Archive for the ‘Travel Retail’ Category

Top 10 Whiskies Reviewed in the Summer 2014 Issue Buying Guide

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Here’s a sneak preview of our Summer 2014 issue’s Buying Guide. A total of 117 whiskies were reviewed for this issue. We welcomed two new members to our review team: Jonny McCormick (blended scotch, blended malts, grain, Irish, and world whisky) and Geoffrey Kleinman (flavored whiskies and U.S.-exclusive imports).

Crown-Royal-XO-bottle#10 - Crown Royal XO, 40%, $45

A rich luxurious whisky finished in cognac casks, as was the crisper, brighter Cask No. 16 that it replaces. This is the cedary, leathery, tobacco-ish sipping whisky of the private club. Simple toffee and the cherry essence of Beaujolais nouveau evolve into ripe red apples and heavy, dusky, dark fruit with candied citrus peel, bitter almond skins, and hints of oak. Sizzling gingery spice and white pepper linger over textured sandalwood. Defined by its heavy, creamy body. —Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92

#9 - Evan Williams Single Barrel (Barrel No. 1) 2004, 43.3%, $27

Polished and nicely balanced, with caramel as the main note, followed by candied fruit, soft vanilla, sweet corn, and nougat. Subtle spice (ginger, cinnamon) and gentle oak on the finish round out the sweet notes. Easygoing demeanor and very drinkable. Great value too! A very pleasing, versatile bourbon. —John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93JW Odyssey

#8 - Johnnie Walker Odyssey, 40%, $1,100

Jim Beveridge delivered these aromas of toffee apple, peach, and rich berry fruits by working with European oak casks. The smoke is timid, with hints of background salinity. The finely structured mouthfeel is where this triple malt whisky truly shines: the polished smoothness is exceptional. The flavor journey begins with honey, citrus, and swirling melted chocolate, building to a fire of squeezed orange oils, dry fruits, and pecan nuttiness before concluding with rich espresso, dark caramels, and plain chocolate. Immaculate.—Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#7 - Cragganmore Triple Matured Edition, 48%, £80

This is Cragganmore in early autumnal guise. Dry leaves underfoot, ripe black fruits on the bushes, waxed jacket, chestnut, and a whiff of cedary smoke, opening into dried peach. The palate is thickly textured, with those fruits, dark chocolate, and pomegranate molasses. The immensely long finish gives you light pepper, smoke, and blackberry jam. Cragganmore at its very best, and at a great price. —Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93mortlach_18yo

#6 - Mortlach 18 year old, 43.4%, £180/500 ml

Deep amber in color with the green glints of first-fill sherry, this has bosky notes and meat—mutton and venison—plus graphite, bitter chocolate, and wet rock before layers of dried stone fruits and date. This is the most savory and Bovril-like of the new range. The palate is feral and earthy; think mushroom with game pie, and rowan berries. Deep, but with more dimensions than the previous 16 year old which, in comparison, seems like a blunt instrument.—Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#5 - Brora 40 year old Single Cask 1972 Vintage, 59.1%, £7,000

Just 160 bottles of 1972 Brora are available through UK World of Whiskies and World Duty Free Group stores. The oldest bottling of Brora to date was distilled using heavily-peated malt. A big hit of oily peat on the early nose, with malt, dried fruit, and black pepper. Mildly medicinal. The palate yields bonfire ash, licorice, honey, more pepper, and well-integrated oak. The finish is long, with peat smoke, plain chocolate, and tannins lingering in harmony. Complex and rewarding. —Gavin D Smith

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94

#4 - The John Walker, 40%, $3,500

The pinnacle of the current Johnnie Walker range, this is a rare, inimitable blend of just nine whiskies. It exudes the aromas of ripe bananitos, whole mango, satsuma, vanilla seeds, barley awns, butter biscuits, and crystallized pineapple. The supple grain sustains indulgent, characterful malts creating a weighty, smooth mouthfeel. I’m smitten by the vanilla creaminess, burgeoning deep fruit layers, how it swells with a satisfying snuffbox smokiness. A beautifully styled blend delivering a captivating, sensuous experience. (330 bottles only)—Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94Last Drop 50 year old

