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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


Jameson
The best selling Irish whiskey brand of Jameson has announced a new expression that will be exclsuive to the travel retail sector - the Jameson Triple Triple. The name of the new whiskey refers to the fact that Jameson spirit is triple distilled and that this release features three different cask types for maturation - ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and ex-Malaga fortified wine casks. Triple Triple is bottled at 40% ABV and will be available in airports globally. A one litre bottle will cost €32.

"At Jameson we know that good things come in threes. Triple Triple is no exception to this rule. Our triple ditilled pot still and grain whiskeys have been further enhanced through triple cask maturation to create an exciting new taste experience."
Billy Leighton - Master Blender of Jameson.


Johnnie Walker

The leading Scotch whisky brand of Johnnie Walker has released four new expressions of its popular Black Label to highlight the four whisky production regions of Scotland - the Highlands, Islay, Lowlands and Speyside. Each is produced using only whiskies from that specified region and show a 12 years old age statement. They will be exclusive to the global travel retail sector and have been created to tie in with Diageo's 'Four Corners of Scotland' campaign.

The Black Label Highlands Origin has the single malts of Clynelish and Teaninich at its core, while the Islay Origin features the peaty Lagavulin and Caol Ila. The Lowlands Origin contains whiskies from Cameronbridge and Glenkinchie, and the Speyside Origin heavily features malts from Cardhu and Glendullan. All are blended malts, with the exception of the Lowlands Origin which is a traditional blend. Each will retail for £37/ $46 US.



Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond Whiskies, the official spirit of The Open golf tournament, have announced the release of their first ever triple cask matured single malt - the Loch Lomond 25 years old Three Wood Matured. The whisky pays homage to Loch Lomond's golf ambassador Colin Montgomerie, who helped secure the 1997 Ryder Cup with a legendary shot using a three wood club. The limited edition malt has been matured predominantly in re-fill American oak ex-bourbon casks before six month finishing periods in either first-fill Limousin oak or ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

The Loch Lomond 25 years old Triple Wood Matured is bottled at 46.3% ABV and is presented in a black and red gift case that celebrates Montgomerie's golfing achievements. It will be available globally and will cost £250/ $315 US. No indication of the number of bottles was given in the press release.



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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


BenRiach


The quirky Speyside distillery of BenRiach has released details of the latest batch of its annual single cask bottlings. The BenRiach Cask Bottlings Batch 16 contains a staggering 24 single casks with allocations split - 12 single casks are for the UK and Europe with another 12 going to Asia, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

All casks have been selected by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for BenRiach, and are designed to show the eclectic selection of unorthodox casks maturing at the distillery. 16 of the casks contain the classic BenRiach spirit and eight contain their rarer peated spirit. Prices range from £55/ $70 US to £595/ $755 US. Details of the bottlings are listed below.

Europe & UK
  • Distilled 1985/ Cask #7214/ 48.1% ABV/ 33 years old/ ex-virgin oak cask
  • Distilled 1991/ Cask #1865/ 50.3% ABV/ 27 years old/ ex-rum cask
  • Distilled 1993/ Cask #7881/ 54.3% ABV/ 25 years old/ ex-Rioja wine cask
  • Distilled 1994/ Cask #6500/ 51.8% ABV/ 24 years old/ ex-Marsala cask
  • Distilled 2005/ Cask #3791/ 55.3% ABV/ 14 years old/ ex-Port pipe
  • Distilled 2005/ Cask #3435/ 55% ABV/ 13 years old/ ex-rum cask
  • Distilled 2007/ Cask #7611/ 59.5% ABV/ 12 years old/ ex-rum cask
  • Distilled 2008/ Cask #2506/ 59.4% ABV/ 11 years old/ ex-bourbon cask
  • Distilled 2007/ Cask #3237/ 61.2% ABV/ 11 years old/ ex-Oloroso sherry cask
  • Distilled 2008/ Cask #3085/ 61.6% ABV/ 10 years old/ ex-Oloroso sherry cask
  • Distilled 2009/ Cask #6095/ 58.5% ABV/ nine years old/ ex-virgin oak cask
  • Distilled 2012/ Cask #7825/ 61.2% ABV/ seven years old/ ex-virgin oak cask

Asia, Australia, Canada & New Zealand
  • Distilled 1988/ Cask #4422/ 46.5% ABV/ 30 years old/ ex-Tokaji wine cask 
  • Distilled 1991/ Cask #1850/ 53.9% ABV/ 27 years old/ ex-Madeira cask 
  • Distilled 1993/ Cask #7944/ 53.1% ABV/ 25 years old/ ex-Claret wine cask 
  • Distilled 1994/ Cask #7379/ 54.5% ABV/ 24 years old/ ex-bourbon cask 
  • Distilled 1995/ Cask #7385/ 51.7% ABV/ 21 years old/ ex-virgin oak cask 
  • Distilled 1997/ Cask #7858/ 51.9% ABV/ 21 years old/ ex-virgin oak cask 
  • Distilled 1997/ Cask #4438/ 54.1% ABV/ 21 years old/ ex-Marsala cask 
  • Distilled 2005/ Cask #6924/ 56.2% ABV/ 13 years old/ ex-Pedro Ximénez sherry cask 
  • Distilled 2005/ Cask #6704/ 57.5% ABV/ 13 years old/ ex-Port pipe
  • Distilled 2006/ Cask #1853/ 55.2% ABV/ 12 years old/ ex-Sauternes cask 
  • Distilled 2008/ Cask #7865/ 59% ABV/ 10 years old/ ex-Adoro cask 
  • Distilled 2009/ Cask #1647/ 59% ABV/ 10 years old/ ex-Madeira cask


Douglas Laing & Co.


The family-owned independent bottler and blender of Douglas Laing have had a busy week with three new releases announced. The first two are additions to their rebranded Rock Island (formerly Rock Oyster) blended malt range in the form of a permanent 10 years old expression and a limited edition 21 years old.

As with all whiskies released under the Rock Island name, the blended malt only contains single malts from Scottish island-based distilleries. These are predominantly from Arran, Islay, Jura and Orkney. Both whiskies are of natural colour and non chill-filtered. No indictation of ABV was given in the press release. The Rock Island 10 years old will retail for £45 and the 21 years old, of which there are just 4200 bottles, will retail at £89. Both will be available from selected specialist whisky retailers.

The third release sees a special limited edition of their popular Scallywag blended malt to celebrate World Chocolate Day on July 7. The Scallywag Chocolate Edition #2 features whiskies distilled in 2009 and then bottled at 10 years of age. These have been matured in Spanish oak ex-sherry butts and released at 48% ABV with natural colour and no chill-filtration. Only 500 bottles are available and they will be sold exclusively on www.douglaslaing.com from 11am on Sunday, July 7. No indication of price was given in the press release.


GlenAllachie


The increasingly popular Speyside distillery of GlenAllachie has revealed the first three whiskies in a new limited edition series of single malts named the Wood Finish series. The new series is designed to highlight the wood management skills of Billy Walker, the Master Distiller and owner of GlenAllachie, who selected all of the casks used for the finishing periods. All three whiskies were initially matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks before being transferred for differing periods of finishing.

The Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish is bottled at 8 years of age and has seen a finishing period in small quarter casks that have previously held organic rye whiskey made by the Koval distillery in Chicago. The Port Wood Finish is 10 years old and has seen a final maturation in large ex-Port pipes sourced from Portugal. The Pedro Ximenez Wood Finish is 12 years old and has been finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez puncheons. No details of ABV were given in the press release.

All three new GlenAllachies will be available globally via specialist retailers. The Rye and Port Wood Finishes will cost £55/ $70 US and the Pedro Ximenez Wood Finish will cost £59/ $75.


Talisker


The distillery from the isle of Skye has announced the second bottling in its extremely rare Bodega Series - the Talisker Bodega Series 41 years old. The whisky was distilled and filled to cask in 1978 and is the oldest ever single malt released by the brand in its history. It has been finished in just six ex-Manzanilla sherry casks from famed bodega Delgado Zuleta, the oldest sherry producer in the famed Sherry Triangle, under the watchful eye of Master Blender Dr. Craig Watson.

The Talisker Bodega Series 41 years old is bottled at 50.7% ABV and there are only 2000 bottles available. These will be on sale from August through selected specialist whisky stores and luxury retailers. Each bottle will retail for £2900/ $3640 US/ €3230.



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The Scarabus is a new Islay single malt that has been recently released by the family owned independent bottling company and distiller of Hunter Laing & Co. The new whisky, which is an old Nordic word for 'rocky place', was initially previewed at the company's Ardnahoe distillery on Islay during the Feis Ile 2019 in May. The whisky, which comes from an un-named Islay distillery, is bottled at 46% ABV. Scarabus is available to buy and sample at the Ardnahoe visitor centre shop and selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide. A bottle will cost around £33.

Hunter Laing & Co. was founded in 2013 by Stewart Laing, who has been working in the whisky industry for 55 years. This was mostly in his father Frederick's independent bottling and blending business, which he started in 1949 and which Stewart joined in 1964. Hunter Laing also has a third generation of Laings in the form of Stewart's sons, Andrew and Scott, and brands include single cask bottlings under the Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare Platinum amongst others.

"We are extremely proud of the Scarabus whisky and the Feis Ile Festival was the perfect place to release the first bottling. We aimed to produce an expression that showcases a traditional Islay whisky style."
Stewart Laing - Managing Director at Hunter Laing & Co.


Our tasting notes
The colour is pale golden yellow and the nose is packed with classic Islay whisky aromas - earthy and sweet peat smoke, bonfire ash, dried seaweed and coal tar soap. Underneath are further aromas of vanilla, honey and toasted oak with a hint of baking spices (think of cinnamon and all-spice especially) and white pepper.

On the palate this whisky has an immediate vibrancy and it is the sweet peat smoke that hits first. This has a warming and slightly feisty edge with a distinct peppery, almost green chilli, note prominent. This note is complimented by some lovely honey and vanilla characteristics, along with hints od golden syrup and dried apple. The smoke evolves to be more savoury with time - the dried seaweed and ash from the nose overtake the sweetness to give this impression. Late notes of warming wood spices, malted biscuits, something reminiscent of chamois leather and dried cigar leaf add pleasant depth, complexity and interest.

The finish is long and balanced. The sweet peat smoke lingers longest and turns slightly drier and ashy with time, before that green chilli reappears at the very end. The sweet honey and vanilla notes also last well.

What's the verdict?
This is a lovely new whisky from Hunter Laing & Co. They have delivered everything that you would expect from an Islay whisky and at a very good price. £33 a bottle seems a steal to be honest.

Scarabus is clearly on the young side, which also helps to keep the price down, but has plenty of balance and complexity. This is an impressive single malt and a bit of a bargain given the quality. If you like smoky/peaty whiskies then you should definitely search this one out.
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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


Balcones
The multi-award winning Texan whisky distillery of Balcones has teamed up with That Boutique-y Whisky Company to release four special single cask whiskies.

The first three are out now and are all single malts - Batch 1 is matured in an ex-Balcones Brimstone cask, Batch 2 has been matured for 24 months in an ex-tequila barrel and Batch 3 has been finished in an ex-Oloroso sherry cask. Batch 4 will be released in the Autumn and will be 100% Texan blue corn spirit that has been finished in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Each batch is priced at £69.95 per bottle and can be purchased from www.masterofmalt.com.

"These four whiskies are a nod to our passion for exploration and testing the waters of what is possible. We wanted to share single casks that showcase some of our fun experiments and finishes, alongside the versatility of our blue corn spirit, which we've not release in sherry casks before."
Jared Himstedt - Head Distiller at Balcones.



Glenlivet
The popular Speyside distillery of Glenlivet has announced its second 'mystery' single malt that reveals no cask details or tasting notes - the Glenlivet Enigma. This new release follows on from the Glenlivet Code last year, which similarly revealed no details until some time afterwards. Enigma's information will be divulged later in 2019. The price, distribution, actual number of bottles and alcohol strength were also not given in the press release. Consumers can unlock clues via a specially created crossword puzzle. To do this, please visit www.theglenlivetenigma.com.



Wemyss Malts


The family owned whisky bottler of Wemyss Malts has announced two new additions to its Family Collection range - Flaming Feast and Blooming Gorse. The whiskies involved were sourced and filled to casks selected by Isabella Wemyss and then selected for blending by whisky writer Charles Maclean. Both are bottled at 46% ABV and are non chill-filtered and of natural colour.

The Flaming Feast is a combination of just two smoky single malts - one from the east Highlands and one from the Inner Hebrides. These have been matured in a combination of first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and de-char/re-char American oak casks. There are just 6,000 bottles in the releases and each will cost £48.

The Blooming Gorse is a combination of just 15 casks from two Highland single malt distilleries. These are a mix of first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads. There are 6,900 bottles available and these will cost £46 each. Both new whiskies, which join Vanilla Burst and Treacle Chest in the range, will be available in selected markets including Asia, Europe and the UK.



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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


Glenfiddich


William Grant & Sons have announced a major rebranding of the core range from the Glenfiddich distillery. The world's leading Scotch single malt brand will see new packaging for its best selling 12 years old expression, renamed Our Original Twelve, and the multi-award winning 15 years old, which renamed as Our Solera Fifteen. These will be joined by a rebranded 18 years old in 2020.

The new packaging highlights the distillery's location in Speyside with a prominent V on the bottle and tube representing the valley in which it sits. The famous stag logo is embossed in gold, referring to Glenfiddich name that translates as 'the valley of the deer' from Gaelic. Founder William Grant, who built the distillery himself by hand, has his signature on the neck. The liquids are to remain the same.



Glenmorangie
The north Highland distillery of Glenmorangie has announced a single cask limited edition that will only be available at its visitor centre shop in Tain. The Glenmorangie Cask 1784 is bottled at 16 years of age, 10 years of which were in an ex-bourbon cask before being transferred to an ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry butt for six years. This butt has yielded just 636 bottles and was selected by Dr. Bill Lumsden - the Director of Whisky Creation, Distilling & Whisky Stocks at Glenmorangie.

Cask 1784 is the first of four special single malts that will be released for distillery visitors to celebrate Glenmorangie's 175th anniversary. It is bottled at its natural cask strength of 55% ABV and each bottle will cost £650, while stocks last.

"We rarely release distillery exclusive whiskies like Cask 1784. I hope this intensely sweet and surprisingly rich Glenmorangie will give visitors a particularly special reason to make the journey to our distillery this Summer, and discover our exceptional whisky creation."
Dr. Bill Lumsden.


Glen Scotia
The Campbeltown distillery of Glen Scotia has announced details of its special limited edition bottling for this year's Campbeltown Malt Festival, which took place at the end of May. The Rum Cask Finish was distilled in 2003 and has experienced a period of finishing in an ex-rum cask. The peated malt has been bottled at its natural cask strength of 51.3% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.

There are just 9,500 bottles released and these will be available via selected specialist retailers worldwide. No details of price were given in the press release. For more information, please visit www.glenscotia.com.

"Our new rum cask single malt offers something very special, bringing together the maritime influences associated with Campbeltown and the sweet, tropical notes of rum – another sea-faring spirit."
Iain McAlister - Distillery Manager at Glen Scotia.


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by Billy Abbott of Spirited Matters and The Whisky Exchange blog.




Glenglassaugh is a Highland distillery which has, over the past decade, occasionally offered casks for sale. This bottling is one of those, selected by Matt and Karen, purveyors of this very blog. They very kindly forced me to take/gave me a sample and asked if I would like to write about it. I, of course, accepted.

While it was founded in 1875, the distilling history of Glenglassaugh is surprisingly short. In 1907, after just 32 years of operation, it was at first mothballed, and then operated intermittently for another 53 years. In 1960, it was completely rebuilt at its clifftop location overlooking the North Sea, and ran happily until 1986.

The 1980s were a hard time for distilling in Scotland. With a glut of spirit on the market, distilleries closed across the country, with 1983 being an especially fateful year across the industry. Glenglassaugh hung on for a further three years, before closing.

After more than 20 years of lying dormant, it seemed unlikely that the distillery would ever open again, but in 2008 it was bought by an investment group and brought back to life. While a 22-year gap in the stock maturing in the whisky in the warehouse signalled their may be some interesting choices to be made further down the line, the new owners released a mix of long-aged whisky – distilled before the 1980s' closure – as well as new and young spirit.



In 2012, the first spirit to be distilled since the closure was released: the youthful Glenglassaugh Revival, celebrating the distillery's rebirth. Glenglassaugh Evolution – the next step after the Revival – was launched later and shortly followed by Torfa, a smoky dram that revealed the distillery's dalliance with peated whisky.

It was in this era that the distillery offered casks for whisky fans to buy. Rather than focusing on larger casks – even a standard barrel is 200 litres, which is much more whisky than most people will need or want – the program offered octaves, one eighth the size of a butt, approximately 37.5 litres. A manageable and affordable amount of whisky, they sold quickly, and Matt and Karen managed to grab one.

In 2013, the distillery changed hands again, becoming a part of Billy Walker's Benriach Company, becoming a third distillery in the group along with the titular Benriach (purchased in 2004) and Glendronach (purchased 2008). In 2016, the Americans of Brown-Forman took over and made Walker and his associates very rich.

This bottling was from cask #SC36, distilled on 11 March 2013 and filled by Matt and Karen shortly afterwards, and then bottled on 9 April 2019 at six years old and 56.7% ABV. The octave was built out of an oloroso cask, and the combination of a small cask – giving a big wood-to-spirit ratio – and rich sherry character from the previous occupant should give this whisky a hefty punch and intensity after even just six years, maybe even a bit too much.

So, on to my tasting notes ...

The whisky has a richly bronze colour that fits perfectly with its rich, well-baked cookie nose, rather than the deep and dark sherry bomb you might expect. Sugar cookies studded with cherries and occasional chocolate chips roll out of the glass, slowly morphing into kirsch-filled chocolate bonbons. Candied orange and lemon peel notes develop, along with a touch of spiced spongecake batter. That's all topped with a spoonful of boozy rum'n'raisin ice cream.

The palate continues from the cookie and cake theme, with the spiced sponge now cooked and the cookies back in raw dough form. Raisins and candied fruit stud them both, and there's a tinge of charred oak cask and singed citrus peel. Stewed pears sit in the middle of the tongue, with the spicy baking-spice trifecta of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon stirred through melted, fruity dark chocolate. Sultanas and dried cherries sneak in at the end.

Sweet baking spice leads the finish, with dark chocolate, cherries and liquorice lingering as they fade, sweet and fruity.

And my verdict?

As I explained to Matt as he poured me a dram of this whisky, there's no way I should like it. One of my least favourite things in the current whisky world is the use of small casks – the big wood-to-spirit ratio means that the wood so often overtakes the spirit's own character, creating spiky, dusty, woody messes. A sherry octave? It's my worst nightmare. There's no way I could like this...

Inevitably, I do. Damn you, Matt and Karen.

The cookie and cake flavours sit on top of the Glenglassaugh fruitiness, with support from rich spice that doesn't hide the citrus and orchard fruit notes that I look for in whiskies from the distillery. Unfortunately, it's not for sale – it's all Matt and Karen's. But if you bump into the Whisky for Everyone crew, beg a dram: it's quite nice.

________

A huge thank you from us to Billy for writing this review. We are very pleased with how our octave developed over its six year journey and clearly could not write an unbiased review about it. Please visit Billy's other sites as they make from great and knowledgeable reading. Here is a picture of him on a boat. Thanks again - Matt & Karen.


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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


Douglas Laing
The prolific independent bottling company of Douglas Laing & Co. has announced a new range of whiskies and the first whisky in the collection. The Black Series is an extension of their super premium XOP range and the inaugural bottling is the Springbank 1994 Vintage. This has been matured in a single ex-sherry hogshead that has yielded just 148 bottles at the natural strength of 47.7% ABV. It is 25 years of age.

The new series features an enhanced packaging experience with monochromatic colouration accentuated with gold lettering and trim. The XOP Black Series : Springbank 1994 Vintage will eb available in Asia and Europe only with a price of £800 per bottle.

"This Springbank is an encapsulation of everything our family business proudly represents - quality, luxury and the utmost attention to detail. The maiden release in The XOP Black Series certainly sets an exceptionally high benchmark for future bottlings."
Cara Laing - Director of Whisky at Douglas Laing & Co.


GlenDronach
The east Highland distillery of GlenDronach has announced a new limited edition bottling - the GlenDronach 10 years old Portwood. The whisky has been created by Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for GlenDronach. It features whisky matured in ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for seven years, which were then combined and moved to ex-Port pipes, sourced from the Douro valley in Portugal, for a further 3 years.

The GlenDronach 10 years old Portwood has been released at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There are just 6,000 bottles. It will be available from selected specialist retailers in selected world markets and will cost £60 per bottle.


Roe & Co


The Diageo-owned Roe & Co. distillery in the centre of Dublin has started production of whiskey followed a two year building programme. The distillery is housed within a former power station at the famour Guinness brewery site in St. James's Gate. It is home to three unique copper stills, which can be operated for both double and triple distillation, and is predicted to produce around 500,000 litres of spirit in its first year.

The distillery will also offer premium tours daily between 11am and 5pm with a maximum of 16 people per tour. This will cost €25 per guest and will include a whiskey taster, the interactive Flavours Workshop and complimentary cocktail in the Power House Bar. They will also have access to a special exhibition charting the rise and fall and rise again of the Irish whiskey industry. The new distillery has cost an estimated €25 million. It will be open to the public shortly.


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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.  This is the news that has grabbed our attention this week.

________


Basil Hayden's 
The bourbon brand of Basil Hayden's has introduced a new product to its portfolio for Summer - the Basil Hayden's Caribbean Rye Reserve. The limited edition sees two rye whiskies (an 8 years old Kentucky straight rye and a 4 years old Canadian rye) blended with Black Strap rum to create a new product that defies category boundaries. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80 Proof) and will be available for a limited period throughout the US. A 750ml bottle will cost $45 US. For more information, please visit www.basilhaydens.com.



Compass Box
The innovative whisky blending company of Compass Box have announced another limited edition, named The Circle. The name refers to The Circle, a bartenders competition conceived by Compass Box, which they ran for the first time in 2018. The winner was Rosey Mitchell from Three Sheets in London, who created the whisky with Compass Box founder John Glaser.

The Circle is a blend of Scotch malt whiskies - Tamdhu in Speyside matured in ex-Bourbon barrels supported by whisky from the village of Brora in the Highlands aged in refill Sherry butts, a lightly-peated single malt from Orkney aged in recharred hogsheads, and a small proportion of a Highland malt blend finished in French oak casks.

The Circle is bottled at 46% ABV and there are just 6,151 bottles. They will cost £120/ $150 US each and will be available via selected specialist whisky retailers globally from mid-June and in the US from mid-July.



Crown Royal
The top selling Canadian whisky brand of Crown Royal has announced the fourth addition to its premium Noble Collection - the Crown Royal French Oak Cask Finished. The limited edition expression has seen the popular blend finished in oak casks built from trees harvested in the renowned Vosges region of France. The Noble Collection is presented in a decanter style bottle with gold trim and purple velvet bag. The French Oak Cask Finished is bottled at 40% ABV (80 Proof) and will be available across Canada and the USA. A 750ml bottle will cost $60 US.

"We are always looking for ways to experiment with the brand's flavour profile and with the French Oak Cask Finished, it is evident how intentional changes in barrel selection and aging can enhance the flavour."
Mark Balkenende - Master Blender at Crown Royal.


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The Balvenie Stories range is a new set of single malts and is designed to show the tales of character, endeavour and craftsmanship created at the distillery's home in Dufftown, Speyside. The three whiskies - The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 years old, The Week of Peat 14 years old and A Day of Dark Barley 26 years old - were each created by different people. These were Kelsey McKechnie (Apprentice Malt Master), Ian Millar (former Distillery Manager) and David Stewart MBE (Malt Master).

The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 years old saw McKechnie experimenting with virgin white American oak casks that were twice toasted, while The Week of Peat 14 years old pays homage to Millar who introduced the short run of peated malt production in the early 2000s. A Day of Dark Barley 26 years old tells the story of when Stewart experimented with heavily roasted malt for a short period back in 1992. The artwork on the packaging has been designed by British printmaker Andy Lovell. The three whiskies will be available worldwide in selected retailers.

"Stories are the lifeblood of the distillery. They make up the fabric of who we are and what we do. The Balvenie Stories collection tells these tales in liquid form, giving whisky drinkers a glimpse into the unique and very human nature of how we produce our whisky. "
David Stewart MBE.

The Balvenie distillery is located in the town of Dufftown, the 'whisky capital' of Speyside. It was founded in 1892 by William Grant and built next to its sister distillery of Glenfiddich, remaining under the family's ownership. Balvenie has an annual production capacity of 5.6 million litres and is one of the most few distilleries in Scotland where all stages of the whisky making process happen on site in one form or another - this includes growing barley, malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, coopering and maturation.

Our tasting notes

Balvenie 'The Sweet Toast of Oak' 12 years old
43% ABV/ £45


The colour is pale yellow and the nose has an immediate sweetness to it - think of vanilla, honeycomb and white chocolate. There are also aromas of malted barley, candied lemon rind and dessicated coconut. A pinch of powdered baking spices, especially cinnamon and ginger, plus a hint of cocoa round things off.

On the palate this whisky again begins sweetly. There are plenty of vanilla, toffee and honey notes, which tend towards golden syrup after time. There are also notes of creamy coconut and white chocolate, along with something reminiscent of marshmallow or cream soda. Then come notes to add balance in the form of some candied citrus (especially lemon, but also lime), plus the malt and dried baking spices from the nose. The spices in particular feel more robust and influential than before and seem to increase with time. This results in a warming and slightly dry finish, especially once the sweet and confected characteristics has gone.


Balvenie 'The Week of Peat' 14 years old
48.3% ABV/ £65


The colour is golden yellow and the nose is filled with sweet peat aromas. The smokiness has a soft, earthy and almost mossy edge to it. Alongside this further sweetness is added with aromas of heather honey, icing sugar and butterscotch. Hints of hard boiled apple sweets, unripe green banana and cocoa powder add further interest.

On the palate it is the sweeter characteristics that hit first. Initial notes of toffee, butterscotch and honey are joined by juicy sultanas, raisins and vanilla fudge. Then the peat smoke arrives and this is again soft and sweet with a distinct earthy and vegetal note present. Underneath are further notes of candied lemon and orange, milk chocolate and some warming wood spices - imagine cinnamon, all-spice, mace and pinches of clove and white pepper. The finish is of decent length and it is the smoke that lingers longest. This remains sweet for a while before becoming drier and more ashy. The sweet elements, especially the honey, slowly fade to give the wood spices more power.


Balvenie 'A Day of Dark Barley' 26 years old
47.8% ABV/ £600


The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose has a boldness and vibrancy. Initial aromas of dark chocolate, robust malted barley and moscavado sugar combine along with further aromas of heather honey, dried tropical fruits (especially pineapple and mango) and subtle wood spices - think of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

On the palate this whisky starts off with savoury notes to the fore - imagine the woody spices from the nose combined with dried tobacco leaf, cocoa powder and leather. Then comes a wave of sweetness in the form of rich toffee, dried fruits (the pineapple and mango again, plus sultanas and candied orange), heather honey, stewed apple and milk chocolate. Hints of vanilla, gingerbread and coffee grounds add even further depth, as does a hint of black treacle and menthol. The finish is long and elegant with the sweet and fruity notes slowly fading as the drying spices and savoury characteristics hold firm. Delicious.
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The Port Ellen Edition is the latest expression in the Ghost & Rare series from the popular blended Scotch whisky brand of Johnnie Walker. All sit under the super premium Blue Label umbrella and the whiskies included are all either rare and old, or from closed distilleries that are mothballed, demolished or no longer in operation. The Port Ellen Edition, which was released in late 2018, is a blend of eight such whiskies.

It naturally features prominently the Islay distillery of Port Ellen, hence the name, which closed in 1983 and also two whiskies from other closed (or 'ghost') distilleries - the single grains of Caledonian and Carsebridge. Five old malts are also included from the distilleries of Blair Athol, Cragganmore, Dailuaine, Mortlach and Oban. The whiskies were selected by Jim Beveridge, the Master Blender for the Johnnie Walker range.

"I'm always fascinated by how whiskies from a small number of iconic closed distilleries have a unique inimitable character that lend something to Johnnie Walker Blue Label and we are continually exploring these flavours to craft new experiences in Scotch."
Jim Beveridge - Johnnie Walker Master Blender. 

The Johnnie Walker Blue Label 'Ghost & Rare' Port Ellen Edition is bottled at 43% ABV and is available worldwide from selected whisky specialists and premium retailers. The recommended retail price is £275.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold and the nose has immediate aromas of vanilla and cinder toffee, along with some stewed green apple and milk chocolate. There is also a robust malty aroma, alongside some soft background peat smoke and a hint of earthy spices. Candied lemon round things off.

On the palate this whisky has a wonderful mouthfeel that has a slightly waxy and oily quality to it. There are initial notes of robust malted barley and whispy peat smoke - this has more influence than on the nose and also a hint of vegetal bitterness. This is counterbalanced by much sweeter notes of golden syrup and vanilla, with a hint of manuka honey. Underneath is a distinct fruitiness - the stewed apple and bittersweet candied lemon from the nose, plus something more tropical (think of pineapple and dried mango). There is also a hint of plum and sultana. Dusty wood spices join late, especially cinnamon, as does a pinch of cocoa powder.

The finish is long with the sweetness initially to the fore. As this begins to fade, especially the golden syrup and tropical fruit elements, then it is the robust malt and soft peat smoke that take over. This, along with the incresingly influential earthy spices, give warmth and dryness.

What's the verdict?
This expression of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label has a wonderful depth and complexity. It is full of flavour and very classy, presenting a multi-layered set of aromas and flavours. Much of this comes from the old whiskies from the closed distilleries that the Ghost & Rare blends are trying to showcase. This does not disappoint. The rarity of Port Ellen single malt means that it has to be used sparingly these days. It has been used to great effect here.

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