Distillers Company One of One Whisky Auction, Diageo Special Releases, Douglas Laing New Offerings, New Expressions from Tomatin, Cutty Sark Birthday, Belgian Owl.
A bits and pieces column this time. I‘m only a couple of days back from holiday and am awaiting some samples to include in my end September piece. Or mid-October if they don‘t arrive in time.
I wrote roughly this time last year about The Distillers‘ Charity One of One Auction in which whisky producers put up one example of a rare and/or exotic expression to be auctioned for the Youth Action Fund to transform the life chances of young people in Scotland aged between 16 and 25. Well they‘ve all come up trumps again this year with some fabulous offerings for those with the money to spare – and it‘s all for such a great cause. The one pictured here is the Brora. The auction will be held at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh on 5th October. If you are a whisky aficionado (who will also enjoy drinking what you buy) then do join in the bidding but you must register. The lots being auctioned are on the Sotheby‘s website now and on display in their premises. They include bottle offerings from Brora, Tomatin and Glenfarclas as well casks from Bruichladdich and Lindores, amongst others. There are 39 lots in total with estimates starting from £2,000 all the way up to £500k. Find them all at sothebys.com/distillersoneofone . The charity hopes to raise at least £1 million again. It was more than double that last year.
It‘s that time of year again when Diageo announces its Special Releases. I‘m waiting to see if samples are available from the PR agency to do my own notes on but the list this year is Mortlach ‘The Katana’s Edge’; The Singleton ‘The Silken Gown’; Talisker ‘The Wild Explorador’; Lagavulin ‘The Ink of Legends’; Roseisle ‘The Origami Kite’ at 12 years old (good grief, it seems hardly any time since Roseisle was built and opened); Glenkinchie ‘The Floral Treasure’; Oban ‘The Soul of Calypso’ and Clynelish ‘The Jazz Crescendo’. The theme is celebrating the journey of Scotch, countries and cultures around the world. A really exciting group again this year, or so it seems on paper. If I‘m able to get hold of any I‘ll let you know more. The packaging was illustrated by eight artists from countries across the globe and are, the company says, „visual tasting notes, placing the expression at the centre of the experience and exploring the flavours that emerge from the local spirit casks”. They’re certainly every bit as glamorous and dramatic as those from the last few years. These are packs to keep and admire for the creative work once you’ve drunk the whisky.
Samples I‘ve been promised are the new Octomores from Bruichladdich and a new Kilchoman. That will be a very peaty session! I‘m hoping they‘ll be here soon. This year‘s Octomore release, „explores the influence of terroir, cask management and varying peat levels in its latest super-heavily peated collection“. There are three bottlings and all are available online at bruichladdich.com and in specialist whisky retailers. Octomore 14.1 is priced at £140, Octomore 14.2 is priced at £155 and Octomore 14.3 is priced at £195. I’ll say more when I have the samples.
The Kilchoman is the 100% Islay 13th Edition which was distilled from barley grown on the farm at Kilchoman in 2012, 2013 and 2014, before maturing for a minimum of 8 years when 44 bourbon barrels were then selected for this year’s release of bottles. It‘s the first one since 2019 to feature only bourbon barrels.UK price will be around £85.50 and it‘s available here and in Europe now. Other places will have a slightly longer wait.Again, more to say when I have the sample. Apparently the courier attempted delivery today but I was out and my partner didn’t hear the door bell so it’s rearranged for after my London jaunt (see Cutty Sark below).
Tomatin also recently announced a new limited edition range – The Italian Collection. There are three in the collection all at 46% abv, no chill-filtration and around £70 per bottle at UK prices. We‘re told, „First laid down in December 2010, the whisky has been gently matured in traditional oak casks for 10 years, before being finished in Marsala, Amarone and Barolo wine casks for a further two years. Each cask has imparted its unique character into the whisky, creating a trio of expressions that pay homage to Italy’s esteemed wine regions.“ I have asked for nosing samples to be with me early October for my mid-October column. Fingers crossed. I think there are going to be a lot of tasting notes for October…
There are also a bunch of new expressions from Douglas Laing too in the form of the Big Peat Christmas Edition and Scallywag Winter (Speyside Blended Malt) as well as Six XOP Single Cask Diamond Anniversary Sets. This year, Douglas Laing & Co. are celebrating 75 years of the company, established in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing, and now in their third generation, led by the first Laing‘s son – also Fred – and his daughter, Cara. Hence the XOP bottlings from their rarest malt and grain whisky casks.
Big Peat’s Christmas Edition is the first ever to be finished in Sherry Casks, „truly encapsulating the flavour of Christmas.“ Don‘t know if I agree as haven‘t tried it yet. They say, „Big Peat fans will be able to taste “hints of dried fruit, cocoa, and spiced oak” with candied peel and Hebridean sea air, peated barley, and ‘his’ signature smoke“. It‘s at a natural cask strength of 54.8% and bottled without colouring or chill-filtration. Scallywag’s Winter Edition remains 100% Sherry Cask maturation which is said to “deliver warm gingerbread, spiced oak, and orange rind on the nose.” This one has been bottled at a natural cask strength of 52.5% and is, again, without colouring or chill-filtration. The packaging shows their cute little Fox Terrier has travelled North to admire the Northern Lights. I love Douglas Laing packaging for their brands. Always that bit different from everyone else – quirky and so engaging.
The world-renowned Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky was first created in 1923 so is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The owning company is holding some events to mark this and they‘ve been kind enough to invite me to two of them in London, one of them being on board the Cutty Sark teaclipper itself. Assuming there are no problems with trains (strike next Saturday and overtime ban for train drivers before that) I‘ll be there early next week and, I hope, home on Friday. Therefore I‘ll report on it all end of this month if all goes to plan.
Lastly for this time, the last night of my recent holiday was in Belgium before driving to Holland for the ferry back to the UK. As the hotel had some Belgian Owl whisky in its bar, I felt obliged to try it and I’m glad I did. There are several expressions in their range so I thought I‘d go for the base one, Identité, matured in bourbon wood. I wasn‘t really up for having the other three that evening! At three years old it was very pleasant but not overly complex and I found sugared almonds and marshmallows on the nose. It was sweet on the palate too with vanilla and honey. It‘s certainly worth a try if you come across it. I hope to do a range tasting of it at some future point.
Till next time (next weekend!), happy dramming.