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Recent releases, December 2007

Compass Box, Morpheus Blended Malt (Scotland)
Morpheus is one of the latest limited edition releases from the Compass Box Whisky Company. Just over 900 bottles are available, and, according to John Glaser, founder of Compass Box, "‘Morpheus’ (the Greek god of dreams) is a bespoke bottling made for Milroy’s of Soho. In keeping with the whisky’s name, we pursued a visionary notion: the combination of strong, peaty notes with an underlying richness and sweetness - due to partial aging in new American oak, something rarely seen outside the dreams of the typical Scotch producer." Morpheus is not coloured or chill-filtered, and comprises malt whiskies of between 10 and 14 years of age from Ardmore and the Compass Box favourites of Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine distilleries. Primary maturation has taken place in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak casks, while 30 per cent of the whisky has undergone a secondary maturation in new American oak. The nose is initially quite dry and herbal, with background peat from the Ardmore, becoming fruitier and more floral as it warms in the glass. Full-bodied, lively and spicy on the palate, thanks to the use of new American oak, with citrus fruits, muted vanilla and notes of barley sugar and ginger. Then peat smoke kicks in, with soft oak and lots of fruity spice in the lengthy finish. A lovely, complex, stylish whisky. We have come to expect high standards from Compass Box, and Milroy’s can be very proud of this exclusive bottling. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £39.00, Milroy's of Soho.
Glen Grant, 15-Year-Old (Scotland)
As we reported in last month’s Whisky News, Campari is introducing a number of welcome new developments at its Glen Grant distillery in Rothes, and one of the most interesting is this first ever official bottling of a single cask, cask strength expression. The nose is light to medium, quite dry and fruity, with a hint of malt. Sophisticated and mature. The palate is rich and fruity, with peaches coming to the fore, along with well integrated barley sugar, ginger and pepper. The finish is medium to long, with persistent spice and lingering fresh fruit. Great to see a Glen Grant on the market that has been allowed to gain some real age before bottling. Word is that more, even older expressions are on the way in 2008. 378 bottles. 59.9% ABV, 50cl, £76.60, distillery website.
Karuizawa, Distillery Cask # 103 (Japan)
Distilled in 1981, the latest cask strength bottling of a Japanese single malt from the Number One Drinks Company is its first peated expression from the Karuizawa distillery. Karuizawa’s working practices are closely modelled on traditional Scottish ways of whisky-making, utilising only Golden Promise barley and Spanish ex-Sherry casks. During the 1980s, the small distillery experimented with peated malt from Scotland at a time when Japanese import duty on it was lower than on unpeated malt, and this 26-year-old expression is an early peated offering. The nose is big and gutsy. Initially, molasses and worn leather, with a distinct note of dryish smoke developing, plus liquorice and rich, mature oak. Water releases background notes of wood polish. The palate offers an intriguing balance of sweet and dry flavours, plus smoke, with stewed plums and mixed spices winning through. Medium to long in the finish, with some lingering fruit and pleasantly drying oak. A final kick of spice and quite sweet peat. Classic old Sherry wood and peated malt whisky. A venerable beast. Are we sure it isn’t Scotch? Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange and selected outlets in Belgium, France, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. 58.1% ABV, 70cl, £75.00, The Whisky Exchange.
Tomintoul, 12 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Finish (Scotland)
Tomintoul distillery dates from 1965, and takes its name from the nearby village of Tomintoul, the highest in the Scottish Highlands. The distillery is now owned by Angus Dundee plc, and this latest release has been ‘finished’ for 18 months in Oloroso Sherry casks. The ‘standard’ Tomintoul is noted for its light, floral and sweet character, and the Sherry casks have added a more profound, fruitcake note to the nose to sit alongside the whisky’s characteristic slightly grassy, malt/toffee aroma. Much more full-bodied in the mouth than is usual for Tomintoul, with comparatively spicy Sherry, red berries, honey and malt. The finish is quite long, with dried fruits and some oak, plus a final note of wine gums. Oloroso finishing seems to work well with Tomintoul’s style of single malt. It would be good to see a little more of it. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £27.95, specialist whisky merchants.

Chieftain's Choice Cigar Malts

Ian Macleod Distillers has launched the fifth edition of its award winning Chieftain's Cigar Malt Limited Edition Collection, selected by a panel of whisky and cigar experts. There are three single cask malts for general release, not coloured or chill-filtered, and they are intended to be the ideal accompaniment to different styles of cigar. Perfect for that leisurely Boxing Day smoke…

Chieftain’s Choice, Cigar Malt Mild (Scotland)
This 11-year-old single malt comes from an unspecified Highland distillery, and has been finished in a Madeira cask. It is best when paired with a mild to medium Dominican or Havana cigar. The nose offers malt and fruit notes, particularly apricots, along with a little smoke. Water releases more fragrant notes of marshmallow. Creamy-sweet on the palate and spicy, with toffee, vanilla and oak when water is added. The finish is comparatively long and spicy, with obvious ginger. 472 bottles. 54.9% ABV, 70cl, £63.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Chieftain’s Choice, Cigar Malt Robusto (Scotland)
A ten-year-old Islay, most appropriate for a post-prandial, medium to full-bodied Havana. The nose is initially big and tarry, smoky and phenolic, but with sweeter, fruity notes developing. Well-balanced and complex on the palate, with oily peat and ash merging with sweet malt notes. The finish is very long, with peat smoke and spice, plus a hint of blackening banana. 270 bottles. 55.1% ABV, 70cl, £64.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Chieftain's Choice, Cigar Malt 2007 Classic (Scotland)
A 13-year-old Highland malt, 'Classic' has been finished in a Château La Nerthe wine cask, and suits any medium cigar, but goes particularly well with a Honduran. Dried fruits on the nose, almost cigar box-like, with notes of cedar. Fresher fruits develop with dilution. Full-bodied and rich in the mouth, rounded and sweeter than the nose might suggest, with a hint of cocoa and spice. The finish is long and dry, with persistent spices. 618 bottles. 54.4% ABV, 70cl, £67.95, specialist whisky merchants.

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