Wedding Whiskies, Stolen Whiskies, Lady Coppersmiths and More Tasting
November 30th, 2017
Well, a whole slew of new whisky expressions are being launched in time for Christmas but we may be about to be hit by a wave of Royal Wedding bottlings too. I remember acquiring a royal wedding bottling of one of my favourite brands a long time back but that marriage didn’t end well. Good whisky, though!
A couple of weekends ago thieves raided the renowned Paris whisky shop La Maison du Whisky. They seemed to know where to go as they headed for the most prestigious bottles and took 69 of them, one – a bottle of Karuizawa 1960 from Japan – worth nearly 200,000 euros. Their total haul was worth nearly 700,000 euros, according to reports. Apparently they battered their way through the metal shutter and then the door. I’m kind of puzzled as to why any security system didn’t kick in and alert police before they got inside but it seems surveillance cameras were working. As the Elysée Palace and government offices are nearby you’d think there would be police around to respond but it is otherwise a very quiet area of the city at the weekend. These bottles are going to be pretty easy to spot due to rarity so the assumption may be that they were already sold and stolen to order. No more information so far.
New Dingwall distillery, Glenwyvis is opening officially today. They’ve chosen St. Andrews Day just as Kingsbarns did a few years ago, if I remember correctly. Glenwyvis is community owned, raised some £3 million from crowdfunding and is fully powered by renewable energy. There hasn’t been any distilling in Dingwall for nearly 100 years so lets applaud their initiative and look forward to sampling their output in years to come.
On other newbies, scotchwhisky.com has a feature video of Jim McEwan talking about the new Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay. Find it at https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/video/magazine/16987/jim-mcewan-reveals-ardnahoe-distillery-plans/?platform=hootsuite . Also, Glasgow’s new Clydeside Distillery is now officially open for visitors and a great addition to the city’s “must see” list.
Rebecca Weir from Alloa is thought to be the first female coppersmith apprentice and has been taken on at the Diageo Abercrombie copperworks in the town, adding to the ever-growing presence of women on the production side of Scotch Whisky, though this is the hardware not the software, as it were. The works there make stills for the Diageo distilling operations in Europe, including the UK. So good luck to Rebecca during her apprenticeship and for her future in the industry. Certainly, as far as future sales go, recent industry figures showed some optimism and the lowering of tariffs in China should help even more.
Some tasting notes this month. No room to write about them all but here’s a selection.
First up is…..Irish! I received a media release about Irish Distillers Green Spot Single Pot Still Whiskey (46% abv) finished in Chateau Montelena California Zinfandel Casks. I’ve not tried a whisky which has had any time in a zinfandel cask so asked for a sample which arrived through the letterbox only a few weeks ago. It was matured initially in former bourbon and sherry casks then spent a year in a French oak zinfandel cask.
Appearance – rose gold and polished brass.
Nose – fresh and fruity with almond and pear notes (pear frangipane tart?); waft of citrus; fresh woodland notes of wood and earth, some oak at back. With water it’s generally softer and creamier with some zinfandel grape spices too; candied fruit sweetness and slightly musky. A slow developer, the nose on this one deepens and gets more attractive as it sits in the glass.
Palate – Light – medium bodied. Initially very mouth-drying; spicy and warm; some bitter cherry and wood back notes and a touch of the smokiness/toastiness that some zinfandel wines have.
Finish – quite long and dry with bitters and some smoky wine notes.
One Christmas present for the brother who has an affinity with all things Irish, methinks. Irish Distillers have also recently released an expression of Midleton Whiskey finished in oak cut from bluebell woods in Ireland. I have heard mutterings of “too niche”, amongst other things, but I like the idea. It’s quirky and refreshing. Maybe it is niche but it does pique the curiosity. By the way, Irish Distillers recently won several awards in the Icons of Ireland awards, set up by Whisky Magazine.
Glenglassaugh Port Wood Finish – 46% (No age statement)
This is from the Glenglassaugh Wood Finish range, all from fresh fill US oak but they’ve spent up to two years in the cask type on the label for an extra dimension of nose and taste.
Appearance – also rose gold. These first two could be mistaken for rosé wines in certain lights.
Nose – quite young on the nose with a hint of young blackcurrant. Fresh and fruity but not much else at first. With water, there’s a touch of cream cheese and warm redcurrants and the merest hint of citrus. A slightly vinous note. Then some very candy floss notes. This one needs to sit in the glass a little while too and not be too cold.
Palate – light-bodied; some oak tannins and light red fruit notes; a touch of residual sweetness at the back but also very dry in the mouth.
Finish – a bit short, for me.
I received a few more from Glenglassaugh – a peated port wood finish and a PX sherry amongst them as well as a new expression of The Glendronach but chose this one to nose and taste for you this time. Will get round to the others soon.
Highland Park Full Volume – 47.2%
Our friends at Highland Park have been busy again. This one is aimed at a subset of the main HP target drinker (those who are both whisky and music enthusiasts) and is about the idea of a synergy between the craftsmanship of a sound engineer creating a perfect sound balance and a master whisky maker (Gordon Motion) who balances whisky flavours to create a great harmony too.
It comes from 100% bourbon wood distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2017 and sits in the range between Valkyrie and 18 Year Old, intended as a replacement for HP 15 Year Old. It’s about £75 per bottle. Occasionally HP does a bourbon version though it uses largely sherry wood otherwise. Full Volume is also a limited release and is on sale in UK, USA and Scandinavia amongst other places.
Appearance – Medium gold with brass highlights
Nose – slightly damp woods and “foxy” note at first but soon dissipates to a wisp of wood char but also honey and glazed fruits; a dab of vanilla and some floral notes. With water there is more honey, wine gums, citrus zest, heather and more oak.
Palate – medium-bodied and slightly unctuous; warm spices and dark honey; oak; mellow and rounded with a touch of smoke and toasty barley. A soothing dram.
Finish- medium; very dry and heathery.
That’s all for this month. There are a couple more samples on the way for December and will post that blog before Christmas. Meantime, stay cosy but not dry (in a sampling sense of course!).