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Recent releases, June 2012

Macallan, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (Scotland)
The Macallan’s take on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations comprises a limited edition of 2012 bottles, issued at a strength of 52%, matching Her Majesty’s year of accession to the throne. It has been matured in ex-sherry casks and carries no age statement. Smooth and silky on the nose, with vanilla, sweet sherry, nut toffee and heather honey. A luxurious mouth-feel, with warm spices – notably cloves and cinnamon, plus ginger, figs, treacle toffee and caramel. Spicy in the long, warming, pleasantly oaky finish. 52.0% ABV, 70cl, £350.00, distillery visitor centre, distillery website.
Johnnie Walker, Gold Label Reserve (Scotland)
As part of a major shake-up in the Johnnie Walker range, the Green Label blended malt variant is being phased out in all markets except Taiwan, while the existing 18-year-old Gold Label is being reincarnated without an age statement. It is being marketed as ‘The celebration blend,’ and comprises between 20 and 25 component malts. “It’s accessible, elegant and easy to drink,” according to Diageo Master Blender Jim Beveridge. A classic Johnnie Walker nose of sweet fruits, honey and gentle smoke. Smooth and elegant in the mouth, with vanilla, honey and citrus fruit. Waxy mouth-feel courtesy of the Clynelish single malt component. Soft wood notes in the finish, behind lingering smokiness. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £40.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Johnnie Walker, Platinum Label (Scotland)
As part of the re-organisation of the Johnnie Walker portfolio, Platinum Label is a new addition to the mainstream line-up, and carries an 18-year-old age statement. It is pitched between Gold Label Reserve and Blue Label. There is a tradition within Diageo of producing exclusive private blends for directors of the company, and it was with these in mind that Jim Beveridge and his team set about creating ‘Platinum.’ “It’s a private occasion sipping whisky,” declares Beveridge. “Flavours of component whiskies become less overt at 18, so the challenge was to get a rich, smooth intensity, but also to get lots of flavour to come through. There are many malts in it, including some to give rich Highland and West Coast flavours. There are both American oak and European oak influences.” Rich, deep, sweet notes on the complex nose, with cherries, even rhubarb and very subtle smoke. The richness carries over onto the nicely textured palate, which is sweet and warming, with malt and cereal, while gentle smoke again develops. Plain chocolate in the lengthy finish. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £59.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Bowmore, Small Batch Reserve (Scotland)
Bowmore has launched what it describes as its “Lightest and most delicate expression to date,” in the shape of Small Batch Reserve, which has undergone maturation in a mixture of first and second-fill ex-Bourbon casks and carries no age statement Rachel Barrie, Master Blender of Morrison Bowmore Distillers, says that “Bowmore Small Batch Reserve encapsulates the perfect harmony of nature’s elements on a summer’s day on Islay. The sweetest smoked barley and highest quality Bourbon oak casks have created a vanilla elixir with ripe orchard fruits, honeycomb and teasing wispy smoke. Relax, take it easy and enter Islay time with the harmonious taste of Small Batch Reserve.” Soft and balanced on the nose, with a hint of brine; sweet peat, ginger and lime. Surprisingly light-bodied, with a hint of ripe strawberries, coconut and developing smoky notes. Lively spices dart around the mouth. Spice remains in the lingering finish, with vanilla, peat embers, citrus fruits and finally, plain chocolate. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £32.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Irish Distillers, Yellow Spot (Ireland)
Many aficionados of Irish pot still whiskies will be familiar with Green Spot, but the resurrection of Yellow Spot, first produced for Dublin wine and spirits merchant Mitchell & Son, but discontinued during the 1960s, adds another weapon to the increasing armoury of Irish Distillers Ltd’s ‘single pot still portfolio. Yellow Spot has been matured for 12-years in three cask types, namely ex-Bourbon barrels, Spanish sherry butts and uniquely, Spanish Malaga casks. It is to be released annually in batches of just 500 cases. Sweet and oily on the nose, with vanilla, Bounty bars and peaches in syrup. Icing sugar and fragrant Madeira notes. Very spicy on the palate, mouth-coating, with citrus fruits, roasted coffee beans and toasted oak. Long and relatively dry in the finish. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, €65, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenfarclas, 1953 (Scotland)
At 58 years of age, this single cask bottling is the oldest Glenfarclas ever to be released. It has been bottled for Wealth Solutions, a company which provides exclusive products for Polish investors and connoisseurs. However, it is available in the UK through www.masterofmalt.com, whose sales director, Ben Ellefesen, was on the panel that selected cask # 1674 (an American oak, ex-sherry cask) from just three 1953 casks remaining in the Glenfarclas warehouses. A sweet, fragrant nose, with vanilla, fudge, sultanas, sherry, ginger and new leather. Full in the mouth, with spicy fruits and more leather, but soon drying to oak tannins. Liquorice, citrus fruit, plain chocolate and old oak in the long finish. Like so many veteran Glenfarclas drams, the spirit has somehow avoided being overwhelmed by the cask. (400 bottles) 47.2% ABV, 70cl, £6,000.00, Master of Malt.
  

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