2021 Whisky Year in Review: 3 Reasons to Celebrate After A Difficult Year
Another year has blown past us, yet the bedlam shows no sign of abatement. Pandora’s box continues to spew forth Greek-lettered variants and extreme climate events. Apparently, you can now make (or lose) a decent nest egg from trading 8-bit cartoon images?
Amid this muddle, we at 88 Bamboo have seen many interesting trends and new developments that drew us to keep writing about whisky. Whiskies have existed for many centuries. Yet, there’s always room for better. For all the weirdness of the past two years, we've tried to keep an eye on objective silver linings. None of that forced optimism stuff.
So, for one, there’s now genuine commitment to environmental consciousness within the mainstream whisky industry. All Suntory distilleries would now run on renewable energy, while the wider Scotch industry has committed to net zero by 2040. Distilleries have sold us on the importance of terroir, clean water source and climate. So clearly, the future of whisky would depend on the continued health of the environment. This is better.
Many whisky producers, including Waterford Distillery, have been pointing to the unique properties of the location where barley is grown in affecting the whisky's final taste. (Image Source: Waterford Distilleries)
We also have a whole score of new distilleries announced – some brand new that will add to the tapestry, some revived. In Scotland, ghost distilleries such as Brora, Port Ellen and Rosebank are being resurrected. Heck, even Lindores Abbey, one of the earliest recorded medieval distillation sites (discussed by Samaroli here), is back in operation. Over in the East, talks of revitalising Karuizawa Distillery are back – in fact the whole gang is getting back – distillery manager and all. This is also better.
A Secular Awakening
With the exponentially growing market for whisky, there is more interest in the new and non-traditional. Diageo has invested for the first time in a Japanese distillery - Kanosuke. Pernod Ricard has moved to acquire a stake in Abasolo - the first ever Mexican whisky distillery.
As an Asian whisky lover, it is also heartening to see more Asian influence on the whisky world – that a Japanese distillery, Yamazaki, could be crowned Drinks International’s 2021 “Most Admired Whisky Brand”. Japanese whisky has certainly come a long way. And there’s more to come! China will soon be home to two malt distilleries (Pernod's The Chuan and Diageo's Eryuan), while Korea’s first malt distillery is already pumping out spirits. We couldn’t be more anxious to try them.
Whisky has come a long way since it was distilled by 12th century Scottish monks in Lindores Abbey. But there are so many exciting stories to tell that our writer, @CharsiuCharlie, has also begun contributing to international whisky magazines, such as Malt Review UK.
Here at 88 Bamboo, we would continue showing you what's good from the whisky world in a fun, accessible and unpretentious manner. Thank you, the reader, for your time and attention. We will always do our best to bring more interesting whisky stories your way!
Happy New Year and Kanpai!
88 Bamboo Team
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