The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2013

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Page 30 of 162

SCOTCH REPORT Looking Forward, Looking Back NEW UP-AND-COMERS DRAW INSPIRATION FROM OLDER WHISKIES by Ian Buxton L ast issue I picked out Glen Garioch as one of my "most improved" drams and this month I am more than happy to pick out another distillery that's going up rapidly in my opinion. Again, it's little known—but, if there's any justice, won't be for very long. This time I'm referring to the Perthshire distillery of Deanston. Obscure for many years, with the majority of production going into the value blend Scottish Leader, it's now reaping the benefit of some more interesting whiskies laid down by the far-sighted Ian MacMillan, the company's Master Blender. After taking charge of the distillery, he returned to an older style of distillation and set aside some casks for longer maturation. As well as a few distillery-only specials, these are now being shipped as a tasty 12 Years Old (around $30) and the Deanston take on Virgin Oak (around $50), both from International Beverage Company. They represent great value—as, to be fair, does tiny Kilchoman's third release of its 100% Islay expression, unique in that it is the only single malt in Scotland where every stage of the whisky-making process—from the barley grown in the surrounding fields to the malting, distillation, maturation and bottling—takes place at the distillery. Supplies to the U.S. will be drawn from the worldwide limited release of fewer than 1,000 cases, through Kilchoman's importer, Impex Beverages (approx. $90). With the revival of interest in classic whisky cocktails, old bottles are increasingly being snapped up at auction and the price of a forgotten bottle of a blend from the back of a cupboard has been increasing dramatically—as long as it's spent 30 years or more waiting there and is unopened, of course. Perhaps the ultimate example is the recreation by Mackinlay's of the whisky left by explorer Ernest Shackleton in the Antarctic in 1909 and brought back to life by Whyte & Mackay's Richard Paterson. The discovery of an authentic bottle of Hankey Bannister, reliably dated to the mid-1920s, presented a different challenge to Stuart Harvey, Master Blender at Inver House, owners of this venerable blend. The 1920s bottle was tasted and found to be slightly sweeter and peatier in taste than the modern day blend. To recreate this style the current Hankey Bannister blend was used as a 46% abv base with more mature and peaty malts added to round out the flavor. To complete the look, the vintagestyle whisky was then packaged in a replica of the original bottle. The limited release of Hankey Bannister's Heritage Blend will retail at around $40, again through International Beverage Co. Finally congratulations to Chivas Brothers who picked up a remarkable 14 awards at the recent International Spirits Challenge, including the highly coveted Trophy (the top award) for Scotch Blended Whisky under 21 years for Chivas Regal 18 Years Old, and the Best New Design & Packaging Trophy for the stylish black opaque bottle of The Glenlivet Alpha limited edition, launched earlier this year but not available in the U.S. market. Just to complete a night of celebration their sister company Irish Distillers took home a further nine Gold Awards. From "most improved" to "most awarded," it's drinks all 'round! 30  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2013 TP0913_001-33.indd 30 8/22/13 9:17 PM

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