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Recent releases, December 2009

Glengoyne, 12 Year Old (Scotland)
A 43% 12-year-old expression is the latest addition to the core Glengoyne line up, which already includes 10, 17 and 21-year-olds, along with a cask strength 12-year-old. According to a distillery spokesperson, “For the very first time we have used first fill Bourbon wood in one of our core range, There is also less Sherry wood as a result, giving a completely different taste and nose. The majority of the wood is USA/European refill casks, and the whisky is also chill-filtered. In summary, it's nothing like the cask strength 12-year-old. The only thing that is the same is the age statement.” Malty and lightly honeyed on the nose, with nuts and a whiff of citrus fruit. Spices, toffee and Terry’s Chocolate Orange feature on the palate. The finish is medium in length, consistent, with pleasing, mellow oak notes and a hint of ginger. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £33.99, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, 40 Years Old (Scotland)
This is the oldest and most expensive Glengoyne ever released by the distillery, and just 250 hand-blown Glencairn Crystal decanters of 1968 distillate have been produced. According to Iain Weir, Marketing Director for brand owners Ian Macleod Distillers, “This is a world class, once in a lifetime bottling. The 40 Years Old single malt captures the pure essence of Glengoyne, from its heritage and craftsmanship through to its exceptional and unpeated ‘real taste of malt.’ It is a joy to open casks after four decades and find such great balance between cask and still. It doesn’t get any better than this.” Matured in ex-Sherry butts, the nose of this expression is rich and plump, with figs, vanilla and Sherry. It becomes smokier with exposure to air. The palate is full and fruity, with spicy banana notes, becoming drier and more oaky. Oak tannins make their presence felt in the lengthy finish, which features a final note of lingering liquorice. 45.9% ABV, 70cl, £3,750, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Amrut, Fusion Indian Single Malt (India)
The latest release from the Bangalore distillers Amrut is an innovative creation, produced using 25 per cent peated Scottish malt and 75 per cent unpeated Indian malt. Each is mashed and distilled separately, and the two then meet in American oak barrels for maturation. Due to the hot Indian climate – and an ‘angel’s share’ of evaporation up to 12 per cent each year - maturation usually lasts between three and five years. This is generally reckoned to be the equivalent of ten years on Speyside. An attractive nose of vanilla, cinnamon, almonds and smoky ginger. Richly fruity on the palate, with figs, spice, plain chocolate, subtle peat and a touch of leather. Fusion belies its youth in the mouth with a well rounded and integrated taste. The finish is medium in length, with lingering notes of blood orange. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, specialist whisky merchants.

GlenDronach Single Cask Releases Batch One

Now that GlenDronach distillery is in the same ownership as BenRiach, consumers are benefitting from a similar sort of vigorous release policy, and five vintage expressions have been bottled in the initial release programme. Batch One comprises malts from 1971, 1972, 1992, 1993 and 1996, ranging in age from 38 to 13 years old. All five are in the traditional, richly Sherried GlenDronach style, and have been matured in Oloroso Sherry butts. Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker says that "Dating back to 1826, there have been few if any single cask bottlings from GlenDronach, so the launch of Single Cask Batch One is particularly significant and will be welcomed by our customers. "We will repeat this exercise each year, hand-selecting a small number of the very best casks from the distillery warehouses to release as Single Cask bottlings. Each will be bottled at cask strength, at natural colour and non-chill-filtered. Bottles will be individually numbered by hand and will be housed in a deluxe gift box."
Glendronach, Single Cask 38-year-old, 1971 (cask #483) (Scotland)
Stewed plums and Sherry trifle on the nose, along with coffee and worn leather. The palate is full and rich, with Terry’s chocolate orange and spice. Drying in the finish with liquorice, but with a final note of chocolate-coated Turkish delight. (544 bottles) 49.4% ABV, 70cl, £350.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glendronach, Single Cask 13-year-old, 1996 (cask #193) (Scotland)
The nose offers treacle, smoky fruit, cough lozenges and fresh rubber. Full-on Oloroso in the mouth, dark berries, sultanas and coffee. The lengthy finish is drying and features lots of liquorice and bitter chocolate. (399 bottles) 59.4% ABV, 70cl, £60.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Duncan Taylor, Black Bull 12 Year Old (Scotland)
Following the success of its much-vaunted, limited edition 30-year-old deluxe blend offered under the Black Bull label, Huntly-based Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd has made the slightly curious decision to use the name for a 12-year-old blend. Like its predecessor, this variant contains 50 per cent malt and 50 per cent grain, and is bottled at 50%abv. Tinned pears, nougat, Sherry and spice on the slightly aromatic nose. The palate is full and spicy, with hazelnuts, vanilla toffee and a slightly citric note. Medium length in the finish, lingering fruit and brittle toffee, with gentle oak developing. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £32.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, The SpiceTree (2009 revival) (Scotland)
The Spice Tree was first launched by Compass Box in 2005, but the company ultimately decided to discontinue production due to the threat of legal action by the Scotch Whisky Association, which objected to the use of French oak inner staves during maturation. “The original Spice Tree created quite a following due to its flavour profile, so after the Scotch Whisky Association forced us to stop making it, I was determined to find a more ‘acceptable’ way to achieve the same style,” explains Compass Box founder John Glaser. “It’s taken almost four years, but we’ve done it.” The 2009 version of The Spice Tree is again a blended malt whisky from northern Highland distilleries, most notably Clynelish, and according to a Compass Box spokesman, “The whiskies are all a minimum of ten years old, primarily from first-fill American oak casks, before being re-racked into bespoke barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads for up to two additional years.” The result is a whisky which offers lively spice notes on the nose, apples and pears, vanilla and mild ginger. The palate is spicy and malty, with fresh oak, cloves and nutmeg. The finish is medium in length, with freshly-cut logs, drying to dark chocolate. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, specialist whisky merchants.

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