Treat your loved one to one of the finest, most unique single malt whiskies with  Lore, Select and 27 Year Old from Laphroaig

The award-winning, heavily-peated Single Malt Scotch whisky has been dividing opinions since 1815. It is not your everyday whisky for everyday people so this Christmas, get into the spirit and give the gift of history with three unique bottlings from the world’s No.1 Islay single malt.


Laphroaig Select’s unique character is derived from the special selection of casks chosen for maturation. The heart of the spirit is drawn from a final maturation in new American Oak casks, rarely used for Scotch whisky.

Representing a subtle blending of peat, oak and sweetness, Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell has selected the spirit from Laphroaig Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood (European Oak casks) and a final addition of 10 Year Old to create San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 silver medal award winning Laphroaig Select.

Laphroaig Select[2][1]

Sparkling gold in colour, on the nose Laphroaig Select is reminiscent of burning embers of peat in a crofter’s fireplace with hints of coconut and banana. Full bodied, the whisky offers deep, complex and smoky flavours on the palate with a surprising gentle sweetness and a dry, spicy, finish, making it a great foil to smoked salmon, rich mince pies beside the fire or strong blue cheese this festive season.

For something extra special, give your loved one a limited edition Laphroaig Select gift pack including two bespoke Laphroaig nosing glasses alongside a full-sized bottle.

Laphroaig Select and the Laphroaig Select gift set are available in selected whisky specialists and retailers. RRP £35



A double-gold medal award winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017, Laphroaig Lore is shaped by Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell, and drawn from 5 different casks including first-fill Bourbon barrels, new American Oak quarter casks, refill Laphroaig and Oloroso Sherry butts to create a rich Laphroaig like no other.

As the name suggests, this offering from Laphroaig is inspired by the knowledge and traditions passed down from generation to generation of its distillery managers, blenders and craftsmen.

Deep mahogany in colour, on the nose Laphroaig Lore is rich and smoky with seaside minerals, a hint of ash and bitter chocolate drops. Vanilla follows with chestnuts and a hit of fudge with malty sweetness – flavours reminiscent of Christmas treats. This develops into reach peat and a spicy chilli bite on the palate with a long, sweet aftertaste. A special gift from our family to yours, Laphroaig Lore will match well with a variety of foods over the festive season – it’s the perfect dram to sip alongside (or even pour over) your Christmas pudding, dark chocolate, or game meats.

Laphroaig Lore is available in selected whisky specialists and retailers. RRP £84

Laphroaig 27


In 2015, to celebrate its 200th anniversary, Laphroaig launched a 32 Year Old exclusive – the highest aged whisky it had released in over 8 years. This formed the start of a super premium series which the limited release 27 Year Old Double Matured Laphroaig continues.

To make this exquisite liquid, mature Laphroaig previously aged in hogsheads was transferred into first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and refill quarter casks. Patiently aged in the famous Warehouse No. 1, these casks were then specially selected for a final maturation and bottled at cask strength.

Burnished gold in colour, on the nose Laphroaig 27 Year Old offers ripe tropical fruit, toasted nuts, vanilla cream and fresh leather, which develops into smoke on the palate tempered by limes and stone fruit, giving way to sea salt and mild spice on the finish. Or in Distillery Manager John Campbell’s opinion it is like “dreams of stewed fruit and old potato sacks in the baking sun woken with carbolic soap. Ahh, lemony fresh!” Presented in a white wooden box with hand-carved images of the Laphroaig distillery inside, this exceptional bottling is perfect for that special someone and is the ideal dram to round-off your Christmas feast.

Laphroaig 27 Year Old is available in selected whisky specialists and retailers.

John Campbell, Distillery Manager comments: “Christmas is about sharing what you love with who you love. These three bottlings showcase our passion for making exceptional whiskies and offer Laphroaig lovers something extra special this festive season.”

To find out more information about Laphroaig or how to become a Friend of Laphroaig, please visit Please enjoy our brand responsibly

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Two proud Irish traditions collaborate to produce an exceptional Irish Whiskey with a Californian twist – Irish Whiskey News

Green Spot 1

Green Spot Chateau Montelena Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Two proud Irish traditions collaborate to produce an exceptional Irish Whiskey with a Californian twist

Irish Distillers today proudly unveils Green Spot Chateau Montelena, the first Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey to be finished in French oak Zinfandel wine casks. Matured until the combination of wine, whiskey and oak has reached the perfect balance, this new release is the second in the Wine Geese series of Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys that have been finished in unique wine casks.

Green Spot Chateau Montelena has been initially matured in American Bourbon and sherry casks and then finished for one year in casks previously filled with Zinfandel wine from the famed Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley. This rare cask finish contributes pomegranate, cranberry and maraschino cherry on the nose, a dry note to the silky mouthfeel and the finish combines classic long pot still spice flavours with a delicate wine influence, all in perfect harmony.

Green Spot Chateau Montelena also represents the coming together of two stories of Irish endeavour and enterprise. The Mitchells, who bottled and sold the original Green Spot under bond until 1968 and Jim Barrett, who restored the California-based Chateau Montelena to its former glory in 1972. Son of John Barrett, a Waterford man who emigrated to the USA after World War I, Jim Barrett followed in a long list of Wine Geese – Irish migrants that established leading wineries around the world. Today, the time-honoured traditions of Chateau Montelena are upheld by Jim’s son, Bo Barrett.

Crafted at the Midleton Distillery by Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation and long-serving Head Blender, Billy Leighton, Green Spot Chateau Montelena is the second edition in the Wine Geese series following the launch of Green Spot Château Léoville Barton in 2015. Bottled at 46% ABV and without chill-filtration, Green Spot Chateau Montelena will be available in limited quantities each year in the USA, Canada and Ireland (including Ireland Travel Retail).


Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, explains: “Green Spot Chateau Montelena is the celebration of three famous Irish institutions – Midleton Distillery, Mitchell and Son and Chateau Montelena – working in harmony to craft a new and innovative Irish whiskey that will appeal to whiskey and wine drinkers alike.

“Exploring the influence of these prized wine casks on Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey was our inspiration. We found that the black-skinned Zinfandel grapes are full of ripe, spicy berry flavours, which imparts a distinctive and refined fruitiness to the wine and also the casks in which they matured. Working closely with Billy Leighton, we monitored the finishing process over the course of one year until we reached the perfect balance of flavours – the result is a rich pot still whiskey with classic Green Spot red apples, pears, vanilla and liquorice complemented by the dry and fruity Zinfandel wine.”


