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Old 10-13-2005, 11:03 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Vancouver, WA
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Something New in Single Malts

Make mine a Rich Spicy One

Martin Isark

Ninety-nine per cent of all Scotch and Irish whisk(e)y sold throughout the world is controlled by five vast drinks companies: Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, Suntory, Allied Distillers and the Edrington Group. They all defend their market share most aggressively.

So David Robertson, the former master distiller for Macallan, knows the difficulties he faces in starting up the Easy Drinking Company with brothers Jon and Mark Geary. He intends to challenge the way whisky is traditionally sold to the public. Out are age statements and 70cl bottles. In are half-litre bottles and informative names such as ‘The Smokey Peaty One’, ‘The Smooth Sweeter One’ and ‘The Rich Spicy One’.

Illustrated labels give drinkers further details of the aromas and flavours to be found in the spirit, so that they can easily find a dram to their taste - in much the same way as New World winemakers identify the grapes used in their drinks.

Robertson rejected prolonged and possibly futile consumer research. Instead, following the dictum "good taste is when you like what I like", he has blended three malt whiskies - one to suit his palate, one to suit Jon’s and one to suit Mark’s. As the company expands, so should the range of styles.

How the multi-billion-pound drinks companies will react to this revolutionary way of selling is anyone’s guess, but if the giants’ market share begins to shrink, they will no doubt invent their own new strategies - or imitate those of the groundbreaking Easy Drinking Company. Can’t you just see it? "Laphroaig - The Really Smokey Peaty One"!

Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Malt Scotch Whisky, The Smokey Peaty One, Easy Drinking Whisky Company Ltd, Alc 40%, 50cl

Jon’s favourite. This is a mix of malts of varying ages (five to12 years old) from five distilleries from the Scottish islands, with Islay’s Bunnahabhain and Orkney’s Highland Park accounting for 66% of the blend. Interestingly, if it had an age statement on the label, it would be labelled a youthful five-year-old. You can’t argue with the label, for it is certainly smokey and peaty and the oak (from both bourbon barrels and sherry butts) is harmonious from sip to swallow and beyond. 7/10.

Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Irish Malt Whiskey, The Smooth Sweeter One, Easy Drinking Whisky Company Ltd, Alc 40%, 50cl

This is Mark’s favourite. The idea is good, and it does deliver a smooth tutti-frutti sweetness, but it’s too expensive for a 50cl bottle of three- and four-year-old malt whiskey from the Cooley distillery in Ireland. I tasted several supermarket own-label Irish malt whiskies from this distillery alongside this one, and each one presented similar notes to the nose, palate and finish. The only difference was they were all about four quid cheaper for a full-size bottle. 4/10.

Jon, Mark and Robbo’s Malt Scotch Whisky, The Rich Spicy One, Easy Drinking Whisky Company Ltd, Alc 40%, 50cl

Robbo’s favourite. The former Master Distiller of Macallan does not include any Macallan in his blend, although the rest of the mix comprises malts from the Edrington Group stable. Tamdhu accounts for 60% and malts from Highland Park, Bunnahabhain and Glenrothes make up the rest. From a Macallan man, it’s no surprise that all but 10% of the malts have been aged in rich sherry butts. This whisky competes with, and beats, most ten-year-olds in this flavour spectrum. 9/10.
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