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Recent releases, August 2007

Glenlivet, The Glenlivet XXV (Scotland)
The Glenlivet is currently the number two premium single malt in the world, and, according to the historic brand’s owners it is “…aiming for the number one spot” currently occupied by Glenfiddich. The Glenlivet range has recently been augmented by a 25-year-old expression, which becomes the oldest permanent release in the range. Distilled in 1980, and finished in first fill Sherry butts for around two years, The Glenlivet XXV is presented in a very handsome wooden gift box, though the slab of limestone that ‘reinforces’ the case seems slightly superfluous and adds dramatically to the weight of the item. However, the box also contains a well presented booklet devoted to the roles of a number of the principal people responsible for key stages in the creation of The Glenlivet, along with a ‘certificate of quality’ signed by three members of the team. The Oloroso Sherry influence meshes beautifully with The Glenlivet’s signature sweet, floral, honey and malt notes, giving a nutty spiciness and quite intensely fruity palate, with raisins to the fore. The finish embraces steadily drying oak. A rich, complex and satisfying after dinner dram. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £160.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Fettercairn, Cask Strength Single Malt (Scotland)
By coincidence, Fettercairn has also just bottled a Sherry-influenced expression which has more than 20 years under its belt, though in this case, all 23 of those years has been spent in a second fill Spanish Sherry butt, which has yielded 255 bottles. Fettercairn was established in 1825, just one year after The Glenlivet, yet this Eastern Highland malt enjoys a comparatively low profile, living in the shadow of Whyte & Mackay’s Dalmore and Isle of Jura brands. However, a new expression is to be added to the company’s ‘Rare and Prestigious’ range later this year. In the meantime we have this un-chill-filtered, single cask, cask strength offering, which follows on from the success of a similar heavily-Sherried cask strength bottling undertaken last year. This Fettercairn is half the price of The Glenlivet XXV and altogether rarer, even if its more restrained presentation is lacking anything resembling limestone. So what about the all-important spirit? The nose is rich, with dark Sherry notes, stewed fruits, spices and molasses, with Fettercairn’s characteristic ‘metallic’ tone lurking in the background. Full bodied and fruity on the palate, it starts out quite sweet but begins to dry almost immediately. Water releases a hint of smoky toffee. The finish is long, drying to liquorice and austere oak. Fettercairn at its best. 52.0% ABV, 70cl, £80.00, distillery visitor centre.

BenRiach Trio

The team behind BenRiach distillery on Speyside seems keen to give Bruichladdich a run for its money in terms of innovation and quantity of releases. The latest trio from BenRiach are all 12-year-old heavily peated expressions which were originally matured in American oak and then finished in three very different types of cask. BenRiach chose to christen its existing heavily peated malts Curiositas and Authenticus, and is continuing the rather unnecessary Latin theme with its newest bottlings, which are not chill-filtered and available in limited quantities.

BenRiach, Arumaticus Fumosus (Scotland)
The name translates as ‘smoky rum,’ and this expression has been finished in Jamaican dark rum barrels. The nose is initially very Islay-like, with oil and smoked fish, followed in time by sugary fruit. Water releases vibrant, fresh fruit. Quite hot on the palate, with chillis, ginger and eucalyptus, plus developing tropical fruits and vanilla, backed up by smoky rum. The finish is long and warming, with fruit and ginger notes. (1,740 bottles). 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £28.95, specialist whisky merchants.
BenRiach, Importanticus Fumosus (Scotland)
BenRiach ‘Smoky Port’ has undergone a finishing period in tawny port casks and the nose offers less overtly Islay-style peatiness than Arumaticus Fumosus, with herbs, dry fruits and a hint of vanilla overlaying light, sweet smoke. Rich and intense on the palate, mouth-coating, medium-sweet, with the weight of port dominating. Vanilla and citrus notes also develop. The finish is long, with spices and ginger, plus background red wine and raisins. (2,520 bottles). 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £28.95, specialist whisky merchants.
BenRiach, Heredotus Fumosus (Scotland)
'Smoky Sherry' has been finished in Pedro Ximinez Sherry casks, and boasts the least overtly peated character among this Latin trio. The nose is big, with Sherry, raisins, cloves, oak and a background of sweet, smouldering peat. Mouth-coating, profound and mellow on the palate, with sultanas, Sherry and soft, muted peat. The finish is lengthy and smoky, drying to moreish oakiness. (3,180 bottles). 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £28.95, specialist whisky merchants.

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