#3 - The Last Drop 50 year old, 50.9%, $4,000

Would you have gambled The Last Drop 1960 liquid in new sherry wood for four more years? The indulgent nose proffers maple syrup, buckwheat honey, roasted spices, blue grapes, pomegranate, raspberry compote, cilantro, pandan leaf, and beefsteak juices soaking into mushroom gills. The complex, lustrous mouthfeel is replete with a sheen of rich maltiness, molasses lashed by sherry before a dry, resinous finish. Water brings an oily nuttiness, then further drops produce a silky, clingy texture. Glorious. Miraculous. Victorious. (388 bottles only) —Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 95

peatmonster_park-avenue_front2#2 - Compass Box The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Special Cask Strength Bottling, 54.7%, $120

As you’d expect, solid peat is the first thing out of the glass, but this isn’t just a peat beast. Underneath are honey, dried fruit, and malt. The palate is all about balance with honeyed malt, raisin, and oak spice all complementing smoky peat. A lush mouthfeel makes you forget it’s cask strength. A pure love note in a glass from Compass Box to Park Avenue Liquor.  (Park Avenue Liquor only.) —Geoffrey Kleinman

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 95
Bookers 25th Anniv Bottle

#1 - Booker’s 25th Anniversary Bourbon Batch No 2014-1, 65.4%, $100

The complete package: uncut, unfiltered, full-flavored, richly textured (almost chewy), and very complex. Notes of toffee-coated nuts, vanilla fudge, polished leather, cedar-tinged tobacco, barrel char, cocoa powder, and a hint of fig, wrapped up with a firm oak grip on the finish. Worth every penny of the premium price being charged for this commemorative release. —John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 96

Beyond Solera Reserve: 3 new Glenfiddich solera vat whiskies

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Dave BroomDave Broom follows up his investigation of Glenfiddich’s solera vats from the current issue of Whisky Advocate.

Could it be that solera marrying* might be about to gain momentum? If the scenes earlier this year at Glenfiddich are an indication, then it could well be true. Three new solera vats, built by local coopers Joseph Brown of Dufftown, were installed at the distillery. The first two whiskies married in them were released last week, with a third planned for April next year.

Select Cask, Reserve Cask and Vintage Cask are all no age statement bottlings, and will be exclusive to Global Travel Retail, offering three different perspectives on the distillery’s personality; one of which will take many by surprise.

Glenfiddich_Brian KinsmanLR

Brian Kinsman, Wm. Grant & Sons master blender

“What happens inside a solera vat has been of interest to me for years,” Brian Kinsman, master blender at William Grant & Sons told Whisky Advocate. “It is a way to get consistency, but the way in which the process is also a way to create depth and complexity fascinates me. I’ve used the same principle as behind the 15 year old Solera Reserve to create these new brands, but in order to create three distinct flavor profiles.”

As with the original, the new solera vats will only ever be half-emptied and it is believed that it is this residual liquid which adds new elements to the final product.

The first two to be released are Select Cask, from a solera vat of 27,000 liters; a melding of American oak, sherry, and some red wine cask-matured Glenfiddich. Reserve Cask comes from a 13,000 liter solera vat and is composed of 100% Spanish oak refill and first fill butts.

Select Cask promotes Glenfiddich’s more light and fruity side with an overwhelming aroma of fresh William pear, florals, and raspberry. It will retail at £39 for a 1-liter bottle.

The Reserve Cask, not surprisingly given its wood makeup, goes deeper, showing dried fruits, candied peels, leather, spice, and sultana. A 1-liter bottle will be £49.

The last member of the triumvirate, Vintage Cask, also comes from a 13,000 liter vat and is a mixing of first and refill bourbon, and a little sherry butt, “for mouthfeel”.  The surprise is how peaty it is.

“This is going back to the style of Glenfiddich 100 years ago,” explains Kinsman, “when we had a touch of peat in the whisky. We’ve been making a small amount of peated whisky for over 12 years now and this element forms a small part of the overall vatting.” The peat shows itself as bonfire smoke on the nose with ferns, citrus, and a little malt, but this smokiness becomes more restrained on the palate, where it’s joined by with ripe fruits and pepper.”

