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Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (October 19, 2018)

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.


Douglas Laing

The independent bottling company and whisky blender of Douglas Laing & Co. have announced the latest limited edition whisky to join their Remarkable Regional Malts range. In a first for the series, a blended malt has been produced using whisky from each of the major geographical regions of Scotland, all of which are 10 years of age. The Remarkable Regional Malts - With A Twist features malts from the Highlands, Islay, the Lowlands and Speyside.

The whisky is presented in a special tube featuring rotating panels that show the Remarkable Regional Malt characters from the core range products - Big Peat, The Epicurean, Scallywag and Timorous Beastie. With A Twist is bottled at 48% ABV and is of natural colour and non chill-filtered. There are just 5,000 bottles and they will be available in selected specialist retailers worldwide. Each bottle will cost £60.

Glen Moray

The Speyside distillery of Glen Moray has announced the introduction of a new experimental single malt range, and the first whisky in that range. The Glen Moray Elgin Curiosity Range is marketed as 'The Gateway To Flavour' and promises 'bold, complex aromas and exciting flavours'. The first release is the Glen Moray Cider Cask Project, which has seen the distillery collaboration with award-winning Scottish cider makers Thirsty Cross.

The process saw casks used to mature Glen Moray single malt sent to Thirsty Cross and filled with cider - this resulted in their Whisky Cask Cider, which is now available in over 20 countries. The casks were then returned to Glen Moray and filled with whisky again. The Glen Moray Cider Cask Project will be available in the UK only and is initially exclusive to The Whisky Exchange. It is bottled at 46.3% ABV and is non chill-filtered. A bottle will cost £55.

"We are all very excited about the launch of the Cider Cask Project and the Elgin Curiosity Range. As Master Distiller, I am keen to constantly evolve and create new whiskies which showcase the quality and breadth of whiskies that we can produce."
Graham Coull - Distillery Manager at Glen Moray.

Johnnie Walker

The leading blended Scotch brand have announced a new limited edition for their super premium The John Walker range. The John Walker Masters' Edition 50 years old and is the oldest ever bottling from the famous blend. It features rare whiskies from just six distilleries, five of which are no longer in production. These were identified as being exceptional over 20 years ago and have been crafted together by Jim Beveridge, the Master Blender for Johnnie Walker.

The whisky features three single malt distilleries - Blair Athol, Glen Albyn and Glenury - and three single grain distilleries - Caledonian, Cambus and Port Dundas. The John Walker Masters' Edition is presented in a rare Baccarat black crystal decanter and a wooden casket individually crafted by N. E. J. Stephenson, who are the appointed cabinet makers to HRH Queen Elizabeth II. There are just 100 decanters and the whisky has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 43.3% ABV. Each decanter will cost $25,000 USD (£19,250).

"About 20 years ago, we recognised that these individual whiskies were very special and they were put them aside for special use. Each of them was allowed to continue to mature, knowing that, in time, something even more remarkable would emerge. With the creation of the Masters’ Edition, I believe we’ve done that."
Jim Beveridge.

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On the Road at The Great American Whiskey Fair

This time around, we're in Columbia, South Carolina for The Great American Whiskey Fair. We'll talk with local distillers creating unique whiskies with local grains, and we'll also look at a global issue: the potential impact of climate change on the whisky industry. Researchers have been looking at the impact of global warming on barley production for beer, but they also see a serious problem for whisky distillers, too. In the news, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard is planning another expansion at Midleton Distillery and the rest of its facilities in Ireland to meet projected demand, and we'll have the latest on new whiskies and executive changes, along with a tribute to one of whisky's quiet giants.

Aberlour 17 yr Double-Cask Cask Strength

Aberlour 17 yr Double-Cask Cask Strength 55.3% ABV Website What the Bottle Says Aberlour Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Double Cask First Fill Sherry and Bourbon Cask 17 Years Old Nose: Hints of cinnamon, baked apples and ginger intermingled with luscious dark chocolate and treacle toffee. Taste: Rich and tangy on the pallet at first, … Continue reading Aberlour 17 yr Double-Cask Cask Strength →

Aberlour 17 yr Cask Strength

Aberlour 17 yr Cask Strength The Distillery Reserve Collection 50.2% ABV Website What the Bottle Says The Distillery Reserve Collection [Non Chill-Filtered] Aberlour Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Aged 17 Years The Distillery Reserve collection is a limited release of rare and exceptional whiskies from Chivas Brothers single malt whisky distilleries. Each release is bottled … Continue reading Aberlour 17 yr Cask Strength →

The Glenfiddich Cask Collection: Reserve Cask (travel retail)

Tasting notes:
On the nose, this one is plummy and pruny and yet still fresh, like how it smells on a spring day after the rain stops, but before the sun has come out again. It’s a Stephen Hawking dram: it’s bright but still deep. But we also found a tiny note of funk in there, like the character flaw that a devil’s advocate brings out in a candidate for sainthood–or like the sick burns Hawking laid on John Oliver when he interviewed him. Give it a little time, and it opens up even further, presenting like a very fruity cough syrup that is also succulent and ever so slightly meaty, like boysenberry lamb sausages formed from a single lamb intestine.

