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Recent releases, August 2009

This month we offer a notably eclectic mixture of Recent Releases, embracing Scotland, Ireland and Japan, with distillery bottlings, rare single cask offerings and a six months old spirit from a Californian wine cask…

Hibiki, 12 Year Old (Japan)
The latest addition to the Hibiki range of Japanese blended whiskies is a 12-year-old expression, which sits alongside the existing 17, 21 and 30-year-old variants. According to its producers, Suntory, “Aged in Japanese plum liqueur ‘Umeshu’ casks, Hibiki 12-year-old is sweet to the taste and has a velvety texture and fruity aromas unlike any other premium blended whisky. Blended from a variety of malt and grain whiskies, Hibiki 12-year-old is filtered through bamboo charcoal to deliver a spirit that is silky smooth on the palate.” Seichi Koshimizu, Suntory’s chief blender, says that “Our goal was to create a uniquely Japanese whisky that is mellower and smoother than any other premium 12-year-old whisky in the world.” The nose offers ripe plums, honey, a hint of soy sauce, plus fragrant, spicy oak. Extremely fruity and floral with the addition of water. Medium to full bodied, notably smooth in texture, elegant and balanced, with a palate of spice and fresh fruits. The finish is lengthy, spicy and fragrant, with a suggestion of gentle smoke. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £42.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Tomintoul, 14-year-old (Scotland)
The Speyside distillery of Tomintoul has added a14-year-old expression to its line up, which includes 10, 12, 16 and 27-year-old variants, not to mention Peaty Tang and Old Ballantruan. Light, fresh and fruity on the nose, with ripe peaches and pineapple cheesecake, delicate spice and background malt. Closer to barley sugar with the addition of water. Medium-bodied, fruity and fudgy on the palate. The finish offers wine gums, mild, gently spiced oak, malt and a suggestion of smoke. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £32.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenglassaugh, The Spirit Drink that blushes to speak its name (Scotland)
Following the release of ‘The Spirit Drink that dare not speak its name’ (July’s Whisky of the Month), the team at Glenglassaugh distillery on the Moray Firth coast has now released a version of ‘new make’ which has been matured in former Californian red wine casks for six months. Managing director Stuart Nickerson says that “I have never seen or tasted spirit like this and its development has been enormously exciting. We have a number of other exciting maturation projects underway, but the effect of these casks is so dramatic that we wanted to use the spirit to celebrate our first six months of production.” TSDTBTSIN, as we shall call it for the sake of brevity, looks disconcertingly like mouthwash, although the producers prefer to call it “…a dramatic rosé hue,” but if you plan to gargle with this, we advise that you swallow rather than spit. There is an initial aroma of yeast, followed by intense red berry fruitiness and a hint of spicy honey. Underlying yeast notes persist. Sweet and spicy on the palate, then drying quite insistently to a medium length, mashy and slightly metallic finish. Best drank neat rather than diluted with water, but the producers also suggest mixing it with cranberry or pomegranate juice, or cream soda and ice. 50.0% ABV, 50cl, £30.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Tullamore Dew, 10-year-old Single Malt (Ireland)
C&C International has broken new ground by adding a 10 Year Old Single Malt to its Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey range, which previously comprised a trio of blends, namely Standard, 10 Year Old Reserve and 12 Year Old Special Reserve. “At the same time as building the standard blend to over 600,000 cases, we have been working towards a complete line-up of ages, flavours and qualities to meet growing consumer demand for Irish whiskey experiences” says C&C International marketing manager, Ann O’Leary. “Adding a single malt to the collection is a very prestigious step for the number two Irish whiskey brand in the world.” Aged in a variety of ex-Bourbon, dry Oloroso Sherry, Madeira and Port casks, Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt is described by its producers as “…a singularly rich and mellow expression of a legendary Irish whiskey.” The nose is of warm oil, new leather, vanilla, stewed fruit and caramel. Oily and slightly herbal on the palate, rich and complex, with leather, soft fruit and spicy oak. The addition of water releases flavours of blackcurrant. The finish is long, initially nutty, with Sherry, old leather and fudge to the fore. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Linkwood, 1992, Regis Whisky Mad Bottling (Scotland)
Regis Lemaitre is best known as former Head of Bars at the internationally renowned Gleneages Hotel and for his work promoting whisky at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews. In recent years, however, the Frenchman has been carving out a niche for himself by offering whisky-orientated corporate entertainment, tutored whisky courses and bespoke Scotch whisky tours. He has also quietly been bottling a small number of single casks under the ‘Regis Whisky Mad’ label, the latest of which include this expression of Linkwood 16-year-old (cask # 13348), from the Diageo-owned distillery on the outskirts of Elgin. It has been matured in a first-fill ex-Sherry butt. Stewed fruits, violets, sweet spice and new leather on the nose, full and rich on the palate, with figs, developing dark chocolate, and background citrus notes. The finish is long and nutty, with fruity oak. (654 bottles, plus 576 miniatures @ £10.00) 48.0% ABV, 70cl, £56.00, The Whisky Exchange, Loch Fyne Whiskies.
Tullibardine, 1987, Regis Whisky Mad Bottling (Scotland)
The second 2009 bottling from Regis Whisky Mad is a 22-year-old expression from the Perthshire distillery of Tullibardine - 22-year-old (cask # 665). Matured in a Sherry hogshead, this bottling, and the Linkwood, above, follow on from Lemaitre’s previous offerings of a seven-year-old Glenrothes and a 40-year-old Springbank. All bottlings in the Whisky Mad range are Sherry wood-matured, as this is the style of malt whisky personally preferred by Regis Lemaitre. The nose is of marzipan, sweet Sherry, vanilla fudge and cocoa powder, while the palate is warm, rounded and confident, with leather and spice, drying steadily. Lingering oak and liquorice sticks in the finish. (93 bottles) 51.0% ABV, 70cl, £77.00, The Whisky Exchange, Loch Fyne Whiskies.

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