Friday, November 27, 2009

How to annoy the Scots

Just start marketing English whisky - in Scotland!

One of Scotland’s most distinguished whisky retailers has received complaints from some customers about its decision to stock an English brand.

Next month, the Norfolk-based St George’s Distillery will launch the first English whisky for more than a century.

Hundreds of preview bottles of the “malt spirit” have already arrived north of the border and, despite rave reviews by afficionados, some Scottish traditionalists are unimpressed.

The Edinburgh-based Royal Mile Whiskies said its promotion of the English spirit had failed to please some of its customers.

“We sent out a tongue-in-cheek e-mail bulletin, complete with a picture of a bulldog, announcing we were going to be stocking English whisky,” said Arthur Motley, the firm’s whisky buyer. “We got some negative feedback, mostly from American Scots, who said things like, ‘how could you?’ and ‘you’ve betrayed Scotland’.

“Some people were riled but, hopefully, most of the comments were meant in a light-hearted way.”

The English Whisky Company’s avowedly patriotic packaging has raised eyebrows in the specialist shop, which also has an outlet in London.

It risks further straining cross-border relations by announcing plans for a “commemorative bottling” if England lift the football World Cup in South Africa next summer.

Ian Hudghton, a SNP MEP who has campaigned for the European Union to protect the term “Scotch whisky”, has dismissed the Norfolk newcomer as “not the real McCoy”.

John Kaylor, the chairman of the Perthshire branch of the Tartan Army, was equally sceptical. “It’s flattering that the English want to copy us but what’s next, Shakespeare shortbread and the Lake Windermere monster?” he said. “No true Tartan Army member would ever wet their lips with English whisky.”

But Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, praised the southern newcomer.

“Even without the peat, we have a gloriously characterful new make,” said his review.

“This first dedicated English distillery for over a century is likely to gain a name for exceptional quality.”

There's more at the link.

Intrigued by the report, I went to the Web site of the English Whisky Company. It's got a lot of interesting detail, and they seem to have some rather tasty-sounding products, over and above whisky. This cream liqueur sounds rather potable:

Totally unique to St George’s Distillery. A local farming estate has been making their own Nog for generations, and very kindly allowed the distillery to borrow / steal the recipe. This is a very alcoholic cream and is best drunk in moderation. A very simple drink consisting of our unmatured malt spirit, cream and a dash of honey. We think best served outdoors on a cold and blustery day. Perfect for long walks or a days fishing, or if you are not one to brave the elements, add some ice, a comfy chair and a log fire. Either way you are going to love this Nog.

At 27% alcohol by volume (i.e. 54 proof), I'd say that's a bit stronger than the average US Christmas eggnog! I'm tempted to buy a bottle, just to see my friends' faces when they try it. It's a bit pricy at £18, or just under US $30, plus shipping and handling, but just for once it might be worth it.


1 comment:

Morris said...

'Norfolk Nog', dontcha just love that name?