The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2016

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Page 24 of 132

SCOTCH REPORT by Ian Buxton 24  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 A s I hinted last issue, this is going to be a huge year for Lagavulin as this iconic Islay distillery celebrates its 200th anniversary. Details have been announced of what I expect will be a memorable year of commemoration, beginning with a Special Edition 8 Year Old release. Any new Lagavulin catches the eye. This expression is inspired by the writing of Victorian scribe Alfred Barnard, who found Lagavulin "exceptionally fine" back in the 1880s, going on to describe the make as "held in high repute." I think he'd like this 48% dram. At a SRP of $65, it's not expensive and it's distinctively Lagavulin, with the signature taste of sweet, warm tarry wood smoke, developing depth and complexity on the finish. More sweet notes emerge with water to tussle with the Lapsang Souchong black tea flavors. Nice! Over in Ireland I've had opportunity to visit Tullamore D.E.W. and the just-opened Waterford Distillery. More on the exciting new 14 and 18 Year Old Tullamore Single Irish Malts elsewhere in this issue but I can report here that the new make from Mark Reynier's team at Waterford is very impressive. Reynier—former boss at Bruichladdich—is distilling furiously, using fully traceable barley from 46 different farms, but the venture is so securely financed that nothing will be released for at least five years. It's definitely one to watch out for however, as Irish whiskey really gets into its stride. Say "welcome back" to an old friend. Fans decried the loss of Johnnie Walker Green Label—and I'm happy to report that owners Diageo have listened and restored supplies. This 15 Year Old Blended Malt balances four key signature styles, represented by Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila. As Johnnie Walker Master Blender, Jim Beveridge explains, "The challenge of Johnnie Walker Green Label is to have a wide flavor spectrum from malts matured for 15 years in American and European oak, ensuring that those flavors really complement each other and work in harmony to create a blend of great complexity . . . true to the Johnnie Walker style of big and bold flavors with a signature smokiness." The blending process allows Beveridge and his team to shape a whisky with a depth of character that just isn't possible from one malt whisky alone. So, if you locked away a few bottles (and more than a few people did just that) you can open them now and raise a glass to future drams (43%, $64.95 suggested retail price). You might not be in such a hurry to crack the seal on the latest release from The Macallan—for this 65 Year Old beauty in its Lalique decanter will retail at a cool $35,000. It's the oldest Macallan ever released and just 140 bottles will find their way stateside. The sixth and final release in The Macallan's Lalique Six Pillars series it will be in market "very soon." No tasting notes, but I expect it's a very fine drop of whisky, as well it should be for the price of a BMW 3-series sedan. Or 466 bottles of the new expression from anCnoc blas. Yes, 'blas', like that; it means 'taste' in Gaelic, though why whiskies insist on putting these Gaelic names on their bottles I have no idea (only around 1% of the Scottish population actually speaks the language, which means some 99% are as baffled as I am!). Anyway, Scottish-born fashion designer Patrick Grant, Creative Director of Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, designed a print for the bottle label and packaging inspired by the sights and sounds of the distillery. And very fetching it is, too. If you like your whisky full-bodied, yet sweet and fruity with notes of lemon and candied orange peels, followed by bold, honeyed notes, bitter chocolate and vanilla, this dapper $75 offering could fit right into your wardrobe. Welcoming Both Old and New Friends

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