The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 134

26  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2014 SCOTCH REPORT T he whisky gods seem to have smiled on me particularly generously this month as I bring you news of two whiskies, both superb and interesting, that will shortly reach U.S. shores. First up is a new Johnnie Walker from the house which, incidentally, has just come on top of a poll assessing the leading global wine and spirits brands for the second year in a row. The Power 100 list, produced by consultancy Intangible Business, said Walker had "harnessed the interna- tional popularity of premium Scotch" through new variants, while hailing its "strong heritage and reputation." It also pointed to a 10 percent rise in net sales for the brand in the past year. If this new release is anything to go by, there's every chance this Diageo brand will continue its dominance for a third year: It's the 2014 release from what they're calling the Johnnie Walker Private Collection, an exquisite blend specially prepared to high- light different facets of the brand's character. In this case, Master Blender Dr. Jim Beveridge has showcased the smoky Highland and Island single malts in the blend, but introduced a delightful sweet note into the bargain. Just 8,888 bottles will be available worldwide, and while that number might suggest Diageo has its sights set firmly to far Eastern markets, their spokesman assured me that the U.S. will be their most impor- tant domestic market. This isn't a cheap whisky by any stretch of the imagination—expect a retail price of $750+—but, unusually for products with this premium position, the packaging is relatively restrained, letting the whisky do the talking. As, in my view, it should. Beveridge drew on some rare experimental casks for the blend and gave the whiskies a long marrying period to integrate their complex flavours. No age has been declared, as is the current fashion, but there are some very mature whiskies to be found in the blend, which can never be reproduced, so scarce are the constituents. While he used a total of 29 casks to complete the bottling, just one single sherry butt has gone into the latest release from The Balvenie, sister single malt to Glenfiddich. The Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask 15 Year Old is rich, dark and sweet where the Johnnie Walker Private Collection is smoky; forceful where the latter evolves with greater complexity, yet as great an example of fine single malt as the other whisky is a masterpiece of blending. With a mere 650 bottles available and a comparatively modest $99.99 price point, I don't expect supplies will last long, but a further Single Barrel release, drawn from a refill American oak barrel and aged 25 years, will complete the range at the end of 2014. Balvenie's Malt Master David Stewart is as highly regarded for his skills as the renowned Dr. Beveridge is for his supreme artistry in blend- ing. These whiskies stand out as superla- tive examples of the finest that Scotland can produce and it has been my privi- lege to sample both before they reach the market. I urge you to lose no time in locating a bottle. The whisky gods demand no less! The Tale of Two Whiskies OUTSTANDING NEW (AND VERY DIFFERENT) RELEASES FROM SCOTLAND by Ian Buxton

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2014