A star is born. Stauning is a fledgling Danish distillery whose whiskies are 4 years old. Much as I support new world whiskies, many of them are works in progress. This is, though, the most exciting release since Glann ar Mor of France hit the scene. It's very peaty, rich, fruity, and full, and it's nearly flawless, with few indicators of its youth. This is hard to find, but make a note to snap up the third edition. 895 Krone/500 ml
Distilled from Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout, alambic pot distilled, aged 29 months in used French oak. Gooey nose, with lots of dark chocolate, toffee, fruit (ripe honeydew, Asian pear, red plum); no hint of the 49.5% ABV heat. Deliciously layered palate: dry malt, juicy fruit, and savory wood spice, sweet malt and chocolate, and a finish that’s sweet, light, and quite refreshing and inviting. Lives up to the Charbay hype!
This limited edition release of Glen Garioch is the first from the Aberdeenshire distillery to have been matured entirely in oloroso sherry casks. Just 1,000 cases of the 14 year old expression are available globally. Old leather, slightly earthy, sultanas, white pepper, and a hint of lemon pith on the nose. The palate is big and bold, with more pepper, plus cinnamon caramel, orange, and abundant sherry. Enduring spice, licorice, and slightly smoky raisins in the finish.
Proof, if it were still needed, that Amrut intends to cement its position as the leading innovator in world whisky. Kadhambam is the sweetest of Amruts, as a result of a complex maturation process that has seen peated Amrut matured in local brandy and rum casks. There's a liqueur-like edge to it as a result, but it's a complex malt, with cherry blossom, peppercorn, and apple peel in the mix. Not the distillery's best, but very, very drinkable.
The Exclusive Malts 8 year old (distilled at Laphroaig) 2005 vintage (Cask #484), 55.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $85
This whisky shows no signs of immaturity considering its age. Indeed, enjoying Laphroaig young and at a higher strength is the best way to appreciate the distillery’s true character. Very medicinal and “closed up” neat, but comes alive with a splash of water. Powerful notes of tar, charcoal, smoked seaweed, and licorice root, mercifully tamed by ripe barley and honeyed malt laced with vanilla. Warm, smoky, charred oak finish. (U.S. only)
Abraham Bowman Port Finished Bourbon 12 year old, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $70
Quite lush—the port influence is clearly obvious and adds a degree of opulence to this bourbon. Notes of ripe cherry dipped in caramel, then light molasses, blend in with more traditional bourbon notes of vanilla and spice. A pleasant diversion from the bourbon norm, and ideal for postprandial consumption. (It begs for a fine cigar, for those inclined.)
The first Diageo Special Releases Oban to be released since 2004 has been matured in rejuvenated American oak and second-fill bodega casks. The outturn is 2,860 bottles. Tinned peaches, ginger, caramel, and newly-sawn wood on the nose, with an accompanying marine note. Syrupy in the mouth, very sweet and spicy, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and baked apple. Contrast is provided by a splash of brine. Spicy in the drying finish, with ginger to the fore, plus more sea salt.
Brenne is from the Cognac region of France and is becoming an American success story, having been launched stateside by Allison Patel, but little known elsewhere. After 6 years in French oak, 2 years in a Cognac barrel, and reduced by the local water to 40%, the result is a delicate, almost floral, eucalyptus and rosewater delight, with honeycomb and sweet spice. Very different from a standard malt, but very good all the same.
This is the thirteenth release in this series and we've reviewed about five of them; they have been very hit and miss, but the general trend has definitely been upward. These are casks selected by Angela D'Orazio, and they show what a diverse distillery Mackmyra has become. This is a dessert and cigar whisky, with melon, banana, and vanilla at one end, and chili spice and earthy, smoky malt at the other. Excellent. £110
It’s a crying shame that this great distillery is so rarely seen. Here, a bourbon cask has reduced the meatiness and amplified the fruity component, but these are fruits with depth and power, allied to dried flowers. The mango-like sweetness is reduced to syrup; there’s light plum jam and some old paper. Sweet on the tongue, with crystallized ginger, apricot, and a finish of spice, and the strange sweetness of licorice root. (The Whisky Exchange only.) £84
Caol Ila in unpeated guise. There’s no age statement, but what you get is a mix of the fresh and the mature: a vibrant attack with fresh Victoria plum, grapes, and a hint of oiliness. Give it time and the sensation is like afternoon tea at your auntie’s, with thickly-buttered scones dripping with honey or pineapple jam. The palate is equally sweet and gentle, and only needs a little drop of water to reveal light spice. A wee beauty.
Lp4 Elements of Islay (distilled at Laphroaig), 54.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $108
A very tarry start, like fence posts which have just been treated with creosote. Add in some smoked fish alongside dried grass, and you have all the requisite elements for a classic Laphroaig. The palate is massively smoky to start, a real peat bomb, but that eruption recedes, allowing barley and sweetness to come through. This is a serious dram which needs water to coat the tongue. Very good. £65/500 ml
The Millennium Casks is a non-chill filtered vatting of 45 Arran casks filled on December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000; 35 bourbon barrels and 10 sherry hogsheads. A spicy, floral nose with sherry, honey, coconut ice, orange, fudge, and ultimately raisin notes. Smooth and luscious on the palate, with apple pie and custard, plus a sprinkling of cinnamon. Long and spicy in the finish, with oranges, a hint of black pepper, licorice, and drying oak. (7,800 bottles). £65
The latest single cask expression of 1991 Glen Scotia from Wemyss Malts has been matured for 22 years in a sherry butt, which yielded 807 bottles. The nose provides sherry and cigar boxes, cherries, sultanas, raisins, orange peel, plum pudding, and finally warm leather. Full bodied, with sherry on the palate, plus brine, dried fruit, bitter coffee, and polished old, dark oak. Medium to long in the fruity finish, with salt, plain chocolate, and wood polish notes. £105
This 38 year old Travel Retail-exclusive expression has been aged in bourbon casks, and not chill filtered. It follows an initial batch of the same vintage, released in 2011. The nose is perfumed, with a resin note and developing vanilla and caramel popcorn. Demerara sugar and oak. Very fruity on the palate, with oranges and lemons, emerging spices, and benign oak. Long in the finish, with fruity oak. The additional maturation has given the fruity elements a greater profundity. (500 bottles)
In 2013, the cavernous warehouses of the Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario gave up a single fifty-barrel batch of 100% malted rye. It had been resting there since 1991. Sweet, with the familiar flavors of rye bread, a juicy, joyful thrum burbles to a silken smooth surface before diving deep again only to rebound with warming spices, white pepper, and a pithy citrus pull. Indulgently creamy, Collingwood 21 defines “smooth.” Rich, flavorful, and oh, so mellow.
Navigator honors Old Pulteney’s seafaring heritage and promotional links with matters marine. The expression carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and has been matured in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks. The nose features vanilla, sherry, American cream soda, ginger, orange peel, and cocoa powder. Complex. Mouth-tingling spices: ginger and nutmeg on the palate, with more oranges, and cocoa. Dries slowly, slightly powdery, with persistent citrus fruit, and a hint of brine. Value Pick.
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Standard Stave Drying Time, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $47
Well-defined flavors and clean on the palate. Wood is the driving influence here, showing plenty of dried spice throughout with a dry, resinous finish. The spice notes are accompanied by a layer of caramel, dried spice (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg), and subtle orchard fruits. The dry oak notes overstay their welcome for balance. Otherwise, it’s a very pleasant whiskey. Price per 375 ml.