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.
The festive season is upon us. Here are a few selections from our Christmas whisky cabinet - a premium blended scotch, a pair of fantastic independently bottled single malts and an Indian whisky from Goa. Enjoy the holidays!
Today I'm taking a look at two expressions from the latest group of Diageo Special Releases, one is something of a perennial distillery for this range and the other is altogether rarer.
The 36 year old Convalmore was one of the most interesting of this year’s Special Releases. Convalmore distillery was closed in the 1985 and during its lifetime almost the entirety of its stock was reserved for blending – at one time it was a key malt in the make-up of the Black & White blend. Remarkably, this is only the third official bottling of Convalmore in the modern era, following a Rare Malts bottling in 2004 and a previous Special Release edition (also from the 1977 vintage) which appeared in 2005 and was referred to recently by Dave Broom as “One of my favourite whiskies ever”. High praise indeed, giving this follow-up from the same vintage a lot to live up to.
Here at Whisky Marketplace there’s nothing we like more than an educational whisky product because, let’s face it, whisky appreciation is a voyage of discovery. Every whisky we taste teaches us a little more about the magic of the cask, or the still, or the mash, or the type of oak... you get the picture. Unsurprisingly this new release from Box, one of Sweden’s newest distilleries and a very stylish looking player on the world whisky scene, caught our eye.
Part of producer Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) range of Small Batch bourbons, Noah’s Mill is bottled at 100 UK proof (57.15%) and is probably the most critically acclaimed of the company’s range, with regularly huge scores from the likes of Jim Murray and Paul Pacult.
KBD is a family company that has owned and operated the Willet distillery since 1935, but has been established as the US’s most important independent bottler since the 1980s. As a result, it’s impossible to say exactly where Noah’s Mill originates from – but while it tastes this good it’s probably better not to ask too many questions.
Originally produced for the US market in 1909, Chivas Regal 25 year old was fairly revolutionary at a time when long-aged whisky was relatively unknown, but the brand disappeared in the aftermath of the Great War and Prohibition and was never reintroduced after Repeal, as it was felt that the Great Depression was not conducive to the successful marketing of a luxury product. Relaunched a few years ago as a limited edition to critical acclaim, happily Chivas Regal 25yo has now been rolled into the ongoing range of one of the world’s favourite blends. I don’t normally like to talk about presentation generally, but it also looks great.
One glance at this month's staff picks and you'll see what's happening at WhiskyMarketplace HQ. The nights are drawing in, the weather is getting colder and thoughts are turning to festive whiskies. Quality, richness and luxury are what we're looking for... unsurprising then to see two superb scotch single malts, a sensational Japanese blend and premium scotch blend.
Ben Nevis flies under a lot of people’s radars, which is a shame, as the distillery is more than capable of putting out some excellent whisky – as would be expected for a distillery owned by Japanese giants Nikka, who have owned it since 1989.
Bottlers Signatory, meanwhile, eschew almost all publicity and promotion, and sadly this little sherry-matured gem has been languishing in obscurity since being bottled towards the end of last year.
Distilled by one of the USA’s largest producers, Heaven Hill, Elijah Craig is one of the company’s flagship long-aged bourbons, alongside Evan Williams. The eponymous Reverend Elijah Craig was something of a firebrand minister and part-time distiller, who was once briefly imprisoned after his sermons were found to have caused a breach of the peace.
The Revd. Craig’s lasting contribution to world culture was not religious subversion, however, but ironically something rather more mellowing – he is claimed, probably apocryphally, to have been the first bourbon producer to discover the softening effect of burnt barrels in the maturation of his whiskey. This miraculous discovery supposedly came about as a consequence of the minister being too tight-fisted to replace his barrel stock after a fire at the distillery had damaged them.
The days are getting shorter, the weather a little colder - in our part of the world at least. So it's no surprise that this month’s staff picks sees a selection of rich, warming whiskies. A classic Japanese blend is joined by three generously flavoured scotch single malts. With a good broad spread of prices there's something to suit most pockets too.