You are here

Whiskey Wire

Whiskey news from around the world

Inbox / The Week's Whisky News (February 26, 2021)



Welcome to Inbox, our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our WFE email. 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 the news from this week ...

________

 
Benriach
Benriach has announced a limited edition single malt that celebrates the 50-year heritage of producing peated spirit at the innovative Speyside distillery - the Benriach Smoke Season. The small batch release showcases the peated spirit, which has been distilled for a short period each year since the early 1970s. The whisky has been created by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for Benriach, and features peated spirit matured in toasted virgin American oak casks and first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. It is the most intensely peated single malt ever released by the distillery.
 The Benriach Smoke Season is bottled at the cask strength of 52.8% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available in worldwide markets from early March and then the USA in June. A bottle will cost £53/ $75 US. 

"Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery calendar and this new addition gives the opportunity to discover the sweet and smoky character of Benriach from Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt."Dr. Rachel Barrie.




Bowmore
The iconic Islay distillery of Bowmore has announced the latest addition to their Timeless Series of rare single malts - the Bowmore Timeless 27 years old. The whisky has been matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for its first 15 years, before then being combined and matured for a further 12 years in first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butts. It has then been bottled at the natural cask strength of 52.7% ABV. The Bowmore Timeless 27 years old is presented in a distinctive hourglass-shaped black casket and will be available in selected global markets. There are just 3,000 bottles and each will cost £1,500/ $2,100 US. 
 
Compass Box
The independent whisky blenders of Compass Box have announced a new limited edition blended malt. The Menagerie is said 'to explore Scotch whisky's wilder side' and has been created by James Saxon, the lead whiskymaker at Compass Box. He has combined four single malts from the Highlands (Deanston distillery), Islay (Laphroaig) and Speyside (Glen Elgin and Mortlach) with a pocket of Compass Box's 'Highland Blended Malt'. The Menagerie is released at 46% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There are just 7,741 bottles and these will be available in selected global markets. A bottle will cost £90/ $125 US. 

"Scotch whisky has a huge variety of flavour profiles – when whiskymaking, we pay attention to those parcels that deviate slightly from the normal - ones that taste that little bit wilder than others. And it is these strange and beautiful creatures that we have brought together to create our Menagerie."James Saxon.


  
Get Social With Us
Follow us for regular whisky updates and activities throughout the week.



Mezcal Vago Elote

Mezcal Vago Elote 49.7% ABV $60 Website What the Distillery Says Each of our unique mezcals is naturally made in a traditional palenque with no additives. On the front label of each of our bottles, all the information is there about who made it, what pueblo, what agave, details in the process, size of batch …

Mezcal Vago Elote Read More »

The post Mezcal Vago Elote first appeared on Whisk(e)y Apostle: Proselytizing the way of the malt.

Allotment Drams / Mackmyra Reserve Cask (Visingsö Sunset) & Blue Spot 7 years old Cask Strength

We have two more episodes of our Allotment Dram video review series for you. First, we join Matt on a freezing cold day as he talks about the Swedish distillery of Mackmyra and their Reserve Cask programme that allows you to own a personal cask of whisky. Watch as he then samples the Visingsö Sunset, a special single Swedish oak cask whisky given to the first Reserve Cask owners in the UK.

On his next visit the weather has warmed up and Matt takes a look at the Blue Spot, the final piece of the jigsaw in the Spot Whiskey family from Irish Distillers. The whiskey, which was released back in November, carries a 7 year old age statement with each batch going to be bottled at cask strength. Watch as he talks about the range and then samples this newest addition, giving his thoughts and tasting notes.

To keep up-to-date with our latest videos and to watch other episodes of the Allotment Dram series, then please visit our YouTube channel and subscribe - click here.





 

#AllotmentDram

 

The M&H (Milk & Honey) Elements Sherry Cask

Tasting notes:
Sometimes sherry cask whiskies take time to open up.  You know it, I know it.  But sometimes it’s fun to just go after it and see what happens.  [Stephen: Said no one.  Ever.  Bill: The no-oneiest noones never even didn’t say it.  Stephen: What?  Bill: Um, right.  What you said.]  So without any further ado, I’m going to crack this thing open and…

Well, it opens with a prairie dog Dutch oven.  All of the vigilant squeaking they do when predators appear?  It’s just screams of “fire in the hole.”  This gives way to fetid oil on a pond in full algae bloom.  It’s the kind of algae bloom that is so robust you could sell it at 90% off in a Persian rug sale.  It’s the kind of algae bloom where the algae itself starts talking about how it’s too much, it’s just too much.  No sooner does the algae conversation begin to get heated and factions are formed, than we get fecal undertones struggling to become overtones.  Then [Stephen: There’s more?] it gets toady.  [Bill: Toady?].  But you know what?  The toadiness starts to win me over.  In time, long after I get stone fruit and the interior jam of three different kinds of purple Pop Tarts, wrapped up together like a toaster-heated breakfast Inception, a big part of me wants to go back to that toady eructation and study it and learn of its ways.    

