Malt Resistance

Narrating the Rise and Fall of Single Malt Scotch.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Innovator or Hatchet Man?

After a brief Hiatus, we are back with a recommended site (something to read during the next hiatus) and, of course, a small drama.

Recommended Site
I recently came across Serge Valentin’s whiskyfun, and it is a lot of fun. To be honest, I was at first a little taken aback by the sheer opulence of the man’s lifestyle. I mean an average week reads: "Tuesday, vertical 30+ year old Springbanks tasting; Friday: 1970's bottlings of Highland Park; Saturday: 1960 Macallan crystal decanter series", etc....

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a tad, but surely this is not a working class connaisseur to say the least (but then again, how many are there?). Add to that, the guy goes out every other night to trendy concerts (and/or restaurants) and travels (mainly to Scotland of course)... But hell, I decided that yes, he obviously has dough, but at least he's enjoying and sharing it to some extent, so all the power to him.

And it is a cool site. Every other day it seems, there’s a new entry and his comments are clever and never pompous. Also his playful tone does not mean that he is devoid of critical faculties when it comes to the whisky marketing --au contraire! He also posts old adverts for booze which are always interesting if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Drama of the Year(!)

Just found out that Bob Dalgarno, the Macallan whisky maker, was named the "innovator of the year 2004" by Whisky Magazine. I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up yesterday night's dram...

Bobby D. may be a real nice guy on a personal level (don’t know the fellow), but lets take a quick, hard look at what 2004 meant for the Macallan. Well, besides its annual 15% price hike, it took one more major step down by giving up their time-honoured tradition of maturing their malt exclusively in sherry casks, and are now selling their bourbon casked whisky – hitherto reserved for blending – as ‘fINE oAK.’

The reason for this development is clearly not a love for innovation –as the good folks of Whisky Magazine would have us swallow –, but is motivated by the Edrington Group’s unrelenting desire for increased market shares whatever the costs.

Concretely, this means -- besides a worse product -- that some markets will no longer be able to purchase the Sherry Macallan (dixit Macallan on their own website), instead they can buy their overpriced ersatz in a fancy bottle. Let's be honest just this once: Bob Dalgarno is not an innovator – everybody knows it – he is a hatchet man for the Edrington Group. The victims? The Macallan, and you and me, the consumers that care.

I suppose this is fitting for our time, after all, (and on a much more tragic level) this reminded me that the head of the CIA – Tenet was his name – who presided over the Weapons of Mass Destruction Misinformation campaign (i.e. lies) was recently given a Congressional Medal of Freedom. [Little political interlude --a la Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers: This must be the American version of Freedom: you know, the freedom of the superstrong, the freedom of the rich to buy, buy, buy; the freedom to lie officialy , to get caught and not care; the freedom to invade other countries and the freedom to make up reasons for it. And last, but not least, the freedom to kill in the name of freedom, of course. Clever! Ah, freedom!]

So, in that world, I suppose I should not be surprised at all that Booby D. is named an innovator, I am just waiting for Jim Murray to be named the ‘most learned and impartial taster of the decade' and everything will fit perfectly!


Anonymous Josh said...

Murray raves about the Macallan Fine Oak bottlings in the 2005 edition of his book and calls the 15 Year Old the "Best New Scotch Single Malt of the Year".

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know. Since we are looking at Murray Massive Moronic Statements from his maltoporn (thanks Serge) compendium, I have the following question for you.
I am not sure which of the following 3 Murray bile statements is the stupidest?
Is it (1) that all Cognac is caramel ladden crap, or (2) that a blend has a nose that is similar but 'infinetly better' than any riesling, or (3) that Fine Oak 15 is the best whisky of the year...

Which one do you pick for stupidest statement of the decade?


2:18 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Must I choose? I guess I'll take the one about the nose of a blend resembling a riesling. He must drink some pretty lousy riesling.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

So, how many pies does Murray have his fingers in? Off the top of my head I know about Knappogue Castle and The Century bottling (by his own public admission). It appears that he's drawn a check or two from Buffalo Trace. Some of his over-the-top scores for some Canadians make me curious, as do his gushings for Teacher's.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps we are better off trying to figure which distillery he hasn't received a check from...
I'm sure you are familiar with his piece in Whisky Mag where he almost inadvertently boasted of having worked for the Grant familly's Balvenie. And wouldn't you know, the Balvenie gets some of the most over the top praise ever to leak out of Murray's pen... That's saying something.
He's even quoted prominently on the Balvenie's web site, check it out. Just remember that he would have us believe he's fearless and independent!

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you read whisky mag,jim came out and said he worked a total of 1 hour for balvenie and he had to make a living!give the man a break he gets people drinking whisky, isnt that a good thing??

12:29 PM  
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