Shop Early for Christmas Whisky?

If you are doing some early Christmas Shopping, then here’s Caroline’s most recent whisky blog.

I hope everyone’s had a good summer and that we get an Indian one to end on!

Word just in from Highland Park tells me that their Hobbister special edition I wrote about last month sold out within a day of release. Therefore they now intend to release the other four expressions in the Keystone series towards the end of this year rather than in 2017.  More info is to come so just watch this space. They are also working on a revamp of their core range of 10, 12 and 18 year olds as well as two new ones to replace 15y.o. and Dark Origins.

It must be the retail run up to Christmas now. I may be cynical but there has been a raft of new releases recently form Tomatin, Benriach, The Glendronach, Whyte & Mackay, Bruichladdich and Douglas Laing to name but some.

The Tomatin one I did receive a sample of. It’s their peated Cu Bocan but a 2005 Vintage at 50% abv and £49.99 which is a pretty good price. Tried it and liked it – on a rainy, cool, Glasgow summer day it stood up to the weather rather well. I also compared it with the original Cu Bocan and found it hard to decide which one I preferred.

Tomatin Cu Bocan 2005

The new offering from Douglas Laing is a 40 Year Old version of their Timorous Beastie vatted – or, rather, blended – malt expression. Only 1,080 bottles have been produced and it’s at cask strength – 57.4%. No added colour and no chill-filtration. There’s a competition you can enter to win some of this on . They have 100 taster bottles (presumably means smaller size) to give away to the best tasting notes submitted by consumers. The competition opens for entries from Tuesday 30th August so find out what to do and how to enter from the website.

Timorous Beastie 40 Years Old

In another fun development, Bruichladdich are releasing three new bottlings for their Micro Provenance digital whisky tasting programme. The set of 3 x 20cl bottles costs £50 plus post and packing and there will be an online tasting of these on the evening of 13th October via YouTube. Only 860 sets are available. All the bottlings are of unpeated Bruichladdich and at a strength Head Distiller, Adam Hannett, thinks is best for each one. Details are:

Cask #361 – distilled in 2008 and matured full term in a French ex-Syrah (red wine) cask.  It is at 58% alc. vol.

Cask #16-062 – distilled in 2006 and matured in ex-bourbon before being finished in an ex-sherry cask is also at 58% alc. vol.

Cask #1062 – distilled in 2005 and matured full term in bourbon is at 59% alc. vol.

They are available only via or the distillery shop on Islay. Why not give it a go?

Another distillery-only new release is The Dalmore Distillery Exclusive Vintage 1997 (58.4% abv). The Dalmore is renowned for its use of good sherry wood for maturation but this time, Master Blender and Distiller, Richard Paterson has chosen three different types of Bourbon barrels in which to mature this whisky. It was initially matured in second fill bourbon barrels, then put into specially selected aged bourbon barrels before a final fling with some “small batch” aged bourbon barrels. Only 450 bottles each at £200 are available at the distillery, way up north in Alness, Ross-shire. One way to attract visitors!

Benriach has recently released Batch 13 of its single cask bottlings. There are 13 of them and too many to list in detail here but the oldest is from 1975, the youngest from 1999, all at cask strength and with some rather exciting finishes. Seek them out. Two further new offerings from this same distillery are a 17YO Pedro Ximenez Sherry Wood Finish at 46% and a 21YO Tawny Port Wood Finish to replace the 15YO with the same finish. Both sound delicious.


Their sister distillery, The Glendronach has also brought out a re-release of its 14YO Virgin Oak expression (46%) we saw first in 2010. I’ve never had the chance to give this one a try but must get round to doing so as it’s a bit different from The Glendronach norm in terms of maturation.

So, plenty to look out for and try though some of them may be rather beyond most budgets. I’ll remind again in September about the Bruichladdich tasting in October as, even if you don’t have the set to taste, it would still be an interesting one to watch.

I’m off to France for a holiday featuring more wine than whisky and will be back in September.

Enjoy the end of your summer.









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