The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

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Page 22 of 124

22  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2017 SCOTCH REPORT A s we approach the holiday and gifting season, the pace of new releases from Scotland quickens. This month is no exception, so I bring you news of whiskies to gladden the heart of any enthusiast. First up, the annual Diageo Special Releases. There are ten in all, includ- ing old favorites such as Port Ellen (surely the warehouses must be close to empty), Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Brora, and a personal favourite, Convalmore, from a long- closed Speyside distillery. But the big surprise is a limited-edition blended malt containing whiskies from all 28 active Diageo distilleries. The Collectivum XXVIII is the tenth bottle to make up the Special Releases collection and the fourth NAS Malt Whisky in this series to date. Clear amber in appearance, the liquid is described as "enjoying real depth" with a palate "all the way from dry and nutty to rich and chocolatey, with zestiness and sweetness." According to Diageo, "limited quantities" of Collectivum will be available—although unfortunately not in the U.S. Hardest to find, though, will be the 52-year- old grain whisky from Port Dundas—a mere 752 bottles have been produced. As ever, the highly-collected Port Ellen (37 years; 51%; 2,988 bottles) is the most expensive, with a U.K. RSP of £2,625 (around $3,500). Don't rush; they're probably all gone already! Moving on to a more affordable option, Diageo is also behind the Johnnie Walker Wine Cask Blend ($29.99). Created by Johnnie Walker Blender Aimée Gibson, it has been designed with bartenders and whisky enthusiasts in mind to form the cornerstone of exceptional cocktails. According to Gibson, who recently received the Rising Star Award at the International Spirits Challenge 2017: "My goal is to make whiskies that can be enjoyed by people with a range of taste preferences, especially by those who might previously have thought that whisky isn't for them." But it's a limited release, so when it's gone, it's gone. The same is true for the 18-year-old Glen Scotia from Campbeltown. Once arguably the whisky capital of the world, the town saw most of its legendary distill- eries closed in the depression of the 1930s, so this is a dram to savour. Glen Scotia is one of only three surviving distilleries and much of the original design has remained the same, with the stillroom, dunnage warehouse, and fermenters all dating back to the 19th century. Full details of U.S. availability of this rarity remain to be confirmed, but expect a SRP of around $110–$120. At that price, I'd grab two. I can report lots of activity from Islay. Ardbeg has released its latest expression, An Oa, which is named for the Oa region of the island and is the first new permanent bottling to emerge from Ardbeg for almost ten years (46%; $59.99). Across the island, Bruichladdich has released supplies of its Octomore 8 Masterclass, a set of four mighty peat monsters matured in a variety of cask types with a SRPs from $164.99– $219.99. Named for Octomore Farm—"a remote, wild place located high on a hill" where a small, farmhouse distillery flourished briefly in the early 19th century—the whiskies are a celebration of the days of fierce independence, when self-sufficiency and the legality of distillation itself was a debatable con- cept. As ever, Bruichladdich insists on doing things differently—these releases may just be the ultimate expression of their commitment to a more progres- sive path. Octomore 08.2 is a global tax-free exclusive; the 08.4 will follow next spring. And, finally, if peat is your thing, look out for the first U.S. releases of the independently-bottled Port Askaig 110° Proof, a cask-strength whisky from Islay bottled at 55% and matured in American oak that offers the perfect balance of smoke and sweet fruit. Available from ImpEx Beverages, it car- ries a SRP of $74.99. Further releases will follow in 2018. Gearing Up for the Holidays NEW RELEASES FOR GIFT-GIVING by Ian Buxton Johnnie Walker Blender Aimée Gibson created their new Wine Cask Blend. PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAGEO

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