Jura, Bruich, Bunna, Tamdhu, Dewar’s & World Whisky Day!
World Whisky Day is Saturday 16th May! Please celebrate with a dram of whatever whisk(e)y takes your fancy.
This column I was going to go back and retaste some whiskies and chat about other whisky things. However, I have had plenty of news in. I was wondering what to leave out but have included info on most things sent to me recently.
Isle of Jura Whisky has released a new red wine cask finished whisky in the first of a series of Cask Editions. The first new expression is Jura Red Wine Cask Finish matured in American White Oak ex-Bourbon barrels and then finished in hand-selected European red wine barriques for 18 to 24 months. Jura Red Wine Cask Single Malt Whisky (ABV 40%) is available only via Sainsbury’s supermarket in the UK in a 1 litre size (RSP £44) and as a 70cl bottle in Carrefour stores in France. (RSP 29.90 EUR). Now, unless that’s a typing error (unlikely) doesn’t that just point out starkly the lower duty on Scotch Whisky in Europe? Maddening that it costs more here in its home.
From the media release, “The resulting liquid is said to be a perfectly balanced and delicate single malt…Each whisky in the new Cask Editions is designed to offer consumers a fresh and simple cask maturation proposition. The series celebrates the connection between the land and the spirit bringing distinct regional and seasonal flavours to the island malt.” I wasn’t sure what is meant by “seasonal flavours” here unless the cask chosen for maturation/finishing is meant to represent a season by being a lighter or heavier character of finish or the whisky possesses characteristics of certain seasonal fruits resulting from production/maturation process the so I’ve asked the question.
Anyway, no sample at the moment during lockdown so, instead, we’re told, “Bursting with rich berry flavours, Jura Red Wine Cask Finish presents enticing aromas of sultanas, creamy caramel and Black Forest fruits. The palate presents a pleasing flourish of creamy vanilla, raspberries, strawberries and cinnamon spice.” Gregg Glass, Whisky Maker & Blender at Jura owners, Whyte & Mackay, commented: “…We’ve built beautiful balanced layers of richer fruit notes yet stayed true to the heart of our distillery character with its fresher fruit, honeyed and citrussy characteristics…”. If a sample is subsequently available I’ll let you know my thoughts. Try it and see what you think, if you’re in UK or France and drop me a line here.
Also from Whyte & Mackay this week is news of “a re-imagined online event” to celebrate World Whisky Day (WWD). Indeed, a series of events will take place online, featuring Jura Single Malt Whisky, and a number of figures from across the industry. It’s all to benefit The Drinks Trust, a drinks industry charity. One feature will be a Big WWD Quiz on Saturday 16th May at 19:30 BST on Facebook Live on WWD’s Facebook page. “The quiz will feature special guest appearances from well-known whisky faces including Whyte and Mackay’s whisky maker Gregg Glass. In addition WWD and Whyte and Mackay are making very special whiskies available for charity auction later in May.” In the meantime, the whiskies W&M’s Head of Whisky Experience, Daryl Haldane, recommends as your go to drams to choose from on the night are:
Jura Red Wine Cask Finish (the new one mentioned above)
Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky ( I love this one)
The Woodsman, Blended Scotch Whisky ( not tried it)
The Dalmore 15, Highland Single Malt (it’s a Dalmore – yesss!!)
Tamnavulin Double Cask, Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky (first Tamnavulin release in about 20 years in 2017; not tried it)
Today I was playing about with mixer alternatives and used Whyte & Mackay Light in my trials. One I like, which I named New England Classic some years ago, because of the cranberry juice, takes 5cl/50ml W&M Light, the same or a little more of cranberry juice and top up with tonic water or soda water depending on how sweet you like things. Put a few cubes of ice in a tall glass first before adding the liquids. You can easily play around with the proportions to suit yourself. When I originally came upon this as an idea I used a lighter coloured whisky with no/little smokiness. This version brings out nice smoky notes in the whisky but I wouldn’t try it with anything too smoky and peaty. I used a little bit of mint from the garden as garnish for the photo (the sun went in at just the wrong moment!) but a wheel of orange or clementine would be nice. Cranberry and orange are a good combination.
