New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

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New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby kallaskander » 28 Feb 2013, 12:16

Hi there,

we have discussed NAS no age statement bottlings the length and the breadth.

Oliver Klimek at http://www.dramming.com/

did a feature about the The Ageless Revolution which I read yesterday.

Today I read the press release about the new Talisker Storm on his page http://www.dramming-news.com/2013/02/20 ... -released/.

Before that I had visited http://caskstrength.blogspot.de/2013/02 ... stuff.html.

All that formed a thought in my muddled mind.

Are not all these fancy NAS whiskies a betrayal and just dishonest fakes?

Young in their hearts but to young to stand alone so they are prepped up with older barrels. But no one tells us how old and how many.

The press release says: "TALISKER STORM™ is an exuberant new expression of Talisker, calculated to delight and intrigue the many adorers of this celebrated island whisky: more intense and smoky, with enhanced and vibrant maritime notes, smoothly balanced with Talisker’s signature hot sweetness."

and further down: ... "explained by Master Blender Dr Jim Beveridge:

“We wanted to focus on distillery character - the bedrock of Talisker Storm. So we sought out some great mature Talisker, enriched and mellowed by time spent in carefully rejuvenated casks, and brought that together with some very fresh distillery character preserved by maturation in refill casks. The result is Talisker’s unique distillery character delivered by aged, mature whiskies, integrated in one vibrant dram.”

The unique distillery character delivered by aged, mature whiskies... reads for me that the young whisky used could not deliver the desired effects. But young whisky is at the heart of the Talisker Storm - otherwise it would carry an age statement. And by the way with 35.- € recomended it is not exactly cheap.

So why have I the feeling that whiskies like this are dishonest and made to cheat me?

They are young at heart but prepped up with mature casks, they are expensive because of that as well.
They are too expensive for their young core and so they are cheating me moneywise as well.

Am I making myself clear? Not too sure myself.... 8-)

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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby The Third Dram » 28 Feb 2013, 13:44

I'd simply say, "The proof's in the pudding."

If the resulting aroma, flavour, (and possibly complexity and balance as well) do indeed reflect what the distillery/company is trying to achieve, and the price falls into a reasonable range given the quality of said product, then all is well. If not, customers' reactions within the marketplace will hopefully send a clear message.

Good examples? Isle of Jura Prophecy and Aberlour a'bunadh immediately spring to mind. There are many more, of course. On the other hand, I've yet to be excited by any of the newer NAS Macallans.

As concerns Talisker, the 8-year old edition of decades ago was quite the whisky, too. So 'younger' CAN definitely work in certain cases.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby kallaskander » 28 Feb 2013, 14:14

Hi there,

The Third Dram wrote:As concerns Talisker, the 8-year old edition of decades ago was quite the whisky, too. So 'younger' CAN definitely work in certain cases.


But they are not just young! You are cheated two ways. The youthfulness is watered down with mature casks, the maturity is watered down with young casks. The result is an undecided whisky at best.

In the case of Talisker the claim is that the Storm was made to emphasize the distillery character.
Now that is interesting... whose character do the Talisker 10 18 57° North and the Distillery Edition show?
And whose the 25 30 35yo ???? For prices like this?

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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby kallaskander » 28 Feb 2013, 14:42

Hi there,

here is an interesting aspect from one of the inner circle of the machinations.

http://misswhisky.com/2013/02/27/talisker-storm-whisky/

Dr Nick Morgan says among other things...

"Will the trend of NAS whisky releases continue?

I think you will find that brands are going to release more and more expressions focusing on flavour and how that flavour is achieved – whether it’s through special types of wood, or finishing or peat or no peat – is going to be a far more dominate part of the malt whisky narrative over next five to 10 years. I think it reflects a category that is maturing and reflects consumers who are maturing and have a better understanding of what it is that distillers and blenders are trying to achieve when they release new products.

In emerging markets, age is often seen as an important factor because an older item is more expensive and, therefore, more prestigious. Will we see aged whiskies being sold to markets such as Asia and NAS whiskies saved for European markets?

It’s not quite as straight forward as that. I would point towards the huge success in emerging markets of products such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label which has no age statement. And Johnnie Walker Red Label is our biggest selling product and that has no age statement. That demonstrates that the rule is not hard and fast.

