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.
The Peat Smoke release is made from barley smoked to 67 ppm (that’s pretty high: Ardbeg is 55 ppm (except Supernova at 100 ppm) and Bruichladdich Octomore, the highest, is in the 160s) and is aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks (from Heaven Hill and/or Jim Beam) for between 9 and 10 years, although the bottle carries no age statement. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV with no added color.
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.
Unlike Benromach 10, this single malt is matured in virgin oak barrels with a light char for an undisclosed time – reportedly around 5 and a half to 6 years. The malted barley used is 100% certified organic, and this release (in 2006) was the first-ever certified organic single-malt scotch. The whisky is bottled at 43% ABV without added color.
Ardbeg, that bastion of peat-freakdom, that Mecca of peat-worship, is … a solid contender for membership in the pantheon of best distilleries in the world, and many whisky aficionados would place it high on their personal lists. … It is Ardbeg single malt, using heavily-peated malt (55 to 65 ppm) from the maltings at Port Ellen (Ardbeg’s own kiln-fired maltings closed in 1977) and aged for at least 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels.
It seems that just about every distillery is frantically blending and selecting barrels for one-offs, while their interns are leafing through Gaelic almanacs in the local archive, looking for thus-far unused local landmark names. … Even if you find consistent reviews online, tasting is very subjective [and] “Worth my money” is an impossible metric to crowdsource.
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.
The 10-year flagship bottling was aged for 9 years in a combination of 80% ex-bourbon and 20% ex-sherry casks (all first-fill), and then married for 1 additional year in first-fill European oak oloroso sherry casks. … The distillery uses malt peated to a delicate 12 – 14 ppm using Highland peat. The result is bottled at 43% ABV with no added color.
…now they’ve added a permanent port-finished NAS expression with the double-entendre of a name, “Port Ruighe”. … Suffice it to say this is NAS Talisker aged in a combination of casks including ex-bourbon, refill European oak, and casks with a “heavy char”. The whisky is then finished in port casks and bottled at Talisker’s standard 45.8% ABV.
I think of Glenkinchie, one of the few remaining Lowland single malts, as “the lemon malt”, although its actual nickname is “The Edinburgh Malt” for its location some 15 miles from the capital of Scotland. Glenkinchie was relatively obscure (used mostly in blends) before it became one of the jewels in Diageo’s Classic Malts crown, representing the Lowlands.