Gosh, this has turned into a bit of Whyte & Mackay week so what else do I have to tell you? Bruichladdich, that’s what. And Bunnahabhain. And more.
A release from Bruichladdich on 12th May advised, “We have a new addition to our Port Charlotte range. The pithily named Port Charlotte OLC:01 2010 will be announced tomorrow. The bottling will be available on general release via our online shop at Bruichladdich.com. Our European markets are due to place items on-shelf when best they can. With Covid-19 impacting the running of most businesses, we don’t have a catch-all date for when this product will reach specific markets, but we’re ready to announce, even if it’s a preview for some.”
“Port Charlotte OLC:01 was distilled in 2010 from the 2009 crop of Scottish Barley. Originally filled into a complex array of ex-bourbon, ex-Syrah and ex-VDN (vin doux naturel) casks, the elegantly smokey spirit would be recasked into a stand-out parcel of Fernando de Castilla’s Oloroso hogsheads in 2018. The resultant character is of dry, earthy peat with roasted coffee, lime and figs. Chocolate and vanilla come through as the peat embers give a last hint of smoke.
Port Charlotte OLC:01 2010 will arrive in specialist retailers from May 2020. It has been bottled at the distillery on Islay at 55.1% abv, and will replace the Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010 within the current PC range.”
Maybe keep some of the latter, if you have it, to compare with the new one. It should, indeed, be a treat.
Bruichladdich has formed a partnership with Fernando de Castilla, developed over several years. The Jerez based bodega provides a limited number of butts and hogsheads, often in parcels personally recommended by owner, Jan Pettersen. Due to sherry’s solera system of maturation, as well as EU regulations which years ago stated that all sherry had to be bottled in Spain, casks rarely ‘go spare’, as the release puts it, from the original producer. This also makes them fearsomely expensive these days. When I first started in this industry we used sherry casks for The Glendronach when they were about 5 times the price of a bourbon barrel. They’re now many more times that bourbon wood price.
Also from Bruichladdich comes word of Adam Hannett on Instagram Live on 20th May at 4p.m. BST talking about traditional versus innovative cask usage. It covers “What is Bruichladdich’s approach to maturation and is it important to continue exploring beyond current guidelines?” That will be an interesting one so I intend to be there.
The distillery has also announced its virtual Feis Day (24th May) programme as follows but find more on the website:
Speaking of Feis Ile, Bunnahabhain is taking us all to Islay via a special live tasting of two new festival editions. Hosted by renowned whisky writer (and one of my favourites), Dave Broom, Distillery Manager Andrew Brown will be joined by Master Blender Julianne Fernandez, Master Distiller Stephen Woodcock and Visitor Centre Manager Dr Billy Sinclair for the live stream on Friday 29th of May from 8pm. The group will lead drinkers through a tasting and take part in a panel discussion about the two limited-edition expressions being released to mark the occasion. Tasting kits – available to purchase from the Bunnahabhain website – will allow people to follow along from the comfort of their home. “And it wouldn’t be Feis Ile without a few surprises…with exclusive details on a new product to be revealed live during the tasting.” Another one not to miss.
They request, “Please ensure orders for the tasting kits are placed by 25th of May (UK) or 18th of May (rest of world) to avoid disappointment.” Cost is £16.50 if they haven’ t already sold out.
Ahead of the tasting, Visitor Centre Manager, Dr Billy Sinclair will take friends of Bunnahabhain on a Facebook Live tour around the distillery and island. And do pay attention because you will also have the chance to win a trip to Feis Ile 2021 (we should all be allowed out by then), with competition details announced on the first ‘tour’ to go live on Bunnahabhain’s Facebook page at 10am (BST) on Friday the 29th of May.
