The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2017

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2017 SCOTCH REPORT Hail the Vikings! L ook out––the Vikings are coming! The 10th-century Norsemen are back, and they're bringing gifts of Highland Park single-malt whisky. The brand—one of my favorites—has recently repackaged its range to reflect the Viking heritage of its Orkney home and launched new expressions in its honor. With Highland Park's signature 12 Year typically retailing at $54–$60, the company recognised an opportunity to offer what Brand Director Jason Craig terms "an accessible single-malt" for less than $40. The result is Magnus, a slightly sweeter version, aged in American oak casks to provide a distinctly new take on Highland Park's gentle smoke. The new style, which doesn't carry an age statement, rolls out through August from Edrington USA. September will see Highland Park Full Volume, a 47% ABV offering, also aged primarily in American oak, retailing at $90-plus. Through the fall, key U.S. cities will see the arrival of a Highland Park Viking longship to host events, tastings and brand training. The classic 12 Year and 18 Year remain a core part of the brand lineup, which is further graced by the mighty Valkyrie ($75), in which the sweeter Orkney peat has been dialled up by the distillers to offer a smokier dram. In Scotland's Speyside, the Glen Moray distill- ery in Elgin is gearing up for the celebration of its 125th anniversary. To mark the event, they have launched Glen Moray Mastery. Just 1,000 bottles will be available worldwide, with a SRP of $1,000; fittingly, they are presented in indi- vidually numbered decanters housed in leather boxes. The whisky is non-chill- filtered and has been bottled at a robust 52.3% ABV. According to Master Distiller Graham Coull, the celebratory dram includes some of the distillery's oldest whisky, beginning with casks from 1978. "That represents whisky made by Robert Brown, the third Master Distiller, who was at the helm of Glen Moray from 1959 until 1987," claims Coull, "as well as casks filled in the '80s and '90s by my predecessor, Ed Dodson." Finally, exciting news from Islay, where Bunnahabhain has announced a $14 million refurbishment program. Road access will be improved and a new yacht mooring installed, along with upgrades to the distillery, warehouses and visitors center. Redundant workers' cottages are to be converted into luxury guest accommo- dations, and mobile beach huts will be available for day visitors. As Derek Scott, General Manager of malts at owner Distell, admits, "Bunnahabhain has been under-invested as a site. We're the scruffy site; it's not an unfair statement. It's not the easiest journey to make to get to us on Islay. So, if you've made it all the way to the distillery and spend some time with us, we'll make it easy for you." And, if you can't get there, look out for the distillery's latest and oldest-ever release. But you will need to be quick, as just 72 bottles of Bunnahabhain 46-year-old Eich Bhana Lì (Gaelic for "The great waves of the God Lìr") will be available for the U.S., via Terlato Artisan Spirits of Chicago, at a SRP of $7,000. NEW WHISKIES PAY TRIBUTE TO NORSE LEGEND by Ian Buxton

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