The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2016

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Page 26 of 116

SCOTCH REPORT by Ian Buxton 26  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2016 I 've had the very great privilege in the last few months of visiting some distilleries and tasting some whiskies completely new to me. On page 70 in this issue, you can read my account of a visit to meet Jack and Stephen Teeling at their new distillery in Dublin, the first to be built in that fine city in 125 years and a timely revival of an impor- tant distilling tradition. And, as a writer, it gives me considerable pleasure to mention another Irish whis- key—the splendidly-named Writer's Tears, available through Palm Bay International in NY, PA, MN, DC and MA, at the suggested retail price of $40. Some while ago I picked this 100% Irish barley vatting of single malt and single pot still whiskey (40% ABV) as a winner and I'm delighted to see it reach new markets on the back of the renewed interest in Irish whiskeys. A highlight of the start of the year was sitting down with Dr. Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling (and many other things) at Glenmorangie, to discuss and taste his most recent creation, the seventh in the distillery's Private Edition series. It's not unusual when launching premium whiskies that the distiller will match them with luxury chocolates or a selection of carefully selected canapés from a celebrity chef. So imagine my surprise to be handed a paper bag of cheap confectionery on arrival; and these were really cheap sugar sweet- ies, the cause of much dental grief among Scottish children! Bill then explained that in selecting the casks for Glenmorangie Milsean (it means "sweet things" in Gaelic) he was trying to evoke the old- fashioned sweet shop of his youth "with its sweet and spicy bouquet [and] hints of sugarcane, ripe fruits and fudge." Extra-maturing Glenmorangie in heavily toasted Portuguese red wine casks gave the flavors he was looking for, and the result is something to surprise and delight Glenmorangie enthu- siasts. Limited worldwide to just 6,000 bottles, it's not to be missed (46% ABV and around $100 typical retail, available through Moët Hennessy USA). Meanwhile, over on Islay, the iconoclasts at Bruichladdich have released their mighty Octomore 07.4, which has been matured for just seven years in virgin oak casks. Bowling in at a fearsome 61.2% ABV, it's a real peat-soaked monster. It's the Rumble in the Jungle all over again: "big" George Foreman— the man with the biggest punch in boxing—against the grace and intelligence of Muhammed Ali. As the distill- ery's PR Manager remarked to me in an unguarded moment, it will likely "blow your head off." The spirit starts with 167ppm of phenols (not to be overly technical, but take it from me that's a lot), but the sweet, honeyed vanilla of new Allier oak casks has softened the dragon's fire and, after the initial impact, it's surpris- ingly soft and alluring. And I've checked: my head is still attached! (Rémy Cointreau USA; around $235.) Quite soon we'll have two more producers on Islay, as the French Glann ar Mor com- pany have confirmed construction will start shortly on their farmhouse distillery near Bowmore and independent bottlers Hunter Laing have announced a $11.5 million project to build between Caol Ila and Bruichladdich. But they have some while to go to catch up with their neighbors. Staying on Islay, this is going to be a huge year for Lagavulin as this iconic distillery celebrates its 200th anniversary of (legal) distilling. Plans will be unveiled soon for a memorable year of com- memoration and I'll report on that next issue along with more news from Ireland as I take in developments at Tullamore D.E.W. and the just-opened Waterford Distillery. Sweet Tears and Big Punches

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