The mouth is nothing short of redemption.  I’m anchored in safe harbor, or ensconced in a niche, and I look about to see Frog and Toad, together, as they address a matter of the heart with sincerity and directness.  It’s not a matter of the heart, actually, but their pitch of an REM keto cookbook and double album entitled, “What’s the piquancy, Kenneth?”  I’m captivated.  

The finish is the thrum of adult conversation after being sent to my childhood bed.  We didn’t have the acronym FOMO back then, but that fear was real.  Why were the adults getting to have all the fun when I could just be in the middle of it, in my pajamas, dazzled by the flashes of jewelry, the mirth and wit, the smells of cigarette smoke and perfume, and the sounds of contentment and satiety?  For you see, the finish is a mutation of our memory of the nose with the addition of almond paste, and sherried-soaked logs put into a roaring furnace.  Tannic lip smacks are all I hear now from my bed as I stare at my ceiling frowning up at a world that doesn’t care.

 
 

Rating:
On the scale of facts about REM and food–

The M&H (Milk & Honey) Elements Sherry Cask is the fact that Chef Alton Brown got his break working on the video for REM’s “Losing My Religion–We think the Milk & Honey Elements succeeds in bringing things together that you might not have put together until you tried ‘em.

 
 




 
 

                                                                                      —John

 
 




 
 

–Our thanks to ImpEx for the sample!

 


 

Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal

Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal 48.3% ABV $50 Website What the Distillery Says NOTE: Content is in Spanish, below is using Google Translate; apologies for any errors! The size of the maguey espadín is 1.5 m wide and 1 m high on average. It is the most used in Oaxaca for the production of mezcal. It …

Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal Read More »

The post Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal first appeared on Whisk(e)y Apostle: Proselytizing the way of the malt.

Review / The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished

 

The Moscatel Wine Cask Finished is the latest edition to the range of The One blended whiskies from The Lakes Distillery. The One is a series of whiskies, all of which use exactly the same blend that is then finished in different cask types. The blend has The Lakes single malt at its heart and also features single grain and single malt whiskies from the Highland, Islay and Speyside regions of Scotland. The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished has seen the blend matured for the final months in ex-Moscatel sweet wine barrels sourced from the Cádiz province of Andalucia in the south of Spain.

The Lakes Distillery is located near Bassenthwaite Lake in the north English county of Cumbria. It was founded by Paul Currie and a consortium of private investors. Production began in 2014 and current capacity is 240,000 litres of spirit per year. There are two copper pot whisky stills and another still for the production of gin. The distillery also has an award-winning visitor centre and has become one of the leading new attractions in the Lake District area. 

"Using an identical recipe each time enables us to showcase the impact of oak and cask seasoning on The One. The characteristics of Moscatel and American oak have trandformed the blend into a fresh and uplifting whisky." Dhavall Gandhi - Whiskymaker at The Lakes.

 The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished is bottled at 46.6% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available from Thursday February 25 at selected specialist whisky retailers and via www.lakesdistillery.com. A bottle will cost £48. Our tasting notes The colour is pale gold and the nose has a sweet, vibrant and floral feel to it. Aromas of heather honey, lemon blossom and jasmine lead the way along with some further aromas of vanilla and grapefruit peel. Underneath are subtle suggestions of green apple, brown sugar, warming baking spices and a hint of chalk.
On the palate this whisky has an immediate sweetness and seems to have lost its uplifting delicacy. This is confirmed as the sweetness combines with a smoky/peaty element that was not really detectable on the nose. The peat smoke has an earthy, mossy and bittersweet quality which beautifully brings out that note of grapefruit peel detected earlier. The sweetness has a sugary feel that is reminiscent of crumbly brown sugar and fresh honeycomb. These notes are accentuated by a big hit of sweet and malty cereal combined with plump juicy sultanas. With time, more subtle notes begin to appear - think of vanilla, crisp green apple, caramelised pear and a pinch of cinnamon. Late hints of candied lemon and lime, plus white chocolate and gingerbread complete the profile.
The finish is lingering and hot. The sweet elements fade first, followed by the green and citrus fruits. This leaves the increasingly influential peat smoke and the warming spices to fight it out, with a white peppery heat lasting longest.
What's the verdict?
The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished feels like a whisky of two halves. The nose gives off a wonderful fresh, sweet set of aromas that have subtley and delicacy entwined. It is enticing and makes you want to sample. Then when you do, you are presented with a seemingly different whisky - one which is still sweet but bigger and bolder with earthy peat smoke to the fore. It is not unpleasant but just unexpected as neither of us detected any suggestion of smoke on the nose.  This is a good whisky and well worth a try, especially given that there are not many out there that have any ex-Moscatel wine barrel influence. However, in our view it would become a great whisky if the two halves matched. Especially if it followed the same track as the fabulous nose.

