Today, the Australian winery Penfolds announced the world’s most expensive wine sold directly from a winery, eloquently dubbed “2004 Block 42.” The $168,000 wine is a produced from a single vineyard, from what the winery claims are the oldest continuously producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world. It will be sold in 12 glass ampoules (above), which look more like something you’d use to kill a vampire than to serve wine. Each holds the equivalent of a standard wine bottle.
Intriguing trappings aside, could the wine possibly taste good enough to justify the price? Perhaps. Research shows that people’s enjoyment of wine is influenced by how much it costs. According to Caltech neuro-economist Antonio Rangel, who has studied this, “When people drank the same wine, but they believed it was a more expensive wine, areas of the brain that are associated with encoding pleasure were more active.”
Rangel and colleagues scanned people in a functional MRI machine while they tasted Cabernet Sauvignons that were marked higher or lower than their actual retail price. Tasters reported liking the exact same wine better when they thought it cost more than they did when it had been marked down, and their brains followed suit: The orbitofrontal cortex, a part of their brains associated with experiencing pleasure, was more active when they thought the wine was costlier.
One explanation is that consuming wine doesn’t just affect your taste receptors, but is also affected by social context. “Maybe the idea that you’re having the most expensive bottle of wine in the history of mankind, for a certain type of person, may make them feel very special, and that in itself could generate pleasure,” said Rangel.
Another, more speculative, explanation is that the brain uses the wine’s price to anticipate whether or not it will taste good. People can have a hard time judging if they like a wine, so they might use price to help them decide. The brain learns to make the connection between price and taste.
But can the effect scale up to $168,000? That gets at one of the deepest questions in the field, said Rangel. “We don’t know how to think about this,” he said.
Interestingly, when Rangel’s team conducted blind tastings (without providing prices) with people who weren’t connoisseurs, they reported liking the cheapest wines the most. When the researchers did this with people from the Stanford wine club, they found the same thing. “I suspect though that if you go to sommeliers – people with very educated palates – the illusion breaks down,” Rangel said.
But, in the case of the new record-holding wine’s appeal, said Rangel, “I can speculate that it is completely dominated by the social aspect.”
Whisky Marketplace Researches Whisky Tastes Around the World
LONDON, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- With Whisky becoming more and more popular in places less associated with it in the past, think Texas and Russia for instance, Whisky Marketplace UK has looked at expanding its offering across multiple countries, where users can find out more about various whiskies, read blogs and reviews from various people, see videos and of course, purchase the actual stuff online.
But while many westerners get familiar with styles such as Indian and Japanese Whisky, the rest of the world starts to expand their taste palette beyond the big brand names of Scotch. By diversifying the sites and languages of the Whisky Marketplace site, they also got a chance to learn more about the consumers. For instance, yes, some of the top pages viewed across all countries included the likes of Johnnie Walker, Chivas and Jim Beam; though one should note that it was the likes of Blue Label and Imperial alike, so the users are looking for the high end of the big brand names in this example. Jameson Special Reserve was also a popular one in many countries too for instance.
On the other hand, there were some unique trends too. The Dutch tended to look at content about 40-year-old whisky and 50-year-old whisky, and top brands viewed there included Port Ellen and Ardbeg. While in Russia, the most popular type of whisky by far was Irish Whiskey, and not the usual Scotch whisky suspect. Top brands there included Seagrams and Heaven Hill.
The research also uncovered a trend where a lot of countries liked to look within. One of the top categories for U.S. users behind Scotch whisky was American Whiskey. For Canadian users, Canadian whisky was second. And even in India, where Indian whisky traditionally takes a back seat to big brand name scotches, sure enough, local brand Amrut was one of the top three there. With hundreds of whiskies already available on Whisky Marketplace, there are still further places to go. Several brands local in other parts of Europe and Asia have recently garnered some attention from whisky fans and connoisseurs alike and Whisky Marketplace will be looking to bridge the gap to users around the world.
Find out more at the Whisky Marketplace U.S. site at http://www.whiskymarketplace.com or U.K.-based http://www.whiskymarketplace.co.uk today.
This press release was issued through eReleases® Press Release Distribution. For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com .
The world’s only known bottle of Malt Mill new-make spirit was unveiled for enthusiasts and whisky pilgrims at the Lagavulin distillery on Monday 25 July 2012. Thought to have disappeared forever, Malt Mill is the basis of the plot for the award-winning Ken Loach film, The Angels’ Share.
Charles Maclean, one of the world’s leading whisky writers, who also played a role in the film, comments on the unveiling. “This bottle is priceless. Malt Mill is legendary, and is viewed by many as the holy grail. It is an extremely significant moment and I’m delighted to be part of it.”
