Glenfiddich Tastings in Honolulu
If you’ve noticed you’re drinking more scotch than you used to, you’re not alone. Hawaii is a “very up and coming market” for big brands like Glenfiddich, according to Mitch Bechard, Glenfiddich’s brand ambassador for the western U.S. and the man leading a series of Glenfiddich scotch tastings around town next week.
“When you look at the sales of scotch whisky, it’s a boom time,” he says. The U.S. was up 23 percent, with a lot more interest from women. “It was seen as an old boy’s club back in the day, but in the last three to four years, that’s changed. It’s definitely a younger demographic interested in gaining knowledge in scotch whisky, enjoying a wee dram now and again.”
Bechard sounds like you would imagine a bottle of Scotch would if it could talk. From Edinburgh, Scotland, his voice has an earthy weight to it, a lilting bite. He credits Glenfiddich’s success to smart marketing, a recent phenomenon in the history of the drink, which has been taking the edge off overstressed humans since 1494, or the back end of the Middle Ages.
“When we officially started making it in Scotland,” he says, “it was blended scotch that took the lions share.” But Glenfiddich (that last syllable is pronounced with a “K”, by the way—not “ditch”) is a single malt, distilled from water and barley in a single distillery in good old bourbon casks from the U.S., and made up a much smaller category. “Prior to 1963, there was no single malt readily available on the market,” says Bechard. “But we were the first to have a major marketing campaign.”
He’ll be in Hawaii for two events, and he’ll have Glenfiddich 12 through 21-year bottles on hand, as well as 14 and 21 year-old bottles of Balvenie single malt scotch, at a dinner and scotch pairing with Fujioka’s at Stage Restaurant in the Design Center. The menu includes six courses ranging from kumamoto oysters with the Glenfiddich 15 to lamb shank ravioli paired with Balvenie 15. Tickets are $85 per person. (Update: That dinner is now sold out.)
There is still space available for a seat at the two-hour scotch and cigar event at Row Bar, where Bechard will guide you through the Glenfiddiches and Balvenies he brought and how they react to the cigar and pupu they give you for $30 a person.
“Whenever we do tastings, it’s very interactive and informal,” Bechard says. “I want people to ask questions.” He visits the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland twice a year and “brings the distillery to life with the firsthand stories I get.”
Although, unfortunately he won’t bring any of those super rare, ridiculously valuable 50-year old bottles of scotch with him (Those bottles sell for as much as $27,000 each; Bechard says William Grant and Sons, the family-run business that owns Glenfiddich, only allows for the sale of 50 of the bottles throughout the world every year), he will wear his kilt. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he says.