The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 24 of 140

SCOTCH REPORT W orried about how to drink your whisky in zero gravity? Helpfully, Ballantine's has solved the problem for you. Working with the Open Space Agency they've designed a special Space Glass that allows lucky astronauts to sip their favorite dram rather than suck it from a tube. Always assuming whisky is allowed on spaceships in the first place. Not content with that, their Master Blender Sandy Hyslop has created a more robust Ballantine's Space Blend to drink on some future orbital mission. I tried it on earth and though my feet didn't leave the ground it seemed to be made of the right stuff. Sadly, there are only 11 bottles and they're not for sale. I suggested last issue that grain whisky was due for some more attention and, right on cue, Diageo has announced the U.S.-exclusive release of two expressions from the Port Dundas distillery. It's a somewhat poignant opportunity for drinkers to try the product of this venerable institution, which dates back to 1810: Diageo closed it in 2010, with production transferring to the giant Cameronbridge complex. The 12 Year Old Port Dundas Single Grain (40% ABV) has a SRP of $49.99 while the 18 Year Old (43% ABV) carries a $99.99 sticker. Get them while you can: There won't be any more. Gordon & MacPhail's '"new" 75 Years Old Mortlach release (44.4% ABV), the latest in their Generations series, is even more inaccessible. Priced at around $32,000, there are a mere 100 bottles worldwide, of which a "limited quantity" are available in the U.S., through distributor Classic Imports. Handsomely presented as ever, age has not dulled the dignity of this remarkable dram, said to be the oldest Scotch whisky ever offered, and it remains full of intriguing flavours. The crystal decanter is accompanied by a small but very attractive book by whisky writer Charles MacLean and Scotland's best-known novelist, Alexander McCall Smith (of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency fame). Their little collaborative volume, Seven Nights with Mortlach, could prove collectable in its own right. Meanwhile, John Dewar & Sons has been busy completing its so-called "Last Great Malts of Scotland" collection with releases from its Royal Brackla and MacDuff distilleries. Royal Brackla, the only distillery to have held two Royal Warrants from British monarchs and once known as "the drink divine," provides 12, 16 and 21 Year Old variants, all at 40% ABV. MacDuff, a more modern distillery founded in 1960, offers The Deveron (it's the river next to the distillery) at 12 and 18 Years, both also 40% ABV (U.S. pricing to be confirmed). For Dewar's, Stephen Marshall, Global Marketing Manager – Single Malts, observed: "People underestimate the quality of whisky that can be made at a comparatively modern distillery; this is really top notch stuff." I concur. Finally, a curious yet fruitful partnership has been formed on Islay where the Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish (53.9% ABV) has been revealed. Mizunara oak comes from 300-year-old trees grown in Japan and used exclusively for the very finest Japanese whiskies. However, as part of the Beam Suntory group, Bowmore was fortunate enough to be the first Scotch distillery to obtain a few of these rare and expensive casks. They were sufficient to finish just enough whisky for a 2,000-bottle limited release that has created great interest among malt mavens. With an SRP of $1,000, this is one of the more expensive Bowmores, especially for a non-age-statement single malt, but looks certain to sell quickly and appreciate on the secondary market (Bowmore could not or would not advise how many bottles are coming to the U.S.; contact your Beam Suntory rep to get the skinny). Next issue I'll have many more new releases as the whisky industry attempts to fill your shelves ahead of the all- important holiday season and, I can promise you, there are some Christmas crackers. Whisky for Outer Space . . . and Right Here on Earth by Ian Buxton 24  /  the tasting panel  /  October 2015 Mortlach 75 Years Old. The Ballantine's Space Glass.

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