Good whiskies to drink – Good places to drink them

New Whisky Bottlings

Limited edition Royal Wedding Whisky

The English Whisky Company’s new limited edition William & Kate Commemorative Decanter

I visited St George’s distillery today and met with Andrew and James Nelstrop and had a good chat and tasting with David Fitt their distiller.

David Frit, the distiller at The English Whisky Company © Colin Hampden-White

David Fitt, the distiller at The English Whisky Company © Colin Hampden-White

David Fitt has chosen a mix of casks which have been married together to create a beautifully flavoured single malt whisky.

Included in the mix of casks is rum, bourbon, red wine and even a port cask. Around 3600 bottles will be produced for the world market at 46%

The decanters being filled © Colin Hampden-White

The decanters being filled © Colin Hampden-White

Aroma: The whisky is fresh with citrus notes with orange zest some spice and hints of vanilla

Palate: The freshness still runs strong and the citrus calms to marmalade with spice with a little light toffee and vanilla, the whisky (like their others), is amazingly forward for it’s age, belying only 3 to 3 1/2 years in cask. Left for a little while, the whisky really opens up and hints of the different casks come through.

The finish although not long, but long enough and certainly longer than you would expect for it’s age, mellowing on the tongue and ending with a little flurry of spice.

Royal Wedding Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Royal Wedding Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Much more complex than any of the whiskies I have tasted before from St George’s. James, Andrew and David are happy men, and so am I with a couple of bottles on order.

Andrew Nelstrop © Colin Hampden-White

Andrew Nelstrop © Colin Hampden-White

The whisky can be pre ordered from their website shop: http://www.englishwhisky.co.uk

There is some cracking stuff to come from them as well. I had a little taster of another peated whisky. Not yet a year in cask, you wouldn’t have believed it. The colour, already a golden amber, nose with a good dollop of peat with under lying smoke. The smoke comes through on the palate but not too strong, a nice balance. Their is a bit of spirit at the end still as it is so young, but expectations are high for when the time is right……

David Frit, looking to the future © Colin Hampden-White

David Fitt, looking to the future © Colin Hampden-White


Gordon and Macphail launch a Glenlivet 70 year old!

On the 8th of March 2011 Gordon and Macphail launched a Glenlivet 70 year old which I attended at Edinburgh Castle.

The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old 70cl Decanter with Wooden Box © Gordon & MacPhail

The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old 70cl Decanter with Wooden Box © Gordon & MacPhail

Put into cask in February 1940! and bottled in December 2010. Launched 8th March 2011

Glenlivet 70 Year Old. Launched today at Edinburgh Castle by Gordon and Macphail. © Colin Hampden-White

In the evening there was a vertical tasting. A black tie dinner with single cask Glenlivets from 1954, 1963, 1974, 1980 and 1991

Well. What a day it was. One to remember.

The Glenlivet 70 Years Old was matured in a First Fill Sherry Butt, and bottled at cask strength (45.9% ABV).  Only 100 70cl bottles and 175 20cl bottles will be released in 2011. The 70cl decanter has a recommended retail price in the UK of £13,000 and the 20cl version has a recommended retail price in the UK of £3,200. It is the second in a series of extremely rare malt whiskies to be released by Gordon & MacPhail under its ‘Generations’ brand.

The Glenlivet cask © Colin Hampden-White

The Glenlivet cask © Colin Hampden-White

Fifty limited edition collector’s packs are also available, containing all five Private Collection whiskies, priced at £2,850 per pack. The packs contain one bottle of each of the following whiskies: Glenlivet 1954 50.6%; Glenlivet 1963 40.6%; Glenlivet 1974 50.1%; Glenlivet 1980 48.5%; and Glenlivet 1991 54.4%.

The Private Collection: Glenlivet Decades bottlings are also available individually, with recommended retail prices in the UK ranging from £95 to £1,250

The whisky was unveiled by Fiona Urquhart and her cousin Richard Urquhart to the sound of a fabulous jazz band playing music form the 1940’s, the year the new spirit was put into a cask.