The mouth is deep, with a distinctly crispy, fatty, well-cooked turkey skin note playing right at the surface. Then come caramelized brownies, grilled grapefruit halves, and the like in a smorgasbord from a health resort focused on grilling. It’s light, yet filling.

The finish offers the sort of unity in the savory dimension that roasted turkeys rarely achieve. It’s subtle and slightly dusty as well. The finish seems to start late, but then rolls on admirably. In fact, it’s as if it slowly slides out of its coat and declares that the only thing getting ripped up tonight is the dance floor.



On the scale of impressive facts about Stephen Hawking–
The Glenfiddich Reserve Cask is the fact that the equation that made him famous merges concepts from thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum physics–It’s quite an improbable and unexpected combination, but it is indisputably a winner, opening our eyes in ways we could have never expected.







Back Home on Whiskey Row After 99 Years


Old Forester released its final edition in the Whiskey Row series of limited-edition Bourbons this week, and the 1910 Old Fine Whiskey honors the brand's return to its historical home. Brown-Forman's $45 million Old Forester Distillery opened in June on Main Street in downtown Louisville on the same site where the company was located from 1882 until Prohibition began in 1919. We toured the distillery just as that final Whiskey Row edition was being bottled, and you'll hear it on WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, $843,200 is a high price to pay for a rare whisky, but that high bid Saturday at Sotheby's fell short of the world record by more than a quarter of a million dollars. We'll also have details on an upcoming Supreme Court case that could affect interstate whisky shipments and details on the latest new whiskies.

The Highland Park Wings of the Eagle Travel Retail Exclusive

[This is a 16 year-old whisky matured in “Sherry seasoned oak casks” that represents the high-end of the new travel retail exclusive line from Highland Park we’ve termed “The Animal Parts” line. More on other animal parts from HP soon…]

Tasting notes:
“The Long and Winding Witchy Woman,”  “Peaceful Easy Feeling and Let Die,”  “Band on the Run to Hotel California.”  These were the mashups I was hoping for when I read about the Wings and the Eagles supergroup that the Edrington Group was helping to facilitate.  (Bill: “Do we tell him?”  Stephen: “Nope.  Not yet.”)  So much quality rock and roll on stage at one time!  Would they get along with each other?  Who gets to stand in the center of the stage?   I open my eyes and see that Bill is holding a glass just under my nose.  The look on his face tells me that I should focus.  So I do.  I get orange-peel skis for a waterskiing squirrel.  Marie Antoinette’s lace collar.  A row of violets growing in a ravine bottom making the most of their 15 minutes of photosynthesis.  Myrtle leaves that Myrna Loy leaves by the front steps.

The mouth is the bracing whiff of gunpowder bitterness, a touch of grapefruit pith, and church pew gum.  But then the sweetness comes on in a big way, riding waves of spicy fruit.  I feel almost like the whole taste wheel is glowing.  Such is the voluptuousness on offer.  Whitmanian multitudes, a quilt of paradoxes, a Technicolor dreamcoat.  What is this if not the whisky formed out of a Ben Franklin/Ken Kesey lovechild?

The finish is a gold doubloon sunk into a claret-colored candle.  The night will go long before the glinting metal appears to those at the table.  They are drinking rum punch darker than a moonless night and served in hollowed-out pineapple mugs that someone smoked like a ham.  How else to explain the finish that is fruity, smoky, and woody in such appealing measures?  I feel like the time I took vanilla cake, scrapped off icing, put the cake in the toaster, and then put on raspberry jam to see how close it was to toast.  In short this finishes like a good night’s sleep following an honest day’s work.



On the scale of deep thoughts occasioned by a bumper sticker–

The Highland Park Wings of the Eagle Travel Retail Exculsive is the thought that if this whisky was alone in a cage at an animal shelter, I would adopt it, take it out for long walks, and then I’d put a sticker on my own minivan that reads: who rescued who?






–Our thanks to Highland Park for the sample!



Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond

Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond 50% ABV $22 – $25 Website What the Distiller Says Tasting notes courtesy of Bill Thomas, Jack Rose Dining Saloon The nose is “Fun Dip” candy, that sugary stick dipped into cherry flavoring. The palate is a cherry hard candy, an oily mouth feel, vanilla caramel candies and notes of … Continue reading Old Bardstown Bottled In Bond →

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (October 12, 2018)

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.


