…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.
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.
Glenfarclas has been known in whisky circles as a way to get old-fashioned, independently-distilled, sherry-forward single malt at insider prices. … The ‘105’ in the name refers to the proof, which in the British proof system is 60% ABV. Around here we use the US proof system, which means the 105 is actually 120. Got it? … Glenfarclas uses only sherry casks to mature whisky, which previously held oloroso or fino sherry, and are either 500 liters (butts) or 250 liters (hogsheads).
The 15 year continues the extra aging in first-fill sherry for an additional 5 years (for a total of 6 years) in oloroso. This extra aging gives the whisky a mahogany color and a deep, resinous sherry character. The sherry barrels are sourced from Bodegas Williams & Humbert in Jerez.
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.
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.
For Benromach’s Imperial Proof bottling, which is part of the distillery’s classic lineup, this same whisky is bottled at 57% ABV instead of 43%. This is 100° in British (or “Imperial”) proof. The sherry barrels are sourced from Bodegas Williams & Humbert in Jerez, and the whisky is bottled without added color or chill-filtration.
…Green Spot isn’t cheap to start with. Nor, presumably, are empty grand cru Bordeaux barrels from Château Léoville-Barton. Midleton has taken the classic Green Spot and aged it for an additional 1 to 2 years in the French oak Bordeaux casks, before bottling at 46% ABV.
We have something unique here, people. Everyone knows that some scotch is aged in sherry barrels (some of which are “wet” with residual liquid sherry), but who puts actually sherry in the vat with the whisky? Who’s actually allowed to do that? Canadian distillers, that’s who.
A mid-line sherried malt, without the “big fruit” hallmarks of a true sherry monster, but with plenty of berry, wine, and resin to produce the desired effect. The fruits are subdued, but do contain that aged, balsamic, resinous quality, and are balanced by slight malty sweetness. This is the kind of drink you reach for when you want to lean back and relax on a chilly winter evening, but not necessarily think too hard about what’s in your glass.