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Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday!

October 14th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuththe-macallan-double-cask-12-years-old-397x1024The Macallan Double Cask 12 year old

Release: October 2016
Price: $65
Proof: 86
Availability: Widely available
Style: Single malt scotch

Need to know: This Macallan stays true to its sherried roots, with 100% Sherry seasoned cask maturation. “Double” refers to the fact that the sherry casks include both American and European oak.

Whisky Advocate says: This new entry sits neatly between the other core range Macallans — Sherry Oak, aged exclusively in sherry casks, and Fine Oak which utilizes both bourbon and sherry casks..

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Brandy Cask Finishwoodford

Release: November 2016
Price: $100
Proof: 90.4
Availability: Limited edition
Style: American whiskey

Need to know: Fully mature Woodford Reserve bourbon received additional maturation in brandy casks for nearly two years. According to the distillery, this is the first whiskey to be finished in an American brandy casks.

Whisky Advocate says: Originally introduced in 2006, this marks the eleventh release in Woodford’s experimental Master’s Collection. You’ll find the reviews and ratings for previous releases, like Four Wood, Four Grain, Straight Malt, White Corn, Maple Wood and others, in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. Subscribe now!

chivas-ultisChivas Regal Ultis

Release: October 2016
Price: $200
Proof: 80
Availability: Widely available
Style: Blended malt scotch whisky

Need to know: The House of Chivas shows their blending prowess in this blend of five single malt Scotch whiskies: Tormore, Longmorn, Strathisla, Allt A’Bhainne and Braeval. Why five? Since 1909, only five men have held the honor of master blender for Chivas.

Whisky Advocate says: Pernod-Ricard notes that this is their first release of a blended malt scotch. That may be true, but Chivas has blended single malts previously. Many scotch whisky lovers will recall the Chivas Century of Malts, released in 1995 and combining more than 100 different single malt distilleries, an incredible feat. That discontinued offering sold for $40, and now brings about $200 in the secondary market.

Longmorn 23 year oldlongmorn

Release: January 2017
Price: $1,451
Proof: 96
Availability: Widely available
Style: Single malt scotch

Need to know: This old Longmorn, bottled without chill-filtration, represents the pinnacle of the distillery’s new luxury line-up, a contrast to the non-age statement Longmorn The Distiller’s Choice that released at the start of 2016.

Whisky Advocate says: Longmorn is simultaneously launching a reinterpretation of their well-regarded 16 year old, rested in a combination of ex-sherry, first-fill American and traditional oak casks and bottled without chill-filtration at a price of $252. This will replace the current more affordable Longmorn 16, so if you prefer the current style or price, you may wish to grab some while you can.

 

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

October 7th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuth  oishiOhishi Single Sherry Cask Whisky Cask #1257

Release: October 2016
Price: $75
Proof: 86.6
Availability: 506 bottles
Style: Japanese whisky

Need to know: Ohishi Single Sherry Cask Whisky is distilled from rice and matured entirely in sherry casks hand selected by master distiller, Oishi-san. Ohishi distillery lies near the Kuma River and uses mochi rice from Kumamoto and organically grown gohyakumanishi rice.

Whisky Advocate says: Rice whisky? As long as it’s made from a mash of grain distilled to not more than 190 proof, bottled at not less than 80 proof, and tastes and acts like whisky, the U.S. government says it’s whisky.

 

1792-high-rye-bottle-straight-on1792 High Rye Bourbon

Release: October 2016
Price: $36
Proof: 94.3
Availability: Limited edition
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: Can you take me higher! 1792 Small Batch is already known for including a higher percentage of rye than typical bourbons, but this special edition promises an even more intense amount of rye flavor. The initial release is very limited, but annual releases are planned for the future.

