Posts Tagged ‘history’

Grand Whisky Infographics

We gathered in one place every basic things you need to know about whisky. Take a look at our nice infographics:

Whisky Infographics

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Whisky Museum to Close After Curator Almost Died while Swimming


After almost dying in a swimming pool, a museum curator was forced to call time on a Moray visitor attraction. John Mackintosh spent the last 35 years creating an astounding collection of whisky-related exhibits. However earlier this year, he was pronounced clinically dead after his heart stopped beating while he was swimming. Thus, the 69-year old decided that he doesn’t have the energy anymore to continue running the museum located at the Forres.

The museum at Forres is an attraction that has been frequently visited by tourists from all over the world. However, it will be closing its doors for the last time this coming Monday after the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival this weekend.


Jock Mackintosh with some of the memorabilia which forms his Whisky Museum in Forres.
Picture by Gordon Lennox

“We get people from America and Europe visiting quite regularly. They like seeing the copper still,” said Mr. Mackintosh. “It just opens their eyes to whisky.”

Some of the items in his collection include memorabilia and artwork that was dated back for almost a century. All the exhibits that you can find in the museum that features shelves that were filled with glasses, water jugs, and bottles are now being sold.

“It’s all the old things, like penknives, ashtrays, keyrings, all the things that you don’t get from distilleries these days,” Mr. Mackintosh said. “I can’t keep it all. It will all just end up in boxes.”

There have been a lot of offers for Mr. Mackintosh’s vast collection and he is now expecting that there will be commercial interest from other businesses that have intentions on creating displays in their hotels. There are plans in place for transferring the running of the museum attraction to the Forres Heritage Trust. However, Mr. Mackintosh was forced to call it a day earlier than he would have wanted.

“I was clinically dead 13 weeks ago. I was swimming in a pool and the water was freezing. I thought I was bound to heat up once I started but I went the opposite way,” he said. “I ended up in the bottom and a defibrillator was fired to bring me back.”

“It’s not easy to do things now and I have to keep warm. I just don’t have the energy for it now,” he added.

The museum that was set in the old police station at the town’s Tolbooth, was opened three years ago. There are about 800 people who visit it yearly.

“John has a phenomenal collection of stuff. It’s his personality that makes the experience so rewarding,” says independent Forres councilor George Alexander, also the chairman of the town’s heritage trust. “We did try to get a retired distillery worker to take his place bet we haven’t succeeded. It’s a pity. It will be a loss.”

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Three Popular Varieties of Whiskey


Were you ever curious about the difference of those dark hard liquors? If you thought they’re the same, then you might want to think again. Whiskeys come in different varieties; thus, it would helpful that we should know the difference between their three main types: bourbon, rye, and scotch.

Whiskey or whisky? Does it matter? No because they’re the same. However you spell it, whiskey is a distilled alcoholic drink that has been made from a fermented grain mash. It is aged in charred white oak casks, which gave it its brown color.

Whiskey is a broad category of hard drinks that generally differs in taste, smell and color. So, let’s differentiate its three main types.


Different whiskies.Image by TinyPic


The name “bourbon” came from a place in Kentucky known as the “Old Bourbon”. Bourbon is a whiskey that has been distilled from corn. For a drink to be classified as bourbon, it must have at least 51 percent corn. Aside from that, it should be stored in charred oak containers with no additives.


As we all know, rye is a type of grass in the wheat family and it is closely related to barley. Rye whiskey is further classified into American whiskey, which is distilled from at least 51% rye and matured for two years or more; and Canadian whiskey, which may or may not actually contain rye during its production process. Complete in body and spice, rye whiskey — which is the closest cousin of bourbon since there was an increase in corn production in the US after Prohibition occurred – has been gaining popularity on the cocktail menus of many restaurants throughout the country in the last ten years.


Scotch is a whisky (which is technically spelled without an “e”) that should be produced in Scotland. This drink is made up mostly of malted barley and is matured in oak barrels for approximately three years or even more. The number after the name of a bottle of Scotch whisky will typically tell how long the drink was aged. In terms of tastes, some Scotch taste a lot similar to bourbon. It has a signature smokiness that would linger at the end of a tasting. Because of that, some people would generally avoid it; meanwhile, others like the drinking experience.

Washington D.C.’s The Pig has over 70 choices of whiskeys on their menu that showcases the different shades and flavors of the many varieties whiskeys. While some are perfect for drinking on the rocks, others are ideally mixed into another drink.

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The Beginnings of The Lake Distillery and Cumbria

The Lakes Distillery

Paul Currie was in oil and now he’s switched to gold…. Liquid gold!

In his previous job, he sold engine oil to eastern bloc countries shortly after the Berlin wall came down. He also worked for BP in Poland and Russia, dealing with people who want to have a taste of the life in the western world.

Today, he owns the Lakes Distillery and is selling Cumbria around the world — giving whisky fanatics a taste of his product.