It will be launched in April 2014 and retail for £79. Full tasting notes will appear in the next issue of Whisky Advocate.

* For more on the solera process, see the current issue of Whisky Advocate

Irish whiskey lovers: two rare Midleton single casks

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

 Over the many years, I’ve often asked my friends at the Midleton Distillery (makers of the annual vintage release of Midleton Very Rare, Jameson, Redbreast, Power’s, Paddy, etc.) if they could bottle the Midleton Very Rare at a higher strength than 40% ABV. Well, they’re doing it now, but you are going to have work at getting a bottle. (Especially considering I’m a little late getting this information to you. Sorry about that.)

They have introduced two new single cask Midleton Very Rare whiskeys. One is available in Terminal 2 at the Dublin airport, while the other is available at Dublin’s Celtic Whiskey Shop.

A producer always takes a risk when introducing single cask whiskies (Highland Park and Glenfarclas come to mind), because each cask varies in flavor and might alienate  some enthusiasts. I think, in the long run,  we are all the better for it.

I hope we see more interesting releases from the Midleton Distillery–and with broader distribution. They have the potential to make so many great whiskeys (with so much variety). The more the merrier.

I don’t normally post up press releases, but I”ll do it here (along with a photo).

Post update: One thing I forgot to emphasize initially–and this is important: these two new Midleton whiskeys are Pure Pot Still whiskeys. They are not a blend of PPS whiskeys and grain whiskeys, like the standard annual Midleton release. So, in this regard, these new Midleton releases are a kin to Redbreast and Greenspot.

New Exclusive Single Pot Still Whiskey Releases from Midleton

Midleton is synonymous with its annual vintage releases of the exquisite Midleton Very Rare blend but the renowned Co. Cork Distillery has now added to its limited releases of Single Pot Still whiskeys under the Midleton brand name with two new expressions which have been launched this month.

Both whiskeys are Single Cask bottlings destined for two individual retailers – the new Irish Whiskey Collection shop at the recently opened Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport and for the Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dublin’s Dawson St.   The two casks were personally selected by Master Distiller, Barry Crockett, as outstanding expressions of the Midleton pot still style.

The Terminal 2 release is a 19 year old pot still whiskey which was laid down in November, 1991 in a first fill American bourbon barrel and has, in a new departure for the Midleton brand, been bottled at cask strength (53.7%).  The cask strength affords the whiskey connoisseur the rare opportunity to experience a Midleton pot still whiskey as it emerges directly from the cask.  The tasting notes for the whiskey reveal a dark, fleshy fruit character in perfect balance with the underlying pot still spiciness.   The impressive presentation box includes a portion of stave from the barrel in which the whiskey spent its life maturing so that on opening the box, one can literally smell the whiskey.  Only 200 bottles were yielded from this Single Cask.

The Celtic Whiskey Shop release was laid down in December, 1996, also in a first fill American bourbon barrel and has been bottled at 46%.  This is a slightly lighter style pot still distillate with green apples and banana to the fore.  270 bottles were realised from this particular cask. 

Each bottle is individually numbered with the Terminal 2 expression retailing at €260 and the Celtic Whiskey Shop expression retailing at €225.

Review: Laphroaig Triple Wood

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Dominic Roskrow reviewed this whisky already on WDJK here. Some of you have been asking for comparative reviews, so here’s my take on it. (He liked it a little more than I did.)

Laphroaig Triple Wood, 48%, $100
Similar to Laphroaig Quarter Cask, but also finished in oloroso sherry casks. Fruit and smoke: fleshy red berries, red licorice, toffee, ripe barley, coal tar, sun-baked seaweed, peat smoke, and a hint of coffee grounds. Tarry finish. I rated the Quarter Cask a 91, and I think this whisky is in the same ballpark. If you like sherry-influenced whiskies, then go for the Triple Wood. If not, then consider the Quarter Cask. (Currently Exclusive to Travel Retail and European specialist retailers.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 90

Review: Glenmorangie “Finealta”

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

This one is available only in Travel Retail for now, but I expect it to be imported to the U.S. early in 2011. (My review bottle was 750 ml, so the 750 ml U.S. release size Finealta has already been bottled. That’s a good sign.)

