Simon Wittenberg takes a look at some of the latest releases and launches making the headlines in the world of whisky.
Highland Park London Edition
Highland Park, the Orkney-based distillery, has unveiled its 18-year-old London Edition (58.5% ABV), which comes as part of its limited edition Single Cask Series.
Priced at £390, and with only 642 bottles available, this expression was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2021, after being matured in a refill sherry-seasoned European oak cask (number 4627) – hand-selected by Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion.
The result is a whisky that sports a naturally light and elegant golden colour, and delivers aromas of vanilla sponge, fresh Galia melon, oak, nutmeg and light peat tones. In addition, flavours of pears, aniseed and rich cedar wood grace the palate, with a lingering sweet spice and woody character for the finish.
For more information, visit www.highlandparkwhisky.com.
Isle of Harris Distillers The Hearach
Isle of Harris Distillers has released its long-awaited single malt Scotch whisky named “The Hearach”, and we were amongst the first in the world to sample a dram of this spectacular whisky. Priced at £65 per bottle, the first eight batches sold out online within hours; such was the excitement about this new expression.
Named “The Hearach” – the Scottish Gaelic for a native of Harris, it is the first legal dram originating from the Outer Hebridean island situated off the northern coast of Scotland.
The Hearach offers an elegant and highly-drinkable single malt, with fruit and floral notes, and a long and slightly smoky finish. The whisky, handcrafted by a team of locals from Harris, has been distilled, matured (in first-fill bourbon, oloroso and fino sherry casks), married and bottled at 46% ABV.
From this month, the whisky will be made available in specialist retailers and bars across the UK, and in over 20 countries worldwide.
For more information, visit https://harrisdistillery.com.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami
Johnnie Walker, and the renowned Japanese Chef Kei Kobayashi, who has a three-Michelin Star restaurant, have joined forces to create a Scotch whisky that encapsulates the enigmatic taste of “umami” – a Japanese word used to identify the “fifth taste”.
Named Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami, and costing £260 per bottle, this limited edition release is a beautifully-balanced blended Scotch whisky, boasting sweet and savoury flavours, with notes which combine blood oranges, red berries, sweet wood spice, a touch of smoked meat, a hint of salt and pepper, before culminating in a long and sweet fruit finish.
For more information, visit www.johnniewalker.com.
Littlemill The Vanguard Collection – Chapter One
Scotland’s oldest licensed distillery, Littlemill, has unveiled “Chapter One”, the first of four annual releases, where each expression has been partnered with an individual artist. The remarkable 45-Year-Old single malt whisky for Chapter One has been drawn from the oldest and rarest reserves of the extraordinary Lowland distillery, which fell into silence in 1994.
Bottled at a cask strength of 50.5% ABV, and natural in colour, only 250 individually numbered bottles are available worldwide, priced at £12,500.
The whisky is housed in an exquisite handblown Glencairn crystal decanter with delicate cuts in the glass. A glass portal in the cabinet door provides a window through time to Vic Lee’s hand-finished artwork, and each has been individually hand-signed and numbered by Vic and Master Blender, Michael Henry.
Each cabinet also houses a branded 50ml miniature, and a hardback book of the Littlemill story, so the very few lucky custodians of this exceptional single malt can explore and enjoy Scotland’s most fascinating whisky tale with an exquisite dram.
For further information, visit www.littlemilldistillery.com.
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged
Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, a global limited-release expression from the USA, has just gone on sale this month after being announced back in August. Carrying an RRP of £145, the inaugural Cellar Aged is a marriage of an 11 and 12-year-old whisky, where the former is the dominant ingredient at 87% of the liquid used.
Created under the watchful eye of Rob Samuels, the eighth-generation whisky maker and grandson of the founders at Maker’s Mark, this is the Kentucky distillery’s oldest release to date in its 70-year history.
To become Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, barrels of the distillery’s classic distillate first spend approximately six years ageing in traditional bourbon warehouses, where they are subject to the Kentucky climate and its temperature swings season after season until they reach full maturity.
Casks are then moved into the distillery’s proprietary whisky cellar for a further five to six years of ageing before being blended, tasted and bottled.
For more information about Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, visit www.makersmark.com.
Old Pulteney Port
Old Pulteney, the Maritime Malt from the Caithness Coast in Scotland, has added the second expression to its limited edition Coastal Series. Named Old Pulteney Port, and priced at £75 per bottle, it is the result of a combination of single malt Scotch whisky from Wick in the Scottish Highlands, and Port from the Douro Valley of northern Portugal.
Non-chilled filtered, and boasting a rose gold colour, there are dried fruits on the nose, combined with sultanas and buttery vanilla. These make way for candied orange, marzipan cherries and cinnamon swirls on the palate, whilst the finish features warming spices and plum jam sweetness.
For more information, visit www.oldpulteney.com.
Tamdhu Cigar Malt III
Tamdhu from Speyside has released the latest edition in its renowned Cigar Malt collection. Named Cigar Malt III, it is a 53.8% ABV, non-chill filtered single malt with an unmistakably rich flavour, meticulously matured to pair perfectly with a hand-rolled cigar.
Priced at £225 per bottle, Tamdhu Cigar Malt has been matured in the finest first-fill European oak Oloroso sherry casks, which have been carefully selected to ensure that the wood has a strikingly robust character, capable of matching the richness of a premium cigar.
Whisky connoisseurs are treated to toasted gingerbread and honey aromas, as well as indulgent notes of creamy panna cotta and dried fruits. This single malt culminates in a satisfying finish that lingers with a jammy haze of apricots and rich praline.
For more information, visit www.tamdhu.com.
The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 12
The GlenDronach Distillery has unveiled its Grandeur 2023 edition, a limited release, and is one of the brand’s most luxurious expressions to date.
Named “Grandeur Batch 12”, this special single malt is over 29 years of age, and is the result of a bespoke selection of rare sherry casks hand-selected by distinguished Master Blender Rachel Barrie.
Having matured slowly and deeply in Oloroso sherry casks for nearly three decades, this rare expression from one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland epitomises the richest rewards bestowed from the finest and most exquisite Spanish oak sherry casks.
Each individual Batch 12 bottle, priced at an RRP of £870 in the UK, is sealed with wax and numbered by hand to reflect its rarity. This whisky has been bottled at 49.2% ABV, and has developed its natural dark mahogany colour over time from the influence of Spanish oak.
For more information, visit www.glendronachdistillery.com.
Tomatin The Italian Collection
Tomatin, the award-winning Highland distillery, has launched its new limited edition line-up named “The Italian Collection”. Costing £70 each, the trio of single malt scotch whiskies (46% ABV), which were first laid down in December 2010, showcases Tomatin’s craftsmanship, whilst combining the exceptional Highland malt with the aromatic richness of Italian Marsala, Amarone and Barolo wine casks.
The Marsala Edition opens with enticing aromas of panettone and candied lime, leading to a palate that delights in the flavours of white chocolate, lemon truffles and hazelnuts. A sweet citrus finish emerges, accompanied by notes of toasted oak. The Amarone Edition. On the palate, notes of strawberry jam, Turkish delight and light butter pastry unfold. A luxuriously rich finish boasts cinnamon-spiced red apples.
The Barolo Edition, which was our favourite out of the three that we had the opportunity to enjoy, begins with aromas of mulled wine and dark chocolate. On the palate, spiced mead intermingles with cranberry, while an undercurrent of fresh citrus, reminiscent of grapefruit, adds vibrancy. The finish is marked by light tannin and delicate sugared almonds.
The Italian Collection is available from the Tomatin website and select specialist retailers worldwide.
For further information, visit www.tomatin.com/italian-collection.
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