The Lakes Distillery was created as a tribute to his father, Harold. At 51, Paul was in his late 20s when he helped his 70 year-old father establish Arran Distillery in the mid-1990s. Harold worked previously for Chivas Regal as managing director and was part of Pernod Ricard Drinks Corporation.

The Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery. Photo by

Since no one had thought of setting up an independent distillery for years, Paul thought creating one would be fun.

“I think my heart was always in whisky. Dad was in his 70s and needed someone young to do the running round. People thought we were crazy, since then, people have opened new distilleries everywhere,” Paul said.

About 20 years after the launch of the Arran Distillery, Paul realized there’s still much potential in launching another independent distillery. He could’ve established his dream distillery and made it successful. However, he chose Cumbria primarily because of what it represents; the countryside — lakes and mountains. The fact that it is damp also helped. Furthermore, the taste of the product also mattered; but the surroundings and the setting of the distillery are the deciding point for Paul as he travels over to Europe, America, and the Far East to market his product.

“The location offered us an amazing brand. It is absolutely crucial to us. The actual environment was perfect; it’s great water, particularly for whisky; and you don’t want the weather too hot or too cold, you want it to be damp for evaporation of whisky,” Paul said.

“There are 109 distilleries in Scotland and to be 110 was not so exciting. There are three others in England, but none in the north. Somehow the Lakes has a place in the whisky world. It looks like whisky-making country,” Paul added.

Paul lives near the distillery, while his family home is still in Oxfordshire because he didn’t want to disrupt his children’s schooling. But they came up to Cumbria on holidays.

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A Shot of Whiskey and Pickle Juice, Anyone?

Pickleback Shot

In 2004, the Boston Red Sox caught the attention of many people as their first basemen, Kevin Millar, revealed to the media that some of the players drank shots of Jack Daniel’s before the 6th game of the American League Championship Series. Some say it might have been their lucky charm for winning the World Series for the first time since 1918.

The Spirit of Mama Juana

“It was one of those group team things, like shaving our heads last year. What we had was one small Gatorade cup, with a little Jack Daniel’s in it. We passed it around and everyone symbolically drank out of the same cup, because we are a team. It wasn’t as if guys were drunk. Can you imagine Trot Nixon or Jason Varitek or Mike Timlin actually sipping alcohol before a game? No way,” says Millar at that time.

Pedro Martinez, on the other hand, claims that the team didn’t drink Whiskey. He said they drank the Dominican spirit Mama Juana — a spirit made from rum, red wine and aged with herbs and tree bark. “We took a shot of Mama Juana every single game, before the game,” says Martinez in 2013.

Pickleback Shot

pickleback shot, Jack Daniel’s, (c) 2014 Graceland Bar-B-Q

Pickle Back Shot

Whether the stories are true or not, I doubt Steph Curry or Lebron James drinks a shot of booze before a big game. But if they do, they’d probably want to give a pickle back shot a try. Why? That’s because aside from a nice shot of booze, you’d probably reap the healthy benefits of pickle juice! Wait, pickle juice is healthy? You bet! Scientifically speaking, pickle juice is proven to help in relieving muscle cramps quickly.

“The 100% natural ingredients function as a neutral inhibitor which addresses the cramp at the source. It replenishes electrolytes in the body and it contains ten times the electrolytes as most sports drinks,” said Filip Keuppens, the director for Sales and Marketing at The Pickle Juice Company.

Pickle juice has high electrolyte content promotes hydration. It also functions as an anti-diuretic which prevents dehydration when drinking alcohol and helps in the recovery of a hangover the next day.

The Pickle Back Shot is similar to a beer and shot combination; but, instead of beer, it has pickle juice and a shot of whiskey. The whiskey is drunk first, followed by the pickle juice. The name itself represents only the pickle portion of the shot; and because it is enjoyed at the end, they added “back” after the pickle. While some people tweaked the drink by drinking whiskey and having a bite of pickle, you wouldn’t get the same health benefits if you do it this way.

According to Keuppens, “As a chaser, the sweet-and-sour nature of the brine is said to neutralize the burn of the alcohol, and the salt acting as a masking ingredient to counteract the harsh taste of the spirit.”

The shot is believed to be introduced by Reggie Cunningham, a bartender at the Bushwick Country Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2006. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t really invent the drink; rather, he learned it from one of his southern customers.

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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

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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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

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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Craft Vodka on the Rise?

Craft Vodka

The vodka business is a perfect example to the power of consumer marketing. Per federal law, the best-selling liquor in America should be a neutral spirit; that is, without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color. While aficionados can tell the differences among the brands when drinking straight from the shot glass or on the rocks, the distinctions tend to be made by tipplers who douse their vodkas with cranberry juice and tonic water. Therefore, purveyors make an effort to advertise and elaborate bottles that look like pieces of modern sculpture. In fact, one brand went so far as hiring starchitect Frank Gehry for design.

According to Bloomberg reports, big vodka is starting its own version of craft revolution that has caused concern in large beer brewers. Just like beer, the total sales of vodka flat-lined in the US as more drinkers prefer whiskey and the top vodka (Smirnoff and Absolut) distillers are losing money to their rivals. They’ve been beset by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, produced by Fifth Generation in Texas, and New Amsterdam, which is made by California’s E&J Gallo Winery in California, whose combined sales bypassed the volume of Absolut in 2014.

