Ke Nako – the time has come – #GlenGrant50 – news from Scotland.

The official phrase is “Presenting the Glen Grant 50 Year Old. The Time has Come.”

Today a group of whisky lovers from South Africa will be saying “Ke Nako – it is time.”

We’re going to Glen Grant Distillery in the Speyside region of Scotland. We’re going to listen to Dennis Malcolm, the Master Distiller of Glen Grant. And he’s going to share a 50 year old whisky and 50 years of memories about the world of whisky.

It’s a special time for me, my Ke Nako moment, because sitting beside the waterfall at Glen Grant I’ll be raising my glass to the late Don Paul, my friend and whisky mentor, who captivated crowds and pioneered teaching and talking about whisky, properly, professionally, responsibly, in South Africa.
Whisky is about many things: history; patience; dedication; adventure, so the Glen Grant distillery, founded by a gentleman who enjoyed adventures in Africa, is the perfect place for our group from South Africa to enjoy a dram of something very special.

The official press release is below.

“This year Glen Grant is releasing an exceptionally rare edition, the Glen Grant 50 Year Old – a fitting tribute to the innovation and whisky craftsmanship woven into the legend of Glen Grant.
On 28 October 1963 a rather special cask was hand filled by a young man who, at the time, was unaware that this liquid gold would ultimately shape his destiny. It would slowly mature for 50 years until 25 November 2013, when it reached its zenith – a robust, full-bodied and perfectly balanced single malt of distinction.
That young man, Dennis Malcolm, became the Master Distiller of one of Scotland’s finest distilleries, Glen Grant. The cask he watched over for half a century, containing a true masterpiece, is now ready to be presented to the world – once again proving that Glen Grant excels at making single malt – from barley to bottle.

Dennis Malcolm comments, “Only time measures our pursuit of perfection. Maturation cannot be rushed. Like people, casks mature at their own pace. I have protected and cared for this barrel for 50 years, letting it breathe and patiently waiting for the magic and interaction of whisky and wood.”
Only 150 bottles of this exclusive timeless collector’s item will be released globally. Each piece is unique and handcrafted in every sense – presented in a hand-blown crystal glass decanter, masterfully created and individually refined by the skilled craftsmen at Glencairn Crystal, the last family-owned crystal glass company in Scotland. Each decanter is hand engraved, hand numbered and finished with the number 50 in 18-carat gold lettering. The design of the decanter is an exact replica of Glen Grant’s tall, slender pot stills – a creation of Glen Grant’s legendary innovator, James ‘The Major’ Grant.
It is housed in a copper-lined Scottish oak box – made from new oak, worked by a skilful cabinetmaker with a practiced carpenter’s hand and an astute eye for detail. Each Glen Grant 50 Year Old comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by Dennis Malcolm and every craftsman involved.
In an age beset by instant gratification, that which has been expertly crafted by hand – with skills honed and passed down through the ages – is a true rarity.
The Glen Grant 50 Year Old is the apotheosis of master craftsmanship: a wide array of age-old skills creating a collective masterpiece that is unquantifiable. It is both aged and timeless. But now, the time has come.

 

gg50

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Quality from @BEERHOUSE & tardiness from @bernardgwhisky

Beer – it used to be so simple. And very occasionally women drank it. 30 years ago if a man and woman sat at a bar (a bar that welcomed women) and ordered drinks the man would have a beer and the woman, white wine. Coffee was a choice of coffee or cappuccino. Sushi was almost unheard of in Cape Town. There was a choice of maybe 3 pizza places in Cape Town and whisky – yes, one had a choice of 4 or 5.

So the times did, as promised, do its changing and thank heavens for that. While things aren’t as simple we have much more choice and far better quality, in everything. There is an array of superb quality coffee shops, whiskies, sushi restaurants, practically everything food and drink related has improved exponentially over the past few years.

This rise was started, I’d like to think, by my generation, brought up on a diet of 80’s music but the youth must be credited for keeping things going. The youngsters aren’t help back by convention and are willing to experiment, bartenders gave become mixologists, a barista now serves you coffee and so it goes on.

Which brings me to a few things: Beer and apology. You see, way back when, on Monday the 17th March, a time when the skies were clear and the Cape Town evening was warm I went to a beer and food pairing evening at the Beerhouse, Long Street, at the invitation of Murray Slater, the GM. I was part of a group of bloggers (anybody got any ideas about a collective noun for bloggers?) including Chris von Ulmenstein (whose blog you can read for the real detail about the evening and to which I have referred for some info as my notes have vanished).

I promised I’d write something, but due to circumstances – I lost my notes; whisky work took me to Uganda, I was struck down for a lengthy period by this evil flu; I am focused more on my Reiki classes than writing or you can just say general laziness – I’m only doing this now.

