The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2011

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Page 22 of 128

SCOTCH REPORT Year-End Cheer H by Ian Buxton ow will whisk(e)y sales fare in the critical gift-giving season? For an on-the-ground view, I turned to Brett Pontoni, Spirits Buyer at Binny's Beverage Depot, with 27 stores and a thriving wholesale business in and around the greater Chicago area. The news was good: "Our whisk(e)y sales have weathered the economic downturn and constant pull to white spirits well," he claims. "We are also benefiting from a surge in interest from younger con- sumers in whisky, as well as more of our budding micro-distillers finally releasing more properly aged product." That may be a challenge for Scotch whisky, but the distillers that I spoke to were bullish. Jason Craig, Brand Controller for Cutty Sark noted that a change in distribution (from Skyy Spirits to Rémy Cointreau) had gone well, with new distribution gained in several states and a number Brett Pontoni, Spirit Buyer for Chicago's Binny's Beverage Depot, in the South Loop store's rare and collectible spirits room. of extensions and expressions in the pipeline expected to arrive in market before the summer. In particular, Cutty's long heritage in the U.S. will be restated for consumers. An Untouchable Cutty Sark, perhaps? Longtime U.S. favorite Jameson is quietly slipping into select locations across New York from November with their new Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel. Brand owner Pernod Ricard says the new product will retail at around $35 per 750-ml. bottle. According to Anna Malmhake, CEO for Irish Distillers: "Jameson is enjoy- ing huge success in the U.S., having reached the impres- sive one million nine-liter case sales milestone. We are confident that our loyal consumer base, who has sup- ported the brand for so many 22 / the tasting panel / december 201 1 charred bourbon oak casks. It is then blended with single pot still Irish whiskey to create an exceptionally rich and luxurious taste experience. At a rather higher price point, Berry Brothers & Rudd's The Glenrothes is now shipping replacement "vintages" of this award-winning single malt. Ross E. J. Hendry, Commercial Manager, North America reports, "Our 1994 is about to go extinct and we will be replacing it with the 1995. Sequential in lineage but a dramatically different expression of The Glenrothes." The much heralded 1985 will pass to extinction, to be replaced by the 1988. Expect to see 1995 on shelf at around $80 and its older sibling at $140, both through Skyy Spirits. Let's leave the last words to Pontoni: "I am optimistic that our whisky business will certainly maintain and likely show modest growth through the holidays and into 2012, if October and the beginning of November are any indication." And so say all of us! years, will welcome the unique style of Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel." In a departure from the norm for Jameson, the new expression is blended from small-batch grain whiskey, triple-distilled by the Jameson Masters once annually and put aside to mature in flame- SCOTCH AND IRISH WHISKIES PREPARE FOR A BUSY HOLIDAY SEASON PHOTO: TORI SOPER

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