Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 48.9% ABV $100 Website What the Blender Says: ‘Every great achievement is the victory of a Flaming Heart.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson Since we launched the Compass Box Whisky Company back in 2000, we have always aimed to experiment, to innovate and to explore where others wouldn’t … Continue reading Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary →
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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is not only an independent bottler of Scotch whiskies, but also the world's largest whisky club - and it's looking to grow under new ownership. The SMWS has worked out a major change with its US chapter, and a marketing firm has been brought in to help increase membership. We'll discuss that and other changes with the Society's Paul Skipworth and Kai Ivalo, along with Gabby Shayne of the SMWS US chapter. In the news, another Dickel distiller has left to join Popcorn Sutton in Tennessee...a Scottish politician wants Diageo to give the old Dallas Dhu distillery to the government, and the original home of Scotch whisky will soon be home to a distillery once again.
All three of us, in our own idiom, went “Wow!” upon lifting our snifter to sniff. Mine was exuberant; the syrupy sweetness symbiotically colonized my nasal linings, forming a more perfect union. John’s was a stiff upper nose “Well, wow,” tokening a patrician protest against the requisite proper visas and stanps; a wish to return to the open borders pre-9/11. He also found freshly changed gerbil bedding, because of course he did. Stephen’s was a “Wow, whoa?” as he wondered about the herb-y green sweetness and the forthrightful, forthcoming, appealing resemblance to Justin Trudeau’s nose. I also got oranges juggled by orangutans, because of course I did.
The mouth is a bit thin—a tin whistle, fife, and canteen being used as a snare drum at political rally for a 3rd party candidate. The rye brio is here, but it’s a PG-13 kind of rye; you wouldn’t take young kids or agéd grandmothers, but pretty much anyone else is fair game and likely to appreciate it: It’s a crowd-pleaser. A Guardians of the Galaxy of the whisk(e)y world, if you will.
The finish is long and reverberatory, like Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, except with fewer fatalities. There are some bitter rye bites along the way, and a roadster (1959 Porsche 356A Convertible) spinning gravel as it re-enters the highway. It’s the wedding toast at a ceremony to which the bride showed up 30 minutes late, scaring all in attendance—things are fine now, and they are rolling.
John’s was a stiff upper nose “Well, wow,” tokening a patrician protest against the requisite proper visas and stamps; a wish to return to the open borders pre-9/11. He also found freshly changed gerbil beddings, because of course he did.
On the scale of super-nice Best Actor Oscar Winners–
The Canadian Club 100% Rye is…may I please have the envelope?…Jimmy Stewart!–Tom Hanks was, of course, nominated. If we’d restricted the rating to Canadians who’d won an Oscar, it would most definitely have gone to Walter Huston, who picked up his for Best Supporting Actor in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Father of John Huston, grandfather of Anjelica Huston: I don’t think they can take on the Barrymores, but Hustons, we don’t have a problem with you!
–Our thanks to Beam Suntory for the sample!
This whisky is the first release of the new luxury Warehouse 6 Collection from Tomatin. The collection will feature a series of rare single casks from the maturing stock with the first being distilled in August 1971 and bottled in May 2016. The 44 years old has been matured in a single ex-Oloroso sherry hogshead cask, which has yielded just 252 bottles. The whisky is presented in a bespoke hand-blown crystal decanter made by Glencairn Crystal and sits in a varnished wooden plinth with gold metal trim alongside two crystal tumblers.
"We have spent decades perfecting this delicate spirit that reflects our dedication to producing whisky of exceptional quality."
Stephen Bremner - Sales Director at Tomatin.
The Tomatin distillery is located in the Highlands of Scotland, about half way between Aviemore and Inverness. It was founded in 1897 by a group of Inverness businessmen and was called Tomatin Spey. It only became Tomatin, the name of the local village, in 1907 and has kept that name ever since. Tomatin is currently owned by the Takara Shuzo Corporation, who purchased the distillery in 1986 after the previous ownership had been liquidated.
Tomatin is a large distillery with a current annual capacity of five million litres. Historically most of this has been produced for the blending market but in recent years Takara Shuzo have invested heavily in introducing and expanding a single malt range. This includes a number of Tomatin expressions plus the Cù Bòcan, a peaty version of Tomatin that is produced for just one week every year.