Whisky Advocate says: This is the fifth limited edition release of 1792 bourbon, joining previous releases of Sweet Wheat, Port Finish, Single Barrel and Full Proof. All are reviewed and rated in Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. Don’t miss an issue! Subscribe now.

wyomingouryderOutryder

Release: October 2016
Price: $55
Proof: 100
Availability: 2,640 cases
Style: Bottled-in-bond whiskey

Need to know: Wyoming Whiskey blended two straight whiskeys for this limited edition using mashes of only non-GMO, Wyoming grain: The first includes 48% winter rye, 40% corn, and 12% malted barley; the second is a traditional bourbon mash bill of 68% corn, 20% winter rye, and 12% malted barley.

Whisky Advocate says: Wyoming Whiskey has focused on bourbon with good success. Their Barrel Strength Bourbon scored 92 points in Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. This is a more experimental style for them and distiller, Sam Mead, worked with master blender, Nancy Fraley, to realize the new creation.

cider_finish-1Cider Barrel Matured Virginia Highland Malt Whisky

Release: October 2016
Price: $65
Proof: 100
Availability: 1,556 bottles
Style: Bottled-in-bond straight American whiskey

Need to know: This bottling is sourced Highland Scotch malt whisky, which is then given additional finishing in Potter’s Craft Cider barrels as part of the new Commonwealth Collection—all of which will be finished in collaboration with a Virginia winery, cidery or brewery. No strangers to collaboration, Potter’s has aged their winesap cider in barrels that held Copper Fox Rye Whisky Barrels.

Whisky Advocate says: Expect to see many more beer, cider and wine finished whiskeys in the future. We already have a lot of coverage and tasting underway for upcoming issues of Whisky Advocate.

 

SPECIAL: Preiss Imports Returns
with Distiller’s Art from Hunter Laing & Co.

Need to know: The Distiller’s Art collection includes single cask bottlings of malt and grain whiskies, bottled at cask strength, without coloring or chill filtering. Bottles are individually numbered and often represent select bourbon or sherry casks originally purchased for blending by Hunter Laing & Co.

caol-ila-32yoCaol Ila 32 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $395
Proof: 101.8
Availability: 150 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Bunnahabhain 27 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $337
Proof: 102.1
Availability: 150 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Girvan 25 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $195
Proof: 104.2
Availability: 150 bottles
Style: Single grain scotch

macallan-23yoMacallan 23 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $1,535
Proof: 109
Availability: 252 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Craigellachie Sherry Cask 20 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $139
Proof: 100.8
Availability: 240 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Blair Athol Sherry Cask 20 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $139
Proof: 104.4
Availability: 240 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

North British American Standard Barrel 19 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $157
Proof: 106.8
Availability: 150 bottles
Style: Single grain scotch

Benrinnes Sherry Cask 18 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $128
Proof: 98.8
Availability: 234 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

laphroaig-15yoLaphroaig Sherry Cask 15 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $293
Proof: 104.4
Availability: 660 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Benrinnes 7 year old

Release: November 2016
Price: $74
Proof: 102.2
Availability: 150 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

 

High West Distillery: Sold!

October 5th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuthIn an exclusive report, Shanken News Daily informed us after the market close yesterday that Constellation Brands emerged victorious in a heated auction for craft whiskey darling High West Distillery, of Park City, Utah, beating out other large spirit company suitors. These included both Pernod Ricard and LVMH Moët. According to Constellation, High West is already generating $25 million in annual whiskey sales and the deal closed with a purchase price of roughly $160 million.

hw-core4-lineupHigh West currently distills and matures some of their own whiskey, but it was their innovative sourced whiskeys, particularly blends of mature whiskeys from MGP Ingredients in Indiana and Sazerac’s Barton 1792 distillery in Kentucky, that earned them a loyal following and generally performed very well in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. Notable offerings include Rendezvous Rye Batch 10 (95 Points Whisky Advocate), Double Rye (90 Points Whisky Advocate), Campfire (84 Points Whisky Advocate) and special release Midwinter Night’s Dram Act 3 (95 Points Whisky Advocate).

High West founder Dave Perkins tells Whisky Advocate “At the end of the day, this allows us to continue to make whiskey that folks have come to love. That’s the reason we chose Constellation Brands as a partner. To afford the other stills and expansions we want to make at the distillery over the next ten years, we realized becoming part of an organization like Constellation Brands made sense.”