Ag ja well you know, I can’t really add much to Chris’ post so I’ll focus on Beerhouse and how lucky we are in Cape Town to have such a place to visit.

Craft Beer survived and now thrives because of the passion and knowledge of the brewers and the entrepreneurial spirit of those establishments and the public that began to step out of the comfort zone of the regular – I’ll have a Castle, please – mindset to try something new. The big players such as SAB have also helped by putting some money behind beer festivals to grow the beer category. They believe, correctly, that by growing the beer category, they’ll sell more beer, and if their competitors sell more, well, that’s ok.

The first thing you’ll notice at the Beerhouse is, of course, the beer. And then there is the menu with over 100 beers on offer. But the most important thing and what makes the Beerhouse so special is the staff – knowledge, passion, professionalism, pride. They’ll happily guide you through the menu and share their enthusiasm.

Beerhouse has got that warm pub feeling, like a comfortable pair of jeans, but with the added bonus of a superb food offering and of course with the World Cup on and the specials they have…what more motivation does one need.

For a still amateur beer drinker (yes, I’m learning, as I suppose we all are) I quite like the fact that I can be guided through the flavours and styles. I can hold my own with whisky and wine but I need help with beer.

Now, to check the schedule and pick a game or two to watch at Beerhouse on Long, with beers, food and mates for company…

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Quick – kids 18 plus – 15th June is Father’s Day. You drove him to drink…now reward him.

Ah, that time of year when my kids wonder what to get me for Father’s Day. I’d like a bottle of whisky but can’t really suggest to my under 18 year old offspring that they wander into the nearest liquor outlet and buy me a bottle. I suppose that would be a bit irresponsible.

But….as they have already worked out how to use my card to book movie tickets online and my son and I have long realised that we are much happier having lunch while my daughter goes shopping with my card, the time is near when they turn 18 I’ll be able to say – yes darlings, I’d very much like you to get me a bottle of whisky for Father’s Day. And if they ask which one and I say the Three Ships 5 special select, they may say, “But Daddy, you already have a couple of bottles” and then I’d have to explain whisky evaporation to them. You know the concept…good whisky seems to disappear quite quickly from the bottle.

Anyway, enough of that, here is a press release about the World’s Best Blended Whisky. And it’s homegrown just under an hour away from my front door. Convenient, ne?

“GIVE THREE SHIPS PREMIUM SELECT 5 YEAR OLD FOR FATHER’S DAY

To thank dad for being the great man that he is, choose the proudly South African, Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old, gold medal winner at the 2014 International Spirits Challenge (ISC) held annually in London and announced on 5 June.

The whisky, an artful blend of grain and malt whiskies, is crafted by master distiller Andy Watts, who for the past 23 years has firmly placed the South African whisky industry on the global map. The whisky is produced at The James Sedgwick’s Distillery in the Boland town of Wellington, along with the Three Ships Select, Three Ships Bourbon Cask and the limited-edition Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt.

The Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old is a tribute to the time Andy spent on the Isle of Islay where many years ago, he fell in love with the island and its iconic peaty whiskies. Andy uses peated barley, distilled in copper stills along with grain spirit, distilled in column stills, to create a beautifully balanced and well-integrated blended whisky. The whisky spends five years in oak developing its aromatic, full peaty and fruity character. Andy recommends enjoying this full bodied whisky neat with a dash of water and pairing it with blue cheese, chicken liver pâté, smoked chicken or Pancetta.

The Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old is available from leading liquor outlets and retails for about R125.”

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@whiskyliveSA says hello Cape Town, tell me how you’re doing!

Hey Bernard what’s happening with the Whisky Festival, have they forgotten about us? Ja well no fine, I say, relax, they’ll be back. In the meantime the Whisky Live Roadshow has changed a bit and the festival is now the showroom so come one, come all, for there will be whisky.

I got this PR release and am sharing the exciting news. I’ll see you there at the Glen Grant section, tantalising you (which reminds me, a young, knowledgeable whisky lover said that the Glen Grant 10 is the most seductive whisky she had ever had, and I think that is high praise indeed).

Some familiar faces of course, and if you want to know who the dude in the photo with the Balvenie is Thami Banda, the slickest dressing whisky presenter in South Africa.

So, please come along and visit – it should be pretty great!

See you there.

“New expressions on show in Cape Town at the FNB Whisky Live Showroom
A boutique-style tasting event that sets the scene for the world’s finest whiskies

The FNB Whisky Live Showroom, taking place in Cape Town from 19 – 21 June, will introduce fans of the dram to some noteworthy whiskies set to become firm favourites among local palates.

“This new, boutique-style show dedicated to one of the world’s finest and most popular spirits, builds on the successes of previous FNB Whisky Live Festivals and brings a unique whisky experience to more South Africans,” says Emily Stockden, chief operating officer of Whisky Live Festival.

