Whisky News, November 2011
by Gavin D Smith
Islay-based writer Martine Nouet has teamed up with the island's Bowmore distillery to produce the Islay Taste Map.
According to the team at Bowmore, "In a bold move to support the Islay category as a whole, the map, which is the first of its kind, is the ideal guide to the complex and very varied characters of Islay's eight magical distilleries: Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Bowmore. Launched as an educational tool for both the on- and off-trade, the map will also be available for consumers to access online from this month.
"Bringing to life the ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water that make up Islay's mild yet uncompromising climate, the map uses colour-coordinated taste profiles to illustrate how each of the elements is
reflected in the whiskies from each distillery. From the peaty and mossy cues of 'earth,' the floral notes of heather and sweet meadow in 'air,' the smoke, bonfires and burnt wood of 'fire,' to the ocean air,
sea salt and wet sand of 'water' - each distillery has a unique taste profile. The map also explains how the whiskies taste indoors and out alongside a character profile and tasting notes."
The Map may be downloaded at www.bowmore.com.
Abhainn comes of age
The first legally-defined 'whisky' flowed from the quirky stills at Abhainn Dearg distillery on the west coast on the Isle of Lewis a few weeks ago.
The launch of the limited edition three year old single malt was timed to coincide with the start of the Royal National Mod in Stornoway, and this first production run by Abhainn Dearg distillery is limited to 2011 bottles.
Speaking at the launch, distillery owner, Mark 'Marko' Tayburn declared that "This is a historic day for the Outer Hebrides and for Abhainn Dearg distillery. We are delighted to launch this special whisky and finally reclaim the heritage of whisky making in the Isle of Lewis which stretches back hundreds of years. The Mod in Lewis can now at last enjoy a locally produced, distinctive whisky. It has been a long wait, but we are confident you will agree it has been worth it."
Until now, aficionados have had to content themselves with unaged 'Spirit of Lewis,' but the new release from the Outer Hebrides only legal distillery shows great promise and was eagerly consumed during the Mod festivities. However, not for nothing is the Mod often referred to as 'The Whisky Olympics!'
When all 2,011 bottles of the 46%abv release have been sold there will be no further opportunity to purchase the three year old whisky, as the remaining stock is being held back to mature for a further two years.
For more information visit www.abhainndearg.co.uk.
The Speyside single malt anCnoc (pronounced a-nock) has received top marks for its innovative website at the inaugural Scottish Creative Awards, held recently in Edinburgh.
The judging panel which rewarded the Inver House brand comprised of 11 leaders in the Scottish creative industries, and the awards acknowledge the best of the country's creative industries including advertising, design and digital marketing.
According to an Inver House spokesperson, "The website, designed by digital design agency Whitespace, contains a fluid combination of colourful, impactful images showcasing anCnoc single malt's expressions along with contrasting black and white illustrations that capture the brand's essence, flavour notes and its heritage. The website also features a new way of navigating on screen called 'infinite scrolling,' which unobtrusively loads content in-line as the user scrolls down the page."
anCnoc Brand Manager Gillian Gibson adds that "We are delighted anCnoc's website has been recognised at these prestigious awards. anCnoc blends together the old and new by using traditional production methods to create a refreshingly modern, intriguing and high quality single malt. anCnoc's essence is a modern tradition and our website reflects the time honoured-process with a very contemporary and up-to-date style."
See for yourselves at www.ancnoc.com.
THE BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd has announced UK-exclusive new bottlings from two single casks - one of BenRiach and the other from its sister distillery of GlenDronach.
These limited release 1995 expressions, both bottled in August this year, were matured in Pedro Ximinez sherry puncheons, originally used to store the sweet, full-bodied Spanish Sherry that has given its rich and complex characteristics to the whisky.
The BenRiach was matured in cask 7164, distilled in May 1995, and is aged 16-years-old and bottled at a cask strength of 58.3%abv. 695 bottles have been released. Meanwhile, the GlenDronach comes from cask 4681, distilled in November 1995, and is therefore a 15-year-old, bottled at a cask strength of 56.2%abv. This cask yielded 725 bottles.
