Archive for July, 2009

Review: Suntory Hibiki 12 yr. old

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I first wrote about this here last week. It won’t be available in the U.S. until October 1st.

 Hibiki, 12 year old, 43%, $55
Well-rounded, solid malt backbone, and very drinkable. These are the characteristics of this impressive blend. Honeysuckle, vanilla-coated malt and fruit (pineapple upside down cake, lemon tart, plum, bramble) are the primary flavors. Ripe barley, marzipan, beeswax, and clove round out the palate. Gentle, soothing finish. Suntory can make a 12 year old blend this good with just two malt distilleries? Scotland, are you taking notice?

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

Review: Parker’s Heritage Collection “Golden Anniversary”

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Parker’s Heritage Collection, “Golden Anniversary”, 50%, $150
This bottling celebrates Master Distiller Parker Beam’s 50 years of service by containing whiskey from each of the past five decades. This is a fabulous whiskey: seamless, incredibly complex, with an impeccable marriage of youth and maturity. It’s also very even-keeled throughout—quite different than last year’s equally impressive PHC, a 27 year old, whose personality was more like an exhilarating old wooden rollercoaster ride (and also brandished more oak).  Look for candied citrus, nectarine, blueberry, and sultana anchored by a nougat center and laced with honeyed vanilla and orange creamsickle. There’s a dusting of cocoa powder, brittle mint and cinnamon too! Tobacco leaves, polished leather and teasing bourbon barrel char round out the palate, emerging more prominently towards its warming finish. A classic!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 97

(Note: This whiskey will be released in late September. )

Macallan formally introduces 1824 Collection

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I reviewed this new line of Travel Retail whiskies here back in February. This morning I received the official press release announcing them. Here’s the guts of the press release. Very nice whiskies, by the way.

All our experience, distilled into one collection

The Macallan 1824 Collection is a new family of single malts from The Macallan. Developed exclusively for the brand’s third largest market – Global Travel Retail -where it has been the fastest growing major Single Malt in the last five years and is currently ranked number two by volume.

The Collection is available in all key Travel Retail outlets in the Americas and Europe and has just been launched in Asia at Singapore airport. The Select Oak expression has secured listings onboard a number of airlines including Air Canada, Delta, American Airlines and Continental. 

The 1824 Collection of four expressions – Select Oak, Whisky Maker’s Edition, Estate Reserve and 1824 Limited Release – offers the ultimate flavour journey for whisky lovers. Recommended retail prices range from 46 to 1,450 euros.

The 1824 Collection has been created by John Ramsay, Master Whisky Maker for parent company The Edrington Group, and Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan’s Whisky Maker; who between them have over 50 years of experience of making whisky. They have been inspired by the distillery’s long history and rich traditions to create a very special range of Single Malts, selecting the best casks at the peak of their maturity in order to achieve the fullest and most complex whisky.

Each expression illustrates a particular story about The Macallan’s long and distinguished history and showcases the spectrum of flavours and aromas associated with The Macallan, the world’s most iconic whisky.

William Ovens, The Edrington Group’s Area Director, Global Travel Retail, comments: “The Macallan has enjoyed the most dynamic growth of any Single Malt in Travel Retail in recent years. In this period we have experienced significant success with some very innovative new products.  The 1824 Collection opens a new chapter in the illustrious history of The Macallan and we are confident that consumers will react positively to this exclusive and eye catching new range. 

“The four expressions in the Collection have been positively embraced by whisky experts and connoisseurs. In fact the Collection is the highest scoring new product range ever released by The Macallan. Whisky Expert and author of The Whisky Bible, Jim Murray has given Select Oak a score of 94.5% and the 1824 Limited Release Decanter a score of 97.5%, describing it as ‘a lifetime great whisky’.”

The range is on shelf now with the 1824 Limited Release decanter on sale from October 2009.

Kilchoman announces first whisky release

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Many of you already knew about this. Now the distillery has released an official press release on the debut of their first whisky. Details follow.


Kilchoman Distillery, the first built on Islay for nearly 100 years, will release its eagerly anticipated inaugural single malt whisky on the 9th September 2009. Initially bottles will be allocated to 14 key malt markets worldwide as well being available from the distillery shop and via the on-line shop.

Production started in late 2005 and annual production is between 90,000 and 100,000 litres of alcohol; 30% of the spirit is distilled from barley grown and malted at the distillery and the balance comes from the Port Ellen Maltings on the island. The two malts are kept separate during distilling and Kilchoman will release two different expressions of single malt. The majority of maturation (80%) is in fresh bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace and the remaining 20% in fresh Oloroso sherry butts.

