Archive for the ‘Breaking news’ Category

Edrington mothballs Tamdhu distillery

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Sad, but given the current economy, not surprising. You can read about it here.

Glen Grant debuts in the U.S. next week at WhiskyFest

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

GG_16_yrs_LoRGood news. Glen Grant is coming to the U.S, but not until 2010.

However, if you have a ticket for Whiskyfest New York on November 10th, you in for a special treat. The whisky will make its debut in the U.S. at WhiskyFest.


This is from my contact at Skyy, the U.S. importer:

Whisky Fest is the only event where we will show case the brand before next year’s launch. So, only people at next week’s event will get the chance to taste before anyone else does…! The actual launch will be in January of next year and we will focus resources into the key markets: NY, NY, FL, TX, IL,  and CA.

The whiskies being poured? I’m told it will be the 10 yr. old and the 16 yr. old.

New Diageo whiskies: The Manager’s Choice

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Because of all the rumors, blog postings, etc., (including my own teaser this past week) on this subject (unauthorized, in many instances), Diageo has given me permission to release this information, officially,  one day early.

First, let’s start with the information from the press release:

ManagersChoice_Range_1_LoRes (2)Diageo launches its first ever complete collection of single-cask malt whiskies

Diageo has announced the launch of its first single-cask collection of single malt Scotch whiskies. This is the first time that Scotland’s biggest estate of single malt distilleries has issued a comprehensive series of single-cask bottlings.

Labelled The Managers’ Choice, the rare limited-edition series is aimed at collectors and connoisseurs who will enjoy owning and exploring an unusual expression of their favourite single malt or even a whole anthology of highly individual single malts, chosen to represent each of 27 distilleries’ distinctive but authentic whisky signature.

The releases are being staged in batches over the next year. September 2009 sees the first release of six malts.

Each distillery is represented in The Managers’ Choice by a bottling of its single malt whisky drawn from one single cask, selected after a careful examination of distillery stocks. The cask was nosed, tasted, discussed and finally chosen as the most distinctive expression of that distillery’s single malts by a judging panel of acknowledged experts, including leading maturation experts and the distillery managers themselves.

In many cases, unusual cask woods will have had their influence on the final result. Perfect maturation and spirit quality have been the criteria, resulting in a bottling that delights with original and sometimes unexpected flavours whilst allowing the distillery character to still shine through.

Depending on the size of the cask and the rate of evaporation over the years since it was filled, the volume of bottles obtained can vary between approximately 600 and as little as 200. These are, consequently, extremely rare and distinctive whiskies.

Oban_angledOnce picked, each cask is bottled at its natural cask strength, without chill filtering. Nothing is allowed to affect the natural taste and aromas of the whisky. This means that the liquid the connoisseur pours into his or her glass is exactly as it emerged directly from the cask when it was hand-picked a few months earlier by the experts – it’s as good as a dram drawn from the cask in the warehouse itself.

Diageo whisky specialist Craig Wallace explained the challenge of selecting a single cask for a bottling that will be made available to a discerning and knowledgeable consumer audience:  “When you’re selecting casks for a bigger bottling, you can work with a wider variation of maturity, distillery character and wood influence because you can even it out and aim for consistency.

“But when you are bottling a single cask, you can’t do that: you have to get the balance totally right when selecting the cask. And it’s highly unlikely, whatever single cask you choose this time, that you’d ever be able to replicate that precise flavour profile the next time you look for one.  So finding a single cask with just the right balance is actually very challenging.”

Classic Malts Selection spokesperson Nick Morgan said:  “We have occasionally issued single-cask bottlings of individual single malt whiskies before, for instance for visitors to the annual Islay Festival. And single-cask bottlings of our malts can sometimes be obtained from independent bottlers.

“But this is a much more ambitious venture  –  the most extensive collection we’ve ever released of single cask malt whisky bottlings, from 27 of our operational malt distilleries, involving both the well-known and those whose product isn’t widely available. 

“Each individual distillery cask selected by the experts after an extensive examination has doubly earned its place in The Managers’ Choice, regardless of its age: because it faithfully illuminates that distillery’s individual DNA, and also because it will offer the connoisseur a different, interesting and perhaps unexpected experience of that whisky.”

