Thursday, May 17, 2007

Isle of Jura now Indian

It's the water!

The Indian billionaire who brews Kingfisher and Mendocino (well, he owns the breweries which do that) has purchased Whyte and Mackay, the Scottish whisky distiller of Isle of Jura, Dalmore, Whyte and Mackay brands, and others.

Among many other properties, Vijay Mallya - through his United Breweries Group conglomerate - owns the Mendocino Brewery of Hopland, California.

Mendocino can lay claim to being the US's first post-Prohibition brewpub. There are, however, equally valid claims for Bert Grant's Yakima brewpub. Its first brewers and founders AND yeast arrived from New Albion of the late 1970s: the first U.S. craft non brewpub0 brewery. (Anchor Brewery was technically not the original US craft brewery; it opened in the late 19th century. Of course, in spirit, one could say, yes it was.)

A few years back, a great share of Mendocino's production was moved to a United Breweries facility in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. UB also uses the Saratoga Springs facility to produce the North American-sold version of its international-style lager - Kingfisher. Even though Kingfisher is still produced in India, Mallya saw no need to ship a product containing 95% water to the United States. Next time you buy a bottle, check the label! (I believe Kingfisher is also produced in the UK, but there via Scottish and Newcastle.)

Whyte and Mackay's immediate past owner, Vivian Imerman, said this: "Scotch whisky can only be made in Scotland." But will Mr. Mallya agree, or will he have the same feeling for whisky as he does for beer? Will he distill this mostly water-containing product in out-markets rather than shipping it long distances from Scotland? Mallya has indicated he is interested in purchasing other Scottish distilleries.
So, is it the water or is it marketing and cost-minimizing?

1 comment:

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