Chivas Regal
The super premium Scotch blended brand of Chivas Regal have announced their most exclusive bottling to date - The Icon 50 years old. The bottling celebrates the brand's recent crowning as the new official spirits partner for Manchester United Football Club and the 50th anniversary of the club's 4-1 win in the European Cup final against Benfica. Only four bottles will be available - one for each goal scored by Manchester United in that final - and these have been created by Sandy Hyslop, the Director of Blending for Chivas Regal.

Each will be presented in a hand blown crystal decanter made by Dartington Crystal. One bottle will be gifted to a Manchester United supporter via the club's social media channels, one will be presented to the club's football museum before being auctioned at an end of season event and one will go on display at the Strathisla distillery in Speyside. The fourth bottle will be auctioned online by Sotherby's between November 23 and 30. All proceeds from both auctions will go to the Manchester United Foundation.

"Ever since Chivas’ founding brothers, James and John, first perfected the art of blending, Chivas has never released a whisky more than 30 years old – this limited edition 50 years old blend is an iconic piece of history. It features our oldest, most luxurious and rarest whiskies, some from now lost distilleries."
Sandy Hyslop.


The east Highland distillery of Glenglassaugh has announced two new single malts to continue their Octaves range. One is in the classic coastal Glenglassaugh style and one is peated, which they only produce for a short time each year. This is the second batch of Octaves, which are small bespoke casks of 65 litres made to the distillery's exact specification - regular casks are broken down and then rebuilt and come.

The Octaves have been hand selected and married together by Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for the brand. Octaves Classic is a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-Oloroso and ex-Amontillado sherry octave casks. Octaves Peated is a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-Port and ex-Oloroso sherry octave casks. Both are bottled at 44% ABV, are non chill-filtered and of natural colour. They will be available in selected specialist retailers worldwide with Octaves Classic Batch 2 costing £60 and Octaves Peated Batch 2 costing £65.


The popular single malt brand of Glenmorangie is celebrating its 175th anniversary by reintroducing native oysters to the Dornoch Firth, which the north Highland distillery overlooks. The initiative, which is named DEEP (Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project) and created in conjunction with Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh and the Marine Conservation Society, was started in 2014 and saw 300 oysters introduced to the area two years ago.

In this time they have thrived, allowing the next phase of the project to take place. This will see a total of 20,000 oysters, all bred in the UK, introduced to man-made reefs in the Dornoch Firth. The project shows the distillery's commitment to its local environment, which saw the oysters fished to extinction over a century ago. This ia the first project of its type to be undertaken anywhere in Europe.

In addition, a donation from each bottle sold of the travel retail exclusive Glenmorangie Dornoch will be made to the Marine Conservation Society to support DEEP.

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Bourbon & Cuisine in Louisville’s Butchertown

Louisville's Butchertown got its name from the stockyards and meat processing plants that dominated the neighborhood a century or more ago. Today, it's a thriving, trendy neighborhood that's home to the Butchertown Grocery. Chef Bobby Benjamin opened the restaurant and Lola, its upstairs cocktail lounge, with an eye to great cooking - and great whiskey. Not only are there plenty of private barrel Bourbons behind the bar, but whiskey is also a key ingredient in many of the restaurant's recipes. Chef Bobby Benjamin joins us on WhiskyCast In-Depth to talk about picking private barrels - and a surprising way to use the char that comes out of those barrels! In the news, Diageo's plans for reviving Brora Distillery have received local approval, while Ireland's tough new alcohol bill is a signature away from becoming law.

Review - Aberlour Casg Annamh

The Casg Annamh is a new small batch single malt from the popular Speyside distillery of Aberlour. The name translates as 'rare cask' from Gaelic. Graeme Cruickshank, the Master Distiller at Aberlour, has selected a number of ex-Oloroso sherry casks made from both American and European oak to produce this first batch. The idea is that subsequent batches will follow a similar principal but will each be subtly different. Casg Annamh is non chill-filtered and bottled at a strength of 48% ABV. It is available worldwide in specialist whisky stores and will carry a price of £55/$70 US per bottle.

The Aberlour distillery is located in the picturesque Speyside village of the same name. The village sits on the banks of the River Spey and the distillery was founded in 1826 by James Fleming. He was a wealthy local business man, who also paid for numerous other buildings and services for the village including the first supply of electricity and the village's hospital, which is still open today and carries his name.

Aberlour is currently owned by Chivas Brothers, part of the larger Pernod Ricard group who took over the distillery in the 1970s. It has an annual production capacity of 3.8 million litres and is best known for its use of quality ex-sherry casks for the maturation of its whisky. Aberlour sits comfortably within the Top 10 in terms of worldwide single malt sales and market share.

