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Recent releases, September 2010

Highland Park, 1970 Vintage (Scotland)
Following on from its previous 1964 and 1968 vintage releases, the Orcadian distillery of Highland Park has just bottled a 1970 expression. It comprises a vatting of refill butts and hogsheads, which two years ago was filled into new Spanish oak hogsheads to marry. Sherry, sultanas, heather and sweet wood smoke on the nose, while a complex palate features a herbal note, subtle vanilla and peat, with developing oak. Fruitier and smokier when water is added. Long in the finish, with sweet spice and restrained oak. (1,800 bottles). 48.0% ABV, 70cl, £2,250.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Highland Park, Saint Magnus (Scotland)
Hot on the heels of its well received Earl Magnus release of high-strength, limited-edition Highland Park, the distiller has now issued Saint Magnus, which is a vatting of whiskies largely matured in Spanish oak casks, of which around 20 per cent were first fill. The youngest whisky in the vatting dates from 1998. Warm and mellow on the spicy, leathery nose, with dried fruits and a little smoke. With time, earthier notes and damp, forest floors develop. Relatively dry on the gently smoky palate. Water releases more smoke and sweet heather notes. Smoke, black pepper, orange and spicy oak in the finish. (11,994 bottles). 55.0% ABV, 70, £85.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Balblair, Vintage 2000 (Scotland)
The latest vintage release from this Northern Highland distillery dates from 2000, and is intended to replace the 1997 variant. Matured in first-fill American oak, this very drinkable expression represents good value for money. A pretty peach and pineapple nose, with coconut and honeyed vanilla. Toasted marshmallows with time. Relatively light-bodied, sweet, with lively spice, ginger and youthful oak on the palate. Fudge in the finish, and a contrasting hint of dark chocolate at the last. 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £31.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Benrinnes, Managers’ Choice Release 4 (Cask #8994) (Scotland)
Diageo has recently released the fourth and final batch of its Manager’s Choice bottlings, with the last seven of its 28 malt distilleries (excluding Roseisle)being represented. This expression of Benrinnes, distilled near Aberlour, was filled into a refill American oak cask on 26th August 1996. The nose is fruity, fleetingly a little mashy, then herbal and cocoa notes develop. Smoky marshmallows follow with time. The palate is sweet and fruity, with sherbet and spice. The finish is medium in length, drying with subtle oak and liquorice. (328 bottles). 59.7% ABV, 7, £175.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Knockando, Managers’ Choice Release 4 (Cask #800790) (Scotland)
From the same release as the Benrinnes, above, this fellow Speysider is far removed from the expressions most usually encountered, being very dark in colour, and having been filled into a (surely first-fill?) Spanish Sherry European oak cask on 11th July 1996. Black treacle, fireworks and a hint of fresh bitumen on the nose. Sweeter with the addition of water – figs and wood smoke, plus a whiff of warm rubber. The palate is smooth and features big Sherry notes, prunes and raisins, with honey also showing through. Lingering in the finish, with increasing oak, ginger, and ultimately treacle toffee. (599 bottles). 58.6% ABV, 70cl, £225.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Lagavulin, Managers’ Choice Release 4 (Cask #4447) (Scotland)
Diageo’s flagship Islay single malt of Lagavulin is well served by ex-Sherry casks, and this expression was filled into a Bodega Sherry European oak cask on 25th October 1993. Relatively sweet, roasted cereal notes on the nose, with citrus fruits and wood smoke. Mildly medicinal. Fruity on the palate, with nuts, damp earth and Elastoplast. Long in the finish, with peat and lingering citrus, pine and oak. (597 bottles). 54.7% ABV, 70cl, £289.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glengoyne, 23 Years Old Limited Edition Single Cask (#399) (Scotland)
Glengoyne has recently extended its range of limited edition, single cask malts with the introduction of 13 and 23-year-old expressions. According to Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Glengoyne, “Much to the delight of our customers, over the past few years it has become something of an annual tradition, that we delve into the Glengoyne warehouses and release a couple of rare and exceptional single casks. Both the 13 and 23 Years Old are great examples of Glengoyne craftsmanship and quality and we expect them to be very well received.” The 23-year-old variant was distilled on 10th April 1986 and bottled on 30th September 2009. It was matured in a European oak ex-Sherry butt. The nose is profound, rich and sweet, with distressed leather, spices, coffee and vanilla fudge. The sweet, spicy richness carries over onto the buttery palate. Long in the finish, drying to burnt sugar. (548 bottles). 53.6% ABV, 70cl, £195.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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