Fiona and her cousin Richard bring in The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old © Colin Hampden-White

Fiona and her cousin Richard bring in The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old © Colin Hampden-White

Various members of the Urquhart family covering several generations gave us a little history on Gordon & MacPhail and the whisky. They were followed by Charlie Maclean who brought us back to 1940 with stories of what was happening at the time in the whisky industry and Gordon & MacPhail’s part in it.

Charlie Maclean brings us back to 1940 © Colin Hampden-White

Charlie Maclean brings us back to 1940 © Colin Hampden-White

Charlie Maclean then took us through a tasting of the whisky. what a whisky!

Charlie’s tasting notes were as follows.

Appearance: Deep amber, with tawny lights.

Aroma: A mild nose-feel. The first aroma is of an old cocktail cabinet, with Sherry notes predominating: polished wood, soft leather and a trace of candlewax. Behind this are fruity notes, lightly baked apples (even Tarte Tatin), but also fresh orange juice, and just a thread of smoke or ash in the distance. Adding a drop of water suppresses the fruity notes and slightly enhances the sweetness (now tablet) and smokiness.

Taste: A waxy, teeth-coating, mouthfeel; smooth and voluptuous. The taste is sweetish to start, then savoury, with a trace of salt – might this be a rare example of ‘umami’ in whisky, the elusive fifth primary taste? The finish is long, with a faint smokiness

in the aftertaste. Drinks well at natural strength. With a drop of water the flavours remain intact.

“Made at the height of the Battle of Britain, The Glenlivet 1940 opens a door into a different time, another country. To smell and taste this exquisite whisky is to experience the past in a unique way – layer upon layer of flavour, profound and evocative. Its companions from the succeeding five decades provide an unrepeatable opportunity to explore subtle differences in the flavour of this Prince of Whiskies over half a century – as well as being a Blue Chip investment!”.

Fiona Urquhart daughter of Michael Urquhart and Richard Urquhart son of David Urquhart in 1940's costume having just unveiled the Glenlivet 1940 70 year old at Edinburgh Castle on the 8th of March 2011. They are standing in front of the cask from which the whiaky came © Colin Hampden-White

In the evening we gathered back at Edinburgh Castle. The evening began with a private viewing of the Scottish Crown Jewels facilitated by Historic Scotland, followed by a Champagne reception (Cordon Rouge)

The Honours the Scottish Crown Jewels © CROWN COPYRIGHT REPRODUCED COURTESY OF HISTORIC SCOTLAND

The Honours the Scottish Crown Jewels © CROWN COPYRIGHT REPRODUCED COURTESY OF HISTORIC SCOTLAND

The diner was in the Jacobite room which has views from the castle overlooking the whole of southern Edinburgh. With each course we were served one of ]The Glenlivet Private Collection. With Charlie Maclean setting the scene for each decade. He described the music, products and political landscapes of the periods with eloquence and amusing anecdotes.

Charlie Maclean in full flow at Edinburgh Castle's Jacobite room © Colin Hampden-White

Charlie Maclean in full flow at Edinburgh Castle's Jacobite room © Colin Hampden-White

We were then taken though the tasting of each whisky by a member of the family, with the younger generations guiding us through the younger whiskies and generation above the older whiskies. David Urquhart took us through the 1940 tasting. Between whisky we were served with a lovely Château Kerwan 2005.

David Urquart speaking about the Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection © Colin Hampden-White

David Urquart speaking about the Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection © Colin Hampden-White

The whiskies and their tasting notes:

GORDON & MACPHAIL PRIVATE COLLECTION GLENLIVET 1954 50.6%

135 x 70cl bottles available for sale in selected markets worldwide.  Recommended retail in the UK is £1,250 per bottle

Appearance: Deep amber, with rose lights.

Aroma: Very mild nosefeel; with an increasingly drying effect. Immediately, a profoundly fruity nose – juicy to start, then raisins and currants macerated in liquor; dry dates and figs; a trace of glace orange peel. A shake of fine hard-wood sawdust. Add only a spot of water to open it: now the aroma becomes sweeter, with an initial trace of fondant, then more vinous (old Madeira?), with a hint of pencil-boxes.