“There will be a number of exciting new expressions for whisky lovers to taste and purchase, along with a broad range of well-loved and familiar favourites.”
The 1989 and 2000 expressions of Balblair will be on display, with the brand challenging the way that punters think about whisky.

“Balblair is bucking the current trend of moving away from age statements, with each product in its range not just being of a specific age, but also of a specific vintage,” says Paul laCock of Aficionados, which represents Balblair in South Africa. “This means that each product is a whisky distilled in a specific year – whereas most single malts are made up of whiskies from different years. The year of bottling Balblair is also stated on the bottle, so that the consumer can deduce its age too.”

Ian MacMillan, the master blender behind Scottish Leader, will be on hand to introduce visitors to this masterful blend of up to 30 of Scotland’s finest whiskies. Available in more than 60 countries worldwide, Scottish Leader is produced at the Deanston Distillery on the banks of the river Teith, in the historical central Scottish Highlands.

Kavalan will also be on display and is produced by the first distillery in Taiwan. The distillery is in a subtropical area, which is much hotter and more humid than conventional whisky-producing areas. The higher temperatures result in a much quicker interaction of the whisky with the wood of the barrels, leading to much quicker maturation – but the higher temperatures cause more rapid evaporation, and the greedy ‘angels’ take up to 15% of the whisky every year.

Firm favourite Johnnie Walker will be showing its full range of Red, Black, Gold, Platinum and Blue Label blends, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the different expressions in the context of its Flavour Wheel. The Wheel takes the mystery and guesswork out of tasting whisky and then explaining the experience by offering guidelines such as ‘malty,’ ‘dried fruit,’ ‘winey,’ ‘floral,’ and ‘smoky’ among others.

Black Bottle, a daringly bold blend of all the renowned single malts from Islay balanced by the finest Highland, Lowland and Speyside malt and grain whiskies, will be available for tasting. Originally blended by Gordon Graham, a tea merchant who shifted from blending teas to blending whiskies in the 19th century, Black Bottle is presented in a unique pot-still shaped bottle.

Fans of South Africa’s Three Ships whisky will be able to taste Three Ships 5 Year Old, named the World’s Best Blended Whisky in 2012 at the World Whiskies Awards. Bain’s, Cape Mountain Whisky, another South African whisky masterpiece that was named World’s Best Grain Whisky in 2013, will also be available for tasting.

A new addition to the Cape Town leg of the FNB Whisky Live Showroom roll-out, Marsh Middleton will be presenting a range from Checkers LiquorShop’s Private Barrel Company.
The FNB Whisky Live Showroom is taking place at the Southern Sun Cape Sun on 19, 20 and 21 June from 18h00 – 22h00 daily. Tickets cost R150 each at http://www.whiskylivefestival.co.za or Facebook/FNBWhiskyLiveFestival, and R170 at the door and include a complimentary tasting glass, a 2014 SA Whisky Handbook, a 500ml bottle of Valpré Spring Water and 15 whisky tasting vouchers. Further rewards are available for redemption at the show include 5 additional whisky tasting vouchers, a R200 voucher for any first-time user of Uber’s app-driven taxi services in Cape Town, R50 off any purchase of R500 or more at the on-site Whisky Live Festival Shop and a further 10% discount off purchases made through http://www.whiskyshopsa.co.za (Terms and Conditions apply).

Follow @WhiskyLiveSA on Twitter, ‘like’ the FNB Whisky Live Festival Facebook page, or check http://www.whiskylivefestival.co.za for regular updates about the events.
The FNB Whisky Live Showroom promotes responsible drinking. No persons under the age of 18 years will be allowed into the Showroom. Designated driver tickets are also available at R95 per ticket. Part of the ticket proceeds will be donated to The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR).”

The Balvenie

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Thoughts after a decade of whisky shows: drink whisky because it tastes good.

For more than the past decade I’ve been talking whisky at festivals; private functions; corporate tastings and generally around and about. Talking about whisky is a real privilege, sharing passion, opening up the minds and palates of the public. The expression on the face of someone for whom whisky suddenly makes sense, the joy of a seasoned whisky lover discovering a new brand, or expression is what keeps me going. That, and the brotherhood of whisky lovers, or the whisky fabric as its become known. It is, some people say, a job, which is true as I am paid for what I do, but really it’s the type of job one can do only if one has a love for whisky.

To put things in context, I don’t sell whisky and don’t work for any specific company. I am independent, don’t have report to anyone head office and quite simply, I wont talk about whisky unless I think it’s something good for the public. I don’t do the standard sales pitch, don’t get commission on sales and what I am paid is unrelated to whisky sales. So I am comfortable outside of the business world that is the liquor industry, free to be a talking head, free to say what I feel.

