Archive for May, 2010

Review: Ardbeg Supernova (2010 Release)

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Sorry to keep you waiting…

Ardbeg Supernova (2010 Release), 60.1%, $130
Very dynamic, complex and powerful. Here’s what I’m picking up, in somewhat descending order in taste profile: leafy smoke, coal tar, mocha fudge with dark chocolate chips, smoked olive, peppered seaweed salad, fruit (lemon, lime), genever, brine-tinged grass, and  (with some coaxing) floral notes (violet?). Compared to last year’s debut release of Supernova (the whisky with the lighter-colored label in the picture), this new one is certainly comparable, but I feel it’s a tad richer, with more leafy smoke and ripe barley. It also seems a bit more polished, less aggressive. I like it a little more than its predecessor (which I rated an 89).

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90

Tomorrow: My review of the Ardbeg Supernova (2010 release)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I received my review bottle yesterday while I was out of town on business. I’ll be reviewing it formally today, comparing it to last year’s release (see picture), and posting up my review here tomorrow.

Something to look forward to. Stay tuned!

Diageo releases 4th (and final) batch of “Manager’s Choice” whiskies

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I received this press release yesterday but was in NYC on business. You can follow the trail of blood leading back to the announcement of the first release here.



Following earlier batches launched in September, January and April, Diageo are now launching the fourth and final set of their highly exclusive single-cask collection of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Among the seven expressions that feature in this fourth release are some single malts familiar to many malt whisky drinkers – notably Clynelish™, Knockando™, and the iconic award-winning Islay malt, Lagavulin™.

But Auchroisk™, Benrinnes™, Blair Athol™ and Linkwood™ normally enjoy only very limited availability.

Each of the whiskies is drawn from one single oak cask, picked after a careful examination of distillery stocks, and bottled at its natural cask strength. The number of bottles obtained from the chosen casks can vary between approximately 640 and as little as 200.

So these are rare and distinctive whiskies. Aimed at collectors and connoisseurs, prices range from £200 to £300 per bottle.

Contact: Pat Roberts at

An interesting article on small U.S. craft distillers

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

The American Distilling Institute (ADI) hosted a “Whisky and Moonshine Distilling Conference” this past week, which featured the many up and coming small distillers. The Washington Post was there covering it, and this week they published an interesting article on the conference. Read about it here.

One of the biggest challenges facing these small distillers who are making whiskey? Waiting for the whiskey to mature, and the methods they can employ to accelerate the maturation process (using smaller barrels, etc.)

Review: Caribou Crossing Canadian Whisky

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Caribou Crossing, Single Barrel, 40%, $50
For those of you who think Canadian whiskies are thin and bland, you might want to give this whisky a try. No, it’s not a new concept in Canadian whisky, like Forty Creek. It’s still very much a “traditional” Canadian whisky. But, when compared to most traditional Canadian whiskies, it richer, creamier, and velvety smooth. The flavors are straightforward—primarily vanilla, with some crème brulee, toasted marshmallow, tangerine, peaches & cream, and gentle rye spice—but they are clean and well-balanced. A delicious, lighter-style whisky just in time for warm weather.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93

Two additional notes: This is single barrel whisky. There’s no way of identifying the cask, as far as I know. I’m hoping that all the barrels taste as good as the one I have, but I just wanted to make you aware of this. Also, there is a second, lower-priced ($25) release called Royal Canadian, which I have and also hope to review in the near future.

Special Caol Ila and Lagavulin whiskies for the Islay Whisky Festival

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I’m back. If you’re heading to the Islay Whisky Festival next week (or know someone who is), you might want to pick up a bottle of these two whiskies while you can. They look delicious!


Following the tradition of recent years, Diageo has announced that two limited-edition single cask bottlings of its Islay single malt Scotch whiskies will be sold to personal visitors only at this year’s Islay Festival of Malt and Music (22-29 May:

Diageo’s single-cask Festival bottlings are highly prized, and often sell out within the week of the Festival to the hundreds of aficionados who flock each year to this famous celebration of West Coast single malt whisky.

The 2010 bottlings will be from a Lagavulin™ cask filled in August 1994 and from a Caol Ila™  cask filled in August 1999. Both malts have been bottled at natural cask strength, and will be priced at £74.99. The bottles will be rationed to one per visitor.

The Lagavulin special bottling will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at the distillery, starting on the distillery’s open day, Saturday 22 May. The Caol Ila bottling will be sold with effect from Monday 24 May which is the Caol Ila open day.

Billy Stitchell, long-standing distillery manager, whose family connections with Caol Ila distillery go back many generations, personally chose the Caol Ila special bottling. The Lagavulin bottling was chosen once again by warehouseman Iain McArthur, renowned among enthusiasts for his sell-out warehouse tastings.

This year’s single cask bottling of Caol Ila is taken from a European oak ex-sherry cask, which has provided just 558 70cl bottles of Single Malt Scotch Whisky at 61.9% ABV.

The Lagavulin has been drawn from a European oak cask hand-picked from stocks stored at the famous Port Ellen warehouse. This edition, bottled at 52.7% ABV, consists of 528 bottles.

Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Scotch Knowledge and Heritage Director, said: “We are pleased to acknowledge the efforts that whisky lovers from all over the world make to visit Islay each year.

