by Andrew Chalk
Have you noticed that however many local brews, cordials, wines or distillates spring up around the world, there are few that are as easy to buy in Dallas as Dubai, San Salvador as San Francisco, Ipoh as Ipswich as Scotch. Scottish whisky, without an ‘e’ and allegedly not even the world’s first whisky, but ubiquitous nonetheless.
The original whiskey (note the ‘e’ is usually used) came from Ireland and somehow became virtually invisible until a resurgence in the last decade. The disappearance had virtually reverse synergistic effects. As sales fell, distilleries closed, brands were purchased by a handful of players with different priorities from those of the (typically family) original owners. In the end the Irish Whiskey brand itself came to be seen as denuded of variety and uninteresting.
Part of the resurgence is Brown Forman, the US drinks giant. It purchased Slane Irish Whiskey along with the distillery from Lord Henry Conyngham and applied its marketing heft to promote the brand in the US, UK, and Ireland.
This week they held a party at Dallas’ Midnight Rambler to introduce media to their new expression “Special Edition - The Legacy of ‘81.Forty years of music at Slane Castle”. It is a 90 proof, triple-distilled whiskey with more bite than their regular bottling but still retaining the complex flavors and finish befitting the combination of sherry casks and American oak casks. I’m a fan, even though they sidestep the age statement that I would normally regard as de rigor with Scotch (wood age is a minimum of three years with Irish whiskey).