The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2015 SCOTCH REPORT I mentioned last issue a new Green Spot pot still expression from across the Irish Sea, with links to a very special French wine. In fact, so much of my news this month comes from Ireland that we may have to rename this column! First, Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, a new style from Irish Distillers that combines two stories of Irish endeavour and enterprise as they continue their renaissance of this once moribund category. The spirit is initially matured in traditional Sherry and bourbon casks, but subsequently finished for between 12 and 24 months in French oak wine casks from this noted Bordeaux winery. But the Irish link? Turns out that Irishman Thomas Barton founded the house there in 1725. It's a charming tale, but the quality of the casks is what matters. Thankfully I can report it's a happy union: The nose is full of fruits and spices, while strong and complex oak, fruit and spice notes balance well on the palate. At 46% ABV, it has a little more body than the standard bottling and, at $65, is considerably cheaper than a bottle of the wine itself (it lasts longer, too). U.S. interest in the Irish whiskey category has just grown with the announcement of Brown-Forman's purchase of the Slane Castle Irish Whiskey Ltd. company and brand. Camus Wine & Spirits were to have driven this devel- opment, but apparently were unable to meet their commitment. Brown-Forman will invest up to $50 million in a new distillery to supply whiskies previously sourced from Cooley. That business, of course, was acquired by Beam Inc. (now Beam Suntory) in late 2011 for $95 million. That price looked full at the time, but now seems a bargain; such is the growth of interest in Irish whiskey. Some pundits have the category growing 300% from around 4% to 12% of all global whisky over the next 15 years. Certainly the new capacity and investment is going in; it remains to be seen if the pace can be maintained and if the Scotch and bourbon industries stand back and watch, or do more to protect their turf. If you have $100 burning a hole in your pocket, two newly released single malts from Islay may be of interest. Both will leave a tidy 1¢ in change, but the similarity stops there. Ardbeg Perpetuum, said to be "inspired by the many styles, ideas and quirks of fate which have influenced Ardbeg over time," was a limited-edition release to commemorate the distillery's 200-year history. Supplies were limited and keenly sought after by collectors. Not having tasted it, I can't comment further other than to suggest that if you see a bottle, you should grab it fast. Regardless of taste, it seems anything from this cult distillery is a sound financial investment, provided you never crack the bottle! By contrast, across the island, Kilchoman remains Islay's newest and smallest distillery, at least until the planned Gartbreck farmhouse craft distillery opens. Impex Beverages have the latest third edition of Kilchoman's Loch Gorm expression, a full- bodied 46% Sherry cask malt made with 100% Islay-grown barley, which is malted right at the distillery. Fans actually drink this whisky, and a tasty drop it proves to be. Finally, there's just room to say "happy birthday" to Spencerfield Spirits, who send their Sheep Dip Whisky and Edinburgh Gin to U.S. markets. A lively and entrepreneurial business, Spencerfield is ten years old this month and will celebrate by opening a new distillery to produce their gin, such has been the growth in sales. Congratulations! Ties Within and Beyond the Isles by Ian Buxton

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