Bo Barrett, Chief Executive Officer at Chateau Montelena added, “It has been a pleasure to work with Billy Leighton, Kevin O’Gorman and the whole production team at Midleton Distillery on this exciting project. We were brought together by a shared heritage and common respect for excellence in craft that has been wholly realised in Green Spot Chateau Montelena. I hope consumers will enjoy the Zinfandel twist to the classic Green Spot single pot still flavour.”


Tasting notes by Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation at Midleton Distillery

Nose: Crisp oak combines with the soft sweetness of vanilla, white chocolate and marshmallow, balanced with signature Green Spot red apples and ripe pears, along with pomegranate, cranberries and maraschino cherries, the contribution of the wine cask.
Taste: Sweet mouth coating takes on a dry note thanks to the effect of the wine cask. Pot still spices subside with zesty citrus leading to ripe orchard fruit and red berries. A touch of marzipan and toasted oak add to the complexity.
Finish: Satisfyingly long with pot still spices in harmony with the delicate dry wine contribution.

About Irish Distillers

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard is Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines and producer of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish Whiskeys. Led by Jameson, our brands are driving the global renaissance of Irish Whiskey. Jameson is the world’s fastest-growing Irish Whiskey, experiencing 27 years of consecutive growth and hitting sales of 5.7m cases in 2016. Our brands are exported to 130+ markets, with over 60 of those experiencing double- or triple-digit growth.
Irish Distillers was formed in 1966, when a merger took place between John Powers Son, John Jameson Son and Cork Distilleries Company. In 1988 Irish Distillers joined Pernod Ricard, gaining access to unprecedented levels of investment and an extensive global distribution network. In 2015, we completed a €220m investment which doubled our production and bottling capacity to meet global demand for our products.

We employ over 600 people across our operations in Cork and Dublin.

About Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard is the world’s n°2 in wines and spirits with consolidated Sales of € 8,682 million in FY16. Created in 1975 by the merger of Ricard and Pernod, the Group has undergone sustained development, based on both organic growth and acquisitions: Seagram (2001), Allied Domecq (2005) and VinSprit (2008). Pernod Ricard holds one of the most prestigious brand portfolios in the sector: Absolut Vodka, Ricard pastis, Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet Scotch whiskies, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Martell cognac, Havana Club rum, Beefeater gin, Kahlúa and Malibu liqueurs, Mumm and Perrier‐ Jouët champagnes, as well Jacob’s Creek, Brancott Estate, Campo Viejo, Graffigna and Kenwood wines. Pernod Ricard employs a workforce of approximately 18,000 people and operates through a decentralised organisation, with 6 “Brand Companies” and 85 “Market Companies” established in each key market. Pernod Ricard is strongly committed to a sustainable development policy and encourages responsible consumption. Pernod Ricard’s strategy and ambition are based on 3 key values that guide its expansion: entrepreneurial spirit, mutual trust and a strong sense of ethics. Pernod Ricard is listed on Euronext (Ticker: RI; ISIN code: FR0000120693) and is part of the CAC 40 index.

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Bourbon Cask Reserve_The Steamship Collection FINAL Small



Bushmills, Co. Antrim, Monday 2nd October 2017: Bushmills® Irish Whiskey has announced the launch of BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE the third and latest edition in THE STEAMSHIP COLLECTION® a rare and unique range of Bushmills Irish Whiskeys inspired by the extraordinary voyages of the steamship SS BUSHMILLS.

As a Global Travel Retail exclusive, this new variant follows the successful launch of Bushmills Irish Whiskey PORT CASK RESERVE and SHERRY CASK RESERVE, marking the 125th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the SS BUSHMILLS.

In 1890, the SS BUSHMILLS set course for America to deliver Bushmills Irish Whiskey to new corners of the globe.  On her extraordinary maiden voyage she established knowledge and relationships with some of the world’s finest wine and spirits producers, before returning home with a variety of their finest seasoned casks. It is these relationships that have served the Old Bushmills Distillery to this day, helping Bushmills master distillers explore the potential of whiskey maturation in exclusive and rare casks.

Helen Mulholland, Master Blender of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, said; “At Bushmills we are known for centuries of innovation, continuously exploring the nuances that different casks impart on our whiskey. BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE is the result of our long-standing relationship with master coopers from Louisville, Kentucky who reserve only the finest American white oak, custom-charred bourbon casks to mature this unique whiskey.

“The amount of char you give a cask has a significant impact on the flavour and this is what makes BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE so special. The seasoned casks are emptied of bourbon and re-charred before being shipped to the Old Bushmills Distillery where we fill them exclusively with triple-distilled Bushmills Single Malt Irish Whiskey.  By using a custom char we are able to draw out incredible spicy, honeyed vanilla flavours from deep within the fine grain American white oak.  The resulting whiskey has subtle notes of toasted oak, spices and crème brûlée with a long, rich and smooth finish.”

PROXIMO Global Travel Retail Director David Phelan added: “We know shoppers within travel retail seek unique products they cannot get in their domestic markets so BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE demonstrates our passion and commitment to meeting this consumer demand. To date, THE STEAMSHIP COLLECTION has been a firm favourite with travellers and we’re looking forward to the response we get from this exquisite new liquid once it goes on sale in early 2018.”

Priced at RSP £50 for 1L, travellers can pick up a bottle of BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE from early 2018, alongside the SHERRY CASK RESERVE and PORT CASK RESERVE editions at selected global travel retail outlets.


  • BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE is available in 1L
  • BOURBON #3 CHAR CASK RESERVE has an ABV of 40%

BOURBON #3 CHAR  CASK RESERVE will be available to sample from the PROXIMO stand (16 Bay Village) at the Tax Free World Exhibition, Cannes (1st-6th October).  Visitors to the stand will also have the opportunity to sample a range of innovative spirits from the wider PROXIMO portfolio.

About Bushmills® Irish Whiskey

Bushmills® Irish Whiskey is crafted with care at the Old Bushmills Distillery in the village of Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. As Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery – making triple distilled malt whiskey and producing both blended and single malt whiskey – our unmatched malt is at the heart of all Bushmills® Irish Whiskeys and creates a unique combination of smoothness and richness.


PROXIMO is a global innovator of quality spirits that create excitement with every sip. Its unique portfolio of brands includes the world’s largest selling tequila, Jose Cuervo®, Bushmills® Irish Whiskey, The Kraken® Black Spiced Rum, TINCUP® American Whiskey  and Boodles® British Gin.

