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Recent releases, August 2010

Caol Ila, 25-year-old, 2010 edition (Scotland)
New from Diageo in summer 2010, Caol Ila 25-year-old follows limited editions (6,000 bottles) at the same age, released as part of the Classic Malt Selections Special Releases series in 2004 and 2005. The nose is fresh and fruity, with sticking plasters, brine, bonfire smoke and a hint of new leather. Relatively sweet on the palate, with more fruit notes, plus wood smoke, pepper and some oak. The finish dries steadily, with mild smokiness 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £135.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Highland Park, New Make Spirit (Scotland)
Highland Park has followed the growing trend for distillers to release their ‘new make’ spirit with this 50%abv offering. As the Orcadian distillery’s Head of Brand Education Gerry Tosh says, “The starting point for any great whisky is the new make spirit. The liquid that comes off the still is, literally, the essence of single malt Scotch whisky. I’ve always thought we make excellent spirit and that we should sell it. At last, the powers that be have seen sense. “It always surprises me by its freshness and complexity; the spirit already features the trademark balance between sweetness and peat. Highland Park’s spirit forms the DNA of the flawless character of every expression of our award-winning whiskies. Now you can taste it for yourself...” Fresh on the nose, with cereal, bladderwrack and a whiff of cocoa powder. Water releases melon and cut grass notes. Intense fruits on the initial palate, which becomes ‘dirtier’ and smokier with the addition of water, while digestive biscuit characteristics also emerge. Unsurprisingly short in the finish, with nuts and ash. 50.0% ABV, 35cl, £20.00, distillery website.
Glenkinchie, ‘distillery-only’ bottling (Scotland)
One of four new cask strength Diageo ‘Classic Malts’ bottlings exclusive to the relevant distillery visitor centres, offered without age statements. This expression has undergone a secondary period of maturation in Amontillado-treated American oak casks. A very distinctive nose, with early mint and dark chocolate notes, followed by Oddfellows sweets and a whiff of fresh leather. Summer fruits and honey on the rich palate, with developing cloves and allspice. The lengthy finish is spicy, with a suggestion of nutty oak. 59.1% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, Malts.com, distillery visitor centre.
Blair Athol, ‘distillery-only’ bottling (Scotland)
The distillery-exclusive bottling of Diageo’s Perthshire single malt has been matured in first fill ex-Sherry casks. The nose is initially slightly prickly, with sweet notes emerging: tinned peaches in syrup and developing marshmallow. Apple and subtle smoke when diluted. Mouth-coating, with a palate of dried fruits, spice and a hint of aniseed. Toffee apple notes when water is added. Lengthy and steadily drying in the finish. 55.8% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, Malts.com, distillery visitor centre.
Lagavulin, ‘distillery-only’ bottling (Scotland)
This variant of Diageo’s leading Islay single malt has been ‘finished’ in Pedro Ximenez-treated American oak casks. The nose is of medicine cabinets, cured fish, new leather and freshly-struck matches. With time the leather becomes worn. Smooth on the palate, smoked haddock in butter and sweet, fruity notes. Long and smoky in the finish, with a sprinkling of black pepper. 51.5% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, Malts.com, distillery visitor centre.
Glen Ord, 1997 Manager’s Choice (Scotland)
This cask strength, single cask expression of one of Diageo’s important blending malts has been matured in an ex-Bourbon cask. The result is Initially quite sweet on the nose, with vanilla and lemonade notes. Fruit malt loaf and faint aniseed develop. Herbal and leafy with prolonged exposure to air. Mouth-coating, full and rich on the palate, with sultanas, milk chocolate and a hint of leather. Water releases New Berry Fruit sweets. The finish is long and sophisticated. (204 bottles). 59.2% ABV, 70cl, £200.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Royal Lochnagar, 1994 Managers’ Choice (Scotland)
This representative of the Classic Malts line up has been matured in a Bodega Sherry European oak cask for inclusion in the Managers’ Choice range. Slightly dry and oaky at first on the nose, then malt, Sherry and a slightly earthy note appear. Quite dry Sherry on the rather prickly palate, with cloves and cooked fruits in the background. Fruit and nut chocolate with the addition of water. Medium-length in the finish, with a lingering red wine note and more milk chocolate. (528 bottles) 59.3% ABV, 70cl, £175.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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