Friday, 4 November 2011

Unleaded whisky?

I like a drink when I'm writing. It oils the wheels of imagination and sets a limit to working time, so that I sleep at least once in any 24-hour period. The imagination-oil eventually clogs up the works to the point where my mind is thinking something but my fingers are just making pretty shapes out of letters. Then I go to sleep.

It would be wonderful to have something that tasted like whisky, real whisky, but which could be used interspersed with real imagination-oil to extend writing time. Then again, that might send me into sleep deprivation and I'll get into that whole 'am I awake or dreaming now?' issue. Still, it would be worth a try.

So it was with some interest that I read about a synthetic whisky substitute that allegedly tastes just like whisky but has no alcohol in it at all. Aside from supplementing real whisky to extend finger control, the prank value is enormous, especially if you transfer it to an empty whisky bottle.

You could sit in the garden, wait until a neighbour is watching and sink the whole bottle in one go. If you drive, you could take a swig at traffic lights. When you later get stopped and breathalysed, whoever reported you would be forever branded a liar. You could get an incredible reputation at parties by taking a bottle, drinking it all and still being sober. You could give it to visitors and test their gullibility by measuring how drunk they think they are.

It's also certain to absolutely enrage the Righteous because being alcohol-free, cheeeldren can have as much as they want. As we all know, if a child so much as smells whisky, they will be lying drunk in the gutter the next day. I've met people with PhDs who genuinely believe that anyone taking a puff of steam from a nicotine-free Electrofag will inevitably become hooked on smoking, even in the absence of nicotine or smoke. So I welcome this whisky-flavoured soft drink, even if it's terrible, simply because it will enrage so many who deserve to be enraged.

The Halal bit is a little strange though. I was not aware that ritual slaughter applied to either malt or grain. Is it in the way they kill the yeast after fermentation? The drink seems to be made entirely out of synthetic chemicals. If those are listed in the Quran as approved for consumption, I will be mightily impressed.

The drink looked like fun, but there are two reasons why I won't bother trying it. One is that it's American so it's most probably modelled on bourbon. I have an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels that's been here for two years. I bought it because of imminent visitors who, in the end, didn't drink it. I have nothing against Bourbon, it's just not my tipple of choice. I'll open it one day - or maybe sell it. The way prices are going I'd make more on that bottle than I would in any savings account. If the Puritans get their way, by the time I retire it'll be worth more than my house.

The second reason is this:

The drink - which will be sold in cans for £4 and bottles for £10 - will go on sale worldwide on December 1, just in time for seasonal festivities.

The can looks to be 330 ml, I'm guessing the bottle will be 700-750 ml.

If you've tried Shloer grape-juice wine substitute you'll know that it's not much like wine but at least it's only about £2 a bottle. If you have a Lidl nearby you'll know you can get Glen Orchy, a reasonable single malt, for about £12-£13 a bottle. If you want a soft drink you can get two litres of lemonade for 99p. (addendum: if you want bottled water, £4 will get you around 52 litres if you buy two-litre bottles, more if you buy 5-litre ones)

Ten pounds for a bottle of a soft drink? I don't care if it tastes like angel's tears, I'm not paying that for pop. As for the cans, £4 gets you four cans of Blackthorn cider, nearly eight of that Tesco cider that tastes just like Blackthorn, anything up to 12 cans of Fanta depending on current offers or one can of this whisky-flavoured pop. No contest.

Fair enough, if you don't drink, you can join in at a party with this pseudobooze but if you don't drink, you probably don't like the taste of whisky anyway.  It's not to everyone's taste. Many who do drink don't like whisky. Even if you take a sample entirely composed of hardened whisky drinkers, they will have preferences for particular types or brands. As I said, I wouldn't be keen on bourbons and I'm certainly not forking out ten quid for a fake whisky flavoured as one I don't like. If they made it taste like Islay malt and priced it sensibly I'd try it, but I have whisky-drinking friends who wouldn't because they prefer Speyside or Highland.

I can't see why a non-drinker would choose a non-alcoholic whisky. It's a strong flavour. A non-alcoholic beer or lager with a milder flavour, maybe, or non-alcoholic vodka which comes out of the tap for free. I really can't see why anyone would want to pay that price.

Overall then, it looks like a fun idea but I think it'll go the way of hedgehog flavoured crisps once the novelty wears off. At the price, the novelty will wear off pretty fast.

I still think it was worth putting it on the market just to push Righteous blood pressure into dangerous levels, but come on, £10 for a soft drink?

Cheeeldren won't touch it. They'll stick with their Special Brew.


Anonymous said...

For less cost you could take an empty bottle of genuine whisky, add some carmel coloured water and still do the same.

Sheik Yer Boaby said...

Halal just means 'permissable'. Opposite to haraam which means 'not permissable'.
So halal whisky means permissable whisky - ie it contains no alcohol.
And halal slaughter means permissable slaughter - ie the animal is alive and coherent when it's throat is slashed. Rather than being stunned and incoherent.
So halal doesn't necessarily relate to the ritual slaughter of animals.

Anonymous said...

