Sunday, 30 November 2014

Laphroaig SMWS 29.105 Massive and Volcanic

Laphroaig SMWS 29.105 Massive and Volcanic

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottles single cask whiskies since 1983. Every bottle looks the same at first sight. They are only to be distinguished by a unique code and a sometimes fitting, sometimes outrageous name. The codes came into use because distilleries did not want to connect their name to independent bottlings. Nowadays, it has become a unique selling point.

The bottle code consists of two parts. The first part identifies the distillery. The second part is the n-th cask being bottled by the Society. Applied to 29.105 it means: the 105th cask bottled from distillery 29, being Laphroaig.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The dreaded Christmas wish list

Sigh! Every December the same old question returns: "What do you want for Christmas?". And every year I'm performing the same ritual: scratching my head and admitting I have no idea.

Since I'm suspecting I'm not the only one who's suffering from giftitis, I do want to help my fellow sufferers. And what a coincidence, almost everything that made the list is related to whisky.

Stocking fillers (less then €25)

Arran mini pack

The Isle of Arran's only distillery has been impressing us for several years now. This mini pack offers you the opportunity to explore its core range. The classy white box contains 3 minis: the 10yo, the 12yo cask strength and the 14yo. Price: €24.

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015

Whisky enthousiasts always look forward to the release of Invar Ronde's Malt Whisky Yearbook. The 2015 edition is filled with tasting notes and interesting trivia on your favourite distillery. Reading stuff to be devoured on cold winter nights.

Uisge Source Water of Scotland

It's no longer a secret that adding a drop of water to your whisky is no deadly sin. On the contrary, some whiskies only reveal themselves with some water. What if you could use the water from the very same region as your tipple?

Cù Bòcan (20cl)

Cù Bòcan is a NAS whisky from Tomating Distillery, based upon a local legend of a hellish hound that haunted Tomatin village. This lightly smoked whisky is a vatting of Virgin Oak, bourbon- and sherry casks. Price: €17 for the 20cl version. Also available in 70cl version.

More of the same

  • Glenfarclas 21 years old miniature (€9)
  • Distilled by Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison (€17)
  • Highland Park 10yo (€21)

Don't be greedy (less then €50)

Timorous Beastie

Douglas Laing received most of its fame as an indy bottler. They worked hard the past few years to create their own range of blended malts. We have already seen an Islay blended malt (Big Peat) and a Speyside blend (Scallywag).
In 2014 we saw Timorous Beasty, the mouse from Robert Burns poem, became the face of the Highlands region. Price: €45.

Velvet Fig

Wemyss Malts recently extended their core range with Velvet Fig and matured wholly in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. They delivered a beautiful full and rounded whisky, perfectly suited for the winter and the upcoming festive season. Price: €50.

Islay Woollen Mill lambswool scarf from your fav brand

You want a superclassic (or cliché) gift to surprise a whisky lover? Islay Woollen Mill is the place to buy quality tweed. They already delivered fabric for blockbuster movies like Braveheart and Forrest Gump. They also make personalised scarfs in lambswool and cashmere for brands like Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Price starting from €30.

More of the same

  • Teeling Single Grain (€45)
  • Nikka Whisky from the Barrel (€37)
  • 6 Glencairn glasses (€30)

Don't be afraid to spend some money (less then €100)

Elements of Islay Cl7

Elements of Islay is a selection of 'secret' Islay single malts, selected and bottled to express the character of the distillery. Cl7 is the 7th bottling from Port Askaig and bottled at 58.5% ABV. Price: €87 (for a 50cl bottle).

Big Peat Christmas editon 2014

Douglas Laing presents each year a special Big Peat Christmas edition. Just like many Belgian brewers release a Christmas special, they release a fiery beast to get through the cold holidays.   Price: €55.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company Invergordon batch 2

That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottles single malts, single grains and blends from a variety of distilleries. The bottles received a near cult-status with the graphic novel style labels. Invergordon is a single grain with distinctive sweet honey flavours. Price: €90 (for 50cl).

More of the same

  • Ardbeg Escape Pack 10 year old (€62)
  • Compas Box the Lost Blend (€100)
  • Hazelburn 10yo Rundlets & Kilderkins (€78)

Smack your dough! (more then €150)

Octomore 6.3

Octomore is the experimental pièce de résistance from Bruichladdich. This whisky reach peat levels of 150ppm and more. Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley was distilled from grain, cultivated by James Brown of Octomore Farm and reaches a stratospheric peat level of 256ppm. Price: €180.

Le Nez du Whisky

Le Nez du Whisky is a semi-professional nosing kit with an illustrated book on the base notes of whisky and 54 flavours to train your nose. For starting whisky enthousiast or the serious geek that wants to develop his aroma memory. Price: €299.

Jura 1984

Jura's 1984 tribute to George Orwell is a 30 year old whisky, bottled at 44% ABV. Matured in bourbon casks from Jim Beam for 22yrs, transferred to Gonzales Byass Matusalem Sherry butts for over 6 yrs and finally finished in Amoroso Oloroso sweet sherry casks. Limited to 1984 (coincidence) bottles. Price: €950.

More of the same

  • Yamazaki 18yo (€195)
  • Bunnahabhain 1988 Signatory Vintage for LMDW (€183)
  • North British 50yo single grain Berry's Exceptional Caks - Berry Bros & Rudd (€625)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Highland Park Loki

Highland Park Loki
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

When Highland Park presented the first whisky from the Walhalla collection, Thor, it was instantly clear that Loki, professional mischiever and shapeshifter among the gods, would move heaven and earth to take its place beside Thor.

