Book Review: A Glass Apart

Author Fionnán O’Connor has assembled a beautiful coffee table style hardcover book entirely about the magic of Irish single pot still (previously called Pure Pot Still) whiskey. In the author’s own words, “It’s worth repeating that there aren’t really that many of them. What’s left from the past can be difficult to find and, although the future looks brighter than it has in a century, what’s bottled at present is still relatively slim. … that’s also why this book seemed worth writing in the first place and I can only hope that that same narrowness of scope might offer me a little more room to give each of these tipples the attention they deserve.”

Lost Spirits Abomination

The mad scientist Bryan Davis is back … and he’s released a pair of whiskies very much in line with Lost Spirits’ previous editions. … Bryan has gone old-school and bought actual Islay whisky to perform his depraved alchemical rituals upon. Sourced from an undisclosed distillery on Islay (his only hint: it’s not Caol Ila), and rapid-aged in his biochemical reactor using American oak staves that have been toasted (or charred, see below) and soaked in late-harvest Riesling.

Lost Distillery – Lossit

The Lost Distillery Company, founded in 2012, uses archival records and the history of regional distillation of whisky in Scotland to create a “map” of the likely flavors and aromas present in long-closed distilleries, and then creates and bottles replicas of those whiskies using blends of modern malts. … The Lossit distillery was the largest producer of (then illicit) whisky on Islay. … To re-create this lost malt whisky, The Lost Distillery Company blended 5 to 10 single malts around a centerpiece of peated Ben Nevis, including a few malts finished in oloroso and PX sherry casks.

Woodford Reserve Rye

In a refreshing departure from mainstream bourbon brands releasing LDI/MGP rye under their own labels and then claiming some kind of “heritage” of rye distillation, Brown Forman’s Woodford Reserve actually went out and – gasp! – made themselves a rye! … made from a combination of pot-still rye whiskey from the historic Woodford Reserve distillery and column-still rye whiskey from the Brown Forman distillery in Shively, KY.

Benromach Peat Smoke

The Peat Smoke release is made from barley smoked to 67 ppm (that’s pretty high: Ardbeg is 55 ppm (except Supernova at 100 ppm) and Bruichladdich Octomore, the highest, is in the 160s) and is aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks (from Heaven Hill and/or Jim Beam) for between 9 and 10 years, although the bottle carries no age statement. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV with no added color.

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon

Owned and distilled by the Jim Beam company, Old Grand-Dad is named after famed distiller Basil Hayden. … Old Grand-Dad 114 is named, appropriately, for its 114 proof (57% ABV). This is not quite cask-strength, as they must water the whiskey down to hit a consistent 57% ABV, but it’s close. … Old Grand-Dad bourbons are purportedly from a “high rye” mash bill, despite a total lack of definitive information on the subject.

HWiS-KEE Box

I was contacted recently by the owner of a new “box” subscription company, HWis-KEE Box. Try typing that three times fast. These box subscriptions have been all the rage lately, with boxes containing a curated assortment of everything from junk food to vegetables, clothing, themed merchandise, personal hygiene products and now (at last!), stuff to help you drink your whisky.

The Macallan Double Cask (12 year)

This is something new, folks. Macallan takes new American oak (NOT ex-bourbon!) and “seasons” it by filling it with sherry for an undisclosed period of time. These “seasoned” American oak sherry casks are then used to age Macallan for at least 12 years. This whisky is then blended with traditional Macallan aged in European oak sherry casks and bottled at 43% ABV.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

Basil Hayden is named after the famed distiller by that name who established a farm distillery in Kentucky in 1796. … In 1992 the Jim Beam distillery (which now owns the brand and produces Old Grand-Dad whiskey) produced a small-batch product named after Basil Hayden and using a high-rye mash bill. The whisky is bottled at 40% ABV and claimed an 8 year age-statement until 2014, when the age-statement disappeared from bottles.

Benromach Organic

Unlike Benromach 10, this single malt is matured in virgin oak barrels with a light char for an undisclosed time – reportedly around 5 and a half to 6 years. The malted barley used is 100% certified organic, and this release (in 2006) was the first-ever certified organic single-malt scotch. The whisky is bottled at 43% ABV without added color.