Sanlam Whisk(e)y Dinner and Masterclass Mix’off™
On Wednesday the 14th of March, Sanlam (Life Insurance & financial solutions) hosted all their brokers, clients and colleges in the Colony Room at Suncoast Casino for a night of fun and rewards. The evening started off with welcome drinks and snacks which then went into a formal whisk(e)y presentation and tasting hosted by myself. I took the delegates through some important heritage about the category and then finished with a tasting of Johnnie Walker® Gold Label™ and Bushmills© 10yr Malt. I had some amazing feedback and comments about these two brands, mostly about how the similarities outweigh the differences. This is interesting to hear especially when their origins are separated by the North Channel of the Irish Sea! It just goes to show that Irish and Scotch Whisk(e)y can be very far apart or extremely close, depending on the distillers expectation of the finished liquid. These two whiskies are by far my favourite that I have tasted so far, and it was my absolute pleasure in presenting them.
The evening then took a slight turn towards something very different. It was the prototype of a new experience of which I call The Corporate Masterclass Mixx’off™. This new idea is a collection of interactive challenges that educate and inspire delegates to work as a team using cocktail mixology as the platform.This is how it works;
- All the delegates were seated at tables of equal amounts
- Each table had a collection of cocktail tools that you would find in all cocktail bars
- Each table had a selection of fresh ingredients including syrups, bitters, herbs, etc.
- Each table had to submit a cocktail making use of 25ml of base spirit which was Smirnoff Triple Distilled Vodka
- Each Table had to select a team leader to name the team and the cocktail recipe
- Each table had 15 minutes to execute the challenge
The winning team received a hamper consisting of a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label, a small gift and some bar tools.
The Idea worked fantastically, and really brought the members of the team to work together.
Whisk(e)y samplings at Makro Liquor Depot
Over the past two weeks a work colleague (Rod Hallett) and I have been driving a whisk(e)y knowledge and sampling exercise within the Makro Liquor Stores in KZN. The idea is to allow consumers to taste some of the single malts that go into some of the more popular and already established scotch blends. On offer to sample we had 3 single malts (Talisker 10yr, Caol Ila 12Yr, Singleton of Dufftown 12yr) and on the other side of the flavour map we had an Irish triple distilled blend known as Bushmills Original.
We wanted to educate the consumer about which single malts are the leading contributors to the flavours found in Johnnie Walker Red label and Johnnie Walker Black Label. In Red Label you will find the characteristics and flavours found in Talisker 10yr. The Talisker distillery is situated on the Isle of Skye which is on the west coast of Scotland. Talisker 10yr is positioned in the top right quadrant of the flavour map and provides aromas of powerful peat-smoke and citrus sweetness, while the palate is enriched with clouds of peated barley and peppered fruitiness. The finish is long and warm which gentle nodes of appetizing sweetness. Caol Ila 12yr, which is the leading single malt in the Johnnie Walker Black Label blend, is also a west coast single malt distilled on the island of Islay. Caol Ila is the Gaelic name for “the sound of Islay” which describes the stretch between Islay and Jura. This smoky malt has big, dry and sweet flavours which are complemented by a nose full of kumquats, citrus zest and smoldering beach bonfires! The finish is complex but well balanced.
The response was fantastic with most consumers begging for more. We explained the perfect serve along with some brand heritage and the reason for where the flavour and characteristics originate. I found most of my audience captivated by the maturation process as this is where the newly made distilled spirit becomes its own unique liquid with various characteristics that set it apart from the other malts that are available in the market.
Also on offer we had Bushmills Original, which is a triple distilled unpeated Irish blended whiskey which is made in a distillery that is 403 years old to date and is the oldest working distillery on planet earth. The youngest whiskey in this blend is between 5 and 8 years and is an extremely rich, smooth liquid with flavours of oak and sweet spices. The nose is light and delivers aromas of freshly cut grass and chocolate, while the finish is quick and effortless.
The forth brand on offer was The Singleton of Dufftown, a 12 year old Speyside Single malt which is handmade and gently aged on the banks of Dullan. The maturation process of this malt involves aging in two different types of oak casks, American Bourbon and European Sherry, which are brought together giving you a rich and smooth well balanced liquid. The nose picks up wafts of citrus while the taste delivers a spicy blackcurrant and graceful finish. This is a fantastic single malt and I would recommend it to anyone!
Overall these sampling and knowledge exercises are great for shoppers that are afraid of spending heaps of money on a bottle of whisk(e)y and not knowing what they are really buying. Most of the time shoppers are buying whisk(e)y because they think the label is pretty or because they saw an advert on TV. My intention is to teach shoppers to buy whisk(e)y based on the flavours that they enjoy and this is why you will always find me with a flavour Map at my demonstrations, just to make the decision process a lot simpler!