"Casg Annamh is a tribute to our passion for sherry and the expertise to create a rare and fine single malt. We carefully hand-pick our Oloroso sherry casks from traditional bodegas in Spain, making sure the wood has exactly the right aromatic qualities for Aberlour." 
Graeme Cruickshank.

Our tasting notes - Batch 0001
The colour is deep amber and the nose has a lovely warm and rich set of aromas - there is immediate wood spice (think of cinnamon and all-spice especially) along with some dried fruit (raisins and bitter candied peel in particular) and a distinct nuttiness. Underneath is a hint of green apple and damp earth.

On the palate this whisky feels slightly oily and viscous, but with an initial hit of white pepper. This heat fades and the other characteristics begin to come to the fore. As with the nose there is a richness and warmth. The dried fruits and nuts kick this off (think of raisins, candied orange peel and walnuts - the last two adding a hint of bitterness) and then come further notes of caramel and green apple. The apple seems to become more prominent with time and is reminiscent of boiled fruit sweets. The cinnamon spice is also present and there are hints of cocoa powder, malted cereals and sugar syrup.

The finish is slightly short, especially once the richer dried fruit and caramel notes have faded. This leaves the warming spices, which also dissipate shortly afterwards. This signals the return of the white pepper and its heat.

What's the verdict?
The launch of the Casg Annamh coincided with a significant price hike to the cult classic cask strength A'bunadh in the Aberlour range. This has led many to naturally conclude that it is therefore a replacement for A'bunadh at its old price point. After all, both are presented at above average ABVs and released in small batches.

However, Casg Annamh is a different whisky and should be judged as so. It is pleasant and easy drinking single malt that will keep fans of the brand (and sherry cask matured whiskies in general) happy. The only real negative for us is the disappointingly short finish, which tend to be much bigger and bolder in this style of malt.

The Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Tasting notes:
Although I enjoy the taste of many of them, and find some sublime, I’ve had a hard time shaking the notion that cocktails exist mainly for two reasons: First, to hide cheap and ill-tasting alcohol; and, second, to inebriate the unwary. As such, I tend graciously—I hope—decline them. Rye whisky, for all of its perfections, glory, and assertiveness has long seemed to me to be a perfect candidate to mix into a cocktail rather than neatly sip straight-up.

*cue the music*

Until now.

*the music begins to swell in a major key, kinda like Marvel’s new intro fanfare*

The Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey’s nose is like a bioluminescent fog wafting away from a natural hot spring on a full harvest moonlit night. Elves are dancing; elephants are dancing; even the most committed non-dancers find a lilting trip a-tip-tapping in their step. Diaphanous spinach transfigures into a souffle. Gilded fern leaves twinkle at moonrise like a Studio 54 disco ball, circa 1977. It’s dank like a meme, like the devil’s lettuce, and like a limestone cave opened to a raccoon rave by a wee seism that shifted a crack just a key little bit.

On the mouth, the herbs rise in a glorious revolution, and scamper most of the way to Dill Palace, stopping for a quaff in Coriander Plaza. There are green pepper night watchmen manning the gates, allowing mint, powdered anise, and ramps sautéed in ancho chili powder to pass into the city. It’s a quiet riot in Flavor Town, there’s widespread panic! at the cocktail disco, and the peppermint is about 30 seconds away from Bruno Mars. Chaos, zoos, and tech companies are envious of the cascading disruptions. Revelatory: All these flavors come together like a band of beetles in a Liverpool nightclub.

The finish rises and falls like Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. It’s melodic, it’s moving, it’s ennobling, and it rocks mittens like a translator for the deaf nailing the cadences of a livestock auctioneer. There are dandelions plucked from the Elysian fields and lilacs from an Octopus’s garden in the shade. I mean, I was frankly disbelieving that a two year-old rye could rate highly in the 2017 Whisky Advocate, but they made a Monkee out of me: I’m a Believer.



On the scale of things that soothe savage beasts and breasts–
The Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is Music–Heavenly, descending from the heavens, descanting above the other arts, freezing architecture: Where would we be without music? Nowhere I’d want to be.






–Our thanks to Peerless for the sample!



Highland Park VALKNUT

Highland Park VALKNUT 46.8% ABV $80 Website What the Distiller Says In partnership with renowned Danish designer Jim Lyngvild, Highland Park VALKNUT is the second in a series of three Viking Legends releases inspired by the rich Viking heritage and mythology of Highland Park’s Orkney Islands home. The first expression, VALKYRIE, was released in mid-2017 … Continue reading Highland Park VALKNUT →

Review - Glen Moray 12, 15 & 18 years old

These three whiskies form the premium Elgin Heritage Collection and were introduced by the Speyside distillery of Glen Moray last Summer. The whiskies are aimed at specialist whisky retailers and their customers, and all feature age statements. They join and sit above the non-age statement Elgin Classic Collection, which are available through supermarket and off license channels.

