Around The World Of Malt Whisky
January 23, 2019
- Douglas Laing Single Minded Bunnahabhain 8 Year Single Cask, Islay, 43% abv. $83.49 750 ml. no color added, non chill filtered
Established in 1948, Douglas Laing is a leading creator and purveyor of fine Scotch Whisky with particular focus on artisan, small batch and single cask bottlings. A proud family business in its third generation, their goal is to continually exceed the expectations of customers and consumers around the world by offering a special, quality-driven and unique Scotch Whisky experience. Bunnahabhain Distillery is located north of Port Askaig on Islay and is the source of one of the more mild whiskies to be produced on the famous island. It is one of the lesser known distilleries on the island and has earned a status as something of a hidden gem for whisky lovers. Tasting Notes ( courtesy of Douglas Laing): The nose is sweetly scented, gently maritime, distinctly spiced and gristy. On the palate, detect lots of rich juicy barley, with a soft oily twist and late burnt fruit. The finish comes with a hint of salt, subtle spices, more cereal and even more spice.
- The Dalmore 12, Northern Highlands, Scotland, 40%abv. $101.99 700ml. color added, chill filtered
The Dalmore Distillery is located in Alness, 20 miles north of Inverness. It sits on the banks of the Cromarty Firth overlooking the Black Isle, the "big meadowland", from which it takes its name. It is one of the most legendary distilleries in the world, when it comes to creating stunning whisky with real provenance. Dalmore was founded by Alexander Matheson in 1839 and now stands as Whyte and Mackay’s largest distillery as well as being the flagship for the brand. With four pairs of stills, Dalmore has a capacity of 4.2 million litres per annum and operates at near capacity, but still retains its quality and character. The house style is undeniably one of rich, full-bodied whisky. The Dalmore 12 is matured in American white oak ex-bourbon casks and finished in rare and aged Oloroso sherry casks. Distiller’s Notes: The Aroma: Citrus fruits, chocolate and aromatic spices. On the palate: Seville oranges, dried fruits and hints of vanilla pod. Finishing Notes: Roasted coffee and dark chocolate.
- GlenAllachie 12, Speyside, Scotland, 46% abv. $89.99 750 ml. natural color, no chill filtration
Before Billy Walker, Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson came together to purchase the distillery in October, 2017, the spirit was predominantly used in blended whiskies, so it’s no surprise that many folks probably haven’t heard of them. GlenAllachie derives from the Gaelic, Gleann Aileachaidh meaning ‘Valley of the Rocks’. The new owners are in the process of relaunching GlenAllachie as a distillery known for its big, fruity malt whisky. Six single cask bottlings were released in April 2018, and GlenAllachie’s first core range of single malts was launched in June 2018. Distiller’s Notes: Colour: polished bronze. Nose: butterscotch and honey playing the lead, with raisins and mocha in the background. Taste: honey, marzipan and bananas, with lashings of butterscotch, raisins and a delicate hint of mocha.
- Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whisky NAS, Campbell River, B.C. 46% abv. $79.99 750 ml. natural color, no chill filtration
Established in 2011, Shelter Point Distillery is located on 380 acres in Oyster River, BC, about halfway up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. Farmed for generations, Shelter Point remains one of the last seaside farms on the Island. The location is naturally blessed with the key ingredients of exceptional handcrafted artisanal spirits: fertile fields to grow barley, a large underground aquifer to provide naturally filtered water and crisp sea air compliments of the Salish Sea. Add in skilled craftspeople, traditional Scottish distilling methods and state-of-art facility, and the result is a world-class distillery on the West Coast of Canada. The 100% (barley) Single Malt Whisky is distilled batch-by-batch in traditional copper pot stills from two-row barley, and aged in American oak barrels in an oceanfront warehouse. When it comes to artisanal whisky, every element matters—and in the unique, temperate rainforest climate, even the sunsets and sea air become integral. Distiller’s Notes: An enticing nose of vanilla, coconut, caramel and tropical fruits. The palate provides a delectable melody of juicy fruits and candied sweets, leading to a tantalising finish of spice, malt chocolate and a hint of salt.
- Cotswolds 2014 Odyssey Barley Single Malt Whisky NAS, England, 46% abv. $96.99 700 ml. no color added, non- chill filtered
Cotswolds is the brainchild of Dan Szor, with the help of master distiller Harry Cockburn. The firm originally earned its wings manufacturing a London Dry gin. There are, in fact, more than a few distilleries doing this to shore up cash flow until their whiskeys mature. The Odyssey Barley whisky is their inaugural release. Distiller’s Notes: Nose: Notes of honey and butterscotch layered with light fruits (peaches and apricots), a hint of marzipan. Palate: Strong notes of tannin-rich malt, oils and dark sugar with lots of spice, caramelised Seville orange marmalade. Finish: Long and resinous, with dark red fruits and a hint of treacle.
- Glenfiddich Experimental Series #02 Project XX Single Malt NAS, Speyside, Scotland, 47% abv. $108.99 750 ml. non chill filtered
The Experimental Series embodies the family philosophy of freedom and possibilities, to create a range of ground-breaking single malts. 2016 saw the release of their first pioneering expression: The IPA Experiment. The second expression was, according to the family, their most ambitious to date: Project XX (pronounced ‘twenty’). Shrouded in secrecy, malt Master Brian Kinsman invited 20 whisky experts from around the world to select any expression of their choosing from the thousands of stacked casks. The final 20 chosen malts, matured in everything from port pipes to virgin bourbon barrels, have created an unusual, innovative and unexpected whisky. Distiller’s Notes: Colour:
deep gold. Nose: Classic fruitiness with hints of apple blossom and plump pear. A perfect balance of rich vanilla oak with golden sugar and a touch of liquorice. Taste: deep and mellow, the candyfloss sweetness is complemented by unusual notes of toasted almonds and cinnamon and a hint of crisp tannin. Finish: Long lasting with a savoured sweet oakiness.
