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The Sons of Liberty Battle Cry Belgian Mash New England Single Malt Whiskey

Tasting notes:
I think of this whiskey as Smokey the Bear’s wayward cousin.  It’s got the fire and smoke and a keen sense of danger.  But this guy is also attracted to the danger.  What I’m trying to say is that I think it is one of those drams that would dabble in vice, but do so with so much charm that you make certain allowances.  In this case, the alarming haze on the horizon signals no conflagration.  Rather it is a fine mist of caramel descending on Carmel, CA.  And it’s not smoke that is stinging my eyes, but the snug emotions I feel upon making a long-awaited reunion.  Moments from now I’ll be laughing.  For though I am wearing my favorite boots, my impish friend has snuck under the table to tie the laces together.  And I shall find this funny like the others gathered for the meal.

The mouth is a sweet, sticky, syrupy, cola-like goodness, like the cola syrup that oozes out of the fountain when there’s a pinch in the soda hose.  It’s really molasses-like in how chewy and substantial it is.  I’m reminded of the dark amber flypaper strips hanging in my grandparent’s home in North Carolina.  The unguent beaded up on those long strips in a way that was almost like pearls.  Come to think of it, pearls would be the perfect spirit gem for this whiskey.  The attraction of pearls is precisely that they are natural, unadorned, and un-ostentatious.  We are talking about a classic with very broad appeal.

The finish is quick and Houdini like.  Which is to say that it’s so damn drinkable.  The readiness of my lips for another sip reminds me of mead.  I’m not getting the funky notes I’d expect from the Belgian yeast.  And it’s not making me want to enter battle.  Rather, I’m ready to draw up terms for a peaceable transfer of the rest of the bottle into my glass.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of interesting facts about pearls–
The Sons of Liberty Battle Cry Belgian Mash New England Single Malt Whiskey is the fact that all pearl oysters are born male and transform into females around the time of their full maturity–We think that bottling this at 92 proof and with no chill filtration enables a similar transformation.

 

 

 
                                                                             -John

 

 

 
–Our thanks to Sons of Liberty for the sample!

 

 

Review - Four Roses Small Batch 2017 Edition

This whiskey is the latest limited edition from the award-winning Four Roses distillery. Four Roses is unusual amongst American distilleries as it produces 10 different spirits, using two different mash bills (one low rye mash and one high rye) and then one of five different yeast strains. This 2017 Edition contains three different whiskies of ages 12, 13 and 15 years. The Small Batch was first released in 2007 and has won numerous awards since. This 2017 Edition has approximately 13,000 bottles - this number has grown from the original 2007 release, which contained just 1,500 bottles.

The Four Roses distillery is located in the town of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and is one of the famous whiskey state's largest distilleries. It was founded in 1888 and the annual production is eight million litres. Much of this is released under the Four Roses name. This Small Batch is released annually and forms part of the Four Roses' core range, which includes the best selling Yellow Label and a Single Barrel release.

The Four Roses Small Batch 2017 Edition is bottled at the natural strength of 54.3% ABV and is available via specialist spirits retailers in selected markets. The price should be around £100 per bottle. We were privileged to sample the new whiskey in the company of Brent Elliott, the Master Distiller at Four Roses.

Our tasting notes
The colour of the whiskey is deep gold and the nose is expressive with an interesting battle between sweet and spice aromas. There is an immediate hit of vanilla and golden syrup, which are then balanced by warming oak and all-spice notes. Then come later aromas of apricot and tropical fruit, especially some pineapple.

On the palate this whiskey has an initial spiciness. It reveals itself almost in the reverse to the nose. First comes the warming spice - think of all-spice, earthy ginger, white pepper and warming wood spices (think of cinnamon, cedarwood and fresh oak shavings) - and this is followed by the sweetness and fruity notes, especially once the spiciness mellows. There are lovely notes of vanilla, honey and milk chocolate and these mingle with increasingly influential tropical fruit characteristics (imagine peach, dried pineapple and a hint of apricot jam). Late hints of cocoa, dried orange peel and morello cherry add further depth and complexity.

The finish is long and warming with a bold spiciness and dryness. The warmth and oakiness lingers and begins to soften and fade with time. The vanilla, honey and apricot-like sweetness begins to come through, especially late on.

What's the verdict?
The Four Roses Small Batch 2017 Edition is a delicious whiskey and one that has multiple layers of depth and complexity. Sweet characteristics go up against the warm spices and woody notes, which in turn go up against an expressive confected fruitiness. The combination is very good and packs a hefty punch. A splash of water softens it, but also seems to take something away. We prefer it neat and it drinks very well.



Celebrating 5 Years at The Dead Rabbit (WhiskyCast Episode 681: February 18, 2018)

Five years ago, Irish expats Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon bet their futures on opening an Irish pub in New York City's Financial District. Since then, The Dead Rabbit has become renowned as one of the world's best bars. Now, The Dead Rabbit shares its name with a new Irish Whiskey in a collaboration with Quintessential Brands, which is building the Dublin Liberties Distillery in the city's Newmarket Square. We'll talk about the bar and the whiskey with Sean Muldoon and Darryl McNally, Quintessential's master distiller and blender, on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. There's a lot to cover in the news, including local approval for Glenmorangie's expansion plans in Scotland, the return of whisky distilling to downtown Montreal, and how South Africa's severe water shortages are affecting the country's leading whisky distiller. We'll also answer some of your whisky questions and taste some new whiskies, too.

