The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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26 / the tasting panel / february 2014 SCOTCH REPORT Departures and Arrivals I cannot begin this report without mentioning Charles Gordon, Life President of William Grant & Sons, who died in New York just before Christmas last year. He was 86 years of age and a true giant in the world of whisky. Charles Gordon played a huge role in the inter- national development of Scotch whisky from the 1960s onwards. Through his forceful creation of the Girvan single grain whisky plant he ensured the survival and future independence of his fam- ily's company, and as a marketing innovator in both the blended and single malt whisky sectors he built Grants into a powerful global presence. Few executives have as sustained and important inluence on their industry as Charles Gordon did in whisky. Though retired, he continued to advise and engage with the business and his signiicant presence will surely be missed. [See our complete tribute to Charles Gordon on pp.54-55. –Ed.] Last July I mentioned the forthcoming national roll-out of the new Cutty Sark Prohibition expression—the dramatic black glass bottle hint- ing at a more premium serve than standard Cutty and suggestive of a bigger, more full-lavoured whisky. Well, now it's here. Jason Craig, Brand Director for Cutty Sark, says: "We spotted that whisky chasers were becoming popular again thanks to TV programs like Mad Men. Prohibition is an old-school, authentic Scotch, smooth on the tongue but with a big inish through the inclusion of different single malts, like The Macallan and Highland Park." In a nod to tradition, the new expression is bottled at 100 proof (50% abv), giving more bang for the $30 retail price tag. According to Craig, such was the reaction on showing the U.S. proto- types to Cutty's international distributors that it will now be launched in a further ive countries. Diageo has now extended the availability of John Walker & Sons Odyssey to the U.S. The expression, which was launched in 2012 in several Asia Paciic markets, will be available nationwide with a retail ticket of $1,100 per 750-ml. bottle. Odyssey, a blend of just three rare single malts is lavishly pack- aged in an interpretation of Sir Alexander Walker's 1932 "nauti- cal" decanter bottle that was cre- ated for Johnnie Walker Swing. As an indication of where the global whisky market is headed (or where at least distillers would like it to go), Odyssey is a perfect example. Both the price point and the priority given to Asia Paciic stand out. Launches such as this underline the rationale of recent distillery expansion and Scotch's consistent move to reach the upscale consumer with ever more lavish expres- sions built on real brand heritage. Whisky enthusiasts need not despair entirely, however. If you are quick, you may just be able to secure one of 560 bottles of The General ($295), an ultra-rare and very, very old blend from Compass Box that launches in the U.S. on March 1. If your taste runs to remarkably mature, almost antique whiskies, this is not to be missed. THE PASSING OF GIANT DOESN'T DIM SCOTCH WHISKY'S BRIGHT FUTURE by Ian Buxton

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