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Recent releases, July 2008

Antiquary, 1977 (Scotland)
Thirty-year-old blends are something of a rarity, but an expression of The Antiquary 1977 has recently been released to commemorate 150 years since brothers William and John Hardie, founders of The Antiquity brand, began to distil whisky. This vintage blend is based on their original recipe and the component whiskies have been matured in a mix of American and European oak casks. The recipe comprises 55 per cent malt and 45 per cent grain whisky, with most of the malts being from Speyside. The nose is benign, offering citrus fruits with boiled sweets and background malt/toffee. The addition of water releases marshmallow characteristics. The palate is pleasing and rounded, displaying good integration. Citrus fruits follow through from the nose, with gentle spice and a hint of dark chocolate. The finish is nicely lingering, without the sort of dry, oak notes you might expect for its age. 1,148 bottles. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £140.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Famous Grouse, Black Grouse (Scotland)
Following its successful launch last year in Scandinavian and global travel retail markets, the latest addition to the Famous Grouse family has now flown into the UK, initially being available exclusively to the general public in Sainsbury’s stores and the on-trade for a six months period up to December. According to the brand’s owners The Edrington Group, “This rich and flavoursome smoky whisky marries the trademark quality and smoothness of The Famous Grouse with the aromatic peatiness of an Islay malt. The Black Grouse is an important brand extension for The Famous Grouse, and taps into those drinking occasions where blended Scotch drinkers are looking for a dram with a more challenging taste.” The Black Grouse can be seen as a strategic move by Edrington to replace its peaty Black Bottle blended brand, sold to Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd along with Bunnahabhain distillery on Islay in 2003. On the nose, initial bonfire smoke overlies the rich, smooth, fruity, cereal character associated with The Famous Grouse. The bonfire notes become softer and peatier with exposure to air. Full-bodied and silky smooth in the mouth, smoky and fruity, with spice and a backbone of satisfying oak. Lingering smoke and citrus fruits in the finish; complex, creamy and balanced. A lovely whisky which remains true to the essential Famous Grouse character, yet takes it into a different – and deeply satisfying – dimension. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £15.49, Sainsbury's.
Littlemill, 1991Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice (Scotland)
The Lowland distillery of Littlemill had a decidedly chequered history, finally ceasing production in 1992, and in September 2004 a fire destroyed much of the surviving property. The remains were demolished during late 2005/early 2006, and the site is now occupied by a residential development Littlemill was located at Bowling, a dozen miles from Glasgow, and is thought to have been founded in 1772, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland at the time of its demise. In true Lowland tradition, it practiced triple-distillation until the 1930s. The nose is fruity, malty and aromatic, with developing delicate cloves and ginger. Medium-bodied, with boiled sweets, pears, grapefruit and mid-palate spice, plus boiled sweets and marshmallows. The medium-length finish features stewed fruit and persistent vanilla fudge, with a hint of oak. Littlemill can be a very variable whisky in terms of quality, and this is a particularly nice example of a lost Lowland malt. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £36.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenkinchie, 12-Year-Old (Scotland)
Staying in the Scottish lowlands, Diageo has launched a new, 12-year-old expression of its regional representative in the Classic Malts line up. Glenkinchie distillery is located at Pencaitland, a few miles south-east of Edinburgh and for many years the ‘standard’ bottling has been a 10-year-old. That is now being discontinued, however, in favour of this older version, which Diageo describes as “richer and fuller.” The nose is fresh and floral, with spices and citrus fruits, plus a final hint of marshmallow. Notably elegant. Water releases cut grass and lemon notes. Medium-bodied, smooth, sweet and fruity, with malt, butter and cheesecake. The finish is comparatively long and drying, initially rather herbal. A very fine dram, and one with sufficient ‘presence’ that one might think it was not a Lowland malt at all. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £27.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Karuizawa, 1986 Single Cask #7387 (Japan)
Regular visitors to the site will be aware of our enthusiasm for the older, single cask offerings of the Japanese Karuizawa distillery, founded in 1956 by Daikoku Budou and now owned by the Kirin Brewery Company Ltd. Karuizawa is an ultra-traditional boutique distillery, located on the outskirts of Miyota-cho and has been mothballed for a number of years. Thanks to importers Number One Drinks Company, however, we are able to sample some of its treasures. Sweet Sherry and orange creams on the nose, with a pleasing whiff of furniture polish. Water releases a touch of zesty smoke. Powerful and surprisingly dry in the mouth, with some Sherry and sherbet spices. Sweeter with water. The finish is long, firm and spicy, with sweet Jaffa oranges and no intrusively oaky notes. 60.7% ABV, 70cl, £79.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, Glenguin Shiraz Cask Finish (Scotland)
The latest release from Stirlingshire’s Glengoyne distillery is a 16-year-old single malt whisky which has been matured in casks previously filled with Shiraz wine from Australia’s Hunter Valley. The casks have been supplied by Lord Robin Tedder, third baron of Glenguin, who established his winery on the Glenguin Estate in 1988. Glenguin is the original name of Glengoyne distillery, and the first baron, Lord Arthur William Tedder, adopted the title after a distinguished Second World War career because his father had served as excise officer at the distillery from 1889 to 1893. To celebrate 100 years since the distillery’s name changed to its present form, and to commemorate the Tedder connection, 20 empty Glenguin Shiraz casks were filled with 16-year-old Glengoyne last autumn, and ten were finally selected for bottling. Lively fruit and spices on the nose, with background brittle toffee. Water emphasises fresh fruit and gives a hint of cocoa. Mouth-coating, with a palate of citrus fruit, spice, vanilla fudge and honey. The finish is medium to long, spicy, fruity and with a final echo of the cocoa found on the diluted nose 3,800 individually numbered bottles. 48.0% ABV, 70cl, £60.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Ledaig, 1990 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice (Scotland)
Tobermory distillery on the Hebridean island of Mull was established in 1823 but has suffered several periods of closure during its history, most recently reopening in 1989. It is owned by Burn Stewart Distillers. The Ledaig name is used for peated expressions of Tobermory, and under Burn Stewart’s stewardship, the peating level has risen progressively, currently standing at around 35ppm. This 1990 independent expression has been matured in refill Sherry casks. Quite floral and fragrant on the nose, especially with the addition of water, with a hint of olive oil and brine. Light-bodied and medium-dry on the palate, with salt, cereal and spices, roasted nuts, a suggestion of liquorice and a delicate tang of peat. The finish is medium in length, dry and peppery, with mild oak. Compared with the current ‘bargain basement’ house bottling of relatively young Ledaig, this teenager, distilled three years before Burn Stewart purchased the distillery, has far less overt peatiness in its character, confirming the increased levels of peating in more recent distillations. Proof that if Ledaig is allowed to mature for a reasonable length of time, the result is a very good island whisky. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £28.50, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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