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.

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…

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…

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.1

Octomore, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of shelling out $150+ for a bottle of one of the past ten editions, is the most heavily-peated whisky in the world. It’s bottled at cask strength and comes out every year in either 3 or 4 varieties. In brief, 11.1 is 5 years old and was aged only in ex-bourbon American oak. … this year was distilled in 2014 from the 2013 harvest of Scottish-grown (not on Islay) Concerto and Propino barley. The barley was malted by Bairds in Inverness to 139.6 ppm and the final 30,000 bottles were bottled at 59.4% ABV. The release was aged for…

Craigellachie (13 year)

This official bottling (one of three from the distillery including a 17-year and a 23-year, all new in 2014 after Bacardi assumed ownership) comes from a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, and is bottled at 46% ABV without added coloring and without chill filtration. … Upon further reading, I wonder if the famous sulphur note that everyone says is a hallmark of Craigellachie might be hitting my jaded senses as banana. That will require more investigation.

Tamdhu (12 year)

Aged exclusively in sherry casks for the full 12 years of maturation for that pure sherry bomb goodness, Tamdhu uses both first fill and refill American and European Oloroso sherry casks. I’ve discussed sherry aging on this blog before, and the topic is (as ever) murky. It’s probably safe to assume that the company is using whatever “real” sherry barrels (those would be the European oak casks) it can get its hands on, while supplementing their supply with American oak (ex-bourbon) that has been “seasoned” with sherry.

Laphroaig An Cuan Mòr

I’m impressed that in a side-by-side comparison, it’s clear that this is Laphroaig “plus”. You get extra cinnamon, extra vanilla, and extra oaky sweetness from the European oak that’s just simply missing from the standard expression. It does not taste older, nor mellower. If you feel like your standard Laphroaig could use a little more flavor that isn’t peat, you’ll probably enjoy…