10 of the most exciting recent spirits launches in the UK

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

23 October 2020

From Cognac to Norfolk, we've rounded up some of our favourite spirit launches this week just for you

The Last Drop Autumn Collection 2020

The Last Drop Distillers has released three limited, aged spirits: a 1980 Bourbon, a 43yo rum (the company's first), and a vintage Cognac from 1959 to join its 18 existing products. The trio are namely:

  • Release no 19: 1980 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey. 240 bottles worldwide
  • Release no 20: 1976 “Overproof” Jamaica Rum. 183 bottles worldwide
  • Release no 21: 1959 Vintage Grande Champagne Cognac. 21 bottles worldwide

'This is a very special autumn for us: it is an opportunity to showcase a trilogy of superb releases that demonstrate our unique cross category approach,' said Rebecca Jago, managing director of The Last Drop Distillers. 'We are particularly excited to present our first ever rum: this is a spirit we have long hoped to find, but we have been disappointed until now. 

Whiskey 45% abv, RRP £3,500/700ml; Rum, 67.9% abv, RRP £2,600/700ml; Cognac, 40.2% abv, POA/700ml; The Last Drop Distillers, lastdropdistillers.com

Hatozaki blended and pure malt

Marussia Beverages is launching two new artisan Japanese whiskies: Hatozaki blended and Hatozaki pure malt.

The spirits have been made by master distiller & blender Kimio Yonezawa at his family's distillery in Akashi, in south-west Japan, and are expressions of Yonezawa's mature barrel stocks in the warehouse.

Both whiskies are aged in a range of cask sizes and types, and each batch contains no more than 20 casks, is never coloured nor filtered. 

'I wanted to make a whisky that honoured Scotland’s finest but also embodied our own unique Japanese influence and flavours,' said Yonezawa, who has been distilling whiskies for 30 years. 'It had to reflect the mild, maritime climate of my home town of Akashi which I considered an excellent factor in aging whisky, the design of our pot-stills and the great team we have here at the Kaikyo Distillery where my family has been distilling since 1917.'

Hatozaki pure malt (46% abv) is unpeated and has been aged in Bourbon, Sherry and mizunara (Japanese oak) casks for a minimum of five to six years. On the palate, notes of sweet, malted cereals and dried fruit are followed with a touch of smoke and honey.

Hatozaki blended (40% abv) is a blend of whiskies with a minimum malt whisky content of 40% and created through a two-stage blending process and aged in casks for several years. On the palate, floral notes combine with the depth of the malted barley.

Hatozaki pure malt, RRP £46/700ml; Hatozaki blended, RRP £34/700ml, The Whisky Exchange, the whiskyexchange.com

Gyre & Gimble

Three new gins from Norwich have landed, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Callooh Callay (45% abv) is infused with seawater from the North Sea, just off the Norfolk coast, alongside foraged samphire and lavender; Queen of Hearts (40% abv) is a cherry gin which also incorporates custard apples in the early stages of production; and Nohow (42.5% abv) is a twist on a classic London dry gin, with a double dose of juniper.

More releases are expected later in the year. Gyre & Gimble is headed by Craig Allison and Rory Smith, who both have solid brewing and distilling experience. The gins are created by head distiller, Smith, and served in the distillery's upstairs bar of the same name.

RRP £35/700ml, Gyre & Gimble, gyreandgimble.co.uk

Rosebank 30 Year Old

This new release from Rosebank Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the first of a series of annual, limited-edition releases under Ian Macleod Distillers.

The 30yo, 1990 vintage, will be marked Release One and only 4,350 bottles are available worldwide. Those who get their hands on the first 200 bottles can receive a sample of Release Two, set to be available in 2021.

'The first global release of Rosebank 30 Year Old is a truly iconic moment for the distillery,' commented Robbie Hughes, group distillation manager for Ian Macleod Distillers. 'It has matured in 62% refill sherry butts and 38% refill bourbon hogsheads for decades... with a chance to “bank” exclusive access to next year’s release, we’re not only inviting [customers] to become part of Rosebank’s legacy, but to become part of Rosebank’s family.'

On the nose, Rosebank 30yo is said to be 'creamy with caramel wafer, gooseberry, white grape, almonds, vanilla, honey, lemon, and nutmeg'. On the palate it is 'delicate and crisp, wonderfully balanced, light syrup, chamomile, pear, and delicate tropical fruitiness with pleasing oak spice' with a 'soft but long' finish with 'candied violets, orange, and faint mint'.

The original Rosebank Distillery closed in 1993, but works started in 2019 to build a one in Falkirk.

48.6% abv, RRP £1,650/700ml, Rosebank, rosebank.com

Salcombe 'Phantom' Gin

Château Climens, owner Bérénice Lurton, and co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Company, Angus Lugsdin, have joined forces to create Phantom, a limited-edition cask-finished gin which is the sixth of its Voyager Series.

