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The Tomatin 1997-2014 Gordon & MacPhail “the wood makes the whisky”

Tomatin-1997-2014-Gordon-and-MacPhail-the-wood-makes-the-whiskyThe Tomatin 1997-2014 from Gordon & MacPhail’s “the wood makes the whisky” line unhasps an old tool box with oiled wood-handled tools with rusty steel heads. Down in the second level of the box, we found an old wooden hockey trophy, well varnished, and latterly rubbed with caramel, beeswax, attar of roses, and attar of thorns. Also: a lemon rind still desiccated after a failed—yet heroic—attempt at resuscitation by a wandering linen-clad EMT.

The EMT has a tart mouth and cloying sense of humor, cloaked in punchy phrases, and simply dripping with sour cherries in butternut-and-honey ice cream. She’s assertive—the EMT—and has been known to curdle sour cream with a knitted-brow defcon 2 glare. An open lady-hand slap for an impertinent sloppy drunk with a boozy vulgar tongue.

Sobered up, as it were, the wax returns in full force, like a paraffin-coated Vincent van Gogh rising up from a sepulchre of milkweed and titanium rasps in a B-horror movie. [Stephen: Bill! That’s Vincent Price!] The wood of the cask is announced as if by the slightly disapproving, stern, yet refined tones of Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson, circa Season One. There’s fire, perhaps in the attic, maybe restricted to a bedroom fireplace: It’s simply not clear, and time passes like the Laffer Curve; fast, then slow, then fastly slow and finally slowly fast. Yes, supply-side economics is confusing, isn’t it?

 

Rating:
On the scale of Reagan-era blunders–
The Tomatin 1997-2014 is Dan Quayle misspelling ‘tomato’ as ‘tomatoe.’–What? It was ‘potato’ and ‘potatoe’? Fine; you say ‘potato’ and I say ‘tomahto’…let’s drink the whole thing down! 

 

 

                                                                            —Bill

 

 

 

 

Our thanks to Gordon & MacPhail for the sample! 

 

 

WhiskyCast Episode 595: June 25, 2016

Willie Cochrane retired last month after 39 years at Jura Distillery, and spent the last 11 of them as the manager of the Isle of Jura's largest business (and only distillery) before turning over the keys to his hand-picked successor, Graham Logan. He's spent most of the last few weeks away from the island traveling with his wife and spending time with their three children and grandchildren - but Willie slowed down enough to spend some time with us for this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. The UK's Brexit vote and its potential impact on the whisky industry dominates the news this week, and we'll also have some of your comments on this week's Your Voice. We'll also kick off a contest with our newest sponsor...listen for details on how you could win one of five Speyburn goodie bags!

Things Are Cropping Up at Buffalo Trace

Author Melanie GochnauerIn 2014 Buffalo Trace distillery purchased 293 acres of farmland adjacent to the distillery property for construction of additional barrel warehouses. While awaiting construction permits corn was planted on 18 acres of the property with the idea of creating a, “farm to table “single estate” bourbon experience,” according to the press release. See the full details below.

BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY DISTILLS FIRST CORN CROP FOR FARM TO TABLE BOURBON

Second Year of Corn – A New Variety – Planted

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (June 23, 2016) A little over a year ago, Buffalo Trace Distillery quietly purchased an additional 293 acres of farm land adjacent to the Distillery, with the intention of building more barrel warehouses to meet the growing demands of bourbon. In the meantime while permits were being secured for the new construction, Buffalo Trace decided it would be “fun” to plant its own corn, with an idea of creating its own farm to table “single estate” bourbon experience.

But it couldn’t be just any corn that was planted, the Distillery wanted to plant something that had historical meaning to this 243-year-old National Historic Landmark. Research began, and soon a strain was identified that dated back to 1876, around the same time E. H. Taylor, Jr. was making his mark on Buffalo Trace. The strain originated from a White Mastodon variety and through selection techniques in isolation it became “Boone County White,” after a farmer named James Riley coined the name. Coincidentally, Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace, was born in Boone County, Ky., making that strain even more fitting.

Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley

Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley

After planting 18 acres of the non-GMO white corn in the summer of 2015, Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley and his team eagerly watched the corn sprout up and begin to grow, and grow, and grow!  And harvest time, the stalks were well over 12 feet tall! The corn was harvested in August of last year and the grain was processed to be dried. After drying all winter, the corn was fermented and distilled at Buffalo Trace on May 31, 2016. All told, 117 barrels of the Boone County White Corn variety were distilled and are now aging in Buffalo Trace’s warehouses, to be taste tested periodically over the next few years to check on progress, and then eventually released, provided the taste profile is up to Buffalo Trace’s rigorous standards.

Now, in 2016, the cycle is beginning again, with Buffalo Trace planting its second year of non-GMO corn, this time Japonica Striped Corn, a strain originally from Japan and dating back to the 1890s. This variety will have variegated leaves of green, white, yellow and pink stripes with dark purple tassels and burgundy kernels. Typically used as an ornamental corn, this variety will be a true experiment to see how it tastes once fermented and distilled next year!  In addition to both the Boone County and Japonica Striped corn being from E. H. Taylor, Jr.’s era, both are dent corn varieties, which have a high starch content and are ideal for distilling, unlike traditional sweet corn one might see in the grocery store.  Buffalo Trace uses a different variety of dent corn in the distillation of the rest of the bourbons in its portfolio.

Buffalo Trace Distillery intends to plant a different variety of corn each year at its farm so each year in the future there will be a unique release.  Name, age or price of this future bourbon has not yet been determined.

The post Things Are Cropping Up at Buffalo Trace appeared first on Whisky Advocate.

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (June 24, 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 ...

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Lagavulin
The iconic Islay distillery of Lagavulin is continuing its 200th anniversary celebrations with the announcement of another special bottling - the Lagavulin 25 years old.  It follows another limited edition 8 years old bottling that was released earlier in the year.  This expression is the first 25 years old from Lagavulin to be fully matured in ex-sherry casks and pays homage to the many craftsmen that have worked at the distillery over its 200 year history.  The bottling will be available from September through specialist whisky retailers and the distillery shop.  There are just 8,000 bottles and each will cost £799.


“For two centuries, Lagavulin has been crafted through the hands of hard working Islay residents; from peat cutters to warehousemen; the characters that make Lagavulin what it is today share a passion for producing an award winning Islay dram, and I am proud to say that I am part of this passionate group of people.”
Georgie Crawford - Distillery Manager at Lagavulin.



Tasmanian Whisky Week


Details for the inaugural Tasmanian Whiskey Week have been announced.  The event will run for nine days (July 22-31) and will feature all of the island states whisky distilleries, including names such as Lark, Nant and Sullivan's Cove.  Special events will be held at each distillery, some of which have not been opened to the public before, along with various other industry events being held at a number of other locations. 

Events include behind-the-scenes tours, meeting distillers and various gastronomic and whisky pairing evenings.  The nine days will culminate in the first ever Whisky Live show in Hobart, Tasmania's capital.  For further information and to book tickets for events - please visit www.taswhiskyweek.com.


Teeling Whiskey Co. 
The Teeling Whiskey Company have announced the second bottling of The Revival expression to celebrate the first anniversary of their Teeling distillery in Dublin.  The Revival Volume II is bottled at 13 years of age and was distilled in 2002.  It has been matured for 12 years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-Calvados brandy casks, which are 250 litres in size.  The whiskey has not been chill filtered and is bottled at 46% ABV.  There are 10,000 bottles and no indication of price was given in the press release.

The Revival Volume II will be initially released in selected retailers in Ireland, including at the distillery shop and Dublin Airport. It will then see a wider general release in selected markets including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy and the UK.


"The one-year anniversary of our award winning distillery and visitor centre is a major milestone in the history of the Teeling Whiskey Company.  We released The Revival Volume I when the distillery first opened and once again we have a very special whiskey with the first ever Calvados cask matured Irish whiskey."
Jack Teeling - Founder & Managing Director at Teeling Whiskey Co.


This Is Not A Luxury Whisky

This Is Not A Luxury Whisky Blended Scotch Whisky 53.1% ABV $200 Website What the Blender Says: This is not a luxury whisky. Or is it? The inspiration for this limited release is René Magritte’s 1929 work “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, a Surrealist painting which challenges peoples’ perceptions of reality. The reality is, these … Continue reading This Is Not A Luxury Whisky →

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.