The Expo’s general theme was essentially, “What is it to be a Gentleman in the beginning of the 21st century.” Though it seemed to degrade into, “What is it to be a man? Around which there is much philosophical discussion but as this was sort of a trade / fashion show, it broke down into basically, a man is defined by the stuff he owns. Which is pretty much what you would expect from today’s society. But that’s a rather facile observation of what actually turned out to be a pretty decent day for me. Now they did have a stage where the rich and successful or for some, the simply successful would talk about their lives and such, which to me is never a wasted effort. People’s lives are always interesting in regards to what they do and how they do it. But as I’ve always said, we’re all on our own journey and while the destination may be similar, the paths are always different.
So I did what I’ve always done. I walked around and I talked to people.
One guy was an industrial designer who basically designed manly style rooms and garages. He used a lot of found objects and older stuff with rust or the patina of of age about it and then made other stuff out of it. Texture was a big part of his thing. We discussed how a good number of younger guys have no idea how to use tools and such and how he would hold weekend workshops on the basics. Which suggests that there are enough guys out there looking for guidance in such things to fill his room.
There was a custom suit company there who had a bullet proof suit they were selling as well as their regular suits. I asked about why they would need to make such a thing? Apparently it’s hard to be an executive in certain parts of the world (you know exploiting the local populace and such) where if they’re upset enough, they will shoot at you. So form as always, follows function and really, who want’s to wear the ever unfashionable regular protective gear, especially last years version…
I also got to talk to one of the top guys at The Macallan (Scotch that is) about their new 1824 product line they’ve just launched. Three of which they’d bought to the show. Sienna, Gold and Amber. Now I’ve had Macallan 18 year old, very tasty. Their Highland Park brand also has an 18 but I digress. Right off the bat I notice there’s no age specified by the label on the bottles.
“Are these a Vatted malt?” I ask. For those of you who aren’t into Scotch, a Vatted malt is a scotch where they have a single vat where they keep adding barrels from the same type to it. Theoretically, there could be a few sixty year old molecules floating around in there.
My question however got a shake of the head. It wasn’t a vatted malt and it wasn’t a blend… in the regular sense of the word. It was something new, and something old. Because, if there’s one thing my people have been doing for centuries, it’s the twisting of words to suit our reality. It turns out in conversation with this gentleman that the distillery can not always use every barrel for a production bottling run of a given year. This is part of the reason Scotch is a pretty expensive option regardless of what you put in your glass. Of those barrels some will go in to other blends to give notes of flavor. Others however will continue to sit, costing in real estate and time, not necessarily getting better with age either. Add to this the growing demand for Scotch in the world and it creates a conundrum in search of a solution. So they create a blend that is and isn’t. Macallan takes a variety of their barrels and based on the wood and age creates these new lines. Adding here and taking away there until they have a unity of flavor which I will admit was very nice and which allows them to clear space for new stock (Scotch is a long term investment hard liquor where you won’t see any return on that batch for at least ten years – still too young in my opinion). And yeah, the single malt snobs aren’t impressed – I’m reserving judgement. It did explain to me why the bottle of Oban (Distiller’s Choice) I was given a while back had no age on it. I just tried it the other night and it was very nice and to be honest there are a few single malts which could do well from this process (I’m looking at you Tobermory). I’m sure the single stand alone untouched malts will continue on but I’m willing to bet, prices will rise accordingly. Which makes me sad, because I’m Scottish and cheap.
Oh and I should add, a, “Man,” drinks Scotch… neat with a splash of water or if you’re really on a tear, some Glayva or Drambuie which makes a Rusty Nail, so called because the next morning you feel like you’ve been crucified.
Would I go back to this event? I think so. Some of the people I met were very interesting and for me, that’s enough. I think I have enough stuff…