Monday, January 25, 2010

Old Master's Freemason Whisky To Be Imported to US

Over the weekend, I posted the image of Lombard's Old Master's Freemason Whisky in a story about Colorado relaxing its alcohol rules simply as an image to remind brethren of Masonry's long tradition of enjoying tasty adult beverages outside of the US. Little did I realize it would touch off a flurry of backchannel and Facebook posts expressing interest in this product.

I wrote to two representatives of Lombard's, Vici Wine and Spirits located in Florida, asking about availability in the US, and both said it was unavailable here. Vici's Chuck Squires responded, "Unfortunately, it is illegal for us to Import that product. There was a lawsuit started by the Free Mason Society." I find that explanation questionable, since there is no national Masonic group that could do that, and courts have long held that the square and compasses, as a generic symbol and not a specific copyrighted piece of artwork, is much like a cross in its ubiquity.

Brother Ruben J. Levy in Panama contacted Mr. Richard Lombard-Chibnall at Lombard's in Scotland, and was given this somewhat more encouraging response:

"Old Masters gain(ed) USA Federal label approval on Friday, so we are certainly looking to move forward in a positive direction.

You may be interested to know, the whisky itself was reviewed in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2008. It received a fabulous review - here is copy of what was written:

"Old Masters “Freemason Whisky”(92 points)
nose: The perfect nose to experience blindfolded (how else ….?) as the depth of the fruit and grain – and their happy intermingling – is astonishing. A few under-ripe gooseberries here; taste: Light, graceful arrival with the early emphasis on a Speyside malt theme before some grain and oak kinks in; finish: pretty long with touches of cocoa though the fresh malt lingers; balance: a high quality blend that doesn’t stint on the malt. The nose, in particular, is sublime.


For those inclined to bite the bullet and spend a lot of cash on shipping, the Whisky Exchange offers Old Masters and will ship to the US, starting at £53 total for the first bottle. Obviously the cost drops the more you buy. Let's just say I'll have some at Masonic Week in the Masonic Society's hospitality suite, along with some Arran's Robert Burns blend.



The new US export bottle.

7 comments:

Magpie Mason said...

Now I'm definitely going to Masonic Week! Save me a gill!

doug said...

I'm planning to make a purchase from them, I just hope the shipment isn't held in customs. You can only bring two liters into the States, duty free, so I wonder what the duties are on a case.

hatrock said...

Anyone notice that although it's called "Master's Whiskey", the square and compasses are in the Fellowcraft position?

Chris Hodapp said...

OLD Masters+whisky = absent mindedness

ReeD said...

Save me a taste.

caid said...

Chris, I just received an email from Margaret Lombard-Chibnall, President and CEO of Lombard Brands. She pointed out the the U.S. version of Old Masters Freemason Whisky will be different than the UK version in that the U.S. bottle will be square with a black cap...the UK bottle is round with a gold cap. She is shipping both to me at my hotel in the UK to be there for my arrival on Thursday...cool! Also, she mentioned that the first shipment to the U.S. is currently bound for New Jersey and once cleared and the taxes paid it will be available for purchase online.

caid said...

Also, according to Margaret Lombard-Chibnall, the UK bottle version will be replaced by the square bottle with the black top once the current UK version supply is sold out. For sure a real collectors item.