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Recent releases, October 2008

Famous Grouse, The Snow Grouse (Scotland)
One of the Scotch whisky industry 's Holy Grails is to attract younger drinkers, more used to white spirits, and the latest offering to target this market is The Snow Grouse. It is a blended grain whisky, probably containing spirit from Girvan and North British distilleries, and is named after the ptarmigan, colloquially known in the Scottish Highlands as the 'snow grouse.' Presented in a decidedly vodka-like, frost-effect bottle, the Snow Grouse’s producers, The Edrington Group, boast that it has been ‘Smoothchill filtered.’ The fact that the term ‘Smoothchill’ has been trademarked reflects the importance placed on this procedure, which is in marked contrast to the trend among an increasing number of single malt bottlings to emphasise authenticity by a lack of chill-filtering. According to Keith Bonnington, Global Travel Retail manager for The Edrington Group, “Just like the bird itself, this is a completely unique whisky that takes on a whole new taste and liquid profile when served seriously chilled. At room temperature, this is a beautifully balanced, easy drinking Scotch whisky. Served straight from the freezer consumers will find the whisky has an even more delicate flavour, is thicker in consistency and sweeter than their usual dram.” Drunk at room temperature, The Snow Grouse has a slightly metallic nose, with developing vanilla, ginger and peach. The palate is pleasant, without being highly flavoured, with clean cereal notes and fresh fruit, plus a developing taste of fruit malt loaf, which lingers through the medium length finish. Sampled from the freezer, there is an inevitable increase in viscosity, and while some of the characteristics of aroma and taste and dulled, there is a pleasing vanilla spiciness, and this is certainly an easy to drink whisky which would also make an ideal cocktail base. The Edrington Group is certainly to be commended for its innovation. 40.0% ABV, 100cl, 16.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Famous Grouse, Spanish Oak Special Edition (Scotland)
This ‘Grouse’ expression for the global travel retail trade is in marked contrast to The Snow Grouse, having been matured for a time in first fill Spanish oak ex-Sherry casks. The Famous Grouse is currently the fastest growing Scotch whisky brand in the travel retail sector, where The Black Grouse (see July’s Recent Releases) has performed extremely well, and The Edrington Group has signed an exclusive deal with travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann to offer this limited edition Spanish Oak expression. William Ovens, Edrington’s area director for Global Travel Retail, says that “We have been very impressed with the focus Gebr. Heinemann gives travel retail exclusive products in their stores and our view was that it was an ideal operator to offer this wonderfully rich, Sherried version of The Famous Grouse. “As a brand we are continually looking at ways of innovating and developing our brands, which will have a real resonance with operators and consumers alike, and this is just the latest in a number of recent and planned offerings from The Famous Grouse.” The nose is rich and fruity, with ripe figs and a hint of aerosol furniture polish. Medium-bodied, fruity, spicy and Sherried in the mouth, with developing notes of molasses and dark chocolate. Water releases more fudge-like notes. The finish is medium in length, with fudge moving towards dry Sherry when water is added. 40.0% ABV, 50cl, 16 Euros, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Compass Box, The Peat Monster Reserve Edition (Scotland)
Self-styled “Boutique Scotch whisky innovators” Compass Box Whisky Company are celebrating the fifth anniversary of their best-selling The Peat Monster by releasing a ‘Magnum Edition,’ which is described as “…an even peatier, richer and higher-strength version of the classic bottling.” As the name implies, this is only available in magnums (1.5 litres), and just 1,325 four-bottle cases are available across the world. According to Compass Box founder John Glaser, “We’ve seen a real evolution in consumer tastes towards the peaty styles of malt whisky and we wanted to mark that with a celebratory release. The Peat Monster Reserve is a big monster of a whisky to be shared with friends and family, particularly after a meal.” The Peat Monster Reserve Edition comprises single malt whisky from two, unspecified Islay distilleries, plus Ardmore peated single malt from Speyside and around two per cent of Northern Highland malt whisky aged in new French oak. The result is a whisky with an initial acetone nose, which rapidly gives way to sweet peat, apple and oily, smoked fish. Water releases more floral, citric and Germolene-like notes. Powerful peat, apricots, black pepper and lively spices feature on the complex palate, with the addition of water emphasising the spices and revealing subtle vanilla. The spices continue to sparkle through the lengthy finish. 48.9% ABV, 70cl, £80.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Hedonism Maximus (Scotland)
Compass Box is also responsible for Hedonism Maximus, “…a reserve version of the brand’s seminal, award-winning 100% grain whisky, Hedonism,” according to its producers. “This new bottling…offers a similar character to the classic Hedonism, but with flavours much deeper, even sweeter and more intense given the very old age of whiskies chosen.” Hedonism Maximus was created using a blend of 42-year-old grain whisky from Invergordon distillery and 29-year-old whisky from Cameronbridge distillery in Fife, all matured in first fill American oak barrels. Just 250 six-bottle cases are available internationally, and only 300 bottles are destined for the UK market. The label and packaging of Hedonism Maximus, which includes a wooden gift box, pays homage to the 1905 presentation of Andrew Usher & Co’s Old Vatted Glenlivet Whisky,’ described by John Glaser as “One of Scotland’s seminal whisky brands.” Clotted cream and honey on the nose, plus a freshly-opened tin of emulsion paint, with developing spicy, peach notes. Exposure to air allows more caramel character to develop. Luscious mouth feel; sweet, spicy fudge notes dominate, then an intermediate woodiness develops before crème brulee kicks in and lingers in a remarkable long, sweet, silky finish. Best drunk neat, as water tends to emphasise slightly over-aged oak. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £160.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenmorangie, Astar (Scotland)
This bottling from Glenmorangie is effectively a new incarnation of the previous ‘Artisan Cask’ expression which received very favourable reviews and won many converts. Bottled at traditional 100 proof strength (57.1%ABV), Astar has been aged entirely in Glenmorangie’s bespoke ‘designer casks,’ sourced from the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and used to mature Tennessee whiskey for four years prior to being filled with Glenmorangie new make spirit. Astar is Gaelic for ‘journey,’ and the name was chosen to reflect the journey made by the timber used in its maturation from the Ozarks to Glenmorangie distillery at Tain in Ross-shire. Fresh and fruity on the nose, lively and perfumed, with developing vanilla and cream caramel notes. Silky smooth in the mouth, with initially quite high floral and wood polish notes that become richer and spicier, with succulent peaches, as the palate progresses. The finish is luxuriously long and creamy. 57.1% ABV, 70cl, £50.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenrothes, Robur Reserve (Scotland)
The Glenrothes boasts that it is the fastest growing single malt in the world, and a new expression of the Speyside classic has been released into specialist premium retailers at travel hubs serving The Glenrothes core markets as well as major international airports. The Glenrothes director Ronnie Cox says that “Following the success of our 25-year-old and 30-year-old whiskies, travel retail is an increasingly important channel for The Glenrothes. Robur Reserve is a deliciously spicy single malt, competitively priced, which I am confident will find favour with whisky enthusiasts everywhere.” The name of this new Glenrothes variant derives from the Latin term for European Oak, Quercus Robur, and first fill, Spanish oak ex-Sherry casks have had a significant influence on the profile of this whisky. An initial waft of yeast on the nose gives way to perfume, violets, dried fruits and worn leather. More fresh toffee and dried fruits develop with the addition of water. Mellow and malty on the palate, with stewed fruits, some sweet Sherry and spices. The finish is medium in length and persistently spicy. The attractive, perfumed notes from the nose are rekindled on the closing palate. 40.0% ABV, 100cl, €49.99, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
  

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