“These two hand-picked single cask bottlings are both fantastic examples of Islay whiskies. And I would like to think of them being savoured and enjoyed by our guests once they have made their long journey home.

“Islay is a very special place and I think it’s wonderful to be able to take a very unique part of it home with you.”

During the Festival, a series of special events will be held at both Lagavulin and Caol Ila distilleries, including tastings with the distillery manager and warehouse demonstrations. There will be also be tours of the Port Ellen Maltings.

Still here, but…

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

We spent Friday getting the next issue of Malt Advocate to the printer (sorry for not posting). I’m taking the day off Monday for some vacation time, but  I’ll be back on Tuesday, though. See you then.

Announcing: Ardbeg Supernova 2010 Release

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

This just in: the second release of Ardbeg Supernova will be released beginning May 31, 2010.

This one is being described as “deeper and earthier” with a “rocketed” strength of 60.1% ABV.

More details here.

Bottle of 1937 Glenfiddich to be auctioned

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The first of eleven bottles. It seems like a lot of distilleries have squirreled away some older whisky, which are now being released. This one’s not as old as Gordon & MacPhail’s 70 year old Mortlach, but it’s not too far behind.

The official listing on the Bonhams site is here, but there’s still no information (or images of the bottle) up there yet. Details below in the press release.


An exceptionally rare bottle of Glenfiddich distilled in 1937 is for sale at Bonhams Whisky sale in Edinburgh on 16 June. 

It is one of only 11 bottles of the 1937 produced by the distillery and is the first to appear at auction.  Having matured for 64 years it is also one of the oldest whiskies ever released onto the market.  It is estimated to make between £15,000 – 20,000 and is likely to be keenly sought after. 

Bonhams Whisky consultant, Martin Green, commented, “It isn’t very often that such a rare bottle comes along and it’s a privilege to be handling it.  As soon as I recognised the significance of the bottle I got in touch with the distillery to let them know that we were including it in the auction.” 

Libby Lafferty speaking for Glenfiddich said, “We were very excited when we heard that the 1937 was going into the sale and immediately invited Martin Green from Bonhams to bring the bottle back to its home distillery to photograph for our archives.  It really is that special.” 


For further sale information please go to 

For further press information please contact Andrew Currie on 0207 468 5871  or or

The Macallan announces next installment of “Masters of Photography” series

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

 You might remember the first time Macallan did this. I wrote about it here back in 2008. It involved a well-known photographer, a beautiful naked blond on the distillery grounds at Macallan, and the eventual images being showcased on bottles of 30 year old Macallan. To say the least, it created quite a stir. 

Well, The Macallan has introduced the second installment in this series. This time it’s with a different photographer. I’m not sure if there will be any naked blonds, but they do promise “a dramatic and yet romantic ‘art noir’ voyage; a stylish couple and the key secret behind The Macallan.”

Wow, my imagination is running wild with that description! You’ll find all the details below in the press release I received.


Today, The Macallan single malt whisky announced that the next photography partnership in their Masters of Photography series is going to be with the legendary Albert Watson.

Scots born, Watson is famous worldwide for his celebrity, fashion and art photography. Photo District News named him one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time. He has shot posters for major Hollywood movies such as ‘Kill Bill’, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, as well as shooting over 200 covers for Vogue and Rolling Stone magazine. In fact, in 2007 one large-format print of his sold for $108,000 at auction. He is also an acclaimed director with over 500 TV commercials to his name.

The Macallan Masters of Photography II will be in an entirely different style to the first edition in the series, shot by Rankin.

The subject of the project must be kept under wraps, for the moment, until shooting is complete but the key ingredients include: a dramatic and yet romantic ‘art noir’ voyage; a stylish couple and the key secret behind The Macallan.

Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group, said: “I am extremely excited about working with the hugely talented and influential Albert Watson. His creativity is fabulous, but not only that, he exudes an aura of charm and quiet confidence that is very much in keeping with The Macallan   

“As part of this unique project, art and whisky lovers alike can follow The Macallan shoot with Albert Watson by following my daily blog.  The blog posts will start from 31st May at

Albert Watson, added: “I am looking forward to working with The Macallan on such a prestigious project. The partnership with a premium, Scottish iconic brand will give me a once in a lifetime photographic opportunity to create a lasting legacy as part of The Macallan Masters of Photography series.”

The final result will be revealed by The Macallan at a series of glittering events later in the year.  Further details will be revealed in the months to come.


Please enjoy our brands responsibly.

Notes to editors


  1. The first Macallan Masters of Photography was launched in 2008 with Scots photographer Rankin.  Rankin produced 1,000 individual black and white images captured on Polaroid.  Each limited edition bottle of rare 30 year old Macallan Fine Oak single malt displayed a bespoke label featuring one of Rankin’s images, accompanied by the original Polaroid.


The array of images featured artistic nude studies of Tuuli, Rankin’s muse and wife, contrasted by shots of the dedicated craftspeople of the distillery, and still life images of the surrounding flora and fauna at Easter Elchies Estate.

  1. The Macallan is ranked number two by value* among the world’s top selling single malts and is recognised as being a leader within the Scotch Whisky industry when it comes to innovation.

*IWSR figures ending December 2006