Dr Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach, Diageo, adds, “In my twenty years as an historian and archivist, I’ve always wanted to see this unique bottle of Malt Mill go on display. We are thrilled to share this precious artefact with the many whisky enthusiasts who visit Lagavulin every year.”
Rebecca O’ Brien, Producer for The Angels’ Share, says, “It is wonderful to think this bottle has been passed down from distillery manager to distillery manager for fifty years here on Islay. Our film hinges on the auction of an imaginary cask of Malt Mill precisely because everyone agreed it was so rare. Now the very DNA of Malt Mill has been rediscovered.”
The bottle of Malt Mill came to light after the Lagavulin distillery manager, Georgie Crawford, heard about the film. Involving some whisky related shennanigans, and based on an auction of an imaginary last cask of Malt Mill, she brought out the Malt Mill from its secret location. It had been passed on to her by her predecessor, the former Lagavulin distillery manager.
The Angels’ Share, which is currently on general cinema release, was written by Scot Paul Laverty and was filmed in various locations around Scotland last summer. The film was a hit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it won the coveted Jury Prize.
Malt Mill was produced at a small distillery on the Lagavulin distillery site from 1908; production ceased in 1962 and this bottle is from the last fill in June 1962.
IT IS typically seen as a man’s drink to enjoy straight up or on the rocks, but now the fairer sex is being invited to make whisky their favourite tipple.
A whisky bottle has been designed especially to appeal to women, with the next step being to find a company to manufacture the product to fill it.
Edinburgh Napier University student Melissa Preston, 22, came up with the idea of female-friendly packaging for a whisky bottle in an attempt to break away from the drink’s macho mould.
Shaped like a wine bottle and wrapped in singles ads, her design plays on whisky tasting notes and presents the bottle as a male character seeking a female.
“I really enjoy whisky but it is a drink steeped in male connotations,” said the graphic design student, whose own love of the national drink inspired her to design female-friendly packaging.
“I wanted to break away from the macho image without being too girly or clichéd. By looking at dating adverts in newspapers I saw how, in quite a tongue in cheek way, the description and language used by ‘men seeking women’ could be compared to the way a whisky is often described.
“The design is simple and instant. It doesn’t scream of branding and entices the customer in for a closer look. Reshaping the bottle will hopefully encourage women to reach for a bottle of whisky instead of their usual pinot grigio.”
A spokeswoman for the university said the next step would be to find a whisky company to create a product to fit the bottle.
Preston’s design has been nominated for a Yellow Pencil prize at the prestigious D&AD student awards, which take place in London this week.
A LORRY driver who hid 180 bottles of whisky behind a hedge in a layby instead of delivering them to The Netherlands has received a suspended prison sentence.
Mark Varley initially claimed the Hanky Bannister Scotch blended whisky, worth more than £7,000, had been stolen, but a jury rejected his account and convicted him of theft.
His barrister, Tom Gent, said after the verdict that Varley admitted he had stolen the bottles because he had major money problems at the time.
Recorder Amanda Rippon told Varley: “I accept you were in a dire financial situation. But there are plenty of people up and down the country who find themselves in a situation of considerable financial difficulties who don’t resort to crime. Honest people don’t resort to crime.”
She said the only reason she was suspending the six-month prison sentence was because of the impact custody for would have upon his small children.
Varley, 46, of Ferry Close, Hemingbrough, must do 12 months’ supervision and 100 hours’ unpaid work.
In 2008, he received a 12-month community order for stealing diesel from his then employer.
In February, the jury heard Varley claim he left his HGV unattended in a layby on the A63 for 34 minutes while he returned to his nearby home to pick up some extra clothes. When he subsequently arrived at his destination in the Netherlands, some of the whisky he was transporting was found to be missing.
The prosecution convinced the jury he had unloaded the missing crates and left them behind a hedge at the layby, where a member of the public found them and alerted police.
Mr Gent said since his theft, Varley - who previously said he had more than 20 years’ experience working in haulage - had spent time in prison for non-payment of fines.
Mr Gent said: “He has learnt his lesson and admitted his guilt. He has had a taste of custody and doesn’t want it again."
Some of the suspected counterfeit alcohol that has been seized by trading standards officers recently
Warning over counterfeit vodka and whisky
Date published: 19 June 2012
The public are being warned to be on their guard against counterfeit vodka and whisky suspected of being on sale.
In a recent operation, trading standards officers from Rochdale Borough Council seized 13 bottles of High Commissioner Whisky and 18 bottles of Glens Vodka, all suspected to be counterfeit, from an off licence in the borough.
Recent months have seen officers seize a total of 192 bottles of suspected counterfeit alcohol - 126 bottles of whisky (mainly Bells and High Commissioner), 62 bottles of vodka (mainly Glens Vodka) and four bottles of Blossom Hill wine.
