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Recent releases, September 2008

Benromach, Origins (Scotland)
Benromach Origins is a new series of bottlings from the Forres distillery on Speyside, and the first ‘Origins’ release has been produced using locally-grown Golden Promise barley, once ubiquitous in the Scotch whisky industry, but now largely superseded by higher yielding varieties. However, some distillers who are willing to sacrifice yield for what they see as improved flavour have stuck with Golden Promise, with one high profile user being The Macallan. Commenting on the new Benromach expression, David Urquhart, joint managing director of distillery proprietors Gordon & MacPhail, says “At Benromach we are always keen to experiment and try different things. This first release experiments with a different barley variety – Golden Promise – which has undoubtedly contributed to the final flavour profile of the product. Consumers who are intrigued by this first batch of the Origins series have the opportunity to appreciate the complexities of the whisky making process. Future releases in this series will allow consumers to build on this and explore how subtle changes impact the final product.” This initial bottling of Benromach Origins has been matured in first and second fill Sherry casks, and the nose initially offers sour dough bread, with developing malt and Sherry notes. Smokier with the addition of water. Full-bodied, initially spicy on the palate then very malty, with distinctive Sherry and peat smoke. The finish is long and fruity, with spicy smoke and Sherry notes. Ultimately, molasses lingers. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.99, specialist whisky merchants.
The Balvenie, Rum Wood 17-Year-Old (Scotland)
The practice of using former rum casks for the maturation of Scotch whisky predates the use of ex-Sherry and Bourbon wood, dating back to the 19th century, and William Grant & Sons Ltd has employed casks which previously contained Jamaican rum to ‘finish’ its latest Balvenie release. Balvenie RumWood is a limited edition, with just 320 cases due to be launched into the UK market this month, and Balvenie ‘malt master’ David Stewart says “This sweet and intense 17-year-old is an exceptionally pleasurable dram.” The nose offers very sweet tropical fruits, floral and slightly oily, with coconut. Not exactly Balvenie as we know it, but a captivating nose. The palate opens with more tropical fruits, but now elements of Balvenie’s ‘signature’ character also emerge in the shape of fresh fruit, spice, vanilla and honey. The finish is long and sensuous, with spicy rum notes and sweet oak. Altogether a beautifully judged confection. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Tomatin, 30-Year-Old (Scotland)
The portfolio of single malts from Tomatin distillery, south of Inverness, has been augmented with the introduction of 18 and 25-year-old expressions in recent years, and the latest additions are limited edition releases of 30 and 40-year-old vintage bottlings. Both have been personally approved by distillery manager Douglas Campbell, who boasts 46 years of experience at the Highland distillery, and the 30 Years Old is described by the distillery as “A classic vatting of two ex-Spanish Oloroso Sherry cask finishes.” Distilled in November 1976 and finished in the Sherry wood for more than three years, this expression offers a mature and sophisticated nose with apricots, raisins and spicy leather notes. Water releases more citrus fruits and fudge. Big and very fruity on the smooth palate, with oranges and delicate spice. The finish is medium in length, drying through fruit and bubblegum notes to acceptable oakiness. Only 1,500 bottles. 49.3% ABV, 70cl, £165.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Tomatin, 40-Year-Old (Scotland)
The 40 Years Old expression comprises a vatting of seven hogsheads, distilled in May 1967, and according to Stephen Bremner, Marketing and Sales Manager for Tomatin distillery, “With over four decades of experience at Tomatin, Douglas Campbell knows our warehouse and casks better than anyone else. He has made a superior selection in the 30 and 40 Years Old malts and we expect them to be extremely popular with whisky enthusiasts in the UK and internationally.” The nose is initially quite shy and retiring, gently floral, with emerging apples, oranges and marzipan notes, plus a subtle whiff of background smoke. As with its younger sibling, the addition of water arouses quite lively, fresh citrus fruits. Smooth and sophisticated on the palate, with creamy toffee backed by spice and just a suggestion of liquorice. Fairly long in the finish; more creamy and less oaky than might be expected for its age. Only 1,614 bottles. 42.9% ABV, 70cl, £450.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Isle of Arran, Madeira Cask Finish (Scotland)
This expression of single malt from the Isle of Arran distillery at Lochranza was matured for eight years in ex-Bourbon casks before being transferred for a further ten months to casks which had previously held Madeira. Rich and winey on the nose, with stewed fruits, notably plums and prunes. Water releases slightly smoky, orange and other citrus notes. Full-bodied, somewhat oily, with malt, Christmas cake and powerful, sweet spices. The addition of water adds a creamy fudge quality. The finish is medium in length, determinedly spicy, with orange marmalade and a touch of salty caramel. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £42.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Auchroisk, Auchroisk 1993 (Gordon & MacPhail) (Scotland)
Auchroisk distillery is located at Mulben, near Keith, on Speyside and was constructed between 1972 and 1974 by Justerini & Brooks Ltd (part of International Distillers & Vintners) principally to supply malt whisky for the company’s best-selling flagship J&B blend. Today Auchroisk is owned by Diageo, and makes a valuable contribution to a range of the company’s blends. High-necked stills produce a comparatively light, elegant spirit, as exemplified in the latest Connoisseurs’ Choice bottling from the Auchroisk distillery, dating from 1993. Mellow on the nose, with floral notes and soft fruits, notably peaches. A vanilla sweetness develops, and the addition of water emphasises the fruity aromas. Quite light-bodied, sweet and fruity on the palate, with cereal notes and a slightly salty edge. Water draws out more malty and nutty characteristics. The finish is medium in length, clean and gently drying. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £25.95, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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