The complete package: uncut, unfiltered, full-flavored, richly textured (almost chewy), and very complex. Notes of toffee-coated nuts, vanilla fudge, polished leather, cedar-tinged tobacco, barrel char, cocoa powder, and a hint of fig, wrapped up with a firm oak grip on the finish. Worth every penny of the premium price being charged for this commemorative release. Editor's Choice.
Would you have gambled The Last Drop 1960 liquid in new sherry wood for four more years? The indulgent nose proffers maple syrup, buckwheat honey, roasted spices, blue grapes, pomegranate, raspberry compote, cilantro, pandan leaf, and beefsteak juices soaking into mushroom gills. The complex, lustrous mouthfeel is replete with a sheen of rich maltiness, molasses lashed by sherry before a dry, resinous finish. Water brings an oily nuttiness, then further drops produce a silky, clingy texture. Glorious. Miraculous. Victorious. (388 bottles only)
Compass Box The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Special Cask Strength Bottling, 54.7%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $120
As you’d expect, solid peat is the first thing out of the glass, but this isn’t just a peat beast. Underneath are honey, dried fruit, and malt. The palate is all about balance, with honeyed malt, raisin, and oak spice all complementing smoky peat. A lush mouthfeel makes you forget it’s cask strength. A pure love note in a glass from Compass Box to Park Avenue Liquor. (Park Avenue Liquor only)
The pinnacle of the current Johnnie Walker range, this is a rare, inimitable blend of just nine whiskies. It exudes the aromas of ripe bananitos, whole mango, satsuma, vanilla seeds, barley awns, butter biscuits, and crystallized pineapple. The supple grain sustains indulgent, characterful malts creating a weighty, smooth mouthfeel. I’m smitten by the vanilla creaminess, burgeoning deep fruit layers, how it swells with a satisfying snuffbox smokiness. A beautifully styled blend delivering a captivating, sensuous experience. (330 bottles only)
Just 160 bottles of 1972 Brora are available through UK World of Whiskies and World Duty Free Group stores. The oldest bottling of Brora to date was distilled using heavily-peated malt. A big hit of oily peat on the early nose, with malt, dried fruit, and black pepper. Mildly medicinal. The palate yields bonfire ash, licorice, honey, more pepper, and well-integrated oak. The finish is long, with peat smoke, plain chocolate, and tannins lingering in harmony. Complex and rewarding. £7,000
Deep amber in color with the green glints of first-fill sherry, this has bosky notes and meat—mutton and venison—plus graphite, bitter chocolate, and wet rock before layers of dried stone fruits and date. This is the most savory and Bovril-like of the new range. The palate is feral and earthy; think mushroom with game pie, and rowan berries. Deep, but with more dimensions than the previous 16 year old which, in comparison, seems like a blunt instrument. £180/500 ml
Evan Williams Single Barrel (Barrel No. 1) 2004, 43.3%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $27
Polished and nicely balanced, with caramel as the main note, followed by candied fruit, soft vanilla, sweet corn, and nougat. Subtle spice (ginger, cinnamon) and gentle oak on the finish round out the sweet notes. Easygoing demeanor and very drinkable. Great value too! A very pleasing, versatile bourbon. Value Pick.
Bottled for Friends of the Classic Malts (which means most of you), this is Cragganmore in early autumnal guise. Dry leaves underfoot, ripe black fruits on the bushes, waxed jacket, chestnut, and a whiff of cedary smoke, opening into dried peach. The palate is thickly textured, with those fruits, dark chocolate, and pomegranate molasses. The immensely long finish gives you light pepper, smoke, and blackberry jam. Cragganmore at its very best, and at a great price. £80
Jim Beveridge delivered these aromas of toffee apple, peach, and rich berry fruits by working with European oak casks. The smoke is timid, with hints of background salinity. The finely structured mouthfeel is where this triple malt whisky truly shines: the polished smoothness is exceptional. The flavor journey begins with honey, citrus, and swirling melted chocolate, building to a fire of squeezed orange oils, dry fruits, and pecan nuttiness before concluding with rich espresso, dark caramels, and plain chocolate. Immaculate.
Compass Box takes a fresh approach to flavored whisky by infusing Navalino oranges and spices into a blend of Highland single malt and single grain whisky. Bright and slightly bitter orange peel combines with vanilla, honey, and malt. The grain whisky gives nice support and structure along with black pepper, cinnamon, and clove spice. Great balance between the whisky and flavoring in a flavored whisky that is much more dry than sweet. Finally, a flavored whisky to get really excited about.
A rich luxurious whisky finished in cognac casks, as was the crisper, brighter Cask No. 16 that it replaces. This is the cedary, leathery, tobacco-ish sipping whisky of the private club. Simple toffee and the cherry essence of Beaujolais nouveau evolve into ripe red apples and heavy, dusky, dark fruit with candied citrus peel, bitter almond skins, and hints of oak. Sizzling gingery spice and white pepper linger over textured sandalwood. Defined by its heavy, creamy body.
Roll out the red carpet, because Green Spot is coming to town. Baked apple, spiced sultanas, lush green lawns, and ripe green fruits greet the nose. It’s oily, smothering, and luxuriantly juicy, with a depth of character that tips over the back of the tongue like nectar. That mélange of light vanilla, butterscotch, and creamy rice pudding sprinkled with nutmeg is heavenly. If this doesn’t persuade you to fall in love with Irish pot still whiskey, then nothing will.
Complex and robust, with the biggest body of the group here. Very spicy (brisk clove, evergreen, warming cinnamon), but a solid sweet underbelly of toffee, caramel, and vanilla balances it. Its dry spicy finish makes a bold statement, without crossing the line. Very nice! Price is per 375 ml.
Smooth, with gently layered sweet notes; nicely balanced. The least amount of oak and just a peppering of cinnamon and mint influence compared to the other four releases. It’s the most versatile of the four too.Not as complex as the “Rye 125”, but it makes up for this with its inviting drinkability and balance. Price is per 375 ml.
Beautifully boxed for gift giving, a quality that carries over into the whiskey itself. Fresh-cut red cedar unfolds into hard candy, green apples, nail polish, rye bread, and ripe black cherries on the nose. Vague cedar on the palate becomes fruity and floral, then hot and spicy. Distant licorice root is restrained by German rye bread. Earthy but not dusty, with a sweet, hot, effervescent spiciness. Fades in a long, tingling finish. Complex and expressive: rich yet ethereal.
Companta—Gaelic for friendship—is the fifth of Glenmorangie’s Private Edition releases. It comprises a blend of whiskies finished in Clos de Tart Grand Cru wine casks and in fortified wine casks from Côtes du Rhône. Big fruity, leathery notes on the nose. Spicy, with sultanas, almonds, and icing sugar. The palate is rich and complex, with cocoa powder, nutmeg, more leather, and redcurrants. Long and fruity in the finish, with vibrant spices. Red berries predominate.
The introductory expression of the range shows a further example of the widening of the Mortlach style. Stewed and dried fruits mingle with light earth notes, wet Labrador, supple shoe leather, and varnish. A drop of water is all that’s needed to add a savory element and even some funky fruitiness reminiscent of cooking agave. The palate is big and chocolaty with some meat underneath. Hefty but elegant. The distillery character is not only intact, but enhanced. £55/500 ml
An exciting blend of straight rye whiskeys finished in French oak and port barrels. Beautifully spiced (warming cinnamon, crisp mint), tamed by caramel and vanilla fudge. Red and black raspberry, plum, dried citrus, and wood shavings add complexity. Warming finish. Nicely balanced and very distinctive. (Distillery onlyuntil October 1st, then nationally)