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (February 16, 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.

________

Loch Lomond
The Scotch whisky brand of Loch Lomond has announced a five year sponsorship deal with major UK golf championship The Open. This will see the portfolio of whiskies marketed as 'The Spirit of The Open' and also support the Ricoh Women's British Open. The sponsorship will run until the 2022 event and will include the 150th anniversary tournament, which will take place at St. Andrews in 2021. A number of golf themed limited edition whiskies are promised. Loch Lomond's first involvement will begin at The Open 2018, which is being held at Carnoustie in July.


"We are extremely proud to have agreed this prestigious partnership. There is an incredibly strong alignment between the worlds of whisky and golf, two of Scotland’s most iconic gifts to the world."
Colin Matthews - CEO of Loch Lomond Group.



Teeling
The Teeling Whiskey Co, the independent Irish distiller and bottler, have announced the release of a very limited edition single malt - the Teeling 34 years old. This is their oldest bottling to date and is thought to be the oldest Irish whiskey in the world. The whiskey was distilled and filled to cask in 1983 and has been exclusively matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels for the full duration.

The Teeling 34 years old will be exclusively sold in the USA and there are just 38 bottles available, which can be purchased via selected specialist retailers from March 1. Each bottle will cost $5,000 US.


“This bottling is reflective of our goal to help drive diversity in Irish whiskey by introducing interesting and unique super-premium bottlings. This 34 year old Irish single malt represents a rare piece of Irish whiskey history in each bottle.”
Jack Teeling - Founder of Teeling Whiskey Co.



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The 2018 Bergen Whisky & Beer Festival

The first whisky festival held in Bergen, Norway since it became my new hometown was a bustling two-day community celebration of brown spirits and of beer. It was also great fun.

Held in the somewhat labyrinthine back halls and passageways of the Grand Terminus Hotel, the layout of the festival was a bit strange, but it really worked. One of the stranger parts of it was the gallery that looked out over the main hall. Attendees found their way up there and took seats while they leisurely enjoyed drams and watched the goings on below. I half expected to look up and see Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show laughing down at all of us on the main floor, but all I ever saw were a bunch of happy Norwegians luxuriating up there.

The festival spanned Thursday night through Sunday, the main event Friday night and Saturday afternoon into the night bookended by bar takeovers and parties at The Tasting Room. The event offered a number of impressive masterclasses, none of which this reporter managed to attend, as many of the most desirable ones sold out almost immediately. I’ll do better on that front next time, though I must say that I didn’t feel like I needed a masterclass to break up my time in the main event: the main hall, along with the other spaces and rooms that had vendors in them, had so much to offer, and the vibe was so genial everywhere, that I was pretty damn happy just exploring and talking with friends old and new.


Stephen with Mathias Björck of Dr. Jekyll’s Pub in Oslo

In particular, the interesting special bottlings and offerings from independent bottlers were outstanding. Highland Park had the Kaupang from its Single Cask series, Diageo had many Distiller’s Editions, the William Grant table had both the newest Balvenie Peat Week and the Kininvie 23, and the Douglas Laing table had many of the Premium range of their fantastic blends (Timorous Beastie, Scallywag, Rock Oyster, etc.)–just to name a few. Perhaps the star of the show for me, however, was a 7 year old Chichibu matured in a Sherry cask bottled by Dr. Jekyll’s Pub in Oslo. First of all, 7 year old Chichibus are not easy to find, but Sherry matured ones are even rarer. And it was an excellent, clean, tannic Sherry beast. I will have to get more of that one, one way or another.

Another treat was getting to taste Myken Destilleri’s First Edition–their first 3 year old official whisky release. At the Oslo Whiskyfestival, I had had the pleasure of meeting Roar Larsen from the tiny distillery on a fairly remote island in the north of Norway, and there I had been impressed by the quality of their young spirit. Beyond the joy of seeing Roar again–whisky people really are the best–it was great to be able to experience the next stage in the development of this young distillery’s products. Keep an eye on Myken–what they’re doing is special.

Two observations on this festival, one good and one less so: the good is that the prices for the drams (paid in tickets–or bonger) were very reasonable. This made for a relaxed experience, because you didn’t feel that you needed to mind your bonger quite as carefully as a result. The other observation is a complaint I understand is common to whisky festivals in Norway: food was not an included part of the deal. The Grand Terminus Hotel’s restaurant was open to festival attendees, and the way to the restaurant was clearly marked–and I did see some people go down there to get some food. But I think it makes much more sense to charge a little more and integrate food offerings more prominently into the festival itself. After all, food really helps mitigate the effects of the alcohol, and in such a fun environment with so much good stuff on offer, food would have just helped extend the fun.


Remy from Bergenhus Bryggeri

With that said, however, this particular festival offered something I have not really experienced before: the “& Beer” part. Now, I’m a whisky guy first and foremost, so the first night, I didn’t even try one beer (and frankly, didn’t even think about doing so). But after a particularly fun first night, the next day, I did not really need a lot more whisky, but having some beer samples sounded great. Actually, being able to downshift to beer during the second day was delightful and refreshing. It also led to my meeting a whole new set of friends among the beer producers. Almost all of them had offerings on tap as well as in bottles, and many of the beers I tried were fantastic. In particular, I had a blast meeting the folks from Austmann Bryggeri in Trondheim and from Bergenhus Bryggeri right here in Bergen. The coffee stout (or was it a porter? It was one of those…) that Bergenhus Bryggeri had on tap was my favorite beer in the whole festival: bright and thick with deep, deep coffee notes and a head so creamy it could’ve been foam on a cappuccino.