However, I think age has a greater part to play in markets where Scotch is not as understood because it gives consumers some sort of indication about what they might be buying and what they might expect. The whole practice of using age statements was about establishing the legitimacy and integrity of products being sold. I think in mature markets in Europe and North America, Scotch has gone way beyond that point. It’s far less relevant for consumers in mature markets than it is for consumers in emerging markets. But even there, with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it’s not essential."

So in the end it is all our own fault. We matured with the whiskies we love and now we do not need age statements anymore.

Thank you.

Greetings
kallaskander
Last edited by kallaskander on 28 Feb 2013, 17:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby jsaliga » 28 Feb 2013, 14:43

The Third Dram wrote:So 'younger' CAN definitely work in certain cases.


I agree, so long as it is priced like younger whisky. What doesn't work is taking young whisky, attaching a fancy name and lot of marketing buzz to it, and then pricing it like older whisky.

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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Jazz Lover » 28 Feb 2013, 17:50

Yes like Highland Park ''Thor''. And the next H.P. to follow.. :(
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Mr Tattie Heid » 28 Feb 2013, 18:24

I have no problem with the whisky--with everyone having ramped up production in recent years, it only makes sense to find a way to integrate some younger whiskies into your offerings. What we are having trouble with is the attempted divorce of price from age. It's a correlation we've gotten very much used to over the past twenty years, and you can see how ingrained it is when you read comments around here. I think we're going to have to get used to it.

What bugs me more is pricing strategy generally. Single malt is being pitched as a luxury item and priced accordingly. Most of us would prefer to think of it as an everyday (or every week) sort of drink, at least in the 10-15yo range, but we are not typical consumers. The prices for standard OB's have gotten ridiculous. (Ironically, LVMH's Glenmorangie 10 seems to be holding steady at under $40 around here--maybe they get that we need a bone thrown at us occasionally.) Couple the marketing strategy with the shift away from age statements, and the result is the growing discomfort that we are all feeling.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby jsaliga » 28 Feb 2013, 18:58

kallaskander wrote:However, I think age has a greater part to play in markets where Scotch is not as understood because it gives consumers some sort of indication about what they might be buying and what they might expect. The whole practice of using age statements was about establishing the legitimacy and integrity of products being sold. I think in mature markets in Europe and North America, Scotch has gone way beyond that point. It’s far less relevant for consumers in mature markets than it is for consumers in emerging markets. But even there, with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it’s not essential."


What a load of BS. Typical Diageo nonsense.

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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby karlejnar » 28 Feb 2013, 19:25

kallaskander wrote:The youthfulness is watered down with mature casks, ...

I would rather have NAS whisky "watered" down with older more mature whisky that older age stated whisky watered down with . .water ;)
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby ribonucleic » 28 Feb 2013, 19:30

I'm reminded of the situation with megapixel counts on digital cameras. There is only a weak correlation at best between the number and the image quality. So to whatever extent people stop paying attention to the number, the better informed consumers they'll be.

As for whisky, you can't taste a number. As long as the distillers aren't misrepresenting the contents of their bottles, they're free to market the hooch however they like. And if they charge more than the market will bear, they'll learn the error of their ways soon enough.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Exciseman » 28 Feb 2013, 20:15

For bottlings that are, in any meaningful sense limited (say 6,000 bottles), I've never understood why bottlers aren't compelled to state the cask make-up in full (such as was done by Arran with Devil's Punchbowl).
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby portwood » 28 Feb 2013, 22:37

karlejnar wrote:I would rather have NAS whisky "watered" down with older more mature whisky that older age stated whisky watered down with . .water

What he said :thumbsup:
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby alec.tron » 28 Feb 2013, 22:40

Exciseman wrote:For bottlings that are, in any meaningful sense limited (say 6,000 bottles), I've never understood why bottlers aren't compelled to state the cask make-up in full (such as was done by Arran with Devil's Punchbowl).

Yea, Arran got quite a bit of cudos from me for doing that, I really hope they continue that way & others join in to make the vatting make-up more transparent on most of their bottlings, which in turn, if the whisky is as good, I'm more inclined to support than other more 'secretive' releases.