 

Let’s Make a Deal

High West is the most recent, but certainly not the first, craft whiskey distiller to strike a deal with an international drinks company since competition in the American whiskey arena began to heat up. Consumers may ultimately decide whether large corporations purchasing of craft distillers is a positive or negative force for quality and availability.

June 2010
Wm. Grant & Sons of the U.K. formed a partnership for the production and worldwide distribution of New York-based Tuthilltown Spirits’ line of Hudson Whiskey, the first acquisition of an American whiskey brand in their portfolio.

December 2010
Spirits producers, importers and marketers Proximo Spirits, based in Jersey City, N.J., and owned by Mexico’s Beckmann family (1800 Tequila), quietly closed a deal for the purchase of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.

March 2014
Italy’s Gruppo Campari took a 100% ownership stake of independent Canadian craft distiller Forty Creek Distillery Ltd., in their first move into Canadian whisky.

March 2015
Family-owned Bacardi Limited, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, entered the bourbon category by acquiring Louisville-based Angel’s Share Brands, producers of Angel’s Envy, even before they began their own production.

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

September 30th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuth

yellowstone-2016-le-bottle-imageYellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Release: October 2016
Price: $100
Proof: 101
Availability: 7,000 bottles
Style: Straight bourbon

Need to know: This bourbon is a blend of 12 year old and 7 year old bourbons that receive additional maturation in wine barrels with various levels of toasting.

Whisky Advocate says: Opened in 2011, Limestone Branch Distillery is a collaboration of Steve Beam and his brother Paul Beam. Their previous release of sourced and blended bourbon scored 90 points in Whisky Advocate Buying Guide.

blackbutteBlack Butte Whiskey

Release: September 2016
Price: $80
Proof: 94
Availability: 1,176 bottles
Style: Malt whiskey

Need to know: This malt whiskey was double distilled from Deschutes Brewery’s flagship beer, Black Butte Porter, by Jim Bendis, founder of Oregon’s Bendistillery, then aged in new #4 char American oak barrels.

Whisky Advocate says: Bendis distilled his first Black Butte Porter as an experiment 20 years ago. He was certainly ahead of his time, as an increasing number of distillers are focused solely on distillation of beer and collaborations with brewers.

bushmillsportBushmills Port Cask Reserve

Release: November 2016
Price: GBP£99
Proof: 80
Availability: Limited
Style: Irish whiskey

Need to know: This is the second and latest in the Bushmills Steamship Collection – following the release of a Sherry Cask Reserve. Casks were selected in Portugal by Helen Mulholland, Master Blender of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and each held port wine for a minimum of three years.

Whisky Advocate says: This Bushmills limited edition series is only available in travel retail and comes in a 70cl bottle. Read about all the latest developments from Ireland in the winter issue of Whisky Advocate, coming soon. Don’t miss it! Subscribe now.

rhinoVulson French Alpine Rye

Release: October 2016
Price: $70
Proof: 82
Availability: Widely available
Style: World whisky

Need to know: Domaine des Hautes Glaces is a small sustainable farm distillery in the French Alps crafting spirits from grain grown onsite, including this 100% organic rye. The spirit is “rested for a summer and a winter season” and bottled at the Domaine.

Whisky Advocate says: The distiller is partnered with Xavier Padovani, no stranger to the whisky world, as he spent 10 years with William Grant & Sons, helping to launch Monkey Shoulder Whisky and serving as a brand ambassador for Hendrick’s gin. Vulson will be available at select accounts in New York City, including PDT, Sauvage, Daniel’s DBGB and off-premise at Astor Wine & Spirits.

galasonsSons of Liberty Gala Apple

Release: September 2016
Price: $45
Proof: 80
Availability: 2,800 bottles
Style: Flavored whiskey

Need to know: Part of the Sons of Liberty seasonal whiskey series, this offering is flavored with 9,000 fresh Gala Apples from two Connecticut orchards. The apples were prepared and pressed at New England Cider Company, then the juice was blended with barrel-aged whiskey.