It’s not super- peated. I wouldn’t expect it to be. They don’t want to mask all of Glenmorangie’s suble complexities.

Glenmorangie Finealta, 46%, $80
Glenmorangie enters the world of peated whiskies (like everyone else these days—not that I’m complaining). Richly textured layers of sweetness (vanilla, toffee, milk chocolate), fruit (tangerine, orchard fruit—especially ripe cherry), roasted nuts, mushrooms, hint of menthol, and gentle smoke. Certainly entertaining, even if the whisky doesn’t always seem to know what it wants to be. The soft sweetness mid-palate is balanced nicely by dried spice and smoke on the finish. Curiously enjoyable.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

New Glenmorangie “Finealta”

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I assume this is the follow-up to Sonnalta PX, which I liked.

This one sounds very exciting. It is available only in Travel Retail (for now). Details below.

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Glenmorangie reveals the newest addition to its Private Edition range with GLENMORANGIE FINEALTA

The Glenmorangie Company announces the release of Glenmorangie Finealta, the latest addition to the Private Editionrange of limited edition expressions by Glenmorangie’s award-winning Whisky Creators. Finealta, pronounced ‘Finalta’, is Scottish Gaelic for ‘elegant’. It is an exquisite recreation of Glenmorangie based on a recipe dating back to 1903.

The century-old recipe was uncovered in the Distillery’s archives. Dr Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling and Whisky Creation, comments, ‘Glenmorangie decided to recreate this recipe so that we, and whisky connoisseurs, could have a taste of this historic Glenmorangie expression. We followed the recipe meticulously, which included marrying whiskies of different ages and different cask types. The final result is a whisky of such depth and distinction that we selected it as the second release in Glenmorangie’s exclusive Private Edition.’

Whisky aficionados will delight in Glenmorangie Finealta’s distinctive vanilla and citrus notes that one expects in a Glenmorangie expression, while enjoying Finealta’s unique rich taste of mandarin segments, lime and hints of cherry brandy combined with a spicy palate of nutmeg and ginger. The final touch is a surprising one – a hint of peat creating a subtle smokiness with layers of gentle floral scents and depth to discover. The light touch of peatiness originates in an era when the Glenmorangie Distillery dried its malted barley in a peat-fired kiln.

Distillery archives show that during the early 1900’s this Glenmorangie dram was served in the American Bar of The Savoy, London’s most prestigious hotel, during La Belle Époque and at the height of Art Nouveau, the first modern art movement of the 20thcentury. The packaging design for Glenmorangie Finealta is inspired by Art Nouveau, which had a style for incorporating elements of nature such as floral and plant motifs into artwork, architecture and home furnishings.

Daniel Baerntuther, Manager of the American Bar at The Savoy, says, ‘We are very excited with the creation of Glenmorangie Finealta, which was first enjoyed by The Savoy’s guests at the turn of the 20thcentury. It is wonderful that the introduction coincides with The Savoy’s reopening on 10.10.10 as this will allow our new guests to also experience this special Glenmorangie expression. In restoring The Savoy, we have been careful to preserve the atmosphere, elegance and unashamedly old-fashioned glamour of the hotel and Glenmorangie Finealta fits perfectly.”

The popularity of Glenmorangie single malt whisky grew beyond Scotland during the early 1900’s when it was shipped around the world to whisky enthusiasts spanning America to Asia.

Bottled at a strength of 46% ABV, and non chill-filtered to impart a full body and texture, Glenmorangie Finealta will be made available to global travel retail in early September.

