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Recent releases, December 2014

Wemyss, Velvet Fig (Scotland)
Velvet Fig is a new blended Scotch from Wemyss Malts which carries no age statement and has been matured in Oloroso Sherry casks. It is un-chill-filtered and just 6,000 bottles have been released on a worldwide basis. Mildly savoury, malty, with cinnamon, figs and polished leather on the nose. Silky on the palate, with more cinnamon, plus cloves, dates and stewed fruits. The finish is medium to long, softly spiced and warming. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £40.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Glendronach, 12-year-old Sauternes Finish (Scotland)
The latest addition to the GlenDronach portfolio has been matured initially in European oak casks before a period of finishing in Sauternes wine barrels. The result is whisky with a nose that offers initial resin, then apricots, honey and lemon. Smooth on the palate, with vanilla, honey, gentle spices and sweet oak. Fruity in the finish, with lingering honey. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £42.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, Great King Street Glasgow Blend (Scotland)
The latest variant of Compass Box’s Great King Street Blend is intended to be fully-flavoured and bodied, in best 19th century style, as particularly favoured in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. As usual, Compass Box is happy to reveal details of the blend’s composition, noting that it comprises 33 per cent grain from a Fife distillery, and 67 per cent malt from the Highlands, Speyside and Islay. Some 20 per cent of the total recipe is from a southern shore Islay distillery. Maturation has taken place in a combination of first-fill Sherry casks, first-fill and refill ex-Bourbon barrels and a small portion of new French oak finishing. Smoky on the nose, with sherry-soaked apricots and a hint of charcoal. Very smooth in the mouth, with dried fruit, sherry, nutty spice, and developing peat smoke. Lingering spice and soft peat in the finish. 43.0% ABV, 50cl, £29.50, specialist whisky merchants.
Compass Box, The Last Blend (Scotland)
Inspired by The Lost Blend, a short story written by O. Henry in 1907, this Compass Box offering combines single malts from Clynelish, Allt-A-Bhainne and Caol Ila distilleries. According to a Compass Box spokesperson, "The style is a homage to our own Lost Blend, Eleuthera, that we sadly retired in 2004." Just 12,018 bottles have been released. The nose offers peaches and wood smoke, with black pepper and an underlying herbal note. Soft fruits on the early palate, becoming more intense, with brine, new leather and smoky spices. Spice and fruity peat smoke in the finish. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, £85.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Cutty Sark, 33-year-old Art Deco Edition (Scotland)
This is the oldest blended Scotch ever released under the Cutty Sark label, and it is inspired by the Art Deco era of the 1920 and ’30s when Cutty Sark first became popular in the USA. Just 3,456 are available. Vanilla, cocoa powder, stewed apple, nutmeg and resin on the nose. Full-bodied on the palate, fruity, with deepening citrus notes, toffee, drinking chocolate and vanilla. Creamy, lengthy and lightly spiced in the soft oak finish. 41.7% ABV, 70cl, £650.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Isle of Arran, 18 Years Old (Douglas Laing) (Scotland)
This independent bottling of Arran at 18 years of age in Douglas Laing’s Old Particular range pre-empts the official 18-year-old, due in the not too distant future. It was distilled in August 1996 and matured in a refill hogshead before bottling in September 2014. The out-turn was 117 bottles. Soft fruits on the nose, sweet and fragrant, with vanilla and toffee. Nicely textured in the mouth, with spicy apricots and peaches. Fruity spice and gentle oak in the medium-length finish. 48.4% ABV, 70cl, £89.99, specialist whisky merchants.
Bunnahabhain, Ceobanach (Scotland)
'Ceobanach' is Gaelic for 'smoky mist,' and is Master Distiller Ian MacMillan’s take on Bunnahabhain’ as it would have been during the 19th century. It has been matured for over 10 years, and in line with Burn Stewart Distillers' policy, it has not been chill-filtered or coloured, and is bottled at 46.3%abv. Toasted oats, brine, lemon and peat embers on the nose. The palate yields sweet, spicy peat, plus nutty and soft fruit notes. The finish is quite lengthy, with spicy peat. 46.3% ABV, 70cl, £45.95, specialist whisky merchants.
Glendullan, Singleton of Glendullan 38-year-old, 1975 (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
This is the first Special Releases bottling of Glendullan, and also the oldest expression in the 2014 line-up. It has been matured in refill European oak casks and 3,756 bottles are available. Initially pears and soft spice on the nose, with emerging toffee, icing sugar and white pepper. Intense peppery fruitiness on the pleasantly oaky palate, black pepper. Lingering fruit and chewy oak in the lengthy finish. 59.8% ABV, 70cl, £750.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Strathmill, 25-year-old, 1988 (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
This is the first bottling of Strathmill under the Special Releases banner, and one of very few releases from this low profile Keith distillery. Maturation has taken place in refill American oak casks, and the out-turn is 2,700 bottles. The nose is sweet and fruity, with toffee bonbons and a hint of starched linen. Very fruity on the palate, with more citric notes emerging, plus with slight pepperiness. More pepper, plus nutmeg, cocoa and soft oak in the finish. 52.4% ABV, 70cl, £275.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Caol Ila, 15-year-old, 1998 (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
The Special Releases series regularly features unpeated Caol Ilas, and the latest is a 15-year-old expression, matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks. 10,668 bottles are available. Perfumed on the nose, with butterscotch and ginger. Fragrant fruitiness, icing sugar, fudge and sweet spices on the palate. Spicy in the finish, with the faintest hint of smoke. 60.3% ABV, 70cl, £75.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Caol Ila, 30-year-old, 1983 (Diageo Special Releases 2014) (Scotland)
This is the oldest Caol Ila ever released by Diageo, and maturation has taken place in a combination of refill American and refill European oak casks. 7,638 bottles have been released worldwide. The nose opens with starch and savoury notes, then hickory wood smoke, brine and iodine. Oily and sweet on the palate, with olives and black pepper. Brine, thick peat, liquorice sticks and a medicinal note in the lengthy finish. 55.1% ABV, , £420.00, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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