"if you don't drink, you can join in at a party with this pseudobooze but if you don't drink, you probably don't like the taste of whisky anyway"

I very much enjoy the taste of whisky,but alcohol doesn't suit me,I go dizzy,become silent and want to fall asleep, which is no way to behave at parties.
I gave up when I was pregnant and never really got my resistance back, though I did try.

However,this kind of disadvantage leads to creative thought.

Having tried a sip of absinthe,and because of it's wicked reputation, I decided to convert it to something you could give your maiden aunt so she could taste the Dark Side with impunity.

Absinthe turkish delight is lovely, it has all the flavour without the sting and you can eat as much as you like.
The alcohol gets burnt off in the cooking.

I was considering turning homebrewed wines into jam, and homebrewed cider has definitely worked as a substitute for cider vinegar in the chilli jam.

So if you can cope with the sugar, how about turning a cheap whisky into turkish delight that you can eat while you are working.

Or set fire to the whisky in the glass like sambuca.

I know all this is heresy but I think we are probably past such concepts now.


Anonymous said...

I know just the person I am going to try one of your pranks on!

Brilliant idea.

English Pensioner said...

I worked with a young Muslim once and he claimed that the Koran banned the drinking of that drink "made from the fruit of the vine". I can't confirm that this is so as I've no intention of reading the Koran to find out.
But what I do know is that he drunk beer and whisky on the basis that they were made from grain!

Macheath said...

I have to admit I'm struggling a bit with the notion of halal whisky sweeping the Middle East - I mean turning up at Friday prayers reeking of the stuff is never going to be a good move, surely?

And I can't see my Chapel relatives being any happier with it; after all, they don't much approve of soft drinks either:

"There's self-indulgent, see!"

As for hangovers, I can't imagine you'll feel great the morning after imbibing 'a variety of chemicals, flavours and colourings'.

However, I suppose it might be very useful for corporate Americans who want to keep the edge in boozed-up business gatherings...

P T Barnum said...

There are those of us who don't drink because we can't for medical reasons, and who miss the taste a lot. I still have a couple of bottles of a non-alcoholic version of pastis I got hooked on in France. This pretend whisky sounds like a good idea, apart from the extortionate price. A person can only drink so much sugary pop.

Lou said...

Non-alcoholic beer sells very well indeed in the Middle East. I believe it's "Barbican" or something that sponsors various television programmes showing Westernised Arabs (generally Egyptian actors) doing BBQ's in the boonies with the obligatory 4x4's in the background.

In reality the reason for their popularity is they mix in pure alcohol, which is available for medicinal purposes, or can be distilled without any great fuss.

My suspicion is this Whiskey is aimed primarily at that market and the price premium will be eroded when other manufacturers start to compete.

Told it's actually canned or bottled in Panama, so I'd give it a couple of months before the secret ingredients are widely available.

Anonymous said...

Entirely OT

I don't like to mention it but are anybody else's strawberries flowering outdoors?
Some have already got small green fruits growing and I was surprised to notice the other day that a small patch of daffodil leaves are already 2" out of the ground.

Is this widespread or just a local anomaly?

It's becoming a little unnerving.


Gill said...

How much of the cost of real whisky is tax? And the fake whisky? Some VAT but no spirit duty so most of the cost has to be pure profit. A nice little earner for the makers, if anyone's daft enough to buy it. But nothing for the taxman? Can't see it being around for long.

delcatto said...

I'll give it a miss. I did try Kaliber a few years back and it does have a very small amount of alcohol in it but only for the one evening. I will stick with the Tullamor Whiskey this evening

Anonymous said...

Hi Rose,the spring flowering Clematis are flowering here in the north west and I've seen several perennials putting out fresh flowers too.
wr ginewris...hic

Leg-iron said...

Anon - you could do it with cold tea. it would look the same but not taste the same so some of the pranks won't work.

Sheik yer boaby - yes, I know, but applying Halal to a soft drink is pretty silly.

Rose - absinthe turkish delight? I have to try that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon 20:51

It's getting rather spooky round here, coupled with the fact that mysteriously the sweetcorn crop failed, it just grew half way and then stopped.

At first I thought it was just in my garden but then I discovered it had also happened to the farmers.

I was wondering if we had a volcanic vent opening up underground or something.


Sheik Yer Boaby said...

leggy - I remember when I was living in the middle east that the majority of the sweets, chocolates, soft drinks, toothpaste, mouthwash etc had to have 'halal' stamped on them. This was because they may have had animal products or alcohol in them.

delcatto said...

For your information: I've just bought two 70 cl bottles of Grants ale cask whisky for £18.00 from the local Sainsbury's. A bargain and one to drive the righteous to apoplexy. But there were no adverts anywhere, either inside the store or externally. Just a small red label stating two for £18.00. Very odd indeed and has anyone else noticed any similar offers? Usually these offers are trumpeted via various media.

george said...

I noticed Asda no longer do their 3 bottles of wine for a tenner offer. The new SNP laws are kicking in and costing us dear. Their plan for windmill power will soon kill us all off anyway so they should at least let us be pissed up at the end.

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