Whisky buyer, collector or investor? You need to know about Cask Trade.

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There’s a new whisky cask trader in town and it’s dubbed the first, truly ‘trustworthy marketplace for trading exceptional whisky casks’.

Introducing Cask Trade: founded by entrepreneur and angel investor Simon Aron with help from our very own Drinker, Colin Hampden-White and several other famous whisky masters including Lee Tomlinson ‘The Trader’ and Dr. Theo Empleslidis MD, ‘The Oracle’.

As a passionate whisky collector for over 25 years who has seen astronomical gains in the value of some whiskies over the years, Simon had been burned many times by sellers in the past, becoming frustrated with false promises and dishonest dealing. Now was the time, he decided, to create a much more open and honest marketplace for investors, bottlers and collectors. 

An expert-led approach

Thanks to their crack team of experts team of masters, Cask Trade offer unparalleled whisky trade expertise to their clients and guarantee the most stringent checks and processes, so customers can rely wholeheartedly on the quality, provenance and ownership of any whisky they buy. All customers can ask to receive samples of their whisky or to visit their cask whenever possible and Cask Trade only sells whisky it owns itself, in whole casks.

“We are not brokers but stockists,” says Aron. ‘Our aim is to build a true, and safe, marketplace… We are six experts covering all angles of the cask whisky trade and we have clients from all around the world. Having traded thousands of casks, our knowledge of whisky and its value is our most valuable asset. Throughout my 25-years’ of collecting I suffered from all sorts of false promises which I will never subject my clients to.”

To view a live stock list, register an account today at casktrade.com.

The first live auction website dedicated to exceptional whisky

As an extra plus, customers also have the option to put their casks into Cask Trade’s new quarterly online auction to sell, either to other customers or eventually, back to Cask Trade themselves. With complete transparency, a low buyers’ fee of 15% + VAT and no sellers’ fee at all, customers get the actual hammer price. The first auction will take place in October 2019 and will then be hosted four times a year. See more at auctionyourcask.com.

For more information on whisky cask investment, Simon and his team offer frequent editions of Cask Trade’s Cask Investment Guide

23 Unusual Facts About Whisky

Visit Islay with a Rabbie’s tour.

Our friends at Rabbie’s, our travel partner for our Scotch whisky travelogue series on Amazon Prime, have given us 23 fun facts about whisky. How many of them did you know already?

Bernard Shaw described whisky as liquid sunshine, and we can’t help but agree. Although the sunshine can be a little bothersome the next morning when you’ve indulged in one too many glasses.

Mark Twain begs to differ, however, as he’s famous for boldly declaring “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

What could we possibly have to tell you about whisky that you haven’t heard from these great poets, playwrights and avid whisky drinkers? You’d be surprised. Whisky has a long history and its makers and consumers are fond of a good blether. 

So whether you’re a whisky aficionado or have only just begun your love affair, you may be surprised by a few of the following facts:

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  1. Whisky or Whiskey - what’s the difference? The Irish spell it with an ‘e’ whereas the Scots spell it without one. This is due to the variations between Scottish and Irish Gaelic.

  2. The New York Times famously used the word ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e’ to encompass all forms of the spirit from all locations. This caused so much outrage amongst readers, they were forced to change their style guide to reflect the appropriate spelling for their regional distribution.

  3. Many distilleries store casks of whisky belonging to other brands and distilleries in their warehouses. This way, if a fire or catastrophe occurs, they won’t lose all their stock. 

  4. The term whisky in Gaelic translates to ‘water of life.’

  5. When whisky is stored in barrels for maturation, approximately 2% of the liquid evaporates per year. This is called the ‘Angel’s Share’ as this portion of liquid gold seemingly disappears into the heavens. It keeps the angels in good spirits.

  6. Moonshine is typically un-aged whisky with a high alcohol content, which is made illegally. It’s called moonshine because it would be created under the light of the moon, hidden from the eyes of the authorities.

  7. A bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, 60-year-old was sold for £848,750 in 2018, setting a new world record for the most expensive bottle of whisky.

  8. Whisky doesn’t age once it’s bottled. So there isn’t much point in saving it for a rainy day, just crack it open when you feel like it.

