I had dinner with some great folks tonight at Open Range in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The folks I had dinner with are super smart, very friendly and know how to have a good time! Beyond being a place where nice people live or work (not all were from Calgary; one was from Québec City), I learned that Calgary makes some killer brew (I had the Wild Rose Canadian Brown Ale) and enjoyed some of their local pride and joy: Alberta beef! Specifically: I had the “blackened NY Strip with Rocky Mountain chimichurri sauce” cooked medium rare — it was very tasty! With the beef, I had the house Malbec (red wine). The meal ended with a great-value single-malt (are you surprised? Really??): Highland Park 12 (voted a best daily dram in 2008 by the Malt Maniacs). After dinner, I had a Cragganmore 12 in the bar at my hotel. Busy day tomorrow…more news as events warrant!
One of my dinner companions told me that liquor sales in Alberta are privatized. This means that Albertans can probably get a lot of Scotches that I can’t get. I’m jealous!
The US has two things that limit liquor imports: A confusing patchwork of state-by-state liquor laws, and the stupid 750 ml “standard” bottle that is only standard in the US (other countries tend to use 700 ml bottles for alcohol). There might be more challenges at the state level, but those are the big macro-level issues that make selling into the US market difficult for Scotch whisky producers (especially the smaller ones that are more innovative).
Update from YYC: I spent some time at the duty-free shop (Cloud 9 Liquor Store) at Calgary’s airport this morning while waiting to go through US Customs. Most of the bottles at this shop are 750 ml, so I guess Canada and the US are both making the same mistake. 😦 The shopkeeper said that she rarely sees 700 ml bottles. I did manage to score 3 minis of Amrut, which are right next to me as I write this here in the San Diego airport. I can’t wait to try them!