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Recent releases, November 2011

Wemyss Vintage Malts, ‘Honey Spice’ - Bunnahabhain 1991 (Scotland)
The latest clutch of single cask offerings from Wemyss Malts is notable for its inclusion of distillery names on the labels for the first time. The Bunnahabhain 1991 has been matured in a first-fill Sherry butt and presents a sweet, buttery nose, with lots of caramel, Sherry and fruit cake mix aromas. Full-bodied, fruity in the mouth, with a trace of honey, dry Sherry, spice and old leather in the mouth. Smoky figs when water is added. Relatively long and drying in the finish, with cocoa powder and anise. (743 bottles) 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Wemyss Vintage Malts, ‘Lemon Grove' - Cragganmore 1989 (Scotland)
Lemon Grove has been sourced from the Speyside distillery of Cragganmore and offers resin, citrus fruits, a touch of coal tar, vanilla and fresh ginger on the nose. In time the vanilla becomes stronger, and ginger beer notes appear. The palate is fruity, featuring peaches, plus spice, then lemon notes appear. Plain chocolate in the medium-length finish. (371 bottles) 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Duncan Taylor, Iconic Speyside - Distilled 1984 (Scotland)
One of the latest releases from Huntly-based independent bottlers and retailers Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd, Iconic Speyside is 27 years old, carries no distillery name and is offered at cask strength (cask no. 2033) in the company’s Rare Auld Collection. Initially coconut icing on the nose, then rich malt, shortbread and soft leather. Luxurious and creamy in the mouth, spicy old leather, toffee and malt. Long and gently spicy in the finish, with drying oak and finally a burst of Fisherman’s Friends. 54.8% ABV, 70cl, £93.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Brora, 32 Year Old (Diageo Special Releases 2011) (Scotland)
This is the 10th bottling of the lost Sutherland classic in Diageo’s limited edition annual releases programme, and certainly lives up to the very high reputation of its predecessors. The component whiskies of Diageo’s oldest ever bottling of Brora have been matured in a mix of American oak and refill European oak casks. The nose offers brine, a squeeze of lemon, black pepper, pine cones and wood smoke. Beautifully matured, rich and sumptuous on the palate, with apple pie and stem ginger. The finish is medium in length, with a sprinkling of pepper and fading soft smoke. (1,500 bottles) 54.7% ABV, 70cl, £300.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Knockando, 25 Year Old 1985 (Diageo Special Releases 2011) (Scotland)
We tend to think of Knockando as a comparatively delicate Speyside single malt and associate its maturation with ex-Bourbon casks. Diageo have thrown consumers a curved ball here with a Knockando that has been matured in first-fill ex-Sherry casks. This is the first time Knockando has featured in the Special Releases series, and this expression offers an intriguing variation on the standard ‘house’ style. Aromas of wood polish, new leather and brittle toffee, plus over-ripe bananas and freshly-cut broccoli. Coal fires with time. Rich yet elegant on the palate. Viscous. Molasses and dried fruits, Becoming drier in the mouth. Long in the finish, with cocoa powder and developing tannins. £135.00 (fewer than 4,500 bottles) 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £135.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Port Dundas, 20-year-old 1990 (Diageo Special Releases 2011) (Scotland)
One of the most intriguing Special Releases for some time, this Port Dundas from Glasgow’s eponymous closed grain distillery marks a significant departure for the range, which ventures into single grain whisky territory for the first time here. The bottling comprises spirit from three different casks, all distilled in 1990, and initially aged for three years in refill wood, then matured in equal parts for 17 more years in either new American oak bodega, new European oak charred or first fill ex-Bourbon American oak casks. The result is a very curious beast indeed! The nose is buttery and waxy, with wood polish, dates, sultanas and vanilla. Viscous on the palate, with Bourbon, Caribbean rum, vanilla, wood varnish, nuts and corn oil. The finish is long and spicy. (1,920 bottles) *** 57.4% ABV, 70cl, £110.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Port Ellen, 32 Year Old 1978 (Diageo Special Releases 2011) (Scotland)
Along with Brora, Port Ellen has become a much-anticipated favourite among the Special Releases, and this is the eleventh and oldest Port Ellen in the series to date. The malt is sometimes thought to be over-hyped due its rarity and ‘lost distillery’ status, but when the quality of the liquid is this good there is no doubt that it deserves all the praise it gets. The nose is sweet, medicinal, buttery and floral. Damp tweed and ginger. Sootier with time. Soft and gently spiced on the palate, with summer fruits and digestive biscuits. Mildly medicinal. Very long and warming in the finish, with hazelnuts and drifting peat smoke. (2,988 bottles) 53.9% ABV, 70cl, £300.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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