THIS time of year has always for me been a great time for whisky bargains. With the festive season nearing, every supermarket and off-licence bids to outstrip the others with special offers on both blends and malts – and other drinks as well – so I can only urge whisky fans to keep their eyes peeled and their wallets and credit cards well-resourced to take advantage of the offers on hand.
I am often intrigued by little details of the whisky industry. One is why it doesn’t take a leaf out of the brewing industry’s book and remove all yeast from the wash before pumping it into the wash stills.
Scotch whisky’s growing success in recent years is down to a number of factors. For a start, good advertising and “soft” marketing, such as having people drink single malts in a popular TV series.
A former editor I knew once said to me: “Journalism is the only profession where you are never off duty.” And he was right. As a journalist, you never know when a chance chat in a pub, a fleeting glimpse of some cargo on a lorry or a dusty document in a drawer might lead you to a good story. And good stories are the lifeblood of journalism and, I hope, of Amber Lights.
Fans of big-name malts will have noticed a subtle change in their bottles and labels in recent years.
Although Scots tend to drink Scotch, many whiskies from other countries are bought in Scotland and some Scots are open in their enthusiasm for the likes of Irish, bourbons and Jack Daniels. And much as I like single malts, I’m quite partial to a good bourbon myself.
Two separate factors have affected air travel in recent years and have also put paid to what was one of the more enjoyable perks of foreign holidays.
It is fascinating how certain factors can affect markets that, to the outsider at least, seem utterly remote and unconnected.
One of the great whisky-linked success stories is Bailey’s – Irish whisky and cream, plus other ingredients, which is a global phenomenon and has spawned countless imitations, none quite up to the original.
People occasionally ask me what first sparked my interest in whisky. Was it pub-crawling in my youth or some family connection to the industry?