Archive for March, 2008

Friday’s Pan: The Macallan Lalique Decanter, 55 year old

Friday, March 7th, 2008

The Macallan Lalique Decanter, 55 year old, 40.1%, $12,000
Deep, thick nose, with sappy oak, dried citrus, old leather, spearmint and background leafy smoke. Nicely viscous on the palate, with similar notes as the aroma. But mid-palate the age gets the best of this whisky. The flavors flatten out and the wood dominates through the finish as the leather notes linger.

It’s a rare treat to taste a whisky this old. If you like Lalique (and have the money), then this new bottling is worth some consideration, because there are certainly moments of intrigue on the nose and beginning of the palate. But, I have tasted several other 50-plus year old Macallans, and I can say with certainty that the 50 year old Millennium bottling and the 1946 vintage release were better and can probably still be found for a significantly lower price (Only 420 bottles available worldwide.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 74

Review: The new Longrow 18 yr. old

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Today I received a sample of the new Longrow 18 yr. old sent to me by the Springbank distillery. It’s the first 18 yr. old Longrow since the Legendary 1973 and 1974 vintages, which I love so much and still have in my possession. I wasted not time to open it up, taste it, and review it.  It’s coming to the U.S. in about a month, and there are only 120 bottles for the U.S. (Hint: start making your inquiries now to get a bottle.)

Longrow 18 yr, 46%, $280
Straw-honey color. Light to medium weight, with a slightly oily texture. Shy on the nose, but makes up for it on the finish. Fresh brine, toasted coconut, bright citrus fruit and subtle mint on a bed of vanilla cream and honeyed malt. The peat smoke is restrained on the nose but is more assertive on the palate, and it really kicks in on the finish, which is briny, smoky, appetizing and long. The best Longrow since the 1974 vintage. If it would only open up a little more on the nose it would challenge the best from ’73 and ‘74. Still, it’s very impressive.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93

Buffalo Trace releases new “Experimental Collection” whiskeys

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Keeping with a tradition that began in 2006, the Buffalo Trace distillery just announced the release of two new whiskeys from their “Experimental Collection” series. Once again, these are wine-finished whiskeys. Here’s the description of each, as described in the press release I received about 15 minutes ago:

CABERNET FRANC AGED AFTER SIX YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for six years and three months in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used French Oak Cabernet Franc barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 14 years old. Earthy tannins of Cabernet mingle well with the bourbon undertones.

CABERNET FRANC AGED AFTER EIGHT YEARS: This whiskey was bourbon aged for eight years and one month in a new oak barrel before it was re-barreled into a used French Oak Cabernet Franc barrel. There it was aged for another eight years, making it a total of 16 years old. The taste combines an amazing balance of heavy wine and bourbon character.

Some of these Experimental Collection whiskeys have been excellent. Others have been merely “curiosities.” As in the past, the whiskeys will be released in 375 ml bottles and will retail for less than $50. I’ll be getting samples soon and will let you know my thoughts.

Interestingly, when I was at The Buffalo Trace distillery in December, President & CEO Mark Brown hinted that they might be experimenting less with wine-finishing in the future and focusing more on other areas of whiskey production.

The whisky boom continues: more expansions

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

There appears to be no end in sight to the whisky boom. Last week Pernod announced plans to expand the Glenlivet distillery and re-open Braeval. Now, Edrington has announced expansion plans for the Macallan distillery.

And, if all this weren’t enough news for one week, it was announced this morning that Glenglassaugh, which has been mothballed since 1986, will begin production again later this year, following the sale of the distillery by Edrington to a Dutch investment group.

One thing you can count on (and it has already begun): expect to a lot young, new whisky expressions (possibly mixed with a smaller percentage of older whiskies) coming on the market, lacking age statements as all this new whisky becomes legal.

The History Channel to air show on whiskey

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Part of their ongoing “Modern Marvels” series, the History Channel will debut a one-hour show titled “Whiskey” on St. Patrick’s Day, Monday March 17th, at 8:00 pm. Here’s a summary of the show, which I pulled from their website:

Known to Irish monks as “water of life”, visit some of the world’s finest distilleries to see how each country brews this thousand-year old spirit. Jack Daniels tells the secret of charcoal filtering, Jim Beam shows its premium bourbons and the art of blending is revealed at Canadian Club Whiskey. Cross the Atlantic to get the real deal at Jameson’s Distillery in Midleton, Ireland and in Scotland discover why smouldering peat gives Glenlivet its character. Meet some of the people who are lucky enough to sample whiskey for a living. Cheers!

I was interviewed by them for the show back in December in New York. Actually it felt more like a whisky interrogation. For three hours with the lights and cameras running, I was asked everything you could possibly think of relating to whisky. (Knowing my luck, all that effort will amount to a three second quote buried somewhere in the middle.)

Regardless, I think this is great for the industry, not to mention that it should be an informative and entertaining hour for the whisky enthusiast.

Oh, and for those of you who will be pretending to be Irish that evening, spending this time in a crowded Irish pub drinking Irish whiskey or possibly Guinness (and hopefully not green beer), there’s no need to worry if you can’t DVR the show. I think they have it slated to run on a schedule that will probably continue long after I am dead.