The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2015

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2015 SCOTCH REPORT D oes the idea of visiting Scotland to see your favourite distillery appeal, but the cost and time involved put you off? Delay no longer, for now you can "visit" three of the most famous from the comfort of your den or office desk. Diageo is the first company to open its distillery doors in this way, using Google's Business View to provide a free 360˚ virtual tour that will allow people to see inside the walls of three iconic single malt Scotch Whisky distilleries: Talisker, Cardhu and Lagavulin. With this new technology, consumers will have the opportunity of a virtual tour of some of the more remote parts of Scotland, discovering the stories behind these world- renowned brands. And you could do worse than accompany your tour with a glass of the new Talisker Skye expression, a well- balanced drop that highlights the distillery's peppery character without taking your breath away—the ideal travelling companion, in fact. (Unfortunately, this release is only available in the U.K.) Diageo has also brought a new version of one of my favorite single malts to U.S. markets, as an exclu- sive release. This is Little Bay from Oban (SRP $75). It's a small batch selec- tion that delivers Oban's signature rich, fruity style but with a more pronounced maritime and citrus character. Finally from Diageo, fans of Johnnie Walker will enjoy the 2015 release of the John Walker Private Collection. This aims to showcase the work of the blender and highlight the contribution of Oban's rich fruit character to this one-off blend (SRP $815). Master Blender Dr. Jim Beveridge explains it thus: "The 2015 Edition is a unique blend of mature expressions of fruit character from the heart of Scotland. The wonderful lightness of fresh and exotic Speyside fruits deepens into the warm, autumnal fruits of Highland malts, finishing with a lift from the spicy, West Highland fruit character." Though expensive, these whiskies were previously the reserve of the Walker Directors so represent a rare treat for whisky connoisseurs. For those with even deeper pockets, look no further than the very latest and highly exclusive release from The Last Drop Distillers. Priced at SRP $4,199 through Infinium Spirits, this 48-year-old, 48.6% ABV blended Scotch is shipping now. But move quickly—over half of the 592 bottles available worldwide have apparently been pre-sold on the back of the renown garnered by previous releases from this boutique operation. At a rather more earthbound level, around $60 will suffice for a bottle of either Sheep Dip Islay or The Feathery from Spencerfield Spirits (through Frederick Wildman and Sons). Take a nip of The Feathery next time you enjoy a round of golf and toast the earliest commercial golf balls—they were hand-made from tar, birds feathers and pig skin, hence their name. Priority markets are California, Texas, New York and Massachusetts, and if you needed any encour- agement, The Feathery was awarded Best New Product of 2014 by Scotland Food and Drink, a Government-backed quality initiative. Alternatively, if your taste runs to a smokier dram the Sheep Dip Islay is a blended malt drawing on supplies from eight different Islay distilleries. A virtual tour in a glass, you might say. Beat that, Google! A Vacation in a Glass A VIRTUAL TOUR OF SCOTLAND'S NEW RELEASES by Ian Buxton

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