gavin smith

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Whisky News, February 2012

by Gavin D Smith

Glen Grant fit for a Queen

packaging Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail has launched a 60-year-old edition of Glen Grant single malt to commemorate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Just 85 bottles have been released, and the whisky in question was distilled on 2nd February 1952, four days before the Queen acceded to the throne, and bottling took place on 2nd February 2012, making it exactly 60 years old. The cask strength bottling is presented in a numbered crystal decanter, complete with a diamond-shaped stopper, and the decanter is fitted into a box made from Scottish elm, with the tree in question being felled close to The Queen's official Scottish residence of Holyrood House in Edinburgh. Gordon & MacPhail's Joint Managing Director Michael Urquhart declares that "Glen Grant 60 Years Old is a rare single malt whisky and we are delighted to be releasing it to mark the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. "With whisky of this quality and rarity - each bottle comes with a certificate of authenticity - we expect considerable interest, not just in the UK, but from the international marketplace where recent export figures have shown we have an avid consumer following. In producing the packaging for this remarkable single malt we worked with Scottish craftsmen, allowing us to showcase some of the finest talent in the country." Each bottle sells for around £8,000, but if you have already spent all your Jubilee cash on bunting and commemorative mugs, read next month's Recent Releases to find out whisky-pages' thoughts on this exclusive release.

The Queen's Decanter

decanter If £8,000 seems just too cheap for a bottle of Jubilee whisky, fear not. Diageo has produced 61 decanters of John Walker & Sons Diamond Jubilee blend, and once the first decanter has been presented to Her Majesty, the rest of us may purchase one of the remaining 60 for £100,000 each. Profits from such sales are being donated to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), which provides training and grants to UK craftsmen and women, with a guaranteed amount of at least £1million ultimately being handed over. Diageo's David Gates notes that "John Walker & Sons was first awarded a Royal Warrant in 1934 by King George V. We are extremely honoured that the quality of our whiskies is recognised by this symbol and our commitment to this calibre of quality and service is unwavering. Today in 2012, we are privileged to be able to celebrate The Queen's remarkable achievement with this fitting tribute, Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons, the sales of which will help to create an enduring legacy for the supreme craftsmanship that it represents." The creation of Diamond Jubilee has been the work of Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his apprentice Matthew Crow who have selected and blended the component malts and grains, with a final period of marrying being carried out in casks made from oak provided by The Queen from her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Jim Beveridge explains that "Along with Master Cooper David Taylor, who I have worked alongside for more than 30 years, and all those at John Walker & Sons, I feel an immense sense of pride to be involved in this project. "The whisky was first distilled in 1952 and there was a great deal of care and attention at that stage. It was then stored in our distilleries until about the beginning of last year, when we started to think about what whiskies we would use in the project." zenith

Dalmore Zenith

Exclusivity and expense seem to be something of a theme this month, with The Dalmore launching a (non-Jubilee-related) bottling by the name of Zenith. Zenith is crafted from three very old Dalmore whiskies, namely The Dalmore 1964, The Dalmore 1951 and a historic 52-year-old Dalmore from 1926, which were assembled and then finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The resultant bottle of whisky is currently 'on tour' around branches of The Whisky Shop, attracting bids as it goes, with a deadline of 31st March for the close of bidding. The whisky has a reserve of £50,000, and 10 per cent of the final sale price will be donated to the Red Cross. Richard Paterson, who now rejoices in the honorary title of The Dalmore Master Distiller, as well as that of Master Blender, declares that "This is truly a one of a kind whisky. It contains some of the most precious stocks we have. For me, it glitters like a galaxy of amber gold and tastes like pure heaven, with notes of pistachios, coconut and cracked black pepper which only aging in the oldest woods can provide."

Dalmore Cromartie

cromartie Staying with The Dalmore, but cranking down the exclusivity quotient somewhat, the Highland single malt brand has also recently launched The Dalmore Cromartie. This is the third in a series of limited edition releases, named after the spiritual heartland of the Mackenzie clan, and intended to raise much-needed funds to help return the clan's Castle Leod to its former glory. The Dalmore Cromartie follows the successful releases of the Mackenzie and Castle Leod, both of which have now sold out, raising more than £35,000 in total towards castle restoration and other clan projects. The Dalmore has a long association with the Mackenzie clan, as not only did the family once own the distillery, but the clan symbol of the royal stag adorns every bottle of The Dalmore. The packaging for The Dalmore Cromartie displays extracts from an ancient map, depicting the lands of Cromartie, which was produced in 1762 as part of the government's order to map 'rebel estates.' The whisky was initially matured in American white oak casks before being transferred to Oloroso sherry casks from the bodega Gonzalez Byass, Jerez de la Frontera. Richard Paterson says that "The Cromartie is the third in the series of the very successful Mackenzie clan releases, and once again we have gone to great lengths to create a whisky with a deep complexity and a rich attractiveness. It is very different from the others in the range as it is matured in Oloroso sherry, whereas Mackenzie and Castle Leod were finessed in port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively, giving it enticing flavours of Seville oranges, Ximenez grapes and spicy cinnamon. This whisky really is elegance personified." A total of 7,500 bottles of The Dalmore Cromartie are available worldwide, with a recommended retail price of £100.

Glenmorangie putts up the cash

bottle and trophy Glenmorangie distillery is a near neighbour of Dalmore, being located some 15 miles to the north-east, on the outskirts of Tain, and Glenmorangie has recently announced that it is to become the 'Official Whisky of the Open Championship.' The link between Scotland and golf could hardly be stronger, but less well known is the fact that in order to prosper in the commercial world of Scotch whisky and climb the manifold corporate ladders, a deft hand with a five-iron is almost as essential a requirement as a copper-plated liver. The folk up at Tain have taken on a three-year role with the Open's organiser's the R&A, and The Open Championship is golf's most famous tournament, watched on television by an estimated 458 million households in 196 territories worldwide. Over 200,000 visitors attend in person, and Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, near Liverpool, will be hosting the Open Championship this summer (15-22 July). Paul Skipworth, President and Managing Director of The Glenmorangie Company, says that "Glenmorangie is proud to become a part of this amazing Championship, which will see our whisky showcased to as many as 200,000 visitors at each Open. Glenmorangie is delighted with our partnership with The R&A, an association of our mutually high standards. Like The Open itself we believe in going the extra mile in the pursuit of perfection."

And finally…

pipers Whisky-pages has just returned from a trip to Luxembourg to help the financial community of that small but perfectly prosperous Grand Duchy celebrate Burns' Night in true fashion, introducing five of Scotland's finest single malts to accompany the smoked salmon, haggis and Aberdeen Angus beef. Resplendent (well wearing it, anyway) in full Highland dress, an unexpected opportunity arose to use the oldest and most clichéd Scotsman and kilt joke of them all. Like hard drugs and soft women, you know you should just say no, but sometimes the terrible temptation cannot be resisted. When one of the assembled 'lassies,' as the ladies are officially known at such gatherings, mentioned in her speech that she was sure everyone knew what was worn, or not worn, under the kilt, we succumbed. Next up to introduce a 21-year-old Glenlivet, we informed our slightly bewildered audience that "Nothing is worn under the kilt. It's all in perfect working order…" Sorry Luxembourg.

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