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Is Angel's Share Bad for the Environment?
Scotland may be looking into the question, which has received a surprisingly small amount of research.
Well, message received: you folks definitely prefer the Friday newsletter release, so here we are, back to stay.
I tried some really great oddball bottles this week, including a California single malt that I’ll be writing about in the next few weeks. It made me wonder how the readership here would feel about some reviews. Let me know in the comments whether you’d like recommendations, merciless bad reviews, or just some notes on what I’ve been drinking.
Also, I was lucky enough to be featured in my friend Jillian Dara’s newsletter Jilux this week, and I’d like to repay the favor. She covers interesting goings-on in the travel world alongside her own adventures. If you like feeling in the know while on the move, you’ll definitely want to sign up.
Otherwise, let’s get to the news…
Scotland’s Hitting a Wall
It’s been a mixed few years for the world of Scotch. I wrote a few weeks ago about the hardships that U.S. tariffs and Chinese crackdowns had inflicted on Scotland’s whisky industry, but there’s more bad news to talk through.
Exports are up over 2020 but still down from 2019 numbers. Exports to the U.S. were down more than a third from 2019. Maybe the best characterization for Scotch is cautious optimism: being up 31 percent from last year is a good sign, but it’s not enough—the numbers are still down 10 percent overall from 2019.
The Scottish government is also setting sights on the environmental impact of angel’s share—the evaporation loss of scotch whisky as it ages. It’s currently considered harmless, but studies may change that understanding.
But Scotch may have bigger problems for aging, as one report from Drinks Business suggested that the supply of French oak is shrinking. French oak is primarily a wine barrel product, but plenty of whisky brands—including those from Scotland—use European oak and ex-wine casks for maturation. If the wine industry’s supply shrinks, they may hold onto things longer, which could send a ripple through the whisky world.
Auctions Are Getting Crazy
With the prices of rare and vintage whiskeys continuing to hit new records, I’m seeing a lot more auction activity these days as massive collections are trading hands.
Some of these collections are jaw-dropping: for instance, a 66-bottle vertical collection of Aberlour A’bunadh batches, going for nearly £16,000 (or nearly $22,000). Others, like this Pappy Collection from an Indiana father, are for a cause—treatment for his son’s cystic fibrosis.
The Kentucky Derby Museum is helping with the effort (which is actually a raffle, not an auction). For $100, you can have a chance to own a full Van Winkle Collection. Buy a raffle ticket here if you so desire—that collection is worth about $20,000.
Sex, Death, and Brand Partnerships
One of my favorite Irish whiskeys, The Sexton, is partnering with The Walking Dead for an advertising promotion. It’s a custom ad campaign for the final season. It should be noted: they don’t seem to be doing product placement, which I suspect is a smart idea.
It’s unclear what year The Walking Dead is actually taking place, but I have a feeling large imports of craft Irish whiskey wouldn’t have made it a ubiquitous bottle after an apocalypse.
It sounds as if there might be a limited edition bottle coming as well. By the way, this is the second Walking Dead whiskey to be released. The other was a Diageo-made bourbon of so-so quality. I’m all for media partnerships. I just hate it when they’re shameless.
Freddie Johnson, National Treasure, Helps to Preserve National Monuments
Freddie Johnson has worn a lot of hats in his days. The Buffalo Trace veteran tour guide is a third-generation distillery worker, who took early retirement back in 2002 to fulfill a promise to his dad to continue the family legacy.
I don’t think Freddie bothered to read much about what the word retired means. In addition to running tours, he’s become the face of Buffalo Trace’s soda line. This week, he personally delivered a check from the brand to the much-in-need Green Hill Cemetery.
Green Hill, which was established in 1865, is the site of Kentucky’s only monument to the black men who served during the Civil War. Nearly 25,000 black Kentuckians were part of the United States Colored Troops during the war.
By the way, the sodas are really good—try the root beer first.
Here’s a link to the recipe for the Queen’s favorite Scotch Egg—a tasty and utterly unhealthy piece of joy. The secret here appears to be Thai green curry and peanut.
Vinepair weighed in on the bottle-in-the-freezer question. Turns out it really isn’t a good idea to keep your favorite booze in the freezer—unless you’re trying to obscure the taste of it. Adam Teeter recommends you do this with cheap vodkas, but personally, I do it with any vodka or gin (and have seen great bartenders do the same). If you’re stirring the drink to chill anyway, freezer time is just going to protect you from a bit more dilution.
MEL Magazine is back after a brief hiatus, and they’re doing some fun stories. This week alone, they’ve published a snarky QR-code takedown demanding the return of paper menus.
Lastly, here’s a cocktail video from one of my favorite cooking channels on Youtube, You Suck at Cooking.