Whisky Advocate says: Don’t entirely write-off flavored whisky. Sons of Liberty previously released a pumpkin spice seasonal that found a lot of fans and inventive craft distillers are adding coffee, beer and other creative flavors to their whiskey with good success.

cocoaAbraham Bowman Gingerbread Cocoa Finished Bourbon

Release: September 2016
Price: $40/375 ml
Proof: 90
Availability: 10 barrels (estimated 2,300 bottles)
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This bourbon, the 15th expression in the limited edition Abraham Bowman line, received 17 months of finishing in barrels that previously held Hardywood Park Brewery Gingerbread Stout and Foolery Imperial Milk Stout. The total age of the bourbon is 9 years and 8 months.

Whisky Advocate says: Getting your hands on this limited edition won’t be easy. Virginia residents had first crack via a VA ABC Lottery on September 29 and bottles will go on sale at the distillery visitor center on October 1, with limited quantities appearing in other states in mid-October.

Ranger Creek .36 Texas Bourbon

Release: September 2016
Price: $60
Proof: 90
Availability: 1,000 bottles
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This straight bourbon had its minimum two years of age in standard size barrels, and following this initial limited release run will appear as a regular product starting in April 2017.

Whisky Advocate says: This limited release will appear for sale only at select Texas retailers and in the gift shop of Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling, a combined brewery and distillery located in San Antonio.

 

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

September 23rd, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuthimpexlowrezKilchomen Impex Cask Evolution 03/2016

Release: September 2016
Price: $140
Proof: 113.6
Availability: 249 bottles
Style: Single malt Scotch

Need to know: The third in the series, this single barrel identified as cask #256/2011 was hand selected and bottled at cask strength. Following aging in a bourbon barrel, it was finished in a Pedro Ximénez sherry cask.

Whisky Advocate says: Despite their relative youth, Kilchoman whiskies have shown incredibly well in our Buying Guide tastings—often scoring 90 points and above! There is no age statement here, but we love the full transparency, distillation date of May 27, 2011, and a bottling date of July 8, 2016.

 

ofcBuffalo Trace OFC

Release: November 1
Price: Varies
Proof: 113.6
Availability: 200 bottles
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: Three unique vintage-dated bourbons honoring the National Historic Landmark’s original name – the O.F.C. Distillery are being made available free of charge for auction by eligible charities. The first release is comprised of only 200 bottles; 100 bottles from the year 1980, 50 bottles from 1982, and 50 bottles from 1983.

Whisky Advocate says: Buffalo Trace continues an admirable record of charitable giving with this release! According to the distillery, the O.F.C. series will be ongoing, and while the first of these rare whiskeys will not be available outside of charitable auction, later vintages will be released to the overall market beginning in spring 2017. Those interested in obtaining these first rare releases can check the Buffalo Trace website starting in November for a list of non-profit organizations who received bottles.

 

clyde_mays_straight_bourbon_whiskeyClyde May’s 5-year

Release: September 2016
Price: $40
Proof: 92
Availability: Widely available
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This non-chill filtered straight bourbon is matured in heavily charred new American oak barrels.

clyde_mays_cask_strength_117_bottleClyde May’s 8-year Cask Strength

Release: October 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 117
Availability: 3,000 bottles
Style: Bourbon

Need to know: This is the first limited-edition Clyde May’s and joins the 5-year and two existing Clyde May’s — 85-proof Whiskey and 110-proof Special Reserve, introduced in 2015 .

Whisky Advocate says: According to their website, Clyde May’s hallmark is the addition of oven-dried apples to the barrels, a technique they refer to as Alabama Style and claim provides a special smoothness to the whiskeys. This bottling is finished with natural apple essence in the Clyde May’s style, while the 92 proof Straight Bourbon (above) stands alone, unadultered by chill-filtering or apple influence.

