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Recent releases, November 2007

Glenmorangie Extra Matured Range

To coincide with a major presentation update, Glenmorangie has replaced its existing Wood Finish range with three new 'Extra Matured' bottlings. Following an initial maturation period of at least ten years in ex-Bourbon casks, these whiskies are extra matured for an additional period in casks that previously held Port, Sherry or Sauternes wine. Bottled at 46.0% ABV, these expressions are not chill-filtered, in order to enhance their taste and mouth feel. The Gaelic language has inspired the choice of names for the new range, which comprises Glenmorangie Lasanta, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and Glenmorangie Nectar D'Òr.

According to Dr Bill Lumsden, Glenmorangie's head of distilling and whisky creation, “The Glenmorangie brand has a long-standing reputation as a leading pioneer in whisky maturation. The quality of our whisky is at the very heart of everything we do. We continually endeavour to provide the most delicious single malt Scotch whisky and our range delivers expressions that offer an extraordinary variety of tastes, textures and aromas.”
Glenmorangie, Nectar D'Òr (Scotland)
According to the distillers, the name of this expression derives from the fact that Nectar was the drink of the gods and 'Or' is both Gaelic and French for gold. Finished in French Sauternes wine barriques, this was previously marketed as Sauternes Finish, but in its new incarnation it has lost its 15-year-old age statement. Acetones, dessert wine, honey, soft fruits and spices on the nose. Water releases more lemony, citric notes. Full bodied and quite sweet on the fruity palate, with just a hint of background peat. The finish is long and spicy, with more citric notes. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £37.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenmorangie, Lasanta (Scotland)
Lasanta means ‘warmth’ and ‘passion’ in Gaelic, and this expression replaces the old Sherry Finish, being ‘extra matured’ in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. Sweet and syrupy on the nose with a hint of cinnamon and ginger. Medium-bodied, malty and spicy in the mouth, with vanilla fudge, walnuts and raisins. The finish dries slowly, with lingering, gingery oak and a touch of cocoa. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £29.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenmorangie, Quinta Ruban (Scotland)
Ruban is the Galic for 'ruby,' and Quinta Ruban is finished in Port pipes and takes the place of the former Port Wood Finish version. The nose is light and delicate, with hints of pears, while the palate is big and rich, rounded and warming, slightly peppery, with barley sugar and milk chocolate notes. Sweet and dry flavours balance well here, and the finish is long, warming and elegant, with a suggestion of drying oak. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £31.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenmorangie, Original 10-Year-Old (Scotland)
Glenmorangie has tweaked its entry level ten-year-old single malt – the best-selling malt in Scotland. According to the distillers, Original “…has been refined, with the focus on exceptional whisky quality assured by including a significant proportion of Glenmorangie which has been matured in specially made, air-dried/slow growth oak casks. This accentuates the softness and sweetness of the complex flavours of the company’s most famous whisky.” The nose offers fewer acetone notes than its predecessor, with fresh fruits, butterscotch and toffee. Silky smooth in the mouth, slightly less spice and with more toffee than before, Original is nutty, with well-mannered spices coming through more in the medium length finish. The finish has less caramel character than previously, and a final hint of ginger. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £24.99, widely available.
Compass Box, Flaming Heart II, bottling FH16MMVII (Scotland)