Review / Midleton Very Rare 2021 Edition


This is the latest release by the super premium Irish whiskey brand of Midleton to its annual Very Rare series - the Midleton Very Rare 2021 Edition. It is the 38th bottling in the legendary series. The new edition marks the first to be created by Kevin O'Gorman who is only the third Master Distiller of the series since it first appeared in 1984 and follows Barry Crockett and Brian Nation. The 2021 Edition is made using old and rare single grain and single pot still whiskeys aged between15 and 36 years of age, including some distilled in 1984 as a homage to the origins of the series. All the whiskeys used have been matured in American oak, which is in keeping with previous editions of the Very Rare series. Midleton is currently produced in Co. Cork in southern Ireland at the Midleton distillery. This is owned by Irish Distillers, the Irish whiskey wing of Pernod Ricard, and produces a staggering 19 million litres of whiskey a year in the numerous styles needed for the Irish Distillers portfolio - this includes brands such as Jameson, Power's and Redbreast. Only a very small percentage of what is produced each year is set aside and eventually used for the Very Rare releases. 

"It is an amazing honour to be only the third guardian of this special whiskey. The legacy created by Barry Crockett and carried on by Brian Nation has become an annual ritual and each whiskey is very much of its time. I'm excited to hear people's thoughts on my 2021 version of Midleton Very Rare." Kevin O'Gorman. 

 The Midleton Very Rare 2021 Vintage is bottled at 40% ABV and will be available online and in world markets including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and the USA. A bottle will cost £156/ €180/ $220 US. Our tasting notes The colour is deep gold and the nose has an immediate elegance to it. Aromas of vanilla, coconut cream, palm sugar and butterscotch mingle with green apple and tropical fruit (think of ripe banana, nectarine and a hint of juicy apricot). Then come further aromas of warming spice (imagine cinnamon and gingerbread especially) and delicate florals - these made us think of rose water and orange blossom.
On the palate this whiskey has a creamy and almost viscous feel. Again, the vanilla and coconut-like notes rise first and these are joined by notes of honey, golden syrup and butterscotch. The coconut has a drier and more dessicated feel now, rather than the coconut cream as on the nose. Then comes bittersweet cereals and a distinct note of baked apple. These characteristics are supported by a hefty pinch of cocoa powder and dusty, warming spices - think of cinnamon, mace, clove and a hint of pink peppercorn. This warmth is accentuated by a further hint of gingerbread and almond biscuits.  The tropical fruit notes begin to develop, but this happens much later than on the nose. Dried pineapple, preserved lemon and caramelised banana lead the way with hints of peach, apricot jam and candied lime coming through also. There is a late chocolate-like bitterness with faint suggestions of roasted coffee and that rose water from the nose.
The finish is of decent length with the bittersweet cereals and dusty, warming spices gripping and holding on longest. The sweeter elements and the fruity characteristics, both green and tropicals, fade and leave these other notes to bloom. Both are accentuated by a very late suggestion of milk chocolate.

What's the verdict? This 38th version of the fabled Midleton Very Rare is a fine addition to the series. It is also a fine debut by new Master Distiller Kevin O'Gorman. Listening to him at the global media launch he explained that he wanted to create a whiskey that 'combines the best of distillation and the best of maturation'.  This Midleton Very Rare 2021 Edition has a lovely depth and complexity of aroma and flavour that sits alongside a wonderful elegance, finesse and balance. It cannot have been easy following in the big footsteps of his predecessors but he has made an excellent start.

A Solution to Japan's Whisky Conundrum

Japan's whiskies have been getting more attention on the world stage. While some "Japanese Whiskies" are rightly winning awards in major competitions, others with the same label are often Scotch or Canadian whiskies imported into Japan - where there's no legal definition for what is a "Japanese Whisky" and what isn't. Now, Japan's whisky makers are stepping in where the government has so far failed to act, creating an industry-wide definition requiring that whiskies labeled as "Japanese Whisky" must actually be distilled in Japan. We'll discuss the new standards with Makiyo Masa of Dekantā, one of the largest online retailers specializing in Japanese whiskies. In the news, Texas distillers are trying to thaw out after winter weather left many of them without utilities for the last week, while Brown-Forman plans to invest $95 million to expand its flagship distillery in Louisville. We'll have details on the week's new whiskies and look at the latest scientific research on terroir in whisky.