It is feared that there are more fake supplies in the area. Two tell-tale signs on counterfeit bottles are a cheap looking label and the absence of any manufacturer’s details.
Councillor Terry Linden, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Counterfeit whisky and vodka may seem to offer a bargain but the products are likely to be of inferior quality to the genuine article.
“In addition, anyone buying fake items like this could be indirectly helping to fund more serious forms of organised crime.”
Anyone who has bought or seen a bottle they are suspicious about should call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506
Closer inspection shows the fill level isn't so great (actually it's awful), but still, it's one hell of a cool piece. Word is that Ardbeg themselves may bid for it. After all, it would be a great addition to their collection, not to mention that the liquid inside it dates from the 1880s!
Except for one thing: it doesn't. Bonhams has mis-dated the bottle by over a quarter-century.
I spend a lot of time researching rare whisky bottles. We get frequent inquiries from people who discover stuff in their basement, receive bottles from relatives, and so on. Years of experience have taught me that, no matter how credible the provenance is or what the owner claims, a little inspection and research often proves otherwise.
That's why a big red flag flew up when I saw this lot. Beginning in 1934, almost all US liquor bottles were required to be exactly embossed with:
"FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR REUSE OF THIS BOTTLE." This continued through 1964.
To clarify, it is not possible for any bottle made prior to the repeal of Prohibition (Dec. 1933) to bear this phrase. The law it refers to didn't exist yet.
That statement is on the "1900 Ardbeg." I emailed Bonhams, explaining,"Basic methods of glass bottle dating indicate this is post-prohibition." I didn't specify why -- I figured they'd made a mistake/typo, and that to specifically point out the error to experts would be insulting.
But a part of me also worried, well, maybe Bonhams doesn't quite know what they're doing. I'd heard grumblings along that line before.
As I feared, Bonhams' response showed no knowledge of glass bottle dating. I'd even pointed out that the Illinois tax stamp on the bottle indicated a more likely era -- the stamp reads 1938. And the second tax stamp on top of the bottle (red, federal issue) also indicates a 1930s or later date.
I received an email response from Bonham's US whiskey specialist:
"I spoke to the owner of the bottle, and he is adamant the bottle is dated properly." He asked me for documentation that the bottle was of a later period.
Rather shocked, I emailed back and explained the "FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS" law.
Response? "[T]his glass designation is worth researching… I will certainly look into this glass issue and pass on your assertions to the powers that be."
"Look into" my "assertions?" A simple search for "Federal Law Forbids" gives a flood of documentation.
I emailed back with links to bottle-dating sites. Expert's response: "I've got 2 weeks to figure it out."
But... no, you don't. The auction's already online. People are registering bids right now.
Why the resistance?
Exasperated, I sent a PDF of a New York Times article from July 15, 1934, documenting the then-new "Forbids" law. Surely, this would provide the elusive evidence needed to crack this brainbuster of a mystery.
Response: "Ardbeg will be amended to: 'early 20th century.'"
As of this publication, the date still reads 1900.
But even if it is changed, does 1938 really qualify as "early 20th century?" Early 20th century is Teddy Roosevelt's presidency. It's Titanic sinking. It's pre-prohibition. 1938 is well after prohibition and a generation later than what I'd consider "early 20th century."
"Whisky clubs worldwide are becoming more and more circumspect of auctioneers. There are suspicions of deliberate misinformation passed along under the guise of 'mistakes' and intentional omission of important details. I wanted to give you a heads-up before more conspiracy theories start to gestate."
Think how bad mis-estimates and inaccurate descriptions are for us, the whisky enthusiasts. Those estimates and descriptions become public information, and many whisky collectors -- particularly newer ones -- view them as "truth." What the big auctioneers say becomes a matter of record. That raises whisky prices as a whole, which lets auctioneers increase valuations on the next auction, and the cycle continues forever. They win. We lose.
In response to this, I imagine that Bonhams might point out that their auctions are accompanied by a litany of disclaimers. So I'll do it for them (directly copied from Bonhams' website, emphasis added):
AHMEDABAD: The Vastrapur police arrested one Alkesh Shah for selling whisky in name of scotch. Sale of liquor has been banned in the state. Officials said that the Shah was arrested with a bottle of scotch and when the bottle was opened for examination, they were surprised to see whisky inside the scotch bottle.
The youth was arrested for selling liquor as there was a ban on sale and consumption of liquor. During investigation, it was revealed that Shah use to purchase empty scotch bottles from the scrap dealers and later would fill the same bottle with whisky.
Shah even had got some labels of scotch companies printed which he use to stick on the bottles. Police officials said that he use to even purchase a bottle of scotch from the scrap dealers by paying high prices.
Against his investment of just Rs 410 per bottle, he use to charge about Rs 2000 per bottle. The Vastrapur police have arrested him for illicit liquor trade and will produce him in the court.