2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: Picks and Pans

September 19th, 2016

John HansellIf you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I offered my initial thoughts on each whiskey upon my first taste of them. Since then, I’ve tasted each one a few more times, including tasting each one side by side with its 2015 counterpart, and I have some additional thoughts to offer. Here is my general impression of each whiskey, and the overall Collection, after going through this exercise. You can use it as a guide when determining which whiskey you might want to track down and purchase. (A formal review, with detailed tasting notes and ratings, will appear in the winter issue of Whisky Advocate. Subscribe now.)

Sazerac Rye 18 year old, 45%, $90

This release of Sazerac 18 year old is a distinctly separate whiskey, after several years of the same whiskey that had been stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent further aging. The new release doesn’t have as much of the rye zing as previous releases—especially on the finish—which will most likely disappoint those hoping for a repeat performance. Still, the new release is richer and sweeter than previous releases, which I find attractive. It’s also softer and gentler. If I had to choose between the new version and previous (tanked) releases, I’d pick the previous ones because of the well-defined rye notes. (There’s a reason why I chose the 2014 release as our Whisky of the Year.) But I still like the new release.

Eagle Rare 17 year old, 45%, $90

This whiskey is often overlooked by enthusiasts because it’s not as high in alcohol as most of its siblings. I like 2016 a little better than last year’s release, which I felt brandished more oak on the finish than needed. The new release is well rounded and subtly complex. It’s the sleeper in this year’s Collection. I really enjoy it.btantique

William Larue Weller, 67.7%, $90

Distilled in 2003. Weller is the “wheated” bourbon in the Collection, with wheat replacing the rye found in most other bourbons. It’s a great representation, too. Like last year’s release, this is an easy-drinking, soothing whiskey, with a gentle demeanor. A very good 12 year old cask strength wheated bourbon. Perhaps even better than last year’s offering, which I really liked.


Thomas H. Handy Rye, 63.1%, $90

Distilled in 2010, this is the youngest whiskey in the Collection, and younger than last year’s release. I feel its youth is a slight liability, as it comes across a bit green and harsh, even for a Handy. It’s not overly complex either. While enjoyable, this is one of the weaker years for Handy.

George T. Stagg, 72.05%, $90

Distilled in 2001. This year’s Stagg is a departure from recent releases, which were complex and nicely balanced. It’s more aggressive, with tannins and oak dominating, and lacking the body and sweetness to balance it. It’s my least favorite of this year’s offerings and, quite frankly, disappointing.

Overall, I would have to say that the 2016 Antique Collection is not as good as recent years, but there are still bright spots in the Collection. If I were tracking down a bottle to purchase, I would focus on Weller, Sazerac, and Eagle Rare.

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

September 16th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuthyoichiYoichi Single Malt

Release: September 2016
Price: $80
Proof: 90
Availability: Widely available
Style: Japanese single malt

Need to know: This single malt includes heavily peated malt aged in new American oak, sherry casks and a variety of other casks from the Nikka cooperages.

Whisky Advocate says: Hailing from Yoichi distillery on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, where founding father of Japanese whisky Masataka Taketsuru opened his first distillery in 1934, these malts typically show sea influence. This non-age statement replaces the now depleted Yoichi 10, 12, 15 and 20.

nikkaMiyagikyo Single Malt

Release: September 2016
Price: $80
Proof: 90
Availability: Widely available
Style: Japanese single malt

Need to know: This malt comes aged in new American oak, bourbon barrels and sherry casks, which are said to contribute the dominant flavor.

Whisky Advocate says: Another non-age statement from Nikka, this looks like the near term future for Japanese whisky, which has seen age statement releases decimated in Japan, by both the Japanese and Asian tourists, and become subject to flipping and profiteering in the U.S.

 SPECIAL: Loch Lomond Group Portfolio arrives in the U.S.

 

lmLittlemill 25 year old

Release: September 2016
Price: $3,000
Proof: 100.8
Availability: 250 bottles
Style: Single malt scotch

Need to know: This very rare expression from the silent Lowland distillery includes peat from Stornoway and Perthshire. It was matured in a combination of American and European oak casks, then married together in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says: Littlemill closed its doors in 1994 and owners Loch Lomond have been releasing some of the mature stocks every year. Despite the seemingly high price, these collectible malts are in high demand. Of the original numbered 1,500 bottle run, only 250 were destined for the U.S. and less than 200 bottles remain, making this the most rare and limited of Loch Lomond’s U.S. whisky portfolio debut.

