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Recent releases, February 2010

Highland Park, Earl Magnus Edition 1 (Scotland)
Highland Park’s latest expression is a cask strength 15-year-old named after Earl Magnus, co-ruler of the Earldom of Orkney during the 11th century. According to Jason Craig, Global Controller of Highland Park, “Orkney has a wonderful and magical heritage born out of an incredibly colourful history; with troubles, strife, heroism and a lasting legacy of historical structures and ancient and mysterious standing circles on our island. We hope our Highland Park drinkers and collectors will love this limited edition bottling that captures a period of remarkable history, delivers a full strength 15-year-old and is big on flavour and aroma and which is succinct and distinguished in taste.” Earl Magnus offers a nose that is initially sweet, with caramel, ginger, nutmeg and fresh fruits, becoming smokier and more peppery. The palate is gutsy and smoky, with spicy vanilla and milk chocolate notes. Medium length in the finish, with lots of lively spice. 52.6% ABV, 70cl, £85.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Milroy's, Finest Blended Malt (Scotland)
Milroy’s of Soho is one of London’s best-known specialist whisky retailers, and its latest ‘house’ blended malt is an extremely drinkable vatting from a number of Speyside and Highland distilleries. Gently perfumed on the nose, with cut grass and peaches. Slightly earthy with prolonged exposure to air. Comparatively delicate on the palate, with soft fruit, spicy malt, nuts, and an edge of oak. More fresh fruit and some liquorice with the addition of water. The finish is medium to long, with a hint of liquorice. A smooth and mellow dram at a very reasonable price. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £19.95, Milroy's of Soho.
Benrinnes, 1985, 23-year-old (2009) (Scotland)
This Special Releases bottling of one of Speyside’s more elusive malts has been matured in ex-Sherry casks, and is muscular and confident, with an aroma of news print, sultanas and ripe plums. Spent matches and caramel with exposure to air. Big and initially sweet on the palate, with a meaty note, gunpowder tea, black pepper and background fruit. Ripe fruit and Sherry with the addition of water, plus a hint of smoke and rubber. The finish is long and relatively dry, with a suggestion of treacle. An unusual and complex dram. (6,000 bottles) 58.8% ABV, 70cl, £150.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Mannochmore, 1990, 18-year-old (2009) (Scotland)
Like Benrinnes, the Speyside single malt of Mannochmore often slips below the whisky drinker’s radar, due to its scarcity, even from independent bottlers. Owners Diageo offer a 12-year-old in their ‘Flora & Fauna’ series, but this latest proprietary bottling differs significantly from that, due to its maturation regime. The expression comprises spirit from a mixture of re-charred, ex-Sherry bodega European oak casks, re-charred ex-Bourbon barrels and new American oak casks that formerly held Sherry. Sweet and voluptuous on the nose, with vanilla, caramel and raisins. The palate is rich and fruity, full-bodied, with cinnamon and figs. Becoming nuttier. The finish is medium to long, with furniture polish notes. Finally spicy, dry oak. (2,604 bottles) 54.9% ABV, 70cl, £105.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Pittyvaich, 1989, 20-year-old (2009) (Scotland)
Matured in ex-Bourbon wood rather than the European oak casks more characteristic of this now demolished Dufftown distillery, the 1989 Pityvaich displays a soft, gentle and slightly grassy nose, with vanilla, mild ginger and home-made lemonade. A little oiliness in the mouth, with vanilla, Granny Smith apples and something slightly earthy. Medium length in the finish, with persistent oaky spiciness. (6,000 bottles) 57.5% ABV, 70cl, £130.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Brora, 30-year-old (Special Releases 2009) (Scotland)
Single malt from the East Sutherland distillery of Brora, which closed in 1983, has gained a cult status, and the latest ‘house’ expression is this 2009 Special Release. Matured in refill American casks, it presents a classy and mature nose, with heather, oil, brine, pepper and mildly medicinal characteristics. Citrus fruit, oak, coffee and spice on the palate, with significant peatiness developing. The finish is lengthy and drying, with smoke and nuts. (2,958 bottles) 53.2% ABV, 70cl, £230.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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