For the past few years I’ve been fortunate to include the Glen Grant range of whiskies amongst those I present. They’ve been a firm favourite with the crowds over the past few years and more and more people are moving towards this historic distillery. Started by whisky smugglers around 1840, it has a rich history and if you are luck enough to visit the distillery, you’ll enjoy a dram of something very special from a safe behind a waterfall at the bottom of a lush garden.

I enjoyed tinkering with these Speyside Single Malts a while ago and revisited the different expressions in earnest at the suggestion of Hector Mc Beth, who I call professor whisky. The range now available in South Africa is The Major’s Reserve, a NAS fresh, light, fruity malt; and the 10 year old and 16 year old becoming more layered, intriguing & full bodied with more maturation. The 10, as it happens, won Gold awards in Jim Murray’s whisky bible for 2013 and 2014. But as much as awards are important, it’s always nice to see how the general whisky loving public responds to the most important part of whisky – liquid on lips. After all the tasting notes and awards and marketing and this expert and that it all comes down to one thing – how does it taste, to you, the consumer?

And that’s where the Glen Grant range delights. At the festival, the average consumer comes along and asks for the 16 year-old. Good choice, but I like to take people on a journey so start them off with The Major’s Reserve. I also use that whisky as an introduction to people that come along and say they don’t drink whisky. And there are a few. You see, at the recent Wade Bales festivals consumers had a choice of superb wines or outstanding whiskies, so I had wine drinkers coming along with partners or alone, saying they don’t drink whisky or don’t like whisky. Fantastic. It allows me to play, to demonstrate the flavours of good whisky, the different ways there are to enjoy the water of life and I’ve found the Glen Grant range quite perfect. It just tastes great. It’s really that simple. The Major’s reserve is perfect on it’s own or, as I enjoy in summer, with a slice of orange and some ginger ale. Yes – some people still maintain that whisky should only be drunk neat. Or whisky must have an age statement. Or that adding anything other than pure spring water from the mountains of Scotland is sacrilege. Not in my book. Whisky was made to drink and if people want to add things, that’s fine. A cocktail – perfect. Age statements? This new uproar about NAS seems to ignore how thing were 50 years ago, or take into account the popularity of perhaps the most recognised NAS whisky, Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

So let’s get back to drinking whisky for the enjoyment of it, not for anything else. Let’s think about good old-fashioned value for money and move away from bling. And then think about what the Glen Grant range has to offer, whether you enjoy the fresh fruitiness of the Major’s, the nuttier, creamier 10 or the crispy intensity of the 16, there is something for you. The Major’s goes for about R 250, 10 at R 390 and 16 at 750. Pretty decent.

Drink whisky because it tastes good.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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16 Craft Beers & Authentic Indian Food

A beer appreciation evening…ok let’s go!

Twankey Beer

Twankey Beer

Certainly one of the best places for an after work drink & bite to eat, or a before work coffee and nibble, or any time of the day is Twankey Bar, on the corner of Wale & Adderley. Clever Capetonians will take advantage of a meander through the Company Gardens to clear the cobwebs caused by computers and corporates.

Now, with the legendary Jean-Yves Muller at the helm, Twankey is at the forefront of the Cape Town food, drink & entertainment scene.

The next main event is a “Beer Appreciation Evening” on Thursday the 26th June. The cost is R 395, superb value for the evening. Bookings on 021 819 2000 or restaurants.capetown@tajhotels.com

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Two roads diverging, one leads to whisky, one to wine.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

What’s that got to do with the Wade Bales Wine & Malt Whisky affair (or does protocol dictate that I have to mention the sponsors, BNP Paribas Cadiz Securities? I think I should, so thanks to them, blessed are the corporates, who provide the funding to make whisky festivals happen;) And hey, to the cynics: whisky lovers need a big brother because whisky is a labour of love, so deal with it and learn to live with the accountants and corporates. And hey, some of my best friends are accountants.

You see, there is a dilemma that confronts most people that come along to the show. And that involves a choice. That choice is wine or whisky, the grape or the grain. The public has one night only, 6 to 9 THIS FRIDAY to come along to the show. That’s it. Blink – and it’s gone. The choice of sampling some of the most superb wines from outstanding estates – or – enjoying some of the best whiskies in the world. Ah, decisions decisions…

This year there are Masterclasses – Professor whisky Hector Mc Beth is doing one, I know.

Of course you can try squeeze in whisky and wine and perhaps proper planning, like arriving at 6, spending an hour on wines, taking in a light dinner and then the rest of the evening with whisky. And for most, I suppose it could. But there are so many good wines, so much to discover, so many classic whiskies, so much to enjoy, will 3 hours be enough?

I don’t know.

But I do know that whether you take the wine road or the whisky road or decide to travel both, you’ll have a wonderful time.

See you there.

Oh – I’m the guy who’ll be taking you round Glen Grant.

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