The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2014

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Page 24 of 136

24  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2014 SCOTCH REPORT Big Brother Is Watching You! I n 1948, while staying on the remote Hebridean island of Jura, George Orwell wrote his penultimate novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the futuristic story of a totalitarian state controlled by censorship and harsh oppression, where nothing is what it seems. Perhaps he would have been more cheerful if the island's sole distillery hadn't been closed and derelict back then. It eventually re-opened in the 1960s and, in recent years, has released more and more interesting and complex whiskies. One such is the latest limited-edition release of Jura Vintage 1984, matured in American white oak Amoroso and Apostoles Oloroso Sherry casks, non- chill filtered and bottled at 44% ABV. Only 1,984 bottles are available, at a suggested retail price of $1,200. It's a richly layered whisky, showing all the benefits of long aging in quality casks. Look for a suggestion of honey, vanilla, ginger, peach syrup and banana cake on the nose. On the palate, hints of ripe pineapple will develop into bitter chocolate and finish with rich morello cherries. Diageo has released more informa- tion on Haig Club single grain, which they will be rolling out in select markets nationwide from the end of November with an SRP of $70 (750 ml). Global Brand Ambassador David Beckham is now taking a more visible role, appearing in a Guy Ritchie–directed commercial widely viewed on YouTube. Diageo has invested heavily in Haig Club, believing that it unlocks a new category of whisky that will appeal to non-whisky drinkers. The key for whisky drinkers, however, is to forget that it's whisky! Mixed as a cocktail with ice and sparkling apple juice and ginger bitters, it's a light refreshing serve in its own right that might make a few converts who can be slowly converted to more fully-flavored drams. The distillers also claim that it works well as an accompaniment to Chinese food. David Stewart, Malt Master for The Balvenie, has been busy with a follow-up release to the highly-demanded Tun 1401. This time, enthusi- asts will be happy to learn that the new Tun 1509 is available in greater quantities, as the tun (a dedicated aging and marrying vessel) holds four times the amount of its little brother. In total, 42 casks of The Balvenie single malt went into this release. Each bottle of Tun 1509 comes with in-depth detail on the flavor profile of the constituent casks and the overall character of the resulting single malt. Higher strength at 47.1% and non- chill filtered, the first batch of Tun 1509 will start appearing on shelves around the world about now (SRP $360, but if experience of Tun 1401 is any guide, prices in the secondary market will shortly jump up). Finally, a somber note on which to close the year. For some time now we've heard nothing but optimism from Scotch producers and there has been an unprecedented wave of distillery expansions and new openings, primar- ily based on predicted sales growth in developing markets. But half year Scotch exports to June 2014 dropped by an alarming 11% by value, and Diageo has suspended its investment plans for new facilities, sending a shockwave through the industry. 2015 is going to be an interesting year! A WHISKY GEORGE ORWELL MIGHT HAVE APPRECIATED, AMONG OTHER NEW RELEASES by Ian Buxton PHOTO COURTESY OF HAIG CLUB Haig Club's Global Brand Ambassador David Beckham.

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