A Bonnie Burns Night

A Bonnie Burns Night

 

Burns Night

This Tuesday the 25th of January the Cask Trade team led by our intrepid Scottish contingent celebrated the 263rd birthday of the National Bard in style. Heading over to the excellent new (ish) Milroy’s of Spitalfields in East London was Hugh (Edinburgh) and Jack (Dunblane) where they indulged in an alternative Burns feast consisting of haggis rarebit and beef shin stovies, washed down with four of the Bruichladdich range (Octomore 9.1, Port Charlotte 10, Classic Laddie, Black Art). Milroy’s Spitalfield has over 1000 bottles of whisky to choose from plus a private tasting room and a cocktail bar. Definitely worth heading east for.

Burns Night

Myriam (Speyside) and her Celtic cousin Sarah (Cork – Ireland) travelled to Clerkenwell where the Bourne & Hollingsworth venue held an Ardbeg tasting and ceilidh. Nothing like Scotland’s smokiest whisky to kick off the evening in style! As a fortunate coincidence, two of Cask Trades’ customers were in attendance, one who was in the band. We can only assume lots of square dancing ensued as everyone greeted each other with ‘Oidhche Bhlas Burns’ and ‘Slainte Mhath’, which we believe translates to ‘Happy Burns Night’ and ‘Good Health’. Bourne & Hollingsworth have two venues in London and are known for great drinks and service.

Burns Night

Over at the Soho Whisky Club, Cask Trade director, Sir Colin Hampden-White (Edinburgh) was in attendance with Josh (Sassenach) for a great event hosted in conjunction with Douglas Laing. Pipers, Burns poetry, Haggis Neeps & Tatties were all in abundance whilst trying several of Douglas Laings whiskies, including a Ben Nevis 25 year and their own blended malt with the splendidly named ‘Timorous Beastie’.

Burns Night

Finally, Chloe who hails from the Celtic county of Cornwall and Phil (Sassenach) headed to the prestigious Scottish restaurant and bar Boisdale of Canary Wharf. Here a 4-course traditional Scottish menu was paired with Aberfeldy 12-year whisky. Personally, Boisdale arguably has the best haggis in London and their chef makes it from scratch. Truly delicious! Much consumption of whisky occurred with Glenlivet and Balvenie firmly on the menu whilst ‘Scotland the Brave’ and ‘Flower of Scotland’ vibrated throughout the restaurant played by their piper. As a twist on the evening, entertainment Scottish tradition gave way to a Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tribute act. These singers were absolutely brilliant with all the old favourites like ‘My Way’, ‘New York New York’ and ‘That’s Amore’ had the patrons singing along. A brilliant end to a brilliant Burns Night. We should also mention a big thank you to our owner Simon Aron for his generosity in funding our Burns mischievous fun around town.

Burns Night

To find out more about our events and general goings-on at Cask Trade HQ, sign up to our newsletter by ticking the box at the bottom of the registration form. 

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Robert Burns – the Myth, the Legend

Robert Burns – the Myth, the Legend

 

On Tuesday 25th, 2022 many Scots and whisky imbibers in the four corners of the world will raise a glass or two to the 263rd anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. At many gatherings his poetry will be read, haggis neeps and tatties consumed, bagpipes played, and ceilidhs danced. The focus point of the evening will of course be Scotland’s national drink which played a central theme in many of his poems and songs. However, in comparison with Vincent Van Gogh, his enduring fame has completely transcended his relatively short life of 37 years, so much so that the popularity of Burns Night only seems to be increasing. In this article, we’re going to explore Robbie Burns’ incredibly interesting, traumatic, but ultimately early, demise. 

Burns was born in Alloway very close to Ayr in 1759. His parents were farmers, and he grew up in real poverty, being subjected to severe manual labour for much of his youth. Whilst Burns had no formal education, it seems that thanks to his father’s homeschooling and a kindly private teacher taking him under his wing he became quite proficient in all subjects, plus Latin and French. It was at the age of 15 that he started writing poetry. Soon after this, he left home to become a flax weaver (flax at that time was used for making certain fabrics), but this soon ended when the flax shop burned to the ground.

Robert Burns

By the age of 20, his poetry was certainly becoming more proficient and prolific in no small part in his desire to woo certain ladies. He famously wrote a number of songs and poems for Alice Begbie but she rejected his marriage proposal. At the age of 22, Burns was initiated into the Freemasons. Soon after this, his father passed away and he inherited the farm with his brother. They tried to keep the farm afloat but eventually, after four years they failed. During this time Robert Burns had numerous romantic entanglements and the first of his 12 children were born.

