Signed, sealed, delivered…
This weekend marks a big moment for me – completing the new issue of Whiskeria AND having my new book published.
Whiskeria will be in store in a couple of weeks but we finished working on it this week – and it’s a cracker.
It includes a feature on my trip to Islay with international photographer Colin Prior; an interview with the singer of Sweden’s top heavy metal band who loves malt whisky and enjoys a quiet dram to relax after screaming the house down; ten industry figureheads passing on their fathers’ advice to mark next month’s Fathers’ Day; a whisky-fuelled guide to things you can do to avoid The Olympics; and a review of the new whisky-themed Cannes- shortlisted film the Angel’s Share.
And while you wait for that, why not pop along to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of my new 1001 Whiskies To Taste Before You Die, a 960 page glossy blockbuster covering…er…1001 whiskies (go on, count ‘em I dare yer!’) which I tasted in 90 days between October and Christmas.
Actually that’s a lie. In fact I used 25 writers from across the world, a mix of industry heavyweights and up and coming new talent. I’m immensely proud of it because it’s a varied, informative and weighty collection of nearly a third of a million words, and I even got the great Jim Murray to write the foreword – an honour he has never bestowed on anyone before.
Should keep you busy in the two weeks before Whiskeria appears…
Bourbon gets the Disneyland treatment
If you’ve been following my postings here in recent weeks you’ll know that I adore American whiskey – so I am absolutely delighted to have witnessed Kentucky in such ebullient form when I visited.
And the last news I got before I left proved to me that the rehabilitation of the category in America is complete. In the 12 years I’ve been going there I’ve witnessed it go from an embarrassing blue collar bottom shelf drink to the jewel in the Kentucky crown, up there with the State’s world famous horse racing industry.
And best of all it’s about to get its own all singing, all dancing whiskey theme park.Kentucky distillers Heaven Hill is set to take advantage of the growing interest worldwide for Bourbon by opening a new multi-million dollar tourist facility in the centre of main city Louisville.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will combine a craft distillery, inter-active tourist facility and large bourbon retail facility in a celebration of the distillery’s legendary whiskey maker and the brand of bourbon which is now the world’s second largest. The company already owns and operates one of the most modern and largest visitor facility a few miles an hour away at bourbon’s ‘capital’, Bardstown.
The new facility will be in Main Street, in the heart of what used to be known as Whiskey Row and where the likes of whiskey legends Pappy Van Winkle, the Weller family, who created the Weller range of bourbons and Bill Samuels, founder of Maker’s Mark, all had offices. It will be situated in the old Evan Williams offices. Evan Williams himself started distilling in 1783 and had offices just a few metres across the road from the new facility.
Work is set to begin later this year and the plan is to complete it in time for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September of next year.The new facility reflects the growing confidence of Kentucky’s bourbon industry, which is expanding rapidly and is already planning launches of new brands as far ahead as 2019.
The announcement will give yet another major boost to an already buoyant city. This was reflected in the fact that the announcement of the new plans was made not just by Heaven Hill but also Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
The highlight of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be a fully functioning, artisanal pot still distillery, viewable to visitors and capable of producing a range of American whiskey types and styles. The gleaming copper pot stills are a modern version of the same type of equipment Evan Williams himself set up in his distillery along the Ohio River over 200 years ago.
The signature feature of The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will be the façade of the building, which will feature a five story high Evan Williams Bourbon bottle. The pouring bottle will be reproduced as window graphics in the top three floors, but becomes three dimensional in the two lower floors as the neck of the bottle and a large glass in the lobby form a flowing “Bourbon fountain.”
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will offer guests guided, interactive tours where they are brought back in time to see Evan Williams’ original distillery, Louisville wharf scenes and high definition video renderings of turn-of-the-century Whiskey Row. A video wall display allows guests to see how Heaven Hill’s modern Bernheim Distillery operates and how it is different from those in Evan Williams’ era. Then visitors will get to see a combination of the two—a state-of-the-art modern distillery using the same types of pot stills used in early Bourbon-making days.
Displays on warehouses and aging will also be included, and guests of legal drinking age will have the opportunity to enjoy a tutored tasting of premium Bourbons in two different themed tasting rooms. One of these tasting rooms will be modeled after the interior of the Philip Hollenbach Co. Whiskey Distributor that occupied the building prior to Heaven Hill’s acquisition over 70 years ago.
In addition, a large retail area will offer a range of Evan Williams branded merchandise, specialty food products, and a number of Heaven Hill’s premium Bourbons and American Whiskeys for sale to the public. Finally, a “speakeasy” themed event space in the lower level will be available for corporate use, as well as public rental for special functions.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors annually, and will generate a significant amount of state and local tax revenue, as well as creating 14 new full time and nine part time jobs at the attraction. I’ve already put my name down to be on the press trip for the grand opening in September 2013.
More great Laings
Still they keep coming. there have been some fantastic Douglas Laing bottlings recently – you can see what the whisky Shop’s Darren Leitch and I think of them in the new Whiskeria but I’ve also started receiving samples from independent bottlers for some work I’m doing for the 2013 Malt Yearbook.
And blow me if the company hasn’t done it again. I received four samples – a Provenance Bowmore 10 year old and Linkwood 12 year old, and an old Malt Cask Longmorn 21 year old and Aberlour 21 year old – and they are all excellent.
Irish pot still whiskey
One of the great success stories in recent years is the resurgence in Irish pot still whiskey. When I started at Whisky Magazine I specialised in Irish and American whiskey because I had the best writers to cover elsewhere. I’ve taken a great deal of interest in the country’s whiskeys and am delighted by the comeback, particularly add I have Irish blood.
And next week I travel to Canada to hold a tasting seminar on the country’s recent success at the Spirit of Toronto Festival. Obviously it’s important that I know exactly what I’m talking about so I’ve been ‘re-familiarising’ myself with the pot still whiskeys I’ll be tasting at my class.
If you haven’t yet mastered the wonder of Irish pot still whiskey then I suggest you try Redbreast 12 year old. The standard version is an affordable treat, the cask strength version if you can get it is the best Irish whiskey I’ve ever tasted. And if you want to try something premium and special, Powers John’s Lane is another corker.