Sunday, 28 February 2016

News: The Macallan 12 - The Mac is back?

A new label for The Macallan 12 turned up in the public TTB registry. 
Does this mean the people at Edrington will re-introduce a whisky with an age statement to the Macallan range? Or are  they planning a make-over for the 12yo that's still available on some markets (like the U.S. and Asia)?

The latter seems more plausible. Ruben from Whiskynotes even suggested a third option: a new addition next to the 12yo Fine Oak and the 12yo Sherry Oak in markets where The Macallan kept the age statement whiskies in the core range.

It seems very unlikely - read: no way - they will draw back from the NAS range (Gold, Amber, Ruby & Sienna) on a global scale. Although with some luck it's an (expensive) addition for the fans. Wait and see... Maybe they'll surprise us on 27 March, International Whisky Day in honor of Michael Jackson, who was well-known for being in love with Macallan malts.

The whisky is 12 years old and matured in a combination American oak and European oak casks seasoned (they deliberately evaded the word matured?) with sherry. If I interpret the text on the back label right there's no ex-bourbon involved in this whisky.

P.S. Is it me or does this label looks very familiar? The colour combination immediately made me think of the Berry Bros & Rudd spirits labels.

Identity Card

  • The Macallan 12 Double Cask
  • Macallan Distillery, Charlestown of Aberlour (Speyside)
  • 12 year old single malt
  • 43 % ABV
Back Label

Source and pictures: Public Registry Colas online

Friday, 26 February 2016

News: Bladnoch working of their first new whiskies

Someone is working really hard to bring back the Lowlands distillery Bladnoch alive. Since the Australian businessman David Prior bought the distillery and the remaining stocks things were rather quiet. The last bit of news I picked up was that they hauled in Ian Macmillan, the former master blender of Burn Stewart.

Last week, a few journalists in Australia got a preview of the new single malt from Bladnoch. Two expressions are already in the making. A no-age statement whisky at 46% ABV and a 52-year old expression. The first one will be released somewhere soon, the older one probably in the middle of the year.

Bladnoch single malt
A square decanter and a fancy black label

Seems like the website got a complete make-over and they created a new twitter handle (@bladnochmalt) for the company. They could have simply renamed the old one and keep the exisiting followers, but hey, that's just me... And what do we see in the whisky section? Yes indeed, the very same bottle with a generic label.  The days of the very retro-looking Bladnoch are definitely over.

Bladnoch single malt bottles
On the left: the retro Bladnoch from the previous owners.
On the right: a fancy square bottle with a design stopper.
No details on the pricing or the contents of the whisky have been made available. Let's hope the people at Bladnoch won't follow Diageo's example. I saw the bottle and thought "Mortlach..." Australia might be the perfect stepping stone to Asia, Mortlach's most succesful playground. Or maybe David Prior just wanted to share his first Bladnoch with his native country and I'm running way ahead of things?

But let us be not too rash with our commentaries before having tasted the whisky at least. There's simply too much we don't know yet and Bladnoch deserves a fair chance. To be continued in the near future.

 Source: The Weekly Review


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Douglas Laing Rock Oyster Cask Strength

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Glasgow's independent bottler Douglas Laing recently released a cask strength version of their Rock Oyster blended malt. The whisky is part of their Remarkable Regional Malts, a series of blended malts zooming in on the classic whisky regions of Scotland.
Although we could start a discussion on whether the islands form a separate whisky region or are only a part of the Highlands region, we're not going down that path right now. We're here to pry open a rocky oyster!

At first Rock Oyster almost seemed like an inside competitor for one of the most charismatic blends from the industry: Douglas Laing's own Big Peat, a blended malt with malt whiskies exclusively from the Islay. They even claim to include some magical Port Ellen (note to self: put them side by side one day for an in-depth comparison).

Anyway, Rock Oyster is a blend with malts from the Scottish islands Arran, Jura, Orkney and Islay. Arran is known for being fruity, Jura for fresh and citrusy unpeated malts (although they distill heavily peated spirit as well). Islay of course is known for its peatiness with Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain spirit readily available for independent bottlers.