Overall, the whisky festival in my new hometown is simply a winner. Frode Harring (the owner of the Tasting Room in Bergen) put on a great show. I can’t wait until next year’s festival.


Stephen with Frode Harring, organizer of the Bergen Whisky & Beer Festival


Stephen with Mario Miron of William Grant

 

 

Distillery Visit - Bushmills



The Bushmills distillery is located in the town of the same name in Northern Ireland. It sits up near the coast in Co. Antrim, close to the famous World Heritage Site of Giant's Causeway. During a recent long weekend over in Belfast, we decided to drive up and pay a visit to one of the oldest distilleries in the world.

It was a crisp and cold day in early January and we set off out of Belfast, deciding to take the scenic route rather than the more direct route along the motorway. The A2 is renowned to be one of the UK's best drives and it did not disappoint. The road hugs the coast line from Belfast to Londonderry and goes through a series of towns and picturesque villages.

Cushenden, just off the A2 and our stop for lunch.
On such a clear day the views were stunning and Scotland - the Campbeltown peninsula and Islay in particular - were easily visible. The journey took longer than expected due to numerous photo stops along the way. The bracing and stiff wind kept these brief. At times you are so close to the sea that it would crash against the sea wall and over on to the road. If the A2 is not on the Best Drives In The World Top 10, then it should be.

As we pulled in to the village of Bushmills, we were starting to worry that we may have missed the last tour of the day. We found the distillery bathed in late afternoon winter sun and headed for the visitor centre. The good sign was that some people were waiting and we were soon confirmed on the last tour. Even better than that we received a welcome Irish Toddy - a mix of Bushmills whiskey, honey and hot water - that helped warm us up on a bitterly cold day.

A shot of Irish Toddy warmed us up.
As with most public distillery tours, no photographs were allowed within the production areas. We are often spoiled on the press trips that we attend and the 'access all areas' privileges that we are granted. Therefore, old habits die hard and a few sneaky photos were taken as we walked around so as to show you the inside of the distillery.

The origin and early history of Bushmills is a little sketchy. Bottle labels and marketing refer to the date 1608 and the fact that the distillery is the oldest licensed producer in the world. But this date was when a local land owner, Sir James Phillips, was granted a license to distil whiskey by King James I, not when the current distillery was built.

That did not happen until 1784 when Hugh Anderson formed the Bushmills Old Distillery Company, built the facilities and began production on the current site. The distillery has had numerous owners since, most recently Diageo. They sold Bushmills to the current owners Casa Cuervo in 2014 as part of an exchange deal for the Don Julio tequila brand.

Our tour began in the former mashtun room and the malting of barley was explained by our guide. Here we also saw a first - the old mash tun in cross-section to demonstrate each part of the interior. This included the mesh floor that allows the sugary wort to drain through but retain the solid parts from the grist, and the stirring arms that keep the liquid moving within the tun. This also made us realise the immense size of the vessel when standing next to it.

The modern mashtun.
We were then moved through to where the current mash tun is located and here the mashing process was explained. The mashtun is in the modern stainless steel style and we had the opportunity to take a look inside and see some mashing in action through the viewing window. Each mash takes around six hours and the capacity of the tun is 48,000 litres.

Next stop was the room housing the fermentation washbacks. There are ten in total and they are also made from stainless steel. Each holds one batch of wort from the mash tun (ie: 48,000 litres) and then brewers yeast is added. The fermentation time at Bushmills is approximately 50 hours and the result is a wash that has a strength of 7.5% ABV.

The washbacks.
At Bushmills they follow the traditional Irish practice of triple distillation. This makes their final spirit lighter, purer and of higher strength than spirit that is distilled twice. The first distillation goes through the larger wash stills, while the second and third distillations go through two different sets of spirit stills. Ten stills are crammed in to a slightly claustrophobic room that had an impressive glass-sided booth in the middle that housed the spirit safes.

The stills.
The total production of new make spirit at Bushmills is 4.5 million litres per year. This is all matured on site and you can see warehouses stretching away from the distillery and up the hill as you leave the still house. Everything that is released as Bushmills is also bottled on the site in a purpose built facility. The final part of the tour took us through this, before ending up in the visitor's bar/cafe area.

Our tour guide then presented us with a glass of the Bushmills Original, which was light and delicate with a lovely combination of sweetness and grassiness. We then had a choice of a second whisky to sample and we went for the Bushmills 12 years old Distillery Exclusive, which can only be purchased in the visitor centre shop and a couple of local bars. It was richer with notes of apple, golden syrup, vanilla, wood spice and a hint of tropical fruit and dried grass.

The tour took around forty minutes and was relaxed, welcoming, informative and enjoyable. Bushmills receives over 100,000 visitors a year and is the second biggest distillery in Ireland, after Midleton in Co. Cork. The history and heritage oozes out of the place and creates an interesting juxtaposition with the modern equipment. Bushmills is well worth a visit if you are ever in that part of the world. If you are, then please make sure that you drive the A2 road as well.