The Mortlach 21 Year Old 2020 Special Release

These are John’s scribblings on the label. They have to do with our sample management system. We’d explain, but it’s a long story…

Tasting notes:
The nose on the Mortlach 21 Year Old 2020 Special Release opens with a hybrid made by a CRISPR-oriented, eco-biochemist who wants to grow cherry orchards in the Australian Outback. Towards that, cherry-bearing tree genes were spliced into those of the Austrocylindropuntia exaltata, more commonly known as Eve’s Needle Cactus. A remarkable hybrid was achieved, but the scientist was confused on a key point: Eve’s Needle natural habitats are in Bolivia and Peru. Oops. As a result, there are notes of heathery fruitsicles, a teak and rosewood cheese board after the consumption of all the Vermont-based Jasper Hill’s Harbison Cheese, and the happy dreams of your 4yo grandchild. Mellow and inviting, we detect subtle rosemary, exuberant Sauzee Lady white peaches, and the smell of your firstborn’s fontanelle after their first bath. There’s also sofa upholstery recovering from the cask-aged limoncello spilled on it during the last salon held at your house before Solstice. (Yes, you invited both Wiccans and Lutherans, you ecumenical host!)

The mouth is a delicious deep dark pond in whose depths you see mermaids singing. And hear them swimming! (Synesthesia is sometimes a wonderful condition.) The Beast of Dufftown is not tamed by water; no, it is unleashed! Transfigured. More an entranced dragon released from its enchantment by eating a virgin, turning into a unicorn, than, well, an angrier dragon. We got scented teenagers in a Parisian—or was it Persian?—mall, walking about with the uncomplicated joy of being unconcerned about the future beyond the next weekend. No FOMO here, except the fear of missing out on the dram.

The finish is longer than a round trip jaunt to the moon and back…from JUPITER! Even at light speed, that’s going take you at least an hour. Butterscotch of the Gods. Caramel of the Angels. There’s wood, too, but it’s the zelkova maplewood headcradle hand-carved for you by a Japanese Living Treasure that you’re relaxing into after a day’s practice with your sensei, as you seek to move to the next level of your kendo training. On the finely calibrated dollars-to-deliciousness scale, the needle points to YUM! It’s a characteristic expression of the House of Mortlach, but one with Jackson Pollackesque drippings of manna from heaven, ennobling the backdrop as stars turn eternal void into the nighttime sky.

 
 

Rating:
On the scale of projects that confront human mortality, and poke it in the eye, laughing at it all the while–

The Mortlach 21 Year Old Special Release is the John Cage piece now known as Organ²/ASLSP–The tempo instruction was “As slow as possible.” The John Cage Organ Foundation in Halberstadt decided to take that literally, and peg the playing to the life expectancy of an organ, in this case, 639 years. Thus, in a medieval church, it has been playing since 2001. In September of 2020, it had its first chord change since 2013. A quintet of notes that sound for seven years? A piece that will finish in 2640? Mortlach and John Cage, ringing through the ages together!

 
 




 
 

                                                                                      —Bill

 
 




 
 

–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!

 


 

Inbox / The Week's Whisky News (February 19, 2021)



Welcome to Inbox, our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our WFE email. 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 the news from this week ...

________

 
Lakes
The Lakes Distillery has revealed the latest edition to its range of The One blended whiskies - The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished. The One features a series of whiskies, all of which have the same blend that is then finished in different cask types. The blend has The Lakes single malt at its heart and also features single grain and single malt whiskies from the Highland, Islay and Speyside regions of Scotland. The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished has seen this blend matured for the final months in ex-Moscatel sweet wine barrels sourced from the Cádiz province of Andalucia in the very south of Spain.  The One Moscatel Wine Cask Finished is bottled at 46.6% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It will be available from Thursday February 25 at selected specialist whisky retailers and vis www.lakesdistillery.com. A bottle will cost £48.

"Using an identical recipe each time enables us to showcase the impact of oak and cask seasoning on The One. The characteristics of Moscatel and American oak have trandformed the blend into a fresh and uplifting whisky."Dhavall Gandhi - Whiskymaker at The Lakes.


