Only the Best Spirits are Found in the William Grant & Sons Portfolio
From its inception, William Grant & Sons distillery has been distilling and acquiring only the best spirits the world over.
Since being established by William Grant in 1887 when the first drop of spirit flowed from the Glenfiddich stills, this family owned distillery has continued to expand its portfolio of award-winning spirits. Today this company is run by the fifth generation of his family which distills some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s most awarded single malt Glenfiddich®, The Balvenie® range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch Grant’s® along with iconic premium spirits brands Hendrick’s® Gin, Sailor Jerry® Rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey and Milagro® Tequila.
Founded in 1964, William Grant & Sons USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of William Grant & Sons, Ltd. and features one of the fastest growing spirits portfolios in the USA with brands including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Milagro Tequila, Flor de Caña, Drambuie, Grant’s, Hudson Whiskey, Gibson’s Finest, Monkey Shoulder, Clan MacGregor, Reyka Vodka, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Lillet, Art In The Age, The Knot, and Raynal French Brandy. For more information on the company and its brands, please visit www.grantusa.com.
It would only seem fitting that this independent family-owned distiller with such a handsome portfolio of spirits would be a sponsor of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2018. And representing the company were a most impressive line-up of 13 Brand Ambassadors for William Grant & Sons.
I had the pleasure of talking with four of these knowledgeable ambassadors; Ashela Richardson with Flor de Caña, Han Shan with Hudson Whiskey, David Allardise with Glenfiddich and Tim Herlihy with Tullamore D.E.W.
Ashela Richardson with Flor de Caña – Combining her years of mixology experience with her BS degree in Environmental Science, Ashela was a natural for telling people about this award-winning Nicaraguan rum. In Real Estate we are always told value is all about location, location, location. Well, apparently the same is true with Flor de Caña. Flor de Caña is a 100% naturally aged rum enriched by the unique properties of the San Cristobal volcano, the most active volcano in Nicaragua. Combine that with the high natural humidity of the area and you have an environment that allows for a quicker natural aging of this rum. Using white oak bourbon barrels sealed with plantain leaves gives the rum a tropical flavor. The slow age process gives it its beautiful amber color and rich flavor without the use of unnatural additives or accelerants and with zero sugar content.
This 125-year-old family owned company, Flor de Caña, has become Nicaragua’s #1 exported brand. In its 5th generation, the Pellas family continues to produce the world’s best rum from its estate grown sugar cane. They also continue to instill quality values in its workers and its product. Today, the Flor de Caña distillery in Nicaragua is known as one of the most energy efficient and eco-friendly distilleries in the world. Talking to Ashela, I could tell she aligns with the traditions and heritage of this company. When she talked about the company being committed to being environmentally responsible there was pride in her voice. She explained how the company saves unused plant products to fuel its stills and how the rum is distilled with 100% renewable energy. The company also plants 50,000 trees a year to aid in water resources and has a huge recycling program. Flor de Caña also stays socially responsible by annually investing more than $2 million in health projects, education, infrastructure, food, recreation and sports in Nicaragua.
Interesting facts about Flor de Caña:
- Flor de Caña has won more than 180 international accolades, making it one of the most awarded premium rums in the world.
- Today Flor de Caña can proudly say that it has one of the largest reserves of aged rum in the world.
- 2017: Flor de Caña was named the #1 Rum Producer in the World by the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.
Today Ashela guided me through the tasting of two of Flor de Caña’s rums, the Flor de Caña 7 Year Gran Reserva from their Core Colleciton & the Flor de Caña 12 Years from their Centenario Collection . The 7 Year has a mahogany color with a smooth full-bodied taste. It makes a great sipping rum with a splash of water and twist of lemon and is also good in cocktails. The 12 Year has a beautiful red hue and this elegant, semi-sweet rum should be taken neat to enjoy its full spectrum. This 12 year won a Gold Medal in 2016 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. For more information on Flor de Cana go to www.flordecana.com/en
Han Shan with Hudson Whiskey – Han likes to think of himself as somewhat of a whiskey nerd having always explored different whiskey (and whisky). But he says he always seems to come back to the classic American styles of bourbon and rye. In this quest to find a quality American whiskey, a small town distillery caught his eye.