The Tomatin 1971 is bottled at the natural cask strength of 45.8% ABV and was launched in late June at a special event in London, which we attended. It will be available in selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide and will cost £2,500 a bottle.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep amber and the nose is packed with complex sweet and savoury aromas. Immediately there are aromas of caramel and old leather, followed by sweet toffee and coffee beans. Then come succulent dried fruits (think of raisins, sultanas and mango) plus hints of chocolate, marzipan and some background earthy ginger.
On the palate this whisky feels incredibly luxurious and velvety. It is soft and gentle but very expressive. There is an initial delicious mix of tropical fruit notes and deep earthy wood spices. These manifest themselves as dried pineapple and mango, caramelised banana, raisins, sultanas and a heady mix of clove, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Underneath is extra sweetness in the form of toffee and butterscotch, along with some milk chocolate and milky coffee. There is also a distinct damp and earthy element, plus a hint of walnut and almond.
The finish is long and lingering. The sweet and fruity notes slowly fade, while the earthy wood spices and late nutty characteristics hang around the longest. This gives the finish a lovely drying quality.
What's the verdict?
The Tomatin 1971 is a very classy whisky and is one of the better old whiskies that we have sampled. They can often be over woody and complicated but this has a good level of spiciness, sweetness and fruitiness. These are all well balanced and create a fine palate.
The rarity of this whisky makes us wonder whether people will buy this to drink, collect or for investment but it will be interesting to see what the further releases in the Warehouse 6 Collection will offer. We are delighted to have been able to sample it - it was delicious.
Loch Lomond’s Island Collection will be released in the U.S. The single malt whisky collection includes three bottlings: Inchmurrin 12 year old, 18 year old, and Madeira Wood Finish. Each is non-chill filtered and has an ABV of 46%. Retail pricing for the 12 year old is $85, $160 for the 18 year old, and $95 for Madeira Wood Finish.
Garryana is Westland distillery’s newest American single malt release. It is the first in their Native Oak series. According to the press release Garryana, “…features a component whiskey matured in Quercus garryana, a species of white oak unique to the Pacific Northwest.” Distribution of the 2,500 bottles begins today in the U.S. and select international markets. Garryana is bottled at 56% and priced at approximately $125.
The latest release of Kilchoman 100% Islay is set for distribution. It’s bottled at 50% ABV and has a MSRP of $105. According to the press release, “This, the 6th edition of the annually released limited edition, is a vatting of fresh and refill ex-Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels filled in 2010 and bottled in 2016. This latest edition will be the most mature 100% Islay to have been released to date. Produced exclusively from barley grown at the distillery, the 100% Islay range has a lighter peating level compared to the rest of the Kilchoman range, creating a uniquely fresh and distinct style of Islay single malt.”
The wait is almost over folks...
Tomorrow (Thursday 31st March) sees the release of The Trojan- our first whisky from the Exile Casks project that we've been working on.
The Trojan was distilled on 19th June 1990, and filled into cask 3110. It's been maturing for 25 years now and its finally ready for the world to taste!
To get your hands on The Trojan, which is bottled at 57.1% and available in 306 limited edition 50cl bottles, priced at £65, visit www.exilecasks.com The whisky is only available from there and we envisage it to go on sale around 1pm UK time tomorrow.
Until then- here's a nice picture of the bottle!!
Discover. Liberate. Enjoy.
Joel & Neil x
There is always a good deal of chatter when Jim Murray releases his awards list ahead of the release of a new edition of his bible, surely the sometimes controversial choices he makes are no promotional accident...
Some of the best whiskies I was fortunate enough to taste in 2014 were from Japan, and I would agree that the Yamazaki Sherry Cask is a stunning whisky from one of the world’s greatest malt whisky-producing countries, but the Daily Mail’s (expected) sensational headline and Mr. Murray’s statements strike me as remarkably unfounded. That Scotch whisky has something to be “humiliated” about, that a perceived lack of innovation has hindered Scotch producers is near nonsense.
Scotch whisky is celebrated and esteemed as much for its diversity of flavour as for its adherence to traditional craftsmanship over its lengthy history but recent years have seen these traditions used in new ways, with innovation from barley to barrel to bottle across the industry, albeit within parameters. Interestingly, many of these innovations have been in turn praised and criticised by Mr. Murray over the past two decades, from 1994s praise of finishing to his 2008 critique of the practice.
Japanese whisky was founded on the traditions of Scotch whisky making over 90 years ago, and it could possibly be argued that Japan adheres even more to the traditional methods (wooden washbacks, direct firing stills, etc) than the average malt distillery in Scotland so I do question Murray’s implied praise of generalised Japanese “innovation” over just making really good whisky that he liked.
Since the mid-1980s, when the world saw its first Single Malt from Japan, Japanese whiskies have attracted acclaim. Since 2008, Japanese blends and malts have won major titles, most notably from the World Whisky Awards. This is not to say that Scotch has stoppedwinning these awards or top acclaim from writers, including Murray. Although Scotch has, until now, won his highest accolade in all but one edition of his bible, Murray has awarded more American whiskies in recent years than Japanese. It is no news that America and Japan make excellent whiskies. Not a great headline, though, and tough to sell newspapers or magazines with a headline like that, "Whiskies Being Made to High Standard Outside Scotland"
The assumption from Murray’s statements is that Japanese whisky has an edge on Scotch because of a stronger vision or wilder innovation; innovations like the highball campaign? No Age Statements? Local barley or local oak? There are precedents in Scotch in every case. So in what way is Japanese whisky’s success due to innovations that Scotch lacks? Zero. It is due to releasing top quality malt whiskies. To infer that this precludes the ongoing (and much longer-running) success of Scotch whisky is balderdash, but a great reminder that Jim Murray’s latest book is about to be released!
Finally, in case it has not been mentioned, Jim has a new book coming out next week.
Unfortunately I let the URL www.thescotchblog.com go…
Worse someone registered it – and worse yet – his name is (or he calls himself ) “Kevin”.
I hope that no one thinks that Kevin is me – or that The Scotch Blog is related in anyway to this The Scotch Blog.
Big thanks to the folks at Deep Focus, a social media agency working with The Glenlivet, for sending me a free sample of the new Glenlivet Alpha expression that has only 3350 bottles shipping worldwide (not sure how many are coming to the U.S.). Especially since I’ve been flying under the whisky radar this past year (I’ll post more on that later). I haven’t checked out all of the marketing details, but apparently there is going to be a big “reveal” for Alpha in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and post some thoughts on the whisky while it is still something of a mystery (the box only states that it is a Single Malt bottled at 50% abv). The U.S. retail price is $120.
On the nose, my first impression is of cinnamon apples. Then vanilla custard, and finally some fresh wood shavings. Then back to the fruit, of the apples and pears variety. Looking online now at other reviews, I see people talking about lots of tropical fruits. Personally, that’s not the way I respond to this. It doesn’t strike me as tropical in the same way as something like Glenmorangie 18 year. But of course, this is all subjective.
On the palette, it starts out mouth-watering and juicy, sweet, then very slightly prickly on the tongue. There is a point where it becomes slightly nutty, and just as I start to expect a slight walnut bitterness, it pulls back. Very nice. It’s smooth as silk…almost buttery going down. It then becomes drying on the finish, before my mouth waters up again. A very enjoyable, if not particularly long, experience.
The Glenlivet Alpha is an extremely drinkable expression that would be great for sharing with all levels of whisky drinkers. It strikes me as a Special Edition release of their Nadurra expression. The overall flavor profile (especially on the nose) is quite similar. However, the Alpha has an extra silky smoothness to it relative to Nadurra, in the same way the 17 year finished Balvenie expressions relate to the 15 year single barrel. Though, I don’t detect anything resembling the typical “finishing” casks of sherry or wine in Alpha.
So what is it?
If this is a game, and we’re supposed to guess what the heck is in this black Alpha bottle, I’d have to guess a combination of first-fill and second-fill American White Oak bourbon barrels were used to mature the spirit. There is no sign of coloring or chill filtration (like Nadurra). Age? That’s a hard one. Is the extra buttery smoothness in the mouth over the Nadurra due to age, or is it related to the type of casks used? Not sure. I could believe a number of scenarios: 1) It’s a year or two older than the 16 year Nadurra. 2) They use a combination of refill casks and smaller quarter casks to give the impression of extra maturity, while keeping the oak in check, or 3) this is just the result of very carefully selected casks by the master distiller.
Did I really enjoy this whisky? Yes. Am I going to seek out a bottle? No. Do I think you’re an idiot if you do? No.
I really like this whisky, but for me, the 16 year Nadurra (at $50/bottle locally) is close enough in profile to keep me satisfied. On the other hand, I have no immediate issues with the price of Alpha. They are saying that it was “carefully crafted” by the master distiller, and it is a limited release of 3,350 bottles. It’s not going to be for everybody, but then, the limited run kind of takes care of that.
