gavin smith

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

    stories features


Recent releases, July 2011

Duncan Taylor, Black Bull Special Reserve Number 1 (Scotland)
The latest blended whisky release under Duncan Taylor’s Black Bull label carries no age statement, but contains some whiskies up to 40 years old, mixed with younger malts. It comprises 50 per cent malt and 50 per cent grain content, with the majority of the grain being 1978 North British, whereas the grain ‘backbone’ of previous Black Bull variants has been Invergordon. The malt component includes some older Glenrothes and relatively youthful Bowmore. Further ‘Special Reserve’ batches of Black Bull are already in the pipeline. Initially sweet on the nose, with Golden Delicious apples; fresh and fruity, turning to malt and caramel and even a whiff of liquorice. Chewy in the mouth, with cereal, spicy, lively oak and toffee. Vanilla, milky coffee and insistent spice in the lengthy finish. (978 bottles) 46.6% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys As reported in Whisky News during the last two months, Irish Distillers is investing significantly in single pot still Irish whiskey, made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley and triple-distilled in copper pot stills in the firm's Midleton distillery in County Cork. Joining the existing pair of pot still whiskeys, namely Redbreast and Green Spot, is another brace, Power's John's Lane Release and Midleton Barry Crockett's Legacy, with more to come in future.
Irish Distillers, Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy (Ireland)
Irish Distillers say that “Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy pays tribute to our celebrated second generation Master Distiller and to the person, who more than anyone, has shaped with the world- famous Midleton style. Representing a personal selection by Barry Crockett of first fill Bourbon whiskeys, with an inspired inclusion of whiskey which has been matured in unseasoned American barrels, this expression displays a distinctive pot still complexity, yet is refined and poised on the finish.” It carries no age statement, but comprises whiskeys aged for between 10 and 22 years. Sweet on the nose, with coconut ice, American cream soda and vanilla. Fruity sweetness carries over onto the palate, which then develops a rye-like spicy, peppery, oiliness and more citrus notes. Gingery, nutty, drying, astringent and oaky in the finish. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £140.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Irish Distillers, Power’s John’s Lane Release (Ireland)
According to Irish Distillers, “Powers John’s Lane Release honours the silent distillery and spiritual home of the Powers brand at John’s Lane in Dublin. This new expression features a distillate which is true to the pot still style of the original distillery and bears the distinctive honey and spice style that made Powers famous. Bearing a 12-year-old age statement, the whiskey has been matured in first fill Bourbon barrels with a contribution of whiskey which has been matured in oloroso Sherry butts.” Vanilla, new leather, nougat and carnations on the slightly salty nose. Sunflower oil and, ultimately, a whiff of molasses. Full-bodied in the mouth, with an oily texture, soft and inviting. Dried fruits, spices and nuts. Medium length in the slick, nutty finish. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £44.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Famous Grouse, The Naked Grouse (Scotland)
Over-the-top presentation of premium whiskies has long been a bugbear of the frugal souls here at ‘whisky-pages,’ and, as if in answer to our complaints along comes a whisky which is intended to “… choose taste over unnecessary packaging.” It goes by the name of The Naked Grouse – you can picture those television commercials already – and majors on The Macallan and Highland Park malts, “…slow-matured in sundried, Spanish sweet sherry casks – the most expensive in the world.” Brand owners The Edrington Group go on to state that “This process gives the whisky an unrivalled smoothness of flavour. Fancy bows and unnecessary boxes have been left behind in order to concentrate on creating a new breed of Scotch that’s Sherried, ultra smooth and easy to drink.” Plums. figs, dark malt, raisins, cocoa and oloroso Sherry on the big, bold nose. More sugary with time. Vanilla appears, then musky leather. More overt supple leather notes when water is added. Full-bodied for a blend, with rich fruit flavours and leather on the palate. Drying slowly with aniseed, liquorice and dark chocolate. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £27.69, Asda, specialist whisky merchants.
Caol Ila, Moch (Scotland)
This new expression from Diageo’s Islay distillery of Caol Ila carries no age statement and takes its name from the Gaelic word for ‘dawn.’ Initially, it will be exclusively available to registered Friends of the Classic Malts, and may ultimately go on wider release. Billy Stitchell, long-time distillery manager at Caol Ila, says that “Moch is selected for taste rather than age, and you’ll still find it every inch a Caol Ila. It’s a new departure for us, to have a whisky that’s not defined by age or strength or finish, but by taste, and it’s an exciting development, I think.” Initially a little mashy on the nose; inky, with brine, peat and a hint of peanut brittle. Soft and sweet in the mouth, with developing notes of caramel and bonfire smoke. The finish is medium in length, drying with more smoke and root ginger. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £32.91, Friends of the Classic Malts.
Glenrothes, 1995 (Scotland)
Berry Bros & Rudd Spirits (BBR) has released The Glenrothes 1995 Vintage to international markets following its launch at Whisky Live Tokyo, back in February. The 1995 Vintage comprises around 30 per cent whisky from what BBR terms "first fill American Sherry oak,” while the balance is made up of spirit from first fill Spanish Sherry oak and refill casks, “…giving the characteristic Glenrothes balance and complexity of flavour.” The 1995 Vintage has been bottled in order to fill a gap left by the almost sold-out 1994 variant, while a second recent release, 1988 Vintage, has plugged the gap between the now-lost 1987 and 1989 vintages. Initially gummy on the nose, then malt and floral notes develop, plus a hint of butterscotch. Also a hint of earthiness. Rich and full in the mouth, with dried fruits, spice and coffee. Nuttier when water is added. Quite long and warming in the finish. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £45.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Jura, Whisky Festival Release 2011 – Boutique Barrel 1996 Vintage (Scotland)
Annual, limited edition Feis Ile – Islay Festival of Malt & Music - bottlings are highly collectable, and almost always sell out during the Festival itself. This year there were even reports of a fight breaking out as festival-goers queued in Bowmore distillery car park for the shop to open and a group of German visitors decided to dispense with the convention of waiting their turn! Across on neighbouring Jura, 493 bottles of a 1996 Jura, finished in a French Limousin oak cask, were offered to distillery visitors during the Festival, and those which did not sell at the event are still available to any whisky-lovers intrepid and dedicated enough to reach the island. Vanilla, milk chocolate, raisins, caramel and worn leather feature on the nose. More vanilla and soft fudge with time. Lively fresh fruit, toffee and ginger on the palate. The addition of water reveals a suggestion of cough drops. Long and drying in the finish, with spicy plain chocolate. Only available from Jura distillery (tel. +44 1496 820 385) 54.0% ABV, 70cl, £100.00, distillery website.

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