Visitor information

  • Open all year around - Winter Hours (Jan, Feb, Nov & Dec) Mon - Sat 10:00 - 16:45, Sun 12:00 - 16:45. Summer Hours (March - Oct) Mon - Sat 9:15 - 16:45, Sun 12:00 - 16:45.
  • Distillery Closed on July 12 and Dec 23 - Jan 1 inclusive.
  • Ticket price for tour - £8.
  • More information available via www.bushmills.com.




Review - Green Spot Chateau Montelena



The Green Spot Chateau Montelena is the second bottling in the Irish whiskey brand's Wine Geese series. This sees the classic pot still whiskey matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, before being transferred for one year of finishing in French oak ex-Zinfandel red wine casks. These have come from the renowned Californian winemaker of Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley. It follows the Bordeaux wine influenced Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, which was released in 2015.

The Chateau Montelena vineyard is operated by the Barrett family, who are of Irish descent. The whiskey has been developed by Kevin O'Gorman, the Head of Maturation at the Midleton distillery where Green Spot is made, and Billy Leighton, the Head Blender at Midleton, alongside Bo Barrett, the third generation owner of Chateau Montelena.


"Exploring the influence of these prized wine casks on Green Spot was our inspiration. We found that the black-skinned Zinfandel grapes impart a distinctive and refined fruitiness to the wine and also the casks in which they matured." 
Kevin O'Gorman.


Green Spot gets its name from the coloured marks that were traditionally painted on the end of the maturation casks by Mitchell & Son, the Dublin wine and spirit merchants founded in 1805. This denoted the age of the casks - a blue spot for seven years old, green for 10, yellow for 12 and red for 15. Green Spot is made at the Midleton distillery in Co. Cork due to a special historical arrangement with the distillery owners Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard and Mitchell & Son.

The Green Spot Chateau Montelena is bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill-filtered and will be available in selected world markets including Canada, Ireland and the USA. The recommended price is £55 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a reddish tint and the nose is initially sweet, before turning spicier. The opening aromas are of golden syrup, vanilla, toffee and white chocolate. Underneath are fruitier aromas of red apple, stewed pear, dried cherries and hints of marshmallow and marzipan. Late bittersweet cereals and a whiff of baking spice give further depth.

On the palate this whiskey follows a similar path to the nose, although the bittersweet cereals and warming spices seem to appear quicker. Initial notes of toffee and caramel are joined by a mixture of milk and white chocolate, mocha and a dribble of honey and golden syrup. Crisp red apple and cooked fruit (pear and a hint of rhubarb) follow. Vanilla begins to creep through, as do the bitter sweet cereals. These have a malty and slightly peppery feel, which are backed up by warming hints of gingerbread and cinnamon. Later hints of clove, coconut, menthol and bitter cocoa powder increase the compexity and add depth.

The finish is long and has an increasing warmth and dryness. This is expecially true once the sweetness, vanilla and fruit notes begin to fade. These drop off dramatically right at the end to leave dry baking spices, clove and pepper to battle out. They do so for some time to give a pleasant and mouth watering feel.

What's the verdict?
The Chateau Montelena expression of Green Spot is an interesting whiskey and one that shows good, yet subtle, use of ex-red wine casks. These can often dominate a whisky, but this has been matured sympathetically. The balance of sweetness, fruitiness and spiciness is enjoyable.

This series takes Green Spot in a different direction and both releases have been very pleasant to date. It will be interesting to see where it goes next. Worth seeking out, if you can find a bottle.

The Highland Park 18

[Highland Park recently redesigned their whole line, but since we received this sample long before that occurred, we’ll just call this one a nod to the classic bottle style now that it’s gone.]
Tasting notes:
On the nose, the first thing that comes to my mind is the word “golden.” With a particularly rich flavor profile, it’s easy to chalk that term up to a long steeping in capitalism with the lid left on. But “golden” is also the color of the hue of the winter sun and the glowing aura of a tree turning colors on a bright autumn afternoon. All of these apply to the nose here, but so do others: the crispy edges of a pancake and the deep caramel of the syrup spreading over it like a wave of happiness. It’s also “golden” in the sense of shiny and polished, like a candy shell on marzipan toy soldiers, each of whom refuses to break rank. In short, “golden” as a descriptor here warrants some serious unpacking before it can do any helpful work here.

The mouth, by contrast, dances smoothly and lightly, with more smoke than we expected. But again, many of those words fail here: “Smoke” here means peat smoke more than the vegetal smell of the peat itself. For “dances,” imagine ballet slippers worn over the ears of a wolf: balanced and smooth dancing that means, but something wild here as well, and wild enough to evoke the worst case scenario of how those slippers got to their current position. There’s also a mushroom burp here. And by “mushroom,” I mean criminis, so that this second taste is less regurgitation and more recrimination.

Finally, the finish is spicy and gorgeous. Again, what does that really mean? Here, “spicy” means as tingly and deeply penetrating as you ever wanted a massage to be. Simultaneously, that term evokes the forbidden love of a cinnamon tree and a maple: sultry, sweet, but nonetheless shocking in its taboo. It’s also explosive as “spicy” can sometimes connote: here, it blooms with an algae-like insistence when detergent and fertilizer are poured into a stream. “Gorgeous” is even more amorphous and in need of definition. Here, it encapsulates to types of smoke show: on the one hand, entertainment put on by Gandalf, Merlin, and Professor McGonagall, and Susan Sarandon on the other. I could go on, but at some point, words fail. But this dram never does. This is the whisky that you pour for those who wonder what rich people drink.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of well-defined terms–
The Highland Park 18 is the math term “well-defined”“An expression is called ‘well-defined’ (or ‘unambiguous’) if its definition assigns it a unique interpretation or value.” I have done my best here to provide a review that is well-defined in this sense. But don’t take my word for it: check for yourself, and you’ll see my calculations are right on point.