I’ve seen much higher prices asked for “carefully selected” expressions…how about the Diageo Manager’s Choice a few years ago? Talk about crazy pricing. These things work themselves out, though. A bunch of those Manager’s Choice bottles can still be had at 40% discounts online. So far, The Glenlivet Alpha is selling out quickly. The UK allocation disappeared immediately. If, upon commencing with their “reveal” on Facebook later this week, people are outraged by what they hear, then I’d expect that feedback to influence future releases.
If they keep their main line whiskies priced reasonably, and of high quality, what’s the harm in experimenting with various boutique releases aimed at smaller segments of the market? I look forward to learning more about the story behind The Glenlivet Alpha.
Things are changing here at Whisky Party! We’re about to roll out a new design and switch to a new blog platform.
This is all happening on Monday February 20th!
If you’d like to continue reading Whisky Party in your RSS reader, you’ll have to update to the feed URL in your feed reader:
For a sneak peak at the new sight, you can check out our staging version here.
The Ca Scotch Couple firmly believe in living below their means. They shop at consignment stores, sock away the max for retirement, and adhere to a strict 25% debt to equity ratio. Consequently, the CA Scotch Couple's move to paradise in 2004 couldn't have come at a worse time. It was at the height of the real estate boom; the only houses even remotely within the CA Scotch Couple's price range were shacks, and even those shacks had multiple bidders.
So, it is no surprise that the beloved Little Beach House was one such shack: a circa 1913, 700 square foot single wall construction edifice with outdated wiring, inadequate plumbing, precipitously sloping floors, and a hole in its roof. The CA Scotch Couple spent many (many many many) years making the Little Beach House habitable. Unfortunately, no matter what they did, there was no escaping the reality that even with its new wiring, plumbing, and roof, the Little Beach House was a shack.
So, when the real estate bust hit San Diego hard, the CA Scotch Couple decided to see if they could trade their shack for something a little more spacious. They took a financial bath on the Little Beach House, and set out on their house hunting adventures with three goals for the new home: it needed to have lost at least as much value as the Little Beach House had, it needed to be more spacious than the Little Beach House; and it couldn't be a project.
One of the first properties the CA Scotch Couple viewed was a lovely old mixed use loft conversion in a slightly dodgy area. This 1933 grand dame had started its life as an old fashioned car dealership/garage and had then become an artist's studio and residence. It had magnificent arching barrel ceilings, open architecture, exposed terra cotta masonry, and concrete floors. It also wasn't up to earthquake code, had a leaking roof, had been stripped of plumbing, appliances and countertops, and, worst of all, had birds nesting in it. It was a whopping 2700 square feet, but man, oh man, it was project. CA Scotch Chick dubbed it "the Bird Sanctuary," and the CA Scotch Couple swiftly walked the other way.
But the CA Scotch Couple kept their miserly eyes on the Bird Sanctuary, and within a few months, market forces had driven it down to the price that the CA Scotch Couple had paid for the Little Beach House in 2004. Project or not, the CA Scotch Couple simply couldn't resist. It was a remarkable space, and it was worth the pain to make it beautiful again. They made an offer.
For seven months, long before the accident and throughout the CA Scotch Couple's recovery, they fought their way through the tortuous short sale and then foreclosure process. They managed to buy the Bird Sanctuary from the bank on the final day of 2009, immediately moved in, and endured endless months of living under plastic sheets with construction chaos ringing around them.
On the day they finally closed on the Bird Sanctuary, CA Scotch Gent sat CA Scotch Chick down and asked for two favors. First, could they please, please, please, set a goal of having the renovations done by the end of summer? No more projects stretching for years. Secondly, could they please, please, please, stop calling it the Bird Sanctuary?
They set a goal of August 31st as the drop dead date for finishing the renovation, and they scheduled a party to make sure they met that goal. Then they cast around for a more suitable name — finally deciding on "Studio A" in honor of the sign over its door.
It was a long hard nine months, complicated by the CA Scotch Couple's recovery from their injuries and those all encompassing work schedules. However, on August 31st, a mere three hours before their party, the CA Scotch Couple finally removed the last of the plastic, pushed the furniture into place, and claimed Studio A as their own.
It was well worth the effort. Studio A is now up to code; the birds have been evicted; it has been scrubbed from top to bottom; and it is now equipped with new bathrooms, appliances, countertops, skylights, and roof. Gentle light filters into its spacious and gracious interior giving the CA Scotch Couple the impression that they are stepping into a magnificent cavern whenever they return at the end of the day — the perfect refuge for a pair of recluses. It has been an extremely long tough year, but the CA Scotch Couple are finally home.