Open and Trading

WhiskyBrother Store

The WhiskyBrother Store is officially open! … Since last Monday! I know you may be wondering to yourself why only post this news now, but the truth is as a one-man operation I just haven’t had time – sorry all. To date, the response so far has been very positive with many a kind word expressed over the concept and look of the shop, and now hopefully the word-of-month engine can begin turning to ensure the store becomes a sustainable and integral part of the Johannesburg whisky community.

Thank you to all those you have visited and shared a dram with us; it has been terrific seeing familiar faces and meeting new whisky-lovers. For the rest of the year our trading hours will be Monday to Saturdays from 9am to 8pm, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 2pm. So if you need a whisky for that special loved one (that includes yourself) please be so kind and consider us.

I am currently working on a website for the store, which will see this blog move to a sub-domain in order to resume the regular blogging activities of whisky reviews and news without contaminating it with store news (such as this post). Until then, my apologies to those who don’t care about the store and just want to read the blog, and to those who would like to know more about the store without trawling through this blog!:)

Shop Update

I’d like to start by extending a sincere thank you to each of you that have expressed well-wishes, congratulations and support for the shop! The response so far as been tremendous, and I am so thankful that many other whisky drinkers share my enthusiasm and excitement for this project.

The good news is that from tomorrow the shop will be ready, the not-so-good news though, is that the opening has to be delayed by a short while. When embarking on this venture, I knew from the start that the greatest difficulty would be navigating the bureaucratic red-tape at the provincial liquor board, in order to receive my liquor license. I’ll spare you the details, but in short, all conditions have been met, and the license has been approved, but I have still not received it. Without the license I cannot order from distributors nor can I legally sell alcohol, and so although the shop is complete, my shelves are empty and I have to wait.

It is a frustrating situation, but is not exactly unexpected when dealing with government departments that have as much urgency as whisky maturing in a cask. As much as I would like to set another opening date, I’ve learnt my lesson and thus will refrain until I have the liquor license in hand. (Just to give some indication  I expect the delay to be around another two weeks; so I am very much still expecting to open this year.)

From your responses, I know you share my disappointment in this delay, and I apologise for making you wait just a tad bit longer. I promise to make it up to you once the doors are open. In the meantime, if you are in the vicinity of Hyde Park Corner, the shop hoarding has been removed, so you can now sneak a peak into the store. If I happen to be inside, get my attention and I’ll gladly give you a private tour. Thank you for your patience, and see you soon!

Highland Park Johannesburg Tasting, Round Two

Based on how quickly seats fill up once a whisky tasting is announced, one event limited to a few dozen attendees is just not enough nowadays. (A great sign of the health and growing size of the local whisky community!) Thus, I bring you Round Two of the exclusive WhiskyBrother Highland Park tasting. Presented again by the lovely Highland Park brand ambassador, Candice Baker, the evening will be a replica of the first, but with two of the HP expressions differing.

You will taste five whiskies (of which three are unavailable in SA): 12yo, 18yo, 21yo, and two IBs: The Macphail’s Collection 8yo and the 21yo Signatory Vintage 1990 from a single sherry butt. The evening includes a three-course dinner at The Grillhouse, all for the affordable price of R350. Full details below in the snazzy flyer (click to enlarge if required). Seating is limited, so act fast to book your seat. (I will be biased towards individuals who did not attend Round One.)

Update, 14 November: Only 25 12 7 seats available. Sorry this event is fully booked!

Announcement: WhiskyBrother Store!

Dear Whisky-Friends, near and far,

You may have heard me make mention of an impending big announcement. Life has run its usual delayed course, but the undertaking in question is finally in an advanced enough state that I am comfortable sharing the news that has excited me (and given me sleepless nights) for the last several months.

I am genuinely excited to reveal that WhiskyBrother is expanding beyond just a humble blog. Within mere weeks, I will proudly (and with a healthy dose of consternation) open the doors to a WhiskyBrother specialty whisky store here in Johannesburg.