A blended malt from those innovative folks at Compass Box, this second release of Flaming Heart includes the same component malts in the same proportions as the original, but maturation being the complex business it is, this Flaming Heart differs in many subtle ways. All the whiskies used are aged in first-fill and refill American oak casks for primary maturation, but some receive a secondary maturation of 18 months in new French oak barrels, which lend the finished product a range of sweet and spicy notes. Flaming Heart comprises one-quarter Caol Ila, a significant amount of Clynelish and a dash of Daluaine, and the nose is herbal and spicy, with notes of damp undergrowth, cloves, eucalyptus, sweet peat and a touch of Sherry. Exposure to air brings out tangy, fruit aromas. Malt, peat and ginger dominate the well-balanced palate, with peat, dried fruit and lots of spice in the medium to long finish. 717 cases. 48.9% ABV, 70cl, £39.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Hedonsim, bottling H25 MMVII (Scotland)
Compass Box was the first company to produce a commercial ‘blended grain’ Scotch whisky in the shape of Hedonism. The first release contained grain whiskies from the now closed Cambus and Caledonian distilleries, but more recent issues have been a blend of various Cameronbridges, along with an element of Cambus. The last edition contained whiskies aged between 12 and 25 years, but this latest expression comprises a little Cambus and some 12 and 13-year-old Cameronbridges along with others that have reached the venerable age of 28 or 29. All component whiskies have been matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels. The nose offers dairy fudge, fresh fruit and gently spiced cream. Smooth, creamy and softly-textured in the mouth, Hedonism also boasts coconut, fudge, fruit and malt notes. More delicate spice follows through from the nose. Clotted cream fudge notes carry to the finish, with developing, discreet spiciness. Beautifully balanced, silky smooth and luxurious. 400 (six-bottle) cases. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £39.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Old Pulteney, Sauternes Finish 1994 (Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection) (Scotland)
‘Finished’ bottlings from Scotland’s northernmost mainland distillery are thin on the ground, and Gordon & MacPhail has released 2,050 bottles of a Sauternes finished Old Pulteney to considerable critical acclaim. The whisky has been matured principally in refill Sherry casks before spending a final 12 months in Sauternes casks. The sweet, dessert wine form Bordeaux has found favour with a number of distillers for finishing purposes, including Bruichladdich, Edradour and Glenmorangie. Delicately fruity on the nose, with subtle, sweet wine characteristics replacing the crisper freshness of ‘unfinished’ Pulteneys. Coconut and dry, malty notes also develop. Water releases sweeter fruits. The palate is comparatively dry, with some spice and even aniseed. Fuller bodied than most Pulteneys, but with a touch of house style salt. As with the nose, water sweetens the palate. The finish is drier and oakier than might be expected. 45.0% ABV, 70cl, £34.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Tormore 1996 (Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength range) (Scotland)
One of the first generation of post-war, new-build distilleries in Scotland, Tormore is a showpiece affair which stands beside the main A95 Grantown-on-Spey to Elgin road. It has been in the ownership of Chivas Bros since 2005. The nose of Gordon & MacPhail’s 1996 cask strength expression is fresh, fruity and delicately perfumed. Medium-bodied on the palate, with malt, spices, vanilla and a suggestion of lemon. Water dries it out and introduces slightly oaky notes. The finish is medium in length, fruity, with pleasing notes of spice and ginger. 59.9% ABV, 70cl, £40.35, specialist whisky merchants.

