Thursday, 29 January 2015

News: Glendronach single casks batch 11

Glendronach 1971 single caskToday, 29 January, Glendronach released the eleventh batch  of single cask bottlings.

It comprises nine outstanding sherry casks that were bottled in November and all are available as of today.

Ranging from 43 to 18 years old, there is huge and intriguing variety across the nine, six of which were matured in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheons, two in Oloroso Sherry Butts and one in an Oloroso Sherry Puncheon. A quick reminder: a puncheon contains 318.23 liters of spirit, a butt contains 476,96 liters of alcohol.

Typically for GlenDronach, each cask demonstrates the classic robust and richly sherried style infused with mouth-watering, zingy fruits.

Batch Eleven has a number of superb highlights.

The oldest, 1971 cask number 2920, at 48.6% ABV, is a monster 43 years old malt matured in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon. Intense treacle toffee floods over sour plums and roasted coffee. Harmonising waves of leather and tobacco give great depth and are balanced perfectly by a subtle toasted walnut and date back note.

As a contrast the 18 years old from cask number 244, at 56.9% ABV, is the youngest, distilled in February 1996. Matured in a fine Oloroso Sherry Butt, there is a tremendous balance of mixed candied peel and stewed dark fruits sprinkled with dark Demerara. Delicious waves of toffee, cracked barley and warm oak spices combine to give a long and elegant finish.
Glendronach single casks batch 11

Line up of batch 11:

  • Vintage 1971: cask # 2920 /  43 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 48.6% vol.  / £849.95
  • Vintage 1990: cask # 1020 /  24 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 53.8% vol. / £135.95
  • Vintage 1990: cask # 1162 / 24 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 52.9%vol.  / £135.95
  • Vintage 1994: cask # 54 / 20 years old / Oloroso Sherry Butt / 56.6% vol. / £103.96
  • Vintage 1994: cask # 3201 / 20 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 56.2% vol. / £103.96
  • Vintage 1994: cask # 3386 / 20 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 53.6% vol. / £103.96
  • Vintage 1995: cask # 538 / 19 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 55.0% vol. / £97.96
  • Vintage 1995: cask # 4941 / 19 years old / Oloroso Sherry Puncheon / 57.0% vol. / £97.96
  • Vintage 1996: cask # 244 / 18 years old / Oloroso Sherry Butt / 56.9% vol. / £91.96
Glendronach single cask 1971, cask #2920, 43 years old PX Sherry puncheon

Glendronach 1990
Glendronach single cask 1990, casks #1020 & #1162, 24 years old PX Sherry puncheon,

Glendronach 1994
Glendronach single cask 1994, casks #54, #3201 & #3386, 20 years old, PX Sherry puncheon & Oloroso sherry butt 

Glendronach 1995
Glendronach single cask 1995, casks #538 & #4941, 19years old, PX Sherry puncheon & Oloroso sherry puncheon 

Glendronach 1996
Glendronach single cask 1996, cask #244, 18 years old, Oloroso sherry butt

Sources & images: Glendronach Distillery 
Prices: Abbey Whisky

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Whisky Mercenary The Nameless One

The Whisky Mercenary presents The Nameless One

Belgium's The Whisky Mercenary released at least 7 bottlings in 2014. Most are well-known distilleries (think Clynelish, Ledaig and Littlemill). One of his bottlings, however, came from an unknown cask. Some details were still legible on the sherry cask, alas for the distillery name. It's no real surprise that a cask shrouded in such mystery would be baptised "The Nameless One".

The label artwork from illustrator Stieven for the standard bottlings is stunning, but with this label he surpassed himself. Imho, he signed up for the coolest label of 2014.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

News: Glenmorangie Tusail

Resurrection of a lost barley variety

Glenmorangie Tusail

Luxury brands concern LVMH (Luis Vuitton - Moët Hennessy) lined up a new Glenmorangie expression for the brand's Private Edition collection. Glenmorangie Tùsail will launch globally within the next few days.

Tùsail  joins the ranks together with the Sonnalta PX, Finealta, Companta and a few other whiskies in the Private Edition range. The whisky is made with floor malted Maris Otter barley, a barley variety fallen out of grace.

Marris Otter barley was a core ingredient of British ale brewers some fifty years ago. It was almost wiped out by too much cross-pollination if it was not for the determination of British barley merchants Robin Appel Ltd.

Bill Lumsden, director of distilling and whisky creation for LVMH said:
“When we heard the story of those determined to preserve such a flavoursome grain, their ethos – and the barley itself – seemed the perfect match for a Glenmorangie single malt. I knew its deep flavour profile would provide an intriguing contrast to Glenmorangie’s more delicate house style, creating a whisky to enchant connoisseurs.”