Dewar’s Whisky tell us, “Our Global Brand Ambassador Georgie Bell is running fortnightly live guided whisky tastings for our friends who purchase our Triple Tasting Pack. Simply purchase the pack on our online shop (£18) and you will be sent an invite to the live whisky tasting event. Georgie will be running the guided tastings every other Thursday at 6pm, don’t miss out!” Georgie is an excellent presenter on whiskies so do join in these if you can.
Buy a Triple Tasting Pack: https://shop.dewars.com/products/triple-tasting-pack
Tamdhu Single Malt Scotch Whisky has officially launched its third distillery exclusive, limited edition Dalbeallie Dram, in honour of the famous Dalbeallie train station that sits alongside the distillery. I mentioned the award for Dalbeallie 002 a little while ago.
Since its completion in 1899, Dalbeallie Station played a vital part in bringing Tamdhu’s precious sherry oak casks from Spain to Speyside until its closure in 1965. “In recent years, Tamdhu has restored the station to its full splendour, including the waiting room and signal box, making it now a beloved landmark for walkers on the Speyside Way and a wonderful setting to host events and visitors from all over the world.” I interviewed Leonard Russell several years ago and he was hinting then that something would be done about the station and it’s great that he made it happen.
Dalbeallie Dram 003 is individually numbered and bottled at cask strength 60.7% ABV, not chill-filtered and at natural colour. It has been matured in European and American Oak Oloroso sherry seasoned casks from the cooperages and bodegas of Jerez, Spain.
As you might expect at the moment, there is no sample but the official notes say, “It is balanced and creamy, with hints of banana and lime, toasted marshmallow and spiced bread and butter pudding on the nose. The mouthfeel is luxurious, thick and syrupy on the palate, oozing with vanilla, dried fruits and soft spice, with gentle waves of oak. And building sherry notes join with the oak and sweet liquorice to give Dalbeallie Dram 003 a velvety and pleasingly dry finish.” Only 1,000 bottles are available. Get in quick.
More on World Whisky Day. An online ‘Pass the Dram’ initiative organised by The Malt Whisky Trail has united the global whisky community during lockdown ahead of World Whisky Day on 16 May. From Uruguay to the Outer Hebrides and India to Canada, whisky lovers have joined the craftsmen and women behind The Malt Whisky Trail’s sites including some well known whisky experts to enjoy their favourite single malts, before ‘passing’ their dram to create a virtual Malt Whisky Dram Trail. A kind of world group hug! I found the video at: https://vimeo.com/418343250 . However, you could visit The Malt Whisky Trail website or visit @TheMaltWhiskyTrail on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Why not pass a dram round the world yourself? Share your own videos this World Whisky Day using the hashtag #PasstheDram @themaltwhiskytrail.
Founded in 2012 by Blair Bowman, World Whisky Day is held on the third Saturday of May each year. It invites everyone to try a dram and toast to the water of life. “Leading lights across the Scotch sector have come together for World Whisky Day to affirm their confidence in Scotland’s iconic whisky industry and resilient spirit demonstrated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone from whisky makers to festival organisers and marketers behind Scotch Whisky have rallied together since the start of pandemic. Initiatives have included fundraising drives for the hospitality sector, making hand sanitiser and holding virtual tastings and events.”
Blair Bowman also said: “The support being offered by the major distillers to the on-trade in its time of need has been wonderful to see. Whether it be through charitable donations to funds supporting hospitality workers or distillers sharing supplies with one another to make hand sanitiser, the global whisky industry has once again proven itself to be a phenomenally collaborative and supportive community.”
True, I can speak from years of experience in it myself. We marketers might have been scratching one another’s eyes out for market share at some level but all was very friendly otherwise and the level of community I have seen amongst distillers, over the years, is always heartening. Find more info on www.worldwhiskyday.com.
And with that, I wish a happy World Whisky Day to all concerned and please check in with websites of the Islay distilleries and Feis Ile for more news about what they might be doing online later this month since neither they nor we can be out and about on Islay for the usual whisky festivities. See you at the end of May.