Blather & Twaddle: How to Read a Label

December 22, 2016

This is a great time of the year to reflect on this, ponder that, and twaddle on about the other. So let’s just do the latter.

In 2016 a tsunami of new Irish gins and whiskies have hit the shelves, all looking to be loved, or at least bought once. So to help you dear consumer, here is our guide to navigating your way around those carefully worded labels.

The lost art of what you see is what you get labels.
The lost art of what you see is what you get labels.
  1. Small Batch

A more utterly meaningless pair of words would be hard to put together (ok I will make an exception for Quorn Chicken). The great thing about ‘Small Batch’ is that is promises so much while not saying anything. Here at Blackwater Distillery we are guilty of ‘small batch’ usage, because we think our 300 litre batches are small – but that’s just a matter of opinion. Compared to say Bombay Sapphire our still is small, but compared to Islington’s 58 Gin we are huge.

Twaddle Score 6 out of 10

  1. Hand Distilled

I’ve tried it. You can’t hand distill gin, no more than you can hand roast coffee. No matter how hard you try you will fail, so don’t go there.

Twaddle Score 10 out of 10

  1. Distilled in Ireland

This is like the ‘Irish Smoked Salmon Vs Smoked Irish Salmon’ get about. In the former the smoke is Irish (the salmon isn’t), in the second the salmon is Irish.

So, if a bottle of Irish gin says ‘distilled’ it doesn’t necessarily mean the gin has been distilled. It’s a rather neat ‘get about’ so the producer can pass off cheap compounded gin as something it is not i.e. distilled – in other words the base spirit has been distilled, but not the gin.

I will quote REGULATION (EC) No 110/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL at the five (yes five!) Irish gins currently engaging in this practice:

“Gin obtained simply by adding essences or flavourings to ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is not distilled gin.”

Twaddle Score 9 out of 10

  1. Distillery

Yup, in our post-truth world you don’t even need to have a distillery to be a distillery. All you do is stick the word ‘distillery’ in your company name, then click you heels three times and before long you will even start to believe your own delusional ravings.

Twaddle Score 11 out of 10

  1. Provenance

As a rule of thumb, when an Irish location doubles as a brand name, the product is not made there. There are exceptions to this rule, but Kenmare Beer, Kilmeaden Cheese, Cork Dry Gin aren’t, and don’t get me started on Mars Bars. There is also a subordinate rule which states that in all probability any Irish food or drink named after a saint, wasn’t actually made by that saint.

Twadde Score 4 out of 10

  1. Narrative

Often confused with provenance, narrative actually refers the text that appears on (but is not confined to), the back label. Otherwise known as bullshit, this is the bit that usually contains more adverbs and adjectives than your average dictionary. This gives rise to the first rule of understanding a rear label: verbage increases as a direct result of the remove from reality of said verbage.

Twaddle Score 7 out of 10

  1. Awards

Most awards aren’t worth the fake gold they are made from. There are of course honourable exceptions, but most are just a lottery. Let’s just say companies never list the awards they didn’t win. Proceed with caution.

Twaddle Score 2 out of 10

  1. Craft

I predict that by the end of 2017, the only people using the word ‘craft’ will be multi-nationals.

Twaddle Score is award winning, double gold

  1. Heritage

What happens when you put Provenance, Heritage and a marketing graduate on too much money in the large hadron collider? You get ‘Heritage’.

So Jameson want to play with rye. Good for them, it’s innovative yet they feel the need to dress it in terms of their ‘heritage’. And did you hear about Smithwick’s? They’ve discovered so much heritage, they had to shut three breweries and turn one into a museum just to show it off. Like salt a little heritage goes a long way, while too much is bad for your blood pressure.

Twaddle Score 4 1/4 out of 10

  1. Unique

Nothing is unique, as for ‘so unique’? You can’t be so unique, you can only be unique or not unique, and as I said nothing is unique.

Here’s to less blather & twaddle and more transparency & honesty in 2017.