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Malt of the Month - Bowmore Black Rock

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews The Bowmore Black Rock, exclusive to travel retail. Islay Shipwrecks by Peter Moir and Ian Crawford makes for grim reading [Google 'Islay Shipwrecks' to see a summary of the book]. Literally hundreds of ships have gone down around the island from Viking times to the present day: the book describes 41 from between 1851 and 1974, but these are only the visible ones or those with remains which can be inspected by divers.  The island lies to the north-east of the North Channel, the main artery for shipping between the Western Approaches from the Atlantic and the Clyde and Northern England ports. The prevailing winds are south-westerly – making Islay a dreaded ‘lee shore’ – and when this is combined with heavy tides, treacherous water and many off-shore and in-shore hazards, it is little wonder that the island becomes the final resting place of so many ships. The Black Rock is one such hazard. This fearsome tidal reef  - a sgeir in Gaelic - is located in Loch Indaal, within sight of the distillery. It is illustrated on the bottle’s carton and has inspired the name of this expression of Bowmore, as part of a range...
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The Glenlivet Nadurra First Fill Selection

This month Charles reviews The Glenlivet, Nàdurra First Fill Selection, exclusive to travel retail.  The release of a new Nàdurra is always a matter for celebration. Last year's was drawn from Spanish oak ex-sherry casks; this year's follows the earlier batches in being drawn from first fill American white oak ex-bourbon casks. The distinguishing factor in the range is that each batch is small. I have been unable to find out just how many casks went into this expression, but they are all ‘first fill’ – they have never before been used to mature Scotch whisky. As a result the casks are very ‘active’: they impart an unusually high level of the flavours associated with American white oak – particularly vanilla and coconut.As the brand became more widely available it won several highly prestigious awards, including a double gold at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 International Wine & Spirits Awards and silver medals at the 2011 and 2012 International Spirits Challenge. The whisky is bottled at the higher strength of 48%ABV, which allows Alan Winchester, The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, to bottle it without chill-filtration. This is important. Chill-filtration is a process which removes compounds...
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Oban Little Bay

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Oban Little Bay, exclusive to travel retail. 'Oban' is easy to say and order in the bar or the liquor store. There is no doubt that this has helped introduce this excellent malt to many, who have now become devotees – especially in the United States, which is the brand's principal market.   Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Auchroisk, Etc. eat your hearts out…! Now Diageo are releasing a new expression of Oban. It’s named Little Bay and is a translation of the place-name (according to Wikipedia), although my Gaelic dictionary tells me that although Òb is Gaelic for a ‘creek’ or ‘haven’, ‘little’ is beag. (ban is used mainly to indicate ‘female’). Anyhow, you get the picture.  Oban Bay is certainly a ‘haven’ – a lovely, sheltered bay, protected to the south and west by the island of Kerrera, and to the east by the mainland, with a peninsula surmounted by the ruins of Dunollie Castle guarding it from northern gales. This headland has been fortified since the Bronze Age, and humans have taken shelter in Oban Bay since Stone Age times: in 1890 a cave was discovered behind Oban Distillery while the guys were blasting...
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Malt of the Month - Mortlach Special Strength

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the travel exclusive Mortlach Special Strength.     Mortlach Distillery is discreetly situated in a wooded glen on the southern edge of Dufftown – the first licensed distillery in the town which would become the ‘whisky capital’ of Speyside, with eight distilleries – and draws its water from ‘Highlander John’s Well’, much esteemed by illicit distillers.   It was founded in 1824 by one James Findlater, but he soon ran into financial difficulties, as did his successor. The third owners were John and James Grant, who removed the distilling equipment to their new distillery, Glen Grant, down the road at Rothes. For a while the Mortlach buildings were used as a Free Church, then the distillery was revived by on John Gordon, under whose ownership the whisky “attained some celebrity in the district under the name of The Real John Gordon”.   In 1852 Gordon was joined by George Cowie, a local man who qualified as a surveyor and worked for two of the leading railway engineers of the ‘railway boom’, assisting with the construction of bridges, viaducts, tunnels and stations all over the United Kingdom, before returned to his native heath to become John...
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Malt of the Month - Glenmorangie Dornoch

