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Recent releases, October 2009

Highland Park, 1997 (Scotland)
Vintage expressions of Highland Park are unusual, to say the least, but the Orkney distillery’s latest release is a 1997 bottling, exclusive to duty-free and travel retail outlets. According to Highland Park’s Gerry Tosh, “The guys who look after duty-free asked us to make a whisky that is like the 12-year-old… but smokier. So we hand-picked a selection of Highland Park casks from 1997 – with an emphasis on American oak Sherry casks – and vatted them together in the time-honoured fashion.
“Why the emphasis on American oak Sherry casks? As you know, the biggest single influence on whisky flavour is the oak in which the whisky matures. At Highland Park we use expensive Sherry seasoned casks; those made from American oak give the whisky soft, creamy vanilla and coconut sweet flavours which allow the aromatic smokiness of our whisky to fully express itself. Some refill European oak Sherry seasoned casks have been used in the 1997 vintage to provide complexity, citrus sweetness and that all-important Highland Park sense of balance. In terms of style, Highland Park 1997 vintage is closely related to the 16 and 21-year-old expressions.” Butter, coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose. Slightly earthy. More fruity and caramel notes appear with time. The palate is lively and offers fruit, figs and gentle, heathery smoke. The finish is ultimately dry and slightly sooty. Available from the following airports: Berlin/Tegel, Berlin/Schönefeld, Köln/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover, Hahn, Frankfurt, Weeze, Copenhagen, Trondheim, Wien, Linz, Graz, Dalaman, Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, Antalya, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka. 40.0% ABV, 100cl, €42, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Ardbeg, Corryvreckan (Scotland)
This Ardbeg Committee bottling is limited to just 5,000 bottles, and by contrast with Blasda, it provides everything a true Ardbeg veteran could desire. It is named after a famous whirlpool located to the north of the Isle of Jura. Bottled at high strength, it has a classic Ardbeg nose of peat smoke, tar, freshly-dug soil and medicine cabinets, a full and viscous body, and a mouth-coating, silky palate, with rich, sweet peat notes, plus lemon and salt. The finish is long, with peppery peat. As with Blasda, this expression is presumably quite young, as it has no age statement, but there the comparison ends. A really ballsy whisky. Worth seeking out, despite the hefty price tag. 57.1% ABV, 70cl, 189.99, thewhiskybarrel.com.
Kilchoman, Single Malt – Inaugural Release (Scotland)
While Ardbeg can trace its lineage back to the late 19th century, Kilchoman distillery on Islay has only been operating since 2005. After marketing bottlings of its ‘new make’ spirit, the distillery has finally come of age, and is able to offer Kilchoman Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Last month saw the launch of Kilchoman’s eagerly-awaited Inaugural Release, and the wait has certainly been worthwhile. Whilst being fresh and clearly quite young, Kilchoman has a pleasing ‘roundness’ that belies its age. The nose reveals peat, wood smoke, mildly medicinal notes, orange and lemon zest, plus spices. The palate is light and sweet, with hints of toffee and sultanas, while the finish is medium in length, with clear notes of peat. Distillery consultant Dr Jim Swan declares that “If you took the peat away, you’d still have a good whisky.” Amen to that! 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £37.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenlivet, Nadurra 1991 (Scotland)
The Glenlivet first launched a ‘Nadurra’ expression in 2005, and following on from the initial 16-year-old Cask Strength version and the 48.0% Travel Retail exclusive, the Speyside distillery is now offering a 1991 vintage bottling to the US market. Neil Macdonald, Brand Director for Malts at Chivas Brothers, says that “The Nadurra range has already proved a huge success, both with consumers and whisky experts alike…The Glenlivet is the No. 1 single malt in the dynamic US market which already accounts for 50 per cent of all global sales of the existing Nadurra range, making the US the natural choice as the launch market for Nadurra1991.” The 1991 vintage has been selected from stocks of whisky distilled using Triumph, a variety of barley no longer employed by The Glenlivet, and a company spokesperson notes that “Keeping in line with the Nadurra range, the Nadurra 1991 is non-chill-filtered, which better retains its natural flavours with an additional richness and a creamy mouthfeel. The additional resting time and a broader range of casks provide a layer of complexity that is mildly sweeter and more fruit-forward then the existing Nadurra expressions.” Soft and floral on the nose, with ripe peaches, fudge and Sherry. Beguiling. Velvety and mellow on the palate, with Jaffa oranges, clotted cream, honey and subtle spice. The lengthy finish is elegantly drying, with a nutty orange after taste. 48.0% ABV, 70cl, $85.00, USA only.
  

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