- Edition Spirits The First Editions Blair Athol 1995 Single Cask 21 Yr. Highlands, 53.4% abv. $159.99 700 ml. not colored, non-chill filtered
Edition Spirits is an independent whisky bottling business owned by Andrew and Scott Laing, the sons of Hunter Laing director and former Douglas Laing founder Stewart Laing. It has released over 150 bottlings of single cask whiskies since its creation in 2010, all bottled at cask strength and released under the First Editions series. The Blair Athol distillery is nestled in picturesque Pitlochry close to Edradour. The distillery was founded under the name Aldour in 1778 by Robert Robertson. In 1825, he expanded and renamed the facilities Blair Athol. The distillery has had a long association with Bell’s Blended Scotch. This whisky was distilled in November 1995 and left to age in a Sherry butt for 21 years. Following this, it was bottled in June 2017 with a small outturn of 321 bottles. Tasting Notes (courtesy the chaps at Master Of Malt): Nose: ground cinnamon, cacao, fresh ginger, cherry. Palate: chocolate orange, honey-roasted nuts, pecan pie and Black Forest gâteau. Finish: The rich, chocolatey notes continue long.
- Helios Distillery “Kura The Whisky” Japanese Rum Cask Finished Pure Malt Whisky, Okinawa, Japan 40% abv. $109.99 700ml
Helios distillery has been around since 1961, when founder Tadashi Matsuda set out to fulfill his belief that an alcoholic beverage should be made by local ingredients. He produced an original rum sprit using sugar cane from local fields for his first product and the concept is still the same. Helios produces many types of alcohol now, but there’s still much caring about the products and their ingredients. Distiller’s Notes: Made in the southernmost region of Japan, "Kura The Whisky" is the result of careful aging in American White Oak. Finished in Japanese rum casks, its remarkable sweet aroma is accompanied by its distinctive mellow taste.
- Highfern Angels’ Nectar Blended Malt Scotch Rich Peat Edition NAS, Speyside, 46% abv.$79.99 700 ml.
Inspired by the Angels' share, the traditional name given to the whisky lost to evaporation during maturation, Angels’ Nectar is a new range of Blended Malt Scotch Whiskies. This is the second product from independent bottler Highfern, the company owned by Robert Ransom, formerly of Glenfarclas. The Angels’ Nectar Rich Peat Edition is made from a selection of Highland malts; the contributing distilleries are not disclosed. Blender’s Notes: This whisky oozes peat like the welcoming smoke from the chimney of an old farmhouse in the Highlands, which is followed by a subtle fruity sweetness akin to toffee apples and dark chocolate. The peat is smoky rather than medicinal.
- Ardbeg Corryvreckan NAS, Islay, 57% abv. $129.99 750 ml. non chill filtered
Our last stop on this trip brings us back home to where we started: Islay. The Ardbeg distillery was officially founded in 1815 by John McDougall, but whisky was distilled long before that. There are, however, no documentations, as Ardbeg was an illegal business back in 1794. During the 1980s and 1990s, Ardbeg suffered from an uncertain future and it was not until the brand was purchased by The Glenmorangie Company in 1997 that the distillery was saved from extinction. Since then, the distillery has risen like a phoenix and today Ardbeg is well established as a niche, cult malt, with a passionate following. The name Ardbeg comes from the Gaelic word 'ad bheag' for small hill. Ardbeg Corryvreckan takes its name from the famous whirlpool that lies to the north of Islay, where, according to the website, “only the bravest souls dare to venture.” Distiller’s (pretty well complete) Notes: Color: rich amber. Aroma: Heady, intense and powerful. Torrents of tarry ropes, creosote and linseed oil rising from deep within the vortex. A collision of waxy dark chocolate, warm blackcurrants and muscovado sugar pulls you under its spell with a burst of plump cherries and earthy pine needles leaping from its depths. From salty seasoning comes a briny character with tangy crisp seaweed and smoky bacon swirling on the surface with hints of sweet vanilla, spicy cloves and blueberries. Surrender to its dangerous depths with the heady force of menthol, treacle and chilli sauce. Taste: Torrents of taste well up on the palate; deep, peppery and chewy, bombarding the tongue. The first plunge brings forth chewy peppered steak soaked in pepper sauce with the tang of crispy seaweed. As you descend deeper, encounter a mouthful of black tarry espresso coffee that coats the palate with rich melted dark fruits (blackcurrants, blueberries and cherries) and bitter almonds. As the taste soaks in deeper, star anise and hickory dry out the palate before a surprise of chalky effervescent violets fizz to the surface.
Robbie Burns: Around The World Of Malt Whisky
January 23, 2019
List of Sources
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Coldicott, Nicholas, and Van Eycken, Stefan, “Single Malts From Japan”, pp 194-195 Malt Whisky Yearbook 2017, Magdig Media Limited, Shropshire, England
Elizabeth Powell, Elizabeth, Whisky Review: Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky, The Whiskey Wash, March 6, 2018
Greg, Reviewing the Glenfiddich IPA and Glenfiddich Project XX Experiments Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Great Drams, September 1, 2016
Harrison, Joel, “Something’s In The Air”, pp. 25-31, Malt Whisky Yearbook 2019
Hopkins, Amy, Angels’ Nectar Scotch Releases Peated Edition, The Spirits Business, 8th February, 2016
K&L California , A New & Exciting Addition to our Japanese Whisky Portfolio — “Kura The Whisky”, Japanese Whisky News, August 20th, 2018
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Ronde, Ingvar, Malt Whisky Yearbook 2019, Magdig Media Limited, Shropshire, England
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