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Recent releases, March 2010

Dewar's, Aberfeldy 18-year-old ‘Chris Anderson’s Cask’ (Scotland)
‘House’ expressions of the often under-rated Aberfeldy single malt are rare enough, so it is good to see a new addition to the line up, albeit one that is exclusive to the distillery’s Dewar’s World of Whisky centre. The ‘Chris Anderson Cask’ commemorates the contribution made to Aberfeldy by Anderson, who retired as distillery manager a year ago after 41 years in the whisky industry. The cask in question is hogshead number 8510, which yielded 248 bottles The nose is gentle, considering the spirit’s strength, with characteristic Aberfeldy honeyed sweetness and floral notes, with malt and polished wood. Soft spice, malt and vanilla on the smooth and rounded palate, while the addition of water teases out more estery and citrus notes, both on the nose and in the mouth, along with a whiff of smoke. Quite dry and nutty in the lengthy finish. 54.9% ABV, 70cl, £170.00, distillery visitor centre. (temporary image)
Duncan Taylor, Black Bull 40 Year Old (Scotland)
Independent bottlers Duncan Taylor & Co Ltd of Huntly in Aberdeenshire have followed up their much-vaunted 30-year-old Black Bull release and the more recent 12-year-old with a 40-year-old expression of the same blended brand. It contains 90 per cent malt and just 10 per cent grain whisky, with 80 per cent of the contents having been matured in ex-Bourbon casks and 20 per cent in Sherry wood. It comprises malts of 40 to 44 years of age from Bunnahabhain, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Glenburgie, Highland Park, Miltonduff, Springbank and Tamdhu distilleries, along with Invergordon grain whisky. The nose is sweet, mellow, smooth and buttery, with bananas, notes of vanilla, resin and even Kendal Mint Cake. Quite full-bodied, briefly somewhat sweet and spicy, with cinnamon in particular, then drying rapidly, though a background note of fudge persists. Liquorice, raisins and tannic oak in the finish. 40.2% ABV, 70cl, £115.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Ardbeg, Rollercoaster (Scotland)
Rollercoaster has been released to celebrate 10 years of the Ardbeg Committee of enthusiasts who revere this Islay malt, and Mickey Heads, distillery manager and chairman of the Ardbeg Committee says “We thought ‘rollercoaster’ aptly reflected the tumultuous ride we have had over the last 10 years at Ardbeg as we have brought the distillery to back to life! The whisky itself was created by taking whisky from casks from each year since the distillery’s re-opening in 1997, right up to 2006 - the youngest Ardbeg able to be bottled by law! Bottled at 57.3 % and non chill-filtered it is an enormous whisky.” Enormous indeed, with a gutsy yet complex nose of printer’s ink, sweet peat, bonfire smoke, freshly-sawn pine wood, kippers, damp tweed and even a hint of honey. With time, more buttery notes appear and the kippers become smoked haddock. The palate is smooth and buttery, offering sharply focused, classic Ardbeg intense fruitiness and peat, with spicy Germolene notes and rock salt. The finish is long and peaty, with dark fruit-and-nut chocolate. 57.3% ABV, 70cl, £50.00, distillery website.
Master of Malt, Single Cask 26 Year Old Bowmore (Scotland)
Independent bottlings of Bowmore are not exactly thin on the ground, but this veteran from Master of Malt is among the best to be sampled for a while. Wet beaches, warm lemonade, fresh peaches and mild peat ash on the nose. Classic Bowmore sherbet and peaches with a smattering of salt in the mouth. Quite long in the finish, gently oaky, with an undertone of vanilla and peaches. 53.4% ABV, 70cl, £99.95, Master of Malt.
Master of Malt, 16-year-old Single Cask Tamnavulin (Scotland)
Tamnavulin is one of the more obscure Speyside single malts, with most of the ‘make’ finding its way into the blending vats of owner Whyte & Mackay Distillers. The distillery re-opened for business in 2007, after a dozen years of closure. This rare bottling by Master of Malt offers a nose of sultanas, caramel, toasted coconut and violets. Sherbet Dip with the addition of water. Malt, ripe plums and dark Sherry notes dominate on the palate, which dries steadily. Aniseed, liquorice and astringent oak in the finish. 55.1% ABV, 70cl, £59.95, Master of Malt.
Caol Ila, 27-year-old (Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53:139) (Scotland)
Our third offering from the ‘whisky island’ this month is a Caol Ila from a refill Bourbon hogshead, recently bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It is the oldest Islay ever released by the Society, and their 139th cask from this ever-popular distillery. The nose is delicious; mature yet fresh, with rock-pools on a seashore, bonfire smoke and tar. The well-balanced palate is quite delicate and yields fresh fruit and salt flavours, with a hint of black pepper. The finish is lengthy, with the bonfire now smouldering gently. Another lovely dram from this extremely consistent distillery. (256 bottles) 55.2% ABV, 70cl, £82.00, SMWS.
Glenugie, 29-year-old (Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #99.11) (Scotland)
Whereas Caol Ila has clearly been a Society favourite over the years, only 10 previous casks of Glenugie have been bottled for members, with the Peterhead distillery having closed in 1983 and subsequently been demolished. Fresh apples, waxed jackets and leather on the nose, along with a whiff of diesel oil. Not overly subtle on the palate, with more leather, tobacco, mixed spices and salt, plus ‘Black Bullet’ brittle sweets. Sour dough and plum sauce with longer exposure to air. More diesel oil and a touch of peat in the long finish. An idiosyncratic dram and a rare chance to drink a drop of distilling history. (192 bottles) 43.4% ABV, 70cl, £78.00, SMWS.
  

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