Guest Review: Ardmore, 25 year old, 51.4%, $195

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Ardmore is a rising star in the world of single malt. Until four years ago it was little known in its own right, its main purpose being as a key malt in Teacher’s. Then Ardmore Traditional was released, and it’s been winning over drinkers ever since. That malt is a delicatessen whisky: smoky, oily, and savory, a unique Highland malt with much to recommend it. This is a different proposition altogether. It’s clean and sweet, with pineapple candy, dusty and almost incense-like spices, and a liberal dose of sweet peat. Some citrus notes, too. The peat holds out until the end with impressive effect. There’s talk of this becoming a permanent part of the Ardmore portfolio. Let’s hope so: it’s further proof that Ardmore is a very interesting distillery indeed. (Travel Retail and selected specialist whisky shops.) – Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 83

Guest Review: Laphroaig Triple Wood, 48%, $100

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

This is the first time I’ve been up for reviews here so I had a game plan: play it cool, mark tightly, let everyone know I’m hard to please. Then they gave me this, the whisky equivalent to front row tickets to Neil Young on his current Twisted Road tour: not just a chance to get up close and personal with an old favorite, but to do so with an old favorite who’s on fire. Laphroaig’s owners are intent on ensuring a big peaty engine for any new release, but this is a monster by anyone’s standards. It’s essentially Quarter Cask finished in oloroso sherry casks, so in addition to the intense charcoal smoke attack there are rich fruity notes; blackcurrant and berries. It’s an evening barbecue whisky. Grill that fish until it’s blackened and crispy, drizzle on lemon, and as the smoke rears up in protest, sip this. Big, moody, broody, fruity, and rich: what’s not to love? (Travel Retail and some European specialist retailers.) – Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 94

Reviews: Jim Beam “Signature” Six Grain and Jim Beam Black

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I received a review sample of the new Jim Beam “Signature” Six Grain bourbon, so I thought it would be fun (and informative) to compare it to it’s sibling, Jim Beam Black.

You can only find the Signature in Travel Retail outlets, but the Black is readily available. (I purchased my bottle at a local retailer.)

The Black is nice, pleasantly sweet, and fairly straight-forward, while the Signature is spicy, relatively dry, and more complex.

Jim Beam “Signature” Six Grain, 44.5%, €30

Caramel and vanilla notes, with a peppering of spice (primarily cinnamon, but also evergreen, cocoa, teaberry and nutmeg) and subtle roasted walnut, finishing dry, gritty and spicy (from the grains and also the oak). Spicier and not as sweet (when compared to its sibling Jim Beam Black, an eight year old). There’s certainly a lot going on here. A very “busy” whiskey. Intriguing too! A whiskey for exploring and discussing. (Exclusive to Travel Retail.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

 

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Jim Beam Black, 8 year old, 43%, $22

Moderately rich, with layered caramel, vanilla, fig cake and subtle sweet corn. Date, raisin, and a dusting of spice (cinnamon, cocoa, hint of ginger) round out the palate, leading to a gently sweet, soothing finish. A very versatile bourbon—certainly enjoyable enough to drink neat, but you won’t feel guilty if you make a cocktail with it or drink it on the rocks.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 84

Jim Beam introduces “Signature” bourbon with six grains!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Yes, you heard right.  Six grains. And to think that we got all excited when Brown-Forman released their “Master’s Collection Four Grain” several years ago. Welcome to the new whiskey environment, where even the big boys are showing off their new experiments.

The six grains: corn, rye, barley, wheat, triticale and brown rice. According to my contact at Beam Global:

This product is a result of us mingling different Bourbons together. Each were made from a standard Bourbon recipe (high percentage of single grains). For instance, we distilled a high wheat, small grain Bourbon; a high triticale, small grain Bourbon; and a high brown rice, small grain Bourbon. Each were barreled separately and then mingled together prior to bottling.

I suspected this, given that there was no mention of the bourbon being made from a six-grain mashbill. Here are some more details from my source at Beam Global:

  • SRP in Europe is 29.99 Euros
  • These bottles are currently only available at travel retail in Europe. We may release additional bottles in the future but will most likely keep these at Duty Free retail locations.
  • We produced 13,800 bottles (2,300 cases) in total

It’s six years old and bottled at 89 proof. Interestingly, the press kit I received also mentioned that this is “the first in a series of super-premium, small-batch bourbons.”

I’ll be getting a review sample of this new whiskey this week and will let you know my thoughts after I taste it.