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Recent releases, October 2014

Ardbeg, Supernova SN14 (Committee Release) (Scotland)
This is the third variant of Ardbeg's heavily peated Supernova expression, and its release coincided with the date last month when a vial of Ardbeg spirit re-entered the earth's atmosphere after nearly three years orbiting the globe aboard the International Space Station. The nose offers sweet peat, iodine, ginger, vanilla and roast chestnuts, while the palate opens with bitter peat smoke, then more vanilla, with Germolene and black pepper. The finish is long, spicy and very dry. 55.0% ABV, 70cl, £124.99, £29.99.
Ardmore, Legacy (Scotland)
Legacy comprises 80 per cent lightly-peated malt and 20 per cent unpeated malt, and is being offered as a replacement for the present core expression, Ardmore Traditional Cask. Vanilla, caramel and sweet peat smoke on the nose, while on the palate vanilla and honey contrast with quite dry peat notes, plus ginger and dark berries. The finish is medium to long, spicy, with persistently drying smoke. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £29.99, Morrisons, Tesco, specialist whisky merchants.
Glenfiddich, Excellence 26 Year Old (Scotland)
Excellence is the first single malt from Glenfiddich to use Bourbon casks throughout the entire maturation process. According to Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman, "By maturing this expression exclusively in Bourbon casks, we've created a beautifully intense flavour, reflective of the relentless passion we have for producing incredible single malts. With notes of lush vanilla, light oak and spice our 26 Year Old, while a new expression, remains true to Glenfiddich's heritage of producing fruity, floral and deeply flavoured whiskies". The nose is fruity and spicy; pineapple, digestive biscuits and developing malt. Spicy fresh fruit, notably peaches and apples, then plain chocolate and tannins on the palate. The finish dries steadily, with aniseed and oak char. 43.2% ABV, 70cl, £350.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Bowmore, Devil's Cask II (Scotland)
Following the success of last year's limited release Bowmore Devil's Cask bottling, a second has now appeared. It has been matured for 10 years in first-fill Sherry casks, and as with the first batch, just 540 bottles have been allocated to the UK. The nose offers smoky sherry, pine, toffee, antiseptic, rosemary, basil, halibut oil and new leather. The palate is oily, with tar, contrasting sweet sherry, custard, prunes, light smoke and lots of spice. In the finish it slowly dries to liquorice and spicy bitumen 56.3% ABV, 70, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Haig, Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky (Scotland)
A high profile entry into the single grain sector by Diageo, Haig Club is endorsed by David Beckham, and his manager Simon Fuller. It is aimed at recruiting younger drinkers to the whisky category, weaning them off foreign lager and wine. The liquid is a no-age-statement bottling of Cameronbridge single grain which has been matured in a mixture of first and refill ex Bourbon casks and rejuvenated casks. Gentle and undemonstrative on the early nose, with apricots, hot metal, and subtle spices. Relatively viscous and fruity on the palate, with toffee, gingerbread and a hint of cloves. The finish is medium in length, with honey and ginger. One for the mixologists to play with. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £44.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Smogen, Svenska Single Malt (Sweden)
Sweden's Smögen distillery opened in 2010, with an operating capacity of 35,000 litres. Produced from optic barley, heavily peated to 45ppm, Smögen Primör is distilled in small batches in a 600 litre spirit pot still and has been matured in a combination of new European oak casks and former Bordeaux casks. Early earthiness, sweet smoke, salt, leather and cocoa powder on the nose. White pepper and mild Savlon. Sweet peat on the palate, with red berries and fragrant spices. The finish is long and warming and mildly medicinal. 63.7% ABV, 70cl, 160.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Port Ellen, 35-year-old, (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
The latest Port Ellen from Diageo's Special Releases programme was distilled in 1978 and matured in re-fill American oak and European oak casks. The out-turn is 2,964 bottles. The nose offers coal tar, damp fabric Elastoplast, citrus fruit, sultanas and warm leather. Voluptuous in the mouth, with sweet fruity notes - pineapple and banana - wrapped in peat smoke and ginger, while brine and plain chocolate arrive in time. Long in the finish, with oaky spices and smoky fruit. 56.5% ABV, 70cl, £2,200, specialist whisky merchants.
Benrinnes, 21-year-old (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
This example of Benrinnes was distilled 1992, and maturation has taken place in ex-bodega European oak casks. 2,892 bottles are available. Earthy on the nose, with Bovril, burnt caramel, figs and ginger. Silky on the palate, with strong sweet fruit flavours, toffee, sherbet and spice notes. Caramel, black pepper, dry oak and a hint of wood smoke in the finish. 56.9% ABV, 70cl, £240.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Lagavulin, 12-year-old (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
The component whiskies in this release were distilled during 2001 and 2002 and matured in first-fill American oak casks which yielded 31,428 bottles. Smoked haddock in butter on the nose, sweet peat, brittle toffee, iodine and developing brine. The palate offers sweet spices, citrus fruit and smoky peat. Dried fruits, drying peat and chilli in the finish. 54.4% ABV, 70cl, £80.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Cragganmore, 25-year-old (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
This expression of Cragganmore was distilled in 1988 and has been aged in American oak casks. The out-turn is 3,372 bottles. Buttery on the nose, with pineapple, lemonade, vanilla, milk chocolate and ginger. Spicy fruits and newly-planed wood on the palate; followed by cocoa powder Ginger and soft oak in the medium-length finish. 51.4% ABV, 70cl, £299.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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