 

 

 

                                                                             –Stephen

 

 

 

–Our thanks to Sammy Karachi and Highland Park for the sample!

 

 

Whisky and Chocolate: A Divine Combination

With apologies to the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns, "whisky and chocolate gang tegither!" Good whiskies and fine chocolates actually share many of the same characteristics, and pairings of the two have become a common feature at whisky tastings and festivals. The Rev. Dr. R.M. Peluso has written extensively on chocolate for years, and is also a whisky lover. She explored the pairing of these two treats in her latest book, "Deep Tasting Whisky and Chocolate," and joins us for a Valentine's Day conversation on WhiskyCast In-Depth. We'll also catch up with Jack Teeling of Ireland's Teeling Whiskey Company, and 2018 is a big year for the Teeling family. Later this year, they'll be bottling the first Irish Whiskey distilled in Dublin in more than four decades, and this week released a 34-year-old Irish single malt that's one of the oldest of its kind. In the news, Scotch Whisky exports reached a new record high in 2017 ... we have details on an executive shakeup within Pernod Ricard's whisky portfolio ... and we'll look at Glenallachie's progress under its new ownership. 

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (February 9, 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.

________

Glendronach
The east Highlands distillery of Glendronach has announced details of the latest batch of its cult Grandeur single malt. This is Batch 9 and as with previous bottlings it has been matured exclusive in Spanish oak ex-sherry casks. It carries an age statement of 24 years old but is comprised of whisky distilled in 1990, 1992 and 1993. These have been carefully selected by Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for Glendronach.

The Grandeur Batch 9 is bottled at the natural cask strength of 48.7% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There will be just 1,487 bottles and these will be available through selected specialist whisky retailers in selected world markets. The recommended price is £450 per bottle.


"Batch 9 is a single malt of finesse, powerful complexity and persistence, reaching heights of maturity and depth of character that approach single malt perfection. The Glendronach Grandeur is the pinnacle of the distillery's house style."
Rachel Barrie.



Singleton
The popular Singleton single malt range has announced the release of the oldest ever expression from its Speyside distillery of Glendullan. The Singleton of Glendullan 40 years old is the first in a new limited edition Forgotten Drop series of malts. The series has been curated by Maureen Robinson, Master of Malts for The Singleton range, and will only be exclusive to selected travel retail markets.

The Glendullan has matured for the full 40 years exclusively in re-fill American oak casks and is released at its natural cask strength of 58.6% ABV. There are just 600 bottles and they will be available in Singapore and Taiwan airports. The cost is $2,300 US (£1,650) per bottle.


"The Forgotten Drop series is an exciting collection to curate. We have explored the deepest corners of our warehouses to find hidden treasures that, due to the stocks, we could never release widely. The Singleton of Glendullan 40 years old is a stunning liquid to launch with."
Maureen Robinson.



Tamdhu
The Speyside distillery of Tamdhu have announced the latest edition of their cask strengthlimited edition bottling. The Tamdhu Batch Strength No. 003 follows on from the award-winning Nos.001 and 002, and each batch is designed to be different. Batch Strength No. 003 has been exclusively matured in ex-sherry casks, the majority of which are first-fill, and is bottled at the natural cask strength of 58.3% ABV. It is also non chill-filtered. No indication of the price or number of bottles was given in the press release.


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The Arran Machrie Moor 2nd Edition

Tasting notes:
The Arran Machrie Moor, the Peated Arran Malt, 2nd Edition, opens with a delightful old winey smell, as if you finally got around to opening that bottle of Riesling a close family friend gave your parents for their wedding, and that twenty years later, they never drank. It perfectly complements a meatloaf made from jelly bellies, jujubes, and a veritable gummi-Noah’s Ark. Fermenting crabapples and grapefruit in an orchard outside Bryn Mawr, and a swimming pool filled with unchlorinated apple cider, which is the site of a party featuring coeds bobbing for butterscotch. It’s rounded, harmonious, euphonious, and exemplary. Like a quiet melody beginning to stir at the back of a first movement of a mighty symphony, notes of peat curl around a turpentine forest as gently as a tropical breeze.

The mouth is crystallized myriagons of sugar condensed from pineapple sap. Stephen found liquid Christmas lights eaten by a strange albino python that slithered down a disco’s chimney—but John quickly corrected that to “A python with albinism.” (Thanks, John.) Over the next three days, the python then managed to eat the disco ball, and the party was on! All concerned found tinges of grass-stained oleander and sedge sawdust around the edges, some dry, some bedewed by python saliva.

The finish is acorn nutmeat left to dry on a ceiling fan blade spinning slowly—ever so slowly—on a turgid, hot summer porch. There’s creamy, yet muted, peppermint oils, zested orange oils, and oranges in estrous trying to mate with my tastebuds, but succeeding only in engaging in a little frottage, like a frittata effusively and exuberantly crawling up the sides a frying pan or my cheek. [John: Bill! That doesn’t make sense!] It doesn’t have to, John. It doesn’t have to.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of cross-over white rapper megahits–
The Arran Machrie Moor is Macklemore’s Thrift Shop.

