The ever-innovative folks at Master of Malt have announced details of a new Blended Whisky, conceived in conjunction with Athlete bassist and long time whisky lover Carey Willets, in celebration of his side-project ‘Boxes’.
Mr Willets’ introduction to Master of Malt and involvment in the whisky world may be relatively recent, but whisky itself has been a long running passion for the bassist. “Whisky’s always been a big part of my musical history—they both enhance each other. Enjoying whisky and music together is a life-affirming experience.”
Whilst sipping a lovely Bladnoch over the festive break I was struck by just how much depth was cloaked in the spirit’s initially understated personality. This drew me to the much revisited topic of Whisky awards, and to considering which releases win them and ultimately, why? It seems quite difficult to find a Scotch that hasn’t attained gold before at least one set of “learned judges”, but more importantly, what of those awards that still hold merit amongst the sea of the somewhat dubious? The Malt Manic Awards, Cask Strength’s Best in Glass or Whisky Magazine’s annual awards are a few that maintain a level of trust, but just what is it that makes a winning malt?
It seems to me that one theme runs deep as you look back over the bottles that have found themselves graced with top honours. Big whisky, powerful either by way of sherry, peat, active oak or a distinctly forceful character tends to steal the show. Indeed The Malt Maniacs are well known for their penchant for old, heavily sherried releases and last year’s awards did nothing to shake that view as another (admittedly lovely) Glendronach stood out above the rest. In the Best in Glass awards it was a forceful dram from Balcones and in The Whisky Magazine’s round up it was the similarly bold Yamazaki 25 year old. “Delicate whiskies find themselves lost in the crowd, outshone by the whisky equivalent of attention-hungry exhibitionists.”
It’s the first review of 2013 (whoop etc) and as is customary here at the WhiskyMarketplace blog, that will do nicely as a excuse to feature a rather special dram from one of our favourite distilleries. Glenfarclas whiskies are perhaps best known and appreciated in the form of old, well-sherried bottlings and indeed, as a result of the distillery’s continued family ownership, for its enviable stock of such casks. This release, from what is now the oldest vintage left slumbering in their warehouses, was released last year and predictably caused quite a stir. With the likes of our good friend Serge Valentin involved in the selection of this cask, the liquid was sure to be excellent.
Glenfarclas is best known for its relative focus on “drinkers” Whisky and though admittedly the older vintages within the disillery’s Family Casks series are anything but cheap, comparatively speaking they are far from the dizzying prices we are coming to expect from the world of old, “ultra-premium collectors” malt. With that in mind, this release came as something of a departure, being bottled for Polish investment firm Wealth Solutions and presented in a rather fetching, beautifully crafted oak box. Happily, the Whisky was well distributed to interested parties so at least a number have been lucky enough to taste this, the oldest Glenfarclas yet bottled.
As the memory of cold turkey, sore heads and family arguments fade the new year kicks off and as the long nights slowly loosen their grip, we Whisky lovers have something else to look forward to. If the Christmas and New Year consumption simply wasn’t enough for you dear friends, then let us look to Burn’s Night! Scotland’s own foremost man of letters left a great legacy for both his homeland and indeed the world, therefore it seems only fitting that a night be dedicated to his memory and indeed that another of Scotland’s great exports plays its part.
With that in mind we felt it timely to offer a few suggestions for those of you feeling inclined towards staging a little Burn’s Night tasting of your own (and we thoroughly suggest you do). Below are some ideas to get you started; namely three complete flights of 5 whiskies starting at the affordable, easy-going end of the spectrum and proceeding on from there. Feel free to mix different costs together of course but try if you can to keep a good spread of flavour profiles and consider setting up your tasting blind (simply wrap up the bottles or have everything poured before your guests arrive), that should offer a few surprises!
Glenmorangie announces Ealanta, its fourth annual “Private Edition” release. A 19 year old single malt exclusively matured in virgin American Oak casks.
Given the nature of this maturation, it’s hardly surprising that the whisky is said to display notes of butterscotch, vanilla, toffee and indeed a characteristic note of menthol, often found when fresh oak is employed.
2013 is here and it’s time for January’s selection of recommended tipples to help wash away those post Christmas blues (with their deliciousness you understand). With the all but unavoidable over-indulgence of the festive season now behind us and the prospect of Burns Night on the horizon, it seemed wise to venture beyond Scotland this month and indeed to feature a few whiskies ideally placed to reinvigorate jaded palates.
The disparate producing regions of Ireland and Japan are our focus this month. The former offers up both a spritely single grain from the much lauded Cooley Distillery and an equally loved Pot Still Whiskey from Midleton’s range. On the other side of both the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans we find Suntory’s excellently balanced Hakushu Bourbon Barrel release, alongside the ever-popular and multi award winning Yamazaki 18 year old. Enjoy!