Tuthilltown Spirits, a distillery in the Hudson Valley of New York and the maker of Hudson Whiskey, came about by fate and the hard work of a couple of distillers. In 2001 they purchased the Tuthilltown Gristmill with plans to open a rock climber’s ranch, but fate would lead them in another direction. This 240-year-old mill led the way, so to speak. With a lot of dedication and education, these two distillers opened Tuthilltown Spirits Farm Distillery, New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition, distilling some of America’s most prized spirits in the Hudson Valley. The distillery is proud to be a true grain to glass facility using grain from local farmers to create each small batch. As U. S. Ambassador for Hudson Whiskey, Han sings the praises of this small batch brand to anyone who will listen.
I am one such person who got to hear Han tell about this prized whiskey during my interview with him at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference. He brought with him two bottles of their whiskey; the Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey and the Hudson Baby Bourbon.
Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey took some ingenuity to get it to work the way they wanted, but by using the whole grain rye, they found it created the perfect full balanced rye whiskey, becoming an instant favorite among whiskey drinkers. Most of the materials to make this whiskey are sourced within a 10-mile area helping to keep it local. This whiskey should be tasted smooth first. It will show a spiciness on the palate at once. Next try it with a bit of water and the taste will change to a more caramel flavor. You can actually see the oils from the grain mixing with the water to create the change. This Rye Whiskey bottled at 92 proof is honest rye whiskey with a rustic quality with a surprising bit of honey & coconut on the palate. This one makes a bold Manhattan cocktail too. Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey has won awards from 2008-2017.
Other than water and time, nothing else goes into a bottle of Hudson Baby Bourbon. According to Han, “The Baby Bourbon gets its name from the signature 2-gallon small charred new American oak barrels used to age this bourbon. Small barrels mean more wood contact, which accounts for its rich, oaky, smoky flavor profile.” Baby Bourbon is made from 100% corn sourced locally from farmers within 10 miles of the distillery. The distillery never charcoal or chill filter their bourbon, giving the end-user a full-flavor experience. You’ll also recognize subtle notes of vanilla, roasted corn and caramel. This is a very delightfully smooth sipping whiskey. Hudson Baby Bourbon has won numerous awards from 2010-2017. For more information on Hudson Whiskey go to www.hudsonwhiskey.com.
David Allardice with Glenfiddich – I had the pleasure of meeting David at last year’s conference and have been happily linked up with him again this year for an interview. David is a native Scotsman who grew up within a short distance from the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. Oddly enough and as fate would have it, he didn’t acquire his passion for Scotch until he moved to America. Here, after trying some of his country’s most famous liquid, he developed a love that would bring him to his new career as U.S. Ambassador for Glenfiddich.
Founded in 1886 by William Grant, Glenfiddich is one of the few single malt distilleries remaining independent and family-owned. It is also the World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
This year, David brought with him three different Glenfiddich single malts; the India Pale Ale Cask (IPA), the Project XX, and a prized 30-Year-Old which was newly released in the U.S.
The Glenfiddich IPA was the first pioneering expression of the Glenfiddich “experimental series”. The experimental series is a new project that “allows” breaking all the rules thereby pushing single malt whisky making boundaries and challenging traditions. But before they could craft this newest malt, David told me they first had to create a craft beer. They did this by collaborating with a local Speyside craft brewer (in the interim, Speyside Crafe Brewery was formed) who created a bold India Pale Ale to steep citrusy, hoppy notes into the Glenfiddich oak casks for one month. The casks were then emptied of the brew, taken back to the distillery and filled with whisky which was left to finish for three months. This was a groundbreaking first for single malt Scotch whisky, maturing it in India Pale Ale casks. It took these craftsmen several tries to get the perfect craft beer that was best for the task, but after all the trial and error, it turned out to be a win, win situation. Not only did they get a smooth, rich, fruity tasting whisky, they also got a great craft beer in the process. It should be mentioned that this isn’t a beer flavored whisky, but rather a whisky that shares flavors with the India Pale Ale. I would say this experiment was a success!
