In April 2010, as part of an April Fools’ campaign, KFC announced the Double Down sandwich in America. The idea was simple: KFC do chicken “well”; people wanted a chicken sandwich; so why not leave the bread out and use the chicken to sandwich bacon and cheese? Although it started as an April Fools’ joke, demand was so high that, less than two weeks later, they released the Double Down to a test audience. Response was overwhelming; in four months, they sold 10 million of these “tasty” beasts. They are now sold internationally. They took what they did “well” and decided to do it “better”.
Back in the dark old days of actually having physical copies of music (vinyl, tapes, CD’s and the like), a special edition that demanded attention would occasionally come along. Adam and Joe, back when they were on Channel 4, had a whole sketch on limited edition packaging for CD’s and the benefits and problems that were associated. Novelty packaging often meant instackability causing ugly shelves and difficulty in organising your music. More recently, I stupidly bought a limited edition copy of Transformers 2 (there are enough problems with that sentence that I never want to have to say it again), which came in a transforming Bumblebee sleeve. I thought it was unusual, quirky, interesting. Until I got it home and realised that I hated it. It never stood up on its own, it was both taller and wider than a standard disc case so wouldn’t fit in my shelves; eventually it irked me so much that I threw it out. Not all packaging is this bad but it can mar a good product.
At Whisky Live London a few weeks ago, I came across a solution to a problem that hadn’t crossed my mind before. I am not Jewish and so the concept of kosher foods and drinks is not an idea I need to think about regularly. However, it had genuinely never occurred to me that any whisky that comes into contact with wine (in any form: port, sherry, madeira, cognac or paxarette, due to wine’s use as a religious symbol in other religions) is, by contamination, not kosher and, therefore, cannot be drunk by Jews. There are those that would suggest the Jewish population is relatively small; in the UK, Jewish people account for only 0.5% of the population: 292,000 people. Certainly not all Jews will want to drink whisky, so why provide whisky exclusively for such a small population? The point remains, in a free society, if any one individual wants access to something, they should be granted it.
And so here lies The Glenrothes, one of only three distilleries to be granted kosher status by the London Beth Din, the largest Jewish authority in the UK. The Glenrothes Alba Reserve, one of their three non-vintage reserves, is the only whisky in their range to be certified. As it has only been aged in American Oak which previously held bourbon, it has never had any contact with wine, nor has its taste deliberately altered by such a process. Once a year, a delegation led by a London rabbi is sent to Glenrothes to check the kosher status of the whisky and to ensure it is still maintained; the bottles can then be stamped with the KLBD sign.
1st January 1908: Nimrod Expedition sets off to Antarctica to reach the South Pole. There were two main expeditions headed to Antartica at the same time and the rivalry between them was, simultaneously polite, good natured and fierce. Shackleton had been warned by Scott not to touch his piece of land, that research there was forbidden and to land there a serious contravention – weather and emergencies forced them to land here and head towards the South Pole. They never made it: bad weather and the encroaching winter ice forcing them back. The return to the ship was just as harrowing – making it by the skin of their teeth had meant jettisoning rations and equipment deemed unnecessary, most seriously, three cases of Mckinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky.
In January 2006 these cases were located below Shckleton’s hut and were successfully and carefully excavated in 2010. They were then thawed delicately by specialists in Christchurch, New Zealand. White and Mackay’s owner (who purchased Mckinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt in 1995) flew a case back to Glasgow (precisely how much was flown back differs from source to source) to let Master Blender Richard Paterson (The Nose) pull the blend figuratively apart and piece it back together.
In 2003 the first distillery in New York since prohibition opened; Tuthilltown Distillery. It was not owned by a large conglomerate or, in fact, anyone actually that interested in distilling. The land was originally bought by a professional rock climber, Ralph Erenzo and the distillery was developed with his business partner, an electrical engineer. They established the distillery not for a love of whiskey, but for a desire to do something with the land after years of battling with neighbours who seemed determined to undermine every plan they had. The legal battles cost them half the land but, eventually, with guidance, they discovered they could establish a farm distillery, complete with Federal legal support.