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Whiskey news from around the world

New Johnnie Walker, Col. E.H. Taylor, and WhistlePig

By Susannah Skiver Barton

It’s a mixed bag of new whiskies this week: Johnnie Walker launches the first in its new Blenders’ Batch series; Buffalo Trace has released its latest Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. bourbon; WhistlePig is debuting its first whiskey made with rye distilled and matured on its Vermont farm; Hochstadter’s has a super-aged rye whisky from Alberta Distillers; and Woodford Reserve‘s special Derby bottle is rolling out.

Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Triple Grain American Oak (2)Johnnie Walker Triple Grain American Oak

Style: Blended scotch

Proof: 41.3% ABV

Price: $30

Release: March 2017

Availability: Nationwide while supplies last

Need to know: In the course of his work, Johnnie Walker master blender Dr. Jim Beveridge conducts hundreds of experiments to develop new flavor profiles for the brand. This is the first release in the new Blenders’ Batch series, which will feature some of Beveridge’s experimental blends. Per the name, this one includes three types of grain whisky: wheat, barley, and corn.

Whisky Advocate says: Johnnie Walker has revealed the two component malt whiskies—Cardhu and Mortlach—as well as one of the three grain whiskies—Port Dundas—used in this blend, noting that all have been aged for at least 10 years in American oak. This kind of transparency is a welcome development—let’s hope it continues with future releases.

EHT Four GrainColonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Kentucky

Proof: 50% ABV

Price: $70

Release: April 2017

Availability: Limited

Need to know: Aged for 12 years and bottled in bond, this bourbon was made with corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. It’s the ninth release in Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. line since the launch of the collection in 2011.

Whisky Advocate says: Colonel E.H. Taylor whiskeys consistently score in the high 80s and 90s in our Buying Guide, and there’s no reason to expect this whisky won’t be up to par. Like the other releases, expect this one to sell out quickly.

FarmStock 3-6-171264 copyWhistlePig FarmStock

Style: Blended rye whiskey

Origin: Vermont, Indiana, and Alberta, Can.

Proof: 43% ABV

Price: $90

Release: March 2017

Availability: Limited—only 100 barrels were blended for this release

Need to know: WhistlePig has long bottled sourced whiskey, but it’s been distilling on its Vermont farm since October 2015. This release contains 20% house-made whiskey, 49% whisky from Alberta Distillers finished in Vermont oak (aged 5 years), and 31% whiskey from MGP (aged 12 years). The Vermont-made component is around 17 months old for this initial batch, but will increase in age for future batches, maxing out at 2 years old.

Whisky Advocate says: Master distiller Dave Pickerell created the WhistlePig-made whiskey used in this blend. It’s the first of future “triple-terroir” releases from the brand, but there’s no word yet on when we can expect a bottle of 100% WhistlePig-distilled whiskey.

HFR16Hochstadter’s Family Reserve 16 year old Rye

Style: Straight rye

Origin: Alberta, Can.

Proof: 61.9% ABV

Price: $200

Release: March 2017

Availability: 7,500 bottles

Need to know: This is a 100% rye whisky from Alberta Distillers that’s aged in new charred American oak and bottled in Philadelphia, unfiltered and undiluted.

Whisky Advocate says: Joining Slow & Low Rock & Rye and a vatted straight rye, this is the first release from Hochstadter’s with so much age on it. Older rye from Alberta Distillers (like Lock Stock and Barrel) can be a beautiful thing—here’s hoping this one continues the trend.

WR Derby Bottle 2017 (1) copyWoodford Reserve 2017 Kentucky Derby Bottle

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Kentucky

Proof: 45.2% ABV

Price: $44 (liter)

Release: March 2017

Availability: Nationwide

Need to know: Woodford is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, and this commemorative bottle—like those of years past—celebrates the famous race with custom artwork. This year’s label was created by Chicago artist Thomas Allen Pauly, the official artist of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. (Yes, the horse has his own official artist!)

Whisky Advocate says: If you’re a fan of Woodford and/or horse racing, this pretty bottle has your name all over it. It’s a liter, rather than the standard 750-ml. bottle, meaning you can make 33% more Mint Juleps on Derby Day.

