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The Bennachie 21 Year Pure Malt Scotch Whisky

Bennachie-21-Year-Old-Pure-Malt-Scotch-WhiskyTasting notes:
I hear the echoes of the percussion first, rattling off the brick buildings like a flock of mechanical birds taking flight.  Then there are the waves of bass moving through the hot summer air with the inevitability of an earthquake.  I come around the corner to see George Clinton playing on the far side of campus under conditions that mimic those of a Holi festival merged with a brokered Republican convention.  The smell of cereal aggravated into a mist, then a maple syrup fog rolling in underfoot, and finally pancakes the size of manhole covers slicing through the air—I breathe it all in.

The mouth is bright and sweet and creamy and light.  A creamsicle produced by Jiro in Tokyo with all of the concern about provenance and ritualized preparation that you’d expect.  Sure it’s a bit fast mouth but you don’t mind chasing it around a bit because the conversation is that interesting.

The finish is warm and rich; a mother’s hug after skinning your knee, which she now dabs with clover, eucalyptus, and vetch.  I get some wood and return of the funk notes that I found on the nose.  It’s cocobolo wood, as a matter of fact, and the bass vibrates so intensely it alters the grain into an exact representation of my thumb print.



On the scale of unusual facts about fingerprints–
The Bennachie 21 Year Old Pure Malt Scotch Whisky is the fact that koala fingerprints so closely resemble human fingerprints that experts might be unable to distinguish them–This is evidence of the remarkable phenomenon of convergent evolution.  But it’s also an enticement to train these chubby marsupials for membership in my whisky thievery corporation.






Review - Enlightenment by Compass Box

The Enlightenment is a new limited edition blended malt created by leading artisan whisky company Compass Box.  It is designed to be a celebration of their ongoing Scotch Whisky Transparency Campaign, which currently has over 7,000 people signed up to it.  The Enlightenment was conceived by John Glaser, the founder of Compass Box, and is a blend of Highland and Speyside single malts.  These include Balblair, Clynelish, Glentauchers and Mortlach distilleries.  There are just 5,922 bottles and they will be available from today (May 25) in Europe and then early June in the USA.

Compass Box was founded in 2000 and they have premises in both London and Edinburgh.  They also have an imaginative ethos to buy whisky from a small number of distilleries and craft them together into a unique product. All products are produced and released in small batches and given catchy names. By doing their own blending, Compass Box have less restrictions than traditional independent bottlers and are widely regarded as one of the most innovative whisky makers in the industry.  They have won numerous awards for both their whiskies and creative packaging and label designs.

"This is inspired by the writers, philosophers and scientists of the Age of Enlightenment and sets out to encourage the industry to consider the absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers exactly what has gone in to the whisky they are drinking".
John Glaser - Founder of Compass Box Whisky Co.

Enlightenment has been bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.  The price is £60, US$85 or €79 per bottle and will be supplied through selected specialist whisky retailers and via, where further information about the bottling is also available.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose has a lovely mix of fresh green fruit and sweet fudge and toffee aromas.  Think of crisp green apples and pear drop sweets for the fruitiness.  Underneath is a distinct malted barley aromas, some vanilla and background cinnamon, ginger and a faint damp earthy note.

On the palate this whisky feels vibrant and fresh with the green fruity characteristics and the toffee/fudge notes again to the forefront.  This becomes more butterscotch-like with time and made us think of toffee apples when combined.  The pear drops are also evident but less so than on the nose.  There are hints of sultanas and ginger that add depth, along with an increasing note of malted barley.  This begins sweetly but turns more grainy and bittersweet as the palate develops.  Underneath are further hints of candied bitter oranges, cinnamon, liquorice and the merest detection of damp earthy peat smoke - this rounds everything off nicely.

The finish is relatively short and again driven by the fruity and sweet elements.  The green apples and pears fade first, then the sugary toffee.  This leaves the more spicy and bittersweet notes - the cinnamon, malty cereals etc - to combine well and dry the mouth slightly.

What's the verdict?
The Enlightenment is a light and vibrant whisky that has a lovely freshness and sweetness to it. The delicious green fruits and toffee notes on the nose translate well to the palate, which is mouthwatering and enjoyable.  It is a very moreish whisky and one that is easy drinking.  Enlightenment should keep everyone happy, both the staunch Compass Box fans and recent converts alike.  Well worth searching out and available at a reasonable price too.

Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve

Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve Single Malt Irish Whiskey The Steamship Collection 40% ABV $89 per liter Website What the Distillery Says: THE STEAMSHIP COLLECTION™ is new innovation range, inspired by travel, from Ireland’s oldest working distillery 15 February 2016: BUSHMILLS® Irish Whiskey today announced its first new range of limited edition Irish whiskeys available exclusively … Continue reading Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve →

New Releases from Glen Grant

Author Melanie GochnauerGlen Grant has announced the launch of three new single malts: a 12 year old, a 12 year old non-chill filtered, and an 18 year old. These whiskies will be available in June. See the press release included below for details.


Award-winning Glen Grant launches new premium quality whiskies: 12 Year Old, 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered and 18 Year Old

LONDON, 24th MAY 2016 – Award-winning single malt Scotch whisky, Glen Grant, today announces the launch of new 12 Year Old, 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered and 18 Year Old single malt Scotch whiskies whilst unveiling a new contemporary brand identity with packaging and logo redesign. The introduction of three unique and unmatched expressions to Glen Grant’s existing portfolio aims to reaffirm Glen Grant’s position as a leading player in the luxury whisky market and answers the surge in global sales of premium single malt Scotch whisky.

Launching in June, the new 12 Year Old, 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered and 18 Year Old expressions will allow consumers to enjoy the unfolding layers of mature and beautifully intricate taste and aroma that is achieved only through Glen Grant’s unique distillation process.

Glen Grant 12 Year Old is a remarkable single malt Scotch whisky. With a bright, golden colour and pleasant aromas of orchard fruit, almond and citrus, this exceptional whisky delights the palate with exquisite and delicate notes of apple pie crust and caramel and finishes with lingering fruit and subtle hints of spice.

The 12 Year Old Non Chill-filtered, which will be exclusively available to travel retailers, delivers a full and creamy mouth-feel, with an aroma and flavour that, is unmistakably Glen Grant. With its signature bright, golden colour and a sweet, welcoming nose, this beautifully crafted whisky offers notes of toffee and rich fruit, and a pleasingly long, nutty finish with subtle bursts of spice.

image011The rarest in the new collection is the Glen Grant 18 Year Old. This unrivalled single malt Scotch whisky matures for at least 18 years in the highest quality, handpicked oak casts, which creates a radiant golden colour and seductive floral and oaky aroma. Deeply layered and complex, this rich and vibrant whisky delivers beautifully intricate flavours of malted caramel, vanilla, and raisins and lingers with a long, sweet and pleasantly spicy finish.  

The latest packaging features a new colour palette, allowing the consumer to easily identify the different dram varieties. The 12 Year Old and 12 Year Old Non Chill-Filtered feature a striking bronze label and casing, while the 18 Year Old is enclosed within a superior frosted-blue gift box with luxurious silver hues, reiterating its premium status.

The new Glen Grant logo, the Grant family monogram, stands proudly on the front of each bottle – with the letters ‘J’ ‘R’ and ‘G’ delicately intertwined in a timeless design. ‘J’ for James ‘The Major’ Grant and ‘R’ for his first wife Rose, reminding consumers of the deeply rooted family heritage which helped to produce one of the world’s finest single malt Scotch whiskies.

Jared Ricardo, Global Public Relations Manager at Gruppo Campari, commented: “We are delighted to launch our new range of aged products and unveil our brand new, contemporary logo and packaging. Glen Grant has made a significant investment in its production within the worldwide luxury whisky market to meet the increased consumer appetite for premium whisky with a rich background. We are extremely proud of our new look which perfectly represents the passion, craftsmanship and family heritage of Glen Grant, while staying true to our Scottish heritage. We are confident that through our unique quality and history, our new aged range of products will prove extremely popular with our consumers.”

Glen Grant’s new packaging will be rolled out across all Glen Grant products from June. The new 12 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky will be available to purchase from June at the Whisky Exchange, whilst the new 12 Year Old Non Chill Filtered will be available from June to purchase from duty free and travel retailers. The new 18 Year Old expression will be available from June to purchase from Tesco.

The post New Releases from Glen Grant appeared first on Whisky Advocate.

WhiskyCast Episode 590: May 22, 2016

One of Scotland's newest distilleries opened its doors for the first time to visitors this week, though opportunities to visit InchDairnie Distillery in Fife will be few and far between. The state-of-the-art distillery will produce two different styles of malt whiskies - one for blending and one for use in its own single malts that won't be bottled until at least 2029, if founder Ian Palmer has his way. We'll take a tour of InchDairnie with Ian Palmer on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth and uncover more of InchDairnie's mysteries. In the news, WhistlePig Farm is in the middle of a dispute as founder Raj Bhakta is asking a Delaware court to block a vote by dissident investors to remove him. We'll have the details, along with your responses to last week's question - what's the most you've ever spent on a bottle of 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 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.