 

grain Loch Lomond Single Grain

Release: September 2016
Price: $25.50
Proof: 86
Availability: Widely available
Style: Grain whisky

Need to know: One of the more unusual offerings arriving from Loch Lomond, this whisky is crafted in a coffey still, not a pot still. Both grain and malt whiskies from Loch Lomond combine in the blended Loch Lomond Reserve ($31) and High Commissioner ($16).

Whisky Advocate says: Single grain whisky isn’t the rarity it once was. With Greenore from Ireland, Coffey Grain from Japan’s Nikka, and occasional single grain Scotch coming from Compass Box and other bottlers, there is lots to explore in grain whisky! You’ll find reviews of these unusual whiskies and more in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. Subscribe now.

ll18Loch Lomond 18 year old

Release: September 2016
Price: $99
Proof: 86
Availability: Widely available
Style: Single malt Scotch

Need to know: Generally classified as a Highland distillery, Loch Lomond is centrally located in the southernmost part, bordering the Lowlands of Scotland. The distillery is unusually self sufficient, producing a variety of distillates and even housing its own cooperage.

Whisky Advocate says: Other expressions include a non-age statement Loch Lomond Original ($28) and Loch Lomond 12 year old ($55)

victGlen Scotia Victoriana

Release: September 2016
Price: $91
Proof: 103
Availability: Widely available
Style: Single malt Scotch

Need to know: This bottling celebrates the heyday of Campeltown, the Victorian era, when the island was the whisky capital of the world. Today, just three distilleries continue production here. Victoriana is non-chill filtered and finished in heavily charred casks.

Whisky Advocate says: Other expressions include a Glen Scotia Double Cask ($54), with additional aging in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, and Glen Scotia 15 year old ($66).

madeiraInchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish

Release: September 2016
Price: $68
Proof: 92
Availability: Widely available
Style: Single malt Scotch

Need to know: Inchmurrin malts are also produced at the Loch Lomond distillery, which makes a surprising array of malt and grain whiskies utilizing a pair of standard pot stills, three pairs of unique pot stills with rectifying heads together and a continuous still. For this expression whisky from American Oak Casks is married for additional maturation in casks that previously held madeira wine.

Whisky Advocate says: Other expressions arriving now include Inchmurrin 12 year old ($61) and Inchmurrin 18 year old ($110). The Whisky Advocate Buying Guide has expert reviews and ratings on these Inchmurrin whiskies even before they arrive in U.S. stores. For the inside track on all things whisky, Subscribe now!

FIRST LOOK: Diageo Special Releases 2016

September 14th, 2016

Author - Ian BuxtonYes, it’s that time again—the Diageo Special Releases for 2016 have been announced. Cue the normal outrage on social media about the pricing, so I thought I’d get that out the way.

Yes, these whiskies are expensive—some of them very expensive, indeed. But they are rare and of exceptional quality, and to be fair all Diageo have done is thwarted the rapid profit-taking by speculators by pricing them according to the market. If it means the whiskies take a little longer to sell, then we can hope that they end up being consumed and not squirreled away in an ‘investment’ portfolio. So, end of sermon and on to the whiskies.

There are ten in all, and after each the U.S. suggested retail price, strength in % ABV, and the total number of bottles available are noted.special-releases-collection-2016

They are: Auchroisk 25 year old ($450; 51.2%; less than 600 of 3,954 will be available in the U.S.), Port Ellen 37 year old ($4,000; 55.2%; less than 550 bottles of 2,940 for the U.S.), Caol Ila 15 year old ($140; 61.5%; ‘limited quantities’), Lagavulin 12 year old ($135; 57.7%; ‘limited quantities’), Brora 38 year old ($2,200; 48.6%; 2,984 bottles total, approximately 360 for the U.S.), Cambus 40 year old ($1,150; 52.7%; 1,182 worldwide), Cragganmore No Age Statement ($600; 55.7%; U.S. will receive approximately 600 of 4,932 bottles), Glenkinchie 24 year old ($450; 57.2%; 5,928 total, less than 750 for the U.S.), Linkwood 37 year old ($900; 50.3%; approximately 750 of 6,114 will be available in the U.S.), and Mannochmore 25 year old ($400; 53.4%; 3,954 total, less than 600 for the U.S.).

