Good News Week

I guess we should all be celebrating the Chancellor’s decision to reduce duty on whisky by 2%. The Scotch Whisky Association is pleased but it’s still not a lot in cash terms – about 16p a 70cl. bottle. Will that make much of a difference at on-trade level? I don’t think that it will. Readers of this blog will know better than I do but it will be interesting to see.  In terms of tax numbers it means that tax on a 70cl bottle in the UK is now £7.74 instead of £7.90 and the total tax on a bottle, including VAT, is now £9.89. That’s still 77% of the average price of a bottle. Rather less for single malts and deluxe bottlings, of course. As the vast bulk of UK sales is still blend, that’s what counts and it is a positive step. It’s bizarre, though, that Scotch Whisky can still be cheaper in some European markets where tax is lower. I’ll be in Italy next week and will be hoping to  compare prices in their stores with here as that’s one of the cheaper countries along with France, Spain and others.

In other good news, the nice people at Wemyss Malts have won the award for Best Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 2015 from Whisky Magazine for their Velvet Fig expression. It’s a beaut – rich and unctuous – I’ve tried it and loved it. They produced only 6,000 bottles and they have none left in their warehouse but there was still a small stock at their lovely new distillery, Kingsbarns, in Fife and at other retailers, online and in actual shops. It’s not too expensive and worth stocking if you can get hold of some. Also a good start to Wemyss Malts’ tenth anniversary year.

The company also owns Rimauresq wines from the south of France. I discovered them in France years ago and availability here was really patchy. I’m overjoyed that the distillery shop has those too.

Another incoming piece of good news is a win by Benriach of the Global Whisky Distiller of the Year 2015 at those same Icons of Whisky awards from Whisky Magazine. It also won Best Speyside Single Malt for its Benriach 16 Year Old. They’ve done a lot that is positive with both Benriach and The Glendronach and have started to do good things with Glenglassaugh too since they took it on. Funnily enough, Benriach Distillers have been going about 10 years now as well. Must have been something in the water that year to spark all this creativity.

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On that happy note, I’m off to finish my ironing and packing for running away to Venice. Back to you all later in April so have a great, chocolate-filled Easter and remember to try matching some whiskies with it!



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