  9. Whisky gains its colour from the barrel it’s aged in. Sometimes, for the sake of product image, brands may put caramel colouring in a batch to make the whisky look more consistent when bottled on the shelf. The additive isn’t supposed to affect the taste of the whisky. 

  10. Scotland relies on a constant supply of oak casks previously used to store bourbon in the US for maturing whisky.

  11. Much of the flavour of a batch of whisky will depend upon what was stored in the cask previously. Bourbon, sherry, rum and port casks all generate different finishing flavours.

  12. A Swedish distillery has just started using AI to help generate the perfect whisky recipe based on past and current consumer trends.

  13. Surprisingly, France and India are two of the biggest consumers of whisky, alongside the US. 

  14. The iconic American soda brand Mountain Dew was originally intended to be a chaser for sub-par whisky.

  15. Just as the Brits say “cheers”, the Germans shout “prost” and the Spanish yell “salood,” you’ll find the Scots chinking whisky glasses and saying “Slainte,” which means “good health,” as they share a dram with friends.

  16. Contrary to popular belief, nosing isn’t the act of sticking your conk in other people’s business. It’s what you do when you inhale the aromas of a fine whisky before drinking it.

  17. A copper dog is a device that was used by distillery workers to smuggle whisky home after a hard day at work. It’s copper pipe with a penny soldered on one end and a cork stopping the other. A wily employee would dip it into the cask to fill it with whisky, and then smuggle it home in his trouser leg.

  18. When the TV show Mad Men hit the air, it spurred a significant spike in orders for Old Fashions at bars worldwide. In some areas, the demand for Canadian Club almost doubled.

  19. Diageo, one of the world’s largest distillers, released a Game of Thrones collection of Whisky in 2019, in preparation for the final season of the hit TV show. They paired Scottish distilleries with the prominent family houses of the seven kingdoms. Each was matched up carefully, considering house traits alongside distillery history. Cardhu was paired with house Targaryen for its past of strong female ownership. 

  20. Ardbeg, a popular Islay distillery, sent vials of their whisky to the International Space Station in 2011 to see how the gravity in space would affect compounds of the whisky over time.

  21. The term ‘dram’ widely adopted in the Scottish vernacular, is believed to have evolved from an apothecary’s units of measurement.

  22. Keeping with the theme of whisky and medicine, during the prohibition era the only whisky legally imported by the US was scotch whisky, as it was often prescribed to ease many illnesses.

  23. And last but not least, Humphrey Bogart’s final words are rumoured to have been “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.” May we live and learn from Bogart’s mistakes.

Discover whisky for yourself on a tour with Rabbie’s here!

This is the world’s most popular spirit. Have you heard of it?

Question: Which spirit has 6,000 years of history, is the world’s most tasted alcoholic drink and reached 10.8 billion dollars worth of sales last year? 

Answer: Baijiu

What on earth is Baijiu?

Baijiu is the most popular grain spirit in China, especially in Sichuan province. Sorghum is usually the grain of choice but in some parts of the country, rice, barley and millet are used. It’s the world’s most popular spirit thanks to China’s population of over 1.4 billion but it’s still not known well at all outside the country. We were treated to a master class by the producer Fenjiu and their importer, Cheng International, to see what it was all about...

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What does Baijiu taste like?

A white spirit for the most part and usually between 40 and 60% abv, Baijiu is more like whisky in terms of complexity of flavour and texture. It’s traditionally drunk neat with food, though there are some nowadays that are deemed better for mixing. There are four key styles to look out for, all based on their flavour profiles, but dozens of sub categories too. What makes the difference in terms of aroma and flavour, much like wine, is the ageing vessel, the ingredients and the duration of ageing.

Credit: Cheng International CO. Ltd

Credit: Cheng International CO. Ltd

Key styles of Baijiu

Light Aroma: Light, elegant and subtley floral. Traditionally made in a stone vessel with sorghum. Hails from the north, around Beijing.

Strong Aroma: Fruity, tropical, aniseed, complex. Multiple grains, but aged in mud pits. Hails largely from Sichuan province in the southwest.

Sauce Aroma: Umami, soy, bean. Mostly sorghum but with multiple fermentations in stone brick pits.

