Whisky Stoppage – Stoppers to delight

By Pat

Note: To avoid creating any panic-buying, this article is not about whisky stocks!

However, it is about the things that stop your whisky from unexpectedly falling out of the bottle.

We all know about letting the Genie out of the Bottle, but have you taken a close look at what stops the Genie from getting out?

in the joy and rush to open that new bottle of whisky you probably haven’t noticed the effort that some of the distillers go to produce some very intricate designs on the bottle stoppers.

I was recently taking a look at some of my open bottles of Whisk(e)y.  Then I noticed something – the amazing range and variety of design  printed or etched into  corks and metal screw tops, or embossed into plastic tops attached to the cork.

The Glenlivet’s stopper design in particular stood out.  Then I noticed that almost every bottling I had from them was adorned with a different pattern.  Each one is a sort of variation to a theme: a marketing fetish or made for collectors?

Markings

On bottles with corks, the markings are usually covered by the bottle seal and the pattern only becomes visible once you open the whisky.

I have noticed that the distillers usually put screw caps on blends. But even there they still go all out to print company branding on the caps.

Single malts have corks aimed at a different market and the stoppers tend to be fancier.

If you collect these little gems, over time you will soon get a lot of different patterns.  The marketing boffins seem not to like to stick with a particular bottle shape or stopper for more than a few years.  This maybe to prevent consumers getting used to seeing the same thing.   A case in point is Glenfiddich, which delights in coming up with a new variation on their triangular bottle every few years.

Having (as it were) opened this bottle of worms, I started to pull out the array of partly-consumed bottles from my whisky cabinet and take a longer look.  To my joy, most stoppers had a different pattern on them.

Making a Cork Board

This led to a light-bulb moment and a dash to the Bat-cave (read “workshop”) and a “Here we go again” look from my wife.

I have a decent stock of old rimu off cuts in the cave.  I set about designing and making a whisky cork board  to put in my covered courtyard (when you get older it is ok and maybe even expected to become slightly eccentric.

In case you are interested in making a whisky stopper board I have found that there seem to be two size corks.  One is an 18mm hole (the majority) and the other a 22mm one for the larger size ones.  I kept the centre tp centre gap between the holes to either a 45mm or 50mm for a nice balanced effect.

The Cork Board

As you can see in the photo, I have left room for future corks.  The board looks very arty and is a great way of repurposing old wood offcuts.

Any wood would do and you can either polyurethane it or paint for the desired finish before fitting the stoppers and mounting the board.

So, if you have time, want to save the planet, feel arty and have an excuse to consume more whisky think about making yourself a cork board.

Cheers

Pat

Notes from around the world

“Light” whiskies

Picking up on an article on the Irish Westmeath site, I came across the phenomenon of “light” whisky.

Westmeath are reporting that Scottish blenders Whyte & MacKay and Ballentines look to have joined the Irish Dromberg in West Cork in producing a “lighter spirit drink”, running an abv in the early 20% area.

The producers seem a little coy on the target market.  I would not want to speculate.

Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol (MUP)

Again, from Westmeath comes the interesting new Government-driven pricing regime of MUP, imposed in Ireland on 4th January 2022.

Under the (quite reasonable) banner of social harm reduction, the idea is to reduce the availability of cheap booze.   The legislation sets a minimum pricing on a unit of alcohol, and the unit cannot be sold for less than that price – regardless of whether in a bottle store, a high-end restaurant or anywhere in between.

A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, and the minimum price for a standard drink (in Ireland) has now been set at 1 Euro (NZ$1.73).  As such, that is not a problem really, as most drinks in a bar are well above that price.

But a bottle of 12.5% wine has 7.4 stand drinks, and therefore cannot be sold for less than 7.4 Euro (NZ$12.80).  Plus, of course, all the other production, distribution and profit costs that are present in pricing of wine.

A bottle of whisky has 22 standard drinks, so the MUP will be NZ$38.28, plus the ancillary costs mentioned about.

So, if the NZ MUPpets get a hold of this idea, expect an impact on low-priced whiskies here.

Just as well we are holding good stocks, isn’t it!

Slainte

John

3 Replies to “Whisky Stoppage – Stoppers to delight”

  1. Nice Cork Board, Im impressed to give it a go myself.
    I too have not paid any attention to the cork stoppers and have thrown away a whole lot over the years. A shame.

  2. Just a point of correction on the ‘light’ whiskey scene.
    Drombeg actually pre-dates Ballantine’s & Whyte and Mackay.
    Although I must admit their bottle design – not checked out the caps! – does look slicker.
    Sláinte

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