Our friends in Japan
It’s been quite a few months since our last issue of Distilled but we think, and we hope you’ll agree, it’s been worth the wait.
Our lead feature is an excellent introduction to Japanese whisky by Chris Bunting. The article was commissioned and written before the recent disaster in Japan and we deliberated over whether it was right time to release the feature. In the end we decided that - for an economy which relies in large parts on exports - one of the best things whisky drinkers could do to help is to buy Japanese whisky.
This is what Chris had to say on the subject:
“Obviously, the Great East Japan Earthquake has hit Japan very hard. The extent of the tragedy is only now becoming fully clear and its impact on the economy is difficult to guess at. Fortunately, it looks as if none of the major whisky distilleries sustained major damage in the quake. The only two distilleries that are anywhere near the disaster zone are Nikka's Miyagikyo distillery and the independent Chichibu distillery. Neither sustained any serious damage in the quake itself and all of their staff are safe. Some of Japan's sake breweries on the northern coast were not so lucky, and everyone is pulling together to try to support those makers.
The effect on attitudes in the international markets is not yet clear, and really depends on what has sometimes been rather poor coverage by the international media.
The long term effect on attitudes in the international whisky markets remains to be seen, and really depends on what has sometimes been rather poor coverage by the international media.
I know there have been lots of fund-raising events in foreign countries in recent weeks where people have been quaffing Japanese whiskies and other alcohols in support of Japan. It has been very heartening to see all this support, and looking at some of the great drinks being consumed made me green with envy - not radiation poisoning!”
Other ways to help
Much has already been said about the disastrous events in Japan but it's still worth pointing out that, while the media coverage has died down, there are still orphanages full of children and thousands of families in need of help, so if you haven't already, here are a few sites where you can donate:
Japan Tsunami Appeal
Since the disaster began, the Japanese Red Cross has been providing people in need with first aid and emergency healthcare, as well as distributing relief items.
Whiskylovers for Japan
Whiskylovers for Japan is raising money for those affected by the recent catastrophic natural disasters in Japan. All the monies raised by this page will go to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.
A special mention should go out for the great work done by a group of independent distillers - Arran, BenRiach, Bladnoch, GlenDronach, Glengyle, Kilchoman and Springbank - who each donated a cask towards the recent Spirit of Unity bottling.
Distillers, designers and packagers all waived fees which meant £40.94 from each bottle sold went to Refugees International Japan. A grand total of £29,231.16 was raised by sales through Royal Mile Whiskies alone.
On to more cheerful matters - as many of you will be aware, we recently held a WhiskyPod event at Glengoyne distillery. The generous folks at Glengoyne, not content with opening, among other things, a bottle of the Glengoyne 40 year old, offered a personalised bottle of Glengoyne 21 year old as a prize for the best review video and the best written tasting notes on the night
And the winners are Doug Watts and Alastair Macauley for their video review of Glengoyne 21 year old - rather fitting we feel - and Nick Weir for his tasting notes on Glengoyne 40 year old.
Doug & Alistair's video was chosen because - as well being informative - there's some enjoyable banter which combines to make an entertaining little film that captures the atmosphere of the event. Nick Weir's tasting notes were chosen by Glengoyne's Stuart Hendry - "the review is imaginative, good fun, but reverential enough for the quality of the product."
Well done chaps!
The winning video review
The winning tasting notes
Glengoyne 40 year old
Appearance: Medium oak, dark amber
Smell: Quality, new leather-bound books. A stately home in its heyday, with the windows thrown open to allow in wafts of strawberries, oak, leather and hay,
Taste: Full bodied with sherry, oak and more strawberries
Comments: The best. Full stop.