From Mogwai to Pharrell, What is it with Musicians and Alcohol?

Scottish post-rockers Mogwai recently celebrated the release of their album Rave Tapes by launching their own limited edition whisky. RockAct81W — or plain old Mogwai Whisky, once you’ve had a few — is a 9-year-old single cask malt from the Glenallachie distillery on Speyside. According to guitarist John Cummings, one of several Scotch enthusiasts in the band, “it’s got a wee bit of smoke on the nose and starts with a pretty intense dark fruit and then gets a bit spicy.”

We’ll have to take his word for it, as all 324 bottles sold out within hours.


Mogwai are far from the only rockers adding their own brand liquor to the rider though. Not to be outdone, English indie band Maximo Park have given their name to Maximo No.5, a 5% amber ale with grapefruit, orange and lychee overtones (at least, that’s what it says here), while Welsh sonic wizards Super Furry Animals present Fuzzy, a “psychedelic wild Welsh beer,” at a generous 8.5% abv.

Now that fraternal boy band Hanson have reached the legal drinking age, they like nothing better than to sink a few cans of Mmmhops India pale ale. Real men however drink Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer, Motorhead’s delightfully monikered Bastards lager or, indeed, Slayer’s Reign in Blood Cabernet, while the ladies are supposed to settle for Pharrell’s wincingly-named Qream liqueur, available in strawberry, peach and have-you-got-something-less-patronizingly-sexist flavors.


But is a beer or a whisky any better for being associated with a band we like to crank up on the Jambox? Do we want to drink Marilyn Manson’s deadly Mansinthe? And can you expect any of these tipples to survive the bands that spawned them?

In the fraught world of the music industry, when it’s ever harder to make money by simply making music, it’s inevitable that musicians would start to explore new ways to market their brands, but deals like this inevitably create new conflicts. Instead of the band versus the record label, it’s now the band versus the multinational beverage company. In January, Pharrell announced he was suing Diageo North America, makers of Qream, for $5 million for mismanaging the launch, and marketing it as a “club drink” and not the “high end, leisure class” drink for women that he intended.

Sorry Pharrell. Guess it’s back to the day job.