I actually am not that fussed about (single) Age-stated or not, in the end, it's a number that has little direct correlation to the quality as said above.
But, to play the devil's advocate, what I like about NAS is that it is less restrictive on the master blender. So if not ridden to death by corporate greed, this could actually be for the better of the whisky in the bottle; if the mass-consumer buys into age being a secondary attribute and the company is actually focussing on producing a good, unique & interesting whisky.
We'll see how this plays out... for me Macallan is one ginormous fail, HP is very borderline (expensive, PR driven, and product mostly just very mediocre). The A'bunadhs & GF 105 and the younger distilleries who have little choice and have been very successful with NAS bottlings (Arran, Glengyle, Kilchoman) are the (low price) success stories. For many of the new NAS releases I'll wait until I tried them, and I still have to see a high priced NAS that actually proves its' price tag. But that's not much different than 'old' single casks that are just meh.
But, the times you buy a 21 year old whisky and get a good share of +30yo in there unfortunately seem to be over ;)

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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Nick Brown » 28 Feb 2013, 23:45

alec.tron wrote:
Exciseman wrote:For bottlings that are, in any meaningful sense limited (say 6,000 bottles), I've never understood why bottlers aren't compelled to state the cask make-up in full (such as was done by Arran with Devil's Punchbowl).

Yea, Arran got quite a bit of cudos from me for doing that, I really hope they continue that way & others join in to make the vatting make-up more transparent on most of their bottlings, which in turn, if the whisky is as good, I'm more inclined to support than other more 'secretive' releases.

This is exactly what I don't like. Distillers selling NAS whiskies whilst trumpeting the old age of the one or two oldest casks in a blend. Whiskies should be described according to the youngest whisky in the blend, not the oldest. Where the youngest casks are very young, a distillery might decide it prudent not to mention age at all - and that's fair enough. But allowing one distillery to list the ages of all the ingredients of a blend "in the interests of full disclosure" will disadvantage those who play by the rules and mention only the youngest age.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby alec.tron » 01 Mar 2013, 00:13

Nick Brown wrote:This is exactly what I don't like. Distillers selling NAS whiskies whilst trumpeting the old age of the one or two oldest casks in a blend. Whiskies should be described according to the youngest whisky in the blend, not the oldest

Well, both is misleading, and if they are just trumpeting the oldest cask in the mix and hiding/playing down the info about the youngest cask, I do agree since that is as non-descript as just listing the age of the youngest cask. Which I think has its' shortcomings as well as it has been limiting blenders as the Management might slap the blenders hand when de-valuating older casks by mixing them with younger casks, so in the end talking about the last ~5 years with the risen demands, in a 10yo, you mostly had 10 yo casks. Not for the better product, but for being a mostly economic decision. So I can see the potential for a blender to have a better/wider playing field... if that is being used for the better, we will see and every company/distillery will have to prove itself. And I have my reservations as well, but I'm trying to keep an open mind that we might see some interesting things as blenders might have a bit more leeway now that marketing is trying to establish NAS bottlings to the mass market on a bigger scale...

And as for the example of the Arran - Devil's Punchbowl, they did it in a very informative way:
http://www.xixspirit.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Intro.png
And looking at it again, the only casks that get special mention in the PR blurb are the youngest casks int eh mix, i.e. the peated ones...
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby The Third Dram » 01 Mar 2013, 02:42

kallaskander wrote:Are not all these fancy NAS whiskies a betrayal and just dishonest fakes?

The potential for such a scenario/interpretation is there, to be sure.

But let's get back, for just a moment, to applying similar standards to whisky releases that do indicate a minimum age on their labels. Do such indications always translate into a correlative degree of quality? Of course not!

Yes... The cost of warehousing casks of whisky over extended periods of time must, of necessity, be reflected (at least in part), in the final pricing. But where's the 'warranty' as to the quality of the contents of that more expensive bottle? Nowhere to be seen, I'm afraid.

Deception can assume many forms.

Furthermore, as an avid home blender of malt whiskies for many, many years, I've discovered that many of my finest creations have resulted through amalgamating very old and very young spirits. And, judging by many of his successful blends, I believe John Glaser would agree with this approach.

Why should distilleries and/or their parent companies not have the opportunity to offer competitive products along the same lines?

There's surely room enough for both ilks (age-stated and NAS) of whiskies to co-exsist in the marketplace. And in the final analysis, consumers will decide what they want to drink and how much they'll pay for the 'privilege'.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby two-bit cowboy » 01 Mar 2013, 04:05

alec.tron wrote:... The A'bunadhs & GF 105 and the ....
c.


I heartily agree with most of your opinion, but I think it not exactly fair to include Glenfarclas 105 in the discussion. It is a 10yo.

:)
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby portwood » 01 Mar 2013, 05:15

two-bit cowboy wrote:
alec.tron wrote:... The A'bunadhs & GF 105 and the ....
c.


