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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Trick me once...

As is becoming tradition across the web, April Fools Day saw a plethora of creative and interesting press releases and postings. Not that we here at would ever get involved in anything like that...

So here is a little round up of things we've seen that made us chuckle. If we've missed stuff, add a comment with links etc as we'd love to see more!

Highland Park Press Release:


Orkney-based Highland Park, Scotland’s northernmost distillery, has announced plans to open a distillery in the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica, creating the southernmost Scotch whisky distillery in the world.

The South Orkney Islands have been part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962 and because of its British ownership the Scotch Whisky Association has agreed to allow the whisky to be labelled ‘Scotch Whisky’.

Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The team at Highland Park are so passionate about creating a distillery on the British Antarctic islands, we simply couldn’t resist giving them the seal of approval. The Orcadians seem to thrive in extreme weather conditions and I’m sure they will have many adventures in the Antarctic. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy whisky from northern latitudes.”

Gerry Tosh, Highland Park Head of Brand Education, has travelled the world but this is by far the most remote location he has visited. Gerry comments: “I am just back from my second trip to the South Orkney Islands and still amazed by the rough elements and extreme weather conditions with gales reaching 120 miles per hour – just like Orkney!

“The islands are ice-locked from April to November so you can only travel there three months of the year. During my first visit in early December 2008 I spent weeks searching for the perfect spot to set up the distillery.

“In high summer there is no shortage of water in the area and we are currently analysing its suitability. Some treatment may be required to remove fish detritus. However, barley will be shipped in from our sister distillery Tamdhu and Distillery Manager Russell Anderson will bring a quantity of yeast with him as hand luggage. I’m hoping Still Maker Richard Forsyth can join me on my next trip to plan the plant.”

The South Orkney Islands are located at almost the same latitude south as the Scottish based Orkney Islands are north (60°S vs 59°N), although it is not known if this was a factor behind the naming of the islands.

With a similar climate to Orkney, the Antarctic islands are generally wet and windy, however much colder than the Scottish islands. Summers are short and cold (December to March) with average temperatures reaching 2°C which can fall to -39°C in winter months.

The distillery will be based on Coronation Island, the largest of the four islands that make up the South Orkneys, and named after the coronation of King George IV in 1821. Initial forecasts propose that the new distillery will produce 200,000 litres of alcohol per year.

Highland Park is currently working out relocation packages for key workers. Workers will also undertake emergency survival training, including sourcing local foods from marine life as well as being provided with thermal clothing specially made for extreme weather conditions.

After growing up on the Orkney Islands and hardened by its strong elements, Distillery Manager, Russell Anderson, is not fazed by temporarily moving to South Orkney Islands to impart the 210 year long Orcadian whisky-making tradition. Once up and running, Russell will pass on the Distillery Manager role to the Deputy Manager, as part of a career development programme at the new distillery on the Antarctic islands.

Gerry Tosh, Highland Park Head of Brand Education, comments: “At Highland Park we are extremely excited about this project. It allows us to take Scotch whisky to a new level, adopting our skills to colder conditions, and developing a true taste of Antarctica. Some whisky enthusiasts enjoy Highland Park with ice and this will be the ultimate expression to be enjoyed on the rocks."

Due for completion next year, the southernmost Scotch whisky distillery can legally enjoy its first dram in 2013, when the spirit will reach the age of three years maturation in oak casks. The cold climate on South Orkney Islands will mean a longer maturation period is needed so the spirit will be filled into small 30 litre casks to increase the interaction of spirit and wood. Following sampling at three years, the spirit will be left to sleep and shiver for another 12 years to achieve peak perfection.

Highland Park’s Distillery Manager, Russell Anderson, comments: “At our distillery on Orkney we have a lot of geese and use them as 'guard dogs' due to the fact that they are very noisy at signs of intruders. To maintain security at our distillery on Coronation Island, I suppose we could use either penguins or elephant seals to provide the early warning system as apparently they too are very noisy when disturbed.”

To continue Highland Park’s trademark balance of aromatic peat and heather honey sweetness, malted barley will be shipped from the Highland Park distillery on Orkney. This will be combined with the South Orkney Islands extreme elements, creating a mild salty aftertaste – the result of aging in a cold sea sprayed climate.

There are currently no plans to offer guided tours for visitors at the distillery.

Bruichladdich Press Release:

New Cask Finish

A hebridean distiller has been inspired by Scotland’s other national drink for maturing its whisky.

Buckfast is a 15% fortified wine made by Benedictine monks and known affectionately as ‘electric soup’, ‘old buckie’ and ‘commotion lotion’ due to its low price per unit of alcohol.

Bruichladdich distillery is to experiment using some of these casks for maturing Islay single malt whisky

The iconic tonic was the favoured tipple of Rab C Nesbitt, the celebrated Scottish sitcom character based on an angry, alcoholic, street philosopher from Glasgow’s Govan area.

Scotland’s Lanarkshire area, which includes the City of Glasgow, is claimed to be the largest market in the world for the popular drink accounting for 11% of sales.

The cask choice, in honour of a new series of Rab to be shown early 2010, was inspired by Joshua Cheyne, a Glasgow resident with a keen interest in Scotland’s drink culture.

Scotland's Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson launched a campaign to ban the drink, a vanilla rich, red wine based tonic drink based on an 1880 French Benedictine recipe.

God bless 'em.... the top lads over at EWB did what we very nearly did and took the Bruichladdich press release seriously. I mean, it was a good 'un... you could see it being done! Special points go to Mark and the team at Bruichladdich for that one! However, Lucas and Chris got their own back with an excellent posting about the 2010 Whisky Bible, which can be found here.

Serge is always good value for an April Fool, and this year was no exception. Following on from the releases of Octomore and Supernova, Serge found a bottle of Kiss Of Death, an ultra peated number that comes in a bottle that looks like a Damien Hirst piece of art. This was all preceded by an article about the Scottish Parliament and biofule!
Whiskystuff Blog:

A lovely little piece here about a "Blended Single Malt Whisky" for £50,000. I'd very much like to meet the Brand Ambassador, one "Tabitha Tittyworth-Rojer" whose Father, I assume, could keep me in Ardbeg Single Casks for the rest of my life...!
Sam sees what I am doing with the aforementioned Mr. Tittyworth-Rojer and, using his considerable charm, tries to wheedle his way in to a wealthy, old, female New Yorker's will once he discovers she owns the worlds most expensive bottle of whisky. Good luck, Sam! Let me know what else is in her drawers...!

The Whisky Exchange Blog:

Tim opted not to write one this year but instead took his entire whisky allowance down to the local turf accountant and, in a feat that made us laugh the hardest of all, put it on Liverpool FC to win the Premier League! Ha ha ha ha ha ha...