Scotch In A Can: Whisky Maker Scottish Spirits Adds Aluminum Siding To Liquor

Scotch In A Can: Whisky With Aluminum Siding

Canned haggis isn't the only aluminum-packaged Scottish export guaranteed to raise eyebrows at a dinner party.

Scotch whisky will soon be sold in a can in the United States, putting a liquor prized for its pedigree and price into a humble container known for its affordability and portability.

"There are many brands on the market and most brands are not created equal," Ken Rubenfeld, vice president of operations for Scottish Spirits Imports, Inc., told The Huffington Post. "But most brands are served as equals in a glass type of vessel."

"Having something that's so creatively different -- it piques the curiosity."

Each can of Scottish Spirits will contain 12 ounces -- about eight shots -- of 80-proof "single grain scotch whisky," distilled and matured for three years in oak casks in Scotland, according to Rubenfeld. The company hopes to have its cans on shelves in major American markets by Feb. 1, retailing for $5 apiece.

Packaging a high-end variety of liquor in what is widely considered to be a low budget container sounds like a novelty. But Rubenfeld insists its convenience -- not comic value -- that will drive sales.

"A lot of people like to have beverages by their pool, on their boat, in a campground, at sporting events or tailgate parties," he said. "It's easier to bring a six pack of a beverage verses bringing a bottle of scotch."

For some, canned beverages carry a low-class stigma. But they don't necessarily mean low quality. In recent years, some microbreweries have turned to cans for reasons including cost, drinkability and sustainability.

"They are opaque, they are completely airtight, and the liners are pretty darn good," said Lew Bryson, managing editor of Whisky Advocate magazine. "It is not going to be affecting the flavor. The problem you run into is who is going to bang out 12 ounces in an evening?"

Unlike bottles, cans cannot be closed after they have been opened. That will force Scottish Spirits drinkers to either finish all 8 shots of the blended scotch in a single occasion, or let some of the booze go to waste.

Critics have argued that eight shots of a beverage with the same alcohol content as venerable scotches including Johnnie Walker Blue and The Glenlivet 12 is too many to be sold in a container that can't be resealed.

But Rubenfeld insists his product does not encourage binge drinking, arguing that consumers will know it should be sipped like Dewars, not gulped like Dr. Pepper.

"We want people to be responsible -- this is 12 fluid ounces of scotch whisky and people should treat it as such," he said. "I would think that your readers and most people of common sense would know that that's a lot of alcohol. They'll crack it open and pour it with Coke or some kind of mixer and have fun with it with their friends."

Soon after the beverage's U.S. release, Scottish Spirits hopes to begin shipping the cans with an attachment that allows them to be resealed, however a spokeswoman said the brand has not yet developed a design for a resealable top that meets company standards. (A can sent to The Huffington Post newsroom did not feature any attachment for resealing the drink).

"When the top is perfected, people will maybe have half a can with their friends and save the rest," said Rubenfeld.

Nearly a year ago, an organization that oversees scotch whisky manufacturing had harsh words for Scottish Spirits, claiming its canned beverage might not qualify as real scotch.

Rubenfeld says his company, which maintains an office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and is part of a larger company based in the Cayman Islands, has "worked diligently to meet every requirement" outlined by the Scotch Whisky Association and codified by 2009's Scotch Whisky Regulations.

Campbell Evans, a spokesman for the SWA, could not immediately confirm that Scottish Spirits has achieved certification as a true scotch whisky, stating he has not yet examined the beverage.

But Evans says the packaging isn't the problem.

"There is no reason why a product that is a genuine Single Grain Scotch Whisky cannot be sold in a can," Evans said.

Some whisky experts have reservations about the packaging, but Brad Danler, general manager of the Brooklyn, N.Y. whisky bar and restaurant Char No. 4, says it's what's on the inside that counts.

"I understand why beer makes sense going back into cans, but with whisky it's certainly a surprise," said Danler. "I can't say that it makes much sense to me, but if it is delicious, then I will gladly crack one open and enjoy 12 ounces."

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