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Whisky Archaeology

威士忌考古學

It sounds quite romantic for such an archaeological process which give re-born to The Lost Distillery Whisky, which trace the DNA of the flavor profile of mothballed distilleries a century ago through the study of archive, literature and interpretation. The project is reminiscent of the movie "Jurassic Park", fortunately they are not going to engrave any dinosaurs but whisky, which is charming and won’t give you a bite.

 

Blended for a Reason

 Why is it the foreign (including Japan) products who always override local one? The quality matters but it then comes to the way of packaging as well, usually involves storytelling. Do not denigrate this step, as people always like story and feel being respected by this rather than being cheated, regardless of the realness of the story. It’s just like the claims of the candidates who debate live on the stage. The blended whisky from the Lost Distillery Company, which was recently introduced in HK, boasted its precision in their methodology akin to archaeology, in order to re-construct the lost flavors with their art of blending.

The artifacts of the distillery, so called ‘whisky archeology’, is a kind of food archeology which is not really new. For instance, we have "redology" in China, which comprises an independent chapter to restore the culinary styles depicted in the novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. Similarly, the theory behind ‘whisky archeology’ is very logical and systematic: first to study the archive, reading ancient tasting notes and analyzing the flavor profile, then the height and shape of pot still is estimated by considering various factors including environment, culture, economic, barrels, ageing period, location of distillery, etc. Combined with peripheral factors such as the impact of soil, water source, barley species, use of yeast, peat, the lost flavor is then estimated and used as a reference in making their blend.

No matter how the quality would be, it is an excellent idea to do such a project because it gives a decent reason to make a blended whisky. In the heyday of blended whisky, it was common to position blended whisky as a premium category and correlates it to the quality of life, while the advertisement were often associated with fashionable men pursuing their dreams, or a group of gentlemen pursued by beautiful women. Now as the single malt comes up, the blended whisky adjusts their strategy by stressing on the quality of their blending components, such as the case in Chivas Regal Ultis. The Lost Distillery Company proceed one more step in the timeline and re-construct the lost flavors of ancient distilleries. The gimmick is really outstanding and valuable.

 

Oops it were they who did it

How‘s the whisky tastes like? I was particular keen on the classic Jericho series (1822 - 1913) and the Gerston series (1796 - 1882) after tasting them. According to the official tasting notes, the former tastes similar to the present Dalmore, while the latter is reminiscent of Highland Park ... yeah I agree with that. These whiskies, although comprise ancient names which were not well-known, offers a theme which provokes funny discussion among whisky geeks. More importantly, they are affordable for most of the drinkers.

 

Listening to the re-construction process is somewhat like watching the Discovery Channel – looking at someone who spent a lifetime in the wasteland looking for the evidence of aliens and finally dug out something interesting. At the end of the day whisky is something to respite our spirit, but what makes it qualify to do that requires a serious methodology in producing, researching and even marketing.

 

 

The Lost Distillery Company 透過考察、文獻及研究,追溯已經關廠一世紀的威士忌風味 DNA,復刻再推出,聽上去,其實是挺浪漫的考古過程。不過,立時聯想起電影「侏羅紀公園」,還好的是,他們要復刻的不是恐龍,而是威士忌,不咬人,且十分迷人。

 

出師有名 才算是君子風度

為何外國(包括日本)月亮特別圓,一來是品質,二來是他們懂得以故事包裝。不要少看這步,因為先不管這個故事有的真實成份,至少讓人感到尊重,而非當我是一個「傻 B」,這不論於選舉,或於威士忌品牌也一樣。最近登港,出自蘇格蘭 The Lost Distillery Company 的調和型威士忌作品,便標榜以嚴謹儼如考古的精神,挖掘失落酒廠的風味,然後以現時各蒸餾廠出品的作品重新調和重構他們的迷失風味。

酒廠考古的方法,可稱之為「威士忌考古學」。這種食物考古學其實也不是甚麼新鮮事,中國就有一門「紅學」,其中之一就是要還原大觀園內的料理菜餚。而威士忌考古學的背後理論,也十分有紋有路有邏輯:首先是翻查文獻,閱讀從前的品飲紀錄,分析其風味體系,再從當時的環境著手,包括當時的經濟狀況、酒桶種類、陳存時間及酒廠位置以推估蒸餾器的高度等;結合自然風土的影響,包括水源,大麥種類、採用酵母、採用泥煤及泥煤來源。結合眾多周邊因素,推斷迷失風味,並成為製作酒釀的參考。

先不論酒釀,但不得不讚酒廠的聰明。調和型威士忌一定要出師有名,在單一麥芽末大紅大紫前,由於坊間普遍不認識原酒酒廠,所以調和型威士忌的品牌營銷,不是一堆時尚型男為夢想奔馳,便是紳士圍坐,美女自動搭訕,賣的是一份出塵感覺。現在單一麥芽崛起,調和型威士忌便重新標榜自己的原酒有多厲害,如上期介紹的芝華士 Chivas Regal Ultis 便以全強列陣,而 The Lost Distillery Company 更在時間線上再走前一步(更遠一步),以失落的酒廠列陣,建構實在的營運,這噱頭價值萬金。

 

哦 原來是他們

品試酒釀過後,發現酒釀不俗,特別喜歡經典系列中的 Jericho(1822 - 1913)及 Gerston(1796 - 1882),酒廠描述前者與現在的 Dalmore 相似,後者則類近 Highland Park……的確有幾分相像。最重要有故事而又不貴,朋友相聚飲酒有話題。這些酒廠的名字,古遠到完全陌生,不過這倒好,大家一輪鬥抛書包,天花亂墜,也是一場歡愉。

尋覓的過程好看,就如看發現頻道,有人用一生在荒地中,尋找外星人的痕跡,而掘出來的東西也挺有趣。與其斤斤計較,為何不多點幽默感,不是想說認真便輸了,而是本來用來給心靈抖抖氣的酒釀,是要很認真地釀造、考究、營銷,才能讓人認真地放鬆。