The post New Johnnie Walker, Col. E.H. Taylor, and WhistlePig appeared first on Whisky Advocate.

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (March 24, 2017)

Welcome to Inbox.  For those new to WFE, Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece received. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we aim to write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week ...

________

Ardbeg 
The cult Islay distillery of Ardbeg have announced further details of their Ardbeg Day special bottling for 2017.  The whisky, named Kelpie after the mythical shape shifting creature that inhibits the sea near to the distillery, has been produced by Dr. Bill Lumsden - Ardbeg's Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks.  Kelpie has been matured in Black Sea oak casks.  The wood for these was sourced from the Adyghe Republic in Russia, close to the Black Sea coast.  This has then been married with Ardbeg matured in traditional ex-bourbon barrels to create Kelpie.

Ardbeg Kelpie will be released on June 3 as part of the Ardbeg Day celebrations on the same day, which takes place during the annual Feis Isle Festival. This will be released at 46% ABV and will cost £98 per bottle.  No indication of the number of bottles have been released to date.

A special cask strength edition was released last week and was available only to Ardbeg Committee members - this was bottled at 51.7% ABV. Price and number of bottles were again not revealed but it sold out in an hour. Both bottlings are non chill-filtered. More details can be found at www.ardbeg.com.


Benromach 
The small Speyside distillery of Benromach have announced the latest release in their Wood Finish series - the Benromach Sassicaia 2009 Vintage. This new whisky has been matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels, which has been followed by 28 months of finishing in ex-Sassicaia red wine casks sourced from the Bolgheri region of Tuscany in Italy.  There are just 7,783 bottles available of this limited edition and they will be available through specialist whisky retailers. It has been bottled at 45% ABV and will cost £39 each.

For further information on the Sassicaia 2009 Vintage and other Benromach whiskies - please visit their website www.benromach.com.


Johnnie Walker
The world's biggest selling Scotch whisky brand has announced a major re-brand for it's 18 years old blended expression.  The former Platinum Label is now on the market as Johnnie walker 18 years old and has also seen a new look.  The liquid remains the same as the Platinum Label and includes 18 different whiskies including malts such as Auchroisk, Cardhu and Glen Elgin.  The whisky is created by Jim Beveridge, the Master Blender for Johnnie Walker, and the new livery will be available worldwide shortly.  It is bottled at 40% ABV.


"I find older whiskies fascinating to work with. The great whiskies I’ve selected for this blend have undergone a slow, easy maturation through at least 18 cold winters and warm summers. It’s a long time to wait but these whiskies have a wonderful balance."
Jim Beveridge.




The Macallan Edition No. 2

Tasting notes:
If a bystander could read my mind after nosing this dram, he or she would see fat, bubbly letters spelling out “round.”  In that same thought bubble, the letters are soon replaced by a bright red wiener dog formed of long balloons by a pudgy, but skilled child balloon sculptor.  Held in the dog’s mouth is a single plum, but it is a plum at the end of a long and distinguished career, and it’s thinking of grandkids and golf courses and gin and tonics.  Such is the nose, after all, on this distinguished sequel to Macallan’s Edition series.

The mouth is drier and more sophisticated than the Edition No. 1.  I want to say that it’s aged in a burgundy cask, at least in part, but this doesn’t appear to be so.  Instead I’m convinced that there’s a dark chocolate figurine wearing apricot leather vestments and hidden from view in a linen towel.  This figure stands in a dollop of onion jelly.  Which is to say, there is remarkable refinement and balance, like a Chinese puzzle that interlocks beautifully.

The finish here is more languorous, but when languor is precisely the disposition you’d want to be in.  It’s a good dog, the kind that doesn’t sit on the nice furniture or put its dirty forepaws on guests.  I say this on account of the way it flirts with the trachea, a coyness belied by the power the rumbles underneath.  Imagine if Melisandre gave birth to Casper the Friendly Ghost, who then proceeded to loiter amiably.  It is as happy as a cat on a window sill radiator when the robins first return to the yard.  I’m that happy, too, now that I think of it.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of would-be sequels that would improve upon the originals–
The Macallan Edition No. 2 would be 2 Citizen 2 Kane–Simultaneously a sequel to Citizen Kane and MC Hammer’s hit single “2 Legit 2 Quit,” we imagine Oscar-winning performances by Ice-T, Queen Latifah, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray (as the voice of Rosebud).  