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Loch_Lomond_ 50_Year_Old_Decanter


Loch Lomond Distillery is to release its oldest and rarest single malt whisky.

Limited to 60 decanters worldwide, the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old celebrates generations of dedication and craftsmanship and marks the pinnacle of the Loch Lomond Whiskies collection.

Borne of a place of rare beauty where the Scottish Highlands meet the Lowlands, this expertly crafted single malt was distilled in 1967 in the distillery’s remarkable straight neck stills, drawn from a single cask and bottled at 46.2% abv.

It has been quietly maturing, first in American oak hogshead and then in European oak hogshead for half a century at Loch Lomond Distillery in Alexandria, to create a whisky brimming with rich oak spice and tropical fruit, naturally deep amber in colour with beautiful clarity.

The distinctive nature of the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old is testament to the innovative distillation techniques, explains John Peterson, Production Director at Loch Lomond Distillery: “Our straight neck pot stills were unique in 1966 when they were first installed, and they are still unique to this day, providing us with greater control over the quality and flavour profile of the spirit.”

Crafting the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old single malt has been the work of Loch Lomond Master Blender, Michael Henry. He said: “The expectations are high when you are working with a whisky as special and scarce as this and it came with great responsibility, but selecting and perfecting this single malt was a true honour.  Our stills are synonymous with the fruity notes they give to the whisky. The Loch Lomond 50 Year Old has been granted the time to truly concentrate that character, resulting in a rich, tropical fruit flavour.”

Each hand-blown crystal decanter encasing the Loch Lomond 50 Year Old is presented in a bespoke chest created by ‘architects of objects’, Method Studio in Scotland.  The husband and wife team, Callum Robinson and Marisa Giannasi drew inspiration from the drama, romance and kinetic energy of Loch Lomond itself to create ‘The Tempest Chest.’

Hand-shaped in solid oak, leather lined and indigo-dyed until almost black in colour, the tactile, sculpted surface of each individually numbered chest is suggestive of water at twilight, with only a solid brass key visible from the exterior, mysteriously emerging from the surface to build intrigue. Inside, the bottle of Loch Lomond 50 Year Old rests carefully upon sculpted oak waves, alongside not an ordinary whisky miniature, but a solid turned brass vial, lined in glass and reminiscent of the straight neck pot still.

Callum Robinson, Creative Director at Method Studio, said: “There are few distilleries named after a body of water as opposed to a place, and we drew great inspiration from Scotland’s most romantic, dramatic and historic loch. The Loch Lomond 50 Year Old is borne out of a truly mystical place of wood, fire, water and metal and our aim was to harness this energetic, elemental group of ingredients to create something unique, and worthy of its heritage.

“Each chest is designed to capture, in a three dimensional object, the mood and movement of moonlight dancing on tempestuous water. This is mirrored in the language of the hand-blown decanter and its beautifully faceted hand-cut base, perfectly binding the two together. It was a privilege to create a vessel to house something so precious.”

Loch Lomond is a very special part of the world and Loch Lomond Whiskies take their influence from the physical beauty of their unique location.

Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group, said: “For 50 years the Loch Lomond Distillery has been one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.  With the launch of the 50 Year Old single malt, we are putting Loch Lomond firmly on the Scotch whisky map and we are proud to become one of a very select few distilleries in the world which have released a 50 year old whisky.”

The Loch Lomond 50 Year Old limited edition is priced at £12,000 and will be available to buy in the UK at the most prestigious independent specialists including The Whisky Shop, The Whisky Exchange, Royal Mile Whiskies and Master of Malt from December 2017.  It will also be on offer in global markets, including Singapore, Taiwan, China, Japan and Travel Retail. It can be pre-ordered by contacting

For further information visit


NOSE – Heady oak spice of clove and cinnamon with sweeter notes of sultanas and raisins with creamy vanilla fudge.

TASTE – Silky mouthfeel rolls over the tongue. Intense vibrant tropical fruit, fresh pineapple and ripe banana with a honey sweetness.

FINISH – Warming stem ginger, bursts of gooseberry and elderflower and waves of tangy grapefruit citrus.

© Graeme Hunter Pictures

About the Loch Lomond Group:

  • Loch Lomond Group is an independent distiller based in Alexandria and is home to several award-winning spirit brands that are sold in more than 100 countries worldwide.
  • Loch Lomond distillery has been producing the finest single malt whisky since 1814.
  • Images and interviews with key staff from the Group are available upon request.

About the brands:

Loch Lomond Whiskies:

  • Loch Lomond Distillery is linked to one of the oldest heritages in the industry. It was founded by American, Duncan Thomas, the owner of the Littlemill distillery licensed in 1772.  In the 1930s Duncan Thomas was at the forefront of innovation within the Scotch whisky industry and his innovative philosophy is ingrained into everything that is done at Loch Lomond to this day.
  • Lomond 12 Year Old has been awarded Gold Medal status at 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • Other expressions in this collection are Loch Lomond Original; Loch Lomond 18 Year Old; Loch Lomond Classic; Loch Lomond Signature and Loch Lomond Single Grain.
  • Official social media accounts are Twitter: @LochLomondMalts Instagram: @lochlomondmalts

Loch Lomond Inchmurrin:

  • Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 12 Year Old has been awarded Gold Medal status at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; 2016 International Wine Spirit Competition and 2016 World Whisky Awards
  • Other expressions in this collection are Loch Lomond Inchmurrin 18 Year Old, Loch Lomond and Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish

Loch Lomond Inchmoan:

  • There is a Loch Lomond Inchmoan 12 Year Old and Loch Lomond Inchmoan 1992 Vintage.

Other brands from the Loch Lomond Group:

  • Glen Scotia Single Malt Scotch whisky ( Twitter: @GlenScotiaMalts)
  • Littlemill Single Malt Scotch whisky (Twitter: @LittlemillMalt)
  • Glengarry Single Malt Scotch whisky
  • High Commissioner Blended Scotch whisky

·         Glen’s Vodka / Glen’s Platinum Vodka

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Johnnie Walker Launches Limited Edition Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut – Scotch Whisky News


Johnnie Walker Launches Limited Edition Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut

Thirty-five years on from being the spirit of choice in cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner, Johnnie Walker Black Label returns to the big screen in its highly-anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049.

Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut is a limited-edition Scotch Whisky created by Master Blender Jim Beveridge in collaboration with visionary filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. The experimental blend is inspired by Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, and is presented in a futuristic bottle.  With trademark smokiness and a contemporary twist, Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut is a rich smooth blend with aromatic and vanilla flavours and is bottled at 49% ABV as a nod to the futuristic period in which the film is set.

 Commenting on the launch, Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge said,

 “What we have created in Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut is something really special that fans will be able to relate to and whisky drinkers will love. I was truly inspired by Villeneuve’s artistic vision for Blade Runner 2049 and how it could come to life in this new blend. I learned that filmmaking is much like blending – you have to constantly be committed to creating the best possible outcome.”

 “Johnnie Walker blending tradition dates back to 1820 and I’m honoured to carry on the legacy and collective memory of our other past blenders to ensure that the same whisky enjoyed today can be enjoyed responsibly in 2049.”

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26th September 2017 – DEWAR’S®, the world’s most awarded blended Scotch whisky is proud to announce the launch of DEWAR’S 25 Years Old.

The new addition to the DEWAR’S portfolio will succeed DEWAR’S Signature (no-age statement) as a part of DEWAR’S dedication and commitment to age statements across its premium range of blended Scotch whiskies.

A meticulous search of the cask inventory revealed an intriguing array of fine aged malt and grain Scotch whiskies aged 25 years and older. Each cask was individually sampled and assessed by Master Blender, Stephanie MacLeod before being chosen. Once MacLeod was satisfied that she had a perfectly balanced flavour profile in the DEWAR’S House Style, the specially selected casks were blended together and then filled into oak casks for an additional period of maturation, a process pioneered by DEWAR’s, known as double-ageing, to add more depth and enriched smoothness.

During this extra period of maturation, the disparate characters of the malts and grains are allowed to interact with one another and mellow further. In an extra step unique to the new 25-year-old expression, the whisky was then filled into a set of freshly disgorged ROYAL BRACKLA® casks for an extra period of finishing.

According to MacLeod, “DEWAR’S 25 is endlessly smooth, rich and elegant. Awakened on the palate: the sophisticated whisky is glorious in its harmony and balance, gently revealing layers of rich fruit, floral notes and delicate honey, with a hint of smoke to finish.”

Fraser Campbell, Global Ambassador for DEWAR’S comments “Disclosing the ages of our blends allows discerning whisky drinkers to choose an expression with a maturity and flavour profile that matches their own character preferences. DEWAR’S remains committed to age statements as a sign of craftsmanship and quality. In a world where aged stock is increasingly rare, we are proud to display an age on the front of our bottles”.

The age statements that DEWAR’S proudly proclaim on its bottles are not merely numbers; they’re

a guarantee of the age of the youngest whisky found within the blend. Each bottle’s age statement is an assurance that it holds an authentic and precious piece of time-honoured taste.

According to the latest reports from the IWSR, DEWAR’S is the fastest growing premium blended Scotch in the world, defying current global Scotch trends. DEWAR’S is also the world’s most awarded blended Scotch with medals for quality, taste and innovation to-date. Adding to the vast list of awards to support this, DEWAR’S 18 Years Old has been crowned best blended Scotch (under 21 years) at the International Spirits Challenge 2017.

DEWAR’S 25 Years Old is bottled at 40% ABV and priced at $225. The new expression will be available from October 2017 in Global Travel Retail followed by a gradual roll-out into key domestic markets.


About DEWAR’S Blended Scotch Whisky 

Founded in 1846 by John Dewar, DEWAR’S has grown from a small wine and spirits merchant shop in Scotland, to one of the largest Scotch whisky brands in the world. Best known for its iconic DEWAR’S White Label, it has expanded its family to create a portfolio of premium and super premium whiskies including DEWAR’S 12 Years Old, DEWAR’S 15 Years Old, DEWAR’S 18 Years Old, the new exclusive DEWAR’S 25 Years Old. These whiskies are crafted using the DEWAR’S oak marrying ageing process. Pioneered by DEWAR’S in 1899, it involves returning the hand-crafted blend to vintage oak casks for further maturation. The result is a smoother taste with a long, lingering finish; a taste that wins medals and applause, making DEWAR’S the world’s most awarded blended Scotch. The DEWAR’S® and ROYAL BRACKLA brands are part of the portfolio of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.

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Ballantine’s, the No. 2 Scotch whisky in the world, takes an innovative move into the Single Malts category, with the launch of three new Single Malts.

Always known for doing things differently, Ballantine’s will give consumers a unique opportunity to experience the flavour of the three signature malts that form the heart of Ballantine’s whisky. The Glenburgie, Miltonduff and Glentauchers Single Malts are all aged 15 years old and stay true to the Ballantine’s brand whilst retaining their own distinct personalities:

  • Glenburgie forms the heart of Ballantine’s whisky character, delivering concentrated fruitiness and honeyed sweetness. Perfectly balanced, with aromas of soft red apples and pears, this whisky has a full and velvety texture and a long, round finish
  • Miltonduff is the foundation of Ballantine’s whisky character bringing warmth and power. Floral with a subtle hint of cinnamon spice, this whisky is extremely smooth with gentle liquorice flavours and a long, warm finish
  • Glentauchers delivers the smooth and delicate lingering finish of Ballantine’s. With hints of delicate floral heather on the nose and soft berries and barley sugar sweets on the palate, this whisky has an incredibly long, luscious finish

Peter Moore, Ballantine’s Global Brand Director comments: “The Single Malts category is dynamic and continues to grow rapidly as more consumers become lovers of this iconic Scottish spirit.

“As a globally known brand, we are sure that consumers will have confidence in the quality and credibility of these new Single Malts as they are widely recognised as the signature malts that form the heart of Ballantine’s,” adds Moore. “Ballantine’s has never been one to pick the obvious route – we do things differently and create our own path to success. All of this is core to the Ballantine’s brand and our launch of three new Single Malts is yet another example of celebrating and staying true to our roots.”

As consumers taste the individual flavour profiles of Glenburgie, Miltonduff and Glentauchers, they will discover over 190 years of heritage and tradition born in the historic Speyside region of Scotland.

Taiwan, the 4th largest whisky market by value and the most vibrant Single Malt market in the world, is the first country to officially launch the Ballantine’s Single Malts Series. From 23 September to 1 October, consumers in Taiwan will be able to learn about its ‘stay true’ heritage and innovative spirit through an interactive experience in the heart of Taipei. Through this experience they will be among the first to taste the three unique flavours of the Ballantine’s Single Malts.