What do we notice? Silent distilleries are well represented: Port Ellen, Cambus, and Brora (but sadly no Rosebank or Convalmore this year); there is one ‘flavor-led’ No Age Statement (NAS) expression from Cragganmore, at an ambitious $600, and two rather more generously priced offerings from Islay with both Caol Ila and Lagavulin available in ‘limited quantities.’ In practice, I think this means there will be enough to go around to all who want these drams. Kudos to Diageo for genuflecting to the smokeheads with the greater availability and lower pricing of these somewhat peatier drams.

special-releases-2016-cambus-40-yoOnce again this year on behalf of Whisky Advocate, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend an advance tasting. For me the stand-out drams came from Cambus (a creamy 40 year old, notably the first release in this series from this grain distillery, closed in 1993); a sweet and smooth Auchroisk 25 year old that surprised with fruits on the palate, and a magnificent, utterly classic Brora which at 38 years of age was mellow, smoky, and reminiscent of a day’s rough shooting (cordite, polished leather, and rancio).

Many of the whiskies tasted seemed unusually sweet. My tasting notes include ‘custard tarts’ (Auchroisk); ‘caramalized orange brûlée’ (Glenkinchie); ‘cream fudge and pineapple’ (Cambus – if I could pick only one of these whiskies this is the one I’d take home); ‘American Cream Soda’ (Scottish readers will recognize this childhood favorite in the Caol Ila), and even ‘rosebuds and raspberries’ in the Cragganmore. Diageo blender Maureen Robinson led the tasting and also identified a range of sweeter notes.

By contrast, the Linkwood and Brora were darker, meatier, and showed the influence of salt and smoke, especially in the Brora. After the Port Ellen this is the most expensive bottle ($2,200) but aficionados of this long-lamented lost distillery will not be disappointed with its mellow charms. Savor this, as stocks must surely be exhausted soon.special-releases-2016-port-ellen-37-yo

And, of course, the highlight for many drinkers and collectors will be the 37 year old Port Ellen, which we were confidently assured continues to demonstrate what an incredible loss the closure of this distillery represents. But frustratingly I have no tasting notes to offer! The tasting bottle for our evening had not arrived in time and though a sample is due on my desk any moment it is still in transit as we go to press.

I don’t imagine that this will deter the true believers for a moment. Buying old Port Ellen has become an act of faith but with less than 3,000 bottles available worldwide I suggest you move quickly, even with the $4,000 price tag.

One final thought: the selection of the Special Releases is clearly an exhaustive and lengthy process but we were assured that the 2017 selection is already almost complete. So, love them or loathe them (and it must be acknowledged that this program arouses some deep passions), the Special Releases will be with us again next year, and I look forward to reporting on them once again.

Whisky Weekend Update: New Releases Every Friday

September 9th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuthRebel Yell Single Barrel

Release: September 2016
Price: $50
Proof: 100
Availability: 24,000 bottles
Style: Bourbon

ry10year_bottle_smallNeed to know: Aged for a full 10 years, this hand-bottled wheated bourbon will bear the number of each barrel, in order to emphasize the distinct differences between each individual bottle.

Whisky Advocate says: While the initial debut is limited, Rebel Yell informs us the release will double next year, to 48,000 bottles. Are you a fan of wheated bourbons like Rebel Yell? Interested in finding out more about exactly what make a “wheater?” Learn your way around wheated bourbon and much more with upcoming features in the winter issue of Whisky Advocate. Subscribe now.

