complement a good cigar as well as the smooth fire of a single-malt scotch.
So naturally the boom in cigar smoking has increased interest in single-malts,
which have been enjoying steady popularity since
the 1980s. For old-timers who have enjoyed the tipple for years, the
staying power of the single-malts will come as no surprise. But it certainly
goes against the usual trend of short-term fads and fashion in US alcohol
consumption. A recent story in the New York Times (3/19/97) reported
that since sales of single-malts took off in the 1980s, demand has stayed
high. In fact in 1996 shipments of single-malts to the United States came
to 465,000 cases, up 11.2 percent on 1995.
The popularity of the single-malts may be due to their appeal for drinkers
who are new to Scotch. Mr Joe Funghini, beverage manager at the Post House,
a steak restaurant on East 63rd Street in New York City that offers a good
range of single-malts, told the New York Times : "Some of them, like
the Macallan, are aged in old Sherry barrels and the Sherry flavor imparts
a sweetness that newcomers to Scotch find attractive."
Traditional scotches are blends of malt whiskies (made from barley)
and grain whisky (made from cereals such as corn, wheat or barley). The
proportion of each can range from 20 to 40 percent malts from all over
Scotland and 60 to 80 percent grain whisky. Single-malt Scotches, as the
name implies, come from one distillery and are made entirely from malted
barley. Although the Japanese and Irish produce their own version of single
malt Scotches, the name is synonymous with product from some 120 single-malt
distilleries in Scotland, many of which are very small. The Scottish distilleries
are grouped geographically into three regions. Lowland malts are produced
below an imaginary line across Scotland just north of Glasgow. They are
the driest and lightest. Highland malts are produced
north of that line, up to Skye and the Orkneys. They are sweeter, richer
and mellower. Islay (pronounced EYE-lah) malts, from the island west of
Scotland, have the strongest taste, a combination of peat and the sea.
According to an industry publication The Adams Handbook, the
most popular single-malt Scotch whisky in the US is Glenlivet, accounting
for a whopping 37 percent of the cases sold in 1996. Next most popular
were Glenfiddich, at 21 percent of sales and and the Macallan, up a significant
28 percent to just over 8 percent of all cases sold.
Steakhouses, bars and restaurants are combining the demand for cigars
with the sale of good Scotch whisky and Cognac, often in designated rooms
where smokers can relax amidst a tempting choice. Keen's Chop House on
West 35th Street, New York City, offers more than 50 single malts.