gavin smith

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Whisky News, December 2013

by Gavin D Smith


Christmas Glen Orrin

Aldi has released a 30-year-old version of its popular Glen Orrin blended Scotch across all UK stores for the Season of Goodwill, having trialled the expression in Scotland last Christmas. Priced at £54.99, an Aldi spokesperson declares that "Aged in oak casks since 1982, this rare whisky has a rich and complex nose with deep vanilla oakiness and delicate spices. A beautifully aged grain whisky blends perfectly with the vibrant fruity and floral notes from single malts. Complex flavours of fruitcake, honey and oak tannin are enveloped in a vanilla sweetness, with a velvety smooth mouthfeel and an exceptionally long and sweet finish." See our tasting notes in the 'Tasted' section of the site.

Macallan major makeover

jacobean Investment in the Scotch whisky industry just seems to keep coming. The Edrington Group has recently announced its intention to spend £100 million building a new Macallan distillery and accompanying visitor distillery on Speyside, with the Jacobean Easter Elchies manor house being at the centre of developments on the Macallan Estate. Edrington will work with highly respected architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and an Edrington spokesperson says that "Creating a site of major architectural significance in the heart of Speyside will consolidate The Macallan's position as one of the world's leading luxury spirits. Over time the distillery is expected to deliver additional capacity to meet the growing demand from existing and new international markets." Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, adds that "This is a confident investment in the future of The Macallan and its home on Speyside. Our plan for the estate includes a contemporary distillery that embodies the international style of The Macallan and builds on the brand's tradition of quality and craftsmanship. As this long-term investment develops it will bring significant employment and economic benefit to the local community." Subject to receiving planning consent, work on the project will begin next autumn, and is due to be completed in the spring of 2017.

More Mortlach

mortlach Diageo has announced the welcome news that its much loved but relatively elusive Mortlach single malt is to gain a much higher profile in future, while the distillery itself is to be significantly enlarged. According to Diageo's Head of Whisky Outreach, Nick Morgan, "Mortlach is among the most distinctive single malts in Scotland, and the distillery has an absolutely unique distillation regime. We say that Mortlach is 2.8 times distilled! People who know the whisky are passionate about it. "We are investing £18 million at the distillery in Dufftown, with work due to begin in the next few months and take two years to complete. A replica of the current stillhouse will be built, along with a new mashtun and washbacks. The capacity of the plant will be doubled from 3.8mla to 7.6mla." From the middle of next year onwards, four expressions of Mortlach will be available in global markets, with the focus squarely on global travel and the luxury and connoisseur segment. The expressions in question are Mortlach Rare Old, Special Strength, 18-year-old and 25-year-old, with the malt's signature European oak maturation element being very much in evidence. Further news of pricing and availability will follow early in the New Year.

Triple Matured Classics

logo Staying with Diageo and single malts, the company has announced the launch of a range of new expressions, available exclusively to 'Friends of the Classic Malts'. Five different single malts will be released at intervals over the next six months throughout the UK, Germany and Switzerland, beginning with Royal Lochanagar and Talisker. A Diageo spokesperson explains that "The distinctive feature of all the five malts in this rare and unusual series is that, in order to develop a whisky with a distinctive and complex profile that will intrigue the discerning connoisseurs among the Friends of the Classic Malts, they have been matured in a totally different way from the familiar Classic Malts bottlings - and different also from the Distillers Editions of the same single malts. "The single malts in these special Friends' bottlings have all been triple matured. Their initial maturation has been, conventionally, in refill casks. Next the liquids were transferred to charred American oak hogsheads, imparting spicy notes and a touch of sweet oak. To complete the conversation between spirit and oak, the whiskies enjoyed a third maturation in European Oak refill casks which softened, mellowed and integrated the aromas and flavours. Finally the whiskies were bottled at a generous 48%abv." Price per bottle is £80 and further details of the next three releases in the series will follow soon.

Ballantine's Brasil

bottle 'Flavoured' whiskies are fast becoming a major growth category, though for legal reasons the term 'spirit drink' is applied rather than 'whisky.' The latest addition is Ballantine's Brasil, and a brand spokesperson says that "Made by selectively cask steeping Scotch whisky with Brazilian lime peel, Ballantine's Brasil represents as an innovative fusion of the traditions of Scotland with the passion of Brazil. Featuring a delicate combination of citrus complemented with vanilla notes, the new variant is expected to resonate with consumers who are new to Scotch, as well as existing Ballantine's drinkers." Peter Moore, Global Brand Director for Ballantine's, adds that "There is a huge opportunity for spirit drinks that are made with whisky, as it's an exceptionally dynamic new category that is already demonstrating a strong rate of growth. Ballantine's Brasil is a venture into new territory for us, but we're excited to have a product that can take advantage of this opportunity and one that can truly inspire those who have not yet found their perfect way to enjoy a Scotch whisky drink. We hope that Ballantine's Brasil will excite a new generation of consumers with the combination of Scottish authenticity and Brazilian passion!" Ballantine's has developed a signature serve for Ballantine's Brasil called the Highland Samba, which mixes Ballantine's Brasil and lemonade, served over ice and topped with two freshly-cut slices of lime. Initial marketplaces are the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, with a global rollout from February.

And finally…

headphones After the Highland Park gramophone comes Bushmills headphones. DJ Duo Elijah Wood and Zach Cowie worked with the Northern Irish distillery and US audio specialists Grado Labs to create what Bushmills refer to as "This symphonic synergy of high fidelity audio, hand-made from authentically-aged whiskey barrel wood." What next, a Diageo steel guitar created from cask hoops in collaboration with the company's main music man Dr Nick Morgan? Watch this space.

And finally finally…

Sincere Seasons Greetings to you all from everyone at 'whisky-pages.' Have a great time over the Festive Season. Drink well and drink wisely. Slainte!

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