I found it quite interesting that the whisky world largely ignored the introduction of a David Beckham endorsed whisky. Maybe it is because it is a "celebrity" whisky? Maybe it is too cheap or too ubiquitous to garner any real online buzz because no-one feels special drinking or reviewing a whisky that costs under $50 and is available on large scale? After reading many times over in the whisky media that "grain whisky is the next big thing" and considering the fact this is a single grain scotch whisky (Note: it is made made from a 90% wheat and 10% malted barley mash and the "single" refers to the distillery not grain) it would suggest that we should consider the possiblity that the "next big thing" just arrived? However it seems everyone with a whisky fetish and a broadband connection remained unwaiveringly focussed on the proper, hard to find, bloody expensive whisky. However I am also pretty certain that is fine with Messers Beckham and Diageo who give not one flying-you-know-what about whatever the "blogosphere" has to say about this one. (Sorry if that comes as a shock to any of my whisky blogger brethren). Bottled at 40% ABV (as you might expect for an entry level scotch) the nose on Haig Club is quite light and sweet, perhaps even floral. The taste, at first, is a rather brash clash of pepper and spices and sweet caramel and toffee. With time some biscuit and grain notes come through as well and it sort of balances out into something quite drinkable, however it clearly blended for the addition of ice (as depicted in all the asscoiated media). The finish is spice led with cayenne and some more floral, even perfumed notes. Like Mr Beckham himself, smooth and more complex than you might expect but if this is the next big thing then I am going to just wait for the next "next big thing".Read More
In this entry I am going to try and consolidate the opinion I have shared on various other web pages, Twitter and Facebook into a single, possibly coherent, position. I am very conscious of the fact that “both sides of the story” have not yet come out and I may yet be proved to be more inaccurate than Matt Schaub throwing a pass. However I am more interested in the core of this issue than the “he said / she said” of recent events that is no doubt going to be focus of most of the coverage. I am also conscious that I may be expelled from the virtual whisky community (#whiskyfabric) for heresy but if that is the case I was already out of step and all I am doing is stating how I feel and it will be cleansing to do so.
Balcones was started by Chip Tate in Waco, Texas and he produced some rather interesting, sometimes great, often weird and occasionally (in my opinion) average whisky. I think even he would admit to some inconsistency especially early on. However the whisky media and bloggers went “super ape shit crazy” (technical term) for his stuff, some with good reason and some for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. Chip went “global”. He became a Whisky Kardashian (without the sex tape – thank god – and an appalling mother figure trying to live vicariously through her daughters success). A whisky superstar was born and I honestly saw more of Chip Tate at events like WhiskyLive London than I did at local events in Texas. Clearly he was “going to need a bigger boat” to secure Balcones place at the whisky’s top table and plans were announced to expand. And that is where this story goes to its darker second act. I have even suggested that media and bloggers who stoked the fires have some accountability for this.
Of course Chip needs money to expand and along come the investors (or the “suits” as they have been referred to). Chip asked them in. He wanted their money. He sold a majority share of the company to them. What bastards! How dare they try to run the company they bought the majority of! If you want to stay in control of your business, the best advice I can give is don’t sell it. Just because you started a business it doesn’t give you lifetime ownership of that business. If that means that expansion is not in your immediate future then accept that and stay in control. Perhaps he was badly advised, perhaps even mislead by investors or others, but when you sell something you lose control of it. That is the moral of this story. Chip apparently chose expansion over control.
At end of the day I hope this situation is resolved, and the third act is happy, feel good ending. Perhaps they reconcile and go onto to great things, maybe Chip starts again and stays small (and in control) if that is what he wants. Personally I hope Chip and his investors are reunited and Chip goes onto to make lots more Balcones Single Malt, perhaps a follow up to the stunning Vth Bourbon and, if I had my way, a lot less Brimstone and Rumble.