The Ballantine’s Single Malt Series is bottled at 40% ABV and available to purchase in domestic markets at an RRP of $56 USD and in Travel Retail Asia for 70cl bottle ($80 USD Litre equivalent).

 The release of the series is a testament to the spirit of George Ballantine and the remarkable people, places and events that have been part of the brand since 1827.

Tasting Notes: 

The Glenburgie Single Malt

  • Nose: Perfectly balanced with aromas of sweet soft red apples and blackcurrant. Allied with this is wonderful honeycomb candy sweetness.
  • Taste: Full and creamy with a velvety smooth texture (honey). This whisky is bursting with fruity sweet orange flavours.
  • Finish: Very long, sweet and round.

The Miltonduff Single Malt

  • Nose: Rich fruity and sweet. Flavours of peaches in syrup, juicy sweet orange and creamy soft toffee with a hint of toasted almonds.
  • Taste: Sweet scented floral flavours. Extremely smooth with milk chocolate flavours and hints of cinnamon spice, cloves and liquorice root in the background.
  • Finish: Very long, warm and sweet.

The Glentauchers Single Malt

  • Nose: Bursting with sweet citrus fruit flavours (tangerine and sweet clementine) with hazelnut notes and a hint of delicate floral heather coming through the background.
  • Taste: Coats the mouth with smooth, soft berry flavours of raspberry and blackcurrant, combined with a tantalising taster of barley sugar sweets.
  • Finish: Incredibly long and luscious. 

About Ballantine’s

Ballantine’s is the No.1 Scotch whisky in Europe and the No.2 Scotch whisky in the world with the range selling over 70 million bottles a year worldwide. Ballantine’s has won more than 130 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for its outstanding quality, as a result of its unique richness of character and perfect balance. The range, from Ballantine’s Finest to the exclusive 40 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by Master Blender Sandy Hyslop, continuing the brand’s tradition of Master Blenders that dates back to 1827. In 2013, Ballantine’s continued its innovative approach by launching Ballantine’s Brasil, a spirit drink made from selectively cask steeping Scotch whisky with Brazilian lime peel.


About Chivas Brothers

Chivas Brothers is the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, the world’s no.2 in wines and spirits. Chivas Brothers’ award-winning portfolio features some of the world’s most revered Scotch whisky brands including Chivas Regal, the world’s first luxury whisky and the No.1 Scotch whisky in China; Ballantine’s, Europe’s No.1 Scotch whisky; The Glenlivet, the world’s No.1 single malt whisky; and Royal Salute, the world’s only exclusively prestige Scotch whisky range. The portfolio also includes two of the world’s leading English gins – Beefeater, the world’s most awarded premium gin, and Plymouth gin – plus a selection of highly acclaimed single malt whiskies, including Aberlour, Longmorn, Scapa, Strathisla and Tormore. The range is completed by a collection of blended Scotch whiskies operating in many of the world’s key whisky markets which includes 100 Pipers, Clan Campbell, Something Special and Passport Scotch.


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Five Questions with David Stewart – Malt Master, The Balvenie – Scotch Whisky News

David Stewart MBE (5)

Five Questions with David Stewart – Malt Master, The Balvenie

David Stewart is malt master at The Balvenie, and has worked in the Scotch whisky industry for more than 50 years. We spoke to him about his career and his latest whisky, Balvenie 2002 Peat Week 14 Year Old.

David Stewart joined William Grant Sons in 1962 as a whisky stocks clerk

1. How did Balvenie Peat Week come about?

We started some trials with peat in 2001 and did a small run of peated whisky for just one week a year. Peat Week is peated to 30ppm, which comes out at about 5-6ppm in the finished spirit. I didn’t want the peat to dominate, just give a soft, subtle smokiness in the background. It’s Highland peat, too, not from Islay, so it’s less seaweedy and more grassy and herbal. It will appeal to people who drink smoky whisky, and those who like Balvenie will try it and not be disappointed – it’s still got the DNA of Balvenie: honey, citrus and vanilla.

2. How long have you been working at The Balvenie?

I started off as a whisky stocks clerk in 1962 – I didn’t even know what a master blender was. I was brought in to do clerical work: stock ledgers, passing invoices, that sort of thing. Then they brought me into the sample room and I got more involved in the business. When I joined, there was no single malt whisky; it was all blended. I’ve seen how Glenfiddich has grown. The industry has contracted but at the same time, there’s a lot more interest. Twenty years ago, people didn’t really care what their whisky tasted like – they just bought a bottle and drank it.


Balvenie’s latest release: Peat Week 2002 14 Year Old, peated to 30ppm

3. Who do you admire in the whisky industry?

All the other blenders! Richard Paterson, Bill Lumsden, Colin Scott, Rachel Barrie, Jim Beveridge – I know them all. And the thing is, we all know what each other’s challenges are and we depend on each other. For example, we use 40 different malts in our blends; Diageo takes our grain which goes into Johnnie Walker, and we send tankers into their distilleries and take their new-make spirit away!


4. What does a typical day for you involve?

Well, I live in Glasgow; I’m not based at Balvenie, which shocks and disappoints a few visitors! I go up to the distillery two to three times a month and when I’m there, I’ll meet visitors or nose a whole vatting of whiskies. But normally, I go to our head office at Strathclyde Business Park and head for the sample room. And then there’s the travelling round the world whenever we do a launch.

5. What do you drink when you’re not drinking whisky, and what hobbies do you have?

I enjoy white wine, particularly from France or South Africa. I also like Guinness, and I really like golden rum, which is probably the closest thing to whisky. I’m a big Ayr United fan, too. I’m a season-ticket holder and I take one of my sons down to watch them. The only problem is they don’t serve Balvenie in the bar…

Balvenie 2002 Peat Week 14 Year Old is available to buy now from The Whisky Exchange.

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Japan’s Oldest Whisky Distillery Releases Limited Edition Offering

Aged For 18 Years Exclusively In Japanese Mizunara Oak

CHICAGO, IL (September 12, 2017) – For more than three generations, the master blenders at Suntory Whisky, the founding house of Japanese Whisky, have devoted themselves to pursuing the harmony of Japanese nature and craftsmanship. One of the most impressive examples of this pursuit is found in Mizunara, the Japanese oak. The wood from this rare and demanding tree inspired Suntory to take a momentous step forward in whisky making, both in perfecting new cask-making techniques and in creating flavors never before tasted in whisky. Suntory’s blenders have brought the essence of the noble Mizunara into a peerless liquid – tantalizingly spicy, redolent of incense and uniquely Japanese.