Taste: Sweet, then drying, with considerable spice in between and a long dusty finish, leaving a venerable ‘old wine’ aftertaste. A drop of water reduces all these characteristics slightly but leaves them intact.

GORDON & MACPHAIL PRIVATE COLLECTION 1963 40.6%

169 x 70cl bottles available for sale in selected markets worldwide.  Recommended retail in the UK is £750 per bottle.  Pricing in international markets may differ due to exchange rates and local taxes.

Appearance: Pale amber.

Aroma: The low strength means a very mild nosefeel and a low aromatic intensity. The first nose was lightly fruity (fresh peaches in mixed fruit salad, becoming more acidic after a while – Kiwi fruits?), with a slight eucalyptus-leaf medicinal note, combined with a faint smokiness. Fresh and interesting.

Taste: Sweet and smooth, even slightly oily. A predominantly sweet taste, but with a slight citric tingle and a lengthy, warming finish. Liqueur chocolates in mid-palate and peach cream, soft-centre chocolates in the aftertaste.

GORDON & MACPHAIL PRIVATE COLLECTION GLENLIVET 1974 50.1%

189 x 70cl bottles available for sale in selected markets worldwide.  Recommended retail in the UK is £500 per bottle.  Pricing in international markets may differ due to exchange rates and local taxes.

Appearance: Deep amber, with crimson lights; Cream Sherry.

Aroma: Very mild nose-feel. Takes a while to open up, but then cooked fruits, led by fresh strawberry jam, becoming ‘Jammy Dodger’ biscuits, then mince pies. Lightly nose-drying, with traces of lint bandages and sunflower oil. Water increases the oily note, and momentarily introduces a whiff of sulphur, soon vanishing into crème caramel.

Taste:

Sweet and voluptuous; plenty of body; warming and drying as you swallow. A sweet taste overall, with a long finish and some bitter dark chocolate in the aftertaste. Becomes sweeter and drier with water, with some burnt caramel in mid palate and chocolate in the finish.

GORDON & MACPHAIL. PRIVATE COLLECTION GLENLIVET 1980 48.5%

61 x 70cl bottles available for sale in selected markets worldwide.  Recommended retail in the UK is £250 per bottle.  Pricing in international markets may differ due to exchange rates and local taxes.

Appearance: Dark gold.

Aroma: Very slight prickle, and somewhat nose-cooling (pine sap). Dusty, with faint dried mixed herbs, and slightly waxy, but then increasingly sweet (even apricot-jammy for a moment), with an elusive scent of sweet chestnuts. Opens considerably when water is added; light coconut to the fore, with natural turpentine and fragrant wood behind.

Taste: Sweet and smooth, but with some peppery spice over the surface of the tongue. A return of the apricot jam in the aftertaste, which is surprisingly long. Water sweetens it, simplifies it and reduces the spiciness. Pleasant and easy to drink, with desiccated coconut in the aftertaste.

GORDON & MACPHAIL PRIVATE COLLECTION GLENLIVET 1991 54.4%

203 x 70cl bottles available for sale in selected markets worldwide.  Recommended retail in the UK is £95 per bottle.  Pricing in international markets may differ due to exchange rates and local taxes.

Appearance: Light gold.

Aroma: Mild nosefeel. A predominantly fresh-fruit aroma – fruit salad including apples, pears, figs and pineapple. Behind this a trace of marzipan, becoming sweet fondant. Somewhat shy and withdrawn before water is added, but with a dash of water opens up, becoming more floral-fragrant, with whin flowers and almond cream chocolates. Also more typically Speyside.

Taste:

Sweet and fresh, with a fresh citric acidity, and light coconut (whin flowers) in the finish and aftertaste. Warming. A soft texture at reduced strength; not so sweet, but retains the lively acidity, and a curious taste, possibly umami, the mysterious fifth primary taste, rarely encountered in whiskies, and loosely described as ‘savoury’.

A great night was had by all.

 

Fiona Urquhart with The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old © Colin Hampden-White

Fiona Urquhart with The Glenlivet 1940 70 year old © Colin Hampden-White