Whether the scotch whisky drinker in your life has a preference for smoky or not, young or old, whisky always make for a great gift, and rarely goes unappreciated. From $33.00 for the elegant and unpeated Auchentoshan Classic, to $70 for the heady smoke of Bowmore 15 Years Old Darkest, to $250 for a limited edition Highland find for Glen Garioch 1986, here are a few new entries on the market that are sure to please.
These Scotch whisky expressions from Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch are all bottled at cask strength and are all limited editions. Each new whisky (no ‘e’ in Scotch whisky, just American and Irish) are readily available at fine retailers near you.
Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 Limited Edition Vintage
Often referred to as the cellar master’s best friend, a ‘valinch’ is a tube that is extended into the cask to get samples for tasting to determine if the whisky is ready for bottling. An apt name for this malt since the spirit is cask-strength. This is the 2nd bottling of this limited edition. As Scotland’s only triple-distilled malt, Auchentoshan is incredibly velvety and smooth yet Valinch has a distinct kick due to its cask strength.
Brought to market by popular demand from single malt evangelists and whisky specialists alike, Valinch is a whisky with all the depth of taste, flavor and texture associated with sampling whisky right at the source.
Tasting Notes: Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 Limited Edition Vintageurce. As Auchentoshan is the only distance from Glasgow, a visit there is not too difficult but for those who can’t make it across the pond, who have been asking for a cask strength version of Auchentoshan, Valinch comes to them and delivers on every gustatory level.
Crème brulee on the nose complemented by an invigorating full-bodied orange zest on the tongue. It has a lingering finish which is sweet and crisp.
Auchentoshan, pronounced “ock-un-tosh-un,” heralds from a unique distillery situated between the Kilpatrick Hills, Loch Lomond and the modern cosmopolitan city of Glasgow. It is one of only a handful of Lowland single malt whiskies left in existence with a pure and smooth taste, renowned for its delicate character and flavor. This is due in part to its triple distillation, a practice more common to Irish whiskey than single malt whisky. This unique flavor profile makes Auchentoshan approachable to younger emerging whisky drinkers, who enjoy it straight up and in cocktails, as well as whisky aficionados looking for an unpeated (read: not smoky), softer style.
SRP: $59.99 (750ml; 57.2% ABV); 1,300 bottles for U.S.
Find them on shelf: Classic ($33), 12 Years Old ($48); Three Wood ($60)
Bowmore Dorus Mor Small Batch Release
This cask-strength, 10 Years Old Bowmore can be found throughout the world by a more ‘tempestous’ name that can’t be used in the U.S., so only here it’s known as Dorus Mor, a name chosen by the brand’s Facebook fans. A heady and strong whisky from the magical island of Islay, Bowmore Dorus Mor tastes of the very sea itself, bursting with the soul of the untamed Scottish weather and shows Bowmore’s trademark peat smokiness. This formidable tour de force is worthy of its strong name.
Tasting Notes: Dorus Mor 10 Years Old Small Batch Release No. 1
Dorus Mor carries the aroma of dry peat, lemon pepper spice, and a sea-salt tang with hints of citrus. Matured in first fill bourbon barrels for 10 years, which over time help to bring out Bowmore’s trademark peat smokiness, this non chill-filtered, cask-strength (110 proof) release is a formidable tour de force worthy of its strong name.
Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the oldest Distillery on Islay. Islay malts are famous for their characteristic smokiness and Bowmore is no exception. Bowmore carefully smokes its malt and uses skills handed down from generation to generation to craft a perfectly balanced single malt. Bowmore’s adherence to traditional production methods helps to shape the character of its single malts – they are one of only a few distilleries anywhere which still produces its own floor malted barley, hand-turned by traditional wooden malt shovels. It draws water from the Laggan River, with its rich peaty overtones, and it’s the same Islay peat that fires the malt drying kiln. Bowmore Distillery’s close proximity to the sea is also vital in determining the final character of the spirit. The famous Bowmore No. 1 Vaults is where most of the whiskies spend their time resting quietly in the cool, dark, damp cellars below sea level, oblivious to the waves thrashing the Vault’s sea-facing wall. They mature in oak casks, previously used for bourbon, sherry or claret, gradually developing rich and mellow flavors. It’s this combination of peat, barley, sea breeze, water, wood, people and tradition that together create the perfectly balanced warm and smoky character of Bowmore single malt whiskies.
SRP $ $119.99 (750ml; 55.1% ABV); 2,400 bottles for U.S.
Bowmore on the shelf: 12 Years Old ($46), 15 Years Old “Darkest” ($70), 18 Years Old ($xx)
Glen Garioch 1986 Vintage
A new introduction from this small Highland distillery, Glen Garioch 1986 is very limited with 3,000 bottles available for the entire world, and only 250 allocated to the U.S.. It is the fifth expression in Glen Garioch’s Vintage range to date – 1978, 1990, 1991 and 1994. It’s a liquid gem from a Highland distillery, a perfect dram for the whisky connoisseur.
From one of the oldest operating distilleries in all of Scotland (since 1797), this Glen Garioch is a peated Single Malt, made at a time when Glen Garioch’s malt barns were still in operation and the barley used to make Glen Garioch then was dried with peat, which imparted a slight smoky taste to its whisky.
Pronounced “Glen Geery”, these whiskys are very carefully considered selections, chosen to best exemplify the breadth and depth of the distillery’s spirit quality. The 1986 is truly a taste of the past and a rare opportunity to sample the way this Highland malt was made ages ago.
Tasting Notes: Glen Garioch 1986 Vintage
Matured in North American oak casks for 25 Years, bottled in 2011.
Smooth velvet-like cream and subtle coconut piques the senses from the nose. On the palate, turning to woodspice, pungent peak smoke with a medley of sweet juicy pears and ripe bananas. A hardy, yet refined, Highland treat.
For more than 200 years, Glen Garioch Distillery has been handcrafting a beautiful range of authentic, non chill-filtered single malt whiskies which are then matured in American Bourbon and Spanish Sherry casks. Glen Garioch was relaunched in 2010 with a core range of two expressions: Glen Garioch 12 Year Oldand Founder’s Reserve – both showing the company’s current unpeated style its distinct house character of honey sweetness, hints of heather and just a touch of spice.
SRP: $249.99 (750ml; 54.6%), 250 bottles for U.S.
Glen Garioch you can always find on shelf: Founder’s Reserve ($45), 12 Years Old ($65)
Photo Credit: Morrison Bowmore Distillers