Port Askaig 110 Proof

To its credit, this first US release of Port Askaig (named, you guessed it, after a port town on the Scottish island of Islay) is bottled at cask-strength (55% ABV) and without chill-filtration or added coloring from a small batch of “2 to 40″ barrels per batch, which means whatever you’d like it to mean. The barrels in question are from an “unnamed” Islay distillery and are all ex-bourbon casks.

Compass Box – Spice Tree

In essence it’s a mixture of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich, the majority of which is then finished for two years in various toast (heat-treated) grades of the aforementioned French Oak-topped barrels. This is intended to bring out the “spice” notes inherent in French Oak, as well as to contribute to the sweet, oaky flavor available when using new oak…

The Ileach Cask Strength

Bottled at a cask strength of 58% ABV, but without any age information, The Ileach Cask Strength is a single malt whisky from one of the distilleries on the island of Islay that makes fully-peated malt. “The Ileach” means “the man from Islay” and you could try pronouncing it as “ee-luck”, but you’d still sound like a tourist. Just don’t say “Eye Leech”. Ew.

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

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.

Talisker Distillers Edition (2013)

The Distillers Editions from Diageo typically take the big-budget action heroes of the Diageo lineup and then proceed to drown them in sweet wine. Sometimes this works. Sometimes not so much. Here, they take the standard Talisker (aged in ex-bourbon barrels) and finish it in amoroso sherry casks for somewhere around a year. My bottle was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013…

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

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.

Glenmorangie Bacalta

…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.

Laphroaig Select

…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.