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Recent releases, March 2008

An Cnoc, 16 Year Old (Scotland)
Inver House’s Knockdhu distillery lies not far from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, and its An Cnoc single malt falls into the Speyside category of whiskies. The distillery dates from 1894, and since 1988 it has been owned and operated by Inver House Distillers Ltd. When the first official bottling took place in 1993 it was christened anCnoc to avoid confusion with fellow Speysider Knockando. The ‘standard’ bottling is a 12-year-old, and this new 16-year-old expression is bottled at a higher strength, and is not chill-filtered or coloured. According to Inver House, “Unlike its former bottlings, the 16-year-old is the only anCnoc available which has been wholly matured in American oak casks. Previous releases have been finished in Spanish Sherry barrels and it is this point of difference which makes the 16-year-old so distinct.” The nose is soft and attractive with fresh citrus fruit and vanilla toffee. Quite full-bodied, yet soft and elegant on the palate, with spices and chewy toffee. Water releases a suggestion of orange wine gums. The finish is medium in length, with vanilla, gentle oak and a hint of mint. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £39.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Mackmyra, Preludium: 05 (Sweden)
Mackmyra is Sweden's first whisky distillery, and has been in operation at Valbo since 1999. However, a rival is likely to appear in the next couple of years in the shape of Box Distillery, which is being developed in the Ǻdalen region. Mackmyra has released a series of single malt whiskies in a variety of styles, matured in a range of different casks under its 'Preludium' banner. Some spirit is filled into very small (30 litre) casks, which helps to accelerate maturation, and all expressions are offered un-chill-filtered and un-coloured. Preludium: 05 was released late last year and boasts a fragrant, herbal nose of juniper, dried fruits, vanilla and honey. Water teases out more profound sweetness. Spices and vanilla dominate the malty palate, with the intense vanilla character being promoted by the use of charred, new, Swedish oak casks. The finish features fresh oak and assertive spices - serving as a reminder that this is still a young whisky, albeit a very drinkable one. For more information about Mackmyra distillery see Ian Buxton's article in our 'Features' archive. 48.4% ABV, 50cl, £40.00, specialist whisky merchants.
John McDougall’s Selection, Bladnoch 1990 (Scotland)
John McDougall has spent 46 years in the Scotch whisky industry and worked at 19 Scotch whisky distilleries, managing the likes of Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank. He subsequently embarked on a consultancy career and a role as a small-scale, independent bottler, working in conjunction with Jane Macduff of Cumbrae Supply Company Ltd. McDougall’s latest release from Bladnoch Lowland distillery in south-west Scotland (260 bottles) is the only authorised independent bottling of the single malt, and is presented at cask strength and without colouring or chill-filtration. Very attractive and richly-fruited on the nose, with apricots and peaches, marshmallows and underlying malt and allspice. The addition of water accentuates the whisky’s gentle, floral, perfumed notes. The palate offers malt and ginger with restrained vanilla, while water teases out more gingery spice. Nice weight for a Lowland. Medium length in the finish, dry and slightly ashy, with lingering notes of spice. 54.2% ABV, 70cl, £43.95, Wright Whisky Co, specialist whisky merchants.
John McDougall's Selection, Islay Scotch Malt Whisky 1993 (Scotland)
240 bottles produced. This well-balanced, blended Islay malt contains whisky from four of Islay's distilleries, and there are surely quantities of both Ardbeg and Laphroaig within its makeup. The nose provides bonfire smoke, peat, malt and vanilla, with sweet, fruity notes probably emanating from Ardbeg. Finally buttery, smoked fish develops as the dram warms. Big-bodied, warming, classic Islay phenolic profile on the palate, with Germolene, sea salt and sweet, smouldering peat. The finish is very long and peaty, with a hint of lively oak. The final notes are of sweet fruits and sticking plasters. 54.7%ABV, 70cl, £42.95, Wright Whisky Co, specialist whisky merchants.

Karuizawa, Japanese Single Malt 1991 Cask 3318 (Japan)
Staying with single cask, cask strength bottlings, but moving from Scotland to Japan, The Number One Drinks Co Ltd has introduced two new expressions from the ultra-traditional Karuizawa distillery. Cask 3318 has been matured in a Sherry butt and is initially quite restrained on the nose. Delicately floral and gently sherried, with a suggestion of Christmas pudding. The palate is rich and sophisticated. Malt and sherry merge beautifully, with an undertone of well-mannered spice. Long and warming in the finish, with persistent sherry and a pleasing note of polished oak. 62.5% ABV, 70cl, £57.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Karuizawa, Japanese Single Malt 1992 cask 3330 (Japan)
This is the Number One Drinks Co Ltd’s own bottling of a Karuizawa, and has been matured in an American white oak cask. The nose opens with spice, vanilla, almonds and milk chocolate. With time darker cocoa and treacle aromas develop. Full-bodied yet comparatively dry in the mouth, with spicy, tangy, citrus fruits. The finish is long and progressively drying with a touch of soot. Gingery oak and a hint of chilli at the close. 61.5% ABV, 70cl, £56.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenrothes, 1978 Vintage (Scotland)
The latest ‘vintage’ bottling from The Glenrothes distillery in the heart of Speyside will be the last from the 1970s, with previous releases having dated from 1979, 1972, 1973 and, most recently, 1976. According to the distillers, “Back in 1994 the Vintage concept challenged the preconceptions of single malt Scotch whisky; it was inspired by the understanding of Berry Bros & Rudd – the wine merchant distributors of The Glenrothes – that, historically, variations in spirit and whisky flavour from one distillery were completely natural. In a Scotch whisky industry obsessed by consistency, few were prepared to admit that one bottling might be slightly different from the next. Other distillers have followed our example since.” This is the second 1978 vintage to be bottled by The Glenrothes and it offers a floral nose of malt, toffee and stewed fruits. Apricot jam and delicate smoke. Comparatively fresh and lively for its age. Citrus fruits, vanilla and honey are present on the palate, with intense and slightly smoky spiciness. The finish is long and rich, with lingering sweet spices and finally ground ginger. Another winner from The Glenrothes. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £400.00, Berry Bros & Rudd, specialist whisky merchants.

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