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WHISKY NEWS – August 2020

JOHNNIE WALKER TURNS 200 YEARS OLD: FOUR CELEBRATORY BOTTLINGS

In 1820 John Walker, known as Johnnie, opened a whisky and tea shop in Kilmarnock when he was only 14 years old. Two hundred years later, Diageo, owner of the brand that has since become the world’s best-selling blended whisky, celebrated its anniversary with a series of special bottlings.
Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend: a tribute to the famous Old Highland Whisky, the first Johnnie Walker & Sons whisky to be exported halfway around the world in the 1860s. Litre bottle, 51% alcohol content, old style white label and the only existing image of John’s shop in Kilmarnock.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label 200th anniversary edition: the classic Blue Label, flagship of the core range, in a packaging that recalls the cities and symbols of two centuries of history.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight: to create this exclusive blend, the JW&S team used malt and wheat whiskies from eight distilleries already operating two hundred years ago: Oban, Blair Athol, Lagavulin, Teaninich, Brora, Cambus, Port Dundas and Carsebridge. Gradation of 43.8%, price revealed only for the American market (350 dollars). Available from October.
Johnnie Walker Bicentenary Blend: Jim Beveridge and his boys drew inspiration from an inventory of spices and products for sale in the Kilmarnock grocery store. To create this blend, they used whiskies aged at least 28 years, including malt from closed, mythical distilleries like Pittyvaich and Port Ellen. The decanter (46%) will be on sale in the US for $1,000.

YOICHI and MIYAGIKYO APPLE BRANDY FINISH

To each his own anniversary. So at Nikka they decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Masataka Taketsuru’s wedding to Rita Cowan with two special NAS bottles from the two sister distilleries Yoichi and Miyagikyo. On January 8, 1920, in fact, the wedding was held, which in fact started the whisky industry in Japan. But why did they choose a “apple brandy wood” finish? The answer comes from Taketsuru’s autobiography: one of Dai Nippon Kaju’s first products was apple juice. For the 80th wedding anniversary in 2000, an apple brandy called “Rita” was produced. Today two whiskies arrive with six months of aging in barrels that have contained apple brandy for at least 28 years. Both bottled at 47%, 6700 bottles of Yoichi, 6450 of Miyagikyo. Available on spiritacademy.it at 189 euro.

Ardbeg Scorch

The zoophile and creative phase of Ardbeg continues. After the 2020 limited edition dedicated to sheep twinning with New Zealand (Ardbeg Blaaack), the new 2021 Committee release will be called Scorch and will be characterized by maturation in heavily carbonized barrels. “Dragon charred cask”, you can read on the preview of the label, as if the former bourbon cask had been burned by a dragon hidden in Warehouse n.3. A “fantastic” dram or just fantasy? We wait confidently…

RAMPANT LUXURY: Black Bowmore 1964 & aston martin

In 1964 “007: Goldfinger” was released and the Aston Martin DB5 became a legendary car. In the same year, on Islay, the Bowmore distillery installed a steam boiler to replace the direct fire. From this (stretching…) coincidence came the Black Bowmore DB5 1964, an ultra limited edition of only 25 bottles from a stock of whisky distilled – obviously – in 1964 and aged for 31 years in a sherry butt of Oloroso Williams & Humbert sherry. In fact, with an operation that smells quite a lot, some bottles of the third edition of the Black Bowmore become the sixth edition of the Black Bowmore. Mmm, well… Of rare sobriety is the packaging: the lower part of the bottle is in fact a section of a piston of the famous coupé. Price: 50 thousand pounds. New releases are expected from the collaboration between the two brands. Prepare mortgages…

Arran Harmony Edition vol.3

Because of Covid, the annual Arran Music & Malt festival was held only in digital version, but the third edition of the dedicated limited release comes in glass, malt and guitar case packaging. Harmony vol.3 (1,000 bottles in all) will be available in the distillery and online, during scheduled sales. The first was on August 11, the next will be every Monday from August 17 to 31, at 11 am.
A blend of malt matured in hogshead sherry, French puncheon and bourbon barrel, it is bottled at 55.6% and is on sale for £100.