I heartily agree with most of your opinion, but I think it not exactly fair to include Glenfarclas 105 in the discussion. It is a 10yo.

:)

Damn, you're right. I thought it was NAS but checking my bottle carefully I note the 10 year age statement on the back label.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby alec.tron » 01 Mar 2013, 07:36

portwood wrote:
two-bit cowboy wrote:
alec.tron wrote:... The A'bunadhs & GF 105 and the ....

I heartily agree with most of your opinion, but I think it not exactly fair to include Glenfarclas 105 in the discussion. It is a 10yo.

Damn, you're right. I thought it was NAS but checking my bottle carefully I note the 10 year age statement on the back label.

Interesting, thanks for pointing it out!
I checked at some point, but I think that was the slim/tall blue or black labeled 105, and I'm pretty sure that was without any age statement. And looking at the whiskybase, seems there's been all sorts: NAS, 8yo & the 10yo (-> http://www.whiskybase.com/distillery.php?merkid=5)
Funny, I always took it for a NAS after & never bothered looking, but just enjoyed sipping it ;)
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Pudge72 » 01 Mar 2013, 09:16

The Third Dram wrote:I'd simply say, "The proof's in the pudding."

If the resulting aroma, flavour, (and possibly complexity and balance as well) do indeed reflect what the distillery/company is trying to achieve, and the price falls into a reasonable range given the quality of said product, then all is well. If not, customers' reactions within the marketplace will hopefully send a clear message.

Good examples? Isle of Jura Prophecy and Aberlour a'bunadh immediately spring to mind. There are many more, of course. On the other hand, I've yet to be excited by any of the newer NAS Macallans.

As concerns Talisker, the 8-year old edition of decades ago was quite the whisky, too. So 'younger' CAN definitely work in certain cases.


My thoughts exactly on this issue. We're not supposed to get hung up on age statements when they are there (a 25 year old whisky is not automatically superior to an 18 year old), so why should we get hung up about them when they are not there, as long as the quality/enjoyment factor is there at a reasonable price? Age statement whiskies can have a similar disparity in aging within a given bottle, with the 'floor' raised by six years or so as the only difference. It ultimately comes down to the blind taste test...if a bottle label did not exist, do you enjoy this whisky enough to pay 'x' amount of money for it?
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby Pudge72 » 01 Mar 2013, 09:25

alec.tron wrote:...We'll see how this plays out... for me Macallan is one ginormous fail, HP is very borderline (expensive, PR driven, and product mostly just very mediocre). The A'bunadhs & GF 105 and the younger distilleries who have little choice and have been very successful with NAS bottlings (Arran, Glengyle, Kilchoman) are the (low price) success stories. For many of the new NAS releases I'll wait until I tried them, and I still have to see a high priced NAS that actually proves its' price tag. But that's not much different than 'old' single casks that are just meh.
But, the times you buy a 21 year old whisky and get a good share of +30yo in there unfortunately seem to be over ;)

c.


Hi Alec, you rank a bunch of NAS bottlings, but I am curious on where you rank what could well be considered the trailblazer on the NAS front...Ardbeg. Personally, I have loved most versions of the Uigeadail (definitely some batch variation there), but the Corryvreckan is increasingly 'meh' for me.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby alec.tron » 01 Mar 2013, 11:43

Pudge72 wrote:Hi Alec, you rank a bunch of NAS bottlings, but I am curious on where you rank what could well be considered the trailblazer on the NAS front...Ardbeg. Personally, I have loved most versions of the Uigeadail (definitely some batch variation there), but the Corryvreckan is increasingly 'meh' for me.

Heh, you caught my soft/sore spot... I used to love Ardbeg, but the last ones I care for are indeed the Uigeadail which I prefer & the Corryvreckan, although the later I haven't tried for about 2 years. As for the Uigeadail, there's been quite a few batch variations indeed, so unless I tried it, I won't buy a specific batch/bottle code run as some I just thought rather mediocre.
As for the last PR machine hype-beasts a la Ardbeg Day/Alligator/Gallileo, none really impressed me, all felt a bit forced and the notes I liked about Ardbeg have long disappeared and I get my smoke/balance fix elsewhere.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby two-bit cowboy » 01 Mar 2013, 16:34

alec.tron wrote:
Pudge72 wrote:Hi Alec, you rank a bunch of NAS bottlings, but I am curious on where you rank what could well be considered the trailblazer on the NAS front...Ardbeg. Personally, I have loved most versions of the Uigeadail (definitely some batch variation there), but the Corryvreckan is increasingly 'meh' for me.