I’m gonna pop some bogs, 
Only got twenty pounds in my pocket; 
I – I – I’m hunting, looking for a dram-up, 
This is fucking awesome!

 

 

 
                                                                        –Bill

 

 

 
 

The Ardbeg Kelpie

Tasting notes:
This reminds me of the short-lived special Goth edition Froot Loops.  Lucy strung them on a Christmas tree so austere that it shattered Linus; he now recites from the Necronomicon, and Charlie Brown is a veritable Pollyanna in comparison.  There’s also black pepper, 104% cacao chocolate, and oxtail in a searing vindaloo reduction the color of crow feathers.  Thematically, then, it’s all blackness.  But do I believe this because I read that the oak staves are taken from Black Sea?  Perhaps.

I’ll get to my first impression of the mouth shortly.  The second is that this whisky is so desiccating I want it made into sachets to keep in my Nikon lens bag.  But I fear that it would shrink the lenses until they rattle, uselessly, in the telescoping cylinders.  My first impression is how this drinks up in a fiery way, making this one of the most formidable 46% ABV drams I can remember tasting.  Take that 104% cacao chocolate and smelt it with steel into a hot chocolate you serve to the bullies in Stephen King’s IT, and then you have the idea.  This is blazing.

For me the finish is where the action is on this one.  It’s almost like reliving a trauma, but in a good way.  It’s a trauma appraised after as steady diet of talk therapy, SSRI-uptake inhibitors, and—okay, sure—a few ayahuasca shooters because my yogini badgered me into trying them.  Which is to say, in the bright dawn of better health, you can see the wound from the standpoint of Adam Smith’s impartial spectator.  Here blackness appears as light, despair as an invitation to rediscover hope, and sorrow as the springboard for new joys. 

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of formidable 46’s–
The Ardbeg Kelpie is the Chicago Bears’ 46 defense–Used with devastating effect by Buddy Ryan in the 1980s, the 46 defense was unconquerable.

 

 

 
                                                                             –John

 

 

 
–Our thanks to David Blackmore and Ardbeg for the sample!

 

 

Making Whisky with MGP's Gordon Working (WhiskyCast Episode 679: February 4, 2018)

 

When someone wants to start a new whisky brand, but doesn't own a distillery, chances are they'll turn to Gordon Working and his team at the MGP Ingredients Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Over the years and several owners, the distillery has gone from being one of the backbones of the Seagram's empire to one of the leaders in "contract distilling" for clients. We'll talk with Gordon Working on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, American whiskies led the overall spirits sector to another year of growth in 2017, while another major Scotch Whisky distiller is planning an expansion to meet growing global demand.

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (February 2, 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.

________

Dublin Liberties
The Dublin Liberties distillery have collaborated with The Dead Rabbit bar in New York to release a new Irish whiskey. It is to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the multi award-winning bar. Master Distiller Darryl McNally has teamed up with the bar's founders, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, to create a five year old blend made from a combination of Irish single malt and grain whiskeys. 

The initial maturation was in ex-bourbon casks before a period of finishing in small virgin American oak casks. It will be officially launched on 12 February to coincide with The Dead Rabbit's anniversary date. It will be available in limited numbers in New York initially, before rolling out across the USA and selected worldwide markets later. The price will be $40.


Jameson 


The leading Irish whiskey brand of Jameson have revealed this year's design for their annual St. Patrick's Day label. It is the seventh such label and the first to feature a collaboration between three different artists. Irish illustrator Claudine O'Sullivan led the design process and recruited two friends, British designer Alex Mellon and Irish photographer Leonn Ward. The design is inspired by their friendship and the Fianna, the mythical Irish warriors for their loyalty and bravery.

Claudine's hand drawn eagle represents unity and soars over the silhouette of three friends, which were drawn by Alex. These are against the background of the Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin, which was photographed by Leonn. The design will be available in 35 countries worldwide including Australia, Ireland and Japan. More information about the design and artists can be found on www.jamesonwhiskey.com.


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Review - Glenmorangie Spìos



The Spìos is a new limited edition single malt from the famous north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie. It is the ninth expression in their annual Private Edition series, which looks to add a twist to the light and delicate Glenmorangie house style. This year's expression sees Glenmorangie fully matured in American ex-rye whiskey casks. These were sourced by Dr. Bill Lumsden (the brand's Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks) on a trip to the USA in the late 1990s.

Glenmorangie Spìos is named after the Gaelic word for spice and is pronounced spee-oss. It is inspired by the golden age of rye whiskey which spawned such classic cocktails as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and Sazerac. Rye then fell out of favour, starting with the Prohibition era in America, but is now seeing something of a welcome resurgence.


"I have always loved American rye whiskey’s spicy character, and I believed our smooth house style would perfectly complement the nuances of ex-rye casks. The result is Spìos – a single malt whisky which is unmistakeably Glenmorangie, yet exquisitely different."
Dr. Bill Lumsden.


The Glenmorangie Spìos is bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available shortly through specialist whisky and spirits retailers worldwide and via LVMH's website - www.Clos19.com. Each bottle will cost £79.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is fragrant and fresh with some sweet and floral aromas vying for your attention. There is a lovely mix of honey, vanilla, creme brulee and toffee and these combine with earthy spices - think of gingerbread, clove and white pepper. Hints of peach, malt and something soapy are also evident.