LOCH LOMOND: RESTYLING and 5 SINGLE CASKS

Loch Lomond does the trick and presents the new design of the core range and Travel retail expressions. A good time for the distillery, which has been among the fastest growing brands globally over the last five years.
The restyling goes through a “more contemporary” aesthetic (brand and age of whisky more evident, but without giving up the deer) and “simple sensory descriptors”, but the biggest news is the entrance of Inchmurrin 12 yo and Inchmoan 12 yo under the “hat” of the core range Loch Lomond. Together with the Loch Lomond 12 yo, they will be the base of the portfolio, enriched by Original, Classic, 10 yo and 18 yo. Waiting for the two new expressions that will be presented this autumn.
Meanwhile, the partnership between Alexandra’s distillery and the Open Golf Championship continues: 5 single casks dedicated to the European Tour’s UK Swing stages have been presented (price 90 pounds).
Hero Open (57.7%) dedicated to the Arden Forest and refined in Sauternes.
English Championship (57.7% ABV) dedicated to Hanbury Manor and refined in rum barrels.
Betfred British Masters (57.4% ABV) dedicated to Close House and aged in a first-fill Limousin cask.
Wales Open and Celtic Classic (58.2% ABV) dedicated to Celtic Manor and aged in Oloroso.
UK Championship (57.7% ABV) dedicated to The Belfry and aged in Porto Tawny.

compass box “rogues’ banquet”

The legendary brand of blended Compass Box turns 20 and celebrates with a special edition, “dedicated to gourmands and hedonists who have been following us since 2000”. Rogues’ Banquet is a blend of single malts from Miltonduff, Clynelish and Glen Elgin and wheat whisky from North British Distillery, it is bottled at 46% and it will be neither coloured nor chill-filtered. Also curious is the mix of barrels: refill hogshead, recharred barrel, recharred hogshead and first-fill bourbon barrel. Honorable mention for the pantagruelic label, which among pigs, lying philosophers and a frog in livery seems a fine mixture between Bosch and Raphael’s The School of Athens. Price? 185 pounds on whiskyexchange.

ROCK ISLAND SHERRY EDITION

On the occasion of Oyster Day (August 5), Douglas Laing presented a new edition of blended malt Rock Island in sherry. The brand – which has gone on to replace the old Oyster Rock – was designed because “the aromas of sherry butters are perfectly matched to a sea and peat whisky and seafood”. Classic blend composition, with island malts from Arran, Islay, Jura and Orkney. Bottled at 46.5%, on sale at around £45.

Can a STR whisky become as iconic as the Vinho Barrique?

KAVALAN STR

Kavalan – one of the two Taiwanese distilleries – gained international prominence in 2015, when its Vinho Barrique expression was surprise awarded as the world’s best single malt by Whisky Magazine.
This new release – like Vinho Barrique – will be aged in STR casks, or “shaved, toasted and recharred”, a type of barrel that is increasingly used in the industry, thanks to the influence of late Jim Swan (see a recent Kilchoman expression). It will be part of a serie of 4 Christmas whiskies and will be produced from peated barley. This is an absolute novelty, because the only peated Kavalan (the Peated cask) produced to date derived the smoky notes from barrels that contained peated whisky.
STR arrives after the launch – between 2019 and 2020 – of the Distillery Select Series, which has so far collected No.1 and No.2 and which expands the distillery’s entry level offer.

CLAXTON’S SUMMER RELEASE

We receive notification of the imminent arrival in Italy of the Claxton’s 2020 summer bottling batch. We start with a Mannochmore 9 in sherry, Bunnahabhain Stoisha 6 years in bourbon, a Glen Garioch from 2011 in Ruby Port, then Tomintoul 15 in sherry, a Bruichladdich Rhinns in Madeira from 2011, an octave of Tobermory in Sherry refill and an Aberlour from 1992 in bourbon. As usual, keep an eye out for Whiskyitaly to know when the bottles will be available – just a short time away.

CHICHIBU 10 YEARS OLD

Long awaited, it seems that finally the first 10 years of Chichibu is now on the finishing line. The label above has been circulating for days, and it’s related to the American edition: we don’t know about the print run (it’s not necessarily 5000 bottles, they are all details that can still be modified), we’re not sure about the gradation, but we certainly know it’s coming. Get on the starting blocks.

BENRIACH SMOKE season

Benriach is also revamping its look, obviously focusing on minimalism (is this the current trend? these labels remind us of the new Benromach ones…), and is taking the opportunity to launch some new editions: among these stands out Smoke Season, the most peated Benriach ever put on the market, aged in ex-bourbon barrels and in toasted virgin oak, bottled at 52.5%.

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