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Recent releases, December 2013

Douglas Laing & Co, Big Peat Christmas Edition 2013 (Scotland)
The Christmas 2013 release of Douglas Laing's Big Peat blended malt includes whiskies from Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila and Port Ellen, and is bottled at cask strength. Smoked haddock, ripe pears, American cream soda, then liquorice. Smoke intensifies, along with ginger, pepper and an increasingly maritime note. A big hit of spicy smoke on the palate, with underlying citrus fruit. Ashy in the finish, with chestnuts, chilli powder and persistent fruit. 54.9% ABV, 70cl, £45.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Limited Release (Scotland)
This 10th anniversary release of just 5,700 bottles of Compass Box’s perennially popular Peat Monster contains what the company describes as “Islay single malts distilled on the south shore of the island and in the village of Port Askaig. Balanced with a rich, smoky Highland single malt and a fruity oily malt from the village of Brora.” Maturation has taken place primarily in in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak casks, along with approximately two per cent new French oak for finishing. Massive peat notes on the early notes, with brine, contrasted by barley sugar. Finally, Germolene and chimney soot. The palate is big and complex, with more peat smoke, Tarmac, lemon and vanilla. The finish is spicy and becomes very dry, with a strong, black tea. 48.9% ABV, 70cl, £83.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Black Bottle, blended Scotch whisky (Scotland)
Burn Stewart Distillers has re-launched its Black Bottle blended Scotch with a new formulation and packaging, with the company declaring that "The new Black Bottle heralds a return to the original Scotch, which the Graham brothers created in Aberdeen at the turn of the 19th century." Burn Stewart Master Distiller Ian MacMillan says that "The challenge was to develop a liquid that was more in line with the original character of Black Bottle while maintaining all of the quality for which the brand is renowned. I wanted to reintroduce a richness to balance the smokiness of the blend and in turn allow each component to contribute to the overall flavour." The nose is herbal, majoring in cloves, with wood smoke and green tea. Cloves, nutmeg, citrus fruits and newly-planed wood on the mildly smoky palate. Spicy in the finish, with soft smoke. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £18.49, widely available.
Kilchoman, 2007 Vintage (Scotland)
Kilchoman distillery on Islay has released its oldest whisky to date, namely a 2007 vintage expression, of which 10,000 bottles are available. Maturation has taken place in ex-Bourbon barrels. Anthony Wills, managing director of Kilchoman, says that “This is an exciting development and sees us enter a long-awaited period in our history. Although we’re a relatively young distillery our vintage six-year-old shows a level of maturity normally associated with much older whisky. We predict that this will sell quickly, and hope Kilchoman followers share in our excitement in the development of our malt.” Very sweet peat on the initial nose, then brine and kippers. Freshly-stubbed cigarettes, warm, gingery leather and vanilla. Full-bodied on the palate, nutty, with citrus fruits, black pepper and spicy peat. Long and fruity in the finish, with plain chocolate and lingering spice. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £52.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Johnnie Walker, Explorers' Club Collection - The Royal Route (Scotland)
The latest addition to Johnnie Walker’s travel retail-exclusive Explorer’s Club Collection is The Royal Route, which features flavours found along the trade route from the Far East to the Mediterranean coast. Previous releases have been The Gold Route, which channels flavours across South America and the Caribbean, and The Spice Road, which depicts flavours of Europe and Asia. Speaking of The Royal Route, Master Blender Jim Beveridge notes that "We sought out only the very finest, beautifully balanced blends that have deep evocative flavours and a character to match." Fleetingly, tinned peaches on the nose, then pear drops, milk chocolate and salted caramel. Sweet and silky in the mouth, with sherry, figs, toffee and a subtle, smoky undertone. Drying in the finish, with spicy, smoky plain chocolate. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, $159.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
Compass Box, Great King Street – Experimental Batch 00-V4 (Scotland)
The second of two limited Experimental Batch versions of Great King Street, 00-V4 comprises 28 per cent Lowland grain and 72 per cent malt from the Highlands and Speyside, with a small percentage of peated Islay. Some of the casks used for maturation previously contained Sherry. Intense vanilla and peaches on the nose, soft toffee, honey, ripe oranges and coconut ice. Finally caramel. Full-bodied, with cloves and cinnamon, Oloroso Sherry and milk chocolate on the palate. Cloves and cocoa in the medium length, herbal finish, with a hint of mint. (3,438 bottles) 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £30.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Great King Street – Experimental Batch TR-06 (Scotland)
This is the first of two limited Experimental Batch versions of Compass Box’s Great King Street blended Scotch that have been created to help the company decide which style to permanently launch in 2014. TR-06 comprises 33 per cent Lowland grain and 67 per cent malt from Islay, The Highlands and Speyside, with half emanating from Clynelish. Ozone, rock pools, lemon on the early nose, with developing brine and peat smoke. Sweet on the palate, with citrus fruits, turmeric and encroaching wood smoke. Medium in length, ashy and nutty, with spice and smoke. (3,805 bottles) 43.0% ABV, 70cl, £30.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Douglas Laing & Co, Scallyway Speyside Blended Malt (Scotland)
Douglas Laing has introduced a new blended malt, created using only Speyside malts, including Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes, with a significant amount of maturation having taken place in ex-Sherry butts. According to Douglas Laing’s Managing Director Fred Laing, "From a chance sketch by a designer of our sweet, wee, rascal of a Fox Terrier, our Scallywag Malt Whisky was born! ‘Sweet’ was the key, which focused us on Speyside. Its cask selection is self-evidently heavy on the sherry background, balanced by first-fill Bourbon casks – so the resulting ‘vatted’ malt comes with an excellent pedigree." Malty on the nose, with ginger nut biscuits, toffee, vanilla and plums. Mouth-coating, with nutmeg, more ginger, prunes and plain chocolate. The finish in medium to long, with cocoa powder and fruity spices. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £36.50, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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