Revealing their mastery of the Art of Mizunara, The House of Suntory Whisky proudly introduces The Yamazaki® Mizunara 2017 Edition™ available as of October 2017. 

From the House of Suntory Whisky

The Mizunara cask is a perfect expression of “Tsukuriwake” – the art of diversity in whisky making. Diverse grain types, as well as fermentation, distillation and maturation techniques, underpin Suntory’s legendary Art of Blending. This diversity enables Suntory to produce more than 100 different malt and grain whiskies at the Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries and allows Suntory complete self-sufficiency in the creation of its blends.

It is at Yamazaki, Japan’s oldest malt whisky distillery and the House of Suntory’s soulplace, where the art of “Tsukuriwake” is pushed the furthest. Built in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, the founding father of Japanese Whisky, Yamazaki produces a wide variety of malt whiskies. Only Yamazaki whiskies—and only a few—have had the privilege of maturing in Mizunara casks, creating one of the most uniquely flavored and distinctly Japanese whiskies in the world.

For Suntory’s fourth Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo, every creation is a new journey to achieve the exquisite balance of subtlety, refinement and complexity that is the hallmark of all Suntory whiskies. In his pursuit of true “Mizunara-ness,” he tasted a few hundred Mizunara whiskies and made selections with varying ages, from 18 years old and beyond. A very small portion exceed even 50 years of maturation, which give this limited edition an incomparable depth and a flavor that lingers long after the liquid has passed the lips.

Fukuyo knew from the start that the Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 Edition was not intended for a familiar, relaxing moment. He wanted this uniquely Japanese whisky to be dramatic and unforgettable:

“I wanted to reveal the whisky’s soul that is the Art of Mizunara—a heightened sense and awakened palate engaged through aromas and flavors never known before. Encountering it should be a moment of epiphany.”

Pioneering the Mizunara Cask

It is said that in the early 1940s, Suntory’s blenders began small scale experiments with Mizunara. But it wasn’t until the end of World War II, when it became difficult to import wood, that Suntory truly focused on mastering the homegrown Mizunara cask.

Although only found in a few regions within Japan, it wasn’t Mizunara’s rarity that presented the greatest challenge to cask makers. It was the hard, permeable nature of the wood. The name Mizunara comes from the tree’s high moisture content – in Japanese “mizu” means water and “nara” means oak. Its permeable character is less than ideal for cask making since liquid can easily seep through the wood. And because Mizunara is a hardwood, it can be difficult to shape and join with the precision needed to prevent leaks.

Through great perseverance, Suntory’s craftsmen mastered the art of Mizunara cask-making by learning how to identify the right trees to make perfectly true casks. Although rarer, Suntory’s cask makers found that straight grain trees are less permeable. Trees suitable for cask making must have grown perfectly straight and have a diameter of at least 27.5 inches. They also tend to be far older than trees used in other casks.

In keeping with Suntory’s deep respect for the environment, trees are only cut if their removal will not jeopardize the health of the forest.

Taste Blessed by The Passage of Time

Throughout their long history using Mizunara casks, Suntory’s blenders have observed that age is the key to unlocking the signature taste of Mizunara whisky. A long maturation period reveals the distinctive spiciness and incense-like flavor of sandalwood and aloe wood that Suntory considers as the quintessential “Mizunara-ness.”

With many other cask types, whisky usually reaches a maturation peak at some point. But even at 50 years and beyond, the top-note and after-taste aromas of Mizunara whiskies are generally still improving. This unique ability to support long-term aging affords endless opportunities to experience the evolution and refinement of Mizunara whiskies over time.

Tasting Notes

Color:  Amber

Nose:   Rich and elegant fragrance, aloe wood, cinnamon

Palate:  Condensed sweetness, silky texture, dry fruits, coconut, orange marmalade

Finish:  Distinctive spiciness lingers with Japanese incense, aloe wood, cinnamon and tartness

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 Edition is presented at 48% alcohol by volume (96 proof) with a suggested retail price of $1,000.00 (750ml). The bottle label is 100% handcrafted mulberry Echizen paper produced via a slow process of drying on wood boards (a traditional Japanese method). The wood box that encloses the bottle is made of cask material used in the aging of Suntory whisky.


Suntory was established in 1899 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Since 1923, as the pioneer of Japanese whisky, Suntory Whisky has been renowned for its House of Master Blenders and for their Art of Blending. The founding father of Japanese whisky, Shinjiro Torii, built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in Yamazaki, near Kyoto—a region known for the purity of its water, where the traditional Japanese tea ceremony was born. Torii dreamt of creating an authentically Japanese whisky by choosing a terrain and climate completely different to that of Scotland, thereby cultivating unique conditions for maturation.

In 1972, Torii’s son Keizo Saji, Suntory’s second master blender, built the Chita grain distillery near Nagoya to produce more of their own high-quality grain whiskies. In 1973, Saji founded the Hakushu distillery amidst the deep forests of Mt. Kaikomagatake in the Japanese Southern Alps. Its high altitude and lush environment is what differentiates Hakushu from other distilleries.

With three distilleries and a great diversity in whisky making (different still shapes, five types of cask, and three varieties of wood), Suntory produces over 100 malt and grain whiskies which amounts to the whole of Scotland’s production.

With respect to heritage and a commitment to innovation, third generation master Blender Shingo Torii, and grandson of Shinjiro, now leads this most highly awarded House of Japanese Whisky. Today the House of Suntory Whisky has been named four-time Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge in London, UK (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014).

Suntory Whiskies are subtle, refined and complex. The portfolio includes two single malt whiskies:  Yamazaki – Japan’s N°1 Single Malt, multi-layered and profound, Hakushu – verdant, fresh, and delicately smoky; and two blends: the noble blend, Hibiki – Japan’s most highly awarded blended whisky and Suntory Whisky Toki – ideal for Japanese highballs.        #SuntoryWhisky   @SuntoryWhisky


As the world’s third largest premium spirits company, Beam Suntory is Crafting the Spirits Brands that Stir the World.  Consumers from all corners of the globe call for the company’s brands, including the iconic Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon brands and Suntory whisky Kakubin, as well as world renowned premium brands including Knob Creek bourbon, Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whiskies, Teacher’s, Laphroaig, and Bowmore Scotch whiskies, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Hornitos and Sauza tequila, EFFEN and Pinnacle vodka, Sipsmith gin, and Midori liqueur.

