The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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Page 32 of 124

32  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2018 Invasion of the Single Malts T here are lots of new single malts to report on this month, but first, I must address an important development on the U.S. craft-distilling scene. Distill Ventures—the Diageo-backed incubator fund that invests in new beverage brands—has taken a significant minority stake in Portland-based Westward American Single Malt Whiskey, which will see production increase by some 40 percent. Until now, Distill Ventures has restricted its New World whiskey investments to Australia and Denmark, meaning this move marks a significant development for the nascent American single malt category and industry giant Diageo. We look forward to seeing Westward on Scottish shelves! The boutique blender and bottler Compass Box has also been busy, adding a blended malt to its permanent range and developing a new iteration of its Flaming Heart expres- sion. Bottled at 48.9% ABV, Flaming Heart has just been released in the U.S. at $150. For added visual impact, grab one of the 800 large- format (1.75-liter) magnums that will also be available for $330. Flaming Heart was "inspired by" a song of the same name by American singer-songwriter M. Ward, who, like Westward, hails from Portland. Coincidentally enough, Compass Box's other new release, named The Story of the Spaniard, also has roots in the U.S.A. The new recipe draws inspiration from a bespoke whisky made for The Spaniard, a bar in New York's Greenwich Village neighbourhood. The owners demanded whiskies aged in Sherry casks, thus most single malts in the final blend were aged in former Oloroso Sherry butts. The Compass Box team liked it so much they decided to introduce a similar spirit to their range. Bottled at 43% ABV, around half of the whiskies have been aged entirely in ex-Sherry casks, with an additional quarter aged in Spanish red wine casks. For future batches, the type of vessel may vary from year to year based on availability and experimentation, but Spanish casks—either Sherry or Sherry-style wine casks—will always play the key role. Stocks should be available now with an SRP of $65. Look out for fresh aromas of soft fruits, golden honey, and white choco- late in the recently released Tomatin 30 Year Old single malt available stateside through Minneapolis-based Phillips Distilling (46% ABV; $449). I'm assured by the distillery that "on the palate, a fusion of tropical fruits and buttered vanilla mingle in an explosion of sensational mixed spices. Customers can expect an elegantly rich and creamy finish." Tomatin is also offering an interest- ing 15 Year Old Moscatel Cask Finish aged in first-fill Portuguese Moscatel wine barriques for a period of five years. With a limited run of just 2,400 bottles for North America and an SRP of $100, this charmer will intrigue malt enthusiasts at 46% ABV. Finally, from the Longmorn distillery in Speyside come two decanters selected by malt specialists Gordon & MacPhail. These form part of the distillery's Private Collection single cask releases, which are personally selected by identical twin brothers Stuart and Richard Urquhart. The spirits contain the oldest Longmorn single malts ever released, as they were originally purchased by the brothers' grandfather, George Urquhart, in 1961. Sold in pairs, only 97 sets of twin decanters are available worldwide, with a recommended sales price of £30,000 in the U.K. The holi- days are coming, after all! by Ian Buxton

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