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Recent releases, October 2007

Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare 33-year-old Blend (Scotland)
Having previously offered a Rare Auld 35-year-old Blend and a 38-year-old Premium Blend, Duncan Taylor supremo Euan Shand has now created this 33-year-old ‘Rarest of the Rare’ blend. The Huntly-based independent bottler and retailer has developed a most welcome policy of listing the component whiskies in its blends on the bottle label, and in this instance there are certainly some fascinating rarities to boast about. ‘Rarest of the Rare’ contains whiskies from the long lost distilleries of Kinclaith, Ladyburn, Glen Mhor, Glen Albyn, Glen Craig and Carsebridge. The proof, of course, is in how well these endangered species come together when combined in a limited offering of just 750 bottles. The nose is initially quite reticent and delicate, but as the whisky warms up, fruity, buttery and vanilla notes emerge, with ground coffee and a hint of oak. The palate is silky-smooth, with a nice balance of malt, succulent fruits and spices, and the finish dries slowly to cocoa and gentle oak. The combination works very well! 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £89.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Isle of Arran, Tokaji Cask Finish (Scotland)
Isle of Arran Distillers has released a number of ‘finishes’ in recent years, and the latest, available from last month, has been matured for eight years in ex-Bourbon casks before being ‘finished’ for a period of seven months in a selection of Tokaji Aszú wine casks. Sometimes known as the ‘Wine of Kings, King of Wines,’ this rich, sweet Tokaji-Aszú wine was previously matured for three years in these casks, which are made from the finest Hungarian oak (Quercus Petraea & Quercus Robur). The result is a more profound Arran, which offers a big, rich, spicy nose, merging with the more usual citric and toffee characteristics of the spirit. Spices and warm fruits are evident on the palate, in addition to the usual Arran hazelnut and vanilla fudge notes. The finish is longer than normal, notably fruity, sweet and warming. 55.0% ABV, 70cl, £39.99, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Springbank, 1997 Vintage 16-Year-Old (Scotland)
The iconic Campbeltown distillery of Springbank has just bottled 'Batch 1' of its latest vintage. Unusually, it has been exclusively matured in re-charred Sherry butts and the casks in question have been chosen by Director of Production Frank McHardy and Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson. 11,000 bottles have been released at cask strength, and in terms of presentation, this expression comes in an eye-catching new style of Springbank carton, but the most important element is, of course, how the whisky itself performs. Rich malt and spices on the nose, with a hint of zesty, maritime salt, which is accentuated by the addition of water. Beautifully balanced and full-bodied in the mouth, with stewed fruits, toffee, nuts and a sprinkling of pepper. The finish is fruity and spicy, with a whisper of smoky liquorice and a good length to it. A lovely example of a single malt with deserved classic status. 55.4% ABV, 70cl, 36.95, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Springbank, Rum Wood Expression (Scotland)
Having bottled a well received Marsala wood finish in August last year, Springbank has followed up with a 16-year-old ‘Wood Expression,’ distilled in June 1991. This has been matured for eight years in ex-Bourbon casks, followed by a further eight years in rum casks. Just 5,100 bottles have been produced, and the whisky has been presented at cask strength. Having spent half of its total maturation period in ex-rum casks, this is not a ‘finish’ in the accepted sense of the term, and the nose offers tropical fruits and sweet spices, with an obvious, yet un-intrusive, rum provenance, plus that characteristic Springbank ozone nose. Sweet, spicy, fruity rum merges skilfully on the palate with Springbank’s core fudge, fruit, smoke, nut and salt style. The addition of water emphasises spicy, smoky rum. Rum sweetness lingers in the finish, with developing and long-lasting pepper/chilli notes. Springbank rarely gets much wrong, and this expression proves the distiller can handle extended ‘finishing’ with aplomb. % ABV, 70cl, £49.50, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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