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Glenmorangie Dornoch, exclusive to World of Whiskies.     A new expression from Glenmorangie is always an occasion for celebration, and Dornoch is no exception, especially when it is a limited edition!   The distillery stands on the southern shore of the Dornoch Firth, a spacious sea estuary – hence the name - which, as the owners explain, is “… inspired by the unique natural environment around the Distillery”. Further, “a donation from every bottle will be given to the Marine Conservation Society for the Protection of the Dornoch Firth”.   Described as “one of the least well-known beauty spots in Scotland”, the Firth is a Special Protection Area (SPA), with a large number of resident waders and shore birds (including Ospreys), and many winter visitors (including Bar-tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon and Curlews by the hundred).   The ancient Royal Burgh of Dornoch stands on the north side of the Firth and apparently derives its name from the Gaelic word dorn, a fist-sized pebble, suitable for being thrown at enemies! It has a charming, if somewhat austere, cathedral, built in the 1200s, and a bishop’s palace, built around 1500, which is now an excellent...
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Malt of the Month - The Woodford Reserve

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select. Woodford County, Kentucky, is largely covered by stud farms. Magnificent thoroughbred race-horses graze in verdant meadows and parkland, divided up by white wooden fences and fine old homesteads. This is Bluegrass country - the very epitome of the Old South. The Labrot & Graham Distillery which makes Woodford Reserve is the smallest distillery in Kentucky. Standing in a wooded valley, Glenn’s Creek, between Frankfurt and Lexington, it is built of pale limestone, with some of the buildings dating from the 1830s. For me, it is the prettiest distillery in America.  It is also the most historic. It was founded by Elijah Pepper in 1812; Elijah himself began distilling in Virginia in 1776, the year the United States became independent – indeed for many years Pepper’s whiskey proudly advertised itself as “Born with the Republic”.  He was succeeded by his son, Oscar, in 1838, and he rebuilt the distillery - now known as ‘The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery’ - and hired a Scottish chemist, Dr. James Crow, whose scientific training helped him understand the sour mash process used by all bourbon distillers today, and the benefits that charring gave to oak...
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Throw a Dinner Party With Miss Whisky!

Miss Whisky        New to Whisky Festival for 2014 is Miss Whisky, the alter-ego of London based, Canadian born journalist and editor Alwynne Gwilt. Author of blog misswhisky.com, Alwynne brings a fresh approach, showing that it’s not just arm-chair dwellers and cigar smokers who appreciate a wee dram.       She says "I fell for whisky in 2008. Like the best of love affairs, it came out of the blue – but when it did, oh how I tumbled. The smells, the tastes, the places it’s made, the people that surround the spirit – all are entrancing. And now I love sharing my experiences with others, to show that whisky doesn’t only fit into the stereotypes that have been set for it in the past. It can be fun, beguiling, for summer or winter, for drinking by the fire or at a rooftop party."  Below, Alwynne has put together a fantastic dinner party menu, paired with four whiskies whose diverse flavours work perfectly with each course.    To Start Talisker Dark Storm 1 litre£46.99 Travel Exclusive Deep, brooding, amber with blackened copper lights. As with other Taliskers, Dark Storm is bottled at 45.8%.  A rich nose with sweet malt...
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The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso, exclusive to Travel Retail. Nàdurra means both 'natural' and 'affectionate' in Scots Gaelic. When this expression of The Glenlivet was first released in 2005 as a 16 years old, it was described by the distillery as 'the pure and natural one', based on the fact that it was bottled in limited amounts, without chill-filtration.  The early batches were drawn from American oak ex-bourbon casks, and as the brand became more widely available it won several highly prestigious awards, including a double gold at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 International Wine & Spirits Awards and silver medals at the 2011 and 2012 International Spirits Challenge. Now, as a travel retail exclusive, The Glenlivet have released an expression drawn from first fill Spanish oak ex-Oloroso sherry casks –  “the first major The Glenlivet bottling in living memory to be matured solely in ex-sherry casks”, according to their press release, and the first of a planned series of extensions to the Nàdurra range, drawn from different types of cask. It was launched as part of the successful World Duty Free Whisky Festival in May. The...
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Jura Turas Mara

