gavin smith

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

    stories features


Recent releases, March 2009


Back in July of last year we reported on the welcome revival of Glenglassaugh distillery at Portsoy, on the Moray Firth coast, and now two 'house' releases of Highland single malt whisky have appeared from the distillery, with a third, even older, expression due before too long.
Glenglassaugh, 21 Year Old (Scotland)
Delicate, yet firm on the nose, with ginger, heather, moss and angelica. Water releases chewy toffee and fresh cream. Medium-bodied, fruity and malty, subtly Sherried and rounded on the palate, with a mildly spicy and quite complex finish, which maintains the palate’s apple fruitiness. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £150.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenglassaugh, 30 Year Old (Scotland)
Richer and more Sherried on the nose than its 21-year-old stablemate, malty, with deeper, cooked fruit notes and gentle smoke. The addition of water releases violets in freshly-dug earth. A substantial dram in the mouth, full and fruity, quite intensely focused, with background smoke. More wine gum notes with water. It dries elegantly and spicily, with no intrusive bitter notes associated with over-ageing. A developing note of liquorice sticks is present when water is added. 55.1% ABV, , £400.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Buffalo Trace, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye (2008 Edition) (USA)
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac is the newest addition to the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. It is an uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey, nnamed after the New Orleans bartender who first used rye whiskey to make the Sazerac Cocktail. According to the distillers, “The barrels were aged six years and five months on the fifth floor of Warehouse M. It’s very flavourful and will remind drinkers of Christmas cake.” Summer fruits and pepper notes on the nose. The palate is a lovely blend of soft vanilla and peppery rye, while the finish is long and comforting with oily, spicy oak. 63.8% ABV, 70cl, £100.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Buffalo Trace, William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2008 Edition) (USA)
Also part of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, W L Weller is an uncut, unfiltered Bourbon, with wheat as the secondary grain. The latest edition has been matured for just over 11 years. William Larue Weller was a prominent 19th century Kentucky distiller, whose company ultimately merged in 1935 with that of the Stitzel brothers. A new Stitzel-Weller distillery was subsequently constructed in Louisville. Slick and leathery on the nose, with wood polish and rum and raisin ice cream Notably full bodied, with peach, pepper and oak. The finish is lengthy and drying with banana and custard notes leading into pepper. 62.7% ABV, 70cl, £100.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Scapa, 16 Year Old (Scotland)
Previously available at 14 years of age from owners Chivas Bros, Scapa has now been re-launched as a 16-year-old expression. Neil Macdonald, Brand Director for Malts at Chivas Bros, says that “Scapa has long held a special place in the whisky drinker’s heart and this new expression represents another opportunity to experience the beguiling whisky which is Scapa. Like the natural harbour of Scapa Flow where the distillery is located, this malt is a ‘safe haven’ for those wishing to explore the intriguing world of island malts thanks to its light, unpeated, approachable style.” The nose offers apricots and peaches, nougat and mixed spices. Pretty, yet profound. Medium-bodied, with caramel and spice notes in the mouth. The addition of water emphasises cocoa. The finish is medium in length and gingery, with fat, buttery notes emerging at the end. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £50.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail, specialist whisky merchants.
Port Dundas, G6:1 Single Grain Whisky, 28-year-old, Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Scotland)
Bottled single grains are comparatively rare beasts as a genre, but bottled Port Dundas is positively on the endangered list in terms of availability. This Diageo facility is one of only two surviving Glasgow distilleries, along with Chivas’ Strathclyde grain plant, and it produces some 39 million litres of spirit per year for blending purposes. This cask from December 1980 somehow escaped the blenders’ attention and has ended up with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It offers a highly distinctive, rounded nose of pine nuts, vanilla, candle wax and perfume, while the addition of water brings out nuttier notes. Sugary sweetness is countered by mild nuttiness on the palate, which is also spicy and slightly oily. The finish is long and spicy, with a cooling note of mint. 223 bottles. 51.0% ABV, 70cl, £76.00, SMWS.
Bunnahabhain, Manzanilla Sherry Wood Finish (Scotland)
The latest limited edition release in the Bunnahabhain range of Islay malts is a 16-year old. According to its producers, “Via the Spanish sea estuary of the Guadalquivir River and the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, this selected spirit languished in traditional oak at the Bunnahabhain Distillery for twelve long years before being transferred into Manzanilla Sherry casks for four more. This double maturation technique creates a fascinating variation to the famous Bunnahabhain gentle taste; the Manzanilla Sherry casks from Spanish bodegas make for a beguiling complement to the crisp, fresh influence of the bracing Islay air.” Fragrant Sherry and leather on the nose are countered by gentle brine and peanut notes. Firm-bodied, dry and peppery on the palate, with bitter chocolate and liquorice sticks. The finish comprises dry oak and a sprinkle of salt. A surprisingly different expression of one of Islays most underrated drams. Moreish is the word! 3,792 bottles from five casks. 53.2% ABV, 70cl, £70.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Edradour, Ballechin, Discovery Series, no. 3 – Port Matured (Scotland)
The picture postcard distillery of Edradour in Perthshire has belonged to the Edinburgh-based independent bottling company Signatory since 2002, and in 2003 the first batch of heavily-peated (50ppm) Edradour spirit was distilled. Named Ballechin, after a long-silent Perthshire farm distillery, there have now been three releases of this heavily-peated young spirit, the latest of which has been matured entirely in port hogheads. The first two expressions were aged in Burgundy and Madeira casks respectively. The nose features mild iodine, nutty, spicy peat and summer fruits, while the silky body leads into a palate focusing on apricots and ginger, with a splash of cream. The finish is spicy, with developing peat. 6,000 bottles. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £56.95, specialist whisky merchants.


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