The Glen Moray distillery is located on the outskirts of the city of Elgin, next to the River Lossie. The distillery started life as the West Brewery in 1828 and was later converted to become a whisky distillery in 1897. After a slightly chequered early history it is currently owned by the French drinks company La Martiniquaise, who took control in 2008 after buying the distillery from Moet Hennessey.

La Martiniquaise then embarked on a massive expansion programme, which is now complete and has resulted in an annual production capacity of six million litres. This now makes Glen Moray one of the larger distilleries in Speyside. The whisky produced Glen Moray is used for a number of La Martiniquaise's own blended whiskies, namely Label 5 and Glen Turner, as well as this expanded range of single malts. 

The Elgin Heritage Collection are available globally through specialist whisky retailers. The 12 and 15 years old expressions are bottled at a strength of 40% ABV and the 18 years old is bottled at 47.2% ABV. The prices should be approximately - 12 years old (£38), 15 years old (£50) and 18 years old (£75).

Our tasting notes

Glen Moray 12 years old
This whisky has been matured solely in American oak ex-bourbon casks. The nose has immediate aromas of fresh green apple and honey, with underlying notes of brown sugar and vanilla. There is also a pinch of cinnamon in there, along with milk chocolate and cocoa.

On the palate this whisky has an initial soft, almost creamy, feel and plenty of sweetness. There are notes of golden syrup, vanilla and butterscotch. These mingle with more fruity notes most reminiscent of stewed apple and raisin, with a hint of tinned peach. Underneath, and with a decent presence, are a good pinch of warming wood/baking spices (think of cinnamon, all-spice and ginger) and an increasingly influential note of bittersweet maltiness. The finish is sweet with a decent length, which then turns more spicy and malty with time.

Glen Moray 15 years old 
This bottling combines whisky matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. On the nose this feels immediately richer and heavier than the 12 years old. There are plenty of dried fruit aromas, especially raisins and sultanas, along with some bitter chocolate and candied orange.

On the palate this whisky has an instant hit of bitter oranges and dark chocolate with an underlying note of robust maltiness. Then come further notes of brown sugar, toffee and caramel, along with roasted/burnt coffee beans and some background molasses or treacle. There are also hints of ginger cake, cinnamon and liquorice. The robust maltiness and earlier bitter notes seem to become more influential with time and lead in to the finish, which seems a little short given the age and richness of the whisky.

Glen Moray 18 years old
This has been matured solely in American oak but that have previously held bourbon or sherry. The nose has a subtlety to it and reveals aromas of vanilla fudge, stewed apple, peach and delicate wood spice (especially cinnamon) early on. With time further aromas of cocoa, gingerbread and dried mango come through.

This whisky has a very classy feel on the palate and follows a similar path to that of the nose. It is mouth coating and has a pleasant level of richness. Again, it seems to take some time for notes to begin fully revealing themselves. Initial notes of brown sugar and soft vanilla fudge are joined by cooked fruits (think of apple and pear) and a pinch of baking spice. This spice grows with time and adds delicious warmth to the whisky. Late notes of gingerbread, apricot jam, cocoa powder and candied orange peel add further depth and complexity.

What's the verdict?
These three whiskies in the Elgin Heritage Collection have a traditional feel to them, unlike the more experimental Elgin Classic range of malts. This is a decent range of whiskies and one that offers good value for money. The 12 years old is our personal favour and has a great balance and complexity for its age and price point. The 18 years old is delicious and very classy also.

We have always liked Glen Moray and have enjoyed their whiskies since discovering them a number of years ago. This trilogy only enhances those feelings and shows the distillery's quality across a range of ages.

The Godfather of Rye Whiskey


The largest single distiller of Rye Whiskey isn't in Kentucky, but just along the other side of the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. For nearly 40 years, Larry Ebersold distilled Rye - and other whiskies - in what is now known as the MGP Distillery. Under the Seagram's banner and later LDI, Larry made whiskies that were blended into some of the world's top selling whiskey brands, and today, MGP is bottling some of the final whiskies Larry distilled into its own brands. Today, he's consulting for distillery startups like New Riff and Sagamore Spirit, and he'll share some of his stories with us on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We'll also talk with current MGP Master Distiller David Whitmer about why warehouse construction has as much to do with climate in how whiskies mature on Behind the Label. In the news, Canada and Mexico will keep their tariffs on American whiskies in place despite a new trade deal between the three countries, while Irish lawmakers have given the green light to stricter limits on alcohol sales. We'll also have details on a bunch of new whiskies, too!