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Jura Turas Mara, exclusive to travel retail. The carton of this expression of single malt from the Isle of Jura tells me that 'Turas-Mara' is the Scots Gaelic for a 'long journey'. Indeed. And since mara is the Gaelic for 'sea', the implication is that the journey is overseas – appropriate for a whisky which is exclusive to Travel Retail. From the mid-19th Century until the mid-20th Century there was a steady flow of emigration from the island, Diurachs [the people of Jura]: in 1851 the population was just short of 1000 souls; by 1951 it had dropped to 220. The Second World War had taken its toll, and as with many Hebridean islands, there had been a steady drift of younger people away to the mainland and overseas. One emigrant, Jessie Stewart, wrote poignantly: Though ne’er to tread thy shores again, My heart with thee shall aye remain. Where’er I wander I’ll retain My dearest wish for Jura.   By the late 1950s the enlightened owners of the island were determined to staunch the flow of emigration and to attract new blood to the island by increasing employment, and as part of the...
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EXCLUSIVE: Brora 40 Year Old Single Malt

Charles Maclean   Today Charles reviews a very special malt, the rare and exclusive Brora 40 Year Old. Only available at World of Whiskies. This is the oldest expression of this legendary malt ever to have been bottled; at £6,995 it is also the most expensive malt whisky Diageo have ever released. Only 160 bottles are available, and they are all exclusive to World of Whiskies.   Brora Distillery, which stands on the edge of the pretty seaport of the same name in the far north-east of Scotland, was once named Clynelish, but then, in 1967, its owner built another distillery next door which they also named 'Clynelish'. This was confusing, so the original was referred to as 'Clynelish No.2' – which didn't help – until 1975, when it was re-named 'Brora'. It was closed and dismantled in 1983, though the elegant old buildings still stand and the warehouses are used by Clynelish Distillery. They mostly date from the 1890s, but the distillery itself was founded in 1819 by the local laird, the Marquess of Stafford (later 1st Duke of Sutherland) as part of his plan to 'improve' his wife's vast northern estates – a plan which also required the clearing of...
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Macallan Whisky Maker's Edition

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Macallan Whisky Makers Edition, new to World of Whiskies. The Macallan's 'Whisky Maker' is Bob Dalgarno. He is one of the whisky industry's leading craftsmen; I have known him for about twenty years and have a high regard for his skill and dedication – and also for his modesty and openness.   He was ‘born to the trade’ at Glenallachie Distillery not far away, where his father worked, and  started at Macallan in 1984 as a warehouseman. After passing through every stage of whisky making – mashman, brewer, stillman, warehouse supervisor, operations manager – he joined the panel which selects casks for bottling in 1994.  Now he has the awesome responsibility for the flavour, quality and consistency of all The Macallan bottlings – including the one which currently holds of the world record price, a six litre Lalique decanter, sold at auction in Hong Kong in January this year for £381,620! The bottle named as his own edition states on its back label that it has been created “…for his personal enjoyment and bottled at his preferred strength, this delicious single malt is layered with fruit and spice”. I asked him first about the...
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Talisker Dark Storm

Charles Maclean   This month Charles reviews the Talisker Dark Storm, exclusive to travel retail.   Talisker Distillery stands on the shore of Loch Harport, on the west coast of the Isle of Skye – a remote place, sprinkled with white cottages, with the towering peaks of the Cuillin Mountains as a backdrop. It is the only distillery on Skye – and so far as I can ascertain, is the only distillery on the island ever to have been licensed, although there are many accounts of illicit distilling – founded in 1830 by the brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, who had been raised on the island of Eigg.   Hugh had leased Talisker House and estate from its owner, Macleod of Macleod, in 1825 and set about clearing the land of people to make way for sheep. The plan to build a distillery (and name it after his handsome house) was an extension of his policy of ‘improving’ the land, although it was described by a former minister of the parish as “one of the greatest curses that, in the ordinary course of Providence, could befall it or any other place”.   His brother Kenneth, who was a bank agent in Portree,...
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Heathrow Exclusive - Johnnie Walker Blue London Skyline