 

 

 
                                                                   –John

 

 

 

 

 
–Our thanks to Sammy Karachi and the Macallan for the sample!

 

 

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Bordeaux Wine Casks 46% ABV $65 Website What the Distillery Says: Château Leoville Barton is hte latest addition to the Spot whiskey family. This whiskey represents the coming together of two historic families, two stories of Irish endeavor and enterprise who together are … Continue reading Green Spot Château Léoville Barton →

WhiskyCast Episode 633: March 19, 2017

For years, whisky connoisseurs whispered about a mysterious Irish whiskey called Green Spot and begged friends traveling to Ireland to track down a bottle for them. While Green Spot nearly disappeared from the market years ago along with the other "Spot Whiskeys" from Dublin's Mitchell & Son, the Mitchell family and Irish Distillers kept the brand alive through some of Irish Whiskey's darkest days.  We'll talk with Robert Jonathan Mitchell and Robert Mitchell of Mitchell & Son about the history - and the future - of the Spots on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth.

The Trojan is Here!

The wait is almost over folks... 
Tomorrow (Thursday 31st March) sees the release of The Trojan- our first whisky from the Exile Casks project that we've been working on.

The Trojan was distilled on 19th June 1990, and filled into cask 3110.  It's been maturing for 25 years now and its finally ready for the world to taste!

To get your hands on The Trojan, which is bottled at 57.1% and available in 306 limited edition 50cl bottles, priced at £65, visit www.exilecasks.com The whisky is only available from there and we envisage it to go on sale around 1pm UK time tomorrow.

Until then- here's a nice picture of the bottle!!

Discover. Liberate. Enjoy.
Joel & Neil x


Jim Murray, 2015 Whisky Bible and Why Scotch Whisky Sucks



There is always a good deal of chatter when Jim Murray releases his awards list ahead of the release of a new edition of his bible, surely the sometimes controversial choices he makes are no promotional accident...
Some of the best whiskies I was fortunate enough to taste in 2014 were from Japan, and I would agree that the Yamazaki Sherry Cask is a stunning whisky from one of the world’s greatest malt whisky-producing countries, but the Daily Mail’s (expected) sensational headline and Mr. Murray’s statements strike me as remarkably unfounded. That Scotch whisky has something to be “humiliated” about, that a perceived lack of innovation has hindered Scotch producers is near nonsense.
Scotch whisky is celebrated and esteemed as much for its diversity of flavour as for its adherence to traditional craftsmanship over its lengthy history but recent years have seen these traditions used in new ways, with innovation from barley to barrel to bottle across the industry, albeit within parameters. Interestingly, many of these innovations have been in turn praised and criticised by Mr. Murray over the past two decades, from 1994s praise of finishing to his 2008 critique of the practice.
Japanese whisky was founded on the traditions of Scotch whisky making over 90 years ago, and it could possibly be argued that Japan adheres even more to the traditional methods (wooden washbacks, direct firing stills, etc) than the average malt distillery in Scotland so I do question Murray’s implied praise of generalised Japanese “innovation” over just making really good whisky that he liked.
Since the mid-1980s, when the world saw its first Single Malt from Japan, Japanese whiskies have attracted acclaim. Since 2008, Japanese blends and malts have won major titles, most notably from the World Whisky Awards. This is not to say that Scotch has stoppedwinning these awards or top acclaim from writers, including Murray. Although Scotch has, until now, won his highest accolade in all but one edition of his bible, Murray has awarded more American whiskies in recent years than Japanese. It is no news that America and Japan make excellent whiskies. Not a great headline, though, and tough to sell newspapers or magazines with a headline like that, "Whiskies Being Made to High Standard Outside Scotland"
The assumption from Murray’s statements is that Japanese whisky has an edge on Scotch because of a stronger vision or wilder innovation; innovations like the highball campaign? No Age Statements? Local barley or local oak? There are precedents in Scotch in every case. So in what way is Japanese whisky’s success due to innovations that Scotch lacks? Zero. It is due to releasing top quality malt whiskies. To infer that this precludes the ongoing (and much longer-running) success of Scotch whisky is balderdash, but a great reminder that Jim Murray’s latest book is about to be released!
Finally, in case it has not been mentioned, Jim has a new book coming out next week. 


