The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2014

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2014 SCOTCH REPORT T here's lots to report this issue, as the Scotch whisky industry release the whiskies they hope you'll be buying this holiday season, so let's plunge straight in. First up is an unusual single malt from a little known Highland distillery. This is the Glen Garioch Wine Cask Matured— a fruity and spicy 15 year old number at 48% ABV that has picked up loads more intriguing flavors (berries, chocolate, ginger and coconut to name just a few) from extended maturation in the finest "tonneaux de vin rouge" (red wine casks) from an anonymous Bordeaux château. It's a limited release of around 5,400 bottles that will retail at around $170. From a better-known or more fashionable distillery—or perhaps if the chateau were named—it would be a lot more. The latest offering from Glenfiddich comes with some solid U.S. credentials. This is Glenfiddich Excellence, a 26-year-old expression (43%, around $600) that has been "inspired" by American oak. Cutting through the press hype, it means that this is the first whisky to be released by Glenfiddich that has been solely and exclusively matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks. And, in fairness, it is very tasty too, with the distillery's signature fruit and floral notes, enhanced by the vanilla and toasted oak impact of the casks. The U.K. launch featured a live video link to the Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, KY with much stress laid on the family owner- ship of both cooperage and distillery. Also from the same Grant family stable is a whisky as obscure as Glenfiddich is well- known. But whisky obsessives will be excited by the news that for the first time ever, apart from a limited release in Taiwan, it will be pos- sible to try the single malt from Kininvie. That's a relatively modern distillery, opened in July 1990 on Grants' Dufftown distilling complex primarily for their blending operation. Until now, that's where all the stock has gone. Except they clearly held on to some older whiskies, and now two expressions are to be made available, both bottled at 42.6% ABV using the same balance of casks but six years apart in age. The younger, a 17 Years Old variant, will be restricted to tax free outlets internationally, while the 23 Years Old will appear in domestic markets. To spread the limited stock as widely as possible, supplies will come in a half-bottle size—and it won't be cheap. The U.K. market gets 37.5-cl for the equivalent of around $300 for a full bottle, and though U.S. pricing is yet to be confirmed, it will be similarly expensive. Whisky completists won't want to miss out though, and if you aim to stock the rare and obscure, Kininvie has to be on your list. Finally, the well-loved Highland Park from Orkney has added a new 12-year-old dram— Highland Park Dark Origins ($80, 46.8% ABV). With this permanent addition to the range, the distillers have dialed up the first fill sherry casks to produce a naturally darker, richer flavor featuring sherried spice and a chocolate twist enhancing the distillery's usual signature sweet smoke. It will be great for those fall days that are just around the corner! Looking Ahead DISTILLERIES PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Ian Buxton

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