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Recent releases, June 2014


As announced last year, Diageo has released four new 50cl variants of its previously elusive Mortlach single malt, produced in the oldest of Dufftown's distilleries. The distilling regime in Mortlach is unique, and the whisky is described as being '2.81-times distilled.' The new releases coincide with work to double the capacity of the distillery itself, which is a key ingredient in the Johnnie Walker family of blends.

According to a Diageo spokesperson, "In the early years, the distribution of these rare and prestigious whiskies will focus on carefully selected cities. They will first be available in London and Berlin in June, and in a small number of global travel retail channels. They will then roll out - again in very restricted volumes - to the cosmopolitan cities of Asia-Pacific in August (for example Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore) and at the same time to New York, Chicago and San Francisco in the United States."

Mortlach, Rare Old (Scotland)
Fresh and fruity on the nose, majoring in peaches and apricots. Parma violets, milk chocolate, and finally caramel. Fruit carries over from the nose to the nutty palate, with cinnamon spice. The finish is relatively long and spicy. 43.4% ABV, 50cl, £55.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Mortlach, Special Strength (Scotland)
The nose is lightly oily, malty, and with less fresh fruit than the Rare Old expression. A hint of coal tar, then orchard fruits arrive late. Silky in the mouth, more fruity on the palate than Rare Old. Very smooth and approachable. Soft spices in the medium-length finish. 49.0% ABV, 50cl, £75.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Mortlach, 18 Year Old (Scotland)
Initially earthy on the nose, with cooked and salted potato skins, then cloves and milk chocolate emerge, before a final blast of vanilla. Less fruity on the palate than Rare Old and Special Strength, with hazelnuts and chilli. Drying in the finish, with mild oak and root ginger. 43.4% ABV, 50cl, £180.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Mortlach, 25 Year Old (Scotland)
The nose opens with a hint of fresh soil, backed by green apples. Slight meatiness that eventually evolves into a light dusting of icing sugar. The palate is full and rich, with malt, muted spices, and interplay between sweet and savoury elements. Drying in the finish, with a not unpleasing musty note and gentle oak tannins. 43.4% ABV, 50cl, £600.00, specialist whisky merchants.

Laphroaig, Select (Scotland)
The latest addition to the Laphroaig portfolio is Select, a no-age-statement expression. According to the distillers, "Laphroaig Select's unique character is derived from the special selection of casks chosen for maturation. The heart of the spirit is drawn from a final maturation in new American Oak casks, rarely used for Scotch whisky. "Representing a subtle blending of peat, oak and sweetness, Laphroaig Master Distiller John Campbell has selected the spirit from Laphroaig Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood (European Oak casks) and a final addition of 10 Year Old to create Laphroaig Select." The nose offers printer's ink, pipe tobacco, peat and, in time, Elastoplast. Finally smoky ripe peaches. Quite thin on the peaty palate, with dark berries and contrasting hints of vanilla. The finish is relatively short, drying and slightly metallic. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £34.99, widely available.
Kilchoman, 100% Islay – 4th Edition (Scotland)
For the 4th edition of 100% Islay, the team at Kilchoman has selected 40 first-fill Bourbon barrels, 32 being of five-year-old whisky and eight of four-year-old. The 100% Islay range is produced from barley grown at the distillery, and every step of the production process is completed onsite. This is only lightly peated compared to the distillery’s Machir Bay and Loch Gorm expressions. The nose yields figs, malt, bonfire embers, smoked haddock and brine. Finally, vanilla, wood polish and orchard fruits. Initially, soft fruits on the palate, with smoke emerging and building. Peat smoke in a lengthy, mellow finish. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £64.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Macallan, Darkness! 15 Year Old Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish (Scotland)
Darkness! Is a range of cask strength single malts which have been ‘finished’ for three months in 50 litre first-fill oloroso or Pedro Ximinez ex-sherry casks. Due to their small size these casks have imparted bold sherry notes to the whiskies contained therein. This 15-year-old Macallan has been finished in Pedro Ximinez desert sherry casks, and the result is an oily nose, with figs, raisins, sultanas, then warm caramel. Full-bodied, overt ‘PX’ sherry, glace cherries and spice. The finish is lengthy, fruity and fig-y. Finally, cloves and gentle, warming oak. 52.3% ABV, 70cl, £109.95, Master of Malt.

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