Johnnie Walker Blue Label London SkylineExclusively available at World of Whiskies and World Duty Free at London Heathrow, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label London Skyline Edition is the ultimate rarity and makes for the perfect gift. With only 750 bottles produced worldwide, you won't find this hand engraved bottle anywhere else.   Tasting Notes: Blue Label has a mellow, rounded nose, with a dry smokiness (a Johnnie Walker signature flavour) mixing with raisin sweetness. It is best savoured with the palate cleansed and cooled by iced water. One sip reveals a velvety mouth-feel, then an explosion of flavour. At once you'll discover hazelnuts, honey, rose petals, sherry and oranges. Subsequent sips reward you with more hidden secrets like kumquats, wispy aromatic smoke, sandalwood, tobacco, and dark chocolate.   Distillery Notes: Johnnie Walker Blue Label is one of the pinnacle offerings from Johnnie Walker.   Only sublime, rare whiskies at the pinnacle of perfection are used in the blending of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, with only 1 in 10,000 casks containing whisky of sufficient character to deliver its remarkably smooth signature taste. Each is hand selected by the Johnnie Walker Master Blender himself, part of an unbroken lineage of Master Blenders stretching back over 190 years -...
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The Strathspey Reserve 21 Year Old - Worldwide Exclusive

Master Blender at work  The Strathspey Reserve is the culmination of over 110 years of skill, passion and expertise in Blended Scotch Whisky. These rare cask reserves are a masterfully crafted rare, aged and finite collection of Scotch Whisky blends from William Grant & Sons' most cherished and guarded whisky reserves which include the most revered and ancient malt and grain whiskies from across Scotland.   This 21 year old limited edition whisky has been handcrafted by 6th generation Master Blender, Brian Kinsman. Working in partnership with World of Whiskies ambassadors he has created unique small batches exclusive to each World of Whiskies store. Each expression has a distinct and individual taste and flavour profile. Reviewed by our expert World of Whiskies staff, read the tasting notes below for the Strathspey Reserve exclusive to your World of Whiskies store.     Worldwide Exclusive: The Strathspey Reserve 21 Year Old. 70cl £99.00         London Heathrow.   Nose: Fruity, floral and sweet with the merest hint of smoke.   Taste: A lovely balance of sweet, fruity flavours enveloped in gentle smoke.                     London Gatwick.   Nose: Rich, fruity and oaky with hints of Christmas cake. A subtle smokiness....
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Glen Deveron 20 Year Old

Charles Maclean       This month Charles reviews the Glen Deveron 20 Year Old, exclusive to World of Whiskies.   Glen Deveron is the brand name of the malt whisky distilled at Macduff Distillery, which stands close to where the River Deveron meets the Moray Firth on the edge of the thriving fishing village of Macduff.     The village itself was built by James Duff, 2nd Earl of Fife, in 1783, planned around one of the best harbours on the Moray Firth, which (after 1815) became a leading herring port during the nineteenth century, exporting cured fish direct to the Baltic ports.   The distillery itself is a child of the Sixties. It was built in 1960 by a consortium which included the (at the time) well-known firm Brodie Hepburn, blenders in Glasgow which also had interests in the recently built Deanston and Tullibardine Distilleries. Like the latter, it was designed by Willian Delmé Evans, the leading distillery architect of the day and incorporated several novelties which have now become standard throughout the whisky industry, including indirect firing by steam coils, shell-and-tube condensers and a stainless steel mash tun.   Ownership passed to William Lawson Distillers, a subsidiary of the...
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The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve

Charles Maclean       This month Charles reviews The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Batch Reserve. Exclusive to World of Whiskies.     If there was a High Chief of malt whisky, it would be The Glenlivet. As early as 1826, two years after the distillery was licensed, the poet and novelist James Hogg (who was born on the same day as Robert Burns) is reported to have said: "The human mind never tires o'Glenlivet, any mair than o'caller [fresh] air. If a body could just find oot the exac' proper proportion and quantity that ought to be drunk every day, and keep to that, I verily trow [swear] that he might leeve [live] forever, without dying at a', and that doctors and kirk-yards would go oot o'fashion". It is probably unlikely that he is referring to ‘The' Glenlivet, for the remote Glen of the River Livet was a nest of illicit stills - in 1820 it was estimated that there were 200 of them. But George Smith's distillery at Upper Drummin was the first to take out a license, a fact which didn't please his former smuggler friends, who swore they would burn down his distillery "and him at the heart...
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MacKinlay's Shackleton 'The Journey'