The Glenlivet Alpha Review

Introduction

GlenlivetAlphaBig thanks to the folks at Deep Focus, a social media agency working with The Glenlivet, for sending me a free sample of the new Glenlivet Alpha expression that has only 3350 bottles shipping worldwide (not sure how many are coming to the U.S.). Especially since I’ve been flying under the whisky radar this past year (I’ll post more on that later). I haven’t checked out all of the marketing details, but apparently there is going to be a big “reveal” for Alpha in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and post some thoughts on the whisky while it is still something of a mystery (the box only states that it is a Single Malt bottled at 50% abv). The U.S. retail price is $120.

Tasting Notes

On the nose, my first impression is of cinnamon apples. Then vanilla custard, and finally some fresh wood shavings. Then back to the fruit, of the apples and pears variety. Looking online now at other reviews, I see people talking about lots of tropical fruits. Personally, that’s not the way I respond to this. It doesn’t strike me as tropical in the same way as something like Glenmorangie 18 year. But of course, this is all subjective.

On the palette, it starts out mouth-watering and juicy, sweet, then very slightly prickly on the tongue. There is a point where it becomes slightly nutty, and just as I start to expect a slight walnut bitterness, it pulls back. Very nice. It’s smooth as silk…almost buttery going down. It then becomes drying on the finish, before my mouth waters up again. A very enjoyable, if not particularly long, experience.

Impression

The Glenlivet Alpha is an extremely drinkable expression that would be great for sharing with all levels of whisky drinkers. It strikes me as a Special Edition release of their Nadurra expression. The overall flavor profile (especially on the nose) is quite similar. However, the Alpha has an extra silky smoothness to it relative to Nadurra, in the same way the 17 year finished Balvenie expressions relate to the 15 year single barrel. Though, I don’t detect anything resembling the typical “finishing” casks of sherry or wine in Alpha.

So what is it?

If this is a game, and we’re supposed to guess what the heck is in this black Alpha bottle, I’d have to guess a combination of first-fill and second-fill American White Oak bourbon barrels were used to mature the spirit. There is no sign of coloring or chill filtration (like Nadurra). Age? That’s a hard one. Is the extra buttery smoothness in the mouth over the Nadurra due to age, or is it related to the type of casks used? Not sure. I could believe a number of scenarios: 1) It’s a year or two older than the 16 year Nadurra. 2) They use a combination of refill casks and smaller quarter casks to give the impression of extra maturity, while keeping the oak in check, or 3) this is just the result of very carefully selected casks by the master distiller.

Value

Did I really enjoy this whisky? Yes. Am I going to seek out a bottle? No. Do I think you’re an idiot if you do? No.

I really like this whisky, but for me, the 16 year Nadurra (at $50/bottle locally) is close enough in profile to keep me satisfied. On the other hand, I have no immediate issues with the price of Alpha. They are saying that it was “carefully crafted” by the master distiller, and it is a limited release of 3,350 bottles. It’s not going to be for everybody, but then, the limited run kind of takes care of that. :-)

I’ve seen much higher prices asked for “carefully selected” expressions…how about the Diageo Manager’s Choice a few years ago? Talk about crazy pricing. These things work themselves out, though. A bunch of those Manager’s Choice bottles can still be had at 40% discounts online. So far, The Glenlivet Alpha is selling out quickly. The UK allocation disappeared immediately. If, upon commencing with their “reveal” on Facebook later this week, people are outraged by what they hear, then I’d expect that feedback to influence future releases.

If they keep their main line whiskies priced reasonably, and of high quality, what’s the harm in experimenting with various boutique releases aimed at smaller segments of the market? I look forward to learning more about the story behind The Glenlivet Alpha.

