The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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Page 24 of 136

SCOTCH REPORT W ith the holiday season firmly in their sights, the Scotch whisky industry has continued the usual frenetic pace of releases aimed especially at gifting. Right at the head of the parade, some very lucky enthusiast will be thrilled to receive one of the 21 sets available worldwide of the Royal Salute Age Collection from Chivas Brothers. At $40,000 for the ten-bottle collection it would be a memorable gift for even the wealthiest of collectors. Comprising bespoke, handcrafted one-off blends aged from 21 to 30 years and created by the experts in the Chivas blending team, these are truly unique. To complement the whiskies, they come in hand-made decanters in stunning dark blue crystal from Dartington, a traditional English glass manufacturer, and are set on a plinth of 8,000-year-old morta wood from ancient trees trapped in peat beneath a riverbed in Croatia. As they say, "The world will never taste these pinnacles of the blender's craft again", so let us mere mortals hope they are drunk and, notwithstanding the exquisite packaging, not simply locked in a display cabinet. The rest of my selections are rather more accessible. At around $300, the mighty Bowmore Devil's Cask III (Beam Suntory) is a very drinkable cask strength 56.7% ABV dram from the famed Islay distillery. It's a clever blend of two types of Sherry casks, marrying dry oloroso and sweet Pedro Ximénez Sherry barrels to give the expression an incredible intensity and richness that will tempt whisky fans with double the complexity and double the flavor. The depth and warmth of this whisky offers so much; it's the perfect end to a rich and indulgent meal (should you be enjoying such a thing this holiday season). Beam Suntory has also brought us the latest release from Ardmore, a distillery that should be better known, but which is rapidly picking up sales in key European markets. Aimed unasham- edly at whisky aficiona- dos, the new expression The Ardmore Port Wood Finish, the fourth whisky in the brand's family, is double cask–matured for 12 years in traditional American white oak bourbon barrels and finished in rich European half Port pipes. The ruby gold whisky is non-chill-filtered, bottled at 46% ABV and has been distilled with the same traditional methods used at the distillery since 1898. At around $80, it repre- sents solid value. I briefly mentioned The Kininvie 25 Years Old Special Release #1 "The First Drops" last issue, but it seems that none of the 1,500 bottles will make it to the U.S. However, around one-third will remain in the U.K., suggesting that this will be the best market in which to track down a bottle (61.4% ABV, expect to pay around $650). Trust me, it will be worth the effort: Malt enthusiasts will be keen to try the very first whisky ever distilled from this little-known Speyside distillery and shrewd collectors are anticipating a significant price jump for sealed bottles on the secondary market. Finally, some- thing highly unusual— English whisky. Yes, whisky is being distilled in England and jolly good it is! The English Whisky Company (they make whisky in England, as you've probably guessed) has been in busi- ness since 2005 and now is able to release its Chapter 10 expression. Thanks to maturation in an old oloroso Sherry cask, it's a rich and heavy whisky, carrying the classic Sherry wood notes of raisins and dried fruit, with traditional English dark fruit cake and Christmas pudding flavours that bring to mind Ye Olde Coaching Inn and blazing log fires. There are very few bottles available, so if it appeals to the hidden Downton Abbey fans among your clientele, then move quickly to contact distributors PVI Global USA in Las Vegas. That's it for 2015. I look forward to joining you again in the New Year with more news from the hills and glens of Bonnie Scotland (and the occasional bulletin from south of the border). by Ian Buxton Wrap Report 24  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2015

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