Cheers-Nov-Dec 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 21 of 63 22 • November/December 2016 "We are so close to bourbon country that it's difficult to focus on imported whisky," admits John Ford, owner/manager of The Littlefield, Cincinnati Bourbon Bar and Kitchen. The restaurant carries 90 whiskeys, 60 of which are bourbon. But Ford has been expanding the Scotch selection because of customer interest. "We have a few Canadian whiskies, too, which the staff likes a lot and talks it up because the whisky is a great value," says Ford, citing Pike Creek Whisky. "If we find a product we like, we won't ignore it just because it's not bourbon," he notes. AGE DISCRIMINATION Another market trend over the past few years is an increase in "non age statement" (NAS) whisky releases, chiefly malt Scotch, but also some Irish whiskeys. Increased sales have led to a depletion of older stocks of whisky. Some producers have chosen to forego the usual statement of spirits' ages on the label in favor of limited or small-batch releases, often touting different wood treatments. "We've seen age statements disappearing from Scotch labels," notes Beadle at Small Batch. Instead, communications focus on the spirit's ingredients and distillation and maturation methods. He doesn't see the NAS phenomenon as a bad thing. "Whiskey drinkers get excited about all the limited editions and new labels; they are looking for new experiences." Johnson at Piper's Pub also sees advantages to the NAS trend. "All the single-malt distilleries are hopping on that bandwagon, putting out a dozen different releases a year. When we started, there was just, you know, Glenlivet 12-year, 15, 18. It's nice to see more variety on the backbar." Blended whiskies, which often don't carry an age statement, are also seeing a bump in interest. "'Old man' Scotch is becoming cool again," says Pete Vasconcellos, bar director at The Penrose, another gastropub from the Bua Bar Group. He's seeing an uptick in Cutty Sark and other "less-hip" whiskies. "Cutty Sark is doing a lot to reposition the brand as how to drink with your dad, or your grandpa. It falls right in line with what Miller Lite did, bringing back the retro bottle," Vasconcellos says. Cutty Sark is "a solidly made blended Scotch: a little peat, not too much smoke, not too sweet, well balanced. It has great baking spice notes." The Penrose in New York uses Cutty Sark in several cocktails, including the Chest Rockwell, with Cutty Sark Prohibition, amontillado sherry, Gran Classico bitter, blackberry and black plum syrup and a float of Lagavulin Scotch. Small Batch–Whiskey and Fare in St. Louis, MO, carries more than 120 whiskeys, about 20% of which are imports. Casa Fuente in Las Vegas, a cigar lounge inside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, was the first drinking establishment in the North American market to own a private barrel of Asian whisky when it secured a barrel of Kavalan Taiwanese whisky last fall.

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