Full details, including tasting notes, are displayed on the Classic Malts Selection™ website The new website content includes the story of The Managers’ Choice and the selection process, a “Meet the Managers” page where they talk about The Managers Choice collection & questions related to the world of whisky, whisky tasting notes & audio, Q&A with a Sensory Expert, and details of where to buy the whiskies.

Note: Since this project doesn’t officially kick off until tomorrow, Diageo informed me this morning that the website featuring these whiskies may not be fully operational until then.

Here are the six whiskies in the first release, along with corresponding information on distillation dates, number of bottles, and pricing. (Sadly, these whiskies will NOT be available in the U.S.)

Cardhu™ , distilled 1997,   252 bottles,  £250
Glen Elgin™,  distilled 1998,  534 bottles, £250
Linkwood™,  distilled 1996,  480 bottles, £200
Mortlach™,  distilled 1997,   240 bottles, £250
Oban™,  distilled 2000,  534 bottles, £300
Teaninich™,  distilled 1996,  246 bottles, £200

I spoke with Nick Morgan last week and he was candid with me, telling me that it was very difficult deciding on which cask to pick for each distillery. The nosing team narrowed it down to three different casks for each distillery. Then, the group of nosers, along with the distillery managers and other key individuals, basically debated until coming up with just one pick for each distillery. (I would have liked to been there for that! That would have been fun.)

So, there you have it for now. I WILL be getting review samples of each release, so I’ll let you know my thoughts at that time. If you have any other questions, let me know. I’ll try to get them answered for you.

And please, post up your comments. Diageo is watching…

Very special news about Diageo’s malt whiskies

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I’m not allowed to tell anyone about it until one week from today, on Friday, September 4th. Maybe someone will leak it out sooner, but I will honor their request.

Anyone want to take a guess what it is?

Make sure you visit here next Friday for the details.

Special Announcement: follow my real-time whisky reviews on Twitter

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Beginning this week, I will be starting something new. I will be reviewing whiskies “real time” on Twitter. Now you can get my impressions (and rating) of a whisky the very moment I taste it.

Nothing will change in the way I review whiskies. I will still review them in my “tasting room”, using the same glassware, at the same time, etc. The only difference is, instead of typing my review into my Word document, I’ll be typing it on Twitter.

Each review will begin with a photo of what I’m about to review, followed by additional tweets as I nose and taste the whisky. The review will end with my formal rating of the whisky, which will eventually appear on my blog and in Malt Advocate. Other than the possibility of minor formatting to convert my tweets into the structure of my magazine reviews, the tasting notes, and ratings will be identical.

At the beginning of each week, I will announce a schedule of the whiskies I’m going to review that week, along with the dates and times of the review. If you want to follow along, all you need to do is get a Twitter account and sign up to follow me. It’s really very easy. Several hundred of you are already following me. The other nice thing is that you can also chime in after my review and exchange comments with other people following me and reading my review.

This idea came to me over the weekend, while I was at the Buffalo Trace distillery. I tweeted during a media lunch with CEO Mark Brown, while tasting new Buffalo Trace whiskeys later that afternoon, and also during Elmer T. Lee’s 90th Birthday Party that evening. For those of you who didn’t have the good fortune of being invited to these events, my tweets were the next best thing. And judging by your comments on Twitter, you really enjoyed this. I’m now going to apply this same concept to other things that I do, like when I review whiskies.

There’s also another benefit to this besides “being there with me” when I review whiskies real-time. These days, the really “hot” whiskies often sell out on-line or at retailers very quickly. The sooner you can be informed, the better. And there’s no faster way to get my reviews than real-time.

So, here’s my schedule for this week. All reviews this week will begin promptly at 4pm, Eastern Standard Time.  This week, I will focus on three new American whiskeys of great interest to bourbon and rye enthusiasts:

Wednesday, August 19th: Jefferson’s Presidential Select 17 yr.

