Tag Archives: Whisky Live Festival

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 25 March

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   KWV has launched its first ever Finish Great‘ consumer advertising campaign, reflecting the wine and spirits company’s proud heritage and product innovation it has embodied since 1918.  The campaign has been launched with the flighting of its first-ever TV commercial, representing both its range of wines and its brandies. Ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Brandrock motivated its campaign as follows: ‘This is a tribute to the great legacy of KWV, but also demonstrates that by standing on the shoulders of giants, we are inspired to aim higher, to reach even greater heights and inevitably ‘Finish Great’.  The campaign idea was based on a core insight that through persistence, character is revealed and in everything we do, we strive to finish great. The heart of KWV is Proud Pioneers brought to life through the spirit of: respecting tradition while challenging convention and through persistence character is revealed. We are telling this story through the campaign theme of ‘On the shoulders of giants’’.  Giants have stature, they are larger than life and undeniably impressive. We revere them and in South Africa, KWV is a giant, it’s a brand that has a 97 year-old history and credible credentials to support such a bold statement.  The story line follows an affirmation to the giants who enable us to Finish Great. We are bringing to life this story with a 360 degree approach, which we will aim to further build on the ‘Giants’ theme through a product-centric print and fully integrated user generated social and digital campaign’.  The TV ad will be Continue reading →

Compass Box Whisky Co: the ‘untraditional’ traditional whisky blenders!

I spent a most enjoyable afternoon yesterday as the guest of Liquidity, marketers and distributors of Compass Box Whisky Co, at the Bascule Whisky and Wine Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel, in a small group of such esteemed bloggers and writers as Neil Pendock, Siraj Savage (Life is Savage), Dan Nash (Bangers & Nash), Anel Grobler (Spit or Swallow), Paul Snodgrass (Heart FM), and Shayne Dowling (publisher of Whisky).   The whisky tasting and blending competition, led by Liquidity’s Emil den Dulk, was a run-up to the Whisky Live Festival, which takes place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre from tomorrow until Friday, and in Johannesburg from 9 – 11 November.

I felt out of my depth initially, rarely drinking whisky, but gained a lot of interesting information, and learnt a lot about the whisky company I had never heard of before, and its unusual take on whisky blending. Its owner John Glaser has a wine-making background, and he has used the principles of wine-making and blending in the making of the whiskies at Compass Box too, striving for complexity and balance.  Starting the company in 2000, having headed marketing at Johnnie Walker, Glaser tried to address whisky conventions, such as drinking it with or without ice, that it is a drink only for older persons, and that it can only be drunk at certain times of the day.  Glaser wanted drinkers of his brands to enjoy whisky in whichever way they want to drink it, at whatever time of the day, and to appeal more broadly, especially to younger drinkers.  He worked with a bar in London, called Milk & Honey, and they developed a number of cocktails, pushing the mixability of whisky.  Glaser developed a reputation, by asking questions of whisky making, questioning the current ‘traditions’ which are so different to original whisky-making.  He asked, for example, why caramel colouring is added to whisky.  He asked why sherry casks are used for ageing.  He questioned why new oak is not used.  The company has gone back to the traditional and artisanal roots of whisky-making. The first blend of the Compass Box was called The Hedonism.  The company’s original The Spice Tree blend was banned by the Scottish Whisky Council, but is now commercially available.  The company name comes from the care and precision that goes into the making of ships’ compass boxes, which Glaser wants to reflect in the making of his products too. They add no caramel colouring and do not use chill filtration.

We not only tasted four Compass Box Whisky Co products, but were also served four food items, paired to each whisky by the Cape Grace sommelier George Novitskas.  Great King Street is the entry level whisky, consisting of a blend of 50 % grain whisky, and 50 % malt whisky, of which half each of the latter was aged in American bourbon oak, and in new French oak. It derives its name from the address of the company. This whisky costs about R280, and is an everyday, easy-drinking whisky, with hints of toasty oak, vanilla and spice.  It has just been launched in South Africa.  It was paired with a roast lamb and sun-dried tomato crostini, a good marriage.