On the palate this feels like a whisky of two halves - initial notes of sweetness and fruitiness are then replaced by influential elements of malted cereals and gripping wood spices. Sweet candy notes (think of candy floss especially) mix with vanilla, custard, green apple and peach. Then comes a big hit of malt and wood spice - think of earthy barley, cinnamon cookies, pepper, cloves and charred oak. Hints of pineapple, morello cherry, prune and red chilli add further depth and complexity. With the addition of water, the whisky is softened. The palate becomes creamier with more sweetness coming through and also interesting strawberry and floral notes.

The finish is expressive, long and becomes increasingly dry and warming especially once the sweetness and begins to fade. Early toffee notes give way to powdered ginger and cinnamon, along with hints of mint and menthol.

What's the verdict?
The Glenmorangie Spìos is an intriguing whisky that is an interesting combination between Scotch and American whiskies. As mentioned earlier, it seems a whisky of two halves as a result. The sweet and fruity notes give way to the expected spice from the rye casks. It feels like it would be a great introduction to the flavours of rye whisky for a beginner.

The Private Edition series always offers an look at some of the innovation going on inside the walls of Glenmorangie. The use of unorthadox casks has created some exciting single malts and these include obscure red wine barrels, plus Marsala and now rye whiskey. What will be next for the 10th anniversary? Dr. Bill Lumsden certainly would not reveal that at the Spìos launch in London, so we will have to wait and see.


The London launch line-up - (left to right) Original, Nectar D'Or & Spios.
#GlenmorangieSpios


The Glen Scotia 18

Tasting notes:
On the nose, it’s Tim Burton’s candy shop: burnished cotton candy, durian sweets that capture the essence of the fruit before the bad smell erupts, marshmallow cream formed into adorable skeletons, and a meter-wide iridescent soap bubble fashioned from fine strands of simple syrup, then filled with gas that smells of lemon, detergent, and merino wool boxer shorts that had been previously worn by a bamboo scarecrow. There’s also a huge orange hung in the back of the shop like a harvest moon on the horizon, only it turns out that it’s not fresh, but rather from concentrate. After dark, an orange zombie emerges from it as if from loamy soil. It’s a wonderfully alchemical nose, shifting shapes and eluding easy description at every turn.

The mouth begins with wood, a gauntlet of frat paddles. Looks like we’re still in that candy shop. But it’s grassy, too, in a lighter way: perhaps it’s Oompa Loompa fescue left behind by the previous shop owners. The 12 month finish in Oloroso has imparted a syrupiness, and that Burtonesque darkness. We found pith in there as well, and while it’s tempting to think that’s the one place the mouth went wrong, one must remember that this is Tim Burton’s candy shop—and Tim really likes pith. Heading into the finish, the orange notes turn beefy, and the whole thing alternates between light and fiery.

Then the finish comes, and it’s hot: lemon orange magma, going down the vent rather than up. Heat fires off on the back of the palate. This finish is an after mouth after the after mouth. It’s like going to kiss someone, missing, then French kissing a see saw or some other old playground equipment. It’s an exhilarating ride, but it’s not easy to predict what you’ll get.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of crazy playground stories—
The Glen Scotia 18 is the triple dawg dare scene in A Christmas Story—Wonderfully familiar yet somehow still surprising, it’s memorable almost to the point of being iconic. Put on your leather fighter pilot hat and goggles: it’s a wild ride.

 

 

 
                                                                        –Stephen

 

 

 

–Our thanks to the Glen Scotia for the sample!

 

 

The Classic Cask Macallan 21 Year 1995

Tasting notes:
The Classic Cask Macallan 21 Year 1995 opens with crystallized honeycomb and crystallized lemon rind made into soap, then coated with caramel and extract of star anise. We got also fresh flannel bed linens, “slept” in only by a marzipan mannequin, left there by a so-called friend pranking you, hoping to shock you when you went to bed. I got also Aladdin and Princess Yasmine rolled up together in an Oriental carpet that was, unfortunately for them, not a flying carpet. (Fortunately, it was also a prank, and they weren’t being kidnapped.) It has the smell and luster of highly polished brass goddesses—it’s a luxurious nose, one that’s akin to the feeling of striding into a five-star hotel while dressed in a Valentino tuxedo. If you brought this whisky home to meet your parents, they’d embrace it and hope that you didn’t mess up this relationship, like that last one. (And the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that one, too.)

The mouth is creamy and lit by a muted-back bluelight, like a Miles Davis trumpet solo, circa 1959. It evokes a white tie affair in the 1920s long before the crash; really, what we’re saying in these different ways is that everything about this Macallan is elegant and iconic. The caramel—still there—and the marzipan—ditto—swirl in arabesques of impishness, jockeying at each moment to see which assumes the dominant position.

The finish is big, like you would feel while crawling through a tiny porthole on your escape to safety. Will you fit??? (Will that finish kick all the way down my throat?) Can you make it through??? (How orotund can this be? How much can it fill my gastrointestinal tract?) As the arms of the angels pull you through, you’ve left behind your old life, and what lies ahead is more than ever you’ve imagined.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale birthday presents–
The Classic Cask Macallan 21 Year 1995 is the one given to Michael Douglas by Sean Penn in David Fincher’s movie The Game–The gift is life-transforming; it entangles him in moments of the utmost refinement as well as the most louche; it takes him on a voyage of self-discovery via reflecting to him what he believes reality to be. And, although he’s characterized as one of the richest people in the world, the cost of his present is enough to elicit a “Whoa!” when he sees his half of the bill. Whoa! This is iconic.