Thursday, August 20th: Four Roses Mariage Collection, 2009 release

Friday, August 21st: Rittenhouse Rye, 25 year old, single barrel

Give it a try. Get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, include me as one of the people you are following (@JohnHansell), catch my reviews and join in on the discussion aftewards if you want to.

P.S. If you don’t want to follow me on Twitter, you can still see my most recent tweets on the right sidebar of this blog. I’m not sure how fast the link works, but it shouldn’t take too long.

Two new Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Whiskeys: updated!

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Debuting this fall, two “Double Barrel” bottlings. One, a 1993 vintage. The other, a 1997 vintage.

Both are ryed bourbons. Both were aged in new charred oak barrels for 8 years, and then re-barrelled into new charred oak barrels again for the rest of their life span.

I tasted both today. Not enough time to go into detail now, but will fill you in on these two–and the entire new Buffalo Trace Antique collection, which I also tasted–in the near future.


Here are my “tweets” on these two whiskeys soon after I tasted them yesterday. These are informal thoughts, based on cask samples, not the final (lower-proof) dressed bottle. They haven’t been bottled yet. I’ll provide a more formal review of the final product later.

1997 Vintage Double Barrel BT Experimental Collection. Aged 8 yrs. then again in in virgin charred oak barrels. Very woody, but drinkable.

1993 Vintage Double Barrel BT Experimental Collection. Aged 8 yrs. then again in in virgin charred oak barrels. Over the line in oak. Avoid!

New: Rittenhouse Rye Single Barrel 25 yr. old

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Shhh…this is top secret. Don’t tell anybody. 😉

It will be on shelves in the November-December time frame. Details to follow.

(P.S. And I’m getting a sample of it next week.  Very cool. Check back with me then.)

Unique WhiskyFest SF Whiskies #3-4: Glenfiddich and Balvenie

Friday, July 31st, 2009

As I mentioned in previous postings, a handful of distillery managers and master blenders have each agreed to make one unique bottle of whisky (bottle #1 of 1) for WhiskyFest San Francisco this October 16th. These whiskies will, naturally, be rarer than any other bottle of whisky the ever produced, because there is only one bottle. For a small donation to charity, you will have the opportunity to taste these whiskies.

I wrote about the first two whiskies from Jura here and Dalmore here. I am pleased to announce that we have two new unique whiskies: one from Balvenie, the other from Glenfiddich. Details, provided by them, follow.

David Stewart has spent a great deal of time over the last few years working with our Warehouse team on projects which require him to search out and identify exceptional single casks. As a result, David now has an intimate knowledge of where his personal favourites are within the Balvenie warehouses, many of which he has been carefully nurturing for several years. David’s unique bottling will be a single cask sampling drawn directly from one of this highly personal select, and will be accompanied by notes on his reasons for this particular choice.

Brian Kinsman has taken a very different approach. All exceptional bottlings of Glenfiddich, such as our annual Vintage Single Casks and award winning 40 year old, require cask samples to be sent to the nosing room for detailed assessment. These cask samples are retained long after the cask has long been bottled and savoured. They form a historical archive of Glenfiddich’s greatest and best. Brian will be selecting from these precious remnants to craft a unique and unrepeatable one-bottle “vatting” of Glenfiddich, including exceptional casks long since consigned to history.

Here is more information on WhiskyFest San Francisco. I hope to see you there.

Suntory Yamazaki to debut 1984 Single Malt Whisky

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

For the first time ever, Suntory will be selling a vintage single malt in the U.S. It’s a 1984 vintage, and it will be available here in October. I have a sample and will be posting up my review shortly.

The press release, along with a nice background on Japanese whisky-making and the history of Japanese whisky, follows.

The Distinctive Whisky of Japan

(July 29, 2009) – New York, NY… Suntory Limited proudly announces the limited introduction of YAMAZAKI 1984 Single Malt Whisky in the US, commemorating the company’s 110th anniversary as well as the 25th anniversary of the YAMAZAKI brand.  This October, only 300 individually-numbered bottles of this precious liquid will be released in the United States. 

