The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 47 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  47 attributes that a family company brings to this very special kind of project and discussing with some U.S. customers their experiences on their journey from distillery to liquor store shelf. So who is this Andrew Nash who started me on this quest? Well, we actually go back a long way, to when Andrew was in the Marketing Department of William Grant & Sons in Richmond, London and I was advising on some redevelopment of the visitor facilities at their iconic Glenfiddich distillery. Today Nash finds himself in charge of Grant's U.S. whisky business with the title Category Marketing Director, Scotches, for William Grant & Sons Inc. In that role, he has to respond to an ever-changing market and an ever-more-demanding and well-informed customer, at both a trade and consumer level. That's no easy task, and balancing the needs of those savvy customers with the company's stocks represents quite a chal- lenge, especially when the market is looking for something ever more special and exclusive. However, as a company that has remained in family ownership since first opening its doors in 1887, William Grant & Sons has some advan- tages over the industry's global mega-corporations. For all their power, corporations are inevitably driven by shorter-term goals, whereas a family-owned business can—if it chooses—take a longer view, some- times encompassing several generations. And that, in a drinks category that prizes age, gives them an enviable position. With exceptional stocks of maturing whisky, William Grant has been able to release some remarkable drams. Malt mavens were delighted last October to explore the first U.S. release of Kininvie 23 Year Old Single Malt. That sold out quickly, but will be followed this August by a further 1,500 bottles (375-ml. size) at $150 SRP. Now, that may seem quite a price ticket for a largely unknown single malt—but there's the key: Savvy whisky enthusiasts have been looking for a Kininvie release ever since the distillery was quietly established in a hidden dell next to The Balvenie distillery (another jewel in Grant's crown) back in 1990. For years, all the whisky here was required for blending, with only tiny quantities reserved for eventual release as a single malt. Little wonder, then, that it found favor and ready acceptance among those fortunate few who were able to snag a bottle. The moral: Be sure to get in line for the August release. And, once upon a time, the Grants ran a single malt distillery called Ladyburn. Located on their giant grain distilling and warehouse complex in Girvan, on Scotland's Ayrshire coast (Robbie Burns' old stamping ground), it eventually fell victim to the vagaries of the whisky market and was demolished in the grim and depressed 1970s. But some stocks were carefully squirreled away against a happier and more prosperous day. Hence the release this August of a remarkable Ladyburn 42 Year Old. At $2,000 SRP, it's around half the price of a 40-year-old Glenfiddich— and a great deal harder to find. Fewer than 400 bottles will be available and demand from collectors is bound to be great. In fact, Nash and his colleagues will be exceptionally busy this August as they release a third remarkable whisky. This is the Rare Cask Reserves Ghosted Reserve 26–just 2,600 bottles of this unique and unrepeatable blended malt will be available. When it's gone there can be no more, because this is a one-off blend of malt whiskies from two lost distilleries, Ladyburn and Inverleven. And that concept of unique, rare blended malts leads to the heart of the Rare Cask Reserves program, which I will discuss in the second article in this series.

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