In this week’s edition of whisky news, Laura Foster delves into some of the most exciting launches from Bar Convent Berlin.
The Kentucky distiller had a number of new products to share on its stand…
Toasted Barrel Bourbon Limited Release
This is the return of a limited release whiskey that was last produced in 2015. Michter’s takes its standard bourbon whiskey – which is aged between five and eight years – and puts it in toasted (rather than charred) virgin oak barrels to extra-age for a matter of months, which showcases the impact that virgin oak has on the liquid. With a silky-smooth mouthfeel, this whiskey still boasts the caramel and butterscotch character of the original bourbon before the virgin oak heat develops as a distinct peppery medley, with green peppercorns at its heart, accompanied by black and white pepper too.
45.7% abv, POA/70cl, Speciality Brands, 020 8838 9367
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Single Barrel 10yo, 2018 edition
This annual single barrel release is the same mashbill as the distillery’s core bourbon, but has undergone further ageing. A bouquet of apples, pears, apricot brandy, vanilla and strawberry lace sweets gives way to a slightly waxy palate, with beeswax, maple syrup, more pears and a zippy oak character that builds towards the finish, which is simultaneously spicy and cooling, with plenty of chilli and menthol.
47.2% abv, POA/70cl, Speciality Brands, 020 8838 9367
A new heritage product, Bomberger’s was the original name of the distillery that was built in 1840 and eventually became Michter’s, before closing down in 1989. It’s a bourbon with a ‘medium amount’ of rye and ‘a lot’ of malted barley in the mash bill, and has been aged in two different types of oak: American white oak, and chickipin, which is an oak that grows in Missouri and imparts plenty of flavour. An interesting sour nose of tangerines, pickled gherkins, black tea and pancetta lead onto a fine-textured palate of Werther’s Originals, marshmallows and the cooling numbness of Szechuan buttons. With 3,600 bottles, you’d better get a wriggle on if you want to get your hands on a bottle of this.
54% abv, POA/70cl, Speciality Brands, 020 8838 9367
12.10.2018 – Laura Foster
Renegade whisky blender Compass Box has expanded its core range for the first time in five years with the launch of The Spaniard.
The malt whisky blend has been aged in a combination of ex-sherry casks, Spanish red wine casks and new French oak.
‘The addition of whiskies matured in Spanish red wine casks as well as those finished in new French oak add depth and complexity, resulting in a character we believe is distinctive,’ said Compass Box founder and whisky-maker John Glaser.
True to its policy of openness, the brand has given further information as to the composition of the first batch of The Spaniard (43% abv, £50/70cl). Bottled in June, 48% of the whiskies have been aged entirely in ex-sherry cask and 25% has been aged in Spanish red wine cask. This is subject to change between batches, although sherry casks or sherry-style wine casks will always be central to the liquid.
On top of this, Compass Box has also announced the return of its limited-edition whisky Flaming Heart (48.9% abv, £120/70cl). First launched in 2006, there have been four small-batch releases in years since, with 2015 being the most recent.
A bold blend of malt whiskies aged in heavy-toasted French oak barrels, with some heavy-peated Islay in the mix, in this edition the company has reintroduced a sherry cask influence that was only previously used in the 2012 edition.
Flaming Heart is also available in magnum for the first time ever, with 800 bottles available at £250.
Cask Liquid Marketing, 07970 515 584
Limited-edition whisky is all the rage these days, and South African drinks company Distell has just announced it’s releasing six from Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, Ledaig and Deanston.
The new whiskies involve a real panoply of different cask finishes:
- Bunnahabhain 2008 Mòine Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured, £75/70cl
- Bunnahabhain Palo Cortado Cask Finish, £275/70cl
- Deanston 2008 Brandy Cask Finish, £60/70cl
- Ledaig 1998 (19yo) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, £130/70cl
- Ledaig 1998 (19yo) PX Cask Finish, £150/70cl
- Tobermory 2005 (12yo) Fino Cask Finish, £110/70cl
‘Kirstie [McCallum], our lead blender, has been working with each distillery to create these unique whiskies,’ said Derek Scott, brand director for Malt Whisky at Distell. ‘Using the flavour profile each brand is known for as the guide to select the finishing casks, we’ve been able to create six limited release whiskies that are not just of interest for their points of difference but are also fantastic drams that remain true to the whisky’s style.’
The company is set to host a malt whisky showcase in London, where guests will be able to taste the new products, on 12 September at TT Liquor. Lead blender Dr Kirstie McCallum and Bunnahabhain distillery manager, Andrew Brown will be on hand to lead a tasting of the drams.
Those interested in attending should email email@example.com to be added to the list.
8.8.18 – Laura Foster
Whyte & Mackay relaunches Fettercairn single malt
Drinks companies continue to find ways to cash in on the global whisky boom. The latest is Whyte & Mackay, which has relaunched Fettercairn, one of its own distilleries, as a single malt brand.
The liquid from the Cairngorms-based distillery has mainly been used in blended whisky, with some going into independent bottlings, until today.
The range includes a 12yo (40% abv, £48/70cl), 28yo (42% abv, £500/70cl), 40yo (48.9% abv, £3,000/70cl) and 50yo (47.9% abv, £10,000/70cl). All started their maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, with the 12yo and 28yo remaining in American oak throughout. The 40yo was finished in a Gonzalez Byass Apostoles sherry cask, while the 50yo was finished in a tawny port pipe.
Fettercairn boasts a unique feature in its still house: a copper cooling ring is fitted to the neck of the stills and water runs down them, increasing condensation inside the equipment, which results in a lighter liquid. The whisky-making team developed the equipment in the 1950s and Fettercairn is the only Scottish whisky distillery to utilise this method.
‘Fettercairn is simply a beautiful distillery with a treasure trove of aged and rare stocks,’ said distillery manager Stewart Walker. ‘I’ve worked here since 1990 and most of the team that started with me then are still on this journey with me today. It’s a pleasure crafting Fettercairn Single Malt together and we are immensely excited to finally share our exceptional whiskies with enthusiasts the world over.’
Whyte & Mackay, 0141 248 5771
3.8.17 – Laura Foster
Highland Park introduces second in its Viking Legend series
Since its rebrand last year, Highland Park has been unashamed in communicating its Viking links – and its latest launch is no exception.
Called Valknut, it is the second whisky in the Viking Legend series, following the launch of Valkyrie in 2017.
It’s a no-age statement whisky with a higher level of phenols compared to Valkyrie that’s been rested in sherry-seasoned American oak casks. The distillery has also added a ‘small amount’ of Orkney-grown Tartan barley, ‘which adds to its smokier edge and lingering, sweet, spicy finish’.
The meaning behind the valknut symbol – a knot of three triangles – isn’t entirely known, but many theories abound. Highland Park has gone with the idea that it honours warriors killed in battle – the bravest of which were marked out with the valknut symbol, ensuring that they were spirited away to Valhalla to join the army of the Norse god Odin in preparing for Ragnarok, the battle for the end of the world.
That’s certainly something for your guests to ponder over their drams…
46.8% abv, £58/70cl, Edrington Beam-Suntory UK, 01786 430500
31.07.18 – Laura Foster