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.
A straightforward but very well-executed malt. This is a quintessential ex-bourbon Highland malt, with primary characteristics of summer fruits, flowers, and honey. … In this way, with no peat or sherry or wine-cask influence, you can appreciate the elemental building blocks of single-malt.
Loch Lomond, unfortunately not available in the United States, offers an NAS entry-level malt for bottom dollar. … Loch Lomond is a small distillery that quietly churns out product, and that product goes by many names including Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin, and Old Rhosdhu (among others). While classified as a Highland (or West Highland) distillery based on its location in Alexdandria, near Dumbarton, it is literally just up the road from Glasgow. Its style is also in line with Lowland malts: simple, subtle, light, and crisp.
It has everything on paper that whisky buffs have been asking for: 46% “craft presentation” bottling strength, non chill-filtration, and no added coloring. It’s made more-or-less by hand and with traditional methods. … Does the 12-year redeem the Deanston name for me, and let me buy the “Craft” hype?
At any rate, this is an ex-bourbon single malt from the Deanston distillery. (The bottle says “Matured in Oak Casks”. Duh.) It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 at 40% ABV after 12 years of aging. Deanston’s official releases are bottled without chill-filtration, but there’s no telling what Alexander Murray chose to do when bottling this. I found it at Trader Joe’s in California for $30.
The 15 is interesting. It’s widely-distributed, very cost-effective for a 15 year-old malt, and has something that no other (or almost no other) scotch on the market has: malt from a modified sherry-style Solera system. It’s miles ahead in quality from Glenfiddich 12 (which is just passably drinkable), but still usually under $50
…at Trader Joe’s I saw this bottle of undisclosed-distillery 10 year-old from somewhere the Highlands (which describes, like, most of them) which has been “matured in oak casks” like… all of them… It’s 10 years old, 40% ABV, and costs $20. That’s pretty much all anybody knows about it.