Archive for April, 2010

Not just WhiskyFest Chicago, Whisky Week Chicago!

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

If you’re coming to our sold-out WhiskyFest Chicago this Friday, or if you live in the Chicago area, there’s a lot more going on than just WhiskyFest. There’s a whole week of cool whisky events that have built up around WhiskyFest.

Of particular note is the Ardbeg 10th Anniversary event, the day after WhiskyFest. Sadly, I have to fly back home Saturday for some personal business, but you can still go. You’ll find more info, along with sign-up information, here.

Hopefully, I’ll see you in Chicago.

New Distillery Manager at Springbank

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

 This came in on Monday from Springbank. Gavin McLachlan, a local guy, will carry on the Springbank tradition. We wish him all the best! (According to my contact at Springbank, current Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson will be moving over to Duncan Taylor to oversee the building of their new distillery.)

Local man to take over production at Springbank

SPRINGBANK, the iconic Campbeltown whisky distillery, has this week announced a summertime change of management that will see the first locally-born man take charge of production in over 60 years.

Gavin McLachlan, aged 36, will take over as Manager of Springbank and its sister distillery, Mitchell’s Glengyle, from August 1st 2010.

Neil Clapperton, Managing Director of parent company J&A Mitchell & Co Ltd, said: “Gavin is Campbeltown born and bred and his appointment gives us great pleasure and also reflects our company’s long-term commitment to Campbeltown.”

Gavin, who began his career in the whisky industry in May 2002 as a bottling hall operative at Springbank before quickly moving into malting and distilling within eight months, has been assistant manager for the past four years.

In his new post he will work alongside Director of Production Frank McHardy to oversee the day-to-day operations at Springbank and Glengyle.

Gavin’s promotion follows the resignation of present manager Stuart Robertson, who is leaving the company to take up a new appointment in the north east of Scotland.

Springbank Distillery is Scotland’s oldest continuously family owned distillery and the only distillery in Scotland to carry out 100% of the production process on site.

The company is currently under the ownership of Hedley Wright, present-day chairman and great-great-great grandson of the distillery’s founder.

In 2000, Mr Wright commissioned the construction of the Mitchell’s Glengyle Distillery, which opened in March 2004, bringing the number of operational distilleries in Campbeltown, on the Kintyre peninsula on the west coast of Scotland, to three.


For further information, contact Frank McHardy ( or Ranald Watson (


Kilchoman whisky, The U.S., this September

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I was waiting for a press release before reporting. It’s short and sweet. This is exciting news. I’m told it will be the Summer release. They should be toasting with a bottle of Kilchoman. I guess that’s one more bottle for the rest of us. 🙂

Kilchoman Distillery Appoints Importer for the USA

Kilchoman Distillery is delighted to announce it has appointed Impex Beverages at it’s importer for the USA.   The first bottles will be available from September 2010.

Anthony Wills (Managing Director of Kilchoman Islay single malt Scotch whisky) said, ‘I’m delighted to be working with Impex Beverages.   They have similar views on the best ways of marketing premium, single malt and I’m looking forward to working with them over the coming years in the USA’.

The picture shows (L to R) Anthony , and Sam Filmus and Ed Kohl of Impex Beverages celebrating their new business relationship.

Review: Two new Glen Garioch whiskies

Monday, April 19th, 2010

It’s nice to see this new line of Glen Garioch whiskies bottled at a higher strength and not chill-filtered. And they’re definitely more vibrant than their predecessors. Both expressions are very textural and have good oak “grip”. (Perhaps the use of higher quality oak, or more first-fill casks?) No chill-filtering certainly helps too! Could this be Glen Garioch’s version of “designer” whiskies?