Beam Suntory was created in 2014 by combining the world leader in bourbon and the pioneer in Japanese whisky to form a new company with a deep heritage, passion for quality, innovative spirit and commitment to Growing for Good. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan. For more information on Beam Suntory, its brands, and its commitment to social responsibility, please visit and

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The Whisky Exchange “Diageo Special Releases 2017 – the tasting notes” – Scotch Whisky News


Diageo Special Releases 2017 – the tasting notes

Autumn is almost here and the Diageo Special Releases 2017 are rapidly approaching. It’s an exciting group of whiskies this year: along with the regular Port Ellen, Brora, Caol Ila and Lagavulin, there’s also the oldest whisky Diageo has ever released, a whisky made with experimental yeast, whisky from a closed distillery, a bicentenary bottling and the first blend to appear in the Special Releases. They’re available to pre-order now on our Diageo Special Releases 2017 page.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out our Diageo Special Releases: What are they? post to find out more. I was very privileged to be invited to a preview tasting, giving me the chance to try this year’s complete range of Special Releases and chat with Diageo master blender Maureen Robinson about the whiskies. Here’s what I found out.


Blair Athol 1993 24yo, 58.4%, 5,514 bottles, £390

The most straight down the line of the entire 2017 range: a 24-year-old whisky matured in European oak ‘bodega butts’ – casks seasoned with sherry or sherry-like fortified wine. It’s the first appearance of Blair Athol in the Special Releases and the blenders have gone for the style of whisky that the distillery is best known for: big sherry.

Nose: Sour apples, green leaves (tarragon and mint) and chocolate with a hint of sandalwood. Sultanas and raisins build along with candied peel and brown sugar. Water brings out orange zest, candy necklaces and floral hints.

Palate: Rich and rounded with toffee and caramel sauce drizzled over singed fruit cake. Light notes of sweet baked apple float over the top, along with light, spicy fruit cake. Darker and more savoury notes of damp earth and green leaves hide underneath. Water dials up the savoury notes, revealing barrel char and bitter cocoa but balancing it with sweet cream.

Finish: Treacle toffee and lardy cake leading to lemon oil and apple skins.

Comment: I said it was ‘straight down the line’ but the character isn’t quite what I expected: a combination of sweet and savoury that delves more into the herbal and darker side of sherry-cask character.


Brora 16th Release 1982 34yo, 51.9%, 5,000 bottles, £1,450

The second most feted bottling in the line-up, and increasingly the one that whisky fans get most worked up about. There’s a solid number of bottles this year, with 18 American-oak hogsheads making up the vatting, but the question remains: will we have another Brora in the Special Releases next year? I know that I ask that every year, but the chance of the answer being no is rising every time…

Nose: Damp hay, earthy notes and farmyard hints lead to gentle smoke and waxy apples. Cooked apples mix with stewed lemons and then overripen, sitting on the edge of mulchiness. The earthy notes reappear along with chocolate and hints of menthol.

Palate: Perfumed apple blossom explodes across the palate only to be rolled over by apples, chocolate and a touch of chilli spice. Damp forest rancio builds with sweet nuts, gentle smoke and Dutch liquorice.

Finish: Sweet liquorice and cocoa fade to orange and lemon, and then fragrant earth. Very long.

Comment: I’m a sucker for Brora and this didn’t disappoint. It balances waxiness and farmyards, with the smoke sitting further back than in some years.


Caol Ila Highland Style 18yo, 59.8%, limited availability, £98.95

Another regular in the line-up: the yearly unpeated Caol Ila release. This is a vatting of refill American-oak hogsheads filled across 10 different dates and is the oldest Special Release Caol Ila for a while. The 18-year-old peated Caol Ila has long been a favourite of mine, but how does the unpeated version measure up?

Nose: Pine and pastry: Christmas biscuits hanging from the tree. Herbal notes run through the middle with black pepper and a hint of sea spray. Water amplifies the maritime notes and pulls back the pine to reveal sweet apple sauce and cinnamon sugar.

Palate: Softer than expected from the nose, with chocolate-covered caramel digestives, Garibaldi biscuits and apple sauce to begin. A big grind of black pepper pops up in the middle of the palate, followed by stewed peaches and honey. Sweetness builds, backed up by a wisp of smoke, leading to a plateau of fragrant apple blossom, apples and honeysuckle. Water brings out more fruit and a piny sherbert tingle.

Finish: Intense apple with hints of bacon. Toffee and black pepper slowly fade to leave chocolate.

Comment: A surprisingly restrained Caol Ila, but with layers of complexity. The distillery never quite gets rid of all the smoke when they switch to unpeated spirit and the lick of peat at the back helps balance everything.


Collectivum XVII Blended Malt, 57.3%, limited availability, £150

This was the final whisky to be revealed and is part of a tradition that has popped up over the past few years: one of the bottles in the range always seems to have been created specifically to annoy whisky geeks. The Collectivum is a blended malt whisky, vatting together spirit from all 28 of Diageo’s operating malt distilleries to create the first blend in the Special Releases. There’s been lots of speculation on the price, with assumptions of something rather big after the past couple of years of NAS Clynelish releases, but at £150 it’s surprisingly reasonable.

Nose: Chocolate cornflake cakes, red berries and waxy apples to start. Custard and cocoa sit underneath and a sprinkle of candied lemon lies on top.

Palate: Quite hot to start – it takes water well – with intense cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness. Orchard fruit comes in through the middle, surrounded by lemon and orange. Spice fades and then builds again, with liquorice and hints of smoke at the back.

Finish: Damp leaves and spice fading to chocolate milk.

Comment: A densely packed dram that needs time to reveal itself. A drop of water helps – while it’s great that the Special Releases are bottled at full strength, this one definitely needs a drop to show its full potential.


Convalmore 1984 32yo, 48.2%, 3,972 bottles, £1,200

The fourth release of whisky from Convalmore, which closed in 1985. This one was matured in refill American-oak hogsheads and was all distilled on the the same day in 1984. Maureen pointed out that Convalmore fulfilled a very specific role when open, producing fruity and waxy whiskies for blending, but unfortunately during the 1980s’ downturn it was surplus to requirements and closed. Since then, its star has been rising and rumours of casks running out have been circulating.

Nose: Waxed apples and blanched almonds start, with mixed nuts jumping in with a squeeze of lemon. Zesty and floral touches sit on top with umami richness lying beneath. Water drops in orchard fruit, floral notes and a touch of acidity.

