By The Whisky Couple

Merchandise has become a significant extra source of income for many whisky producers. It sometimes seems they all try to outdo each other with gadgets, utensils and articles of clothing — and their fans are pleased at the selection. Fancy cufflinks, hats, ashtrays, USB sticks, notebooks, tartan gear. Enough to decorate your whisky room and yourself.

Let’s start with some cufflinks. Probably the most notorious example is the set Laphroaig presented quite some time ago — “love it” or “hate it.” They are for the wearer to choose which one goes left and which one right. They are rare, but rumor has it that Laphroaig may bring them back.

Glenmorangie offers gold-colored square cufflinks with an imprint resembling the Cadboll Stone, as can be seen on most labels of current bottlings. At the Dalmore one may purchase a tiny set of silver stag’s antlers — sure to please the sporting sorts (a Father’s Day home run) — and The Macallan has immortalized Easter Elchies House on oval cufflinks.

If you favor a tie, many a tartan is available, often connected to a specific distillery or the founder’s clan. Talking about tartans, there is even an official tartan of Holland, designed by a former research fellow of St. Andrews University. The Dutch company who ordered it now sells jackets, waistcoats, travel bags, scarves and kilts in the same pattern — red, white and blue, with a streak of orange. At distilleries the offer is usually restricted to a scarf or a cap.

Those who enjoy a cigar might be interested in collecting ashtrays. Glenrothes for instance had a silver colored saucer doubling as an ashtray under each bottle for a while. Jack Daniel’s carries a black, round, stoneware version with white lettering. JD also launched a series of Zippos with their name and logo. The gold colored one has become a real collectible, worth more than $150 USD.

USB sticks have become a favorite way for whisky marketing departments to disseminate information. I still remember my first USB stick in 2001, capable of storing a modest 64 MB, at a price of 99 euro. Today 15 GB is nothing and the price is a fraction of days gone by. They come in various sizes and materials, sometimes disguised as a credit card. I really enjoy collecting these myself and keep them intact. I even have a wooden one from Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull.

For a writer, the notebooks — inspired by the original Moleskin once used by Vincent van Gogh to take notes and sketches — are a handy tool and they look nice on the shelf even when completely full. Talisker, Laphroaig, The Macallan and Glenmorangie all sell them with their company logo on the cover.

Mouse mats are another utensil-cum-collectible. A favorite from my own collection is the Craigellachie Hotel version, a pars pro toto for all single malts and blends.

Decorative tins formerly housing a miniature and/or a glass come in handy for keeping business cards or other small objects when empty. In our kitchen we use a round tin from The Glenlivet to store pasta (uncooked). Or what about a Wild Turkey cocktail shaker? The Quaich, traditional drinking vessel of the Scots, can be found by the score, elaborately ornate, often with an appropriate logo engraved.

Some people are so involved with a specific brand that they will clothe themselves accordingly. Highland Park for instance has key chains, polo shirts, hoodies, fleece jackets and jerseys. Their famous Nordic brand ambassador Martin Markvardsen even has its logo tattooed on his body. Those who find that too definitive might try a temporary one, as sold by Ardbeg.

One older form of merchandise was once practiced by Black & White whisky. In the 1970s customers who bought a bottle of this Scottish blend were presented with a set containing a Scottie and a Westie. They were drawn to each other (as most dogs are), albeit it with the help of a magnet hidden in their little plastic bodies.

Whoever is fond of scale model replicas can start a really eclectic collection — from a grouse perched on a heather-covered stone to a miniature of Strathisla distillery. Woodford Reserve in Kentucky sells a replica of a wooden bung hammer in its visitor center.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Straight Kentucky Bourbon sports a stopper with a racehorse on each bottle. There are eight different ones. When presented together, they show a horse in full stride. On each hind leg a letter of this bourbon’s name appears. Buffalo Trace Distillery even puts the horse on the miniature bottles.

Lapel pins can be found by the score. Almost every distillery has one nowadays. They also do well on a pin board at the wall of your whisky room. Fridge magnets are easy to find, too.

One of the most remarkable whisky paraphernalia I ever received from a hardcore whisky fan was a leather apron with the logo of Glen Grant impressed into the surface. It was used by one of the distillery’s coopers. I now use it in our wood shed.

Not all of these artifacts might turn into collectibles with great monetary value, but they sure bring back memories from whisky places visited. And such memories, after all, are priceless.

 

Slante mhath,

 

The Whisky Couple

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.