Sales Director Alistair Walker declares that "GlenDronach and BenRiach are both renowned for their idiosyncratic single cask bottlings, and we release a number of these each year. They have proven to be very popular, but with our 'batch' single cask releases being divided amongst all of our export markets as well as the UK, allocations can be quite tight. For that reason, we decided to select a couple of casks just for the UK, to give our home-based retail clients the chance to get their hands on a reasonable quantity of each bottling."
Whisky-pages' assessment of the new releases will follow in due course…
With Christmas approaching (sorry, but you know it is…) the review copies of new whisky books are starting to arrive on our editorial desk in increasing numbers. This time around, we have three new titles, all of which would be welcomed in the seasonal stocking of any discerning whisky lover.
Firstly, our annual favourite, The Malt Whisky Yearbook (MagDig Media Ltd, £13.95, buy at Amazon for £8.78 with free delivery), which manages to entertain and inform in equal measure, and, as always, provides excellent value for money. The regular distillery entries and statistical sections are backed up by lively essays on such topics as prohibition, blended malts, Irish whiskey, new generation blenders and worldwide whisky drinking trends.
If you are at all serious about your whisky, and if you are reading this then presumably you are, buy a copy of the Yearbook, in fact buy several copies as presents, but definitely keep one for yourself.
Essential reading and reference material.
David Wishart's Whisky Classified (Pavilion Books Ltd, £16.95) has always enjoyed a loyal following, and a very attractively presented new and updated edition is now available. For those unfamiliar with the volume, Wishart's approach is to classify single malts by flavour groupings rather than geography, and this 10th anniversary edition embraces more than 100 individual distilleries, with flavour profiles intended to help you select the right whisky for the right occasion.
Finally, it is good to see The Malt Whisky File author John Lamond with a new book on his hands, namely Le Snob: Whisky (Hardie Grant Books, £8.99, buy at Amazon for £4.41 with free delivery), which, in the words of its publisher, "Celebrates the
fine distinctions between name, place, tradition and taste, that elevate whisky appreciation to an art in itself."
Quirky yet comprehensive, Le Snob: Whisky comes in a diary-like format ideal to slip into that seasonal stocking…
Glenrothes Whisky Maker
Following the success of this year's Whisky Maker competition, which attracted close to 10,000 entries, The Glenrothes has recently announced the launch of Vintage Maker 2012. Whereas this year culminated in four winners spending a working week at Glenrothes distillery on Speyside, next year there will be three separate competitions resulting in four winners from the UK, four winners from the USA and four winners from the rest of the world. The successful candidates will be recruited to work as The Glenrothes Vintage Makers, culminating in the creation of The Glenrothes Vintage 2012.
The winners will spend time working on each stage of the whisky-making process, from testing the purity of the water source at the distillery's two springs through milling, mashing, fermentation and distillation, right up to filling casks and rolling them into the warehouse.
The Vintage Makers will also nose single malt from maturing casks to assess their quality and maturity, and finally they will have the opportunity to create the Vintage 2012 of The Glenrothes, to be released when it reaches the peak of maturity.
A Glenrothes spokesperson explains that "Entrants must submit 1,500 characters or less in answer to the question 'Tell us about your Vintage moment.' Entrants may also upload a picture or link to an online video to supplement their written entry. The winners will be the entries that, in the opinion of the judges, best represent the definition of a Glenrothes Vintage moment: A perfect combination of time, place, people and/or occasion when everything comes together to create a moment that will stay in the memory forever."
The competition runs until 31st January 2012 and can be entered at www.theglenrothes.com/vintagemaker.
It had to happen one day, and now it has. A Florida-based company has introduced Scotch whisky in a can. The three-year-old single grain is available in the USA from Scottish Spirits. But there is even worse news. ArKay Beverages, Inc, also in the States, launches the first alcohol-free whisky in the world on 1st December.
ArKay notes that "The exceptional taste of whisky without the alcohol content makes it a perfect beverage day or night. Imagine being able to enjoy your favourite whisky drink at parties without worrying about drinking and driving. You won't miss a thing, as ArKay tastes and looks exactly like traditional whisky."
Imagine, indeed. Time for something cask strength to help with the shock, I think…