 Macallan 
The famous Speyside distillery of Macallan have announced a new collaboration with the artist Sir Peter Blake - The Anecdotes of Ages Collection. The collection has three facets and is the third time that the brand and Sir Peter Blake have collaborated with each other, having previously done so in 1986 and 2012. The Collection begins with 13 handblown bottles of Macallan 1967 vintage single malt, each with a unique label design by Sir Peter Blake.
The Anecdotes of Ages Collection : Down To Work sees the same 1967 vintage whisky bottled with a reproduction label and presented in a European oak casket with oak stopper and a leather bound book showcasing each artwork (pictured, above). There are just 322 bottles available worldwide at a natural cask strength of 46.7% ABV.  Each will cost £50,000/ $69,750 US.
The third part sees a specially created no age statement bottling released - The Anecdotes of Ages Collection : An Estate, A Community & A Distillery. This is presented in a blue and green cardboard box that houses the bottle, a certificate and a scroll featuring artwork by Sir Peter Blake. This is a limited edition bottled at 47.7% ABV, but exact numbers are not revealed in the press release. Each bottle will retail for £750/ $1,050 US. 
You are able to view all of the collaboration artworks by Sir Peter Blake via The Macallan Anecdotes of Ages Virtual Art Exhibition. To visit - click here
 MidletonThe super premium Irish whiskey brand of Midleton has announced details of its latest release to its annual Very Rare series - the Midleton Very Rare 2021 Vintage Edition. The new bottling marks the first to be created by Kevin O'Gorman who is only the third Master Distiller of the series since it first appeared in 1984 and follows Barry Crockett and Brian Nation. The 2021 Vintage Edition is made using old and rare single grain and single pot still whiskeys aged between15 and 36 years of age, including some distilled in 1984 as a homage to the series. All whiskeys are matured in American oak in keeping with previous editions of the series.  The Midleton Very Rare 2021 Vintage Edition is bottled at 40% ABV and will be available online and in world markets including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and the USA. A bottle will cost £156/ €180/ $220 US.

"It is an amazing honour to be only the third guardian of this special whiskey. The legacy created by Barry Crockett and carried on by Brian Nation has become an annual ritual and each whiskey is very much of its time. I'm excited to hear people's thoughts on my 2021 version of Midleton Very Rare."Kevin O'Gorman.


  
Get Social With Us
Follow us for regular whisky updates and activities throughout the week.



Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey 50% ABV $55-$60 Website What the Producer Says Uncle Nearest 1856 is a blend of premium aged whiskies between 8 and 14 years old. It has a caramel color with a beautiful deep golden hue. On the nose, baled hay and pumpkin seeds with subtle notes of ripe stone fruit …

Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey Read More »

The post Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey first appeared on Whisk(e)y Apostle: Proselytizing the way of the malt.

News / Japanese Whisky Laws To Change


Big things are about to happen within the Japanese whisky industry with the announcement this week of a change to the laws governing the labelling of products from Japan. These have been drawn up to tackle growing concern that the reputation and sales of Japanese whisky, both of which have grown rapidly over the last decade, could be irreparably harmed if not acted upon. The current loose regulations can mislead customers, with the newly announced ones offering more transparency so that consumers know what they are purchasing and drinking.

At the core of this is that many Japanese whiskies are not what they appear to be - ie : they may not actually be Japanese. Many brands actually include whiskies from other countries (such as America, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Scotland) alongside Japanese whisky in the blend. In some cases there can be no Japanese whisky present at all in a 'Japanese' blend. 

We have often spoken to people about this and explained, but they simply would not or could not believe us as they are looking at something that looks 'Japanese' in the way it is presented or marketed. In the current market, some brands are very transparent about the origins of what is included but others are not - this is not illegal but where the potential to mislead consumers and damage the reputation of Japanese whisky lays.

Therefore, the new requirements will see only products made in Japan to a specific set of criteria be allowed to name itself or allude to be 'Japanese whisky'. Anything else will have to be re-packaged to correctly show what the product is and origins of ingredients. In some cases, products may simply be discontinued by brand owners and disappear all together.

The new regulations are much more in line with other whisky producing nations, such as America and Scotland, that are heavily and strictly regulated by laws written long ago. The original Japanese 'laws' were written in the 1950s and have remained largely unchanged. These were more tax orientated rather than focussing on production methods, maturation, bottling and labelling. Similarly, the blending tradition of Japanese whisky is largely focused on flavour profiles rather than the origin of the contents.

So, from April 1st 2021 all members of JSLMA (Japanese Spirits & Liqueurs makers Association) will begin moving towards the standardisation of new labelling and transparency laws. In addition is the agreement to not allude to being Japanese through associated packaging, marketing, literature and naming. The deadline for completion of the transition programme is set as March 31, 2024.

A full legal list of details for these new changes can be seen on the JSLMA website here. From looking at these, here are the new regulations in a nutshell.

Ingredients 

  • Malted grain (wheat or corn in the case of single grain whisky and barley in the case of single malt) must be used. However, other cereal grains can also be included.
  • Water used within production must be extracted in Japan.

 Production 

  • Mashing/ saccharification, fermentation and distillation must all take place at a distillery in Japan. 
  • The spirit must be distilled to less than 95% ABV.
  • The spirit must be aged in Japan in wooden casks with a capacity of no more than 700 litres.
  • The minimum time for spirit maturation is three years. 

