The Weekender is the first of a new series of weekly roundups of interesting news and happenings. This week, Champagne looks like its on the up and up, watch a modern, hybrid pot still get put together in two minutes, Michael Owen follows Becks into the Scotch game but with different (but predictable) results, and lastly you have to watch where you drink after 1030pm once the new alcohol bill passes in Singapore. We may have suckered you in with the pic, but we’re hope that you feel that it was worth the click…

Can you hold still for two minutes?

A Smith BowmanThe A. Smith Bowman Distillery gets a new 500-gallon still called George, and thoughtfully thought to record the entire process of assembly. Of course, it’s been significantly sped up over two minutes, but regardless it’s a fascinating look at the process of building a still. George is quite the multi-tasker – a 1,700-pound hybrid pot that can distill a variety of spirits including vodka, whiskey and gin. Now fully assembled, George just needs some final connections before it embarks on its first distillation run, which is expected in March. (via The Spirits Business)

We are the Champagions

ChampagnegenericWe just got the memo, it says Champagne is back. Provisional figures provided by The Comité Champagne (formerly known as CIVC) estimate that around 308 million bottles of champagne were sold worldwide in 2014, and racked up about 4.5bn in value terms (up from 4.3bn last year), which is the second highest on record behind 2007.

The new managing director of The Comité Champagne, Vincent Perrin, also expects exports to overtake domestic sales in France, which continues to decline. (via

Owen’s Spey ad gets spayed online

Michael OwenIf you haven’t caught it yet, let’s just say this is worth a minute of your time. Following his former England team mate David Beckham, English footballer Michael Owen has also taken the plunge in fronting a relatively new range of whisky. He’s been appearing on TV ads in China to plug Spey whisky recently, and the word is that England’s last Ballon d’Or winner was picked to be brand ambassador due to his popularity in China. But it’s not quite a bed of roses for Michael’s first public foray.

The ad has been panned online and on social media for being particularly “cringe-worthy,” and serves to reinforce his “boring” image – which he already gets a lot of stick for thanks to his punditry work. Nobody is expecting Michael to out-charm Mr. Posh Spice, but the ad clearly isn’t going to help. Still, we say cheer up Michael, we’re pretty sure Phil Neville will take the heat off you soon.

Watch it here if you haven’t already seen it (you have been warned). At least it wasn’t Phil. (via The Telegraph)

Longer video here:

Putin the fight on alcoholism on hold

Russia’s campaign in 2014 to fight alcoholism through higher prices sparked a demand for illicit spirits, forcing the government to somewhat u-turn and lower the minimum retail price by 16 percent to 185 rubles with effect from February this year.

Russia’s production of vodka has dropped 17 percent last year. According to Ciffra, an alcoholic beverage market researcher, Russian vodka prices are already “the world’s highest relative to people’s incomes, and real incomes are declining.” (via Bloomberg)

They’re not the only ones experiencing a mini-crisis; next up, from frosty Siberia to sunny Singapore…

Putting the alcoholics on hold

Now we come to that big elephant in the room. Late night cheap booze hijinks may be a thing of the past once a new proposed bill comes into play. But it may also have plenty of repercussions for convenience stores that stock beer and other spirits. If it sounds all doom and gloom, don’t worry it’s really not that bad unless your idea of fun is to walk the streets drinking in public.

SplitShire-8935The First Reading of the Liquor Control Bill proposes to ban drinking in public places from 1030pm to 7am, and we’re pretty sure that it will be passed eventually (soon). While it shouldn’t affect most of us adversely, it still pays to know what’s what, lest we get caught red-faced (literally) in unfortunate circumstances.

How it affects businesses
F&B and entertainment places with the requisite licenses to sell alcohol will not be affected as long as they conduct their business in accordance to their permits. At the same time however, we aren’t aware yet if owners have to specify a zone of demarcation so that their customers can literally stay on the right side of the law.

What is clear is that retail outlets will not be able to sell alcoholic beverages from the period of 1030pm to 7am. Retailers, however, may request for an extension of sale hours beyond 1030pm, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

When passed, the new ruling would affect convenience stores most as they form the bulk of retail outlets that you can buy liquor from, late at night. When you consider that many supermarkets and retail stores typically close between 9 to 10pm, there’s less reason now to pick up booze from convenience stores, as they tend to have a smaller range and slightly higher prices.

How it affects consumers
While not explicitly stated, the bill is intended to address a social issue of public intoxication. If you are drunk while out at the bar or at the club, you’re basically an isolated problem that can be taken care of by the management. But if you’re out and about, there’s pretty much no one around to keep you in check. Usually by that point the spectre of shame has already left the building.

When the bill gets passed, you will not be allowed to drink in public places in the stipulated time, failure of which to comply will result in a fine of up to S$1,000. Repeat offenders will face penalties of a fine of up to S$2,000, as well as a jail term of up to three months. It all feels rather harsh, that is, until you personally encounter an obnoxious drunken lout on the streets. If you’re in the Liquor Control Zones in Geylang or Little India (proposed zones), the penalties are 1.5 times more. And needless to say, retail stores in these areas will be hit really hard by the proposed ban.

However, there is some wiggle room here – you can apply for a liquor consumption permit; the example given by the Ministry of Home Affairs describes that you can request for said permit for say, a gathering at a NParks barbeque pit (which you need a permit to use as well). No details have been made of yet for the application process. They also advise that you have the responsibility to maintain public order for that gathering, although no details have been made about the legalilties. If you want more details from the First Reading, click here.

However, it’s still OK to consume liquor in private property, e.g. condominium premises and such, and of course, at home. We think it’s a great excuse to time to consider a fully-stocked home bar then –  how about the Somabar? (via Yahoo News)


Picture credits: via sources and Splitshire


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