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Whiskey news from around the world

The Westland Garryana 30 Months Old Native Oak from Oregon

westland-garryana-30-month-native-oregon-oakTasting notes:
The nose on this whiskey is vibrant and wonderfully wild: it’s a smoldering crib that firefighters carry out of a burning home, only to find that the child had already been saved and it was a sack of plums under the blankets instead; it’s like licking a table leg while the adults, whom one sees only from the knees down, are eating venison; it’s a quilt made from strawberry-infused nut meat and singed carbon fibers spun by Garryanastiltskin; it’s a nude woman running through a campsite with tree limbs lashed to her body, screaming “I am Groot!”  All of this is to say that it’s a deep, complicated nose. Work on it for a while, and it smells like it could be a cocktail, and a weird one, from an intense, long-bearded, chronically depressed bartender whose only delight is befuddling his customers. His cocktail for you on this day: “Ted’s Frozen Head,” which captures, the bartender exclaims, the essence of his sweet swing.

If all of the preceding description offers more foreboding than joviality, that’s because good writing does such things, but also because I’m writing this after I’ve tasted the mouth. Aside from the fact that both are powerful, the mouth is nothing like the nose. The mouth offers cashews at the outset, then the power rises on the tongue as the lips tingle from their earlier brush with it. There are also notes of burnt bay leaf and poppy oil. Quite distinctly, you can also taste originality and authenticity. Not just one or the other, but both. Quite distinctly. As the mouth eases into the finish, it turns dark and alchemical, like a morphine drip giving hospice care to your soul.

The finish features black strap molasses and the black straps from a two-tone bra, next to the black straps of a dominatrix’s cat-o-nine-tails and the black straps of bark cut from a well-darkened roast lamb crust. This finish is the dark matter of whiskey; it is the distillation of a civil war battlefield; it is a perpetual motion machine.

Experiencing each of these parts and then stepping back to ponder this whiskey as a whole, it’s backbone is exquisitely clean: it is utterly without mank or green esters. It takes over your tongue and then your consciousness. Then it engenders a sort of pre-emptive moral outrage: “This is Edition 1 of 1?!? They damn well better make available some 3+ year old version of this next year…”



On the scale of preserved noggins–
The Westland Garryana is Jeremy Bentham’s head–Admittedly, this makes the tone I’m going for here sound more macabre than I intend. I’m really going for more Grimm’s Fairy Tales than Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia or even Futurama, because there’s some dark, awesome, powerful stuff going on in there.







–Our thanks to Westland for the sample!



Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (September 23, 2016)

Welcome to this week's Inbox.  For those that have recently discovered us, 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.  Here is this week's news that caught our eyes ...


Chivas Regal

The popular Scotch premium blended whisky brand of Chivas Regal have announced an innovative whisky bar pop-up and 'Art of Blending' consumer experience in London.  The bar and events will take place at The Truman Brewery in Shoreditch and is designed to introduce consumers to the brand and give them the opportunity to learn about blending and create their own whiskies.

The Art of Blending Experience will open on October 3 as part of London Cocktail Week and then run until late November.  During the one hour session, hosted by Chivas Regal experts, consumers will learn about the history and heritage of the brand, taste samples of malt and grain whiskies from the different regions of Scotland and then create and take home their own blend.

Tickets for each session are priced at £22 each and numbers are limited.  For more information and to book tickets, please visit

Hunter Laing

The Glasgow-based independent bottling company of Hunter Laing & Co have finally received planning permission to build their first distillery. As we reported back in January, this will be located on the north eastern coast of the famous whisky island of Islay in the Hebrides. It will be named Ardnahoe and draw water from the nearby Ardnahoe Loch.

The four acre site will include distilling operations, warehousing facilities and a visitor centre with additional scope for expansion. The project will cost an estimated £8 million and the first spirit is hoped to be flowing by the end of 2017.  The expected capacity is said to be around 200,000 litres for the first year, with full capacity designed to be 450-500,000 litres.

“This is the natural next step in the journey of Hunter Laing & Co. The opportunity to be part of the incredible tradition of whisky-making on Islay is a dream come true.” 
Stewart Laing - Managing Director at Hunter Laing & Co.


For one week only, the iconic Islay distillery of Laphroaig will be projecting the thoughts of whisky fans on to its famous white warehouse walls.  These sit right on the sea shore and the initiative, named Big Opinions, will form part of the brand's award winning #OpinionsWelcome campaign.  Big Opinions will see tweets from around the world selected by John Campbell, the Distillery Manager at Laphroaig, and beamed on to the wall.

