There is a wild raging debate on the Internet about the actual source of Alexander Murray & Co.’s big-age, low-price malts. Some rumors suggest that the majority of the company’s barrels come from Tullibardine (a whisky chameleon of sorts), while the company has definitely bottled Macallan before, and is reported to have contracts with both Diageo and Edrington.
Wolfburn Aurora was released in 2016 from 3 year-old Wolfburn malt aged in a variety of casks. Reportedly, this means 40% of the whisky was aged in second-fill quarter casks, 40% in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels, and the remaining 20% in first-fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads.
The GlenDronach 18-year is named after the 1826 founder of the distillery, James Allardes. It is aged for 18 years exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring. This has more deep, dark, concentrated dry fruit than I’ve ever experienced in a single malt. I’m not sure that’s actually a good thing. …
Yet another of Diageo’s stable of “blending fodder” – some malt distilled at Lochnagar finds its way into Johnnie Walker (Blue, in particular) and Vat 69, but the majority of Diageo’s smallest distillery (smallest in output, that is) is now bottled as a single malt, including a Distiller’s Edition finished in Moscatel casks and an NAS Selected Reserve edition aged in sherry casks.
The 14-year Rich Oak uses an experimental finishing technique that appears to have been deemed enough of a success to launch it in 2010, although it still has not ventured Stateside. … Standard ex-bourbon aged Glenfiddich is re-casked after 14 years into a mixture of new Spanish oak and new American oak, for a brief finishing period of “up to” 12 weeks. This is apparently the first time any single-malt scotch has been finished in new Spanish oak.
Glenturret is probably best known as the site of the Famous Grouse Experience, a tourist attraction and visitor center for blended scotch The Famous Grouse. Both the brand and the distillery are owned by Highland Distillers (The Edrington Group), which also owns The Macallan and Highland Park. The vast majority of the Glenturret distillery’s single malt output goes into various Grouse blends, although it has also been bottled as a single malt for some time.
Here we have something new. Whisky is (sort of) distilled beer, right? And most (almost all) beer contains hops to some degree. So why not age whisky in casks that previously held heavily-hopped India Pale Ale style beer? … a specially-brewed IPA ale using Challenger hops was aged for 4 weeks in used Glenfiddich American Oak barrels, and then emptied and used to finish Glenfiddich single malt for 12 weeks.
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.
…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.
Glengoyne’s whisky is distilled from Golden Promise barley, a low-yield heritage strain of barley used rarely in today’s big-volume whisky industry (The Macallan is also known for using the strain). Glengoyne is also notable for the speed of its distillation (purportedly the “slowest” in Scotland), its total lack of peat even in the process water, and its location very near or perhaps on top of the invisible line dividing the Highlands and the Lowlands of Scotland. The Cask Strength batches are bottled without added coloring and without chill-filtration.