Oak Cross is aged in American bourbon barrels, with new French oak barrel heads, giving the whisky more complexity, and an aroma of spiciness and nuttiness, with clove, toffee and ginger notes. We tried it neat, and then with a few drops of water added, making it softer and creamier.  It costs R400. It was paired with a goat’s cheese and onion marmalade vol au vent.  The Spice Tree costs R450, and is darker in colour, coming from the barrelheads being charred more heavily, and having been aged for 12 – 14 years. It is more complex. It has aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla. It was paired with beef fillet and a bearnaise sauce, and Shayne thought that the pairing was equally successful with the vol au vent we had with the Oak Tree.

The Peat Monster is an acquired taste, being the only whisky in the range that contains peat, giving it a ‘burnt braai’ or ‘dirty ashtray’ taste.  It has sweetness, richness, and due to the burnt taste, it is not popular amongst women whisky drinkers.  It is heavier, and not something one can drink all night. This is the company’s biggest seller, and costs R450.  We felt that the smoked salmon paired with this whisky was too light in taste for the dominant whisky taste.

The intimidating but fun part of the afternoon was blending our own whisky in teams of two, and I was lucky to have Shayne as my ‘blending master‘.  We were giving measuring cups and pipettes, and four ingredients.  We chose to make a blend of 50 % Heavy toasted French oak malt, 20 % Highland malt American oak, 10% Lowland grain, and 20 % water, not adding any peated malt, and chose the name ‘French Toast’ for it.  But it was the ‘Equilibrium’ blend by Neil Pendock and Siraj Savage that the judges chose as the winner, having a long finish and a good nose, the judges said.  The blending exercise was a good way to get one involved with the product, and to understand the blending decisions of whisky-makers in general, and of Compass Box Wine Co in particular.

Compass Box Whisky Co is inviting attendees to enjoy a whisky blending at the Whisky Live Festival. Bookings can be made at Tel (021) 905-9066.

Disclosure: We received a bottle of Great King Street as a gift. www.compassbox.com www.liq.co.za

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Haas Collective in Bo-Kaap refreshing, friendly and creative coffee and design destination

After reading about the Haas Coffee Collective on Twitter, and being impressed with how quickly it has created awareness in the two weeks that it has been open, I went to have a cappuccino yesterday.  It is a most interesting collective of coffee roastery and coffee shop (Haas Coffee Collective), as well as the Haas Design Collective, with the Haas Communication Collective ad agency upstairs, all trading under the Haas brand.  Each Haas business is to interconnect and benefit from the other.

The first wow was when the young black-hatted young man behind the counter welcomed me by name as I entered, being Kent Fourie, who was at school with my son, and moved from Ellerman House to start working at Haas.   He told me a little about Haas, and introduced me to Francois Irvine, an artist and interior designer, a partner in the Haas Collective.  Francois is in charge of the Haas Design Collective specifically.   Glynn Venter, previously a creative director at FCB Draft, is the other co-owner.   From the name, I imagined it to have a Dutch owner (perhaps thinking of chef Camil Haas of Franschhoek).   Glynn laughed when I asked him about the origin of the name, and he coyly told me that Haas is the name of his favourite soft toy bunny, which he acquired about four years ago at the Old Biscuit Mill, and which accompanies him everywhere he goes, wearing a seatbelt when driving with Glynn in the car, and having a personality all of his own.   A felt bunny is on top of an interesting wall-mounted corner unit containing the crockery that they had specially made for the coffee shop, with a fly or an ant printed on each saucer, which causes great amusement as customers try to get rid of the realistic looking insects!   I loved the bunny-shaped biscotti that was served with the cappuccino (R18).