 Bottling/ Packaging

  • The spirit must be bottled in Japan. 
  • Bottling strength of the spirit must be at least 40% ABV. 
  • Use of plain caramel colouring (E150) is permitted.

 

Also, going forwards any labelling that could see a product be mistaken for one that satisfies the above list of requirements will therefore not be allowed and will be banned. These include other factors, but are not limited to, such criteria as the use of names of people or places (eg: cities, mountains or rivers) that evoke thoughts of Japan, the use of the Japanese flag or other associated japanese symbols and the use of a Japanese Era name (the traditional calendar system where each Era begins with the crowning of a new Emperor).

A very good move and interesting times for the Japanese whisky industry. It will be very interesting to follow the transition and see how things develop.

 


Review / Starward Left-Field


The Left-Field is the latest whisky released to the core single malt range of the Australian distillery Starward. The whisky combines their Australian single malt with the influence of Australian red wine barrels. Left-Field has been fully matured in French oak ex-Cabernet, ex-Pinot Noir and ex-Shiraz barrels sourced from wineries in the Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley wine regions. These have been aged seperately before being married together to create Left-Field. It joins two other single malts, the Nova and Solera, and a blend named Two-Fold in the current core range. These are supplimented by limited editions and collaborations on occassion.

Starward is produced at the New World Whisky Distillery and is located in the Melbourne suburb of Port Melbourne in the state of Victoria. It was founded by David Vitale in 2004 after a visit to a micro-distillery in Tasmania captured his imagination. The following years were used to construct the original distillery at Essendon Fields, close to Melbourne Airport, and production began in 2008. In 2016 the distillery was moved to the current site to enable a significant increase in capacity.  The tasting area and stills at Starward. Image © broadsheet.com.au
  The first release of Starward appeared in March 2013. All of Starward's whiskies are made using 100% Australian grown barley. The original aim of Vitale and Starward, which remains true to this day, was to introduce a younger vibrant crowd to whisky and to create a product that could be easily used by bartenders and mixologists. There are also a limited series of bottlings named New World Projects - these are innovative series of experiments to show the versatility of the spirits in different casks.  

"We felt it was important for us to create a flavourful but easy drinking and approachable whisky that talks of the place it is made. Very few whiskies can do this but we believe we have an opportunity with Left-Field - an Australian whisky matured in Australian wine barrels." David Vitale. 

 The Starward Left-Field is bottled at 40% ABV and is exclusive to selected European markets. A bottle will cost £35/ €40 each. In the UK, it is currently exclusive to supermarket Waitrose and this is where we purchased our bottle.

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep gold with a slight reddish tint and the nose has an interesting mix of sweet and fruity aromas. Aromas of toffee, golden syrup, caramel and marshmallow mingle with dried fruits (think of raisins and dark cherries in particular) and crisp red apple. Malted cereals and a good pinch of baking spices add depth and complexity.

On the palate this whisky has a lovely richness and it is the sweeter notes from the nose that hit first. Notes of toffee and syrup (more maple than golden now) kick things off and are quickly joined by further notes of marshmallow, icing sugar and a hint of cream soda. Hints of heather honey and crumbly brown sugar give plenty of depth to this sweetness. Then comes a wave of fruity characteristics - think of dried cherries, dried bitter orange peel and fresh red apple skins especially with hints of cranberry, raisin and Further complexity is added by pinches of cocoa powder and baking spices (especially cinnamon and all-spice). Late notes of walnut bitters and milk chocolate give a further layer of flavour.

The finish is long and generally soft, before becoming slightly hot and peppery right at the end. The sweet elements and then the fruity characeristics fade and this leaves the malted cereals from the nose and warming baking spices from the palate to become more prominent.

What's the verdict?

The Starward Left-Field is a revelation. It tastes older than it undoubtedly is (all Starward's are released at a relatively young age due to the Melbourne climate) and is sweet, juicy and very easy going. We imagine that it will be amazingly versatile, which is exactly how Starward design their whiskies. 

It is great neat and over ice with some freshly peeled orange zest (we have tried both so far) and imagine that it will mix very well within a cocktail - we are yet to try this. Left-Field offers plenty to the drinker and is a especially good considering the price point. We are certainly glad that we have invested in a bottle of our drinks cabinet.


Compass Box Myths & Legends III

Compass Box Myths & Legends III Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46% ABV $150 Website What the Blender Says Scotch whisky has a rich array of stories, myths and legends. However, what start as myths can become received wisdom, influencing our understanding and restricting our enjoyment. We have deployed blending to challenge assumptions, biases and prejudices …

Compass Box Myths & Legends III Read More »

The post Compass Box Myths & Legends III first appeared on Whisk(e)y Apostle: Proselytizing the way of the malt.