Rice Aroma: Sweeter and mellow. Hailing from the south and often the lowest grade. 

Other ‘aromas’ and styles of Baijiu

There are many additional sub aromas of this intriguing spirit, which to Westerners can seem gloriously different. ‘Chi’ aroma comes from the addition of pork fat, for example, ‘medicine aroma’ exists, as does ‘sesame aroma’ amongst many others. There are also many regional variations. Fenjiu, for example, is an ‘aroma’ as well as the name of a producer. It is a light aroma Baijiu hailing from Fenyang, Shanxi and dates back to AD 550!

4 Baijius to try from light to strong

Fenjiu Baijiu aged 10 years: Clear white - A traditional, light Baijiu made from high quality sorghum grain and aged 10 years in earthen ceramic vessels. It’s fresh, floral and subtle with notes of jasmine, melon and dried herbs. Drink it neat or mixed in cocktails. RRP £65 coming soon to the UK. 

Blue Flower Fenjiu Baijiu 48% aged 30 years: Clear white - Aromatic and smooth with notes of citrus peel, vanilla, acacia and cinnamon. Best served neat or over ice. RRP £150 from Harrods.

Bamboo Fenjiu 38% aged 5 years (Zhu Ye Qing Jiu): Pale gold - Stronger notes of mocha and menthol with subtle curry leaf and soy from the bamboo infusion. Best served mixed. RRP £60 from Harrods.

Bamboo Fenjiu 45% aged 30 years (Zhu Ye Qing Jiu): Bright gold - Powerful aromas of curry leaf and sandalwood with underlying sweetness like banana and caramel. Sweeter texture. Best served neat. RRP £145 from Harrods.

The ultimate Baijiu cocktail: The Golden Empire

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With mixology playing a huge part in helping get Baijiu on lips outside China, Fenjiu launched their inaugural cocktail competition earlier this year. The winning result was a golden, moreish concoction featuring palo cortado sherry and vermouth, created by Andrea Dionori, mixologist at The Crazy Bear.

Ingredients:

  • 35ml Fenjiu 10 year old.

  • 10ml White Vermouth (preferred: Cocchi Americano)

  • 7.5ml Palo Cortado sherry

  • 10ml Homemade Palo Santo cordial (optional)

Baijiu is certainly an acquired taste for Westerners, but one that is not hard to acquire with a bit of, ahem, tasting practice. Look out for it as a key ingredient in the top cocktail bars around the world and if you see it, ask for a small pour to try neat. You’ll be tasting history.

By Helena Nicklin

Glencairn Crystal: Is this the ultimate whisky tasting glass?

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We certainly think so and here’s why...

When you have a drink, you want to enjoy it to the max, right? Well, luckily for us, around thirty years ago, the Davidson family set up Glencairn Crystal, based in East Kilbride, with the aim of helping us to do just that. A brand for both the consumer and the whisky industry alike, they produce a mixture of products including bespoke packaging for some of the oldest and most luxurious single malt whiskies ever released. They are also, however, commissioned to create a variety of other products including high-profile decanters, some of which are even engraved with rare gemstones! 

The Glencairn Glass 

Amongst all their products, there is one that stands out: the iconic, Glencairn Glass. We chose this glass for our TV show, The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky as it is the best designed, most attractive whisky glass out there. They are also the official glass for whisky endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association, so it’s little wonder that over 65,000 of them are now sold per week globally.

Why is the Glencairn Glass so popular?

Before the Glencairn glass came along there were really only tumblers available for whisky drinkers which while serving their purpose as a holder of liquid, never really felt like they gave the whisky its full chance to shine. The Glencairn Glass however, has rectified this as its unique shape allows the aroma to collect towards the lip of the glass. With taste being 80% smell, this design ensures that the full impact of a whisky’s aromas and flavours are delivered in perfect balance. 

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Fun Facts! 

  1. If you stacked every Glencairn glass ever made, it would stretch to the international space station and back 3.5 times!

  2. If you lined up every Glencairn glass ever made, they’d reach a width of over 1600km, more than the entire length of New Zealand.

  3. If you filled every Glencairn glass ever made to the brim with whisky, there’d be enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools. That’s 5 million litres!