Smooth and full-bodied, Suntory YAMAZAKI is the superlative single malt whisky of Japan.  YAMAZAKI 1984 has a distinctive, cinnamon-like flavor, the result of its key malt, aged in Japanese mizunara casks, the hidden treasure of Suntory. All of the malt whiskies featured in YAMAZAKI 1984 were originally distilled in 1984. The new YAMAZAKI 1984 joins the existing marques, aged for 12 or 18 years. 

About Yamazaki 1984
Handcrafted at the oldest distillery in Japan, Suntory YAMAZAKI 1984 is made from the purest natural ingredients distilled through the art of Japanese craftsmanship in perfect harmony with nature.  Indeed, Suntory YAMAZAKI is made with the same pure water used in Japan’s most esteemed tea ceremonies.  With a rich, sophisticated character all its own, Yamazaki’s secret lies in the harmonious marriage of single malt matured in three different oak casks – American, Spanish and Japanese.

As the supply of casks became limited in the 1940’s, Suntory turned to making its own casks from Japanese mizunara oak.   The coopers discovered the porous wood was prone to leaks; blenders found that the mizunara imparted overbearing aromas and taste to the malts stored within.  But their dismay turned to delight when they discovered, after the long period of aging, the mizunara oak casks added a distinctive touch to the whisky, endowing it with sweet fragrance reminiscent of incense.  

The Suntory YAMAZAKI Whisky-Making Process
While YAMAZAKI production is very similar to the Scottish process, key differences lie in the use of selected barley strains and peating levels, along with the legendary, ultra pure waters from the outskirts of Kyoto to produce its smooth, honeyed taste.

The Suntory YAMAZAKI production process begins with the selection of the finest barley according to strict quality standards.  The barley germinates on exposure to moisture and air, producing enzymes that will later convert starch into sugars.  The grains of malt are then ground into grist and mixed with pure water from the Vale of Yamazaki.  This mixture yields a sweet liquid called wort. 

Adding the finest yeast to the wort begins the fermentation process.  Differing from Scottish whisky, Yamazaki uses wooden washbacks to ferment the wash longer, giving the whisky its creamy flavor.  The resulting wash is distilled twice in copper pots.  Only the distinctive middle cut of the second distillation is collected to become whisky.

After the distillation process is complete, the new spirits are aged in the selection of Japanese, American and Spanish oak casks, where the whisky matures to its amber color and smooth taste.

Tasting Notes
On the nose, YAMAZAKI 1984 opens with notes of cinnamon, ripe fruit, vanilla and incense.  On the palate, it offers a sweet, pleasantly sour and mature taste with a lasting depth of flavor.  The finish is lingering and slightly sweet.  Its color is a deep red amber.

History of Japanese Whisky
The history of Japanese whisky began in 1923 when Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory and the father of Japanese whisky, built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki.  Located on the outskirts of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, this proved to be the ideal environment for whisky production. 

A good whisky is born of pure water and a climate where cool temperatures and high humidity create an ideal maturation environment.  The Vale of Yamazaki is famed for its pure waters, prized by the famous Japanese tea ceremony master Senno Rikyu.  The Yamazaki distillery, where whisky was crafted from pure malt using copper pot stills, was the first of its kind outside of Scotland. 

Today, Suntory YAMAZAKI is the most popular single malt whisky in Japan and is enjoyed by whisky connoisseurs the world over.  Suntory YAMAZAKI was ranked the world’s thirteenth bestselling single malt whisky in terms of cases sold in 2008, and is currently exported to around 25 countries, including the United States.

Enjoying Suntory YAMAZAKI
The complex aromas and flavors of Suntory YAMAZAKI can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.  The ideal method to appraise its rich, fruity aroma is to enjoy YAMAZAKI straight, either as an aperitif or after-dinner drink.  Tasting Suntory YAMAZAKI on the rocks is an excellent way to appreciate its smoothness and flavor. 

Product Name, Volume, Suggested Retail Price, Alcohol Content, Packaging:
The YAMAZAKI 1984 Single Malt Whisky, 750 ml, $550-$650, 48%, 6 bottles
Date Available: Gradual release starting October, 2009
Sales Area: Select US Markets

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!