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Tastings round-up, January 2011

Quite a few whiskies have passed across Gavin Smith's desk in recent weeks but have just missed out on our regular 'recent releases' slot. This is a catch-up on some of the more interesting examples.
Penderyn, Single Malt Welsh Whisky – Peated (Wales)
This variant of the Welsh single malt has not been made using peated malt, as might be supposed, but was matured initially in ex-Buffalo Trace Bourbon casks before being finished in second-fill casks from the Scotch whisky industry that had previously held heavily-peated spirit. Quite refined, sweet smokiness on the nose. Vanilla and apple notes develop and the smoke fades. As with the Sherrywood, obviously relatively young and a little assertive, with wood smoke, ginger and nuts. Smokiness lingers, along with a mildly citric note. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Penderyn, Single Malt Welsh Whisky – Sherrywood (Wales)
Following on from its initial release of spirit matured in ex-Madeira cask, the Welsh distillery of Penderyn proceeded to offer a Sherry cask-finished expression and a variant made with peated malt. The Sherry wood version was initially matured in Buffalo Trace ex-Bourbon casks before spending time in casks that had formerly held Oloroso Sherry. The result is a nose of sweet Sherry, almonds and peanuts. Caramel and ginger emerge, along with notes of vanilla. Clearly quite youthful on the palate, somewhat sharp-edged, fruity, with developing nuttiness and more caramel, both of which last through the lengthy and slightly metallic finish. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Cutty Sark, Blended Malt Whisky (Scotland)
Cutty Sark is one of the top 10 best-selling blended whiskies in the world, and was created in 1923 by London wine and spirits merchants Berry Bros & Rudd. It was formulated to be light in colour and body, by contrast with many of the blends on the market at the time. At its heart is the Speyside malt of Glenrothes. Malt, toffee and cream on the fragrant nose, with new-mown hay, vanilla and gentle oak notes. Smooth on the palate, very drinkable, with barley, toffee and fruit, plus a carry-over of vanilla and oak from the nose. The finish is medium in length. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £14.95, Berry Bros & Rudd, widely available.
Cutty Sark, Black Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland)
Cutty Black takes the original Cutty Sark premise of a lighter coloured and bodied whisky and cranks it up a notch, with the addition of a small percentage of a number of peated Islay single malts. The result is darker in colour, with fresh fruits and soft toffee, together with developing notes of treacle, liquorice and peat smoke on the nose. Fuller-bodied and a little smokier than the ‘standard’ Cutty Sark, but with the same characteristic smoothness in the mouth. A hint of Sherry, stewed fruit, sweet malt and spicy liquorice, with a relatively lengthy, nutty finish. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £18.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Balvenie, 21-year-old PortWood (Scotland)
This 21-year-old expression of Balvenie from the ‘sister’ distillery to Glenfiddich has been finished for a period in 30-year-old port pipes. The nose is soft, warming and creamy, with ripe fruits, vanilla and a smoky, musky red wine note. Full-bodied and rich on the silky palate; subtly spiced, drying steadily to nutty oak, with fruity wine notes to the last. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £75.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Balvenie, 12-year-old DoubleWood (Scotland)
Initially filled into in ex-Bourbon casks, DoubleWood is then transferred into former Sherry casks for the final two years or so of maturation. Nuts and spicy malt on the nose, with banana, vanilla and Sherry. Full-bodied, with soft fruit, vanilla, Sherry, cinnamon and a hint of peat on the palate. Dry and spicy in a luxurious, lengthy finish. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £30.00, widely available.
Ben Nevis, 10-year-old (Scotland)
Along with Oban, Ben Nevis is the last of the ‘West Highland’ single malts, and this entry level expression from the Fort William distillery has been available since 1996. The nose is initially quite green, with developing nutty, orange notes. Full-bodied, with coffee, brittle toffee and peat present on the slightly oily palate, along with chewy oak, which persists to the finish, together with more coffee and a hint of dark chocolate. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £27.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte PC8 (Scotland)
Produced by the Islay distillery of Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte has been peated to 40ppm, and PC8 is the fourth and final release of spirit distilled in 2001. A big hit of sweet peat and malt on the nose. Liquorice and a hint of rubber when water is added. Quite dry on the slightly peppery palate; sweeter and fruiter when diluted. Lingering ash notes in the lengthy, plain chocolate finish. 60.5% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Tobermory, 10-year-old (Scotland)
Tobermory and its heavily-peated Isle of Mull stable mate, Ledaig, have recently been re-packaged and offered at 46.3%abv in non-chill-filtered format. Fresh and nutty on the nose, with citrus fruit and brittle toffee. A whiff of peat. Medium-bodied, nicely textured, quite dry on the palate with delicate peat, malt and nuts. The finish is medium to long, with a hint of mint and a slight citric tang. 46.3% ABV, 70cl, £27.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Ledaig, 10-year-old (Scotland)
Ledaig is peated to between 30 and 40ppm and now accounts for around half of Tobermory distillery’s annual output. The nose is profoundly peaty, sweet and full, with notes of butter and smoked fish. Medicinal enough to suggest an Islay. Bold, yet sweet on the rounded palate, with iodine, soft peat and heather. Developing spices. The finish is medium to long, with pepper, ginger, liquorice and peat. 46.3% ABV, 70cl, £27.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenturret, 10-year-old (Scotland)
This 10-year-old expression from the Perthshire distillery of Glenturret has replaced the previous 12-year-old variant. Glenturret is at the heart of The Famous Grouse blend, and the distillery was re-branded as ‘The Famous Grouse Experience’ in 2002. Nutty and slightly oily on the nose, with barley and citrus fruits. Sweet and honeyed on the full, fruity palate, with a balancing note of oak. Medium length in the sweet finish. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £26.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glen Moray, 12-year-old (Scotland)
Glen Moray distillery is located in the Speyside ‘capital’ of Elgin and has been in the ownership of French company La Martiniquaise since 2008. Mellow on the nose, with toffee, vanilla, honey, pear drops and some oak. Smooth in the mouth, with spicy malt, vanilla and summer fruits. The finish is medium in length, with nuts, spicy fruit and a suggestion of liquorice sticks. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £22.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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