Little Book Chapter 2: Noe Simple Task

Little Book Chapter 2: Noe Simple Task 59.4% ABV $90 – $100 Website What the Blender Says FREDDIE’S NOTE As the name implies, this round of Little Book was a long journey that really tested my skills as a blender. Maybe I jinxed myself naming my first batch “the Easy.” Superstitions aside, I spent a … Continue reading Little Book Chapter 2: Noe Simple Task →

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (October 5, 2018)

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.


The Islay distillery of Ardbeg has announced the third release of their Twenty Something bottling. The 2018 Edition is bottled at 22 years of age and was distilled in 1996, during a time when Ardbeg was largely mothballed and only operated for very short periods each year. This makes whiskies from this period of the mid-1990s extremely rare and desirable.

The Ardbeg Twenty Something 2018 Edition will only be available to members of the Ardbeg Committee, which you can join for free by visiting The whisky has been matured in ex-bourbon casks and they were selected by Dr. Bill Lumsden (Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at Ardbeg) and Mickey Heads (Ardbeg's Distillery Manager). It is bottled at 46.4% ABV. Each bottle will cost £440.


The family owned independent whisky bottler of Claxton's have announced details of their Winter 2018 outturn. This features six single cask bottlings - five single malts and one single grain. Details of the bottlings are below (exact quantities and prices were not revealed in the press release) and they will be available globally in selected specialist retailers shortly. for further information, please visit

  • Dumbarton 32 Years Old (1986)/Bourbon Barrel/57.1% ABV 
  • Springbank 22 Years Old (1996)/Bourbon Hogshead/55% ABV 
  • Teaninich 19 Years Old (1999)/Bourbon Hogshead/53% ABV 
  • Bruichladdich 16 Years Old (2002)/61.2% ABV 
  • Benrinnes 10 Years Old (2008)/Bourbon & Sherry Cask/51.7% ABV 
  • Ledaig 10 Years Old (2008)/Refill Hogshead/54.3% ABV

Douglas Laing

The independent bottler of Douglas Laing & Co. have announced the third batch of their Campbeltown blended malt, The Gauldrons. Each year, around Halloween, the whisky is released in very limited quantities and it is the rarest bottling in the company's Remarkable Regional Malts collection.

The Gauldrons, which translates as 'bay of storms' from the local Gaelic language, is 'the perfect whisky for Halloween and the Autumn months' due to its lightly smoky characteristics. Batch 3 will be available globally in selected specialist retailers and is bottled at 46.2% ABV. Each bottle will cost £50.

"October is now officially upon us, and we are all looking for the bolder flavours of Autumn. The Gauldrons is the perfect accompaniment to a sophisticated Halloween party or sipped around a bonfire with friends."
Cara Laing - Director of Whisky at Douglas Laing & Co.

Gordon & MacPhail

Independent bottling company Gordon & MacPhail have announced a twin bottling featuring their two oldest ever whiskies from the Speyside distillery of Longmorn. The pair of whiskies were both distilled in 1961 and both have been matured in first-fill ex-sherry hogshead casks.

One cask each was selected by identical twin brothers Stuart and Richard Urquhart, part of the family who own the company. Stuart's cask (#512) was made from American oak and is bottled at 40.8% ABV, while Richard's cask (#508) was made from European oak and is bottled at 45% ABV.

The whiskies will only be available as a pair and there are just 97 sets, which will be available in selected specialist whisky retailers globally. each set will cost £30,000. They are presented in hand blown decanters and the packaging includes a book written by rare whisky expert and writer Jonny McCormick.

Johnnie Walker

Diageo have announced a new expression of its best selling Johnnie walker blended Scotch, which has been developed in collaboration with HBO and Game of Thrones - White Walker by Johnnie Walker. The whisky is inspired by the popular TV series and has numerous points of reference to its storylines including the evil white walkers, the frozen North and the phrase 'Winter Is Coming'. The whisky is a specially created version of Johnnie Walker created by Diageo's team of blenders, which was led by George Harper.

White Walker contains, amongst other things, single malts from two of Diageo's most northernly distilleries - Cardhu and Clynelish - and is presented in a bottled designed using temperature-sensitive ink technology. This reveals more details when placed in the freezer. White Walker by Johnnie Walker is bottled at 41.7% ABV and will be available globally, initially in the USA, for a price of $36 USD per bottle.

The whisky is part of a wider partnership between HBO and Diageo which will see the release of eight single malts in early 2019. A Diageo distillery has been paired with each of the seven iconic Houses of Westeros in Game of Thrones, plus the Night's Watch. Further announcements of these bottlings are expected in time.

The Irish super premium brand of Midleton have announced details of this year's Midleton Very Rare release. The whiskey, which has been released annually since first appearing in 1984, has been crafted at the Midleton distillery in Co. Cork by Master Distiller Brian Nation. The Very Rare 2018 Vintage features a blend of single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys that have all been matured in lightly charred American oak ex-bourbon barrels. These range between 12 and 28 years of age.

