By Dave Broom

Tomorrow's World

Innovation in the world of whisky? It's all over the place, argues Dave Broom
There I was, reclining in my whisky chair squirting a dram into my tumbler filled with ‘Whisky Rocks’, musing on what a remarkably innovative industry this has become. An entire subset of firms has sprung up offering novel and even useful accessories.It started with glasses, then there were sporran flasks which in turn necessitated the invention of the telescopic sporran cup.As you can see elsewhere in this issue now we have the whisky chair. Dominic didn’t have space for a raft of other innovations, which either have appeared or are about to appear on the market.Given that it is safer to be soft and fluffy in this column I figured this was a good opportunity to give you an idea of what every serious whisky lover should have in their house.Inevitably other firms have now turned their attention to other items of furniture. While rumours of the whisky wardrobe have proved to be a hoax, an enterprising chap in Reno, Nevada has developed the world’s first whisky bed.It is basically a water bed, containing a separate chamber which can be filled with the amber nectar. A copper tube runs from this into the bed-head (also copper) which has “cunningly disguised” taps on either side. As the manufacturer points out, it is ideal for interesting experiments with vatting to take place and because of the “natural movement” which takes place during sleep allows the different whiskies to marry properly. He assures me it is “odour free”.An Austrian whisky nut, Georg Platzer, has had a more practical idea – the self-smoker, aka “Auld Reekie”.A keen fisherman, Georg had bought a smoke box in order to cure his catch and then decided to adapt the principle in order to give his malts the “authentic whisky taste of Scottish peat”.The self-smoker is a cylindrical device comprising two compartments divided by a perforated tray. You place your dram-filled glass on the plate and light a peat pellet in the burner in the lower section. The rising smoke infuses the whisky. A digital readout allows you to monitor the ppm level.The firm is also offering a choice of peat cut from different parts of Scotland so you can compare.Those of you who surf the whisky net may have come across the new independent bottler, Alba Quercus whose first offering claims to “extend whisky finishing to its logical conclusion.”It is in the process of giving a Scottish finish to its malt not just by ageing in barrels which have previously held Highland, Speyside, Islay etc but physically transporting the hogshead to each region.Rumour has it the trek will end in Campbeltown where broker Les Oman has sourced some herring barrels. A limited edition set of miniatures will be released which have been drawn after every stop on the journey to demonstrate how the whisky has picked up the unique characteristics of each region.The industry itself hasn’t been inactive. In these consumer driven times, one firm has accepted that the best way to make a whisky finish acceptable to as many consumers as possible is to allow the drinkers to do it themselves and is attaching a phial of port to its standard bottling this Christmas. The drinker can then decide how much of the wine to add to the dram.Innovation - dontcha love it?