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Recent releases, January 2009

Bunnahabhain, Darach Ur (Scotland)
Darach Ur is Gaelic for ‘new oak,’ and this latest global travel retail exclusive release from the Islay distillery of Bunnahabhain contains whiskies up to 20 years of age, all matured in new oak barrels, sourced from a family-run cooperage in Bardstown, Kentucky. According to Bunnahabhain, “This is the first time they have been used for maturing single malt Scotch whisky. The first, small batch of this exclusive Bunnahabhain single malt, un-chill-filtered, natural in colour and of a higher strength, retains the fresh sweetness of the oak from barrel to bottle.” The nose offers fresh oak, spice and pine nuts, while the palate displays citrus fruit, spicy vanilla, walnuts, cloves and cinnamon. The medium-length finish is gingery and drying. 46.3% ABV, 100cl, 48 Euros, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Lagavulin, 12-year-old (Diageo Special Releases) (Scotland)
Staying on Islay, Diageo’s latest limited edition Lagavulin in the Special Releases line up has been matured for 12 years in refill American oak casks. Soft and buttery on the nose, with dominant, fruity, peat smoke, grilled fish and a hint of vanilla sweetness. More fresh fruit notes develop with the addition of water. Medium-bodied, quite oily in texture, heavily smoked, sweet malt and nuts. The finish is very long and ashy, with lingering sweet peat. 56.4% ABV, 70cl, £48.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Caol Ila, 8-year-old (Diageo Special Releases) (Scotland)
A third Islay, but one that is very different from its usual ‘house’ character. This is lightly-peated Caol Ila ‘Highland Style’ – batches of which have been produced annually since 1999, with the exception of the last few years, when the high demand for peated malts has precluded its distillation. It has been matured in first fill Bourbon casks. Fresh, fragrant and floral on the nose, with succulent barley and butter notes. Lightly oily on the palate, perfumed, malty and slightly herbal, with fresh fruits. Water releases sweeter and slightly smoky notes. The finish is quite short and drying, with gentle spices and caramel. (5,664 bottles) 64.2% ABV, 70cl, £44.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Brora, 25-year-old (Diageo Special Releases) (Scotland)
Brora 25-year-old is the latest of seven annual, vintage releases from the silent distillery that stands alongside Diageo’s modern Clynelish plant in Sutherland. While the previous six have been 30-year-olds, this is a 25-year-old expression, and has been matured in American oak and European oak refill casks. The nose is mellow and profound, pleasingly fragrant, with citrus fruit, caramel and Sherry. Medium-bodied and waxy in the mouth, with smoky, nutty vanilla notes. Dilution sweetens the palate. Medium in length, steadily drying to somewhat bitter oakiness, with bonfire smoke and liquorice. 56.3% ABV, 70cl, £179.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenfarclas, 105 Aged 40 Years (Scotland)
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first bottling of Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength single Highland malt, the family-owned Speyside distillery has issued a limited edition release of 40-year-old ‘Glenfarclas 105.’ According to Glenfarclas, “The first commercially available cask strength whisky of the modern age was born in 1968 when George S Grant, the fourth generation of the Grant family to own and manage Glenfarclas, bottled a single cask straight from the warehouse, and sent the bottles to family and friends as Christmas gifts. With only a couple of casks of the right style, age, and strength available, the Glenfarclas 105 Aged 40 Years truly is a limited edition. There are only 893 bottles available.” A big nose of Sherry and marzipan. Water releases more floral and caramel notes. Powerful yet elegant on the palate, with dry Sherry, raisins, walnuts and allspice. Drying steadily in the finish, with liquorice and hints of pipe tobacco. Ultimately becoming very dry and moreish. 60.0% ABV, 70cl, £550.00, distillery visitor centre, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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