A Pioneer is… Part 2: Innovation and Tasty Treats

GraemeODYWIn part one I introduced you to the whole purpose of the Glenfiddich One Day You Will Summit and talked a little about the ‘Glenetics’ masterclass given by Eben Klemm and Brian Kinsman. The Summit was looking at the idea of a pioneer, or to be more accurate the modern pioneer. The Future Laboratory, in partnership with Glenfiddich, conducted the ‘Future Poll’, a survey that takes a look at our ideas of the spirit of pioneering. Brian and Eben were just one facet of the few days , but their class did help to demonstrate some of the new ideas and spirit that is grasping pioneers around the world. Their ability to cross pollinate disciplines and to return to basics in order to further the advances in modern times, are two key elements of modern pioneership. Peter Gordon himself said that ‘a pioneer is someone who looks at what is already there and sees something completely new’, advancing what we already have rather than dreaming up wild inventions.

So where does the whisky industry come in? Obviously they can make pioneering lunges in their own industry, I shall get to that a wee bit later, but also with their economic success (rare in this day and age) they can help to support projects in other industries. Many companies are doing it, Glenfiddich with this Summit, Old Pulteney with their Row to the Pole campaign and the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (Woodvale Atlantic Challenge). Advancements in the industry are also appearing with the advent of a non-alcoholic whisky flavoured drink (SWA are not too happy about this) and, my personal favourite, at St Andrews University researchers have discovered a method of using light through an optical fibre in order to work out a whiskies brand, age and cask! This would seriously help in the ever growing fight against counterfeiting in the drinks industry. Pioneering spirit is rife in the industry and lets hope that Scotch whisky can keep up the good work for years to come.

A selection of delights from the two Caroline Hobkinson Dinners

A selection of delights from the two Caroline Hobkinson Dinners

For us here at Edinburgh Whisky Blog advancements in the food and drinks industry are of most importance. Developing new methods of creating food to feed the ever growing population is of course the biggest problem facing the worlds leading Gastronauts. But on the other side of this is people trying to change the way that we enjoy food and drink. They try to create an experience or memorable moment that can be shared and remembered over time. For example the dinner over the two evenings served by Caroline Hobkinson involved innovative, cutleryless food presentations that both entertained and tasted fantastic. Since it is unlikely that whisky will ever be the answer to world hunger, here are some of the more entertaining and fun innovations from the Summit:

Sweets by A* Food Design

122This funky, test tube of sweets is described on the label as ‘Lyophilised confectionary using NASA technology, combining freeze dried raspberries injected with Glenfiddich 12 year old single malt scotch whisky with chocolate and powdered pear shortbread.’ To me, it sounds like a load of jargon, but dear lord do these taste good. Strong raspberry flavour with a gentle rolling chocolate and pear crumble. The taste left has a bit of malty whisky notes, but the pear and shortbread leave a delicate desire for more. Some how the fresh flavours have been captured and replicated to a very intense, high standard.

‘Eau De Robidou’ by Stefanie Bourne


For the last 9 years Glenfiddich have ran an artists in residence project at the distillery, to high critical acclaim. In 2004, Stefanie Bourne, filled three elliptical casks (bourbon, new oak and sherry) with 25 litres of new spirit. In October 2010 Brian Kinsman decided it was exceptional and was ready for the bottle. Due to the cask shape and size not meeting SWA standards it is not officially a Scotch whisky. It is therefore bottled in a perfume bottle at 53% ABV. Pretty darn cool! Some tasting/aroma notes here:

Aroma (Sprayed on wrist): Very rich, with delicate sweet undertones. Really, very, very chocolatey. Chocolate eclairs, the hard chewy kind. If you want to smell like a delicious, edible alcoholic this is the scent for you.

Palate (Eagerly sprayed into mouth, take careful aim not to hit the eyes!): Not as appeasing as the nose. Much richer and a hint of bitter chocolate in the distance. Cheap chocolate covered raisins. The spray technique provides an interesting feel around the palate and throat. Very weird, yet very fun!

Eben Klemm Glenfiddich Cocktail

A creative and fun cocktail to capture and contain the elements discussed in the ‘Glenetics’ Master class. We walked in and saw Eben, poised like a mad scientist, over a table shimmering with liquid nitrogen. Full marks for presentation but what about the cocktail itself. The base was diluted Glenfiddich new make, frozen by the liquid nitrogen at the bottom of the glass. On top was added Glenfiddich 12, 15 and 18, Scottish breakfast tea, heather honey and candied pineapple juice. The idea is that as you hold the glass the new make thaws out and dilutes through the rest of the cocktail. Very strong, thick drink. Sweet malty notes from the whisky and a thick consistency. I personally liked it but others were not so impressed. It did get a lot stronger the longer you held it. But who cares what it tastes like when there is dry ice involved!!

Graeme Gardiner

Eben creating his cocktail

Eben creating his cocktail

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