Sixteen botanicals were chosen, including seven from the bio-dynamic estate of Château Climens including marigold flowers, bay leaf, savory, cypress, fennel, nettles and rose petals, all of which grow in and around the vines and contribute to the estate’s terroir. These were then balanced by Macedonian juniper, English coriander seed, orange peel and orris root, together with lavender, orange blossom and apricots to accentuate the trademark aromas and flavour profile of Château Climens wines.

Phantom was then distilled using Dartmoor water and placed in six casks for eight months, the casks selected by Lugsdin and Château Climens head winemaker, Frédéric Nivelle: five had been used to age Château Climens 2016 vintage and one Château Climens 2015 vintage.

On the nose, Phantom is said to show 'honeyed peaches, rose petals, cypress, lavender and orange blossom', while on the palate 'it is rich and poised with apricots, jasmine, toasted oak, spices and caramelised orange peel. There is a fresh green savoury hint from the nettle and fennel botanicals making it light but enhancing the depth of flavour. The finish is acacia honey and cantaloupe melon, balanced with the minerality of fresh orange peel pith.'

46% abv, RRP £75/500ml, Salcombe Gin, salcombegin.com

Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2010

The latest release in The House of Hine's Bonneuil single-estate Cognac series is its 2010 expression.

In 2010 the Ugni Blanc grapes were unaffected by the heavy rains that fell in early June and enjoyed a sunny summer and September. The month of August was cool and as a result, the full aromas and acidity of the grapes were preserved. 

Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2010 has been classified as 'one of the very best vintages of the last 10 years as it shows a full concentration and delicacy after being left to mature for almost a decade'. The liquid is mandarin-forward, hence the orange colour of its packaging.

42% abv, RRP £90/700ml, Hine, hine.com

Singleton 38yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This exciting launch from The Singleton of Glen Ord distillery, has undergone a whopping 26-year secondary maturation, the longest in the brand's history.

Back in 1994, master of malts Maureen Robinson discovered a 12yo whisky that she and her team decided to rehouse in a number of experimental casks of ex-Bourbon, Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso and brand new American oak casks, for 26 years.

The result? A whisky showing 'aromas and flavours of baked apples drizzled with caramel and dusted with autumnal spices'.

The Singleton 38-Year-Old was crafted during an era that was very exciting at The Singleton...' explained Robinson. 'Selecting new American oak casks was very new for us at that time at the distillery, and we decided on a lengthy secondary maturation to continue to unlock the decadent layers of flavour in this single malt. I remember tasting cask samples just three years into the secondary maturation and I was struck how even at such an early stage, we could identify the richness of flavour the new casks had presented.’

49% abv, RRP £2,100/700ml, Diageo. diageo.com

Compass Box Peat Monster Arcana

To celebrate its 20th birthday, Compass Box has launched Peat Monster Arcana, an ode to the mysteries of oak and smoke. 

A cask-strength version of The Peat Monster, this release is further matured in three French oak casks for over two years, before being blended with malt whiskies from Talisker, Miltonduff and Ardberg Distilleries.

'We have been experimenting with French oak since the early days of our company,' said Compass Box founder and whiskymaker John Glaser. 'Peat Monster Arcana is the first Compass Box to feature smoky whiskies matured in French oak. We’re delighted to be able to build on this experiment in our 20th anniversary year and we hope dedicated fans of The Peat Monster discover a new side to this charismatic whisky.'

On the nose, 'chocolate, cinnamon, and boat tar' while on the palate, it is 'fruity and compellingly waxy. A dry smoky presence steadily builds'.

46% abv, RRP £75/700ml, Compass Box, compassboxwhisky.com

Wildjac gin, vodka and rum

Wildjac is a new, eco-friendly distillery launched during lockdown by husband and wife, Chris and Aster Sadler, in Worcestershire.

'With many years’ experience of the drinks industry and 150 years of family brewing and distilling history, (Sadler’s Brewing Co was run by the pair up until its sale to Halewood International last year) it felt like a natural progression into spirits,' Chris explained.  

The distillery has launched with a range of three spirits: Natural Dry Gin, Honey Spiced Rum and Fresh Citrus Vodka, while a non-alcoholic botanical spirit is also in the pipeline.  

Each element of the products is recycled or recyclable and each bottle comes with a wildflower seed stick pack for drinkers to plant at home.

37.5% abv, RRP £35/700ml, Wildjac, wildjac.co.uk

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

The Shed Distillery has released is Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey in the UK with Speciality Brands.

This liquid is an Irish single pot still whiskey, slow-distilled by hand at The Shed Distillery, with head distiller Brian Taft tasting and hand-selecting every single cask.

'Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is a well-balanced whiskey, which dances effortlessly between sweet and spice, possessing a full, well-rounded creamy mouthfeel that lingers lightly on the tongue,' said Taft of the expression.

'Provenance is really important to us and the fact that Drumshanbo is 100% hand-distilled and aged at The Shed Distillery is setting it apart from many other brands coming out of Ireland that simply don’t have this level of control or traceability,' said Chris Seale, managing director of Speciality Brands.

43% abv, RRP £50/700ml, Speciality Brands, specialitybrands.com

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