There is still independent whisky to be bottled, even if the pickings are slimmer, and some tempting things show up on shelves. Here, a Mortlach (one of my favorite distilleries, but hard to find) was distilled in September 1997 and spent some number of years in ex-bourbon before being transitioned to a Pedro Ximénez sherry butt to finish, for a total of 18 years in cask.
The whisky is aged in some inscrutable combination of European and American oak casks, some of which held sherry at one time. The “two types” of American Oak used could refer refill and first-fill, or it could mean ex-bourbon American oak casks that have been “seasoned” by sloshing some re-used sherry around in them. The whisky is bottled without added coloring or chill filtration.
BenRiach’s chameleon malt has, in this case begun life unpeated and spent an undisclosed amount of time (probably more than 12 years) in ex-bourbon before being transitioned into a Pedro Ximénez sherry butt to mature for additional time, totaling 15 years. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration or added coloring (a practice collectively known as ‘Craft Presentation’).
When a bottle label says that it was a “small batch” of whiskey “aged in 5 different barrels” my mind automatically Google Translates that into “made from leftover barrels that we didn’t know what to do with.” That may or may not be fair but I just write a blog so I don’t have to be fair. Apparently the blend started as a personal project for the owner…
GlenDronach The Hielan’ is an 8 year-old ‘Dronach that only seems to retail in the UK. The whisky comes from a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, which makes me think it’s an attempt to compete with a number of “double cask” expressions proliferating on the market such as The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year. It seems odd to me to compete with a popular $40 whisky by releasing a $40 whisky that is 4 years younger, but nobody asked me.
The Duthac is named after the medieval St. Duthac and intended to honor the annual pilgrimage of King James IV to his shrine near the distillery in Tain. This contrived story is probably intended to justify the marketing phrase, “A whisky fit for a king.” A king flying coach, I suppose. The whisky is a no-age-statement (NAS) bottling of Glenmorangie finished partially in PX (Pedro Ximénez) sherry casks, and part in charred virgin oak…
GlenDronach’s 21 year-old bottling from the official distillery lineup is aged in a combination of PX (Pedro Ximenez) and oloroso sherry casks. (Note that is “aged” not “finished” – this whisky sat for a full 21 years in barrels previously containing sherry.) Hilariously enough in the current political climate, this whisky is not in fact named after the British Parliament, but rather for the “parliament” of rooks that nest in the trees overlooking the distillery. It is bottled at 48% ABV and without chill filtration or added coloring.
Dailuaine is known as a component in Johnnie Walker blends, which is where the vast majority of the output from the distillery’s three wash and three spirit stills goes. This particular 16 year-old was matured in ex-sherry casks, although I can’t find any details (Full-term maturation? Finish?). Diageo is, as usual, tight-lipped about production details. Bottled at 43% ABV, probably chill-filtered, and likely colored.
There is a wild raging debate on the Internet about the actual source of Alexander Murray & Co.’s big-age, low-price malts. Some rumors suggest that the majority of the company’s barrels come from Tullibardine (a whisky chameleon of sorts), while the company has definitely bottled Macallan before, and is reported to have contracts with both Diageo and Edrington.
Wolfburn Aurora was released in 2016 from 3 year-old Wolfburn malt aged in a variety of casks. Reportedly, this means 40% of the whisky was aged in second-fill quarter casks, 40% in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels, and the remaining 20% in first-fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads.