We are having some pretty extreme weather here in the UK. Last night we had the fiercest thunder storms I can remember. This morning there was a hail storm and now it’s brilliantly sunny, about 84 degrees and very humid. Why am I giving you a weather report? Put simply this hot, humid climate makes me think of bourbon. So, without further ado, let me introduce four bourbons every whiskey drinker must try.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
An iconic bourbon, as much for the striking red wax sealed packaging as for the excellent whiskey in the bottle. Great bourbon for sure but there’s also an important lesson in flavour here. The mash bill is rye free. So this is a perfect whiskey to educate your palate about wheated whiskey. That is, heavily wheat based bourbons which avoid the rye spice kick in favour of softer, sweeter wheat flavours.
£26.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Maker’s Mark wheat rich mash bill is this rye heavy recipe. Bulleit has all the spicy kick that a high rye content mash bill creates. Taken side by side with a wheated whiskey this will not only delight but will also educate your nose and taste buds concerning rye’s contribution to bourbon flavour.
£27.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Produced in Versailles, Kentucky, Woodford Reserve has a decent level of rye in the mash bill. Not as extreme as the Bulleit, this adds a spicy kick without going to the extremes. Accessibly priced and very drinkable, this occupies the middle ground in our opening trio and, once again, you can approach this from an educational and scientific stance. Can you see how I’m making learning fun here?
£28.75 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
A great value premium bourbon from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. The Kentucky climate makes the bourbon distilled there mature pretty quickly and in three years much of it is ready to drink. So you can imagine what happens after 10 years, not only is this ready it to drink but it is something else entirely. An essential whiskey.
£34.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Now then, we realise that this is a slightly tenuous link but every man and his wife are jumping on the World Cup band wagon so why not join in the fun. The big news ahead of the tournament is that Scotland and Ireland – the great celtic whisky producing nations – both failed to qualify for the finals in Brazil, so we sent our talent scouts a little further afield to pick four exotic Whisky World Cup choices for your tastebuds to tackle this summer.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
Netherlands: Like the great Dutch football teams of yesteryear, famous exponents of the 'Total Football' philosophy, this whisky is also very pure and could even be called 'Total Rye'. Millstone 100 Rye whisky is produced by Zuidam and it's all about the number one hundred. It's distilled from 100% rye. It's matured for 100 months. It's then bottled at 100 Proof – which works out at 50% ABV.
£62.45 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Australia: Not famed for their football or their whisky, Australia are rank outsiders to return down under with the World Cup trophy. The budding whisky scene in Tasmania, however, could one day produce a world champion of its own. Good luck to the 'Socceroos' all the same!
£95.35 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
France: World Cup winners in 1998, France are more famous for Cognac than whisky but a number of distilleries operate in the North of the country, which has a strong celtic connection. Guillon Cuvée, however, is produced in the heart of the Champagne region and is matured in three types of white Burgundy casks for around four years.
£42.58 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Japan: Ichiro Akuto is the star player of Japan's phenomenal whisky industry. This is a blend of whiskies from Chichibu and other Japanese distilleries - possibly including Hanyu and Karuizawa. Interestingly, it's labeled as a 'worldwide blended whisky' which indicates that it could even contain spirits produced elsewhere in the world. A whisky worthy of the World Cup? We think so.
£87.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
For this month’s staff picks we’ve gone for a loose theme of “great bottles from less well known Scottish distilleries”. Although the four distilleries in question aren’t obscure if you’re a Scotch fan, they certainly aren’t household names. What they have in common is that they all produce wonderful whisky.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
The Arran distillery was opened in 1995 so it’s still regarded as something of a newcomer in the world of Scotch. Arran is growing in reputation and popularity - a taste of this cask strength malt will tell you why. Bursting with fruit and spice, this whisky is highly recommended.
£43.36 at www.masterofmalt.com
This gem of a whisky is something of an old favourite of ours. Subtle coastal notes mingle with clean, fruity malt. There’s something quiet about Oban Distillery, it doesn’t release many expressions and owners Diageo don’t really shout about it. Which means you might have missed this whisky. Now may be the time to put that right.
£37.55 at www.masterofmalt.com
The releases from Balblair have been of a consistently high standard over the last few years. This whisky is no exception but what is unusual about this expression is that it has been further matured in a cask which previously held peated malt. The peated cask adds a new layer of flavour to the typical Balblair character.
£124.95 at www.masterofmalt.com
Continuing the theme of peated whiskies from distilleries that aren’t known for the style, Tomatin Cu Bocan appears to be the result of an accidentally produced batch of peated malt. An unusual back story for an unusual, and quite delicious, whisky.
£199.00 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
The revival of Glenglassaugh continues under new owners the Benriach Distillery Company who have announced the release of a number of small batch, single cask whiskies.
The distillery was silent between 1986 - 2009 and these releases are of whisky produced pre-1986. In fact some of them are from quite a while before 1986, the oldest being a 45 year old whisky from 1968 and the youngest a mere whipper-snapper aged just 28!
We don’t have any details regarding price at the time of publishing, however these releases are sure to cause a stir. Sales director Alistair Walker comments:
We took over Glenglassaugh last year and were thrilled to discover a treasure trove of old and rare spirits slumbering in the warehouses. Revived from the dark, selected by Billy Walker for their excellence and personality and bottled last month, this is an extraordinary collection of rare casks which will be warmly welcomed by connoisseurs worldwide. Taken together, they are stunning examples of Glenglassaugh at its finest.
The range is elegantly packaged in simple bottles with an attractive golden box. Full details of the releases as follows:
1968 cask # 1601 / 45 years old / Finished a Sherry Hogshead / 44.3% vol
1972 cask # 2114 / 41 years old / Matured a Sherry Butt / 50.6% vol
1973 cask # 6801 / 40 years old / Finished a Manzanilla Sherry Puncheon / 52.1% vol
1975 cask # 7301 / 38 years old / Finished a Oloroso Sherry Hogshead / 40.7% vol
1975 cask # 7801 / 38 years old / Finished a Moscatel Hogshead / 42.4% vol
1978 cask # 1803 / 35 years old / Finished a Sherry Hogshead / 41.6% vol
1978 cask # 1810 / 35 years old / Finished a Port Hogshead / 42.9% vol1986 cask # 2101 / 28 years old / Finished a Hogshead / 43.7% vol
anCnoc - distilled at the Knockdhu Distillery - is a brand that has won many friends in recent years with its elegant, well made, and delicately flavoured whiskies. One thing it isn’t known for is rich, peated whisky. But that is about to change with the release of three, limited edition, peated expressions.
Here at Whisky Marketplace we’re fans of good graphic design and we’re always struck by the beauty of anCnoc’s packaging. These expressions are no exception. Each carries an illustration of, and is named after, a traditional peat cutting tool.
The three expressions are called Rutter, Flaughter and Tushkar. They range in peating levels from 11ppm to 15ppm which stops some way short of what one might describe as “heavily peated”. To put that in context, Ardbeg typically has a ppm of 54 and Laphroaig a level of 40ppm. So it seems likely that the peat in these expressions will be an added dimension to the fruit and spice notes we associate with anCnoc rather than completely dominant.
At the time of publishing two of the expressions are available through our regular retailers, prices for anCnoc Rutter can be found here. For up to date prices and availability of anCnoc Flaughter, see this page.
Another year, another Ardbeg Day, another Ardbeg Limited Edition. If I make that sound humdrum I don’t mean too, any new Ardbeg release is greeted with excitement around here!
This year’s release - Auriverdes - was matured in american oak casks fitted with custom cask lids. The lids are specially toasted to add distinctive additional flavours to the profile.
The name Auriverdes - an amalgamation of “auri” (gold) and verde (green) - is a nod to this year’s World Cup as the Brazilian team are nicknamed the Auriverdes. Of course Ardbeg bottle their liquid gold in green bottles so it’s self referential too!
Dr Bill Lumsden, who created the expression, explains:
“When creating Auriverdes I had a distinct flavour profile in mind that I wanted to achieve, so I specifically created the heart of the recipe to bring that to life. It is an expression of Ardbeg which has exceeded all my expectations – it has the trademark Ardbeg undertones with a distinct new taste experience.
Ardbeg Auriverdes has an explosive mouthfeel which gives way to complex flavours of coffee grounds, liquorice, maple smoked ham, malty/biscuit notes, white pepper and a good sweet/salty balance.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try it.
Those of you keeping a close eye on the Irish whiskey scene may have spotted “The Irishman” brand. A relative newcomer, it’s been highly rated at various international awards and by whiskey critics such as Jim Murray. Unfortunately, so far, it’s been fairly hard to come by outside of Ireland.
That’s all about to change as The Irishman gets its official UK launch.
There will be four expressions available in the core range - The Irishman Founder’s Reserve, The Irishman Single Malt, The Irishman 12 year old & The Irishman Cask Strength.
The Irishman Irish whiskey is being imported by UK distributor Emporia Brands. The whiskey will be available through all the main online retailers and, as usual, you’ll be able to find who stocks it via the product search here on Whisky Marketplace. We’ll be publishing detailed reviews of the range soon but we can already tell you that this is excellent Irish whiskey and a very promising addition to the category.
A sharp knock at the door from the postman still triggers that childish thrill - “Hey Mr Postman have you got a parcel for me?” All too often he hands us an oversized catalogue or some other boring promotional item destined for the recycling.
But not this morning. Oh no. Because today he gave us this...
