Monday, January 30, 2017

Review - Benromach Heritage 1973

This expression was distilled in 1973 and is the latest expression in the Heritage series of rare single malts from the small Speyside distillery of Benromach. The bottling, which will be exclusive to the UK, consists of just 52 bottles that have come from a single re-fill American oak hogshead (cask #4606). The Benromach Heritage 1973 is presented in a bespoke bottle that represents the shape of the stills at Benromach and wooden casket, both adorened with copper trim.  A specially commissioned book covering the history of the Benromach distillery is also included.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review - Whiskey Thief

Whiskey Thief is a new bourbon that was launched in the UK late last Summer.  It is the culmination of an idea that formed in 2010 and has been in development ever since.  The aim of Whiskey Thief was to create a bourbon that was accessible to new whisky drinkers in terms of flavour profile and price point.  Many new brands are produced by craft or artisan distilleries and their products are boutique, small batch and expensive as a result.  Whiskey Thief is designed to be the opposite of that and both easy drinking when taken neat or as the base spirit in a cocktail.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review - Tomatin 8, 15 and 40 years old

This trilogy of whiskies have been released by the increasingly popular Highland single malt brand of Tomatin and will be exclusive to the travel retail sector. All have age statements at 8, 15 and 40 years old. The three new whiskies will join two current one litre bottlings - the 12 years old and the peaty Cù Bòcan - in the range. They are available through travel retailers in Europe now, before being introduced in Asia and the USA shortly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review - Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990

This whisky is part of a new range of premium single malts and is the first bottling in the series. The Bond House No.1 Collection will showcase some of Glenmorangie's rarest whiskies and cask types that they have maturing at the distillery in the north Highland village of Tain. This inaugural release is the Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1990 and consists of a small pocket of stock matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. These have been hand selected by Dr. Bill Lumsden - the Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation & Whisky Stocks at Glenmorangie - and was made from barley taken from one of the worst harvests in living memory.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review - Haig Club Clubman

The Clubman is the first permanent addition to the Haig Club single grain Scotch whisky range. Like the original Haig Club, which was launched to much media coverage in 2014, the new Clubman is a collaboration between brand owners Diageo, ex-footballer David Beckham and media guru Simon Fuller.  The name is inspired by a 1922 advertising campaign for Haig whisky that celebrated a series of whisky-drinking clubs and marketed as 'The Clubman's whisky since 1627'.  The Clubman is designed be the mainstream product in the range with Haig Club being the luxury option.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review - Lagavulin 1991

This new whisky is the third and final limited edition released to commemorate Lagavulin's 200th anniversary in 2016.  The whisky was officially announced on December 31st to round off a year of celebrations for the Islay distillery.  This release is the rarest of the three and consists of just one ex-Oloroso sherry cask.  This cask was chosen during 2016 by a select group of people including Ivan Menezes, the CEO of Diageo, Georgie Crawford, the Distillery Manager of Lagavulin, and Iain McArthur, a veteran of over 45 years in the whisky industry and Lagavulin legend.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review - Ballantine's Hard Fired

Ballantine's Hard Fired is a blended expression created using a double-charred cask product process which produces an expression with enhanced flavours of sweet smooth vanilla and spicey smokiness.

The signature 'Hard Fired' process takes a specific selection of American oak casks which are then charred a second time to a specific level that is judged by sight by the highly experienced coopers. These best of these casks are then filled with a unique Ballantine's blend to rest.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Inbox - The Week's Whisky News (January 13, 2107)

Welcome to the first Inbox of 2017.  For those new to WFE, Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece received. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review - Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza

The Extravaganza celebrates the 10 year anniversary of the legendary Spice Tree release. This was famously banned by the Scotch Whisky Association due to un-traditional maturation methods when it was first released. The new expression is a blend of three single malts - Allt-a-Bhainne, Benrinnes and Glen Ord - and three pockets of 'Highland Malt Blend' (consisting of whiskies from Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich) that have been matured in 'hybrid' casks.  This is a limited edition release and there are just 12,240 bottles available, which is presented in special commemorative packaging.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Playing To Your Strengths

* This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post UK on 5/1/17.

The current buzzword in the Scotch whisky industry seems to be experimentation. This year we have seen major brands releasing whiskies that have been matured in funky wine casks, creating new recipes and collaborating with craft beer brewers.

Experimentation has generally been seen as the realm of the craft or artisan distiller, especially those new to the scene. The major players argue that they have always been experimenting throughout their history and that this is simply taking it to the next level.

So what are the big whisky brands trying to achieve from this experimentation? Is it to simply diversify their range? Is it to make their product more attractive to a wider audience or new drinkers? Or is it to be seen as a ‘craft’ product themselves?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Our Top 10 Whiskies of 2016

Well, it is that time again - the time when we reveal our Top 10 whiskies from the previous year.  This always proves to be one of the most fun posts to write and one of the most popular with readers.  It also allows us some time to reflect on what has happened during the whisky year.  Personally we attended nearly 60 events or whisky shows, numerous press trips and distilleries, and sampled and reviewed over 100 whiskies.

2016 seemed a year of innovation and experimentation that saw big brands and smaller producers alike pushing the boundaries and released a wide spectrum of products to an ever-growing consumer base.  Some of these products have impressed us and are included in our Top 10.  They sit alongside more traditional whiskies that could well become modern classics.

Any Top 10 is always subjective and ours is no different.  Our criteria generally include quality, value for money and availability.  We are sure that some will agree with our choices and some will disagree - after all, it has happened every year that we have been doing this.  This year's selection ranges in price from £25 to £16,000 a bottle.  Here is our Top 10 for 2016 in alphabetical order.