The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 24 of 136

SCOTCH REPORT I promised you some Christmas crackers last time, so here we go! Prize for the most unusually named whisky goes to Compass Box for their This Is Not a Luxury Whisky bottling. At $225 a bottle (53.1% ABV; through Compass Box USA), you might blink but, as they explain, "This is about the whisky in the bottle and the enjoyment and pleasure this whisky will bring when shared with others." I certainly believe that this is what whisky should be all about. The fact that it's very fine just helps: open and share. They've been busy at The Dalmore releasing, against the trend for non-aged whiskies, limited quantities of their very desirable 21 Year Old and 30 Year Old expressions. There are just 888 bottles of the older style available internationally (it's priced to match at £1,500; U.S. pricing and availability to be announced), while its younger cousin is both more accessible (8,000 bottles) and affordable through Shaw Ross International, with a SRP of $549.99. If you like a rich, sherry-influenced whisky you may just have found it. Dalmore's reputation has grown in recent years—whiskies like these are the reason why. I've written elsewhere in this issue about the new Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask finish from The Glenlivet—it's not one to miss—and also the rare releases from Kininvie. Their latest is a very special cask-strength, single-cask whisky laid down to mature on the Kininvie distillery's very first day in July 1990 which they're calling their Special Release #1 "The First Drops." If you can find some, it's a one-off opportunity to taste a rare and treasured piece of Kininvie history. The term Special Releases of course calls to mind the annual frenzy surrounding Diageo's own collection of rare and unusual single malt and grain whiskies from a selection of distilleries, many of which have been closed and will never work again. Their availability is, as ever, highly limited and prices are high—not that that seems to deter eager collectors and investors. There are a total of nine whiskies released this year. The standout drams for me were The Cally, a 40-year-old grain whisky from Edinburgh's long-lost Caledonian Distillery (53.3% ABV; $1,200; 5,097 bottles) and a stunning Clynelish SelectReserve bottling (56.1% ABV; $860; 3,000 bottles) to set alongside the Brora 37 Year Old (50.4% ABV; $2,000; 3,000 bottles) that sat up and clamoured to be drunk. Islay enthusiasts will of course have their heart set on acquiring one, or possibly more, of the 15th release from the iconic Port Ellen distillery (53.9%; 3,000 bottles), but should prepare themselves for the $3,700 price tag. Glenfiddich is celebrat- ing its American links with the Glenfiddich 14 Year Old Bourbon Reserve, a U.S.-only exclusive that's something of a bargain at under $50. Described as "a bourbon heart with the soul of single malt," it's a complex interaction of woody spices com- bined with ripe summer fruit. Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman finishes the whisky in deep-charred new American oak barrels supplied by the Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky to deliver what he describes as "beautifully intense flavor with notes of fresh oak and velvety caramel—the perfect marriage of bourbon sweetness and Scotch complexity." It sounds like the ideal finish to a Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration. Sláinte! Stocking Stuffers by Ian Buxton 24  /  the tasting panel  /  November 2015 A GLORIOUS SELECTION OF WHISKIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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