Big Peat Christmas 2016 bp-christmas-2016

Release: September 2016
Price: $100/1 liter
Proof: 109.2
Availability: 30,000 bottles
Style: Blended Scotch malt whisky

Need to know: Traditionally a marriage of primarily Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila and Port Ellen, this one-off Big Peat Limited Edition vatting includes all active distilleries on Islay, plus malt whisky from the closed Port Ellen.

Whisky Advocate says: Big Peat delivers exactly what the name says, and so much more! That’s why this original blended malt from Douglas Laing has achieved a cult following among Islay whisky devotees for its unbridled power and complexity. Every release reviewed in the Whisky Advocate buying guide has scored 90 points or higher, making this Christmas gift highly anticipated.

14__18_yo_1 Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Year Old Single Malt

Release: September 2016
Price: $70
Proof: 82.6
Availability: 18,000 bottles
Style: Irish single malt

Tullamore D.E.W. 18 Year Old Single Malt

Release: September 2016
Price: $110
Proof: 82.6
Availability: 2,400 bottles
Style: Irish single malt

Need to know: While clearly different in age, these whiskeys share a similar maturation, including bourbon, Oloroso sherry, port and madeira casks.

Whisky Advocate says: Previously available only the U.K., we are pleased to welcome these Irish single malts to our shores. Look for the reviews in out Buying Guide now! Keep up with the all the excitement surrounding Irish whiskey in the winter issue of Whisky Advocate. Subscribe now.

btantique

George T. Stagg

Release: September 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 144.1 proof
Availability: 142 barrels
Style: Bourbon

William Larue Weller

Release: September 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 135.4 proof
Availability: 145 barrels
Style: Bourbon

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Release: September 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 126.2 proof
Availability: 61 barrels
Style: Rye

Eagle Rare 17 year old

Release: September 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 90 proof
Availability: 32 barrels
Style: Bourbon

Sazerac Rye 18 year old

Release: September 2016
Price: $90
Proof: 135.4 proof
Availability: 145 barrels
Style: Rye

Need to know: Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection includes uncut and unfiltered bourbon George T. Stagg;  well-known wheater William Larue Weller; Thomas H. Handy rye, distilled in the spring of 2010; and well aged bourbon and rye in the form of Eagle Rare and Sazerac Rye.

Whisky Advocate says: There is always lots of excitement around this collection and Buffalo Trace provides an immense amount of detail on their website for anyone looking for warehouse locations, distillation dates and bottling procedures. Of special note, this year’s Sazerac Rye 18 was drawn directly form barrels filled in April of 1998, rather than being batched from matured whiskey stored in stainless tanks. It’s a process they intend to continue going forward.

Whisky Wearables

September 5th, 2016

author-jeffery-lindenmuthLabor Day may be the unofficial close of summer, but with sunny skies here in the northeast we’re celebrating with a few luxury whisky wearables, crafted from the barrels that once housed some delicious spirits.

glenmorangie-finlayandco-artic-56cc7767e0f7aGlenmorangie has collaborated with British eyewear company Finlay & Co., manufacturers of wooden sunglasses, to create some stylish shades from American white oak casks that previously held Glenmorangie whisky. The exclusive sunglasses are individually numbered and stamped with their Glenmorangie pedigree ($450). There’s no whiff of whisky remaining; the smooth texture and aroma of the freshly sanded unfinished wood is more reminiscent of high school shop class.

With summer Fridays a thing of the past, you may want to count the minutes until happy hour on a watch made from reclaimed Jim Beam bourbon barrels. Jim Beam Black and Original Grain have collaborated on a limited edition of 500 timepieces featuring a Miyota 8215 automatic movement, 21 jewels, and a 40-hour power reserve.

22-123051-original_grain_jim_beam_limited_edition_watchThe Jim Beam Black x Original Grain Gentlemen’s Kit (flask included) sells for $499. For each watch purchased, Original Grain donates to Trees for the Future, an organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by by assisting with planting trees to provide food and fuel.

Earlier this summer, hat makers Goorin Bros. partnered with the revived I.W. Harper bourbon to create a limited edition fedora (thankfully, not made from barrels). It’s already sold out, so that should be all the evidence you need that good whisky is more fashionable than ever.

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