Big Opinions will run for the week of October 11-15 and will show the real-time Twitter feed.  Whisky fans can be involved by simply using the #BigOpinions or #OpinionsWelcome handles and then describing their impressions of Laphroaig whisky in 140 characters or less.  Every tweeter chosen will receive a photo and short video of their message 'up in lights'.  You can also watch a live feed via

Royal Salute 
The super premium blended Scotch brand of Royal Salute have announced a new expression for the core range.  The Royal Salute Union of the Crowns is a blend featuring single malt and single grain whiskies with a minimum age of 32 years.  This includes stocks from the closed distilleries of Caperdonich and Lochside, plus rare and old casks from Speyside distilleries such as Braeval, Glen Keith, Longmorn and Tormore. The whisky is so named as a tribute to King James VI, who in 1603 brought together three kingdoms to create the modern version of the British monarchy.

Royal Salute was originally created to celebrate the coronation of the current Queen Elizabeth II and has strong connections to royalty.  The whisky is presented in a porcelain flagon that is decorated with an embossed silver plaque and a silver and black stone stopper. The story of the Union of the Crowns is depicted on the neck with a rose, a thistle and a shamrock - the symbol of each of the three kingdoms.

The Royal Salute Union of the Crowns will be available exclusively in the global travel retail market from the end of September.  The recommended retail price is $380 US, £290 or €340.

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

author-jeffery-lindenmuthimpexlowrezKilchomen Impex Cask Evolution 03/2016

Release: September 2016

Price: $140

Proof: 113.6

Availability: 249 bottles

Style: Single malt Scotch

Need to know: The third in the series, this single barrel identified as cask #256/2011 was hand selected and bottled at cask strength. Following aging in a bourbon barrel, it was finished in a Pedro Ximénez sherry cask.

Whisky Advocate says: Despite their relative youth, Kilchoman whiskies have shown incredibly well in our Buying Guide tastings—often scoring 90 points and above! There is no age statement here, but we love the full transparency, distillation date of May 27, 2011, and a bottling date of July 8, 2016.


ofcBuffalo Trace OFC

Release: November 1

Price: Varies

Proof: 113.6

Availability: 200 bottles

Style: Bourbon

Need to know: Three unique vintage-dated bourbons honoring the National Historic Landmark’s original name – the O.F.C. Distillery are being made available free of charge for auction by eligible charities. The first release is comprised of only 200 bottles; 100 bottles from the year 1980, 50 bottles from 1982, and 50 bottles from 1983.

Whisky Advocate says: Buffalo Trace continues an admirable record of charitable giving with this release! According to the distillery, the O.F.C. series will be ongoing, and while the first of these rare whiskeys will not be available outside of charitable auction, later vintages will be released to the overall market beginning in spring 2017. Those interested in obtaining these first rare releases can check the Buffalo Trace website starting in November for a list of non-profit organizations who received bottles.


clyde_mays_straight_bourbon_whiskeyClyde May’s 5-year

Release: September 2016

Price: $40

Proof: 92

Availability: Widely available

Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This non-chill filtered straight bourbon is matured in heavily charred new American oak barrels.

clyde_mays_cask_strength_117_bottleClyde May’s 8-year Cask Strength

Release: October 2016

Price: $90

Proof: 117

Availability: 3,000 bottles

Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This is the first limited-edition Clyde May’s and joins the 5-year and two existing Clyde May’s — 85-proof Whiskey and 110-proof Special Reserve, introduced in 2015 .

Whisky Advocate says: According to their website, Clyde May’s hallmark is the addition of oven-dried apples to the barrels, a technique they refer to as Alabama Style and claim provides a special smoothness to the whiskeys. This bottling is finished with natural apple essence in the Clyde May’s style, while the 92 proof Straight Bourbon (above) stands alone, unadultered by chill-filtering or apple influence.

The post Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday appeared first on Whisky Advocate.

Knob Creek 2001

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 2001 Limited Edition Batch 1, #12,302 50% ABV $130 Website What the Distillery Says: Knob Creek 2001 Limited Edition Bourbon commemorates a significant year for Knob Creek, as late in 2001, the tradition and responsibility of stewarding Knob Creek Bourbon was passed from Booker to Fred — from father … Continue reading Knob Creek 2001 →

WhiskyCast Episode 607: September 17, 2016

This week, Ardbeg unveiled its first single malt with an age statement since the original debut of the 10-year-old edition many years ago. The Ardbeg 21 will be available in limited amounts starting October 1. We'll get the back story behind this whisky from Dr. Bill Lumsden on WhiskyCast In-Depth, and along with tasting notes for it as well. There's plenty of news out of Bourbon Country during Kentucky Bourbon Festival week, including the start of production at the first new distillery to open in Bardstown in many years as the Bardstown Bourbon Company fired up its stills. We'll have the details on that, along with an update on Luxco's new Bardstown distillery slated to open late next year and the reason why Wild Turkey's Jimmy Russell needs to clear some more space on the shelf for another award!

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 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


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.


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.


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.


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:

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.