Ah, the perennial problem of starting up some courageous and visionary enterprise from the arse-end of the world (that’s us), coming up with a nifty name, turning it into a roaring success that insists on going global, only to discover that some northern hemisphere titan has taken commercial offence at your presumption over monikers, and is prepared to sue the pants off you if you don’t change your name.
Come on down, Rogue Society. You know: that handcrafted Kiwi small batch artisan gin that everybody loves. The one with the great name. Enter, stage left-field, large American brewery, Rogue Ales. The brainchild of three Nike executives, so right there is your ‘brand-as-holy-grail’ fixation.
Whatever. A number of people in the northern hemisphere are rumoured to be unable to distinguish between a bottle of premium New Zealand dry gin and a bottle of American beer. Oh dear. To avoid a complete global catastrophe, Rogue Society have generously changed their name to Scapegrace. Which is a more obscure, but arguably classier name for a rogue; so take that, American beer. But what should not get lost in all of this: Scapegrace? It’s the same brilliantly beautiful gin. End of story.
On Wednesday evening we enjoyed a fantastic and unusual tasting, hosted by Tony Burt and Mikey Ball from East Imperial. They are a NZ company producing some of the world’s finest and most authentic Tonic Waters.
Tony and his business partner Kevin, first came up with the idea after their regular premium Gin buying trips to Glengarry Parnell. They realised what was really missing was a premium Tonic water to go alongside. They started with an authentic 1903 Tonic recipe from Kevin’s family, and began sourcing the best Quinine from the original Dutch plantations in Java. All the tonics have totally natural flavours from ingredients sourced across Asia.
In front of us on the table, were 4 different Tonic waters and a Ginger Beer (in their specially designed 150ml bottles), alongside 5 fantastic Gins. The tasting consisted of first trying the tonic on its own, then the Gin. Each of the Gin Producers were there to explain their philosophy, production and style. We then combined the two along with a garnish, for the ultimate G&T experience. These final combinations were designed by mixologist Mikey Ball and really elevated both products.
Yesterday, Jim from Wemyss hosted a Whisky tasting at our Victoria Park Whisky Corner. Jim, the Chief Financial Officer at Wemyss, is in New Zealand on holiday his mother and his wife, who’s a Kiwi. He flew up from Napier for the afternoon just to visit us, dressed in his best tartan.
As an independent bottler of whisky, Wemyss (pronounced ‘weems’) is a family owned business based in Scotland and has a long association with whisky dating back to the turn of the 19th Century when John Haig built his first distillery on Wemyss land. Wemyss approach to whisky aims to select only the very highest quality of malt whiskies and in doing so make them more accessible and understandable by using the tasting and aromas of individual whiskies to identify each bottling. With that in mind, we tried blended whiskies named ‘The Hive’, ‘The Spice King’ and single malt named ‘Eastern Promise’ from Speyside. Later in the evening, we opened ‘Lemon Zest’.
The tasting wasn’t all whisky; we also tasted Darnley’s View Gin. Wemyss’ sister brand gin is named after the first meeting of Mary Queen of Scots and her future husband Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle in the 1565, 204 years before Captain Cook discovered New Zealand. The Original Darnley’s View Gin is made with six different botanicals; with juniper, lemon peel and elderflower make this gin unique. The principle botanicals in the Darnley’s View Spiced Gin recipe are juniper, cinnamon and nutmeg. The spiced gin was enjoyed with ginger ale and a slice of orange; a refreshing twist.
We later tried Lord Elcho, Wemyss’ range of blended Scotch whisky, named after another slice of Wemyss family history. Lord Elcho, Earl of Wemyss, is a distant relative of William Wemyss. Lord Elcho was an influential figure in Scottish history, famous for his role in the Battle of Culloden in 1745.
Jim also pointed out that Wemyss had a cocktail section on their website. While Whisky traditionalists prefer to enjoy their whiskies neat, Wemyss has a fantastic range of cocktail recipes, put together by leading mixologist Jason Scott from Bramble Bar in Edinburgh.
The Wemyss Whisky Brand was officially launched at our Glengarry Victoria Park site at our May Malt Club last year. This is a relatively new brand for Glengarry and is exclusive to the group. Can’t wait for another Wemyss night.