 

 

 
                                                                             –Bill

 

 

 

–Our thanks to the Classic Cask and Spirit Imports for the sample!

 

 

Review - Kilchoman 2007 10 years old Single Sherry Cask

This new single cask bottling from the small independent Islay distillery of Kilchoman is the third to be released by leading retailer The Whisky Exchange. The cask in question is Cask #401, which was a first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt and has yielded just 599 bottles. It was selected by a team from The Whisky Exchange and it was filled with new spirit on 14 November 2007. Bottling took place just over 10 years later on 24 November 2017 and it is one of the oldest Kilchoman's to have been released to date.The single cask is bottled at the natural cask strength of 58.5% ABV and is of natural colour and non chill-filtered. Each will cost £125.

Kilchoman is one of Scotland's youngest and smallest whisky distilleries and is located on the famous whisky island of Islay. It is named after the local church parish and is new in whisky terms - the first spirit was produced in June 2005 and the first single malt was released in November 2009. Kilchoman is independently owned by the Kilchoman Distillery Company and has a production capacity of 100,000 litres a year. It has built up a healthy following of whisky drinkers and attracts over 10,000 people a year to its visitor centre.

The Kilchoman 2007 10 years old Single Sherry Cask is available exclusively via www.thewhiskyexchange.com.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose is bursting with expressive aromas - think of damp earth and moss, caramel and butterscotch. Then come further aromas of golden syrup, dried fruits, candied orange, heather honey and an increasingly influential floral soft peat smoke.

On the palate this whisky has an immediate peppery and spice-like quality, which is reminiscent of cracked pepper and red chilli. The floral and earthy smoke from the nose seems even more prominent and has a burnt cookie/oatcake quality to it. This is backed up by delicious notes of caramel, gingerbread, juicy dried fruits (especially raisins and sultanas) and candied citrus peel (orange and lime in particular). Further depth and complexity is added by a pinch of salt, plus hints of liquorice, mint, cinnamon and menthol.

With water the whisky softens, especially the peat smoke element, and the sweeter and fruitier notes are heightened. It holds together even with a lot of water and is arguably better with some added. The finish is long with the peat smoke, and an associated slight bitterness, lingering longest. A late hit of salted caramel rounds everything off.

What's the verdict?
This Kilchoman is superb and continues the high quality of The Whisky Exchange's exclusive releases. The combination of the ex-sherry cask, Kilchoman's peated spirit and the age of maturation is excellent and balanced. It shows how well the Islay distillery's whiskies are developing with increased time in the cask and the future is looking very good. A sublime whisky that sets the standards for 2018 very early.


The Ardbeg Supernova 2015 Edition

Tasting notes:
I’m taking a long walk up a short volcano.  My best crocodile bluchers sink into the still-soft lava and my charcoal suit is … getting extra charcoally.  This is a serious whisky for serious moments.  The nose is dragon tears whipped into a yogurt.  There are a few crumpled bills of devalued currency lifting the handle on a coal scuttle.  Then a corkscrew twisted deeply into a shiny purple calf’s liver.  Someone, I think to myself, is trying to send a message.

The mouth is super silky, sweet, and peaty.  It’s the base of clarified peat-essence bitters used to bake peat biscuits with morel gravy.  I could live in a bothy heated by this!  Or, come to think of it, an unheated bothy with several bottles of Supernova would do me just as well.  Oysters grilled over a Yule log, and then handed out to children who expected, you know, real gifts, but are so well raised that they say thank you and suppress their sullen faces.

On the finish, I come back to the delicious refinement that is question-beggingly described as “Ardbegian.”  What it lacks in complexity it makes up for in elegance.  Consider a benzene compound in comparison to a double helix.   It would be the baddest-ass penicillin of all time.  It’s like Amoxicillin, but it cures politically-transmitted strains of logorrhea.

 

 
Rating:

On the scale of men’s dress shoes–
The Ardbeg Supernova 2015 is wingtip bluchers–Not the dressiest footwear, by any means, but it will make a statement.  Just be aware that “the man who wears wing-tips more than weekly risks having them integrated into his reputation.”  

 

 

 

 
                                                                             –John

 

 

 

–Our thanks to David Blackmore and Ardbeg for the sample!

 

 

A Whisky Dream Realized (WhiskyCast Episode 678: January 28, 2018)

 

Three years ago, we introduced you to Graeme Macaloney, a Scottish-Canadian pharmaceutical engineer with a dream of making his own single malt whisky in British Columbia. Back then, he had the plans and the consultants, but not all of the money and more importantly, no site for his distillery. Happily, it all worked out, as Victoria Caledonian Distillery and the Twa Dogs Brewery opened in the autumn of 2016, and Graeme's laying down spirit for the future. We'll catch up with Graeme Macaloney and his master distiller, longtime Diageo veteran Mike Nicolson, on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, British Columbia's attorney general now acknowledges that the province's liquor laws may need updating in the wake of last week's raids on four Scotch Malt Whisky Society partner bars. We'll also get an update on plans for the new Holyrood Park Distillery in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, while the boom in whisky-related tourism keeps growing around the world.