The Very Rare 2018 Vintage has been bottled at 40% ABV and will be released globally including key markets such as Ireland, the UK and the USA. A bottle will cost €180/£160.

"We set aside very small amounts of fine single pot still and single grain distillates each year so that the Midleton Very Rare legacy can continue. This practice has been going on for over 40 years."
Brian Nation.

The speyside distillery of Tamdhu has introduced a 12 years old expression in to its core single malt range. The new whisky has been matured fully in ex-Oloroso sherry casks with a combination of first-fill and re-fill American oak and European oak used. The Tamdhu 12 years old will replace the current 10 years old in the range and is being rolled out globally now, with a UK launch in early 2019. It is bottled at 43% ABV. No indication of price was given in the press release.

"All our whisky at Tamdhu is exclusively matured in the finest sherry casks. The oak soaks up nearly 35 litres of Oloroso sherry during the seasoning process in Jerez, which gives our new whisky its distinctive flavour and striking natural colour."
Sandy McIntyre - Distillery Manager at Tamdhu.

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An Impostor Abroad: Stephen visits Glenfarclas Distillery

Ahh, Glenfarclas…that beautiful, sherried whisky serves as a classic reference dram for spicy, Speyside profile. It’s such an iconic whisky, I’ve stopped by the distillery more than once, even though I didn’t have time for a tour, when I was in the area just to shop at the Visitors Centre (easily identifiable by its copper pagoda). The exterior of the distillery is classically gorgeous, its darkened stone buildings punctuated by bright red doors. Once I finally managed to get there for a tour, it didn’t disappoint.

Our tour guide was Donna McIntosh, and she was pretty easily the sharpest, most polished tour guide I’ve ever seen. Later, I learned that she recently celebrated 25 years with the company, so her expertise was well earned, but that also reinforced the truth of an old saying about superstars: “No one comes completely out of nowhere.” On the tour, Donna highlighted a feature most distilleries do not: the malt de-stoner. Given that the milling process involves having steel rollers crush the malted barley to varying grades of fineness, having a stone grind against the metal amidst all of that very dry powder is a clear fire/explosion hazard. She also showed us the “rummager chains” that move across the bottom of the wash still to keep things from sticking and burning there. I’ve been on a lot of distillery tours, and that was the first time I’d even heard of such a thing.

But as we often note in our distillery visit posts, what makes a distillery unique is almost always its people. In the case of Glenfarclas, that goes well beyond the fantastic tour guide. The history of this family-owned distillery is long and evident throughout the distillery grounds. The Grant family bought Glenfarclas in 1865 for the handsome sum of £511 and 19 Shillings. George is the sixth generation of Grants to run the distillery, and the philosophy he inherited is one that should keep the family in good stead going forward: this generation lays down whisky for the next generation to sell. Thanks to that philosophy, and a vision of the long term that kept them from cutting back production too much during the lean times, Glenfarclas boasts some amazing old stocks–and overall very reasonable prices on their whiskies–as a result.

There’s no better embodiment of that philosophy today–nor a better return on the previous generation’s investment–than the Glenfarclas Family Casks. Very sought after by whisky collectors and aficionados approaching a big birthday, the Family Casks show off Glenfarclas like none of their standard releases can (though I have to note that I try to keep a bottle of Glenfarclas 105 in my whisky cabinet at all times). The Sherry casks shine, but rarely dominate, in these whiskies. Visitor Centre Manager Matthew Porritt poured us Family Cask expressions from the 1990’s, the 1980’s, along with some Glenfarclas matured in a Port cask (see below), which gave me a very different look at this wonderfully fruity spirit. Oh, and I got to try this stunner from 1973:

If you can make it to the distillery, they’ll show you the list of prices for Family Casks from various years. Some are, sadly, sold out and long gone, but many others remain on offer, though the prices naturally tend to go up over time. The 1969 I had my eye on lists for £3,400. Though I’m not at all one to spend that kind of money on whisky–at least not all at once–if I were to make an exception, this would be the first place I’d go.


A gorgeous Glenfarclas matured in a Port cask


Distillery Visit - Glen Scotia

Glen Scotia is a single malt distillery located in the town of Campbeltown at the end of the Mull of Kintyre peninsula. The town was once a major centre for Scotch whisky production with over 30 distilleries operating during its Victorian heyday. 

Now only three remain – Glengyle and Springbank being the other two. Earlier this year we were invited for a private tour of Glen Scotia with Iain MacAlister, the Distillery Manager.

Glen Scotia sits a couple of streets back from Campbeltown's largest curving natural harbour. In an unassuming side road is the distillery. It was founded in 1832 by members of the Stewart and Galbraith families and is currently operated by Loch Lomond Distillers, who have been involved since 1999. In 2014 it was taken over by Exponent Private Equity and they set about rescuing the ailing distillery.

