Ardbeg Drum, Teeling 29 Year Old Single Malt & More New Whisky

With many new whiskies to look forward to this week, there’s one that will be out of reach for everyone but a single lucky (and wealthy) bidder.

Dalmore master distiller Richard Paterson has collaborated with chef Massimo Bottura to create a one-of-a-kind 49 year old whisky that will be available only via a Sotheby’s online auction from April 25-May 9. The lot will also include dinner for two at Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and the proceeds will benefit his non-profit community organization Food For Soul. The Dalmore L’Anima 49 year old (“l’anima” is Italian for “soul”) is a marriage of whiskies matured in ex-bourbon barrels, ex-González Byass casks that held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry, and ex-Graham’s vintage port pipes. The 41.5% ABV whisky is packaged in a crystal decanter and a cabinet designed by Scottish craftsman John Galvin. Display bottles will be available for viewing at Sotheby’s in New York and Hong Kong starting April 29, with the original single bottling unveiled that day at Sotheby’s in London.

A whisky that’s more accessible to ordinary folks: Ardbeg Drum, the latest limited-edition single malt released annually for Ardbeg Day. The whisky was finished in rum casks and purports to evoke the spirit of Carnival. The U.S. release, hitting shelves next month, is proofed at 46% ABV and priced at $110.

Teeling Whiskey is launching a well-aged single malt that also has rum influence. Teeling 29 year old was aged most of its life in ex-rum casks and finished in Pedro Ximénez casks from a 1918 solera. Just 100 bottles are available, all in the U.S., for $2,500 each.

Balcones Distilling has added a new, permanent whiskey to its lineup. Balcones Pot Still Bourbon is exactly what it says—bourbon, made from a four-grain mashbill, distilled in a pot still. It’s aged at least two years and bottled at 46% ABV. Initially available in three states, it will eventually roll out more widely.

Independent bottler Murray McDavid has returned to the U.S. market after some absence, and it’s making up for lost time with a whole slew of whiskies. The lineup includes single malts from Macallan, Laphroaig, Bowmore, and Mortlach, a unique Loch Lomond single grain, a blend and blended malt, and more. The whiskies range in ABV, price, and availability.

Finally, Douglas Laing & Co. is releasing Big Peat 10 year old in honor of the blended Islay malt’s tenth anniversary. Unfortunately, the whisky is not available in the U.S.

Read on for full details.

Ardbeg Drum

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV (Ardbeg Committee release is 52% ABV)
Price: $110 (Committee release is $120)
Release: March 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Ardbeg has unveiled its annual limited-edition whisky, ceremonially released every year on Ardbeg Day, June 1, as part of the Islay Festival of Malt and Music. (It comes out a bit earlier at retail.) Ardbeg Drum includes both “classic Ardbeg” and liquid that is initially matured in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in rum casks from the Americas. (Ardbeg hasn’t specified exactly where.) The whisky is intended to evoke the atmosphere of Carnival.

Whisky Advocate says:

Like this new whisky, Ardbeg’s last couple of Committee releases have had special barrel treatments: the 2018 release, Ardbeg Grooves (91 points), was matured in heavily charred wine casks, while the 2017 whisky, Ardbeg Kelpie (88 points), included liquid matured in casks made of oak grown and seasoned on the Adyghe Republic’s Taman Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the sea.

Teeling 29 Year Old Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: 29 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $2,500
Release: February 2019
Availability: 100 bottles, only available in the U.S.

Need to know:

Distilled in 1989, this single malt whiskey spent 27 years in ex-rum casks and was finished for two years in a Pedro Ximénez sherry cask. It is for sale only in the U.S.

Whisky Advocate says:

Last week, Teeling master distiller Alex Chasko was visiting New York to launch this whiskey, and gave us a taste of this special whiskey. As you might expect, the sherry cask influence yields notes of raisins, almonds, and brown sugar. For this whiskey—and others that Teeling is maturing—the company purchased an entire solera of casks from a bodega in Jerez—a very rare resource. Most sherry casks used for aging whisky are “seasoned,” meaning they were made and filled with sherry explicitly so that they could be repurposed for whisky maturation. Sherry bodegas prefer to use their solera casks for decades, and rarely let them go. The casks Teeling bought date from 1918.

Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Texas
Age: 2 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $30
Release: February 2019
Availability: Initially available in California, Florida, and Texas, with expansion planned

Need to know:

A new, permanent addition to Balcones’ core lineup of whiskeys, this bourbon was made on the distillery’s pot stills and aged at least 24 months in new charred oak. The mashbill includes roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye, and malted barley.