With “Introducing the Master of Malt 60 Year Old Speyside” emblazoned on the box it was enough to set hearts racing here at Whisky Marketplace HQ.
A quick skim read of the covering letter informs me that a 70cl bottle of this will retail at the really very reasonable price of £999.95, which is an absolutely steal for a whisky this age. But even at that low price it still means that the 3cl sample enclosed would set you back a few quid. Fortunately it was me, and not a colleague, who opened the door to the postie, because 3cl is really too small a size to share...
“What does it taste like?” I hear you cry. Well the sun isn’t yet over the yard arm and Friday morning is not the right time to sample a delight such as this. Instead I’m going to sit and look at it for a little while. My parents hadn’t even met when this flowed from the still and I'm all grown up with two kids of my own... sometimes whisky puts things in perspective. And that's even before I've had drink.
When I do get round to tasting I’ll be sure to let you know the verdict. But those chaps over at Master of Malt seem to know what they’re doing so I reckon it’s a safe bet.
If you can't wait you can buy a bottle, or a sample, here.
It’s March already and we’re only just delivering our first Staff Picks of 2014. Why? Well our post-Christmas detox lasted 2 months... and if you believe that you’ll believe anything! But we’re back now and what a quartet we have for you this month. An Irish, a bourbon and a pair of scotches.
Staff Picks - our choices for this month
The beauty of some - although not all - single cask bottlings is that they can deliver a truly unique flavour profile at the extreme end of the tasting spectrum. Forget about subtlety, this intensely sticky, fruity whisky is firmly in that category and is all about taking things to the max. Come along for the ride, its great fun.
£69.95 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
No age statement, but clearly aged to perfection, Noah’s Mill produce beautifully crafted American whiskeys which show just how great bourbon can be. Delicate flavours, but still packing a punch at natural strength this is perfect for sipping but also as a dessert whiskey to accompany puddings.
£46.51 at www.masterofmalt.com
Back in the day, Jameson used to market themselves on the tag line “The Old Smoothie” and, were they still doing so, this whiskey would remain true to that promise. Smooth and harmonious, yes, but that’s not to say it doesn’t offer excitement. Full of Irish pot still flavours, this has a sense of place, it’s bursting with juicy notes and delivers what you want from a good blend - complexity and balance.
£34.45 at www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Bruichladdich say the Scottish Barley expression is their flagship bottling. As the name suggests its made from 100% Scottish grown barley which they say matters and shapes the flavour profile. Whatever gives this clean, crisp malt its delightful flavours it’s certainly doing a good job. Whole-heartedly recommended.
£38.60 at www.thegreenwellystop.co.uk
This year’s release from the Glenmorangie Private Edition series is named Companta - Scots Gaelic for "friendship" - a nod to the "Auld Alliance" between France and Scotland, because this is a whisky whose maturation has been completed in French wine casks.
Wine finished whiskies are not easy to get right so it comes as no surprise that Dr Bill Lumsden - head of the Whisky Creation Team at Glenmorangie - spent a good while seeking out the perfect casks for this latest expression. For the Companta recipe whiskies matured in two types of wine casks were used, Clos de Tart from Burgundy and a sweet fortified wine from Côtes du Rhône.
"Having spent over 20 years traveling to some of France’s most renowned vineyards, I’ve had the opportunity to sample many rare and intriguing wines in search of the finest casks to complement the extra maturation of our whisky. As a true wine aficionado, some of my most memorable visits have been to Burgundy, where the dedication and attention to detail that goes into their craft never ceases to amaze me. The smaller vineyards of the region don’t seem to worry about yields, costs, or timings. They work tirelessly, simply to produce the very best wine. In the same spirit as Glenmorangie, they stop at nothing in the pursuit of perfection."
"To complement the bold, spicy character imparted from the Grand Cru casks, I selected a parcel of Glenmorangie which had been extra maturing in casks having previously contained a lusciously sweet fortified wine from Côtes du Rhône. It took some time, but with careful fine-tuning we reached a harmonious assemblage which proved the perfect balance; neither too bold nor too tame!"
We attended the launch night last week and we were struck by Bill Lumsden's passion for wine - he's certainly worked meticulously to source the very best wine casks for this whisky.
Glenmorangie Companta marries quite an exotic mix of spicy notes - fennel seed, nutmeg and star anise - with a natural acidity from the wine tannins. It also has quite a prominent earthy, vegetal note which compliments the obvious wine flavours, and plenty of fruit with hints of greengage and fresh stone-fruit.
Glenmorangie Companta is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV and in the absence of the now discontented Glenmorangie Burgundy Finish, this offers something very interesting to the range.
Here are a few photos from the launch event...
A drop of Clos de Tart prior to the tasting.
One of the lovely Companta cocktails on offer.
Chap with beard takes a closer look at Companta.