The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2013

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Page 26 of 152

SCOTCH REPORT COLLECTORS WILL SCRAMBLE TO GET THEIR HANDS ON THESE LIMITED RELEASES Investment-Grade Scotch by Ian Buxton O nce again it's time for the Diageo Special Releases—the limited-edition bottles from rare casks from long-lost distilleries (and a few long-time favorites) that the global giant releases annually to tease and delight collectors and aficionados. But in recent years a few of these special bottles have attracted a new buyer, aiming to speculate on a rapid rise in value. The Port Ellen and Lagavulin releases have been a particular target, with prices regularly doubling or more on internet auction sites. So this year Diageo has decided that if there was an extra profit margin, it belonged to them and priced these bottles accordingly. Cue outrage on various social media sites. It's hard to blame them though, they are simply charging what (they think) the market will bear—time will tell if there's still a profit for the lucky buyers. U.S. prices are to be announced but expect a retail ticket in the $2,500–$3,000 range for these two jewels in the crown. Quantities will be strictly limited and all bottles are individually numbered just to On the Irish Front The Irish industry continues to power ahead, especially in the U.S., and Irish Distillers, part of the Pernod Ricard group, has expanded its range of Powers pot still whiskeys. U.S. drinkers will shortly experience Powers Signature Release ($45, with the hallmark spicy flavors typical of the range with black pepper, honey, vanilla and berries all evident). At the same time, Powers Gold Label ($30) features a new recipe with a higher strength abv of 43.2% and will be non-chill-filtered, allowing the spicy pot still character of the whiskey to come to the fore. The pack gets a new look too, taking inspiration from the brand's history. See Ian's story on Irish Distillers' expansion on p. 64. —Ed. add to the collectability. If you don't mind stocking a bottle that promotes someone else's bar, you could do worse than try the latest limited release from celebrated boutique bottlers Compass Box. Why, why, why? Well, this is designed to celebrate the 20year anniversary of Delilah's, the celebrated Chicago whisky cavern tavern. There are just 4,800 bottles available in the U.S., so before they come to break down your door, order a bottle and enjoy the distinctive taste of a Scotch whisky that thinks it's a bourbon. And finally, another very tasty drop from Bowmore, the iconic Islay distillery that has plundered its vaults to offer a spectacular 23-year-old 1989 Port Cask Matured single malt. It's highly unusual to find a whisky of this age fully matured in port wood, and the effect is both powerful and complex. Bottled at a beefy 50.8%, it retains Bowmore's signature smoke but with added layers of fruit, spices, earthy truffles and chewy orange caramels. Worldwide there are 12,000 bottles, so hopefully enough to go round to satisfy both collectors and drinkers. Bowmore has been the subject of some whisky "investor" interest in previous years but while this may grow in value if the market continues (and you wouldn't be the first to think "Beanie Babies" on reading that), this is a very fine dram that it would be tragic to relegate to a shelf, however honored. 26  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2013 TP1013_001-33.indd 26 9/23/13 10:34 PM

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