Friday, 19 February 2016

News: Lagavulin 8 years old - 200th anniversary 1816 - 2016 #lagavulin200

Lagavulin 8
Images of an 8 year old single malt have been "leaked" to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin.

Lagavulin is the third distillery on the isle of Islay celebrating its bicentenary.  One of the bottlings will be an 8 year old single malt (age statement, big YES) bottled at 48% (+43% ABV, another big YES).

A word of advice - my honest opinion, not an advice perhaps - to the people of Diageo (supposing they even read this blog post). Ditch the e150 for one time. You're selling the whisky in a cardboard box and a green bottle. No way consumers will leave the bottle on the shelve because of a difference in colour or a too pale hue.

People thinking "Hey, this whisky seems to be a lot paler then my previous bottle" are NOT the ones who buy different batches to put them side by side to compare. The whiskygeeks/nuts on the contrary... we only kick on those differences in stead of being turned down. We love seeing and tasting the differences between batches. So please, no caramel colouring this time?

The label is hinting at Alfred Barnard's visit to the Lagavulin Distillery that was noted down in his book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. Maybe the original text could reveal some more clues?

Available from April 2016. Price: around €60.

Lagavulin 8 #lagavulin200
I want this Laga 8 in my team!

Identity Card

  • Lagavulin 8
  • Lagavulin Distillery, Port Ellen (Islay)
  • 8 year old single malt
  • 48% ABV
  • Will be available in 50ml, 200ml, 375ml, 700/750ml, 1l and 1.75l bottles
Lagavulin 8Lagavulin 8

We journeyed through the village of Lagavulin. "The Mill in the valley". And no prettier or more romantic spot could have been chosen for a distillery. We tasted some eight years old before starting, which was exceptionally fine. - Alfred Barnard in The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom.

The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom
The book from which Diageo cites.

Official Tasting Notes

tasting notes from Lagavulin
The official tasting notes. Source: Lagavulin

The label appeared today on the public registry of Colas Online

Update: Mark Gillespie from Whiskycast wrote a more extensive post on the new 8 year old

Monday, 15 February 2016

Benromach 35

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Benromach launched one of their older expressions to day some two weeks ago: a 35yo single malt of the pre-Gordon & Macphail era and just a few years prior to the mothballing in 1983 by Distillers Company Limited (DCL). One could assume this is a 1980's vintage Benromach unless some casks have been opened in January 2016...

The whisky was distilled under the supervision of Donald MacDonald, the former Benromach Distillery Manager.  They filled the last cask 1983/535 on 24th March 1983. When Gordon & Macphail took over in 1993 it took them 5  years  (and a few millions) before the distillery was operational again. I think it is pretty safe to say the Urquhart family did an amazing job with Benromach. The 10 and 15 year old single malts are above par (as not to say vastly superior) to equally aged Speyside single malts.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Whisky Mercenary Ledaig 2005

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Tobermory is the only distillery on the beautiful Isle of Mull. It was founded in 1798 under the name Ledaig. The distillery has been alternally called Tobermory and Ledaig throughout its history.

Its present day name is Tobermory but they use both brand names. They distill six months a year a peated spirit under the Ledaig brand and an unpeated spirit for the remainder of the year. This unpeated single malt carries the name Tobermory.

The Whisky Mercenary is the alter ego of the Belgian independent bottler J├╝rgen Vromans. At the end of 2014 he bottled a young Ledaig as a peaty alternative to the Islay malts that are getting harder to get hold of.

The name 'Ledaig' (to be pronounced as 'let-chick') means 'safe haven' in Gaelic.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

News: Douglas Laing rebrands the Provenance series

Douglas Laing revamps its Provenance series. The younger brother of the (Xtra) Old Particular series was first launched in 2004.

The series is a trip through Scotland and is illustrated by a compass. Each region is symbolized by a colour and a distinctive sign.

  • Lowlands: mint green and a tree.
  • Highlands (+ Islands): Purple and a deer
  • Speyside: Red and a salmon
  • Islay: Blue and the Kildalton cross.

Provenance is now part of the "Exceptional Single Casks" brand strategy of Douglas Laing (The other two brands being Old Particular and Xtra Old Particular). This is an accessible but excellent introduction in the world of single cask whiskies with an age between 7 and 14 years old.

