Talisker (8 year) Special Release 2020

Talisker 8 is a very limited edition cask-strength (57.9% ABV) batch of the familiar Talisker 10 except at 8 years, which is a bit of a reference to earlier 1980s bottlings of Talisker that were released at that age (although not at that strength). The whisky for this year’s release was distilled in 2011 and This time, the distillery broke new ground (for Talisker) by finishing the whisky in a funky pot-still rum cask from Jamaica.

Very Old Barton 86 Proof

First in the series, we have Very Old Barton 86 Proof. The whiskey is all from the Barton distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky which is owned by Sazerac (Buffalo Trace), and was renamed to the Barton 1792 Distillery in 2009. Very Old Barton (which is not old, and certainly not Very Old) used to have a “6 years old” age statement on the bottle, which was changed to a lonely misleading “6” on the neck, and then dropped altogether. The company claims…

Very Old Barton 100 Proof

This one is a little confusing – there are actually TWO Very Old Barton straight bourbons that are 100 proof. One says “Bottled-in-Bond” on it, the other – this one – doesn’t. Internet scuttlebutt (there’s a word I don’t get to use often enough) claims that parent company Sazerac was forced to mix VOB from different distilling seasons when one of its warehouses collapsed in June (and then finished collapsing in July) of 2018. Mixing distilling seasons means…

The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut

The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut is an NAS (no age statement) release that was matured only in first-fill sherry seasoned oak. Now that’s interesting. It may be the first time I’ve seen a bottle label explicitly spell out the pervasive industry practice of seasoning barrels with sherry and calling them “sherry casks”, since real sherry cask are essentially extinct. After aging for an undisclosed period of time, the whisky is bottled without added color and at a strength chosen by Glenrothes Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion: 48.8%. He chose that strength because…

Starward Nova Single Malt

Starward is a small upstart Melbourne distillery with a single pair of copper pot stills. They source all of the ingredients for their whisky from local Australian products (“within a day’s drive”), ferment the local malted barley with brewer’s yeast and then double-distill and age it on-site. Starward takes advantage of the availability of local Australian red wine casks (still wet with cabernet, pinot noir, and shiraz…

Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye

This is a blend of MGP-distilled straight rye whiskies from two different mash bills at 4 years old. Because these are contract distillations they aren’t just blending tanks of already-aged standard MGP rye, but rather specifying the mash bill and barrel entry proof and waiting for the rye to hit target ages before blending them. … The result is bottled at cask strength, or close to it (they add a “splash” of Maryland spring water to bring the batch to 56.1% ABV, presumably for consistency).

Bruichladdich Octomore 10 year (4th edition)

The idea behind the 10 year-old editions of Octomore is for Bruichladdich to examine the effects of longer aging on the somewhat-well-understood young (typically 5 year-old) Octomore. As Head Distiller Adam Hannett said in our interview session for the Octomore 11 campaign, “we just don’t know everything,” and “there are so many infinite variables in the creation of single malt whisky, so we try to isolate one variable at a time to see how it improves the whisky, or doesn’t.”

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.3

The Octomore .3 releases are always made from 100% Islay-grown barley from Octomore farm by “The Godfather of Soil” James Brown. This year’s 11.3 release is 5 years old and was aged in ex-bourbon American oak casks from a variety of bourbon distilleries … Jim McEwan talks about the soil of Islay and why he goes to such cost-inefficient lengths to get 100% Islay barley. He talks about how mainland Scottish farms can pull 3 or 3.5 tons of barley per acre in yield while Islay’s difficult climate maxes out around 2 tons. Moreover…