The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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Page 24 of 124

24  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2016 SCOTCH REPORT W ith the gifting season upon us, distillery after distillery is releasing rare and expen- sive whiskies to tempt our palate and purses. There's real competition to offer the most outrageously expen- sive and lavish presentation possible. First up is something relatively modest by these standards: a 23-year- old single malt from Longmorn, a Speyside distillery highly regarded by the blending industry. Alongside the non-aged Distiller's Choice and its 16-year-old brother, this is said to complete the Longmorn luxury port- folio for the foreseeable future. At $1,450 it will be a considered choice, but enthusiasts will welcome the 48% ABV strength and the fact that the whisky has been bottled without chill filtration, thus preserving all the mouthfeel and complex flavors. Something even more spectacular comes from the renowned Bowmore distillery on Islay. The Black Bowmore bottlings of the early 1990s are now legendary and reach high prices at auction—all the higher when compared to their initial release at less than £100. That was considered a barrier to whisky pricing back then, and more than one distillery worker balked at the price, even with staff discount. They'll be kicking themselves now: The final cask has just gone on sale, with just 159 bottles available worldwide, at an eye- watering $25,000! Of course, the latest Black Bowmore is now a 50-year-old, which carries a special cachet, and it comes in rather more elaborate packaging than the earlier releases. Whether investors will see the same stellar rate of return is perhaps doubtful, and it will be interesting to see whether any of the hand-blown bottles are actually drunk or simply return year after year to the auction circuit. Start saving now: The 24 bottles reserved for the U.S. should arrive early next year. Speaking of a lifetime of 50 years, Balvenie's Malt Master David Stewart, MBE, is coming to the close of a distinguished 54-year career in the industry, marked by the phased release of the Balvenie DCS Compendium, honoring his contri- bution to the company and wider industry. The latest, Chapter Two, is entitled The Influence of Oak. The five whiskies in The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter Two range in age from 15 years to 43 years and were taken from different cask types, including European oak oloroso Sherry butts, first-fill American oak bourbon barrels, a European oak Port puncheon and a European oak Pedro Ximénez Sherry butt—with each bar- rel imparting its own distinct flavor profile to the final expression. Just 50 of the five bottle sets are available worldwide at a SRP of $27,000, with "limited availability" in the U.S. Three further "Chapters" of the Compendium will be released each year until 2019—a glorious conclusion to any career. Kindly form an orderly queue. Finally, launched "in tribute to the passion and dedication of five generations of Master Blenders," supplies of Chivas Regal Ultis should now have reached the market. The presentation is fittingly elegant and, at a SRP of $200, offers excel- lent value for gifting or personal indulgence. (For more information on Chivas Regal Ultis, see page 93.) The Christmas spirit in a bottle you might say. The Whisky Gift Guide by Ian Buxton

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