Glen Garioch, 1797 Founder’s Reserve, 48%, $45
This one tastes a bit youthful. Very fruity (pear, green apple, green grape, rhubarb, bright citrus) with a rich, coating, malty foundation accentuated by ginger and subtle coriander. Resinous oak finish. An enjoyable whisky, but I would like to see a lower proportion of young whisky in the mix.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 81






Glen Garioch, 12 year old, 48%, $60
Delicate sherry notes soften the oak spice, and the malty sweetness provides a foundation for this whisky. The layered sweet notes (vanilla cream, butterscotch, caramel) and fruit (lime, apple, caramelized pear) show mostly on the front of the palate, with the firm, warming dry, oak spice emerging towards the finish. A lot of oak influence for its age, but not excessive.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 84

Review: Crown Royal Black Canadian Whisky

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Crown Royal Black, 45%, $30
Not exactly black. (More like russet, but “Crown Royal Russet” isn’t as catchy.) It’s nice to see the higher strength, and there’s definitely more flavor here than the standard Crown Royal or Crown Royal Reserve. But it’s missing the smoothness and elegance I cherish in other Crown Royal whiskies. Notes molasses and maple syrup, accentuated by burnt fig, hints of Pedro Ximenez sherry, and raisin. There are suggestions of dark rum and bourbon in here. (An alternative to both?) A whisky to drink on the rocks or as a mixer.

I can’t help wondering: Could this be the Canadian equivalent to Loch Dhu?

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 78

So, what’s the next trend in whisk(e)y?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

My daughter gave me her cold. (Well, let’s just say that I have the same thing she just had.) Half my voice is gone and many of my taste buds are temporarily MIA. It looks like I’m taking a break from reviewing whiskies until they return.

So, I was wondering: what do you think is going to be the next trend in whisk(e)y? We’ve certainly seen a lot already. Are there any tricks in the distillers’ bags that we haven’t seen yet?

Mackmyra, the United States, this Spring!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

We just heard from our contact at Mackmyra, the impressive distillery from Sweden. Although they have been delayed by governmental red tape here in the U.S., they are still planning on launching their whisky in New York this Spring. This is great news! Representatives from the distillery will be in New York in early May.

I will also have some good news very soon on Kilchoman, the newest Islay distillery, and their launch here in the U.S.  Stay tuned.

Review: Black Bull 40 year old blended scotch

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Black Bull, 40 year old, 40.2%, $250
A whopping 90% malt and 10% grain whisky. Soft with the oak remarkably restrained for its age. Soothingly sweet, with toffee apple, vanilla-spiked sponge cake, nougat, butterscotch, sultana, and cut grass. A peppering of cinnamon and coconut throughout, with teasing, gentle polished oak on the finish. Deftly balanced and oh so drinkable. (Available in the U.S. in June.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

New GlenDronach 1996 single cask

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

But you have to go to the distillery to buy it. It’s over 14 years old and bottled at 59.7%. More details below in the press release.

GlenDronach is delighted to announce details today (April 13) of an exclusive single cask bottling…and it’s available only in a secluded corner of the Scottish countryside!
“1996 Cask 197 has been specially selected for devotees of our renowned richly-sherried malt and is only available at our Aberdeenshire distillery,” explained Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker.
“You won’t find it anywhere else in the world so if you want to savour this unique expression, you’ll have to come here to get one of our 576 bottles…but I assure you the journey will be well worth it!”

Cask 197’s tasting notes confirm it’s a classic GlenDronach – smooth, sweet, complex and full-bodied with an incredible concentration of aromas.
Nose: Chocolate toffee sauce and intense raisin notes. Fortified wine elements marry well with roasted hazelnuts and almonds.
Appearance: Rich rosewood with a warm autumnal glow.
Palate: Sweet and full-bodied. Bold mocha flavours with more toasted nuts. An injection of stewed fruit helps to lift this dram to new levels. Chocolate-covered dates and fig jam release towards the finish.
Cask 197 bottles retail at just £47.99 each.

Review: Edradour Caledonia, 12 year old

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Edradour Caledonia, 12 year old, 46%, $80
A release chosen by Douglas Maclean (and named after his song “Caledonia”). Full sherry impact, but contained—not excessive or sappy. Rich, with nutty toffee, pot-still rum, complex raisin, date, honeyed fruit, polished leather and a hint of tobacco. Good resinous grip on the finish to balance the sweetness. The flavors are nicely integrated.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86