Heh, you caught my soft/sore spot... I used to love Ardbeg, but the last ones I care for are indeed the Uigeadail which I prefer & the Corryvreckan, although the later I haven't tried for about 2 years. As for the Uigeadail, there's been quite a few batch variations indeed, so unless I tried it, I won't buy a specific batch/bottle code run as some I just thought rather mediocre.
As for the last PR machine hype-beasts a la Ardbeg Day/Alligator/Gallileo, none really impressed me, all felt a bit forced and the notes I liked about Ardbeg have long disappeared and I get my smoke/balance fix elsewhere.
c.


To further punctuate the flavor of this thread, I maintain that the 10 still is king of the bog.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby TimWhalen » 01 Mar 2013, 17:38

I am a little conflicted on this issue but becoming more and more, for a lack of a better term, annoyed with the increase non-age statement bottlings. I do enjoy NAS bottles such as Uigeadail, a variety of Kilchomans releases, etc. I, like others, don't appreciate the increasing prices for younger products. Now I know age doesn't necessarily mean quality but at least age represents some form of tangible investment that the company has made that they need to recoup. With NAS, consumers typically get some obscure name and perhaps a few tasting notes and that is it. And for that we get a higher priced product than their standard bottling and if you are lucky it comes at cask strength. I don't think that I am in the minority but I like as much information as possible, age, specific dates, casks types even numbers.

Now I enjoy Macallan whenever I can get it at a reasonable cost and at first I was excited about their new 1824 line but the more I read the blurbs about the line I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. They say all the right things focusing on sherry casks, taste, no colouring added, and there is more freedom being guided by colour than age. Here are my discrepancies with it, if a big company like Macallan is truly letting colour guide their line how much of a variation will we be getting in taste? The marketing tries to confuse the lines of colour and age saying the oldest casks can be very light and young very dark depending on cask. Which is completely true. With that said why are they going to be charge over 120 pounds for Ruby, the supposed premium product of the line? Where is the justification if in theory you could be getting a very young whiskey?

I think the final sentence sums up my growing discontent. I will pay for a good product but I am looking for a justification. Age is a good justification, being a single cask or being limited (actual numbers not jut being told it is) is another good one. Finally, NAS are making me upset because it seems we are being told they are the new "thing" in the industry. We are being told that age doesn't matter. Fact is in a decade or so we might be told how important age is and see new releases featuring age statements. None of us need to be told by whiskey companies what to like or where the industry is heading. The simple fact is if the companies had large amounts of older whiskey they would most certainly be putting age statements on the bottle.
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Re: New whisky category: Dishonest faked whisky?

Postby jsaliga » 01 Mar 2013, 18:18

I'm not upset or annoyed by NAS bottlings, but I don't think it bodes well for the future. I believe that over the next several years you are going to see core OBs with age statements decline and eventually be replaced by NAS bottlings. This paradigm shift will be in both quality and price. I'm sure many distilleries will get their NAS bottlings close...but there will be those who have been drinking Talisker 10yr old or Macallan 12 yr old for many years who will soon be lamenting that these expressions are no longer available/affordable and the malts that replaced them just don't measure up.

I was at a local shop today to stock up on some 1991 Lagavulin DE that they had at a good price and noticed they were selling Talisker 10yr Old for $80. The last bottle I bought from them five months ago was $62.

A lot of what I am seeing in whisky lately has me very concerned about pricing and availability of malts that I really enjoy a great deal, so I have made an investment in stocking up on certain single malts: Talisker 10yr Old, Lagavulin 16 yr Old, Lagavulin DE, Macallan 12yr Old. Others I am much less worried about, such as Caol Ila, since there are plenty of excellent IBs out and about.

The discussion of today has been that core bottlings produced today aren't as good as they used to be. The discussion of tomorrow will be that the core bottlings produced yesterday are no longer made at all. What remains to be seen is whether or not what replaces them is up to snuff, and whether or not there is anyone left who even cares.

--Jerome
Last edited by jsaliga on 01 Mar 2013, 18:37, edited 1 time in total.
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jsaliga
 
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Title: Whisky Provocateur
Favourite Whiskies: Any well crafted bourbon, rye, or single malt whisky bottled at 43% ABV or higher.
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