The Glenfiddich Project XX I was told was the most ambitious project yet. Typically every malt whisky is chosen and vatted by one Malt Master, but the question was raised, “What if there were 20 Malt Masters?” So a secret covert meeting of the Malt Master’s called (codename XX, pronounced twenty) was planned. Twenty whisky experts from 16 countries were invited to the Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. Each master was there to choose one cask that appealed to them. Each cask being a different expression from its origin and journey was used in aging single malts for the experiment. Each malt lent a unique personality to the final expression. This Project XX small batch offered a delightful result. It had warm summer fruity character of a classic Glenfiddich but also revealed multiple personalities like rich port tannins as well as sweet cinnamon spice and almonds with a hint of liquorice.
The 30-Year-Old was first released in the Asian market, and has just recently become available in the U.S., so I am feeling very privileged to try it. This whisky has spent the last 30 years aging first in Spanish Sherry Oloroso (30%) barrels and then American bourbon oak (70%) barrels. On the nose there was fruit and oakiness. I am in no way a Scotch connoisseur, but this whisky did have a rich, velvety smoothness compared to other Scotch whiskys I have tasted. As I sat there and rolled it around in my mouth, I noticed a layer of flavors changing on the palate. Flavors of sherry, chocolate and fruit. There was also some floral sweetness. This was a wonderful scotch and I thank David for letting me share a drink of it with him. For more information on Glenfiddich and their collection of whisky go to www.Glenfiddich.com/us
Tim Herlihy with Tullamore D.E.W.
Tim is a true Irishman from Termonfeckin, Ireland and not surprisingly it was in the bars and pubs around there that he attained his passion for whiskey. He has traveled to numerous distilleries around the world learning as much as he could about the production of whiskey from malting to maturation. As a Tullamore D.E.W. Ambassador, Tim travels the world to tell people all about this fine whiskey and about Irish Whiskey in general. He has been on the Steve Harvey Show & Access Hollywood Live and has become so popular that in 2015 he was crowned as one of Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky for : “Best Irish Whiskey Ambassador”. Tim even has a belt to prove it. Not only is he a whiskey expert, he is full of Irish trivia, proverbs and facts.
Tullamore D.E.W. is the world’s second largest and amongst the fastest-growing Irish whiskey brands, sold in 80 international markets. (The ‘D.E.W.’ in the name represents the initials of Daniel E. Williams, the Tullamore distillery worker who ended up taking the reins of the entire works as general manager.) The secret behind this amazingly smooth and gentle yet complex whiskey is “3”. Tullamore D.E.W. is the original triple distilled, triple blend whiskey made from all three types of Irish whiskey – pot still, malt and grain whiskey. Tullamore D.E.W. was the first and remains the only international Irish whiskey to pioneer this blend of three.
Today Tim has me trying three of their Irish Whiskies; Tullamore D.E.W. Original, Tullamore D.E.W. 12-Year-Old Special Reserve, and the Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask Finish, its newest release.
The Tullamore Original is triple distilled and patiently aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and sherry casks. This original blended Irish whiskey is known the world over for its smooth and gentle complexity. Upon tasting, it starts with notes of floral from the grain whiskey, then moves into spiciness from the pot still whiskey and ends with citrus from the malt. The sherry and bourbon casks lend to a finish of vanilla and butteriness.
With age come complexity as witnessed in the 12-Year-Old Special Reserve. With a high proportion of pot still and malt whiskeys, matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks for 12 to 15 years, this is a fine aged whiskey. Starting from deep spice to chocolate notes which lead into dried fruit, it ends with a long, rich finish of citrus, raisins and some chocolate. It’s a fine tasting whiskey.
Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask is a new launch in the U.S. as a seasonal Fall release. This unique product combines two of Ireland’s oldest crafts, cider-making and whiskey-making, which both have centuries of tradition rooted in the country. To produce Cider Cask, Tullamore D.E.W. small-batch ferments fresh-pressed Irish apple juice into cider in oak casks, before refilling the casks with its signature Irish whiskey. Bursting with a light, golden amber glow, Tullamore D.E.W. Cider Cask tastes as fresh as it looks with notes of toasted oak tinged with cider sweetness. This whiskey is light bodied, sweet and fruity.
Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category and Tullamore D.E.W. is the world’s second largest and one of the fastest-growing Irish whiskey brands on the market. To find out more about Tullamore D.E.W. go to www.tullamoredew.com.
These are only a few of the high-quality spirits found in the William Grant & Sons portfolio. Check out more here.