Anticipation of the release has been growing since a bottle from the first cask filled at the distillery was auctioned during Kilchoman’s open day during Feis Ile, the whisky festival in May 2009. A number of collectors and whisky enthusiasts were present for the auction and the bottle eventually sold for £5,400.  

The malt has been matured in fresh bourbon barrels and finished for six months in Oloroso sherry butts. In order to maximise flavour and texture, the single malt whisky will be bottled at 46% ABV at natural colour and non chill-filtered.

Tasting notes from Kilchoman Single Malt, 46% from Dr Jim Swan:

“Peat smoke and caramel toffee drizzled with rich fruits.

On the nose Kilchoman begins with strong peaty aromas. While many Islay malts are either wood smoke or medicinal or many variations on the theme, Kilchoman has them all. Initial peat smoke reveals an underlying clean medicinal character but rich dark fruits and light citrus lemon and orange follow on. Finally hints of creamy caramel toffees and sultanas fight their way through this complex whisky.

In the mouth this single malt is remarkably viscous and the peat smoke has to share its flavour with dark fruits, sultanas and creamy toffee in the mid palate. Kilchoman has a long finish, eventually the peat recovers, leaving a clean lingering aftertaste long after swallowing.”

The recommended retail price is £37.00 per bottle.

Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director began the project in the summer of 2001. The company is privately owned with 30 private investors. Wills has worked in the drinks industry for 32 years, firstly in the wine trade, and since moving to Scotland in 1995 he has been involved in the sales and marketing of malt whisky.

Wills commented: “the release of our first single malt is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work and we have strived to produce top quality spirit and fill into top quality wood. The reaction to the various releases of our spirit has been very encouraging and everyone connected with Kilchoman is looking forward to sharing our malt with whisky enthusiasts around the world.”

Kilchoman Distillery will celebrate the launch of the single malt by holding a party at the distillery.

BenRiach releases Limited Edition Batch #6

Monday, July 20th, 2009

This is just in this morning. 70cl bottles only, so none are coming to the U.S. (sigh…)

BenRiach Issues Limited Release Batch Six

The BenRiach Distillery Company has selected nine vintages for its sixth limited release batch.

They range fr19701035frontsetom a 38-year-old from 1970 to a 14-year-old from 1994 and will be bottled towards the end of July.

Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “This is the sixth batch of BenRiach limited release single cask bottlings. Batch 1 was released in 2004 shortly after we took over the distillery and we have released a batch every year since. As a result, over the last five years these have built up quite a following.”

Batch Six includes classic Speyside styles and heavily peated BenRiachs, various wood finishes (Pedro Ximinez, Tawny Port, Gaja Barolo), and a very unusual 1977 (cask 3798) that has been matured exclusively in Virgin American Oak for thirty-one years.

Alistair added: “In terms of age and style, the range reflects the breadth and depth of whiskies maturing in our five dunnage warehouse in the Heart of Speyside. Each will be bottled at cask strength, with natural colour and non chill filtered. Bottles will be individually numbered by hand, and will be housed in a gift tube.”

Batch Six is being marketed in fifteen countries worldwide, with shipments scheduled to the UK, Europe, South Africa, Asia and New Zealand.

The full cask list is as follows:

1970 cask # 1035 / 38YO / PX Sherry Finish                               
1975 cask # 4450 / 33YO / Peated/Tawny Port Finish                                   
1977 cask # 3798 / 31YO / Full maturation in Virgin Oak                                           
1978   cask # 4414 / 31YO / Gaja Barolo Finish                                    
1978 cask # 7772 # 30YO / Classic Speyside                                                   
1984 cask # 1048 / 24YO / Peated / Pedro Ximinez Sherry Finish                                       
1988   cask # 4424 / 20YO / Gaja Barolo Finish                        
1990   cask # 970 / 19YO / Classic Speyside                                                     
1994   cask # 105100 / 14YO / Classic Speyside 

GlenDronach whiskies: Here’s what’s coming to the U.S. And when.

Monday, July 20th, 2009

As you know, there’s a new line of GlenDronach whiskies coming out. There’s also a new line of single cask GlenDronach whiskies which I have already blogged about here.

I’ve been getting emails asking if, and when, these whiskies will be heading to the U.S., so I asked Alistair Walker if he could fill me in on the details. Here’s the scoop, in his own words:

Unfortunately these won’t be available in the US, as when we selected these casks we hadn’t finalised details re representation of GlenDronach in the US market. So the 1st 5 GlenDronach Single Casks will be sold in 70cl bottles in the UK, Europe, South Africa and Asia Pacific.