He had an affair with his mothers’ servant whilst at the same time was seeing a great love of his called Jean Armour. She bore him nine children but sadly only three survived infancy. Burns was an adventurer who never seemed to settle very long in one particular place. All of these life experiences are seen to influence his poetry and songwriting. In fact, it was the need to feed his rapidly growing family and to pay for his voyage to the West Indies which precipitated him to release his poetry. Slowly but surely his poetry started gaining traction and his popularity started to spread. Walter Scott no less described Burns as being extraordinarily talented!

Poetry and Whisky

Burns with his newfound fame had now decided to base himself in Edinburgh. The new edition of his poems gained him a princely sum of £400 which was probably quickly used up as more affairs and children followed by numerous local women. Interestingly Burns eventually grew tired of city life and the draw of his country roots was too much, therefore in 1788 he headed back to his home county to try his luck at farming again. Here he quickly resumed his relationship with the love of his life Jean Armour and for a little financial security trained as an exciseman with HMRC.

This was quite controversial as the Scotch Whisky industry was still very much an illegal business at this time because of the extortionate tax being levied by the government. This drove Scotch whisky production underground, and subsequently, the gaugers as they were also known were the most hated officials in the land. Sadly, it was the long journeys on horseback through the harsh Scottish weather which precipitated his demise. His health quickly started to fail and on the 21st of July 1796 Burns passed away in Dumfries from a long-standing rheumatic heart condition. Through his many children, it is said that Robert Burns has around 1000 living descendants today. 

Literary Legacy

Burns’ talent was his exceptional skill at writing in a mixture of both the Scots language and the Scots English dialect. As a romantic poet, he is today classified in the same rarefied air of both Wordsworth and Keats. His famous works include poems ‘Tom O’ Shanter’ and ’Auld Lang Syne’ plus not forgetting the ‘Address to the Haggis’… The numerous Burns statues that populate the English-speaking world are testament to his growing influence and appeal. Millions around the world will be raising a toast on January 25th to this complex, controversial but nevertheless true literary genius. 

Burns and Whisky 

As a footnote, it would be remiss of me to not mention the whisky influence in Burns’ written works. In most cases, he is praising the national spirit like in Tom O’ Shanter. All this makes his late-life foray into being a hated exciseman all the more surprising. It seems that Robert Burns was introduced to whisky in his early twenties and certainly embraced it. In several of his poems, he is quite scathing on Lowland whisky describing it ‘as that rascally liquor’ but in general his mood is upbeat, celebratory, and patriotic. 

Haggis

Let’s not forget his most famous piece, aptly titled ‘Scotch Drink’…. 

‘O thou, my Muse! Guid auld Scotch drink! 

Whether thro’ wimplin’ twisting worms thou jink 

Or, richly brown, ream foam owre the brink 

In glorious faem 

Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink 

To sing thy name!’ 

A complex character born into poverty who, despite this, became well educated and escaped his rural destiny. Burns was an adventurer who controversially worked for a short while on a sugar plantation (although it wouldn’t have been seen so at the time), he had numerous affairs and bore 12 children. After reaching fame and critical appreciation living in Edinburgh the draw of his rural roots was too much and he tried farming again. His brief foray into being an exciseman was certainly controversial at the time and sadly was the undoing of his health. It is clear though that he was a romanticist and that his poetry and songs were inspired by his turbulent life experiences, and thus his fame continues to grow. The accolades are well deserved. A true legend indeed.

For more interesting insights and information from our Masters, be sure to check out our ‘News’ page.

Cask Trade’s Trends and Predictions 2022

Cask Trade’s Trends and Predictions 2022

MORE FEMALE WHISKY DRINKERS, A REVIVAL OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS AND AN EXPLOSION OF NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS ARE AMONG THE PREDICTIONS THE CASK TRADE MASTERS SEE FOR 2022.

Our growing team of passionate whisky enthusiasts have taken a look back over the past year that was, to share some trends they have spotted and to proffer some predictions for 2022.

2021 TRENDS

2021 was a challenging year for almost every industry and the whisky sector has been no different, as the pandemic imposed restrictions on the crucial on-trade and some distilleries were even forced to halt production.

However, there have been many positives over the last year for whisky, including the suspension of the 25% tariff in the US on Scotch, which has led to a sales growth.