The store will be the first of its kind in Johannesbug; specialising only in whisky and related paraphernalia (glassware, books, magazines, etc.). Within a few weeks of opening, I plan on having the largest selection of whisk(e)y held in a brick-and-mortar store in the country (and indeed the continent). I hope for the store to become a focal point of the Johannesburg whisk(e)y community; a place catering for all those interested in whisk(e)y, no matter their knowledge or experience. A place to learn, taste and experience all things whisk(e)y.

A store of this kind is conspicuously absent from the local Johannesburg whisky community and, as a passionate whisky drinker myself, I have dreamt of opening such a store for the last several years. Fortunately, after raising the necessary capital earlier this year, I actively began working on the concept and navigation of the necessary bureaucratic red-tape. In July I made the final commitment of resigning from my employer and have since been dedicated to getting the project up and running.

The store will be located in the Hyde Park Corner mall and is currently under construction. Although there are still several dependencies, the expected opening date is Monday the 26th of November.

I have many, many exciting ideas and plans, but my main focus of attention for now is getting the store open. After that you can expect new developments on a monthly basis, from tastings to clubs and exclusive whiskies.

As a fellow whisky enthusiast and blog reader, I wanted to inform you about the store in my own words before the professionals take the lead. (Although his blog will always be in my own words!) Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to know more. This is a labour of love, and I am only too happy to share my ideas and involve all those who are interested. I will also use the blog to post updates and images as the construction and fittings progress.

I look forward to seeing you in the WhiskyBrother store!

Your brother in whisky,

The below images are renderings of the store. Although some changes have been made, these representations are 90% accurate and give a very good indication of what the final creation will look like:

Whisky Opus

Whisky Opus
by Gavin D. Smith and Dominic Roskrow
DK Publishers, hardcover, 300 pages
± R475 ≈ £33

Do we seriously need another book about whisky? It seems we do. The writers and compilers of the impressive hardcover, Whisky Opus, set themselves a mammoth task: Not only did they aim to produce a great, big blockbuster of a reference book on a topic equally vast – a comprehensive directory as well as a veritable encyclopedia of whisky. They also wanted to dish up a visual feast, page after page. Not a bad mission for any publisher in the age of Kindle-accessibility and limitless infotainment, aiming to be both far-ranging and fun-loving.

This reviewer can report that “THE DEFINITE 21st-century reference to the world’s GREATEST DISTILLERIES & their WHISKIES” delivers more than mere hype. As you would expect from a liquor-bible cum coffee table book, this is in no way lightweight or small – unlike another little book by the same publisher, Great Whiskies which only serves to tantalize the beginner. (This tome could be used for some serious after-dinner weight training.)

Everything you’d expect of an informative, entertaining directory is in place. Let me list the pleasures…

On the striking all-white front cover 82 bottles, famous trademarks side by side with less famous  makes, are lined up to whet the appetite, hinting at the limitless variety of whiskies lurking between the covers. After a lively introduction and fascinating historical perspective, covering most of the big questions (What makes a great whisky? What is the perfect way to drink a whisky?) and employing highlighted words for quick & easy digestion, distilleries are listed alphabetically according to country and historical relevance, leading with Scotland and Ireland, followed by the USA, Canada, Japan and Europe (11 countries including England and Wales) and finally the New World (Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and South Africa).

The layout and design is quite pleasing, colorful, classical and clean, creating focus points using deep-etched images, powerful full-spread pictures of landscapes and practices, amusing illustrations and detailed maps. Writers Gavin D. Smith and Dominic Roskrow, with contributions by Davin De Kergommeaux and Jurgen Deibel, seamlessly weave the strands of a multifaceted industry into a playful tapestry of facts and readability. The concise tasting notes do not strain credibility or the imagination, guiding gently rather than bombarding the reader with esoteric impressions. Whisky tales and anecdotes add delightful “hooks” into some subsections. The book is rounded off by a glossary and an index.

This five-star offering deserves to become a constant companion, at public and private tastings or your bedside. Even aficionados will find a lot to savor here, while novices will be inundated with stimulating and sometimes startling information.

Rating: 5/5


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