His shapeshifting character was the inspiration for the flavour profile of its liquid alter ego. Born out of European and previously peated casks (Does HP have unpeated casks?), the aromas perceived on the nose and the palate should differ from each other.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

News: Glenfarclas 15 for TWE

  • Glenfarclas
  • The Whisky Exchange Exclusive
  • 15 years old
  • 58.6% ABV
    To celebrate Glenfarclas 15 Year Old being named as the Whisky of the Year for 2013-14, The Whisky Exchange asked the distillery to create a high-strength edition of this favourite, exclusively for TWE. Bottled at 103 proof, this is rich and spicy; a drop of water brings out extra sweetness and notes of fruit cake and cherries.

    Source & image: The Whisky Exchange

    Sunday, 16 November 2014

    Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig

    Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig
    Picture: The Whisky Exchange

    Independent bottler Wemyss Malts presented its newest addition to their blended malts range: Velvet Fig. This blend without an age statement (NAS) matured wholly in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and will take its place next to The Spice King, Peat Chimney and The Hive.

    They also release on a regular basis a range of single cask whiskies and a classic blend, Lord Elcho, in a NAS and a 15 years old version.

    William Wemyss, Managing Director, made the following statement on Velvet Fig: ”We are thrilled with the new Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig blended malt as it will provide a unique, yet complementary addition to the Wemyss blended malt range. Velvet Fig is sure to be a favourite with those who have a passion for sherry cask matured whiskies or are looking for the perfect festive whisky.”.

    Friday, 14 November 2014

    News: Jura 1984 celebrating a famous inhabitant


    Jura seems to be celebrating George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984. All communication channels from the Jura brand were 'hijacked' and redacted by The Party for a few days.

    A bunch of professional journalists and whisky writers were invited to unveil the resistance organised by Whyte & Mackay on the eve of November 13.

    A new Vintage

    Not much is known about the new Vintage whisky. The whisky was presented yesterday to a limited audience and we have seen a few shots from the packaging.

    Update: It is a 30 year old whisky, bottled at 44% ABV. Matured in bourbon casks from Jim Beam for 22yrs, transferred to Gonzales Byass Matusalem 30yo Sherry butts for over 6 yrs and finally finished in Amoroso Oloroso sweet sherry casks.

    Limited to 1984 bottles at £750 RRP

    Tasting notes from Chapman & Gorm

    Nose: dried orange. savoury, leather. Cocoa and a touch of maritime elements, not too loud but a lit going on.

    Palate: salty, lots of sherry, sweet&salty start. Touch of earty smoke (very subtle) and a big savoury palate with a lot happening. Surprisingly easy drinking

    Finish: sour dry finish with excellent aged elements and dry sherry notes

    the backside of the bottle?

    invitation of the evening for @stevebooker

    images: Jura Whisky and Steve Booker
    source: Chapman and Gorm

     What happened on Twitter?

    #nothingiswhatitseems Tweets

    Friday, 7 November 2014

    Kilchoman 2009 TasTToe single cask PX finish

    Kilchoman 2009 TasTToe single cask PX finish

    During the Kilchoman Tour through Europe, the Wills brothers presented a PX finished Kilchoman sample. The whisky will most likely be bottled by TasTToe, the Belgian shop that hosted one of the Kilchoman tastings on their European Tour.

    The whisky was distilled in 2009 and got a 4.5-month finishing on a Pedro Ximenez sherry butt. Curious whether Kilchoman and PX sherry guarantee fantastic stuff?

    Wednesday, 5 November 2014

    News: Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach

    Old school Bunna shrouded in mist 

    • Bunnahabhain Distillery
    • Batch 1
    • Bottled2014
    • 46.3% ABV

    Bunnahabhain Distillery will present shortly a new whisky. Very little is know at this moment. It will be a limited edition with an unpronounceable Scots Gaelic name, bottled at 46.3% ABV, unfiltered and natural colour. The whisky matured for over ten years in ex-bourbon casks.

    Ceòbanach means smoky mist But most of it is still shrouded in mist...

    This  Ceòbanach is a celebration to the intensely peated "old style" Bunnahabhain from the late 19th century.

    Tasting notes from Bunnahabhain

    The nose is intense and pungent, with hints of fragrant smoke and light tar, and creamy notes of sweet oak and seaweed.

    The initial taste is one of sweet maltiness, then a lovely balance of a tangy smokiness and vanilla notes, blending mellow and smooth. There are also hints of white pepper, bitter orange, liquorice and sea salt.

    The finish lingers, with flavours of oatcake and sea salt once more - with a peppery sweet smoke undertone.

    images: Bunnahabhain
    source: TTB online

    Sunday, 2 November 2014

    The Macallan Select Oak

    The Macallan Select Oak
    Picture The Whisky Exchange

    The Macallan Select Oak was part of the 1824 Collection for tax-free shops. It's a classic example of contemporary Travel Retail. Relative young whisky, no age statement, and an experimental hodgepodge of first-fill and refill American and European oak that previously held bourbon and sherry. Did I just hear someone shouting "Laphroaig Select"?

    Anyway, Macallan (and the overarching Edrington Group) is known for its obsessive wood management which translates in rather nice sales figures.