Grim’s Dyke Hotel, Mary McGowan and Robin Cooke as well as the organizers of the Harrow Whisky Festival were truly delighted with the positive outcome of the event and said they are already have plans for next year event.

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Before President Putin started a new Cold War, the transition from local to international market was doing and progressing well.

Earlier this year in his State of the Union Address, US President Barrack Obama said: “Russia is isolated and its economy is in tatters.”

Well, President Obama was somehow right considering the trouble in free-fall, down by half against the dollar in 6-months with a slump in the oil prices worldwide.

Diageo’s MD for the region Svetlana Naumova said in Russia, they are operating in a challenging environment of macroeconomic decline, currency volatility and consumers are trading down. He added that while the performance continues to be affected by the external factors, it is still a good and attractive market for Diageo.


Diageo Whiskies. Image credits to www.thedrum.com

A week after President Obama made his address, a report from BBC said that seventeen percent drop in the company’s Scotch whisky sales in Russia in the second half of 2014. The report further said that Johnnie Walker Red Label is still leading the scotch category while White Horse gained share.

Despite Obama rhetorically boast about the impact of western sanctions, Putin had just shrugged off about it.

“A big, black media war between the two countries,” these are the words of Cyril Claquin, Pernod Ricard’s CMO for Eastern Europe and Russia. Furthermore he said: “Of course the overall economy has slowed down if you consider the GDP figures, but we’re not in disaster mode. It was expected the Russian economy would collapse and consumers would panic and lose confidence about everything.”

Claquin added, “The premium whisky market is growing steadily by 8% in the off-trade in the year to date.”

He also credited two main factors of the said growth, as quoted he said: “The first is that consumer confidence has not eroded as dramatically as we expected, and secondly the market is very much fed by very aggressive promotions from almost all players.”

On the other hand, his opposite number at Campari, Cesare Vandini stated that the last 18 months have been less brilliant that usual in Russia stating further those consumers have become more sensitive to promotions.

However, Vandjni agrees with Claquin to the idea that brand owners are being “very aggressive” on price.

On the other hand, The Moscow Times had recently reported that Sinergia, Russia’s biggest vodka producer has retaliated with its own brands which are Captain Gin and Captain Rum. However, Diageo isn’t getting worried with it. Svetlana Naumova says that “among imported spirits, rum is the fastest growing category and Captain Morgan is gaining momentum”.

Meanwhile, last year Diageo just also launched a premium spirits drink with Irish whiskey called Rowson’s Reserve which is priced at RUB 500 (£5.60). This was made after being encouraged by the success of Shark Tooth.

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