With around 150 export markets buying Scotch whisky, demand from new customers with more disposable income looking to buy rare items from around the world is strong and continues to outstrip supply. A growing trend has been seen in the demographic of whisky drinkers which continues to get younger, with more women coming into the category.

There has also been new interest and growth in ‘New World’ whisky with many new distilleries opening up around the world, and Australian whisky continues to rise up the ranks with brands like Starwood and Sullivans Cove leading the way. We have embraced this trend by welcoming distilleries such as Mackmyra and Heaven Hill onto our stock list.

2022 PREDICTIONS

Can you keep a secret?

We expect to see more and more ‘secret’ casks coming to the market with undisclosed brand names. ‘Secret’ distillery means there is no specific brand name associated with the cask and therefore the price point is lower for the same quality liquid. Secret Speyside, for example, was a very popular series last year (continuing into this year), offering casks of whisky matured in an ex-bourbon barrel, a sherry hogshead and a bourbon hogshead.

Out with the old and in with the new…sometimes

A new hot sector in the cask trading industry is young casks, under 10 years old, from less explored distilleries. As a stockist, we have been able to purchase an extremely healthy supply of stock to sell to predominately younger investors who are open to medium to long-term investments.

New-make from Speyside Distillery actually featured in our very popular Trilogy Series last year offering casks of whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels, sherry hogsheads and port wine barriques.

Cask buyers are gradually coming to realise that old and rare casks are, by definition, old and rare and therefore extremely scarce and expensive.

Although, if you are interested in adding an old and rare cask to your portfolio, we have had some big names in our inventory including a 1989 Macallan, 1990 Littlemill and 1997 Bowmore, to name a few!

Shaken or stirred?

Classic whisky cocktails will continue their revival in 2022 including forgotten classics like the Affinity, Bobby Burns, New York Sour and Barbary Coast. We also expect to see whisky highballs breaking through into the mainstream and becoming fashionable.

Our Independent Bottlers are on the Rise

2021 saw our trade clientele grow exponentially. Now, over 50% of our clients are independent bottlers, so it’s safe to say we’re trusted by the industry, which ultimately will be the end destination of your cask.  We expect to see a further 50% uplift in indie bottler clients, continuing into 2022 and beyond. Currently, we have a global reach with 100+ bottlers on almost every continent. We also supply to whisky clubs, and of course, avid whisky enthusiasts. The same price is offered to trade as it is to private clients.

Cask Trade has sold 1400+ casks to trade/independent bottling companies to date, which equates to nearly half a million bottles that have been bottled (or waiting to be bottled)!

Scotch whisky alternatives

The rum category is definitely the one to watch in 2022. Interest in premium rum continues its growth as rare rum bottles become more collectible. For more than a year now, we have been buying and selling rum casks and this is set to accelerate this year. In particular, we have had Barbados Rum from the famous Foursquare Distillery tend to fly off the list, and rums from Trinidad and Panama are also proving popular.

Rye whiskey is going to continue its growth. German Rye and New York Rye will start to get the plaudits they deserve.

From new product launches to distillery investments, Irish whiskey will also show huge acceleration in growth in the US and start to catch Scotch whisky in terms of its popularity. In fact, we think 2022 is the year to add Cooley Irish Whiskey to your portfolio; with Cooley you have a producer with an already very strong track record and a loyal following, especially in the all-important US market, who make great whiskey. We have Irish Whiskey on our current stock list so get in touch and let’s talk Whiskey!

But don’t just take our word for it, according to The Spirits Business, Irish Whiskey sales are at an all-time high.

Non-Fungible what?

 Non-fungible tokens (NFT to your friends) are ‘one-of-a-kind’ assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other product, but which have no tangible form of their own. The digital tokens are certificates of ownership for virtual assets.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s respectively sold $65 million and $100 million of NFTs in 2021, according to a recent Reuters report (8th November 2021).

The use of NFTs by whisky brands will take off in 2022. We predict Macallan will enter this market at some point during the year.

ASIA FORECAST

Much of the trends and predictions refer to all markets we service, however we believe there will be a return to Scotch whisky in Asia in 2022.

In this market, premium blended whisky and Single Malt are leading the way and continue to put pressure on aged stock.

Single Malt whisky in China continues to grow from a small base as consumers become more educated.

Other whiskies to watch in 2022 are recommended in this article on Forbes.com including one of our personal favourites GlenAllachie.

We are Cask Trade.

For more interesting insights and information from our Masters, be sure to check out our ‘News’ page.