Cheers,
Jeff

Ch-Ch-Changes – Update Your RSS Feed!

Things are changing here at Whisky Party! We’re about to roll out a new design and switch to a new blog platform.

This is all happening on Monday February 20th!

If you’d like to continue reading Whisky Party in your RSS reader, you’ll have to update to the feed URL in your feed reader:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/whiskyparty/ETPs

For a sneak peak at the new sight, you can check out our staging version here.

Studio A

The Ca Scotch Couple firmly believe in living below their means. They shop at consignment stores, sock away the max for retirement, and adhere to a strict 25% debt to equity ratio. Consequently, the CA Scotch Couple's move to paradise in 2004 couldn't have come at a worse time. It was at the height of the real estate boom; the only houses even remotely within the CA Scotch Couple's price range were shacks, and even those shacks had multiple bidders.
So, it is no surprise that the beloved Little Beach House was one such shack: a circa 1913, 700 square foot single wall construction edifice with outdated wiring, inadequate plumbing, precipitously sloping floors, and a hole in its roof. The CA Scotch Couple spent many (many many many) years making the Little Beach House habitable. Unfortunately, no matter what they did, there was no escaping the reality that even with its new wiring, plumbing, and roof, the Little Beach House was a shack.
So, when the real estate bust hit San Diego hard, the CA Scotch Couple decided to see if they could trade their shack for something a little more spacious. They took a financial bath on the Little Beach House, and set out on their house hunting adventures with three goals for the new home: it needed to have lost at least as much value as the Little Beach House had, it needed to be more spacious than the Little Beach House; and it couldn't be a project.
One of the first properties the CA Scotch Couple viewed was a lovely old mixed use loft conversion in a slightly dodgy area. This 1933 grand dame had started its life as an old fashioned car dealership/garage and had then become an artist's studio and residence. It had magnificent arching barrel ceilings, open architecture, exposed terra cotta masonry, and concrete floors. It also wasn't up to earthquake code, had a leaking roof, had been stripped of plumbing, appliances and countertops, and, worst of all, had birds nesting in it. It was a whopping 2700 square feet, but man, oh man, it was project. CA Scotch Chick dubbed it "the Bird Sanctuary," and the CA Scotch Couple swiftly walked the other way.
But the CA Scotch Couple kept their miserly eyes on the Bird Sanctuary, and within a few months, market forces had driven it down to the price that the CA Scotch Couple had paid for the Little Beach House in 2004. Project or not, the CA Scotch Couple simply couldn't resist. It was a remarkable space, and it was worth the pain to make it beautiful again. They made an offer.
For seven months, long before the accident and throughout the CA Scotch Couple's recovery, they fought their way through the tortuous short sale and then foreclosure process. They managed to buy the Bird Sanctuary from the bank on the final day of 2009, immediately moved in, and endured endless months of living under plastic sheets with construction chaos ringing around them.
On the day they finally closed on the Bird Sanctuary, CA Scotch Gent sat CA Scotch Chick down and asked for two favors. First, could they please, please, please, set a goal of having the renovations done by the end of summer? No more projects stretching for years. Secondly, could they please, please, please, stop calling it the Bird Sanctuary?
They set a goal of August 31st as the drop dead date for finishing the renovation, and they scheduled a party to make sure they met that goal. Then they cast around for a more suitable name — finally deciding on "Studio A" in honor of the sign over its door.
It was a long hard nine months, complicated by the CA Scotch Couple's recovery from their injuries and those all encompassing work schedules. However, on August 31st, a mere three hours before their party, the CA Scotch Couple finally removed the last of the plastic, pushed the furniture into place, and claimed Studio A as their own.
It was well worth the effort. Studio A is now up to code; the birds have been evicted; it has been scrubbed from top to bottom; and it is now equipped with new bathrooms, appliances, countertops, skylights, and roof. Gentle light filters into its spacious and gracious interior giving the CA Scotch Couple the impression that they are stepping into a magnificent cavern whenever they return at the end of the day — the perfect refuge for a pair of recluses. It has been an extremely long tough year, but the CA Scotch Couple are finally home.