Official tasting notes from Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie Tùsail is a “rich and rustic” flavour of toffee, sweet barley, ginger, cinnamon, molasses and dates, which complement the flagship Glenmorangie notes of peach, orange and smoked pears.

label Glenmorangie Tusail

Glenmorangie Tùsail will go on sale for £70-75 in specialist stores and is bottled at 46%.

Photo, packaging and artwork: Glenmorangie Co.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Whisky Mercenary Littlemill 1992

The Whisky Mercenary Littlemill 1992

Littlemill was a distillery on the border of the Lowlands and the Highlands in Bowling. The distillery (or what's left of it) is owned by Loch Lomond Distillery and came to a sad end in 1994 with the bankruptcy of its former owner and the dismantlement in 1997. And yet it was not enough, the remnants of the distillery were destroyed in a fire in 2004. Definitely end of story for the Queen of the Lowlands.

Jürgen Vromans, also known as The Whisky Mercenary, is an independent bottler from Belgium. The guy has a nose for affordable and quality bottlings (a few Clynelish from the sacred year 1997 and a 1976 Bunnahabhain amongst them). In April 2014 The Mercenary returned with an unknown 18yo Speysider and this 1992 gem from the bemoaned Littlemill.

Monday, 12 January 2015

News: Rock Oyster from Douglas Laing

Increasing the family size
Rock Oyster
The Douglas Laing family needs to add a new seat to their dining table. That beardy fisherman Big Peat accepted a wee Scallywag and a Timorous Beastie as family members in the line of Vatted Malts. This time he might be facing some serious competition when holding an oyster party. Meet Rock Oyster, another small batch bottling created using the finest maritime malts from Islay, Jura, Orkney and Arran.

The real treasure is the hidden, tasty delicacy inside, rich with the flavours of the sea. Bottled at an unusual 46.8% alcohol strength and traditionally without colouring or chill-filtration, this Small Batch bottling has a truly maritime and oceanic character of sea-salt, sweet peat, smoke, honey and pepper.

Much attention and consideration was spent creating the packaging which features a bespoke illustration of both an oyster, and a nautical scene, while telling the story of this seafaring spirit.

Official tasting notes from Douglas Laing

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster is massively maritime in style and like its namesake carries a hidden delicacy inside. Anticipate wave soaked rocks and a salty oceanic, fresh influence on the nose with a more subtle palate carrying soft and rather sweet peat paralleled with smoke, honey, damp ash, liquorice and late pepper. All that is neatly replicated on the long, more-ish finish.

The complete blended malts range now consists of: Big Peat from Islay, Scallywag from Speyside, Timorous Beastie from the Highlands and now Rock Oyster from the Islands.

My crystal ball is predicting a Lowlands or a Campbeltown blended malt in 2016...

More information: Rock Oyster Facebook page

Photo, packaging and artwork: Douglas Laing & Co.Pocket Rocket Creative and Anna Koska.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995 & Glen Keith 1997

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995 & Glen Keith 1997

Two Spey or too Spey?

The Swiss Chapter 7 is a new independent bottler storming the European market with single cask whiskies from Scotland. And it seems they are specialising in whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks from Speyside region.

Chapter 7 honours its roots with the bottle and packaging design. The black bottles with excellent typography and minimal design - in fact, the typography is the design - hint to the Swiss graphic design style.

At the moment we can already enjoy 4 single casks: A 1995 Allt-a-Bhainne, a 1997 Glen Keith, a 1995 Tormore and a 1996 Glentauchers. All of them are already available through Jurgen's Whiskyhuis who imports them in Belgium. Two of these already landed on my tasting table and made it to my notebook. Let's have a sniff and a taste of the Glen Keith and the Allt-a-Bhainne.

Identity Card Allt-a-Bhainne 1995

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995 & Glen Keith 1997
  • Independent bottling from Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery, Speyside
  • 18-year-old single malt Scotch whisky
  • Alcohol: 59.2% ABV
  • cask #166300 | 264 bottles
  • ex-bourbon hogshead
Colour: The Allt-a-Bhainne has a classic golden colour and leaves thin, but slow legs on the glass.

Nose: This one has a very intriguing nose. Despite the high ABV, the nose is surprisingly soft at first. The alcohol sting arrives after a few seconds. The nose offers a lot of spices, oranges and roasted nuts. Some cinnamon- and sugar pastries with vanilla and apricot filling. And an occasional whiff of Martini Fiero and orange rind.

A small dash of water even made it more interesting. It added some farmy notes to the dram and released a hint of cacao.

Taste: Now the high ABV is talking! The first mouthfeel is hefty, oily and warming. This Allt-a-Bhainne has lots of spices and sweetness in abundance. Sweet pears, nuts with a thin layer of honey and gingerbread.