Charles MacleanThis month Charles reviews the MacKinlay's Shackleton 'The Journey. A blended malt Scotch whisky.   - 47.3% vol   The sub-title of this whisky is ‘A Recreation of a 1907 Whisky and Its Presentation', and those of you who follow whisky news stories will know that the whisky replicated was found beneath Ernest Shackleton's expedition hut at Cape Royds, Antarctica. Shackleton's ‘Nimrod' Expedition of 1907-09 is one of the most extraordinary stories of Polar exploration, and the survival and recreation of the whisky that accompanied him is among the most curious stories in recent whisky history. Twenty-five 12-bottle cases were ordered from Charles Mackinlay & Company ‘to sustain the British Antarctic Expedition', originally named ‘Endurance', after the ship which was to take them South - this name appears on the facsimile neck-label - later altered to ‘Nimrod' when the vessel was changed. Leaving London in October 1907 and sailing via New Zealand, the ship arrived on 29th January 1908 and a base camp was constructed at Cape Royds, comprising a wooden hut with accommodation for dogs, ponies and a motor car. Provisions, including the whisky, were stored beneath the hut. Over the next year, the fifteen members of the Nimrod expedition...
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Jack Daniels Sinatra Select

Jack Daniels Sinatra Select A true & timeless friendship deserves an equally bold salute.   From hand selected and uniquely crafted Sinatra Barrels our Master Distiller has created a whiskey that is smooth, bold and classic just like the man himself. The Sinatra Barrels are crafted with unique grooves carved into the charred wood to provide more exposure to extra layers of toasted wood on the inner surface of the barrels. The barrels are then matured in prime position in our barrel houses and then mingled with our classic Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and bottled at 45% ABV giving Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select the bold character of oak and spice notes that give way to an exceedingly smooth vanilla finish but with that always undeniable classic Jack Daniel's flavour.   This special 1 litre bottle is presented in a stylish gift box with a keepsake book telling of the friendship between Jack Daniel's and Frank Sinatra.   Now available for Pre-order.    
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Hand selected - Glen Garioch Single Casks

Glen Garioch barrel Located eighteen miles north west of Aberdeen, Glen Garioch (pronounced ‘Geery') was founded in 1797 by brothers John and Alexander Mason. Established on the site of an old tannery in the quaint market town of Oldmeldrum, Glen Garioch thrived and has gone on to become one of Scotland's oldest distilleries. The Garioch is a tract of richly fertile land, some 150 square miles in extent, bounded on every side by rolling hills. The district was known as ‘The Granary of Aberdeenshire'. Cereal crops have been abundant here for over a thousand years, while the crystal springs which supply Oldmeldrum made the town famous for its beer. The honey sweetness of their signature style whisky combines hints of leather and a touch of spice indicative of the original highland style. Together with the quality of the casks used for maturation it produces the finest single malt whisky. To celebrate the history and unique story of the distillery our staff at each World of Whiskies store have handpicked their own Glen Garioch vintage single cask, Malt of the Month. Discover below the Malt of the Month at your departure airport. Glasgow:                   Glen Garioch...
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Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve

This rare 55 year old single malt was created in honour of Janet Sheed Roberts, the granddaughter of William Grant, who founded the Glenfiddich Distillery. Mrs Roberts celebrated her 110th birthday in August 2011 and was the oldest woman in Scotland. Sadly she passed away in April this year and to commemorate her life, the distillery released 11 bottles drawn from one of its oldest and most special casks - one bottle to celebrate each decade of her life. Everything about the Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve is unique. The glass bottle was hand-blown by Brodie Nairn of Glasstorm and the stopper has been hand pressed with Janet Roberts' initials, monogrammed in gold on an aquamarine Cloisonné medallion. This beautiful bottle is then presented in a luxurious leather covered case, which takes its inspiration from a travel trunk that Janet used to use. It is finished with a Scottish deer horn toggle and lined with bespoke patterned silk. Finally, a hand made, limited edition, original print accompanies the bottle and is signed by the artist, Alison Watt OBE, an Associate Artist to the National Gallery in London. The whisky itself is light and elegant, with notes of orange blossom, violets and a...
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