Palate: Really soft to start, with salty touches and lots of nutty notes: peanuts and creamy almond milk. Sweet candy necklaces follow with sweet-and-sour candied lemon peel. Water adds layers of creaminess and a hint of bitter barrel char.

Finish: Sweet cream and oily lemon zest. Char at the end.

Comment: The nuttiness surprised me, but works really well with the classic cream-and-apple character.


Glen Elgin 1998 18yo, 54.8%, 5,352 bottles, £295

An experimental whisky from Glen Elgin, put together from a combination of European-oak bodega butts and hogsheads, and refill butts. Some of the spirit was distilled from wash fermented using pombe, a yeast more commonly used to make millet beer and first isolated in Africa – pombe is Swahili for beer. I’ve had a look around to find what flavours pombe is known to create, and opinion seems split, as it’s rarely used: more esters, fewer esters, more acidity, less acidity. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Nose: Apple boiled sweets, toffee apples and freshly sliced apples to start – a big bowl of appley flavour. Lemon and honey roll in behind that along with foam bananas and a touch of tangerine.

Palate: Sweet and sharp at first, with candied lemons and sherbert. That steps to one side to reveal a pool of rich runny and crystallised honey surrounded by grippy apple skin. Darker woody notes appear around the edges along with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.

Finish: More honey is joined by nutty hints: almonds, almond skin and toffee-covered hazelnuts.

Comment: I’m not sure what the pombe adds (if anything), but this had loads of fruit, with a tasty honey-and-apple core.


Lagavulin 12yo, 56.5%, limited availability, £88.95

The most affordable bottle in the range as well as the most popular entry each year. Traditionally it’s a youthful and intense Lagavulin showing off the maritime side of the distillery’s character. However, with last year’s celebratory 8-year-old release still on the shelves, does this offer something different?

Nose: Mulchy leaves and meaty peat smoke with ash and mineral-laden smokiness building behind. Coal stoves emerge from the smoke with a layer of sweet peat on top, and a flash of mint. Water releases a burst of sea-spray and gentle oiliness.

Palate: Salted peanuts and green leaves surrounded by clouds of sweet peat smoke. Coal dust and char appear, with sharp apple, lemon and a touch of ash close behind. Water brings sweetness and an underlying layer of rich chocolate.

Finish: Citrusy smoke fades to coal dust. Liquorice and black pepper remain.

Comment: A full-on Lagavulin built around punchy smoke – sharper and more focused than the 8yo, but with an extra layer of richness and complexity hiding underneath.


Port Dundas 1964 52yo, 44.6%, 752 bottles, £775

The now-expected grain-whisky release in the Special Releases, this Port Dundas is quite special: it’s the oldest whisky that Diageo have ever released, beating the Glenury Royal 50yo from 2003. The distillery closed in 2009, the same year that I discovered that I really liked its whisky, and has since become a favourite of grain-whisky fans. This release is made up of nine refill American-oak hogsheads, all filled on the same day.

Nose: Classic old grain to start, with flashes of nail varnish overtaken by fresh ripe blackcurrants and a hint of Ribena sweetness. Concentrated coconut leads to a centre of dark-chocolate-covered Bounty bars, clove and freshly mown grass. Golden rum and candied lemon slowly develop, providing extra sweetness. Water adds vanilla and a hint of bittersweet black treacle.

Palate: Soft and sweet to start, with golden-sugar-dusted dark fruit cake. Berry fruit builds, both the blackcurrants from the nose and sharp redcurrants. The vanilla rolls in, with cream and egg-custard tarts backed up by a milk-heavy caffè latte. Water adds in further layers of fruit, from sweet Ribena down to dark blackberry compote.

Finish: Blueberries, toffee and egg custard start, dying away to leave Portuguese custard tarts.

Comment: A classic old grain with a combination of elegant and well-developed flavour from the long ageing, and fresh and zesty fruit that keeps it singing despite its old age.


Port Ellen 17th Release 1979 37yo, 51%, 2,988 bottles, £2,625

The biggest name in the yearly line-up and the most expensive bottle in the range. Each year I’m surprised that not only does Diageo have casks left, but that they’re still tasting really good – will the Port Ellen 17th Release be the final one? This is a vatting of eight casks, refill American-oak hogsheads and butts filled on two dates.

Nose: Seashells, wax and sweet apples. Foam strawberries follow, along with incense and charcoal-grilled pears. Surprisingly fresh to start, with marzipan and earth notes slowly building. Water brings back zestiness, with lemon butting up against coal dust.

Palate: Soft smoke to start, with dry peat, coal and leather. Sugary notes appear, with stewed apples covered in sweet custard. As that starts to fade, it’s replaced by damp leaves, surrounded by more smoke and a handful of coal dust. A drop of water amplifies the smoke and adds further damp leaves to the fire.

Finish: More leaves, but spread across damp tarmac. Sweet apple appears and slowly fades to leave cocoa and a touch of minerality.

Comment: A refined and elegant Port Ellen, with the classic seaside/leather/citrus notes and enough sweetness through the middle to balance the flavours.


Teaninich 1999 17yo, 55.9%, limited availability, £270

The final bottling (alphabetically) in the list and a celebratory one: it’s Teaninich‘s 200th birthday this year. More recently, the distillery has been in the news due to a huge expansion, doubling capacity, and for its mash filter – a device that replaces the more traditional mash tun – as it was, until recently, the only whisky distillery using one. This whisky, however, is from before all of that, back when the distillery was half the size and still used a mash tun. A look back at what Teaninich used to be like before all the more recent changes.

Nose: Rhubarb-and-custard sweets, sherbert lemons, green leaves and a lick of oak spice. Apples, pears and hints of nectarine follow, with spun sugar gently placed on top. Water adds a spritz of zest: lemony citrus and sharp apples.

Palate: A big hit of syrupy sweetness kicks things off, following by caramel and candied lemons. Herbal notes creep in along with butter toffee and Granny Smith toffee apples. Water adds in layers of caramel, a hint of cider toffee, more cream and lemon.

Finish: Lingering bakes apples die away, leaving behind lemon oil and freshly sawn oak.

Comment: The whisky that started our preview tasting and a great aperitif. Layers of fruit and spice, all of which changes with a drop of water.

All of the above are now available to preorder on our Diageo Special Releases 2017 page.

You can find all the previous Special Releases that we still have in stock here.

You can find our previous write-ups of the Special Releases here: 2008 pt1/2008 pt22009201020112012201320142015, 2016.

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