For info, I can advise the typical retail prices in the UK will be as follows:

1971 # 483 – £359.99
1972 # 719 – £339.99
1992 # 1140 – £62.99
1993 # 523 – £62.99
1996 # 193 – £47.99

However, the good news is that in the last week we finalised our arrangements for GlenDronach in the US, the brand will be imported by Preiss Imports (also, as you know, our BenRiach importer), and you should start to see the new GlenDronach expressions – 12, 15 and 18YO – appearing in the US towards the end of the year. We have a tentative plan to look at some single cask GlenDronachs exclusively for the US in 2010.

Meantime there is one definite GlenDronach Single Cask scheduled for the US – Park Avenue Liquor Store in New York have an exclusive GlenDronach single cask bottling heading their way – it’s a 1989 vintage, cask 1900, distilled 9th November 1989, bottled July 2009, aged 19 years old, and the cask is an Oloroso Sherry Butt. It will leave the UK in August, so should be available from Oct / Nov  – for more info you should contact Jonathan Goldstein at Park Ave – .

Oh well, at least we’ll be getting the standard expressions later this year. And that 1989 vintage, 19 y/o  heading to Pare Ave sounds pretty exciting.

(Ironically, one of the best Glendronach whiskies I ever tasted was a 19 year old that was sold in the U.S. for a limited time back in the 1990s, which I, once again, ironically, purchased at Park Ave Liquors. In fact, I still have a bottle.)

Sadly, the book Michael Jackson never wrote

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

His autobiography. The stories he could have told…

Tell a friend. Get involved.

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I think we have a good thing going here, but one way we can make it better is by introducing new whisky enthusiasts to our community.

I’m doing my share by establishing links with other great whisky sites under my blogroll “What does everyone else know?”.

You can help too.  If you know someone who you think would enjoy the information and discussions here, let them know. Send them the link. Get them involved.

And for those of you still lurking but not participating (and there are a lot of you), please chime in. We would like to hear from you too. Don’t be shy.

GlenDronach Single Cask, Batch #1

Friday, July 17th, 2009

The new owners of GlenDronach just announced their first series of single cask bottlings. Full details follow in the press release I received this morning.

GlenDronach Releases Single Cask Batch One

The new owners of GlenDronach Distillery have selected five vintagglendronach-2972483-front2es for their first series of single cask bottlings since taking over the distillery last year.
In Batch One they have singled out malts from 1971, 1972, 1992, 1993 and 1996 in ages ranging from 38 to 13 years old.

All five are in the traditional GlenDronach style – richly sherried, from Oloroso Sherry Butts – and are being bottled this month.

Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “Dating back to 1826, there have been few if any single cask bottlings from GlenDronach, so the launch of Single Cask Batch One is particularly significant and will be welcomed by our customers.

“We will repeat this exercise each year, hand-selecting a small number of the very best casks from the distillery warehouses to release as Single Cask bottlings.”

Alistair added: “Each will be bottled at cask strength, at natural colour and non chill filtered. Bottles will be individually numbered by hand and will be housed in a deluxe gift box.”

Batch One is being marketed in fifteen countries worldwide, with shipments to the UK, Europe, South Africa, Asia and New Zealand scheduled for the first week of August.

The full cask list is:

1971 cask 483, 38 years old
1972 cask 719, 37 years old
1992 cask 1140, 16 years old
1993 cask 523, 16 years old
1996 cask 193, 13 years old

New Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon: Golden Anniversary

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Today I received a review bottle and press release on the newest (and third edition of) Parker’s Heritage Collection by Heaven Hill. It’s called Golden Anniversary, celebrating Master Distiller Parker Beam’s 50 years of service to Heaven Hill Distilleries.

The bottling, which will begin shipping in September, marries bourbon from each of Parker’s five decades of work: 1960’s through to 2000’s.  How cool is that? The oldest whiskey is from 1968.

It’s bottled at 100 proof, and 1,500 bottles will be produced, with a price tag of around $150.

Last year’s edition, a 27 year old bourbon, was Malt Advocate magazine’s “American Whiskey of the Year,” so the bar has been set pretty high here. I WILL be opening up this bottle before the night is over. (The temptation is just too great!) I’ll be providing a formal review in the very near future here on WDJK, so check back regularly.

Congratulations Parker!