Allotment Drams / Sadler's Peaky Blinder Blended Irish Whiskey & Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 9

We have two more episodes of our Allotment Dram whisky review series for you. First, Matt goes Irish and blended as he talks about the Sadler's Blended Irish Whiskey from their Peaky Blinder range of spirits. Learn about the brand and then hear his thoughts and tasting notes about this budget dram.

Then for his next visit, which is on a freezing cold day, he takes a look at the brand new Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 9 - the latest release in the annual cult limited edition series from the east Highland single malt distillery. Find out details of this year's bottling, plus Matt's thoughts and tasting notes.

To keep up-to-date with our latest videos and to subscribe to our YouTube channel - click here.






#AllotmentDram

 

Another New Distillery for Islay

Scotland's legendary whisky island is getting yet another new distillery. Local officials have approved the plans for the new Elixir Distillers project just east of Port Ellen, making it the third new distillery to be built on Islay in the last five years and the 11th overall. Elixir Distillers co-founder Sukhinder Singh has been trying to get the project past the planning stage for nearly three years, and gives us his first interview on the distillery in this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. We'll also have reaction from one of the Islay groups that fought against the distillery over its potential impact on the island. In the news, an Australian distiller is in critical condition following a fire at a Tasmanian distillery this past week. We'll also have the latest Scotch Whisky export data that shows a really rough year for the industry with a double whammy from the Covid-19 pandemic and U.S. import tariffs, the week's new whiskies, and why the cocktail of choice for some distillers might just be an "enzyme cocktail."

Inbox / The Week's Whisky News (February 12, 2021)



Welcome to Inbox, our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our WFE email. 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. 

It has been a slowish start to 2021 but things are beginning to warm up. Here is the news from this week as the whisky industry begins to wake up a bit ...

________

  
Bruichladdich
The Islay distillery of Bruichladdich have announced a new expression in their cult Islay Barley series - the Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2012. The single malt is produced using barley grown on eight Islay farms in 2011, which was malted and distilled in 2012. The Islay Barley 2012 is unpeated and has been matured for a minimum of eight years in either first-fill ex-bourbon casks or ex-French red wine barrels, which were married together in a ratio of 75% to 25% respectively to create the final whisky. It is bottled at 50% ABV and will be available in selected markets worldwide and via www.bruichladdich.com. A bottle will cost £55/ $76 US. 

"The components at work in this whisky come together to tell the story of where this whisky is from. It speaks of its place with honesty and openness – Islay-grown barley, Islay distillation and Islay maturation. There is honesty and pride at the heart of this single malt."Adam Hannett - Head Distiller at Bruichladdich.




Dewar's
The popular blended Scotch brand of Dewar's, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, has released the third expression in its Cask Series range - the Dewar's Portuguese Smooth. The blend is bottled at 8 years old and has been finished in ex-Ruby Port casks sourced from the Douro Vally in Portugal. It joins the Illegal Smooth and Caribbean Smooth in the range, which have been finished in ex-Mezcal casks and ex-rum barrels respectively. The Dewar's Portuguese Smooth is exclusive to the USA and can be purchased from wine and spirit retailers in selected states. It is bottled at 40% ABV and will cost $22 US per bottle.
  

StarwardThe Australian distillery of Starward have released a new whisky to their core single malt range - the Left-Field. The whisky combines Starward's Australian single malt with the influence of Australian red wine barrels. Left-Field has been fully matured in French oak ex-Cabernet, ex-Pinot Noir and ex-Shiraz barrels sourced from wineries in the Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley wine regions. These have been aged seperately before being married together to create Left-Field. It is bottled at 40% ABV and is exclusive to slected European markets. A bottle will cost £35/ €40. In the UK, Left-Field is currently exclusive to supermarket Waitrose.
 

"We felt it was important for us to create a flavourful but easy drinking and approachable whisky that talks to the place it is made. Very few whiskies can do this but we believe we have an opportunity with an Australian whisky matured in Australian wine barrels."David Vitale - Founder of Starward.



Get Social With Us
Follow us for regular whisky updates and activities throughout the week.



Compass Box Myths & Legends II

Compass Box Myths & Legends II Single Malt Scotch Whisky 46% ABV $150 Website What the Blender Says Scotch whisky has a rich array of stories, myths and legends. However, what start as myths can become received wisdom, influencing our understanding and restricting our enjoyment. We have deployed blending to challenge assumptions, biases and prejudices …

Compass Box Myths & Legends II Read More »

The post Compass Box Myths & Legends II first appeared on Whisk(e)y Apostle: Proselytizing the way of the malt.