Aside from the new ownership and their cash injection, our guide Iain has been highly influential in lifting the fortunes of the distillery and single malt brand. He was born in Campbeltown and his passion and dedication to the town and Glen Scotia are evident. Iain has been Distillery Manager for a decade and has overseen a recent meteoric rise in the profile of the place.

His influence is seen everywhere from the liquid in the bottles of the new range of whiskies to the setting up of a dedicated visitor centre to the recent integration of the distillery in to the annual Campbeltown Whisky Festival.

Welcome to Glen Scotia.
The distillery has an old feel to it. You especially get that sense when you walk through the black iron gates adorned with the distillery name in gold lettering at the entrance. Much of Glen Scotia is housed in buildings that were constructed in the 1850s and some of the equipment has decades of production time under its belt.

We enter the distillery buildings and first head in to a room that contains two tall silos. These each hold 50 tonnes of grain and the room was formerly used as Glen Scotia's in-house floor maltings. The space was reconfigured to its present set up in 1977. The distillery is currently using Concerto barley and has 28 tonnes of it delivered every week.

Rather than the traditional long horizontal floor, the distillery operated an unusual vertical floor malting - the steeps for soaking barley was at the top of the tall building and then worked its way down using gravity as it went through the malting process.

The Boby mill.
The mill at Glen Scotia was made by Robert Boby Ltd. of Bury St. Edmunds and was installed in the 1950s. It processes 2.8 tonnes of malt per run and produces a grist with a ratio of 10% flour, 20% husks and 70% middles. Each 2.8 tonne batch is then transferred to the mash tun.

The mash tun is made of cast iron and looks indestructable. It has 40 segmented mesh plates in the base and this creates a very clean wort. Each mash takes eight hours with water added at three different temperatures - 66°C, 76°C and finally 85°C - to extract the soluble sugars in the grist. This produces 7,250 litres of wash per water.

The mash tun and the second water going in.
The floor plan is slightly unorthadox at Glen Scotia. Most distilleries follow the flow of the production process but here we have to walk through the still room (- we will come back to that shortly ...) to reach where the fermentation takes place. They have nine washbacks in total and all are made from stainless steel.

The washback room.
Each one takes 14,500 litres of wort, which are made up of the first two waters from each mash (ie: 2x 7,250 litres). The third water is then used to kick start the first of the next mash. The fermentation time is very long and averages 128 hours. The yeast has done its work and begins to die after 48-50 hours, but the wash is left to develop further intense flavours as the yeast drifts to the bottom of the tank. By now it has a strength of 8% ABV.

We returned back to the still house. Here there are one pair of stills and these are on course to produce around half a million litres of spirit this year. Iain explained that a true sign of how the distillery and single malt brand has taken off and changed is that this quantity is five times more than a decade ago.

The stills and inside the spirit safe.
The wash still has a capacity of 11,800 litres but only ever receives half of each batch of fermented wash (7,250 litres). Therefore, it takes twice as long to distil the wash. This is then put through the smaller spirit still, which has a 8,600 litre capacity. Again, this is never completely filled. There are no computers and Glen Scotia uses the traditional techniques and skills of the stillmen during distillation.

A sample of new make spirit for us.
Iain then treated us to a taste of the new make spirit. This comes off the still at 64% ABV and had a wonderful oily texture in the mouth. There was an instant zesty citrus note most reminiscent of fresh lemon peel and this was supported by further notes of sweet almonds, heavy cereals and fresh linen. It is not often we get to sample the spirit while standing next to the stills that produced it.

Inside one of the warehouses.
Much of the whisky destined to be bottled as Glen Scotia single malt is matured on site in a couple of large warehouses. These have casks stacked high up to the roof and they take full advantage of the fresh Campbeltown air. We later returned to one of these warehouses to join a larger group of whisky fans as Iain poured some whiskies for us straight from the cask. A fine way to end a fine tour.

Glen Scotia feels a homely, welcoming and characterful distillery. There is no doubting that the new ownership has undoubtedly improved matters remarkably but they have maintained this charming feel and it seems to fit with both the distillery's and Campbeltown's heritage. If you are ever in the area, then we highly recommend a visit.

Iain pouring drams straight from the cask with a valinch.

Visitor Information
Tours are available all year round and start at the visitor centre at 12a High Street, Campbeltown PA26 6DS.

  • Standard Tour - £5 per person (11.30am and 3pm, Monday - Saturday)
  • Heritage Tour - £20 per person (11.30am and 3pm, Monday - Friday)
  • Warehouse Tasting (£30) and Manager's Tour (£50) are also available - both must be booked in advance.

For further information, please visit

Mad March Hare Irish Poitín

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