Craft Vodka

Craft vodka products. Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for NYCWFF

While New Amsterdam doesn’t market itself as artisanal, Tito’s does. Tito’s proudly label itself as “crafted in an old-fashioned pot-still by America’s original microdistillery”. However, some buyers were disappointed to find out that this is just a description of the roots of the booze rather than the present day production process. While Tito’s hit the market when it was still a small-scale company, Forbes reported in 2013 that it had expanded into a 26-acre operation that produces 850,000 cases in 2012. Opportunistic drinkers later filed a suit claiming that Tito’s misled the consumers with their packaging. But most of the suits were recently dismissed by the judge.

Like most vodka producers, the company simply buys neutral grain spirits from a commercial manufacturer and distills them using their high-tech facilities to finish their product.

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What to Expect on the Golden State of Cocktails 2016

Golden State Cocktails

On its third year, the Golden State of Cocktails will be bringing about 3,000 people from the booze industry and cocktail fans to downtown’s Majestic event space, Sunday to Tuesday, for 3 days of tipsy seminars, lunches, and happy hours. The event aims to take a look at mixology, consumer trends, and how the spirits industry is today.

While GSC will only hold smaller events in San Diego and San Francisco, their marquee city will be Los Angeles, in the hopes of gathering the biggest crowds, as well as some of the most popular people in the business. This year, the award-winning bartender of the exclusive 365 Tokyo bar in Las Vegas, SeongHa Lee, will be hosting a Japanese whiskey tasting.

What are the other highlights of the event?

Among the highlights of the GSC events are Sunday’s Tiki Cocktails and Culture in a Modern Setting, which tackles about the revival of the tiki culture. Meanwhile, a talk on the effect of drought for the spirits industry and how to make drought-friendly cocktails will be held on Monday. On Tuesday, there will be a discussion about punch bowls, their origins, and how to make a perfect one. In partnership with Munchies, Vice’s food site, dinners will be held every evening at Girasol, Faith & Flower and Hatchet Hall.

Golden State Cocktails

Golden State of Cocktails returns to Los Angeles with drought-friendly drinks and plenty of whiskey. By

Brief History of Golden State Cocktails

The Golden State of Cocktails event was created by 213 Hospitality, a group that helped revive the nightlife among bars in downtown Los Angeles for the past few years. It is expected that the attendance will double compared to the previous years.

“This was just sorely needed in California. Many of us have been flying to cocktail weeks in London, Portland, New Orleans, New York City. And none of those were covering all the issues and tastes of California’s business climate and customer. Also, we wanted to unite California’s hospitality industry,” says Cedd Moses, the 213 Hospitality’s proprietor.

Meanwhile, the director of the event, Geoff Nudelman, said that, “Los Angeles has really come into its own as an international cocktail and spirits destination.”

To purchase tickets for the events and to know more about it, you may check their site online. The Daytime programs, which cost around $40, are open to anyone who is 21 years old and over. Most of the talks held during this time will come with samples according to the subject being discussed.

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Take a Peek at the Grant Clan

Glenfiddich Distillery

During the Jacobite rebellion, the chief of the Grant Clan supported the government; however, the Grants from Glenmoriston were at the opposing end as they joined the Jacobites.

Patrick Grant joined the rebellion last 1745. When George IV went to Edinburgh in 1822, he met with the King and introduced as “His Majesty’s oldest enemy”. At age 109, he was painted in tartan trews wearing a Grant tartan plaid and Tam o’Shanter; you can see this painting in Edinburgh’s National Galleries.

William Grant

Being the great grandson of a Jacobite Soldier, William Grant and his two brothers herded cattle when he was 7 years old. They then apprenticed to a shoemaker before getting employed as a bookkeeper at a local whisky distillery for 2 decades.

On Christmas Day of 1887, the Glenfiddich Distillery started their production. The only employees were the owner himself, William Grant, and his 9 children. They were the ones who pioneered single malt whisky. Up until the Glenfiddich Distillery opened, proprietary whisky was blended.

Glenfiddich Distillery

Clan Grant is the name behind the iconic whisky and Glenfiddich Distillery. Photo credits to

James Augustus Grant

Born in Nairn in 1827, James Augustus Grant joined the Indian Army when he was 19 years old. He served during the Slkh Wars and Indian Mutiny. He got wounded while serving at the relief of Lucknow.

In 1860, he became part of John Hanning Speke’s expedition to look for the source of the Nile River. His illness, however, prevented him from becoming the first white man to ever see that the White Nile actually drains from Lake Victoria.

In 1864, they published a book called “A Walk across Africa” where he wrote about the lives of the natives in Africa. He also wrote a paper on Botany of Speke and Grant Expedition, which received a gold medal from the gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society in 1864. The following year, he married and settled at Nairn, before dying in 1892. He was buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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