BenRiach 'Limited Release' Single Cask bottlings

The fourth batch of BenRiach single cask bottlings have now been released, and the 'Magnificent Seven' expressions, as BenRiach terms them, includes whiskies aged from 13 to 31 years, with a variety of peating levels and finishes, including Port, Moscatel, Tokaji and Oloroso Sherry. As with the first three batches, each vintage is hand numbered and bottled at cask strength and natural colour, and is not chill- filtered. Whisky-pages has selected its three favourite expressions from the range.
BenRiach, 1976 cask 4469 (Scotland)
BenRiach has now produced several heavily-peated, Port-finished bottlings, of which this 30-year-old example is the latest. Huge and venerable on the nose. Sweet and voluptuous Port influences merge with notes of wood polish, spice and oak-smoked bananas. An immense, concentrated whisky in the mouth, with sweet Port tempered by a slightly austere, oaky, smoke character. There is a definite smokiness to the whisky, but little obvious sign of peat. The finish dries slowly, with spicy, tempered oak. Again, BenRiach has proved that Port and peat are far from mutually exclusive. A sumptuous, vintage, after-dinner dram. 795 bottles. 55.5% ABV, 70cl, £125.00, specialist whisky merchants.
BenRiach, 1978 cask 4413 (Scotland)
In contrast with the 30-year-old sampled above, this year younger BenRiach was made using lightly peated malt, and has been finished in a Moscatel wine barrel. The nose is big and luscious, with Moscatel sweetness, ripe berries and a developing note of spicy furniture polish. Full-bodied and mouth-coating, this expression offers an interesting balance of sweet fruits and drier spices and nuts. Long and civilised, it dries like a claret and holds its age well. Caol Ila and Tullibardine have previously offered Moscatel finishes, and this is every bit as good. 216 bottles. 52.2% ABV, 70cl, £125.00, specialist whisky merchants.
BenRiach, 1985 cask 3766 (Scotland)
This 21-year-old BenRiach combines richly-peated malt and a finishing period in an Oloroso Sherry butt. The nose is immediately ashy, with dry, mainland peat and quite dry Sherry in the background. Exposure to air sweetens both the peat and the Sherry. Powerful yet elegant on the palate, with sweet Sherry, vibrant fruit and malt, plus developing peat. The finish is long, with hedgerow berries and peat to the fore, fading to bonfire embers. Another nice example of well-integrated finishing, with a whisky which is looking in fine fettle for its age. 666 bottles. 54.5% ABV, 70cl, £76.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenfiddich, Special Reserve 1976 (Scotland)
Every year, a cask at least 30 years old is selected from one of Glenfiddich’s traditional dunnage warehouses in Dufftown and bottled as ‘Special Reserve.’ For the 2007 expression a theme of ‘master and pupil’ informed the selection panel, which included William Grant’s veteran blender David Stewart and his blending colleague Brian Kinsman. Also on the panel were Anthony Demetre, head chef at Arbutus restaurant in London, his sous chef Alan Christie, Givaudan perfumer Aurelien Guichard and junior perfumer Guillaume Flavigny. The final members were Malt Advocate magazine publisher John Hansell and managing editor Lew Bryson. The chosen ex-Sherry, European oak cask from warehouse no. 8 was filled on 16th January 1976 and a total of 549 bottles are on offer, just 33 of which are available in the UK market. The 31-year-old expression offers a fragrant, floral, spicy Sherried nose. Water releases tropical fruits. Smooth and sweet on the palate, with Sherried, floral notes and rich fruits, notably oranges. The finish is long and warming, with a hint of oak, but with a persistent sweetness. Another triumph from the Glenfiddich team. 57.9% ABV, 70cl, £299.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Jura, 18-Year-Old (Scotland)
Isle of Jura distillery belongs to Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay Ltd, and a new Jura 18-year-old has recently been added to the brand’s core range, which already includes 10, 16 and 21-year-old expressions, plus the highly-regarded and more heavily-peated Superstition. The entire Jura line up also now benefits from considerably improved presentation. Fresh, piney nose in characteristic Jura style, but with a hint of marzipan, Sherry and smoke. Medium-bodied, quite dry, with a nutty character, a hint of mint toffee and developing Ororoso Sherry notes. The finish is quite long and subtly Sherried, with developing liquorice and gingery spices appearing at the very end. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £49.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Benromach, Latitude 53 1999 (Scotland)
As reported in last month’s Whisky News, Gordon & MacPhail has released a new expression of single cask malt whisky from its Benromach distillery to mark the race partnership of Benromach Speyside single malt with the ‘Glasgow: Scotland with Style’ clipper, in the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race. According to Gordon & MacPhail’s David Urquhart, “This is the first ever bottling of a single Sherry cask from distillation under control of Gordon & MacPhail,” and Urquhart notes that a second release of Latitude 53 is due in the near future, as the original has already almost sold out. “This will be followed by a Latitude 55 (the latitude of Glasgow), after which there will be a Latitude 57 (the latitude of Benromach) early next year, to keep up the momentum as the race continues,” explains Urquhart. ‘Latitude 53’ boasts a substantial nose, featuring Sherry, a hint of earthy peat and smoke. Full-bodied and Sherried, with initial honey and developing Seville oranges. The finish is long, spicy and somewhat smoky, with slightly bitter, thick cut marmalade. Limited quantities (approximately 300 bottles) are available to purchase world wide, and £5 from every bottle sold will be donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. 53.0% ABV, 70cl, £46.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Benromach, Marsala Cask Finish (Scotland)
Bottled without an age statement, the latest addition to Benromach’s list of ‘finishes’ comes from ex-Marsala wine casks, and the influence of the Sicilian fortified wine has also been employed by the likes of Arran, Caol Ila, Edradour and Springbank for finishing purposes. Rich and spicy on the nose, herbal and earthy. Big and mouth-coating, warming. The Marsalla cask gives the spirit real body. Spicy malt and stewed fruit dominate the palate. The finish is long and spicy, with toffee and wine notes, plus a hint of smoke. Steadily drying. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £23.99, specialist whisky merchants.

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