Review / Whisky Works Quartermaster 11 years old


The Quartermaster is a blended Scotch whisky that forms part of Whisky Works, an experimental range of whiskies that have been developed by Whyte & Mackay. This whisky features both single grain from the Highlands and two Speyside single malts. The grain whisky was matured in ex-rum casks before being finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, while one single malt was matured in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels and the other in ex-sherry butts. The minimum age of all the whiskies involved is 11 years and there are just 2,134 bottles created. Please note - this whisky was released in October 2019, but most major retailers are showing it as still in stock.

The Whisky Works project is overseen by Greg Glass, Whisky Maker at Whyte & Mackay. It is designed to take whiskies in an unorthadox direction and away from the traditional flavour profiles of their other whisky ranges. These include the famous Whyte & Mackay blend and the Dalmore, Fettercairn, Jura and Tamnavulin single malts. They also own the Invergordon grain distillery. This direction is achieved through the use of different spirits and casks of differing origins in combination. The range features this Quartermaster 11 years old alongside the blended malt King of Trees, The Speyside 20 years old single malt and The Glaswegian 29 years old single grain.

The Whisky Works Quartermaster 11 years old is bottled at 46.4% ABV and is non chill-filtered. As mentioned it remains available in selected specialist whisky retailers and will cost around £75/ $95 US per bottle.

Our tasting notes

The colour is golden yellow and the nose smells very promising indeed. Sweet aromas rise from the glass initially - think of golden syrup, brown sugar and a hint of treacle. Background aromas of fresh tropical fruit, especially pineapple and peach, are also present and supported by hints of vanilla, burnt orange and gingerbread plus pinches of cocoa powder and cinnamon.

On the palate this whisky has an instant sweetness and maltiness. Notes of honey and golden syrup mingle with robust and bittersweet cereals. Underneath are further notes of vanilla, coconut and butterscotch. This gives the whisky a creamy and soft feel. Some crumbly brown sugar elements aid this feeling. With time other notes develop - there are three distinct sets of fruity notes. First comes a fleeting green fruit characteristic most reminiscent of crisp fresh apple and pear, then the fresh tropicals from the nose (pineapple and peach again, plus a suggestion of mango). Finally there is a layer of juicy dried fruit - think of raisins, sultanas, dates and orange peel especially.  Hints of almond, milk chocolate, stem ginger and pinches of cinnamon and white pepper complete the profile.

The finish is a little on the short side, but flavoursome while it lasts. The sweet and fruity elements fade first and this leaves the robust cereals and those late nutty and spicy notes to come to the fore. Very pleasant and makes you want another sip.

What's the verdict? 

The Quartermaster 11 years old is a great introduction to the Whisky Works project and range. It is a traditional Scotch blend but mixes a number of unorthadox and regular cask maturations together, and to good effect. The result is a whisky that is full of aroma and flavour, and one that is very enjoyable. We now cannot wait to sample some of the other innovative whiskies in the range and see how the project develops. A delicious whisky and an interesting concept.


Glenmorangie 19 Year Old Finest Reserve (travel retail exclusive)

The nose bursts forth with classic leather and sandalwood–or maybe rosewood, but definitely not a leather sandal on Rose’s foot. But overall, the nose is softer than lamb’s ear ivy succulents on percale sheets on a memory foam bed. Still, there are notes of gooey caramel and anise seeds marinated in cologne (in Köln, of course) hiding in there, just beneath the surface. There are also notes of shavings from the black keys of Keith Jarrett’s piano added to pasta (appropriately enough, after The Köln Concert).  But then comes the creaminess and fruit: ghee drizzled over a melon-mango hybrid atop a layer of even more luscious fruit–fully ripened kiwi, cherries, and papaya–hiding underneath. It just gets richer and more delicious as time goes on.

The first note on the mouth is clear: marmot ceviche. And it’s delicious. There’s plum and leather and tobacco and flying squirrel wing feathers, all balanced beautifully. Then comes the fruit: it’s a fruit salad brought to a dinner party, but consisting of fruit you’ve never seen or tasted before. Are those Willy Wonka berries? It’s explosive and scintillating, like unicorn diarrhea–but in a good way.

The finish is extraordinarily long and is accompanied by a delicious mouthfeel. Dr. Bill is obviously getting tons of mood enhancers that he’s crushing into the mash. It provoked quips like “Wheeee!!!” and “That is a fine booty,” when it’s unclear if one is referring to treasure or the back end of the dram. [Bill: These were notes on the finish, but parse them however you like.]  The finish ends like a windsock named Icarus that floats up toward the sun, bowing and waving, but with no obsequiousness, just piquancy. 

 
 

Rating:
On the scale of Greek myth analogies–

The Glenmorangie 19 Year Old Finest Reserve is flying with the ambition of Icarus, but the good sense of Daedalus–Dr. Bill Lumsden aimed high here, but managed to hit the right level without going too high. Not enormously complex, especially for its age, but it is flat-out delicious.

 
 




 
 

                                                                                      —Stephen