The new Provenance series is bottled at 46% alcohol. The first new ones are:
  • Auchentoshan 13 Years Old
  • Benrinnes 11 Years Old
  • Bunnahabhain 8 Years Old
  • Talisker 7 Years Old
  • Aberlour 7 Years Old
  • Allt-a-Bhainne 7 Years Old
  • Balmenach 10 Years Old
  • Craigellachie 7 Years Old
  • Dailuaine 7 Years Old
  • Glenallachie 7 Years Old
  • Inchgower 8 Years Old
  • Macduff 8 Years Old
  • Tamdhu 8 Years Old
  • Mortlach 8 Years Old
Source: Press release Douglas Laing

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

News: Ghost 7 Time Slip

At the end of 2014 a blend of Karuizawa malt and Kawasaki grain from the 1970's was discovered in a forgotten warehouse up in the cold Hokkaido. To give the spirit a last boost, they recasked the whisky in a Spanish oak ex-Karuizawa cask from the Golden Age (the 1980's). The whisky was carefully monitored so the ABV wouldn't drop below 40%.

This is no ordinary blended whisky but one that has been finished in a single cask from the legendary Karuizawa. 282 bottles of this Time Slip were released on the market yesterday and sold out already.

Identity Card

  • Ghost #7 Time Slip
  • Blend of Karuizawa malt & Kawasaki grain
  • 1970's Vintage
  • 43 % ABV
  • Bottled in 2015
  • ex-Karuizawa sherry butt | 282 bottles
The label features the Yoshitoshi print “The Ghost of Taira no Tomomori Appears at Daimotsu Bay”. Taira no Tomomori was one of the commanders of the Taira clan during the Genpei war. The Taira were defeated by the Minamoto clan at Dan-no-ura. Tomomori joined his clan members by committing suicide. People interested in the whole story can read the Wikipedia page on the Battle of Dan-no-ura

Battle of Dan-no-ura
Price: €375 /  49.000¥ (Sold out)

Source and pictures: Nonjatta

Monday, 1 February 2016

News: Benromach 35

  • Benromach 35
  • Benromach Distillery, Forres (Speyside)
  • 35 years old
  • 43 % ABV

Benromach launches a 35 year old single malt today. They describe it as "A most satisfying Speysider with cinnamon spice hints and beeswax polish, stewed pear and a delicate charred oak edge."

This rare whisky, dating back to a time before Benromach was restored in the ‘90s, exudes the heritage of the Speyside distillery. Created under the watchful eye of Donald MacDonald, former Distillery Manager, the casks this whisky was matured in have long been a part of the Benromach history. Willie McArthur, former malt man and warehouseman, was one of the workers responsible for protecting the precious casks remaining in the bonded warehouses.

The gorgeous decanter protecting the 35yo whisky comes with a wooden presentation box, reflecting the various elements which have gone into making the whisky; the copper stills, the dark, grained wood of the original washbacks, and the white of the limewashed distillery walls.

The Speyside distillery is one of the most popular among the geek population of the whisky world. Their 10 and 15 years old expressions are much applauded.

Benromach 35

Benromach 35
Back label of the Benromach 35

Tasting notes from Benromach

Colour: Golden amber

Nose: Rich sherry influences with orange marmalade, kiwi and grapefruit aromas, complemented by gorgeous cinnamon spice.

Mixed with water you get sherry influences with honey, blackcurrant and beeswax polish aromas, complemented by a subtle hint of cloves.

Taste: Initially, it is sweet on the palate with honey, fruitcake, ripe banana and melon flavours. Watch out for the smooth white chocolate edge as it develops, combined with a soft menthol note, giving a full body and long and smooth fruity finish.

With water it becomes fabulous combination of white pepper followed by dried tobacco, dewy stewed pear, raisin and zesty orange peel flavours, heightened by a delicate edge of charred oak… the result of lingering for over three decades in oak casks.

Benromach Distillery

Benromach 35 Years Old is available to purchase at specialist whisky retailers with an RRP in the United Kingdom of £425 / €560.

Source and pictures: TTB Online & Benromach