The Haas Design Collective, with partner Vanessa Berlein, has been open for a year already, and is Francois’ collection of artworks by a variety of artists that he sells.   A few steps down is the new Haas Coffee Collective, which was created when the previous tenant vacated the space.  It has lovely weathered-looking beams, and the counter was especially designed by Francois and made from lovely wood, matching the wooden floor.   The coffee roasting machine from Germany stands in this space, as do two wooden tables and chairs.   One can sit outside at white tables and chairs too, or in the cutest nook off the Design Collective.

The 100 % arabica coffees that the Haas Coffee Collective sells and uses come from Robertson, from ‘Strictly Coffee’, owned by Rensche and Hanno Schwartz.  The company has been operating for about five years.   Rensche used to work at Distell, and was a client of Glynn’s when he worked at the ad agency.

For their opening PR function, the coffee varieties that are sold by the Haas Coffee Collective were paired with food.    For example, Java coffee was matched with brownies; coffee from Guatemala was served with canapes containing citrus.   The coffee that has caused a stir on Twitter is Kopi Luwak, which is specially ‘processed’ by the Indonesian Luwak civet, and comes at an extreme cost of R730 for 250g, and R80 per cup, making it the most expensive coffee in the world.   Next most expensive is the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, which costs R400 for 250g, or R60 per cup.  There are eight coffees in the Haas Coffee Collective, at around R 50 – R 60 per 250g, each with a very quirky name and a different origin, and each is described as if it were a wine:

*   Return of a War Hero is a Brazilian roast, with a kola nut scent and fruit flavours

*   The Three Sisters is a blend

*   The Famous Jailbird is an Ethiopian roast, “peach and plum are the dominant fruit notes, with hints of mango”

*   The Mysterious Gentleman is a roast from Guatemala, with floral notes, a hint of chocolate, caramel and fudge

*   The Boxing Club is a Colombian coffee, with “deep red wine tones and of nuts”

*   Monday Morning Lift Club is a blend

*   The Swimming Club is decaffeinated coffee

*   The Newly Weds is a Costa Rican roast, a “coffee’s coffee”, and is ‘smooth, rich and subtly fruity’.

After only being open for two weeks, the Haas Collective is expanding to a downstairs space across the road, which will serve as an art gallery for larger works of art.  Glynn and Francois are deciding what else to add, either a design studio, or a hot desk, which will allow business persons to use space as an office away from their office, with wifi, much like Café Neo in Mouille Point.

The Haas Communication Collective has only been open for  a few days, and has signed up its first clients already.  The upstairs space offers two rooms, one having a large lounge attached to it, which will be the meeting space with clients, and will allow them to experience the creative working space in which their ad agency will be creating their campaigns.  The Haas Communication Collective has been appointed to handle the communication of the Whisky Live Festival, and will incorporate the Haas Coffee Collective.    A coffee and brandy pairing event is planned too.  On 25 May an exciting new coffee-related project will be launched, involving “one of the world’s most well-known artists”, Glynn said.

One can have something to snack whilst at Haas, with a small selection of treats offered.  Smoked Gypsy ham on ciabatta costs R35, while ciabatta with cheese and vegetables costs R30.  Wonderful looking muffins and croissants are also for sale.   Iced coffee is available, but does not contain ice cream.  Haas has an iced coffee maker, and one of the interesting ingredients added to ice slush is condensed milk!

The Haas Collective is brimming with ideas, and will be a space to watch as it expands its very new empire.  Commendable is its Loyalty Card, with one free coffee for every nine bought.   The coffee is good too!

POSTSCRIPT 28/5: Haas Coffee has announced the launch of its new Tretchikoffie – such a clever idea!  It also matches the TretchiCushions on its furniture.

POSTSCRIPT 15/10:  Haas Collective has moved to 19 Buitenkant Street.

Haas Coffee Collective, Haas Design Collective and Haas Communication Collective,  67 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-2239.   www.haascollective.com.   Twitter: @HaasCoffee  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 18h00, or until the last patrons have left,  and Saturday – Sunday 8h00 – early afternoon, or until the last patrons have left (how refreshing!).

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com    Twitter: @WhaleCottage