gavin smith

 home    about    forum    tasted    features    whisky A-Z    directory    books    links    sign-up    beer    wine

    stories features


Recent releases, February 2008

Highland Park, Ambassadors Cask 3 (Scotland)
Having received a very positive reaction to its previous ‘Ambassador’s Cask’ bottlings, the Orkney distillery of Highland Park has recently issued a third such expression, again chosen by Global Brand Ambassador Gerry Tosh. Tosh selected cask number 9035, filled in 1974, and bottled at 33 years of age. “The success of the first two Ambassador’s Casks is testament to the present demand for limited bottlings,” he declares. “By releasing the third edition in a 35cl bottle more people will have the opportunity to try this fantastic 33-year-old whisky. Cask 9035 was one of five under consideration and it will not disappoint, with a lingering aftertaste of dried fruits, setting it apart from the first two limited edition casks.” The nose offers almonds, figs, chocolate, sweet malt, heather and developing floral notes. A whiff of peat smoke kicks in late. Characteristic Highland Park confidence and balance on the palate, elegant and poised, yet full-bodied, rich and creamy, with tangerines, nut fudge, and finally peat. The finish is filled with milk chocolate orange creams and sweet peat smoke, countered by an attractive, dry note of oak. Yet again, Highland Park offers a masterpiece, even if it is only a half bottle! Everything a great whisky should be. 44.8% ABV, 35cl, £95.00, distillery visitor centre, distillery website.

Compass Box, Canto Cask 6 (Scotland)
John Glaser's Compass Box independent bottling company regularly wins awards for its innovative endeavours within the restrictive framework of Scotch whisky regulations, and its most recent venture is a range of 16, cask-strength, single-cask bottlings under the Canto banner. According to Compass Box's Robbie Millar, "John Glaser has been experimenting with French oak and new American oak, replacing the original heads on the casks with new ones of French and new American oak. Our Oak Cross whisky is already married in casks with new French oak heads or new American casks. Some of the vattings of ten year old whiskies that were perhaps destined for Oak Cross have been left for 18 months in their new casks and we are now offering them as single cask bottlings."
Canto is a vatting of malts from Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich distilleries, and five different ‘oak-toast’ combinations are on offer, ranging from light to heavy, and featuring both French and American oak. The use of French oak has the effect of teasing spicy and fruity notes from the spirit. The 16 casks are on sale in a number of different international markets, with ‘Cask 6’ being available in the UK. Each cask has yielded between 200 and 250 bottles. The nose initially displays ginger and cinnamon; quite dry spices. Fruitier and more floral and vanilla notes develop with time. Very spicy on the palate, with vanilla, nutmeg and cooking apples. Lingering spices and cedar dominate the finish, with wood smoke at the close. All proceeds from sales of this cask are being donated to Cancer Research UK. 53.1% ABV, 70cl, £50.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, Robbie’s (Distillery Manager’s) Choice

An 18-year-old bottling taken from the only ruby port hogshead in the distillery warehouses, Robbie’s Choice offers a rich, warming, mellow nose of stewed fruits and worn leather. Intensely fruity and creamy on the palate – cherry cheesecake. The finish is long and spicy, with lots of dried fruit and peppery oak. 277 bottles. 55.1% ABV, 70cl, £220.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, Deek’s (Warehouseman’s) Choice (Scotland)
Derrick ‘Deek’ Morrison has worked at Glengoyne for more than 30 years, but has opted for a rare, young expression of the malt from a refill hogshead as his personal selection. Fresh and zesty on the nose, with apples, pears, ripe barley and ginger. The palate boasts fresh fruits and lively spices, becoming challengingly peppery in the finish. 321 bottles. 60.9% ABV, 70cl, £60.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, Billy’s (Warehouseman’s) Choice (Scotland)
By contrast with his warehouse colleague, William ‘Billy’ Edmiston has opted for a ‘hoggie’ which has matured for an extra ten years (18-year-old) and previously held Amontillado Sherry. There is a very obvious contrast in colour with the pale straw of Deek’s choice and the mahogany of Billy’s selection. In terms of character, the latter is more restrained on the nose than might be expected, with muted, quite dry Sherry and malt. Massive and mouth-coating, this expression offers dark chocolate, smoky molasses, liquorice and old leather on the palate, with a finish that is long and moreish. 249 bottles. 54.1% ABV, 70cl, £120.00, specialist whisky merchants.

 home    about    forum    tasted    features    whisky A-Z    directory    books    links    sign-up    beer    wine