Water creates a fair amount of Scottish mist in the glass and makes it buttery. Good old fashioned butter cake with apricots and pumpkin jam. Young grapes, orange marmalade and oak provide some tasty bitterness.

Finish: The spicy aftertaste lingers for a long time in the mouth with some citrus peel. Very Grappa-like.

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995

Glen Keith 1997

Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995 & Glen Keith 1997
  • Independent bottling from Glen Keith Distillery, Speyside
  • 17-year-old single malt Scotch whisky
  • Alcohol: 52.3% ABV
  • cask #72627 | 309 bottles
  • ex-bourbon hogshead

Colour: 17 years old and still as fresh as light yellow primroses in springtime. On sight, this Glen Keith from Chapter 7 could easily be mistaken for a much younger whisky. This pale Pinot Grigio coloured dram leaves thin and fast legs on the glass.

Nose: Almonds and marzipan are the dominant flavours, accompanied by something strange and surprising. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but I would have sworn to notice some Emmental cheese (from Switzerland, hence my suspicion) in it. A light alcohol sting makes room for juicy yellow apples, raisins and banana filling for cupcakes. Slightly drying wood scents with coconut and menthol.

Water makes it cloudy, just like the Allt-a-Bhainne. The banana filling comes to the front with unsweetened applesauce and malt biscuits.

Taste: A creamy, yet spicy mouthfeel. Sweet apples with vanilla custard.

A small, but necessary, splash of water gives you a peppery wake-up call and treats you with wood shavings and the maltiness from pilsner beers. Sweet peanuts and aromatic pear syrup infused with clove.

Finish: A long sweet aftertaste with plenty of wood and menthol. Aniseed candy and creamy peanut butter.

Chapter 7 Glen Keith 1997


Impossible to pick a real winner from the Swiss - Scottish duel. The spicy Allt-a-Bhainne is an excellent winter dram, while the fruity Glen Keith prepares you for spring. Two Speyside whiskies, both matured in ex-bourbon casks, yet as different as Arnold and Danny in Twins.

Chapter 7 Glen Keith and Allt-a-Bhainne

The 1995 Allt-a-Bhainne costs €108 at Jurgen's Whiskyhuis. The 1997 Glen Keith sets you back €91 at the same shop. The choice is all yours...

Disclosure: The samples were sent to me by Chapter 7 for participating in their Facebook competition.

More information: Chapter 7
Bottle pictures: and Chapter 7.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Last Great Malts: Aultmore

John Dewar & Sons Ltd., one of the most respected names in the world of Scotch whisky, finished the release a range of new Speyside expressions and never-before-released single malts – the hidden gems of the Bacardi stable. This bold move initiated by Stephen Marshall four years ago, unprecedented in recent years, will introduce a treasure trove of top-shelf whiskies.

Today they introduced the complete Aultmore range. The 12 years old was already released in the fall of 2014, now it is up to the travel retail whisky, a 21 years old and the top of the line, a 25 years old.

Aultmore whisky range

Taking its name from the Gaelic for ‘Big Burn’, Aultmore was built just outside Keith on the nine mile-long road to Buckie, in a remote region of Speyside. The distillery sits beside by the small rural village of Aultmore, with both often obscured from view, blanketed in thick fog from the mysterious Foggie Moss.

First produced in 1897, for more than a century this scarce Speyside classic has been distilled in handmade copper pot stills. To ensure the purest of flavours, the barley used holds no hint of peat smoke. Casks too are carefully picked, with only the finest grade selected for maturation.

The exceptionally smooth, clean and fruity taste of Aultmore can also be traced back to the moist, misty Foggie Moss with its network of natural springs. Here, the distillery’s secluded water source slowly wends its way through boggy terrain where bracken, gorse and heather filters and purifies the water, aiding the ‘refined character’ of Aultmore’s spirit.

Aultmore 12 official tasting notes

Born of fog, bog and brimming wee burns, a verdant nose of dewy moss and delicate flora, sweet liquid tracking a secluded path, gliding through green grass and fresh wild herbs.
Price: £41.95 at The Whisky Exchange

Aultmore 12

Aultmore 21 official tasting notes

Ethereal summer nights, gloaming air tinged with fruity olive oil and rosemary, then velvety sweetness with soft melon and cereal hues; a sleekit-smooth secret, shared at last.

Aultmore 21

Aultmore 25 official tasting notes

Reclined in damp shorn grass, vapours of lime and baked apples, each silken sip unveiling lush vanilla and buttery biscuits; dreich skies deserve a top-class dram.
Price: £296 at The Whisky Exchange

Aultmore 25

The complete Aultmore range will be bottled at 46% ABV without any additional colouring. This quality statement will apply to the almost all of the Last Great Malts: Craigellachie (already available), The Deveron/Macduff and Royal Brackla (mid 2015).

Source: The Last Great Malts