Glencairn Crystal works with 600 distilleries and ships to 95 countries so if you too are interested in getting your hands on the gold standard of whisky glasses head over to glencairn.co.uk

By Sophie Furukawa

One Drink, Three Ways: The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask


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One Drink, Three Ways is the signature feature by The Three Drinkers. Join The Three Drinkers’ Helena, Aidy and Colin as they take one bottle and create a trio of phenomenal serves which you can enjoy anytime, anywhere. From rums and whiskies to gins and wine styles, the three help you get the most out of your glass. It’s time to get liquid on lips.

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The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask: a whisky with rich, spicy notes from ageing in both American and European sherry oak casks. The Three Drinkers each share their favourite ways to taste it….


Helena’s Choice: The ‘Mac-Hattan’

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A twist on a classic Manhattan, I love this rich, christmas-cake scented whisky mixed with a little orange and chocolate bitters. I found this recipe while shooting episode four of our Amazon show, The Three Drinkers do Scotch Whisky. It won the taste competition hands down! Simply add all liquid ingredients to a shaker, shake, pour and add garnish. Ice optional. I prefer it without or with one massive chunk.

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The ‘Mac-Hattan’

Recipe

25ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

25ml Orange liqueur

25ml Red Vermouth

3 Drops Chocolate bitters

Dried orange wheel to garnish


Aidy’s Choice: The Macallan Highball

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Perfect as the weather starts to get a little warmer, this Macallan highball is zesty and refreshing with a bitter, spicy kick. Simply pour the whisky and fino over lots of ice into a highball glass, add the lemon juice and top up with your favourite tonic water. Dangerously delicious!

The Macallan highball

The Macallan Highball

Recipe

25ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

25ml Fino Sherry

Juice of half a lemon

Tonic water to taste

Lemon rind to garnish

Highball glass


Colin’s Choice: The Macallan. Straight up.

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Those who know me are aware that I’m a bit of a whisky purist, and when The Macallan is involved, I like to sip it straight. If it’s the first whisky of the day however, I may add a tiny drop of water just to cut the initial nose burn. No ice. No garnish. No problem.

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The Macallan

Recipe

50ml The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky

Glencairn glass

You can find The Macallan 12 Year Old on Amazon or Master of Malt for circa £52

Glenfiddich’s Snow Phoenix

Glenfiddich distillery warehouse all their whisky in Dufftown. The warehouses stretch across the whole of the large site where the distillery also sits.

In 2010, the winter was harsh and during that particular winter over the course of a few weeks, more than two winter’s worth of snow fell on the warehouses at Glenfiddich. It was impossible to clear the snow from all the roofs, one of those roofs, in the furthest reaches of the warehousing had to try and bare the weight. With tens of tons of snow on the roof, it gave in and opened the warehouse and the casks to the elements outside.

The whisky had to be rescued. The best way to rescue the whisky was to bottle it. The master blenders at Glenfiddich took all of the endangered casks and carefully decided which of them to blend. There were around 100 casks is total and most of them were saved.

This wouldn’t be the normal way to choose casks to blend. Casks a chosen from very many and the best ones taken to blend rather than simply blending out of necessity. However, something magical happened. The whiskies held in both ex bourbon and oloroso casks within that warehouse, once blended together created a whisky which tasted absolutely fabulous.

Immediately after the disaster, a photographer went into the damaged warehouse, and the winter light shining through the large hole in the roof looked like a phoenix, hence the name for this limited release blend became the Snow Phoenix.

The whisky was packaged in a lovely big square tin with a photograph of the light entering the distillery on the front, giving the story and the feel of a luxury product and was retailed for £50. At this price the whisky sold very quickly and was mostly drunk by lucky customers who managed to find it for sale. There are few bottles left, and those that find themselves on sale for as much as £700

Bottled at 47.6% abv, Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix has the unmistakable Glenfiddich character. It has aromas of vanilla, with apples and pears with some floral notes of orange blossom. On the palate there are rich and complex flavours of chocolate, coffee and burnt sugar mixing with roasted apples, heather honey and a touch of wood smoke. The whisky has an exceptionally long finish with sherry notes and mellows at the end with a satisfying sweet oakiness.