I have recevied a document from an anonymous source shedding light on the inner workings within the marketing departments of the Scotch whisky industry. It is a carefully researched list of Gaelic names that had been considered to be used for whisky expressions by some distillleries but were withdrawn or repacled by others by a plethora of reasons.
As you may have noticed, Gaelic names have become highly en vogue for new whisky expressions – especially the ones without age statement. But it’s a tricky language, so utmost care has to be taken that the name doesn’t backfire on you like that famous Mitsubishi Pajero example.
I am fully aware that it is not in the interest of the industry that these facts become known to the public. But I feel it is my obligation to publish them anyway.
10 – Glenglassaugh Drudhag Glan
Clear Dram – A nice and catchy name for their newmake, but the distillery decided to take the mystery road instead with their Spirit That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Heaven knows why.
9 – Laphroaig Tigh-Eiridinn Loisgeach
Burning Hopsital – Intended for one of their special Feis Isle bottlings. But the producers felt that given their already pretty complicated distillery name the customers might be overchallenged by the pronunciation.
8 – Ardbeg Beul Mòna
Mouth of Peat – The Supernova was to be called so, but it turned out to be less dry than expected.
7 – Ledaig Tilgeadh Naoidhean
Baby Vomit – An aroma cherished by many coniosseurs, but market research showed that a substantial number of potential buyers actually felt repelled by it. As a consequence, the project was never carried out.
6 – Bruichladdich Taoim
Bilge Water – Working title for the Peat, dropped in favour of the real thing. The distillery feared that the maritime images instinctively associated with the name – as fitting as it may have been – would have overshadowed the other character traits of the whisky.
5 – Edradour Crochar
Horse Dung – This is what Edradour originally wanted to call the Ballechin. But the name happened to look a wee bit strange on the draft label.
4 – Kilchoman Cu Fliuch
Wet Dog – Kilchoman wanted to emphasisze the farmy character of their barleybarely legal farmhouse malt. For some strange reason they decided to stick with seasons instead.
3 – Mannochmore Fion-Geur
Vinegar – This malt was intened to be named after its characteristic nose, but the Diageo marketing department decided that it was preferable to name it after the color. In the end it was called Loch Dhu. The legendary success of this malt proves that this decision was right.
2 – Fettercairn Uisge Fior
Pure Water – Whyte & Mackay obviously wanted to hint on the uisge beatha heritage of whisky. But this combination would have prohibited the company’s trademark use of caramel colouring. With a heavy heart they decided to go with Fior only. Sounds much more flowery anyway, if you ask me.
1 – Glendronach Riubh Mor
Big Sulphur – Inspired by the great success of the Glendronach 15 yo Revival, the distillery devised a concept for a deliberately strongly sulphured whisky that will remain in the bottom drawer of the distillery manager until the time is ripe for such an expression.