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American Bourbon in the Classic British Whisky Store

英國老店中的美國波本

There were films which depict characters with certain brand of whisky, but the “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”is different as it builds the whole storyboard from whisky. Following the Dalmore in last episode , we will see a bottle of Bourbon found in a safe in the renowned Berry Bros. & Rudd. The scenario is especially esoteric if we couple it with current political situation.

 

Dance with the Angel? Grease or Waltz?

 

The whiskey is golden in color. The subtitle “the Golden Circle” marked the identity of the villains in the film but also symbolized the relationship between UK and US. In the 18th century, Scotland and Irish immigrants started the history of American whiskey. They used rye and corn instead of barley to make American whiskey. Despite the physical distance, the UK and the US make whisky/ whiskey on common ground as like the inextricably political connection between the two countries.

 

Bourbon Whiskey, as mentioned in the film, is one of the mainstreams in the American whiskey industry while the other is the Tennessee Whiskey. The former is well-known in Hong Kong as for the brand “Jim Beam”while the latter is dominated by Jack Daniel's. In addition to these two brands, we also have rye whiskey, corn whiskey and blended whiskey.

 

According to regulations, Bourbon must be matured in new oak barrels. After the maturation, the distilleries would look for buyers of seasoned barrel in order to save cost. On the other hand, the distilleries in Scotland always seek for cheap old barrels. Therefore they are mutually dependence. The fact that Bourbon uses charred new oak barrel is in fact a matter of climate consideration. The hot and dry climate in the United States boasts the evaporation rate of whiskey. For instance, the angels share in Speyside is around 2 to 3% per year, while it may reach 10-18% in the US. Therefore we can see an air-conditioned cellar in the Statesman. We won’t have it in Scotland.

 

Evaporation means an increased cost. The chemical reaction between whiskey and barrel accelerates as the  effective contact deteriorates. Under the premise that the whiskey won’t be maturated for a long period, a new barrel allows a quick extraction, just like the dance steps performed in the movie “Grease”. When the extraction is done, the barrel offers no value for them. Scottish buy those barrels at a reasonably low price so the demands of both sides are satisfied. 

 

The makers of Single malt whisky strive for . Now the in America cut the wood and take three to four years ageing it before they are made into barrel. The Bourbon Whiskey would take the tannins and sweetness. In Scotland, the story is different. As the climate is wet and cool, the whisky interacts with aromatics in the old barrel slowly and elegantly, as if they are dancing Waltz.

Mutually Beneficial

In fact, the association between the US and UK is obvious in terms of commercial relation. Take Old Forester as an example, its parent company Brown-Forman is well-known for its Tennessee Whiskey Jack Daniel's. Tennessee whiskey is similar to Bourbon with an extra maple charcoal filtration process. In addition to the best-selling ace, there is also Glenlassaugh, which will soon land in Hong Kong market. One of the series of the brand, the Glenglassaugh Evolution, uses George Dickel's Tennessee whiskey barrel. The  interesting thing is that George Dickel is owned by another British spirits giant Diageo instead of Jack Daniel's.

Talking of best-selling Bourbon, we should not miss Jim Beam. Tts parent company Beam Suntory marked the conglomeration of Japanese and the US giants, which carry the brands like Bowmore, Teacher's, etc.

電影中經常以酒款側寫故事中人的人物個性,但如似皇家特工:金圈子那樣,直接以威士忌作為電影故事發展平台,卻不多見。上集的大摩,一滴造就一幕,今集威士忌則成篇,在英國著名傳統酒商貝瑞兄弟與路德(Berry Bros. & Rudd)的店中夾萬,發現一瓶美國波本,結合今天的政局來看,意味深長。

 

跟天使跳油脂?還是華爾滋? 

威士忌色澤金黃,電影副題金圈子既是奸角派系的身份標記,也象徵了英美兩國的威士忌關係:你來我往,唇齒相依。於 18 世紀,蘇格蘭及愛爾蘭移民開展了美國威士忌的釀造歷史,並因利成便,在原料方面,從大麥轉為採用在美國可輕易入手的祼麥及玉米。英美兩國雖隔著太平洋各自釀酒,不過關係就如其政治瓜葛,千絲萬縷。

 

電影所提的波本是美國威士忌的其中一支主流,另一大宗是田納西洲威士忌,前者最為香港人熟知的品牌應是 Jim Beam ;後者在全球的代表該是 Jack Daniel's。其實除了這兩酒款外,還包括裸麥威士忌、玉米威士忌及調和式威士忌。

根據釀造法規,波本必須在全新橡木桶熟成,釀酒之後,酒廠為了省回成本,會尋找酒桶買家,而木材不多的蘇格蘭,蒸餾廠極需廉價木桶陳存酒釀,一個要買一個要賣,兩者一拍即合。波本須要採用烘烤過的全新橡木桶,其實跟氣候有關,由於美國的釀造波本的地區,天氣較蘇格蘭乾及熱,所以在蒸發率方面也相對蘇格蘭快,以斯佩塞為例,天使的分享約每年 2 - 3%,而在肯德基則為10 - 18%,所以電影中Statesman的酒窖設有環境調節以保護舊酒,但在蘇格蘭,根本無此須要。

蒸發快意味成本上漲,酒液跟木桶的化學作用也會加速,酒液跟木桶的接觸面也會遞減得很快,在酒釀不能長期陳存的前題下,採用全新木桶,讓酒液跟酒桶跳著急勁的油脂舞步,盡快拿萃取酒桶風味元素。當酒桶功成身退,其實對美國人而言已無價值,蘇格蘭人見對方無用,於是便平價收購,用來陳存威士忌,英美兩地各取所需,美國人賣舊桶套現,英國人有桶存酒。 

單一麥芽風潮未到,釀造單一麥芽威士忌的蘇格蘭酒廠大多辛苦經營著,哪裡有能力負擔全新酒桶?現在美國同業切了樹,花三至四年等待木材收縮熟成,再把波本放進去陳存,先行拿走部份木材的單寧及甜香。蘇格蘭的氣候又濕又冷,天使沒那麼大貪,如此情況下,酒釀跟木桶香味分子,可以跳著慢步的華爾滋,故全新木桶的誇張木香也非好事。

  

生意,那會有對著幹的事? 

其實英美的酒釀關係網,用商業⻆度察看,顯而易見。就以Old Forester為例,其母公司是布朗霍文(Brown-Forman),母公司旗下最為人熟知的品牌是美國田納西威士忌 Jack Daniel’s。田納西威士忌的釀造方法類近波本威士忌,主要不同之處在於田納西威士忌多了一重楓木炭過濾。布朗霍文除了這暢銷皇牌,也有擁有蘇格蘭的威士忌蒸餾廠格蘭格拉索(Glenglassaugh),酒廠作品快將登陸香港,系列之一的 Glenglassaugh Evolution,採用George Dickel 的田納西威士忌酒桶,不過有趣的是 George Dickel 卻是由另一英資酒業巨人帝亞吉歐(Diageo)擁有,而非出自 Jack Daniel’s。

而要數暢銷波本,一定要提的是沾邊威士忌,看其母公司 Beam Suntory,便知是日美兩大酒業巨頭的合體,旗下的蘇格蘭蒸餾廠包括有波摩(Bowmore)及教師(Teacher's)等。