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Recent releases, April 2009

Amrut, Indian Single Malt Whisky, Milroys of Soho (India)
Milroy’s describe this bottling as “An absolute must for any whisky adventurer,” and it would be difficult to dispute that claim. This Amrut single malt, distilled in Bangalore, southern India, has been matured in its home country for just over three years in ex-Bourbon casks, before being ‘finished’ in Scotland in an ex-grain whisky cask for a further year. Due to an ‘angels’ share’ evaporation level of between 12 and 15 per cent per annum (compared to around 2 per cent in Scotland), Amrut whisky cannot be matured for more than four years, without the spirit losses being economically unacceptable. The nose is soft and rounded, with vanilla, caramel ripe banana and gentle spices suggesting the ex-grain whisky cask has played its part well. The final note from the nose is of apricot brandy, and with time spicier notes develop, while the addition of water creates an altogether creamier aroma. The robust palate initially features peaches, then powerful spices kick in. The taste is oakier with water. Medium-length in the finish, which displays prominent pepper and ginger, with water accentuating the pepperiness. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £35.00, Milroy's of Soho.
Black Bull, Deluxe Blended 30 Year Old (Scotland)
The Huntly-based, independent bottling firm of Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd has recently reintroduced the Black Bull blended whisky brand, originally trademarked in 1933 by George Willshire & Co Ltd of Dundee. The name refers to the world famous Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle, which originated in the north-east of Scotland. According to Duncan Taylor, “This special blend is a marriage of the finest single malt and single grain whiskies produced in Scotland. The whiskies were vatted together in the 1970s, just after distillation, and matured in Sherry casks for a minimum of 30 years, resulting in this deluxe premium rare blend. Black Bull contains 50 per cent malt whisky and 50 per cent grain whisky and has not been altered by chill-filtration.” Rich, sweet Sherry on the nose, sultanas, rum and raisin ice cream. Warm, antique leather. Full and bold on the palate, with immediate fruity Sherry and some milk chocolate notes, soon drying to moreish oakiness. The finish dries steadily – spicy, old oak. 50.0% ABV, 70cl, £75.00, distillery website, specialist whisky merchants.
Ardbeg, Ar1 (Scotland)
Ardbeg Ar1 is a vattting of between five and 20 casks of varying ages, with no age statement, and is marketed by Speciality Drinks in their Elements of Islay series. The nose offers full-on sweet peat, singed cloth and iodine, with background fruit notes, while on the palate sweet, smoky fruit and big ginger notes merge and mesh with aplomb. The finish is long and peppery. A most impressive independent bottling of comparatively youthful Ardbeg. 58.7% ABV, 50cl, £39.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Optimism Blended Malt Whisky (Scotland)
Optimism was launched by Compass Box at Whisky Live in London a few weeks ago, and, according to company founder John Glaser, it has been released as “…a hopeful antidote to the global economic malaise. The more that people are optimistic about the future, the faster we will pull ourselves out of this depressed economic state. This is our small effort to try to help the world economy.” At Whisky Live, Optimism was hand-bottled on site, and further bottles are now available for purchase. John Glaser notes that “. It is a limited release whisky that will not be repeated before the next global recession!” Optimism has a floral nose, with soft toffee, spices, pepper and a whiff of peat. Fruitier with time and more citric with the addition of water. The palate is rich and spicy, with sweet peat and more pepper. The finish is lingering, with lively young oak and a slightly metallic aftertaste. 44.0% ABV, 70cl, £40.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Springbank, Cadenhead’s Hazelburn, 7-year-old (Scotland)
Hazelburn is a triple-distilled whisky made from unpeated malt at Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. Production began in 1997. The standard ‘house’ bottling is of an eight-year-old, but late last year a special edition was released, comprising four small casks, filled in 2001. The nose is fresh and softly fruity, with cereal, nuts and a hint of yeast. Smooth and sweet on the palate, with developing peach, spice, caramel and vanilla. The finish is vibrant, with slow-burning pepper. The use of small casks has given this expression of Hazelburn greater maturity than might be expected after seven years. A lovely dram. (316 bottles) 49.4% ABV, 70cl, £38.50, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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