Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Women and Whisky

The UK seems seriously out of step with the rest of the world, with women representing only a third of the nation’s whisky drinkers, according to an article in the In countries such as France and Russia, the comparable figures are around 50:50, with the growth in emergent areas like Latin America and the Far East often being led by women! I wonder if this is because the whisky is mixed with something a little more enticing than water?

Apparently the oldest family owned whisky distiller, William Grant & Sons, has commissioned a World Whisky Map to provide a global picture of the whisky industry. The map examines the global differences in consumer's perceptions and tastes which prove interesting reading:

In Brazil, whisky is enjoyed as a long drink with coconut water and ice.

In China, 60% of whisky drinkers are under 35 and often serve blends and malts with cold sweet green tea on the rocks

In Bulgaria, Scotch is the party drink, often served with energy drinks

In South Africa whisky is popular in whisky-based cocktails

In Australia, with the prevalence of beach and outdoor culture, whisky is commonly served ready mixed for al fresco dining

Brian Kinsman, Master Blender at Grants, senses this is part of a world shift towards sweeter drinks, and the casks used in maturing the whisky can play a part there. Casks that were previously used for bourbon can imbue their content with crème brûlée and vanilla flavours, while former sherry casks often deliver firm hints of spice and dried fruit.
Bruichladdich produce Redder Still as a limited edition – the whisky spends over two decades in American oak Bourbon casks followed by a time in casks from Chateau Lafleur in Bordeaux. The whisky is reddish in colour with flavours of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and plums.

It was reported in 2004 that Bruichladdich had created a red hued whisky by accident. After 1,040 weeks in bourbon casks, the whisky spent just five in Mourvedre wine casks, an experiment designed to add a suggestion of fruit flavour that resulted in unexpected effects – the whisky was bright pink.

Whilst traditionalists were spluttering into their tumblers at the idea of a pink whisky, experts predicted that younger consumers, female drinkers and the pink pound could be tempted by the tipple – which was nicknamed "Flirtation".

It seems that the pink whisky was a success – and inspired the use of prestigious ex-chateau barrels in preference to Mourvedre wine casks - the first release of Redder Still sold out so quickly that few ever got to see it let alone taste it. The price tag? £450 for 700ml.

I must admit that I do prefer slightly a sweeter styled whisky to smoky varieties and although a pink whisky might seem patronising to the female sex, it's the taste that counts. If the price tag was not so high this would definitely be a whisky I would try. What do you think?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Champagne Glasses Suffer From An Identity Crisis

News from the Drinks Business has highlighted the fact that Champagne Houses are: “moving away from using traditional flutes for their fizz in favour of white wine glasses”, according to glassware manufacturer Georg Riedel.

The Champenois are starting to serve their sparklers in white wine glasses as the larger surface areas give more aromas, complexity and a creamier texture.”

Flutes are too narrow and don’t allow the aroma and richness of the Champagne to shine as there isn’t enough air space.

Ideally, a flute should only be half full, or, better still, a third full in order to release a Champagne’s aromatic potential.

In response to demand, Riedel has started making bespoke glasses for several Champagne houses and has developed a new sparkling wine glass more akin to a white wine glass.”

Champagne glasses seem to have suffered from an identity crisis over the years. The Champagne coupe was popular in the 1830s when sweeter Champagnes were all the rage. 

Legend has it that the shape of the Champagne coupe was modelled on the breast of Marie Antoinette but there are claims it was invented in England in 1663. 

These wide and shallow glasses came back into the fashion in the 1960s and 70s but fell out of favour as the Champagne went lifeless in a few minutes as the fizz went flat.

The Drinks Business reported that Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger has stressed the need for Champagne to retain the flute to differentiate the sparkling product from still wine. He referred to a battle with 'marketers' who, he said, “want us to drink Champagne in a wine glass.”

A report in 2009 by Dr Gerard Liger-Belair of Reims University, France discovered that champagne bubbles are the key to its flavour and tulip glasses or white wine glasses with a narrower rim than the bowl are reckoned to the better than coupes and flutes as they trap the aroma and don't lose the bubbles as quickly.

There are approximately 49 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne and I intend to enjoy each and every one of them! What do you think Champagne should be served in?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Wine and Perfume

I came across a new perfume the other day that is inspired by wine: Kelly & Jones in New york City. Their Scent Sommelier Kelly created the Notes of Wine Collection after experiencing the fragrance of her vanilla perfume mingling with Chardonnay at a wine tasting in Napa. The Eau de Parfum is offered in 5 wine-inspired varietals:

A crisp, refreshing unisex blend of yuzu grapefruit, starfruit, green apple and a hint of camellia.

Aromas of fresh-picked white peach, anjou pear, bergamot and raspberry leaf.

This swoon-worthy blend has spicy notes of pink peppercorn, ripe black cherry, and tobacco flower on a gorgeous base of vintage leather.

A smooth, balanced essence and beautiful blend of red currant, mission fig, rhubarb and lovely candied violet

A rich, vibrant and seductive blend of sweet honeydew melon, vanilla blossom and luscious crème brulee all rounded out on a base of toasted oak.

Kelly & Jones suggest that you can either wear each scent on its own, layer them together to create your own vintner’s blend or wear while sipping your favourite glass of wine.

It's an interesting concept as in most cases you are advised not to wear any perfume at all whilst tasting wine as it interferes with the flavours. However if aroma affects wine then surely it is possible that it could do so in a positive manner as well as a negative one? I will have to try it out!

One product that I won't be trying out is the Mazzetti d'Altavilla Essentia Vitae range of wines released last year. These wines feature three varieties, each with a different scent and a different number in a packaging style reminiscent of perfume bottles.

The No. 4 Ruche features a jasmine scent, while No. 6 Malvasia is rose scented and No. 8 Moscato has a violet scent. My problem is that the bottles are really off putting – no matter what the wine tastes like it will still seem as if I am drinking perfume!
What do you think?