Now, the new ownership is celebrating the “re-awakening” of the distillery by releasing this 13 year-old limited edition run of 6000 bottles, 3000 for the US market. This is comprised of whisky run from the stills in 2003 after the distillery sale, following a brief 3-year period of non-operation.
Produced by the same bottler (NOT distiller) who sells The Irishman blend, Walsh Whiskey Distillery Ltd., Writers’ Tears is a novel vatting of 40% triple-distilled Irish single-malt whiskey “probably” from Cooley (but the source is unknown), and 60% triple-distilled Irish single pot-still whiskey from Midleton, the only distiller of mature single pot-still whiskey — for now!. The vatting is aged for an undisclosed amount of time in ex-bourbon American oak casks and bottled without chill-filtration at 40% ABV.
The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve is an oddball vatting of what appears to be the leftover casks from the last public vintage releases plus a bunch of younger barrels that have not (yet) seen release: 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Of those years, the 1998 vintage makes up (according to marketing) 25% or more of the volume.
Elijah Craig is a small-batch bourbon made by prolific distiller Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky, and is named after Reverend Elijah Craig who is apocryphally credited with the invention of oak aging of corn whisky to create bourbon. This version replaces the old 12 year-old bottling, and is instead comprised of whiskey aged between 8 and 12 years.
…Bacalta, for instance, is aged in standard ex-bourbon casks and then finished in Malmsey Madeira wine casks. Apparently “Bacalta” is Scots Gaelic for “Baked”, and these casks were, at one point, “baked under the sun” or some nonsense. Personally, I think that means someone forgot the shipment from Madeira had arrived in the parking lot and left the barrels there for a few weeks before someone brought them inside, but maybe I’m a skeptic.
Anchor Distillers (which is a distillery in California, but also does business importing and bottling sourced spirits) has loaded down the Hirsch label with every whisky marketing adjective in the book. This is – no, really – Small-Batch Reserve Selected Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which is “Crafted” in the USA. It also says “artisanally produced” on the back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone accusing MGP of being a “craft” distillery, but there’s the word on the bottle none-the-less.
…this is the first addition to the core range of Laphroaig in awhile. The official back story for the Select (why does every new release need a back story these days?) is that because the last distillery manager when Laphroaig was family-owned, Ian Hunter, was among the first to utilize ex-bourbon barrels in the maturation of single malt. At the time, Laphroaig would have been primarily aged in used (and reused) European oak wine and fortified wine (sherry, madeira, port, etc.) casks.
… industry contacts allowed the brand to distill its recipe under contract at an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. The recipe, incidentally, includes not only a specific strain of yeast and a mash bill of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% barley, but the unusual choice of filling barrels at 103 proof (instead of the more cost-effective 120+ proof).
An unusual, decadent take on the standard Laphroaig brashness. While most of me enjoys the layering of fruit and peat, a small part misses the straightforward intensity, austerity, and rough edges of the Laphroaig 10, which seems to say, “I don’t need any of that fruity nonsense”, and which comes with an age statement to boot. Despite my quirks, I can say that this is an accomplished, well-balanced, and rewarding dram at a perfectly reasonable $80.
Brown Forman’s Old Forester brand, in an attempt to avoid being left in the dust of the whisky hype train, is releasing a series of special-edition whiskies in honor of the brand’s history of per-Prohibition distillation. … uses a mashbill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley (for enzymes), the same as other Old Forester bottlings, and is by law at least 4 years of age. The 115 proof (57.5% ABV) is the distiller’s estimate of the probable bottling proof that would have been used during Prohibition for whisky intended for “medicinal purposes”.