Whisky Advocate says:

Two years isn’t a long aging time in a place like Kentucky, where the cold winters slow down the interaction between whiskey and barrel that is crucial for developing mature flavors. But in Waco, Texas, where Balcones is located, the average low temperature never gets to freezing—and is much higher for most of the year. That means much quicker maturation, plus a lot more evaporative loss (known as angels’ share), and thus a bourbon at 2 years old can hold its own against longer-aged counterparts from elsewhere in the country.

Murray McDavid 2001 Bowmore 15 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 15 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $225
Release: February 2019
Availability: 935 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

This whisky spent its first seven years in a 500-liter sherry cask, and was then transferred to a freshly emptied port pipe for the remaining eight years.

Murray McDavid 1999 Laphroaig 17 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 17 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $260
Release: February 2019
Availability: 264 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

This Islay single malt spent its entire maturation period in a sherry hogshead.

Murray McDavid 1997 Fettercairn 19 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 19 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $180
Release: February 2019
Availability: 296 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

After a 17-year maturation period in refill bourbon casks, this whisky was finished for two years in a first-fill bourbon cask.

Murray McDavid 1997 Mortlach 19 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 19 years old
Proof: 50.4% ABV
Price: $300
Release: February 2019
Availability: 238 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

This whisky matured for 19 years in refill ex-bourbon casks, and then was finished for two months in a European oak barrique from Château Talbot in Bordeaux.

Murray McDavid 1997 Macallan 18 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 18 years old
Proof: 50.4% ABV
Price: $825
Release: February 2019
Availability: 115 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Initially matured for 16 years in ex-bourbon casks, this single malt spent a two-year finishing period in 30-gallon rye casks from Chicago’s Koval Distillery.

Murray McDavid 1996 Loch Lomond 19 year old

Style: Single grain
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 19 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $135
Release: February 2019
Availability: 635 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Made from malted barley at Loch Lomond Distillery, this is nevertheless considered a grain whisky because it was distilled on a column still. (In Scotland, single malt must be distilled using pot stills.) It initially matured in refill bourbon casks before being finished for three months in 30-gallon rye casks from Koval Distillery in Chicago.

Murray McDavid 1995 Darach Ruadh III 20 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 20 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $210
Release: February 2019
Availability: 310 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Made at an undisclosed Speyside distillery “within sight of Ben Rinnes,” according to the bottler, this whisky was matured in an American oak hogshead for over 18 years, then finished in a Pedro Ximénez sherry cask. “Darach ruadh” means red oak in Scots Gaelic.

Murray McDavid 1991 Glen Scotia 25 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Campbeltown)
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $275
Release: February 2019
Availability: 315 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Initially matured in refill sherry casks, this whisky was then transferred to a red wine barrique from Burgundy’s Domaine Leroy, where it spent the last ten years of its maturation period.

Murray McDavid 2003 Òrdah Meas 13 year old

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: 13 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $55
Release: February 2019
Availability: 742 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

A combination of various malt and grain whiskies made at the likes of Highland Park, Glenrothes, Glengoyne, Cameronbridge, and Port Dundas and aged at least ten years in ex-bourbon casks, this whisky was finished in European oak sherry casks after blending.

Murray McDavid 2010 Peatside 6 year old

Style: Blended malt
Origin: Scotland
Age: 6 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $80
Release: February 2019
Availability: 2,266 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Technically a blended malt, Murray McDavid admits this is a “teaspooned” malt—i.e. 99.9% single malt from one distillery, combined with a tiny amount of single malt from somewhere else. It initially matured in bourbon barrels, then was split into two different finishing cask types: port and Pedro Ximénez sherry.

Whisky Advocate says:

Murray McDavid is an independent bottler; that means it buys whisky from various distilleries and either blends it or bottles it as-is under its own name. Most of the distilleries in this batch have allowed Murray McDavid to use their name on the label, but that’s not always the case. We have clues about the source of the Darach Ruadh III 20 year old “mystery malt,” for example, but thanks to non-disclosure agreements, Murray McDavid can’t actually reveal it.

It’s similar, though not exactly the same, for Peatside 6 year old; the practice of “teaspooning” legally forces an independent bottler to mask the source of the whisky because it’s no longer a single malt. An NDA could do the same thing, but I suppose some distillers want to be extra sure that their name doesn’t leak as the source of the whisky. Savvy Islay fans, however, could probably taste this whisky and take an educated guess about where it was made.

Big Peat 10 year old

Style: Blended malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: £65
Release: February 2019
Availability: 10,200 bottles; not available in the U.S.

Need to know:

Ten years ago, Douglas Laing & Co. created the Big Peat blended malt, and this 10 year old limited-edition version celebrates that milestone. As usual, the whisky is made up of various Islay single malts and is bottled with no coloring or chill-filtration.

Whisky Advocate says:

Unhappily for Americans, this whisky is for sale in the UK, Europe, and Asia only.

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